A short BattleTech novel by RogueBaron
Note: This story was up some time ago, but there are a couple of technical errors. Triptych graciously pointed it out to me, so here is the updated version of Dragon Quest. This story is dedicated for all Kuritan warriors and enthusiasts who, despite being one of the most elite troops in Inner Sphere, rarely come to spotlight.
BattleTech / MechWarrior and all its components are copyright of FASA and Wizkids. All rights reserved.
Dieron, Al Na'ir Perfecture,
Dieron Military District,
July 19, 3060
"Atami-Chu-i, please report to Martinez-Sho-sa! Atami-Chu-i …"
Chu-i Atami yawned in his cot, cussing at the PA that robbed him from his sleep. He didn't have good sleep for days as his unit, Dieron Red Brigade Armor Regiment, had been training for the next deployment at Kiesen, to reinforce the 12th Dieron Regulars against Clan Ghost Bear. His physical training made him tired, but as an armor platoon commander, he had to spend more time in the simulation room, acing tactics and strategies when his subordinates went to rest. He only spent 5 hours a day to rest, and he knew he would spent even less hours in his bed today.
Mumbling incoherently, Atami donned his uniform and dragged his feet toward the office of Sho-sa Martinez, the CO of 2nd Company, Dieron Red Brigade Armor Regiment. On the way to his CO, he walked through the hangar and watched his Vedette tank having a final checkup from the technicians. Atami joined the DCMS 5 years ago, hoping to become a mechwarrior like most teens, but physical test failed him. He was instead transferred to the Red Brigade and assigned to a Vedette tank, a 50-ton tracked vehicle he learnt to love over the 5-year period. He made a good career with his Vedette, which earned him the rank of Chu-i and a privilege to command his own platoon.
Arriving at Martinez's office, Atami knocked the door three times. At the sound of Martinez's concession, he entered the room and took the liberty to take a seat in front of the CO.
"Sorry to wake you up, Atami," Martinez said while opening a thick binder. "I know you've been busy preparing for Kiesen deployment, but I have a rush job for you."
"A rush job, Martinez-sama?" Atami asked. "Does that mean I don't get to go to Kiesen?"
"It depends," Martinez replied. "If you can pull this off quickly, you may be able to return to Dieron to go to Kiesen. You'll be exhausted, I know, but on the bright side, you and your platoon will have a chance to fight weaker forces before you face off with the Ghost Bear, a privilege that the rest of the Red Brigade don't have. You'll be the most combat-ready platoon in the entire regiment."
"Where am I going, Martinez-sama?"
"How does Chaos March sound to you?"
"Uh…" Atami cringed. "Mercenary haven… I hate mercenaries. They don't have dignity, fighting for the highest bidder. Who should I face at Chaos March?"
"Worse than mercenary," Martinez smiled. "Or maybe better, depends on your perspective. As you might've read or heard, the Word of Blake had took control of Terra and several worlds in Chaos March, including Caph, a war-torn world with no particular leader. The Blakists haven't been hostile so far, but many feel that these fanatics are preparing something. Their maneuver is obvious that they are inching toward authority of the Inner Sphere.
"Your job is simple: extract an independent scientist from Aswan, a ruined city on Caph. This scientist is working on something that might be useful for us in the battlefield. We can't let the Word of Blake have this invention! You and your platoon are to infiltrate Aswan, abduct the scientist, and bring him to Dieron. The details, including the map of Aswan and the defending forces, are on this binder."
"Aren't there any other unit closer to Caph, Martinez-sama?" Atami asked. "Not that I'm complaining, but my platoon have been training to fight the Ghost Bear. Fighting the Word of Blake will throw away our sync."
"True, but you can regard this mission as a stealth exercise," Martinez resounded. "The premise of stealth mission is the same, no matter whom you're hiding from. And I'd rather have you do it than some other units. I like your dossier, and I know you can pull this off."
"Is there any reinforcement?"
"Negative. Speed and stealth is the utmost importance, and a battlemech unit will draw too much attention. That's why we'll send a small armor unit. The Lindon's Battalion, however, is a mercenary unit with under DCMS contract. You can ask for their assistance, but only if you're in dire need of support. The details are in the binder. The dropship will leave in 20 hours."
