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Author Topic: A Warrior's Family  (Read 8843 times)

HFC05

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A Warrior's Family
« on: 22 April 2020, 15:31:28 »
Forward: I recently got back into Battletech, mostly because of the new games, and many nostalgic hours on Sarna.net. As a kid in the 80s I was fascinated by the giant 'Mechs, the detailed miniatures, and the gigantic galaxy. Now that I'm older I appreciate the universe with it's complex political intrigue and extensive mythos, and I still love those giant 'Mechs.

Like many of you I find myself with more time on my hands so I decided to write a fan fiction, but I wanted to focus on a few individuals that had to survive in this wonderful and lethal galaxy. I hope you enjoy it, and if there is interest I'll keep posting.

A Warrior's Family
Chapter 1
August 3029
Klathandu IV

Leftenant Harold "Haphazard" or "Hap" Calahad eased his Griffin over the hill. He could see his Lancemate Corporal "Joker" Cameron moving his Firestarter down the hill carefully using the forest for cover. Hap and his lance were, on the books, a pursuit lance for the Raman Draconis March Militia or RDMM, but at that moment Hap suspected he was leading the lance of misfits that had been tasked to screen while everyone else was fighting.

Hap checked his scanners again. There was no enemy, and from the looks of the smoke they were east of most of the fighting. On his scanners Hap could see his other lancemate, Sergeant "Tuna" Kam'achi just about hundred meters behind him. Hap knew Tuna was trudging up the hill in his Hunchback. It wasn't as fast as Joker's Firestarter or Hap's own Griffin, but it brought a lot of firepower, and it was better armored than either 'Mech.

Hap searched a moment for his fourth lancemate, and then remembered Corporal "Lucky" Tirado wasn't there. He earned his handle during an ambush where he jumped his Javelin behind a Panther, but he didn't see an enemy Enforcer following the Panther. When the Enforcer leveled its autocannon nothing happened. After his lancemates recovered from the shock of the weapon jamming they blasted the Enforcer to pieces, and Corporal Tirado would forever be called "Lucky".

But it wasn't just that one incident, if everyone was getting sick on the beef rations, Lucky would have happened to have gotten chicken. When Sergeant Major planned the worst field problem, Lucky contracted some local flu that had him on light duty just long enough to avoid it. One time the barracks weekly poker game had a pot worth several months of pay and Lucky won it with a pair of 3s. That was Lucky, when it came to chance he always came out ahead.

That all changed yesterday with one stray particle projection beam. One minute Joker and Lucky were arguing about characters in a holovid, and the next minute the head of Lucky's Javelin had evaporated. Hap didn't even see where the shot had come from. It was so random and shocking. The worst part was the fight between the RDMM and the 9th Benjamin Regulars was going so poorly there was no time for a memorial, and his 'Mech was cannibalized for spare parts. Now it was a day later, and here they were screening for an enemy that wasn't there.

A light flashed on Hap's radio, and he switched channels. "This is Hooligan four" Hap said as his mind drifted from his musings back to the present.

Hap's company commander, Captain Holman, broke the static. "Hooligan four, this is Hooligan six. Hap, where the hell are you?"

"Sir, I'm on the east ridge screening just as the intel-"

"Yeah, intel got it wrong again. Move to hill 182. Our Fire Support Company is getting their asses handed to them. The recon element you were supposed to be screening came from the west."

"Acknowledge sir."

"Hurry Hap, seconds count. Hooligan Six out."

Hap switched to the lance's radio channel, "Tuna, Joker, we got to move to hill 182. Looks like intel got it wrong again."

"Man, I gotta get those guys in a poker game." Joker said as he turned his Firestarter around, and used the 'Mech's jump jets to send it flying into the air over the tops of trees and onto the side of hill by Hap's Griffin.

"Yeah bro, we'd take them for all their money." Tuna replied with a chuckle. Hearing the big husky Polynesian man's laugh made Hap smile. This was the first time since Lucky's death that any of them had dared to really laugh.

Hap hit the jump jets on his Griffin and turned in mid-air as he sailed over the hill and landed in the forest on the other side. Joker's Firestarter made another jump jet assisted leap over the trees as Hap checked his balance and then prepared to jump again. He glanced at his Heads Up Display (HUD) and saw that in the time it had taken him and Joker to turn their 'Mechs around Tuna was, again, nearly a hundred meters behind them, now trudging down the hill. Not only was the Hunchback slower than the other 'Mechs, it also didn't have jump jets.

"We gotta hurry Tuna. Captain H was clear that, 'seconds count'." Hap said as he watched the Hunchback's indicator on his HUD slowly crawl down the hill.

"It's like my neighbor used to say about the police, 'when seconds count, help is minutes away.'" Joker laughed.

"I got the throttle open all the way." Tuna huffed

"Captain H is going to make me put you in a faster 'Mech." Hap said as he weighed out how he liked having the Hunchback's large auto cannon, but hated that when he had to move his lance the Hunchback was always lagging behind.

"Yeah it's going to have to be a big 'Mech, for Tuna. I heard when he was in training they put him in a Locust and the legs snapped." Joker again laughed at his own joke.

"That wasn't me that was your mom." Tuna quipped.

"Oh you want to talk about moms?" Joker sounded agitated.

"Quiet down and stay sharp. Slow it down Joker we need to arrive quickly, but together." Hap told his subordinates. He knew if he let them continue they'd be arguing and insulting each other all day, even in the middle of a fire fight. Hap cursed to himself thinking how he would have just headed off the argument by sending Lucky and Joker on ahead as he and Tuna took up the rear.

Hap settled his throttle at a speed Tuna could keep up with and started to work the route to the hill. His mind drifted again. He was a young Leftenant, but he knew the campaign to hold Klathandu was going poorly. The local militia only had tanks and jump infantry but they had managed to keep the Draconis Combine's 9th Benjamin Regulars at bay until the RDMM could get there. After they arrived the tank commander had briefed the entire Regiment that part of the militia's success was, in his opinion, that the 9th Benjamin Regulars didn't take the militia seriously because they lacked 'Mechs.

When the RDMM arrived on planet the 9th was taking them dangerously seriously. The landing was contested, and part of the RDMM's leadership were killed before they were even on planet. Somehow the RDMM managed to hold the 9th long enough for the Federated Commonwealth leadership to send in the First Federated Commonwealth BattleMech Regiment. The First FedCom was a new regiment and they arrived with shiny new 'Mechs. Most of the RDMM troops were excited, until they realized they were untested Subalterns straight from the Davion and Steiner military academies. As if having a regiment full of the most junior of junior officers wasn't bad enough, Hap had even heard rumors some of them were still cadets.

The First FedCom was led by a pompous son of a noble that put them on vanguard duty or other simple, and relatively safe, missions. The First FedCom had some easy wins, and that just made the young officers more arrogant. Hap didn't blame them though, a few years back when he left the academy he was the same way. Today the First FedCom was in their first real fight with the 9th and from what Hap had heard over the radio it was going badly.

Hap's lance was now close to the hill. The fastest way looked like a narrow pass in the high cliffs. It was the perfect place for an ambush. Joker was already there and had his 'Mech looking up at the top of the cliff. It looked too tall for Hap's Griffin to jump to the top of it, but the Firestarter might just make it.

"Joker you see something or are you trying to figure out if you can jump it?"

"Jump it, but It's too high for me. Guess we gotta just risk it." Joker replied.

"I'll go first" Hap replied as he walked his 'Mech into the path going between the two high cliffs. He felt claustrophobic as his 'Mech scrapped against the side. "Tuna it's going to be hard to turn in this passage. You might want to go into this backwards, if someone catches us-"

"I'll make it real unpleasant for them, boss." Tuna finished

Hap started up the pass. It was level at first, but after a hundred meters it started to slope up the hill. Within another hundred he was high enough that he could jump onto the cliff top. Hap pulled up his long range sensors. He could now see the indicators of two friendly units and several smaller enemy 'Mechs engaging them. Hap felt sick in his stomach. He knew the Fire Support Company had been reduced due to causalities, but it should have been more than two. Hap flipped his radio to the Fire Support lance's channel.

"This is Hooligan four" Hap had to stop for a moment to remember the company's radio designation, "Spear element, are you there?"

"This is Spear six, where the hell are you?"

"Coming up the cliff pass."

"I needed you here yesterday, Hooligan four." Spear six replied angrily.

Hap's HUD started to receive updates from Spear six's 'Mech. He could see the enemy was a lance of Jenners and a Cicada. Hap knew these were fast 'Mechs, but poorly armored. He locked onto one of the Jenners that had its back to him, and sent a salvo of ten long range missiles flying in its direction. Hap was hoping to distract or slow the 'Mech down, instead to his surprise his computer marked a kill.

"Good shooting Hooligan four. You hit his magazine. Now if you had just gotten here before these bastards tore my company apart that would have been some real help." Spear six snarled, it sounded like he was going to say more but there was the sound of missiles hitting his 'Mech.

Hap switched back to his lance channel, "Joker get up there now, we'll catch up."

The Firestarter jumped over the Griffin and started running up the path between the cliffs. In a moment the Firestarter was in the fight, and the Griffin and Hunchback followed a few seconds behind. Hap could see they were too late. The hill side was littered with broken and battered 'Mechs. There was an RDMM Trebuchet and Catapult still standing, but they were being harassed be the smaller and faster Cicada and Jenners.

Both RDMM 'Mechs were in bad shape. The Catapult was missing the missile pod on its right side, and smoke and sparks were pouring out of multiple holes in its armor. The Trebuchet was in similar condition and was clearly favoring one leg.

Hap sent another salvo of missiles at one of the Jenners. The missile spread went wide and only two connected, doing little damage. He then shot his Particle Projection Cannon (PPC) at the 'Mech and that melted through the 'Mech's arm, and the blast bit into the torso. Joker put two medium lasers into the breach, and hit the engine shielding of the 'Mech. It stopped mid stride and then exploded.

The 'Mech's of the Fire Company had few close range weapons so when the smaller faster 'Mechs closed with them they were in trouble. Hap realized his Griffin had the same problem but he also knew he could just punch the enemy or perform the dangerous Death From Above attack.

As if he here thinking the same thing the Catapult pilot sent his 'Mech flying into the air then landed on one of the Jenners. The Jenner twisted and contorted under the weight of the heavier 'Mech. For a moment the Catapult stood over its fallen enemy, then the remaining Jenner hit it with a barrage of missiles and lasers. The Catapult fell forward and somehow Hap knew he wasn't getting back up.

Tuna shot the Jenner with his large autocannon and the shot passed through the 'Mech's left side and into its center. Tuna followed it up with his medium lasers and the Jenner exploded. Hap changed his focus to the remaining enemy 'Mech. The Cicada was trying to get behind the Trebuchet and the Trebuchet was slowly turning to prevent it. It seemed the 'Mech's gyro was damaged as well as its leg.

Joker jumped his Firestarter down next to Cicada, and fired everything he had, machine guns, medium lasers and flamers. The Cicada dodged part of the Alpha Strike but couldn't dodge the spray of fire the flamers put out. Even so the Cicada continued and when it had the angle it wanted it fired on the Trebuchet with its PPC and machine guns. The shot hit one the Trebuchet's ammo bin and the barrage of machine gun fire set off a chain reaction in the center torso.

Hap cringed as the last member of the Fire Support Company exploded. In unison Hap and Tuna fired their weapons and destroyed the remaining enemy 'Mech. Hap paused for a moment feeling the rush of emotion and adrenaline. It took him a moment before he was ready to report. He switched his radio to the command net.

"Hooligan six, this is Hooligan four, over."

"Hooligan four, Report"

"We weren't fast enough, sir. The Fire Support Company has been destroyed, but we neutralized the enemy 'Mechs. Over."

There was a pause, and Hap imagined Captain Holman cursing, then the Captain was back on the net. "The enemy broke through our lines, and we're pulling back to Rendezvous Point Zed. Get any friendly you can, and proceed to the rendezvous point."

"Understood, sir." Hap's mouth went dry. Rendezvous Point Zed was a military star port. This meant the RDMM was probably in full retreat.

"Hap, one more thing, the First FedCom is getting the shit kicked out of 'em. We're probably going to lose the better part of that year group of officers. If you see any of them, bring them along. Hooligan six out."

Hap switched back to his lance's channel, "Tuna, Joker, check for any friendly signs of life, and then we're pulling back to rendezvous point Zed."

"Way ahead of you boss" Tuna replied, "We're negative on life signs. This fight was pretty fierce."

"Alright let's-" Hap stopped mid-sentence, there was a light flashing over the emergency guard channel. "Wait one."

Hap switched to the guard channel, and heard a female voice. She sounded controlled, but stressed, "Requesting immediate assistance or evac. I repeat, this is Cadet Valois. I'm isolated, and being pursued by a heavy lance. Requesting immediate assistance or evac."
« Last Edit: 01 May 2020, 02:04:33 by HFC05 »

shadowdancer

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #1 on: 22 April 2020, 17:24:04 »
Keep writing. Enjoyed it.
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David CGB

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #2 on: 22 April 2020, 21:01:47 »
Please keep writing, good stories are needed in this time!
Federated Suns fan forever, Ghost Bear Fan since 1992, and as a Ghost Bear David Bekker star captain (in an Alt TL Loremaster)

snakespinner

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #3 on: 23 April 2020, 02:06:07 »
Enjoyable read, i was a bit put out when you said that the Hunchback was a 100 kilometres behind.
But that was probably to keep us on our toes. ;) :thumbsup:
I wish I could get a good grip on reality, then I would choke it.
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Growing up is optional.
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worktroll

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #4 on: 23 April 2020, 05:06:56 »
TAGged!
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

Artifex

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #5 on: 23 April 2020, 10:17:22 »
(...snip...)
Hap checked his scanners again. There was no enemy, and from the looks of the smoke they were east of most of the fighting. On his scanners Hap could see his other lancemate, Sergeant "Tuna" Kam'achi just about hundred kilometers behind him. Hap knew Tuna was trudging up the hill in his Hunchback. It wasn't as fast as Joker's Firestarter or Hap's own Griffin, but it brought a lot of firepower, and it was better armored than either 'Mech.
(...snip...)

Like someone else pointed out ... but hey, that's one bigass radar, able to process that info! :D

Otherwise nice writing! Looking forwards to the follow ups!
« Last Edit: 23 April 2020, 10:30:41 by Artifex »

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #6 on: 23 April 2020, 15:56:58 »
Sorry about the kilometer thing. I'm not sure what I was thinking there. I went ahead and fixed it. More chapters coming up, and thanks for being constructive.

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #7 on: 23 April 2020, 15:59:41 »
Chapter 2
August 3029
Klathandu IV

The cadet started to request assistance again, "This is Cadet Valois. I'm-"

"Cadet, this is Hooligan four. Where are you, and can you move, over?" Hap interrupted her.

"I'm in the vicinity of Pheasant Run and moving south, but I'm being chased by a Quickdraw and a Thunderbolt."

A Quickdraw and a Thunderbolt were serious firepower, and Pheasant Run was, again, minutes away when second's counted. Hap prepared to start his lance moving, but then remembered the cliff leading up the hill, and how it was ideal for an ambush. Hap patched the guard channel into his lance's channel.

"Cadet, acknowledge you are being pursued by a Quickdraw and a Thunderbolt. Do you think you can get to hill 182, over?"

There was a pause. "Yes. Hooligan four."

"How does a Thunderbolt chase anything?" Joker asked.

Hap was about to tell Joker that "now wasn't the time", but the Cadet replied, "It has jump jets."

"Who the hell puts Jump Jets on a Thunderbolt? Those things are bigger than Tuna's mom." Joker responded

"Hey!" Tuna barked.

"Stow it Joker." Hap snapped, then softened his tone, "Alright Cadet. I need you to try and approach hill 182 from the east."

"Acknowledge." Cadet Valois replied coolly, she sounded calmer.

Hap could see a friendly Valkyrie just on the edge of his long range sensor range. A Valkyrie was a light 'Mech, and a little slow for its size, but still faster than Tuna's Hunchback Hap noted. A Quickdraw could keep pace with it, but she should have been able to outpace the Thunderbolt. This area was heavily wooded and with the forests and jump jets the Thunderbolt could probably keep within weapons range.

