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Series Finale – 28 April 2013

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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Armageddon Session Notes: 13 April 2013

Armageddon Session Notes: 13 April 2013

The next morning, Janks was exercising on Normandy’s lower deck.  His injuries from the previous day cause him to slip and nearly drop a heavy barbell on himself, but it was caught by Jeremy Blake.

Blake took a seat next to the stunned Janks and pulled the gold coin from Janks’ pocket.  He observed it for a moment, twirled it in his fingers, and replaced it, saying “you people and your fascination with antiquity”.

Blake then continued, “We call them the Rix.”  He went on to explain that the aliens that were driving the Clans back into the Inner Sphere were originally synthetic, and a fundamentally ruthless plague on the galaxy.  He mentions that his own people developed ways to avoid them rather than face them in open conflict.  When asked if the human race had any hope, he demurred slightly, but went on to say that humanity had a lot of “viciousness and cunning” going for it – he just didn’t know if they’d have time to prepare.  When asked why he was helping, he said he wasn’t sure – that perhaps it was because of the identity he created.  He did mention that he was breaking the rules, but wouldn’t elaborate.

When the bridge announced an upcoming K-F jump, Blake chuckled.  He said that after forty-thousand years, the Consu had seen many ways to travel the galaxy “folding space, warp bubbles, and the like”, but said “Leave it to humanity to develop something so absurd, so vulgar, so accidental” as a means of travelling the galaxy.  He mentioned that he cannot follow through the jump.  Janks asked several more questions that netted him cryptic answers, and when the ship jumped, Blake was gone.

The same morning,having been plagued with repeated dreams of Liz Fagan telling him that “there’s something to the K-F drive that they don’t like talking about”, Corbett approaches Millet and asks for an explanation.  Millet outlines how the K-F drive actually works – not by moving an object through space, but traversing parallel universes and probabilities until the ship is simply where it’s supposed to be.  The distance of travel is essentially limited by the navigation computer’s ability to calculate the probability tree.  Some speculation occurs about how an exponentially more powerful computer could conceivably move a ship through not only space, but perhaps even time and causality as well – in fact there are tales of mis-jumps that do just that.  Agamemnon’s own mis-jump caused the human crews of the Marathon and Cynae to simply vanish.

A week later when Jack is out of intensive care, the  party meets to discuss all they’ve learned, but arrive at no clear conclusions or path forward.

Three weeks later, Stella is helming Normandy when they make their final jump to rendezvous with the fleet.  The emerge into a flack cloud and barely miss crashing into the side of McKenna’s Pride.  The massive Clan battleship is raiding the fleet.  Normandy makes a pass at the Pride, severely damaging its maneuvering thrusters, but the battleship fires off two large and extremely fast misiles at Kojiwa and Dire Wolf.  Normandy intercepts the missile headed for the Dire Wolf, but the other strikes and destroys Kojiwa, killing most of her crew, including Admiral Lin.

The party meets in war council with Vail, Montenegro, Natasha Kerensky, and Prince Hans Davion of the Federated Suns.  After some debate, the plan laid out involves a strike team sneaking back onto New Samarkand and releasing the Alexander AI for the purposes of disrupting the Clan communications and control.  From there, a ground assault must secure the ComStar HPG relay and use the facility there to create a gravity distortion allowing the fleet to jump into orbit.  A strike team will be required to take McKenna’s Pride off the battlefield, as no  tactical simulation seems to be winnable with the Pride in the battle on the side of the Clans.

Vail accepts volunteers for the mission, and the entire original Agamemnon crew step forward.

“The Last Legion of the Star League makes its stand at New Samarkand,” Vail says quietly.

 

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Armageddon Session Notes – 9 March 2013

Armageddon Session Notes – 9 March 2013

Corbett vaults over the table, tackling the Librarian.  The rest of the party holds off the increasingly-large and threatening band of locals until finally a shot is fired from the back of the crowd, triggering a massive firefight.  Corbett shoots and kills the Librarian, and as he’s being dragged out of the line of fire by Jack, notices his name on one of the White Queen’s predictions.  He grabs a handful of the flowcharts and shoves them in his vest.

A brutal running firefight ensues, in which the party slays dozens upon dozens of the facility’s enraged inhabitants.  Eventually, some heavy hitters arrive, including a sniper, and several members of the team are wounded, Jack critically so.  During the fight, the team has several exchanges with the young girl on the radio, who identifies herself as Alice.

Once the majority of the locals are dead or scattered, Normandy comes in to evacuate Jack (after an aborted run in which she was fired upon by some old anti-air defenses).  The remainder of the party heads down to sub-level seven.

Corbett gets a chance to look at the sheaf of predictions, which have become blood-soaked.  The entry with his name on it says simply “85.3BT.39710.3245-A:  Stimson convinces Tokugawa”.  He cannot see what comes before or after this branch due to damage to the printout.

