Damned Mercs (c) 2004-2012, Jerod J. Husvar
“Damned mercs… I don’t know why they’re allowed to exist!” said Kevin, from his side of the campfire.
“No shit, man! All they care about is the cash, they’ll fight for anyone, and they have no honor and no loyalty. Greedy bastards,” replied Daveed from his spot on a log nearby.
The discussion went around and around like this for a good 15 minutes and then Commander Nate decided it was time to speak up, and maybe teach these recruits a little history that very few people beyond his circle of old friends and family knew, or cared, about.
“My children, you know not of what you speak. Not every mercenary lacks honor, in fact most have a strong sense of it. What you hear from the media is never the whole story. It is often completely fictional so that the populace doesn’t deviate from the attitudes and loyalty the rulers want you to feel. I will tell you the story of a merc I knew, gods, it’s been twenty years gone by now. An ‘honorless merc’ who saved an entire village on Kikuyu by destroying a Jade Falcon Masakari with a beat-to-hell Commando that had been modded out as a utility mech for clearing brush from train tracks.”
Darien looked over at the ‘Old Man’ and laughed, “Come on OM, you’re full of it! There is no way a single merc in a Commando could destroy a Masakari!”
“Darien, you are walking proof of my theory that we’re so desperate for people who can pilot mechs in this campaign that we’re willing to recruit anyone with good reflexes, no matter how slow the rest of their nervous system is. Now shut up and learning something, for once.”
The other guys and gals around the campfire snorted at Darien and laughed, seeing he had, once again, been knocked down a peg by the OM. Everyone knew that the OM really liked him, though, even Darien.
The OM lit his pipe and began to tell his story… “
You all know the history of the beginning of the Clan invasion… How they appeared out of nowhere and before anyone knew it, the Inner Sphere was punctured like a melon hit by a ballista… We used a lot of Mercs because we had to then, we didn’t have enough regular soldiers and MechWarriors to even begin to protect the citizenry. And you all know how Tyra Miraborg was able to stop the Clan invasion with her suicide attack that killed ilKhan Leo Showers… But before that happened, the clan slaughtered its way forward.”
“When Jade Falcon arrived on Kikuyu, their goal was destroy the Eridani Light Horse garrisoned there, and they wanted to teach the populace that it wasn’t wise to accept mercs, even ELH mercs, on their world. Over the course of the battles at Kikuyu, many civilians were tortured, executed and left for their friends and family to find. Near the end of Jade Falcon’s decimation of ELH in July of 3053, it became a popular sport for JF mechwarriors to slip out into the countryside at night and raze villages. In an effort to keep supplies and food flowing around the planet, ELH had several old Commando’s modified with a bunch of flamers and a machine gun to travel along the railroad tracks at night and burn off trees and debris that had fallen across the rails from artillery attacks. One of the MechWarriors who loved this duty was a young man named Jace. He liked the job because it gave him a chance to get away from the crowded camps and have some to think about home, and a time when the horrible war might finally be over. On July 23rd, he was on a patrol and had stopped to get out of his Commando for a few minutes to get some fresh air and enjoy the stars shining overhead. He was about 40 km from the nearest village, when suddenly he heard a mayday call on the radio in his mech. He ran over to it and heard the tail end of the plea for help. ‘…God-forsaken Falcon Masakari attacking!!! Someone please help us… He’s heading for the children’s compound… PLEASE HELP US!'”
“Jace had his Commando powered up and headed along the railroad bed at 105 km/h, having his teeth shaken loose as he traveled at top speed over the railroad ties. He had no idea what to do, and radioed back to the camp where he was going and that he needed help, fast. The compound radioed back for Jace to try to distract the Masakari’s pilot and get him away from the village. Two of the ELH’s beloved Thunderbolts were on the way. But over the rough terrain, they were only making 34 km/hr. too long.”
The OM stood up and starting to walk around to get the kinks out of his legs… His “kids,” at this point complete wrapped up in the story, sat quietly as the pictured the scene of a Masakari laying waste to a village with its auto cannon blazing and beams of light and fire searing from its pulse lasers and PPC’s. It was a chilling and haunting thought. The OM tapped out his pipe, refilled and lit it, and continued with his story.
