❯ KNIGHT OF THE STAR LEAGUE -…can mean only one thing: Invasion. ( Chapter 4 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
KNIGHT OF THE STAR LEAGUE
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything except Yoko Hachiman.
Notes: I have decided to take a beta reader. Hope my work will be better.
Chap 4: “…can mean only one thing: Invasion.”
“I am considered as the best of the best among the Inner Sphere. However, I have always been impressed by the skill of the `Little Girl’ (I.E: Yoko Hachiman’s nickname among the Widows) especially when she is against pirate scum. I’m sure there is a very personal reason behind it: No one, not even me, can be that ruthless and merciless and yet manage to rescue the innocents caught or lost among piracy.”
Natasha Kerensky in an interview given to Misha Auburn in 3037.
Sochie landed her Militia biplane in a perfect three points landing. Eileen ran to her friend as she cut off the engine. “Congratulations, Sochie! You did it! You fly solo!”
The brown-haired girl shrugged as she retired her helmet. “It was no big deal. I couldn’t do less with you and Yoko forming me, could I?”
Eileen chuckled. “True, but just between you and me, Yoko said that you have the `gift’.”
Sochie blinked and turned to the other biplane achieving its landing. “Really?”
The tanned blonde nodded. “Really. She’s one of the best, but you’re not that far away.” She turned to Sochie. “Beside, she’s hardly the only one who’s doing weird things. You’re a daughter of the Heim family and yet you want to be a pilot in the Militia.” She shook her head. “That’s really very special. All the Heim have been farmers so far.”
Sochie giggled. “Well, it’s because I have a friend whose father is building planes and another friend who can pilot them. And also, I am not the heir.” Her eyes gazed on the horizon. “I don’t want to be the wife of an official or a merchant. I want to fly with my own wings.”
Eileen nodded as she examined the engine. “Just like our dear little Samurai.”
The two girls finished to change their pilot suits in the locker room and were back into summer dresses. Sochie sighed as she buttoned up her red-pink dress. “It’s too bad for us that we had to attend the Summer Party at the castle the same time the Militia Parade is happening.”
As she finished putting on her light blue dress, Yoko nodded. “Yes…” She shrugged. “There will be other parades…” She stopped herself and frowned. “I think…” For now a week, she had disturbing dreams: Dreams of fire and steel with snippets of dying screams and blood.
Eileen finished the last adjustments to the biplanes. “I wish I could be with you, but I must pilot an “Ugly Duck” in the parade.”
Yoko turned to the warplane in the hangar. “Because your family conceived it and that you are one of the few pilots who can properly handle it.”
Ernest Kaplan extracted himself from the forward compartment. “Well, it’s true that I constructed the prototype, but the advisor of the Emperor, Sir Ralf, is the one who had financed the mass production.”
Yoko blinked. Why was she feeling suddenly so worried? “Huh? But retooling a factory for mass production takes a lot of money.” `Where did he find this kind of money? Bostonia is rich, but not rich enough to retool a factory in one month.‘
Ernest sighed. “I wish we could still build machines like during the generation of my grandfather.”
Yoko shrugged. “If you want to remain competitive in the industry sector, you have to use mass production techniques.”
Ernest crossed his arms. “I don’t care about money! I care in the pleasure of my work: The pride to look at a machine and to say truly that every parts of it have passed through my hands.”
Yoko nodded as she retrieved her Daisho. “I can understand the feeling. My blades have been born under the hands of someone like you.”
As she drove away from the airport, Yoko turned to Sochie. “Do you really want to join the Militia?”
Sochie firmly nodded. “Yes. I need to do something for myself. But why are you asking me? You are also joining it.”
A shadow danced in the black eyes of the Japanese. “True. It seems sudden… Well it is sudden, but I feel that it is required.” She lifted an eyebrow to the chocolate-eyed girl. “By the way, did you ask the permission to your father?”
