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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 22833 times)

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #90 on: 20 November 2018, 13:15:13 »
Date: May 7, 2456

Location: Tharkad

Title: Nothing Ventured

Author: Christoffer M. Trossen

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Delton Felsner meets with his counterpart, Lyran Ambassador Karl Bernstorff, in the Steiner palace, but his mind drifts during the other man's prattling reply, noting the excess of ceremony that is preventing much actual negotiating.  He notes that Bernstorff appears tired, and hopes he can take advantage of any sloppiness.

To move the negotiations forward, he suggests changing the topic away from agricultural information exchanges and notes that they share common enemies in the Draconis Combine and Terran Hegemony.  He suggests an exchange of military information and technologies to keep those realms contained.  Bernstorff seems amenable, but suggests it may take a long time.  Felsner mentions "recent successes," and Bernstorff accidentally lets slip that the Commonwealth has acquired BattleMechs.  The Lyran military advisor panics and intervenes, suggesting that discussion of such classified information should be halted pending consultation with their government. 

Felsner accepts, pleased with himself for having at least verified the rumors.

Notes: Koba is listed along with golf and tennis as a common sport in the Lyran realm, but no description is given, other than that it might cause some mild calluses.

Having been in diplomatic meetings myself, I can appreciate Felsner's complaint that too much time is given over to ceremony and not enough to negotiations.  Of course, in reality, those negotiations are really just photo ops, with lower level diplomats on both sides working for months or years in advance to hammer out the details.  When an agreement has substantially been reached, they put the documents out for the leaders to show up and sign in front of the cameras.  Thus, the Lyran pomp/circumstance is indicative of their desire to slow-walk the negotiations, or indicative of the Lyran love of lavish ceremony. 

In theory, staff from the local Embassy should have been working with their Lyran counterparts to work out all the details before Felsner's arrival, but that wouldn't have worked in this case due to the lack of HPGs for sufficient advance notice of his arrival and intent, as well as the lack of trustworthy staff at the FedSuns embassy following the suborning of its staff by the LIC.

One odd note from Felsner is the description of the Hegemony as a threat that needs to be contained.  There hasn't been fighting between the Commonwealth and the Hegemony since McKenna's expansion campaign, and the Hegemony hasn't sent BattleMechs across its borders - only deployed them to crush Combine and FedSuns offensives.  The agreement by the Hegemony to lease land on the Lyran world of Hesperus II for their BattleMech assembly plant would argue against a state of enmity between the two states.
"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.

Wrangler

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #91 on: 20 November 2018, 16:46:00 »
Could it be the author forgot that aspect of Hesperus being a Terra Hegemony holding / Shared world? I would find it Extra strange that they were building Mechs in a non-Terran Hegemony world that Hegemony didn't have strong control over.  I didn't think they had shared / joint control of worlds yet.  I know Deborah Cameron's aggressive peacemaking may been part of it. I thought it was after the Star League had formed.
« Last Edit: 20 November 2018, 16:48:15 by Wrangler »
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #92 on: 21 November 2018, 05:49:11 »
Herb Beas clarified that Hesperus was a Lyran holding (albeit a backwater rock that hosted a tiny Commonwealth Mining outpost) when the Hegemony negotiated a lease agreement that gave it control of the sole spaceport and the right to maintain a heavy military presence.
"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.

Wrangler

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #93 on: 21 November 2018, 10:03:23 »
Herb Beas clarified that Hesperus was a Lyran holding (albeit a backwater rock that hosted a tiny Commonwealth Mining outpost) when the Hegemony negotiated a lease agreement that gave it control of the sole spaceport and the right to maintain a heavy military presence.
So there no written stuff on it aside from the short story?
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #94 on: 21 November 2018, 10:42:43 »
Hesperus shows up in fiction a few times during the Age of War, but Herb's "Prometheus Unbound" was the most detailed account. 

There's one scene in "Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight" where DEST One managed to infiltrate the complex and steal the plans, but is surrounded and pinned down during the extraction, ultimately being wiped out without delivering the plans to Coordinator Von Rohrs.  That scene is mostly about explosions and regret, with no discussion of the terms of the lease. 

Interestingly, though, that scene refers to Commonwealth troops doing the shooting.  Surprising that the HAF allowed LCAF elements to participate in the defense of the factory area, given the pantsing that the LIC gave them a few years earlier.
"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 #95 on: 26 November 2018, 12:55:29 »
Date: July 3, 2456

Location: Tharkad

Title: Nothing Ventured

Author: Christoffer M. Trossen

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Ambassador Delton Felsner and Special Agent Teresa Premit discuss the ongoing negotiations in a private room at a fancy restaurant, using a white noise generator to mask their conversation.  They are joined by his aide, Meldrach Suisso, and Dana Nikinos, the head of their security detail.

Teresa expresses frustration with how long the negotiations are taking, and that they aren't even directly discussing the matter at hand - sharing BattleMech technology.  Meldrach explains that both sides are bluffing about their actual positions, so as to give up as little as possible while making it seem they are giving up a lot.  He notes that since the Lyran ambassador blurted out that the Commonwealth acquired BattleMechs, protocol allows it to be put on the agenda of the meetings.

Felsner begins to outline a plan to use Ministry of Intelligence assets to convince the Lyrans to be in the right frame of mind to agree to the FedSuns data sharing proposal, when Nikitos receives a warning over her earpiece from the perimeter security team, and tells them they have to leave immediately due to an imminent threat.  They group bolts through the kitchens, flanked by Felsner's bodyguards, and burst out into an alleyway.  They are still running for cover when the shockwave from the bomb's explosions hits them.

Notes: In the pre-bombing dinner discussion, Felsner seems to be crowing about having gotten the Lyrans to slip up and reveal that they have 'Mech technology.  But that happened in May, and this scene is in July.  This conversation would make a lot more sense if it directly followed on from the previous scene, without a two month gap.

We know from a tie-in scene in "Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight" that the Kurita Embassy on Tharkad orchestrated the bombing. 

As a special intelligence agent, Tessa seems to be more along the lines of a "kill people and break things" operative than one with any training in negotiation.  (Her lack of knowledge serving, of course, to facilitate exposition on what Felsner is trying to accomplish.)