“Jace realized that there was no way his fellow Horsemen were ever going to reach the village in time unless he did something drastic and decisive. He formulated a plan in his mind and executed it with raw determination. Even 9 flamers were not going to do much damage to the Masakari, and his machine gun was only on there because the engineer who modded out the mech had an anachronistic streak that felt any armored vehicle HAD to have one machine gun. Period. Jace dug back into his mind to the lessons he’d had as a green MechWarrior… Blast radii, minimum safe distance, effective explosive equivalent… And he knew his Commando had enough left in her to do the job.”
“As Jace finished formulating his plan, he was within about 4 clicks of the village, and he radioed his plan back to the horsemen approaching from behind, some 25 km back along the tracks. The last thing he heard on the command channel was ‘Dear God, Jace, noooooooooo!’ The response was cut short as he turned off his radio and spotted the Masakari at nearly the same time. He thought about the archaic old expression his grandfather has used so often, “In for a penny, in for a pound.” “I’m in for a whole lot more than a pound, but this has got to work,” he thought.
“The Jade Falcon MechWarrior knew there were mechs on the way, but when he had seen a light mech coming at high speed he snorted and went about his horrific business of razing.”I will swat the little Horsefly when he gets here,” he had called back to his lance mates, and gave the Commando and its ELH pilot not another thought”
“Jace knew the other pilot wasn’t going to take a 20 ton mech loaded with flamers as an even a remote threat… He counted on it, in fact. When the Masakari pilot saw him come out of the break in the trees, he called out to him on an open com channel, “My right arm weighs more than you, little Horsefly, and has more firepower!” And let loose with a flight of LRM’s from the mentioned arm. He hadn’t even remotely tried to aim, and the missiles devastated a strand of oak trees 40m to the Commando’s left.
“Nice shot,” Jace replied, “why don’t you track me down and swat me, you test tube monkey!”
“The Falcon pilot rose to Jace’s bait and started tracking the Commando, as Jace moved off down the railroad tracks in opposite the direction he arrived from. The JF pilot was mad… Really mad… The insult Jace had tossed on the open airwaves made his blood boil. He was going to squash this little merc, and then go back and completely destroy the village as a lesson to the free birth scum.
Jace led him about 8km away from the village and then, when he check his radar and saw that the approaching Thunderbolts were still 15 km from the village, he executed his plan… The Commando has a small amount of jump capability, and he prayed it would work. Jace raced the little Commando in a zigzag pattern towards the towering Masakari. He flipped off all the safeties on the weapons systems, and called out the last thing anyone ever heard him say, “You will never personally destroy innocents again, Clanner Scum, nor shall your mech.”
The OM cleared his throat and wiped a tear from his eyes, coughed again; as the kids saw that the OM actually was, in fact, human.
“Jace hit the jump jets and flew the Commando straight at the Masakari. And then he fired alpha strike after alpha strike of his flamers as he approached the assault mech rapidly.
“What are you doing you crazed free birth?” screamed the pilot of the Masakari, “You are going to detonate…. Your…. Engine…”
The realization of Jace’s plan and the reality of it occurred inside a span of less than a second. The fusion engine on the Commando went critical 4.2meters from the Masakari. The blast radius was about 2 km, at the village 8 km away, windows were broken and eardrums were bruised… But no one else died that night.”
The OM sat on his chair and cried openly… Most of his students were, and those that weren’t were in shock and awe of the story they had just heard. It was Darien who finally broke the silence with a question, “Sir, the story is amazing and I have new respect for Mercs, at least those of Erdani Light Horse, but, Sir, why are you crying so hard?”
The OM looked at Darien and spoke quietly words that neither he, nor anyone there would ever forget, “Darien, I watched what Jace did on the radar screen and satellite imagery from the cockpit of my Thunderbolt, 15 km away. He was a young smart-ass like you, and I loved him with all my heart. He was my son.”