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Poll

What is your favorite Age of War story?

Just Following Orders
1 (6.7%)
Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight
3 (20%)
Forms of Betrayal
2 (13.3%)
Break Away
0 (0%)
Prometheus Unbound
5 (33.3%)
Nothing Ventured
0 (0%)
Goliath Out of the Box
0 (0%)
A Dish Served Cold
1 (6.7%)
The Spider Dances
1 (6.7%)
Far Country
2 (13.3%)
Paladin
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 15

Author Topic: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War  (Read 22843 times)

Mendrugo

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Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« on: 06 December 2012, 21:32:05 »
Greetings! 

In this thread, I intend to go through the complete library of BattleTech fiction and scenarios in chronological order.  I won't be covering sourcebooks or rulebooks - just the short stories, novel chapters, and scenarios that comprise the ground-level view of events in the Inner Sphere and beyond.

Entries will take the format of:

Date: (Month Day, Year)
Location: (Planet, when applicable)
Title: The story's name.
Author: Who wrote it.
Type: BattleCorps Story, Sourcebook Fiction, Scenario, Novel Chapter, etc.
Synopsis: A brief summary of the action
Notes: My thoughts on the story, the scenario, etc.

We begin at the dawn of the Age of War:

Date: January 14, 2366

Location: Lopez

Title: Rebirth

Author: Randall N. Bills

Type: Scenario (Northwind Highlanders)

Synopsis: The newly reformed First Kearny Highlanders launch a raid against the Oriente Hussars’ supply depots on Lopez, hoping to offset the Hussars’ technological superiority.  The Hussars are field testing TechniCorp’s prototype PPCs.

Notes:  This is the earliest scenario set in the BattleTech universe to date, predating the development of BattleMechs.  The Highlanders field Karnovs packed with Laser Jump Infantry and J. Edgars for ground support.  The defenders have Manticores and SRM Carriers. 

At the time this scenario was written, these vehicles had been referred to in TROs as designs that had been in service for centuries, so it was a good effort at making an era-appropriate lineup.  However, with the recent spate of products more fully fleshing out the Age of War, these vehicles have been shown to be anachronisms.  PPCs didn't debut until 2460, the Manticore in 2660, the Karnov in 2901, the J. Edgar in the 2700s, and the SRM Carrier in 2440.  Line Developer Herb Beas has stated that, given the conflicting data, the vehicles in this scenario and the stated motivation of field testing primitive PPC technology should not be taken as part of canonical BattleTech history.

A more period-accurate TO&E for the engagement would pit Torrent Heavy Bombers (the "IC" variant retrofitted for HALO paratrooper deployment) in place of the Karnovs and Randolph Support Vehicles for ground support in place of the J. Edgar hovercraft on the Capellan side, while the FWLM would field Kestrel MBTs in place of both the Manticores and SRM carriers.

Designed for the “Master Rules” ruleset, this scenario appears to be heavily slanted against the Highlanders under the later Total Warfare ruleset, due to the increased likelihood of motive system damage (particularly against hovercraft).  The SRM-Carriers in particular, much more than the vaunted Manticores, prove ruinous against the J. Edgars, which have nothing that outranges the SRM Carriers.  Even if most of the missile storm sent against the hovercraft misses, the few that connect are very likely to blow the hoverskirt, and the follow-up strikes against the slowed or immobilized unit will be terminal.

The terrain also works against the attackers.  The woods on the maps surrounding the “CityTech” map would allow the defender to completely seal off that map with five strategically placed tanks (2 SRM carriers and 3 Manticores – since the LRMs and PPCs can cover the depots from the chokepoint), leaving the other four as a reserve around the depot buildings against the airborne Karnovs and infantry.  Since all four depots can be placed on the CityTech map, the defender can concentrate their forces and have a good chance of obliterating the lightly armed VTOLs and infantry before they could possibly inflict the 110 points of damage necessary to destroy all four depot buildings. 

As a caveat – the infantry do have satchel charges that enable them to auto-destroy a building, given a full movement phase used to plant them.  If the Hussars’ dice hate them early on, the Karnovs may be able to penetrate to the depot buildings and drop the infantry on the roofs.  But if more than one Karnov is shot down en-route (with jump infantry aboard), it is unlikely that the Highlanders will be able to win the scenario on points.

With the period correct vehicles, infantry deployment gets easier with the Torrents (which are Conventional Fighters rather than slower VTOLs), but ground support is severely weakened, as the Randolphs are slower, more poorly armored, and minimally armed compared to the J. Edgars.  The whole scenario then relies on getting the infantry onto the buildings and blowing them sky high (the Randolphs can also carry infantry, so you could two-track the assault with both airborne and ground prongs).  The League Estevez platoon should concentrate on massing fire on the Torrents to try to take them out before they deploy their infantry onto the buildings.  Cluster tightly around the buildings to be protected so you can machine gun any platoon that scatters during the drop before it can reach the target structure and set charges.
« Last Edit: 03 March 2015, 05:03:31 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Blacknova

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #1 on: 06 December 2012, 23:57:41 »
Great idea.  Although for ease of searching, perhaps adding an addtional header called Type - Scenario, Chapter, Short Story etc.
Dedicated to committing viciously gratuitous bastardy of the first order.

You know there is something wrong with the FWL, when Word's spell check changes Impavido to Impetigo and Zechetinu to Secretion.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #2 on: 07 December 2012, 00:34:50 »
Sounds good. 

To keep it from getting too long, I'm going to do separate threads for Age of War, Reunification War, Star League, 1st Succession War, 2nd Succession War, 3rd Succession War, 4th Succession War, and then, once we get into the densest part of the fiction (3049-3080), go on a year-by-year basis, with one year per thread.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Blacknova

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #3 on: 07 December 2012, 03:21:42 »
Sweet, do you plan on a master index thread like the Fan articles?
Dedicated to committing viciously gratuitous bastardy of the first order.

You know there is something wrong with the FWL, when Word's spell check changes Impavido to Impetigo and Zechetinu to Secretion.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #4 on: 07 December 2012, 06:08:48 »
----- 46 Years Later -----

Date: February 23, 2412

Location: Tintavel

Title: Just Following Orders

Author: Roland M. Boshnack and Herbert A. Beas II

Type: Sourcebook Fiction (Era Digest - Age of War)

Synopsis: An FWL armor company commences an early Age of War battle for Tintavel, touching off the campaign that would eventually ruin the world and lead to the creation of the Ares Conventions.  The FWL’s Kestrel MBTs and APCs make short work of at least a battalion of Capellan tanks (Korvins are mentioned, specifically), as well as laying waste to the city of New Mitla (including the destruction of a hospital full of babies and pregnant women).
 