"Cadet I'm going to coordinate with my lance. I'm going to take you of our lance channel, but I'll still be monitoring the guard. Just keep moving to hill 182."

"Acknowledge all." She sounded confident again.

Hap took the guard channel out of the Lance's channel. "Alright Gents, we're not broadcasting to everyone in the clear. She's bringing two heavies our way, but we can use that pass in the cliff to-"

Joker interrupted Hap, "Hey Tuna was that the Princess?"

"What?" Haps asked

"Yeah, I think so. I mean I don't know till I see her, but probably." Tuna replied.

"What the hell are you two talking about?" Hap asked impatiently.

"We were in the galley one day and there was a bunch of First FedCom Subalterns and Cadets there, and hand to god truth, there was this cadet that was the most drop dead gorgeous woman we had ever seen. Lucky tried to ask her out, but when he talked to her she just stared at him, said 'no' and then left. One of the Subalterns told him that was the princess, aloof and concise. Lucky said Princess was embroidered on her name tag."

Hap almost asked why he wasn't with them, but he knew he was probably in a staff meeting. "And you think this was the same MechWarrior?" Hap asked

"Well Lucky said she was a Valkyrie pilot." Joker replied defensively

"The First FedCom is all Valkyrie, Centurion, and Enforcer pilots." Hap replied looking at the cliff and thinking how he wanted to set up the ambush.

"That's true bro." Tuna added.

"Yeah, but she sounds pretty hot, next time you talk to her ask her callsign." Joker said.

Hap was exasperated, "Look I don't care if she's Miss Federated Suns or Martha UrbanMech, we need to help her survive and take down the Quickdraw and Thunderbolt. Joker, light up the trees near the pass and hide in the fire and smoke. Tuna use the heat and smoke to hide but try to be close to the pass." Hap directed the other two 'Mech warriors.

Hap could see the Quickdraw and Thunderbolt on his scanner now. The Quickdraw was a heavy 'Mech with a big engine that meant it traded speed for armor. It was about as fast and jump capable as the Valkyrie, and he was trying to follow the same path as the Valkyrie. Hap didn't have a computer lock, but he could guess where the Quickdraw pilot next jump. He watched the Valkyrie jump, and targeted the same area. He launched a brace of missiles and saw them impact the Quickdraw just as he landed behind her.

Hap flipped the radio to the guard net as he moved his 'Mech to the end of the pass. Hap picked a good spot with plenty of trees and a good view of the pass. Tuna and Joker were in position now. Joker was facing Hap. When he jumped into the pass he would try to get behind the enemy so facing backwards made sense.

"What's your status cadet?" Hap asked

"Almost there. Good contact on the Quickdraw. Thanks." She replied.

Hap glanced back to his tactical display, the Quickdraw was now alternating its path, this was slowing it down, giving the Cadet more space. Hap tried to guess the Quickdraw's next move, but he was wrong and the missiles completely missed. Hap figured this was fine, it would keep the enemy guessing.

"There's a cliff here Hooligan four." Cadet Valois reported

"Yeah there's a pass to the south, proceed through the pass." Hap replied.

Hap saw the Valkyrie's icon move a few 'Mech paces south and hesitate. She probably felt the same way he did, it looked like the perfect place for an ambush. Hap's computer reported laser fire and missile fire from the vicinity of the enemy 'Mechs, and the Valkyrie started moving again. The Valkyrie came into view as she sprinted into the pass and then up to the Griffin.

As she was turning her 'Mech Hap could see Joker was holding up a piece of paper to the view port of his 'Mech. Hap cringed trying to think what crude joke he was going to play on the Cadet. Hap magnified the image and saw it was the lance's net information. Hap flipped his radio back to the lance net, still trying to guess what Joker was up to, and how he was going to discipline him. The cadet must have seen the paper because in a moment Hap started receiving data from her 'Mech.

"Are you 'Princess'?" Joker asked

"I hate that callsign." Princess said coldly. "Please just call me Valois."

"Anything you ask Princess" Joker replied cheerfully.

"Shut it Joker." Hap almost yelled. He would have to warn Princess the worst thing you can do with a call sign is show you hate it, but before he could say anything the Quickdraw entered the pass. Hap's computer reported the Quickdraw was peppered with missile shots, more than he had launched. Princess must have been putting down good fire as she retreated.

Princess shot a medium laser at the Quickdraw the moment she had a clear shot. Hap backed her up with a PPC shot and a salvo of missiles. The PPC struck the 'Mech's left breast and a few missiles hit the cliff, but the most of them struck the 'Mech. The Quickdraw responded by jumping deep into the pass and sending a barrage of lasers and missiles at Hap. The trees absorbed some of the damage, but armor melted from the right breast and arm of the Griffin.

Joker gracefully jumped into the pass and landed behind the Quickdraw. He bathed the enemy 'Mech in fire and followed up with lasers and machine guns. Hap knew that would probably not overheat the Quickdraw, but force the pilot to be careful with his lasers. The Quickdraw jumped out of the pass and spun backwards trying to target the Firestarter. This is when Tuna stepped out of the smoke and shot the Quickdraw in the back at point blank range, destroying the 'Mech.

Joker jumped his Firestarter out of the pass, just as the Thunderbolt entered. As the Firestarter sailed to safety Hap launched another volley of missiles and Princess joined him in hitting it with her laser, but the Thunderbolt ignored them. Tuna also shot him with his powerful cannon but it didn't seem penetrate the 'Mech's thick armor.

The Thunderbolt moved like something from a nightmare. It unleashed a barrage of missiles and lasers at the Hunchback as he stalked through the pass. Tuna was taken aback by the onslaught, and started to steady his 'Mech and prepare for another shot, but the Thunderbolt kept coming.

Princess shot her 'Mech's arm mounted medium laser again, but it only superficially melted some of the armor on the Thunderbolt's chest. Joker jumped behind him and performed another alpha strike, but the Thunderbolt pilot seemed unconcerned. The cannon on Tuna's Hunchback belched out another pitiless blast. This actually seemed to put a hole in the armor, but it didn't stop the Thunderbolt.

Hap sent another wave of missiles into the monster, but they failed to hit the breach that Tuna had created. The Griffin's PPC stabbed at the armor of the 'Mech's chest, but only managed to melt off the armor below the smoking hole in its right breast.

In a brutal display the Thunderbolt raised its fist overhead and brought it down on the Hunchback. The large shoulder mounted autocannon blocked Hap from seeing where the blow landed, but the Hunchback fell backwards with the force of the blow. Joker hit him again with everything his 'Mech had, and more smoke came out of the holes in the 'Mech's armor, but it still seemed fully functional.

Hap worried the Thunderbolt would turn on Joker or give Tuna a coup de grace, he wished he knew how to get the Thunderbolt to focus on him. The Thunderbolt turned and raised its right arm and pointed its large laser at Hap, and trained the missile pod on him. "be careful what you wish for" Hap thought as he fought the sense of panic and manually aimed his weapons trying to target the smoking hole.

Princess shot her laser and launched a salvo of ten missiles. The laser struck the gap in the Thunderbolts right torso and most of the missiles hit in and around the crack in the armor. The right side of the 'Mech separated in an explosion and the 'Mech's missile pod and right arm went flying away.

The breach in the armor was hard to miss now and Hap launched missiles as his PPC's azure beam slipped into the smoking hole and into the center of the 'Mech. Missiles followed the beam and then there was another explosion and more smoke and sparks poured out of the holes and breaches in the Thunderbolt's armor. The Thunderbolt staggered backwards then slumped drunkenly onto the side of the cliff.

Hap looked at the broken remains of the Thunderbolt. He had been in dozens of battles, but this was probably the biggest 'Mech he and his lance had taken on. He knew the Quickdraw was about the same tonnage as the Thunderbolt, but it was different. Hap shuddered, there was something about the way the Thunderbolt had moved, and the casual indifference it had toward everything his lance threw at it.

"I'm out of missiles." Princess said quietly and matter-of-factly. To Hap it was almost a quiet whisper, it took a moment for it to register with him.

Hap shook his head and focused. He glanced at his own ammo counter. He had about a dozen reloads remaining. He had been a little liberal with his missiles, but the Griffin carried two tons of missiles so he could afford it.

"Good copy Cadet." Hap said, debating what to call her Princess, Val, or keep calling her 'Cadet'. As he weighed his options he pulled up tactical information on Princess's Valkyrie. Her 'Mech seemed to have taken damage all over, it was all superficial, but she must have been in quite a fight. She had also emptied her missile magazine, which meant she had launched twelve salvos. Val seemed like a cool customer so Hap assumed she had shot each salvo with a purpose. Between this, the timely laser and missile shot on the Thunderbolt, and her disdain for a girly callsign like "Princess" Hap was starting to respect Cadet Valois.

As he scanned the Valkyrie he remembered that the Hunchback's autocannon rounds were also pretty limited. "Tuna, how much ammo do you have?"

There was no response. Hap glanced up and Tuna's Hunchback was still flat on the ground. Without looking Hap switched the scanner to the Hunchback. He glanced down and saw the cockpit was critically damaged and there was no life signs for Tuna. Hap swallowed hard and reminded himself damage to the cockpit could prevent the Hunchback from reporting the 'MechWarrior's life signs.

Joker was already moving toward the prone 'Mech. Hap walked his 'Mech over as well. Joker stopped his Firestarter and then starting howling, "No, no, no." Hap could see now the head of the Hunchback had been bashed in and there was a grizzly pool of blood around the smashed cockpit. Joker kneeled his 'Mech down and popped open the cockpit of his 'Mech.

"Hooligan four, we need to move." Princess said quietly.

Joker hadn't disconnected his neurohelmet when she spoke, and Hap could see Joker pause and look in the direction of the Valkyrie, "Go to hell princess." He snapped.

Hap knew he needed to correct the corporal, and in his gut he knew that Cadet Valois was right, but he wanted so badly for Sergeant Kam'achi to be alive. Joker slipped out of his 'Mech and ran to the Hunchback's head. He was carrying a survival axe rescue tool that he used to pry off the sheet of crushed safety glass.

Hap watched as Joker tossed the glass away and when he saw into the crushed remains of the cockpit, and his heart fell. Joker dropped the axe and his hands moved like he was trying to think about some sort of medical of first aid that could help, but it was obvious the body was too badly mangled.

"We are being cut off." Princess said quietly.

Hap looked at his scanners and didn't see anything. "I don't see…" before he could finish a 35 ton 'Mech showed up on his scanner, then two more.

Hap activated the external speakers, "Joker. We got company coming."

Joker still didn't move. "Corporal Cameron, get in your 'Mech." Hap ordered.

Joker finally started to move. He reached down for his axe, then noticed something in the broken Mech. He pulled out a skinny black bag, threw it over his shoulder and began to jog back to his Firestarter.

Hap looked at his scanners again there were about half a dozen light 'Mechs headed their way moving at different speeds. Hap knew the Draconis Combine tactics well enough to guess they were a mix of Panthers and Jenners. The Jenners would catch them and tear them apart with lasers and missiles at close range while the Panthers would blast them to pieces from a distance with their PPCs.

Hap watched as Joker put his neurohelmet back on. He shut off the PA, and keyed the lance net, "How did you see those 'Mechs before they showed up on my scanner?"

"My father owned an electronic company that makes advanced sensors and scanners for 'Mechs and aerospace fighters. My noble mother arranged for me to receive this 'Mech, and he had it outfitted with some of his company's best electronics." Princess spoke quietly like she was confessing a mistake.

Hap didn't say anything, maybe she was a spoiled little Princess whose parents could ensure she got a top of the line 'Mech fully kitted out. Of course if her 'Mech's advance gear kept them alive Hap wasn't going to complain. "Is there a clear way to Rendezvous Point Zed?"

There was a long pause and then Princess replied, "No."

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #8 on: 23 April 2020, 16:02:30 »
Chapter 3
August 3029
Klathandu IV


"What's the plan, boss." Joker said as he stood his 'Mech back up. His tone was cold, and he sounded like he was ready for a fight.

"We need to get to the rendezvous point, but there's a reinforced lance out there." Hap said as he glanced at his scanners. The six enemy 'Mechs were moving in a searching pattern, but they didn't seem to notice them yet. Then one started moving in their direction, followed by two more, then all of them.

Hap started to assess their situation. The RDMM was likely preparing to leave the planet, so they needed to get to the rendezvous point quickly, or risk being left behind. If they ran they'd be caught in the open, pinned down and then flanked. They had a defensible position, but they were low on ammo. Also they could be overwhelmed if enough 'Mechs tried to pour through the pass, or had the jump jets to clear the cliff. Also if the enemy had artillery or air support there was no good cover.

Hap watched as two 'Mechs waited just out of view at the other end of the pass. They were likely waiting for their lance mates and preparing to try and leap frog through the pass en masse. To Hap's surprise he started getting data on one of them and his long range missiles showed an option to lock.

"I have a sensor lock on one of the Jenners, and I'm sharing the data." Princess reported

Hap launched missiles on the target, with any luck that would compel the two 'Mechs to start into the pass early.

He could see the 'Mech take damage, but instead of running into the pass and charging it moved away and took cover in some trees. Hap's heart sank, these were disciplined soldiers, and to keep shooting would waste missiles. To make matters worse a warning tone notified him he was now sensor locked.

"I just got sensor locked." Joker added

"That's odd." Hap replied, "Panthers and Jenners don't have indirect weapons." Hap knew that in most circumstances a sensor lock would be followed up by a hailstorm of Long Range Missiles (LRMs), but neither of those 'Mech types had LRMs.

"Three 65 ton marks just entered my long range sensor range." Princess replied. "Likely Catapults or Archers."

"Hey boss, if she doesn't want to be called Princess, I'm thinking we change her call sign to 'Bad News'." Joker laughed, then added, "That is if we survive."

Hap's mind started to race. To stay here was death, to run didn't look much better.

"I've also been sensor locked." Princess said, then after a pause, "Hooligan 4, it's been a pleasure." Hap hadn't noticed it before, but Cadet Valois didn't put a lot of emotion in her voice, he sort of liked that about her. Maybe it was because Joker was always complaining.

"I'd like to say the same, Princess." Joker said, "but honestly, it really hasn't been."

"I agree." Princess deadpanned, "but I take comfort knowing that we're probably not going to the same place."

"Move into the pass." Hap said, "It might make it a little harder on the missiles and we'll still keep the light 'Mechs from swarming us."

"Yeah Princess, we might not go-" Joker started to stay then paused, "Wait, what are you saying?"

A light on Hap's radio flashed again letting him know someone was broadcasting on the guard channel. Hap didn't have time for another lost Cadet, but maybe it was someone he could ask for help.

"Griffin pilot you and your lance hold your position." A man with a thick Irish accent said.

"We've got indirect fire inbound." Hap said, as he tried to think who in the RDMM had an Irish accent.

"Aye. Just hold, and prepare for hot extraction."

Hap patched the guard channel back into the lance net, just as Princess reported, "Hooligan 4, there's a Leopard drop shuttle inbound for our position. They've painted the whole hill top as a DZ."

"Roger. They want us to wait here." Hap couldn't dare to hope, finally something might go right today.

Hap could see the Leopard on his scanners too. It was moving toward them at break neck speed, and it looked like the Jenners had noticed as well. Two of them had entered the pass and were sprinting toward them. Hap leveled his PPC at the Jenner he had a sensor lock on. The shot melted off its arm and two of its four medium lasers. Joker and Princess shot one of its leg out from under it causing it to trip and fall. The other Jenner had to make a wild jump to avoid tripping over its companion.

As the Jenner landed a barrage of lasers reduced the Jenner to scrap. Hap looked up to see the welcome underside of a Leopard drop shuttle. It was generally rectangular, and looked like an angular 'Mech garage with wings and weapon turrets. It had four 'Mech bays with two each on the port and starboard side. The inner sphere had made some truly gorgeous and elegant air and space crafts, the Leopard was not among them, but right now this was the most beautiful thing Hap had seen all day.

The Leopard pilot brought the drop shuttle down to about 100 meters above their heads and let it slide sideways as it burned off speed and momentum. As it glided around the hill it shot at some of the advancing enemy 'Mechs. Then it came to land on the southern corner of the hill.

