Author Topic: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II  (Read 12865 times)

skiltao

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #360 on: 08 November 2017, 18:09:26 »
They advanced much faster after they got their hands on a stolen AFFS Stinger in either the 2750s or 2780s

Did that short story continue past the jailbreak? Apologies, but your summary made it sound like that was the final scene.

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there's really no excuse for the OA to be on a "LosTech" footing in 2780 or even 2750.

Well, the Reunification War hit the OA's industrial sector unusually hard; I think the implication is that it never recovered. What's odder yet is that Alliance Defenders Limited began operations a century before the Alliance formed its military.
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Liam's Ghost

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #361 on: 08 November 2017, 18:59:48 »
Most likely, exposed infrastructure like that (can't build an orbital shipyard under a mountain for defense) got destroyed during the Periphery Uprising - either by rebels who wanted to deny it to the SLDF, or by the SLDF after rebels seized it.

Even if it survived, I imagine that the houses would take such an asset out during the Succession Wars just to make sure it could never be used against them (Finmark is an example of that). It wouldn't even take a significant application of force to do it, given how wrecked the periphery militaries were in the uprising.

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.

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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #362 on: 08 November 2017, 19:58:58 »
Did that short story continue past the jailbreak? Apologies, but your summary made it sound like that was the final scene.

Well, the Reunification War hit the OA's industrial sector unusually hard; I think the implication is that it never recovered. What's odder yet is that Alliance Defenders Limited began operations a century before the Alliance formed its military.

Back then, I was trying to do entire stories in one go, rather than scene by scene.  I may have to go back and redo them in my modern style.  The story ends with the jailbreak and the implication that the legal challenges to ADL’s methods were withdrawn at gunpoint.
"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

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #363 on: 09 November 2017, 13:27:51 »
Am I right in thinking that the site manufacturing Pintos in Alliance space was an Outworlds company, while the yard at Quatre Belle was an SLDF facility? It may well be that the Quatre Belle yards survived because the SLDF supported them during the Uprising, while the SLDF may well have destroyed the Pinto facilities themselves as a hostile foreign asset.

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

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #364 on: 09 November 2017, 17:05:43 »
Am I right in thinking that the site manufacturing Pintos in Alliance space was an Outworlds company, while the yard at Quatre Belle was an SLDF facility? It may well be that the Quatre Belle yards survived because the SLDF supported them during the Uprising, while the SLDF may well have destroyed the Pinto facilities themselves as a hostile foreign asset.

The OA manufactured Pintos at an unnamed (and no longer extant) shipyard in the Alpheratz system, per Field Report 2765: Periphery, p. 5, "Strategic Update".
"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

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #365 on: 15 November 2017, 17:56:28 »
Date: February 14, 3017
 
Location: Clinton

Title: Permanent Losses

Author: Aaron Cahall
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Thelos Auburn studies a folio of the works of Silvio Guttoso in the Museum of the Irregulars, but is interrupted by the sudden intrusion of a Marik Orion coming through the wall.  Auburn barely manages to find shelter under the table before the roof collapses. 

He regains consciousness as an Irregular infantry squad pulls him out of the rubble.  Sergeant Owen Hyland tells Auburn to accompany them to the armory.  Auburn is shocked at the destruction wrought on the priceless items in the museum, and races to take a 30 kg case containing a first edition of Copernicus' On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres from its display stand, telling the aghast soldiers that the priceless artifact wouldn't survive the snow falling through the collapsed roof. 

The squad moves out and tries to get past a League gun nest on the street outside.  Private Rishard commends Auburn for saving the book - one of Cranston's favorites.  Racing across the street, the case's bulk causes Auburn to fall, and Rishard is gut shot pushing him out of the line of fire.  As Rishard dies, Thelos' first thought is to worry about the case having been breached by a bullet. 

Sergeant Hyland chews the historian out for his callousness and misplaced priorities, but Auburn stands up for himself, noting that the treasures of the museum are worth protecting, with lives if necessary, and that if the focus is only on skirmishing, the result will be spreading barbarism.

Sergeant Hyland announces his plan to reach the base's ComStar substation and use its communications equipment to call in a DropShip from the spaceport to eradicate the Marik raiding party.  The squad moves out, but they are still in the blast radius when an airstrike hits, tossing Auburn through a cafe window.

When he awakens, he sees Marik soldiers loading looted artifacts onto a truck.  For fun, the troopers take a Faberge egg out of a case and smash it with a piece of debris, playing baseball.  One suggests burning Snord's treasures, but the other says Snord will be angrier if his collection is dispersed - sold to other collectors, with the proceeds used to hire mercenaries to fight the Irregulars.

Horrified by the barbarity of the Marik plan, Auburn waits for the soldiers to move off, then makes his way towards the ComStar substation, hoping to link up with Sergeant Hyland.  Luck is with him, and he finds them in a park near the ComStar facility.  Auburn suggests using the HPG to call Cranston on Loric, so he can return, drive the Mariks off, and launch an effort to recover his stolen treasures.  Hyland prefers his plan, to destroy the Mariks before they leave (though any treasures they have will be destroyed as well). 

The soldiers scamper across the open parkland near the substation, firing SRMs at a Marik Firestarter.  Return flamer fire incinerates two of the squad members, and pins down the rest of the squad.  Auburn, separated, is the only one in position to advance, and is able to reach the substation, where he is greeted by a pair of ComStar acolytes.

Notes:  According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_revolutionibus_orbium_coelestium) there were 228 surviving copies of the first printing of Copernicus' work (out of a print run of 400) as of 2004.  Initially printed in 1543, Snord's copy would have been 1,474 years old.

The Diamond Trellis Faberge Egg (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_Trellis_(Faberg%C3%A9_egg) ) is currently in the collection of the British Royal Family.  One wonders to what extent the treasures of Terra were scattered by the looting that accompanied the Amaris Civil War, when RWR forces took what they wanted across Terra.  We know that key relics and treasures from the Vatican vaults were sent offworld for safety, and that a load of musical instruments were given the same treatment, but crashed on a Marik world.

The attitudes of both Sergeant Hyland and of the Marik troopers go a long way towards explaining how so much knowledge became LosTech.  The immediate focus on tactical victories in skirmishes over territory, and the desire to destroy looted items to cause further harm to enemies, has cost humanity a significant percentage of its cultural and historical artifacts. 

The Liberation of Terra books suggest that the RWR forces occupying Terra took the opportunity to loot the planet.  They built large vaults on Terra where they stashed much of it (along with, allegedly, political prisoners who were left to cannibalize each other in the dark tunnels), but many of Terra's treasures may have been sent offworld for safekeeping (like the Vatican collection) or relocated to a family stronghold by RWR commanders.  Oh, what a "National Treasure" scavenger hunt that would make for an enterprising Goliath Scorpion Seeker.

