Hair of the Dog PBeM Report ~ 5.2b MD


Campaign: Hair of the Dog

Story 1: Running with the Big Dogs

Act 4: Bites, Scene 6 PoV – Lt. Mel ‘Mad Dog’ Winters


Lt. Mel Winters, callsign – Mad Dog

Demerit as ‘the bar band’


November 22, 3028 – Hanachi Military Academy


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 you should turn in yourrifle, you accompany Blowtorch 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 they fit and secure armor plating to the school’s war machines.

Near Velika’s office, the gifted student nicknamed ‘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.

Blowtorch nods at you as you secure your weapon in the locker and head out to gather the wayward mechwarriors-in-training, and moves off to talk to the young man.

As you leave and they move off to review the team’s progress, 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.”

You depart with a nod to each as soon as you stow the rifle.

The tunnels are as Westerlie described – nearly 5km of concrete filled with steam pipes and electrical conduits. Apparently these tunnels run from the power station to the East, through the Academy grounds, and on into the city of Hanburton. Cutting them from the rock must have been a major project.

Following instructions carefully, you climb up and into a basement filled with pipes and other heat, power, and water related equipment. A spill of melting snow below a window to your left indicates the way out to the street and the darkened houses and businesses beyond.

Getting to Cacophony is not easy physically, but does not take that long. The sheer brutality of the weather is heightened here with so much open space and the laser-beam straight streets to funnel the winds. Escaping down the sheltered, corrugated metal stairwell into the basement bar you have been to once or twice with Fitz is a relief. After almost a day on your feet, exhaustion is setting in.

With no sign of letting up, the raucous party within hits you like a ton of semi-melodic bricks. People of every description and more than one generation are slam-dancing in the tiny space in front of the stage, while a group of angry-looking musicians scream of angst, betrayal, and fear into shitty equipment not meant to carry such a loaded sonic and emotional burden. Screens around the room show a loop of the Lyran arrival, intercut with images from the very one-sided mech battle in the Gordon spaceport. Your skilled eye notes that as pilots, the rebel lance were little more than beginners. Even without the aid of the dropship, Axthelm’s command lance would have made quick work of them with their superior maneuvering and fire control….

The newspapers never speak the truth

That the people died in an accident.

Will they be reborn like the Bible says?

You need to find the truth and the way

Because there’s fear inside this place

Wake up from your dream

Voice of the people can’t find the reason*

…As the rough-voiced vocalist and the shrieking girl on backups hammer their point home again and again while the video plays and the patrons hurl themselves like a tide of frustration crashing against the seawall of the stage, your eye notices something. With a few more passes you are convinced of it… the encounter from start to finish was staged, choreographed… unless Axthelm and his whole crew are psychic. Too often they preempt the action of the enemy. Too often they seem to know exactly where the enemy is going to go and what they will do when they get there. Although they take some damage, it is not nearly what they should have incurred…  They definitely faked it!

Posters with slogans decrying the Lyran annexation of Oliver are all over the bar, and the youth and the miners seem united in their need to express their fear and aggression. It is hard for you to tell the clientele from the staff, and one outraged and flushed face looks much like another in the mad press of the pit. How can two large young men be so hard to find in such a small club?

Catching the eye of the bartender, you see that he has been trying to signal you. Moving through the press of bodies, you get to the bar, where he leans over and yells something unintelligible while pointing at the storage room. He wants you to meet him there.

Following him over the door, he unlocks it, and slaps you on the shoulder, saying something that is either, “Don’t worry,” or “No hurry.”

Inside Kyle and Coy as well as a few tough-looking men in dull grey clothes, sporting close-cropped hair as many mechwarriors do, are standing around a make-shift table holding a regional survey map and having a heated discussion about tactics.

Has he been recruiting? The conversation stops as you enter, and the two students snap to attention and execute sharp salutes.

The boys look startled to see you standing there, but do not flinch or turn away, make no move to make excuses or try to obfuscate what is happening.

