Author Topic: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II  (Read 7835 times)

BrokenMnemonic

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1374
Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #300 on: 26 September 2017, 13:17:05 »
Is it positively confirmed that those who attacked Maldives were TDF? I'm wondering if it could be a rogue unit/group of deserters/pirate band in TDF colours?

It's more interesting than optimal, and therefore better. O0 - Weirdo

Mendrugo

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 3011
  • Manei Tetatae
Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #301 on: 26 September 2017, 13:31:28 »
The attackers are described as "salvage raiders" of unspecified origin, but it's stated that the secret base with eight 'Mech cubicles was built by the Taurians. 
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

BrokenMnemonic

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1374
Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #302 on: 26 September 2017, 13:45:23 »
Hmm. Would it be a stretch to suggest a facility built clandestinely by the TDF, but found and used by someone else?

It's more interesting than optimal, and therefore better. O0 - Weirdo

Mendrugo

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 3011
  • Manei Tetatae
Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #303 on: 26 September 2017, 15:34:30 »
Here's what we've got from "Heir Apparent"

Ivan: "This was originally a Taurian facility; built before the war, halfway up a mountain, overlooking a river valley some glacier gouged into the landscape an ice age ago. During the war the Magistracy took out some hydroelectric dams to cut power to Rivergaard. The subsequent flood put the lake here, drowning this place."

Regarding the raiders:  "Destrier had been owned by the Litzau corporation since before the Concordat-Magistracy War. Chairman Augustine Litzau had used it to fend off salvage raiders during the war, and was credited with saving Rivergaard."

Re: the fighting on Maldives:  "The Concordat-Magistracy War may have ended a hundred and ninety years ago, but Maldives still bore proof of the fierce fighting that had characterized the conflict. Ample amounts of wreckage still littered the landscape."

So, it appears in this book's backstory, there was a fifth, apparently unrecorded by ComStar, battlefield in the Taurian-Magistracy conflict.  The Taurians set up a base on Maldives prior to the war, and then the Magistracy attacked (making the "salvage raiders" MAF, by extension) and trashed the planetary infrastructure (hydro dams), flooding the access shaft to the TDF outpost.  There were presumably other TDF installations on Maldives that got smoked by the superior MAF firepower.  Once the TDF garrison was waxed, the Litzau security forces mopped up what was left of the MAF raiders.

Conclusion A: ComStar missed a portion of the war in its historical reports.  There's precedent, but it's a bit of a handwave.

Conclusion B: Heir Apparent exists outside of the standard BattleTech continuity.  Which would be a shame, reflecting a lack of coordination between HBS and Catalyst, since the whole appeal of a shared universe is internal consistency.
« Last Edit: 26 September 2017, 18:54:35 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Liam's Ghost

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 4338
  • My own childish bit of defiance
Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #304 on: 26 September 2017, 17:19:14 »
I don't recall any canon sources that described the Canopean-Taurian war as "Fierce". The word I think would be most descriptive is "comical".

So as a third option, perhaps the fighting on Maldives was omitted by Comstar because it didn't fit their narrative of two bumkin states ineffectively flailing at each other.

Though I think separate continuity is going to be most accurate. The Hairbrained schemes plotline might punch up the details of the Canopean-Taurian war in order to better fit their backstory and lay the groundwork for the campaign.
Good news is the lab boys say the symptoms of asbestos poisoning show an immediate latency of 44.6 years. So if you're thirty or over you're laughing. Worst case scenario you miss out on a few rounds of canasta, plus you've forwarded the cause of science by three centuries. I punch those numbers into my calculator, it makes a happy face.

(indirect accessory to the) Slayer of Monitors!

skiltao

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 819
    • SkilTao's Gaming Blog
Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #305 on: 30 September 2017, 15:14:56 »
Catching up on some Warrior Trilogy stuff I missed. Like, if Janice Rand is Yeoman Rand, then have I been wrong about Hanse Davion all this time? Is Captain Dechan Fraser the one true Jim Kirk analogue?

Rarity indicators were standard for products like this at the time, such as TSR's Monster Manuals.  One problem, as you can see, is that once specific numbers of unit X are codified as existing, future authors run the risk of over-using rare units.
The high concentration of Cicadas is unusual for a Liao unit, since that design is only produced in the Free Worlds League.  No unit in the CCAF is listed as using Cicadas as its primary BattleMechs.

The Rifleman is one of the most common 'Mechs on the battlefield (particularly in the Federated Suns), and has been since the waning days of the Star League.  What does it say about Justin's education and experience that he's never heard of Riflemen being able to flip their arms before?
why would an ace MechWarrior like Wolfson be utterly unfamiliar with its performance profile?  And why would Xiang have only thought of exploiting the weak rear armor based on an anecdotal comment Dan Allard once told him about one way to beat Riflemen?

My suspicion is that the academies and other informal training options in the Inner Sphere is severely lacking in combat performance analytics (perhaps such procedures have become LosTech).  The Shrapnel story, "Painting the Town," where the Combine troopers battle mysterious pristine Marauders features one soldier who knows that pristine Marauder armor became LosTech centuries ago, but the rest were clueless.  The one know-it-all is noted as spending her free time with her head buried in technical manuals - and is an exception to the norm.  It appears that the vast majority of MechWarriors lack the intellectual curiosity to check out the specs on the kinds of equipment they might be facing, preferring to master the quirks of their centuries-old patched up war machines.

This would strongly suggest that, despite the New Avalon Herald's enthusiastic endorsement, ComStar's Technical Readout: 3025 is not required reading for either cadets or fully fledged MechWarriors.
In the mechwarrior as knight model, the scene with Wolfson works for me, because training is informal and highly personal. In the context of modern military training though, I agree it's just baffling, and would indicate a very basic level of training, with nothing on familiarizing cadets on potential opponents.

There's a Solaris VII fight near the beginning of En Garde between a Rifleman and two Vindicators, that I'm wondering if maybe the Vindicators were originally meant to be Clints but got changed because of the Clint's rarity.

The Cicada is hard to quantify. Capellan manufacturing isn't well documented before the 3060s, so we don't actually know if they were manufactured in the Confederation or not, and the Free Worlds League produces so few that it'd be trivial to match them. TR:3025 does at least note Liao's use of Cicada variants, and it's not like any CCAF regiments list UrbanMechs as their primary unit either.

The Rifleman's status may be deceptive. TR:3025 says that new production is only recently making the 'Mech common again: even if the Kell Hounds have the newest copy of that TRO, the training battalion might not; and so much of the data in our real-life version of the TRO is anecdotal (or outdated, or otherwise suspect) to begin with that I don't find Justin's reaction at all incongruous. I think it springs from the scope of the setting. In an age of centuries-old patchwork 'Mechs, you can't hope to have hard data on everything you'll encounter, which means a lot of your information will necessarily be word of mouth, you'll be used to relying on word of mouth, and there's no guarantee that unfamiliar types will behave exactly as reported.

