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Poll

What is your favorite Star League Era story?

Fall From Grace
12 (50%)
What I Remember Most
1 (4.2%)
So Costly a Sacrifice
0 (0%)
A Veiled Betrayal
1 (4.2%)
Battlefields
0 (0%)
The Theseus Knot
0 (0%)
Memories of Rain
0 (0%)
Seventy
0 (0%)
The Pear
0 (0%)
Destiny's Call
1 (4.2%)
Destiny's Challenge
0 (0%)
Way of the Champion
0 (0%)
Pulsar
2 (8.3%)
The Top of the Scrap Heap
1 (4.2%)
Greater Than Yourself
0 (0%)
Self Defense
0 (0%)
An Ill-Made House
1 (4.2%)
Living Legends
2 (8.3%)
Rise of the Animal
0 (0%)
Star Lord
0 (0%)
Tactics of Betrayal
1 (4.2%)
Desertion
0 (0%)
Hard Justice
1 (4.2%)
The Dark Night of the Soul
1 (4.2%)

Total Members Voted: 24

Author Topic: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era  (Read 76837 times)

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #210 on: 31 August 2017, 22:27:05 »
Date: July 15, 2766
 
Location: Dicallus

Title: The Emercity of Betrayal

Author: Kevin Killiany
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps Iron Writer)

Synopsis: Old Man Butler oversees efforts to convert an AgroHauler for combat, welding on machine guns and a rocket launcher.  Annie Wang tells Butler she's worried, but he reassures her that he'll have a full battalion of WorkMechs combat-ready by the time the League force arrives - sufficient to obliterate the outnumbered SLDF units with volleys of fire. 

Notes: The AgroHauler has never been statted (not surprising for an Iron Writer creation), but appears to have an open air cockpit in front of a cargo bin.  I would presume it's an agricultural variant of the MWDA Mining Mech that looks like a humanoid 'Mech wearing a dump truck bed on its back. 

The Rocket Launcher apparently became extinct after the Terran Alliance became the Terran Hegemony, was reinvented (in Primitive form) by Pentagon Civil War factions, and finally reintroduced in modern form to the Inner Sphere in 3064.  From this, it appears to have also played a role in the Periphery Uprising.  The AgroHauler's arsenal seems to consist of two RL15s, plus three Machine Guns, based on Butler's comments.
"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 - The Star League Era
« Reply #211 on: 01 September 2017, 06:00:27 »
Date: August 1, 2766
 
Location: Dicallus

Title: The Emercity of Betrayal

Author: Kevin Killiany
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps Iron Writer)

Synopsis: As the SLDF forces approach, Butler and his Phoenix Hawk lie in ambush with the Dicallus army, a motley collection of 13 armed WorkMechs and 20 armed civilian vehicles.  A dozen light and medium SLDF 'Mechs approach their position in a column.  When they pass the ambush site, Butler gives the command to attack.  He engages in a running fight with a Wasp, determined to get a kill to demonstrate to his people they could win against the League.  His laser takes the Wasp's leg off, but his triumph is interrupted by desperate cries from his troops, wondering where he went.

Returning to the ambush site, he finds, instead of his forces raining rockets on the hulks of the SLDF 'Mechs, eight SLDF 'Mechs tearing the remnants of his force apart (implying that the ambush got another three SLDF 'Mechs), while a dozen helicopters fire lasers and missiles into the Dicallan positions from the south.  On the ridges above the valley, on both sides, dozens of silhouettes signal the arrival of enemy reinforcements.

Butler orders his troops to keep fighting.  One protests that they're being slaughtered, before cutting off in static.  An SLDF Phoenix Hawk engages Butler, who realizes that the people of Dicallus have been betrayed by their own ignorance.

Notes: I still can't decide whether this was intended to be a Periphery Uprising story or a Reunification War story.  Calling the SLDF forces Inner Sphere invaders and being totally unaware of their capabilities sounds Reunification War-esque, but again, Dicallus wasn't settled during the Reunification War (appearing first on the 2750 map of the Taurian Concordat). 

The SLDF column consisting of a mix of 'Mechs is a bit odd, considering that uniformity was the standard operating procedure for the League, and the entire company should have been composed of one design type.  It's possible that the massive losses during the early stages of the Periphery uprising forced SLDF commanders to form ad-hoc companies with different design types mixed in, formed from shattered mono-type commands.

I wonder exactly what went on when Butler fought the pirates on New Vandenburg fifty years earlier.  He seems to think that morale is the biggest issue, and that deficiencies in equipment can be overcome by fighting spirit.  Perhaps he saw his TDF unit break and run on New Vandenburg, panicked by first exposure to real combat, and was simply falling into the trap of fighting the last war in the engagement on Dicallus. 
"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.

Kit deSummersville

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #212 on: 01 September 2017, 09:23:44 »
Oh right, I kinda vaguely remember that now. IIRC it came from some malapropism of Randall's (possibly for enormity?) or something like that.

Yeah, it was from a short story he wrote as a teenager and was unearthed at GenCon where authors took turns reading the tortured prose to the crowd. Steve Mohan Jr. stole the show when he rode his section in the voice of William Shatner.
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roosterboy

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #213 on: 01 September 2017, 14:40:34 »
Yeah, it was from a short story he wrote as a teenager and was unearthed at GenCon where authors took turns reading the tortured prose to the crowd. Steve Mohan Jr. stole the show when he rode his section in the voice of William Shatner.

Yeeeessss... I do remember that now that you mention it. And I even think I was there for that GenCon. Boy, what a marvelous and frightening thing it is getting old.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #214 on: 04 September 2017, 14:09:47 »
I would have LOVED to see someone having youtubed that telling of the story.
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #215 on: 14 March 2018, 16:59:07 »
Date: May 4, 2765
 
Location: Carthage

Title: Siege of Fire Base San Antonio

Author: Robert Pigeon
 
Type: Scenario (Commando Quarterly #3)

Synopsis: Roughly a month into the Periphery Uprising, dozens of Taurian Freedom Army divisions joined the fighting and attacked isolated SLDF forces, including elements of the SLDF 8th BattleMech Division garrisoned at Firebase San Antonio. 