"We're not stoppin' long children, ye need to hurry." The man with the Irish accent said on the radio.

Hap, Joker, and the Cadet quickly ran to the Leopard as the crew opened up three of the four Mech bays. Within seconds they were loaded on the drop shuttle, and it started to lift off before the bays closed.

As doors closed Hap started the shutdown procedures. The lights in the 'Mech bay started to warm up and Hap could feel they were taking off. A tech walked up on the gantry way and knocked on the armored glass. Hap popped the cockpit locks and the tech helped him push it open.

"Are you okay? Do you need any medical assistance?" The tech asked with a bored tone.

Hap took off the heavy Neurohelmet and started to remove the various neuro transmitters. "No, I'm fine." Hap didn't recognize this tech, and his uniform didn't look like an RDMM or First FedCom uniform. However he had just received an unrequested aerial evac. He assumed his commander had declared Planet Fall and he was lucky that someone stopped to grab him and the rest of his lance on the way out.

"Anything particular I should know about your 'Mech, or anything that happened in that last battle?" The tech was looking around at the cockpit, looking for damage or anything out of the ordinary. Hap could see he was going down the checklist on his clipboard.

"I didn't take any internal damage, but I lost some armor on my right flank. Also, I spent about half my missiles."

The tech was all business, and wrote a few notes on his clipboard. The tech pulled out a flash light and began inspecting the outside of the 'Mech as Hap finished disconnecting cables, and shutting down the Griffin.

Hap sat for a moment trying to figure out what to do next. The tech wrote a few more notes and without looking at him suggested, "Shouldn't you go check on your lancemates?"

Hap felt a pang of guilt as he wondered if Cadet Valois was hurt. Her 'Mech had a lot of damage, and he didn't know what had happened to her before she got to the hill. A stray laser or missile to a 'Mech's head might cause cosmetic damage to the armor, but usually gave the MechWarrior a concussion. The Cadet's mech had taken damage all over. Hap grabbed his kit bag and coveralls from the small storage area in his cockpit. As he pulled on the olive drab coveralls Hap felt the burden of responsibility for the Cadet, like he was for Joker, or Tuna or Lucky. The pang of losing Tuna and Lucky hit him again.

He put his pistol belt on, and slung the bag over his shoulder as he jogged to the ladder. He really hoped the Cadet was okay. Maybe he could keep her in his lance for a while. Her Valkyrie was complimentary to his Griffin. She was a good 'Mech pilot and gunner. He liked how she traded insults with Joker. That sensor package her 'Mech had paid off too. He put his hands and feet on the outside of the ladder and slid all the way down to the main deck. He just needed to make sure she was okay.

His feet hit the deck and he turned in the direction of the Valkyrie ran into a young woman. He started to fall but he managed to catch himself and steady the woman by putting his hands on her shoulders. Hap stood there starring at her with his hands resting on her shoulders.

She was the most gorgeous woman Hap had ever seen. She was about a meter and a half tall, had creamy white skin, and reddish chestnut hair that slightly curled and went past her shoulders. She had a small nose and green eyes. Her black coveralls were tailored to fit the curves of her trim athletic body. She also had a pistol belt across her right hip with a low slung laser pistol resting on her left thigh. On the right breast of her coveralls was a leather patch that had a silver silhouette of a Valkyrie on the side and "Anastasia Valois" written in clear silver letters, below her name in big pink letters was "Princess".

Hap didn't know what to say. Anastasia cocked her head to the side and locked eyes with him and smiled. After a long moment, she dropped her gaze down to the leather name patch on his coveralls. "Leftenant Harold Haphazard Calahad, You're Hooligan four?"

Hap was still in shock. "Yeah, I mean yes. I am. My friends call me Hap. Actually everyone calls me Hap. You can call me Hap." This was strange for Hap. He didn't usually have trouble with woman.

"May I call you Harold?" She asked.

"Sure. Yes." Hap said and realized he had to pull himself together. "I'm sorry, you're just very beautiful."

"I know." Anastasia replied. There was a tone of regret in her response, and Hap immediately understood. Most of the women around her probably hated her, and most men likely had the same problem tripping over themselves just trying to talk to her.

Hap was starting to compose himself. For all her beauty she suddenly looked lonely and vulnerable. "You don't have a lot of friends do you?"

"No." Anastasia replied, "and before you ask, I don't have a boyfriend either."

"I wasn't going to ask" Hap said sensing her bitterness. He took his hands off her shoulders but still stood close to her. Hap's experiences and training had taught him how to read people. She had mentioned her mother was a noble and her father owned a business. Her family had wealth and title, and she had beauty. This meant she had to pick her friends carefully and that would make her seem aloof which would add to the problem.

To make matters worse a place like a Davion military academy has a lot of nobles and their sycophants competing on every level. If you weren't careful it was easy to get betrayed. Hap's family wasn't nobility, and he had to work hard to earn his commission, but he had seen some of the weird and messed up things the nobles would do to each other just to get ahead.

Hap had also just seen Anastasia lead two 'Mechs that out-classed her 'Mech on a multi-kilometer chase. Money and title couldn't give her that skill, or composure. She clearly worked hard, and was smart. Something that would also make her a target of her peers. They probably goaded her by giving her an entitled and demeaning feminine call sign. Like most good call signs, it was a clever but cruel joke. She clearly knew she had to embrace it, but she had also made it clear that she hated it.

The door across the bay opened and a man that Hap didn't recognize was walking toward them with Joker at his heels. Hap and Anastasia only had a few more seconds of privacy. Hap turned back to look at her, he genuinely liked her and wanted to help her. She was looking him in the eyes with a curious expression.

"I want to be your friend, but I'd bet a year's salary you've been tricked or betrayed by people claiming to be a friend. But, until someone tells me different you're in my lance, and I take care of my lance."

Anastasia looked confused, "Okay."

He leaned in close to her, "You don't want to be 'Princess' anymore?"

Her eyes widened, and she shook her head, "No, and if you could help me get rid of that name-"

"Trust me." And with that Hap grabbed the leather patch on her coveralls and ripped it off. Before Hap could slip the patch into his pocket Joker and the older man walked up to them. The old man was short but wiry. He was dressed in green military pants and wore a khaki shirt under a camouflage jacket. He looked like he was in his fifties or sixties, with silver gray hair and large mutton chops, but a clean shaven face. His blue eyes twinkled and he had the air of a mischievous grandfather. He had a wood and ivory pipe in his hands.

On the breast pocket of the Jacket was an embroidered logo with a triangle made of three overlapping Celtic knots. The top knot had a gold harp in the center, the right knot had a skull and the left knot had a three leaf clover. Above the triangle was "McFinnigan" and underneath was "and Sons".

The old man cleared his throat. "Are you the Griffin pilot?" He asked in the same Irish accent.

"Yes sir." Hap replied, "I'm Leftenant Harold Calahad, this is Cadet Anna Valois, and I believe you've already met Corporal William Cameron."

"Aye, and I'm Kelly McFinnigan. Owner, Operator, and Commander of the McFinnigan and Sons Mercenary Company." McFinnigan looked over Hap and his eyes narrowed as he saw his name tag. "Haphazard?"

"I have a reputation for being a little unorthodox in some of my strategies, not careless, just a little unpredictable." Hap said with a mock humble shrug.

"I like unorthodox and unpredictable." McFinnigan smiled. He turned to look at Anastasia and whistled quietly. "My yer a looker. Not prettier than Mrs. McFinnigan. If she asks, I expect you all will tell her that I said that. I'd dare to wager you've broken your share of hearts."

"Not really" Anastasia replied.

McFinnigan shrugged, "If ye say so. Still ye got the looks that make fools do foolish things, and sadly I have to admit I've employed a few fools." He glanced over at Joker, then back to Hap and Anastasia. "As ye probably know they make good MechWarriors, but can be trouble out of the cockpit."

Hap spoke up, "Commander McFinnigan if you can return us to the Ramon Draconis March Militia, I'll take my fool and my little heart breaker and we won't trouble you anymore."

"Aye, and that's something we need to discuss."

ThePW

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #9 on: 23 April 2020, 17:53:09 »
One. Ping. Only.

ckosacranoid

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #10 on: 23 April 2020, 19:34:17 »
nice writing and idea. a few things to point out. ejection seats would have been used for the ammo and engine going boom. unless you kill the head most pilots survive the mech unless to do six points of damage to the pilot. talk about leaving lots of salvage on the field they left behind. Night also want to look at the rules for aerodrome dropship for landing. can not remember if they can hover like that. the leopard also has her bays each by them selves. so the mechpilots would not get out to they left atmo they way they where running. just trying to help get the world and setting better for you.

worktroll

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #11 on: 23 April 2020, 19:50:13 »
a) Some of us like "larger than life" fiction, some of us love gritty realism, but it's all personal. Love the Warrior trilogy myself for all its flaws.
b) Ejection seats can be turned off, and often are by people playing the game.
c) When bugging out before superior forces, yes, salvage is often left behind.
d) Not entirely sure the Leopard is out of atmosphere.
e) Rule of Cool rules ;)
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

ThePW

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #12 on: 23 April 2020, 20:27:17 »
a) Some of us like "larger than life" fiction, some of us love gritty realism, but it's all personal. Love the Warrior trilogy myself for all its flaws.
b) Ejection seats can be turned off, and often are by people playing the game.
c) When bugging out before superior forces, yes, salvage is often left behind.
d) Not entirely sure the Leopard is out of atmosphere.
e) Rule of Cool rules ;)

I'm wondering if the author's writing style is based on what he's seen in Battletech PC? That might explain the 'irregularities'? :)

worktroll

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #13 on: 23 April 2020, 21:24:04 »
Can't explain Stackpole's 'irregularities' ;) Still, enjoying it.
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

Dave Talley

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #14 on: 24 April 2020, 00:20:30 »
fun so far
Resident Smartass since 1998
“Toe jam in training”

Because while the other Great Houses of the Star League thought they were playing chess, House Cameron was playing Paradox-Billiards-Vostroyan-Roulette-Fourth Dimensional-Hypercube-Chess-Strip Poker the entire time.
JA Baker

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #15 on: 24 April 2020, 16:31:27 »
Hey Everyone, thanks for reading, and generally being patient with me.

I have to confess I haven't played tabletop BattleTech since the early 90s (3050-ish era), but I have played the 2018 HBS/Paradox Game (you'll see a few references later in the writing) which is part of how I got back in. So I may not always be spot on in my interpretation of the rules, some of it's ignorance, some of it's just plain misunderstanding, some of it's inspired by the games, and some of it might be poor or unimaginative writing.

I want to tell a good story, and if I'm being honest, I will likely err on the side of story telling over strict rule interpretation (I'm that sort of Dungeon Master too). However, that doesn't mean if I'm grossly ignoring a rule or aspect of the game I want to remain ignorant, so please do point these things out.

As several of you mentioned Stackpole wasn't always in line with the rule books, and even some of the background/universe building materials were contradictory (i.e. if you have an Original TR 3025, and read the Notable Pilots under the Shadow Hawk on page 66 it references a pilot with a bionic left arm, like it's no big deal. However, one of the driving plot points for Warrior En Garde is a loss of limb makes Justin Allard unfit for service). I bring up this very trivial example because I think it points out just how big and hard it is to always know what is "canon" and what is "apocryphal". Even Sarna doesn't always make things clear. To make matters worse when I was playing in the 80s it was some of those "fluff pieces" that really inspired my imagination about BattleTech.
 
As my story progresses there will likely be more times when you'll have to suspend "rule book" disbelief, but I'll try to keep things in line with the rules as I understand them. There may also be times, where I'm implying something like a critical hit occurred, but I do a poor job of writing it clearly. And, I won't lie, there is probably going to be times where a scene is just too good in my mind (like that having a Leopard "gunship" in on it's way to the DZ). Please bear with me, but if you think I go to far, let me know.

Thanks again for reading.

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #16 on: 24 April 2020, 16:35:56 »
Chapter 4
August 3029
Klathandu System


"Did something happened to the RDMM?" Hap asked

"They've gotten themselves into a prolonged fight that is probably going to end in a bit o' guerrilla warfare, if they're lucky. I had a disagreement with yer commander and Lord High-ass Marshall Sandavol, and when they discovered who was actually paying my contract and what it entailed, they kicked me off the planet." McFinnigan explained.

Hap looked shocked, "You're not under the employ of the Draconis Combine?"

McFinnigan laughed for a moment then he wiped his eye, he looked at Hap, "Oh. Ye weren't kiddin'. Sorry. No, no. Takashi Kurita doesn't hire mercenaries, he kills 'em." McFinnigan took in a deep breath to try and stop laughing, "No. We were hired by some nobles who felt their cadets were 'press ganged' into the First FedCom. We were there to help train, assist, and generally shepherd the wee lambs."

"I don't remember seeing any of your 'Mechs, or any mercenaries." Anastasia said

"Well our employers arranged to have their precious little ones all moved to one company, so we probably weren't watching over your company. Also we figured the best approach to defending the little bastards was going on the offense. If those cadets were on a mission we ambushed any OpFor that took the field. We let something small or wounded through for them though" McFinnigan laughed, "to build their confidence."

"So what was the problem?" Hap asked

"Well it was a couple things. First yer commander was getting ready to close the spaceport. My contract had a stipulation that in the case of a siege or planet-fall we would extract the noble's children. Of course the First FedCom and RDMM leadership didn't like the idea that we would be taking 'Mechs and manpower away from them. This led to a bit of an argument with me, and the General and Marshall."

"So are you not going to get paid?" Hap asked

"Oh no, we'll get paid." McFinnigan again laughed. "We do a job, we get paid. But this leads to the second problem. See, we're not kidnappers and we made sure the contract specified the cadets had to choose to come with us. I explained the situation and the General and the Marshall marched all the cadets into the office and explained to them that if they chose to come with us they would be charged with desertion, branded traitors and cowards, and their families would likely lose their titles and land. So none of the cadets chose to come with me." McFinnigan shrugged.

"Once that was taken care of then General asked us to stay and help them with their plans for an insurgency. I quoted him my price for that, which he refused. So I told him we were leaving, and he told me I had till sundown to get the hell off his world." McFinnigan said.

"You're not taking us back, are you?" Anastasia asked

"Well like I said, I'm no kidnapper, but the spaceport is closed. I have my XO trying to get a line on another job, but given the conversation I had with the Marshall, it probably won't be around here. In a couple weeks I could probably drop you off at a major star port, but I'll have to charge you for passage. It won't be cheap. You may have to pay with yer 'Mechs."

"I'd prefer not to lose my 'mech and be disposed, or be branded a deserter or traitor." Hap replied.

"Would you prefer to be dead?" McFinnigan snapped, "What good is honor if it gets you left on the side of some nameless hill to die?"

There was an uncomfortable silence as McFinnigan pulled a small cloth bag out of his jacket pocket, filled his pipe. He put the bag away and pulled out a match, before he lit the pipe he pointed its stem of at Hap. "We were halfway off world when I watched this young vixen skillfully flee like a fox from hounds, and just when they almost got their teeth on her you guided her to bait an ambush for two mechs that, by all rights, should have destroyed your lance. Then I watched you turn the tables on both of them. All the while doing your damndest to keep everyone alive." McFinnigan's voice almost dropped to a whisper as he added, "I was cheering for you lad, while your commander forgot about you."

He brought his voice back to a normal volume, and his tone was frank, "Know this, Your brother was crushed by that Thunderbolt while your command packed up their papers and coffee cups and proceeded to a new fortified bunker. Your general was getting into his nice staff car to go for a ride to the spaceport while you were choosing the place to make your last stand. Do you know what I'm telling you? You didn't desert anyone, they deserted you." When McFinnigan finished he lit the match, and started to work on lighting the pipe.

Hap glanced at Anastasia she shrugged and with a shake of her head wordlessly communicated, "He's not wrong."

Hap looked back at McFinnigan, "So what choice do we have?"

"Join my company." McFinnigan inhaled deeply then exhaled a thick cloud of smoke. "I had sixteen 'Mechs when I came to Klathandu IV, now I have thirteen. I need you as much as you need me, and what I saw down there tells me you three will fit right in with the family."

"Where do I sign up?" Joker asked, "I've been trying to figure out how to get out of that chicken shit outfit for a while now."

