Battletech #2 – Season 1: From the Ashes – Chapter 1

Battletech: A Warriors Tale
Season 1: From the Ashes
Chapter 1 – A Hole in the Ground

Independence
5km north east of Freedom City
28th September 3045
09:00

What constituted the command element of the survivors of Bannon’s Bashers were gathered outside around a folding table. The rainy season was fast approaching and the air was damp, with dew still covering the ground. The weather looked good for the day, however, and the early morning sun was already fighting its way through the thin layer of cloud to provide warmth.

Brynjar and Julian were still dreary from the previous day’s combat with the band of pirates, having successfully stopped their attack against a government mining operation.

“Great job on not getting us that Shadowhawk. You messed it up so bad I’ve only been able to salvage some armour off of it.” Ady sarcastically said, clearly annoyed that he couldn’t put the venerable machine back together. His tone made Brynjar and Julian look sheepishly at each other.

“Sorry Hotch” Brynjar let out a hearty laugh, “got caught up in the heat of battle, but my god it was glorious ripping his mech apart and I’m certain it will have sent a message to those bastards.”

Julian sipped at the glass of milk he held between thumb and forefinger then slid a knuckle along his glistening pencil thin moustache.

“I’m sorry if we did not kill the 55 ton war machine gently enough for the liking of you people.” Julian waved a waft of cigarette smoke away from his nose and glared at the mechanic. “In future I will make sure to only fight for my life in a manner that is approved by the… the… accountant over there,” He crossed his arms and scowled.

“Well you join them next time they go out on a job, Ady.” Isabelle said with a small smile, trying to defend the tired mechwarriors and de-escalate the tensions.

“I would if they managed to get us a mech.” Ady replied with a gruff voice.

“We have that Locust…” Isabelle teased. She was in a far more upbeat mood than her friends.

“… that’s not a mech…” Ady said, snorting his response.

“Look, anyway… I’ve managed to get a hold of our liaison officer. Says he was very interested in what we had to tell him. Whilst there isn’t much money to go around, I have managed to secure us some good salvage and support rights” Isabelle said. Her news visibly uplifted Brynjar and Julian. With this agreed, the company would be able to keep it’s head above water.

Brynjar and Julian queried the actual terms of the contract to make sure they could pay the bills and, importantly, wages. Isabelle assured them both that the deal she struck was good enough to back them steady, and that the group had really good salvage rights. Whilst they wouldn’t have hard cash, they’d have a lot of stock to trade.

Ady, however, jumped in before anyone could speak, “What salvage rights, exactly?”

“Well, initially,” Isabelle starts excitedly, “I’ve managed to get us: 2 AC/5s with 6 tons of ammunition, an SRM/6 with 3 tons of ammunition, 4 medium lasers, a large laser, 2 LRM/5s with 4 tons of ammo, and 6 single heat sinks.”

“That’s great work chic!” Ady said, ignoring Isabelle pointing a disapproving look at him, “If you 2 mech jocks let me know how you fancy using the new kit and can see about making it happen. I can even strip that waste of a light mech for weapons too if you like”

“Hold on a minute Brock Armstrong1,” Isabelle said firmly, “ We may need that mech.” She turned to look seriously at Brynjar and Julian before continuing, “I asked the liaison for any info on possibly recruiting a few more pilots. He pointed me towards a few bars… one thing led to another, and I think I have some interesting offers for you.”

Realising what she had said, and with knowing smiles on the group’s faces, Isabelle’s face turned red, giving away how she might have recruited some of the mech pilots. Briefly composing herself, she details the background of the three people she was able to interest. One, Charlie Connolly, was down on his luck but looking to make a difference and had previous military experience. He was a retired Canopian mech warrior without a mech. Another, Ruby Hopper, was a young women who had a bit of a shady background, but was keen to work and brought with her a standard Jenner. The third, Ivan Legarsov, was a bit odd, unhinged perhaps. He seemed like an ok choice but Isabelle got the sense he didn’t stay with a unit for long… and nor would he expand on that. He did, however, bring with him a Firestarter, which seemed to fit his personality.

