Mechwarrior PBeM Report 3b: Hair of the Dog

This is the opening of the third scene of the Hair of the Dog PBeM Mechwarrior Campaign, entitled Hand that Feeds. This version of the scene is as it played out for the character of Velika Blowtorch Kadlec as she begins prepping the mechs for what is about to come. The campaign is being played using the 4th Edition rules: A Time of War.

Hair of the Dog: Scene III

~ Hand that Feeds

Present Day – November 21, 3028 – 2:37pm

All the parts you need to restore all the mechs in the stable to full motive capability are stored onsite and are easily accessed. The requisite paperwork has been filled out and sent to the Dean’s office.

All the armour and the specialized equipment for installing it are, according to your terminal in the chief technician’s office, also apparently somewhere on campus. You won’t have to jerry-rig any of it, after all. You will have to figure out exactly where it is, and how to access it, however. The files are sealed by the Dean with a code and access form that does not respond to enquiries from your terminal.

The armaments you have dealt with before. They are kept under lock and key in a storage and refitting facility near the firing range to minimize installation and removal times before and after student live fire drills. As with the other, standard parts, you can simply file a request with the Dean’s office and start installing them right away.

The system hangs when you enquire about ammunition. It should just state that there isn’t any – because there isn’t. All ammunition for firing drills has been delivered by the local detachment of the 18th Marik Militia and each shot has been accounted for after each drill.

It is now 2:37pm and you have a complete sense of what needs to be done to each mech, you have written a brief project report, and you have filed all the requisite paperwork to commence work, except for the armour. For that you will need to see the Dean in person.

You have grease all over your hands, and probably your face.

Across the mech bay, in the low light level cast by the standard ceiling lights, you catch movement out of the corner of your eye and can just make out a form in the pooled darkness in front of what is probably the Rifleman, the last mech in the row. It is not doing anything… just standing there… looking up.

The lights come on as they are programmed to do to prevent accidents and student pranks, revealing the figure’s identity as Coy Chilton.

Curious.

Thoughts turning to why he might be here, if it is about his academic probation from that simulation incident last term, or something else, you walk over his way, a large wrench slung nonchalantly over your shoulder.

“Chilton? What are you doing here?” Your tone of voice is curious, and intended to be friendly. Who knows what this… boy will perceive in the state he has been in all year.

The young man, practically ready to graduate as a warrior into a galaxy which has known nothing but war for centuries, looks you up and down with the earnest look that only the young who dream can muster, and states clearly, “I am wondering if it comes to battle, if the leaders of whatever rebellion we mount will have the sense to have me pilot this rifleman here…” His body language states what that glib mouth has stated so many times, to so many people; that the mech in question was bequeathed to the Academy by his grandfather.

That one sentence tells you much of what you need to know about this kid. You school your face under the grease and fatigue to hide your assessment that he is an entitled wealthy brat desperate to fill his grandfather’s shoes, told all his life that he can do no wrong, and will probably get any lance he’s with killed by his arrogance. He’s already assumed that he knows better than his instructors about who should be piloting what, and when.

As he stands there under your gaze, in the shadows of these giant war machines, your thoughts become more equitable… ‘He’s got talent, and has got the potential to be something capable; I don’t hate this kid, but he could stand to supplement his diet with some humble pie, and he definitely needs to learn about teamwork.’

You smile at him a little, still friendly. “This is your grandfather’s Rifleman, right? It’s a good mech. It needs a good pilot, someone who knows it like it’s his own body.”

That leading statement is all you think it will need to get Chilton to expose his thoughts. You have seen scenes like this all too many times, with only the mute ruins of a repairable mech left to tell the tale of hubris on the battlefield. When he begins to spout about his qualifications you should have no trouble steering the conversation toward toward the weaknesses of the Mech. No need to interrupt, just gentle responses, not contradicting his own self-aggrandizing thoughts … maybe, just maybe, you can get him to think… to realize the importance of a team. The Rifleman is a support, long-range Mech and is most effective in a well-coordinated team. A person piloting this thing and trying to lead a charge for honor and glory will be torn apart, and if Chilton is ever going to live through a shooting war, he needs to know that.

“I know this mech design like the back of my hand. My grandfather died when he got cut off from the rest of his lance – the bastards…” he pauses for just a split second at the use of language in front of a lady, and a training officer before continuing, “uh…choked and wouldn’t stick to the plan their lance leader had made. A trio of lights took him out. There was nothing he could do, and nowhere he could go. I am not going to let that happen to me.”

His anger is too hot to be about a long-dead grandfather. While that is obviously a sore spot, he is probably upset about something more recent which is being amped up by the memories of the old man, and the legacy left in the form of this battered, silent mech.

He looks like he is about to say more, but he sees that you are about to say more, so he abruptly nods, and like the spoiled child of privilege that he is, turns on his heel and simply leaves, using the smaller side door that is the main form of personnel access during the winter.

In the shadows at the end of the stable, by the loading doors, you see the quiet entrance of Cool Hand. The temperature is dropping fast, and the wind nearly takes the door from his fingers. A storm must be coming.

He walks over stamping the frost from his boots, and slapping himself to restore warmth.

“Hey Velika, listening to old war stories again? That was Chilton, wasn’t it? It may be worth while keeping a mental note of anyone we spot hanging around the mechs and other equipment. Maybe keep an eye on the mechs for tampering as well. Given the events of today, we can’t rule out a potential saboteur. I just got back from Fitz and it looks like he will recover. It may take a few days for the poison to work its way through his system though. I think I’ll keep him company with a few stories on the history of the autocannon while he’s too sick to argue. Ha!”

“I also just received a comm from the Dean. He asked me to meet him before the assembly with a few people I trust. Right now that includes you, Fitz and winters. If you want to lock up here, we should have enough time to grab winters and get to the Dean’s office before 3:45.”

Wondering if Chilton is still pissed about the mid-term; being trapped in a hole and unable to do anything can’t sit well with him, you nod to Cool Hand, brushing some oil-stained hair back with an oil-stained hand.

“Alright, let’s go.”

No time to give up… some things may have to slide over the next few days… or weeks. You give the bay a quick once-over to make sure nothing’s amiss, lock it up, and go with Cool hand.

Speak your piece~

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