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Author Topic: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)  (Read 6665 times)

Cannonshop

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Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« on: 04 February 2016, 03:52:51 »
Nha Tranh, Kowloon, 3058...

"...and as you can see, we can handle your upgrade requirements for a fraction of what our competition is charging for equipment of the same rating." 

"But...you don't build Battlemechs." Her guest noted.  "I see a lot of active factories, but you have yet to show me a 'mech line."

Elizabeth frowned, "Sir, we don't make battlemechs-you do. we make the tooling that makes the equipment, that makes the mechs, we make it to the customer's specifications, and we work with our clients every step of the way-but no, we don't 'make' Battlemechs.  that market is, well...saturated for one, and for two, we would end up having to not only compete with Terran and Federated Suns contractors for our core business, but also we'd end up in competition with our most valued clients and customers."  she was in fine form today, and the weather was better than normal, "Ngo industries focuses on manufacturing technologies and industrial engineering-we do the hard work of tooling up factory floors, so our clients and customers can do the lucrative work in their chosen industries.  It's not glamourous, but it is a needed service-and we lead the industry-our machine tools, factory layout specialists, operations and organization advisors, and engineering is top-notch, reliable, and easily the best way to convert your client's needs into firm goods."

"but you don't make finished goods-your company, that is." he said.  Elizabeth caught a note of insistence.

"um...no." She said, "That would, among other things, violate non-compete clauses we've got with most of our major clients-and that in turn would harm our ability to service those clients."

her guest tugged at his blue uniform tunic, and gave her a somewhat stern stare, "I expected to see at least some indication of military products development, Duchess." he stated, "The Archon herself-"

"-understands what we do here." Elizabeth interjected, "General, you and your 'mechwarriors operate machines that only exist because of firms like mine-Coventry Metal works, Defiance, Blackwell-they all use, or have used, our products to make the machines that you and your colleagues fight in-and have for a very long time indeed-from the days when my great-grandfather went about rediscovering and repairing damaged factory equipment, to the modern day where my firm produces factory equipment you'd have to buy from Comstar, or risk men's lives to steal (and time to repair after), if Katrina sent you, it's because she 'gets it'... no factories means no more battlemechs, or 'mech parts, or new high-performance Aerospace fighters, or battlesuits-what we do here, is critical to the nation's survival."

He smiled grimly. "Very well put, Duchess."

"Why are you here?" Elizabeth asked, "Why are you looking at my production lines?"

"I am assessing your operation for possible Nationalization." he told her, "Seeing how hard it might be to convert this...into something that can support the war effort more directly."

"F-General, for the price in time and resources to convert ONE of my production lines to produce military goods, I can build four whole lines that will produce those goods faster." she bit back on the stream of obscenities filthering through her consciousness, "Under government control, you can cut that down to one...for...one-with less harm to existing, strong, and may I say Patriotic firms already holding contracts to produce the goods you use. In military terms, what we do is a force multiplier on your logistics-it would be like...like sending a supply column to fight on the front lines as unsupported infantry."

"Four...hmmm...fine, Prove it.  In six months, I will return, I want to see four running production lines ready to provide war materiel to the Lyran Alliance Armed Forces-without shorting your current, eh...'Valued' clients.  Front line quality goods, or I'll revisit the idea of nationalizing your firm and turning it to war production." he said, "Six months, Duchess...and not one demikroner of Public money."

With that, the touring officer from Tharkad left the site.

Elizabeth watched them leave the gate in their staff column, then, she released the tension in a stream of invective accompanied by manually dismantling much of her office.

Her tantrum lasted nearly two hours, until, energies spent, she collapsed in the wreckage and mess, tears running down her cheeks.  "What the ****** am I going to do?"
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Sharpnel

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #1 on: 04 February 2016, 05:30:27 »
Open mouth, insert foot. This is what happens when you don't think before you speak.
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Trace Coburn

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #2 on: 04 February 2016, 06:09:29 »
Open mouth, insert foot. This is what happens when you don't think before you speak.
  On the other hand, General Dummkopf just told a Ngo — a ’Loonie — to ‘start making guns’.  (They never needed an excuse or permission to do it before, but now, they have instructions.)  We all remember how that worked out in the last few iterations of the Ngo-verse, right?  :o
  Mizz Liz doesn’t build ‘fancy’ or ‘high-spec’, she builds ‘affordable, supportable, and grunt-proof’, and she builds it in quantities best measured in metric shitloads.
  Herr LAAF Inspektor expects her to build him ’Mechs.  Liz is gonna build him an army that can win wars.

Korzon77

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #3 on: 04 February 2016, 07:30:53 »
Would the Lyrans' really support nationalizing an entire industry?  Even if otehr corps don't like the loonies, the fact is that sort of casual nationalization is a weapon that could easily be used against them.

Paladin1

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #4 on: 04 February 2016, 09:43:53 »
Would the Lyrans' really support nationalizing an entire industry?  Even if otehr corps don't like the loonies, the fact is that sort of casual nationalization is a weapon that could easily be used against them.
You're asking the wrong question.  The right question is "would a petty bureaucrat attempt to push the nationalization of an industry, especially if that bureaucrat had an opportunity to use the output of that nationalized industry as a way of enhancing his own power and ego."  The answer to that, naturally enough, is YES.  The real question is if the Lyran's in the Loonieverse are foolish enough to try something like that.  I have a feeling that the answer to that is also a resounding YES, because up until this point Loonies have been a pain but they've not really been a threat and seeing possible threats is not something that bureaucrats are good at unless it is a threat to their own little kingdom.

Dave Talley

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #5 on: 05 February 2016, 02:33:21 »
Ooooooooohhhh
This looks good

What will we see? Stealthy BA types uncloaking six feet from the general
just to prove they can do it?
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Cannonshop

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #6 on: 05 February 2016, 07:24:50 »
HPG communication, February 19, 3058...

"...didn't try real hard to beat Krupp's offer, Liz."  Erich Masterson Brewer was the cousin in charge of Defiance Industries' Retrofit and secondary-production division, and it had taken Liz a lot of time and effort to get this far.

"Your cousins seemed pretty happy to go with Krupp." Elizabeth Ngo replied, "Besides, I was what, sixteen, and had just made a fool of myself on the floor of the Estates General?  You guys just closed a deal with the Taurians for Rommel-Patton production licenses.  I want to know what it's going to cost me to get a similar arrangement...and I need it expedited."

on the screen, he leaned forward, "someone giving you trouble?" He asked in an amused tone.

