Albion, New Avalon
Cruis March, Federated Suns
17 February, 3067
“Negative Tungsten 2, the Guards are withdrawing through your rear area. You must, repeat MUST hold your position.“
“Acknowledged, Tungsten will hold,” Lt. Jonathan Davidson replied as he moved his Cestus to deal with the new threats.
His unit had borne up well during the initial assault on Albion, but that all changed as the DLC slammed into the regiment. Before they really knew what was happening, Tungsten Company had found themselves separated from the rest of the regiment. Only a brilliantly executed tactical withdrawal by Captain Bradstreet had saved the company from being annihilated. Despite running a virtual gauntlet, only Lt. Nelson had fallen. Tungsten had just managed to catch its collective breath in some broken hills when the Arcturans arrived. Within the first minute, the captain and two other mechwarriors had fallen.
Davidson watched a heavy gauss slug tear Corbin’s Strider in half. “Make that three,” he thought as he quickly updated his mental picture once again.
“OK people, we’ve got to hold so the Guards can get clear,” Davidson ordered as he began to desperately run through scenarios in his mind. “Bravo lance, get that Fafnir’s attention, Giles, Charles go left and hit it from the flank,” he barked as he swung his mech directly towards an oncoming Salamander.
The next few minutes dissolved into a whirl of violent sound and color as the Lyran assault company slammed into Davidson’s position. For the lieutenant, it was a mental dance as he shifted warriors about to avoid being crushed by the superior Lyran tonnage. Each mech that fell was noted. Every desperate thrust and counter thrust an addendum to his mental map.
Gradually, the heat of a hot cockpit, the cries of wounded soldiers, and everything else began to slip away. He watched his best friend die with the same dispassionate gaze that put a gauss round through the cockpit of a Hauptman. His lips issued correct orders without conscious thought. The more disconnected he grew, the clearer the map became.
Without realizing it, Jonathan’s mental map kept him playing several moves ahead of the Lyran unit, but when the swaggering Berserker strutted onto the field, his mental picture froze. The endgame totally skipped, the solution leaped into his mind, as crystal clear as a high definition Tri-Vid. And in that split second, he knew what was required.
“Tungsten, fall back and link up with Guards,” he ordered as he steered his battered Cestus down the hill.
“3, repeat that last order,” one of the surviving Tungstens called.
“Fall back,” Davidson ordered as the Cestus broke into a run.
“What about the Arcturans,” the persistent mechwarrior demanded
The lieutenant slung his mech to the side, barely avoiding a PPC blast as he responded. “They won’t fight with their regimental CO dead.”
“Then why are we retreating?’
Jonathan slowly lined up the gauss rifle’s reticule, and noted with satisfaction that the Berserker had just activated its MASC. “Any second now,” he thought.
“Sir, why?” the desperate mechwarrior pleaded.
The Berserker’s massive hatchet was already on the downswing when Davidson keyed the comm. “I don’t want you fighting without an officer either.”
His nose itched, itched horribly. That was his first thought as he began the slow swim back to consciousness. He moved his arm up to scratch, but something held him fast. He tried to see why his arm wouldn’t work but something was obscuring his vision. Fighting back panic, he tried to bring the other arm up, but found it too was bound.
As he began to struggle against the restraints, he heard a voice.
“Doctor, the patient!”
Unseen hands grabbed his shoulders and held him fast. He felt a sharp stick in his shoulder.
“Easy there, it’s not yet time,” a soothing voice said as the blackness began to swallow him up again.
Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
7 May, 3067
The bright light spearing his pupil tugged him back towards consciousness. He blinked and turned his head away.
“Welcome back,” the same soothing voice said.
Jon blinked his eyes clear and then looked out the window he was facing. His eyes grew big as the buildings outside came into focus. He rolled his head back over and looked at the source of the voice. The emblem on the man’s lab coat confirmed it.
“NAIS?” Jon asked in a voice raspy with disuse.
“Yes, the Morgan Hasek-Davion Neurological Center to be exact,” the doctor replied.
“They named a hospital after a warrior?” Jon asked
“No,” the doctor, “they named it after a man who donated millions of c-bills to fighting disease and injury.”
“Oh,” was all Jon could think of in reply, then a thought struck him. “Why am I here?”
The doctor sighed. Judging by the deep lines on his face the story he was about to tell was one he had told far too many times. “You were severely injured in the fighting near Portland in mid-February. You’re injuries were too critical for the field hospitals to deal with so you were shipped here once the surrender went into effect.”
“So we won, Victor has the throne?” Jon said with excitement.
“No, Victor has refuted all claims to either throne. Yvonne now rules the Federated Suns.” The shock in Davidson’s face must have been apparent for the doctor quickly continued, “but that is neither here nor there. Our primary concern is your well being”
That comment brought Jon back to the present, and he instinctively looked himself over. He gasped as his eyes fell on the space where his lower legs should have been. “What happened?”
“You took a hit to your cockpit that jammed your ejection seat. Subsequently your mech suffered an internal explosion, which triggered the auto-ejection sequence. Your legs caught the brunt of the rocket’s exhaust when the seat tried to leave.”
“Bad, “ Jonathan thought, “but sergeant Coleman was one on the Lancer’s best mechwarriors and he had a prosthetic leg.”
“Well I can deal with that, he said aloud, but then he saw the doctor’s grimace. Then it really hit him, “Wait a minute this is the Morgan Hasek-Davion Neurological Center!” He couldn’t hide the tremble in his voice as he asked his next question. “What am I doing here?”
“Your mech’s gauss capacitor suffered a catastrophic failure,” the doctor replied.
“Feedback, “ Jon said as it began to become sickeningly clear.
“Yes,” the doctor affirmed, “you suffered severe neurological damage when the released electricity bled back through your neurohelmet.”
“How bad?” Jon demanded.
“Scans indicate that most of the synaptic connections for the inner-ear are dead, there is also lighter damage to the synapses involved with hearing.”
“So I have no sense of balance?” Jon asked in near panic.
“We were able to install specialized cochlear implants. Your hearing should be back to near normal and you ought to have some sense of balance.”
“So how long until I’m back in a mech?” Jon demanded.
The doctor sighed, “It’s not that simple.” “Having two prosthesis will compound the balance problem. It will likely be sufficient to prevent motion sickness but walking will probably be a major problem. You can’t pass a Return to Duty Physical ”
“I don’t care about that, I can always sign with a merc unit.” “How does my injury translate into my ability to pilot a mech?” he screamed.
The doctor understood and had tried to steer around the subject, but Jon had backed him into a corner. He had given something that was more important to him than his life in defense of the Federated Suns. The doctor knew that and also knew that Jon was owed at least an honest answer for that sacrifice. “The damage is too great and the implants too weak. Our tests indicate that even a clan neurohelmet wouldn’t work for you.”
“So it was for nothing?” Jon stated his voice devoid of all emotion
“Nothing?” the doctor asked
“My friends, my country, “ Jon chocked back a sob, “my ability to pilot a mech.” “We gave all these things to get Victor back on the throne. All those sacrifices, for nothing.”
“Hardly nothing,” the doctor countered, “a usurper who created untold hardship on our people is gone.”
“No,” Jon said as he turned away from the doctor, “it was for nothing.”