Poll

Which storyline would you like to read more of? Thanks for your thoughts!

Bird Feeder
0 (0%)
Sunset
0 (0%)
Self Defence
2 (40%)
Stiletto
2 (40%)
Hired Gun
1 (20%)
None
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 3

Voting closes: 26 July 2024, 07:17:12

Author Topic: BattleTech Flash Fiction  (Read 1367 times)

9thLetter

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BattleTech Flash Fiction
« on: 24 April 2024, 21:28:32 »
Thanks very much for clicking on this post!

What’s new: I’ve posted a fifth piece below, and added a poll to gauge people’s thoughts about whether they would enjoy more pieces related to the ones to date.

My thanks for taking the time to have a look. Any thoughts are always welcomed.

What’s this thread about: Flash fiction is a type of storying telling that involves (you guessed it) very short pieces. There are a couple of other trends about it, but fortunately few rules.

From time to time, I’ll drop a piece into this post. If inclined, you can let me know what worked for you and what didn’t. I’ll be thankful for your thoughts.

You’re also welcome to reply with your own pieces of flash fiction that take place in our beloved world of big, stompy robots.

9th

Bird Feeder

He was supposed to come yesterday.
 
The feathered form lay unmoving in the snow, clawed feet clenched. The empty bird feeder creaked on its chain in the chill air. Surrounding the scene, dark tree trunks stood silent in snow drifts under a low, grey sky.
 
His mother once told him that she believed a person’s spirit returned to the stars after death. She had never explained the basis of her belief.
 
He was supposed to protect these songbirds. He was supposed to come yesterday.
 
The scraped digits of the ‘Mech’s hand cradled the large bird feeder, while the other hand delicately tilted a canister into the opened top. A dry shower of sunflower seeds flowed. A few dark seeds speckled the snow.
 
He knew what they said about him, of course.
 
External microphones relayed a ribbon of birdsong to his ears. The ‘Mech’s actuators whirred a quiet rejoinder as he replaced the lid of the feeder he’d welded when sleep was impossible.
 
Smart creatures. Fierce. Fragile.
 
He delighted in making his wintertime circuit. He was wounded every time he found a small broken form in the snow.
 
A flocked piper landed among the small black stars painted on one of the skyward-raised and gouged shoulders of his Griffin. The bird warbled in boisterous joy.
 
He knew they hated him.
 
Spring was approaching. Soon he would give up his forest circuit. The birds needed him during winter but must feed themselves when they could. He loved the small animals too much to indulge his own desires. They needed to learn how to take care of themselves.
 
The cautiously exchanged stories about him had been told and retold by his temporary charges.
 
“Do you know what unit he belonged to before this assignment? No wonder, right?”
 
“Those black stars on his ‘Mech? I heard he adds one for each one of us he fails out. He added one just yesterday.”
 
“Must’ve been from the other squadron.”

 
The CO knew the truth. Told him it was a bad idea each time when passing on a report.
 
He listened to the birdsong for another few moments. Watched the small forms bounce and flitter. Then turned his ‘Mech toward the training grounds.
 
Hopefully, no word would arrive from afar today. Hopefully, there would be no additions to his constellation this day.
« Last Edit: 19 July 2024, 07:21:30 by 9thLetter »

9thLetter

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Re: BattleTech Flash Fiction
« Reply #1 on: 26 April 2024, 08:21:26 »
Sunset
 
The plan seemed monstrous to the LAM pilot.
 
The WSP 100b buzzed alone and low over the ocean’s dark surface, its LTV 150 engine straining. The watery horizon had swallowed the planet’s sun minutes earlier. The LAM was rapidly fading from view.
 
The man in the cockpit looked over a series of blue-lit instruments. No sign of the pod yet.
 
At the briefing, the intelligence officer said the Federated Suns were “working on something new”. Meaning they had found something old and were trying to figure out what to do with it. This caught the attention of the DCMS brass. Plans were proposed, politicized, and preached.
 
The Davion research and development station was hidden under fathoms of seawater on an isolated planet. But Dragons have sharp eyes and long arms. So said the Tai-sa as he concluded the briefing with an artful striking of the table.
 
The Wasp reached the waypoint. The pilot’s gloved finger depressed a button, sending the expected signal. He then cautiously triggered a transition to AirMech mode. The grey machine slowed and shuddered as limbs emerged from the airframe. The unusual machine hung suspended between dark waves and diming sky as it circled and waited.
 
The plan was described as an honorable mix of daring but clever. With utmost stealth and secrecy, a dropship would deliver ‘Mechs to an isolated, rocky island some distance from the station. Two ‘Mechs, each assigned to a submersible filled with troops, would then walk into the surf, step off submerged cliffs, and sink to distant ocean bottom.
 
The submersibles were equipped with breaching air locks designed to seal against the exterior bulkhead before cutting through metal, insulation, wiring, and whatever else separated dark, frigid water from breathable air. The breaching force would enter the station, secure whatever it was they were looking for, and return to the submersibles. The ‘Mechs would then walk back the cliff edge where the submersibles would blow their precisely calibrated ballast tanks and lift themselves and the ‘Mechs from the depths. The Davions would be left only with holes in a doomed station. He could picture the troops, far below him, bunched together with weapons raised as the cutting lasers finished their work. Daring, indeed.
 