McFinnigan gave Joker a sideways glance, "Well the fool has spoken." He nodded to Anastasia, "what says the little trouble maker?"

"I'm not sure." Anastasia asked.

"Aye. That's fair. Listen, ye keep your 'Mechs, I'll pay you fairly, and I'm planning on giving young master Haphazard there all my new potential discipline problems. So don't worry, ye can stay with yer friends." McFinnigan smiled as he took another pull on his pipe.

"Alright boss, we're keeping the Princess." Joker flashed Anastasia a smile as she gave him a cold stare.

Hap ignored Joker for a moment, and glanced at Anastasia, she was looking to him questioningly. She barely knew him, but she looked so uncertain what to do she was probably going to follow him. The burden of leadership felt uncomfortable for Hap. "You promise to take care of us?"

"Promise? Lad, it's in the name of my company. You'll be one of my sons. I assure you, you fight for me like you did down there and you'll be well compensated. Lead my other children like you did, and you'll be helping me take care of the rest of the family." McFinnigan thrust his hand, "Now take my hand, look me in the eye, and join my family. You won't be sorry."

Hap was reluctant, but he couldn't stop himself from reaching for the man's hand. "I'll join."

"Me too." Anastasia added almost immediately after Hap. McFinnigan gave her a deep smile and let go of Hap and gave her a warm hug. Hap could see her eyes just over McFinnigan's shoulder. He couldn't tell if she looked uncertain, overwhelmed, or terrified.

McFinnigan released Anastasia and stepped back. He looked at them and smiled broadly, "Welcome to the Family. It will take a few days before we'll join up with the rest of the Family on the Tir A Nog, but we can get your contracts signed, I'll have the flight surgeon give you each a look over. By the time we get to the jump point, you'll be a McFinnigan."

McFinnigan led them out of the 'Mechs bays and toward the crew decks. Hap and Joker had been on enough Leopards to know they were going toward the galley, but when they entered they were shocked to find themselves in what looked like an Irish Pub. It even had a bar with a sign declaring "Llewyn's Pub" over the bar.

"Here is an appropriate place to talk some business." McFinnigan smiled, "Pull some pints while I call down my lawyer."

Hap played bar tender while McFinnigan used the ship's intercom to page his lawyer. The four settled into one of the large booths. McFinnigan toasted each of them as they drank.

Anastasia looked at her cup, "This is good."

"This is Timbiqui Dark, best beer in the sphere, Princess." Joker told her.

"Actually. It's not." Hap corrected him. "It's a stout like Timbiqui, but this is deeper, smoother, and richer. Also most Timbiqui Dark I've had is nitro injected, and I had to pump the cask."

McFinnigan clinked glasses with Hap again, "Aye, family recipe, McFinnigan's Archon Imperial Stout. You know a few things about beers."

"My dad used to home brew. He taught me the art, and to know a good beer." Hap said as drank.

McFinnigan smiled, "Oh you'll fit right in indeed." McFinnigan looked at Anastasia, "So it's obvious why this one is called Joker, and I'm content to wait till later to learn more about Haphazard's unorthodoxy, but I'm wondering what's yer handle, darlin?"

"Sir, she's a cadet, she hadn't really-" Hap started to say

"Oh don't let him fool you. She's royalty" Joker said with a laugh.

"That true?" McFinnigan asked with his eyes narrowed.

"Not exactly. My mother is a Countess." Anastasia said quietly.

McFinnigan looked at her carefully, "Well there's only one title that matter in this company. Mine, and it's 'Father', cause you're all now a McFinnigan and I won't have what some lord telling anyone that one of my sons or daughters is worth more than another. Yer all equal." He almost roared, then dropped his voice "Though I do pay some a little more for certain skills or responsibilities."

The door opened and a young blonde woman wearing a gray business suit with the "McFinnigan and Sons" log on the pocket.

McFinnigan stood, "Well yer all equal, except this one, this is my actual daughter, Roweyna. I won't lie, I like you, but I love her." When she got to the table he introduced his daughter to the new mercenaries. "She's also my legal counsel so she also gets paid a lot more than you." He laughed, "Even draws hazardous duty bonus when she enters a court room."

She smiled good-naturedly and started passing out pens and thick contracts. She had an Irish accent like her father and quickly explained the specifics of the contract. All three Mechwarriors were given the same base salary, but there were other pay options, bonuses, and entitlements that would take effect after their thirty-day probation period, and first combat operation.

Joker quickly signed or initialed wherever Roweyna pointed. Hap scanned the document, and had to admit even with just the base pay he was making more than twice what he got as a Leftenant. What he saw looked good, or at least looked pretty common for a contract. He felt confident signing.

Anastasia had several questions. She also appeared to be able to read the document with a quick glance. Roweyna answered most of Anastasia's questions to her satisfaction. The one item that Anastasia noticed that Hap had ignored was a section on maternity leave and child care.

"Well if ye find yourself in a family way we still take care of you." McFinnigan answered, "Though I'd hope the father would be responsible. Still I'll take you out of active status, put you on a base pay salary and as long as you travel with us you get free room, board, and medical. After you've weened your new child we'll figure out child care and get you back on duty."

"Travel with you?" Anastasia asked as Hap flipped a few pages back and saw the long explanation on child care.

"Aye. The family travels together. I don't think you understand, 'MechWarriors, techs, wives, husbands, children, and all the rest of the family. They're all on the Tir A Nog. Are you pregnant child, or planning to get pregnant?"

Hap glanced over at Anastasia. "No. I was confused." She paused. "My parents hired personal security and their contracts didn't have half these entitlements, contingency packages, or agreements. If they were injured in the line of duty they, or more likely their next of kin, got a onetime pay-out."

McFinnigan snorted, "Family takes care of its own, not one time."

"Speaking of 'child care' reminds me of another portion of the contract I'd like to draw your attention to." Roweyna began to explain, "You'll note on page 17 that while your expected to maintain your physical fitness and martial skills on interplanetary voyages or while in garrison. However, you're also expected to help out with any skills you have, such as cooking, cleaning, vehicle maintenance, teaching-"

"Beer brewing." McFinnigan added.

"Oh! We got another brewer, which is it?" Roweyna actually looked excited.

McFinnigan nodded to Hap, and Roweyna gave him on appraising look and a smile. "Very good." She gave him a wink and then returned to the contract, "So again part of your duties is to use skills like that to help maintain the company's ability to deploy 'Mechs and have ready and able cadre of MechWarriors capable of performing high intensity combat operations as prescribed by our clients."

Roweyna went over a few more sections of the contract, answered a few more questions and then collected the signed and initialed contracts. They refilled their glasses and she drank a pint with them while McFinnigan explained more about the company.

McFinnigan and sons was a reinforced company of sixteen battlemechs divided into four lances. They had a command lance, a pursuit/raid lance, a fire support lance, and a recon lance. Most of the family was currently on the Tir A Nog an Excalibur class drop shuttle. The Leopard, the Phaidin, was used for various things depending on the mission. On some drops it was the command vehicle, on other drops it might be used to insert a team away from the main group, or perform a quick raid.

They didn't own their own jump ship so traveling between systems had to be done by either military transport or a civilian company.

McFinnigan and sons was founded in 3010 after Kelly and Llewyn McFinnigan had served their time in the Donnogal Guards, salvaged two additional mechs for their sons, and managed to gather enough money to buy the Phaidin. They worked hard doing a lot of high risk raids for anyone that would pay them. The McFinnigan's had been employed by every major house and several of the Periphery lords though they preferred to work for Steiner or Davion. Along the way Kelly built them up to the reinforced company but lost his brother and son to combat related deaths.

As McFinnigan explained the unit's lineage and heritage Hap looked around the bar and saw the various mementos and souvenirs of the things McFinnigan was telling them, and pictures of the family members in good times, and bad, and portraits of the ones that didn't come home.

McFinnigan also explained the unit motto was "Gnó Teaghlaigh" Irish for "Family Business". The logo had the celtic knot and harp that represented Ireland on old Terra and the Donegal. The skull was to represent that their business was generally death and destruction, and the three leaf clover in the McFinnigan logo was the stylized club-clover of the Donnagal Guards, where Kelly and Llewyn McFinnigan got their start, and Kelly said they had great respect for the unit.

They finished another round of pints and then McFinnigan excused himself to go and attend to business, and Roweyna gave them tour of the crew decks, showed them where their berths would be, and took them by the armory to secure their weapons. She also took them to the supply locker to get them linens and a few McFinnigan and Sons T-shirts, patches, and another set of coveralls. Finally Roweyna took them to the flight surgeon. The flight surgeon gave them each a clean bill of health, and released them to move freely about the ship.

HFC05

  • Corporal
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  • Posts: 99
Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #17 on: 24 April 2020, 16:41:34 »
Chapter 5
August 3029
Klathandu System


The mechwarriors returned to the berthing area. The berths were simple rectangular sleeping cells built into the ship. They were about two meters long and a meter wide and a meter deep. They had a roll up door that could be locked from the inside or outside. There was also floor to ceiling wall lockers built into the bulwark. There were four berths in the section with two on one wall and two on the other.

Joker picked the bed above Anastasia and Hap chose the bed across from her. Hap set his bag down on his bed, but before he could open it Joker nudged him. "Hey I grabbed Tuna's bag before I got back in my 'Mech, you want to go through it?" Joker showed Hap a long black bag. It had blood stains and was ripped and had a few jagged pieces of metal and broken glass embedded in it.

Hap nodded, and suggested they go to the lounge attached to the berth area. The lounge was designed to be part ready room and part lounge, so it could be used mission briefs, debriefings, or just relaxing. It had a table and a few chairs, a large semi-circular couch in front of a viewing screen and a bar. In front of the couch was a circular coffee table. There was also a door that led to a shared head and showers.

Anastasia followed Hap and Joker into the lounge. Joker started emptying the contents on the bag onto the coffee table. In the sides of bag there was a war club and an axe. Joker pulled both of them out then opened the bag. There was dozens of food pouches marked with "Tuna", "Protein Paste, Tuna" and "Fish flavored protein." There was a wood box that had stylized fish engraved into it, a pouch marked, "Environment Suit, 24hour, X-Small" a water bottle with a water purification system, a paper wrapped parcel that had a wad of bills rubber-banded to it, a flare gun, a shot gun and an extra-large pistol belt fully extending. The pistol belt had pouches all over it including a large rear pouch. Joker opened the large pouch and pulled out three Armed Forces of the Federated Suns (AFFS) rations all marked, "Menu 13, Steak, Tuna, Teriyaki flavored – Melcher Food Corps".

Anastasia sat down on the couch, "Is this how he got the call sign 'Tuna'?"

Joker handed the paper parcel to Hap, "Sorta, but this isn't the half of it. If we asked Tuna where we wanted to go it was either a Sushi place, or a fish restaurant, and he'd order Tuna rolls or a Tuna steak."

Hap pulled off the rubber band and looked at the wad of Davion bills, "He had pretty good taste, but there was this one on Sushi restaurant where at least one of us seemed to get sick when we ate there."

"That was the one Nanni worked at." Joker said as he opened the wood box and revealed a fishing pole. "You want his fishing pole or his war club?"

"I'll take the pole, it reminds me how he always told us, 'if you can find water, you'll live.'" Hap said, "The parcel is addressed to his mom and sister. Is there a letter for Nanni?"

Joker searched the bag and pulled out a few more pieces of broken glass and metal. "No."

"What are you doing?" Anastasia asked, "This feels macabre."

"Cadets are worse than boots." Joker said to Hap.

Hap ignored Joker looked at Anastasia, "We made an agreement a while back, if any of us died, the survivor would send this" Hap held up the parcel, "back to whoever it was addressed to. If there was any money left over it was to buy drinks and celebrate the man, then we all take one thing to remember him, and then the rest goes back to family."

Hap looked over at Joker, "We're Mercenaries now. She's not a cadet, and she doesn't want to be called 'Princess'."

"Whatever you and Princess say, boss." Joker replied.

Hap sighed and held up the paper wrapped parcel. "I'll make sure this is sent back to his Mom and sister. It has a few personal things for them and a message Sammy wrote. Knowing Sammy it probably thanks his mom and sister for everything, has instructions on how to get his life insurance, and it probably forbids his sister from dating Joker in the unlikely event they ever meet."

"From the grave, man that's cold." Joker said with a head shake.

"Clearly he was a good brother." Anastasia quipped

Hap nodded, as he set the parcel down. Things got quiet as Hap and Joker sorted through the contents of bag. Hap picked up the axe. "Do you have one of these?" He asked as he handed it to Anastasia. "We got these about a week before we shipped out to Klathandu IV. It was a new issue item."

Anastasia shook her head as she took the axe. It was lighter than it looked, and the handle ended in a pry bar tip. In the axe head were two cut outs for hex bolts. The axe head itself had a large broad head on one side, and the other was a sharp spike. Anastasia tried to return the axe, "I can't keep this".

"Why?" Hap asked, "It's a good tool, made of titanium alloy. The hex bolts were supposed to be the two most common found on a mech's emergency access port, and the spike can puncture armor or safety glass. Most of us were skeptical enough to complain about it, but none of us turned them down."

"Worked good for me." Joker added as he continued to sort items.

"It's not that. I hardly knew 'Tuna' and this is this is all an agreement your lance made before I came around. There is nothing in my E3 bag you would want."

"E3 bag?" Joker asked

"Escape, Evade or Egress bag. What do you call them?" Anastasia asked.

"Go-bags, Princess. Man you really are a boot. What did you have in your little 'E3 bag'." Joker sneered

"Water, a few rations, a toiletry kit, underwear-" Anastasia replied

"Oh! I'd take your underwear." Joker interrupted.

"To wear or are you a pervert?" Anastasia asked, and gave Joker a look that made Hap wonder if she wasn't about to hit him. Hap was suddenly concerned about giving her the axe.

"You don't want to know. " Hap replied as he shot Joker a warning look. Hap sat down next to her "You're part of this lance now. You have to join in our traditions. Keep the axe, and take anything else you want. We're probably going to have to get rid of all this one way or another."

Anastasia nodded, "Okay. I'm fine with all this, except if something happens to me, I don't want Joker to get my underwear."

"You'll be dead, you don't-" Joker started to protest

Hap held up his hand, "I'll make sure your underwear is properly destroyed and Joker won't get it."

Anastasia smiled at Hap, "Thank you Harold."

Hap didn't like his first name, but when Anastasia said it, and smiled, he didn't care. He forgot what he was about to say and then Joker mockingly said "Thank you Harold" in a falsetto.

Hap and Anastasia both looked at Joker as he held up pistol belt, "Hey Princess, need a new pistol belt."

"Are you calling me fat?" Anastasia gave Joker another withering stare.

Hap threw a tuna package at Joker, "Damn it Joker stop making her angry. I'm worried her face is going to freeze in one of those looks."

Joker laughed as the packet bounced off his shoulder and he started to strip the pouches off the belt.

Anastasia tried to make her expression more neutral as she picked up the extra small environment suit. "I never met Tuna, but with all the food and that equipment belt it seems unlikely he would fit into this."

Joker looked at the silver envelope she was holding, then laughed. "Oh yeah, we were doing some lunar training and we were all told to draw an environmental suit, but by the time Tuna got there x-small was all they had left. Sergeant Fritz told them they were all baggy fit, but made to stretch, so he'd be fine."

"Baggy, but stretch? That makes no sense" Anastasia said.

"That's Sergeant Fritz" Hap remarked dryly as opened the wooden box and examined the fishing pole.

"So Tuna and Fritz got into an argument and when Sergeant Major McWilliams came he sided with Sergeant Fritz."

"Of course he did" Hap interjected. "Hey I'm taking the butt pack, unless you want it." Hap said as he closed the wooden box, and pulled the large pouch to him.

Joker nodded as he continued, "So Sergeant Major told Tuna if he didn't eject it wouldn't be a problem, and he didn't want problems, so Tuna shouldn't make problems."

Hap looked confused, "Is that how Sergeant Fritz got the black eye?"

"No that was Reynolds. The exact same thing happened with Reynolds except Reynolds told him to just keep the suit, but Fritz told him turn-ins were only on Tuesdays and Thursdays and that's when Reynolds grabbed him and slammed him into the supply room bars."