The restaurant's specialty is schnitzel, pan-fried in butter.  Tessa has the roast pork, while Meldrach has the stew.  They're having beer with it, but it's not Timbiqui Dark (Timbiqui not appearing on the maps until the Star League era), so it may be Tharkad Nacht Lager.
"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 #96 on: 27 November 2018, 13:18:28 »
Date: July 14, 2456

Location: Tharkad

Title: Nothing Ventured

Author: Christoffer M. Trossen

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Delton Felsner lies comatose following the bombing, getting brief impressions of being rescued from the bombing site by medical personnel, lying in a hospital unable to move, and being tended to by a comforting presence that he guesses might be his guardian angel.

Eleven days after the bombing, he regains consciousness to find himself in a hospital room inside the Federated Suns embassy in the company of Federated Suns Ambassador to Tharkad Ignatius Deir, along with a large contingent of Lyran and Federated Suns security agents.  Deir informs him that 97 people died in the bombing and subsequent structural collapse, including the Lyran Minister of Education, his aide Meldrach Suisso, and Ms. Dempsey (Tessa's cover identity).  The thought of Tess' death shocks Felsner.

Lyran Ambassador Karl Bernstorff adds that the earlier intelligence sharing enabled the LIC to identify the perpetrators - members of House Kurita's embassy on Tharkad.  He notes that the LIC has rounded up more than 100 foreign operatives on Tharkad, and expresses gratitude.

The ambassadors leave, shooed out by a nurse.  Felsner asks her to leave as well, and is stunned when she pulls out a white noise generator and reveals herself to be the very undeceased Tess (who was also his guardian angel during his convalescence).

Notes: Once again, we have a FedSuns protagonist saved from imminent death thanks to a hasty retreat through the kitchen.  (Not the Way the Smart Money Bets, Vanish, and Warrior: Riposte all have similar scenes).  If you really want to get your target in the BattleTech universe, put the bomb in the kitchen.  They'll run right into the blast zone when you move in from the front.

Meldrach apparently died trying to shield Tess from falling debris.  Delton may or may not have suffered a heart attack as well as suffering a concussion from the blast, since the EMTs mention he's "crashing again" while evacuating him from the vicinity of the restaurant. 

It appears that the Lyran surveillance state as depicted in Warrior: En Garde does not yet exist in the Age of War.  The predictive analytics performed by Tharkad's central mainframe allows it to identify consumption patterns (down to what you ate yesterday), track movement, calculate social class, and (for the LIC) identify candidates to double for political figures.  If such a monitoring network had been in place, given the data sharing from the MIIO, the Kuritan agents would have been under constant surveillance, with their movements tracked everywhere, and one getting within a kilometer of a Lyran minister or a foreign ambassador would have been red flagged, summoning an LIC bag team before anything could happen.

On the upside for Felsner, Tess having been declared dead gives her a greater latitude to carry out some covert wetwork, since nobody will be watching for a dead woman. 

I would presume that the 100+ operatives rounded up on Tharkad were in the category of "undeclared assets," since many governments maintain declared intelligence offices at their embassies for the purpose of coordinating intelligence sharing and joint operations.  Those would either have been Marik, Liao, Kurita, and Cameron "handlers" gathering information from Lyran turncoats, or the Lyran turncoats themselves.
"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.

Kojak

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #97 on: 27 November 2018, 18:37:08 »
It appears that the Lyran surveillance state as depicted in Warrior: En Garde does not yet exist in the Age of War.  The predictive analytics performed by Tharkad's central mainframe allows it to identify consumption patterns (down to what you ate yesterday), track movement, calculate social class, and (for the LIC) identify candidates to double for political figures.  If such a monitoring network had been in place, given the data sharing from the MIIO, the Kuritan agents would have been under constant surveillance, with their movements tracked everywhere, and one getting within a kilometer of a Lyran minister or a foreign ambassador would have been red flagged, summoning an LIC bag team before anything could happen.

Is it possible that this incident was the impetus for that system being put in place?
"I wonder if in some weird Freudian way, Kojak was sucking on his own head."
- Steve Webster on Kojak's lollipop


Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #98 on: 27 November 2018, 21:02:52 »
This being the Lyrans, my guess is that it was driven more by Phil in Marketing than the LIC's Molehunters.
"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.

Kojak

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #99 on: 27 November 2018, 22:20:28 »
Ha, point well taken, although without getting into RL history too much I will simply say that historically there tends to be a direct causal relationship between terrorist attacks and subsequent egregious abrogations of civil rights to prevent such events in the future (disconnected from their actual efficacy, of course).
"I wonder if in some weird Freudian way, Kojak was sucking on his own head."
- Steve Webster on Kojak's lollipop


Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #100 on: 30 November 2018, 13:04:42 »
Date: August 22, 2456

Location: Tharkad

Title: Nothing Ventured

Author: Christoffer M. Trossen

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Still recovering, Delton Felsner is frustrated at the lack of progress on the BattleMech issue, despite progress in other areas with Ambassador Bernstorff.  The only bright spot is the Lyran expulsion of the entire Kuritan diplomatic mission from Tharkad.  That, and the survival of Tess, who'd been extracted by local MIIO agents and had recuperated at a safehouse.  Her new identity is Leftenant Colonel Angela Conrad, late of the Terran March.

He meets with his negotiating team and lays out the problem - the negotiations are scheduled to end in September, and they're still not close to an agreement on sharing 'Mech technology, nor to getting leverage against any Lyran officials to aid in that area. 

Domestic advisor Rendar Urani and his aide Andrea Suel provide a biographic report on Ambassador Karl Erwin Thomas Bernstorff Graf von Eschenberg von Wormstadt von Ludendorf.  Despite being married with several children, he has several paramours in Tharkad society - three boyfriends and one girlfriend - Eva Sorken, a banker from Eschenberg, whom he meets every two weeks at the Eidelweiss Grand hotel - a different pattern than with his boyfriends. 

Tess opines that this may be the leverage they've been looking for.

Notes: I wonder if the mission on Tharkad represented the sole Combine diplomatic mission to the Lyran Commonwealth at this juncture.  In "The Price of Glory," we see that the Great Houses all maintain embassies (albeit small ones) on most worlds in the Inner Sphere, even frozen backwaters like Helm.  In "Not the Way the Smart Money Bets," there's a diplomatic reception at the Kurita Embassy on Galatea.  Did the expulsion order close Kurita embassies on all Lyran worlds, or just the bombing culprits on Tharkad?