I was surprised to see Thelos Auburn stand up for himself - making it a defining moment for the character.  He's usually been portrayed as a meek and bookish individual, and the setup seemed to be aiming towards showcasing his prioritization of relics over human lives, and having him realize that his focus has been misplaced.  Having him forcefully stand up and argue that the relics are important and worth dying for shows strength of conviction, a rare "big picture" view, and the presence of a backbone.
« Last Edit: 16 November 2017, 10:36:16 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.

glitterboy2098

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #366 on: 18 November 2017, 19:37:06 »
one would presume that after the Amaris civil war ended, there were any number of "monument men" type programs running to try and recover some of the lost treasures. whether to return them or give them to their own successor lord/nobles would depend on who funded the programs, obviously.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #367 on: 19 November 2017, 12:51:12 »
SLDF troops certainly found the treasure vaults on Terra (and the cannibal horror tunnels beneath them). 

I think it’s doubtful that, with the whole of the Hegemony in ruins and records destroyed, Kerensky would have allocated scarce resources to treasure hunting beyond Terra. 
"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

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #368 on: 19 November 2017, 17:41:52 »
no, but i could see proto-Comstar working to recover them, and the successor lords working to find and claim them for their own.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #369 on: 19 November 2017, 18:40:12 »
no, but i could see proto-Comstar working to recover them, and the successor lords working to find and claim them for their own.

I concur, but probably not until after the Exodus.  Accounts note that Capellan troops landed on FedSuns worlds during the First Succession War with lists of priority items to loot.
"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

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #370 on: 24 November 2017, 12:03:07 »
Date: April 13, 3017
 
Location: Clinton

Title: Permanent Losses

Author: Aaron Cahall
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Cranston Snord joins Thelos Auburn at the gravesite of Sergeant Owen Hyland, where Thelos has been making weekly visits for the past two months.  Thelos muses that, without historians to tell their stories, people end up simply dates on a grave marker, slowly worn away by time.

Snord thanks Thelos for having overheard the Marik troops talk about their plans for the stolen artifacts, and tells him that the Archon has approved his plans for Operation JUNK YARD DOG.  He invites Thelos to join him on the mission.  Thelos accepts, on the condition that his presence there be kept secret, so he can write the Irregulars' history in the objective third person.

Notes:  I recently had the opportunity to see the movie "Monuments Men," which focuses on the real life efforts of a special unit of art experts to recover stolen art during the last years of World War II.  There's a scene there which echoes the debate between Thelos and Sergeant Hyland - whether soldiers' lives are worth risking for art.  Like Thelos, the unit commander argues that the risk is worth it to preserve the physical manifestations of the culture that the troops are fighting to preserve. 

In this scene, Thelos notes that Hyland and his men laid down their lives to protect pieces of history, and rededicates himself, as a historian, to fill in the blanks in the story told by the artifacts Cranston has gathered, so future visitors can remember both the items, and the people who died for them.

I had the opportunity to discuss this story with author Aaron "Cubby" Cahall, and he explained that his mention of Rhonda being "almost ready" to join the Irregulars in combat was an intentional statement to try to clean up the internally wonky chronology of the Cranston Snord's Irregulars and Rhonda's Irregulars scenario packs.

Aaron noted that Rhonda's presence on Uhuru in 3010 was fine in the original scenario pack, but is not reconcilable with information presented in Rhonda's Irregulars - namely that Rhonda's first major combat experience wasn't until 3024, and that she was born in 2999, making her 10 or 11 in 3010.  Since the general standard is that the more recent book is correct, Rhonda's Irregulars supersedes Snord's Irregulars

Since FM:FWL specifically references the fight against Snord's Irregulars on Uhuru in 3010, the best explanation (suggested by Aaron) is that the Snord's Irregulars vs. Marik Militia campaign on Uhuru did take place in 3010, but Rhonda's presence on the battlefield there is a tall tale spun by Snord in an effort to humiliate the Marik Militia.  ("Hey, you know how you got shot out of your 'Mechs on Uhuru?  Didja know the pilot of the 'Mech that beat you was a prepubescent girl?")

The final line of the story is that "Auburn turned as he walked, glancing back at the receding graves rapidly becoming part of the past."  Given that "Permanent Losses" was the last piece of fiction released on the BattleCorps platform, it's an almost prescient "famous last words" for the site.  Fortunately, the new line developers have ambitious plans for new fiction - both novels and short stories - starting in 2018.
"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

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #371 on: 24 November 2017, 17:47:12 »
Date: July 26, 3017
 
Location: Callison

Title: A Measure of Clarity

Author: Philip A. Lee
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: At the field HQ of the Falcons (elements of the Silver Hawks Coalition provincial military), Able Company CO Captain Pareen Malik watches Lt. Abel Blume and Sergeant Avery play a game of four card drax.  Malik is stressed about the prospect that her depleted force will be crushed by an anticipated Lyran assault on Callison - a follow-up to a punishing raid six months earlier that wiped out two thirds of the Falcons' third battalion (including Malik's husband Madhu, whose Hunchback was killed by a Lyran BattleMaster), leaving only Able Company under the overall command of the planetary ruler, Earl Jonathan Grayson III (CO of the Comital Guard).

The game is interrupted by a message to Malik from the Callison Defenders First Squadron, reporting incoming bogies on trajectory to land in three hours.  She orders her troops to finish their card game and prepare to move out.

At the planetary capitol, The Rotunda, Baroness Fabienne Grayson prepares to attend a strategy session chaired by Earl Jonathan, and attended by Callison's upper crust, including its parliamentary representative, Liane Parkinson.  Jonathan announces that LCAF troops are landing in force, with enough firepower to overwhelm the FWL/Silver Hawk garrison, and calls for a debate on the course of action.  He estimates the garrison's strength at a 'Mech company, an armor battalion, and an infantry regiment. 

MP Parkinson reports there will be no reinforcements, with the LCCC preferring to retake the world later, rather than defend it now, the other Silver Hawk units pinned down by simultaneous Lyran assaults, and the mercenary contract with the Fire Bugs having expired after the previous raid, six months earlier, though the mercs are still onplanet.

Fabienne calls for staunch resistance - fighting in the field as long as possible, then waging a guerrilla war until reinforcements can be obtained.  Jonathan dismisses her as young and inexperienced, and suggests surrendering to Lyran control.  The subsequent vote narrowly favors Fabienne's proposal for war, but no sooner is the result tallied than Earl Grayson shoots Councilor Parson, a leading voice supporting Fabienne, through the head.

In the Bollard Foothills, Captain Malik mans a Trebuchet in her company's entrenchments, defending the capital city, Fallosha, against elements of the 17th Arcturan Guards.  Aerial recon projects the Lyrans to hit their lines in ten minutes.  Malik refrains from ordering napalm strikes along the Lyrans' line of advance due to rules-of-engagement restrictions that prohibit offensive action without explicit orders from further up the chain of command.