"Yeah, that makes sense. Tuna was a gentle giant, and I never heard why Reynolds got busted down to private. When I went to the XO and tried to get Tuna a new suit, he told me flat-out, everyone got what they were issued, and the topic wasn't up discussion. Then he kicked me out of his office."

They talked for another hour. Hap and Joker had dozens of stories about the big man and soon Anastasia felt she almost knew Sergeant Sammy "Tuna" Kam'achi. They also told her about Lucky and some of their general misadventures. When they had started to go through the bag Anastasia thought it was selfish and macabre, but she saw this was as close to a funeral as they could give their friend and brother-in-arms. She didn't know it, but she was also starting to feel like part of the family.

Hap carefully took a small finger size of shard of 'Mech armor. He pulled a blue cloth out of his pocket and opened it up to reveal another armor shard. He added the new piece and then wrapped them both up and put them back into his pocket. Anastasia noticed, but didn't say anything. They all chose to keep one of the rations, not to eat, because menu 13 was a notoriously terrible ration, but just to remember "Tuna". As they started to clean up Roweyna found them.

"Oh, Aye, that's a lot of Tuna packages."Roweyna said.

"We were going through our friends gear." Hap started to explain

"Very good. I noticed that that Anastasia had marked on her contract that she could cook. I was getting ready to prepare our evening meal and wanted to see if she would help."

Anastasia nodded, and said, "I'd love too." As she smiled and started to collect her things

Roweyna and Anastasia started to leave and then Roweyna stopped, "If you all aren't going to eat that fish, may I add them to the ship's larder?"

"Yes. Certainly." Hap replied

As Roweyna and Anastasia started to collect the tuna Joker whined, "Why'd you do that, now we're having tuna for dinner."

"Not tonight, Father already told me he wanted he wanted beef stew. And honestly I have no idea what to do with all this tuna, although there is enough to feed everyone."

"How many is 'everyone'?" Anastasia asked.

"Oh about twenty-five." Roweyna replied, "Have ye ever cooked for that many?"

Anastasia seemed to think, "yes, and I know what to do with the tuna. So I'll make dinner tomorrow."

"Oh. Wonderful." Roweyna replied, "I have to do all my reports with the Mercenary Review Board so I probably won't be able to help."

"Don't be surprised when I don't eat whatever you make." Joker told Anastasia.

"Knowing that I'm not cooking for you actually gives me greater joy in my work." Anastasia replied

"What?" Joker asked as Roweyna stifled a laugh.

"She's telling you she's happy not to cook for you." Hap replied as the woman left the room.

There was a pause before Joker asked "What do you think my chances are of with Princess?"

"Remember that one time you and Lucky took all your money and told Private Godfrey to buy you guys as many lottery tickets as he could get, and instead he somehow managed to lose that money betting on his team in the post-wide basketball tournament?"

"Yeah?" Joker answered.

"Your chances with Anastasia are much worse." Hap told him.

"You think yours are any better?" Joker asked.

"If I do it's because I listen to her, and try not to provoke her every chance I get." Hap replied

"Yeah but you treat everyone that way. What's to make her feel special? Now treat her like shit-"

"Has that ever actually gotten you anywhere with any woman, ever?" Hap asked

"Well no, but I think you gotta wear a woman down for awhile and then-" Joker started to say

"Good lord. Part of the reason I signed up was to protect the universe from you. You really need to tone down a little with Anastasia. I was worried she was about to go at you with that axe." Hap said.

"Yeah she's given me a lot of cold stares, but that one was evil. I may have gone too far." Joker admitted

"You think? You were talking about taking her underwear after she died and doing terrible things with it. I think you need to lay off calling her Princess for a while." Hap told him.

"I'll try to give her less crap, but that's her call sign, and the fact she hates it makes me love it."

"You know call signs can come and go when you get to a new organization, and I know she looks like a spoiled little rich girl, but she's a good 'Mech warrior. I'm going to talk to her about how she presents herself, but if you could help by not calling her Princess. I'd appreciate it." Hap said.

"I don't know, boss, maybe if she talked to me. I think her and I can work something out." Joker said.

Hap's eyes narrowed "I'm probably going to have to kick your ass before this is all said and down."

Joker laughed, "I knew you liked her, and not just like how you like me, but you really like her."

Hap blushed, "I just met her, and by all appearances she is way out of my league. All I really know is she's in our lance, and I have to keep her from killing you. Just help me keep the peace."

"I'll do what I can, boss."

"Besides there is reason why fraternization is forbidden in military law. It's just bad business to date people in your lance. Just too much of a risk." Hap added.

"Whatever you say, boss." Joker added as he laughed. "Of course, for a Princess, it's worth the risk."

Hap didn't say anything, but he did consider that, Princess or not, she was probably worth whatever he thought he might be risking.

EAGLE 7

  • Sergeant
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  • Posts: 198
Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #18 on: 25 April 2020, 01:10:29 »
Great start, to your Family tale.
The Mech battle is well paced, and paints a great picture as read. Have a talent for clear concise storytelling.

The last chapter #5 was enjoyable to read, but the personal interaction was off a little.
I reread the chapter and can not say why it felt off.
Some of the interactions seem cumbersome, compared to your battle scenes. Possibly mention of the adrenaline crash after heavy combat and rescue from the heavens, to cover the initial meet up after exiting their mechs.
...... and that said I really like the story, thank you for sharing with us.


“ My Clan honor is bigger than your Dragon honor, and comes in 18 clan flavors.”

HFC05

  • Corporal
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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #19 on: 25 April 2020, 16:03:58 »
Chapter 6
August 3029
Klathandu System

The next morning Hap, Joker and Anastasia were woken by a ship wide call announcing 0800 ship board time. They went to the galley to find several other crew members getting their breakfast, or dinner depending on their shift. They had their breakfast and then went to the bays to perform some calisthenics in the area marked off as a basketball half-court.

After lunch they went back to the 'Mech bay and helped the techs strip armor and performed basic level maintenance on their 'Mech. On the Leopard there were only four 'Mech techs. The master 'Mech tech for the whole company was Erik Heilezberg. He was a tall man with broad shoulders, shoulder length gray hair and neatly trimmed silver beard and mustache. He had two twin daughters, Maja and Taja, that were in there late teens or early twenties. They were tall women like their father, identical with long straight black hair and pleasant faces.

Hap had already met the fourth tech, Mike Elison. He was quiet and all business, and Hap suspected he would have preferred not to have the 'MechWarriors around, but Erik seemed happy for the help.

As the afternoon wore on Anastasia asked Maja and Taja if they could help her with making dinner. They told her if it wasn't pre-packaged they couldn't prepare it. Anastasia tried to explain she just needed someone to help cut a few things, and stir pots while she did most of the work. The girls politely refused.

"I'll help." Hap offered, "I know how to cut things, and I can manage to stir a pot." Hap looked over to Joker but he was suspiciously trying not to look at either Hap or Anastasia.

"Thank you Harold." Anastasia said and flashed Hap another smile.

"Joker you-" Hap turned to look at Joker

"I think you and I can make do." Anastasia said before Joker could respond.

Hap followed Anastasia as he figured it was probably for the best that it was just him and her. He needed to talk to her about how to be less "rich-girl-Princess-ey" before they met the rest of the mercenary company. He'd also need to talk to her about how to handle Joker.

Hap turned to glance at Anastasia. She was still smiling, which made him smile. "So, what's for dinner?"

"We're making tuna noodle casserole, and if we can find enough stuff we might make another casserole without the tuna."

"Joker will appreciate that." Hap told her.

The smile disappeared "When I mentioned my plan to Roweyna, she told me she didn't think her father would eat it and she was concerned about some of the other crew members. Even though, she thought it was the best thing to do with all that tuna."

Hap noted that she had responded without even mentioning Joker. Talking about him might have to wait. He also was curious about her culinary knowledge, "Anastasia, where'd you learn to cook?"

"My parents hired a woman from the planet Sierra. She migrated into the Federated Suns to cook for the rich and nobility. My parents weren't around a lot and she liked me. She even had me call her "Abuela". I liked being in the kitchen and she would generally put me to work, so I learned to cook."

Hap couldn't help himself, he chuckled, and shook his head. "I'm sorry, but tuna noodle casserole is something I'd eat, and I was the son of a 'Mech tech and a supermarket cashier. How often did a Countess and her successful business owner husband have tuna noodle casserole?"

"Mother and Father? Never." Anastasia declared, then laughed, "You have to understand we had a huge estate with maids, a butler, grounds keepers, drivers, even Abuela had another cook that helped her, well besides me. Most of the staff lived on the estate, so there were usually two menus. One menu was the gourmet food that my mother and father requested, and the others was the food the rest of the staff wanted or Abuela decided to make. When my parents traveled I told Abuela I'd eat whatever she was making for everyone else."

They were at the kitchen now, but before entering, Anastasia looked around like she was about to tell Hap a secret, "I have to be honest with you, if I had a choice between beef tar-tar or a thick juicy hamburger, I'm taking the hamburger."

Hap laughed and squeezed her shoulder as the smile came back. They walked through the door and she pointed Hap toward the vegetables and told him to chop a couple onions. She got to work on gathering ingredients as Hap found a knife and started to work on the first onion.

"You know if we're going to keep you from getting another Princess like call sign I need you to channel more of that girl that eats hamburgers and less of the girl whose parents bought her a new 'Mech. Also I think it might help if you went be Anna or Ana instead of Anastasia.

"No." she said from across the kitchen.

"You do know, Anastasia is the name of a Princess from an old Terran story." Hap replied.

Anastasia set her mixing bowl down and walked toward Hap, "Yes, but it's my name and I like it."

"Look, I'm trying to help you lose your call sign, 'Princess' but when you insist on being called-"

"my name" She interjected

Hap continued, "The name of a Princess doesn't help. Anna is a fine contraction of your name."

"Do you want to be called Harry?" Anastasia asked

"No, do you want be called Annie?" He shot back

"No Harold, I do not." She told him with a very formal tone. "I understand what you're trying to do, but it's not that simple."

"Fine Anastasia." Hap was frustrated. He was trying to help her, but she was being difficult. He turned back to the onion, but after making another slice Anastasia stopped him.

She slid under his arm and put herself between him and the counter. Hap was surprised by her forwardness. He didn't expect her to just enter his personal space. She laid her hands on his hands. "When you cut an onion you should do it like this" she said as she started guiding him in the proper way to cut an onion. To her it seemed like this was nothing, but Hap's heart started racing.

"And as far as the part about acting more middle class and less wealthy nobility it doesn't work." As she spoke she let him cut, but kept her hands on top of his. Hap was trying to figure out if this was some form of flirting, or if Anastasia was clueless as to how this looked and felt.

Anastasia continued to explain, "I tried exactly what you said when I got to New Avalon Institute of Science (NAIS). I lived in a normal dormitory with a girl that was not nobility and there on scholarship. We got along fine the first semester. I had private tutors growing up and didn't have a lot friends, I knew I was socially awkward, but we got along quite well." As she spoke Hap started to cut again, apparently wrongly, she gently adjusted his hands again.

"I was majoring in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis in communication technology and working on a dual minors in Political Administration and Military Science. My roommate and I did a few things together, went to some games, and campus activities. She was trying to get me to double date with her and her boyfriend, but I wasn't interested. All the guys I met just seemed to be interested in sex." Her voice had a bitter or annoyed tone. To Hap's surprise her hands just rested on top of his.

"Then something happened with the Military Science department and word got around that my mother was nobility, and my roommate hated me. She yelled at me about how I was some noble pretending to be normal as a joke, and accused of me knowing about all her money problems and other issues that I could have used my parents influence or money to fix. I really didn't realize how bad things were for her. I offered to help, but then she got mad because I was 'throwing my wealth and privilege in her face'."

Anastasia paused for a moment, "To make things worse people that I was happy not to know suddenly either wanted to be my friend, or ruin my life me because I was somehow competing with them. I got a single room, avoided anyone I didn't have to speak to and just worked on my studies, personal projects, or spent time in a 'Mech Simulator."

She seemed to be holding back tears, and she took in a raspy breath. "So one way or another that wealth and influence comes out, and then everyone treats you different. It's better to just be myself and let people make their choices about me when they meet me."

Hap wasn't sure what to say, his instincts told him to hold her and reassure her, but he knew that was a dangerous and slippery slope, at least for him. "Listen, if someone walks in, I'm just going to tell them you were trying to teach me to cut onions."

She nodded and he felt her weight on his chest. He put the knife down and gently spun her around so he could look her in the eyes, "You're free of this now though. Given what McFinnigan told us about the other cadets, it sounds like we're nothing to the Federated Suns now."

She shook her head, "You don't understand, my father died a few months ago, and mom fell apart. She's a strong woman who nearly ran a planet on her own, but she is almost mad with grief. Our family lawyer contacted me and told me my mother was so bad that he had already arranged for me to receive a doctorate in Electorate Engineering because some of the research I had done for my dad, and the white papers we had co-written. I don't even have a bachelor's degree, so I'm pretty sure my family probably gave a huge grant to NAIS. Also, our lawyer is really good."

"I would have lost my commission, but received a doctorate, and be home to help my mother. Selfishly, I refused, I wanted to really earn my degree. I wanted to prove something, maybe to myself. A month later, all the fourth year cadets were told we were deploying. That's how I ended up here."

"When we get to a planet with a Hyper Pulse Generator I have to contact my mother. I can't let her think she lost her daughter, too. Once our lawyer hears what happened to me, he'll have me back in good standing with whatever lord or general is going to try and charge me with desertion."

Hap nodded, "I'd do the same thing. If my parents were still alive I'd feel awful until I talked to them."

"I love my Mother, but the funny thing is, my Mother and I were never that close. In addition to be being a spoiled little rich girl, I'm a daddy's girl." She tried to laugh but it came through as a half sob, half chuckle. "I know you're trying to help me, and I'm being difficult, but I don't feel like I have a choice."

Hap nodded, "My Dad used to say sometimes the truest freedom is having nothing to lose."

Anastasia nodded and looked at Hap and smiled, she daubed her eyes with her sleeve. "Thanks Harold, I appreciate you listening to me, you're a good friend." Before he could stop her Anastasia hugged him. He pulled her close and enjoyed the moment, until she saw the clock. "Oh, it's almost dinner time. We have to hurry!"

The next half hour was a blur for Hap. Anastasia ran back to the other side of the kitchen and yelled out instructions to Hap as she worked. He wasn't sure exactly what he was doing for half of it, but soon Anastasia was directing him to open all the tuna packages while he was sautéing the onions and toasting bread crumbs.

He turned around and she had two giant bowls of cheese and noodles. She put the tuna in one bowl and then split the onions and bread crumbs between the two bowls and put them in the oven. They opened up a few cans of vegetables and had them heated just as members of the crew started filing in for dinner.

The Tuna noodle went over very well and both bowls were completely emptied. Joker joined Hap and Anastasia, and all three sat with the McFinnigans. They explained the origin of the tuna and the McFinnigan actually seemed interested in Tuna. He told them about a 'MechWarrior he knew that a similar obsession with a certain canned ham product. McFinnigan was a masterful storyteller and everyone was entertained as he told about his old companion.

After the meal, Anastasia, Hap and Joker returned to their berth area. As they were walking Joker turned to Anastasia and said, "Thanks for making the noodles without tuna. Tuna was probably my best friend, but I just never much cared for fish. My mom used to make tuna casserole till we were sick of it."

"You should have tried the tuna casserole, it wasn't anything like what my mom made. It was much better." Hap told him, but also mouthed 'thank you' to him.

Anastasia was nearly beaming as the men complimented her cooking. "You're very welcome Joker."

"So you were happy to prepare food just for me?" Joker asked.

"The bowl without tuna wasn't just for you. It was something Roweyna suggested." Anastasia said

"Sure, sure, I know deep down you really like me. It's fine you don't have to be shy." Joker said

Hap glanced sideways, Anastasia was no longer beaming. "Joker, why do you have to be like this?"

"I don't know what you're talking about." Joker said innocently.

"Joker is clearly trying to bait me to say that I like you and not him." Anastasia said, "and I'm not going to give him the pleasure."

"You're no fun." Joker mumbled as they arrived at their living area.