The TFA has two companies of light and medium 'Mechs, universally low-tech (TRO:3025) models.  It includes a few veteran pilots, but the skill levels suggest they are mostly Regular or Green.  The TFA 'Mechs are, however, equipped with self-destruct devices that, when triggered, do damage to the surrounding hexes, based on engine rating.

The San Antonio Garrison has one combined arms company - Crockett, Emperor, Highlander, Thug, Black Knight, Lancelot, Orion, Flashman, 2 Schreks, 1 Zephyr, and 1 Long Tom Mobile Artillery piece.  It also has 15 minefields (5 standard, 5 command detonated, and 5 command detonated EMP).  The firebase is surrounded by walls with two retractable doors that allow units to move in and out of the base.

The setup notes that the TFA forces were able to approach the firebase undetected under cover of Carthage's "freakish" weather, which caused frequent communications blackouts and technical failures in automated SLDF listening posts and observation posts.

The TFA gets 50 points for each SLDF 'Mech destroyed and 10 for each vehicle.  The SLDF gets 10 for each TFA 'Mech destroyed.

Notes: I've recently added the scenarios and short fiction from the Commando Quarterly to the Chronological Fiction Review schedule.  While now considered apocryphal, when written, the Quarterly was intended to be in-universe content along the lines of BattleTechnology.  (Volume 2's two issues were explicitly non-canon, and those issues were not written from an in-universe perspective.)  Any contradictions with canon material will be noted.

Carthage doesn't appear on any maps until 3040, and the Star League-era reports don't show it as an active colony.  The scenario is framed as the report of Dr. Thom Wilson, Director of Archaeology at the University of Carthage roughly circa 3065, whose team has excavated the ruins of the firebase.

The 8th Division was stationed at Tancredi IV in the Federated Suns in 2764, but was listed as "Destroyed in the Periphery Uprising in 2765" in the Star League sourcebook.  The scenario fits that timeline, but it seems odd that the SLDF would race the unit all the way from the FS/DC border to garrison an outpost in Taurian space, when the Outworlds Alliance is right next door (Tancredi being a former Alliance world annexed by the Federated Suns during the Reunification War).  They would have had to use a command circuit to get there between the start of the uprising and the 30-days later that they apparently died.

Suicide troops also are not consistent with what we know of the Periphery Uprising, where the Periphery units attacked with overwhelming numbers to surround and contain the SLDF garrisons in their bases, offered them the chance to surrender, and then nuked them if they refused. 

The composition of the SLDF unit is also inconsistent with standard SLDF doctrine.  This early in the conflict, the unit should have had standardized equipment - all the same unit type, rather than the scattered "one of each" mix seen here.  (Of course, the scenario loadout was designed with a typical FanPro Commando's miniature collection in mind, which was far more likely to run along the "one of each" lines.) 

The Schreks are a definite anachronism - with that design not debuting until 2813.  Burkes would fill the role more canonically.

No statistics are given for the firebase's walls or doors, so it's unclear how durable they should be.  The map is a 2x2, with the Military Base #1 and 2 from Map Set 7 north of the Rolling Hills maps.

I would recommend that the SLDF troops remain within the confines of the base.  Take advantage of the partial cover bonus from the fighting platform and lay down heavy fire (concentrating on a few units at a time to maximize chances of a take down rather than just armor damage).  Once the TFA comes over the walls, pull back inside the buildings and shoot from inside.  I'm not sure how useful the Long Tom is, since its shots will likely destroy your own minefields as they scatter over the target region.

For the TFA forces, I would recommend grouping your units by speed and movement capabilities, and advancing in columns, to minimize your chances of hitting a minefield.  Move at maximum speed to reduce SLDF gunnery.  Once you crest the walls, surround the outnumbered SLDF 'Mechs (your primary targets) and kick their legs to pieces, functionally immobilizing them, and making them easier to finish off with a self-destruct.

The self-destruct will be tricky to utilize, since you secretly announce its triggering in place of a physical attack one one turn, but it doesn't go off until the fire phase of the next, so you can't be sure to win initiative and trap an enemy unit.  If the opportunity presents itself, after priming the explosive, jump into the middle of a dense enemy group that has already finished movement, for maximum impact.  It's generally not worth losing a 'Mech just to sand the armor off a lone League unit.
"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 - The Star League Era
« Reply #216 on: 14 March 2018, 22:18:05 »
Would a booby trap work for the self-destruct, since regular self destruct doesn't do alot damage other than unit itself? The booby trap would take someone down, even with a low tech mech.
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #217 on: 14 March 2018, 23:31:57 »
This scenario ruleset appears to use the damage scores from the Tactical Handbook (which first codified the "Stackpole Rule" with the later rules for self destructing). 

The Tactical Handbook rules turn 'Mechs into bombs with legs, and this modification allows even large-engined 'Mech to go boom almost at will.  If a 'Mech with a 400 rated engine gets in the same hex as the target when it blows, the epicenter hex would take 400 damage (in 5 point groups), the next hex ring out would each take 200, and the outer hex ring would take 100.  For a Wasp (120 engine), that's 120 -> 60 -> 30, but a Wolverine would do 270 -> 135 -> 68.  Pretty good if your targets are bunched up.
"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.

BrokenMnemonic

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #218 on: 15 March 2018, 13:44:01 »
Tancredi being a former Alliance world annexed by the Federated Suns during the Reunification War).
Tancredi is a bit of a muddle. Historical: Reunification War describes it as a quiet world that had changed hands several times prior to the Reunification War, with the OA using it as a clandestine route for buying weapons in the 2570s. However, in the 2530s when the Davion Civil War was going on, Tancredi was the regional capital of the Draconis Combine and Laura Davion's seat of power (House Davion: The Federated Suns refers). In the 2500s the Tancredi War College was founded there, and the Tancredi regiments were packed with loyalists, and Alexander Davion kept the Tancredi Loyalists regiments active throughout the Star League era (Field Report 2765: AFFS), which is a bit.. odd.

I did ask a question on the Ask The Writers forum about this a while ago, but didn't get a response, unfortunately.

It's more interesting than optimal, and therefore better. O0 - Weirdo

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #219 on: 15 March 2018, 13:53:10 »
Interesting history on Tancredi.  I was mostly just noticing that it's so far from the Taurians, and so close to the Outworlds, that having it fight the TFA just seems like madness.

