Hair of the Dog PBeM Report ~ 5.2c BT

BATTLETECH: A TIME OF WAR RPG

Campaign: Hair of the Dog

Story 1: Running with the Big Dogs

Act 4: Bites, Scene 6 PoV – Sgt. Velika ‘Blowtorch’ Kadlec

Cast:

Sgt. Velika Kadlec, callsign – Blowtorch

Gabriel ‘Gibs’ Stevenson, Professor’s Assistant, Provisional Faculty

GM:

November 22, 3028 – Hanachi Military Academy

5am

While Fitz continues to brief Cool Hand on the Lyran advance, Westerlie excuses herself with a nod at each man, and catches Mad Dog and you just outside the door of the infirmary.

“Lieutenant, Sergeant! Some of the boys know about a maintenance tunnel which runs from the physical plant to Hanburton. We keep an eye on it, but don’t let them know that we know that they use it. There are a few points of egress along the route, but the one they usually use lets out in the basement of the elementary school a block from Cacophony. If Fitz is right, and some of them have gone there to unwind or try to find a way to persuade Gibs to help them again, they will have to use it in a storm like this. The steam pipes keep it warm, and it’s lit the whole way. The owner of Cacophony is someone the boys, and more importantly my team and I, trust.”

Short list of known hangouts in Hanburton

She fills you in on where the tunnel can be entered, and how to recognize the exit near the notorious underground music club. As she walks with you out of the main building she starts getting reports from the security staff. Her shift has begun. The snow is now knee deep, with drifts higher than your heads and shows no sign of letting up. The sun should be rising now, but the sky is low and filled with thick, jet black clouds roiling in every direction. The wind is predominantly from the North and is strong enough to flatten your clothes against your bodies and make it very hard to walk. Without the shelter of the buildings, and the aid of deep snow to help stabilize your footing, you doubt you would be able to stand.

Checking in with the Stable, she reports that neither Coy Chilton nor Kyle Kenworth are on-duty there, but that both worked a double shift before signing out; a further check reveals that wherever they went, was not their dorm rooms. Gibs is in the Stable, starting his third straight shift. She nods to the two of you, and heads off to start her first patrol of the day.

  Cast of Characters 1

Realizing that he should turn in his rifle, Mad Dog accompanies you to the Stable so that you can return it to the locker from which it came. Entering the huge building, is like entering a furnace, the heat – especially compared to the yard, is extreme. Sparks are raining down from the silent ranks of mechs arranged by weight class down the length of the building. Huge spot lights cast vast swathes of brilliant bright white light in all directions, while equally vast shadows dance and play about the walls, mocking the movements of student techs as the fit and secure armor plating to the school’s war machines.

Near your office, Gibs can be seen in his complicated powered wheelchair, reviewing datapads and trying hard to make himself heard and understood over the screaming of power tools, the clanging of metallic plates, the yelling of the techs, and through the barrier of his own rebellious muscles. Lines of frustration are etched deeply in his face, but somehow, in this place, running this crew, he seems larger – more full of life and fire – than you have ever seen him before. Weighing a shocking 40kg, and off in the corner of the room, he should be dwarfed in significance next to the machines he and his crew are slaving to ready, but yet he is not. He is the focus of attention and respect.

As he sees the two of you approach he does his best to salute, then rolls toward you to offer a datapad containing a progress report.

Nodding to Mad Dog as he secures his weapon in the locker and heads out to gather the wayward mechwarriors-in-training, you move off to talk to the young man. Mad Dog departs with a nod as soon as he stows the rifle.

By the looks of the report, the team is almost an hour ahead of schedule. All the electronics, actuators, computer systems, and energy weapons have been tested. The ammunition has been retrieved and set for loading at the storage facility next to the training grounds. All that remains is to assign pilots, encode neurohelmets, and move the mechs out for loading. Approval by both Blowtorch and the Dean is required to initiate the command sequence which removes the training lock-outs on the weapons systems, but an appended report details that Gibs has set up, but not used, a bypass authorization system which can allow BT to cancel and reinstate the safeties, without leaving a record, triggering the automated signals to the 18th Marik Militia Command, or implicating the Dean in anything related to a war effort.