Plus, I don't think you can read too much into Wolfson's mistake. He's said to like running his 'Mechs hot and apparently got angry enough to lapse into those old reflexes--more a lack of discipline and practice than a lack of knowledge. (I'd say something similar about Justin, but I realize that looking too hard at this stuff is kinda the point of the thread, and that it's not all 100% serious.)

Noton proceeds to his own alcove, marked by his sigil - a cartoon ghost centered in crosshairs
If only marshmallows weren't LosTech :(

;D These are great separately and even better together.

Once the man departs, Michi draws his service pistol and executes Satoh, clearing the way to take command of the Ryuken and save those who survive.
<snip>
I wonder how many DCMS regiments were needlessly lost throughout the Succession Wars because their commanders mindlessly attempted to execute plans that had long since been overcome by events.
I wonder why so many merc units are willing to sign on with the Combine, given their proven track record of using company store tactics to impoverish and then absorb merc units, alongside their casual disdain.
I talked with Mr. Stackpole at a book signing once and asked if he'd ever played the board game much before writing the books.  He responded "Just enough to learn to not let anyone get behind me."  This is probably why the text attributes Yorinaga's inability to defeat Morgan to Colonel Kell's remarkable aptitude at dodging incoming fire - an option not available in the 2nd Edition board game ruleset of the time.

There's a fan theory I quite like, that the Combine's overall strategy is based on attrition, and that's why they're often willing to expend troops. The Mercenary's Handbook claims that the Combine tends to win (which I assume translates to more plunder and fewer losses) which offsets their company store tactics.

I appreciate the parallel between Michi's action here and Yorinaga's on the other front; I hadn't thought to connect them with the Combine's formal rules of vendetta. Your points about Yorinaga's "ki" and the four Drac archetypes are also really interesting. I read Shogun for the first time recently, and it's easy to see some influence.

I wonder if Morgan and Yorinaga's backstory grew out of an RPG campaign; En Garde has a 1988 copyright, and the 1986 edition of MechWarrior allows players to spend XP before a roll (their own roll, or that of any friend or foe within LOS) to modify that single roll by up to +/-5. That would seem to cover Phantom Mech skill, Minobu Tetsuhara's Ki, and could partly account for why Stackpole has lighter combatants pause to watch assault 'Mechs fight. "Whether characters call it a stroke of luck, a triumph of strategy, or divine intervention, adjustments to die rolls can often make the difference between life or death" (page 24). It's interesting, if not surprising, that the rule mentions the in-character perception of the effect without committing to any particular flavor for the objective physics of the event. If we extend the mechanic to strategic or psychohistorical forecasting, then it also creates an avenue for precognitive visions.

It’s significant that, prior to writing for FASA’s BattleTech game, Michael Stackpole designed and wrote the “Mercenaries, Spies, & Private Eyes” RPG for Flying Buffalo.  The work he did on that project is evident in his BattleTech work – which was the first to really get into storylines pitting intelligence agencies against each other.
Kym Sorenson is a MIIO agent assigned to infiltrate Lestrade’s inner circle and, now, assigned to keep tabs on Justin.
he must have been aware that she was MIIO and that she wasn't in on his mission.  I wonder what his long-term game plan was.

Interesting; I wonder how well MS&PE works with the MechWarrior RPGs.

I don't think Justin had any long term plans about any of his activities on Solaris VII. They all seem opportunistic. It's a neat bit of plotting on Stackpole's part, how taking advantage of Justin's disgrace left a gap in the surveillance of Lestrade, which creates the opening for the Silver Eagle incident.

Solaris VII is not a Lyran world, but an independent world under Lyran protection.

If Trellwan and Verthandi are anything to go by, that may be true of most worlds in Lyran space. Could be an arrangement similar the one in the Star Trek episode "A Piece of the Action."

Since she's only 17, she probably gets a pass...though it is a small sign of where Katherine Steiner-Davion got her entitled attitude. 

That's a good catch.
History of BattleTech: Handy chart for returning players. (last updated end of 2012)
Blog: currently working out BattleMech manufacturing rates. New secret project will resume eventually.

Mendrugo

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 3011
  • Manei Tetatae
Date: November 8, 3000
 
Location: Maldives

Title: Heir Apparent

Author: Michael A. Stackpole
 
Type: Novel (Heir Apparent)

Synopsis: At the Golden Prosperity Re-education Camp (formerly the Rivergaard Municipal Arena), Sophia's broken cheek is treated by Laurie - wife of Walter's now deceased lancemate Chris in the Angels, and mother of Kaylee, who has accompanied her to the camp.

A woman identified as Madam Proctor announces a re-education lecture on the evil methods used by the First Families to harm the people of Maldives, followed by denunciations and confessions, and then work parties to make amends for ongoing resistance attacks.  As the proctor departs, Laurie tells Sophia that she should run if she gets a chance, having assessed Golden Prosperity as a death camp.

Notes: The fury felt by the proctor appears real, so she seems to have a real beef with the overthrown planetary elites.  This is certainly understandable - since the First Families have used elaborately forged family trees to justify their stranglehold on the planetary wealth for centuries. 

The demands for the elites to confess to "crimes against the people" and denounce them suggests that the revolutionaries feel they still lack sufficient legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of the planetary population, and are launching an propaganda campaign to address that deficiency.  The propaganda value of the captured elites is probably the only reason they're still alive, since the revolutionaries certainly don't seem likely to try to institute a slave-labor based economy or to try to boost tourism running their version of the Hunger Games.

One wonders exactly what Laurie and Chris went through during past Angels contracts that she knows the signs of a death camp.  In the crumbling tail end of the Third Succession War, mercenaries were more likely to be ransomed than to rot in an internment camp.  That means that ideologically-driven insurgencies are less common than ones driven by political machinations of the Great Houses.

That being said, the rhetoric being spouted by Madame Proctor could have come out of the John Candy/Tom Hanks movie "Volunteers"   (Capitalist Imperialist Running Pig Dogs!  Ptui!!)  This would suggest that the revolutionaries have had substantial amounts of indoctrination in political and economic theories to justify armed insurrection.  The anti-corporate bent and emphasis on class warfare suggests a populist, possibly communist bent (though none of the states near Maldives is communist - a throw-away line from the Liao sourcebook indicates the term "Commonality" is a relic from a brief flirtation with communism.)

Given the cameo by a Capellan ambassador earlier, one suspects that this is part of a Maskirovka operation.  These folks might be a primitive version of the zhan zheng de guang - locals with legitimate grievances supported by the Maskirovka and indoctrinated into rising up on behalf of the Capellan Confederation.

The mention that the "unrepentant corporate lackey comrades continue their repressive war against the people," strongly suggests that loyalist forces are still active as of November 8th, two days after the loyalists in the Rivergaard garrison, the Angels, and the Litzau Lancers were annihilated.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 3011
  • Manei Tetatae
Date: November 11, 3000
 
Location: Maldives

Title: Heir Apparent

Author: Michael A. Stackpole
 
Type: Novel (Heir Apparent)

Synopsis: In the Nyqvist Upland Preserve, Walter scouts around the perimeter of the hidden Litzau outpost in the Lac du Valee, downloading data from holovid cameras positioned in the vicinity years earlier to study local wildlife.  There is no sign of continuing searches by the Collective, and Walter reasons that 36 hours of torrential rains have concealed any trail left by his and Ivan's 'Mechs.

