Taming a Falcon - 3060


The year is 3060. The Jade Falcons have once again crossed the Lyran border, making a push for the contested world of Blair Atholl. The attack was met by a zellbrigen challenge from Grey's Shadows, and we pick up as the Shadows' XO in his BNC-3S Banshee duels one of the Falcons' officers in her Summoner C.


Star Captain Jessica Roshak, ristar of Clan Jade Falcon, gritted her teeth as her Summoner shook. The rapid fire from her big-bore autocannon was enough to rattle any Mech, on either end of the gun; this time, her target had the worse of it, as the towering Banshee took the stream of shells across its left arm and side. The big Spheroid Mech twisted and staggered with the impacts, but did not fall. And then it was coming at her again, like some indestructible giant from a nightmare.

As her Mech staggered backwards under the rain of fire from the Banshee's guns, its massive fist swinging, Jessica reacted instinctively. She slammed both feet to the cockpit floor as she pressed her triggers, and the roar of the jump jets lifting the Summoner's seventy tons airborne drowned out the noise of all guns blasting at point-blank range. The smoke and swirling dust obscuring the view as her Mech shot into the air, turning half-blindly as she worked to control her arc of flight.

A few seconds later, there was a thunderous double crash. One was the Summoner landing, behind the Banshee, as Jessica intended. But what was the other? She quickly finished the spin she had begun in the air, expecting to see her huge foe lumbering around, trying to turn before she could fire.

Instead, she saw the Banshee laid low, its cockpit blown apart by a point-blank autocannon shot. The shells had tracked upward as she had jumped, literally taking the big Mech's head off.

And even though she was a trueborn Clan warrior, strapped into a sweaty Mech cockpit, Jessica felt a sudden chill at the sight.

Suddenly her attention was caught by action just beyond her fallen foe. Another duel. One of her starmates and sibkin, a young warrior in a Fire Falcon. He zigged and zagged, dodging as brilliant PPC bolts flashed around him. His foe was much larger...a Thug? Was her sibkin insane? His only chance was to get behind the monster before...she bit her lip as she watched. The Fire Falcon cut wide, accelerating to full speed, trying to swing around behind the Spheroid, out of its arc of fire.

Jessica watched as the big Spheroid stepped back carefully. Aff, this one was patient! No panic at being flanked, just a simple step back and pivot, tracking his foe...and suddenly, as the Thug's missile doors opened, Jessica realized her starmate wasn't going to make it.

The Thug had stepped back and turned, shifting his arcs, forcing the Falcon pilot to lengthen his run. That created an opportunity, just for a moment, as the Fire Falcon hit the slow point of its turn. Instead of flanking, the Falcon pilot was now flanked. And the chance wasn't wasted, as the Thug erupted in a full alpha strike.

Jesscia watched in horrified slow motion as the Fire Falcon was literally lifted off its feet and thrown sideways by the storm of PPC bolts and missile trails. Its left arm spun through the air, blown off by the barrage. The little Mech skipped sideways on its right leg, as its gyro screamed in protest. Then finally it crumpled in failure, and the Fire Falcon crashed to the ground.

Jessica looked at her starmate's Mech, and softly gave his callsign on the radio. Silence. No motion, no ejection.

She looked back up, and there was the Thug, the smog of battle swirling around its dark silhouette. For a long moment, the two Mechs, the two warriors faced off. Each had taken a companion from the other. The score was even at one apiece. Then the Thug simply raised a hand, and pointed straight at her.

The gesture held a message; she could hear the words in her head, they didn't need to be spoken. Bargained well, and done!

Jessica's laser flashed in reply as she quickly cut foward and right. The Thug was bigger and more heavily armored, the Summoner was more mobile. Firepower was roughly even. This would be a battle decided by skill. She again slammed her feet to the floor, lifting the Summoner into the air. And as she soared back left, to the right of the Thug, pivoting in midair to bring her autocannon to bear, something tickled a warning in her mind.

The Thug hadn't fired yet.

Jessica landed, and pressed her triggers. And in the microscopic delay between her giving the order to fire, and the actual event, she realized with horror that the ever-patient Thug was facing her head on.

There was a thunderous blast that wasn't her autocannon firing. Her Mech staggered, its torso twisting involutarily as a PPC strike literally blew the autocannon arm off. Feedback shrieked through the control system, and her Mech nearly fell. Jessica gathered control and charged, missiles roaring from their launcher as her laser blazed defiantly. Then she leaped again, rising into the air as she saw the salvo of missiles bloom death across the Thug's armor.

This time when she landed, she ran, putting distance between her and the huge Mech. There was no way she could fight in brawling range without her heavy autocannon...not against an assault Mech, Spheroid or not. She turned at the end of her run, facing her foe once again, bringing her long-range laser to bear. Once again, the Thug had followed her flight, and her laser snapped in reply to the blasts of its PPC's. She backpedaled quickly, trying to keep the distance open as the Thug advanced.

Then there was a sudden jolt, and Jessica had only a vague realization of falling as feedback screamed through her helmet. There was a terrible impact, the sounds of broken glass and crushed metal, and everything went black.

Jessica awoke to the feel of pattering rain. Her cockpit was smashed open to the weather, and the water was dripping down through the fog of war outside. She was alive. Hurt, but alive. She surveyed her controls as a matter of reflex...leg gone. No way to get up. She unbuckled her harness and grabbed a kit from her seat, the survival kit she had never expected to use. She winced as she lifted herself out, lowered herself to the ground, and then fell in the deep-trodden mud. Her Mech's leg wasn't the only one broken.

As Jessica struggled to pull herself upright, trying to use her fallen Mech for leverage, a figure came around the fallen Summoner's shoulder launcher. She pulled her pistol and pointed it at the Spheroid, who quickly took a step back and raised his hands. She looked at him, a young man in Lyran infantry uniform. But he bore no weapons? He did not speak, but simply reached into a pouch, and showed her the bandages. A medic.

She looked at him for a long moment, her gun hand shaking slightly. The sound of blood dripping, her own blood, echoed eeriely in the silence.

Then finally, she dropped the gun, and her head with it. The medic stepped forward, and gently lowered her to the ground. For Jessica, the battle was over. And with it, her life with the Clans. The Falcon had been tamed.

But not without a fight.