Mechwarrior PBeM Report 5 ~ Hair of the Dog ~ Story I Act IV Scene 9

This entry finishes Act IV of the first story of our ongoing Mechwarrior campaign set in 3028. This post continues the ‘behind the scenes’ look at A Time of War, showing how the Hair of the Dog campaign, set in the brilliant Battletech Universe and using Catalyst Game Labs’ RPG rules, is being conducted as a PBeM.

If you are new to the story being created in this campaign, you might want to start at the beginning…  HERE. Acts 1 to 3 have been edited into a sort of dramatic continuity, with most of the game elements removed. Acts 4 through 6 are being presented as they have been conducted via gmail.

For further detail about the setting and how the campaign came about, you can check this link.

Scene 9, the final scene of Act 4, can be found below. Earlier Scenes in this Act can be found here:

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 9 – Mount Up!: ,  PoV: All Players

Cast:

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

Lieutenant Mel Winters, callsign – Mad Dog

Master Sergeant Velika Kadlec, callsign – Blowtorch

Major Angus Llew ‘Fitz’ Fitzsimmons, callsign – Death Breath

Myron Tate, Head of Security

Alexandre Lechasseur, Security

Sal Winner, Security

Pietr Llewellyn, Security

Dominic Vincent

Thursday, November 27, 3028 – 1:00 AM, Ward Marik Museum of Military History

GM

When Mad Dog returns from making his report to Captain Rom, the speed of everything shifts once again into high gear. By the time he arrives, the neurohelmets for the 4 security guards have been unlocked and tuned to military standards, the 4 mechs on display in the museum’s Hall of Honour have been lowered down to the 2nd Basement Level with the others, and the tools and gantries have been brought into position to start work.

The first announcement Lieutenant Mel ‘Mad Dog’ Winters makes, concerns which mechs will be taken and what is to be done with the ones left in the museum.

Giving the entrance and system access codes to Blowtorch heasks her to supervise the start-up of each mech and the formatting of each pilot’s neurohelmet to their mech.

As Alexandre is the only one certified in demolitions, Mad Dog asks him to personally supervise the removal of the explosive devices in the cockpits of the Spider SDR-5V, the Griffin GRF-1DS, the Hermes HER-1SB, and the CrusaderCDR-2R, and then work with Blowtorch on his plan to plant hidden explosive charges in the legs of the mechs being left here, the Archer ARC-2K,Hunchback HBK-4J,and Hermes 1S.

The mech assignments for this mission are as follows:

  •  Captain Rom:                                                          Hermes           HER-1SB 
  • Major Fitzsimmons:                                               Thunderbolt  TDR-5SE 
  • Master  Sergeant Kadlec:                                       Spider             SDR-5V 
  • Myron Tate:                                                             Guillotine       GLT-4L 
  • Alexandre Lechasseur:                                           Thug                THG-10E 
  • Pietr Llewellyn:                                                      Crusader     CDR-2R                 
  • Dominic Vincent/ Sal Winner:                               Orion              ON1-M 
  • Lt.Winters:                                                               Griffin             GRF-1DS

Before dismissing everyone to resume their tasks, he calls everyone closer together for a quick discussion of some tactical details.

(1)”Have we been able to confirm as a group that the technical readouts I obtained from these computers and showed the Captain do indeed match the mechs we actually have?”

(2)”Have we as of yet been able to confirm that all mech systems: weapons, sensors, or any supposed Lostech/Star League technology is indeed both present and in functional condition and can be ready for battle?”

(3)”Have we eliminated completely the possibility that there is no ammunition available anywhere within a reasonable proximity and time frame? Tate, this is mostly for your group. Our intel and survey said ‘no’, but while working here did you become aware of any stored munitions, or munitions exhibits, or any other reasonable options?”

(4)”On transit here, our group had less-than-good intel regarding possible enemy forces. Has anyone seen or come across anything that would give us a better idea of what we might be up against? Fitz, I think you eveloped a hunch at one point if I’m not mistaken.”

(5)”Does anyone know of any positions, possible targets, or other Lyan assets that they would be forced to defend instead ofact proactively. I’m speaking of a possible diversionary move by fast moving mechs—something to throw them off and make them react instead of figure out how to act against us.”

Blowtorch breaks the silence and indicates the rows of silent dark purple mechs with gold trim, each emblazoned across the chest with massive Marik Eagles in a rich metallic gold, “Lieutenant, the good news about the Mechs is that they’re in pristine condition. Looks like the staff here took really good care of them. Also, I found some things about the Mechs that are a bit unusual for these models. You should know in case it affects your decisions on which ones to pilot and which ones to leave behind.” Velika points out each Mech in turn as she describes her findings:

“That Thug over there has 2 SRM-6 Launchers instead of SRM-4s. The Hermes 1S that we’re planning on blowing up has got a Flamer and 2 Medium lasers instead of the AC5 this model usually has. And that other Hermes, the 1SB Rom wants to take, has got an unusual sensor pod, larger joints, four medium lasers and a flamer.”