Notes: Such field conduct (and the apparent impotence of the CCAF’s Korvins) lays the groundwork for the CCAF’s later decision to start lobbing nukes at FWL staging areas. 

Looking at the comparative stats, the 5/8 Korvin has an 8 point main gun (large laser) backed by an LRM 10 and machine guns, with 38 armor on the front glacis, while the 3/5 Kestrel (an FWL version of the Estevez MBT) packs a 9 point main gun (primitive heavy rifle) backed by vehicular grenade launchers and machine guns, with 35 points of armor on the front glacis.  The APCs of the era have 5 armor on each facing – insta-death from a single hit from a tank.

Just on the face of it, the Korvins should have matched up well against the Kestrels.  If the FWL used its current force composition waaay back then, there would have been 10-15 Kestrels in the armor company.  Given the description of the Leaguers punching through, leaving more than a battalion of wrecked CCAF tanks in their wake, the New Mitla militia probably only had a lance of Korvins and the rest were APCs, since equal numbers of Korvins vs. Kestrels would probably have resulted in a Capellan victory.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 20:43:37 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #5 on: 07 December 2012, 19:07:32 »
Sweet, do you plan on a master index thread like the Fan articles?

Once I finish a thread, I'll add its entries to a master index.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #6 on: 08 December 2012, 08:12:01 »
----- 3 Years Later -----

Date: December 17, 2415

Location: Oshika

Title: Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

Author: Randall N. Bills

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Brothers Ito and Takeda Tesuo are Oshikan goji ranchers.  (Goji are foul-smelling herd insects raised for meat, which is sold cheaply to Unproductives and others too poor to afford better.)  Despite the allure of patching balky generators and shoveling goji dung (said to smell bad enough to kill a dog at 100 meters), Ito has transmitted his application to the academy, and will be leaving the farm to serve in the DCMS. (A dramatic John Williams score rises as Luke Ito gazes at the setting sun and dreams of a life of adventure offworld. ;) )  Younger brother Takeda feels betrayed by Ito's departure.

Notes: This scene paints a vivid portrait of rural life for Combine citizens, showing why the Pillar of Steel holds great appeal in terms of social mobility, and just how awful Combine cuisine is, at least for the lower classes.  Fillet of roach and a can of Stomach’s Joy are just the thing after an 18-hour shift at the factory or in the germanium mines.

Write-ups for Oshika show how hard-up for food it is.  It was founded as a mining colony and grew to have four billion inhabitants by the fall of the Star League.  Its soil is poor for growing Terran crops, and it imports huge amounts of chemical fertilizers to feed its people.  One oddity is that the indigenous Oshika Ox, which looks like a cross between an elephant and a cow, didn't start to be used as a food item until the early 3000s.  Why would the Oshikans have chosen to first domesticate the goji rather than the ox?  (Could be many reasons - goji cheaper to raise, grow faster, provide more meat, etc.)
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 20:44:26 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #7 on: 09 December 2012, 00:55:29 »
----- 10 Years Later -----

Date: July 7, 2425

Location: Capella

Title: Forms of Betrayal

Author: Randall N. Bills

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: A member of Marion’s Highlanders assassinates Chancellor Arden Baxter as he walks the streets of Capella Prime en route to a regular Thursday-night meeting at the House of Scions.  A needler blast to the face ends the Confederation’s first experiment with a non-Liao Chancellor.

Notes: Baxter’s security detail appears to have been criminally lax, both for not securing the Chancellor’s route and for allowing his routine to become predictable.  No details are given in the text about why the Highlander felt the need to assassinate the Chancellor, other than that he felt Baxter was limiting the Highlanders’ chances for greatness. 

A snippet from Intel Ops indicates that the triggerman was mentally unbalanced and hired by the Maskirovka for the job…which may also explain the security detail’s “oversights.”  As we'll see in Goliath out of the Box, the Maskirovka isn't quite finished screwing with the Highlanders.

Overheard street conversations also indicate war-weariness, with the Rim War against the Concordat, without the Ares Conventions, just finished, and tensions rising with both Houses Davion and Marik (due to manipulation by the disgruntled Maskirovka.)

One wonders just what the arrangement is between the House of Scions and the Chancellor, time-wise.  Most of the time we see the Capellan Chancellor in the fiction, he's ruling (okay, plotting and scheming) from the palace on Sian.  Yet, here the Chancellor is on Capella, strolling down the sidewalk for a regular Thursday-night meeting.  This implies that he's been on Capella for a while and takes a hand in the doings of the House.  Does the House of Scions meet all year, but only has the Chancellor in attendance for meetings/approvals one month out of the year?  Or does the House of Scions convene for a limited time with the Chancellor in attendance?  I'm sure the noble members of that body have other things they want to do beyond allocating tax assessments and rubber-stamping Prefectorate decrees.  Or is this just a Baxterism, since he started his political career in the House of Scions?
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 20:46:25 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #8 on: 09 December 2012, 17:13:44 »
----- 1 Year Later -----

Date: July 2, 2426

Location: New Samarkand

Title: Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

Author: Randall N. Bills

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Ito Tesuo, 11 years off the goji farm and following five years of Internal Security College training, takes his final test to join the ranks of the ISF, using a spear to battle what appears to be an imported Pesht predator ape in a jungle on New Samarkand.  He questions the test's relevance to his actual scope of work at the ISF.

Notes: It’s not clear what Ito did for the first six years after leaving Oshika.  Basic training took 6-12 months to become an infantry trooper, and then he probably served in an Age-of-War infantry force before qualifying for the ISF program.   The Intel Ops sourcebook says that ISF training consists of an intensive infantry combat program, grueling psychological and intellectual assessments (candidates are selected for DEST at this point), and classes in psychological warfare, weapons training, and cultural familiarization.

I agree with Ito that it seems to be something of a mismatch to subject every ISF applicant to a “Death by Kong” exam, since the vast majority of ISF operatives will be analysts, rather than DEST commandos.  (Notably, the Intel Ops book says Voice of the Dragon candidates so rarely encounter combat situations that they are given a less intensive weapons course.  So do the propagandists have to survive the "most dangerous game" as well?)  The Intel Ops book mentions that Pesht predator apes are raised by DEST to provide security around their HQ on Pesht, but there's no mention of a final trial by combat for the ISF cadets.  Perhaps unacceptable failure rates led the ISF to drop this from the process.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 20:47:10 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #9 on: 10 December 2012, 21:03:45 »
----- 2 Years Later -----

Date: February 27, 2428

Location: Kaznejov

Title: Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

Author: Randall N. Bills

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  Graduation day at the Sun Tzu School of Combat on Kaznejov.  Takeda Tesuo will be joining the DCMS infantry at the top of his class (having left Oshika after his folks apparently kicked the bucket – goji stampede? Bottom dropped out of the bugmeat market?), and tells a fellow student (an aerojock cadet) that he has no family after getting a letter that may be from Ito.