Attempting to flt the scenario, as written, into existing canon is pretty much hopeless, given information that's come out since it was written.  Options for salvaging it include:

1) Change the unit involved to one that FM: SLDF shows being based in the Concordat.  Change the world to a Taurian colony that was active in 2764, rather than one not settled until 3040.

or
 
2) Keep the 8th BattleMech Division as the parent unit, but change the setting to the Outworlds Alliance and the OpFor to OA rebels.

or

3) Make the SLDF unit a "Main Guardian Defense System," centered on the Mobile Long Tom, and build the unit around its artillery assets.
« Last Edit: 15 March 2018, 13:56:38 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 - The Star League Era
« Reply #220 on: 19 March 2019, 10:52:04 »
Date: September 14, 2733
 
Location: Alpheratz

Title: The Top of the Scrap Heap

Author: Jason Hardy
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: At a workshop in the city of Carolinas, Emma Jacobs and Caleb Murphy look at a prototype BattleMech with a critical eye.  Jacobs notes that the legs are too thin and the metal seems to be recycled scrap haphazardly welded together. 

Murphy is defensive, contending that the 'Mech will move, shoot, and make quick work of infantry and most vehicles.  When asked if it will trip when it goes off-road or break its legs when it runs, Murphy answers that it will do what it is supposed to, and work better than it looks.

Notes: The dates given in the story are for 2783, rather than 2733.  However, other sourcebook material indicates that 'Mechs were manufactured in the OA by Alliance Defenders Limited from the 2730s, and 2783, post-dating the Periphery Uprising, ignores the thousands of 'Mechs in the OA "secret army" that would have been around for analysis.  Changing the 8 to a 3 erases all those continuity issues.

Murphy and Jacobs are looking at the OA's first attempt to make a home-grown BattleMech - which has been reverse engineered from a Locust taken from pirates.  By this time, every other major power has their own 'Mechs, but the OA notably had none in the Reunification War - relying instead on the Pitcairn Legion - a volunteer force from the Federated Suns - to battle the SLDF on their behalf while their homegrown troops flew hang gliders and used other low-tech weaponry.  Basically, the Outworlders were Ewoks.

The Top of the Scrap Heap wasn't advertised as being part of the "Proliferation Cycle," but it fits thematically, since it tells the story of how the Outworlds Alliance acquired BattleMech technology. 

The lack of resources on Alpheratz in the 2700s always struck me as odd - since historically this was Alpheratz at the peak of its power, ruling an OA four times as large as it was in the 3000s.  All I can figure is that the Star League laws restricting the militarization of the Territorial States would have made a "Build-a-Mech Workshop" program illegal, or at least politically touchy.  Thus, United Outworlders would have given this project a shoestring budget so as to keep it off the books until after it could demonstrate success.

Honestly, though, even the centuries-earlier efforts to bolt guns onto WorkMechs seem more formidable than this home-grown Locust.
"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.

Frabby

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #221 on: 19 March 2019, 12:14:19 »
Given the OA's political outlook, it isn't surprising that they aren't diving into BattleMech tech ("BattleTech"?) headlong; it's surprising they bother at all.
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Wrangler

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #222 on: 20 March 2019, 10:16:39 »
If im not mistaken they were building their own Warships in form of the Pinto class Corvettes if i read the Field Reports 2765 Periphery right. The story sounds more like it predates stuff covering late Star League era when Catalyst had its year of the Star League with backfill new star league era material.
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #223 on: 20 March 2019, 10:39:07 »
This story definitely predates the publication of "Liberation of Terra" and the 2765 Field Reports.  FR: Periphery 2765 notes that, by the signing of the Treaty of Cerberus, the Alliance had only a single tank factory to its name, and all of its 'Mechs were pre-war imports from the Draconis Combine and Federated Suns.

Lushann Industrials opened after the Reunification War and made lasers.  Other corporations failed due to interference from the FS and DC.  Alliance Defenders Limited got Hegemony funding and brought true BattleMech manufacturing to the otherwise lacking Alliance, originally for the purpose of easing logistical problems in replacing field losses for the SLDF's 18th Army.  It makes Locusts, Wasps, and Stingers, and output has been steadily growing since the 2730s. 

The page on the OA military says most of the OAM's BattleMechs are ancient, with some dating back to the Reunification War, with newer ones coming from SLDF sources, cast-offs from neighboring Houses, or limited shares from Alliance Defenders Limited.  Most end up as FrankenMechs due to maintenance issues.

This being the case in the most recent sourcebooks, yes, I would have to agree that this story is jarringly at odds with continuity.  It would have made more sense if it were set in the run-up to the Reunification War, rather than after the fall of the Star League, but as noted in FMP2765, Alliance Defenders didn't open until 2730.

One attempt at handwaving this situation is (as noted in the first entry) to reset the date from 2783 to 2733, and to consider Jacobs and Murphy as being a shoestring-budgeted off-the-books effort by the OAM to use the new Alliance Defenders facilities to make their own 'Mechs, since the output from ADL was earmarked for the SLDF 18th Army.  The Hegemony investors wouldn't be happy to have their resources diverted to the Alliance's military, so Jacobs and Murphy had to try to cobble their prototype together from salvaged/stolen scrap, without using the modern production equipment and parts from the other side of the factory.  This presupposes that the Hegemony investors sent a cadre of overseers to safeguard their interests and keep the indigs from doing more than serving tea.
« Last Edit: 21 March 2019, 12:11:27 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 - The Star League Era
« Reply #224 on: 20 March 2019, 10:57:25 »
Date: September 18, 2733
 
Location: Alpheratz

Title: The Top of the Scrap Heap

Author: Jason Hardy
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: General Bashere of the Outworlds Alliance Military watches with a critical eye as the ADL Locust prototype wobbles across the training grounds.  Jacobs claims it's comparable to an Inner Sphere Locust, but with armor comprised of scrap metal and a non-standard targeting computer, since the Inner Sphere has imposed draconian measures to keep targeting software from being exported.

When Bashere asks where they got theirs, Jacobs hesitantly answers that they reverse engineered it from a 'Mech obtained from the Tortuga Dominions along with the comm system and the firing controls...and confesses that most of the parts are from Tortuga as well.

Bashere explodes in rage, throwing his binoculars to the ground, and says the ADL 'Mech may as well be held together with chewing gum.  Composing himself, he tells Jacobs that he knows the lack of government and popular support is making it hard for ADL to make progress, but he says that six more months is all he can give them to produce something better than the Locust.  If they fail, he'll ask the Board of Directors to fire Jacobs and find someone else to helm the project.