Vail contacts Normandy via the entanglement device.  He informs Mitch that the resistance has made contact with Bigend and they’ve gotten the details of his plan, including his fascination with the Ares Turing project.  He relays that Ares attempted three medium for hosting AIs.  Rasputin was hosted in a synthetic biomass.  Bigend’s “data bomb” is likely the third, meant to use the infostructure of an entire planet to attain sentience.  The first, however, was hosted in a human brain.

The party enters the security office, where Alice is supposedly hiding, and finds a damaged an emaciated young girl in a cryogenic chamber attached to an entire room of computers.  Alice can’t seem to look into this room, and experiences some cognitive dissonance attempting to understand where the party is and why they’re not where she is.  Corbett tries his best to understand the nature of the device, but comes to the conclusion that this is both the White Queen and Alice, and could not be removed from the Ares facility without extraordinary care and expertise.

The party opens locker nine to find a photo of a young girl, presumably the one in the chamber, and the jewelry box they were sent for.  Within the box is an ancient gold coin, marked in Greek with the name Alexandrius upon it – presumably a coin from Alexander’s reign.

The White Queen begins speaking over the facility’s loudspeakers as well as on Normandy – rambling a constant stream of predictions.  Normandy detects a radiation spike beneath the facility, indicating a meltdown.  The party flees to the surface and boards Normandy.  The voice of the White Queen begins chanting “all of the warriors, none of the poets” for several more moments, and finally, Alice speaks, asking “hey…where are you guys going?” before the Ares facility detonates.

 

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Armageddon Session Notes – 23 February 2013

Armageddon Session Notes – 23 February 2013

Corbett dreams of Chief Fagan, he can barely make out the words she’s attempting to tell him.  She says, “the funny thing about the K-F drive…the thing they don’t like telling people…Corbett?  Corbett stop staring at my tits, this is important…”

Corbett wakes as an uncomfortable effect of the Normandy’s gravity drive passes through him.  He notices that Gerst is missing from his bunk.  He finds him in the passage between the CIC and the bridge, where Blake had been revealed to be a false memory, where he presses Corbett with his photo of Bramer, Geers, and himself in which he insists he still sees Blake.

Later that morning, the team assembles their geer and examines the Ares site from orbit.  During the First Succession War, several nuclear weapons had been detonated on the planet, causing the already harsh environment to be even harsher.  The Ares facility is in ruins, but orbital reconnaissance shows several cook fires and activity in the area.  The team lands several miles out and approaches on foot.

Ian and Hudson approach a lone man cooking over an open fire in a burnt-out building on the outskirts of the worker town.  Once the man notices the Agamemnon insignia on the pair, he informs them that they’re late, and asks them if they’re original crew or “series 7”.  When asked what “series 7” is, he starts speaking of how a man named George owes him money.  He seems quite in the know about the fate of the Agamemnon and the Exodus and speaks regularly of stories told by the White Queen.  He asks if they’re alone, and tells them the Librarian will be overjoyed to see them.

The rest of the party approaches, and the man leads them into the facility, announcing to everyone he passes that they are original Agamemnon crew – the party gathers quite a crowd as they move several levels deep into the Ares facility and finally into a large cafeteria that is packed literally full of stacks of paper and filing cabinets.  In the center of the chaos they meet a wizened man, the Librarian.  He immediately begins asking questions, tracing the journey of the Agamemnon crew from the time of the misjump on.

Through inference and a few direct questions, the team discovers that the White Queen, presumably an AI, has been making predictions for two hundred years, and the caretakers of the facility have catalogued them and waited until the true predictions can be revealed.  As the questions are asked, the Librarian eventually has to turn to documents in a cabinet that appears separate and revered from the others.  His mood becomes very somber as he continues asking questions and tracing the branches of the predictions.

During the conversation, the voice of a young girl breaks into the team’s radios.  She informs the team that she’d been trapped in a security closet for some time, having been brought to the facility by a fanatical father.  She also makes the obvious statement that the Librarian is not entirely stable and that he’s currently reading from a “very bad cabinet” and that the team should be ready to act.

Finally, the Librarian asks a few seemingly innocuous questions, and ends finally by looking up to Corbett – having reached a path that ends with the destruction of Rasputin – and asks him why he felt he had to do it, and pulls a sidearm.

 

 

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Armageddon Session Notes – 9 February 2013

Armageddon Session Notes – 9 February 2013

The party finds itself in a second prison in nearly as many days, this one is a few levels above ground and audibly near a flight path.

John Hubble comes in to speak with the prisoners.  He explains to the party that the entire invasion was designed to end the Third Succession War – which obviously back-fired.  He explains that the Clan assault isn’t an invasion, it’s a retreat.  He says that the human race probably only has five years left to it.  As he leaves, he mentions that even if humanity had a few centuries to prepare, it may not be enough.  The team infers from this that the Clans are being driven home by an alien race, perhaps the Consu that the party had previously encountered.

During the subsequent conversation, Millet reveals that the League base on Persephone 2 was researching ruins believed to be alien in origin.  She mentions that she was told of them by Ian.