"Look, Erich, this is a good chance for you to get money out of me for a change." she said, "you don't have to rub it in."

He gave her a 'wise' look, "but I want to...no, I really do." he told her, "You've treated me like shit since we were kids in rehab together, I like watching you squirm."

"You pulled my hair first, and then you pantsed Penny in the group room-can you give me numbers or not?" she asked, "If not, I might have to swallow my pride and call Blackwell."

He leaned forward, "What're you looking for, exactly?"

"Long term production license, freedom to make modifications, on the Patton series." Elizabeth said, "My own miliz likes the chassis, a lot of LAAF front-line units still have parts on hand for the running gear, and the mod I'm contemplating isn't one that cuts into Gauss-Rommel upgrade kits...and I still have tooling patterns from when Grandad set up your vehicle line around the turn of the century."

"Well, Liz, as you must know, we're in a partnership deal with GM for a next-generation vehicle along the same lines, so selling off licenses for a tank we'll have obselete by the end of the decade looks pretty good, and I do love taking your money...but this is gonna cost you, and I don't mean Kroner."

"What do you want, Erich?" Elizabeth asked.

"Your dignity, Liz, " he said, "I haven't forgotten what you and Penny did to me that night, and this is payback-you want the license, you're going to pay for it, and I'm going to have a recording...to show all my friends."

"We were children...not just children, we were drug-addicts!" she scoffed, "You're seriously going to hold something I did when we were eleven year olds against me?"

He paused, looking thoughtful.  "Hmmm...you have a point...Yes." he said, "I am-it's not like you ever forgave-"

"That was different! Her man sold penny the shit that killed her!" Elizabeth snarled, "ANd then she didn't have the ****** decency to show for the funeral!"

his face flushed and his demeanour changed in an instant, "I know!!" he thundered, "But ******, Liz, she was your friend, and she was my Girlfriend.  You think you're the only one that's hurting?  You ****** let my uncles drop your company because you wouldn't face me, well ****** you.  You're facing me now and you know what my price is-you pay it, you get the deal, you don't pay up, you can go ****** yourself."

she was taken aback by that, "I...nobody...penny didn't-"

"when was she going to tell you, Liz? when you were in Intensive Care?  when we all thought you might die? Or maybe while you were busy planning to commit atrocities like your ancestors did?  Penny didn't ****** even know you by then-you'd changed and she was worried...If you'd ****** opened up, maybe she wouldn't have slipped off the wagon, if you'd put some ****** effort in..."  He pointed into the screen, "You ruin everything, Liz, your stupid brittle ****** pride, your vengefulness, you're a ****** sadist, Rowe might've let her man sell the drug, but you are the reason Penny took it, and you won't take responsibility...so I'm going to force the issue.  You want my help, you ****** own up, you ****** apologize."

Elizabeth swallowed, "What is it exactly that you want?" she asked dully.

"I want an explanation, I want reasons." he said, "I want to know why...but we'll start with why your mom put an eleven milimeter bullet through you in the bathtub-and it wasn't just that she was nuts, was it?"

"i'm sick." she said.

"Yeah, I knew that." he said, "sick in the head, I want to know why. did you ****** relapse?"

"No." Elizabeth told him.

"Not what my informants say." he snapped, "Six hundred miligrams of opiates every four hours, you're taking enough dope to drop an elephant."

"I'm sick." she said, "it isn't an addiction when you're sick...with what I've got."

his sneer didn't abate, "Like your Uncle then." he told her, "Dead by forty...when did you know?"

"Six weeks after Pat died." she told him, "Post Hospital did a physical because I was trying to get a waiver to go to the Academy early."

"You should've ****** told her." He said, "instead of practically cutting her off, that's the first answer I wanted confirmed."

"What else?" Elizabeth asked.

"Who already knows?" he asked.

Elizabeth looked at the ceiling, then at the screen again, "Morgan Kell, Prince Victor, which probably means Katrina, Penny's grandmom, my doctors, and a couple trusted staffers."

He nodded, "and me." he told her, "but I got news for you-it's not just them.  LOTS of people know-or suspect." he told her, "You don't date, you're always grumpy, people have noticed you're stoned a lot, but not happy while you're there. Your 'big secret' isn't a big secret to anybody but you."

"why did you ask?" she pushed.

"because I wanted to see your face when I made you admit it." he told her, "The shame, because you deserve it.  I should give this recording to the DBS guys-or Daphne Rowe...but I think I'll hold it over you instead, Dad says I'm not aggressive enough."

"he's right." Liz countered.

"****** you very much, I like who I am now." He told her, "Tell me you're sorry for the pain you've caused...and mean it." he said, "I want you sincere about it, or no deal."

'I'm doing the best I-"

"It's not enough, Liz...but you know what? I can live without you trying to fake being sorry for the bitch that you are...because I can pity you and know just how much that grinds at you." he smiled, "Poor little Elizabeth, all alone, not a friend in the world because she's a total bitch...and it's not a good thing.  fifteen billion Kroner, Elizabeth-about what Aunt Porsche owes your company, plus the subsidiary plant you own here on Furillo, and you can have your licenses."

"Deal." she said, hanging her head.  "I am sorry."

"Too late. Just pay me." he told her.





« Last Edit: 05 February 2016, 07:53:51 by Cannonshop »
The core rules for interacting with me:

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2) If you don't like something I've said, refer to rule 1.  If you do, god help you poor soul, you're screwed up.

Cannonshop

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #7 on: 05 February 2016, 08:26:27 »
Mount Asgard, Tharkad, February 20, 3058...

"Well...how's it look?" seemed like the wrong thing to say.  Irving Frower didn't really know the RIGHT thing to say in this situation, so it sufficed.

"She made an interesting-if understandable choice." General Nondi Steiner said cheefully, "I always liked having those as our support-good machines, if a touch dated..what's her upgrade plan for them-she can't run in competition with the Rommels we're already building..."

"LBX class autocannons, some extra machine-guns." Frower stated, "Really a minmal update."

Nondi shrugged, "it'll be interesting to see if they'll pass acceptance trials then...so, any guesses where she's going to get a Battlemech design?"

"No feelers from her people out, yet." he said, "But we've got indications she's talking to Carlisle about licensing some of his suits, though that might be more along the line of convincing him to 'own' a backup line on Kowloon in exchange for a cut in her profit."

Nondi frowned, "that's too easy. Have Gibbens pressure her again...I want a 'mech factory out there, and I don't want the Lyran Alliance paying for it."

Frowers sighed, "General...why?" he asked.