Notes: This brings back the Kaznejov/Kaznejoy question.  TPTB have now ruled that the official name is Kaznejoy, but it’s still Kaznejov in this early BattleCorps work.  (Funny story – one of the radius circle lines on the original House Kurita sourcebook starmap cut right across the ‘v’ in Kaznejov, making it look like a ‘y’.  When compiling world-lists for more recent projects, the map was used as the primary resource and the spelling officially changed.)

Looking at the TO&E lists for Age of War equipment, it's notable that the DCMS doesn't have any unique tanks listed for this era, aside from the Sand Devil hover tank, and that's an Azami exclusive at this point, used against the Combine occupiers.  Sun Tzu is graduating at least infantry and aerospace pilots (the Combine has Sabres in this era).  Even in 3025, the Combine doesn't give armor a lot of respect.  This may suggest that their Age of War formations were primarily comprised of APC-mounted infantry backed by light support vehicles, and that their battlefield success relied more on outmaneuvering and outfighting their foes than outgunning/outweighing them.

The Combine sourcebook indicates that the Kuritas were using heavy infantry and atmospheric aircraft as of 2303 (likely Torrent bombers, or a variant thereof).  A letter from Shiro states that the Alliance of Galedon is converting light civilian factories to make military equipment, so heavy tanks are probably beyond their scope.  The Rasalhagian rebels on New Bergen managed to capture a huge stockpile of DCMS equipment in 2334 - scoring jumpships, armored vehicles, personal weapons, artillery, and munitions.  The only known armored vehicle designs being fielded in 2334 were the Stoat Armored Car, Randolph Support Vehicle, and Kestrel/Estevez MBTs (identical AFFS/FWLM designs). 

In 2399, the DCMS high command acknowledged that, while their troops were more disciplined, they had inferior firepower, and had to upgrade their equipment.  At this point, the LCAF was fielding the then spanking new Marsden I MBT, while the DCMS had just primitive APCs.  (The Lyrans had armored VTOLs and multi-turreted tanks during the Skye/Tamar revolt of 2378, and deployed Aerospace Fighters and VTOLs in their raid on Vega in 2408.)
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 20:48:14 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #10 on: 11 December 2012, 23:23:48 »
----- 7 Years Later -----

Date: October 9, 2435

Location: New Samarkand

Title: Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

Author: Randall N. Bills

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: ISF analyst Ito, whose daily routine involves much analysis of Lyran economic reports and very little monkey murder, talks to a colleague, Illena, about his suspicions that the Terran Hegemony is up to something involving armed WorkMechs on Hesperus II.  His skeptical colleague tells him to run it down. 

Notes: The conversation nicely illuminates the pro-Kurita/anti-Von Rohrs leanings in the ISF upper management, as well as referencing current events like the Lyran Archon’s centralization of power and the Combine’s purge of merchants and their families in an effort to consolidate the Coordinator's control over the economy.

It's interesting that Illena dismisses out of hand rumors that the Terrans are producing armed WorkMechs, noting that "everyone's done that, without success."  I mentally pictured the classic montage of pre-Wright Brothers flying machines (or the more recent series of clips from Iron Man 2 with catastrophically malfunctioning North Korean, Iranian and Hammer battle armor). 

It seems that, at least as important as the development of the heavy gyroscope and neurohelmet, was the creation of military grade armor.  If an industrial 'Mech packing ammo-based weapons had to make a crit check every time a large laser hit, it would turn to a pyre pretty quickly.  Ilena jokes that Shiro-era armored vehicles (from 100 years earlier) had superior performance to all known attempts to arm WorkMechs.  (As we'll see down the road in Mercenary's Star, PickerMechs with machine guns strapped on don't have the best battlefield track record.  Or even worse, the farmers on Randall's Regret who take an armed CattleMaster and a quad CargoMech into battle against a bandit and get stomped flat...by an UrbanMech.)  Once 'Mechs take the field, the majority of the battle descriptions focus on how enemy fire seems just to bounce off harmlessly, while the heavy weapons mounted on the 'Mech chassis cut through BAR armor like a hot knife through cheese.

This leads me to believe that even if the Terran Hegemony hadn't developed the BattleMech, they'd still be miles ahead once they started armoring their Merkavas and other vehicles with their newfangled high-tech armor plating.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 20:49:15 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #11 on: 12 December 2012, 17:30:01 »
----- 3 Years Later -----

Date: December 22, 2438 – January 10, 2439

Location: Terra

Title: Break Away

Author: Ilsa J. Bick

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: As the field of HAF candidates to pilot the first Mackie prototype comes down to the final four, the final test is a wilderness survival challenge where the four candidates hunt each other with powered-down weapons and have to survive against a special forces squad hunting them all.  However, a Capellan officer with a serious personal grudge against several of the HAF troopers (following the events of the Battle of Tybalt, part of an HAF offensive against the Capellan Confederation) has brought in a Maskirovka strike team and plans to gain his revenge by killing the candidates and extracting intel about the Mackie for the CCAF. 

Simultaneously, the neurohelmet development lab has also been infiltrated (by either the Maskirovka or the Davion Ministry of Intelligence), but the spy there has his cover blown by one of the chimp researchers.  Kincaid escapes his captors and survives to pilot the Mackie, while the infiltration attempts utterly fail.

Notes:  Here we see the HAF Desert Cobra and Redhawk VTOL gunships.  It will be interesting to see if they ever make it into print in a future era-appropriate TRO.  There’s an odd anachronism when a scientist at the neuro-helmet research facility blows the infiltrator’s cover – pegging him as Maskirovka - and addresses him as “sang-shao,” despite the fact that the CCAF didn’t adopt that rank designation until Sun Tzu’s reforms more than 600 years later.

