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Author Topic: Clearing the Air: The Skysweepers  (Read 313 times)

Tegyrius

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Clearing the Air: The Skysweepers
« on: 02 January 2021, 12:47:00 »
Clearing the Air: The Skysweepers

Early in his training, Count Prasad Wickham realized he possessed two qualities that would be most unbecoming in a MechWarrior of the AFFS: total ineptitude for piloting and extreme physical cowardice.  His saving grace, however, was an equally strong aptitude for gunnery, honed by a youth spent winning sport hunting championships across New Ivaarsen.  Providentially, his ancestral 'Mech was a Rifleman, which suggested a certain path toward safety without the appearance of dishonorable behavior...

Upon earning his spurs and being posted to the 1st New Ivaarsen Chasseurs, then-Sergeant Wickham was to be assigned to a line company's fire lance.  He leveraged his family connections to  instead attach himself to the regimental command lance as a supernumerary.  The pretext was that this posting would enable him to learn leadership from Marshal Nicholas Stephenson while providing additional anti-air protection to the headquarters.  Stephenson seemingly accepted this at face value - then promptly began using Wickham as an additional aide-de-camp, tripling the young nobleman's workload as an unspoken message that he'd seen through the subterfuge.

Not willing to risk reassignment to front-line combat, Wickham grimly suffered through his "learning experiences" until Operation Rat.  During the New Hessen offensive, he received his first taste of combat when a Capellan conventional fighter wing broke through the Chasseurs' aerospace cover for a bombing raid on the regiment's landing zone.  Wickham accounted for five fighter kills in as many minutes, breaking the Capellan strike before it could incinerate the regiment's supplies.  Subsequent similar engagements on Alrescha and Yangtze proved that regardless of Wickham's personal character, he actually was a superb air defense marksman.

On Hamal, Wickham's luck in avoiding the front lines ran out when a scout company from the planetary militia caught the regimental headquarters in movement between positions.  BattleROMs of Wickham's Rifleman ponderously attempting to flee from light 'Mechs a third of its mass quickly made the rounds, forever stifling the man's chances of further respect, let alone promotion, within the AFFS.  At the campaign's conclusion, Wickham quietly resigned from the AFFS.  He then encountered a new problem: an obscure clause in his patent of nobility required him to maintain active MechWarrior status to hold his title and ownership of his Mech.  The framers had neglected, however, to require this status to be within the AFFS...

Wickham quickly announced that he was forming a new mercenary command.  Drawing on his demonstrated expertise (and expending no small amount of influence to bury the scandalous BattleROMs), he positioned this unit as an air defense specialist formation.  Not coincidentally, this enabled him - or, rather, his lawyers - to contractually limit the conditions under which the unit could be ordered into combat.

Wickham had intended to form an unhireable mercenary lance which would serve as a legal fiction for maintaining his title.  He was astonished to receive over two dozen applications from across the Suns and the Lyran Commonwealth, mostly fellow Rifleman and JagerMech owners who saw such a unit as a chance to preserve their own vulnerable 'Mechs and their attendant social status.  This was, if not a chance at redemption, at least an unforeseen opportunity for prestige.  Despite his best efforts, Wickham had actually learned a fair amount about both martial leadership and unit management during his years at Marshal Stephenson's side.  The unit's resulting success was as much of a surprise to Wickham as it was to his many detractors within the AFFS. 

Today, the Skysweepers are a battalion-strength combined arms unit.  The full battalion has never taken a contract.  Instead, contracts attach individual companies or even lances to larger commands which need supplemental air defense capability.  Contracts still strictly limit the conditions under which commanders can order Skysweepers detachments into direct ground combat.  Few Skysweepers MechWarriors chafe under these restrictions, as they tend to join the unit because of its specialization.

To emphasize the Skysweepers' unique role, Wickham styles his top-level formations as batteries rather than companies.  Each is a mixed force, with two BattleMech lances and a third lance of Partisan SPAA.  Over half the unit's 'Mechs are Riflemen and JagerMechs.  The unit's sole assault 'Mech is a Longbow, with a pair of Orions and an Archer rounding out the heavies.  The remainder, collected in Battery C for contracts requiring better mobility, are Hatchetmen, Blackjacks, and Valkyries.

One other asset not appearing on the Skysweepers' combat TO&E is Company D.  This is a pool of techs, coolant trucks, and ammunition carriers which Wickham attaches as needed to deployed units.  This provides vastly-increased endurance to 'Mechs and Partisans operating from fixed positions, allowing near-continuous fire in the face of sustained air attack.  Company D's most recent addition is a trio of former fighter pilots, all medically retired, who can serve as liaison officers to a host unit's own aerospace assets, hopefully reducing the chance of friendly fire.

* * *

GM Notes

Like my other units posted here, The Skysweepers are more of a niche concept and plot device than a viable unit for actual play.  This entry doesn't give a specific date for the unit profile but my assumption is the late 3030s.  The Skysweepers will likely be around through the 3040s and vanish in the inferno of the Clan Invasion before they can invest in Ultra and LB-X upgrades.