Sochie winced then looked determined. “I decide on my own my own destiny.”
They passed a convoy of military trucks and Sochie looked with envy. “Look, it’s the troops for the parade.”
Yoko blinked then frowned as she considered the great numbers of people and materials. She could see numerous platoons of foot and motorized infantry: Most were armed with rifles and machine-guns, but she could also see a few rare troops armed with SRM-launchers. The shoulder-mounted weapon was capable to fire two Short-Range-Missiles, or more exactly rockets as the so-called missile didn’t have any kind of homing device.
Her eyes narrowed. There was actually too much troops for a simple parade. The infantry was accompanied by mobile artillery, triple-A guns, truck-mounted searchlights. She suddenly gasped. “Look Sochie! They even bring in some tanks!”
Sochie blinked as she remarked that among the armored personnel carriers she could see Scorpion light tanks, Hunter light support tanks, a few rare Vedette medium tanks and even some LRM and SRM carriers. “Why tanks? They can’t use them in the parade, it would damage the streets.”
Yoko continued with a small voice. “Yes… I also wonder why they find the need to bring THIS!”
Sochie turned to the direction pointed by Yoko and gasped. On the railway, a rail version of the Mobile Long Tom Artillery unit passed slowly.
The day before the Summer Party, Yoko Hachiman hitched in the mountains surrounding Nocis with her bicycle. The dreams have increased in intensity and details. She now remembered that it was war she saw: Giants walking in the streets of Bostonia and laying death with fire and machine-gun, infantry charging desperately to be only blast away by red angry light beams, but the worst was the death of the Heim family under the rubbles of Bostonia castle.
She needed to find again her internal harmony, so she passed all the day and a great part of the night practicing her katas until she forget her tired body and felt her spirit expanding and then she saw a vision: Bursting from a cocoon and surrounded by dark butterflies, a silver katana gleamed among the stars and seemed to cut away rotted parts of some stars. Many of the stars bore a striking resemblance to the symbols of the five great houses and Comstar. After that, the katana seemed to face off against spirit-animals shaped as a cat, a wolf, a shark, a monkey, some birds of prey, a bear, a horse, a feline and some snakes. After the confrontation, the katana clashed with a black broadsword and exploded into light. When the light diminished, the katana was revealed floating over Terra with a black eight-pointed star etched on the guard, it then pointed in guard against a darkness obscuring the stars and shaped like giants claws and maws.
Yoko blinked from her position on the green grass as the morning sun awoke her with its glorious light and she felt much better. She was now `sure’ that something will happen in the near future, but she was determined to face it with strength and courage. Fate was a powerful foe, but only herself could shape her own destiny. She smiled as she understood why she felt so close to Kihel and Sochie: It was because they were like her. They were women determined to take their own futures into their own hands, no matter was the personal cost.
Kihel stopped her horse as she finished her morning tour of the Heim lands. She knew that Yoko had taken the day before for a little trip. So what in the name of the Omniss was she doing here in the water near the river shore and… WHY WAS SHE NUDE?
The heiress of the Heim family watched fascinated as the Japanese girl danced a deadly dance in the shallow water with her eyes closed. She was holding her katana and wakizachi and nothing else as she gracefully whirled around in a pattern known as the Water-Wheel by the students of the Niten Ryu. Drops of water stirred by her movements shone under the sunrays and artistically festooned her skin. Kihel swallowed as she remarked the steel-muscles tensing under the smooth skin: Yoko was the vivid image of a warrior-goddess.
In a final flourish, Yoko finished her kata. “Good morning kihel.”
The blonde girl blushed. “Ah… Huh… Good…good morning Yoko…” She dismounted, feeling troubled by what she had witnessed and what she was feeling now. “How did you know it was me?”
Yoko reverently dried and sheathed her Daisho before taking her towel near her clothes on the river bank. “For now a few months, my `gut feelings’ have become a veritable sixth sense.” She shrugged. “I can’t really explain, but more and more I have some lightning intuitions where I `KNOW’.”