Nondi regarded him, "Some nobles you keep from being trouble by visiting-the costs of hospitality, the presence of royal forces, keeps them in line.  Kowloon's too far on the ass-end for that, and you saw what passes for a ducal residence there."

"Two story split-level suburban house, yeah."  He nodded, "not exactly palatial by any stretch of the imagination."

"So Katrina won't visit, and even the local Margraves tend to want to stay out...the first part of this, is pulling the choke-chain, verifying she's loyal, the bigger, second, part, is beefing up National Defense assets at the lowest cost." Nondi stated, "Amateurs talk tactics-professionals talk logistics.  The Realm lost a big hunk of industry when the Clans invaded, and we're struggling to make it up, while the Free Worlders are eating our collective lunches now in terms of industries.  We need more, and that means tapping sources we have historically left fallow...besides, between you and me, there are about ten times the possible soldiers she can call up-they just need the guns, and she hasn't been exactly forthcoming in getting those guns."

"I still don't get it, why not lean on her to ease up on the other military contractors?" he asked.

"Because she won't." Nondi told him, "but if we lean on her she'll do what she wants to do anyway-and that's something we want her to do-she'll build her army and the Realm can use it to free up regular units and forces to fight the real enemies."

The core rules for interacting with me:

1.) I am not a moderator, game developer, member of Cryptic staff, relative of any members of cryptic staff, not close friends with anyone involved with the game, not a distributor of product, not an employee, employer, professional reviewer, or member of any powerful conspiracies.  What I think is my own and has no impact on the Battletech franchise in any way, shape, or form.

2) If you don't like something I've said, refer to rule 1.  If you do, god help you poor soul, you're screwed up.

Nikas_Zekeval

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #8 on: 05 February 2016, 11:33:25 »
Until the day she, or Kowloon, wakes up and realizes it is THEIR army, not the LA's.  }:)
« Last Edit: 05 February 2016, 13:41:49 by Nikas_Zekeval »

kashim12

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #9 on: 05 February 2016, 13:01:40 »
Until the day she, or Kowloon wakes up and realizes it is THEIR army, not the LA's.  }:)

 Oh so bloody true !

qc mech3

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #10 on: 05 February 2016, 13:22:21 »
Hum, isn't it a law of the LC (or FC or LA) to limit the size of planetary militia to a single bataillon max?

Of course like all bullies, Nundi will only go at those she think won't be able to effectively retaliate. That will bite her in the ass big time!!!  >:D 

Nikas_Zekeval

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #11 on: 05 February 2016, 13:45:16 »
Hum, isn't it a law of the LC (or FC or LA) to limit the size of planetary militia to a single bataillon max?

Of course like all bullies, Nundi will only go at those she think won't be able to effectively retaliate. That will bite her in the ass big time!!!  >:D

Not sure if that is canon or Ngo-verse fanon.  In either case, I can see Liz marketing all along the Lyran Periphery boarder.  "Here a battalion, there a battalion, everywhere a battalion."

And is it just a 'battalion' in the law, or do they define the maximum size of a battalion?  Is that in simple raw numbers, or rated as a 'mech battalion equivalent'?

mikecj

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #12 on: 05 February 2016, 14:17:55 »
And with the best intentions... the Road was paved. >:D
There are no fish in my pond.
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DOC_Agren

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #13 on: 05 February 2016, 19:12:57 »
Until the day she, or Kowloon, wakes up and realizes it is THEIR army, not the LA's.  }:)
Oh so bloody true !

So it wasn't just me  ;D ;D [wildandcrazy] [watch]
Thinking they never look at what might comes from pushing them!!!
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gladius

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #14 on: 05 February 2016, 19:45:20 »
Hum, isn't it a law of the LC (or FC or LA) to limit the size of planetary militia to a single bataillon max?

Of course like all bullies, Nundi will only go at those she think won't be able to effectively retaliate. That will bite her in the ass big time!!!  >:D
I'm pretty sure Cannonshop invented the limits, based on some vague comments in a the sourcebooks.

qc mech3

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #15 on: 05 February 2016, 20:33:51 »
Ok. Just read the sections about the Militz in both FM: LA and Housebook Steiner, not mutch there. The best info is in Objective: LA with 1 to 3 infantry companies of std. infantry plus conventional fighters and possibly an armor bataillion for the worlds with big budgets. Not bad if your world is Canada!  :D :D :D ^-^

In the end, Nondi is awakening the sleeper.  [skull] [skull] [skull]

Cannonshop

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #16 on: 06 February 2016, 06:51:34 »
HPG Record, 24 February, 3058...

"you don't have a 'mech design." Erich Brewer stated it.  "I've been keeping tabs.  You've been avoiding it, or you've had even worse luck with that, than you have with ME."

"So, you're calling to gloat?" Elizabeth asked.

"nope.  I'm calling to save your skinny, toxic, vindictive ass." he told her,  "I know somebody who'll license a design adequate to the challenge you're facing, and it won't cost you-much."

"Why are you helping me with this?" Elizabeth asked.

"Because I know it pisses you off." he told her, "also because what they're doing to you, is a threat to MY business.  Better than half the people competing with Defiance, rely on us for subcontract work, spare parts, systems-I'm doing this because you'll owe me, and because we used to be friends...now do you want the deal, or not?"

"You haven't given me specifics." Elizabeth said.

"Blackstone Battlemechs on Inarcs has a production backlog, I understand that you've been having shit luck negotiating a support contract, mostly thanks to your attack of stupid on the Estates floor..." he said, "Well...they came to us, but we're at capacity with our current orders and Krupp's been balking. so I'm doing you a favour-for five percent, I'll broker the license and a co-production agreement on their Enfield line-provided, that is, you can make production date...are you learning yet?"

"Learning...what?" Elizabeth asked.

"It's all in your relationships, Liz.  The price for me brokering this deal, is you talk to Daphne-she's en-route as Blackstone's rep, since Rowe-McClaren's handling their finances-you ****** this up, you won't get another chance."

Elizabeth glared, "****** that. NO Sale, Erich, not now, not in a thousand ****** years.  I'll ****** design it myself before I'll deal with that bitch."

"Pride, Liz." he said it evenly, "Swallow it, this is seriously bad trouble you're in and you don't seem to realize how many friends and hangers-on of the Archon Princess are already negotiating for pieces of your company-you don't have the time.  If you don't do this deal, I will personally lead the charge for a hostile takeover-and Defiance will win-and I'll do it, because the alternative is letting the jackals pick the bones and everything falls further away."  he leaned forward, trying in his own, inoffensive, and skinny way, to loom.  "You need this."