As indicated in the main text, Skysweepers detachments will typically be encountered in defensive roles.  This isn't to say they're assigned only to defensive contracts, though.  As their founder demonstrated in Operation Rat, offensives need AAA cover too.  They typically protect regimental or RCT headquarters units, drop ports, logistics hubs, convoys, and other targets that might attract ASF, atmospheric fighter, or VTOL attacks.  They're rarely assigned to cover front-line units, a contractual limit that is likely to cause constant friction with those units - especially if they sustain losses from air strikes.

The TO&E isn't actually that interesting, so I haven't spelled it out in great detail.  At the GM's discretion, the Skysweepers may have a cozy relationship with Kallon, Bane of All That Flies.  In this case, they could be early recipients of prototype Rifleman, JagerMech, or Partisan upgrades in the 3040s if it's appropriate for a scenario or story.

Skysweepers MechWarriors tend to align with Wickham's skill set: mediocre pilots but excellent gunners.  Particularly in the unit's founding years, everyone who joined up did so because they enjoyed the social status of being MechWarriors but didn't want to risk their lives (or Dispossession) in front-line combat.  In some cases, this was cowardice; in others, somewhat-realistic recognition of the limits of Kallon's designs outside their intended niche.  As production increases throughout the 3030s and 3040s and the social distinction of owning a ride implicitly lessens, these personalities will be increasingly out of touch with the Inner Sphere's mainstream noble and martial culture.
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Dragon Cat

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Re: Clearing the Air: The Skysweepers
« Reply #1 on: 02 January 2021, 13:40:26 »
Interesting unit it sounds more like a Lyran on than a Davion one which probably makes it even more interesting
The below link leads to a wiki page created by Wrangler.  It has links to the various pages of my AU.
https://battletechfanon.fandom.com/wiki/Alternate_Timeline_with_Thanks
For those looking for everything online I've also got them on the OurBattleTech website
https://www.ourbattletech.com/forum/index.php?board=76.0
As always please enjoy and if you have any questions about my AU (or want to chat about ideas I could incorporate into it) feel free to PM me.

Luciora

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Re: Clearing the Air: The Skysweepers
« Reply #2 on: 02 January 2021, 17:51:41 »
Love the idea!

Daryk

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Re: Clearing the Air: The Skysweepers
« Reply #3 on: 02 January 2021, 17:57:46 »
Nice write up!   :thumbsup:

And a perfect place for one of those AC/2 Riflemen in the design forum...  ^-^

JA Baker

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Re: Clearing the Air: The Skysweepers
« Reply #4 on: 02 January 2021, 18:05:41 »
Pretty interesting concept: surprised that there aren't more specialised units like this in canon.
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Tegyrius

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Re: Clearing the Air: The Skysweepers
« Reply #5 on: 02 January 2021, 18:37:35 »
Interesting unit it sounds more like a Lyran on than a Davion one which probably makes it even more interesting

My original concept was a Lyran origin for the founder, but as I started fleshing it out, I remembered the bits of TRO3025 which put the majority of Riflemen and JagerMechs in the Suns.  Seemed logical from there.

Nice write up!   :thumbsup:

And a perfect place for one of those AC/2 Riflemen in the design forum...  ^-^

I deliberately left specific models vague to allow for individual interpretation, but yes.  :)

Pretty interesting concept: surprised that there aren't more specialised units like this in canon.

I'm not surprised TPTB haven't explored the fringes of unit specialization.  The emphasis has always been split between (a) regimental or larger line units and (b) smaller 'Mech units fluffed as having unconventional/special ops roles (Black Widow Company, McKinnon's Raiders).  Those yield the most use for the game's core play mode: 'Mechs shooting the crap out of one another.  Units like The Skysweepers or Aerial Recovery Solutions or Shield Wall are going to work well only in niche scenarios or in roleplaying campaigns.

Having said that, I think a mercenaries sourcebook profiling a few dozen different specialist units would be a lot of fun.  I'd be willing to contribute these and a couple of other ideas on my whiteboard if anyone wants to organize a fan publication.
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Daryk

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Re: Clearing the Air: The Skysweepers
« Reply #6 on: 02 January 2021, 18:44:27 »
Have you considered making an index thread like I have in my sig block?  I think that would be a great way to make all your units accessible...  8)

Tegyrius

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Re: Clearing the Air: The Skysweepers
« Reply #7 on: 02 January 2021, 19:47:47 »
Perhaps when I get a bit more prolific.  So far, those are the only ones I've done.  Most of my fan writing these days is going toward Twilight: 2000.
Some places remain unknown because no one has gone there.  Others remain unknown because no one has come back.

Daryk

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Re: Clearing the Air: The Skysweepers
« Reply #8 on: 02 January 2021, 19:52:03 »
Makes sense!  Of course, you could also cross link some of that stuff here too...  ^-^

DOC_Agren

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Re: Clearing the Air: The Skysweepers
« Reply #9 on: 13 January 2021, 21:57:44 »
nice unit   :thumbsup:

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