When the Arcturans arrive, they emerge from the treeline without firing.  Malik's requests to Hawk Base for permission to engage go unanswered initially.  She is shocked when she receives orders to stand down.  Despite her anger over her husband's death at Lyran hands, she obeys and orders her troops to withdraw.

At the Grayson estates in Fallosha, Fabienne is in shock from the massacre of the pro-war Council elements following the vote.  Still convinced that war is the correct line of action, she takes her father's Orion "Callison's Pride" from the garage and fights her way clear of the Comital Guard, disappearing into the dusk shrouded forests.

In the Bollard Foothills, Captain Malik receives a transmission from Kommandant Kruger of the Arcturan Guards, who announces his intention to receive her formal surrender.

Fabienne, meanwhile, uses the Orion's comm system to liquidate her financial assets and deposit 200 million into the Fire Bug mercenary account on a contract to her.  That accomplished, she vectors to intercept the Silver Hawk Irregulars.

On the verge of formally surrendering to Kruger, Captain Malik receives a transmission from Fabienne, who informs her of Earl Grayson's coup and countermands the surrender order.  Malik enthusiastically obeys the orders, seizing the chance to take revenge for her husband's death.  Taken by surprise, the Lyrans pull back.  Malik orders her support troops to set the Grayle forest on fire.

As the fighting rages, Fabienne links up with the Falcons, reporting that, at least for the moment, her Orion is the only support.  There is still no word from the Fire Bugs...until napalm detonations begin ripping through the Lyran lines and mercenary 'Mechs deploy from their Leopard, holding station overhead.

The fire eliminates the Lyrans in the forest handily, and the Falcons and Fire Bugs take care of those on the perimeter.  Once the rains put out the blaze, Captain Malik and her troops sweep for survivors, finding few.  Malik finds the hulk of the Arcturan BattleMaster that killed her husband six months earlier.  Seeing the pilot's blackened skull through its cracked neurohelmet lifts her spirits.

Notes:  I really enjoy Lee's works for their deep immersion in the BattleTech lore.  I've played a few games of four card drax, using the rules in the House Marik sourcebook.  I have to say, the value shifting mechanism didn't end up affecting things as much as I'd hoped, since the whole hand changes based on face cards dealt, leaving straights unaffected, and having pairings affected only by the Lancer cards impact on individual suits (which, at four per deck, rarely factor in).  I was hoping for something more like Sabacc, though that's admittedly hard to do without electronic cards.

The weakened state of the FWLM is understandable, with the Janos/Anton civil war having ended only 18 months earlier.  The Lyran strikes are probably retaliation for Wolf's Dragoons' "cattle raiding" campaign, which hit the LCAF resupply depot on Dixie in 3016.

Lee excellently captures both the FWL's reputation for democracy and its legacy of violent internal political schisms.  They hold a vote on how to proceed, then the losing side starts shooting the winners as soon as the ballots are tallied.  The FWL's nobles have a long legacy of switching sides in BattleTech fiction, going back to "A Soldier's Privilege" on Wyatt in 2791.  Then again, the Lyran world of Timbiqui surrendered to League control without a fight in 3029 under similar circumstances, in Jason Hardy's "Timbiqui Dark." 

The Lyran/League border has been the site of massive and merciless battles over the centuries, but much of it seems driven by profit motives, rather than cultural clashes.  No Draconis March world's elites would ever consider surrender to a DCMS invasion force in the hopes of retaining their ranks and privileges.  Not after Kentares.

Malik feels constrained by the Silver Hawk Irregulars' rules of engagement, which prevent its troops from firing before receiving orders from above, and discourage tactics such as setting forests on fire.  She blames the restrictions for the death of her husband.  These restrictions seem to be a rare formal codification of the "limited war" that grew out of the scarcity conditions of the Third Succession War - a loose approximation of the Ares Conventions statutes.

There's a slight anachronism towards the end of this scene, where they describe finding hulks of Patton tanks in the burnt ruins of the forest.  Considering that the Patton didn't go into full production until 3027 (and wasn't prototyped until the early 3020s), having them in action circa 3017 suggests a fact-check oversight or some hanky panky by Interconnectedness Unlimited's time travel division.  (The same crew of temporal jokesters responsible for the Succession Wars-era Vedettes and Demolishers in the Star League-era depot on Helm.)

According to Historical: Brush Wars, the Falcons were Green/Questionable in April 3014, but rode out the entire civil war without taking part in the fighting.  The Fire Bugs aren't listed as being on either side, so either they were too small to be counted, or they arrived in League space too late to participate.

200 million Eagles seems an astounding sum for a single 'Mech company.  For comparison, the Mercenary's Handbook shows House Davion offering to pay the Highland Raiders' Regiment a paltry 6.5 million C-Bills for a four month contract on Galtor III in 3025.  The Raiders appear to field 543 squads of combat and/or combat support troops.  I guess it's a seller's market when you're the only game in town.

Given that the Fire Bugs never parlayed that oversized payday into becoming a major mercenary regiment, one wonders if they lived to collect on it, or if Earless (?...seems less like a title and more like a description of someone having suffered head trauma) Fabienne Grayson clawed the money back once the existential threat had passed.  (Gosh, there was an unexpected explosion at the Bugs' main napalm depot that killed them all, and since the contract wasn't negotiated through ComStar and no bond is on record with the Mercenary Review Board...backsies!!!)
« Last Edit: 24 November 2017, 17:54:09 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.

Cubby

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #372 on: 25 November 2017, 21:51:52 »
the setup seemed to be aiming towards showcasing his prioritization of relics over human lives, and having him realize that his focus has been misplaced. 

In some original brainstorming for this story, I did consider going that way. But one of the things I've been cautious of across just the few short stories I've written is making the main character's epiphany too "big." That is, 6,000 to 7,000 words isn't a lot of space to really explore and sell a major shift in a character's personal worldview.

Thelos deciding that the physical manifestations of history aren't all that important after all was just too huge a leap to make in the space I had to work with. If I had the word count of a novella or novel, maybe. But in just 7k words, such a change would risk making Thelos seem flaky. Instead, I based the story's conflict around the day's events (and a testy sergeant) directly challenging Thelos' belief in the importance of historical preservation. That belief may evolve in deeper ways, but it doesn't abruptly do a 180.

The final line of the story is that "Auburn turned as he walked, glancing back at the receding graves rapidly becoming part of the past."  Given that "Permanent Losses" was the last piece of fiction released on the BattleCorps platform, it's an almost prescient "famous last words" for the site.  Fortunately, the new line developers have ambitious plans for new fiction - both novels and short stories - starting in 2018.

At the time I wrote it, I had no idea that my story would either be the last of the "Gray Markets" cycle or the last BC story.  And until you pointed it out, I hadn't considered the story's coda as a farewell to BC as a whole--it does seem a little haunting now, doesn't it? In any event, I too am very glad that new fiction is on the horizon. Who knows, maybe I'll get the chance to follow up on Cranston's and Thelos' adventures during Operation JUNK YARD DOG...
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #373 on: 27 November 2017, 13:11:45 »
Date: July 27, 3017
 
Location: Callison

Title: A Measure of Clarity

Author: Philip A. Lee
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: At the Grayson Estates in Fallosha, Fabienne confronts her father, who is handcuffed and escorted by two armed members of the Comital Guard.  She excoriates him for his disregard of planetary laws and illegal coup.  He responds that the Lyrans will be back shortly, and will slaughter them all.