The core rules for interacting with me:

1.) I am not a moderator, game developer, member of Cryptic staff, relative of any members of cryptic staff, not close friends with anyone involved with the game, not a distributor of product, not an employee, employer, professional reviewer, or member of any powerful conspiracies.  What I think is my own and has no impact on the Battletech franchise in any way, shape, or form.

2) If you don't like something I've said, refer to rule 1.  If you do, god help you poor soul, you're screwed up.

gladius

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #17 on: 06 February 2016, 08:27:34 »
Um, isn't Katherine Archon, rather than Archon Princess?

Nikas_Zekeval

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #18 on: 06 February 2016, 12:38:08 »
Um, isn't Katherine Archon, rather than Archon Princess?
Kinda hard to keep track of her ever changing titles

And this itereation of the Ngo saga seems to have a heavier does of 'reality ensues' for some of Miss Liz's more, impolitic, outbursts.

drakensis

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #19 on: 07 February 2016, 04:10:29 »
Although I have to say, nationalizing and converting Ngo Industries to an assembly plant for 'Mechs rather than as the tooling subcontractor for all the other Lyran military industrial factories is rather short-sighted even for Kathy.

Unless Kathy was planning on being the white knight to move in and save Liz and thereby try to win her loyalty, etc.

Or just nationalizing and then controlling that aspect as 'too vital' to leave in private hands. That sort of grasping sounds more plausible.
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Sharpnel

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #20 on: 07 February 2016, 04:25:33 »
the thing is, if they Ngo then they should be nationalizing all of the others, including DefHes and Coventry Metal Works.
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Takehiro 'Taco' Uchimiya, VND-1R Vindicator 'Taco', Crimson Oasis Trading Company
Tai-i Shizuko Lofgren, Third Infantry Company, Oniwaka

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"Of what use is a dream, if not a blueprint for courageous action" -Adam West
It's an Omni, so I can build it into whatever I please - JHB
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Cannonshop

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #21 on: 07 February 2016, 06:28:55 »
Building site, Nha Tranh University, Kowloon, main hall...

Elizabeth examined the blueprints, and then, looked at the half-completed renovations.  The former residence of the Regent-in truth, the former center of what passed for 'government' on Kowloon for the last two hundred years, was built in the fortress-style favoured by the old Rim Worlds Republic, as renovated by at first, the Star League, and then the Lyran Commonwealth.

Like her Grandfather, she had determined not to live here.  Unlike him, with his preferred residence a fishing cabin in the equatorial north, she would live near the center of government.

"...library looks small." She said, "have we so few books?"

"Your grace, the Library dates to your ancestors who signed the peace with the Commonwealth.  A new building, or perhaps a storehouse for excess material-" the Architect was a Cappellan expatriate.

"Hardly sufficient.  build a space, find a space, I want nothing 'locked away' from the students here." she said in a cold, scolding tone, "Davion had it right-information must be available to everyone-at least, everyone who can read it.  Convert some of the old barracks to a printing and publishing establishment while you're at it-precious books are only precious because of what's in them-and the difficulty of getting at them.  nothing, and I mean nothing shall be irreplaceable here-let the raiders steal a copy, we'll just hand out more copies-in as many formats as possible...is the science building completed yet?"

"Still in work, Your Grace." he answered, "your requirements are...difficult to satisfy, and I fear that you may not have so many students here as you seem to think..."

"Not at first." she stated, "Later.  Build for growth, never assume stasis, everything that grows, lives, everything that is satisfied to be smaller, eventually either dies, or is consumed-we have been in a society that is dark to the light of knowledge for far, far, too long-I wish to build a fire that will be a light in that darkness for the next thousand years-and that means growth, which means bigger classrooms-and more of them."

her comm chirped at her, and she checked it, "I have to take this, get with the engineers and the foreman, make the changes I outlined, and get it done-bill the firm for the additional costs."

she answered the call.  "Yes?"

"Lady Daphne Rowe has arrived at the space-port with her retinue, Your Grace." Kelli Whyte's voice was flustered, worried, and irritated.  Liz smiled.  "Earlier than I thought-I just finished speaking with Erich-I'd assumed a week at least."

"What do we do? she's asking for you."

"Send her to the Nha Tranh University site-use something fast and comfortable, maybe that Mercedes from Grand father's collection, I'll meet her in one of the finished wings."

"very well, Your Grace..." 

"Oh! and Kelli, have the research teams found the item I've asked for?"

"Ground penetrating sensors show a possible cavity at the second or third possible site for the ruin of Dinh Diep, your grace, they expressed some optimism."

"Excellent. Page me, interrupt me if you have to, as soon as they have either confirmation, or confirmation of lack." Elizabeth ordered, "If the legends are true, we might have more books to add to the university's collection."

"As you command, your Grace...is that all you wish?"

"Don't forget to brief in your counterpart at the end of your shift, and have fun tonight." Elizabeth said in a mock-scold.

For the next hour, Elizabeth indulged herself-she studied personnel dockets and lesson plans, the University was her 'hobby' project-a present to herself, and as with all of her endeavours so far, something she could hurl her energies into while she waited for her professional, and Ducal, responsibilities to catch up.

Precisely fifteen minutes before the Blackwell entourage would arrive, she stopped in the refinished bathroom, filled a collapsible travel-cup with water from rebuilt waterlines, and took seven medications-two anti-seizure medicines, a muscle relaxant, and four pain pills.  Then, she drew out an 'eighth' medicine. 

Stimulants.

This stim was cut with certain precursor chemicals that would, in theory, replace neurotransmitters used up by the body while awake.  The mixture is called 'wake the deads' by tweakers (Stim Junkies) throughout the Lyran half of the Commonwealth, and was devised by military scientists to help keep soldiers-and especially 'mechwarriors, alert and focused while sleep deprived.

Liz used it to average fourteen hours of sleep a week, mathematically managing her dosages to hold off the inevitable backlash stim-junkies call 'burnout'.

she looked in the mirror as some part of her body protested her typical regimen of abuse.  "Never underestimate what you can do, when you refuse to accept limits." she recited.  It was what she told her staff, when they expressed concern over her work habits.  Truth is, yes, it cuts years off your life-but I don't have those years anyway.

she straightened her blouse, looked over the charcoal-and black suit she wore, even in the heat of the Landing Continent's summer (December to mid June most years).  Blinked at her reflection, and pulled a stray hair away from her eyes.

"This...is going to suck." she told herself, "Wish me luck."

she walked out of the bathroom-a lavatory meant for fifty future students to visit between the Business and Civil Service levels, and took the stairs to what would someday be the complex of offices devoted to the University's administration staff.