Terran March hairstyles for women at this juncture are short and dyed bright red.  - a style Tess has to adopt to maintain her cover.

Bernstorff's landhold, Eschenberg, appears to have been abandoned during the Third Succession War.  Presumably, Wormstadt is the district containing his seat, and Ludendorf is the city where his seat is located.  Interestingly, despite the destruction of Eschenberg in the Third Succession War, there's a 5th FedCom RCT commander named General Klaus von Ludendorf.  Either this is a different Ludendorf, or Klaus' family somehow inherited a claim to the Eschenberg ghost town.

The description of the habits of the Lyran upper crust suggest that the Lyrans of this era are more in tune with Thera and her Red Deltas than with the Tharkan Boys Choir.  Though Kooken's Pleasure Pit wasn't founded until the Star League Era, you can already see that Lyrans and prudish don't really overlap.  The popular erotic novel that gave that world its name was probably a product of the Lyran Age of War culture.  (Had the Lyrans shared a border with the Canopians, they'd probably have gotten on famously.)
"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 #101 on: 11 December 2018, 13:02:40 »
Date: August 30, 2456

Location: Tharkad

Title: Nothing Ventured

Author: Christoffer M. Trossen

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Seeking leverage over the Lyran ambassador, Tessa and her backup team trail his paramour, Eva, from her apartment in Tharkad City's upscale Rivvenfeldt district to a trendy nightclub named the Scorpion Pit.  Her team forms a perimeter and she goes in along with two accomplices.

Inside, hundreds of Lyrans gyrate in a fog of intoxicant fumes.  Spotting her target, she signals the rest of her team using a transmitter concealed in a finger ring.  The team members cover the exits and surround Eva on the dance floor. 

Before Tessa can spill her drink on Eva and begin the capture sequence, the music changes and Eva leaves the dance floor with her friends.  Tessa signals failure to her team and alerts one of her backups to make an approach.  Julius successfully grabs Eva's hand and pulls her back onto the dance floor, surreptitiously putting a medpatch on her hand.

As the drugs take effect, Julius leads her off the dance floor and down a dark hallway, where Tessa puts the garish multi-colored wig from her head onto Eva's, and switches shoes with the abductee.  Her team takes the unconscious Eva out a disabled emergency exit, while Tessa changes into another wig and outfit in the restroom, a copy of Eva's dress, looking enough like her target to be mistaken for her except up close.

Returning to the club floor with Julius, she waves at Eva's friends and laughs it up at the bar until her team signals a successful extraction using the rings.  The two share one last dance and then walk out the door together.

Notes: The "slappers" knock-out drug patch showcased in the BattleTech Animated Series make an appearance in the canon fiction, demonstrating that they've been around and in use since long before the Somerset Strikers' era.

Another element from the "modern" era of BattleTech makes an appearance - with Tessa sporting the same sort of weaponized carbon fiber reinforced fingernails favored by Sun Tzu Liao.

And, for once, a covert op goes off successfully without anyone spotting the wrong shoes, a building blowing up, or a guns-blazing run through the kitchen.

Despite all the cultural differences between the Combine and the Commonwealth, this nightclub sounds quite similar to the yakuza hangout that Theodore Kurita visits during his efforts to bring them into the DCMS as the Ghost Regiments.

Rivvenfeldt doesn't translate exactly from any modern languages, but seems to be a mix of German and Norse, probably meaning "torn field."  I wouldn't be surprised if this district was founded by Rasalhagians (still a semi-autonomous principality at this juncture - not yet formally subsumed by the Combine).  Amusingly, there is actually a nightclub called "The Scorpion Pit" in Albuquerque, NM, though your odds of getting bagged there by the MIIO are fairly low, I would hazard to guess.
« Last Edit: 12 December 2018, 12:31:11 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.

Kojak

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #102 on: 11 December 2018, 19:54:12 »
Amusingly, there is actually a nightclub called "The Scorpion Pit" in Albuquerque, NM, though your odds of getting bagged there by the MIIO are fairly low, I would hazard to guess.

Well, sure, ROM would be all over them.
"I wonder if in some weird Freudian way, Kojak was sucking on his own head."
- Steve Webster on Kojak's lollipop


Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #103 on: 14 December 2018, 12:54:50 »
Date: August 31, 2456

Location: Tharkad

Title: Nothing Ventured

Author: Christoffer M. Trossen

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Terrified, Eva Sorken awakens in a dark room, unable to move.  When the lights come on, she sees she's strapped to an examination table with tubes and wires attached to her body.  A door opens, and Tessa enters, using a wig and facial makeup to look like Eva.

Delton Felsner watches the interrogation from an adjacent room, where three MIIO technicians monitor Eva's condition and regulate the level of mind-altering chemicals in her system.

Tessa conducts the interrogation referring to herself and Eva as "we," trying to convince Eva that she's her own subconscious.  She says they're in this room as punishment for their crimes, and that it's time to confess them.  Tess pushes Eva's mood from fear to guilt as the technicians monitor her cranial activity to determine the veracity of her responses.  When Eva breaks, Tess feels smug satisfaction.

Notes: Brainwashing is a refined technique in the Inner Sphere, but one that seems to be fairly rarely used.  There is an instance cited in the Star League sourcebook when an official suddenly started behaving very oddly and acting in ways contrary to his previous record - though this may have been a result of being replaced with a surgical double.  The Capellan Confederation used brainwashing to suppress an agent's personality and rebuild it based on an approximation of Hanse Davion's in Operation DOPPLEGANGER.  The Word of Blake was the most proficient, using it to insert sleepers into enemy organizations - most notably sending in a sleeper agent with a bomb implanted in his arm to kill dozens of the Inner Sphere's leadership during an "anti-Blakist" emergency conference.  The Draconis Combine used brainwashing on captured Rasalhagian freedom fighters, but their process appears to have been less refined - turning the victim into a homicidal maniac - not much use for infiltration, and not terribly effective even on Chain Gang suicide missions.

The technology used for this interrogation is understandably less advanced that we see hundreds of years later, when Clan Wolf interrogates Phelan Kell, but they still have the ability to monitor brainwave activity and to use that to extrapolate facts about the victim's thought process. 