Gibs has red-flagged one mech, the Wolverine, as having significant actuator damage, which the team lacked the know-how to repair or replace. The right shoulder actuator has a short-circuit which they cannot track down and it prevents proper control of the arm, aiming of the primary weapon located there, a large laser, and threatens to render the whole arm inoperable. The other systems aboard the venerable scrapper, are all fine.

The first words to claw their way painfully out of his mouth are, “I am sorry that we couldn’t finish before you got back from your mission, Sergeant.”

“What do you want us to do next?”

Blowtorch

“You did a good job here,” I reply, deflecting his apology and genuinely impressed with the progress the crew is making. As I hand him back the clipboard. “I heard a rumor that some students might be cooking up a scheme to hotwire a Mech and run a little ‘off-the-record’ mission against the Lyrans. Have you heard anything like that or seen anything suspicious?”

GM: [Gibs]

He flushes, but if he is trying to look down or away, it isn’t obvious as a spasm grips him painfully.

When he can get breath to speak, he simply says, “I told them, no.” After another tremor, he points a twisted hand in the direction of a sleek-looking minicomp and says, “Look…”

Scripted out in truly elegant code that you can just barely follow, despite your solid credentials in computing, is the framework of a program which when added to the mech initiation software will send a coded squelch signal to a specified reciever if the protected initiation system is by-passed or compromised.

“I can finish in an hour and install it in the morning once the systems pass your inspection,” he struggles to say.

Blowtorch

“Nice work,” I compliment him again, tapping the minicomp, “And you did the right thing with Chilton and Kenworth. They’d have given away our position running around looking for Lyrans to fight.” Standing and waving an arm at the Mechs, “They’ll get their chance soon enough, though; we’re not getting the Mechs ready for a fuckin parade… but I bet you already know that.”

“Finish this up and test it carefully. Make sure it doesn’t conflict with any existing systems, and make sure I’m the only one with access to it. The last thing we want is someone shutting us down remotely when we’re in the middle of a fucking shooting mission.

“There’s another thing: our recon mission turned up a resource. A big one. Problem is it’s buried. I’m going to need a team of the best and most trusted techs to get the equipment inside up and running, and to clear the blocked tunnels.” Scratching my chin, thinking aloud, “The weather’s going to be hell on most construction vehicles but we can probably put the mining Mechs to work. This operation is going to have to be discreet, and will be relying on the cover of winter snowstorms to keep it from prying Lyran eyes. You follow?”

If Gibs asks what kind of equipment, I’ll indicate the Mechs around and above us and reply, “That kind.”

If he doesn’t have any other questions, I’ll tell him to keep up the good work, “and I’ll take a closer look at that busted actuator.”

GM

Gibs forces a smile out of his earnest but uncooperative face, and gets back to work with renewed vigour and determination.

With your assistance and guidance, the crew finishes the task of getting these ancient war machines ready for battle once again well within the self-imposed deadline you set for them.

Gibs’ addition to the command software functions well after only minimal revision, allowing you to selectively or as a group, free the mechs from the weapons lock which prevents firing from a terminal in the mech bay, without alerting the authorities… if there are any authorities anymore.

The Wolverine’s shoulder actuator takes the spark of genius that can only be fanned to flame with the sort of experience you have had. It’s no wonder the students were unable to resolve it. With few gathered around you, you take them through the impossibly complicated steps to realign, reset, and then retool the still errant parts, until it begins to operate smoothly again. It still would be better replaced, but for now, it will function as it ought.

The only thing needed now is orders from CH:L to arm the mechs and send them somewhere.

He might wish to inspect them.

Speak your piece~

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