This story provides a unique glimpse of the internal politics of the Terran Hegemony.  Despite its reputation as the “shining beacon on a hill” of the Inner Sphere, there are references to disloyal nobles, vulnerability to infiltration and treachery, and popular discontent with Director Jacob Cameron.   With the Battle of Tybalt referenced both here and in Fall Down/Stand Up, it would be interesting to learn more about that campaign, described in the SLSB only as the culminating battle in an offensive HAF campaign launched against both the Federated Suns and Capellan Confederation, which resulted in a minor HAF victory at a high cost in lives.  Perhaps a Historical Turning Point: Tybalt at some point?

Clearly, being the first test pilot of a new class of war-machine is a huge honor, and the candidates for the slot will compete fiercely for it.  However, it's odd that the final filter comes down to a test of personal stamina and killer instinct in the wilderness, since neither of those qualities is particularly vital to make a good showing in the BattleMech's first live fire field test, scheduled for February 2439.  Like the predator ape challenge for ISF recruits, the test doesn't seem particularly well suited to the requisite skill set.  (I'm reminded here of the description of the trials set by the Brotherhood of Randis for prospective MechWarriors, which were later described as merely a regimen of brutal hazing, rather than a true measure of ability.)
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 20:50:05 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #12 on: 13 December 2012, 01:12:39 »
----- 1 Month Later -----

Date: February 5, 2439

Location: Terra

Title: Birth of the King

Author: David McCulloch

Type: Scenario (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: The first live-fire test of a BattleMech features four remote operated drone Merkava tanks against the prototype Mackie.

Notes: At 3/5, none of the units involved are terribly spry, so the engagement is likely to just be a slugging match.  The advantage definitely lies with the Mackie, however, since two of its three guns can penetrate the BAR 7 armor on the Merkavas, giving a chance for critical hits with nearly every strike.  The prototype Mackie is also extra-vulnerable to crits, but first the tanks have to drill through 20+ points of armor per location with AC/5s and SRM-2s.   Plus, the tanks are fed into the battle piecemeal, preventing them from massing fire.  If playing the tanks, the best strategy would be to hang back and try to use the hills for cover until the whole lance is on the field, and then attack en-masse (taking care not to get within stomping range, since a 20-point kick isn't going to be doing the Merkava Mk. V any favors.).

The scenario setup doesn’t exactly match Professor Htov Gbarleman’s report from the Star League sourcebook (p. 31), which indicates that the Merkavas were already on the test range, waiting for the Mackie, and the ‘Mech came to them.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 20:51:07 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #13 on: 14 December 2012, 00:45:23 »
----- 1 Year Later -----

Date: July 6, 2439

Location: St. John

Title: Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

Author: Randall N. Bills

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  The Lyrans are launching a fourth attempt to retake St. John from the expanding Combine.  Takeda Tesuo’s DCMS infantry regiment was shredded trying to hold the world, and is now engaged in guerilla strikes against Lyran forces. Takeda is now a DCMS company commander, though his company is down to 13 effectives.  In this battle, Takeda’s men demonstrate that fire + conventional vehicles and infantry = fireworks.

Notes:  The Lyrans aren’t yet referred to as “cows,” “bessies,” etc. – all names that come from their later preference for the heaviest ‘Mechs.  At this point, they’re disdainfully called “merchants.”  Traders seem to be in poor regard, especially considering the purges of the Combine’s merchant clans four years earlier.  Despite the battles of the Age of War being characterized elsewhere as “bloodless maneuvering,” a DCMS trooper notes that the Combine regiment has been “cut to ribbons.” 

Pre-BattleMech LCAF formations seen here are combined arms – one battalion of diesel tanks (most likely Marsden MBTs – 3/5 ICE 65 tonners with BAR 7 armor, packing an AC/5 backed by SRM 6 and machine gun) backed by two battalions of mechanized infantry.  Social-General leadership appears to already be in style, though, as the Kuritans are able to defeat the Lyran regiment by setting the wheat fields they’re sweeping on fire with napalm – noting that the Lyrans haven’t learned since the last time this was done to them.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 20:54:53 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #14 on: 14 December 2012, 11:45:28 »
----- 10 Years Later -----

Date: October 9, 2449

Location: Skye

Title: Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

Author: Randall N. Bills

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: ISF agent Ito Tesuo has been trying, without success, to crack HAF security around the BattleMech project for fourteen years, and has been under cover at Shipil Company on Skye for the past three.  Opportunities to demonstrate prowess in battling feral apes remain few and far between. 

His latest scheme to get a berth on a Shipil Company transport that just might make a delivery to Hesperus II collapses when the freighter is unexpectedly rerouted, and Ito begins to make preparations to eliminate his cover identity and try another avenue somewhere else.

Notes: Ito notes he’s paying 50 kroner a month for his flophouse.  By comparison, Handbook House Steiner places average monthly housing rental in the Skye province at 110 kroner/month – not sure what this says about kroner inflation over the next 600 years. 

It's amusing that Ito, who grew up on a diet of goji meat, would find sauerkraut so objectionable.

There’s an intriguing mention of “ongoing purges” in the Combine, which would be Nihongi Von Rohrs’ attempt to eliminate anyone whose loyalty was suspect.  Intel Ops notes that these purges gutted the ISF, and left it without the resources or personnel to successfully get more than scraps of information about Hegemony technology. 

This makes it sound very similar to Romano Liao's purges in the 3030s and 3040s.  Of course, hers were done not to weed out those loyal to Maximillian vs. herself in the Maskirovka, but to cleanse an organization that had been massively compromised by the MIIO.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 20:55:44 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #15 on: 15 December 2012, 01:35:39 »
----- 6 Years Later -----

Date: February 1, 2455 – February 9, 2455

Location: Hesperus II

Title: Prometheus Unbound

Author: Herbert A. Beas II

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  17 years after the Mackie prototype went live, the Terran Hegemony is manufacturing production models full steam on Hesperus II.  With the Lyrans being pressed hard by the FWL and Combine, Simon Kelswa leads a Counter-Terrorism Division (later known as Lohengrin – Lyran ninja orphans) strike team to wrest the Commonwealth’s salvation from the Terrans.
 
The commandos, headed by Simon Kelswa and Brian Kirkpatrick, infiltrate as Commonwealth Mining Company (CMC) laborers and intentionally arouse suspicion so as to get detained and delay their transfer to the mines (giving time for the next phase of the plan to go into effect).  Upon their clearance and departure from the Maria’s Elegy spaceport, their shuttle “crashes” into the Myoo Mountain complex.  The team gets the tech specs in the resulting confusion, but the operation nearly goes awry when the shuttle is breached by HAF security, causing failsafes to detonate. 