My only question is - how did the FedSuns diplomatic mission keep an interrogation room like this secret if several top ranking intelligence officers at the Embassy had been suborned just months before the negotiations started?  Wouldn't those guys have known about it, and incentivized the LIC to monitor it?  (Especially since the only logical targets of such an interrogation setup located on Tharkad would be Lyran citizens.)
"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.

VhenRa

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #104 on: 14 December 2018, 20:13:48 »
My only question is - how did the FedSuns diplomatic mission keep an interrogation room like this secret if several top ranking intelligence officers at the Embassy had been suborned just months before the negotiations started?  Wouldn't those guys have known about it, and incentivized the LIC to monitor it?  (Especially since the only logical targets of such an interrogation setup located on Tharkad would be Lyran citizens.)

Different compartment of the intelligence operation at the Embassy most likely. Suborned intelligence officers can't reveal stuff they never knew about in the first place?


Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #105 on: 17 December 2018, 13:15:40 »
Date: September 5, 2456

Location: Tharkad

Title: Nothing Ventured

Author: Christoffer M. Trossen

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: During a break in negotiations, Ambassadors Delton Felsner asks Karl Bernstorff for a private side discussion, which the Lyran agrees to after Felsner promises not to bring up the now-tabled issue of BattleMech technology.  Tess, disguised as Lt. Colonel Angela Conrad, follows them into the private room.

Felsner informs Bernstorff that his team has obtained sensitive information involving the Lyran delegation.  Bernstorff expresses interest, and waves off two of his own aides who were coming to join them.  Tess activates a white noise generator, and Felsner prefaces the presentation by framing it as being in the spirit of their earlier agreement to share critical intelligence - that a high ranking member of the Lyran government is engaged in treason. 

Bernstorff reacts indignantly, scoffing that no Lyran official has ever broken their oath of loyalty to the Archon.  Felsner responds that he has proof that a minister has been using his influence and power to profit.  Bernstorff notes that corruption, bribery and kickbacks are just a way of life in a nation of merchants.  Felsner responds that hundreds of millions of kroners goes beyond run of the mill corruption.

Tess brings up a file showing Eva Sorkin, and notes that their evidence shows she handles all the money for the minister in question, funneling funds derived from kickbacks on military contracts given to corporations owned by his friends and wife's family. 

Despondently, Bernstorff asks Felsner what he wants, knowing it is the BattleMech schematics.  He protests that he was instructed by the Archon that this was the one thing he could not agree to, and that the Archon would void the treaty even if Bernstorff approved it. 

Felsner counters that he's sure the Lyran ambassador can persuade the Archon of the logic of sharing the technology with the Federated Suns - that they'll get it eventually, so why not profit from it now?  He suggests that Bernstorff's position as Foreign Minister and Chair of the Appropriations Committee will position him to personally profit immensely from the sale of BattleMechs and parts to the AFFS.  And, having the AFFS in possession of 'Mechs will force the Terran Hegemony and Draconis Combine to redirect resources away from the Lyran border to counter the new Davion threat.

Bernstorff asks what will become of Eva.  Felsner responds that she just accepted a job offer on New Avalon, but expects to return to Tharkad once the final technology transfers are complete.  Bernstorff agrees to the proposed deal.

Notes: Felsner loves it when a plan comes together.  I wonder how surprised the interrogators were when they went diving for evidence of Bernstorff cheating on his wife, and found massive corruption instead. 

It's clear that Felsner's attitude towards the Hegemony is still largely based on the massive territorial losses the Federated Suns suffered during the Tybalt Campaign and McKenna's earlier waves of expansion, as well as the resounding defeats suffered by numerous AFFS attempts to counterattack and liberate their lost territory.  He doesn't seem to realize that the Lyrans have had a completely peaceful border with the Hegemony since the end of McKenna's expansion, and aren't particularly concerned about House Cameron's seizure of a large chunk of the Isle of Skye.  (Notably, Bernstorff's holdings are in the Tamar Pact.)  The argument about giving House Kurita a divided focus still holds up, however. 

Based on the quoted cost for an apartment rental in Lyran space in "Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight," the 2456 purchasing power of the kroner seems to roughly approximate its purchasing power circa 3060 (based on the tables in the Lyran Handbook).  Thus, "hundreds of millions of kroner" probably translates into something well in excess of one billion 1985 U.S. dollars, depending on how many "hundreds" we're looking at.  (Based on an exchange rate of 1 3025 C-bill = $5 in 1985 dollars)

Had Felsner been dealing with a principled Lyran (such as the leader of the team that stole the tech from Hesperus), the negotiations would probably have been called off, and Felsner and company would have been kicked off Tharkad.  However, since Felsner knew he was dealing with a demonstrably corrupt and greedy official, he was easily able to make his case by offering him a chance to turn disaster into enhanced personal revenue streams.

In the old Succession Wars board game, you could knock out enemy leaders (except for one or two in each faction) by bribing them, and the Lyran cadre had particularly low target numbers for a successful flip. 
"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 #106 on: 18 December 2018, 13:04:33 »
Date: January 19, 2457

Location: New Avalon

Title: Nothing Ventured

Author: Christoffer M. Trossen

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: At the signing of the technology sharing treaty, in the New Avalon palace throne room, First Prince Simon Davion thanks Duke Karl Bernstorff and congratulates him on representing the Lyran Commonwealth in the negotiations that delivered BattleMech technology to the Federated Suns.  He goes on to thank Duke Denton Felsner for his service.

Bernstorff feels sick about having been manipulated into giving away the Lyran advantage, and is already making plans for how to secure his position in the Commonwealth upon his return - ameliorating the social costs of the upcoming military spending surge on BattleMech development by convincing other Lyran nobles and merchant princes to donate heavily to charity.

Felsner walks alongside Bernstorff and acknowledges that the Lyran Ambassador would like to return home, but asks that he wait a few days before departing.  Bernstorff is suspicious, but reacts positively when Felsner tells him it will allow him to bring back updated intelligence sharing reports from the MIIO, and the first installment of the massive payments from the Federated Suns to the Lyran treasury in exchange for the technology.

Once Bernstorff relaxes, Felsner lowers the boom, introducing Tess, now clad in a conservative business suit, as Bernstorff's new aide, who will help him think of ways the Lyran Commonwealth can aid the Federated Suns in the future.   

