Mechwarrior PBeM Report 5 ~ Hair of the Dog ~ Story I Act IV Scene 3&4

This entry continues the ‘behind the scenes’ look at how my Mechwarrior Campaign is conducted,  showing the interplay between the players in and out of character, and the flow of the mechanics and story.

I am in the middle of putting up a series of these posts, formatted in this same way, to bring the campaign report up-to-date. If you are new to this story, you might want to start at the beginning…  HERE. These earlier reports have had all game elements removed and have been edited into a more dramatic and continuous form.

The two scenes below, and in the two previous scenes  are as they were sent back and forth in e-mail. Please be aware, for those for whom harsh language is of concern, that here be curse words~

BATTLETECH: A TIME OF WAR RPG

Campaign: Hair of the Dog        Story 1: Running with the Big Dogs

 Act 4: Bites, Scene 3, PoV: All PCs

Cast:

Captain Lucas Rom, callsign – Cool Hand Luke, CH:L

Lieutenant Mel Winters, callsign – Mad Dog

Master Sergeant Velika Kadlec, callsign – Blowtorch

Patrick McGoohan as G.U.Y.

GM

Examining each other for wounds does not take long, and a certain feeling of having been brushed by good fortune does not seem out of place considering how bad injuries could have been – either from the crabs, or the shrapnel. A few quick sprays of the sweet-smelling ‘No-Bleed’ from the first aid kits on your climbing harnesses, and you are ready to go.

Blowtorch’s staunch bravery in the face of certain death, and the quick thinking and excellent shooting of Rom and Winters prevented what would have been a horrific end for one or more of you. Based on observable data, the creatures could be put down with concentrated auto-fire from two or three rifles. Their unthinking attraction to heat is also of note as a means of manipulation and redirection.

A greater concern presents itself once the adrenalin wears off: what do creatures that size find to eat in a place like this?

The room is divided into three, unequal parts. Looking into the room from the entry, with the door on your right, the area immediately before you runs the full width of the room and houses lockers, equipment racks, and shelves lined with a variety of metal specimen jars, portable detectors, and a variety of tools like tongs, hammers, spray bottles, and the like. Equipment lockers contain neatly stored, large-sized dissection tools such as chainsaws, drills, powered clamps and spreaders, and suction pumps. Pulleys and suspension equipment in the ceiling suggest that crab parts were once hoisted here and examined very carefully. Charts on the walls, initially taken for maps of the area, or some sort of mechanical diagram, now reveal themselves for what they really are: anatomical diagrams of the four-legged monsters outside in the tunnels.

Beyond this sample collection and separation point, you can see an area to the left set aside for removing outer layers of protective gear, complete with some sort of chemical shower. This section has the only entry door in this part of the room, and based on the chart on the door, it is subdivided into a series of clean rooms. The technicians who used to work here were clearly very cautious about some form of contamination. The side of the chamber opposite this section seems to be some form of control room, but it cannot be accessed from here. Large amour glass windows look out over the sample collection area and at the far end of the room is a normal looking door with no security keypad. You will need to pass through the decontamination area to gain access to this room.  Presumably, more of the complex lies beyond.

Further investigation reveals the contaminant with which they were concerned is chemical in nature, but using the detection devices in this collection room does not reveal significant concentrations of it. It does reveal the presence of several highly toxic chemicals on your clothes and spattered in places on exposed skin. Fatal or debilitating contamination is not indicated, but going through the cleaning process is advised according to the official corporate guidelines printed on the detection unit and in the plastic bound binders scattered at various work stations around the room.

A communications directory reveals more about the complex and its various departments. The underground levels likely to have survived the attack, and Brigadier’s resulting repurposing of the area into the Academy, are categorized as follows:

  • Environmental Testing
  • Pressure Testing
  • Vacuum Testing
  • Live Fire Range
  • Submerged Combat Course
  • Research and Development (You Are Here)
  • Refitting and Repair
  • Physical Plant

The facility seems clean and the air is palatable. Best guess would indicate some form of automated cleaning devices and a dedicated power plant. Some clutter on desktops is evident through the window of the control room, as if people left in a hurry, but otherwise the place could have been abandoned yesterday as opposed to two centuries ago. It is an eerie experience, more than a little removed from what one would expect.