The team subsequently extracts on cargo shuttles and rendezvouses with a JumpShip false-flagged with Rim Worlds Republic registry, with the HAF none the wiser about the data leak.  It is later revealed that the explosion of the transport was planned in advance to give the impression that all the “miners” had died in the crash, letting the Terrans assume it was just a tragic accident, and not knowing that their top secret tech had just walked out the door.

Notes:  This is a prose expansion of the sourcebook account from p. 18 of the House Steiner book.  The presence of the fake RWR JumpShip was, according to author Herb Beas, done to explain why ComStar’s Periphery report erroneously indicated that the RWR’s intel agency, AsRoc, cooperated with the Lyrans in Operation PROMETHEUS.  Herb noted that, if that had been the case, and the RWR had acquired ‘Mech technology at the same time as the Lyrans, it would have been hard to justify the RWR being mostly armed with conventional forces rather than 'Mechs during the Reunification War.
 
The question still remains of why the HAF tolerated an RWR-flagged JumpShip in the Hesperus system at all, given Ito's remark in Fall Down/Stand Up that the ISF was afraid to put a JumpShip in the system.  Had Von Rohrs’ purges rendered the ISF overly timid at this juncture, or was the RWR regarded as generally friendly and non-threatening during the Age of War?  (Something that certainly couldn’t be said in regard to Combine/Hegemony or Combine/Commonwealth relations.)

Despite the reputedly “massive” security that made the ISF afraid to even enter the system and held the LIC at bay for 15 years, the Commonwealth Mining Company seems to have had no problem bringing in semi-skilled laborers to staff C.M.O. 7 – its mining outpost on the far side of the planet from the Myoo Mountain factory.  One wonders why the security-obsessed HAF didn’t simply divert the “miners” to the CMO 7 site initially, and have a local security screen there.  Presumably, component subcontractors also made deliveries to the HAF ‘Mech factory via Maria’s Elegy, which is why Ito was trying to get a berth on a Shipil Company transport out of Skye.

This story is told from Kelswa's POV, and does a good job of conveying the stomach-churning fear that BattleMechs elicited from those seeing them for the first time.  Despite having (presumably) braved enemy fire on numerous occasions during the Age of War - now in its 57th year - Colonel Kelswa freezes in terror on several occasions when coming into sight of a BattleMech.  Thinking about this, one wonders just what triggered his fear response.  WorkMechs, including big ones like the Dig King, had been around for a century at this point, so just seeing a big humanoid mech stomping around shouldn't have been a novel experience.  Perhaps the sheer size of the guns on the Mackie was the stimulus, since attempts to arm WorkMechs would probably have been limited to machine guns, AC/5s and SRM-2s, with PPCs and lasers being out of the question.  A later account (Goliath Out of the Box) describes the Mackie's arm guns as "being nearly the size of our entire tank."  Or perhaps there was something visually different about the non-BAR armor.

Of historical interest, the derogatory terms for Terrans in this era (the equivalent to Cappie, Fedrat, Drac, etc.) are “Terrie” and “Terrat.”
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 20:59:13 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #16 on: 16 December 2012, 04:34:27 »
This leads me to believe that even if the Terran Hegemony hadn't developed the BattleMech, they'd still be miles ahead once they started armoring their Merkavas and other vehicles with their newfangled high-tech armor plating.
Note that Manitcore's, which have always had standard armor, were around in the first story, 69 years before

Ito notes he’s paying 50 kroner a month for his flophouse.  By comparison, Handbook House Steiner places average monthly housing rental in the Skye province at 110 kroner/month – not sure what this says about kroner inflation over the next 600 years.
Pretty damn good, normal doubling time is 35 years


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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #17 on: 16 December 2012, 05:10:25 »
I wouldn't put too much stock in the old NWH Scenarios. There wasn't the support for AoW stuff back then that there is now.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #18 on: 16 December 2012, 05:40:50 »
Just checked the MUL, the Manticore wasn't introduced until sometime in the 27 century, time for errata

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #19 on: 16 December 2012, 08:40:14 »
Just checked the MUL, the Manticore wasn't introduced until sometime in the 27 century, time for errata

For that matter, the fluff for the Reunification War-era Hipparch indicates that the J. Edgar was a later design intended as an upgrade on the Hipparch design concept.  And even the primitive SRM Carrier wasn't introduced until 2440.

The MUL date for the Manticore probably comes from the fluff statement that it began being manufactured for Star League member states in the 2600s.  That could be read to mean it was made just for the FWL by Technicorp much earlier, and then production/distribution was expanded during the Star League era. 

I'd be comfortable with assuming that the Manticores in Rebirth are primitive variants with BAR 7 armor and (if necessary) weaker weaponry.  If the 2439 Mackie mounted a prototype PPC that generated 15 heat, then the primitive Manticore should have the same drawback, and need to mount five more heat sinks to deal with the extra heat, dropping weapons and armor accordingly. 

The Rebirth scenario being a field test for the primitive Manticore prototype might explain why the design didn't come to dominate the Age of War battlefields - its support weaponry and armor protection would have to be substandard due to the heat load, making it inferior to the ballistic and missile loadouts on its peers.

If the Rebirth scenario were to be redone to current canon, the Highlanders would probably pack Stoats and primitive Karnovs (with BAR armor), while the Oriente Hussars would replace the SRM Carriers with Kestrel MBTs and the Manticores with primitive versions.
« Last Edit: 16 December 2012, 10:58:26 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #20 on: 16 December 2012, 09:42:39 »
Pretty damn good, normal doubling time is 35 years

I'm guessing that there was either a major deflationary cycle during the Succession Wars, or that the Lyrans had to adjust currency values at some point (trimming off three 0's and saying that the old 1,000 kroner bill is now worth 1 neu-kroner).  One of the books notes that at one point during the Star League era, the kroner was looking pretty shaky, and the Commonwealth gave serious consideration to just ditching it and adopting the Star League dollar as its official currency.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #21 on: 16 December 2012, 09:49:34 »
----- 1 Month Later -----

Date: March 26, 2455

Location: Tharkad

Title: Prometheus Unbound

Author: Herbert A. Beas II

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  Archon Alistair Marsden-Steiner tells a distraught Simon Kelswa that the tactics used on the raid (which killed four Lyran commandos and hundreds of Hegemony factory workers) are acceptable, given the stakes.  Kelswa admits that he was frozen with fear when he encountered the Terran Mackies, and offers to resign.  The Archon instead commands him to review the data and find the weaknesses in the design, so that the LCAF can effectively fight against ‘Mechs in the field without having to be afraid.