Notes:  The Federated Suns has a well deserved reputation of having the most efficient and widespread intelligence network in the Inner Sphere.  While ROM has advanced technology and ruthless fanaticism, they got lazy on multiple occasions and relied overmuch on just reading everyone's HPG mail, leaving them blind to information carried by couriers and transmitted by black box.  Compromising foreign officials and inserting moles into enemy governments seem to be their stock in trade.  It's unclear, however, what additional actions the Lyrans might have taken in the Age of War to appease Bernstorff's handlers.  It could be that the influence operation got too blatant too quickly, and the LIC's molehunters bagged Bernstorff.  If the influence campaign had been successful, you'd have expected to see coordinated AFFS/LCAF assaults on the Combine or the Hegemony, or something along those lines.

If LIC security training for government officials is anything like modern guidance, they would have advised Bernstorff (around the time of his loyalty oath to the Archon) to report all contacts with foreign agents, and to report the full details to the LIC immediately if someone is blackmailing him.  Generally, the immediate reporting of the blackmail removes the foreign leverage, though any crimes that were involved will still have to be dealt with. 

It's interesting to speculate how money transfers worked in the pre-HPG Inner Sphere.  There wouldn't have been a central bank or the option for rapid electronic currency transfers.  Therefore, Bernstorff's DropShip would be going back with a hold full of physical payment.  But what sort of payment?  Getting a few hundred crates of Federated Suns Pound Sterling notes is great, but only if the Lyrans have somewhere to spend it.  With the Hegemony (a state hostile to the Federated Suns) and the Draconis Combine sitting athwart the primary trade routes, I'm guessing there aren't a lot of goods imported from the Federated Suns to the Commonwealth.  For the same reason, the Davion treasury's foreign exchange reserve is probably pretty low on its supply of Lyran kroner.  So paper currency isn't great, since it's not readily convertible into value in the Age of War.

More likely, the Federated Suns is paying with gemstones and ingots of precious metals - germanium, vanadium, gold, silver, platinum, etc.  Those would have tangible value to Lyran industries, and be in a form where they could enter the treasury as raw materials of value, or be handed over to a Lyran bank to be monetized, delivering an equivalent supply of kroners to the Lyran treasury.  This would explain why Bernstorff is bringing only part of the payment - the DropShip can take off carrying only so many pallets of gold bars.  (Now, if you're a pirate, that's the ship to hit!)

All in all, Christoper "Bones" Trossen's "Proliferation Cycle" story is a satisfying tale of an intelligence operation that, for once, goes mostly according to plan.  In fact, throughout the Proliferation Cycle, the intelligence teams that obtain the information generally seem far more competent and deadly than their 3025 or 3060-era descendants, with more professional and less bombastic tradecraft.
"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 #107 on: 19 December 2018, 13:17:53 »
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 bunker shudders under a Lyran artillery barrage supporting an LCAF assault which has punched through his perimeter, swatting aside his best troops in the process.  His comtech reports the western logistics park is gone, and that counterbattery fire has been ineffective, while the Lyran advances have been slowed, at high cost, to the north and west, where FWL forces hold the Djansky crossing and the Kohlan Road.  Geralk asks for an update on the eastern front, but the comtech can't raise anyone there.

Geralk exits his bunker and looks east.  Through the smoke, 500 meters away, he sees large figures advancing through the burning wreckage of the supply depot.  He dismisses their apparent size, believing them to be spotters casting long shadows through the setting sun and mist.  He orders the security company to reinforce the eastern perimeter.

His ComTech reports receiving a direct communication from the Lyran commander, General Marcus Andrews, who tells him he is surrounded, and offers him the honors of war.  Geralk refuses to surrender, and dismisses the Lyrans as a few infiltrators.  Andrews signs off, and the Lyran assault renews with a hail of lasers, missiles, and cannon shells, knocking Geralk flat and singeing his hair.  The Lyran 'Mechs crash through the FWL defenses and shrug off desultory return fire from the armored vehicles present at the command camp. 

Getting to his feet, Geralk grabs an armored vest and a helmet and orders his forces to withdraw to the Sumire River and hold there, if possible, then fall back to the DropShips, if not.  He then runs to a tank parked next to the command post and charges the oncoming 'Mechs to buy his forces time to retreat.

Notes: As with "Nothing Ventured" and "Prometheus Unbound," I'm revisiting "A Dish Served Cold" in the scene-by-scene deep dive format, since my initial review compressed two years of story on Alarion into a few paragraphs.  I plan to do the same for "The Spider Dances" and "The Top of the Scrap Heap," by which point I'll have covered all the longer early stories in the deep-dive format, then play catch-up with Star League era and 1st-3rd Succession War stories that have come out in the last few years.  Then on to the 4th Succession War stories.

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.  Most likely, after he saw that his tank's main gun wasn't having much effect on the BAR 10 armor, he too fell back to the Sumire river and coordinated the fight from there.  The fact that Geralk has crusted blood on his face from earlier fighting implies that he was leading from the front, and that his tank took enemy fire. 

The historical record is that the battle ended with Geralk's forces shattered and him standing alone in front of a victorious Mackie, when then stomps on him in revenge for all the destruction he'd wrought during his invasion of Lyran space.  That would seemingly require his plan to "fall back to the DropShips" to have gone awry - perhaps because he chose to order the DropShips to be brought up to the Sumire river for fire support, rather than handling the evacuation.  Given the thin armor of the day, the Mackies might have crippled those ships (glorified cargo shuttles in this early era) and left Geralk with nowhere to run.

Loric seems to have been a multicultural settlement.  Sumire is a Japanese name, Kohlan is the name of an ethnic Azeri village in Iran, and Djansky is Polish.

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.

The FWL seems to have been completely in the dark about the existence of BattleMechs, since Geralk at first dismisses their size as an optical illusion.  Thing is, not only have BattleMechs been around for 20 years at this point (though apparently the National Intelligence Agency was unaware of this - so they probably lack assets in the Federated Suns, the Terran Hegemony, and the Draconis Combine, where fights involving the Hegemony's superweapon would have been discussed), but IndustrialMechs have been around for centuries.  Why wouldn't he have assumed that the Lyrans had fielded weaponized WorkMechs, as some militaries tried to do (albeit ineffectively) prior to the introduction of BattleMechs?