"I will not let you down, Martinez-sama," Atami stood up, bowed, then left the room.
Caph, Chaos March,
July 31, 3060
Atami perched on top of his Vedette, observing the city of Caph through his binoculars. Smoke billowed up from the tortured city, and occasional explosions boomed in the distance. For almost a decade, Caph had been a contest of power among Denebola SMM (Steiner supporters), Gustafson's Grenadiers (Davion loyalists), and the Always Faithful and Stealthy Tigers mercenary units under Marik/Liao contract. Now that Word of Blake entered the fray, Caph had become more and more of a wasteland. Aswan was no different.
Atami turned back to rally his platoon. On his right was Heishi Shinoyama, his recon expert, with his fast Skulker tank. On his left wing stood Heishi Yamada, his sniper specialist, in his Chevalier. Closing the formation at the back was Heishi Kikuchi, his artillery whiz, in his twin-LRM-15 Hunter tank. These guys had been fighting with him for more than 3 years, and he knew he could count of them.
"Alright, armor platoon, listen up," Atami briefed his troops. "We have 48 hours before the dropship pick us up. There's a full-blown war in front of us, but it's not our war. Our job is to get this scientist and pull out. We don't want to attract any attention. Do this quick, so we can go back to Dieron and prepare to face our real enemies, the Ghost Bears! Are you ready?"
A pumped-up chorus answered his query.
"Shinoyama, take point!" Atami ordered, then climbed back into his Vedette. He stepped on the pedal, bringing his 50-ton tank rolling behind Shinoyama's Skulker. Behind him Yamada brought his Chevalier, and Kikuchi closed the formation. The convoy rolled steadily into the city of Aswan. Entering the city, the smell of gunpowder and burning flesh stung their noses. Battlemechs, tanks, helicopters, and infantries from various factions pounded at each other with large-bored guns. Bullets ricochets left and right while lasers and missiles swooshed about. Lucky for the Kuritans, the combatants were too busy fighting each other to notice their presence. The DCMS tanks slipped away from the heat of the battle with only minor damage from stray fires and some infantries that noticed their presence, who Atami took care of with his 50-caliber machine guns.
After 30 minutes driving in the war-torn city, the Red Brigade platoon arrived at a suburb area that hadn't been touched by the war too much. They drove for a while through a residential complex, then parked in front of a small hut. Atami ordered Shinoyama and Yamada to stand by in their tanks, just in case, while he and Kikuchi exited their tanks and came to the hut's door. Atami rapped the door.
"Yes?" an old man came out. "Can I help you?"
"Doctor Haney?" Atami said. "I am Atami-Chu-i, Red Brigade, Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery. I am here to take you to Dieron."
"What?" the scientist frowned. "I don't plan to leave this place! Who told you that?"
"I have my order, Haney-sensei, to escort you out of Aswan, away from the Word of Blake."
"No!" the old man yelled. "I know what you're up to! You're into my work! You want to dominate the battlefield with my invention! It is because of guys like you the universe is what it is now! I will not let you abuse my invention! Good day, gentlemen! And don't come back, you're not welcomed!"
"Please cooperate, Haney-sensei," Armus tried to persuade the scientist. "I mean you no harm. We come in peace. But I have my order, and I will do anything to ensure that it's accomplished."
"Is that a threat?" Doctor Haney went off. "Are you threatening me, you Kuritan bastard? Well I'm not afraid of you, nor I will go anywhere! Now shove all your righteous act up yourself! Good day!"
The scientist turned back to get into his house. Atami cued Kikuchi, who then grabbed the old man's shoulder. The scientist jerked behind, and Kikuchi launched his straight punch, right into his face. A loud thud broke, and the scientist sloshed to the ground. A dark hue mushroomed under his eyes.
"Get him on my tank!" Atami ordered while climbing his tank. Kikuchi hoisted the unconscious scientist onto his shoulder and put him into the Vedette. Atami duck-taped him into a chair, then went back to his command seat. "That's it, people. Let's get out of here."