CH:L

‘Probably best to assume whatever contaminants were here have only gotten worse.  Mind you, the water for those showers, if they still work, may not be safe after being stagnant so long.  We’ll send down a crew to do a proper chemical scrub of the place later.  We’ll have to go through the contamination area, but we won’t activate it if possible. We’ll remove any outer layers that are particularly bad and leave them here.  Salvage any armour you can, since we don’t know what’s ahead. Same deal with samples of molds and crabs.  They seem to be part of the plan as opposed to an accident, but I suspect we’ll probably learn more from notes on the inside than we will out here. ‘

[CHL inspects the map more closely]

‘Do you see any exits from any of these sections?  Mech or human size?  I think we should hit the R&D first, then repair and physical plants.  Keep an eye on a camera system for the testing areas.  I’m sure they would want to observe them from a safe distance, and I’d rather not inspect them up close and personal until we get some heavier firepower down here’

Mad Dog

“It does seem like the crabs were used for research purposes, likely for prototyping the Scorpion mech’s locomotion,” pauses, “Ugghh. Does have a certain utility for movement vectors, I guess…”

“After that nearly fatal discovery, turned victory with seafood as our reward, I think it’s best we stay focused on our purpose for being down here—to see what is here that we can still use for our purposes. Between your experience, CH, and Blowtorch’s technical skills we might do alright. I’ll try to do what I can to help.”

“I’m beginning to think about the idea of tunnels that you proposed once. It’s unlikely that we can move most of what we’d like to take with us. Operating a resistance movement from this area would eventually lead to a quick fix on the larger general area—which would normally be an acceptable operating risk—but in this case would focus attention in on the school, the Dean (an ex military man of note), the staff and all the innocent people here, and eventually this abandoned factory.

“It’s possible that we could better hide the resources down here—perhaps behind mold and giant crabs. If there were sufficiently long enough tunnels, we might be able to mount successful stealth missions where we slowly move armour, munitions, and other necessities out as time goes on to wherever it is that we are operating.

“Any aggressive operations we do will lead to them having a general idea of the region we are hiding in. It had best not be the same area as this school. There are lots of mech sized tunnels for this factory complex. Here’s hoping that there’s a well hidden back door at the end of a long tunnel.”

Blowtorch

“If we have to run a gauntlet of hungry crabs every time we enter or leave this place, it is not much good to us. Maybe there are tunnels not so infested. Maybe we have to figure out a way to exploit their attraction to heat to keep them away.”

Mad Dog

“Well, I was joking about the crabs part, but they should be limited to this area unless containment was compromised at one point and they’ve spilled over into other zones. We wouldn’t be able to use the way we came in for very long—too close to the school—maybe right now and for a little while but…

“The school has slipped off the radar for now, but not for long. Eventually, the Lyrans will figure out that the mechwarriors attacking their assets were working at this school. After that, even sneaking munitions and armour out through a remote backdoor tunnel—if there even is one—will become highly improbable and dangerous. Our access to this facility is ultimately limited, and I’m just saying that we ought to plan accordingly.

“I’d also like to volunteer to mount a recon mission at some later point to that hidden facility I saw when I was shipped in here. If the Dean is right, even most of our people don’t know about it much less its location. We’ll eventually need a place to move supplies and personnel to… ”

CH:L

‘Once we set up command centre, I would like both your feedback on a strategic map I’ve been working on.  We have decisions to make on how deep we should dig into a single location as well as where that location could be.  Be prepared though, our best chances may be in offering up the school as a sacrificial lamb to save this base.  The Lyrans will, eventually, find any major base of operations we use.  That includes this base or the hidden facility, but yes, we should explore both.  The only complete way to prevent them from finding us here is to let them find us, and destroy *what they think is our base of operations here*.  It would take a very eclectic thinker to come up with the theory that two bases occupy the same physical location.  The Saint would have to be in on this conversation since the cost of that sacrificial lamb may be higher than we are willing to pay if it is to be believable, but more on that later, once I show you the other options.  For now, BT, see if you need to work your magic on those doors, and let’s check out the refitting and repair first.’

Mad Dog

“We might be able to extend the length of base use—before having to find another—by finding the means and determination for a mobile command setup. That is, when we don’t need to re-arm or do repairs we could try to stay in the field like any offensive deployment would for as long as we can manage. If we act like a mobile invading force, it’ll make it harder for them to locate whatever base we are using at the time. Strike far from “home” when possible, stay on the move, and use our home base sparingly and we’ll make it even harder for them to pinpoint our location. We would need proper support equipment, including camo to hide the mechs when not in use. Likewise, we needn’t and probably ought not to put all our eggs in one basket, we can have weapon and ammo caches in different secure locations as we find them. Still whatever primary base we use should have an evacuation plan and a secondary base to fall back to.”