I wonder what happened to the FWL aerospace fighters?  Geralk asks where his air support is.  Why doesn't his holotank show him real time updates of those assets?  The Large Lasers on the Dragonfire and Eagle, along with the LRMs, would allow those fighters to effectively engage the Mackies with roughly equivalent firepower.  The main weaknesses of those fighters are their comparatively thin armor and weaker engines, so perhaps they did make a run at the Mackies while the eastern perimeter was collapsing and were shot out of the skies.
"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 #108 on: 20 December 2018, 11:37:44 »
Does seem the author changed the fluff to make it more exciting of a short story vs what historically happened in the original House Book?
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
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"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #109 on: 20 December 2018, 12:01:35 »
The follow up scene states that Geralk led the rear guard to allow the rest to fall back to the river, and died while doing so.  Since more recent accounts beat older ones, and fiction beats sourcebooks, then we have to take the House Marik sourcebook account as ComStar archivists reporting a legend that grew after the fact rather than the actual events.

I can see how the League historians would have preferred “Geralk was unfazed by the new BattleMechs and held them off for hours, throwing the kitchen sink at them before finally succumbing” to “Geralk misjudged the threat and was killed within minutes trying to pit his tank against the 100 ton Lyran assault ‘Mechs.”
"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 #110 on: 20 January 2019, 10:55:43 »
Date: May 11, 2459

Location: Atreus

Title: A Dish Served Cold

Authors: Chris Hartford and Jason M. Hardy

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: At the FWL Parliament on Atreus, Simone Marik weeps as she receives word from a military delegation that her father, Captain-General Geralk Marik, has died in battle.  General Mattias Ivanevsky reports that his tank was disabled and, refusing to surrender, his position was overrun.  The Lyran "BattleMechs" proved unstoppable, and they crushed his tank.  The rest of the FWLM expeditionary force on Loric withdrew to the river line and held it overnight, but several elements were cut off and crushed, while the survivors withdrew from Loric aboard transports on the 12th.

Ivanevsky reports that FWLM forces on the other Lyran worlds seized in the offensive are holding against Lyran conventional forces, indicating that the LCAF has only a few of their new superweapons.  Simone commands that the League work on getting this technology for themselves.  National Intelligence Agency Director Jervais Sanders indicates that he has operatives he can deploy on Alarion, with an estimated 1-2 year operational timeframe.  Simone vows to approve the operation as soon as she is confirmed as Captain-General on May 12.

Ivanevsky estimates that the FWLM forces on the Lyran border can hold that long, losing only a handful of worlds.  Simone pledges to exact vengeance on the Lyrans.

Notes: This account again seems to contradict the version put out by ComStar in their 3025 Free Worlds League report, which held that Geralk remained in command for the duration of the battle, even bringing his transports into the fray for fire support, only to go down when the Lyran 'Mechs tore through even that.  In this account (which, per the tradition that narrative fiction overrides conflicting sourcebook reports) Geralk didn't even make it back to the river, and died pretty early in the engagement against the Lyran 'Mechs, though he did distract the Lyrans, managing to buy time for the bulk of his forces to pull back to the river.

While Simone's pledge of vengeance is understandable, given that Geralk was her father, she seems utterly indifferent to the fact that Geralk was in the middle of an invasion of worlds that had never been under FWL control, and had been, by all accounts, been totally ignoring the 47-year old Ares Conventions to which the FWL had been signatory.  It's this sort of victimhood mentality and cycles of revenge and fresh victimhood that made the Lyran/League battles so brutal during the wars.  Generally, though, the FWL remained the more frequent aggressor throughout the Age of War, to the extent that they developed a deep salient into Lyran space (the Bolan Thumb), aimed at Tharkad, before borders were solidified by the Star League peace treaties. 

It's interesting that the NIA knew that the Lyrans had a 'Mech factory on Alarion, but neither Simone nor Geralk seem to have heard of BattleMechs before their first (and, in Geralk's case, last) encounter with the concept.  Given the shenanigans that the NIA got up to during the early Star League era (resulting in their dissolution and replacement by SAFE), one might suspect that the NIA has had information on 'Mechs for quite some time, but withheld it until such time as they could underake and operation like this and gain substantial standing and more power.  (If the Maskirovka infiltrated the HAF development program, and the MIIO, LIC, and ISF had been trying to get the tech for years, it seems utterly incredible that the NIA didn't even know there were such things until the loss on Loric.)
« Last Edit: 21 January 2019, 15:35:14 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 #111 on: 21 January 2019, 16:02:43 »
Date: December 16, 2461

Location: Alarion

Title: A Dish Served Cold

Authors: Chris Hartford and Jason M. Hardy

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: AlarCorp CEO Desmond Manvers demands answers from Chief Engineer Gunther Rive, who hesitantly states that there has been a security leak from the Project Ymir design program, leading to information appearing in the Alarion Technical Review.  Rive notes that the leak was identified by Chief Electronics Engineer Elias Singh, but states that they did not report it to security immediately because they wanted to analyze the article to determine if the data similarities were coincidental.  Manvers asks if Daniel Connor, the third Project Ymir team leader, concurred with the decision not to alert security.  Rive says eight people had access to the data, but he has no data on who might have leaked to the magazine.  Manvers places all three on administrative leave and suspends their security clearance.

Following the meeting, the Project Ymir team leaves in silence (noting the potential for listening devices) commiserates over the suspension and resolve to sleep on it and decide on a plan of action the following day.  Singh goes home to his family, Connor goes to a game arcade, and Rive goes to the Brunswick Tavern in Alarion City.  There, after a few beers, Rive is joined by his girlfriend, Sandrine "Sandi" Miller, from AlarCorp's contracts division, who tells him she heard what happened from Singh's wife, Lanai.  She consoles him and tells him he's being set up as a fall guy for Manvers' failures. 

Notes: Given the previous scene, "Sandi" seems like a sure bet to be an NIA asset, despite her exotic Skye accent.  Rive and Sandi aren't drinking Timbiqui Dark at the Brunswick Tavern, though, since that doesn't go into production at the Raasch Brewery until the Star League era.  (They're drinking Primitive Rules beer at this point.  ;) )

Project Ymir indicates that AlarCorp is working on the BWP-X1 Ymir, which Technical Readouts record as the Commonwealth's first homegrown BattleMech (the ones on Loric being PPC-less clones of the HAF-designed Mackie).  Clearly, the PPC engineering hadn't yet been worked out, since the X1 sported a Large Laser backed by LRM-5s, SRM-2s, vehicle flamers, and an AC/5.  Rive's prototype also has a primitive engine, as well as overheating problems with the prototype Large Laser and Flamers.