Notes:  March is noted as being during local winter in Tharkad City, which is useful in attempting to attach rough dates to the events of The Sword and the Dagger.

Mission commander Simon Kelswa is likely a member of the Tamar Kelswas – at this time a prominent family in the Tamar Pact, but not yet its ruler.  A Davis Kelswa was Prime Minister of Tamar circa 2364, but House Kelswa didn’t become the Ducal rulers until 2505, after the fall of House Natesh (when Duke Natesh backed Margaret Olsen). 

Kelswa is presented here as an idealistic commander who didn’t want anyone to get hurt in the operation – regarding the Hegemony as non-hostile, but believing in the necessity of obtaining a technological edge to defend against Combine aggression.  He is used effectively to convey the awe and terror that the BattleMech inspired in the years after its debut.  It appears that Colonel Kelswa is an LCAF regular, while his team was mostly (if not all) Lohengrin – given the difference between his attitude towards casualties (a product of Age of War engagement philosophies, no doubt) and the more sanguine mindset of Agent Brian Kirkpatrick.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 20:59:54 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #22 on: 17 December 2012, 17:15:05 »
----- 7 Months Later -----

Date: October 17, 2455

Location: New Avalon

Title: Nothing Ventured

Author: Christoffer M. Trossen

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: The Federated Suns’ Ministry of Intelligence has managed to covertly acquire three HAF Mackies (in various states of disrepair) for analysis, but their scientists are having difficulty reverse engineering them.  After exhorting his researchers to produce results faster, First Prince Simon Davion discusses the situation with his aides – Duke William Garth (Prime Minister), Duchess Wilhelmina Groth (Minister of Intelligence), and Duke Delton Felsner (Deputy Foreign Minister), as well as other unnamed cabinet ministers and AFFS brass.

Felsner informs the First Prince that the Lyrans have acquired BattleMech technology from the Hegemony, and that the Hegemony has dramatically stepped up internal security in the aftermath of Operation PROMETHEUS.  Felsner outlines Operation VENTURE – a plan to send a special diplomatic envoy to the Commonwealth in hopes of acquiring the tech specs without having to resort to a commando raid or reverse engineering.

Notes: It appears that a Ducal title is a must for FedSuns cabinet ministers.  It’s not clear whether or not the title comes with the appointment, or if cabinet ministers are drawn exclusively from the Suns’ nobility.

It’s interesting that the First Prince regards the Hegemony as a dangerous enemy at this juncture, with their technology proving more of an existential threat than the territorial ambitions of the Combine or the Confederation.  This is probably due to the previous decade's major HAF offensive campaign along the FedSuns/CapCon border that culminated in the Battle of Tybalt (generally regarded as a minor HAF victory, given the lives expended).

It’s also notable that the Prince says the Federated Suns hadn’t sent an envoy to the Lyrans for years.  This predated FTL communications, so expensive command-circuits would be required to courier messages from New Avalon to Tharkad, and even these would have to go through Capellan, Combine, or Hegemony systems en-route – not a good option if all three are considered hostile.  As we’ll see, it takes five months to get from New Avalon to Tharkad via courier ship without a command circuit.

The quandry faced by the AFFS at this point is similar to that faced by the Federated Commonwealth in the early 3050s.  They had limited samples of captured OmniMech technology, and were torn between fielding it against the Clans or sending it to the NAIS for analysis.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 21:01:13 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #23 on: 18 December 2012, 07:55:05 »
----- 5 Months Later -----

Date: March 22, 2456 – September 5, 2456

Location: Tharkad

Title: Nothing Ventured

Author: Christoffer M. Trossen

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Duke Delton Felsner travels to Tharkad to try to acquire ‘Mech technology.  He is met by Tess, an undercover Ministry of Intelligence agent, who informs him that LIC agents have apparently infiltrated/suborned the FedSuns embassy, making it of dubious use to Felsner’s mission.  Felsner is frustrated with the slow pace of negotiations, and finally makes a bold proposal for sharing military and intel data, as well as the exchange of military technology, in the interests of containing the Terran Hegemony and Draconis Combine, which he refers to as the “greatest threats to peace and prosperity in the Inner Sphere.”  He gets the Lyran negotiator, Duke Karl Bernstorff, to admit that the Commonwealth has acquired BattleMech technology.
 
Months later, as negotiations are proceeding, Felsner narrowly escapes a bombing (blamed on Kuritan agents trying to block Lyran-FedSuns coordination).  To move things forward, Felsner directs Tess to kidnap the Lyran negotiator’s mistress, and through narco-interrogation, discovers that Bernstorff has been embezzling millions of kroner.  With this leverage, they arrange for the transfer of ‘Mech technology to the Federated Suns, in exchange for a substantial payment, a mutual non-aggression treaty, technical assistance setting up ‘Mech factories, and joint military training (perhaps to convince Lyran commanders to stop driving ICE tanks through flammable wheat fields, for example).

Notes:  Despite the Prince’s comment about “no envoys for years,” this chapter makes it clear that the Federated Suns does maintain a fully staffed diplomatic embassy on Tharkad, though Ambassador Deir is regarded as “clueless” - no doubt partially a consequence of having to wait five months for dispatches from New Avalon.  Its primary mission appears to be trade talks.  There’s also a Combine embassy on Tharkad – though it appears to merely be a cover for an ISF listening post/terror cell.

It’s an odd slip that the Lyrans refer to the Combine bomber as a Kuritan agent, given that Von Rohrs is running the show as Coordinator at this point, and is aggressively purging Kuritan influences.  Despite the internal shakeup, it must have taken a while for people beyond the Combine’s borders to view it as anything but House Kurita’s fiefdom.

Apropos of nothing, it’s currently the fashion in the FedSuns Terran March for women to cut their hair short and dye it bright red.  Tess also demonstrates that carbon fiber-reinforced fingernails were a popular tool centuries before Sun-Tzu Liao started sporting them.

Meanwhile, at this point in Lyran history, homosexual affairs are all the rage among the Lyran nobility, while even high officials admit that bribery and kickbacks are a way of life in a nation of merchants (perhaps the Drac disdain for merchants is justified).  Contrary to the “fight with honor” portrait of Lyran higher-ups in Prometheus Unbound, Nothing Ventured shows us a corrupt/decadent Lyran court (drawing obvious parallels to Rome during its decline).  One implication is that the Lyrans might have collapsed through internal rot and military incompetence if they hadn't acquired the BattleMech in time to throw the Combine and League back on their heels.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 21:02:56 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #24 on: 18 December 2012, 23:17:38 »
----- 4 Months Later -----

Date: January 19, 2457

Location: New Avalon

Title: Nothing Ventured

Author: Christoffer M. Trossen

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: First Prince Simon Davion personally congratulates Lyran Ambassador Bernstorff and Duke Felsner for concluding the treaty to transfer ‘Mech technology to the Federated Suns.  Sticking in the knife and twisting, Felsner introduces Bernstorff to his new “aide,” Ministry of Intelligence agent Tess. 