Ivan analyzes the images of the Collective agents captured over the previous week by the cameras, noting that many have criminal records, and none are from the ranks of the planetary elite.  Walter suspects the ones not in Ivan's database are mercenaries. 

Ivan analyzes the metadata on the Collective propaganda broadcasts, which suggests that loyalist guerrillas managed to destroy the primary Collective transmitter, forcing them to rely on a back up facility.

Ivan tells Walter he has to leave the bolt hole.  He says his plan was to get through the Vetting, then change things on Maldives.  Now, he sees that the citizens are being forced into re-education camps, and that there is still armed resistance, and he feels he has a duty to support the resistance and free his people.

Walter cautions that charging in with two 'Mechs would be suicidal.  He asks Ivan to put his analytical skills to use on where and how to hit the Collective where it will have the most impact.  Ivan says he needs more data, and Walter proposes a recon mission to get it.

Notes: We see at work here the same psychological factors that led the Kentares militia troops to leave the refugee hideout in the copper mine and make a suicide run into the teeth of the Combine extermination campaign (see my earlier entries on the Kentares Massacre Journal).  Walter and Ivan are safe, for now, but they have friends and loved ones out there still in imminent danger, and they feel compelled to use what tools are at their disposal to do something, anything. 

On the USIIR scale, Maldives would probably rate at least a B for technological sophistication, with planetary holovid networks and capabilities for metadata analysis, whereas on some worlds in the Davion outback, people who'd never seen a hologram thought they were being attacked by ghosts when a traveling theater company came through from offworld.  As previously noted, there's also an impressive concentration of military force on Maldives for 3000, considering that on many backwater worlds circa 3025, two 'Mechs would be able to topple the planetary government without breathing hard.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 3011
  • Manei Tetatae
Date: November 15, 3000
 
Location: Maldives

Title: Heir Apparent

Author: Michael A. Stackpole
 
Type: Novel (Heir Apparent)

Synopsis: Walter and Ivan's recon mission takes them to a small farm on the edge of the preserve.  Collective propaganda touts peace and unity, while showing work gangs of "volunteers" under guard cleaning debris.  Facial analysis shows many of the "safety officers" are from the ranks of the planetary elite (the "Preferred"). 

Equipped with a cache of gold and platinum coins and civilian clothes from a compartment in his command couch, Walter hopes to become an "everyman" that can blend in.  Ivan has dyed his hair and gotten as scruffy as possible.  Together, they're "Wall-eye Wilson" and "Carl Spurling." 

Approaching the farm, they're confronted by the farmer and his two sons.  They claim to be unaware of the coup, or the outcome of the vetting.  The farmer recommends they go back to where they came from (they claim it's the town of Swindon), and offers breakfast in exchange for some wood splitting and stable mucking.  Over breakfast, the farmer inquires if they escaped from a work detail.  From the farmer's description, Walter surmises they are digging mass graves over by Swindon. 

At noon, Ivan and Walter leave, headed for Swindon over a winding 20+ km route.  As dusk approaches, they reach the outskirts of the small ranching community (corn, vegetables, sheep), with a cottage industry in wool spinning, weaving, and knitting.  Ivan points out a large mansion as "August House," House Litzau's High Summer home, where he and Walter had planned to use secure data connections to access the planetary network.  It is lit up brightly, suggesting unusual activity. 

Ivan maps out how they can get in unnoticed through the sewage blockhouse, and one picked lock later, they enter a concealed "panic room" lined with computer consoles.  Ivan inputs a virus to eliminate records that might lead back to the farm they visited in the morning, and gather up all newly changed records.

Video monitors show prisoners burying corpses in the gardens, under heavy guard.  Ivan calls Walter's attention to one of the prisoners - Sophia, and says they have to go do something.  Walter talks Ivan out of rushing in impulsively. 

Calmer, Ivan notes the controls in the room can lock and unlock doors, manipulate the electrical system, and provide access to hidden safe rooms.  Walter instructs Ivan to identify the professional mercenaries (for priority targeting), and to distract the guards by monkeying with the lights and doors, while he goes to try to extract Sophia.

Walter moves out, focusing on the job.  He notes that he doesn't hate the Collective troops - they're just obstacles between him and mission completion for his employer.  Noting the irony, he compares his lack of emotion to Maldives' corporate governance, which engendered the coup through its treatment of the people as faceless labor units.

Silently killing two sentries, he reaches the truck where Sophia is getting another body for burial.  He signals Walter to douse the lights, kills another guard, and tells Sophia to run to the house.  The prisoners scatter as the inexperienced revolutionary guards fire wildly into the darkness, often targeting their comrades' muzzle flashes.  In the house, Sophia tells Walter she's stunned to learn he's alive, since the Collective broadcasts the details of his death on an hourly basis.

Ivan uses the hallway sound system to interrupt their reunion, warning them to get back to the truck and take it.  A door opens (thanks to Ivan), they run together through the darkness to the truck, which Walter starts without incident in the midst of the ongoing chaos.  Shots hit the truck as it begins to drive off, but stop when all the lights come back on at full intensity, blinding the surviving guards. 

Just as Walter thinks they've gotten away cleanly, a Rivergaard Rangers' Wasp appears out of the gloom 100 meters away, pointing its laser at the truck.  Walter stops the truck and raises his hands in surrender.

Notes:  The farm, as described, suggests a small-scale family farm, rather than an industrial agribusiness.  20 hectares under cultivation, a small dairy to make butter and cheese, and a smokehouse, plus a still for homemade firewater, and evidence that this is supplemented by poaching on the nature reserve. 

I would have presumed that, on such a corporate world, all commercial operations would be controlled by the First Families' megacorps, and be thoroughly modernized and bureaucratized.  Perhaps this is an example of the small scale economic activity that gets the regular people by on the margins of the First Families' oligarchic system.  Without access to corporate financing, they have to make do in standard Periphery fashion, with low-efficiency subsistence farming.

Walter also notes the discrepancy, opining that while the farm is low-tech, it has the advantage of being stable and self sufficient, unlikely to be affected by the fighting and disruption of supply and trade networks, and destruction of infrastructure. 

The attempted rescue of Sophia has many of the hallmarks of past Kell Hound stories by Stackpole - the enemy has the numbers, but not the skills, and the good guys have a secret ace in the hole that gives them an edge.  In contrast to the Warrior novels and Not the Way the Smart Money Bets, there isn't a successful fighting exit through the kitchens, but (for once) a failed escape attempt. 

(To be fair, this is not dissimilar to Kai Allard-Liao's capture on Alyina - though there the protagonist was about to lose when a surprise intervention gets him arrested instead, while here Walter was about to successfully extract when he gets stopped.)