That night, the voice of Mr. Case comes from the intercom in the cell block.  He explains to Janks that the key to the data bomb could be found on “Sub-level 7, locker 9″ and that it’s a small gold jewelry box, approximately 6″ by 2″ by 2”.

The next day, the roar of LAM engines precedes the hand of a Phoenix Hawk tearing open the wall – outside, two Phoenix Hawks painted in the black of the Black Knights with Star League insignia begin laying into the surrounding area.  A tilt-rotor craft hovers into position, and a squad of marines piles into the cell block, tossing smoke grenades and laying down covering fire.  Sergeant Major Barret strides into the fray and works to break the party from their cells.  As they begin to retreat for the aircraft, an unseen soldier with a handgun begins firing out of the smoke.  Three marines drop with three shots.  The team retreats into the aircraft and flies clear under cover of the Phoenix Hawks.

After a few moments, Lance Geers mutters, “Oh…oh hell…”, and dies quietly in his seat from small arms wounds.

They arrive along with several other similar flights in an empty field outside the city.  Colonel Vail is there, directing the evacuation to a number of small military drop-ships.  Stella is given a small interceptor to fly escort.  The party boards a dropship piloted by Rance along with Vail and the evacuation takes flight and makes orbit.  In the distance, the party catches sight of a McKenna-class battleship and its distinctive centrifuge.  Vail identifies it as McKenna’s Pride – Kerensky’s flagship.  He says it was brought in a few months after the battle.

Vail notes, “the way I see it, the motherfuckers owe us a McKenna-class battleship.”

The dropships are pursued by a number of system patrol craft and a squadron of superiority fighters.  Stella attempts to fend them off, but her fighter is severely damaged.

Vail activates one of the Clan gravity devices, and a few moments later, as the dropships are about to be overcome, Alabama jumps in ahead and begins laying down covering fire.  The dropships make emergency landings in Alabama’s recovery bay, and Normandy swoops in and rescues Stella.  Both ships jump free of the combat.

Aboard Alabama there’s a warm homecoming celebration, and the team is debriefed by Vail and Montenegro.  After telling their story, they’re informed that a sizable fleet has been gathered from many of the houses of the Inner Sphere, but it’s still not enough to break the siege of New Samarkand.  With so many heads of state involved, the situation has become extremel political and it’s very possible that the message of unity in the face of invasion would fall on deaf ears.  Also during the conversation, Millet reveals that she has a majority of her memories, but had stayed silent.

The team decides to split off from Alabama in the Normandy and head to Cromwell to pursue Bigend’s key.

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Armageddon Session Notes – 26 January 2013

Armageddon Session Notes – 26 January 2013

The team returns to the bunker and compiles a list of supplies for Bigend.

The following day, Ian and Janks head back downtown and strategic place projectors around the office building – the plan being to project a Cameron Cross, the symbol of the Star League, upon all faces of the building at the conclusion of the operation.

The next night, the team infiltrates the building adjacent to the Ares building.  They leave Stella on the 37th floor with a sniper rifle and proceed up to the 42nd floor, where they use a zip line to cross the span between the buildings and break into the former Ares office on the 37th floor.

After a few seconds plugged into the local network, Mr. Case reports that the data he’s looking for isn’t there, but his “intelligence is unimpeachable”, and that the data bomb, several petabytes in size, must be there, likely hidden in something at least the size of a bread box.  The team fans out to search the office space, which has been very thoroughly cleaned out.

In an executive suite, Ian and Corbett stumble across a coffee machine looking very out of place in the abandoned and stripped office.  Nearby is a painting that Corbett recognizes as identical to the one in the heuristics creche on Cromwell.  Ian snatches up the machine and Corbett the painting just as the emergency lights blaze to life and a troop of Clan marines takes position at the other end of the suite.

The troop is led by the Warrior John Hubble, who attempts to get the team to surrender before Stella snipes one of the marines and starts a firefight.  The Clan troops use non-lethal drugged flechettes, and the Agamemnon crew attempts to stall them using non-lethal (and occasionally comedic) tactics.

The non-lethal tactics seem to work on the Clan troops, who begin firing very sporadically and without enthusiasm for hitting their target – all except Hubble.  The team sends another zipline to the neighboring building and make their escape and everyone makes it to the other side, except for Janks, who as the last one out, is hit by Hubble and loses consciousness.  Unable to rescue him under rocket attack from the Clan Elementals on the ground, the team makes their escape.

Upon returning to the bunker, the team finds it in a state of evacuation.  Bigend receives the coffee machine and its massive data cargo happily, and informs the team that Janks’ capture isn’t as dire as it may sound.  His next task is to get the team off-planet to retrieve the key to the data bomb from the Ares labs on Cromwell.

“Cromwell again?” exclaims Millet, “These guys almost died last time.”  A few wonder how Millet recalled the pre-jump event.