Hap opened up his bed compartment and sat down to take off his boots. Anastasia sat down next to him and almost slipped off the bed. Hap had a camouflaged blanket as the top blanket of his bed. She caught herself and ran her hand on top of the blanket noting its smooth, almost silk-like, feel. "What is this?"

Hap rubbed his hand on the blanket "That, my dear, is a poncho liner. And if you can get ahold of one, you will have the lightest warmest coziest piece of kit any military developed ever."

"I wasn't issued one of these." Anastasia said as she ran her hand back and forth across the blanket.

"Me neither, I won this is a high stakes poker game. This had belonged to a jump infantry trooper. He had been a 'MechWarrior that had lost his 'Mech and was trying to build a new one. I was in the game because I had a refurbished gyro for my Griffin that just wasn't quite right and somehow I learned that one of the guys in the game had a spare gyro."

Hap pulled off his boot, "I had a good hand, and the gyro was up, and I was pretty sure I was going to win. The dispossessed warrior was out of money and then he pulled out this blanket. I wasn't going to accept it, but the infantrymen swore it was worth as much as some of the 'Mech parts. Also these sort of games are illegal because AFFS regs don't allow for hoarding or stockpiling 'Mech parts. So I accepted it because I didn't want any trouble. When it was all over, I got the gyro and this."

"So is it worth as much as a good gyro?"

"If you're an infantryman and this is all that's between you and a cold night, yeah, I could see why'd you say that. It's warmer than it looks and super light-weight. It's made of two pieces of parachute silk and then has some ultra-light insulator in the middle. It seems to always keep me the right temperature, and it fits neatly in my go-bag."

Anastasia got her boots off and she and Hap exchanged good nights as she slipped into her bed and closed the door for privacy as she changed her clothes. Hap bid Joker good night, and Hap got into his bed chamber and shut the door. He drifted to sleep thinking of Anastasia, and how stupid it was to let her get that close to him, and wondering when they would do it again.

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #20 on: 25 April 2020, 16:05:10 »
Chapter 7
August 3029
Klathandu System


Hap was jolted awake by the sounds of explosion followed by small arms fire. There was a small intercom speaker and a few lights in the sleep compartment. If the ship was under attack or if something had happened normally a warning light would be on or there would be announcements over the intercom. Hap tested the door, and it was unlocked. Another safety feature on some ships was that the beds would lock to protect sleepers against explosive decompression.

As he opened the door Hap could see strange lights coming from the lounge room. He leaned out of his bed looked into the room and saw the view screen was on. He immediately understood someone, probably Joker, was watching something in the lounge.

Hap rolled out of bed and realized it was a little cold for walking around in just his shorts. He grabbed his poncho liner and walked into the lounge. As Hap walked over to the large semi-circle couch he could see Joker laying on his side under a silver emergency blanket. He glanced up at Hap, "too loud?"

"Too loud." Hap replied as he sat down on the opposite side of the couch from Joker.

Joker turned down the volume, "I found some John Stallion movies, and I couldn't sleep."

Hap nodded, he figured he wasn't going back to sleep anytime soon so he got comfortable. The movie had just started and he had only missed the cold opening. The theme song started to play as Anastasia walked into the room. She was wearing an oversized black McFinnigan and Sons T-shirt that she was apparently using as a night shirt.

Anastasia walked to the side of the couch were Hap was slouching under his blanket. "Oh John Stallion."

"The Princess knows about John Stallion?" Joker asked looking at her.

"Sure. We got Hauptman Commonwealth's Uber HoloVideo Marathons every Saturday. He seemed to play a Brock Armstrong or John Stallion marathon once a month. Sometimes Father would take a whole Saturday off just so we could watch it together."

Hap smiled, "I remember watching Haupman Commonwealth with my dad too."

"You look a little cold, you want to join me?" Joker said as he flung his blanket back revealing that he was only wearing his shorts.

"I'm not that cold." Anastasia replied

"You sure Princess? I can see the tips of your royal cream puffs poking under your shirt." Joker laughed.

Hap glanced up at Anastasia. as she put her arms across her chest and was now giving Joker another murderous look. Hap cleared his throat, and pulled his blanket aside and nodded next to him. "You want to join us. He's usually pretty quiet during John Stallion movies."

She wordlessly sat down and pulled the blanket to cover her chest, which left Hap's side exposed.

Hap moved a few inches closer to her. "The one problem with the poncho liner is that it's made for one." He pulled the blanket back toward him, but she only let him have a little as she tried keep her chest covered.

"So you and your Dad would watch Haupman Commonwealth marathons together?" Hap asked trying to change the subject.

"If it was a John Stallion or Brock Armstrong Marathon He'd usually make time. Brock Armstrong was our favorite." Anastasia said with a faint smile.

"Brock Armstrong is good, but he's no John Stallion." Joker mumbled

Anastasia pulled the blankets again, "Yes, and that's to his credit. Brock Armstrong makes superior movies"

"No he doesn't" Joker said as he sat up. "John Stallion movies are way better."

Hap pulled the blankets back to him again, but moved a little closer to her. Hap had to be careful here. He might need to talk to her about boundaries. Having her in his arms earlier today was a little intoxicating. He wondered if she knew the effect she was having on him.

"John Stallion movies tend to be unrealistic and full of plot holes. They're fun, but Brock Armstrong is usually more believable and realistic." Anastasia explained as she tugged on the blanket.

"Name one unrealistic thing in a John Stallion movie." Joker challenged her

"Please don't" Hap said. He pulled back on the blanket. The only way they could both be comfortable was if they were next to each other, or if she was in his lap. In Hap's mind as long they weren't touching sharing the blanket wasn't a problem. It was purely plutonic he told himself.

"Well this is the 'Galaxy is Not Enough', and it has the infamous scene where he pilots a Shadowhawk that manages to shoot the LRM launcher off of an Orion with one magic bullet from its autocannon." Anastasia replied.

"Well now you've done it." Hap said grimly. It seemed they were finally comfortable though.

"It's perfectly realistic, that was a prototype Shadowhawk with a type 10 autocannon, and-"

"That weapon system is too heavy for a Shadowhawk. You'd have to strip off all its other weapons and jump jets or some armor to accommodate that autocannon." Anastasia interrupted.

"and, and, you can clearly see the bullet pass into one of the LRM ports which hit a missile and that obviously sets off a chain reaction that would blow the whole right torso off of an Orion."

Before she could refute what any MechWarrior should know is nonsense, Hap leaned over and whispered to her, "He will go on like this for days, please, just let him have this."

Anastasia made an uncertain nose, but nodded.

"I'll tell you something else too." Joker started

"After the movie." Anastasia said as the opening theme ended and John Stallion walked into a bar.

Hap had seen this movie a dozen times, but he was enjoying it. After the last two days this felt like normal and reminded him of simpler times. He was with his lance mates, watching a movie, and he had already headed off the first argument. As he started to get into the movie he could feel Anastasia adjusting herself then pulling on the blanket again. He responded by gently pulling back.

Anastasia seemed to finally get comfortable, but during the next scene she started moving and pulling on the blanket again. Hap held onto his blanket and she eventually stopped pulling. When the scene ended she once more adjusted herself, and tried to get more blanket. This time Hap got annoyed and reached over and grabbed her by the shoulder and pulled her into him. She let a surprised "hey."

Hap immediately regretted pulling her into him. He knew he shouldn't take such liberties with her, and he knew this was going to come up when they had the necessary talk about boundaries. He was pretty sure he was about to receive one of her cold stares. He looked down at her and she was smiling but conspicuously looking straight at the view screen.

"Comfortable?" Hap asked her as he started to take his arm off her shoulder.

"Only if you don't move." She whispered, then added, "Shh. I'm trying to watch a movie."

Hap pulled the blanket up to her neck and left his arm across her shoulders. She tucked her feet under her side and pushed herself more into Hap. She was soft, and warm, and he could smell the sweet exotic fruit of her hair shampoo. Again it was intoxicating, and exciting, and he also knew very stupid.

Hap had been married once. He was a Subaltern straight out of the Albion Military Academy. Shortly after reporting to Raman, he met a girl at a bar, and married her a few weeks later. Six months later they divorced. The day he put on Leftenant was the same day he moved into the Bachelor Officer's Quarters.

The first month was fantastic, then they started to have disagreements about little things, money, time he spent working, housework. When he got home she wanted to go out dancing, he wanted to stay home. They tried counseling but that just brought out bigger problems. She wanted to have kids now, he wanted to wait. He wanted to change units which would take them off Raman, she wanted to stay with family. They realized they got married before they knew each other, and the differences seemed too great. Hap promised himself he wouldn't make the same mistake again, or try harder to make it work.

Hap convinced himself he would have find time tomorrow to get Anastasia alone and really discuss their relationship. Make sure she understood that they had to take things slow, and keep the physical contact to a minimum. Figure out how they were going to operate as Lancemates first, and ensure they were always professionals inside their 'Mechs. He tried to craft exactly what to say as he watched the movie. Hap was slightly distracted by the movie, and really distracted by how good it felt to hold a woman.

The lighting changed as the black cast screen rolled and dramatic music played. Hap woke up with Anastasia's head resting on his chest. He carefully turned to see Joker was asleep. He gently nudged Anastasia.

She murmured something, and seemed to push herself tighter into him and went back to sleep. Hap realized they were also holding hands now too. He detangled his fingers and gave her another gentle nudge, "Anastasia you need to get up. We need to go to bed." Then he added "our own beds."

She stretched and adjusted herself, "Why?"

Hap nodded toward Joker. Anastasia nodded, stood up and wrapped herself in the blanket and started to leave the room. Hap turned off the video screen, he adjust Joker's blanket so it covered him better, then followed her.

"Tomorrow we need to talk about us." He told her quietly, as they stood in front of her bed.

Anastasia nodded, she started to pull the blanket off her shoulders, then flashed Hap a mischievous grin. "Can we also talk about this blanket? Because you were right about how great it is. I need to know what it's going to take to get this from you."

"You're not going to get my poncho liner from me." Hap tried to make it sound definitive, but he knew that if anyone could bargain him out of the poncho liner it was her.

"So you and the blanket are a package deal?" She asked as she looked at him thoughtfully. "I think I can work with that."

Hap put his hand on the blanket, "Go to bed, we'll talk in the morning."

She nodded but kept the blanket wrapped around her as she tried to pull it out of Hap's grasp and climb into bed. In one smooth motion Hap reached down and swept her off her feet, rolled her into her bed and snatched the blanket from her before she could react.

"Good night Anastasia." He said as he rolled up the blanket while keeping it out of her reach.

Anastasia was trying to look hurt, but she was smiling and almost giggling, "If you had asked-"

"You would have given the blanket back?"

"No, Harold. I would have let you stay with your blanket and me." Anastasia flashed Hap a smile that further weakened his resolve.

He stopped rolling the blanket and thought about it for a moment. "We'll talk in the morning." Hap said as he shook his head, things had already gone too far and he had no idea how to reign it in.

The next morning started off similar to the previous. The 0800 bell woke them up. Joker asked them if they enjoyed the movie and Anastasia made the mistake of telling him it would have been better if it had been a Brock Armstrong movie. The walk to breakfast, breakfast, and morning calisthenics were filled with Joker detailing all the reasons why John Stallion was the greatest action-holo actor of the age.

Eventually, Mike the 'Mech Tech, overheard him and started to explain that anyone who thought John Stallion or Brock Armstrong were better than Phelan McQuaid knew nothing.

When Joker heard the tech mention Phelan McQuaid he dropped the cans of auto cannon rounds they were using for weights and began walking over to him while deriding a movie where McQuaid played a COMSTAR secret agent.

"When will this end?" Anastasia asked Hap.

"It won't." Hap shrugged as he started to put away the ammo cans. "Lucky and Joker had been arguing about this very thing since before I knew them." It pained Hap to remember this was what Joker and Lucky and were discussing when Lucky was killed. "You gotta understand with soldiers they have these arguments that actually have no end. Also congratulations, you're now part of the lance."

"At least it kept him from talking about last night." Anastasia said with a shrug.

"Yeah, if you need to distract Joker this is a way to do it." Hap told her. He felt anxious as he added, "And speaking of last night, let's find some where quiet to talk."

"You mean how you're going to give me that blanket? I promise to let you snuggle under it with me while we watch Brock Armstrong movies."

"Yeah that's part of it." Hap was looking around the 'Mech bay. They were on the side with Joker's Firestarter and a Highlander. "It looks like all the techs are over here, let's go to the other bay."

Hap and Anastasia walked into the hallway that led between the two bays and were met by Erik.

"Ah just the MechWarriors I wanted to see." He said with a big mischievous grin.

"Good morning Erik." Hap said, sensing there was a problem, and it had something to do with them.

"You." He said looking at Anastasia, "need to work on your armor repair work. I looked at what you did yesterday and it all needs to be redone."

Hap looked at Anastasia confused, "I was starting to think you were good at everything."

"Oh, there's actually a pretty big list of things Anastasia can't do." Anastasia told him.

Hap put his hand on her shoulder, "Come on I'll help you, and then we can talk."

"No. She needs to learn to do simple repairs to maintain her 'Mech, and she's going to learn by doing. As a Master Technician teaching is part of my job, as a 'MechWarrior breaking things I fixed is your job. So I got another job for you. Also, I looked over your armor repairs, and they're up to standard." Erik said.

"My father was a 'Mech Tech and he made sure I knew how to turn a wrench." Hap said.

"Yeah Mike said your welding 'didn't look like a bag of ass', which is a high compliment from him."

"So what do you want me to do?" Hap asked.

"Old man Kelly wants to know why it looks like he has a bunch of AFFS 'Mechs in the hold of his shuttle. That's his way of saying you three need to repaint your 'Mechs. Everything you need is there." Erik pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. "Includes a paint guide. I'd recommend the Tartan."

In spite of Hap's best efforts the day was spent either repairing or repainting 'Mechs. Erik had Anastasia replace several armor pieces before he was happy with her work, but he told her that she needed to keep practicing. Joker and Hap got their 'Mech's repainted, but Hap didn't get a chance to talk to Anastasia alone.

EAGLE 7

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #21 on: 25 April 2020, 18:17:26 »
 Great conversation  flow throughout this update.
The personal interactions moved along well enough I never had to reread a passage to follow along.
“ My Clan honor is bigger than your Dragon honor, and comes in 18 clan flavors.”

shadowdancer

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #22 on: 25 April 2020, 20:03:07 »
Nicely done. More?
Wishing the Worse on your Enemies
Contact the 13th Armored Calvary
Deliverers of "BAD LUCK"
Anytime
Anyplace
If the Price is Right

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #23 on: 26 April 2020, 08:42:28 »
Chapter 8
August 3029
Klathandu System


After spending the day in the 'Mech bays Joker, Hap and Anastasia returned to the berths to clean up and then went to dinner. As they were eating McFinnigan sat down with them. "Tomorrow we will link up with a Jumpship and transfer over to the Tir A Nog before the jump. So tomorrow ye meet the rest of the family. Before we do that though, we got one more thing that I like to do with new hires. I'd like to play a few hands of poker with you. I think it's best way to get a feel for who I'm employing."

"I'm sorry, Sir, but I don't have any money." Hap said. He really wanted to talk to Anastasia and the poker game wasn't something he was really interested in.

"We'll give ye each a 200 C-bill advance." McFinnigan answered as if he was anticipating this.

"I don't know how to play poker." Anastasia said.

McFinnigan smiled, "Well this will be interesting, perhaps one of yer friends can help you."

Roweyna came with a metal cash box. She pulled out chips and handed her father an old deck of cards as Hap explained the basic rules and how betting worked to Anastasia. Hap then started to go through list of hands telling her that a royal flush beats a straight which beats, four of a kind, which beats a full house Anastasia stopped him and remarked, "So it's all math, the least probable hand wins?"

"No. Math has nothing to do with this. It's all about you against the other players." Joker corrected her.

Anastasia eyed him shrewdly, "I'm going to enjoy taking your money."

"You're both right." Hap said. "Probability generally determines the winning hand, but you can always bluff, and try to outsmart the other players."

McFinnigan nodded, "Aye. Let's get started." He said as he started shuffling, he turned to his master tech. "Erik, usually I have Fletch help me with this part of the interview, but he's not here. You want in?"