Much of Maldives' non-First Family economy seems to be centered around 19th century technology levels focused on local production and consumption.  The fighting in the unrecorded greatest battle of the Taurian-Canopian war must have shattered the planetary infrastructure to the point where future generations elected to go with self sufficiency rather than put themselves at risk in the event of another war coming and wrecking anything built with technologically-interlinked efficiency in mind.  Rather than than the gradual decline suggested in the book, an argument could be made that there was a catastrophic mass die-off when the Canopians trashed the planetary infrastructure, and the population stabilized at a level where it could be sustained by 19th century subsistence agriculture. 

The presence of "Preferred" among the ranks of the guards suggests that the Collective was able to suborn a number of the former elites with promises of protected status during the coming/ongoing purge.  Setting former elites against each other will leave the prior structures weak even if there is a counter-insurgency by loyalists, leaving the world vulnerable to offworld annexation (Capellan, one surmises?). 

The gold and platinum coins are interesting - raising the question to what extent are precious metals still precious at the dawn of the 31st century?  Is there always a market for such coins on worlds of the Inner Sphere and Nearby Kingdoms in the Periphery?  Many worlds have local scrip, not to mention the House currencies and the almighty C-Bill.  Will local banks/trading posts/HPG Stations readily accept precious metals in exchange for more convertible forms of currency?  Would use of such currency be red flagged by local institutions as an indicator that the owner was on the losing side of a recent battle?

If Walter's tactic is common among professional mercs, the next time your troops find a dead MechWarrior still strapped into his escape seat, there may be some extra loot concealed inside.  (Extra bonus if your troops are Bandit Kingdom cannibals...lunch and spending money)
« Last Edit: 13 October 2017, 13:10:05 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 3011
  • Manei Tetatae
Date: November 15, 3000
 
Location: Maldives

Title: Apparent Catastrophe

Author: Michael A. Stackpole
 
Type: Novel (Apparent Catastrophe)

Synopsis: The Collective-aligned Rivergaard Rangers Wasp fires its jump jets, illuminating the rest of its lance, following close behind.  Walter and Sofia escape from the truck cab and run towards the house.  They reach the shelter of a small hill just as a pair of short range missiles explodes behind them, the pressure wave sending them flying.

A Stinger in red and yellow joins the fight, firing at the Ranger Wasp.  A Ranger Whitworth supports its smaller comrade, crippling the rogue Stinger.

Walter and Sophia retreat to the blockhouse that conceals the entrance to the mansion's hidden security control center, where Ivan is waiting.  Sophia tells Ivan the swelling in her cheek interfered with the Collective's facial recognition, and that her captors didn't know who they had.  Ivan tells her he's created new identities for them in the global computer network - she's now Felicia Fisher, a gardener from Swindon.

Voices from outside demand entry, and Walter hides the computer consoles before opening the door to admit Rivergaard Ranger security troops, who efficiently search the three and disarm them, then lead them back to where the truck remains idling in the road. 

In the gardens, illuminated by two Ranger 'Mechs, Walter sees scores of bodies, men, women, and children, filling four shallow pits.  Collective guards are kneeling at the edge of pits with their hands behind their heads, while the prisoners stand further back, treating the wounded from the recent firefight. 

A Ranger lieutenant tells the kneeling Collective guards to look at what they've done.  One woman angrily answers that it's payback for what the First Families have done to them for generations.  The Ranger Lt. shoots her, then orders his men to kill the rest.

Walter is shocked, since this runs contrary to the norms of the Third Succession War - where extrajudicial murder is frowned upon because the shooters might be the people kneeling by the pit the next time around.  He can't fathom what would make the Rangers split from the Collective less than two weeks after the coup.

The lieutenant introduces himself as Calvin Garza, and offers to take the liberated workers to a refugee camp.  He suggests Walter might find work as a fighter, and justifies the executions by saying they were a mix of mercenaries hired to overthrow the planet and collaborators who betrayed their families.  At his signal, the 'Mechs use their lasers to incinerate the bodies in the pits.

Notes: Apparently the Collective's facial recognition tech is behind the times, considering that Lyran identity confirmation tech circa 3027 uses skeletal structure analysis (per the Warrior Trilogy), which wouldn't be affected by temporary inflammation of soft tissue.

Stackpole laid the ground for this scenario (where the Rangers first support the coup, then turn against it) with early dialogue that established that when you get two Dhivi together, you end up with three conspiracies.  One might suspect that the CO of the Rangers initially backed the Collective so they could eliminate all the people who stood between himself and the position of Planetary Chairman, then planned to betray the Collective and play on their atrocities and his key role in the counterinsurgency to head the post-counterrevolution government.

That begs the question - what side was the red/yellow Stinger on?  Local security?  A third rebel faction that just happened to get in the way?  A roving Collective patrol?  Presumably the Ranger lance was accompanied by ground vehicles carrying infantry, because troops on foot wouldn't have been able to keep up with a jump-capable 'Mech lance, and 'Mechs alone wouldn't have been as effective in subduing the Austin House Collective garrison.

The Rangers' final actions, incinerating the bodies with lasers, begs the question - why was the Collective making a mass grave in the first place?  From a narrative standpoint, it quickly paints the Collective as all caps BAD GUYS in the Nazi/Khmer Rouge model, but the existence of 'Mech grade lasers suggests a much quicker, more permanent method of corpse disposal through vaporization.

 One can argue that the process of digging up the gardens and burying the bodies there is a psychological maneuver...but for whose benefit?  As Walter said, the work crew is likely to be the last ones into the pit once its filled, so it's not to break their spirits.  It could be symbolic - just as the Union created Arlington National Cemetery on the grounds of Robert E. Lee's family estate, but that was a method of placing the blame for Union dead at Confederate hands.  This seems intended as an act of desecration - destroying beautiful gardens built for the enjoyment of elites (while low status Dhivi eked out a meager existence) by filling them with the corpses of those elites. 
« Last Edit: 13 October 2017, 14:09:26 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 3011
  • Manei Tetatae
Date: November 16, 3000
 
Location: Maldives

Title: Apparent Catastrophe

Author: Michael A. Stackpole
 
Type: Novel (Apparent Catastrophe)

Synopsis: Having been transported via hovertruck to a Ranger processing center at the Prism Energy Solutions compound, Sophia finds herself left in a dark, cold shack, handcuffed to a metal chair. 

A voice over a speaker begins an interrogation, noting that her "Felicia Fisher" cover identity is a falsehood, and ignoring her steadfast denials.  The voice accuses her of being a Collective sympathizer or agent.  She asserts her status as a former Collective prisoner, since she finds it safer to be an anomaly, rather than the presumed dead sister of the Chairman Presumptive. 

She remains confused about the Rangers' loyalties, since they're clearly now in opposition to the Collective, but she recalls seeing 'Mechs in Rangers colors patrolling the streets of Rivergaard in support of the Collective during and after the coup, and using the same brutal tactics as the Collective subsequently.  She hopes sticking to the Fisher identity will help her avoid further entanglements in politics.