Bigend has been informed that a massive jailbreak is underway to get the Agamemnon survivors off the planet – but unfortunately he’s been unable to communicate with the resistance to inform them of the party’s whereabouts.  In a fairly oblique chain of logic, Bigend concludes that the easiest way to reunite the team with Janks and get them off the planet so they’re free to travel to Cromwell (not to mention netting a significant reward if he plays his cards right), is to simply subdue the party and turn them over to the Clan authorities.

Which he does.

The session ends in jail.  Again.

 

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Armageddon Session Notes: 12 January 2013

Armageddon Session Notes: 12 January 2013

The party and Bigend retire to a private room to dine and talk.  When asked about himself, he is very elusive, insisting that he’s simply an entrepreneur affected adversely by the occupation, but the team is suspicious, and Jack is sure he’d overheard the name in conversation during his leave in Shenzhan during Agamemnon’s refit.

Bigend introduces the team to Jane Sagan, a Clan Warrior who had defected to the resistance.  After answering some speculation about the nature of the Warriors, the following points are discussed:

  • There’s a considerable rift in the Clans about the nature of the Agamemnon heroes.  Many see their fighting on the side of the Inner Sphere as a sign that the Khans have been grossly misguided.  Indeed, many thought that the mass driver was just to be used as a threat of force, and it wasn’t until Persephone that they realized the horrifying truth.  By and large, the Clan personnel “trained to think”, such as engineers, scientists, officers, have tended to be much more susceptible to sedition than the rank and file.
  • Clan Wolf has taken over securing New Samarkand after the Ghost Bears were severely bloodied in the battle.
  • To Jane’s knowledge, only one of the mass drivers was built.  She also states that only one came in the passage across the void with them.
  • When asked about technological doodads, she states that the most advanced thing she knew of was Normandy, and that had been stolen by the Agamemnon crew already.  The Normandy was a closely-held secret, the only reason she knew of its existence was that she had been stationed on it briefly during the passage.  She didn’t know what Normandy’s ill-fated mission to the storage cache was about.
  • The strategic situation is that there are a number of powerful battleships and cruisers stationed at New Samarkand now, and even with the combined forces of Houses Steiner and Davion with the Combine, there’s little chance of them being able to secure the skies above the planet without the target being softened first.
  • A very strong resistance movement is still fighting in the planet’s southern continent.  Led by a man referred to as “The General”, they’re meeting with some success, but don’t have access to the planet’s valuable assets to the north.  The common assumption is that The General is General Hsu, from the Combine Defense Forces stationed on the planet, but the Clans claim they’ve executed him.  Attempts to make contact with cells of this resistance movement have so far failed.
  • Bigend notes that unlike most planets of the Inner Sphere, New Samarkand retains a majority of its infostructure, which has the potential of allowing cyberwarfare, such as the type Mr. Case engages in, to delay or disable some of the fleet.
  • Furthermore, he believes there’s an opportunity to gain defectors, or at least lower the morale, of the Clan fleet by using the Agamemnon crew as figureheads.  Since the crews had been aboard ship for nearly three years, they’re being rotated to ground duty, which should allow the party a chance to affect some hearts and minds before they’re shipped back to posts in orbit.
Bigend’s mission for the squad is to infiltrate a series of Ares Arms offices in an office building downtown that has been secured by the Clans and get Mr. Case access to their computer systems, all the while “being seen” – and making an impression on the impressionable – hopefully earning some recruits at the same time.  Case will download the cyberweaponry expected to be on the central servers, and the team will make an escape.
That night, when attempting to find the head, Ian stumbles upon Bigend’s quarters and witnesses the man changing his shirt.  His torso is covered with tattoos of all different fonts and sizes, all of which reading “All of the warriors, none of the poets”.  He doesn’t mention the sighting to the rest of the party.
The next day, the party gets some civilian gear and heads out to take a look at the office complex.  The building in question has been secured by the Clans, all employees wear security badges, and the building is guarded by a star of Elementals – two at the front entrance, one at a rear loading dock, and two on the roof with a small specialty jump craft.  Ian swipes a badge from an employee approaching the doors and infiltrates the building.  He finds that the elevators and the stairwells all require propert authorization to get through, and is unable to get to the Ares Arms offices in question before being pursued by security.  As he slips out of the building barely ahead of pursuit, he notes that the security apparatus of the office building have captured a photo of him.
The party heads back to the bolt hole to plan the breach.

 

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Armageddon Session Notes: 8 December 2012

Armageddon Session Notes: 8 December 2012

The session begins with a cut-scene…

Mitch,

The flak explosions and weapons fire in the kill zone between the two Clan cruisers is so thick, it’s filling the bridge of Normandy with a pulsing, flickering orange glow.  The ship is rattling constantly with the turbulence of so many detonations.

“Faro, let’s squeak out ahead and put a shot into that missile blister.”

“You got it, boss.”

“Major,” calls out Spunkmeyer, “looks like a flight of bombers approaching from 213-karem-one-two.”

