Series Finale – 28 April 2013

The evening before the team heads back to New Samarkand, they’re all given grav-leave on the makeshift station.  While planning the operation, Master Chief Chapman requests to join the assault on McKenna’s Pride as he is, for he has the most experience of anyone on the CiC of a McKenna-class battleship.  Janks accepts.

The next morning, the Davion Guard and Wolf’s Dragoons give a salute as the crews of Alabama and Normandy board their ships.  A moment passes between Vail and Natasha Kerensky, indicating to the squad that something more intimate was happening there.

Normandy and Alabama jump to New Samarkand – Normandy dead-sticking it into the planet’s atmosphere to remain hidden while Alabama creates a distraction.  To the observers on Normandy’s bridge, Alabama seems to be staying in the fight far longer than she should have.  Vail contacts Montenegro, who informs him that a lucky shot has taken out Alabama’s K-F drive.  He says his goodbyes to his old friend, and Alabama tears into the Clan fleet and takes out several cruisers her own size before being overwhelmed and destroyed.

On the ground, the party meets up with Mr. Case and Jane Sagan.  They hand over the gold doubloon to Case, who visually scans it, and then, without further ado, informs the party that the Alexander AI has been released.  There’s an uncomfortable silence for a time.  Bigend, imprisoned in a nearby tent, begins cackling.  The party finds out that he had been manipulated for years by the much-diminished Alexander expert system, who had been manipulating him in an attempt to be released.

The team discusses their plans.  Sagan asks what she can do to help, and it’s determined that she should go with the Vail, Sergeant Major Barret and the ground assault, as securing the HPG uplink is critical to the mission.

Moment later, every electronic device capable of beeping…does.  The party establishes communication with the Alexander AI through Vail’s pocket computer.  The AI confirms their battle plans, stressing that it’s vital that Mckenna’s Pride be removed from the battle, preferrably by jumping it clear of the system.  It promises to do everything it can to aid in the liberation of the planet.

The time for moving out arrives, and the ground team and Normandy team say their goodbyes.

In orbit, Normandy docks against the Pride’s command deck, the party finds sympathizers at the airlock – some of them the same people from the ambush in downtown Shinzon (they toss a chair into the airlock yelling “chair” as Hudson did to them).  The sympathizers identify themselves with red armbands, but the party is encouraged not to put too much trust in it.

Moving toward the CiC, the party is attacked by Clan marines, including John Hubble and another warrior.  Janks attempts to convince Hubble to join their side against the invading aliens, but fails.  A pitched firefight ensues in which Gerst is grievously wounded.  Finally, Hudson gets the kill shot against Hubble.

The campaign ends with a cutscene:

Corbett-

You rush over to Gerst, pull his kit, and start working on his severe wounds.  Like many critically-wounded soldiers, Gerst is muttering and weakly pawing at your vest.  Over the years you’ve developed a way to keep working in the midst of it, a sort of slow-motion Aikido to gently brush aside delirious hands.  It takes a second, but when you realize what he’s doing, you’re stunned into stillness.  Your hands drop to your sides.  Gerst looks at you solemnly while he unclips your PDW and tucks it under his arm, he pulls two magazines and a grenade from your vest, then replaces them with two of his own pistol magazines.

He pats your cheek none-too-gently, then hauls himself to his feet and stumbles over to Janks.

“Top, you all go hit the CIC.  I’m gonna make these motherfuckers find another way around.”

Stella shouts over the gunfire, “We’re not leaving you!”  He grins.

“Hell, you’re just going down the hall.  I’ll be here when you get back.”

He and Janks lock eyes for a moment, then Gerst turns and begins firing down the hall, and Janks motions the unit to move on to the CIC.

As one, the unit sweeps around the corner.  Janks and Jack take out the two marines guarding the door to the CIC and take cover nearby, while in a single fluid motion, Madge moves up to the door, sets a small charge, ducks out of the way, blows the charge, and pulls her pistol in time to put two shots into the first face brave enough to look through the crack.

Janks in the lead, you charge into the CIC and find quite a bit of chaos.  Clan crewers with hurriedly-affixed red armbands are subduing the others, herding them back into the damage control alcove.  A man with officer’s knots on his lapels lies dead against the map table with a gunshot wound to the head.  Jack moves to corral all of the Clan personnel while Janks and Madge begin barricading the door.

Mitch strides into the CIC and takes position at the head of the map table, assessing the lidar and ship’s disposition.  Stella and Chapman dive into the helmsman seats, Millet takes position at the engineering station, and you hop up to gunnery.

“Alright,” Mitch says after a beat, “clear all moorings.  Weps, establish a torpedo plot to targets Sierra Two and Bravo Nine, let’s see if we can’t do some harm on our way out.”

It takes you a second to realize he’s talking to you, but you begin giving the computer its orders.

Chapman calls out, “Emergency release, all moorings, we’re clear to maneuver.”

“Very well, helm, burn dorsal aft rcs, I want a ten-degree per second rotation on our axis.”