“This school and facility are different however. Even if something unexpected and lethal were to happen to Goetz, even if they never learn for sure who is piloting our mechs, there will be three seasoned mechwarriors from this school unaccounted for. Sufficient Lyran intel may take a bit of time, but it will eventually and not too long from now turn up *us*. I suspect CH’s and my presences here are a bit more buried than most, but it’s only a matter of time. Even if we were to do nothing they would want to arrest us and then figure out what to do with us. The school is a known location that will come under scrutiny headed by a former military leader of note. Any resistance mounted from here is highly not recommended in my opinion.

“The idea of using this location as a decoy, CH, is interesting. It’s that kind of thinking and leadership we need. However, I would caution that playing that card should be done when there is something to gain that is worth it. If we had the means to strike a decisive blow that could turn the tide of this resistance—if only they were to let their guard down for a few days—then that could really be a key move. However, once we start operations and raiding again, they’ll realize that we are not put down and restart their search for us. As soon as we act, any advantage from such a sacrifice is spent, so we’ll have to make sure the upcoming action is worth it.

“Speaking mostly from my background and training, I feel we also have a duty to not put the people here in any extra danger. They are already facing serious consequences for hiding, aiding, and conspiring—enough to get them all executed. As a military operation, our first duty to the people is clear.

“CH, we’re going to need ongoing intel at some point—when we are later more or less on our own. I’d be very interested, especially with your experience, if you have any ideas. Maybe there will be some safer-than-other way of contacting resistance people without compromising our positions. Part of this war might have to be fought outside our mechs and from the shadows, and I’m really at a loss as how best to do that. For me that’s always been regiment intel—somebody else’s job.”

[I stuff the giant crab leg in the nearest refrigeration unit for later consumption.]

GM

GM Note: To minimize the dulling effect of short posts with single action effects, I have done a lot of skill rolls in accordance with intentions established in this discourse in order to advance things to a point where you can do more dynamic and interactive roleplay in this thread.

Should you wish to go back and reinvestigate something, please feel free to arrange that in-character.

I will try to get the strategic asset map of Oliver out to you today or tomorrow:

Planet Oliver Google Document

____________________________________________________

After determining that the chemical contamination of your clothing was perhaps problematic, you were able to shed it in favour of dark grey, corporate issue flight-suits and boots. Sealed in airtight plastic wraps, the gear is like new, despite its age. A lot of your current gear will need to be left behind for lack of appropriate carriers, but it is clear that this area was not just for techs and xenobiologists. Mech and vehicle jocks regularly passed through here to test equipment.

Chemical wipes will allow you to clean your weaponry and detection equipment, but items with fabric, such as the body armour, will need to be laundered by a decontaminating machine. Indications suggest that the machine, once reloaded with appropriate cleaning chemicals, will function properly. If you choose to return via this route, you can pick up your remaining gear in about an hour. Obviously, returning to the Academy via the tunnels presents a problem.

The source of the contaminant is actually the crabs. Research data in the control centre confirms that a major focus of the site’s work was collecting and refining the contaminant and using it to develop highly effective munitions for some sort of restricted project. Two research streams are detailed; one for chemical warfare, the other for compact but high-yield military-grade explosives.

Leaving the control centre takes you into a highly compartmentalized administration and computer modeling department that appears to have been focused on molecular chemistry. Models and graphics of the crabs, as well as models representing what appear to be several early versions of the Scorpion, as well as models of a different chassis that appears to be twice the size of Brigadier’s reviled quad mech, are scattered about as decoration.

Off to the left is a small rec room, and from this room, abandoned and in great disarray, comes a sound of white noise, very low, but audible, as if a media centre were left on but tuned to a vacant channel.

Looking in, you can see tables fixed to the floor, but chairs knocked about as if a group of people left here in a great hurry. A large entertainment unit is mounted on the wall, producing the sound which drew you here. Its screen has burned out, but its speakers still work, pouring out the sound of static for two centuries.

Clean plates and cups are left on tables, with folders and work sheets, and other small personal items. A small stack of papers and a smaller stack of napkins are neatly arranged by the garbage bin. A robotic cleaning unit on a recharging stand waits nearby for something to happen. Its telltale lights have grown dim or burned out, but again – like most equipment here, it still seems to be operational.