Notes: Felsner and MIIO are clearly enjoying their chance to get revenge on the Lyrans for the LIC’s earlier infiltration and suborning of the FedSuns intel personnel at the Embassy on Tharkad.  The FedSuns tradition of having a ‘man on the inside’ goes back quite a ways.

Felsner and Bernstorff must have caught an express JumpShip on the return voyage, shaving a month off the transit time.  The timing gets slightly confusing, since Felsner implied that he would be taking Bernstorff's mistress/embezzlement accountant back to New Avalon (officially: great new job; unofficially: hostage), and told the Lyran official that he was welcome to visit her there.  Yet it almost seems that Bernstorff would have had to make the trip to New Avalon along with Felsner to arrive in only four months, but Felsner gives the impression that he's been back on New Avalon for a bit, and welcomes Bernstorff, who seems ready to turn right around and head back to Tharkad, without visiting his mistress.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 21:03:55 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #25 on: 19 December 2012, 17:41:09 »
----- 1 Month Later -----

Date: February 27, 2457

Location: Kaznejov

Title: Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

Author: Randall N. Bills

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Takeda Tesuo, last seen torching Lyran tanks on St. John 18 years earlier, has spent the intervening period battling Lyrans and Fedrats on over fifty worlds.  As his reward, he’s been beaten mercilessly and is lying on a cold stone floor being interrogated.  It turns out that this is part of the final test to become one of the first Draconis Elite Strike Team (DEST) troopers. 

Takeda succeeds by figuring out the correct answer for the interrogators - he is no longer a samurai of the Draconis Combine, he is now a ninja - one who can become as insubstantial as smoke.  As a member of DEST, he is nobody, he is nothing...and that nothing will be the death of the Combine's enemies.

Notes:  Interestingly, Takeda relies on imagery of himself as a samurai/ninja warrior as he prepares to join DEST.  This predates Urizen Kurita’s Japanese cultural makeover of the Combine by 200 years.  At this point in the story, we're not given any indication if this is reflective of Japanese imagery in Combine culture, the military, or just in the Tesuo family.  In a later scene, Ito mentions that his father was generally too busy with the farm to pass on more than the rudiments of Japanese culture and language to himself and Takeda, so this focus on medieval Japanese martial conventions appears to be external to Takeda - perhaps something from his time with the DCMS infantry, or from earlier in the DEST selection process.

If the DEST program for the first team is anything like the modern process, Takeda may have been seconded to an OCS and then identified by the ISF as a potential recruit.  Once diverted into the ISF training regimen, he would have been identified as having DEST potential, and been split off for a separate training and evaluation regimen (one that does not, apparently, include gorilla-fu).
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 21:06:49 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #26 on: 20 December 2012, 16:10:04 »
----- 2 Months Later -----

Date: April 2, 2457

Location: Ningpo

Title: Goliath Out of the Box

Author: Randall N. Bills

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  A 2nd Kearny Highlanders reinforced tank company is fleeing back for their LZ after their raid on Ningpo ran into a force of HAF Mackies.  The Highlanders speculate that the Maskirovka intentionally withheld intel on the HAF garrison, hoping to see how the new Terran superweapon performs in the field.  They send their lone hovercraft ahead to the LZ, then turn back to make a stand against a pursuing Mackie, hoping the faster hovercraft can make it back to the DropShip and get offworld to let the rest of the Highlanders know that the Maskirovka betrayed them.  The Mackie takes the Highlander tank company apart with ease.

Notes:  The Highlanders are now using ICE tanks – mostly heavy Capellan Suvorovs, some APCs, and an FWL-designed Tigershrike hovercraft.  The Suvorov mounts an autocannon on a turret (probably AC/5, since the AC/10 didn't debut until 2460).  Since it’s a Mackie running the column down, they can’t be moving any faster than 3/5, and may even be crawling along at 2/3.  There is probably some HAF armor (3/5 Merkava VIs, most likely) - backing up the Mackie, since the Highlander commander remarks that they’ll show the Haffers they need the ‘Mech to win.

The Tigershrike is probably a 4/6 (or 3/5 if the Suvorovs are 2/3), since the Highlanders feel the need to make a suicidal rear-guard stand to enable it to get clear.  It’s probably a 50-tonner, trading off speed for armor and weapons.  (Ah, the sweet innocence of the days before the Motive Hits Table.) 

The Highlander grousing about the Suvorov ("maybe someday the Confederation will make a decent tank") seems odd, given that the Capellan Korvin, at least, seems to match up well against its rivals (Merkava, Marsden, Estevez/Kestrel, and Tiger).  Mounting a ballistic weapon in the turret, the Suvorov seems to be an ancestor of today's Po, while the large-laser packing Korvin shows greater similarities to the later Brutus.

The Maskirovka appears to be sort of slow off the starting blocks in terms of gathering intel on BattleMech field performance.  They’d managed to infiltrate and nearly derail the Mackie development project 19 years earlier, as seen in Break Away, but now seem unaware that the Hegemony has beaten off five incursions into their territory with Mackies.  Most of those incursions were probably by the Federated Suns, since they managed to grab three partial Mackies in battlefield salvage.

Since the Highlanders continue to serve the Confederation for another 600 years, it’s probable that HAF fighters (probably Martinson Armaments’ Chimeras in this era) managed to smash the DropShip or force it to lift off and flee before the Tigershrike got aboard to report that the CC sent the Highlanders on a suicide mission.  The Highlanders seem to be the CC’s go-to unit for sending into the teeth of new enemy equipment, considering the 1st Kearny’s matchup against prototype PPCs on Lopez in Rebirth.

Of note, electronic warfare is evident on this battlefield.  The Highlander commander complains that HAF EW interference is jamming their communications, forcing them to send the Tigershrike as a message courier, rather than just radioing ahead to the DropShip.  This is 140 years before the modern Guardian ECM unit was first fielded, but its clear that the HAF enjoys a significant technological advantage by deploying a primitive EW package, perhaps with characteristics similar to that fielded by the RVN-1X Raven in the House Liao sourcebook.