Interestingly, the manufacturer for the Ymir is listed as the Coventry Defense Conglomerate, rather than AlarCorp.  It'll probably be explained further down the line, but it may be that AlarCorp is a subsidiary or collaborator with Coventry Metal Works, with the design work handled on Alarion and the final manufacturing taking place on Coventry.

Based on what I know of security protocols in the real world, Rive and company screwed up royally.  When the annual security refresher course test gives you the multiple choice question about "You see something odd happening on your computer.  You should...", A) "investigate it yourself" is always the wrong answer.

It's stunning to me that the Lyrans, after being kept out of Hesperus II for years by HAF security (which also foiled the ISF), were so lax in their approach to security on their own 'Mech manufacturing.  Rive derides AlarCorp security as being only focused on personnel movements into and out of the compound, while DEST-2 was able to simply parachute into the Coventry plant one night and walk out with the data, undetected.  Not to mention handing the tech over to the Davions after their own diplomat was blackmailed over skimming procurement contracts.
"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 #112 on: 22 January 2019, 13:25:06 »
Date: January 12, 2462

Location: Alarion

Title: A Dish Served Cold

Authors: Chris Hartford and Jason M. Hardy

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Sandi reassures Rive that everything will be fine at the final review today as she makes him a traditional Skye breakfast.  Rive isn't so sure.

The Ymir Project trio reconvene after the hearing, still assessing the ten thousand kroner fine for "contributory negligence" in shock.  Manvers said they wouldn't be fired, but would be docked pay until the cost of the investigation was recouped.  Leaving the metro together, the three find that their AlarCorp CredCards have been voided.

Later in the day, Rive tries to access the Project Ymir archive to obtain the power coupler schematics, but is told by a guard that he isn't allowed access to that area.  At lunch, he talks with Sandi, noting that he's had a block placed on his phone, requiring approval for all out-of-wing numbers.  Rive suspects that Manvers either wants him to quit or to stay and suffer a string of little humiliations.  Rive tells him she'll be home late, after hitting the gym.

Later that day, an NIA recruiter reviews a small plastic box containing personnel files of the Ymir Project leads.  The recruiter's contact, an unidentified man, recommends that the three be recruited on a transitory basis.

Notes: We have no real sense of how much 10,000 kroner is worth circa 2462, but the rate for apartment rental quoted in "Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight" indicates that an Age of War kroner has roughly equivalent purchasing power to a 3067 kroner.  (Either that, or somebody was really putting the screws to the ISF agent on his rent.)  Looking at the 3067 tables, average upper class salaries (which trained engineers would be part of, I would assume) in the Alarion Province come to nearly 3,000 kroner per pay period.  So the fine is equivalent to about two months pay.  Now, if they were getting Middle Class salaries (747 kroner), that would be a much harder hit, equivalent to half a year's pay.

I wonder what the repayment schedule mandate is?  Could they pay back one kroner per pay period for the next 10,000 pay periods, and just put up with the hassle?

Since they were using AlarCorp CredCards to ride the metro, I would assume that AlarCorp runs a sprawling complex with its own internal economy.  (This being the days before the era of fortress factories buried under mountains.)

The introduction of a male "contact" reaching out to an unidentified "recruiter" would seem to indicate that Sandi (if she is NIA) is part of a larger cell.  Clearly the male has access to the three engineers' personnel files.  I wonder if Manvers engineered the leak himself to put the three in a compromised situation (with Manvers being an NIA asset).  The question is, then, would Manvers have had access to the technical data, and, if so, would he have needed to work through patsies?  The game's afoot!
"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 #113 on: 23 January 2019, 13:07:02 »
Date: January 18, 2462

Location: Alarion

Title: A Dish Served Cold

Authors: Chris Hartford and Jason M. Hardy

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Lanai Singh and Sandrine are shopping together when Sandi mentions her friend, Jennifer Searle, is having a party.  Lanai glowers at the implication that she has been excluded - tarnished by association with her husband. 

Rive's manager drops a folder on his desk and demands he fix a problem with the Ymir.  Feeling angry due to the ongoing lack of respect, he goes to the technical bay where Connor and Gunther repairing the drive train of a light 'Mech crippled by a rookie pilot.  He notes that they all should be doing design work on computers, rather than doing low-level gruntwork in the shop.

Rive goes into the bay and relieves Connor on the repair gantry, noting that there are two more repair jobs lined up for them.  Gunther angrily exclaims that Manvers seems to be trying to pressure one of them to confess to end their misery.  Elias retorts that he's innocent, and bristles at the implied accusation.  Gunther apologizes, and the two return to their menial work.

Notes:  Interestingly, Rive describes his anger so strong that it would "transform into a PPC bolt and vaporize the bastard."  Per the tech tables, the prototype Hegemony PPC debuted in 2439, but the final production model only rolled out in the Hegemony in 2460 - just two years before this.  Odd that such a recent and restricted tech item would have already become the basis for a metaphor.  Rive must have seen some LIC intel on either the prototype or recent field models as part of his work on Project Ymir, and been quite impressed.

The model of the light 'Mech in the shop isn't given.  It's too early to be a Commando, Wasp, or Stinger.  None of the other listed "Primitive" 'Mechs seem to fit the timeframe, either.  Could be a prototype that never made it into mass production (possibly, along the way, helping convince the LCAF that light designs were for the birds), especially if three prototypes were damaged by pilot error so much as to require the whole leg assembly to be replaced in a single day.

If Sandi is an NIA agent, she's doing her part to manipulate the three (through Lanai, this time) into resenting AlarCorp's management and wanting revenge.  Analysis of real world spies has shown motivations to include: money, revenge, thrill-seeking, ideology, and blackmail.  Looks like the NIA is working to engineer #2 (with a healthy dose of #1 thrown in).  MIIO got theirs through #5, and the Dracs, Lyrans, and Capellans simply stole the data (though the Maskirovka attempt involved an attempt to bribe FWL techs, but the whole op blew up in their faces.)
"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.