After giving Brynjar and Julian a moment to digest the information, Isabelle said, “Hiring Charlie would cost 25000 C-Bills a month, and Ruby or Ivan 40000 C-Bills. Which all comes out of the company’s profits.”

Brynjar looked at Julian and carefully considered what Isabelle had to say. Seeing that Julian wasn’t quite alright, perhaps not even fully registering where he was, Brynjar took control as he stroked his chin and looked at the details of each pilot, “Hmmm, Connolly and Hopper have both peaked my interest, but this Legarsov fellow doesn’t do it for me. If he’s not willing to stay then he has no place here amongst our family,” He grinned as he look at the small group around him, “Besides, I think I bring enough unhingedness to the team as is.” Brynjar followed up with a laugh. “Speaking of which, I wanna gear my mech into getting as close as possible, so I’m very interested in the SRM packs, the large and medium lasers and some more heats sinks. I’ll probably drop the LRM too as it just doesn’t do it for me.”

“No problem Bryn, I’ll have a look and see what I can do for your Centurion.” Ady replied, clearly making mental notes on man-hours and equipment registers.

Almost as if Julian had snapped himself back into reality, he said with firmness, “We cannot be throwing money away on high quality Merc’s. Hire Connolly and stuff him in what’s left of the Locust and strap a laser on there somewhere… It’ll give the opposition something to shoot while Bryn tries to slap them with a tree.” The pilot put his glass on the table, and sunk despairingly into a chair, squeezing the bridge of his nose with his gaunt fingers.

The group stared at Julian, Brynjar and Isabelle were both clearly worried and wanted to help, but Ady wasn’t at all impressed.

“Wait did you say AC/5s?” Julian said. He quietly pulled a picture of his mech from his top pocket and caressed it. “Yvonne would like those…and ditch some of the lasers if you need to, not my AC/2’s” He snapped, turning to Ady, “I want to make it rain Hotch…” He whispered, then he laughed, then he buried his head in his hands and quietly wept.

Ady winced at the broken man sat in front of him, “Er, yeah sure, I’ll get right on it…”

“Moving on, then,” Isabelle said calmly, again trying to deflect attention away to something positive, “I really think you guys should look at the contract. I managed to upgrade our accommodation!”

Brynjar took the noteputer from Isabelle and scrolled through the pages, intensely soaking in the details. The group was being given nice warm beds in the City Militia’s barracks, a mech hanger with maintenance cranes and supplies for the mech techs to use, free messing facilities and support from the militia’s operations staff.

This is sure to boost morale! Brynjar thought.

The contract objective, however, was somewhat less than uplifting. Brynjar’s face fell as he read that his group were to remove the current pirate threat from the planet. Given how they essentially annihilated Bannon’s Bashers the first time around, it would be no small task.

Twenty minutes pass as the group discuss their thoughts on the pirate threat and battlemech configurations, until Isabelle’s noteputer buzzes with an incoming message.

“Guys, great news, we have our first job under the new contract.” Isabelle said excitedly, “Not overly exciting, but its escort duty. Simple for you two, right? And even easier if we hire a couple of mech jocks too.”

*** *** ***

Independence
Freedom City – City Militia Barracks
8th October 3045
15:38

It wasn’t the easiest of contracts, even with a full lance. The Bannon’s Bashers found themselves fighting a determined enemy, very much intent on killing the VIP the Basher’s were contracted to protect. The individual, Helman Anders, was a CEO of a weapons manufacturer that primarily supplied the government of Independence. After some very successful market assessments and small company take overs, Helman was rapidly expanding his business operations on Independence and off world. Now, his corporation, Sturdex, had assets in five different systems and growing market access in the Aurigan Coalition. He was a shred and cold businessman who had a thirst for knowledge of his competitors. He knew when to reward and when to punish, and he knew that his escorts would be well worth a long term investment.