Fitz nods, and adds, “I don’t think these mechs are exactly what it says on the label, but I don’t think they will do us any harm.”  He turns to Alexandre, Tate, Pietr, and Dominic. “Did you fellows notice anything odd or unusual when you were getting the mechs ready to leave here?”

Dominic looks at Tate for a second, but then jumps in to say, “I think that a few of them are a lot lighter on their feet than I expected – especially the Thug and the newer Hermes…. and the controls have been customized for weapons and equipment groupings… I have never seen that in a factory-fresh mech, and I have seen a lot of those.”

Pietr nods, “This is one of Dominic’s favorite topics, but he doesn’t get too much interest from the rest of us. About the only thing I noticed was that the Hunchback was set up for a left-hander, and that the Thunderbolt has the most comfortable pilot’s couch I have ever had the pleasure to sit in.”

Fitz smiles at that and winks at Mad Dog with a sort of ‘thanks, bud!’ expression on his face, but doesn’t interrupt.

Pietr has more to say, but Tate cuts in with, “Because we couldn’t get the codes to do a full systems check, we haven’t been able to confirm any of our suspicions about the mechs, but I am pretty sure that some are more than they look, and others are less than what they say they are….  one thing I do know is that under this paint job is a very different one, with unit designations that don’t match any ever stationed on Oliver; units that sided with Anton Marik in the Civil War. The former security chief had a complicated theory about where the mechs really came from. If we survive the escape, I will show it all to you.”

Alexandre seems to be waiting for an opportunity to add something, but Tate continues to talk, “I have lived in this town a long time, and I guess if I were the Lyrans I would use the Naval Base as my main barracks. It is easily defended from infantry, has both a large seaport and a decent airstrip, and has its own independent power station… ever since the place was decommissioned, the city council has been trying to get the rights to use it, but the 18th has flat out refused. They say they need the power to be held in reserve in case of emergencies…  of course, I think we all know that that is just a cover story for the Militia Space Port and Intelligence Installation north of the city. Directing attacks at either that power installation – its on the coast just 5 klicks north of the city line, or at the Naval Base, will get the Lyran’s attention, I think….  those, or the Armoury downtown.”

He looks around at everyone and then decides to stop there, waiting for others to speak.

[OOC: Captain Rom is not present in this scene]

LJ

Alexandre will add when looked at…

“Well, there a couple of things I know, like the Lyrans will probably use the old Naval base, the one near the harbour for Barack. I saw that they mainly have light mech, like Jenner and Commando, nothing we can take care of, but knowing the bastard, they will probably send something a bit bigger when they know that the museum mech are not available to them anymore. Also, I don’t know if you plan to stay in  Beasville, but last time I check, there was nothing for mech repairs here… So if we do want to stay here, we’re gonna need to find a mobile repair unit, or we will be without a mech bay.”

Then turning toward Dominic, “Did you not say the Brigadier Corporation used to store ammo at its space port? Maybe we could find something remaining there?”

Turning to Mad Dog, “We probably be able to get it, but we’re gonna need to go commando on this one… If you want, I can start working on this… Once the mech are safe… Oh yeah and one last thing, I am probably not the only one here with siblings, so do we have a plan to take care of them yet? My girl is good for now, but I don’t know if they will be able to keep her safe, and quite frankly I prefer having her around…”

GM

Dominic answers Alexandre’s question by saying, “A few years ago – back when I worked for Brigadier – there was a pretty large ammo dump in an underground facility at the Space Port. Access was carefully restricted – loader vehicles only, and the loading area is like a maze that can only admit one mech at a time – it’s really slow to get in and out…. anyway – it’s probably still there. The company doesn’t have much need for ammo usually, unless putting on a demo for the military, so… uh… yeah,”  he trails off.

Fitz nods, “Scarecrow mentioned that the company maintains supplies to protect itself. The question is… do the Lyrans know? Of course, if it is as complicated as Dominic says… we just don’t have the time. From talking to some of you, I have gathered that our known opposition consists of a Stinger, a Wasp, a Jenner, and a Commando. Our Intel does include information on a lance with that exact composition. That Intel leads me to believe that if they are the members of the same lance, that they simply cannot be the only lance in Beasville at this time.”

Alexandre’s question about family sends ripples through the museum guards, but causes no real reaction among the Grey Hawk Irregulars. Pietr in particular seems worried, and says, “My wife and kids are supposed to be on the way north to Hanstanople, but… what if the Lyrans stop them because of my war record?”

Fitz steps in quickly and pats the slender man on the shoulder, “Don’t worry – the Lyrans haven’t sealed the city yet, no one is looking for anyone, yet.”

Mad Dog clears his throat and says,

“So far as I’m concerned, as soon as we can manage it, Mr. Lechasseur, we will endeavour to extract your daughter to a safer location. The same goes for anyone else with family. Our Captain has a lot of experience with special ops and I’m sure he’ll be able to think of something useful to that end.”