The real tactical acumen, however, was to send the object of the raid immediately to the surface in a buoyed pod.
 
And this is where he came in, thought the pilot with a wry smile. Grab the pod, stow it, and meet a second dropship in orbit. Clever.
 
A combined-arms masterpiece they said. Akin to an orchestra. But harmony was notoriously difficult. A gloried getaway car for an otherwise suicidal mission, he thought.
 
A ping emitted from the instruments. The pod had surfaced.
 
Glory to the Dragon.
« Last Edit: 18 July 2024, 11:29:20 by 9thLetter »

9thLetter

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Re: BattleTech Flash Fiction
« Reply #2 on: 30 April 2024, 16:44:33 »
Self Defence
 
The Lyran ‘Mechs seemed impatient to her as they maneuvered through the woodland. But what threat were a retreating Wolfhound and Valkyrie to the approaching Zeus, Enfield, and a pair of rapacious Blackhawks-KUs?
 
Just a few more hundred metres.
 
She’d been betrayed before. This catastrophe of a situation that had them trapped on planet and pursued by so-called Loyalist forces had the same sharp scent of avarice.
 
She sat in the hidden Schiltron, linked to the remaining Pilum heavy tanks. Their positions carefully selected. The air in the C3 vehicle was heavy, aromas of the morning’s heated ration packs still present. Her appointment to command the grouping of combat vehicles was an acknowledgement of the 40-year-old’s skill and her ability to bring people together.
 
Keep chasing our wounded ‘Mechs.
 
They had heard an extraction of some kind was in the works. She also knew the Lyran Alliance had sent reinforcements. These were problems for tomorrow.
 
Following her command appointment, she wished she could whisper to a younger version of herself that it would all work out, despite the fear and shame and anger. That eventually it wouldn’t be the last thing she thought of before sleep.
 
“We find the use of lethal force to have been necessary and proportionate self defence.” Such a tidy summary to the climax of her superior’s unwanted attentions.
 
Any moment now.
 
No one believed what was happening when the Lyran forces had first turned on them. Communications were confused. Truth and rumour competed. But she remembered how reality could shatter upon one violent inflection point. She remembered what it took to survive.
 
Indicators blinked on the panel in front of her. The forward observers had triggered their TAG designators. She keyed her mike, and in a quiet voice issued her order. Launch reports came across the net in response as propellant ignited, spewing flame and fumes. Vehicles swayed. The Arrow IV missiles would impact within seconds. The tanks and her Schiltron began moving. The upthreat Wolfhound and Valkyrie continued their limping retreat. The forward observers knew the RV.
 
She had issued the fire control orders and reattack pre-plans hours ago. Salvo spreads were largely established by doctrine and tailored by circumstance. The expertise lay in setting the conditions for success.
 
The Zeus staggered as the first missile denotated against its thick chest. Two more ripped away its right leg as others fell upon the toppling ‘Mech. The Blackhawks leapt into the air, but the homing missiles corrected and smashed them to the ground in pieces. The Enfield raised its arms then disappeared in a cacophony of exploding warheads. Within heartbeats, only acrid-smelling smoke moved in the clearing, drifting amongst blackened, twisted metal.
 
The forward observers delivered their battle damage assessments and broke contact.
« Last Edit: 18 July 2024, 11:28:50 by 9thLetter »

Daryk

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Re: BattleTech Flash Fiction
« Reply #3 on: 30 April 2024, 17:46:52 »
This is an interesting collection! :)

9thLetter

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Re: BattleTech Flash Fiction
« Reply #4 on: 25 June 2024, 13:42:31 »
Stiletto
 
It wasn’t any easier to be substantially overweight in 3151 than at any other time in human history, but Elise was happy.
 
She sat in the cockpit of her tawny-brown Locust IIC, watching the pirates’ symbology advance across the grassy plain toward the spaceport. Its buildings were dusty and corroded, but this employer had barely discussed her proposed fee. Time was of the essence, apparently.
 
The pack of mismatched machines, led by a Wolverine and flanked by a one-armed Vindicator, gave no indication of awareness as they rattled past her position, tucked into a sprawling grove of trees with her fusion engine set to idle. The rest of the protective force was a handful of under-gunned vehicles, hunched in dug-in positions between the pirates and the port.
 
“Stiletto, this is November. Day-glow, over.”
 
Elise was named after her maternal grandmother, a notable ballerina. She had inherited her namesake’s blond hair and blue eyes, but her desire to drive ‘Mechs was uniquely hers. She had tested exceptionally well on the academy’s entrance trials only to crumple and tear apart the letter that followed with both hands: “…blood sugars and triglycerides outside parameters…concern for long-term physical fitness standards…deemed unfit”.
 
