“I don’t duel, boy. I kill as a soldier kills, which is as a butcher kills, as quickly, efficiently, and with as least risk to myself as I can arrange.”
JP (Pitbull) ————————-——-Atlas
-————————— Maxim Heavy Hover Tank
The unit was paid-out to 31st of January, and Lady (Captain) Heather Jemmas was granted 8 Million Cs and access to Cemex to set about paving the main runway at Iron Dog Airfield. She was also asked regarding the exact protocols in System – Gollere, regarding the politics between the various factions, and she clarified many aspects of the relationship between the Resource Barons, the Lords o the Mangai, the more powerful Dukes, and the Central Tharn Authority.
Meanwhile, the 3rd Border Guards Battalion “The Jungle Cats” and its temporary base near * Landhold : Hellas were evacuated, and deployed to Corazón Airfield where they and their habitation modules were loaded aboard the “Spearhead”. Two days later, the unit accompanied the Line forces of the Iron Dingoes off-world, and the group began the long 9-day burn to the Zenith point and their JumpShips.
9th of February : The bulk of the unit’s Line DropShips; the “Relentless”, the “Pandora’s Box”, the “Star Talon”, the “Revolver”, and the “Crimson Sands”, joined the “Spearhead” in docking procedures. The Tramp’s usual passenger, the “Elektra” was present, its cargo bays empty, as the “Betty” had been left behind in System – Pirate’s Haven Star Cluster in Major Erika Hartmann “Glamour”‘s private mission for several months. Also, “The Freedom of the Stars” joined the unit’s JumpShips, and as a fleet, and the three took a day to prepare and shift supplies.
10th of February : The unit jumped out-system to System – Gollere, and immediately began their burn in-system to an otherwise empty system.
13th of February : The unit hit atmosphere and landed all their spheroids at the usual cratered open fields near the capital in The Barony of Horn, while the two aerodynes remained in orbit. Within minutes of landing, they were contacted and informed they would be met by a delegation from Baron Jemmas of Horn. About an hour later, a convoy of armored vehicles met the fleet, and Lady Aletta Jemmas met the unit and escorted them to the capital and into the fortress that operated as their headquarters.
Treated well as usual, they were quickly met by the Baron, who apologized, but his daughter and heir was busy int eh field and unable to meet with them. They also met with the Baron’s wife, a mousy older woman, Maria Jemmas who otherwise seemed to melt into the background of the event. The usual pleasantries were exchanged, and the updates on the local industrial development regarding the unit’s “investments” were discussed, before talk turned once more to the unit’s real reasons for visiting their ally.
The unit presented their case for dealing with the insulting duel offered by Count Almaviva and the Baron’s own daughter, of The Duchy of Lovelace. They admitted, they intended to bring the matter to a conclusion, and asked after his thoughts on the matter. The Baron expressed interest in the arrangement, as he had been quietly padding his military for the eventual push to claim Duchy status, and this required a “duel” with one of the established duchies to attempt. The Iron Dingoes offered their services, and the Baron accepted, saying he would arrange a visit with Duchess Engel Lovelace to discuss the grievance on the morrow. Captain Massimo De Luca “Advocate” was chosen to be the unit’s representative at these talks. The rest of the night was spent in good food and drink, and in pleasant conversations.
14th of February : The Baron met Advocate early in the morning, and they boarded the “Crimson Sands” for a quick sub-orbital burn to the Duchy of Lovelace. Landing at the airfield near the royal manor estates of the Lovelace clan, they were met by local security troops, and quickly escorted to the manor, a finely appointed “victorian” estate that was surrounded by heavy anti-aircraft batteries and several s on constant over-watch. The pair were quickly shown to private study with a good view of the gardens, and served local delicacies.
About twenty minutes later, they were met by Duchess Engel Lovelace herself, along with a personal secretary. The Duchess appeared to be a former military woman, wearing a stern military uniform and smoking a long, thin cigarello. The discussions were very polite, but the Baron insisted that he was there to counter the insults brought forth by her son, Count Almaviva against his family. She officially accepted his notice, and excused herself to consult with her chief of staff. Some minutes later, they were joined by this man, a veteran officer, and the two began formal discussions of a duel. When asked for the form, as the “damaged” party, the Baron demanded it be challenge by BattleMech, which the Lovelace delegation readily accepted, demanding “… the unfairness be resolved by a toss of Three, Five, or Seven, and no more than 350 tons…”, meaning that the Iron Dingoes had to present at least seven challengers of no more than 350 tons in weight. If that was unavailable, they had to present at least five challengers of the same weight, or failing that, three matching no more than 350 tons in weight. If they couldn’t present this, then their challenge was determined to be a failure.
Consulting with Advocate, who was privately in communique with the Baron Colonel Kanto Jokukad “Pitbull” over satellite comms, agreed they could meet the requirements. The Duchess demanded the site be an open desert field near the Barony of Lackmahnia, where they had dealt with these matters in the past. The Baron agreed, and the time was set to be a ten-day from the date, to grant both parties time to prepare and meet for the challenge. Co-ordinates to the site were given, and the delegation broke-up, the Baron and Advocate returning once more to their DropShuttle and a quick sub-orbital burn to the Barony of Horn, on the other side of the planet.
Upon returning, the unit began examining their rosters to match the duel requirements, and settled on the pilots and machines best suited for the duel. Within hours, they dispatched one of their scout units to the co-ordinates of the duel, and began surveying the site, while they also dispatched the The Loup Garou of * “The Werewolves” to begin investigating whom their unit might be facing, since it was obvious the Duchy of Lovelace was using assets aligned with the Central Tharn Authority.
Over the next couple days, they got back scattered reports from the Loup Garou, whose investigations led them to a sealed section of the Tharn Starport, where a large force of armor, Mechs and infantry from off-world were being housed. After several days of long-range observation, they were unable to tell more than a force of perhaps twenty-four Mechs and armor, and perhaps a company of infantry were stationed there, and from reports, were a large number of smaller and independent mercenary commands hired from the local planets. Exact weights were unavailable, as the units were kept under close watch by the Central Tharn Authorities security forces, and apparently had their own technical support, independent of local AsTechs.
As the time approached, the site of the duel was indeed a desert region that suffered from a lack of good water and constant heat and blowing sand. There was apparently some activity by what seemed like an engineer group, that visited the site and took various measurements and readings before leaving the site a day alter. The scout did identify the force as bearing the mark of the Central Tharn Authority.
* “The Dingoes’ Fangs” led by Master Tech Melinda Clarke “Echo”, managed to patch into several satellite communiques, but the military intelligence was always in code and very little was gleaned beyond the involvement of the Central Tharn Authority in the duel, and what seemed to be a lending of troops to the Duchy of Lovelace to meet their obligations in the duel. This seemed to imply the unit faced a force of seven (7) medium BattleMechs, with _Regular- to Veteran skill levels.
The date of the duel grew closer, and by the 24th things were ready for the unit to deploy and meet the challenge of the duel…