“Yup, I see them.”  You wave you hand over Normandy’s virtual controls, switching your communication channel.  “Dire Wolf Blue – a flight of bombers is about to crest that cruiser to your starboard.”

“We’ll be waiting for ‘em, Normandy.”

“We’re heading to 179 once we’re clear of these cruisers,” comes Summerville’s voice over the flight channel.  He seems calm, relaxed.  You’re not sure you would be if your positions were reversed.

The larger of the two Clan cruisers begins to roll, and time stops as you see the massive naval particle cannon come to bear on Agamemnon.  The maths start running through your head – the cruiser’s roll rate, Agamemnon’s velocity, the weapon’s devastating potential against Agamemnon’s compromised hull – and for the second time this year, some deep academy training has you jump in front of the grenade.

“FARO!  Quick stop!  RCS Z-plus-five NOW!”  Normandy lurches in the impossible maneuver, the gravity drive turning the move into a gentle nudge.  Agamemnon rockets past to your port, and the massive cannon discharges into Normandy’s starboard beam.

The ship is sent into a tight, uncontrolled spiral – hurtling away from the battle at incredible speed. The gravity drive is the only thing keeping any of the crew alive, and that is taxed beyond its ability to function properly. Across the compartment, Spunkmeyer is crushed to a pulp again the port bulkhead, high-pressure rivulets of blood coursing through the nooks and crannies of his station. Faro is faring better, crushed against her harness, the skin of her cheek starting to peel away. On the starboard side of the cabin, the drive is compensating well, making you feel as if you are undertaking an incredibly high-g maneuver, and but little more.  The master alarm klaxon blares in your ears, and in the background, Becker’s voice is carrying on about remembering Kerensky’s dream.

There’s no way the ship survives this spin, you think.  The maths run through your head – it would take too long to counteract the spin with the RCS thrusters – eventually the computer won’t be able to keep track with the gravity drive, and you’ll end up like Spunkmeyer.

Unless…
You make the decision in an instant.  Nudge your head against the seat to align the augment glasses properly on your face, and swipe your fingers into the air as much as you’re able – releasing safety after safety, and then, with what you’re sure is your last breath, Faro screaming in pain over the wail of the master alarm, you trigger a jump.

Everything goes black.

Minutes or hours later, you regain consciousness.  The ship is completely powered-down.  The air is still and thick with the smell of gore.  You reach out and feel around until you find Faro’s hand.

“Faro…you alive?”

She squeezes your hand and draws in a long breath.

“Did we do it?” she asks.
“I don’t know.”
“Where are we?”
“Heh…I don’t know.”

Just then, a blinding light shines in through the starboard bridge viewport and the emergency radio scritches to life.

“Normandy, Normandy, Alabama S-A-R – we’ve got ya little brother – we’ll be aboard in two minutes.”

Faro lets out a half-chuckle, half-cough.  “Gonna pass out now, boss.”

“Yeah Faro…me too.”

Six months pass.

Janks, you, Corbett, Geers, Gerst, Jack, Madge, and Ian…are in your cells.

 

Three Agamemnon escape pods carrying thirty survivors landed in the middle of a massive corporate grain field, leaving the marines nowhere to go, and the party was picked up within a week of the invasion.  During the first month of their capture, the non-League personnel were winnowed away, never to return, leaving only Janks, Jack, Geers, Gerst, Corbett, Laura Millet, Hudson, and a Captain Ian Colson from signal intelligence.  After the first month, the survivors were transferred to a permanent facility somewhere beneath the capital city of Shinzan.

Three months after their capture, a very tan, somewhat feral-looking Stella is delivered into a cell int he same block, having been captured after undertaking a one-woman guerrilla war.

The party is interrogated, almost politely, and never about anything terribly critical.  Once they clam up and give only name/rank/serial number, they’re taken back to their cells.  They do manage to discover that the Clan forces have captured more than just these original Star League soldiers, and that the non-League personnel had been “processed”.  There was one Warrior stationed in the facility, they find out his name is John Hubble, and he’s incredibly effective in preventing the party from fashioning weapons or otherwise facilitating an escape.

For reasons no one can fathom, Ian and Hudson are kept in the same cell, where they find plenty of ways to while away the days, much to the rest of the party’s dismay.

Six months into their imprisonment, their dinner is served to them by Simms – looking extremely worse for wear.  He so completely avoids acknowledging the party that some fear that he may have turned traitor to save his skin.

A week after the mysterious appearance of Sims, during the party’s self-imposed morning calisthenics, all of the magnetic locks in their cell block release.

After a moment of confusion, the party snaps into action.  Janks disables the lone guard outside the door of the cell block.  Ian takes the guard’s clothes and, along with Hudson, talks his way in close to the guard int he next cell block over, allowing Hudson to subdue him.  The party examines the occupants of the second block, but doesn’t recognize anyone.

Up on the interrogation level, Ian again talks his way through the security checkpoint, allowing Hudson to, in a really quite spectacular display, disable the three Clan marines stationed nearby.