[Update: Wrangler points out that the Torrent Heavy Bomber entry in TRO: Vehicle Annex references the Squealer I ECM suite, which dates back at least to the Terran Alliance.  It's probable that the HAF was fielding a Squealer (II, III, etc.) system to jam the Highlanders.]
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 21:07:54 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #27 on: 21 December 2012, 07:00:43 »
----- 2 Years Later -----

Date: April 9, 2459

Location: Loric

Title: A Dish Served Cold

Authors: Chris Hartford and Jason M. Hardy

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Captain-General Geralk Marik’s command post on Loric is under heavy Lyran attack.  LCAF artillery is raining down around him as Lyran forces (now equipped with 1st-generation BattleMechs) smash through his eastern perimeter.   Still unwilling to believe how effective ‘Mechs can be in battle, he mounts up in his personal tank (most likely a Kestrel) and charges them to buy time for his staff to evacuate to the DropShips.  He manages to cripple one before…

*SQUICK*

Notes:  The story ending implies that Geralk drove in alone, guns-a-blazing, against the oncoming Mackies and got stomped flat.  However, the original Marik sourcebook indicates that the battle raged for hours, with Geralk remaining in control throughout, throwing everything he had at the Lyran ‘Mechs, even to the point of having his DropShips hover over the battlefield to provide ground support fire.

The Lyrans aren’t piloting pure Mackie clones.  They mount lasers, missiles and autocannon.  Whatever data they pulled from Hesperus II appears not to have included the HAF’s ‘Mech-mounted PPC, or at least Lyran engineers weren’t able to duplicate it for their first generation of ‘Mechs.  (The Typhoon entry indicates that the LCAF debuted its prototype PPCs on that chassis in 2461 – two years after this battle.)

At this point, the FWL is probably fielding Kestrels (heavy tanks), Tigershrikes (hovercraft), missile/autocannon carriers, APCs, Stoats (scout cars), Randolphs (support vehicles), Eagle and Dragonfire aerospace fighters, and perhaps Mosquito conventional fighters (though those were mostly sold to militias), and had been handily defeating LCAF Marsdens (heavy tanks), weapon carriers, APCs, Stoats and Randolphs.  Both sides also rely heavily on infantry and artillery.  They Lyrans had some sort of aerospace fighters and armored VTOLs at this point (both were used in the Vega raid that stopped the earlier DCMS invasion of Skye cold), but solid data on which designs in particular is currently lacking.

The primary point of difference between the LCAF and FWLM during Geralk Marik's invasion is in their main battle tanks.  Looking at the Marsden vs. the Kestrel, the FWLM superiority becomes evident.  The two tanks have identical 3/5 movement profiles, but the larger (80 tons vs. 65) Kestrel mounts a heavy rifle capable of punching through the then-standard BAR 7 armor, while the Marsden had just an AC/5 that has to drill through all the plating before inflicting critical hits.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 21:13:41 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #28 on: 22 December 2012, 07:04:47 »
----- 1 Month Later -----

Date: May 11, 2459

Location: Atreus

Title: A Dish Served Cold

Authors: Chris Hartford and Jason M. Hardy

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  Simone Marik, Geralk’s 19-year old daughter and heir, gets the news of his death and her elevation to the throne.  Realizing that forces equipped with BattleMechs will be able to achieve superiority against conventional forces, the new Captain-General orders her intel chief to acquire the technology.

Notes:  The National Intelligence Agency (SAFE’s predecessor) doesn’t appear to have covered itself in glory on this front.  FWLM commander General Ivenevsky seems to be hearing about BattleMechs for the first time, despite them being 20 years old and having been fielded in at least six defensive engagements on Hegemony worlds (mostly against AFFS troops either looking for payback for the HAF's Tybalt offensive, or actively seeking to capture a 'Mech).

It's interesting to speculate about the battlefronts in this era.  The Age of War is usually portrayed to be like the Succession Wars - everybody against all their neighbors.  However, the FWL's lack of knowledge about BattleMechs means that they probably haven't raided the Hegemony in recent memory.  Albert Marik's Treaty of Terra with McKenna may still be in force, creating peace on the Hegemony/League border.  We know that the Lyrans consider the Terrans as non-threatening, since Kelswa says they want to use BattleMechs against the Combine and the League, but not hork the Terrans off by leaving evidence of Lyran involvement in the Operation PROMETHEUS raid.  So the Hegemony's "western front," as it were, is all quiet.

The Dracs, of course, are still trying to push out in all directions, seeking to absorb what they can from the "merchants," and fight the Fedrats to a standstill.  I can't imagine they'd pass up a chance to hit the Hegemony as well.  The Federated Suns has indecisive border wars raging with both the Confederation and Combine, but views the Hegemony as the biggest threat to its existence due to the HAF's Tybalt Campaign, which (according to the House Davion sourcebook) lasted from 2431 to 2440, beginning with a major HAF victory over the AFFS on Kentares IV, and prompted several FedSuns border worlds to secede and join the Hegemony. 

The Tybalt Campaign seems to have been the Hegemony's last true offensive in the Age of War.  Secure in the knowledge that their new BattleMechs could effectively defend Hegemony territory, successive Director-Generals leveraged their military might to serve as mediators and peace-keepers, rather than conquerers, eventually leading to the formation of the Star League.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 21:15:24 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #29 on: 23 December 2012, 17:53:24 »
----- 7 Months Later -----

Date: December 1, 2459

Location: Moore

Title: Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

Author: Randall N. Bills

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  Ito Tesuo reflects on his life.  A little goji guano, some monkey murder, scads of Skye sauerkraut, and now he’s 50 and has nothing to show for it, other than being the highest-ranking ISF field agent.  Ito attributes his position to the fact that all the other senior agents were purged on suspicion of disloyalty by Coordinator Von Rohrs.

A tense performance review addresses the elephant in the room – that the Lyrans succeeded four years earlier, where the ISF failed, and that the Federated Suns also has the technology – meaning that every hostile state bordering the Combine now has a decisive military advantage.  Ito blames his failure on the Von Rohrs purges.  He is recalled from his mission, and feels that his life has been wasted.

Notes:  Again, interesting that the ISF agents feel that speaking Japanese marks them as Combine, despite this predating Urizen's cultural reform of the Combine by two centuries. 

There’s a nice continuity reference to Ito’s ISF cell on Tharkad being eliminated in 2456 (the same cell that tried to blow up Duke Felsner in Nothing Ventured.  Ito wrongly attributes the cell’s elimination to internal purges – not knowing that it was due to FedSuns intel sharing.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 21:20:06 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.