"Atami-Chu-i, I pick up multiple inbounds coming this way," Shinoyama stated. "Half a company of Longinus battlearmor!"
"Shimatta! Longinus…" Atami knew what it meant. "Alright, everybody go weapons hot! The Blakists are coming our way, and I'm sure they don't come in peace!"
"Attention Kuritan intruders," a general transmission sprang on the comlink. "This is Precentor Herman Saweeny, Word of Blake army. The scientist is under the protection of Word of Blake reformation program. Hand me the scientist and I'll grant you a peaceful withdrawal."
"This is Atami Chu-i, DCMS," Atami replied, preparing his autocannon with incendiary ammunition. "I have my order to take Haney-sensei out of Caph. I mean you no harm, but if you don't grant a pathway for us to go off-planet, we will attack."
"This is your last warning, Kuritan gooks! By the name of Blake, I swear I'll crush your tin cans into scrap if you don't hand me the scientist! Do it now or you'll suffer the consequences!"
"Jinkokuniike, fanatics!" Atami yelled. "Red Brigade, fire at will!"
The nozzle belched fire as Atami fired his high-explosive round at the Longinus battlearmors. Mushroom-like explosion blasted, flushing four Longinus in a fire hail. Kikuchi and Yamada spread their missiles over a wide area, killing half a dozen more battlearmors in a chain explosion. Chunks of armor and body parts flew in every direction.
"Kuritan scumbags!" Saweeny exploded in wrath. "Word of Blake, mujaheed!"
Ten Longinus leapt into the sky and fired their SRM at their closest target, Shinoyama's Skulker. The scout tank staggered and quaked as the warheads gouged its armor, dangerously threatened the internal structure. Shinoyama brought his tank to turn, firing his medium laser wildly, but more and more Longinus scored good hits at his tank. Chunks of armor flew in every direction, and within seconds, the Skulker caught fire.
"Shinoyama, pull back!" Atami noticed his scoutmaster was in trouble. "I'll deal with them!"
"I am fine, Chu-i," Shinoyama refused to comply. "I will not give the Blakists the satisfaction by retreating! If I go down, I will take as many of them with me!"
Atami knew that ordering Shinoyama to retreat to safe his life would only insult him. Their Bushido training dictated them to fight until the last drop of blood, and retreating was an act of cowardice. Atami gunned his engine and ordered, "Yamada! Kikuchi! Move forward and assist Shinoyama!"
Kikuchi and Yamada fired more missiles, which whizzed in the air and exploded at the Longinus ranks, sweeping more battlearmors. But Saweeny orchestrated his battlearmor squads to attack only Shinoyama's dying Skulker. Four of six of its tires were flaming, and the tank spurted oil and coolant like a bleeding beast. Shinoyama made his last fight, grilling a Longinus with his medium laser, before a quartet of missiles slammed into his power generator. A loud explosion ripped half of the Skulker apart, and Shinoyama jumped out seconds before the rest of his tank engulfed in a bonfire.
"Shinoyama! Get in my tank!" Yamada halted his tank near the crash.
As Shinoyama climbed into the Chevalier, Kikuchi covered him with his twin LRM-15 missiles. The missiles exploded on the ground, creating a wall of fire that halted the advance of the Longinus. Knowing that the Hunter tank posed the greatest threat, Saweeny dove for the missile tank with a dozen battlearmors on his tail. Lacking closed-ranged gun, Kikuchi tried to escape, but two missiles breached his right track, rendering his Hunter immobilized.
"Yamada, cover fire for Kikuchi!" Atami ordered and brought his autocannon to bear. Two Longinus went down in flames. Some Longinus were distracted and started to fire at the Vedette, but Atami blasted his gun as soon as it recycled, creating a fiery explosion that burnt three Longinus. Yamada came with his SRMs, mutilating five more Blakist battlearmors.
Losing more and more battlearmors in an alarming rate, Saweeny pulled out his troops. "This is not over, Kuritans! You can keep the scientist today, but you'll never get off planet with him! This I swear, and the ghost of Jerome Blake is my witness!"