Walter and Ivan, for their part, are being kept in chains in another building.  They are also sticking to their cover identities, suspecting listening devices.  Lt. Galarza enters and begins picking men out of the crowd, removing their restraints, and moving them to a loading dock.  Fearing they will be split up, Walter demands that Ivan join him.  Galarza doubts Ivan can be an effective fighter, but Walter vouches for his success taking out a Collective patrol.  Ivan does his best to act the part of a homicidally insane killer.  Galarza relents and puts both of them on perimeter patrol. 

Once outside, Walter assesses the situation, and concludes that the facility isn't being used as a military installation, but possibly as bait for a Collective attack.  He asks Galarza what he should look for.  Galarza pulls a needler pistol on him and tells him he's seen too much already.

The door to Sophia's shack opens, and a Rivergard Rangers lieutenant enters and apologizes for the interrogation, noting the need for security in the face of the Collective threat.  He introduces himself as Lt. Aaron Doukas, and says he recognizes her as Research Director Sophia Litzau.  He orders her released, and his companion reveals herself as Sophia's sister, Abigail, whom Sophia had believed dead alongside their mother.

Outside, being held at gunpoint by Lt. Galarza, Ivan tells the Ranger officer he is making a mistake.  He reveals their true identities.  Galarza is doubtful, since all reports were that they'd died.  Taken aback, Galarza turns his aim towards Ivan, allowing Walter to overpower and disarm him.

Ivan begs Walter not to kill him, and Walter, after some discussion, relents.  He warns Ivan, however, that his Vetting is still ongoing, and Walter's job remains to keep him alive.  Their discussion is interrupted by the arrival of another Ranger officer, who invites them to speak with the Colonel.

Inside Abigail and Sophia hug.  Sophia asks why she was interrogated by Lt. Doukas.  Abigail explains they thought she'd died in the attack, and suspected an impostor.  Col. Richard Oglethorpe enters, and explains that he and Abigail had conspired to get Richard selected as Ivan's Companion.  During the planning process, they became close and were married in secret during the Vetting.

Sophia reveals that Ivan's alive and was taken, along with herself, at August House, under the names Spurling and Wilson.  Richard orders Lt. Doukas to find them, but not to reveal their identity. 

Sophia asks about the Ranger 'Mechs that attacked the Litzau Lancers, and Richard explains those were false-flagged Collective 'Mechs.  He notes that after the wedding, he repainted the real Rangers 'Mechs with a modified crest to reflect the marriage.  The attack on August House was a recon-in-force that spotted the rescue attempt and called in support.

Sophia tells them about the massacre of the Collective personnel.  Richard guesses it was Galarza, and notes that the Collective captured and executed his wife and three children.  He promises to deal with Galarza. 

He notes that many of the leaders of the First Families died with Sophia and Abigail's mother, but many Families still have powerful household and/or corporate security forces, with which they are defending their own little fiefdoms.  Some are making alliances of convenience with the Collective, and others are settling old grudges.  Everyone's military forces are being worn down, without the tech base to properly maintain it.  Richard says he hopes he can find a way to save Maldives soon, or the damage done will be irreversible. 

Lt. Doukas escorts Walter and Ivan to Richard's command center, along with a restrained Lt. Galarza.  There, Ivan, Sophia and Abigail embrace.  Richard Oglethorpe congratulates Walter on his performance as Companion.  Walter asks about the Angels - Richard reports most died in Rivergaard, some revealed themselves as Collective agents, and their DropShip, the Vulture's Egg lifted for orbit, but has remained there rather than burning for a jump point.

Richard orders Walter out so he can begin planing a campaign against the Collective.  Walter insists on staying, but Richard insists he is untrustworthy.  Ivan orders them to stop and fully endorses Walter as a trusted comrade whose presence is required, while also supporting Richard as a competent military commander.

Turning to the campaign, they report that word of Abigail Litzau's survival hasn't generated much support, and that the Collective is countering with propaganda about Litzau crimes.  Richard suggests announcing Ivan's survival would give them more legitimacy in the patriarchal society.  Walter warns that it would make them a major target.

A strength assessment indicates the Collective has more than twice as much firepower as the Rangers, while the Rangers are more than twice as powerful as any of the other fiefdoms.  The Collective's forces are generally light, but have the advantage of controlling the main industrial and logistics centers.  There is evidence of independent resistance movements in both the rural regions and in Rivergaard itself. 

Sophia confirms that counterrevolutionaries were generally executed, and their families were sent for re-education.  She notes that the Collective didn't seem prepared for any resistance, and lacked the skills to process captives or reference databases. 

Walter speculates that the "Collective" has been building as an underground movement since Ivan's father died, or longer, and is composed of separate factions.  The largest is those who have no power in the existing structure, and want to destroy the system.  He adds that the Capellan Confederation and/or offworld corporate interests could be supporting the Collective.  He suggests that each splinter faction may have its own motivations, and learning more about them could reveal weak points to exploit.

Notes: Michael Stackpole revisits one of his early setups from the Blood of Kerensky trilogy - a prisoner interrogated by unseen voices.  Sophia isn't drugged or wired to sophisticated monitoring equipment, like Phelan aboard the Dire Wolf, but the unnerving power imbalance is the same.

I wonder if Galarza and/or Doukas are the names of the winners of the Kickstarter tier that let top donors name characters in the book.

The shattering of central authority on Maldives into dozens of small First Family-led independent fiefdoms makes it sound a lot like the feudal patchwork on Novo Franklin, albeit with significantly higher tech and way more firepower. 

Beyond Novo Franklin, Maldives resembles the Inner Sphere in miniature in a variety of ways.  A central authority shattered by betrayal from within, rival factions forming a shifting web of temporary alliances, battling for increasingly scarce resources as society overall collapses amid a tide of brutality - initially ideological, but later motivated by revenge for the other side's previous atrocities in a perpetual cycle.  The splintering of ideological groups even parallels the Word of Blake coalition, prior to the Master's consolidation-through-assassination campaign.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 3011
  • Manei Tetatae
Date: November 19, 3000
 
Location: Maldives

Title: Apparent Catastrophe

Author: Michael A. Stackpole
 
Type: Novel (Apparent Catastrophe)

Synopsis: At the Green Nova Proving Grounds (one of the Rangers' strongholds), Ivan and Walter discuss the strategic situation.  The central records office in Rivergaard has been destroyed, hampering intelligence collection.  Ivan rejects the idea of using the Litzau DNA archives to pressure other First Families, since it would be more likely to make the Rangers a target - pulling the Families together against Ivan, rather than behind him. 

Ivan notes that the various factions have adopted populist methods to keep the people in their territory content - providing supplies and services from reserves, and hoping the fighting will end before everything runs out.  For now, the fighting is stalemated - unless an offworld player - Capellan Confederation, Federated Suns, or Aurigan Coalition - backs one or more factions to gain influence.

Ivan details two strategies - destroy the other factions' ability to provide services and publicize evidence of atrocities (denying the moral high ground and the citizens' contentment), or bunker down and wait for the economy to collapse on its own in the long term.  Walter suggests using the Rangers as a reaction force to stop atrocities, to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the populace.