Her comm pinged, this time from the site foreman's office.  Liz answered it as she walked.

"Yes?"

"Milady, your visitors are here...where shall I send them?" he asked.

"Give them the nickel tour, but end it at the Dean's office." she told him, "make sure they get a look at the model of the future grounds on the way."

"Yes Milady."  she closed the call off.

the "dean's office" was bare-there was no furniture here except for a few foldables and a portable dataterminal.  The historic furnishings for generations of viceroys, governors, and Dukes were boxed up, awaiting a museum to be built near the former athletic field that now served as 'government house' for the Assembly.

Making them meet out-of-doors, Liz found, was a great way to shorten much of the wrangling and one-upsmanship, while it compelled them to be aware of conditions in the city.

The time-clocks she'd installed also let her track attendance-and shame those who found pursuing campaign contributions and currying favours more important than attending the job they were elected to do.

Elizabeth pushed matters of governance aside-with some difficulty-and focused on matters of business.

"A Dean's office doesn't fit you, Elizabeth." Daphne Rowe said from the doorway, snapping Liz out of a reverie, "I seem to recall the education counselors saying things like 'undirected' and 'lazy' about you..."

"Along with 'Gifted' and 'Under-Achiever'." Elizabeth shot back, "Erich only told me you were coming this morning."

"We agreed it should be a bit of a surprise, not letting you set up an ambush or arrange an accident seemed rather prudent." Daphne countered, "Though I have to warn you, the outfit's mostly bullet-resistant, and I won't let you get me pinned so you can shoot my eyes out like you did to Colonel Condit."

"He had it coming-you've got worse, but that's not mine to deliver." Elizabeth stated, and finally stood up, "Talked to Maggie yet?"

"She still won't return my calls...may I sit?"

"Suit yourself." Liz told her, "Lyran blue looks alright on you, but it highlights your pallor." she noted, "Erich mentioned Rowe McClaren's doing banking for Blue Shot now."

"Financial assistance, all very boring, just the sort of thing you probably love when you're not crucifying people or killing old men." Daphne's smile could cut glass.

"You've gained weight, they must feed you pretty well on your duty-days." Liz shot back, "Slept with any Clanners lately?"

"You're one to talk-you move like an old lady and I can almost smell the stimmies in your sweat, right there with the envy." Daphne shot back, "Slept with anyone...Ever? IS there a man...or woman...who can even stand you?"

"Nope." Elizabeth said it flippantly, "Pretty sure that's the answer-and yes, I'm carefully using controlled dosage of Stimmies-I have a lot of work, you know-and not nearly enough hours to do it in."

"I win the bet then." Daphne stated, "You were high when you went up in front of the Estates General and said those idiotic things."

"I was straight when I said that." Elizabeth countered, "I got high after...tell me, Daffy, your dad still make you pee in a cup when you visit, or has he resigned himself to it?"

"I've been clean since '52, Liz." Daphne told her, "First because I was at the pre-program for the Nagelring, then later because I was at Sanglamore.  YOU obviously leapt off the wagon shouting 'gung ho' as soon as you were out from under the regent."

Elizabeth drew out a pack of smokes, and opened the window before lighting up, "Maybe." she said, "On the other hand, me drugged has reversed a planetary economic collapse, restored order, rebuilt six factories in the Commonwealth and guaranteed arms and supplies getting to Lyran soldiers on the front lines.  Me sober is what you saw on Tridee when I went in front of the Estates."

"Spoken like a dedicated junkie." Daphne told her.  "My principals will be appalled...but I have to ask, can you do it?"

"That's what we're going to find out, if you can hold the vomit long enough to sign." Elizabeth told her, "by the way, how is your eating disorder?"

"not as bad as your obvious intellectual envy." Daphne stated, "What is this? a school? Really??"

"Really." Elizabeth stated, "Open to the public-when it opens.  This is going to be the central campus, but I plan on having one in every major inhabited region on the planet-my citizens will be educated."

"assuming you maintain control." Daphne stated.

"yes. Assuming I maintain control long enough." Liz agreed.

Daphne looked around the office, and spotted a drinking-water cooler, she got up, poured a cup for herself, "And Penny would've loved that." She said.  "You loved her, didn't you?"

"Didn't you?" Elizabeth asked coldly, "I think you even told her that...once."

"Not what I meant." Daphne turned around, "and you know it."

"I don't have feelings like that-for anyone." Elizabeth stated, "I don't have time to have feelings like that."

Daphne sat back down, "What the hell is your rush, Liz? You're not even twenty yet-and you won't ever have to face conscription, because you're already on the books as doing your civil-service time instead of military time."

Elizabeth regarded her, "Fifteen years, from '52 to '67." she said, "We're above the truce line, and the only reason they've left us alone so far, is that they don't think Kowloon is worth the bother-but that can change."

"With your mouth, I'm honestly surprised it hasn't already." Daphne told her.

"Well, look at the basting I got in the media for it." Liz told her, "besides, I'm not a reputed 'mechwarrior or soldier-they probably took one look at my public profile and said 'not worth the effort'...they won't do that with, say, you."

Daphne looked surprised, "YOU followed my career?"

"If you're planning to hurt, or destroy, someone, it's a good idea to know everything about them." Liz told her, "I have to put those plans on indefinite hold, but I was angry enough that I did the pre-gaming research, followed your career, know which unit you're on leave from to be here...that uniform you're wearing? the patch it's got? means you're safe from me-until you dishonor or disgrace it."

"We used to be friends, Liz." Daphne's tone was hurt, her expression mirrored it, for a brief moment, Elizabeth entertained the notion that maybe there was some actual feeling there...she dismissed it with effort.

"I was just the third wheel." Elizabeth countered, "You were Penny's friend, I was Penny's friend, but I was also the bratty little kid in our trio, and I never forgot it...but I thought you cared about her-until you didn't bother to show up while she was dying in a coma."  Elizabeth crushed out the smoke, "Let's get to business, get it done, and you back on your way to your unit."

Daphne motioned to an aide, who handed Elizabeth the text of the proposed contract.  Liz had to fight off the urge to look away, and she had to fight off the feeling that Rowe might have actually been hurt by her words.  bullshit, she's acting, like she used to do when we'd get caught out after bed-check.

She felt the focus kick in as she read through the pages of legalese.

"Deal's good." she said when she finished, "Generous even." she took the stylus out of the PADD, signed, and affixed her thumbprint. "We're done now, you can find your way out?"