“Aye!” replies Chapman, while his and Stella’s hands dance across the controls.

Millet says, “Alexander’s linked up.”

“Very well.  Stella get ready…aaaaand…all-ahead one-half.  Take us tight around the facility and give me a shot at those parked destroyers.  Corbett, fire, and open up the flak cannons, it won’t be long before someone takes a shot back at us.”

You release two torpedoes at the two Clan heavy cruisers, nothing more than two dots heading to two other dots on the gunnery display.  You begin to isolate a cluster of parked destroyers for the next salvo.

Alexander’s voice comes over the CIC speakers.  “I’ve taken the liberty of changing our IFF transponder.  We now broadcast as Star League Defence Forces Battlecarrier, Agamemnon.”

The CIC goes silent, even the assembled Clan crewers.

The brief reverie is pierced by a small explosion outside the CIC door.  Janks and Madge continue piling anything not nailed down in front of it.  “There’s no way this is going to hold up!” Janks calls over his shoulder.

“Alright, Alexander, plot us a K-F jump.  Corbett, fire away.  Stella, when the torpedos are free, make your heading three-two-oh mark seven-nine karem five-eight, all ahead flank.”

Far below, New Samarkand goes dark for the briefest moments, as every microprocessor on the planet spikes to maximum capacity, then returns to normal.

“K-F jump plotted,” says Alexander.

Stella calls out, “The helm just got really sloppy, what the hell?”

“I’m afraid I may be losing direct control of the ship’s systems, the crew seems to have responded very rapidly to my intrusion.”

Millet grumbles, “Then what good are you?  One second…okay I’ve overridden them for now, but it won’t be long until they get to engineering and take control of the ship back.”

Madge shouts out, “I don’t think we have that…” and then the CIC door explodes inward with an earsplitting bang.  It shoots across the room like a bullet, taking Madge with it and crashing into Jack and the Clan prisoners in the fire control alcove.  There’s so much force in the explosion that it blows you out of the gunnery station down behind the astrogation controls.

Your ears are ringing, you can see, but can’t hear as Janks bellows and unloads his M-41 into the open doorway, then jerks like a marionette as he’s riddled with return fire.  You try to pull your sidearm, but your hand keeps slipping from the grip.

Stella and Chapman are returning fire from behind the helm across the room.  She’s got a wild look in her eyes, but she’s squeezing the trigger methodically – one squeeze, one kill out in the hall.  A rocket is fired from outside the door and the helm station explodes.  You can’t see much through the smoke anymore.

You look up at the console you’re crouched behind, Mitch is draped across the top of it, his face bloodied, dead eyes staring, his hand reaching for the jump key.

“Off the field…” you whisper to yourself, “have to get her off the field…”

You reach up, your hand is covered in blood, you’re not sure how or from where, you grab the jump key, and twist.

Everything goes black.


Epilogue

The disruption caused by the Alexander AI, combined with the damage done to the two Clan battleships by McKenna’s Pride on its way out of the system tipped the scales enough for the combined fleets of the Inner Sphere to break the siege of New Samarkand.  The battle on the ground was more one-sided, as Alexander hacked military communication channels and essentially drove Clan combat units to the slaughter.  The battle took less than a week.  On January 1st, 3022, the Clans surrendered their position at New Samarkand and retreated.  Their fleets and troops were scattered to the periphery.

None of Agamemnon’s original Star League crew survived the battle.

Two weeks later, New Samarkand’s HPG surged and fired for a record-breaking three minutes.  After it closed down, Alexander was gone.

Sensing weakness after the loss of Admiral Ling and Kojiwa, Hans Davion led the Federated Suns in invasion of the Draconis Combine in March of that year and made significant progress until morale issues and overwhelming opposition from the other great houses caused the advance to stall.

Fervor for Agamemnon and her crew ranged from idolatry to the nearly religious across the Inner Sphere, radiating from New Samarkand, where a substantial piece of the mighty battleship’s superstructure was brought to the ground and converted to a memorial.

In the spring of 3023, the great houses of the Inner Sphere, along with ComStar, the remnants of the Clan invasion, and a very persistent and influential periphery Gentleman, signed the Agamemnon Accord at New Samarkand and formed a new Star League – ending the Third Succession War.

Peace reigned.

In the fall of 3029, HPG nodes on the edges of the Inner Sphere began to go dark.  It wasn’t long before the swarm descended on the more densely-populated worlds.  They never communicated, they never took prisoners, they simply…consumed.  The newly-formed Star League Defense Force put up a fair fight and slowed the advance for several years, but they too were overwhelmed.  Within fifteen years, all of the garden worlds known to man, including Terra, had been taken; and within thirty, the human race was, for all intents and purposes, extinct.


Coda

Corbett-

You’re obscenely drunk in Lizzy’s tiny billet, the room is thick with the smells of sex and booze and the sweet smoke of what passes for weed on Persephone.  She’s straddling a chair next to the bed, naked, covered in a sheen of sweat and fiddling idly with the joint.  It’s the night of the K-F repair celebration – you can hear the occasional band of revelers in the corridor.