As he leaves, Jacobs considers ordering the 'Mech pilot to demonstrate its firepower by destroying Bashere's motorcade, but ultimately decides against it.

Notes: The chronology for the Tortuga Dominions sourcing works out well, since it was founded by deserters from the Reunification War fighting, and they'd still have Reunification War-era equipment, much of which would be in wretched condition  after 150 years of heavy use.

Bashere's comment that the ADL project lacks government and popular support suggests either that he's referring to it being exclusively funded by Hegemony investors, or that this project is secret, and thus the resources he can offer are limited to what he can slide off the official books.  (On the other hand, we don't know what Bashere's real motivations were.  Perhaps he has ties to insurgent groups and is seeking the creation of a production line that will be capable of funneling off-the-record 'Mechs to the nascent secret army.)

As noted in the discussion, the Hegemony funded ADL's creation for the express purpose of simplifying support logistics for the 18th Army.  It still boggles the mind that Jacobs found it easier to grab a pirate 'Mech rather than diverting a few production models from the Hegemony-funded side of the shop.

There ought to have been a sufficiency of Locust parts floating around the Star League's black markets, since the design debuted in 2499, more than two centuries 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 - The Star League Era
« Reply #225 on: 21 March 2019, 07:09:48 »
Date: September 19, 2733
 
Location: Alpheratz

Title: The Top of the Scrap Heap

Author: Jason Hardy
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Jacobs and Murphy discuss the arrival of the new Alliance Defenders Limited CEO and how they'll meet Bashere's six month deadline.  Jacobs opines that they could tinker with the Locust for half a year, but it won't be good enough, given the quality of the materials they have to work with.  She notes that they'll never get ahead by playing by the rules, and that it's easier to get tech when you steal it.

Murphy mutters agreement, but doesn't notice Jacobs' fingers drumming on her desk as she tries to keep her excitement off her face.  The discussion has sparked a new plan that she feels they should have pursued from the start.  All that can go wrong is imprisonment or execution, but her career prospects are worth some risks.

Notes: It's interesting that Jacobs refers to Alpheratz/The Outworlds Alliance as "our godforsaken corner of the universe."  The OA would have been fairly prosperous circa the 2730s, since the really rapacious new laws regarding exploitation of the Territorial States hadn't yet come out of the Star League Council.  Given the revised story date required to make this narrative match the canon founding date of Alliance Defenders Limited, this was still well into "The Good Years" of the Star League era.  (Though the tensions are building - the "Second Hidden War" has just wrapped up on the nearby Davion/Kurita border, the Marik Civil War is raging, and the SLDF and "ronin" are dueling their hearts out in the ongoing "First Hidden War."  The "Third Hidden War" kicks off in less than a decade.)

Sourcebooks written subsequent to this 2007 story have made its continuity a hot mess.  If the Hegemony funded the factory specifically to produce parts and 'Mechs for the 18th Army, they would, of course, have provided all the by now ubiquitous technology to get the plant up and running.  There would have been absolutely no need for an ADL skunkworks to jury-rig their own tech from salvaged scrap.  Even if Jacobs is thinking of stealing the tech she needs, there'd be no need to go offworld - just boost something from the Hegemony warehouses next door.

Again, all I can think of to handwave this is that ADL and General Bashere were working on a project to have the OAM develop their own non-Hegemony-controlled supplier of 'Mechs, possibly with a mind to building up the secret army down the road, though the 2730s seems a bit early for such a project.  The OAM would want their own 'Mechs because the Hegemony tried to force dependency on the Territorial States by restricting manufacturing licenses for key components, forcing them to import those parts from the Hegemony, and thereby limiting the number that could be manufactured by local producers.  In the event of a rebellion, the part supply gets cut off and the rebel manufacturing base is crippled. 

Having the capacity to make their own machinery would be a necessary stepping stone for the OAM to function independently as a rebel state - another sign that Bashere may have been having covert meetings with the Taurian Freedom Army and other Periphery insurgent groups.
"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 - The Star League Era
« Reply #226 on: 25 March 2019, 10:51:48 »
Date: November 23, 2733
 
Location: Alpheratz

Title: The Top of the Scrap Heap

Author: Jason Hardy
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Emma Jacobs arrives at a nondescript coffee shop for a clandestine meeting and nervously awaits her contact.  A man greets her as "Irene," and she responds, calling him "Jerry."  (aka "Jerome")

Jerome informs Jacobs that he's used the military intel her contacts gave him to identify good candidates among the pirate gangs operating near Valasha.  He reports successful contact with one band, and used the bribe money (supplied from Jacobs' personal accounts) to convince them to raid the Federated Suns.  He notes that his lead negotiator is still meeting with the pirates' representatives. 

Jacobs concludes that this represents significant progress.

Notes: Using pirates to accomplish surreptitious tasks has been used throughout the history of the Inner Sphere (and on Terra of old, as well, during the "Letters of Marque" period of raiding the Spanish Main).  ComStar outfitted a number of pirate bands with better equipment and tried to direct their efforts in what became known as the "Jolly Roger Affair" (which blew up on them when the pirates decided they didn't like taking orders).  Likewise, both the Combine and the Commonwealth tried to court Hendrik Grimm's Oberon Confederation to work on their behalf.  While Grimm signed a deal with the Commonwealth, one of his underlings signed their own deal with the Combine.

The question arises - exactly whom is Jacobs hiding from?  Sure, consorting with pirates is generally illegal, but would the Outworlds Alliance have plainclothes police monitoring conversations of defense industry workers?  (I mean, they should, given what we saw in "A Dish Served Cold"...)  It just seems out of character for the traditionally laid back and very much non-authoritarian Outworlds government. 

My guess is that she's trying to avoid being noticed by the "slicks" (as the agents of the Star League Intelligence Corps - SLIC - were known).  When the SLIC found evidence of a large-scale rearmament program in the Rim Worlds Republic, the SLDF staged massive exercises on its borders, and House Amaris backed down and mothballed its new gear.  The SLIC would be on the lookout for similar efforts to build off-books military strength in the other Territorial States, and this definitely fits that model.