Fabienne answers that she has supplied battleROMs to Parliament, where, following deliberation by the League Central Command and Coordination (LCCC) office, the decision was reached to reinforce the world with additional federal troops, who are already en route. 

She leaves her father raging that he should have strangled her at birth and turns to the work that remains to be done to make Callison safe.

Notes: The term "comital" was unfamiliar to me, and turns out to mean "relating to a count or earl."  Earlier in the story, I'd assumed the "Comital Guard" was the name for the local Static Defense Unit - the official FWL term for planetary militias - which vary widely in size and composition depending on the world's wealth and proximity to the front lines.  Based on their name, they appear instead to be the Grayson household troops. 

The enumeration of forces only listed Comital Guard elements, the Falcons, and the Fire Bugs - implying that either Callison lacked a Static Defense Unit, or that the Comital Guard served in that capacity.  I wonder to what extent planetary militias are bankrolled and commanded by a world's noble ruler, rather than financed by taxes and administered by the planetary government?  There's a limited tradition of wealthy nobles outfitting a unit and then taking it on the road (Ricol, for example), but that would strip the homeworld's garrison if they were doing double duty as household troops and militia.

Man, the FWL works fast...a little too fast in this case.  The fighting ended after sundown the previous day.  And yet, Fabienne has sent the battlefield footage to Atreus, had it received by Parliament, debated, analyzed by the "Seven Sons of Solon" on the LCCC command staff, had the decision made to redeploy a Marik Militia unit away from its garrison on another world (leaving that world less defended), and had that unit packed up and offworld, with a message sent back to Callison by teatime the following day?

I'm not sure what "federal forces" were sent, but the 3025 TO&E still only lists the Falcons as the defending forces, so any Marik Militia redeployment was short-term at best.  Callison was one of the worlds that fell to the Lyran Commonwealth in 3029, during the Fourth Succession War, and remained in Lyran hands until liberated by Operation GUERRERO in 3057.

The 17th Arcturan Guards weren't wiped out by the forest fire on Callison.  Most likely, only a few companies had been dispatched, with armor support, given the fact that advance negotiations had suggested the local Earl could be cowed into standing down.  Given how active they were in battling Wolf's Dragoons during their "cattle raiding" period, there wouldn't have been time to completely rebuild the entire regiment, had that been necessary.  (The 17th destroyed an entire battalion of Beta Regiment by downing a Dragoon Overlord over Wyatt in 3016, and went on to inflict serious losses on Zeta Battalion and the Black Widow Company on Lamon in 3019.)  Given that level of skill and reputation, they probably would have returned to Callison to wreck up the joint if they hadn't been forced to play defense against the Dragoons. 
"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.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #374 on: 27 November 2017, 14:47:44 »
Could be the FWLM was already intending to move troops there, but was being blocked by the count until the news about the strike arrived. That it was reviewed and approved and such might have been twisting the truth a bit to rub metaphorical salt into the wound. (Assuming any troops actually were on the way.. It could have been a ploy to dissuade the lyrans from coming back by telling the populace troops were on the way, so lyran informants would send back word or delay an invasion. And this all assumes the lyrans actually were coming as he claimed)

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #375 on: 27 November 2017, 15:31:10 »
The problem with that is that the scene on July 26 shows the MP telling the assembled council that the LCCC has denied Callison support from federal troops, preferring to retake the world later instead of defending it now.  So the LCCC reversed its earlier decision after seeing the battlerom.  That's fine, but such a quick processing of the new info and 180 degree reversal on the prior decision is hard to find credible, given the League's reputation for the bureaucracy and slow decision making that come with maintaining the trappings of representative democracy.  (For example, the world suddenly losing the protection of the Marik Militia unit in question would certainly want its MP to weigh in on the debate.)
« Last Edit: 27 November 2017, 15:47:38 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.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #376 on: 27 November 2017, 17:03:31 »
Date: October 19, 3021
 
Location: Alleghe

Title: In Service to the Dragon

Author: David G. Martin
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Over Corraine City, on the Rasalhague Military District world of Alleghe, Sho-sa Sander Lund - a native of Alleghe - prepares to deploy in response to a distress call from the planetary governor, reporting that the planetary militia had fought a raiding Lyran 'Mech company to a standstill at Corraine City.  Lund notes that they haven't been able to establish communications with anyone on the surface since arriving in-system three days earlier.  The Lyrans are presumed long-gone, and Lund's mission is described as investigating how the militia drove off the Lyrans.

Lund, in his Dragon, is joined in Vargr Lance by Tikona (Panther), Relit (Jenner), and Kin (Quickdraw).  Together, they vector towards the mostly darkened city through a driving rainstorm.  They find the spaceport and city abandoned, with no power sources or heat signatures beyond maintenance lights.

Moving towards the governor's mansion, they pick up faint signatures at the edge of sensor range, and move to investigate.  At the mansion, they find a Lyran Atlas waiting for them.  The Lyran 'Mech makes short work of Kin's Quickdraw, and Tikona reports finding the wreck of Relit's Jenner.  Lund speculates that either the militia commander or the governor must have betrayed the Combine. 

Vargr Lance retreats to the spaceport, wondering what happened to all the residents of Corraine City.  They find a Zeus along their line of march back to the DropShip, but good teamwork allows them to finish it just as the pursuing Atlas catches up.  Tikona reports that their DropShip is preparing to take off.  When Lund radios to ask what's going on, the captain informs him that his services to the Dragon are almost complete, and will result in a groundswell of recruits and anti-Lyran hatred, once the story of the Heroes of Alleghe's brave sacrifice is circulated.

Tikona fires her PPC at the lifting DropShip, but is destroyed by the vessel's return barrage, leaving Lund alone.  The DropShip captain tells Lund there never was a raid, and that the "Lyran" 'Mechs on the ground are a secret unit controlled by Warlord Sorenson.  Despairing, Lund sits and awaits his end at the hands of the Atlas, feeling sorry for himself.

Notes: The setup for this story highlights the fact that no guidance for Combine militia detachments has ever been put to paper.  While the old House books went into a fair amount of detail for the FedSuns Planetary Guard Units, CapCon Home Guard and militia units, and FWL Static Defense Units, the Combine glossed over that info.  Here, it's suggested that all the militia had to work with was a company of conventional forces, including three tanks dating back to the Second Succession War.  The world must have been massively reinforced once it became part of the Free Rasalhague Republic, since it fielded at least two tank regiments (2nd Alleghe and 5th Alleghe) and one infantry regiment circa 3050.  (Not that it helped...)  Presumably the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Alleghe tank regiments were attached to other FRR line units.

