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*Training and War, Part 3*

*Multimage Chronicles, section 3 of Part Gamma*

The gate leads not to a world, but to a Space Station.

"All right, here's the game plan: We're going to take a jump-capabile Agammenon-class Cruiser to Strata Mechty. We'll then drop onto the planet in a shuttle, and we'll get to meet with the ilKhan at his summer retreat in the Dinju Foothills. Follow me, ladies," and Eric begins down the circular cooridor, which leads to the docking collar for a transport shuttle, and they get in. Eric takes the controls.

"Can you drive this thing?" Serena says over the starting engines.

"Any day of the week, and twice on Sunday, Serena. Strap in, umnless you want to get thrown around in the cabin..." Eric unlatches, and zooms toward a large spaceship, partially eclipsed by the planet they were orbiting. They see what the ship that they were driving was: Long, odd-shaped with a rotating center section and several large engines on the back.

"Shuttle 242 to Destenesu, request docking clearance."

"Destenesu to shuttle, you are authorized to dock on civillian collar D. Welcome aboard, sir." Eric steers the shuttle down the large hole in the front of the ship, and connects to the hull via another collar.

"Remain here, Scouts. I'll be back in about 10 minutes, after we've completed the jump." Eric exits out the dock collar, and heads off to port, after closing the hatch. 10 minutes fly, and he is back with a box of some type. "Party favors, for you. I've been meaning to give them to you, but I couldn't find 9 of 'em in one place. Amy, your Tactical visor does the same thing as these."

"What are they?" Rini asks.

"These are Sayain-style scouters. They allow you to see how bad your foe is and in what direction he is in. Most warriors wear them over their left ear and eye. Choice in colors, of course." Eric starts handing them out, and gives them their choice in colors for view screens.

Eric detaches the shuttle, and drops to the planet's surface. He picks a meadow in the middle of a forest to land, and parks it perfectly. "Welcome to Strata Mechty, birthplace of the clans, and command center for their continued invasion of the rest of the galaxy," he says, and opens the hatch for them to step out. "Leo's cabin is about a mile in that direction. He's expecting me, so he probably left the garrisons away. If not, we may have to take some out."

"That's real reassuring, considering none of us are armed." Mina says.

"With your scouters and what I've taught you, you cn never be considered unarmed or defenseless." Eric begins walking into the forest, and the scouts follow close. about 100' in, Eric stops dead, pivoting on his right foot. "Clear back, ladies. I just stepped on a Bouncing Betty."

"What's a bouncing betty?" Rini asks.

"It's a high-explosive land mine that "jumps" up to waist level to explode once you step off. Amy, think you can disable it?"

She drops to the ground, and uncovers it using a survival knife. "Ahh, this is the 4.01 model. I can disable it, but you'll have to lift your boot, sir."

"How far?"

"No more than 1 cm, or less than 1/4th cm." Eric moves his foot very slightly, and Amy turns a collar around the prongs untill it clicks.

"Was that a good click? I haven't played with mines in years..."

"You can step off, Eric."

"Who ever said service in the MM crews was boring is a cynic." Trisha says. They continue on, 'till they could see the front door of a small log cabin. Eric stops them again.

"Another trap, ladies. Claymores hooked to a tripwire detonator."

"Tension mechanism?" Tiffany asks.

"Looks like it, which precludes cutting the wire. Any local rocks someone can sling at it?" Everyone starts checking the ground around them, and finds none. "Trisha, cut off that limb that is above you, and sling it 15' in that direction." She uses her sword to cut down the limb, and throws it like a javelin. The end of it catches the wire, setting off about 10 claymores hooked to beautiful Ponderosa Pines. Once the trees fall, they continue onward to the cabin, everyone on guard for any more signs of traps. They reach the house without further ado.

"How do we get in?" Trisha asks.

"Knock. Any volunteers? Khan Showers has been known to shoot at people at his door when drunk." he pauses, and when none respond, he continues. "K. I'll do it, then. *Tek Armor Control, lv. 3: Mirror Shield, Left Gauntlet*" he approaches the door, and knocks. True to his guess, a blaster was fired through the door, and is deflected upward and through the roof of the house.

"If it isn't important, go away!" is shouted from the house, "I'm in the middle of a case!"

"Put down the scotch and unlock the door, Leo. It involves the security of all the clans, ally."