Lt. Doukas summons them to the briefing room, where Abigail, Richard, Sophia, and Galarza are waiting.  Richard reads a list of charges against Galarza, who uses his statement to apologize to Walter and Ivan and blames his actions on the death of his family at Collective hands.  Abigail and Richard vote for his execution.  Ivan asks them to reconsider - in the interests of bringing justice back to Maldives.  Abigail changes the sentence to 25 years-to-life.

Walter notes that Ivan has grown a lot as a leader in a very short time, and tells him he's proud to know him.

Notes: This chapter sets the stage for the next phase of the story - giving some background information on the "new normal" on Maldives and showing Ivan progressing apace along his personal "hero's journey." 

This is the first time the Aurigan Coalition has been mentioned in print - a Periphery kingdom that will be central to the plot of the upcoming Harebrained Schemes BattleTech computer game.  From this mention, circa 3000, it appears to be a regional power player that would stand to benefit from greater influence on Maldives.  Per the HBS map of the region (circa 3025), there are 23 systems in the Coalition, which abuts the Taurian Concordat's and Capellan Confederation's borders.  Notably, however, Maldives is not one of them.  (The map does show the Capellan system of Maldive, though.)

The maps in the Handbooks are snapshots of borders at the end of the wars.  Maldive appears in Capellan control in 2750, and at the end of the First and Second Succession War, but vanishes by the end of the Third Succession War.  On the one hand, this would support the idea that Maldive = Maldives (or that the world added an "s" when it went independent as a corporate fiefdom).  In this scenario, the world wasn't dead, but had become independent due to withdrawal of Sian's authority during the Third War.

However, this is hard to square with claims that the Taurian Defense Force built installations on Maldives during the Star League Era and then got wiped out during heavy fighting during the brief Taurian-Canopian War of the First Succession War era.  One possibility is that Taurian rebels infiltrated Maldives during the Periphery Uprising, intending to use the world as a staging base for further strikes against SLDF positions.  They were able to consolidate their control over regions of Maldives while Sian's attention was riveted on the Star League Civil War.  Then that control was lost when the MAF hit Maldives looking for supplies, and, brutal fighting shattered the world's infrastructure, letting it limp on as a Capellan world in name only (unable to contribute significant resources to the CCAF during the Succession Wars, and strategically irrelevant), until finally the Capellans gave it up as not worth the effort in the Third War.

An alternative theory is that Ivan's history is wrong, due to records losses in the attack that made House Litzau famous, and confusion about what was happening.  Perhaps it wasn't the TDF that built a base on Maldives - it was the Taurian Freedom Army (TFA - the "secret army" that launched the Periphery Uprising).  Circa 2750, Maldive was just a jump from Taurian space.  The TFA could have built numerous secret bunkers there as staging bases for the Uprising.  The SLDF 51st Jump Infantry Division would have been close by on Yuris, and their counterstrike could have resulted in wide-ranging fighting across the planet that wrecked the infrastructure and sent the world into long-term decline. 

Taurian propaganda may have painted all the damage as the fault of the League and, later, when it served their interests (having been spanked in the Canopian-Taurian war), changed the propaganda to blame the damage on the Canopians.  With local records a shambles, and offworld media cut off due to the destruction of the HPG and other infrastructure, that would have been the story that promulgated down through the centuries.  As has been noted, "fierce fighting" is not an apt description of the TDF-MAF conflict, but the TFA was noted as one of the most capable and vicious terrorist organizations in the Periphery.  This would also explain why the fight on Maldive was not included in historical accounts of the Magistracy-Concordat War.

Thus, the fighting that wrecked the planet's infrastructure and ecosystem would have been during the Periphery Uprising, while Augustine Litzau's fight against the salvage raiders would have been later - possibly during the Taurian-Canopian War.  This would explain why the widespread destruction is conflated in popular memory with that war, since it ties into both aspects of the current regime's origin story.

If Maldive = Maldives, then it appears that the Confederation succeeds in reclaiming Maldives circa 3025, renaming it to Maldive again, per the HBS map of the 3025 Aurigan Coalition.  Since Walter ends up on Galatea ten years later short an eyeball, I'm guessing Ivan doesn't end up running the show on Maldives.  (Unless he's willing to become a Planetary Diem under Capellan authority.)
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Wrangler

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 12761
  • Dang it!
Could Stackpole had been simply been mistaken about where the planet was and was using outdated information?  Could he have missed the info from the later source books like Handbook Capellan Confederation and Periphery handbook?  2nd and 1st Succession War books may been not have been out yet by the time he wrote the story.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants

Mendrugo

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 3011
  • Manei Tetatae
It's right on the Taurian/FedSuns/Capellan border, so it's in the right location for the events of the story.  And it was a "dead world" per the Capellan Confederation Handbook, circa 3000. 

The details of the Canopian/Taurian war appear (with varying degrees of detail) in the assorted Periphery sourcebooks (1st, 2nd, Handbook).

Stackpole appears to have been trying to write a very local story, totally self-contained, that wouldn't require much research and wouldn't trip over any other authors' toes.  The issue appears to be that the few references to the planet's history get tangled up in what little is known about the region, suggesting that somebody either recorded propaganda as fact at one point, or the history was intentionally falsified by the victors of one of the conflicts (note that the Dhivi do have a tradition of avoiding looking at historical facts too closely, so as not to destabilize their claims to hereditary power).
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 3011
  • Manei Tetatae
Date: November 20, 3000
 
Location: Maldives

Title: Apparent Catastrophe

Author: Michael A. Stackpole
 
Type: Novel (Apparent Catastrophe)

Synopsis: As the Rangers set up in a new temporary HQ, at an old estate in Carnarvon National Park, Abigail thanks Walter for being Ivan's Companion.  She admits she agreed to marry Richard as a fallback, in case Ivan failed his Ordeal, and asks Walter if he sees a way out of the current crisis.

He responds that Ivan is the wrong kind of leader for a guerrilla war, and says the problem is with Dhivi culture, which is based on hero-worship of the legendary Augustine Litzau.  To win an Augustine-style military victory, Ivan would need to ally himself with the Federated Suns or Capellan Confederation - a politically unpalatable option.  As an alternative, he suggests that the survivors of House Litzau and their loyalists go into exile on another world, wait 30 years for the Collective's brutality to generate discontent, and then send the next generation of Litzaus back to reclaim their world.

Abigail dismisses both options as unacceptable, but says she and Richard also concluded the dynastic solution was the most viable.  Their worry was that too much could happen in thirty years.

She asks about Walter's status as a mercenary with no paymaster.  He says, for now, he's concerned with liberating any surviving members of Angleton's Angels and killing any Collective agents that get in his way.  Abigail asks if he'd be willing to throw in with a bankrupt family of refugees for the long run.  He answers that he likes Ivan and will be there for him as long as Ivan needs him, as long as he can take care of his Angels business at the same time.