Wrangler

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #114 on: 23 January 2019, 15:06:35 »
It would make a a degree of sense that there would be some kind of smaller prototype Mech of some kind. Industrial Mechs were out long before BattleMechs were.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #115 on: 25 January 2019, 12:37:46 »
This would seem to be an attempt at a faster scout/flanker 'Mech, since the Mackie and Ymir are pretty slow.  The higher speeds are probably what's causing the pilots to shred the legs, if they're only experienced with low-speed Assault 'Mechs.
"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 #116 on: 25 January 2019, 12:55:33 »
Sometimes I wish the 50 ton Mackie was the early version of the Mech. It would have made alot fluff from the original TRO 3025 make morses with some of the unseens as being largest Assaults out there such as fluff with the Thunderbolt etc. 

Mackie being smaller would made some Lyrans want built bigger etc.  Ymir development, and later the Crossbow would have gained more legs.  I'm curious (since i have not read much of the short stories) if the Crossbow was mentioned since it was early primitive as well.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #117 on: 25 January 2019, 12:57:48 »
Date: January 29, 2462

Location: Alarion

Title: A Dish Served Cold

Authors: Chris Hartford and Jason M. Hardy

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Rive grouses to Sandi about putting in full days in the machine shop and then getting a full day's work worth of technical documents to work on in the evenings.  Sandi notes that his AlarCorp contract requires him to work "all the hours required to carry out the duties of the employment."  He curses lawyers, then apologizes to Sandi, who is a lawyer.

She laughs it off, and points out that many people don't fully comprehend the terms of their contracts.  She notes that it was fine for him as long as his boss wasn't using the terms to make his quality of life worse.

He discusses quitting, but notes that his non-compete clause requires him to stay out of the same field for a year, making him unemployable (as well as broke).  Sandi brings up the "strategic occupations" clause of his contract, which allows him to claim Rive as a key corporate asset and block him from quitting.  She suggests he keep an eye out for something that could turn the situation around for himself, Singh, and Connor.

Notes: Based on Rive saying that the fine has left him broke, he was probably earning a middle class salary, rather than an upper class salary...or the 2462 kroner isn't anywhere close to its 3067 valuation (despite the roughly equivalent apartment rent given in "Fall Down...").

I wonder if AlarCorp was one of the companies that Karl Bernstorff directed sweetheart contracts to (with kickbacks therein that gave the MIIO leverage).  Coventry Metals seems to be the leading entity in this conglomerate (thus the name), with AlarCorp as an R&D skunkworks, so the team at CM probably dealt directly with Bernstorff.

I would think that there would be extensive LIC surveillance of all workers involved in the design and production of the superweapon that, at this point, only the Hegemony and Commonwealth have put into the field (with AFFC models soon to come).  Two of the three Great Houses without the tech share borders with the Lyrans, so the LIC would have to recognize the espionage threat.  I would've expected these techs to be treated like the ones in the 3rd Succession War - ultra-rare assets that are kept in heavily guarded complexes (the rarity at this point due to the relative newness of the field, rather than the collapse of infrastructure).

I guess the Lyran ethos isn't to surround their techs with durasteel walls and guard garrisons, but to bind them with ironclad contracts and legions of lawyers.
"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 #118 on: 25 January 2019, 13:03:16 »
Sometimes I wish the 50 ton Mackie was the early version of the Mech. It would have made alot fluff from the original TRO 3025 make morses with some of the unseens as being largest Assaults out there such as fluff with the Thunderbolt etc. 

Mackie being smaller would made some Lyrans want built bigger etc.  Ymir development, and later the Crossbow would have gained more legs.  I'm curious (since i have not read much of the short stories) if the Crossbow was mentioned since it was early primitive as well.

No mention of the Crossbow, which is still six years away from production at this point, and built on Arcturus rather than Alarion.  Not clear whether the Arcturus manufacturer was part of the Coventry Defense Conglomerate.  It falls in the Heavy category, so it's entirely unrelated to the unnamed Light being tested on Alarion.

TRO: 3025 was written by a group of authors, and at least one was apparently trying to set up a backstory wherein the earliest 'Mechs topped out at 55 tons, with the Griffin being considered an Assault 'Mech when it debuted, and only later technological developments enabling the fielding of Heavy and Assault designs.  Clearly, the FASA continuity editor (if there was one) didn't catch this, because other heavier designs were given earlier introduction dates.  The final nail in the "Assault Griffin" coffin came in "Tales of the Black Widow," which established the Mackie's 100-ton weight class.
"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 #119 on: 27 January 2019, 09:42:33 »
Date: February 12, 2462

Location: Alarion

Title: A Dish Served Cold

Authors: Chris Hartford and Jason M. Hardy

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Gunther Rive goes by himself to a sports bar to watch sports on holovid.  A stranger asks if he can join Rive in the crowded bar, introducing himself as Johnny, which he admits is an alias.  He says he knows what's happened to Rive at AlarCorp, and says that if he is willing to quit and spend twelve months doing something else (due to the non-compete clause), there would be a lucrative job waiting for him afterwards. 

Johnny gives him a flier for a Business and Engineering Job Fair, and recommends Rive attend with Singh and Connor, then leaves.  Rive takes it with him when he leaves two hours later.

Notes:  "Johnny" is clearly the NIA agent with whom the recruiter (Sandrine?) met.  The LIC's Molehunters clearly haven't yet spotted this network.  Generally, the NIA is portrayed as far more competent and dangerous than its successor, SAFE, where loyalty to the Captain-General is prioritized over initiative and skill (an understandable restructuring, given the NIA's attempts to become the power behind the throne for a puppet Captain-General.)  I even once speculated that the acronym for SAFE, said to be a slogan in a dead language, might be along the lines of Semper Aquilae Fidelis Est (I've surely gotten the conjugation wrong, but the meaning would be "Always Faithful to the Eagle").

Interesting to see that holovid displays are ubiquitous by the 2400s.  I suppose this makes sense, given that even in the technologically regressed 3020s, holovid players aren't LosTech except on Skid Row worlds like Baxter. 

What's more interesting is that the displays are showing "sports from across the galaxy" - implying that there's a developed media distribution market using courier JumpShips, centuries before the development of HPGs.  The games being shown would have taken place months or even years earlier, depending on how far away the venue was, but it would be a good  cargo for traders - low weight/volume, and able to be transmitted from the jump point without taking the time and fuel necessary to physically transit to the planet.
"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.