Kihel frowned and seemed to think about it. “Is that why you are reading all those books on psychic powers?”
Yoko stopped putting on her underwear and looked to the blue-eyed teenager. “You noticed that…? Yes, it seemed…prudent to have a base from which you can say at least “I don’t know.””
Kihel raised an eyebrow. “And what do you think of it?”
Yoko slowly finished putting on her bicycle clothes, one of the few precious memos she had from her home-universe. “I’m…scarred…” Kihel blinked at that revelation. She had always acknowledged the black-haired girl as one of the most courageous person she knew. “I don’t like what I am seeing, what I am sensing… I fear for the future… I fear for me… For you…” She gazed into the blue sky. “There’s a storm coming… I have the choice to let her sweep me away or…”
Kihel waited an instant then prodded her friend. “Or…?”
The lips of the Japanese pressed into a thin line. “Or surfing its crest and launching myself at the conquest of all the storms following, each more powerful than the last one.”
Kihel blinked. “I can’t decide for you, Yoko.” She shook her head. “Omniss, I can’t even advise you. The only question I have is…” She gazed into the obsidian eyes. “…What is your heart telling you?”
Yoko smiled to the young girl. “Thanks Kihel.”
The Militia parade was truly a magnificent spectacle. Yoko was reminded of the Russian parades when the U.S.S.R. was still a great power.
Military blimps passed in the sky, some having signs that praised the Militia. People were massing around the main street and admiring and applauding to their soldiers.
Yoko, considered as a part of the Heim family, was sitting on the main podium alongside the nobility of the planet. Delegates from the other kingdoms were also present. She felt a little overdressed in such an assembly. Rather than clothing her like her daughters in western dresses with a lot of frilly things and petticoats, Alea Heim had chosen to honor her origin and the Japanese was clad in a silk black silver-trimmed kimono with the Mon `Warrior’ and her Daisho proudly displayed. Even her hair was now combed into a bun with two long hairpins.
She smiled as the soldiers passed and saluted the elderly Emperor and his heir. She had almost laughed the first time she saw their dress uniforms: They looked like English soldiers of her Earth with only their cowboy-like hats being the main difference. She didn’t think that their red shirts were very good camouflage. Only the officers wore dark-blue colored shirts.
Alea frowned as she looked on the parade and turned to her husband. “I’m worried. Sir Ralf is pushing the recruiting to almost war levels. Is there any rumors about another conflict between Kaze and Borjarnon?”
The Mayor of Nocis shrugged. “I only heard that it was to prevent such a thing. After all, if you want peace, prepare for war.”
Kihel turned to her sister who was tranquilly munching a sweet. “Do you really want to join Militia?”
Sochie nodded. “Just like you don’t want to pursue your education but directly entered into society.” She blinked as her sister plucked out the sweet of her hand.
“Yes, I know. Not a good behavior, right?” She began to eat the treat.
Yoko searched into her sleeves and gave another sweet to Sochie before taking one for her. “Not our fault if they don’t know how to treat ambitious and head-strong women.”
Alea sighed and rolled up her eyes. “What I have done to merit that, Omnis?”
Her husband chuckled. “Well, it just means that we don’t have to make plans for them.” He smirked. “I, for one, will enjoy the vacation.”
Alea shook her head. “I can only imagine what the gossip will be tonight at the Summer party.”
At that moment, a squadron of “Ugly Ducks” passed over the podium. Sochie stood up and waved. “Eileen is on one of them!”
Yoko admired the formation. Eileen and she had properly drilled the young pilots for the parade. All in all, she thought that the Militia had a firepower equivalent to a small army before World War II. Her eyes narrowed: It was still less than the might of a Battlemech.
Near the Emperor, Sir Ralf smiled. Everything was going according to his plans.