Now mostly armed, the party exits the prison level and enters an administrative area.  Ian encounters an office worker and occupies her while trying to scope out the nearby kitchens.  Several members of the party hear Simms’ voice coming from an equipment room nearby.  Stella bursts into the room to find a Clan officer about to execute Simms, and neatly dispatches the officer.

The gunfire brings Clan marines to the scene, and a very brief firefight ensues.  Simms leads the party through the kitchens and out into a delivery truck that was standing by.  Simms introduces two men int he back of the truck, Case – who appeared to be plugged into a computer – and Billy, who had been acting as a lookout.  Sims tells the party that he’d been hired by a man named Bigend who has a vested interest in getting the Clans off of New Samarkand.

After an hours-long trip through several checkpoints, many of them guarded by Battlemechs, the truck finally arrives at an underground bunker built from a converted waste water transfer system.  The party moves through a small crowd of people, and encounter a small shrine against a wall of a passage – containing flowers, candles, small wooden carvings of the Agamemnon, pictures, and other such mementos, above which the words “Becker Lives” are spray-painted.

A large man greets the party, saying “Well then…Welcome to the Resistance.”

 

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Interlude: Stella

Interlude:  Stella

Stella…
You’re streaking beneath the flak cloud of the Clan cruiser, strafing everything that looks like a weapon, your hand cramping from holding the flight channel open with your thumb and the trigger down with your index finger.  You’ve been firing your main drive non-stop since Agamemnon took off, and at the edge of your vision you’re watching the reaction mass indicator plummeting towards zero.
“We’re heading to 179 once we’re clear of these cruisers,”  Summerville’s voice is all business, but relaxed.  You feel her behind you, a mile-long behemoth, burning from a thousand wounds, hurtling through the battle with no regard to her own safety.

There are fewer and fewer voices on the flight channel.
“Normandy just bought it!” cries Flannery.  Soon after, she too goes silent.

You clear the cruiser and come to 179.  There’s something in the way.
“Destroyer.”  You call out.
“We’re going through it,” replies Summerville, infuriatingly calm.
You decide to go around, expending the last of your autocannon ammunition against its dorsal anti-torpedo guns.

Then there’s nothing left but clear sky between you and the mass driver.  You give the throttle a nudge, even though there’s nowhere for it to go.  Agamemnon lets out a massive broad-spectrum burst transmission, the local EM spikes as she fires her hyperpulse generator for the last time, like a battle-cry.  As your ship’s communication system tries to disassemble it, your reaction mass runs dry.

Agamemnon, still accelerating, rockets past you – the forty-meter-tall letters streaking by just meters from your wing.  You miss the rotation of the centrifuge by a hair, her long body streaming past, and finally the massive transit drives.

The computer blurts out the part of the transmission meant for you.

You sit…stunned…as Agamemnon crashes into the mass driver.  Stunned…as your ship follows a ballistic trajectory into the expanding cloud of debris.  Stunned…as chunks of metal the size of small villages hurtle around you.  Stunned…as your ship rockets out the other side of the explosion, none the worse for wear but for some minor dings.  Stunned…as you watch New Samarkand getting bigger and bigger in your view.

“Ship…repeat last…”

Becker’s voice, “Tell the fighters thank you from the Agamemnon.  And thank you, major.”

Stunned.
Finally, “Did that sanctimonious bitch just promote me?!?!?!”

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Ascension Finale – 10 November 2012

Ascension Finale – 10 November 2012

As the enemy fleet jumps in and forms up, a number of events take place on Agamemnon.

First, Stella discovers that Flannery, newly promoted to Lieutenant Junior-Grade, is imitating her in many ways.  Stella let’s out a battle cry in the launch bay, inspiring the pilots considerably.  Second, Gerst shows up to stand watch at the main reactor with Corbett in tow.  He tells Janks that “there ain’t no non-combattants today”.  Janks accepts Corbett back for duty.  Finally, Vail arrives on the CIC with Jameson and Sims in tow and formally presents Becker with Admiral’s stars.  Apparently, Rance had done the leg-work into Star League military law and found precedents for the disconnected promotion.  The battle begins with a cutscene.

As the opposing fleets close, a message spreads through the galaxy, from HPG to HPG, broadcast and rebroadcast on every frequency….

“This is colonel Becker of the Agamemnon.

We are at war.  If you haven’t yet faced them, know this:  Their technology is better than what we have.  They never forgot.

Our enemies are the remnants of general Kerensky’s Exodus.  It failed, and this is what came.

You may try to negotiate with them, if they are even willing to talk at all.  I suspect they are headed to New Samarkand to destroy it.  With all the consequences that will have, for all of you.  It may be that bending your knees to them will preserve your lives, for now.  But you will be little more than slaves. Or you can choose to stand against them.  To fight them, to protect what you have, those you love.

If you have ships near New Samarkand, I ask that you send them to aid in the defense.  Not just for its own sake, but for yours as well.  If New Samarkand falls, it will have grave impact on the rest of the settled worlds.

