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|Also known as||"The Black Pearl"|
Angela Franks (b. ???? - d. 2863) was a celebrated citizen of the Lyran Commonwealth during the Succession Wars. Making a name for herself as a Holovid star, the Black Pearl as her fans called her made the surprising decision to join the Lyran Commonwealth Armed Forces and rose through the ranks based on her skills as a MechWarrior. Her death on the planet Sakhalin against the Draconis Combine would go on to become the stuff of legends and debate for centuries.
Angela Franks was born into a wealthy merchant family on Donegal and pursued an early career as an actress. Her great beauty - an inherited trait from her Nigerian and Black American ancestors - and skill as an actress earned her wide acclaim and her sobriquet from adoring fans across the Commonwealth. The "Black Pearl" was also a patriot, participating in many bond drives to raise money for the war effort. However, Angela felt that her current efforts were not enough, and in 2853 made the surprising decision to apply to the Sanglamore Military Academy. Many of her fans assumed this to be a publicity stunt, to help bring more attention to her fund drives, but as she worked her way through Sanglamore and began training to become a 'Mech pilot, any doubts as to her authentic desires vanished.
Upon graduation, Angela was given a posting to The Stealths in one of their scout lances. With her skills and battlefield acumen, she continued to rise through the ranks, never once using her fame to her advantage and with little patience for those who treated her as anything other than another soldier. Her successful capture of a Combine BattleMaster helped her win the command of the Stealth's heavy battalion, and many assumed the Lieutenant-Colonel was next in line to take over the regiment after Colonel Raymond Winfield retired.
Last Stand on Sakhalin
In late 2860, the Draconis Combine invaded and took control of Sakhalin, putting the Commonwealth in a dangerous position as it found its front line suddenly split in two. High Command responded in 2863 by counter-invading with three 'Mech regiments, one of which was the Stealths. Although making good use of their traditional hit-and-run tactics for most of the campaign, the Stealths ran into trouble one early morning in October that year when the leading light battalions, moving through a fog-swept valley, ran head-first into a Combine assault battalion. As it happened, the Stealths were accompanied by a holovid news crew from the Donegal Broadcasting Company, which would capture the following events on camera.
Taking a severe mauling, the Stealths' lighter 'Mechs were attempting to fall back but could not disengage from the fighting. Coming in from the west, Lieutenant-Colonel Franks and her battalion finally caught up to the fighting and, surveying the battlefield before her, the Black Pearl ordered her unit to charge into the fray. As the two heavyweight units clashed, churning the ground into mud and knocking over trees in their brawling, the survivors of the light battalions saw their chance to escape and withdrew under the covering fire of Franks and her unit.
Franks and her unit continued to hold off the Combine forces from pursuing their wounded comrades, with the lieutenant-colonel herself positioning her 'Mech in a clearing so as to draw enemy fire. In the wake of a missile barrage which left her shrouded in smoke, Franks' weapons fell silent until finally she emerged, her 'Mech pockmarked with battle damaged but its arms raised defiantly in challenge. Like a scene taken straight from a holovid, the fighting around Franks died down, as if both sides sensed something important were about to happen. A Combine Marauder approached, but in seconds was disabled with its legs destroyed by unerringly accurate fire from Franks. Incensed by this, the rest of the assault battalion opened fire on Franks, creating a hellstorm of weapons fire which again shrouded her 'Mech in smoke.
When the dust cleared, Franks' BattleMaster was still standing but severely damaged and decapitated. Its pilot surely dead, the Combine battalion commander approached closer to the ruined BattleMaster, standing in front of it in his Warhammer. Suddenly, the three surviving torso lasers on the BattleMaster fired straight into the cockpit of the Warhammer, killing the commander and knocking his 'Mech to the ground. Stunned disbelief gave way to fury as the rest of the Combine battalion focused their full attention on Franks' 'Mech - shooting it, tearing it apart and stomping the pieces into the ground to make sure it was dead - as the rest of the Stealths used to opportunity to fall back to safety.
The scene of Franks' last battle and the mysterious final moments of her 'Mech were broadcast across the Commonwealth, sparking debate among many as to what actually happened. Some believed that Angela Franks had somehow managed to survive her 'Mech being decapitated long enough to make her parting shot, with others arguing that it had been a fluke of battle damage which caused the lasers to misfire at just the right time. Still others have wondered if Angela's soul had imprinted on the 'Mech long enough to make one final kill and buy her comrades the time needed to make their escape.
Marriage and family
Angela Franks is known to have at least one offspring, as a descendent of hers, Cynthia Franks, who would rise to become a Lieutenant-General in the LCAF and be appointed as one of the commanders to the Royal New Capetown Military Academy in an effort to combat racism on campus.
For the latter part of her career, Angela Franks piloted a BattleMaster that she herself had disabled and claimed as salvage. During the fight on Sakhalin it was painted gleaming black with a score of kill markers on the left shin.
- House Steiner (The Lyran Commonwealth), p. 65
- House Steiner (The Lyran Commonwealth), p. 66
- Handbook: House Stiner, p. 44
- House Steiner (The Lyran Commonwealth), p. 125