Later that evening, Walter is awakened by a thunderstorm, and sees a red dot crawl over the fabric curtains of his cabin.  Drawing his needler, he sees the silhouette of an armed man outside during a lightning flash.  He awakens Ivan and sends him out the back window, following him into the pouring rain, taking shelter in a barn.  He tells Ivan mercenaries have infiltrated the camp to take prisoners, and orders him to get Sophia to safety. 

Before they can leave the barn, a concussion grenade arcs inside and detonates, knocking Walter unconscious.

Notes: Despite the two options being unpalatable for Abigail, other noble families on the losing side of local conflicts have taken them.  House Hargreaves of Chesterton has been patiently waiting for their triumphant return to Chesterton for close to 800 years.  House Winfield had to leave the world named after them when Clan Jade Falcon took it over, but retained hope of liberating it someday.  Heck, the Clans themselves are the outcome of a leader who took the "dynastic solution" route for the whole Inner Sphere.

Calling in support from the Federated Suns or the Capellan Confederation would only bring more destruction to the local scene, since the other side would feel compelled to back opposing factions, creating a proxy war situation with greatly enhanced firepower and destruction on both sides.  One option, however, would be to covertly contact one of the Great Powers and get them to send covert assistance - a Davion "Johnny Team" or a team of Death Commandos.  Based on the descriptions of the Death Commando exploits in the field of regime change, the amateur-hour stumblebums of the Collective would be begging to surrender within a week.

Failing that, why not reach out to the Taurians?  Play on their paranoia over the Federated Suns and get some assistance in restoring order.  Why not align with the Taurians?  They're on the verge of a major expansion wave through new colonization, have an enlightened, liberalized society with great education and health care.  Planetary history even casts the Taurians as the world's defenders, when Augustine's "salvage raiders" came calling.

Or why not offer ComStar basing rights for the Explorer Corps if they serve as an arbiter in the local conflict and bring in mercenaries to crush the "bandit" forces?  As a "neutral" faction in the Succession Wars, there wouldn't be the "hook" (circa 3000) to justify the Capellans or FedRats trying to further destabilize the local situation.  Plus, doing so would risk an interdiction.

There are more fish in the sea than just the Cappies and Feddies.  Walter and Ivan shouldn't be discounting that option so quickly.  Heck, if you can get word out to Galatea, hire the Knights of St. Cameron.  They like hard luck cases who can't pay.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 3011
  • Manei Tetatae
Date: November 30, 3000
 
Location: Maldives

Title: Apparent Catastrophe

Author: Michael A. Stackpole
 
Type: Novel (Apparent Catastrophe)

Synopsis: Walter recovers from his concussion at the Golden Prosperity Reeducation Camp, on the campus of Litzau University in Rivergaard.  He's been feigning idiocy, and has been assigned menial tasks around the camp.  Most prisoners are held in underground chambers, with access to sunlight considered a privilege.  Genders are strictly separated, except during communal meals.  Any infraction risks "disassociation," the Collective's preferred euphemism for execution.  Educational session consist of endless repetitions of pro-Collective mantras and broadcasts of show trials for enemies of the state.

Walter located Ivan, on kitchen detail.  Ivan informs him he's made contact with a Federated Suns citizen named Conason, who served in the Litzau Lancers and has Power Armor experience, and recommends recruiting him for an escape attempt. 

Ivan also recommends Ashleigh "Ash" Knight, who promises to find Sophia (aka Felicia Fisher), who offers to drive any vehicle the group steals and asks to bring one of her friends with her when they escape.

Walter's final recruit is Raymond Angelis, an ace Tech assigned by the Proctors to fix the camp's mechanical systems - not trusting him with their BattleMechs.  Angelis tells Walter the Collective had him "fixing" things by taking off safeguards so they could use them not as intended.

With his Dirty Half-Dozen committed, Walter listens to news broadcasts in hopes of finding his opportunity to make a break for it.  The Collective broadcasts are all propaganda, claiming victory and offering redemption in exchange for surrender.  He works out the ebbs and flows in the underground economy within the camp, and hopes to obtain blackmail material to gain leverage over the proctors.

On November 30, Walter sees Ash, with Sophia in tow, and is gratified that a key element of his plan is now in place.  Before he can speak with her, however, he is summoned by Calvin Galarza, now dressed in a High Proctor's uniform.  Galarza escorts him to a large, richly furnished aboveground office. 

The man inside greets him as Wall-eye Wilson, a poacher and small-time thief.  He introduces himself as Commissar Ian Levine, the camp administrator, and a former professor of psychology at the University.  Based on the fake records Ivan inserted into the planetary networks, Levine surmises that "Wilson" is a sociopath, and he has use for such an individual. 

Levine says he took the position of camp director because it is a potential gold mine of secrets, obtained by torturing information from the prisoners.  He wants "Wilson" to infiltrate the prisoner population and become trusted enough to be invited to join escape attempts, then inform Levine about them.

Notes: This scene has a major continuity problem.  How in the world would Conason have power armor experience in 3000?  Sure, there are assorted exoskeletons (profiled in TRO:3026), but the only military grade personal powered armor (light) known to exist in 3000 are the Bounty Hunter's custom PA(L) suit, ComStar's top secret Tornado PA(L) suits, and any vanishingly rare surviving LosTech SLDF Nighthawk PA(L) suits. 

I suppose it's remotely possible that the AFFS experimented with full suits of ballistic plate armor combined with a light exoskeleton to help wearers move under the weight of the ballistic plate, but no sourcebooks have detailed anything like that. 

Rather than reacting "Power armor?  What's that?  Was he some kind of MI6/Rabid Fox supercommando with access to hoarded/cutting edge LosTech?", Walter takes it fully in stride, and presumes Conason has good basic infantry skills.  This is clearly an artifact of Stackpole knowing that Battle Armor has been a long established part of the BattleTech universe since nearly its inception, and forgetting to account for the fact that this story is set significantly prior to its introduction in the main setting.  Walter's reaction would be perfectly normal in 3060, but is a huge anachronism in 3000.

It's unclear exactly what Angelis was doing that caused him to morally object to the Collective and try to escape, but my interpretation is that the Collective is following in the footsteps of Claudius Steiner - repurposing industrial/medical/etc. equipment as torture devices.  Thus, any built in safeguards intended to prevent operator injury would need to be disabled.

Levine seems to be cut from the model of a Batman villain.  An unconventional professor of psychology who is enraged at having been denied tenure, manipulated other staff to prevent himself from being fired, and now plots to do horrible things to the prisoners under his sadistic control.  Put a scarecrow costume on him and he'll be scampering through the streets of Gotham swinging a scythe in no time.

Galarza's a bit of a cypher.  Was he Collective from the start?  Unlikely, since he directed the execution of a lot of Collective troops and helped prisoners escape.  It's possible that was an elaborate ruse to enable the Collective to find and strike at the Rangers, but Galarza was already on the inside at that point, and the attack nearly cost him his life.  It's more likely that the Collective forces that hit the base saw that Galarza was a prisoner and took him in on the premise that "enemy of my enemy is my friend." 