Atami himself was relieved that the Longinus withdrew. His tank was riddled with bullets and missiles, and his armor tracker was blinking red. Yamada's Chevalier's was no better, with sparks and smoke spurting from all around its hull. Kikuchi's Hunter was still pristine, but without the replacement for the breached track, Atami knew that he had to leave the missile tank behind. "Kikuchi, self-destruct your Hunter and ride with me! We need to get out of here before the Blakist come with reinforcement!"
"Hai, Chu-i!" Kikuchi replied with a slight hesitation. He loved his Hunter, as much as Atami loved his Vedette. But he knew that it was unsalvageable, and destroying it was the only way to keep them alive and their mission accomplished.
As the Hunter exploded, Atami and Yamada drove their mangled tanks into the suburb area of Aswan to plan their next move.
Aswan suburb area,
Caph, Chaos March,
August 1, 3060
Atami crouched behind his tank, scanning the bottom of his Vedette. Oil and coolant dripped from several cracks in the hull, and Atami knew his tank wouldn't survive Caph. He just hoped that it would survive at least to get them safely to the dropship. The Vedette had been fighting with him for 5 years, and Atami had a feeling that it was the last time he fought with it.
"How bad is it?" Kikuchi stood beside him, watching the stream of fluid streaked from the tank.
"Bad," Atami sighed. "It won't survive Caph, I'm sure of it. I hope it can at least take us to the dropship safely to complete our mission. How's our guest?"
"He refuses to eat but he's taking water," Kikuchi informed him. "I think he can survive another 24 hours without food, if that's what he chooses."
"We've got less than 20 hours until our dropship come," Atami glanced at his watch. "It's not his pig-headedness that I'm worried about. I'm afraid my tank can't survive 20 hours against the Word of Blake."
"About the scientist, Chu-i," Kikuchi asked in agitation. "What's he doing that deserves him this attention? Did he invent some kind of super weapon? More powerful than nukes?"
"It's not ours to fret, Kikuchi-san," Atami said while averting his eyes. "We're just soldiers. We do what we're told to do. If you start asking questions about your mission, you're second-guessing your own judgment. We're trained in Bushido, Kikuchi-san, and asking questions is not a part of it."
"Hai, Chu-i," Kikuchi bowed in respect.
By that time, Shinoyama and Yamada arrived in the Chevalier from scouting the area. By the looks on their fatigue faces when they dismounted the tank, Atami could tell that the situation had become worse than he could've imagine.
"The Blakists barricade our exits, Chu-i," Shinoyama reported. "They placed two companies of Longinus, plus an additional lance of Initiate battlemechs. We can't possibly break the Longinus with only 2 tanks, let alone a medium-mech lance."
"The leader of the Longinus unit we fought yesterday, Precentor Saweeny, had issue a martial law on Aswan," Yamada asked. "They will kill Aswan citizens unless we hand in the scientist."
"Saweeny, saite-dana!" Atami hissed in disgust. It was not enough that he had to take care of 4 people's lives, and his own, along with the success with his mission. Now the citizens of Aswan lied in his hand too. Atami leaned on his tank, thinking of the best course of action he could do. He knew that his mission was a priority, but he couldn't let the Blakists butcher Aswan's citizen. Suddenly he remembered that he had one more ace up his sleeve.
"Wait here," Atami ordered his men then went into his Vedette. He flipped his binder open and looked for some frequency channel, then dialed it in his comlink. A burst of static flooded his receiver, followed by a faint woman's voice. Atami connected his mike to the comlink and said, "This is Chu-i Atami, Dieron Red Brigade, DCMS. I wish to speak to Colonel Sarah Lindon, please."
"This is Sarah," a firm voice now sprung on the comlink. "What can I do for you, Chu-i?"
"I am on a mission, and we need to catch a flight to get off Caph by 1300 hours tomorrow. But the Blakists are blocking our exits and will start killing civilians to prevent us from completing our mission. Is there something you can do to distract the Blakists, Colonel?"
"You can expect that from those Blakist animals, can't you Chu-i?" she jested. "Anyway, I have two lances of mechs stationed near Aswan. I can order them to attack the Blakist strongholds, just enough to draw their attention. You'll have to fight your way by yourself. Is that fair, Chu-i?"
