[Author’s note: This was a story I started back when I was assisting with the secret production of Jihad Secrets: Blake Documents. I had intended for it to be published via Battlecorps shortly after the book’s release, but then completely forgot about it. I rediscovered it during my Wars of Reaving writing, did some tweaking to fit that material, and then promptly forgot about it again. Until about a week ago. I decided I needed more of my stuff on my blog, even if it’s not ‘canon’ to the universe, so here it is.
That said, this is entirely a work of fan fiction and not canon. You can read Part I here. ~BHR]
Evciler, Clan Jade Falcon OZ
12 August 3071
18 hours earlier
Brian Pryde stood on the small rise, surveying the small Falcon encampment below. These were his people, his warriors. But they did not fight for him. Nor did they fight for the Clan.
They fought only for themselves.
Alpha Galaxy’s creation was not the inspiration of Khan Marthe Pryde, despite her official declaration. It was, in reality, the brainchild of Loremaster Kael Pershaw.
Formed from a mix of skilled Watch warriors and elite non-Bloodnamed solahma, Alpha was never meant to be a front-line unit. It was instead a Clan version of an Inner Sphere special operations unit; its members were carefully vetted and selected by some arcane process only Pershaw understood. The result was a carefully blended mix of skills, experience and temperaments where every member had two things in common—shame and age.
Alpha Galaxy was a disgraced Clansman’s ultimate second chance. Solhama units only went out to die a glorious death, in hopes that maybe their genetic material could be part of the nutrient bath that helped soak and birth the next generation of warriors. While Alpha did offer that, it gave its members a chance at redeemed honor. To die not just for personal honor, but for the Clan.
They were the perfect tool for saKhan Clees’ psychological tactics. None of these warriors cared if they were stained with the disgrace of retreat. They only cared if they could fight. And fight some more.
By the Loremaster’s decree—and by default, the Khan’s—none of the members of the Galaxy could possess a Bloodname, save their Galaxy Commander. Pershaw believed the lack of Bloodnames—and the lost hope of ever attaining one—made every member equal. The mix of skills, the reliance on teamwork over individuality, the shared ‘doom’ of never attaining the Clan’s highest honor, it was all designed to make the warriors bond into a fighting force that would help the Galaxy face down and complete operations that front-line units would never stoop to undertake.
Alpha’s warriors were nothing more than a blunt hammer, if used in this way. But in the hands of a warrior with the Clan’s honor at heart, they could be so much more.
More specifically, the Falcon’s katana.
Fresh from a Bloodname victory for one of the prestigious Pryde lineages, Brian had been immediately promoted to command only a few weeks prior to their arrival on Evciler. His first test as the Galaxy’s commander came when the Hellions made planetfall.
And he had failed.
He shifted his feet as he thought again of the whirlwind assault by the Hellions that day. The attack was so quick, so fast, he had lost all of his Starmates within a few minutes.
The personal shame was enormous. The tension in camp afterward was so thick he knew he had immediately lost all of his warriors’ respect. His Bloodname, once the pinnacle of his Clan life, was now a dirtied, sullied albatross hanging around his neck.
He looked about, noting the deepening darkness. His knees ached, indicating how long he had stood on the hillock. But he did not move.
The Khan’s plan was sound. It was exactly what he would have done, in her position. He knew Alpha would do what was required.
But it would not regain his peoples’ respect. Not without adjusting the saKhan’s orders.
There was only one thing he could do.
I am Jade Falcon.
Breathing deep, he started down the hill.
As he waited for the enemy below, Brian settled back into the Jupiter’s command couch. He refused to be distracted by checking his systems over for the millionth time; he trusted this ‘Mech with his life. If Fate decreed he die today in this cockpit, so be it.
Soon enough, the command circuit clicked on. “I assume that is you in that monstrosity sitting atop the hill, Galaxy Commander Pryde?” The voice was full of ego and sarcasm; it could only belong to the Hellion Khan.
“Aff, Khan Montose. As we agreed last night, I am here to talk, warrior to warrior.”
“Quisling whelp to Khan, you mean,” Rood replied. Brian ignored the goad.
“I am here to declare a Trial of Possession, Khan.”
The laughter on the other end of the comm relay peaked into static. “A Trial? Surely you are joking, you senile old man.”
Brian suppressed a snort. “Yes, Khan, a Trial of Possession, in fact. For your DropShips.” He keyed in a series of coordinates.
The sound of Montose’s laughter crackled through the cockpit speaker. “Only my DropShips? No, no. That just won’t do,” she responded after a moment. “I suggest something with more flair, you tightwad of a Falcon. We will Trial for each other. I emerge victorious, all of your Galaxy is mine. And if you somehow defy the odds, then I—and only I—will be your bondsman.”
Pryde frowned. He had meant to insult her with his Trial, but to put the entire Galaxy at risk? He noted a flashing light on his comm board. Keying the private channel, he said “That didn’t go as planned, my Khan.”
“Nonsense. I think it is working splendidly,” replied Clees, her voice scratchy through his earpiece. “I have faith in you and Alpha to do what needs done for Clan Jade Falcon.”
He nodded, swallowing hard, keenly aware of his own personal stigma weighing on his shoulders. “As you wish, my Khan.” He switched the comm relay back to the open band.
“The amended terms are accepted. With what forces do you defend?” Brian scrutinized the Hellions below as word spread their Khan was being challenged by the warrior on the hill.
“I will set aside my right for a champion and take you on myself. The entire Blizzard Star of the Forbidden Ice Cluster, part of the Ice Hellion Alpha Galaxy, will attend as witnesses.” Brian could hear the older woman smiling through the comm relay. “Here, on these plains, in a kilometer radius from where you stand. In thirty minutes.”
Interesting. “Seylah. Well bargained and done, Khan Montose. I await you with anticipation.”
“Enjoy your last thirty minutes in this universe, Galaxy Commander. Know that you have failed your Clan once again. Twice in three days, even.”
Brian winced. “You are a true Hellion warrior, Khan Montose, counting nerat eggs before they have even cracked. Pryde out.” He snapped off the circuit and switched to another line. “Did you hear, my Khan?”
“Yes. Excellent work, Galaxy Commander. Remember, Khan Montose is treacherous; I do not know why she mentioned who would witness this, and that gives me reason to believe she is planning something. You do know about this Star, do you not?”
“Aff, my Khan. They are ProtoMechs and fanatically loyal to the Khan. Some say too loyal, with no regard to the rest of the Clan.”
“Very well then. Keep in mind that if you fail, the consequences will be severe.”
“Then make sure you lose. And therefore, win.”
[The story concludes with Part III.]