This story takes place in 3021, only two years after Sorenson replaced Marcus Kurita as Warlord of Rasalhague.  Sorenson himself got the position of Warlord after using his Grasshopper to rescue Coordinator Takashi Kurita from a sabotaged DropShip on Radstadt and fatally disrupt the Council of Gems' attempt to tie Theodore to Rasalhague nobility and install him as Coordinator.  The mass executions that followed probably didn't make Sorenson the most popular figure in the restive District.

This may explain the need for a false flag raid and the "heroic" sacrifice of Vargr lance.  Giving the Voice of the Dragon solid documentary evidence of Lyran atrocities would turn Rasalhagian anger outwards, he hopes, and give him time to consolidate his power base, lest he be edged out by his rival Warlords in the power games on Luthien.  (The other Warlords would, of course, resent the standing he gained with Takashi when he saved his life.)

Warlord Grieg Samsonov uses his own false flag unit on New Mendham in 3026 to make it appear that the Black Widow Company wiped out a DCMS garrison and the populace of a small town there.  Another unit posing as the Black Widow company was spotted on Thule in 3024.  Added to the renaming of elite units to trick the Clans on Wolcott and the frequent use of bogus supply dumps as ambush bait, and it seems like the Capellan reputation as the masters of sneakiness and misdirection might be misplaced.

One wonders, though, what happened to the entire city's population.  If they were just relocated, someone would talk.  If death squads swept through, why are there no signs of combat or struggle?  At the spaceport, "unmanned service vehicles dot the landscape, some with cargo spilling out."  This leads me to suspect that Sorenson's death squad gassed the whole city, including the spaceport, then spent the next month policing up all the bodies.  The Combine deployed huge plumes of nerve gas on Mallory's World during the Third Succession War, rendering a large chunk of the world uninhabitable, so gassing a small metropolis isn't out of character. 

Corraine City is the planetary capital, however.  So what did they do about the local ComStar HPG?  They'd have had to gas it, too, and blame it on the Lyrans.  (In fact, given the proven ability of the DCMS to conscript troops, there's really no need to fabricate an atrocity to increase the flow of volunteers to recruiting stations - the purpose of this exercise was undoubtedly to generate BattleROM footage of "Lyran" 'Mechs smashing Vargr lance when they come to investigate the dead city, in hopes of tricking ComStar into sanctioning the Commonwealth.)

And what about the other settlements on the world?  Did nobody go to the capital on business or to find out why the news broadcasts stopped?  Did no trading vessels stop in during the month following the "raid?"  None of the outlying settlements on the world had communications equipment?  (Granted - communications equipment capable of reaching the jump point is restricted in the Combine - in "Mercenary's Star," Grayson had to mount a raid on a DCMS facility on Verthandi to contact his ship, and if this was Sorenson's play, he would have had all such equipment onworld disabled.)

"Vargr" is Old Norse (and, presumably, Swedenese) for "wolf/evildoer/destroyer."  It's never stated what unit Vargr Lance is detached from, but they're probably Rasalhague Regulars.  (Though, given their apparent expendability, being a Legion of Vega unit is also a possibility.)
« Last Edit: 27 November 2017, 17:47:24 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.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #377 on: 27 November 2017, 21:16:25 »
Wow, that depressing. It's not wonder why the Kuritans of the era were so hated.
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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #378 on: 28 November 2017, 03:39:36 »
If they carried through with the false-flag operation in full Combine fashion then they probably gassed the HPG compound as well, or otherwise left ComStar intact but also believing the attackers to have been Lyrans. In fact, it's in the Combine's interest to fool ComStar into spreading the news.
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #379 on: 28 November 2017, 07:08:14 »
The problems with leaving the HPG station intact are:

1: It leaves witnesses for the policing up of the bodies - something raiders wouldn’t do
2: It would allow the Precentor to call for help.  There would be a ComStar disaster relief team there in the middle of Sorenson’s ruse.
(Of course, there should have been one there anyways, if the station has missed its scheduled transmissions for a month)
3: It wouldn’t be consistent with the lack of communications from the planet.  Survivors at an HPG station would have the equipment and motivation to hail an approaching DropShip.  (Though it is possible the captain faked the “no response to our hails” bit to avoid tipping off Vargr lance.)
"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

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #380 on: 28 November 2017, 08:29:25 »
...yeah. It's easier to give Vargr Lance false intel. They're going to be sacrificed anyways, so no need for their briefing to be long-term watertight.
As for ComStar, they do have that neutrality thing going. As long as nobody enters their compound and pays them for it there won't be a transmission. They wouldn't bat an eye when Party A seals off the compound with armed forces to prevent Party B from going there. We've seen that on An Ting in Wolves on the Border, implicitly on Trellwan in Decision at Thunder Rift, and most recently on Clinton in Permanent Losses.

As long as nobody crosses their doorstep, ComStar won't get between the Draconis Combine and the Lyran Commonwealth. They remain neutral and do not care.
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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #381 on: 28 November 2017, 11:46:32 »
Date: March 8, 3025
 
Location: McGehee

Title: Murphy's Method

Author: Craig A. Reed, Jr.
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: After landing at the Tutone Flats spaceport, AFFS Leftenant Collin Parsons-Davion arrives at Fort Derroe, in a side canyon amidst the Turlough Mountains of McGehee, reporting for duty as liaison officer with Murphy's Highlanders.  He is met by Corporal Seldon Pesky and Lt. Riona Murphy, the CO's daughter. 

Parsons-Davion is shocked by the lack of discipline.  Riona takes him to meet the command staff - found playing cards in a makeshift bar.  Major Baltair Murphy introduces his command staff - XO Krissy, Yo-yo, Mars, Bones, and Xin.

Notes: There's a brief mention that Parsons-Davion is replacing Captain Oehler as liaison officer.  I wonder if that was random coincidence, or a shout-out to Scott Oehler, one of the co-creators of FASA's "Spider and the Wolf" graphic novel/scenario pack.

Murphy's Highlanders are certainly not the spit and polish mercenaries of the Eridani Light Horse.  With this introduction, they appear more along the lines of Wilson's Hussars, though perhaps with a trifle less pathetic desperation.  Riona's battle dress implies she's seen service in the Lyran Commonwealth, Draconis Combine, the Federated Suns and, surprisingly given their general disdain for mercenaries, the Outworlds Alliance.  So the unit has survived at least four contracts, despite their apparent slovenly habits.

Collin's last name implies a certain amount of prestige - a cadet line of the Davion family.  The Davion House book notes that each mercenary unit has a Liaison Officer from the Department of Mercenary Relations.  Liaison officers are almost always chosen for their links with the Davion family, because the presence of a Davion, no matter how distantly related to the Prince, is a sign of the AFFS's eagerness to listen to the merc unit's problems.  Kudos to Craig for doing his research!  I wonder what Oehler's link was, since he's not referred to as Oehler-Davion.

