The Dragon of Caph
|The Dragon of Caph|
|First published||13 October 2006|
|Timeline||12 October 3068|
|“||Every world that joins the Word of Blake Protectorate has rumors of phantom units, lingering in the darkness. Only on Caph, those rumors are true. An unknown black BattleMech piloted by a man calling himself "Drago" is taking out Demi-Precentor Alice Haywood's Level III, unit by unit. It's up to her and her men to slay this Dragon of Caph...||”|
With the destruction of Adept II Epsilon Marcus Boylar's Black Knight and Boylar's death, the mysterious black BattleMech stalking the contaminated zone near Dallas on Caph claims another kill, and its legend grows. Unmarked other than a stylized red dragon that marks a vertical crimson blaze on the front of the 'Mech, Boylar's killer is unmarked - and only speaks to identify himself as Drago.
Demi-Precentor Alice Haywood is in command of the local Word of Blake forces in Dallas, a mining outpost fifty kilometers from Aswan. She was also Boylar's lover, and is determined to find and kill whatever killed Boylar and his Level II - and kill the legend building around it. Her Level II's first encounter with Boylar's killer doesn't go well; Boylar's remains have been scraped out of his cockpit, and what's left of his Black Knight has been transported away for salvage, but as the Jackal and Toyama 'Mechs and the three squads of Purifier battle armor track the path the killer took, the killer is already stalking her... and the Jackal and its pilot die without ever seeing what killed him.
Haywood pulls her remaining troops back to Dallas to regroup, and to give her time to study the BattleROM from the fallen Jackal... and is able to determine that the attacking 'Mech is an OmniMech - a Nova Cat. The next morning, Haywood moves her remaining warriors back out to where Baylor and his Level II died, and attempts to lure the Nova Cat out of cover. Her efforts to conceal her other forces don't fool the matte-black OmniMech, but it responds to the challenge, and emerges from a hidden passageway in a nearby ridge wall, felling the Toyama with an ammunition explosion caused by a single deadly volley.
When the Nova Cat begins moving away, an outraged Haywood tries to taunt it into returning - and one of the insults works, bringing the Clan 'Mech back into the fray. The Purifiers try to engage it, but are mowed down in detail, and even as Haywood charges her Grand Crusader towards the Nova Cat the Clan pilot. Haywood and Drago exchange volley after volley of fire until a final volley causes Haywood to fall... and the Nova Cat to shut down.
Realizing that the Nova Cat can't respond, Haywood brings her Grand Crusader back to its feet and pushes the Nova Cat over and stamps on it, crushing its torso and shutting down the fusion engine. Haywood takes a moment to tell Drago that he can fight, but in the Protectorate, that isn't enough - you need a will, as well... and then fires her PPC into the Nova Cat's cockpit.