Erik nodded and pulled a chair up to the table as he told his daughters what to lay out for tomorrow's maintenance. As he gave Roweyna a wad of bills which she exchanged for poker chips as McFinnigan started passing out cards. When everyone had five he said, "Oh! One more thing." He looked to the bar, "Rowena, bring me a bottle of fine Irish whiskey and six glasses."

As she walked to the bar McFinnigan leaned over the table and said, "No one can leave the table till we finish the bottle, I also like to see how you hold your liquor."

Roweyna set a glass down in front of everyone including herself. He smiled as she uncorked the bottle and poured everyone a generous portion. Hap saw the bottle was still half full, and realized he probably wasn't going to talk to Anastasia tonight.

"I love being a mercenary" Joker said as he reached for his glass.

Hap glanced over at Anastasia, she was looking at her full glass of whiskey. She glanced over at him and mouthed, "that's a lot." He nodded in response.

McFinnigan picked up the glass, and everyone, including Roweyna did the same, then he called out "Gnó Teaghlaigh" and Roweyna and Erik replied, "to the family."

Everyone took a drink. Hap felt the burn and suppressed a cough as he set his glass down. He looked over at Anastasia as she coughed and gasped. He could already feel the warmth down his throat and into his gut.

"Irish truth serum?" Hap said trying hard not to rasp.

"Oh, no. Hap. This is no interrogation, just a friendly game." McFinnigan replied with mock innocence. Hap could see Roweyna nodding vigorously to him behind her father, as he added. "Though I do find sometimes you can see the truth of a man or woman after they've been in their cups."

They quickly settled into the game. Hap was not a great poker player, but he could usually hold his own. He strongly suspected that McFinnigan and Erik were probably much better than him, and if he walked away with half his C-bills it would be a miracle. He knew how to play against Joker. Joker had an obvious tell if he was bluffing he would generally make himself more obnoxious. Of course you had to know him to know when he was being extra obnoxious, but Hap could usually figure it out.

Roweyna didn't play but sat next to her father keeping the glasses filled, and participating in the banter as her father peppered Joker, Hap, and Anastasia with questions.

Hap had to admit that McFinnigan created a relaxing demeanor and it was hard not to like talking to the man. As he spoke to them he'd joke and tell them stories, but he seemed to be able to ask insightful and intrusive questions in the most unassuming ways. Hap had gone through several psychological evaluations and lie detector tests in his career and they were nothing like this, but this seemed to be a much more effective way to really know and understand someone.

Hap found himself learning things about Joker he had never known. Joker's father had died in the Third Succession war which was why his mother had to raise him alone. He had also been schooled on one the Jumpship Vagabond Schools. There were a few other details about Joker that Hap had guessed but it was strange how easily McFinnigan got him talking about himself, and not making stupid jokes.

McFinnigan turned his attention to Anastasia for a while. Hap found himself very excited to learn about her. Anastasia had decided to become a 'Mech Warrior almost by accident. She had gone to NAIS to study technology, specifically communications, so she could help her Father with his business. Her mother insisted she study political science, so, for her mother, she took it as a minor.

During the first week of her freshman year they School of Military Science had 'Mech simulators down at the student center and convinced nearly anyone walking by to give it try. This was supposed to be the way the Mil Sci department recruited for all the branches of service. A student would try the 'Mech simulator and then the recruiters would try to get them to take a few Mil Sci courses and the cadre would figure out if they had what it took to be a MechWarrior, or an Aerospace Pilot, or push them toward Infantry or Armor.

Since Anastasia was trying to come out of her shell and be more of her own person she tried the 'Mech Simulator. She loved the freedom and feeling of power. There was one problem though, she was terrible. During the few minutes she was in the simulator she fell down continuously and couldn't hit anything she aimed at.

To make matters worse, aside from her lack of inherent skill, Anastasia barely made the height requirement to be a MechWarrior, and she was 16 years old. She also knew her beauty wasn't exactly what you pictured behind a fierce combat vehicle. So the cadet recruiter told her that AFFS wasn't really looking for "cute little girls to pilot war machines, but if she wanted to be a MechWarrior's girlfriend he was personally looking for one of those."

Anastasia responded by calling her mother and then the Countess called the Corps of Cadets Commandant and wanted to know exactly why his cadets were using expensive military training equipment to solicit dates. He explained that it was a recruiting drive, and that's when the Countess demanded to know why her daughter was turned away from his program. Anastasia would later learn that her mother had given the General such a brutal verbal beating the Commandant was forced to agree to let Anastasia into the program, discipline the cadet that had harassed Anastasia, and retrain all his recruiters.

This would cause more problems for Anastasia than she could have ever imagined. The NAIS cadre had to ensure she became a MechWarrior while at the same time maintaining the high standards of their MechWarrior program, or convince the Countess they did everything they could. They made Anastasia the personal project of one the senior cadets and told them both that everything would be documented and Anastasia would either meet the standard or be washed out of the program. It was also implied that Anastasia's failure would reflect poorly on the senior cadet. After the discipline actions, additional training and the fact that one of the senior cadets was personally responsible for her meant nearly every cadet in the MechWarrior program hated her.

Anastasia felt guilty that her pride might hurt someone else. She worked herself to the bone during fall semester, and got better, but her gunnery and piloting scores barely met the standard. By spring semester her roommate wasn't talking to her, so she put more time in the simulators. During the summer break her parents got her a MechWarrior tutor and she spent most of that summer in a cockpit. When she returned to the school she was ahead of her peers.

During her second year she received awards and Commandant Recognition for her abilities. During her third year she managed to beat the cadet that had called her "a cute little girl." Unfortunately there was still enough cadets around to know how she got into the program which made her a pariah. Also in spite of her hard trained skills there was always a rumor that she was made a MechWarrior because her mommy ordered the Commandant to make her one.

For a while being in a Mech was liberating in. She wasn't a 'cute little girl' she was another MechWarrior, her mother might have gotten her the opportunity but she earned the right to stay in the program. Her fellow cadets didn't see it that way. They assumed her skills and abilities were because the Cadre made her equipment more likely to score a hit, less likely to get hit, or other things. The Cadre and Anastasia knew she was good, and the Commandant was relieved he didn't have to face her mother's wrath, and Anastasia had learned to be very careful about using her mother's clout.

In the science department she had some respect, but they also thought of her more as the "gorgeous beauty with brains" and not someone that would make a scientific breakthrough. The Political science department were full of people that were competing to be lords or ladies and they were openly polite, obviously covetous of her brains, beauty, and the fact she was MechWarrior, and behind her back they were constantly plotting ways to ruin her. For Anastasia, getting deployed to an active combat zone seemed like a welcome change to her three years at NAIS.

The game had gone on late into the night, and Hap had done alright. He had won a big pot, but lost several hands. He still had over half his money, so he figured he was doing fine. Anastasia was doing well. Hap wondered if it wasn't beginner's luck, but she seemed to know when to fold and when to bet large. Hap tried to figure out what her tell was, but she didn't seem to have one. He took another sip of his whiskey and wondered if the alcohol had dulled his senses.

Anastasia took in a large pot with a straight, and McFinnigan commented, "For a new player ye seem to be doing well."

"Beginner's luck" Joker snorted.

McFinnigan shrugged, "I have to confess. Most people have a tell when they bluff. Someway you know they're lying." He nodded to Joker, "This one gets more obnoxious, and that one." He dipped his head to Hap, "cracks the knuckles on his thumb."

Hap cracked his thumb knuckle, looked at his pair of 7s and then set the cards down, "Think I'll fold."

McFinnigan laughed, "Sorry, lad." Then he looked back to Anastasia, "but you darlin' I haven't figured your tell out yet."

Anastasia shrugged and took another careful drink of her whiskey. "Think I'll try to keep it a secret as long as I can." She was blushing but Hap wasn't certain if it was from the whiskey or just her trying not to betray herself.

Hap thought for a moment. Anastasia tended to fold if she didn't have anything better than a straight, so she had some strategy. The cards were also old and badly beaten up. He had seen McFinnigan flip a couple cards over probably to hide an obvious mark on the cards, but he doubted she would know how to count cards. She was able to quickly reason out that hand values were based on probability, but poker hands were also pretty common examples in any mathematics probability class. Still she had a big pile of chips in front of her. She had to be counting cards, or calculating the probabilities of hands, or both. Either way Hap knew, "You don't bluff."

Anastasia looked like she had just been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. She glanced at Hap like she was trying to muster up a cold look, but instead she burst out laughing, and put her hand on his shoulder, "Harold, I'm very disappointed that you wouldn't help me keep my secret."

"Sorry. I've been drinking." Hap shrugged.

"Me too." She replied, and leaned heavily on him as she turned to the rest of the table. "But it's out there now. I was raised by a business man and a countess. They taught me if I wanted something articulate it clearly. I learned how to bargain, how to compromise, but I never got the hang of lying, even in the good business sense."

"Well can ye believe that? McFinnigan chuckled, "A woman that can't lie. I mean I know my own Roweyna would never lie-"

"No never, father. I'm an honest and virtuous woman like ye raised me." Roweyna said with mock innocence.

"If it's anything noble and virtuous it came from your mother." Erik corrected her.

McFinnigan laughed, "Aye it's true. Mrs. McFinnigan is a saint." As he spoke Roweyna and McFinnigan toasted each other and drank.
« Last Edit: 26 April 2020, 08:44:31 by HFC05 »

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #24 on: 26 April 2020, 08:43:21 »
Chapter 9

The game went on as Hap found himself the center of McFinnigan's attention. He started by asking about Hap's call sign. At Albion Hap had the odd reputation of turning left when everyone went right. On one notable exercise he was given multiple land navigation points and instructed to plot the most efficient course. The exercise was actually meant to be a "React to Ambush" drill, but Hap's course circumnavigated the ambush area. To the instructor's frustration, he had accidentally found an efficient course that went around an obvious choke point. Since he had made tactically and technically good choices they couldn't fault him.

Another time he was given the mission brief for the wrong exercise. He was told to perform a "Movement to Contact" of a highly mobile enemy that was actually a fortified bunker complex. Even though they were unprepared and had the wrong 'Mechs Hap managed to change tactics and destroy the bunkers with acceptable loss, all in spite of being unprepared. At the end of the semester one of the instructors wrote in his evaluation, "Cadet Calahad's greatest weakness is that he just haphazardly wonders through life, his greatest strength is that his haphazard attitude allows him to adjust to everything, improvise, and survive." Somehow word got out and the name "Haphazard", or "Hap" stuck.

As he spoke Anastasia looked at Harold. He was tall, almost two meters. Like most MechWarriors he kept his dark brown hair short on the sides, and had a short undercut on top. It gave him an unruly mop of hair he was always brushing to the side or back. He had a square jaw and hazel eyes. She knew he shaved every morning, but by the end of the day it looked like he hadn't shaved in days. His skin was slightly tanned, which made his few scars more obvious, and made him look more rugged. His mannerisms, easy going nature, and appearance made him seem haphazard to some, but not her.

Anastasia remembered how he was in combat. He seemed sharp and quick to her then. He had a calm voice guiding her south while he organized his Lance to create a trap for her pursuers. She parked her 'Mech next to his and watched his genius strategy take apart two 'Mechs that nearly killed her. As far as she was concerned he was clever, unassuming, and the man she wanted next to her in a fight. She knew it was a girlish crush, but she also wanted him next to her all the time.

Hap finished his story and Anastasia was still looking at Hap and thinking about him and her when McFinnigan set the deck next to her and said, "Your deal lass." She couldn't shuffle cards so, like she had all night, she passed the cards to Hap. He shuffled for her and she dealt. As she passed out cards Joker whined, "Aren't you going to make something wild?"

"Hadn't planned on it." Anastasia answered. She had been counting cards and calculating probability, so wild cards made it harder for her, and the whiskey wasn't doing her any favors.

"It makes the game more fun." McFinnigan told her with a wink, like Hap he had suspected she was counting cards, but he didn't care because he was doing the same thing. Except he was just trying to maintain the parity of the table and keep everyone in the game.

Anastasia nodded, "Fine, Aces." Anastasia said as she flopped back in her chair. She had finished her whiskey a few hands back but Roweyna then served everyone beer. She was halfway through hers, and realized she needed to stop. She looked at her cards. She had three aces. She exchanged cards for everyone, then exchanged two for herself. She pulled another ace and the King of Fists.

"So what did you study at Albion?" McFinnigan asked Hap.

"Psychology. I figured if the whole MechWarrior thing didn't work out, I'd go back to school and become a Psychologist." Hap said as he looked at his cards.

"Yeah, you already work with crazy people like me. So why not?" Joker snorted.

"Actually I think I'd try to go into family counseling." Hap told him.

"I've heard every officer come out of Albion has a 'Mech charm. Got one?" Erik asked.

Hap nodded and after throwing a few chips into the center of the table he reached under his shirt and pulled out a slender finger length piece of jagged metal attached to an ID tag chain. It was made of dull metal. The sharp edges were grounded down, but the long edges were rubbed smooth.

Anastasia watched as Hap passed the charm to Erik. He weighed it in his hand and rolled it in his fingers then gave it an appraising look like jeweler with a diamond. "Feels like Durralex light. Was it a Wasp?"

Hap nodded as Erik offered it back to him, but Anastasia took it from him instead. "Durralex light? So this is 'Mech armor?" She asked.

Hap nodded, "Cadets at Albion like to keep a piece of the armor from the first mech they get shot out from under them. We call it a 'Mech Charm. If you give it to someone it's supposed to keep them safe."

"Hey whose bet is it?" Joker asked.

"Yours." Hap replied.

Joker threw in a large stack of chips, then looked over at Hap, "So a piece of twisted and broken armor from a Mech that got destroyed is supposed to keep someone safe? How does that make sense?"

"It's like how your lucky rabbit's foot isn't lucky for the rabbit." Hap shrugged. Erik matched Joker's bet.

McFinnigan pushed in a stack of chips. "So how'd you lose the Wasp?" McFinnigan asked.

Hap smiled, "It was the classic 1 on 3 training scenario. Everyone goes with a Chameleon, overheats it, and get blown to pieces when the emergency shutdown starts. I thought I'd try it with a Wasp."

Anastasia raised as she replied, "I used the Chameleon, and followed doctrine."

"How'd that work out for you, Princess?" Joker asked sarcastically

"It worked fine. Like I said, I used doctrine. I fixed the fastest mech, stayed mobile to prevent being flanked, and prioritized the most dangerous mech. Finally I closed with the remaining 'Mech and overwhelmed it. Of course, I don't have one of these." She said as she held up the charm.

Joker squinted at her, "What do you mean by doctrine?"

Anastasia looked annoyed, "Armed Forces of the Federated Suns Combat Field Manual 17- 10 Tactical BattleMech and Armor Operations."

"Never heard of it." Joker replied with a shrug, "I still don't understand anything you just said."

Anastasia sighed, "I destroyed the Locust at long range while falling back to prevent the other 'Mechs from flanking me. I then targeted the Wasp since its missiles had better range than the Stinger's machine guns. I focused on the Wasp's ammo magazine which forced the pilot to eject. Then I closed with the Stinger and destroyed him with my superior fire power. I was careful to manage heat and only use the large laser at distances greater than the medium lasers range, and kept the smaller mechs outside the range of their point blank weapons. "

"Some of those cadets might have hated you for reasons other than your Mom throwing her weight around." Erik said as he adjusted his glasses and looked at his cards.

Anastasia shrugged, "Yes. I learned that always volunteering the right answer in class usually didn't endear me to my peers, but they hated me anyways so what was the point?"

"Yeah, so that's the text book doctrinal answer," Hap sighed, and matched Anastasia's wager. "I'm told that about 60% of the cadets that try that will finish the scenario successfully, but Anastasia is one of the first I've ever met that managed to do it."

"But when you're Haphazard ye don't follow doctrine." McFinnigan said with a roguish grin.

"You sure don't." Hap said as they clinked glasses, "Instead of doctrine, I ran like hell to the forest while snapping off shots at the Wasp. I thought like Anastasia, his short range missiles were the same range as the medium laser, so I forced the pilot to eject by aiming for the missile magazine. The Locust couldn't keep up with me and the Stinger in the woods, so he ran around the forest and tried to flank me while the Stinger kept trying to close and maneuver me into exposing my back to the Locust."