With the contract successfully completed, the mercenary company gathered at the barracks bar. Spirits were high now that the little family were in warm and dry accommodation. The food was better and one of the junior techs-come-chef was happy he didn’t have to cook anymore. The group gave a proper welcome to Charlie and Ruby and the pair didn’t need to buy a drink all night. Before Brynjar and Julian could get celebrating, however, Isabelle and Ady cornered them.

“Finally, some decent salvage,” Ady said gruffly, “I’ve made a list of what we’ve got so, you know the drill, what ever you want doing, let me know. Might want to pass that message on to the FNGs.” He finished with a lighter tone in his voice as his stockpile of kit and equipment had increased.

“Glad you’re happy with the haul Ady, after all it was second on my list of priorities.” Brynjar threw his right arm around Ady, brought both hands in front of his chest and used them to count, “Priority 1 – keeping the family alive, check. Priority 2 – getting some decent chunks of mech and weapons for you, check. Priority 3 – the VIP, check.”

Brynjar let out a hearty laugh and slapped Ady on the back. “I’ll get the other two to give you a mech update AFTER we’ve got a few drinks down us, and that goes for you two as well.” I gesture to Ady and Isabelle.

Brushing himself down after his unwelcome bearhug, Ady said, “Additionally, you guys have nabbed yourself a ECM. Mount those onto one of your mechs as it going to be much hard to hit you with about 250m,” He looked both Brynjar and Julian in the eye, “Just don’t lose it, it’s expensive to buy fresh off the street.”

Brynjar raised a single brow and stroke his chin. “How much room would I have to make on my mech for it?”

Isabelle rolled her eyes at Ady’s attempt to intimidate the pair and quickly stepped in to add her bit, “On an even better note. That VIP you were protecting was Helman Anders, the CEO of the biggest weapons manufacturer on the planet with multi-million C-Bil investments off-world in mining, manufacturing, and transport. Very well connected.”

“Hmm, this could be big, hopefully we impressed him enough to hire us again.” Brynjar replied.

Isabelle continued quickly with a little bounce in her stance, “Whilst he wasn’t 100% happy with the service, he recognises our situation and the lengths we went to protect him. As a little bonus he’s sending us 4 tons of AC/10 ammo and 4 single heat sinks. Not a lot but I wasn’t about to barter with him!” She said with a happy-go-lucky look on her face, she knew she was good but knew when not to piss off the local power.

“As long as the C-Bills keep coming in, I don’t mind what little extras he gives us… even if a new AC/10 for Julian here would have been handy.” Brynjar said as he grabbing Julian’s shoulder and give it an encouraging shake. “Still, great job Isabelle, where would be without you?” Brynjar finished with a smile, knowing full well what the answer was.

Isabelle calmed herself a little and leaned in closer, “Helman did mention that he’s very interested in what we know about the attackers and seemed like he wanted a bit of pay back, so I sent him what we have on these pirates. Might be worth send him more stuff if and when we get anything…” she left the comment open for dramatic effect.

“HA, these pirate scum don’t stand a chance, especially if they keep underestimating us. My guess is we’ll have a short amount of time before they try to put a stop to us, until then we need to get our strength back up and show these bastards who they’re messing with.” Brynjar slammed his fist into an open palm, “And I think our new ‘friend’ will help us out quite a bit.”

“So Helman didn’t say anything about mech parts then?” Ady interjected with a dull tone, already knowing the answer.

“Errr, no. Weapons manufacturer I think was the key phrase, hun,” Isabelle replied with a tease.

“I’ve also not heard back from our government liaison officer either. I get the impression he’s snowed under with something.” Isabelle said, trying to catch the last of Brynjar’s attention as he was eyeing the bar, Julian having already downed three glasses of wine.

“Hmm well, if his issue is a mech that needs punching I can lend a hand.” Brynjar laughed as he ushered the group towards Charlie, Ruby and the bar, “But now we need to celebrate a massive win.”

1A popular strong-man character from a oldwest-style action drama series, but with battlemechs

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