"Good! I need a complete reconnoiter on their positions, and your pick-up site. Every little detail will help me create an effective diversionary attack, which ultimately will help you too. I hope my two lances can destroy enough Blakists to spoil their massacre plan."
"Domo-arigato-gozaimashita!" Atami said exuberantly.
"Hey, don't thank me. Thank Hohiro for putting me on Caph. This is not a free service, by the way. I will bill your boss later. But I'm always glad to help my contractors! Lindon out!"
Atami turned off his comlink, a smile of satisfaction sprung on his lips. He always despised mercenaries, but today, he was glad that he knew one. It changed his perspective toward them. Getting out of his Vedette, he went back to his platoon who was waiting anxiously.
"The Lindon Battalion will help us create a hole in the Blakist barricades," Atami briefed his troops. "I want all of you to ride on the Chevalier, including the scientist. I don't think my tank will make it to the pick-up site. Whatever happens tomorrow, don't wait for me. Your order is to bring Haney-sensei alive to the dropship, and do what it takes to keep him alive until Dieron. This might be my last order for you, so do it with all your heart."
"Hai, Chu-i!" Shinoyama, Yamada, and Kikuchi replied in unison.
"Alright, get some rest."Aswan suburb,
Caph, Chaos March,
August 2, 3060
The city of Aswan went alive with fire as Lindon's Battalion marched into the city, and went head-to-head with the Word of Blake. Two lances of Lindon's Striders traded fires with four Initiates and two-dozen Longinus battlearmors from the Word of Blake. Flashes of lasers, ballistics, missiles, and explosions painted the city like a firework gala on an independence day. The explosion sound echoed throughout the maimed city, and the smell of gunpowder was imminent long before the city came into view.
Atami, Kikuchi, Shinoyama, and Yamada observed the downtown from the suburb, watching the enraging battle from the distance. It was two hours before pick up, and they had to go across the blazing Aswan downtown to get into the pick up site.
"This is it," Atami said. "Go flank speed to the pick up site. Do not stop for anything, including me. I want you to know that it's been a privilege to serve House Kurita with you."
"The honor is ours, Chu-i," Yamada replied, followed by approving nods from the others.
"Alright then, let's get it done," Atami jumped into his Vedette. He checked the oil gauges, wincing upon noticing that his tank was almost running dry. He pushed the throttle forward, and hoped that his tank would go as close to the pick up site as possible. Atami was ready to die. As his Bushido training dictated, dying for the Kanrei in battle was the highest honor a warrior could ever achieve.
Atami drove his Vedette through debris-marred streets of Aswan, with Yamada's Chevalier on his back. Infantries monopolized the streets, shouting and shooting at anything that moved. It was almost impossible to see whether they were Lindon's, Gustafson's, Denebola's, or Blake's. Their insignia and uniforms were smeared by soot and oil. Atami blazed his machine gun, driving the infantries away from the tanks and preventing them from taking pot shots at him. Bullets ricocheted along the hull of his Vedette. Sometimes missiles from shoulder-mounted SRM whizzed just a mere centimeter above the turret, but lucky for him, none of them hit his tank or the Chevalier.
Downtown was where the mech action took place. Explosions roared one after another, and visibility was extremely low because of the smoke. Tongues of fire licked from burning buildings, destroyed mechs, and mauled tanks. Dead bodies littered the ground. Atami maneuvered through the debris on the street, and took a detour when an intense mech fight took place in front of him. The mechs were too busy fighting each other, no one paid attention to the two small tanks tiptoeing on the ground.
The Kuritans had passed the downtown and on the verge of leaving Aswan when a dozen Longinus battlearmors blocked their way. Atami knew who the leader was. He could feel the heat sprouting from the eyes of the Longinus leader when he zoomed in to the battlearmor.
"So, Kuritan gooks, you decided to be reasonable," Saweeny's voice boomed. "Give me the scientist, and you're free to go."
"I don't trust you, Blakist! First, let the Chevalier go," Atami said. "When it reaches a safe distance from Aswan, you'll have your scientist."