Can I be of...assistance?

Turning to leave this staff room, you catch sight of a large and fancy picture frame surrounding a vidscreen of some kind. A small brass plate on the frame bears the etched words, ‘mirror, mirror.’ As you look at it, the screen comes to life with the logo G.I.I 6-1, before blanking to reveal the kind, computer-rendered face of an older man.

GM: GUY

“I am Guy 6 1, General Information Interface version 6.1. Can I be of…assistance?”

GM

Responses or questions of all types result in Guy asking for an access card. Try as you might, you do not find one.

“Please restate your question, and insert your Brigadier Access Card for… Identity…Verification.”

Time slipping away, it is decided to move on.

BATTLETECH: A TIME OF WAR RPG

Campaign: Hair of the Dog

Story 1: Running with the Big Dogs

Act 4: Bites, Scene 4, PoV: All PCs

Cast:

Captain Lucas Rom, callsign – Cool Hand Luke, CH:L

Lieutenant Mel Winters, callsign – Mad Dog

Master Sergeant Velika Kadlec, callsign – Blowtorch

Not every part of the complex is as well preserved as the R&D centre. Gaining access to the rest of the complex is not easy, but without the pressure of a near-death experience to interfere, you are able to find scribbled notations of access codes in stashes at many work stations. Company warning stickers on most equipment advise against just this sort of practice in very clear language with very stiff penalties. Some things never change.

In the hall outside the center there are coloured strips in the floor to guide people to specific sections. Not far from the door is a man’s corpse, dried and mummified, looking small and vulnerable in its technician’s clean suit and lab coat. A matched set of scorch marks across the dead man’s chest tell a story of death by laser fire. A small corporate issue pistol in the man’s hand suggests he did not go down without a fight.

A few metres farther down the corridor, you find another dried corpse, this one shot in the back and wearing some kind of commando uniform, crumpled up against the wall at a T-junction in the corridor with an access card in one hand, and a drained laser pistol in the other. He seems to have died looking at the imposing metal door separating the research section from the refit and repair section.

The sigil on the door is of a mech in silhouette over the Brigadier logo. An impressive-looking security device is situated next to the door. Its brand is unfamiliar, and its reliance on finger, retinal, and voice print analysis is initially daunting, but experimenting with the dead commando’s access card, voids the problems and opens the metal door.

Beyond the door lies a somewhat temporary-looking set of cubicles set up with terminals and small storage lockers….perhaps for the technicians to write their reports. Navigating this area, neat and tidy in a way that suggests no one ever worked here, or that these people had more time to vacate, leads you out onto a metal catwalk 8 stories above the floor of an enormous 10-storey workspace that stretches out and away from you for at least 200 metres. Down below are mech repair and maintenance facilities ranging from paint sprayers to armour shapers, to full on engine replacement.

A section map on the wall reveals that this department has…or perhaps had… two access points to the surface. One is very far away at a private junction facility connected to Brigadier’s private highlands to lowlands railway. The other is somewhat closer, but is several elevations below the Hanachi plateau where the mines and academy are. It provides access to the former outdoor training and testing grounds for Brigadier pilots and mechs. That site is very familiar to all of you.

Looking at the map also reveals something somewhat interesting: the aquatic testing centre tunnels are shown as having small drainage pipes which empty out at various points along that arid plateau. If the chemical contaminant you have just learned about was not prevented from mixing with the drainage water, that might be an explanation for the unusual properties of the soil there.

However, those are thoughts for another day. More important is the fact that mechs in various stages of refit and repair are down below, abandoned in their stalls when the attack came. As well, as your eyes adjust, you make out still more mechs lined up in cocoons as though ready for dropship transport. Not all of them can be clearly distinguished, but the dynamic profiles of Crusaders are hard to disguise. The majority of the mechs in bays and in cocoons are quads. No doubt they are Scorpions. At least oneGriffincan be seen among the wounded, as well as the brutalized wreck of a Shadowhawk. A full inventory will require more time and closer inspection.

CH:L

‘We’re going to party like its 2699’

‘But seriously, this changes everything.’

Mad Dog

Mad Dogs eyes glaze over looking down at the beautiful sight 10 stories below, and then a spontaneous hoot and shout escapes. “Hell, yeah!”

“Talk about more than I could have hoped for..!”

Spinning to look at CH, “You’re right. This does change everything.”