The others in the room look you over in the way that fighting men do, and then seem to decide to let whatever drama is about to unfold between you and the young heirs to the military industrial complex that defines this world play out. More than a few faces seem familiar… perhaps from nights out with Fitz. He knows a lot of miners and men from the town.

Mad Dog

I return their salutes and with a dry voice simply say, “Explain!”

[OOC:  Despite the punctuation, I’m not yelling at them.:) I’m curious to see what they’ve managed here. They are however not where they are supposed to be and given the circumstances that is very serious, so they get a “tone”. 🙂 ]


Kyle begins, “Lieu… Professor, we apologize if you felt it was necessary to come retrieve us. We came here with a pretty stupid idea to bribe Gibs to help us use-”

One of the more familiar men, standing just ahead and to your right, clears his throat at the word ‘use’ and Kyle changes his tack.

“Excuse me – Take – a lance of mechs out to show the Lyrans they can’t just waltz onto Oliver without a fight.”

Coy jumps in, “Gibs turned us down flat. He told us we were being stupid, and he was right, Professor. We realized that we were just doing the same old stupid shit again and, and…”

Kyle jumps back in, “…and we decided to leave, but before we left we decided to speak to some of the men we know from our fathers’ division at Brigadier about the situation there… I mean – now that our families are gone… we, uh…”

Coy is just looking at the floor, but from his tense posture and clenched fists you know it is from anger and not shame.

The man who goaded the boy to be more honest earlier steps in. “He’s leaving out an important detail Professor Winters.” Extending his hand, he says, “I have seen you with Fitz around town. My name is Lassiter and I am the Lance Leader for the Mine – number two in the Security Department there.” He tosses a nod back over a shoulder at three small, but tough-looking paramilitary types and says, “My lance mates” before indicating the others, behind the boys and saying, “the trainers and some of the crew for the industrial mech pilot’s union… Good men.”

He clears his throat, and continues, “Some miners were in here, and they jumped the boys to make them pay for their parents deserting the company and us to the Lyrans. We’ve heard rumours about what is happening to pay and benefits down south, and the men are pretty upset. The little shit who runs the accounting department up here vanished this morning, and so… well, you know working men, I suspect. Anyway, we stepped in to make sure the boys would be alright. They didn’t really need our help, though… I guess they have a very good teacher for CQC.” He winks at you. “Kyle here took out three of his assailants before someone sucker-punched him. Coy took out two and was ready to mow down the remainder, but we thought maybe they had proved their point. We persuaded the others to back off and then got talking with these two… they confessed their rather juvenile plan, and then I took it upon myself to remind them that in the absence of their parents, according to longstanding company policy… they are in charge. I then asked them how they would like to have their personal mech forces arranged for the next week of shifts.”  He nods to the rest, who all nod back.

The boys look pleased at the praise and worried about your reaction.

“We apologize for keeping them out past curfew – especially on a night like tonight. I sent a message to Fitz when they showed up, but I didn’t get an answer. I suppose I should have contacted the office but… it was late.”

You know that both boys have excellent health and physical health and coordination. That they could use your training to take on a group of miners and hold their own is not completely surprising. What is surprising is that they could successfully make the jump from class theory to real world practice. Not everyone can.

Mad Dog

“Thank you, gentlemen,” I say to the mining/industrial mech crew, “And thank you for what you did for them.”

Leaving the young men standing at attention, I’ll inspect their bruises. “Hmmnn… You’ll live. For now…”

“At ease!”, I bark to them like I’m leaking air with the word ‘ease’.

“I’ll keep this short out courtesy to the men assembled here. Last I heard,” I say pausing and turning my head around the room, “Our jobs place the true, and now oppressed, people of Oliver first. Cadets… If you soon show me you are worthy of it, you will be receiving rank in our resistance army. You will notice that I am in uniform. Lieutenant was an acceptable form of address under the circumstances, though I’m flattered with the academic title.”

