To Lead and Serve
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|To Lead and Serve|
|First published||29 July 2010|
|Era||Succession Wars era|
|Timeline||2 August 2821|
|Series||Operation Klondike (series)|
It was (re-)published in print in the 2019 anthology Kill Zone.
|“||In the first of a series of four stories set during Operation Klondike, we follow Star Captain Kami Sword of the Goliath Scorpions as she battles the Pentagon forces on Dagda.||”|
In the aftermath of the fall of the McMillan Collective's stronghold at Firebase Delta, Goliath Scorpion Star Captain Kami Sword pursues the Collective's remnants, which have scattered into Dagda's badlands in hopes of buying time to regroup and counterattack. Nearly a quarter of the Goliath Scorpion MechWarrior touman (the rest of Kami's Binary) has already been killed fighting the Collective's forces, and Kami's detachment is on its own, with no possibility of reinforcement.
Piloting a PPC-packing Phoenix Hawk, Kami is somewhat disdainful of the Goliath Scorpion auxiliaries under her command (tank crews and infantry). She feels that their failure to qualify for one of the forty Bloodnamed slots in the Clan touman, and their relegation to a supporting role, indicates their mental and social inferiority. She doesn't question their devotion, just their skill.
Across the battle lines, Storm-Captain Aldous Raine of the McMillan Collective commands a Burke, and leads a Collective combat element consisting of a Crab, a Champion, another Burke, a pair of Furys, two Beagles, and a gaggle of APCs. He is trying to get his troops to the small town of Castleton, hoping to link up with the rest of the Collective’s forces—particularly the battlegroup under Collector James McMillan. Still outwardly confident despite the loss of the firebase, Raine plans to ambush Kami's battlegroup.
Kami has to fall back before the Collective column's superior firepower, as she waits for her own auxiliaries to join the fray. When her own tanks take out Collective vehicles, she denigrates their skills while claiming to admire their fighting spirit. She singlehandedly engages the Collective forces to give her auxiliaries time to reach the largely abandoned village of Beasley where they plan to set up an ambush.
More experienced than his fairly green troops, Raine recognizes that Kami is trying to lead him into an ambush. Despite this, he is determined to go on the offensive against the Goliath Scorpions. Collective tactical doctrine had been based on the ability to fall back to the supposedly impregnable Firebase Delta, which has already been overrun by the Clan.
Kami's duel with Raine turns into a game of cat and mouse through ash-laden volcanic canyons. Kami is forced to choose between continuing a risky battle against the Collective that hinges on her superior mobility, gunnery, and luck, or drawing the Collective troops into an ambush set by her auxiliaries, and letting the non-Bloodnamed troops claim her kills. Despite being sorely tempted to seek personal glory, prudence wins out and she elects to let the auxiliaries have their shot.
The ambush traps Raine's column between the Goliath Scorpion heavy tanks and Kami's Phoenix Hawk, while infantry and hovercraft seal off the flanks. The Collective forces are shattered, but killing one of the Burkes leaves Kami exposed to the triple-PPCs of its mate. At the last minute, an auxiliary Zephyr rockets between the two, sacrificing itself (and its crew) to save Kami's life. The rest of the auxiliaries finish off the last Burke, earning Kami's respect at last. In the aftermath of the Collective's defeat, she advocates for promotion of the best auxiliary troops to replace losses in the Clan's BattleMech touman.