Right on the Combine/Suns border, the world has traded hands multiple times during the Succession Wars - last returning to the Federated Suns during the Third Succession War, where it stays until recaptured by the Combine in 3145.

The Highlanders command staff hits all the standard BattleTech mercenary tropes.  Krissy is "blonde, beautiful, well-endowed, and dressed like a strip-club waitress" and Riona is a "young, attractive redhead with deep green eyes," while Baltair is a cigar-chomping large man, and Yo-Yo is "short and stocky with a scarred face and several gold teeth."  Marshigama's Legionnaires, eat your heart out.  (Former "Miss Ningpo" Ju Lei Marshigama mandated that all her female MechWarriors be beautiful, and all the male ones be ugly.)
"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.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #382 on: 28 November 2017, 16:33:18 »
Date: April 22, 3025
 
Location: McGehee

Title: Murphy's Method

Author: Craig A. Reed, Jr.
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: A month into his liaison officer assignment, Lt. Collin Parsons-Davion reviews the Highlanders' understrength battalion - ten battered 'Mechs, six tanks that are more pillbox than assault vehicle, and infantry that resembles a street gang, under the indifferent command of Major Murphy and his motley "command staff." 

Parsons-Davion has spent most mornings in the nearby town of Derroe Pass, paying out damages for drunken brawls and soothing the civilians while Riona and Pesky gather up hung-over mercs.  Afternoons have been spent with Pesky trying to sort out the mercs' supply situation, while Krissy intermittently attempts to seduce him.  Major Murphy has only peripherally been present, usually seen at his floating card game.

On this day, Parsons-Davion finds the card game in the 'Mech hangar, near the Major's Highlander.  He demands to speak to Murphy about how the Highlanders are imploding.  Murphy abruptly changes demeanor - listening to a comm unit hidden in his ear, and announces that it's "showtime."  The card game abruptly ends, and the staff scatter with pre-assigned duties under Plan ALAMO.  Chief Tech Yo-Yo estimates that all the 'Mechs can be fully functional within ten hours.  Murphy informs Parsons-Davion that multiple DropShips are inbound, and invites him to join the briefing in the command center.

In the cavern, Pesky announces the room has been swept as Riona joins the group around the holotable.  Murphy explains that Pesky and the previous liaison officer, Oehler, are MIIO agents, who have been setting a trap for the Combine for more than a year - presenting ISF spies on McGehee with the appearance of a valuable mining complex guarded by lazy, drunk and incompetent sellswords.  Murphy tells Riona she was kept in the dark because, frankly, she's a terrible actress.  He notes that the floating card game was a way to feel false intel to ISF listening devices, while real discussions were limited to sessions at the 'Mech bay.

Pesky adds that Oehler was reassigned to roll up the ISF network, and Parsons-Davion was brought in as a credible source of reports detailing the Highlanders' lack of combat readiness - reports the ISF was sure to see.  Now that the Dragon has taken the bait, it's time to prepare for the fight.

Notes:  Craig's over-the-top usage of time-worn tropes in the first scene is revealed here to have been an intentional ruse, playing off those themes' overuse.  Krissy zips up her Cannonball Run-style jumpsuit and exclaims her relief at not having to dress like a stripper anymore. 

The MIIO connection answers my earlier question about Oehler's placement in the Department of Mercenary Relations.  One wonders, though how he managed to stay undercover on McGehee when the ISF knew his face (from the year of surveillance) and would find it suspicious that he hadn't been transferred back to HQ or to liaise with another merc unit.  One suspects that his transfer was to a security bunker in a C3 capacity, rather than going into the field.

The Capellans took the Russian term "Maskirovka" ('the purposeful dissemination of misinformation') as the moniker for their intel service, but as we've seen, the FedSuns loves to play that game as well - not just here on McGehee, but also over on Galtor III, where FedSuns agents are even now putting the finishing touches on a fake SLDF cache and leaking its location to the ISF.  Interestingly, Quintus Allard became Acting MIIO Director in 3022, leading one to suspect that it was his hand guiding the ruses on Galtor III and McGehee, as well as the masterstroke of deception that underpinned Operation RAT.

Contrasting the use of deception by the Combine and the FedSuns, Quintus seems to prefer to create a situation where the enemy sees an opportunity and is enticed to exploit it, only to find the jaws of a trap closing around them, or that they've swallowed a poison pill hidden in a shiny apple.  The Combine's efforts at deceptions (it's unclear if Subhash Indrahar and his ISF had anything to do with Samsonov's false flag massacre on New Mendham or Sorenson's false flag massacre on Alleghe) create a real atrocity, then seek to shift blame.  Strange that the more totalitarian state would be the one focusing on swaying public opinion, since centralized control of the media (Voice of the Dragon) would let them claim a massacre without actually having to go to the trouble of nerve gassing a planetary capital, and nobody would be the wiser...if they knew what was good for them.  (Of course, the Combine uses baited traps as well - setting up ambushes around supply depots and even designing a fake Mobile HQ with concealed heavy weapons.)
"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.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #383 on: 28 November 2017, 16:54:16 »
Interesting twist in the story!

How common were  liaison officer per faction? Aside from the Davions and the Combine. I don't read much about them.  Not everyone got them from what i read per novels. Though it may have been a mistake not add them or it was too many characters already i guess.
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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #384 on: 28 November 2017, 17:31:03 »
Date: April 27, 3025
 
Location: McGehee

Title: Murphy's Method

Author: Craig A. Reed, Jr.
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: In his Enforcer, Parsons-Davion joins Riona (Valkyrie) and Rob Arce (Commando) in the defense of Gamma Pass and the McCotter Mining Corporation, hoping that the revitalized mercenaries and the traps laid in the canyons will be sufficient to repulse the Fourth An Ting Legion.  The plan is to withdraw through the canyons in the face of the Legion's eight-to-one numerical advantage, bleeding the Dracs as they go, then make a final stand in Derroe pass.

Parsons-Davion's recon group  is backed by a lance of heavy armor - a Bulldog, a Schrek, and two Manticores.  The mercenaries crush the first wave - a Stinger, Whitworth, and two Javelins, then falls back through chokepoint SIERRA, pursued by a Trebuchet, Hunchback, Vindicator, Wolverine, two Dragons, a Crusader, and a Grasshopper.  Once the mercenaries are clear, they detonate explosives in the chokepoint, then fall back to chokepoint TANGO. 

Two assault lances (Chargers, Stalker, BattleMaster, Atlas, Awesome, Thug, and Banshee) make the next push, braving landmines and smokescreens at TANGO.  One of the Manticores is disabled, and all the mercenary units are damaged before they can break contact and withdraw to UNIFORM.  Ammo-dependent weapons are down to a handful of shots, and Parsons-Davion tells Riona they won't be able to hold for long.  Their last stand fails to materialize, however, and Major Murphy reports the Legion is pulling back with heavy losses.