Blowtorch

As Blowtorch gazes upon the stunningMechBayand all its treasures, she expresses her jubilation in the only way she knows how: “Holy FUCKING shit! WOOOOOOOO!” thrusting both her fists in the air.

CH:L

‘Let me show you a quick sketch of tactics I’ve been working on.  I hope to have a full size version of this in our war-room when we are up and running.’

[I show a rough sketch of the attached decision engine on my portable display]

‘We will have to gather intelligence to more accurately gauge those probabilities, of course.  But the bottom line [turns to second page] are three broad strategies for us and the Lyrans as I see it.  Saint got me thinking of acceptable stalemate conditions after our last talk, and there does seem to be a Nash equilibrium with us controlling the northern continent and the Lyrans controlling the south.  It will be tricky for us to maintain an equilibrium with forces on planet, as well as potential reinforcements from the main Lyran force, but I think its doable.  Especially with this facility.

It looks like we may have an embarrassment of riches at the moment though.  A final tally will tell, but I suspect we may have more mechs than pilots.

BT, It looks like you will have fun down here.  Your priorities will be:

1) Getting bodies in the working or mostly working mechs down here.  The three of us can work on a mech assignment list, but you will need to get the students and mechs paired with neurohelmets.  The Scorpions may be ideal for our green pilots.  For this work, even the mechwarriors will help out holding wrenches to get us moving.

2) Get repair bays up and running’

3) Work on the mech modifications we discussed for the command lance, the crusaders and the scorpions to better equip them for long missions and hit-and-run raids

4) See if you can find out how close that new crab weapon/explosive is to deployment.  Give me an estimate on it when you can.

5) Final task is letting me know what you need to get this working again as A FULLY EQUIPPED BATTLE STATION…oops, sorry, I mean mech production facility.  What do we need to produce new mechs.

And don’t forget – delegate.  You can’t do all this yourself.  I’m just giving priorities for you to allocate your team and resources accordingly.

“MD, I think we can put you in charge of training again.  Get a crew to clean up the underground training facility, and start planning out some tests and simulated battles.  We need to find lance commanders among these kids, so assign randomly to start with if you have to.  Underground training will keep us away from prying eyes over the winter.  Keep an eye on personalities as well.  We will need bodies in mechs for raids, scouting and base defense.  Once Fitz is up and running, get him involved as your 2IC.

I will be helping the two of you out as needed, but also pulling you in for regular planning sessions.  I will also get Westerlie and Saint working on intelligence gathering.”

Mad Dog

Wheels obviously spinning, eyes darting from the valuable tech to his comrades and taking on a hungry look not unlike his call sign, Mad Dog glances at the other two and says, “In light of the new situation, I have some new recommendations.” Grinning, he places his hands on the railing and continues to gaze on their find.

CH:L

“Easy Mad Dog, taking the stairs down there is slower, but ultimately safer.  It goes without saying that our command lance has its pick of mechs, so take your time.  Once we get access to Guy Smiley we should get a print-out of specs on what’s available here.  We have no idea what mods – or technology – some of those machines have.  Speaking of the computer – Blowtorch, think you’ll have much success getting into that interface?  Westerlie may have some skill to help out if you need it.  We may have to consider a raid to one of the other Brigadier plants if this interface gets stubborn.  The card codes may not be the same, but it might be easier to recode given something similar to start with.  We also had a kid from the Hanachi family as a student. didn’t we?  Took off before the Lyrans landed?  Maybe check his room in case something was left behind.”

“Blowtorch.  One more thing: It’s a long shot, but what are the chances of us riding three of these beauties out of here today?  I think showing up at the school in these would have a far bigger impact on moral, than just us telling the story.”

Blowtorch

Only half-listening to the fellows make their tactical plans, Blowtorch gazes at the Mechs, trying to appraise them from where she is, then starts hunting for a way down.

“Got to take a closer look. See how good these things are.”

Mad Dog

“Hold that thought for now, and I’ll still hang onto my recommendations until I’ve asked a question. Actually, since I’m in charge of tactical under your upper level strategic responsibilities, it’s also my job.”

Raising both of his hands slightly, “Now I like the idea of this stalemate situation: us in charge of a force in the north that is able to hang onto the north and match the forces deployed here by the Lyrans. Having control of half the planet is obviously a superior situation.”