Valasha makes a lot of sense as a target for pirate operations, since it's a major port of entry for goods coming in from the Inner Sphere, and the system's jump points are cluttered with merchant ships and recharging stations.  (You'd think this would justify the deployment of the 18th Army's associated fleet elements for security - a destroyer squadron at each jump point would be enough to dissuade most opportunistic pirate raids).

And, per FM:SLDF, the League agreed - assigning the 318th BattleMech Division to Valasha, where its large complement of LAMs can assist the aerospace assets guarding the jump points.  Interestingly, the OAM doesn't have anything deployed there, leaving security as the exclusive province of the SLDF.  With 100+ aerospace fighters and LAMs guarding the system's jump points, I can't see that any rag-tag pirate bands would have any chance of getting in, hitting something, and withdrawing before the 318th homed in on their position and fragged them, unless they could calculate pirate points in orbit and had lithium-fusion batteries - which is asking a bit much for pirates. 
"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 - The Star League Era
« Reply #227 on: 26 March 2019, 10:49:11 »
Date: January 11, 2734
 
Location: Alpheratz

Title: The Top of the Scrap Heap

Author: Jason Hardy
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Emma Jacobs flees security agents, leading them on a brief chase through a stairwell in the Alliance Defenders building before being apprehended at gunpoint.

One of the police officers tells her she's under arrest on charges of treason, piracy, and conspiracy against the Alliance.

Notes: So..... something seems to have gone wrong with her "secret" plan to work with the pirate bands around Valasha. 

The charge of "conspiracy against the Alliance" indicates that the charges stem from her association with pirate bands known to have attacked the Alliance world of Valasha in the past, though the dialogue in the previous scene indicated that she'd tried to get them to shift their focus to the Federated Suns.  One interesting omission is that she's not being charged with conspiracy against the Star League.  (Granted, when this story was written, the original date would have placed it after the collapse of the Star League.) 

However, in the context of resetting the date to the canon years when Alliance Defenders began operations with Terran Hegemony funding, we can assume that the charges leveled against her are only because of the pirate dealings, and not because the League found out she was trying to help the Alliance develop their in-house armaments program in contravention of Star League policy towards the Territorial States.

Was the arrest a smokescreen to give the Alliance plausible deniability in the event that the Star League got upset about the independent development of BattleMech technology outside of the heavily controlled Hegemony-funded manufacturing operation?  (House Avellar:  "It wasn't us, my Lord Cameron.  This woman was a traitor in league with pirates, and we've dealt with her appropriately.")
"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 - The Star League Era
« Reply #228 on: 28 March 2019, 14:51:31 »
Date: April 8, 2734
 
Location: Alpheratz

Title: The Top of the Scrap Heap

Author: Jason Hardy
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Brinson, Emma Jacobs' lawyer, meets with her in her prison cell to discuss her plans for the treason/piracy trial.  In a sharp contrast with her demeanor for the past two months, he notes, she now reassures him that there's nothing to worry about as long as he can push the trial proceedings beyond May 5th.  Emma asks Brinson to return on May 5th to work out some fine legal points, but refuses to provide further details.

Flabbergasted by his client, Brinson leaves the cell muttering about filing an insanity plea.

Notes: If all of Emma's communications are monitored, one wonders exactly how she's so sure about the May 5th date?  Even if she made a plan with compatriots on the outside to have something ready by May 5th, how would she be so certain that her surprise is on schedule?

The possible answer ties in with the handwavium required to shoehorn this story into continuity.  If certain elements of the OAM are trying to develop domestic 'Mech production capacities, they could be covertly supporting the project, even while publicly wagging their finger at Jacobs and screaming "treason!" for the benefit of the SLIC agents.  The only way she'd be so smug was if someone smuggled intel into her cell that her plan was on schedule and ready to launch May 5.
"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 - The Star League Era
« Reply #229 on: 29 March 2019, 11:26:37 »
Date: May 5, 2734
 
Location: Alpheratz

Title: The Top of the Scrap Heap

Author: Jason Hardy
 
Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Brinson arrives at the prison compound's main entrance, and is surprised to see Velma Crawford, the prosecutor, arriving at the same time.  Velma says she has come at Emma's request to discuss a plea deal, which is the opposite of what she told Brinson.

Their conversation is interrupted by Caleb Murphy, who introduces himself as "an associate" of Emma's, and says they will soon see why she asked them to come.  Alarms ring out, and seventeen minutes later, an armed man collects them at the prison door and leads them to a vehicle, in which he drives them in a circuit of the prison perimeter until they reach the northern wall.  There, he points at something silhouetted in the rising sun and asks them if they can tell him what it is, since its pilot is on their comm channels, and has been asking for them.

The object rockets into the sky and lands two kilometers from them, revealing it to be a humanoid figure wielding an enormous gun, currently pointed at the vehicle.  Murphy responds to the pilot's hail, acknowledging that he has the lawyers.

The pilot informs them that they're looking at a Stinger, captured intact from the Federated Suns.  He proclaims it as the most powerful weapon in the entire Outworlds Alliance by far, and the sole possession of Emma Jacobs, who can either reverse engineer it for the OAM, or destroy it, at her whim.

Crawford angrily responds that Jacobs can do what she wants for it, but she will not be let out of prison in this manner.  She continues protesting for three days, right up until the Alliance government releases Emma Jacobs and reinstates her as the head of Alliance Defenders Limited.

Notes: Similar to Kevin Killiany's "The Emercity of Betrayal," numerous anachronisms make it hard to place when this story could take place.  The given date of 2783-2784 makes no sense, since ADL has been making 'Mechs for the OAM since the 2730s, and 11,000 secret army 'Mechs had just been fighting SLDF forces throughout the Alliance during the Periphery Uprising.

The shock and awe with which the Stinger is regarded seem far more appropriate to a story set during the Age of War.  However, Alliance Defenders Limited didn't exist until 2730.  Also, they mention the Reunification War as being in the past, since they get their 'Mechs from Tortuga, which was founded by troops going AWOL in the Reunification War.

Setting it in the 2730s fits with the chronology of ADL, but doesn't explain why the project seems secret and meeting with government disapproval, since the Hegemony explicitly funded the ADL project to build 'Mechs and parts to ease the logistical strain on SLDF forces stationed in the Alliance.  Plus, the pilot's statement that the Stinger represents the most powerful weapon on Alpheratz is nuts, since the OAM has plenty of aerospace fighters and even a small fleet of WarShips.  As portrayed, it's as though the pilot assumes the veteran Avellar Guards are mostly armed with slingshots and water balloons.  (Not to mention that the entire 287th BattleMech Division is stationed on Alpheratz.)