"Why should I listen to you? You may not be Eric, for all I know..."

"If you don't, Queen Metalia will mop the galaxy with you. It's that simple." The bolt on the door audibly unlatches, and it opens to reveal a man with a .45 aimed right at Eric.

"Step in, sir. And bring your crew with you. Now, what's the meaning of this?"

They all step in, Eric opting not to sit down, while the ladies grabbed several seats or dropped to the floor, crosslegged. "The thing is, that my sister-in-law's mentor, Queen Metalia, seeks the destruction of this universe. She may seek to employ the clans as "shocktroopers" against my armies. I don't want that, and you don't want to see the clans annihalated, no?"

"I've lost several already. I don't want more. Tell me how to stop her..."

"That technology is beyond your control. I can utilize you, however, and give all the clans exactly what they want: Terra, in a moderated fashion. Once the final battle begins, there are going to be a LOT of panicky citizens, and the militaries may try swatting the wrong side. Two Galaxies per clan, spread in several "invasion areas", allowing them to take the areas that were their founding bloodlines, back then. Just realize, what you take control of has to be mediated and held untill further notice.

"Go on."

"Once the battle is finished, Terra will be reintroduced to the galactic scene, and all the clans can leave one represenative planetside to represent their organization. The MultiMages shall remove the trade blockades and the guard zones, allowing you to trade with other planets. Leo, What I seek is a rebirth of the Star League, the way it was 1000 years ago, before the Inner Sphere was ripped apart by 3 succession wars. The "second Periphery" will be disbanded and the guards will find jobs elsewhere. Realize this, however, if you try for Terra, not only will you have to face down several elite clusters of crack MechWarriors, you'll have to answer to my empire. And trust me, many of them are very protective of their origins."

"Sounds like a Plan. When can I get clearance to drop?"

"As soon as the shit starts flying. You can send your units to the second line, but they'll have to wait there temporarily for a go-ahead. The represenatives, however, can be dropped at any time you can get them out to me."

"Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I'll see what I can do."

"Aff. I'll send you an intel officer to make sure you aren't succered by a rep from my sis." They exit, and start back down the path to the shuttle.

"One question: have any of you seen the three Star Lights? I haven't since I faced them near the Dome."

"Nope. Can't say I have, sir." Serena says, sounding worried.

"But I have."

"Back so soon, Malachite?" Serena says.

"Aff. The Star lights were caught extremely fast once they found a nice little trap set by Beryll herself. They are currently in a Negaverse lockup, similar to your brigs. I'll see about getting you the exact coordinates for their holding cell."

"Thank you Malachite. Once I have the coordinates, I'll be in ASAP. Also, get me some info on the room size, adjacent facilities, you know the routine."

"Aff." He disappears. They get back on the shuttle, and take off for the Destenesu.

Once they arrive, they jump back to the space station, and Eric transfers back to the floating ring. Once aboard, they gate out to Earth.

************************************************************************************************ After They arrive back, Eric gives them an opprotunity to change clothes back to what they started, but not a long one, as the fireworks were slated to begin soon. "I wonder what kind of fireworks we get to see. The skimpy display, like the mayor puts on, or better?" Nina asks. "You won't have to worry about that, Nina. When the Multimages party, we party big time. Expect at least one bottle of Tequila to be passed around to you at some time during this. And we won't be doing much tomorrow, either. There'll be a LOT of hangovers." The Jagermechs, Riflemen, vultures, and other assorted battlemechs begin to tromp out into the backfields, where they will launch their salvos of explosives into the air to dazzle viewers around the countryside for many miles. The show in the distance is small, and the pilots allow it to finish, before starting their own. All the mechs had been loaded down with a c-3 Slave, allowing them to "chain" their munitions into a dazzling display. The show commences, drawing the attention of the entire city in that direction. Untill now, everyone in the town assumed that there was someone living out there was mere rumor; now it was confirmed. And they were throwing a bigger block party than a very large city-their city. Several times Gerard was called to get rid of civillians who wanted a closer look. During the show, Serena didn't pay much attention to her surroundings, except for one time, near the end of the 2.5 hour display. She noticed Eric had not moved since the beginning, but, the thing that got her was the look in his eyes. The closest she could pin it was a look of deep sorrow combined with inner thought. But she could not tell what would make him so depressed in such a happy time as this.