The Summer party was as extravagant as any parties Yoko had assisted since her arrival. In the gardens of the castle, various cliques gathered around important persons to gather favors or simply praised the noble in their middle. Boot-licking was what Yoko thought of that. In one corner, she could see the densest knot being near Sir Ralf. However she was in awe of Kihel who was mingling with grace like a mighty Orca near sharks.
Kihel was seventeen like her and not yet of age, but she was the Heim heiress and she was already holding her rank like a professional. Yoko smirked. And fending away suitors like annoying flies. The Heim family was mainly land owners, but they wisely choose to widen and diversify their interests into almost anything on the planet. That enabled them to be at the edge of everything happening on Butterfly and having a very well-connected net of relations and acquaintances.
Speaking of unwanted suitors. She frowned as she advised the party of young men walking almost casually in the direction of Sochie. The poor girl was sitting alone on a chair with a glass of punch and was clearly bored to tears. Her eyes narrowed as she remarked that the orchestra was changing its performance to a valse.
`To hell with conventions! A party is made to have fun!‘ She took out her hairpins, letting her long black mane of hair flowing along her back in an ebony cascade and resolutely walked to Sochie, cutting the path of the young men. The brown-haired girl blinked as Yoko held her hand. “Would you give me the honor of this dance, Sochie?”
Sochie blinked again as she gazed into the depth of the black eyes. Her own hand seemed to rise on its own and she found herself leaded into the dance. She examined her friend: With her long black hair like that, the kimono and her Daisho, she looked like a bishonen warrior. And since Yoko was leading her into the valse, they must look like a young couple dancing. She had a wry smile. “We are going to make everyone gossiping.”
“Let them. We are supposed to have fun in this party. Well, we will have fun.”
Sochie smirked. “Everyone will be happy or be beheaded on order of Daimyo Yoko.”
Yoko smiled. “Exactly.”
Kihel masked her smile with her fan as she witnessed the scene and heard the shocked whispers around her. Having two girls dancing was not that scandalous, especially friends or siblings, but Sochie and Yoko were smiling and laughing and the masculine cut of Yoko’s dress was making them standing out among the nobles. Of course, that didn’t take into account the jealousy of their suitors.
She gasped in surprise as the next valse found her suddenly caught into the powerful arms of Yoko. At the same time Sochie grasped and forced her father on the dancing floor. As she fell into rhythm, she looked around the shoulder of the Japanese. “My, we are quite the spectacle, aren’t we?”
Yoko shrugged and smiled to her friend. “So what? Not my fault those stuffed peacocks can’t have a little fun.” She glanced around. “Beside, I think we have primed the pump, so to speak.”
The blue-eyed blonde nodded as more couples poured on the dancing floor and laughs became louder and more easily. And they danced and danced, changing partner as the orchestra changed music. Yoko danced with Mister Heim, Alea Heim and a few young men who took their chance also. However, she particularly appreciated the fact that several girls tried it and danced with her.
She blinked as two masculine arms grabbed her and leaded her in the valse. A white smile with blue eyes and short blond hair with tanned skin: Sir Karl Ralf was dancing with her. She had to call almost all of her willpower to suppress the shudder of revulsion at his contact: She really disliked this man.
“I was hoping to speak to you this evening.”
Yoko merely raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”
Karl nodded and used his famous playboy smile on the beautiful Japanese. “I heard that you have the intention to enter the Militia as a pilot. I wonder if you would be interested in working in Castle Bostonia?”
Yoko blinked. “You want me to work for you? Why?” `Arrogant prick! You think every woman would just fall into your arms, don’t you?‘ She wasn’t sure why, but she really didn’t like this sudden interest in her.
“I think your talents are wasted in the Militia. I have only heard praises about your technician skills and I would like you to work with Marc Shido.”
Now that was surprising. “Mister Shido? The mining engineer?”
