Monthly Archives: January 2010

What Might Have Been (Part 3)

Austral Continent Training Grounds
Strana Mechty
15 March 3001

Star Ca- that is, Captain Natasha Kerensky swore at her ancient MAD-3R Marauder as she desperately danced out of the way of a stream of autocannon projectiles from an “enemy” ANH-1A Annhiliator that had appeared seemingly out of nowhere.

The range was short, almost absurdly short by the standards of the school in which she’d learned to fight a Battlemech; but at just over 300 meters, the Annihilator had difficulty tracking even the sluggish Marauder with its equally antiquated Kali-Yama class-ten autocannons.

Natasha triggered the Marauder’s primary weapons interlock and swore again as the twin Magna Hellstar PPCs sent her heat scale sailing deep into “yellow” territory. The Marauder suddenly felt like a Dire Wolf as its actuators lost contraction efficiency in the intense interior heat.

In reality, the 75-ton Marauder was not all that different from the Timber Wolves she had piloted for much of her warrior career. In many ways, the Timber Wolf was a derivative design, though the Wolf’s chassis was more closely based on the smaller Catapult. It was, however, some 20% slower at a trot, a difference almost as maddening as its thin armor, limited firepower, and crippling heat difficulties.

She had hit, though. In reality, her particle cannons were powered down enough that they would barely give an infantryman a sunburn and the GM Whirlwind Autocannon on the Marauder’s back was firing mostly-harmless “mass simulator” rounds with none of the explosive punch required to penetrate even three century old armor designs. In the mind of the Annihilator’s diagnostic interpreter, however, the shots had hit the massive Battlemech like a hammer-blow, and the DI obediently knocked the ‘Mech’s gyroscopic stabilizer out of phase to simulate the loss of over a ton of aligned-crystal steel armor plating. The Annihilator slowed as its pilot righted it automatically, but did not stop. Natasha backed the Marauder as fast as its protesting legs would take it, barely maintaining the range with the charging Annihilator.

Just who got ambushed there? She asked herself, feeling a little smug. But they were learning, and that was a good thing. After all, it was her job, the job of the Second Agressor Trinary (already known as the Black Widow Company) to teach her fellows among the Dragoons to think and fight like a Spheroid. Or at least, how Intelser thought a spheroid probably thought.

Unlike some of her comrades, Natasha was under no illusions when it came to the reliability of Intelser data. Clan spies (in reality, mostly Merchants with as much skill in skullduggery as Natasha had in needlepoint) had had no direct contact with the Inner Sphere, and most of what she’d learned about managing a Marauder and a Company had been learned from leftover Star League training manuals that the Goliath Scorpions had dug out of a cache somewhere.

Still, how much could have changed?

The Annihilator let loose another torrent of shells, and some connected this time, knocking the Marauder off balance. Natasha disengaged one of her particle cannons and fired again, missing with the autocannon but connecting with the PPC. The Marauder began to cool off, and moved freely again. Even at a fast walk, it outpaced the Annihilator now moving backwards.

And now that she had a little space to think, she realised that her opponent had made another mistake. He might have tried to ambush her, but he was still thinking like a Clanner.

He’d come out by himself.

His Star had three other Battlemechs in it, somewhere. Just not here. Natasha’s friends were somewhat closer at hand.

“Three, Actual. Break.”

“Go ahead Actual.”

“Fire mission.”

“Link Engaged.”

Though antiquated, the Marauder’s Dalban Hi-Res Targeting and Tracking System was a fairly sophisticated device. Among its many capabilities was the ability to link to a compatible TTS to provide real-time targeting data for fire-support missions. Point Three, Lynn Sheridan’s CRD-3R Crusader had just such a system, the Garret A6 tied to its two Magna Longbow-15 Long-Range Missile Launchers.

“Give me sixty birds and have another sixty on standby.”

“Roger. On the way.”

Natasha fired again, this time striking with only the autocannon as she continued to backpedal.

“Fire, Actual. Break.”

“Go Ahead, Actual.”

“Move to grid H5”

“Moving out. ETA Five Minutes.”

Thirty LRMs arrived at or near the target, their dummy warheads wreathing the Annihilator in smoke and convincing its DI to cause another spasm. Natasha followed up with another salvo from the primary interlock, wincing as the Marauder’s heat headed back into the yellow zone. The Annihilator bucked again, overbalanced despite its pilot’s best efforts, and toppled over onto its face.

“Actual, Recon. Break.”

Right on time, Natasha thought.

“Major movement in grid J6” J6 was on her right flank, where she’d set half of her recon lance to guard.

“Five Battlemechs, Heavy Class.”


“Archer. Archer. Warhammer. Marauder. Rifleman.”

“Move to grid I5 and prepare to support.”

She eyed the Annihilator as it began to struggle to its feet. Takiro Akida’s Fire Lance could handle a lone, damaged Annihilator. Natasha was just about disengaged.