Joker pushed all his chips into the center. "I think the Princess is trying to bluff, but she doesn't know it will break Hap's heart to think that his Princess is liar."

"So what happened?" Anastasia ignored Joker as she continued to toy with the charm. Erik looked at the chips in the center of the table, licked his lips and pushed in another large stack of chips.

"I rushed the Stinger, and he jumped on my head." Hap said nonchalantly.

Anastasia looked at Hap wide-eyed. "NAIS would never allow a DFA attack in a training exercise."

"Albion had the same policy. When I got out of the hospital I learned the Cadet had been removed from the academy. He did me a favor though, I was out for so long that I got a guaranteed passing grade in all my classes. Which was perfect, because I would have failed astral physics."

McFinnigan laughed as he pushed chips into the center, "Once more haphazard carried you through."

Anastasia made a show of counting the same amount of chips that Joker had pushed into the center. She smiled smugly as she pushed them into the center, then added another large stack.

"Oh come on." Joker howled.

"I told you I was going to take your money." She replied

"Hap, I gotta a good hand, and I can pay you back. Spot me the money." Joker said.

"I don't think I have the money, to keep myself in the game." Hap said looking at his meager chip pile.

Anastasia leaned over Hap as she told Joker, "If you want to stay in, all you need to do is write on a sheet of paper that you will never call me "Princess" again."

"This is getting weird, Commander." Erik said.

"Aye. Anastasia, what is this all about?" McFinnigan asked.

"Princess is her call sign, and she hates it." Joker said, "Damn it. Someone please get me some paper."

"I've heard much worse call signs, missy." McFinnigan said as Roweyna handed Joker a pen and paper.

"You don't understand. I was the cadet that had a call sign the first time I walked into my first Mil Sci class. It was on my desk, where everyone else had their last name. When I got issued a Neurohelment it was hot pink and had Princess painted in gold. Everyone knew I was the girl that was only in the MechWarrior program because her noble mother made it so. For three plus years I was reminded that no matter how hard I tried, how good I was, or what I said or did, everyone thought I was the spoiled rich noble girl whose parents money and influence allowed me to 'play' MechWarrior."

"Well from where I sat most of the kids from NAIS, Nagerling and Albion were spoiled little rich noble children pretending to be MechWarriors at least until they survived first contact." McFinnigan said, "But I get yer point. You've proved to be a skilled enough MechWarrior to survive. Erik you think she's a spoiled little rich girl?"

"I made her spend the morning welding and gluing armor plates, she isn't too spoiled to work when it matters, she's bad at it, but not spoiled." Erik said as he crossed his arms and leaned back.

"She was happy to help me in the kitchen." Roweyna added.

"So Erik and Roweyna say you're not very spoiled, and you're clearly a MechWarrior, so depending on how this wager go, maybe you can earn yourself a new handle, or everyone will just call you by name."

Joker held up the folded piece of paper, "Done."

Anastasia snatched the paper from him and read it as Roweyna looked over her shoulder. "Does this look good to you?" Anastasia asked her.

"Well intergalactic law isn't exactly clear on written informal contracts used as wagers in games of chance." Roweyna said sarcastically, "Though some of the bandit kingdoms do allow you to remove fingers for unpaid debts, so perhaps that would apply here."

"That'll work." Anastasia replied, "I've wanted to cut him a few times now."

McFinigan cleared his throat, "Anastasia you can't hurt him to the point he can't pilot his 'Mech. Joker, if you can't keep your word and she hurts you, it's not a 'combat injury' so no compensation for lost limb."

"I agree to this." Anastasia said as she laid the paper in center of the table.

"Hey! Wait a minute. Since I'm risking fingers, I think this whole thing is worth more than what's in the pot." Joker said.

Anastasia's eyes narrowed, then she stretched her arm to Hap, "Hold my sleeve, please."

She pulled her arm into her coveralls and rolled and contorted her shoulders as her hand moved around her back. After a moment she reached into her coveralls with her other arm and pulled out a black lacey bra that had finely embroidered flowers and leaves in black silk thread on the cups.

"I'm out." Erik said as he pushed his cards forward.

"Aye. Same." McFinnigan said, "I can't be part of a game where those are wagered. If Mrs. McFinnigan-"

"We'll tell her you bid us good night before this happened and reminded us to go to Sunday school in the morning." Hap said as he looked up at the center of the table and back to the full house in his hand.

Roweyna laughed, "Oh she'll never believe that. He's been calling the pub 'Church' for so long, she'll think he was up to something else."

McFinnigan laughed, "Aye, but I like where your head is at lad."

Hap looked at his cards and cracked his knuckles. He had promised Anastasia that he wouldn't let Joker get a hold of her underwear. It also really bothered him to think of Joker having her bra. He looked over at Anastasia, "I promised you I wouldn't let him have that, can I stay, if I go 'all in'?"

"This will do." Anastasia said as she tossed the 'Mech Charm into the center.

"I think I'd rather go all in." Hap replied looking at his 'Mech charm on top of her bra.

"No, I think you should save that money so you can spend it on me later". Anastasia said with a smile.

McFinnigan laughed as Hap blushed. His talk with Anastasia couldn't come soon enough.

"Well Joker?" Anastasia said.

"I'm really more interested in what goes in your bra, and I thought it would be bigger."

Anastasia smirked, "Well it's as close as you're going to get to anything under my shirt."

"And it's a designer bra." Roweyna added like she was trying to sell it.

Anastasia looked at her incredulous, as McFinnigan said, "Aye. I don't know much about bras, but it doesn't seem like something you'd want to wear under a cooling vest."

"It's not. When I was packing my e, I mean, go-bag it was the bra I happened to grab." Anastasia replied. I meant to grab a sports bra, but I don't know, it was clean and I was in a hurry." Her voice dropped, "and it's sort of my favorite."

"You're such a boot. Go bags need to have important survival gear." Joker told her.

"Oh! A good lacy bra can be a key piece of survival equipment." Roweyna corrected him.

McFinnigan gave Roweyna a shocked wide-eyed look. She parodied his look and replied, "I don't know how you expect to get grandchildren."

McFinnigan pulled out his pipe and shook his head, "You all just tell Mrs. McFinnigan that I left before the bra came off, and all of ye should go to Sunday school tomorrow."
« Last Edit: 27 April 2020, 17:06:32 by HFC05 »

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #25 on: 26 April 2020, 08:46:31 »
Chapter 10

Hap laid down his hand, "I have a full house. What do you have Joker."

"Oh what do I have? Let's see." Joker started to slowly lay down his cards. He revealed a 10 of Fists, the Jack of Fists, and finally the Queen of Fists. He looked up at Anastasia, "I'll tell you what, Princess, you can see where this is going. I'll let you keep Hap's charm, because I'm hopeless romantic, if you don't make me reveal my cards. It's sort of one last gamble."

Anastasia smiled wolfishly, "Why would I do that?" she started revealing cards, "I have the King of Fists, and the Ace of Fists, and the Ace of Suns, and Ace of Eagles, and the Ace of Dragons. At best you have a flush, but I doubt you even have that."

Joker looked very annoyed as he revealed a 10 of Suns and a 3 of Dragons. Anastasia raked in her winnings. She gave Hap a sly grin as she put the 'Mech charm on, and flipped her hair over the chain. She shoved her bra in her coverall pocket. She carefully folded the paper as she grinned. She placed it in another pocket. She stood up and pointed at Joker, "And now you can't call me Princess."

"And you can't call me Princess." She said to Erik

"I didn't sign any paper." He replied. "But I won't call you Princess to your face."

"And you-" She pointed at McFinnigan, "I actually work for you."

"Aye. You do." McFinnigan looked at Roweyna. "Is Anastasia the Princess that forgot who she was and had to find her family?"

"Aye. You read me that story when I was a lass." Roweyna answered.

"I like that name, child, why would I call you anything else?" McFinnigan said with a shrug.

"Thank you, Commander." Anastasia replied, and gave McFinnigan and hug and a kiss on the forehead.

"Roweyna you've always been really kind to me." Anastasia said as she gave Roweyna a hug.

"Aye. Thank you, Anastasia."

Anastasia turned to Hap and took a step, "And you Harold-" She laughed and fell into his lap.

Hap stood up carefully and supported Anastasia as they both got to their feet, "I think it's time you went to bed." As he spoke he looked over at McFinnigan who was gave him a slow and certain nod.

"Wait what about the money?" Anastasia said as she put her arm around his waist.

Roweyna opened up the metal lock box and starting exchanging the chips for C-Bills. Anastasia stuffed the bills in her coverall pocket with her bra. Roweyna gave Hap a crisp 100 C-bill note. He didn't stop to wonder how, but he was happy that he had kept half his money. Anstasia and Hap bid everyone a good night and he half dragged, half pulled Anastasia back to the birthing.

"Hap, when you said you were going to help me get rid of the call sign 'Princess' I didn't imagine this would be how we'd do it."

"Neither did I."

"Also I've never drank this much, or gambled. It's very excited."

"It can be." Hap replied

"You've been wanting to talk to me all day, we're alone now. What did you want to talk about?"

"Us, but not now. Not while you're drunk."

"What about us?" Anastasia said happily.

Hap sighed, he knew better, but he said, "I think we need to slow down."

"I think so too, you're almost dragging me. You're not trying to rush to some lonely part of the ship where you'll-"

"Definitely Not!" Hap interrupted, "I'm going to put you to bed, then get in my own, but that's what I mean. Our relationship needs to slow down."

"What are you talking about?" Anastasia asked

"I like you, a lot-"

Anastasia interrupted him, "I like you too, Harold. Listen, I've only been on a few dates, and those men had only one thing on their mind. You're not like that. You genuinely care about me."

"I do." Harold hadn't realized it, but he did feel he had a strange connection with her. "But I've only known you for three days."

"Right, but I've met men that wanted to make love on a first blind date."

"Anastasia, I'm trying to explain something. I was married once, I rushed into that relationship, we were married in weeks, but after a few months I learned we didn't really know each other, and had a lot of problems that we couldn't solve. I don't want to make the same mistake."

"You had a wife?"

"Yes. I had a wife and it seemed like we fought all the time."

"You want a better wife? I'll fight with you only half the time."

Hap looked at her in disbelief. "This is exactly-" Hap could see she was trying not to smile, "You're playing with me." He said.

She shrugged and smiled, "Maybe. You ever think about calling my bluff? You never did tonight."

Hap looked at her, trying to figure out what she meant since he knew she couldn't bluff, "You're a cocky little thing when you're drunk."

He put his arm around her and started half-leading, half carrying her again. She put her head on his shoulder as they walked the decks.

When he got her back to their berthing area, Anastasia looked up at him, "Let's play one more game."

"Anastasia, you're drunk, and you're feeling very self-confident. You should quit while you're ahead."

"No. I really want your blanket."

"You won my 'Mech charm, haven't you taken enough from me."

"If you're first wife didn't manage to take it from you-"

"Anastasia." Hap warned

"Where's your cards? Do you have some in your go-bag?" She excitedly interrupted him

Hap nodded as he opened his locker, reached into his bag and pulled out a deck of cards. Anastasia snatched the cards tried to shuffle, then she remembered she couldn't and passed them back to Hap. As he shuffled she said, "Okay. High card, If I win I get your blanket."

"What do I get?" Hap asked her

Anastasia frowned, she hadn't thought of that. She shook her head and smiled, "Just imagine the most wonderful thing that I could give you. But you don't have to say anything, because I'm going to win."

Hap held out the deck of cards to Anastasia and she took the top card. She flipped up the Jack of Suns. Hap took the next card and flipped it over to reveal the Queen of Suns.

Anastasia suddenly felt very sober, and a little sick. She let out an "Oh." And then after a moment, "So, what do I owe you?" She remembered her roommate talking about all the degrading things that her boyfriend would ask her to do or, worse, talk her into. Harold didn't seem like that sort of man, but he was right, they really didn't know each other.

Hap looked at his 'Mech charm for a moment. Her zipper was low and he could see the charm nestled between her breasts. He considered asking for it back, but he liked the idea that she had it. To ask her for any sexual favors was inconceivable, she was drunk, and he did want a relationship with her, and she was going to be in his lance. His ex-wife would have been offended that he was not trying to seduce her, of course she was also constantly trying to pick fights with him. This was all too complicated.

Hap raised his vision to look her in the eyes, "Let's talk tomorrow." Hap said, then added quietly, "I don't know what I want."

Anastasia felt relieved that he wasn't asking for something disgusting, but she had noticed he stared at her chest and the 'Mech charm. She wondered for a moment if he was thinking about asking for her charm or something else. She was starting to feel slightly nauseous.

Hap put his cards away and started to take off his coveralls. Anastasia turned around, and unzipped her coveralls and quickly put on her oversized nightshirt. As she pulled off her boots and stepped out of the coveralls she felt sick and dizzy. "Harold, I feel sick"

Hap grabbed her hand and pulled her into the bathroom. She managed to keep from vomiting until she was at the toilet. He held her hair as she regurgitated everything she had. After a few minutes Anastasia was sure she had nothing else to vomit. Hap gave her a cup of water and then walked her out to the lounge where she promptly collapsed onto the couch. He walked back to his wall locker and then went to the bar and poured her another cup of water and dropped a large tablet into the water cup. As the tab hit the water it immediately dissolved and bubbled. He made a second glass for himself.

"Drink this." He said offering her the glass. "It's an electrolyte vitamin tab. It won't make you sober, but if you can drink all this, and keep it down, you probably won't have too-bad of a headache tomorrow."

Anastasia nodded, and took a drink. It tasted salty and slightly fruity. She was sick, and dizzy, but it didn't make her feel worse. "It feels like the shuttle is pulling a hard starboard turn, under full thrust."

Hap nodded, "It's not. You're very drunk. I think the whiskey caught up with you" Hap sat next to her.

"I just want to lay down." Anastasia told Hap as she leaned on him.

"Keep drinking the vitamin water. It's the only way to avoid a nasty hangover. I also want to make sure you don't get sick again."

Anastasia took another drink and pulled Hap's arm over her. She was feeling cold, and sick, but she appreciated that Hap was taking care of her. "Why aren't you drunk?" Anastasia asked.

"I am, but I have about 40 kilograms on you, and I had seconds on dinner, and I've been doing this for a long time, like while I was at the Academy." Hap said "See I had friends, and there were parties. I can't quote doctrine, but I can keep you alive after a night of drinking with mercenaries."

Anastasia groaned, "NAIS needs to change their curriculum."

After a few minutes Joker came by. "Hey Hap, you got any of those vitamin tabs"?

"Yeah. In my go-bag. Grab my blanket too." Hap told him as poured himself a glass of water.

Joker never returned, but an hour later he walked into the head. After he went back to bed Hap nudged Anastasia and asked her if she needed to go. She immediately got up, and Hap waited for her. He saw she had only drank half the water so he finished it. Anastasia staggered out of the bathroom and Hap helped her get to her bed chamber, then went to use the head before climbing into bed himself.

Hap stretched out on his bed and thought about how badly his conversation with Anastasia had gone. "Hey Anastasia last time I ruined a relationship with a woman was because I just rushed into things with her." "Great Harold, I hear you, but let's rush into things anyways." Then there was every time she called him Harold and how his heart melted a little. He shook his head, they had to work on getting to know each other, and being lancemates. He tried to not think about holding her again.

He also realized if Joker heard about him having a drunk Anastasia that owed him some unspecified debt he would never hear the end of it. Of course, by being a good guy and treating Anastasia with some respect he managed not to have her get sick in his bed. Once more he haphazardly came out ahead.

ThePW

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #26 on: 26 April 2020, 10:19:54 »
*claps, with a big smile* Excellent Sunday Morning reading...

worktroll

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #27 on: 26 April 2020, 18:27:56 »
I'm reminded of why my wife - who's not into sci fi, let alone giant robots - loved Robotech. Come for planes with feet, stay for the story ;)
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

DOC_Agren

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #28 on: 28 April 2020, 13:17:58 »
Interesting very interesting, I hope there is more to come
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

warhammer74

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #29 on: 30 April 2020, 23:14:03 »
Good Story.   Whats a Lancer the mech Lucky died in?