“This is Stiletto, roger.” Elise’s eyes brightened as she brought her ‘Mech out of standby. Felt the hum of vitality flooding back into limbs and screens and systems. Moments later, the lithe war machine nimbly negotiated trees and loped out onto the veld.
 
Elise’s family was unused to failure and her parents remained off-balance in the wake of the academy’s rejection when she presented them with a business plan, including investing in an aging Commando. In whispers over chilled wine and warm evening breezes they agreed their daughter would soon tire of the soldier-for-hire life and return to the comforts of the family business. It was a rare miscalculation.
 
She stabbed with flashes of light at the back of the Vindicator with her medium pulse laser before the larger machine lurched about to face her. None of the vehicles or the lead Wolverine slowed their advance. Moments later, the Vindicator fell face first into the torn turf, sparking and smoking, its rear ripped open by the bite of her eight ER small lasers.
 
Years after upgrading from the Commando, she and another MechWarrior playfully bantered over a comms link as they pirouetted amongst the opposition. They had no peers that day. The flirting had felt so good, but the look on the other’s face as Elise emerged from her cockpit had been a dagger. That had been before Taylor of course, when she had cared much more about such things.
 
Elise sprinted and spun and sliced apart the slower and now disarrayed pirate vehicles, leaving them scattered in twisted pieces like a ripped apart letter. The Wolverine, now stripped of its comrades and options, turned to meet her.
 
Elise’s eyes brightened once more, and she imagined music as she stepped forward to dance.

Daryk

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Re: BattleTech Flash Fiction
« Reply #5 on: 25 June 2024, 17:07:22 »
Another interesting one! :)

mikecj

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Re: BattleTech Flash Fiction
« Reply #6 on: 25 June 2024, 23:11:41 »
Nice little stories!  Thanks for sharing these!
There are no fish in my pond.
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Wrangler

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Re: BattleTech Flash Fiction
« Reply #7 on: 28 June 2024, 08:07:15 »
Like the format! 
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
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9thLetter

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Re: BattleTech Flash Fiction
« Reply #8 on: 13 July 2024, 17:48:06 »
Thank you very much! Always happy to hear what worked and what didn’t. I’ll get something new up soon!

9thLetter

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Re: BattleTech Flash Fiction
« Reply #9 on: 18 July 2024, 11:24:16 »
Hired Gun
 
The man reached for the tumbler cradling the remaining amber liquid. He reminded himself that after this latest drink he could no longer trust his thoughts for work.
 
The files lay on the table in front of him in the Dämmerung hotel’s quiet executive club. A frequent place of work for the greying Leutnant Colonel with the beard scented of cypress and cedar.
 
Wet snow smeared against the darkening window near his table in the wood-paneled room. A difficult day to be outside. He took a sip from his glass, savouring its mouth feel, its pitch-perfect warmth and weight.
 
He returned his eyes to the pages. An allegation of disobeying a lawful order in the presence of the enemy, but the witness statements, radio chatter, and computer data suggested that the First Leutnant did attempt carry out the order. And yet, the proposed gift from the accused was hardly sufficient.
 
He closed the file and set it atop several others.
 
The next also included an amateurish bribe.
 
He was more than 20 years removed from his irreparable, but hidden injuries.  He could, however, still conjure up the burnt-metal and gore-spatter smell of the cockpit in his ruined Zeus. The resulting inability to drive ‘Mechs. His shame and anger. The distance he placed between himself and his Nagelring classmates. The bad decisions. Anna leaving. Transferring to the JAG Corps, rebuilding himself as a defence counsel. The drinking accompanying him out of the darkness. His sharp-edged memories in pursuit.
 
He shook his head in distaste before closing another folder and tossing it on the growing heap.
 
The next contained facts that would likely afford a junior member of his team the opportunity to develop his cross-examination skills. He set it aside.
 
The last file was a tragedy. Clearly excessive, and seemingly intentional civilian casualties. Joint accused who could well turn on each other. Good evidence of the egregious acts adduced by the investigation. A photograph with a melted doll held in a small, charred hand. An accelerated first trial appearance. And yet, the offer was sufficient.
 
He closed the file, scrawled a note for his assistant, then caught the eye of the managing bartender, who quickly brought another drink.
 
“Thank you, Aloysius. And would you be so kind as to do me another favour this evening? Outside this establishment there has recently been an elderly woman sitting near a vent, warming herself and seeking handouts from passerby.”
 
The bartender spread his hands and opened his mouth, but the officer continued.
 
“Please see to it that she receives a room and adequate meals for the next several days until the weather breaks. With my gratitude and your discretion as always. Danke.”
 
After the bartender’s retreat, the officer leaned back in his chair. Dark wood creaked. He admired the colour of the liquid, then drank half of it immediately, still hoping to corrode the keen edges of his past.

Daryk

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Re: BattleTech Flash Fiction
« Reply #10 on: 18 July 2024, 16:50:07 »
Conscience or not, I wouldn't want any case of mine to cross his desk...

9thLetter

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Re: BattleTech Flash Fiction
« Reply #11 on: 19 July 2024, 07:34:40 »
I’m with you - I imagine a court martial complicates life. Thanks for reading!