“What they don’t like telling people about the drive,” she continues, “is that none of us are where we started.  Flung hundreds and hundreds of times through nth-dimensional probability on a string of numbers so obscure they’re indistinguishable from witchcraft.”

You try to sit up, but your arm doesn’t seem to be working right.

“Am I dreaming?” you ask.

“Not this time, no,” she says softly.

“Are you alive?”

She sighs, a little sadly.  “No, baby, I’m sorry.”

“They’re coming, Corbett.  This is your last chance, we won’t be able to help again.  Don’t forget, please don’t forget again.”  She leans the chair over until her face is next to yours.  “Listen…remember…they’re coming.”

There’s a muffled thud in the superstructure of the ship and you jerk upright in bed, the words “they’re coming!” on your lips.

“What was that Stim?” Bramer asks.

You look around, you’re in Agamemnon’s medical ward.  Bramer’s in the next bed over.

“You okay man?” he continues, “That was just the Marathon coming in.”

He looks pretty beaten and bruised.  The rest of the team are in their beds in various states of disrepair.  Geers is sleeping.  Jack is playing a game on his tablet.  Janks is looking at you curiously over his book.  The ship’s battle stations klaxon is ringing outside the door.  You feel as if you’ve woken up from a dream so vivid you can’t quite tell what was real and what wasn’t.

Cottle has the CIC channel on a small radio on his desk.

“Doc…” you say, “Could you turn that up?”

He gives you a withering look, but obliges.

You hear Captain Anderson, “Con, Marathon and Cynae secure.  Umbilicus are connected and they’re reporting ready to jump.”

“Very well.”  Colonel Becker’s voice on the radio pierces you like a knife, and memories flood in.

You feel like you’ve done ten rounds with a heavyweight boxer as you struggle out of bed and into a pair of shitty disposable hospital slippers and pull on a shitty disposable hospital robe.  You stumble forward, snatch the radio from Cottle’s desk, and head out the door.  His angry yells are drowned out by the klaxons in the hall.

You make your way to the lift and hit the button.  Your heart is racing, pulse thundering in your ears.

The radio crackles to life again, “Con, Lidar, torpedo, torpedo!  I have three high velocity targets detaching from Tango group and accelerating.  Time to impact, one minute!”

Becker again, “Major Summerville, order the fleet to jump.”

After an eternity, the doors open and you race down the hallway.  The marine guarding the door to Locker 17 looks at you curiously until, without breaking stride, you viciously elbow him in the chin and he drops.  You plug in the access code of the day and press into the room.  You pull the tarp off the large black cylinder, and tap a few keys on the controls at the top.

You kneel down next to the cylinder and growl into the microphone.

“You can’t do this,” you say.

The radio crackles to life, “Radiological alarm!  High yield warheads on those torpedoes!”

“Listen to me you high-and-mighty tin can,” you continue, ”there’s something you don’t know.  We’re not alone…  There’s an enemy….”

Becker shouts through the ship’s intercom, “All hands, prepare for combat jump!”

“Please…”

Anderson’s voice on the radio, “Yes ma’am, all our men, living and dead are off the field, my board is green.”

“I swear to god, if you do this, I’m going to melt your ass all over again.  Put that through your fucking probability engine….”

“Now, Major!” Kim shouts over the radio.

Reality twists as Agamemnon jumps.

There’s a moment of silence as the klaxons turn off.

Major Summerville’s voice comes over the ship’s intercom, “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Persephone.  One more milk run and we’ll be joining General Kerensky and the First Fleet.  Sergeant at Arms, report to Captain Colson for classified Delta Seven mission briefing.”

You let out a shuddering breath you didn’t realize you were holding and pat the top of the cylinder.

“Thank you.”  You pull yourself to your feet painfully and head for the door.  “Alright partner, we have a lot of work to do.  Oh…and if I see a light on this boat so much as flicker funny…MELT your ass.”

You come out of the locker in time to see Admiral Tokugawa race into the corridor, a sheen of sweat on his forehead and eyes, slightly crazed, and wide with surprise.  He stumbles to a stop.

“What…what happened?”

At the other end of the hall, a group has gathered.  They all look as if they’re not entirely sure why they’re there, blinking as if waking from a dream.  Mitch and Stella, both still in their flight suits.  Janks, Jack, and Hudson, Gerst, Geers, and Bramer.  Even Blake, twirling that lucky antique gold coin of his between his fingers.  Kim and Summerville come from the corridor behind Tokugawa with the same curious and solemn looks, their fingers brushing the other’s subconsciously.

You look back to Tokugawa and breath a deep sigh.  Your paper robe crinkles, reminding you of a crumpled and bloodstained flowchart.

You smile.  “Sir, we have to talk.”

And thus ends the first chronicle of The Last Legion.

 

 

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