Ralf smiled sure that she had swallowed his bait. “Mining is only a convenient cover for his real work. In fact I am recruiting a team with as many skills that I can find. I have already approached the two Heim daughters with the same proposition.”
`What the hell is he hiding? Everything in me is screaming “BEWARE!”.‘ “So did Kihel and Sochie accept your proposition?”
Yes, he had her with hook, line and sinker. “Lady Kihel was very interested and said she would like to know a little more before taking a decision. Lady Sochie preferred to wait for your answer before taking a decision. So, will you think about working with Shido?”
Yoko plastered a fake smile and bowed as the music ended. “I will. Thank you for the dance.”
Yoko went to take another glass of punch and was accosted by Sochie. “So, did Sir Ralf ask you if you wanted to work for Mister Shido?”
Yoko narrowed her eyes as she took a sip. `Yerk! Too much alcohol!‘ “Yes, he did.”
Sochie raised an eyebrow at the face of her friend. “So? Are you going to accept?”
Yoko turned fully her attention to Sochie. “I really don’t like what I feel about this sudden proposition. I think I’m going to follow the example of Kihel and wait until I know more.”
Sochie blinked. “That’s exactly what Sister told to me.” She leaned to whisper into the Japanese’s ear. “Beside I think she’s going to try to pry a little later.”
Yoko smirked. “Well, we’ll just have to stand ready to help her, won’t we?”
As time passed, the party moved inside the castle and the mood shifted to the more formal aspect of the high nobility.
Sir Ralf was dancing again with Kihel. “You said that you were interested in my proposition.”
Kihel smiled. “As my sister and friend are.”
Sir Ralf smirked. “Well, if you insist, I think I could show you a little more, later.”
During a pause, the advisor of the Emperor guided the three girls into another wing of the castle and opened a large door.
Yoko blinked at the mass of sophisticated equipment inside the room. People were leaning on various consoles, consulting old-looking manuals and seemed to report their finding to a man near a transparent blackboard. Her eyes widened as she recognized it for a situation panel like those used by military on Earth to note the emplacement of friendly and enemy units.
She glanced to her friends and felt their mutual surprise. The consoles were also very interesting. She knew, for having visiting it, that the spaceport of Bostonia had only minimal radar and guiding facility. And here she could see radar displays, radio booth and…COMPUTERS!
Computers were both rare and old on Butterfly. Almost no one had the knowledge to make new ones, only maintaining the old ones.
Kihel circulated among the people. “Wireless communications and radars?”
Sir Ralf nodded. “That’s right.” He turned to a technician. “What is the situation?”
The man paused in his listening of the radio-waves. “No more communications since their last. The dropship is still ignoring our messages.”
Sochie gasped. “A dropship? Here? In orbit?”
Sir Ralf looked to the transparent board that showed a map of the stellar system and pondered on a symbol on the ecliptic. “Yes. A jumpship has been detected when he jumped into this system. Because of the dense asteroid belt outside our orbit, jumpships must materialize very far away and dropships travels can take quite a time. This is why I was able to reinforce the Militia.”
Yoko’s eyes narrowed. “This is not a merchant ship, right?”
Karl sighed. “No, it’s not. They’re pirates, raiders. Their initial message asked for practically all our reserves in black tech, including our best technicians. On the behalf of the Emperor, I am negotiating with them.”
Kihel nodded. “That’s why you need our skills. Should the negotiations worked or not, you can cover all bases.”
The tense scream of a technician drew the attention of everybody. “Three contacts in upper atmosphere! On a direct course to the spaceport!”
Karl turned to a radio operator. “Alert the Militia! Are they still in standby?”
The radio nodded. “Yes, all troops are on patrol and reporting ready.”
Yoko frowned as she witnessed the people under the guidance of Karl Ralf reacting to the apparition of a dropship. `It is too rapid, too prepared in advance.‘ Her gaze locked on Karl. `He knew! He knew they were coming and why!‘ She pressed her lips in a thin line. `Why is he doing all this?‘
On the Nocis airport, the scramble alert sounded. Eileen Kaplan ran out the hangar to a nearby “Ugly Duck”. “I can’t believe it! An alert! A real alert and less than half my students know how to properly handle the new fighters!”