"Yes." Daphne said.

"Please go." Elizabeth told her, "I have a considerable amount of work to do, and you should be getting back to your post."



« Last Edit: 07 February 2016, 06:33:09 by Cannonshop »
The core rules for interacting with me:

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2) If you don't like something I've said, refer to rule 1.  If you do, god help you poor soul, you're screwed up.

Cannonshop

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #22 on: 07 February 2016, 07:45:38 »
Defiance Industries corporate Headquarters, Hesperus II...

Erich leaned back, as Daphne sat down in one of the comfortable chairs.  "How was your flight?" he asked.

"The first two months weren't too rough." she said, as a manservant handed her a snifter of Cognac.  "Easier on the way out, though."

"how did she look in person?" he asked.

"like hell." Daphne said, and took a sip, "ooh, this is good...I swear, I think I saw gray in her roots.  She's obviously burning it at both ends-she even admitted she's using Stimmies."

"gott in himmel, I knew it." he said, "I trust she was civil, since you brought back a signed contract."

"She didn't even blink at the provisos." Daphne told him, "She read it, re-read parts, and signed-then she kicked me out."

"Did you talk to her about Penny?" he asked.

"I tried." she said, "She still blames me...me of all people."

"I know." He said, "you're tangible and real, and I don't think she believes in god anymore."

Daphne Rowe swirled her drink, and took another sip, "I tried." She said, "Somehow, she managed to keep me off my feet verbally, I couldn't get in what I wanted to say..."

"She does that." He said, "Did she threaten you?"

"Indirectly." Daphne noted, "It was Elizabeth, but it wasn't...like some kind of twisted version, all the same thinking, but none of the playfulness, or gentleness, doing the same things she talked about doing with Penny, but it was like watching an evil witch doing them."

"a lot happened." He said.

"You know something you're not sharing." She held the glass lower, "out with it."

"Promise you won't let anyone-especially not her, know I told you." he said, "In fact, don't let on that you know what I'm going to tell you...Did she mention time?"

"almost constantly." Daphne exaggerated.

"She doesn't have a lot of it-and it's not the excuse she uses of the Tukayyid truce, either." He told her, "You sure you want to know this?"

"I want to know what happened to my friend." she snapped.

"Elizabeth, is not going to live to see middle-age." Erich said.

"That's obvious-she's got all the signs of being a tweaker." Daphne said, "get her cleaned up-"

"And it wouldn't make a difference." Erich said, "Fact is, she's taking enough Texlmorpha to kill a medium sized armorbear, and she'll be using Neuroin before the end...which, I believe she described as 'eating a bullet'."

"She's suicidal too?" Daphne scoffed, "God, Erich, you had me sign a long-term contract with her!"

"no." He said, "I'm saying that she has to take it." his tone was darkly serious.  "Her Uncle Truk, did she ever mention him? he died before she was born..."

"The one that died at NAIS, the one with the degenerative condition..."

"Cholmann's Syndrome, Daphne." he said, "Elizabeth has it too. Same defective genes, she's already in Stage One and has been for a couple years."

"There's medical breakthroughs all the time-"

"Not for this." He swallowed more of the liqueur.  "Elizabeth's future, is that she'll reach a point, sometime before she's forty, where the only treatment left, is euthanasia-they can't even make victims of it comfortable near the end...I was hoping you could manage a reconciliation before...before that."

"I don't... she wouldn't let me." Daphne said, "you're certain?"

"AFFC Medical is certain, and I think it might have been her mother's motive for the murder-suicide." He said, "She had to know."

"Which makes the deal all the more ridiculous." Daphne said, "That contract was good for decades!"

"is good for decades. and when she's too far gone, what do you think will happen?" He asked, "Do you think the Lyran Alliance will just let her company continue on? leave Kowloon's seat vacant?"

"no." Daphne said.

"That's right.  Liz was our friend-and now she's crazy, dying, and pushing everyone away...but she's our friend..or was." he poured two fingers, "She's building something out there, as fast as she can, because she's dying and she knows it. I think it's a good monument to Penny if we position ourselves to preserve it, protect it, finish it...what do you think?"

"I think...you're an idealist." Daphne stated.

"are you in?" He asked.

"I'm in." she saluted him with her glass, "For Penny's sake, not Elizabeth."

"For Penny." He agreed.
The core rules for interacting with me:

1.) I am not a moderator, game developer, member of Cryptic staff, relative of any members of cryptic staff, not close friends with anyone involved with the game, not a distributor of product, not an employee, employer, professional reviewer, or member of any powerful conspiracies.  What I think is my own and has no impact on the Battletech franchise in any way, shape, or form.

2) If you don't like something I've said, refer to rule 1.  If you do, god help you poor soul, you're screwed up.

Cannonshop

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #23 on: 07 February 2016, 15:47:12 »
[Out of story]

Nobody ever thinks they're evil.  Very few people will do something they believe is genuinely wrong.  Insensitive? sure, and of course, there's irrational dislike and misplaced anger.

but no matter how wrong, whether it's large-scale wrongs, or petty personal stuff, almost nobody thinks what they're doing is wrong while they do it-or they wouldn't do it.

One of the 'realism deficits' in the earlier versions of the Ngo stories/setting, was how much liz was able to do effectively unassisted.  It goes right along with her other 'successes' (Getting away, effectively, with murder in more than one case, and literally in at least one case.)

So how to get the same 'effect' but give it an explainable, in-universe cause? 

Daphne Rowe was someone's spankfic character back in the '67 FGC game-she was a classical 'mary sue' complete with, before that person left, being married off to Adam Steiner and restarting the Rim Worlds Republic with big chunks of the Lyran Commonwealth.  That creative fellow was booted from that game at some point shortly after I was brought in to try and fix a bunch of damage. 

Before he was kicked, he agreed to my idea that Liz and Daphne had 'history', enough that Elizabeth's vendetta (which is WHY they asked me to come in-Liz was suppiosed to counterweight his badfic running of the faction) would make sense.

That's where the "Elizabeth/Penny/Daphne" relationship was first conceived, as was the idea that there might be a 'betty ford for kids' in the Lyran Commonwealth/Alliance territory where Nobles and wealthy parents could send their little snot-droppers when said kids do things like getting drunk/high and replacing the brakes on Daddy's Gieneh Roadster with poor people (Hint to the children of the ultra-rich: Poor people make horrible brakes-your stopping distance really, really, really extends.)