No doubt, Galarza will get his own redemption by dying heroically to aid the escape, thereby repaying Ivan for his earlier mercy.  (If I'm reading the trope tea leaves correctly.)
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Frabby

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2719
This scene has a major continuity problem.  How in the world would Conason have power armor experience in 3000?
I think you're too entrenched in BattleTech rules thinking here. Power armor is a natural precursor to 'Mech technology and was a thing even before the ubiquituous IndustrialMechs came up. You've named the known canon examples yourself. I reckon some sort of exoskeleton or power suit was always around, albeit probably low-tech and possibly non-military, but didn't make enough of a difference to warrant their own tabletop rules. It would be the top-tier regular or mechanized infantry and follow regular infantry rules.
(Regular infantry probably have to wear some sort of protective gear on a BattleTech battlefield so they don't go blind, deaf or outright dead in the presence of 'Mech grade weapons and even DropShips landing and taking off. Not to mention air filtration or respirators for alien worlds. And on high-g worlds, a power suit exoskeleton is probably a must.)
Author of the BattleCorps stories Feather vs. Mountain, Rise and Shine, Proprietary, Trial of Faith & scenario Twins
Sarna.net BattleTechWiki Admin

Wrangler

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 12761
  • Dang it!
Maybe it's a exoskeleton with improvised armor attached to it.  We don't have really rules i know for it do we?  It be silly we didn't.  I think they were common at all because their bulky with all the reduction of Succession War Era technology was like.   

However, i think Stackpole just isn't as intuned with the universe as he used to be.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants

Mendrugo

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 3011
  • Manei Tetatae
We have a fair number of visuals for infantry in combat and XTC armor.  However, nothing I've ever read suggested that the armor is boosted with power-enhanced musculature (unless you generously interpret the "bioflex boots" from the MechWarrior game as using powered myomers to enhance leg strength for running/kicking/style).

From the MechWarrior Companion:  "Ballistic Plate Armor - designed for use by police and special forces in highly dangerous areas, it is considered too encumbering for infantry." 

I can see the guy having "armor experience" if he was in special forces and used Ballistic Plate Armor.  But the comment about it being too encumbering for infantry suggests that it was never standard practice to mate it with a light exoskeleton to overcome that limitation.

In the March 30 scene from Lethal Heritage, on Turtle Bay, Shin Yodama reports detecting infantry on magscan, and suggests they may be equipped with inferno missiles.  He fires a machine gun at one, and thinks he missed when the bullets ricochet, noting that a 50-caliber round will go through any body armor a man can wear.  He then zooms in and realizes he's looking at a suit of infantry armor.

The line about infantry armor being useless against 50-cal rounds suggests that powered armor wasn't a thing in the Inner Sphere, since you'd need the enhanced musculature to mount sufficient armor to survive such a hit, and Shin declares that impossible circa 3050.  Let alone circa 3000. 

Looking at the more comprehensive A Time of War tables, Myomer Armor is indeed powered, but is listed as X for availability in the Succession Wars. 

Now, AToW does say that exoskeletons occupy the same place - straddling a line between standard combat armor and vehicular units.  Looking at the Gorilla/Salrilla entry in the Vehicle Annex, we get this statement "After the development of the powered armor suit in the early 3050s,
manufacturers across the stars scrambled to be the first to apply the new technologies
to the primitive exoskeletons in use in the latter days of the Succession Wars." 

None of the TRO:VA Inner Sphere exoskeletons were fielded until after the 3050s tech renaissance. 

About the only explanation that could make the conversation work is if the AFFS did use troops equipped with light exoskeletons (from TRO:3026), covered by ballistic plate (which is still not enough to survive 'Mech-grade weaponry hits) as special forces.
« Last Edit: 20 October 2017, 11:07:02 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Easy

  • Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 168
  • Free Trader 'Waimea'
From the MechWarrior Companion:  "Ballistic Plate Armor - designed for use by police and special forces in highly dangerous areas, it is considered too encumbering for infantry." 

Interesting. Do you think that might be dated to what was generally in circulation in the Real World when MechWarrior Companion was written? I ask because the level and quality of body armor has changed sort of dramatically from the 70s and early 80s 'flak jackets' we see in the movies to the modular, interlocking body armors we see on today's infantry.

I'll grant that the more ground an infantry is expected to cover on foot, and how much other gear they may be expected to carry and what their mission role and expected resistance is likely to be might determine how many and how 'thick' the pieces of the modular suit might be, but I'm finding it difficult to swallow that a well-equipped medium or heavy line infantry in at least most eras will not have some kind of a ballistic plate, even if it isn't full body. Again, even with the exception of a dedicated MoS that demands the higher levels of agility, stealth, carrying capacity, etc. Different jobs will require different or specialized kinds of protection.

That might not mean, of course, that an infantry might not come up with reasons, good or bad, to leave some piece behind when they go out on a patrol, for instance.
« Last Edit: 20 October 2017, 12:04:57 by Easy »

glitterboy2098

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 6661
    • The Temple Grounds - My Roleplaying and History website
the closest thing i can think of is that brief bit in heir to the dragon where Theodore Kurita and Michi Noketsuna encounter a yakuza piloting a heavy exoskeleton fitted with armor plate and some MG's while fleeing through a "sewer"* from another group of yakuza they'd ticked off.**

but that was presented as unique and unexpected, and only really useful in close confines like the 'sewer'* due to the heavy Exo's limited mobility.


*probably actually a storm drain system for moving rainwater or diverting an overflowing river, than a true sewer.

**they'd gone looking for a yakuza boss to recruit for the ghost regiment concept.. and arrived right after a power shake up where said boss had been deposed. the pilot of the "minimech" made from the heavy Exo turned out to be from the deposed boss's faction of loyal soldiers.


i'm beginning to think the story was first written as a post-clan war piece, and he just re did the dates and added a few references to the new game's elements to re-purpose it. would explain some of the oddities like the mech forces density and the remarkably high tech systems the society there is using.

i'm assuming the "power armor experience" was meant to reflect some sort of high quality military training? in Stackpole's succession war trilogy, as with most of the succession war era novels, 'jumptrooper" filled that role.. elite soldiers, but not always special forces.

Mendrugo

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 3011
  • Manei Tetatae
in Stackpole's succession war trilogy, as with most of the succession war era novels, 'jumptrooper" filled that role.. elite soldiers, but not always special forces.

How elite, exactly?  ;)
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

glitterboy2098

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 6661
    • The Temple Grounds - My Roleplaying and History website
hey, i'm just reporting the tone from the books. jump troops were generally treated as if they were some of the best around before you got to actual special forces. presumably because it takes a lot of training to fly a jumppack properly, and the packs give infantry really good mobility. you'd want to ensure you got the most battlefield result out of your training investment, and would want your most mobile troops to also be the ones most likely to give decisive results.

Mendrugo

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 3011
  • Manei Tetatae
I understand, but your comment was too good a setup for that pic from the Periphery sourcebook to pass up.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Wrangler

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 12761
  • Dang it!
Rocketmen of the Periphery.  ;D
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants