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Final Exam
« on: 25 January 2011, 22:26:59 »
Final Exam

By Hotwire

Draconis March, Federated Suns
23 May 3024   

“What the hell am I doing?” Phineas asked himself, not for the first time. This was stupid and certain to get him into trouble he didn’t need.

Trouble.  Now that was something he was familiar with. In the four years that he had attended the Robinson Battle Academy, it seemed to follow him everywhere.  Not that he didn’t ask for it sometimes; Phineas had a problem with the pecking order at the newly reopened MechWarrior training academy.

Technically, anyone who showed potential in piloting a BattleMech, the walking engines of war that dominated the 31st century battlefield, should be able to attend the Robinson Battle Academy, but that wasn’t reality.  The limited class seats went to the sons and daughters of the Federated Suns nobility, regardless of ability.

The only reason Phineas Black was there was because of his family history.  It was good publicity for the academy to admit a descendant of a Kentares Massacre survivor.  Unfortunately, many of his blue-blooded fellow cadets didn’t feel the same way.  They didn’t want a commoner among them, least of all one whose family scavenged lostech from the ruined cities and rusting factories of Kentares IV.

Even after more than 200 years, the worst atrocity of the Succession Wars still served as a rallying cry for the Armed Forces of the Federated Suns.  The murder of almost 90% of Kentares IV’s population during the Draconis Combine’s invasion of the Federated Suns in the 1st Succession War guaranteed a staunch hatred for the neighboring interstellar empire.  Phineas’s problem was that this didn’t extend much goodwill his way.

The academy’s VLK-QA Valkyrie responded smoothly to Cadet Black’s commands, the strides of the 30 ton ’Mech eating up the distance to the training grounds south of the academy.  On his screens the pond came into view up ahead, with the late afternoon sun reflecting off it.  On its opposite shore waited his opponent Oliver Montresor in another academy ’Mech, a PNT-9R Panther.  His enemy already had its weapons trained on him.

Oliver Montresor was a bastard.  Not literally, his family was far too careful about its image to allow anything like that to publically stain its name, but the young Count of Andorra certainly lived up to the word.  Starting the first day that Phineas Black entered the venerable halls of the Robinson Battle Academy, Montresor had deemed it a personal insult that he had been allowed in.  Being admitted at the early age of 15 and a knack for sizing up a tactical situation during exercises didn’t help either.
Phineas stopped his ’Mech at the pond’s edge opposite the Panther and considered his situation.  The Valkyrie gave up 5 tons to Montresor’s ‘Mech, but he had an edge in speed and maneuverability. All other factors, however, favored his enemy.  Phineas was particularity worried about the Lord’s Light particle projection cannon the Panther carried.  The weapon was a killer, and Phineas was just glad that this was a simulated fire duel, not the real thing.

Off to his left he noticed a red hovercar fanning its way towards him from the wooded copse it had been idling near.  The vehicle was filled over capacity with other cadets who were shouting and cheering, and obviously drunk.  As they circled his Val’s legs, they bounced beer cans off the 30 ton war machine. Stepping on the car crossed Black’s mind.

One of the cadets in the hovercar produced a megaphone and shouted “I can’t believe you showed!  He showed up!  What an idiot!  Ya ready to get your scavie skin beat Black?”  He could hear the others laughing.

“Black and blue, right?” came from another cadet in the car, his jibe also caught by the megaphone.  Further jeers were cut off as a tussle developed over who would be the next to amplify their insults.  The hovercar drifted away. 

Phineas opened a channel to the Panther.  A visual transmission appeared on his comm screen and his temper flared at the sight of Oliver Montresor smirking from the face shield of his bulky neurohelmet, obliterating Black’s recent misgivings about this fight.  He was finally going to wipe the floor with this prick, and no other cadet or instructor was going to stop him this time.

“Ready Black?  You look nervous.  I didn’t think you had the balls to take the Valkyrie and come out to face me.”

But it was Montresor that looked nervous.  His eyes shifted back and forth as if he just got more than he bargained for.  Well, he did, thought Phineas, with some satisfaction.

“I’m here Montresor.  How did you get the clearance to release the ’Mechs from the hanger?”

Oliver Montresor’s pale face wrestled with the effort to control his anger over Black addressing him by his family name.  He always bristled over slights to his noble rank, and this low-birth commoner refused to acknowledge his station. That would soon be rectified… and the young Count’s cruel smile returned at the thought of it.

“We don’t have clearance, scavenger.  I’ve got influence.”

The comm signal cut off.  Black blew a dark lock of hair trapped by his neurohelmet out of his eye and thought back to last night.  He had received a package from his father back on Kentares IV and opened it alone in his dorm room.  Inside was his AFFS dress uniform for graduation.  It was second hand; you could tell if you examined it closely, but it was his and he had earned it.  The note that accompanied it was short and read:


You’ve made your old man proud.
Hope these both fit.

Stay safe,


P.S. Check the pocket.

“Both fit?  Dad, what are you up to?” Phineas checked the uniform’s pockets and found the registration papers for a rebuilt WSP-1A Wasp light BattleMech in his name.  The ’Mech had recently arrived from Kentares IV and was currently in storage at the spaceport.  Phineas Black smiled.

Jeremiah Black, patriarch of the Black clan, had raised his son by himself when Phineas’s mother had died when he was six.  Though still just a boy, Phineas immediately became a part of his father’s tech prospector crew and spent the rest of his childhood searching the abandoned and decaying ruins of his homeworld for salvageable lostech treasures.  His family had done this since the 1st Succession War, when Lucas Black, a survivor of the Kentares Massacre, began scavenging to survive on the now bleak, war ravaged world.  Now a Black was going to be a MechWarrior, one of the elite pilots who controlled the awesome power of a BattleMech…

Phineas’s musings were interrupted when the dorm room door burst open to admit his roommate Lyra Elena Sanchez-Martin.  Immediately behind her was Oliver Montresor.  It was obvious that Lyra was trying to disentangle herself from, and escape Montresor.  Apparently the Count of Andorra felt that with graduation just a few days off, the prohibition against cadet fraternization no longer applied.

Though they had been roommates the entire time they had both been at the academy, Phineas had never really figured out how to be comfortable around Lyra.  He was shy around girls, especially attractive ones, and she, though they had become friends, was a year older than him and still looked down upon his common heritage.  Her family held a Warrior Hold on Emporia and could name a long line of MechWarriors that had served House Davion in the Ceti Hussars.

Montresor pushed his way in, grabbing Lyra’s wrist as she tried to close the door on him. “Come on Lyra, the others are going into town to celebrate. Come with me.”

Lyra wrenched her arm out of his grasp more forcibly than she had intended. She was loosing her temper. “No! I don’t want to go Oliver! Get out of here!” Her long auburn braid whipped angrily as she shook her head.

The door closed behind Oliver Montresor.  Both he and Lyra suddenly realized that Phineas was there standing awkwardly by his bed trying to pretend that he hadn’t witnessed anything.  Montresor’s expression went dark.  He came over and seized Lyra’s elbow, pointedly turning his back on Phineas and said, “You’re going.  You’ll thank me later.”  Lyra began to protest as Oliver tugged her towards the door.

Something roused inside Phineas. Women were treated with respect back home and certainly weren’t to be manhandled.  Black reached out his hand to grab Montresor’s shoulder, and suddenly felt a fist strike him hard in the nose. He staggered back and fell across the new uniform on his bunk, crushing the box it came in. Looking up with a few stars spinning before his eyes, Phineas saw Oliver Montresor standing over him looking taller than ever.  “I bet that taught you your place, eh scavenger?”

Black rolled off the bed and launched his wiry frame into Montresor, tackling him and sending them both crashing into the closed door and then to the floor. Phineas scrambled up into a defensive crouch while Oliver Montresor slowly got back on his feet, wincing and rubbing the short blond hair on the back of his head. He looked murderously at Black.  Before they could do anything else, Lyra interposed herself between them.

“Stop!  Both of you!  Back off Oliver! Knock it off Phineas!”  She glared at both of them.  Montresor was livid and unfazed by her intervention.  Phineas wore a mixed expression of worry and anger. This wasn’t his first fight with another cadet, but he’d always avoided getting into one with Oliver Montresor because of what it might cost him.  Now he might find out and it was unlikely that the academy would overlook his lack of judgment this time; he didn’t have many favors left.  “Go Oliver!  I’ll meet you all in the main hall.  Really,” Lyra said, looking from one to the other.

Oliver Montresor pulled himself erect and pointed a finger at Phineas.  “I’m going to finish you once and for all.  Got that ghetto rat?  Meet me tomorrow at the training grounds pond at 1800 hours. I’ll make sure you can get a ’Mech.” Without another word, Montresor wrenched the door open and stormed out, punctuating with a loud slam.

Lyra sighed and sat down at her desk. “What the hell were you thinking Phineas?  You think I can't handle Count Oliver?  Do you think I’m some helpless female who can’t take care of herself?!  I can toss either of you without breaking a sweat!”

Phineas knew from painful experience that she wasn’t exaggerating.  Lyra was fast, strong and better at hand-to-hand combat than either he, or Montresor.  “I know.  I just didn’t like what he was doing… You just don’t treat a girl like that.”  Lyra’s expression hardened.  “Not that you’re weak or anything, it just wasn’t right,” Phineas ended lamely, bringing a hand to his face and realizing his nose was bloody. 

Lyra stared incredulously at him until he became uncomfortable, snorted in disbelief, and then walked out of the dorm room.  As the door closed behind her Phineas heard her say “Thanks anyway…moron.”  Phineas smiled despite his throbbing nose and picked up his graduation uniform from where it had fallen to the floor.

Black’s mind came back to the present.  He checked over his status boards again, perhaps for the hundredth time.  Everything was green.  The reactor was hot, but the Valkyrie was still running cool, even after the kilometer walk from the hanger.  Weapons were all charged and loaded, ammo magazine full and jump jets online.  His neurohelmet, which allowed a MechWarrior to sense the balance and movement of a BattleMech, was properly adjusted and secure. Black whistled a tuneless song, stopped, checked the tracking motions of the two targeting crosshairs on his Heads-Up-Display and then said, “All right, let’s get this over with.”

The hovercar reappeared and moved out over the pond.  Black could again hear the cadets in it shouting and laughing over his audio sensors.  When it reached the middle of the pond, it idled over the water and one of cadets shouted over the megaphone “Are you two ready?”

“Ready!” boomed Montresor over his Panther’s external speakers as he shifted his ’Mech’s feet and re-aimed his PPC at the Valkyrie.  Excitement was obvious in his voice.

“Yeah, ready to go,” stated Black, deadpan.  The Val didn’t move an inch, but Phineas’s hand hovered over his jump jet controls.

“Wait! Hold on! Don’t start yet!” came an amplified shout from the hovercar still in the middle of the pond.  “You both need to turn around!” said the cadet with the megaphone.  “You know, back-to-back so you don’t start off with a target lock.”

“Come on! We don’t need to do that!” Montresor started to argue.

“Yes you do!  This is a duel and we’re going to do it right!  Come on… Just do it Oliver!”  Black could hear the other cadets in the car voicing their agreement and one sane comment about the lot of them being in the line of fire.

“Fine. You hear that scavenger?  Turn around so that your back’s facing the pond.” ordered Montresor.

“After you, my Lord,” Phineas broadcast over his speakers with obvious sarcasm.

With a great deal of hesitation to make sure the other was complying, both BattleMechs slowly turned their backs to the pond, and each other.  Black settled the Valkyrie into a slightly hunched stance to allow himself the most movement options possible when the duel began.  On his aft screen he saw that Montresor was doing likewise with the Panther.  The hovercar was starting to circle in the middle of the pond with increasing speed.

From the hovercar an amplified voice shouted “Get ready, and…FIGHT!”  The hovercar shot off at full speed away from the two combatants, speeding towards the dubious safety of a tall hill ridge to the northeast. 

Phineas threw the Val into a full, pounding run in the opposite direction, rounding the pond while firing off a snap shot from his Sutel IX Medium Laser.  Montresor wrenched the Panther around and sent a blinding bolt of charged subatomic particles from its particle projection cannon burning after the Valkyrie. Both shots missed, spoiled by an intervening stand of trees.  Despite being powered down for training, the bolt from the PPC still set alight the leafy canopies of several trees.

Black slowed the Valkyrie into the safety of a thicker section of trees while Montresor jogged the Panther around the pond to the north.  They traded weapons fire again, the Panther letting loose with both its PPC and Telos Four-Shot short range missile launcher and the Val firing a blue-white beam from its medium laser again.

Phineas began a whoop of triumph as he tagged the left side of the Panther’s torso with his medium laser, but it caught in his throat when Montresor’s PPC just missed the Valkyrie and scorched the front of a large oak.  “Damn, that was close!”  The Panther’s SRMs corkscrewed away west, fired without a positive target lock. 

Montresor continued his circuit around the pond, using his Panther’s jump jets to clear the wooded copse the hovercar had previously idled near to land close to where Black’s Valkyrie had started the duel. 

What does he think, that keeping the pond between us is going to give him an advantage?   â€œOkay, have it your way,” Phineas said to himself.

The Valkyrie burst out of the trees and ran to get optimum range for its Devastator Series-07 long range missile 10 launcher.  Black rotated the ’Mech’s torso and fired off a flight of LRMs and a shot from his medium laser for good measure. Montresor replied with his particle projection cannon.  The laser and the bolt from the PPC crossed each other over the pond, both missing their targets by a wide margin.  Eight of the Val’s long range missiles, however, found their mark.  Pink paint eruptions from the LRM training rounds blossomed across the Panther’s right leg and center torso.

Phineas’s comm screen came alive.  “You bastard! You ****** bastard!...” 

Phineas cut the signal.  He didn’t have time to listen to Montresor’s curses. He had a duel to win. Oliver looked a little hot though, Black thought with a grin.  Sweat had been streaming down the young count’s face.  His own heat levels were still in the blue; the Valkyrie was a machine that ran cool.  Even so, like every MechWarrior in combat, he was dressed lightly to ward off heat – cooling vest, shorts and boots.

Montresor reversed course and sent the Panther crashing through the wooded copse, uprooting trees and undergrowth in his haste to close with Black. He was completely heedless of the dents and scratches he was subjecting the academy ’Mech to.

Weapon Master Rajin is gonna be pissed... thought Phineas as he backed the Valkyrie into another heavy stand of trees at the foot of a steep hill.  Calmly he re-acquired a target lock on the Panther and fired his LRMs and medium laser again as Montresor’s PPC bolt left a burn mark on the hill behind him.

The Val’s laser streaked off to disappear somewhere in the trees behind the advancing Panther, but the long range missile launcher failed to fire.  Phineas franticly looked over the weapon’s indicators. “No jam, ammo full...  What the hell?!  Why aren’t my LRMs down ten missiles from my last shot?” 

Then it hit him.  “Why that cheating son-of-a-bitch!”  Black shouted as he smashed his fist down on the LRM 10’s status board. 

He thought back to when he went to the ’Mech hanger to take out the ’Mech Montresor said would be waiting for him; Astech Guthrie had run to meet him right away.  The older man had ushered him straight to the Valkyrie, all the while repeating several times that the Val was fully loaded and ready to go. He had acted very nervous, but that had made sense considering his involvement in an unauthorized duel. 

I wonder how much extra it had cost Montresor to get Guthrie to rig my one and only LRM shot to read as a full ammo load?  Phineas thought blackly.

Montresor’s Panther pounded out onto open ground, continuing its headlong drive to close with Black’s Valkyrie.  Phineas’s hand came down on his jump jet controls. “I hope these aren’t sabotaged too.” 

The Val’s Norse Industries 3S jump jets roared to life, sending the ’Mech arcing over the Panther to land behind it.  Montresor attempted to twist around to take another shot with the PPC, but the bolt cleanly missed the Valkyrie.  Black fired his medium laser at his enemy’s back, but also missed.

Phineas quickly checked his aft screens, tracking the impact point of the PPC bolt.  He saw that it had hit the lower slope of the tall hill ridge that the cadets in the hovercar had parked on top of to watch the show.  The car’s bright red color stood out on his screen.  The idiots were up there still drinking and shouting while he and Montresor were firing off shots that, while powered down and harmless to ’Mechs, could still kill any bystander unlucky enough to get hit by one.

Black’s momentary distraction threw him on the defensive, forcing him to jump again to get out of the Panther’s line of sight.  His jets shot his Val into the air, where he twisted his controls to land it on the other side of the woods he had previously vacated.

Anticipating the Valkyrie’s landing spot; Montresor again thrashed his way through intervening trees to bring his Panther face to face with Black’s Val.  Both fired simultaneously before the Panther had fully cleared the woods and before the Valkyrie’s feet had impacted the ground.  Short range missiles swarmed past Black’s view screen and the particle projection cannon spat out a bolt that withered a long patch of prairie behind the Valkyrie.  The medium laser lanced through the tangled branches to the left of the Panther.

(Part 2 continues in the next post.)
« Last Edit: 25 January 2011, 22:34:54 by Hotwire »
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Re: Final Exam
« Reply #1 on: 25 January 2011, 22:33:02 »
(Part 2)

For a brief moment, both MechWarriors hesitated; stunned by the furious violence they had thrown at each other without success.  Phineas heard whistles, laughter and cheers coming from the cadets on the hill ridge.  A quick glance showed that they were all standing, arms waving and pointing.  None of them seemed the least bit worried about the danger they were exposing themselves to.

The Panther rocketed into the air on its Lexington Lifter jump jets, attempting to get behind the Valkyrie.  Black sent the Val into a run, swinging around below his opponent to stay close to him when he landed.  “Gotta stay close to foul up that PPC’s target lock!” Phineas grunted to himself through gritted teeth.

It worked.  The particle projection cannon remained silent as the Panther landed in the open prairie beyond the woods on flexed legs.  Its Telos Four-Shot launcher however, spat out four more SRMs from the ’Mech’s chest.  The Valkyrie replied with its medium laser again, the only weapon it now had.

Two short range missiles smashed into the Valkyrie, splashing paint on the ’Mech’s left torso and head like bloody wounds.  Black saw that his medium laser had speared the Panther’s right leg before his view port became obscured with pink.

Phineas pressed his enemy as Montresor backed his ’Mech up until the pond guarded its back.  If I can just hit that right leg again… Black thought hopefully. 

Striding to the Panther’s right, he shot his laser at his enemy’s machine, which expended its energy in the Panther’s right torso.  In reply, Montresor twisted to the right and fired his PPC and SRMs at the Valkyrie.  Three of the four short range missiles rang against the Val’s armor, striking the ’Mech’s center torso, right leg and right arm.  It was the wild shot from the particle projection cannon, however, that did the most damage, blistering the paint job on the Valkyrie’s right arm.
A red light suddenly lit up on the status board. Phineas gave it a quick glance as he fired the Val’s jump jets and arced over the Panther in an attempt to break Montresor’s target lock.  “Terrific!  The actuator is slagged!” 

It wasn’t really, due to the powered down weapons they were firing, but that was little comfort to Black.  The computers aboard both BattleMechs registered that the Valkyrie had lost all armor on its right arm, suffered some internal damage and determined that the lower arm actuator was destroyed.  Power to the actuator cut off, rendering it inoperable.

Montresor’s Panther didn’t move as the Valkyrie jumped over it.  Instead it simply tracked the smaller ’Mech from the waist.  “What’s wrong scavenger?  Fight getting too hot for you?” the young count taunted over his ’Mech’s speakers.

The Val landed 90 meters from the Panther on its left flank, the southern end of the pond now separating the two ’Mechs.  Montresor fired another bolt of man-made lightning at his enemy, which slammed dead center into the Valkyrie’s chest. Phineas replied with a desperate shot from his medium laser that was hampered by the damaged arm actuator.

The brilliant beam of focused light struck Montresor’s Panther just below the left arm, which was raised in triumph.  The ’Mech stiffened and then froze.  Black paused, also bringing the Valkyrie to a standstill as his battle computer updated its damage assessment on the Panther.

“Waah-hooo!” shouted Phineas to the confines of his cockpit, a wide grin spreading across his face.  The Panther was history, at least as far as the computers were concerned.  Phineas’s last ditch laser shot had struck the Panther’s armpit at just the right angle.  The combat simulator program had determined that it had pierced the 35 ton ’Mech’s torso armor and detonated its Short Range Missile ammo.  If this had been a real ’Mech fight, Montresor and his Panther would be scattered, burning wreckage right now.

Black could hear cheering and repeated screams of “No way!” and “Did ya see that?!” and a lot more that was lost in the cacophony of voices coming from behind him on the hill ridge.  His aft screen showed that the cadets who had come for the show were piling back into the hovercar to get down to the ’Mechs.

Phineas walked the Valkyrie towards Montresor’s immobile Panther.  When his Val was directly in front of the other ’Mech, he locked the legs and began disengaging the neurohelmet’s fasteners from his cooling vest.  He fully intended to rub this victory in Count Oliver’s face.

The Panther jerked and came back to life.  Montresor had reset his ’Mech’s systems.  Black saw the Panther pull back its left arm and then reverse it into a punch aimed directly at his cockpit.  Phineas grabbed at the Valkyrie’s controls and swung his ’Mech’s own left arm up to deflect the blow.  The punch was diverted and smashed into the right side of the Val’s torso, buckling and denting armor plates. 

The ’Mech began to fall backwards because of the locked leg actuators.  Black stabbed savagely at the button to release them and attempted to keep the Valkyrie on its feet.  His half secured neurohelmet twisted sideways, obscuring his vision and dooming his efforts to prevent the Val from crashing onto its back.

Phineas felt the breath in his lungs violently expel out through his mouth as a sledgehammer blow struck his head.  His left hand flailed out, hit something hard and went numb. 

“Ow… Oh God, my head...  What the hell is he doing?!”  Black tasted blood in his mouth.  His vision was blurred and he was disoriented by the prone angle his command chair was now in. He shifted his neurohelmet back in place and with both his good hand and numb one fumbled to re-secure it. 

A quick scan of the Valkyrie’s status readings showed that the right side of his rear torso armor had taken the brunt of the fall damage, leaving that area’s internal structure exposed.  No other red system failure lights had come on, however.  When Phineas looked out the Val’s view port, he saw Montresor’s Panther straddling his ’Mech with its particle projection cannon pointed directly at him through the armored glass.

The comm screen came to life and Black saw Oliver Montresor’s seething, red face.  “That was nothing but a lucky shot Black!  You got that?!  Nothing but luck!” the young count railed.  “You know what?  I’m gonna light you up!  Let’s see how you handle a point blank PPC bolt.  I bet even powered down this baby is going to fry you in there!”

Phineas’s vision slowly started to come back into focus along with a pounding headache when he heard Montresor’s threat.  With little more than a reflexive thought, he brought up the Valkyrie’s right leg and drove it into the Panther’s crotch.  At the same time Montresor fired the PPC. 

The lightning from the particle projection cannon played over the head of the Valkyrie as Black’s kick crushed the armor plates protecting the lower torso of the Panther.  Phineas squeezed his eyes shut and screamed as some energy from the PPC overcame his cockpit’s insulation and sent an electrical jolt through his body, wracking it with painful spasms.  The Panther stumbled backwards towards the pond, tripped and crashed to the ground short of the water.
His eyesight saved by the viewport’s polarized ferro-glass, Black brought the Valkyrie to a sitting position and then slowly brought it to its feet.  Everything hurt; his head, his left hand and all his joints.  After-images of the PPC bolt hampered his vision, but he saw that Montresor’s Panther was flat on its back and not moving.

The red hovercar streaked along the southern shore of the pond, pulling up short at the Panther’s head.  Cadets spilled out, some of them climbing up onto the downed ’Mech to get at the cockpit.  Phineas saw them pounding on the viewport and shouting at Montresor, trying to get him to unlock the hatch. 

“Oh shit!  Did I kill him?!  Is he dead?!  Shit!”

Black breathed a sigh of relief when slowly the Panther’s cockpit hatch opened, revealing a rather unsteady Oliver Montresor.  His friends helped him into the hovercar while another cadet stripped off his uniform and climbed into the Panther to pilot it back to the hanger.  Phineas didn’t wait.  He started the Valkyrie back on its way to the Academy, preceded by the speeding hovercar.

                                                              * * *
Draconis March, Federated Suns
3 June 3024   

Phineas Black stood on the ramp of the dropship freighter he had booked passage on.  It was scheduled to boost for space in two hours. It will take a week to get out to the jumpship waiting at the system’s nadir jump point to take it to another star. His graduation gift, the rebuilt Wasp, was loaded already, as was the AFFS dress uniform he’d never wear.  It was packed away with the rest of his gear.  He had sold the ’Mech’s SRM ammo to pay for the berth.  He was heading home first, and then perhaps to Le Blanc.  Maybe in the mercenary hiring halls there he would find a merc unit to take him on.  His gaze lingered on the distant buildings of the Robinson Battle Academy.


News of the duel had reached the Academy administration quickly when the two damaged ’Mechs arrived at the hanger.  Only Phineas stood before the disciplinary hearing board the next day. Montresor was still in the infirmary.  The board didn’t waste time. After reading a Statement of the Facts, which Phineas didn’t deny, the board unanimously voted to expel Cadet Phineas Black from the Robinson Battle Academy and blacklist him from serving as a MechWarrior in the Armed Forces of the Federated Suns.  Phineas left the academy grounds that day.
“Phineas!  Phineas!”  Someone was shouting his name.  Black looked about and saw a small skimmer hovercraft weaving in-between the traffic on the spaceport tarmac.  He saw a long auburn braid whipping in the air.  Lyra…what’s she doing here?

The skimmer skewed to a stop at the bottom of the dropship ramp and Lyra Sanchez-Martin jumped out.  She walked up to where Phineas stood, a bit out of breath. A data disc was in her hands.

“I’ve got something for you,” she said holding out the disc.

“What’s this?  Lyra, you don’t have to…”

“Shut up.  It’s yours.  It’s your academy test scores.  You should have graduated with honors, so I figure it’ll help you get a ’Mech slot somewhere.”  She put the data disc in Phineas’s good hand. His left one was sprained and wrapped.

“Not in the AFFS,” Black said unable to prevent the bitterness from coming out in his voice.

“I’m sorry Phineas.  I wish this hadn’t happened.  This whole thing is Oliver’s fault and I didn’t think either of you would…”

“Don’t.  I beat him.  Even though he cheated, I beat him and everyone knows it.  That’ll have to be good enough for now.” 

“Phineas, Oliver didn’t get out of this completely unscathed.  He’s been assigned to the Robinson Draconis March Militia.”

“What?!  You’re kidding!  His family has always been in the 1st Robinson Rangers!”  Phineas and Lyra both smiled at each other over the thought of the haughty Count Oliver serving in a second line militia unit with second rate ’Mechs and MechWarriors.

“He blames you for it.”  Lyra said, serious again.

“Let him.  The next time we meet I won’t be firing powered down weapons,” Black said with cold conviction.

Lyra grabbed Phineas’s face and kissed him quick.  “Take care of yourself, okay?”  She walked down the ramp, got back on her skimmer and waved as she sped off, her braid trailing out behind her.  Phineas waved back and watched her until she disappeared behind the spaceport traffic.  Sighing, Black turned and walked up the rest of the ramp into the dimly lit cargo bay of the dropship.
3025 Forever!


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Re: Final Exam
« Reply #2 on: 26 January 2011, 05:01:50 »
Nice story, fits the feel of the 3025's era pretty well.

Wonder where Phineas ends up in, and what happens to Montresor. Hope you have more plotted, but even if this was a standalone vigneette, it's really nice.
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Re: Final Exam
« Reply #3 on: 26 January 2011, 19:36:29 »
Excellent story Hotwire! Do you plan to continue the story?
« Last Edit: 27 January 2011, 11:56:05 by Dragonfire »


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Re: Final Exam
« Reply #4 on: 27 January 2011, 05:35:36 »
Excellent fic, but I need to echo Dragonfire, any chance of this continueing?


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Re: Final Exam
« Reply #5 on: 27 January 2011, 09:16:16 »
Thanks for the positive comments!

I do plan on continuing the story.  Already have a bit done.  I just write slowly and get distracted easily.  :)
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Re: Final Exam
« Reply #6 on: 27 January 2011, 11:56:59 »
Excellent! I can't wait for it!


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Re: Final Exam
« Reply #7 on: 29 January 2011, 19:27:36 »
The count is out for the count.
Excellent start.
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Re: Final Exam
« Reply #8 on: 01 February 2011, 21:59:15 »
Nice one, it was posted on the old boards too right?
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Re: Final Exam
« Reply #9 on: 03 February 2011, 19:47:29 »
Nice one, it was posted on the old boards too right?
Yep.  I've been working on the next chapter, and when the boards went down decided to re-post it.
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Re: Final Exam
« Reply #10 on: 04 February 2011, 05:47:17 »
Very good story!

I can't wait for the next chapter!

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Re: Final Exam
« Reply #11 on: 04 February 2011, 11:36:06 »
nice stuff
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