So part of the whole "Demunchifying" for the FGC wrt Daphne Rowe, was giving her a bit of a less-than-perfect past, and tying that to Liz seemed, at the time, logical.  We even worked out the age differences when it was set up originally before (Poster who will remain unnamed unless he wants to step up and claim it) was booted from the FGC.

For this version, I decided "Let's keep that. I want to do a few things with it."

Thus, why I am 'jacking someone's abandoned roleplay character.  There are a few differences in this that weren't in the '67 FGC-partly because before I was recruited into that game, some of the politics violated the rule I quoted at the start of this post, and some of it ended up being just...wow. (it's sufficient to state that some things should NEVER have happened in that game-they broke too many laws of probability and too many rules of common sense-especially within the setting.)

SO, 'within the setting'...at least, this variant,  I like the idea that Lyrans would use lots of rationalization and try to find a moral high-ground regardless of what they're doing-almost as much as I like the idea of businesspeople acting like Nobles and Nobles acting like businessmen.

while replacing the brakes on their Atlas with poor people.

IOW, Erich Brewer and Daphne are actually supposed to be "Pretty decent folks" and Elizabeth's treatment of both of them is supposed to be unfair and wrong.

She's hurting the people that care about her, and those people are rationalizing it-a situation that is almost classically abusive.

This, was on purpose.  I have no way to replace Daphne with, say, Katherine Steiner-Davion or some other familiar name-Liz didn't and doesn't really fit into THAT crowd.

But another middle-level Noble with a similar financial background? hells yes.

Erich's a new build. HE isn't the head of Defiance Hesperus-he's just a cousin in a nepotism position that lets him access a lot of power he wouldn't otherwise have.

His 'influence building' is all him-he's actually earning the job his cousins gave him to keep him out of the headlines.

I rather suspect come about the time the "Krupp guy" turns out to be WoB ROM and helps the Blakists seize Defiance Hesperus, he'll be one of those that ends up 'up against a wall and shot' during the Jihad.

Maggie Doons is canon, I stole/borrowed her for this from Handbook: Lyran Alliance, this relationship with Liz also dates to the FGC game, for similar reasons (Depowering super-Liz).  I kept that relationship too-because in a sick sort of way, it made sense there, and it's shown up in versions of the Ngo'verse before.  You might say Maggie is the Obi-Wan to Elizabeth's Anakin, only with these not being supernaturally powered and perceptive jedi-type-people, Maggie's rationalized Elizabeth's fall to the 'dark side' and doesn't want to admit it's really happened.

Human beings are capable of the most mind-blowing acts of self-deception, especially where their emotions are tied up, or when a business relationship is really, really beneficial. (worse still when both of those stack on the same person.)

anyway, I was just itching to reveal all that, since I'm not sure how well I showed, I decided to just tell-which is bad writing at it's worst.

[/out of story]
The core rules for interacting with me:

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2) If you don't like something I've said, refer to rule 1.  If you do, god help you poor soul, you're screwed up.

Cannonshop

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #24 on: 07 February 2016, 16:15:40 »
Mount Asgard, Tharkad, April 7, 3058...

"Outline it for me." Katherine 'Katrina' Steiner, Archon of the Lyran Alliance, reclined in her seat.

"It worked." Nondi stated, "Between increased Enfield numbers to fill out Jaeger formations, resupply Alliance Guards units, and even a little bit of excess to sell for coin, the shortfall from production interruption at Coventry is being made up, and your plan to fortify our holdings north of the truce line is bearing fruit."

Katherine regarded her aunt, "You sound almost disappointed." She said.

"I had held some hope we could use it to bring Elizabeth Ngo to heel-" Nondi stated.

"She's heeling." Katherine stated, "You're just annoyed that I'm letting her continue to run that little hell-ball of hers, especially with what she did to your friend Condit."

"There is that." Nondi said, "He deserved better than a bullet to the head."

Katherine spat.  "No, he did not." she enunciated, "If she didn't do it to him, and to Stonecipher, given what they were doing? I would have been forced to do it when I took control here-she saved the realm the cost of two treason trials and the associated fallout...My father would have approved...are these factories producing?"

"She has two of them up already, the other two are still in construction, and we haven't ferreted out what she plans to build there. Additional Enfields might be nice...or something heavy..." Nondi said, "But I know she's been negotiating with Carlysle for a license to produce those armor suits of his."

"I'd rather like to have more of those." Katherine said speculatively, "You can find a use for them?"

Nondi nodded, "I can.  The biggest difficulty would be finding transport for them, but I'd love to have some toads of our own that weren't designed by NAIS, and a secondary line besides Glengarry could be very, very, good-it gets them away from the Skye Separatists."

"I will lean on Carlysle, suggest the Archon would appreciate it if he let the contract." Katherine stated, "How do you feel about having a Melissia Jaeger formation?"

"I'd rather it were on Inarcs." Nondi said, "More central location along that end of the border, easier to support, and less likely to be hit by casual raiding."

"Do it then." Katherine said, "We'll use product from Ngo's holding and Inarcs to build it up as a reaction force for incursions along that region, take some of the pressure off other areas and show I am serious about defending the realm."

"As you command, Your Highness." Nondi replied, noting, "Sharon will love having a mobility formation up there. Most of the units are on the heavier side-and outdated."

"Well, we should fix that too, then." Katherine stated, "I don't want to lose a single world to the Jade Falcons again, and that area is the most vulnerable."

The core rules for interacting with me:

1.) I am not a moderator, game developer, member of Cryptic staff, relative of any members of cryptic staff, not close friends with anyone involved with the game, not a distributor of product, not an employee, employer, professional reviewer, or member of any powerful conspiracies.  What I think is my own and has no impact on the Battletech franchise in any way, shape, or form.

2) If you don't like something I've said, refer to rule 1.  If you do, god help you poor soul, you're screwed up.

Nikas_Zekeval

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #25 on: 07 February 2016, 18:18:12 »
A GDL standard suit is probably better for using them FedSuns style, and slotting the battle armor in as the anti-mech and heavy weapons company or battalion.  Plus the lack of jump packs simplifies training, IIRC fluff is that is the biggest hurdle, and source of causalities in Battle Armor training.  Which would help in raising, or transitioning, large numbers of battle armor troopers.