“My question is: can we make this happen now? Can we find enough mechwarriors, train them, find any garrisons in the north or other personnel that slipped through the net up here in the north and rally them to our cause, prepare the local population centers for resistance and loyalty under our command, and so forth. I think the answer is that it will take time.”

“Given that to be true, I have recommendations for you that you should hear out now before we go any further. If my conclusion about our readiness is not true, I’ll revise my planning.”

CH:L

[I assume CHL will be talking while walking very quickly to keep up with BlowTorch]

“Mad Dog, there are two things we have to balance to hit equilibrium.  We need to make sure the Lyrans aren’t doing poorly enough to call reinforcements, but they also need to be cautious or uninterested enough in taking the north.  Early in this campaign, you are right, we don’t want to be seen as a threat up here.  Doing nothing is not an option since they will be gathering strength in the south, but we will need a lot of misdirection to appear as less of a threat than we are.  We may hit a point in time though, where we will have to switch from ‘nothing to see here folks’ to ‘it will be too costly to mess with us directly’.  And we have to be ready to make that transition quickly.

For now we have a lot of green pilots, a decent number of mechs, and a strong and hidden base.  The Northwind Highlanders on planet may be convinced to join our cause, and could provide a much needed group of veterans. So yes, best short term plan is modest growth, subterfuge and tactical strikes, but there are a lot of details to be worked out there, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.  Just remember, while we are growing and getting organized, so is our enemy.”

GM

Taking the box-like, open-door personnel elevator down to the main floor You get the sense that much of this area was re-purposed from an earlier age – likely this area was an initial drilling site for the mines. It is much too large for anything this facility needs.

Inspecting the ‘mechs and other equipment will take hours, but the Chief Technician’s master file and equipment manifest is easily located. Next to each mech is a current status report – from two centuries earlier. Given the sort of preservation evident in the rest of the compound, the mechs left out in the bays can be expected to have degradation issues with lubrication, wiring, and myomer fibres, but will likely be fine otherwise. Rust or other corrosive degradation is not an issue. Mechs prepared for shipping may be in full working order – if they were so when packed.

According to the manifest, few of these mechs are standard models. While no details are given, each bears a variant designation that even to your pooled knowledge of mechs, are unfamiliar. Repair and maintenance logs, when found will reveal the precise details of each variant, but for now it is apparent that weapons and armour packages were altered on all of the Crusader chassis. The likelihood is that these alterations were done here as each tag is in sequential order B1A, B2B, B3C, etc.

The contents of this facility according to the readout are as follows:

Crusader                      x 2 Prepared for Transit

PhoenixHawk              x 1MechBay

UrbanMech                  x 2 Mech Bay

Scorpion                      x 3 Mech Bay

Scorpion                      x 1 Prepared for Transit

Griffin                           x 1 Mech Bay

ShadowHawk              x 1 Mech Bay

Vedette                        x 2 Prepared for Transit

Another Guy terminal, without a picture frame hung so amusingly around it like in the staff lounge in the R&D centre, responds to commands after the Commando’s Access Card is used, but the terminal display does not seem capable of resolving images anymore. It brightens, but does not clarify. The audio circuits still function normally, however.

Guy reports problems with the structural integrity of the complex and recommends immediate evacuation. He assures you that emergency personnel are on the way, having been summoned nearly 200 years ago. He lists the two exit routes which concern you as being offline. There are numerous 4-seat electric carts around the area, but BT determines it will take hours of work to track down wiring problems and restore the batteries.

While discussing things, Mad Dog comes across a holographic table, a device which was still prized but much more common when this facility was in operation. Before leaving, someone took the time to properly shut it down, disconnect it, and wrap it against the elements. It has a barcode and shipping information, suggesting it, like the mechs, was intended for transport elsewhere.

Checking out the table more to see a wonder of the past than anything else, you not only discover that it works, but that it, like Guy, can access the central computer core of this compound, but unlike Guy, it can display sensor data. The exit tunnels are easily displayed. The upper levels of the compound are just shown as static and a notice that ‘NO DATA IS AVAILABLE’, while the underground levels are shown to be more or less intact at the lowest or outermost edges, while the upper levels have essentially been destroyed by cave-ins, with pockets of surviving structures. It will take a lot of excavation to restore those areas.

The fusion reactor is shown as being below this level. The model number, with a bit of checking through charts, reveals that the site produces enough power to light and heat a small town.