The best I can think of to shoehorn this somehow into the chronology is that it takes place in the 2730s, once the ADL corporation has been established, but in parallel to the Hegemony-funded parts-production operation.  The project involved the director of ADL (who may not be Alliance-born, since she describes it as a backwater) so that she could have the necessary access to hide the operation from Hegemony accountants and overseers (and the SLIC).

Emma's real goal wasn't just to have ADL make Stingers, but to have it develop the capacity to make all the components on its own, rendering the OAM independent of the restrictive SLDF licensing arrangements.  (This has undertones of laying the groundwork for passing those designs and tech specs on to secret factories, which is where a lot of those 11,000 Secret Army 'Mechs came from - though many were covertly sourced from Inner Sphere providers as well.) 

The Locust that they first reverse engineered was perhaps too damaged to be useful for the program, since its stability was questionable, but the main problem seems to have been that it was built out of scrap metal, and its combat worthiness was in question.  The choice of second-rate materials may have been the result of the lack of resources due to the secrecy involved, but if they only have access to lousy materials, why would a reverse engineered Stinger perform any better?  (Perhaps the pirate Locust had long since lost all of its layered diamond-steel armor, and been reduced to using salvaged sheet metal, so they couldn't reverse engineer the armor.)

Emma's arrest can be explained as a smokescreen by Emma's supporters in the Alliance government, so that all attention would be focused on her and not on the Stinger-acquisition project.  Once that bore fruit, and she proved to the OAM's satisfaction that she could deliver what they wanted, she'd be rewarded with freedom and exoneration.  She could then go ahead and oversee the production of Locusts, Wasps, and Stingers in the Hegemony-financed production facility, all the while using what data she could glean to supplement the reverse-engineered Stinger and Locust details, thereby enabling the ADL factory to keep producing once supplies of key parts from the Hegemony were cut off in the 2770s.   

(The way the Hegemony set things up in the Periphery was akin to how a Coca-Cola bottling plant works - they get shipments of the syrup, and supply their own water, carbonation, and bottles, but the formula stays in the vault back in Atlanta.)

The remaining question, if this was the OAM's goal, is to what extent they anticipated a Periphery uprising, and whether they had contact with groups like the Taurian Freedom Army at this point.  (It's too early for Stefan Amaris to be in the mix...but perhaps his mother Cynthia?)

Short and sweet, this is a troublesome story for the overall continuity.  Though it didn't really conflict with anything published at the time, later supplements dealing with the Outworlds Alliance and the Star League era have decisively contradicted this story.
"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 - The Star League Era
« Reply #230 on: 29 March 2019, 16:02:26 »
Date: 2731
 
Location: Sherwood

Title: On the Defensive

Author: Aaron Pollyea
 
Type: Adventure Seed (Touring the Stars: Sherwood)

Synopsis: The SLDF's Third Army has been hunting for pirates in the dense woods of the Loxley Forest Preserve since 2676, but has been unable to root out the Titanium Blade, which has grown to a combined arms demi-brigade.  Orbital scans couldn't penetrate the forest canopy, and there were planet-wide protests in reaction to an SLDF admiral's suggestion to wipe out the entire preserve with an orbital bombardment, due to their love of their planet's ecosystem.  Restricted by SLDF policy after the protests, the 3rd Army has stationed its 'Mechs and tanks at key strategic objectives, leaving it with just infantry and other light support forces to go after the pirates.

The Adventure Seed allows players to take the role of the SLDF, trying to come up with a plan to be able to respond to Blade raids before the bandits can fade back into the woods, or trying to figure out how to bring enough light, mobile forces into the woods to beard the Blades in their own den.  Alternatively, it allows the players to play the Blades, planning raids, gathering intelligence, and trying to keep public opinion on their side.

Notes: Author Aaron Pollyea has embraced the Robin Hood mythos for Sherwood.  Not only is the pirate lair in the Loxley Forest Preserve and the main city named Marion, but the SLDF ends up playing the Sheriff of Nottingham to the Blades' Merry Men.  If you wanted to get very meta about this campaign, make sure the Blades have J. Edgars (which debuted in 2722, so the timing works), since its "Battle History" says "in an unknown battle on an unknown planet" the J. Edgar pilot known as "Roebinood" attacked a much larger force, varying depending on the teller, but including at most 20 Atlases, 27 'Mechs of various sizes, and even a giant mobile weapons platform.  (The standard tale is 12 J. Edgars vs. 30 heavier tanks.) 

Imagine the fun if you had the Titanium Blades, under the command of Roebinood, hit the SLDF 3rd Army in a battle involving a Rattler-class mobile structure.

I set this in 2731 in my chronology, despite no official date being given, because the setup states that the 3rd Army has adopted a static defense, which fits with the post-protest doctrine.  The situation remained unchanged until the bandits scored a major victory in 2759.  (If you wanted to do the Roebinood scenario in the late 2750s, you could even include the Atlases, which debuted in 2755.)  In actuality, it could be set anywhere between 2676 and 2759.

For the Blades, thematically appropriate units would include Archers (natch), CRD-1R Crusaders (primitive versions from the 2590s) if you're going with the "Robin of Loxley returned from the Crusades" storyline, J. Edgars (because of the Roebinood story), and at least one Sand Devil hovercraft (to represent Azim).  Granted, hovercraft and heavy woods don't mix well, but we can assume that the Blades, living in the forest, know the hidden trails that will allow those units to traverse the terrain unimpeded.

For the 3rd Army, unfortunately, the Sheriff infantry support tank doesn't come out until 3098.
« Last Edit: 30 March 2019, 19:58:56 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 - The Star League Era
« Reply #231 on: 30 March 2019, 06:11:20 »
Date: 2761
 
Location: Sherwood

Title: Walking Through the Woods One Day...