Notes:  It seems odd that the Legion would split up in this instance.  It can make sense to split up if you're trying to corral a mobile foe, but they're attacking a fixed target.  Perhaps the canyons are narrow enough that they thought three points of advance would triple their firepower, but it gives the defenders the same force multiplier, and risks having the mercs concentrate in one canyon and actually outgunning one of the three elements, allowing them to destroy it in detail.

Fixed defenses and booby traps can be absolutely brutal. I had great fun trying out the bunkers and other defensive installations from the McCarron's Armored Cavalry "Ring of Death" campaign.  I particularly loved the 'Mech Traps - concealed depth three pits that could be lined with landmines, equipped with a bomb chute, or filled with gasoline and torched.  I wasn't quite as impressed with the remotely-activated one-shot SRM banks.

Had I been running the An Ting forces, I would have had the Assault forces lead the advance through one canyon with all the LRM-equipped forces in the second wave, leaving one security company at the mouth of each of the other two canyons to interdict possible flanking maneuvers.  The Assaults would be best equipped to weather any booby traps, and could act as spotters to rain down indirect missile fire on any defenders that didn't immediately run.  I suppose that, since their ISF reports indicated the mercs were combat ineffective, they succumbed to over-eager bloodlust and split their forces in the face of the enemy.

The Fourth An Ting is a medium regiment, and their only source of new troops, the An Ting Academy, was destroyed in 3015 by Sun Zhang cadets.  (Duuuuude!  We totally whipped those Alpha Taus for beating us at the Kensai Kami.  And we stole their mascot! [holds up enraged denkaika] Sake kegger!!! Whooooo!  Go Sigma Zeta!!) 

I was surprised to see so many Assault 'Mechs in the medium force, though I'm aware that the term "medium" describes the average weight, rather than being an exclusionary term.
"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.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #385 on: 28 November 2017, 17:40:11 »
Interesting twist in the story!

How common were  liaison officer per faction? Aside from the Davions and the Combine. I don't read much about them.  Not everyone got them from what i read per novels. Though it may have been a mistake not add them or it was too many characters already i guess.

Per the Mercenary's Handbook, officers from the employer's military staff are seconded to the merc outfit.  Without command authority, these officers act as liaisons to confirm or refute excuses that the mercs might advance to cover delays or other problems. 

This is far from universal, however.  Highly regarded and trusted mercenary units may be granted Independent Command. 

Smaller merc units may be incorporated into a larger force under the orders of the commander of the larger force - Mercenary Command.  (This is what we see when the lone survivor of Team Venom takes a subcontract under the tutelage of Hansen's Roughriders in MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries' tutorial levels)

Under House Command, the unit is placed under the orders of an officer of the employer's military.  (This is what the DCMS and Anton Marik kept trying to do to the Dragoons). 

Integrated Command is when the unit is directly incorporated into household forces, and House troops and officers may replace or augment the mercenary forces.  Effectively, McCarron's Armored Cavalry switches to Integrated Command when it becomes a Liao House Unit.  Likewise the Amphigean Light Assault Group, after the Death to Mercenaries edict makes it hard to stay corporate and still remain in Combine service.  (Any unlucky merc unit that falls victim to the Combine's company store tactic eventually succumbs to Integrated or House command.)
"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

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #386 on: 28 November 2017, 18:00:06 »
Date: April 28, 3025
 
Location: McGehee

Title: Murphy's Method

Author: Craig A. Reed, Jr.
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Back at Fort Derroe, Parsons-Davion joins the celebratory card game.  Major Murphy introduces him to Major Oehler, who reminds him that he was never there.

Oehler explains that the An Ting Legion withdrew from the battle when a battalion of March Militia 'Mechs, which had been training on the uninhabited northern continent, feinted towards the Legion LZ, where the Combine DropShips were exposed.  While the March Militia troops present didn't have the firepower to actually threaten the mutually supporting DropShips, the Legion believed they were under threat and retreated offworld.

Murphy reports five dead and six injured, with two 'Mechs destroyed, three damaged, and one tank damaged.  He reports five Legion 'Mechs salvaged.  Murphy asks if Parsons-Davion will be continuing as liaison officer, and he replies that he expects not to be bored in the remaining eleven months of his assignment.

Notes:  Rotating the liaison officers on a yearly basis actually makes a fair amount of sense - career officers don't want to be sidelined from their regular unit for too long, and the rapid turnover helps expose any scams that a corrupt officer may be running.

The ending is a clear sequel hook, especially since Craig took the time to establish romantic tension and mutual availability between Parsons-Davion and Riona during the defense of chokepoint TANGO. 

In my experience, the AFFS forces probably had sufficient firepower to cripple at least one of the DropShips.  Since two Battalions arrived, that's either two Overlords, one Overlord and three Unions, or six Unions.  Regardless of the composition, if the AFFS 'Mechs had stayed out at long range and engaged in a missile duel, they'd get a -4 bonus for hitting an immobile target and could run around to avoid the return fire.  Careful positioning could get them into a pocket where only one of the DropShips could fire at them.  Critical hits on the Dropper have the potential for crippling its ability to take off (at least, that's the case using the BattleTech Compendium ruleset for attacking DropShips - which was the standard the last time I attempted it).

I really enjoy Craig's (aka 'trboturtle') work - his research is impeccable, and his resulting works fit very smoothly into the lore of the BattleTech universe.  He's been doing this for quite a while, of course, assuming that he's the same Craig Reed who wrote a scenario and short story in BattleTechnology #21 ("Snake Dance" and "Snake, Rattle & Roll"), when the Clans were brand new.
« Last Edit: 28 November 2017, 18:07:31 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.

Frabby

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #387 on: 28 November 2017, 18:17:23 »
Integrated Command is when the unit is directly incorporated into household forces, and House troops and officers may replace or augment the mercenary forces.  Effectively, McCarron's Armored Cavalry switches to Integrated Command when it becomes a Liao House Unit.  Likewise the Amphigean Light Assault Group, after the Death to Mercenaries edict makes it hard to stay corporate and still remain in Combine service.  (Any unlucky merc unit that falls victim to the Combine's company store tactic eventually succumbs to Integrated or House command.)
Neither of these examples quite nails it, imho. When the Big MAC became a house unit, they, well, became a house unit. And the Amphigean Light Assault Group is a very special irregular formation - since you can't go merc in Kurita space, at least not in the regular MRBC sense. You can, however, become one of those intra-Kurita "merc" units who can only hire out in Kurita space. The ALAG, too, ended up in that strange position somewhere between corporate, militia and quasi-merc unit.

But you're right in that Integrated Command is when your merc unit is almost indistinguishable from a House unit, typically through a long-term contract and under circumstances where you wouldn't expect the unit to seek another employer anytime soon. The Big MAC in Liao employ - before they became regular House troops - is a good example, or the Lexington Combat Group (for House Davion). Or the Northwind Highlanders. And units caught in the company store web and bound to the state against their will are another good example.