The two exit tunnels both show cave-ins. The route to the rail line has collapsed in two places but is otherwise sound. The route to the Combat Proving Ground on the lower plateau, a distance of roughly 800Km, is shown as having a single, partial cave-in, about 1 km from this spot. Major damage is indicated at the Aerodrome at the Proving Ground, near the tunnel access, but the underground hangars appear to be intact.

Mech and Vehicle Access to all the tunnels is possible from this chamber.

CH:L

“This is an extremely impressive electronics suite.  I suspect we can run the entire compound from here once we get back online.  We need to talk to the saint about his contacts in the mining consortium. I hope they will make for good allies in this.”

Mad Dog

“Thankfully, with reinforcements being somewhere off-world and engaged, and the limits of Comstar communications being what they are, there’s some leeway there. Still though, yeah I agree…”

“First of all, I’m actually wanting to attack—perhaps even do something a little risky—at least so far as I’m concerned. However, until we get to that ‘flip’ point of having an actual army and strong resistance force ready in the north we want them to underestimate the situation up here and preserve what we have. It seems you’ve already shown that your point of view coincides with mine with what you just said, so I’ll get straight to the recommendations.”

(1) “I suggest we combine the ideas we discussed of mobile operations and decoys. Hear me out…”

Pointing to a wall, “We’re up here in the north. There are, thankfully, few or no targets within range. We’d have to go far from home anyways, which is what we want right now.” His hand clenches into a fist and touches the wall, then extends with one finger tracing a line, “We send a small mobile strike force as soon as possible once we get enough intel for a good target.” Mad Dog’s finger drifts further down along the wall. “That strike lance finds and sets up in a temporary outpost somewhere near the “border”, so to speak, with the Lyrans in the south. This does two things: one, it puts them within operational range of targets, and two, it diverts attention away from assets and what we are trying to build up here in the north. This lance uses mobile tactics and all the tactics that we would use to hide and preserve their temporary base. Knowing ultimately that the Lyrans will find it, they act like it’s their only holdout anyways. With your intelligence experience, maybe you know something about other options, too: encrypted com messages intended for Lyrans to crack and get whatever fake “intel” we want, maybe. When the position is eventually taken and the lance escapes, we get a window of opportunity like you suggested before but with a location that doesn’t mean anything to us in reality. By then we should know what to do with such an opportunity. The Lyrans will, at least until later, think they are dealing with a single lance with limited supplies. It’ll be completely convincing because that’s what will be harassing them in fact.” Grinning, “We take your initial suggestion, combine it with mine for mobile delaying tactics, and buy precious time for building a resistance army up north.”

“While they hunt a small but persistent group, we prepare up here.”

(2) “We make this place, as much as possible, inner circle information. We’ll need to risk it a bit and trust all the people from the school who are ‘coming with us’. We need to rebuild this place, clear out the collapsed tunnels, and hide the entrances even better. Let the people whose morale needs to be boosted be brought down here to see the collection.

“If Goetz didn’t give us something to remember about security, common sense would still dictate that we can’t tell everyone about this place. Not yet…”

(3) Raising his hands for emphasis, “Now here’s another thing that adds to both suggestion number one and two. We pretend to leave the school and go south. Blowtorch looking as unhappy as a desperate tech could be gets to be in charge of trucks filled with repair equipment stripped from the mech repair bays. Whatever we can take with us from the school, we do. Make it completely convincing… We even leave saying that the enemy is to the south and we are taking the fight to them. Everyone that is with us, goes with us perhaps never to be seen again—at least until we flip that switch. Only the Dean will know the truth.

“Even though we appear to go over the sunrise and beyond, under the cover of darkness we sneak back in down here. We unload everything—mechs, munitions, and everything we took from the school—and get to work in this facility. Until we get to the flip point, no one at the school sees any of us again. We meet the Dean on one of the hiking trails, if need be. We’ll set up a way of making contact with him.

“I have very good reason for suggesting this even though it’s not my style or preference. We ease some of the threat off of the school staff. They can’t be executed for helping us if they aren’t and have no idea what’s going on. There is a good chance that one of the school staff will crack under the pressure and pull a ‘Goetz’. There’s only one Dean up there, and the rest aren’t like him. Given the report that might get sent out—’was something here but they’re gone now’— we might get a smaller investigation sent up here. If one does come, and fails to see anything that works further to our advantage. Anyhow, either through betrayal or cracking under interrogation, the worst that will be revealed is that we went south to die as heroes. If the school staff really believe there is nothing here, so might Lyran investigators.”