Author: Aaron Pollyea
 
Type: Adventure Seed (Touring the Stars: Sherwood)

Synopsis:

Following the 2759 Montfriar debacle, the SLDF redeployed the 132nd Royal Jump Infantry Division (1321st and 1322nd regiments) to Sherwood under Major General Jonas Tyler. For two years, Tyler took the initiative, leading his infantry from the front lines, supported by swarms of VTOLs and swarms of LAMs.  The Blades were soundly defeated by 2763.  Nicknamed "Sherwood's Sheriffs," the 132nd received massive support from the planetary population.

The Adventure Seed takes place shortly after the 132nd's arrival.  If players take control of the SLDF forces, they have to plan an infantry-led assault into the deep woods, planning to avoid getting lost, friendly fire, local fauna encounters, or running afoul of the local environmental laws.

Notes: If you ever wanted to do BattleTech scenarios in a Vietnam-style setting, this is your seed.  Infantry squads deployed via VTOL into the dense tree-cover.  (No using Agent Orange, though, or the planet-wide protests will get you bounced immediately.)  The bandits are, in parallel, getting support from a hostile foreign power - in this case the Taurian Freedom Army.  ("We have a secret plan to end the war by bombing the Calderon Trail.")

Leave the 'Mechs and heavy tanks in their cases, and bring out the Rippers, Nightshades, and Cyranos, as well as all those LAM minis, alongside the jump infantry, and go to town on your Heavy Woods maps.

If you've played through the previous Adventure Seed as the Titanium Blades, this can represent the next level of difficulty.  (Celts and fire arrows galore.)  If you plan to use this as a lead-in to the Periphery Uprising and the Star League Civil War, you can really get a lot of mileage out of the covert support from the Taurian Freedom Army, and surviving Blades could be folded into the TFA and get revenge down the road.
"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 - The Star League Era
« Reply #232 on: 30 March 2019, 06:52:40 »
Date: August 2, 2776 [See Notes]
 
Location: Caph

Title: Falling

Author: Nadin Brzezinski
 
Type: Short Story (MechForce Quarterly Volume 5 #3)

Synopsis: Aboard the DropShip SLS Harrow's Sun, Major Michael Ward anticipates the coming battle to retake Caph from the Republican troops occupying it.  Master Sergeant Joe Alvarez tells him that his Highlander isn't fully repaired, and offers to transfer him to Sergeant Argenti's Atlas.  Ward reluctantly agrees, noting his preference for his Highlander.

Following the landing, at 0900 hours, Ward is leading the assault on Republican lines around the city of Taurus when communications go silent and a mushroom cloud rises over the SLDF rear-area base camp.  Ward's Atlas weathers the blast, being at the far periphery of the shockwave's radius.  With Colonel Anders dead, Ward rallies his troops and continues the advance against the Republican line, pushing through murderous fire and artillery barrages.  He drops a Thug and continues to lead his troops to seize Hill 772.

Three hours later, near the city of Taurus, Colonel Andrea Dobson gives Ward a field promotion to Colonel and assigns him to command the now half-strength 20th Dragoon Regiment in the assault against the city.  The battered column of 'Mechs enters the ruined city, facing ambushes by Republican Guard infantry detachments.  In the city center, they find civilians huddled near City Hall, where a tattered Terran Hegemony flag flies over the square and dozens of Republican Guard infantry have been bludgeoned to death with rocks.  The scene is deeply affecting for Ward.

Notes: This is a non-canon story written in the late 1990s for the final issue of the FASA-produced MechForce Quarterly fan club magazine.  Nadin Brzezinski is also listed as one of the playtesters for the Classic BattleTech RPG (MechWarrior 3rd Edition). 

Though the story is dated July 26, 2776, I have dated it here as August 2, 2776.  Looking at "Liberation of Terra," the assault on Caph began with the arrival of the 4th and 5th fleets on July 26, 2776, swiftly crushing the SDS and jumping in to pirate points surrounding Caph itself.  Third Army arrived hours later and spent a week burning in to the world while the fleet bombarded Republican strongpoints and SDS installations from orbit.  So, the date given for this story is about a week too early, since the ground forces didn't land until early August.  The Republican forces are noted for their extensive use of WMDs against the Third Army, so that scene also fits. 

Having Ward be part of the 20th Dragoon Regiment fits quite well.  Although FM:SLDF has them posted to the First Army's X Corps as an independent regiment, it specifically notes they were reassigned in 2763 and expected to move to the Third Army in the Outworlds Alliance by 2765.  I can't help but think that Jason Schmetzer and the other FM:SLDF authors intentionally put in that extra text about the 20th Dragoons to bring this story into canon as much as possible. 

It's interesting that the sight of a Hegemony flag gets a strong emotional reaction from Ward.  Granted, he was stationed in the Hegemony until his unit transferred to the Outworlds Alliance, and that would be a symbol of home.  However, it was my impression that Amaris didn't obliterate the Hegemony flag, but just declared himself the new ruler of the Hegemony.  There are accounts of the Star League flag (the Cameron star) being lowered and replaced with the Amaris shark flag, but no mention of the Hegemony flag itself being torn down.  Especially since Amaris' propaganda line was that he had "ended the tyranny of the Cameron dictators, returning the Terran Hegemony to its people."

Hill 772 is probably a reference to the Battle of El Guettar, pitting Patton's U.S. II Corps against the German Army Group Africa and the Italian First Army in south-central Tunisia.  It was the first battle in which U.S. forces defeated German tank units.  Hill 772 was one of the two original Italian strongpoints, and the Italians called in the German 21st Panzer Division when Patton's forces attacked.
« Last Edit: 30 March 2019, 07:03:44 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 - The Star League Era
« Reply #233 on: 31 March 2019, 16:44:58 »
Date: March 27, 2779
 
Location: Bryant

Title: What's in a Name?

Author: Kevin Killiany
 
Type: Short Story (Legacy Anthology)

Synopsis: At Lantren Developmental Laboratories in the city of Apopka, midnight has passed and Lucia Cavaletta is still hard at work on the GHR prototype's tensioner subassembly.  Incomplete prototype chassis frames loom around her in the cavernous workshop, still lacking an official name, though Ghost Hunter, Grim Reaper, and Harvester have all been floated as possibilities - the first reflecting a failed attempt to incorporate stealth technology, and the latter two reflecting both Byrant's agricultural industry and the machine's hunter/killer role.  Lucia herself prefers her suggestion of 'Grasshopper' - the bane of every farm on the world, at least until Amaris forces destroyed the weather control satellites.