"Don't contest my patience, Kuritan!" Saweeny yelled. "Give me the scientist now!"
"It's clear to me that you're not a man of his word," Atami clutched his joysticks. "You want the scientist? Then come and get him yourself with honor! In the name of Theodore Kurita, I challenge you!"
"Fine!" Saweeny dashed forward and charged Atami. "Stupid gook, you'll die eating my laser!"
"Yamada, Saweeny doesn't know that I don't have the scientist!" Atami changed to private frequency. "Get out of here and go to the pick up site before he realizes it!"
Yamada swung his Chevalier to his left, leaving Atami facing the Longinus horde alone. Atami fired all guns in unison. Tangerine fireball blossomed from the ground, wiping out one-third of the Longinus. Saweeny leapt into the sky and fired his laser, melting half a ton of armor on the Vedette. Atami squeezed the trigger for his machine gun, spreading a hail of bullets to a wide area. They were not powerful enough to dig into the Longinus's armor plating, but they were annoying enough that the Blakist battlearmors had to crisscross their path to dodge the bullet. Two Longinus sacked a good salvo into the thread, stopping the Vedette in his path.
Atami knew his life was numbered in seconds, but he wouldn't go down without a fight. He fired his main gun one more time. Two Longinus engulfed in flames. Saweeny retaliated with his twin SRMs straight into the hull. The explosion swept away the last remaining armor and cracked the internal structure. The Vedette caught fire. Atami gritted his teeth and fired his autocannon at Saweeny, but the Blakist leader ducked, letting the high-explosive round wheezed above his head and slammed into a building. He fired his laser at the immobilized tank, torching the coolant system. Atami's tank turned into a bonfire. Atami took one last defiant blast, killing two more Longinus, before the heat forced him to exit his tank. The fire spread to the power generator, and the Vedette exploded.
Outside, two Longinus snatched Atami from the ground, and brought him to the leader. Saweeny ordered his men to search the remains of the Vedette, then scanned Atami from head to toe. He cocked his hand and launched his mighty hook at Atami's jaw. Atami's head jerked behind, and he felt blood spurting into his throat, along with unbearable pain in his jaw. But he fought the pain and shot a defiant stare at the Longinus. Saweeny fired up his upper cut into Atami's side, breaking two ribs at once. Atami choked, his breath came in short gasps, but again, refused to give Saweeny the satisfaction. He rose up, staring at the depth of Saweeny's eyes.
"Precentor," one Longinus reported. "We searched the remains of the Vedette. We can't find the remains of the scientist. I think he's been lying the whole time. He's in the other tank!"
Saweeny clutched his hands in wrath, but he knew there was nothing he could do. The Chevalier had reached a save distance, and there was no way his Longinus could catch up with it. He was outsmarted by Atami. Overwhelmed by shame and rage, he drew his laser and aimed it at Atami's head. "Die, you worthless slime! Die in dishonor!"
But Atami knew it wasn't true. He knew that Kikuchi, Shinoyama, and Yamada were on their way to the dropship, along with the coveted scientist. He accomplished his mission, no matter what would happen to him. Mustering every bit of energy he had left to pose a mocking smile, Atami whispered in his wheezing breath, "It doesn't matter anymore. My mission is complete. You lose… bakayaro!"
Saweeny triggered his laser.
Dieron, Al Na'ir Perfecture,
Dieron Military District,
August 21, 3060
"Chu-i Atami is a very brave warrior," Sho-sa Martinez stated while debriefing Kikuchi, Shinoyama, and Yamada. "He set the example of how a Draconis Combine soldier must act in the battlefield. He put his mission, and the lives of his subordinates, in a higher priority than his own safety. It's hard to find a warrior his quality. I'm sad that he did not make it. The Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery will miss him dearly."
"We are honor to fight alongside with him, Martinez-Sho-sa," Shinoyama replied.
"His struggle will be our memento on how we should fight the Ghost Bear," Yamada added.
"Very good," Martinez concluded his debriefing. "The first dropship to Kiesen will depart in 36 hours. Get your gears ready and check with Sho-sa Anderson for your departing time. You're dismissed."