“Command, Actual. Follow in formation to grid J6”

What Might Have Been (Part 2)

Katyusha City Comissary (Sven’s Hole)
Strana Mechty
12 November 3000

Leaving one’s Clan was never easy, ilKhan Nadia Winson reflected. She was in a position to know, having now left two Clans. The first had been Clan Wolf, whose Khan was now her chief rival for power. As a junior Star Colonel, she had been captured in action against Clan Ghost Bear. Made bondsman, and eventually adopted into the Warrior Caste, the abtakha Wolf had worked her way up the ranks and finally been accepted by her peers to the point of being made a Khan.

It had been a long, hard road. She had had to learn the ways of her new Clan, and unlearn the ways of the old. A Wolf played her cards close to her chest, never letting others see the nature of her soul. A Wolf played games of dominance. She always fought, and she always won. Or she died.

A Ghost Bear was a different creature altogether. Though she hid from her prey, she was open with her family.  For over a decade, she had seen her fellow-Clansmen as brothers and sisters, and then she had been a mother to them. She had even begun a Great Work, a miniature diorama showing the entirety of the Great Father’s Regular Army at its height assembled as if for a parade through the streets of Old Washington. She had never finished it, and doubted she ever would.

And now it was time to set all that aside. She had been elected by her peers– by the Khans of Kerensky– to lead them into war. The coming war would be the greatest challenge the Clans had ever faced, and it was up to her to make sure they overcame it. She wondered how she would compare to the example of the ilKhans that had come so long before. Would she be hailed as another Jerome Winson? Or despised as another Tobias Khatib? Could she ever hope to live up to the example of the Founder himself?

Only time would tell, and her time among the Ghost Bears had taught her the right attitude to apply to the situation. She would be patient. She would wait and see. She would take what came when it came, even as the Ghost Bear did. But it was the Wolf she still remembered who would deal best with the other Khans. Especially Kerlin.

And there he sat, in the corner with his Warden cronies, doubtless plotting her downfall even as he “celebrated” her rise on her work-credits. So be it. The best of the Khans sat at her table as the Grand Council’s newest member entertained them all with his rendition of a 25th-Century rock ballad.

She thought she would never understand Karaoke, but Thaddeus Jorgensson was actually quite good…

What Might Have Been (part 1)

Hall of The Khans
Strana Mechty
11 November, 3000

“You are recognized, Khan Garrick N’Buta of the Star Adders. Why do you rise before this Conclave?”

The Oathmaster’s ritual words rang out across the Hall of the Khans to the considerable startlement of Wolf Khan Kerlin Ward. Kerlin had been about to call a vote on his most recent proposal, and the Star Adder Khan was, technically, out of order.

Let him challenge me to a Trial of Grievance if he does not like it. Like most Clan Warriors, Garrick was usually unfailingly polite: It never hurt to be polite when surrounded by people who would feel obligated to kill you at the slightest offense. This made the impact of upstaging the Wolf Khan all the more potent. Such a challenge could not properly be made on the floor of the Grand Council. Kerlin would have to wait while Garrick had his say or be embarrassed further. Still, he could well pay the price later. But this is important.

“I find your notion of sending a reconnaissance force to the Inner Sphere intriguing, Kerlin Ward, but I note certain deficiencies in the plan. Firstly, you would have this force placed soly under your own authority. While I cannot say that I do not trust you with such a charge, given your record and known political positions” — this brought a guffaw from the Smoke Jaguar Khan. He could afford to be rude. He was a Smoke Jaguar. “It seems unwise to me to leave a force acting in the name of all the Clans in the hands of a Wolf. Most exalted of Clans or not, Clan Wolf is only one among the many assembled here, and the charge of gathering intelligence for the inevitable Return to the Inner Sphere is too important to be left to the offices of any one Clan.”

Garrick held a hand up to forestall rebuttal while taking a drink of water. He was pleased that it worked. This meant he had the Khans’ attention.

“Indeed, this august body made that same determination when establishing Intelser twenty years ago. Even as Intelser reports only to the Loremaster and the Grand Council, a force of Clan Warriors sent to reconnoiter in force must report only to this Grand Council and its Warlord. My Khans, I second Kerlin Ward’s call for a reconnaissance force to be sent into the Inner Sphere itself, though I will stipulate that it must report only to this conclave. In the wake of this vote, which I trust will succeed,” he paused briefly for dramatic effect.

“I intend to call for the election of an ilKhan.”

Karaoke, Holiday Debrief

Last Night was more or less back to Karaoke as usual, and I busted out these:

  • Stacy’s Mom — Fountains of Wayne
  • They’re Coming To Take Me Away Ha-Ha — Napoleon XIV
  • Banditos — The Refreshments
  • The best thing I can say about my Holidays was that they were uneventful. I managed to pull out my courses at WSU for a semester 2.0 (with 2.0 in each of two courses) and a cumulative 2.11. That may not sound great, but it will get the SAP Comittee and Financial Aid off my back and let me actually focus on finishing my degree, so it’s sort of a mixed blessing (I should have done much better, but it was Good Enough) — much like the rest of the season. I had no new additions to my fleet, but my brother’s home for the holidays and we had some eats and conversations and stuff. Overall, it didn’t feel much like Christmas, but that also meant a lack of screaming and choking.

    And yeah. I think that’s about all I have to say right now.