The Last Legion of the Star League stands at New Samarkand.  Will you stand with us?

And to you of the Clans who are listening:

I knew general Kerensky.  Two centuries ago, I chose to go into exile with him, as did the crew of the Agamemnon.  Through fate’s throw of the dice, we never got to join them.
I see now what general Kerensky’s children have become.

What you are doing is not what he would have wanted.  He _chose_ to leave, and with him went almost all of what remained of the Star League Defense Force.  By choice.  We _chose_ to leave.  Because we believed in him.  His dream was to return and rebuild, to aid the settled worlds and return them to their former glory.

We will keep general Kerensky’s dream alive.

If you wish to attempt to tear that dream apart, we will stand against you.

We still keep his vision.  You can still be his legacy.  Cease your attacks on the worlds.  Join us instead in returning what was lost, rebuilding what was destroyed, to fulfill general Kerensky’s dream.  Honour his spirit and his memory, and help us protect and rebuild the world as he would have wanted it.”

The battle group engaging Agamemnon is centered on a huge battleship, easily twice the mass of Agamemnon, as well as a pair of cruisers, several frigates, a destroyer, two flotillas of Union-class dropships, and several squadrons of fighters.  The ensuing battle is pitched and brutal.  Briscoe is lost in the first volley, putting Stella in charge of Agamemnon’s squadrons.  Normandy uses her maneuverability to slip behind the lines and cause havoc to the smaller warships, and Alabama valiantly tries to prevent one of the cruiser groups from flanking the engagement.

Over the course of the battle, Alabama loses combat effectiveness and jumps clear of the engagement.  As Agamemnon is being forced to engage both a heavy cruiser and the Ghost Bear mammoth battleship, a group of smaller warships join the fight, led by the Hard Eight, commanded by Gentleman Roderick Black, who had survived Cerberus because “you obviously underestimate my ability to run like a little girl from danger”.  Black’s fleet engages the cruiser and allows Agamemnon to focus on the battleship.

Becker orders a small flotilla of Leopard-class dropships that had been rigged with explosives to advance on the mass driver.  They manage to clear a generous percentage of the mass driver’s destroyer screen, but do only minimal damage to the superweaon itself.

Multiple torpedo hits strike both sides of the pitched battle between the battleships, until finally Chief Galliard fires a volley that deals the killing blow to the enemy.  The session ends with a cutscene.

Mitch, the Normandy finishes a loop and pulls around the burning hulk of the massive Ghost Bear battleship and your breath catches, your heart sinks.

 

“Holy…holy shit….  Faro, let’s do a flyby.”
You close in on the Agamemnon, the despair rising as the details get clearer.  You switch over to the flight channel.
“Flight, Normandy, fire report, request Actual.”

 

 

Kim, on the CIC, Colonel Summerville is still trying to get his arms around the damage control situation, and you’re conferring privately with the fleet captains, Natasha Kerensky is speaking.
“Despite our best efforts, the rimward flank is falling to pieces.  I fear that our options are quickly being reduced to ‘lose New Samarkand’ or ‘lose New Samarkand AND the fleet’.  If we have any chance of getting out of here, we’re going to need a rear-guard or they’ll tear us to pieces bringing up our transit drives.”

 

Lieutenant Baker chimes in.  “Admiral, I’ve got Vagabond…sorry…Normandy Actual on a flyby with a fire report, he wants you to hear this.”
You set down the receiver.  “Alright, let’s have it.”
Mitch’s voice crackles in over the CIC loudspeaker.
“Okay Flight, you’ve got an uncontrolled plasma fire out of the ventral conduit aft of frame seventy-five, and another from the dorsal conduit just forward of frame fifty-three threatening the main reactor and the launch bay fuel reserves.  Damn…it looks like you took that nuke in the receiving dock, the primary recovery bay is exposed to space in several places.  The flight center and forward particle cannons are completely gone, and it looks like this end of the K-F drive might have been affected in the explosion.”

 

The CIC has fallen dead silent during the report.  All eyes are on you, and yours are locked with Colonel Summerville’s.  Something passes between you and his features soften, he smiles sadly and gives the tiniest of nods, then walks over to the comm station, puts a headset on, and starts conversing quietly.

 

You take a deep breath and let it out slowly.
“Weps, what’s the status of the forward torpedo tubes?”
Chief Galliard doesn’t miss a beat.  “Ma’am, I believe the gun crews are dead but I retain remote control of the weapons and loaders.”
“Very well, transfer fire control of the forward torpedo bays to the Helm.  Chief of the Boat, make your heading two-three-nine-karem-four-six, ahead one-eighth.”
“Aye, skipper!  Helm, hard to port to two-three-nine, aft thrusters to z-minus-seven, ahead one-eighth.”
You take a long, slow look across the CIC and lock eyes with every soul in turn.
“Secure your stations, clear the bridge.”
You pick up your handset and switch to the ship-wide comms.
“All hands, this is Admiral Becker.  Abandon ship.  I repeat, all hands, abandon ship.”