“I agree with you, though, we want to get an army trained as soon as possible and take control of the north. Then we can really do something effective.”

Looking at CH, “So far as I can tell, there remains only the ‘how’. Blowtorch will be needed here for now, both as an NCO to help you with all the dangerous intrigues of command and finding and rallying local resistance movements, but especially to get everything up and running. You absolutely must be here as the leader of our resistance. You are also the one we need to find existing resistance groups and win them over. You are also the best man for finding, or recruiting and training intelligence operatives. You have nothing short of crafting a resistance army and then a provisional northern rebel government as tasks. Not a safe or easy job for either of you…

“What I’m thinking is, we find those Highlanders and I lead them south. Maybe one of them can fill in for me. Maybe the Dean could be convinced to fill in for me or for you. I don’t know. Too much to do and only three of us… ”

CH:L

“Much of the decision to reinforce this planet will depend on the larger war and is out of our control, but we can try to minimize the chance of Axthelm sending that request.

I do like your idea of a harassing lance on the southern continent, but remember, a full lance is 25% of our forces right now.  Committing that for a few weeks or even more may be more than we can afford right now.  We may be able to get most of that bang for less buck by sneaking in and out for a couple of quick day raids.  Take a look at the mech assignment list I’ve been charting in our command documents.  Think about who you want on this harassment lance.”

[mech assignment will have to be flexible, so I’ve created assignment which can change depending on whether we are acting a s a full company, or specialty lances]

“As for 2 and 3, I’m starting to think we need to use this as a fortified primary base, and if that’s the case we need to have everyone down here working on it ASAP.  I hear you with security issues, and we will have to get an internal security force up quickly, but we have to balance caution with progress, especially if we go for the ‘hold the north strategy’  The Lyrans definitely know about the school, and If I were in charge of the Lyran forces, I would swoop in during spring thaw, and set up a small northern command base here.  The school either needs to be destroyed or by spring we have to be so active that their concerns are much farther south.

Marching from the school will only draw attention to it, since the Lyrans know it exists, but probably not what equipment is there.  Moving ourselves quietly underground makes more sense, I think.  But you are right, we need a plan for when they attack the school, not if.  If it happens soon, I think we will have no choice but to destroy it.  Much later, it may be in our interest to defend it.

As for you, we also need you here in charge of the troops and training.  All three of us are going to have to delegate more and ‘do’ less.  When we do go to the field it will be for critical, decisive actions.  You are certainly our best pilot and any mission you lead will have a higher success chance, but you are also the best person to get these kids trained which will increase their survival more in the long run.  The three of us can’t be cloned, otherwise we would run things from the back end and lead every mission personally.

If, and as we start getting more recruits (Highlanders, Carsons, locals) we can start rethinking the percentage of time we spend building and attacking.

Pick the students you want in that harassment lance and get them ready.  We will certainly use you when the right targets and timing hits.  Take a look at ‘operation down under’ as an early first possibility for your lance.”

GM Notes

  • Please continue to review and comment upon the material in the ToDo list.
  • Please feel free to discuss broader tactical and practical issues, but while doing so, please choose a definite course of action for your lance which keeps your lance doing something together as a lance, either with or without mechs.

Action Items Mentioned So Far:

  1. Visit the Mines/Miners for recruiting purposes (Mech and Industrial Mech Pilots, technicians, security forces, etc)
  2. Counter the Lyran Video with one depicting the crushing defeat of one of their lances (Propaganda, morale, recruitment)
  3. Raid Lyran Territory
  4. Seek out the Northwind Highlanders
  5. Seek out remnants ofCarson’s Raiders at the Southern base
  6. Seek out salvage or strategic advantage at abandoned, uncontrolled bases, such as the power installation, orFortLiscombe
  7. March a lance of these found mechs up to the School for morale building

Once the decision has been reached, we will be in a position to end this scene, and advance the tale to carrying out that plan, or whatever Lyran plan might realistically come before it on the timeline of the gods of war.

You can rely on the weather to have the region buried in snow 5 months, with regular blizzards, frequent storms, and substantial chances for electrical storms concurrent with the larger and windier meteorological events.

This plateau and a few around it will be accessible by brave dropship pilots, daring VTOL pilots on nice days, slowly trudging mechs with good pilots, and the Brigadier railway only.  All power in the region is supplied by the fusion reactor to the East.

Speak your piece~

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