Her father Ernest ran after her. “Hey! You’re not officially part of the Militia!”
Eileen swore as she continued to run. “You really think I’m going to let them fly alone! None of them know how to pilot during the night!”
Near the mountain range nearby Nocis, a small old man with grey heir and glasses looked into the direction of the capital as beams of light were pointed into the sky. To his side was a young tall man with red hair, blue eyes and tanned skin. Both were equipped like miners.
The young man turned to the old man. “What do you think of this, Mister Shido? They’re even planes flying in the sky. I didn’t know that the Militia parade was supposed to continue in the night.”
The old man shrugged. “Not all human behaviors are logical. Personally I don’t care. Our investigation is too important to be swayed aside by such futilities.
At the castle, a dull boom was heard. Sochie leaned at the balcony of the room with Sir Ralf equipment. “What’s that sound?”
Yoko gazed into the night-sky searching for something. “Atmospheric shockwave.” She pointed her finger. “There!”
Lights began to illuminate the clouds above the capital. Then suddenly tracer rounds erupted from the many anti-aircraft turrets near the spaceport and searchlights waved around.
In the air, fighter planes opened fire on the black approaching silhouettes. The “Ugly Ducks” were armed with a pair of 20 mm machine-guns and an auto-canon of class 10. They were however no match for the pair of aerospace fighters “CSR-V12 Corsair” that simply wasted them with their Large Lasers.
Aboard the leader fighter, a young woman with short black hair and brown eyes shook her head. “What’s the fuck are they thinking? Are these fellows serious?” She opened a channel to her wingman. “Reijick! Pursue per orders to the spaceport. Neutralize those damn turrets. I will circle to cover you.”
A face unshaved with wild black hair and eyes answered her behind the helmet of his pressure suit. “What about those Militia planes? They were not supposed to attack.”
The woman frowned. “You let me worried about the Militia and concentrate on your objectives or I will have what Hans has left of your ass!”
The man gulped. “Okay! Okay! Sorry!”
The woman focused on an approaching squadron of old biplanes and narrowed her eyes. “How barbaric are they!” She selectionned her Large Lasers and open fire. The simple planes of wood and cloth simply disintegrated under the power of the lasers. But the beam reached much far away than the squadron and an angry finger of red light raked into Bostonia, provoking fires among the houses and destroying a train.
Yoko had seized her friends and covered their bodies with her own as soon as the Corsair opened fire. The three girls looked astonished as the fires of war began to ravage the capital.
Sochie staggered as the fires illuminated her terrorized face. “Omniss! What’s happening?! What is going on?!”
Yoko helped Kihel on her legs and looked into the night. “Raiders! And here is the dropship!” She pointed on a silvery sphere of 80 meters beginning its approach of the spaceport on four columns of plasma fire. A sudden premonition of doom seized her. “It’s going to fire! GET DOWN!”
This time, Yoko literally flung down her friends before covering them with her body as the apocalypse was unleashed on Bostonia. The Union class dropship opened fire with its entire arsenal: beams of particles, lasers, Long Range Missiles and auto-canons shells rained on the city and the screams of the dying and the sounds of destruction flooded into the senses of the displaced Japanese. `This is not a dream!‘
Notes: Well, a company of pirates is attacking Butterfly. At last, Battlemechs are going to ravage, destroy, obliterate,…
Hum… Sorry, I was letting my enthusiasm controlling me.
But that’s right a full company of battlemechs is invading Butterfly.
What are the plans of Sir Ralf?
What is the mysterious Mister Shido searching?
How will three young girls be able to help those they love?
What is the secret ingredient of cola…?
Hum… Well, read and review, thanks.