The component on her work table, representing more than sixteen hours of labor, will be slated for installation in prototype five.  Proud of her accomplishment, she uses a laser etcher to begin burning her name into the housing.  Her work is interrupted by a shout, as Jennings, the night security guard, staggers into the workshop, tells her to run, and then collapses. 

Lucia crouches behind a desk and listens as figures appear in the doorway.  Their conversation reveals that they've jammed communications and cut phone lines, and are hoping they can force her to help them find what they're looking for.  She stealthily crawls through the lab and finds a hiding spot beneath a curved section of armor plating on a metal component shelf.

She listens to the intruders comment on the list of name possibilities - Gryphon, Gray Hawk, Grendel, and Ghost Hunter.  She realizes that if they're being so casual, all the security guards must be already dead.  She hears buzzing coming closer, but can't identify it.  Suddenly agony rips through her as the intruders electrify the metal shelf she's lying on, and she cries out, revealing her hiding place.  The intruders pull her out and identify her as Control System Design Specialist Lucia Cavaletta.

They tie her to a chair and lay out tools to torture the information out of her.  She ignores their words, and focuses her determination on not allowing these people, whether they serve Amaris, Steiner, or Liao, to steal a weapon of war they could use against Bryant.

Nine hours later, Lantren Industries Research Operations Supervisor Aaron Bosworth watches as forensics technicians carry Lucia's corpse out of the workshop.  An SLDF officer introduces himself as Captain Scarlatti and thanks Bosworth for coming.  Bosworth shudders as he sees how much blood and body parts the technicians are cleaning up from Cavaletta's workstation.  Scarlatti estimates the torture lasted for up to two hours, and says the evidence suggests Defiance Industries, acting on its own.  He says that it could mean another House is trying to implicate Steiner, or that Steiner was trying to establish plausible deniability.

Scarlatti asks Bosworth about the 'Mech Cavaletta died to protect.  He says she fought well, but her fingerprints and blood are on the keyboard, so she clearly gave them something.  Bosworth opens her computer and checks the logs - finding that she gave the intruders "Ghost Hunter" - the failed stealth-tech Prototype One plans.  Scarlatti is surprised she gave them a heavy with stealth technology, but Bosworth explains that it looked good on paper but catastrophically failed in field tests, frying the testbed mainframe and setting the project back a year.

Scarlatti sees that Cavaletta held out so long so that the intruders would believe that the Ghost Hunter was the prize they sought.  He sees the list of proposed names on the wall chart and suggests that they honor her sacrifice by giving Prototype Five her preferred Grasshopper designation.

Notes: Interesting that Defiance Industries would be so strongly affiliated with House Steiner at this juncture.  While it was constructed as a Star League/Commonwealth joint venture in 2577 and jointly run thereafter, I would have assumed that Kerensky's people would have been calling the shots there for the duration of the Civil War.  With fighting still taking place in pockets of Terra, Defiance should be focused on making equipment to replace SLDF losses, rather than striking at another SLDF-aligned production facility.  House Steiner didn't put the Brewers in charge of Defiance until after the Star League disbanded, so this seems like some sort of rogue operation mounted by a pro-Steiner cabal within Defiance - perhaps an extension of the Third Hidden War that wracked the latter decades of the Star League and focused primarily on punitive raids against economic resources and false-flagged piracy.

Stealth technology did exist during the Star League era.  The Chameleon Light Polarization Shield was created by the Terran Hegemony in 2630, but was jealously guarded by the SLDF, used only on the Exterminator and possibly some Royal units.  The Null Signature System likewise debuted in the Star League era, and wasn't shared outside the Royal units.  I can, therefore, see how defense contractors affiliated with one of the Great Houses would have been particularly interested in seizing stealth tech - presuming that it would be easier to boost it from Lantren than from the General Systems plant on Caph.

With the Amaris forces having been driven back to Terra and the fighting there still ongoing (not concluding for another six months), Lucia Cavaletta's mindset is probably typical of most denizens of the Inner Sphere - that all this fighting will soon be over, and the Star League will return to its former glory and fix all the damage.  She assumes, without any doubt, that the League will replace the storm inhibitors that keep the weather on Bryant under control.  Of course, once the League shattered, the SLDF launched its Exodus, and the Succession Wars broke out, such devices became LosTech, and Bryant became nearly uninhabitable.

One interesting bit is Lucia's comment that grasshoppers are the bane of Byrant's crops.  One wonders how the grasshoppers got to Bryant.  If they're Terran stock, how would they have gotten to Bryant?  Accidentally included in poorly screened seed grain?  We do know that pest species have migrated from world to world aboard DropShips, not unlike how rats spread across Terra aboard sailing ships.  Usually, however, the Terraforming process is followed by the introduction of genetically adapted crops that can grow in the planet's unique soil chemistry.  This implies a careful, scientifically monitored seeding process, rather than just blasting seeds straight off the DropShip out of a crop-duster.  My guess is that the grasshopper accidentally imported from Terra well after Bryant's agro-industry was established, and all quarantine and control efforts failed to fully eradicate it.
"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.

Jaim Magnus

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #234 on: 31 March 2019, 18:51:21 »
Woohoo! Legacy makes its appearance :D
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Frabby

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #235 on: 01 April 2019, 01:32:21 »
Minor but relevant point about this story is that Cavaletta means Grasshopper in Italian, and Lucia Cavaletta was only half serious when she originally proposed the name. The implication is that the design that she essentially created that night by inventing a critical component, and then died to protect, was named in her honor.
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #236 on: 02 April 2019, 09:38:09 »
One further question derives from this story.  If the "Ghost Hunter" was the GHR-1X, and what became the Grasshopper was the GHR-5X prototype, does that mean that the WHM-6R evolved from the WHM-6X - the sixth prototype in the WHM series?
"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 - The Star League Era
« Reply #237 on: 02 April 2019, 09:59:24 »
I don't think all companies have the same numbering policies.
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #238 on: 02 April 2019, 19:38:26 »
Agreed, the KGC-000 King Crab certainly wouldn't fit that naming convention.
"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 - The Star League Era
« Reply #239 on: 14 July 2019, 15:23:14 »
This is a bit late but conveniently before the Warhammer, there exists 3 BattleAxes and 2 Hammerhands variants. Considering the Warhammer is based on those 'Mechs, the designation number 6 is rather appropriate.
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