Turning to face them, “I sympathize, I really do, for your family concerns. Remember, though, that you are not alone! Remember also that you are a part of a team. Never, I repeat, NEVER think of doing anything like this again. We are plotting and are about to enact plans that could have been jeopardized by you drawing the attention of the Lyrans to this region.”

Turning to the group of men, “I apologize for interrupting. I’d like to let you gentlemen continue your conversation with these cadets and I’d like to listen. Would you mind, though, these two are away without leave and I need to get them back soon and I’d like to escort them back within 30 minutes.”

There are other things I’d like to ask the miners, but for now I’ll see where this goes.


In the discussion, which obligingly wraps up before 30 minutes pass, you learn that the mining complex was hardened against raiders at the end of the 3rd Succession War, due to a widely-held belief that the reaction time of the 18th Marik Militia above the tree line, particularly in Winter, was insufficient to hold off a concerted enemy attack. Although the High-Altitude troops are given a lot of respect from these men, particularly the Jump Infantry units stationed to the East, in the barracks adjoining the Power Plant, the mech forces have never actually been seen in the mountains in anyone’s collective recollection. Brigadier took it upon itself to not only build fortified defenses, but to obtain their own private company of mechs, one lance of which is permanently stationed at this facility. The leader of that lance, whose callsign appears to be Scarecrow, is the man who introduced himself to you by his last name: Lassiter. Former Police Captain, Conwin Lassiter – a very well connected man that people can trust.

Lassiter’s lance is comprised of a Trebuchet, two Hunchbacks, and a Griffin- all jump-capable variants. At present, they plan to stick close to the mine and Hanburton, but have been discussing patrol options which will allow them to inspect possible drop sites around the city and Academy.

Mad Dog

“I would like to set up a meeting between you men and our new CO sometime very soon. Quite honestly, we need your help. The good news is that we have the means and potential to turn our rebellion into something quite formidable. Would you be willing to that? Perhaps here, tomorrow evening, same time, or a better location if you have one…?”


You tentatively arrange to meet the Brigadier mechwarriors and other members of the security staff at their compound near the mine on the following evening to introduce Rom, and inspect their equipment and maps.

Upon hearing that Fitz is recovering from a poisoning by a possible Lyran agent, the men get very irate and clearly have more politics to discuss, but you leave them to it, to take the two wayward cadets back to the Academy.

Lassiter provides you with secure contact information and protocols so that you can alter the meeting time if necessary, and lets you know that he will visit the Academy to visit Fitz when the weather permits.

The boys are thoughtful on the return trip, but walk with a new sense of pride and purpose that was missing before. Perhaps they are starting to understand what it means to be soldiers?

If their parents are gone… why are they still here?

Mad Dog

When I see them to their dorm, I’ll tell the young men to make sure that all the other cadets are on time for morning exercises.

I plan on scheduling further student reviews and getting them done as soon as possible. I’m planning on having them go through martial arts training tomorrow morning while I pull certain students out for 1-on-1 reviews. I hope to have made decisions regarding ranks and recommendations regarding postings as soon as I can. Most of them will get slapped with private unless they were in some sort of officer training course of study. A nice neat data pad to hand off to CH, hopefully by afternoon of that day…

[OoC: I’ll look through the document and old email posts about the students. If there’s anything more complete that I might need, please let me know.]

I’ll then seek out Blowtorch in the mech stables and thenCH.I need to fill CH in as to the situation with the miners. He should be pleased. We might have a way to get those tunnels cleared, and the military readiness of the miners and the industrial mech pilots are definitely a plus. I’ll even ask CH if he would care to sit in on the student reviews.]

* Demerit are a Beijing punk band I had the great pleasure to see live in the seminal punk venues of Seoul, Skunk Hell and Club Drug a few years ago. As I was plotting out the backdrop for the campaign, I kept being reminded of speaking with them, and of their music. The version of Voice of the People referenced and used for inspiration here is from their first album. The later version, from Bastards of the Nation, may surface later. 

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