I really enjoy Craig's (aka 'trboturtle') work - his research is impeccable, and his resulting works fit very smoothly into the lore of the BattleTech universe.  He's been doing this for quite a while, of course, assuming that he's the same Craig Reed who wrote a scenario and short story in BattleTechnology #21 ("Snake Dance" and "Snake, Rattle & Roll"), when the Clans were brand new.
He is, but after BattleTechnology he didn't write for BattleTech until his first BC story, The Lance Killer, was published in 2009.
« Last Edit: 28 November 2017, 18:20:04 by Frabby »
Author of the BattleCorps stories Feather vs. Mountain, Rise and Shine, Proprietary, Trial of Faith & scenario Twins
Sarna.net BattleTechWiki Admin

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #388 on: 29 November 2017, 13:59:38 »
Date: March 18, 3024
 
Location: Steelton

Title: Gustrell Switchback

Author: Chris Hussey
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: In the Cregan's Bluff mercenary cantonment, Captain Lyle Hadric, CO of Hadric's Hucksters, discusses the unit's dire financial situation with his XO, Benett - stuck at the "ass-end of the Commonwealth" after seven years of bad contracts, with one week's payroll and two weeks of food on hand.  Hadric suggests selling their ammo and spare part reserves at their base back on Winfield, But Bennett cautions it'll leave them with just the supplies on Steelton.  Suspending pay is also a dicey proposition, with Hadric noting they nearly lost the entire unit the last time they did that.

Their discussion is interrupted by the arrival of a Lyran officer - Hauptmann Jorn Eskagaard of the 30th Lyran Guard - who has a job offer for the Hucksters.

Notes: Another entry in BattleCorps' last themed series - "Gray Markets" - Gustrell Switchback introduces a merc unit very much in the mold of Wilson's Hussars - broke, desperate, and going nowhere fast.

The 30th Lyran Guards are the appropriate unit to be making the offer on Steelton - based on next-door Icar following a successful campaign earlier in 3024 against the Dieron Regulars on Sevren.  Sending a company commander (Hauptmann) also fits.

Aside from the Hucksters, Steelton's only defenders appear to be militia, since the 3025-era TO&E doesn't list any front-line forces garrisoned there.

Cregan's Bluff isn't described in any detail here, but the Jade Falcon sourcebook notes it as the planetary capital.  While there was heavy fighting on Steelton during the Reunification War, the last recorded battle there was in 2866, when the DCMS launched a diversionary raid against it.  The low threat potential is probably why the pay grade is so low for the mercenary garrison.

One wonders, through - can't the Hucksters do basic math?  If they have fixed + variable expenses over the term of the contract totaling X, why would they accept any contract that paid less than X?  Why would they have been unaware of how bad their finances were until they hit the one-week-to-insolvency precipice?  (And where's Fabienne Grayson and her 200 million M-Bill contract when they need it?)
"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

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #389 on: 01 December 2017, 14:15:52 »
Date: March 22, 3024
 
Location: Steelton

Title: Gustrell Switchback

Author: Chris Hussey
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Aboard the DropShip Carpetbagger, the Hucksters are introduced to Hauptmann Eskagaard and JumpShip Captain Kelly Hunt.  Hadric informs his MechWarriors that their mission is to rescue a group of Lyran diplomats from a bandit lord Toju Bort on the Oberon Confederation world of Gustrell, in the partially abandoned capital city of Sarah.  Captain Kelly describes the world as heavily wooded, with several scattered settlements, and only one city of note outside of Sarah.  Once the diplomats are clear, the Lyrans will transport the Hucksters back to their base on Winfield. 

MechWarrior Brendon McGurk is rebuffed by Eskagaard when he asks how the diplomats were captured in the first place.  McGurk loudly disparages the assignment as a suicide mission, and is only silenced when Huckster XO Bennette tackles him and removes him from the discussion by jumping further up into the hold in the microgravity.

Following the briefing, Hadric privately tells Eskagaard that he shares some of McGurk's trepidation, and asks for confirmation that Lyran forces will be supporting his unit.  Eskagaard says there will be, but only a few (to avoid the risk of the Draconis Combine reading the deployment as preparations for an attack) in an advisory capacity.

Notes: The microgravity environment implies that the Carpetbagger is already docked with the Lyran JumpShip and preparing to jump out.  That would place (by inference) the Steelton jump point 4 days out.  Per the tables in Explorer Corps, that's about right for a KV orange main sequence star, with a transit time of 4.12 days (implying the Hucksters got moving pretty quick...not that they had much in the way of supplies to load).

Hadric is more diplomatic than McGurk, but he has the same worries - that his unit is being assigned the mission because the LCAF considers it to be expendable.  Employer betrayal of a merc unit only matters for the employer's reputation if there are any survivors to tell the story.

Other descriptions of the Oberon Confederation in this era have been limited, since the political entity was snuffed out long before FASA, FanPro or Catalyst started doing deep dives on factions outside of the main eight.  It appears that the term Confederation has been applied literally - each world is run by a bandit lord who pays fealty to King Grimm on Oberon VI, but aside from supplying levies to bolster the Oberon Guards, are left largely to their own devices.  In the lead up to the incident on Trell I (with negotiations ongoing right about now, in fact), Lyran diplomats negotiated a garrison contract with Grimm, but the ISF/Duke Ricol managed to get Grimm's vassal on Sigurd to betray him and substitute Ricol's team for the Oberon garrison force.

One wonders if the Lyran diplomats on Gustrell were part of the Lyran effort to negotiate the Trell I garrison deal.  The timing would fit, but why would they have been on Gustrell instead of Oberon VI?  It would have been a fun bit of continuity if Captain Hunt had been a free trader with House Mailai, rather than a Lyran, since Decision at Thunder Rift established House Mailai as the leading trading network in this part of the Lyran cis-Periphery, and this story predates their use by Ricol to wipe out Carlyle's Commandos.

I'm unsure why Eskagaard cares what the Combine will think about Lyran deployment into the Periphery.  Lyrans hunt pirates in that region all the time, as does the Combine.  Plus, the Third Succession War is still ongoing, so it's not like a Lyran deployment in force would risk starting a war - the current one hasn't ended yet.  I imagine the Hauptmann's concern is more about the signal that Icar's defenses would be left understrength, tempting Combine aggression in the region.

I'm also confused about the description of the planetary capital, Sarah, as "mostly abandoned."  Why would the planetary capital be depopulated?  The world first appears on the 2750 map, suggesting it was colonized during the Star League era.  It makes sense for it to have had a lot of cities and advanced infrastructure that were unable to be maintained after the collapse of the Star League and the Rim Worlds Republic.  So perhaps Sarah is like the city of Kuroda on Kagoshima, where large swaths are filled with burnt-out ruins, dominated by vagrant gangs, but what remains is still better than the other city, or any of the post-fall villages out in the woods.
« Last Edit: 01 December 2017, 14:43:56 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.