Though  if tweaking the design a bit as a mass produced 'mainline' unit I could wish for two changes.  One, a second MWM, carry the improved sensors on it to mimic the original, but gives more options for carrying a heavier primary weapon.  Two, IIRC eight points of stealth armor is only slightly less mass than nine of standard for IS BA.  Worth it for being harder to hit?
« Last Edit: 07 February 2016, 21:13:08 by Nikas_Zekeval »

mikecj

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #26 on: 07 February 2016, 18:18:41 »
Sanity?  A breath of fresh air.
There are no fish in my pond.
"First, one brief announcement. I just want to mention, for those who have asked, that absolutely nothing what so ever happened today in sector 83x9x12. I repeat, nothing happened. Please remain calm." Susan Ivanova
"Solve a man's problems with violence, help him for a day. Teach a man to solve his problems with violence, help him for a lifetime." - Belkar Bitterleaf
Romo Lampkin could have gotten Stefan Amaris off with a warning.

gladius

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #27 on: 07 February 2016, 20:05:52 »
This Katherine seems very focused on defence, where in canon she saw it largely as an afterthought, something for her aunt to take care of while she did the important work: ensuring that every Lyran citizen loved her ... or else, through propaganda, political manoeuvring or economic force (starving rebellious provinces until they learned their lessons, etc). This version actually seems to recognise that she has enemies on the borders ... sanity?

Nikas_Zekeval

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #28 on: 07 February 2016, 21:14:28 »
This Katherine seems very focused on defence, where in canon she saw it largely as an afterthought, something for her aunt to take care of while she did the important work: ensuring that every Lyran citizen loved her ... or else, through propaganda, political manoeuvring or economic force (starving rebellious provinces until they learned their lessons, etc). This version actually seems to recognise that she has enemies on the borders ... sanity?

Or at least sees that to shore up her political position after accusing Victor on neglecting the Lyran half of the realm she has to at least make a good appearance of shoring up defenses.

Cannonshop

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Re: Not necessarily to everyone's taste. (a Ngoverse story...)
« Reply #29 on: 08 February 2016, 07:02:00 »
Vin Drin Lap Coast Guard Station, Kowloon...

"Well?" Elizabeth Ngo crossed her arms and regarded the pilots.  "What do you think?"

"Stick's a bit heavy, lugs in manuevers."  Lt. Bianh Dao commented, "But I'm a light-fighter and that thing weighs a crap-ton more than I'm used to."

"I have to second that though-she lugged in accelleration, and I had to fight the stick when doing transatmospheric maneuvers."  Kpt. Huk Trang added, "I don't think that thing fits anybody's needs, it's too sluggish, even for a heavy."

"And the ship you got to fly last night, how was it by comparison?" Elizabeth asked.

"Peppy for a heavy." Dao stated, "Good turn rate, good accel, the weapons-pack was fantastic-and it had lots of bomb-rack and fuel, I could linger for days in it-at least, that's how it felt to fly."

"Yeah, the Drac machine's a beaut, I flew a Lucy in the LCN, those dracs know how to design an airframe."  Commander Lu Chen stated, "Only one that was close was the Stingray when you look at the tripod."

"Tripod?" Elizabeth asked.

"Handling, weapons, and range." he said, "the Slayer gives up onboard weps for range and handling-it's flat better than a Chip in that regard-not to mention being less vulnerable to a golden bb."

"What would you design differently?" she asked.

The pilots looked at each other.  "More power." Dao said, "a more aggressive power-curve.  Maybe bigger engines-on the sled especially."

"Can't do it-engineering limits on the airframe." Lu Chen stated, "it's already riding the point of no returns there-Might do something with chaning the heat-disspation systems and installing better energy weapons instead-give it more punch for the flight speed and handling, but it's already pushing the performance envelope for a hull that size."

"Why're you asking us anyway?" Dao inquired.

"I'm not a pilot, So I'm talking to pilots and mechanics before I close the licensing deals." Elizabeth stated, "The General told me 'front line quality'-you've all flown in Front-line units, you're all experienced pilots...and you're the best available that will actually tell me things I can use, instead of trying to guess what I want."

"The chip's no goddam good." Chen told her, "We're all agreed, too slow, too...luggy.  Stuka's a good ride, but it's probably hell to get licensing for, if you're looking outside the Fedcom for licenses."

"It is." Liz confirmed, "the Dracs actually offered me the best terms-as in the best price.  The Leaguers are demanding some pretty stiff payments to let us build Stingrays, but they're at least talking and I might talk them down."

"Build Slayers." Dao said, the other two pilots nodded agreement, "Range, payload and durability."

"I will take that into consideration." Liz told them, "Thank you for your time."

she stepped out of the office, and walked across the flight line to the second hangar.

"Chief...I want to talk to the tinbenders." she said.

It took a few minutes to get the mechanics off the airframes and into a semi-quiet area of the building.

"Alright, one Lyran heavy, a Leaguer heavy, and a Drac heavy.  Assuming you had to work on them in a combat scenario, which one do you think you can fix the easiest-and the fastest?" she asked.

"The Wedges." several mechanics nodded when the Coast Guard petty officer spoke up.  "Everything's under accessible panels, everything is laid out logically, the airframes are tough and they're designed by someone who's at least heard of a wind-tunnel."

"and second easiest?"

"Stingray." another Petty Officer spoke up, "Seriously, nevermind that you have to sweep the wing-roots for cracking, the engine bays, and avionics bays are practically stand-on-the-deck easy to reach, weapons systems are mounted and routed pretty intelligently too-every critical system's right where it should be."

"alright, guys, that's all I needed to hear.  um...dismissed." she shoved her hands in her pockets, and walked out the gate to the car-park, where Miss Whyte was waiting.

"I have no idea how I'm going to sell them on letting us build Slayers." she told her senior aide, "But the Dracs offered me half the cost that the Leaguers did, and my resident experts preferred it-he said 'front line quality'...I'm afraid I'll have to tell the Lockheed guy we're not going for the license to build chippewas no matter how deep the discount on the fees."

"So an aviation line for the general..."

"isn't happening." Liz stated, "I don't have the kind of pull to get them to adopt it as an ersatz standard, much less a front-line machine, I guess we'll have to make a different play for line four."

Miss Whyte opened the passenger door of the Gieneh Rover, helped Elizabeth into the shotgun seat, then walked around to take up the driver's position.

"So what's your counter-play?" she asked.

"I don't know yet." Liz said, "It's going to have to be good though."

"You've got all that tooling left from losing the Alarion yards contract, and the Rockjacks have some experience doing dropship work..." She said, "Maybe soothe some ruffled feathers by building droppers?"

"It's a thoguht-but god the expense..."

"nondi likes heavies these days." Miss Whyte said, "Maybe you should offer to add a heavy 'mech to the production schedule..."

"I don't know...just take me home, my head's killing me." Elizabeth said, "I'll figure it out after a bath."
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