 

 

Stella, you’re between targets when Colonel Summerville’s voice comes across the fleet-wide channel.
“All players, be advised, Agamemnon is under immediate threat of reactor breach, we’re abandoning ship.  We’re about to light up the sky here – use it to start your run out of the well.”
The radio explodes with activity as elements of the fleet attempt to disengage and fire their transit drives.
“Dire Wolf secondaries, move to sector seven and cover the fighter recovery.”
“Belisarius, establish a picket across sector two.”
“Fury S-A-R you have ten minutes to grab as many pods as you can, then get the hell back here.”
One voice comes through on your squadron channel.
“Agamemnon Echo Lead, Kojiwa Flight, we have berths for your squadron, approach from starboard for recovery.”
You squeeze the stick so hard your gloves creak, switch your comms over to the fleet-wide channel, and reply.
“Now listen to me, Kojiwa, you tell Admiral Ling that the last legion of the Star League makes its stand at New Samarkand. We’ll be here when you get back.”
You switch over to the Agamemnon channel.
“Alpha, Charlie, Delta, make sure nobody harasses our escape pods, Bravo…Flannery…we’re the tip of the spear, let’s make sure the old girl gets where she’s goin’.”
“Roger that, Captain.”
You switch back to the fleet channel and start hearing reports….
“Echo Lead, Dire Wolf Blue Squadon, we’re with you.”
“Kojiwa Fox here, what’s left of us anyway, call it, Echo.”
You line up next to Normandy off of Agamemnon’s burning bow and take a deep sigh.
“Well…okay then…”

 

 

Kim, you’re slowly pacing around the map table in the silent CIC, watching the fleet maneuver and the escape pods trickle away from the ship.  Agamemnon feels strange beneath your feet, the vibration of the deckplates isn’t right, the sound of the power plants strained.  Once everything appears to be moving the right direction, you climb into the primary helmsman’s seat, ensure you have control of the forward torpedoes and grip the ship’s control yoke for the first time since you woke.
You’re trying to figure out how to maneuver the ship where it needs to go without a pilot in the second seat, when Justin steps down from the engineering station and settles in behind the controls.  He flips a few switches and lays his hand on the master throttle between you, giving you a warm smile.
“Your orders, Admiral?”
And in his eyes you remember…everything….  When you first met on Agamemnon’s landing deck.  The endless arguments.  The tour that changed everything on the run to Earth at the end of the Amaris rebellion.  Your shore leave together on Santiago.  The days.  The nights.  Every moment since you first met – and you can see that he remembers too.
You lay your hand over his, fingers entwining over the throttle, blinking back tears.
“All ahead Flank, Mr. Summerville.”

 


Janks, you had to take the long way around to the nearest bank of escape pods, and you’ve been picking up wounded along the way, using carabiners to chain the unconscious or immobile together in trains to be pulled by your men.  Corbett is hooked to Captain Milet, trying to treat her severe plasma burns while Gerst pulls both through the passage.
You reach the escape pods, pile everyone into the nearest, take a second to look around to make sure you’re leaving no one behind, seal the door, and trigger the launch.
After a very brief high-G burst, there’s silence.  No klaxons.  No sound of explosions.  No strained wail of metal.  Just the sound of Corbett giving chest compressions to the wounded engineer.
“one…two…three….four…five……one…two…three…four…five”
Out the viewport you see Agamemnon burning from a hundred different wounds.  You see a swarm of sixty, maybe seventy miscellaneous fighters – mainly Agamemnon’s own Shivas, but dozens of others as well – form up around the Normandy ahead of her.

 

Then her main engines ignite…and she soars.

 

You’ve never seen a ship that big move so deftly – it requires a flight crew that’s as intimate with each other as they are with their ship.  With her screen of fighters blazing a trail, she loops around the wreck of the mammoth and passes between two heavy cruisers.  The fighters raze the weapons along the enemy ships so they can’t fire as Agamemnon deftly threads the needle.  You see dozens of tiny starbursts as the fighters are destroyed, and Normandy takes a broadside from a naval particle cannon that sends her spinning off into the void, aflame, but they give far more than they take.

 

A woman’s voice comes over the civilian rescue channel, raspy, choked-up.  “Thank you, Agamemnon.”

 

It doesn’t take long before the enemy realizes what’s happening.  One of the mass driver’s destroyer screen makes a valiant attempt to put itself between Agamemnon and the superweapon, but it’s ravaged by a pair of her heavy torpedoes, and like a flaming sword she barrels right through the remains and plummets into the side of the mass driver.
The superweapon cracks down the middle with secondary explosions occurring all along its length, and begins to break up.

 

Off in the distance, you see the fleet engage their transit drives and speed away, while the Clan forces immediately begin reconfiguring for a ground assault.

 

Your escape pod begins to rattle as you enter the atmosphere, becoming one of tens of thousands of falling stars in the skies over New Samarkand.

 

Thus ends Chapter Two.

 

 

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