Pausing and looking up at the mechs, “I’d love to hear all about these mechs at a later point. This whole mission, it has intensely bothered me why these things are here in the first place and not seeing active service. Many mechs are very old, and no faction ever has enough of them. Maybe there is something special about these mechs, something that would explain why perfectly good and desperately needed war machines got placed here of all places.”

“Maybe the lostech indicated in these readouts is indeed intact in some of these mechs , or pieces of it are still here. Maybe these mechs are here because someone hopes to learn something, if only they can get another piece of lostech or perhaps a key data cache—some other piece of an age-old puzzle. Who knows… “

Mad Dog stops looking at the mechs and focuses his attention to your faces. He clears his throat, straightens his shoulders and seems to grow larger as the fires of a warrior start to flare-up within him, “Right now, all that matters is that these mechs now belong to the resistance!”

He starts to pace in front of you as you all stand in front of the mechs. Each step emphasizes what he is saying, driving the points home relentlessly.

“All that matters is that these mechs WILL be used to defend the people of Oliver!

WE will use these mechs to kill the Lyrans!”

 “Do I hear a Hell yeah?!!!”

“Hell yeah!!” shout Fitz, and Dominic, but loudest of all – Tate, who steps forward and says “Hell Yeah! Hell Yeah, Hell Yeah!!!!” at the top of his lungs.

Smiling, Mad Dog continues, “Our new friends,” waving respectfully in their direction, “You all know each other and are all in heavies for this. You’ll be together.

Fitz! You know us and how we work, and you used to be a major before becoming a Lieutenant again with this lot of us. You’re the best man to lead the heavy lance! Keep them together, and on plan as much as possible.

“Master Sergeant!” he shouts. “You and I will have to fill every other roll possible, from recon to escort. You will be in a light hit-and-run mech, so I will take point and I will draw fire, if necessary. A light-medium lance of two mechs… I will lead unless the Captain steps in to assume control of our lance and make it three.”

“The Captain’s mech will have an unusual role in this. He may run independently using sensors giving directions to us all, or at times he might assume lead position in either lance. Be ready for the unexpected! That light mech doesn’t have jump jets, so we’ll need to watch his back.”

“Unless the plan changes before we leave, we will head to the harbour and head north before cutting across the desert.

“You and I, Sergeant, will need to be ready to break off, if the Captain orders it. We might stick with the heavies the whole way, or we might attack a Lyran asset just long enough to distract the Lyrans from the heavies and keep them busy. Our job will be to make sure the Lyrans don’t get to either long-shoot-to-death our heavies, or simply follow them back home.”

“We will have to get clear from civilian areas ASAP to minimize damage and harm to our people. After that, be ready for sudden changes in plan – extreme changes. The Captain almost always has an alternate strategy, so be ready to change gears. We’re expecting mostly medium and light Lyran mechs. If we start getting outranged with our lack of ammo and with our long-range options limited, use terrain and LOS if possible to force them to come to us. We can not allow ourselves to be followed back to where we are massing our main forces. If this happens, and if the Sergeant and I can’t ward off pursuit, we will need to force the Lyrans to fight us and our heavies on our own terms.”

“The Captain will want us to be ready to get the mechs’ weapons ready as fast as possible, but it will be the last thing we do before we leave. Let’s get back to work and get ready to get the Hell out of here!”

Fitz steps forward and says, “Everyone has their assignments. The countdown is on, we pull out of here in 4 hours – that is just barely enough time to get ‘er done. If your mech isn’t ready to go at 1:15 am, you can stay behind with a gun and a can of beans to deal with the Lyrans by yourself. ’cause the rest of us will be on our way!”

Fitz then draws himself up into a full military salute, facing Mad Dog and says, “Attention!”

Everyone stands at attention and offers as crisp a salute as they remember how to do.

It is a determined-looking crew of mechwarriors that stands ready before Mad Dog, in front of the silent, but deadly row of Marik Mechs.

A long journey lies ahead of you all, and the sense that battle may find you at any moment. For now at least, every back is straight, and every face is alight with courage.

Mad Dog proudly salutes the group, dismissing everyone to their assigned duties, and turns on his heel to go to update the Captain. Fitz catches him on the way out to ask him for permission to do a quick security sweep of the building – just to be safe.

LJ

When they’re gone, I will go to Blowtorch and ask this. “Do you want me to get my mech ready or you want me to get on those legs explosive first?”

If she want me to go get my mech ready, I will go do that and make sure my neuro helmet is linked with the Thug, will take some quick time to set up my own weapon config which will consist of 4 setting, Long range together, Short Range together, Single long range in rotation, and cycling through weapons. I will also make sure the actuators are working correctly by making the mech move as standard movement. When all that is done I will go get my gears ready, trying to go get my pistol and go to the armoury and get some close range shotgun. I will pick up also my vibroaxe and a survival kit if I can find one and fit that all in the thug cockpit and a backpack with other survival gear in the bottom of the leg compartment. I will also put a picture of my little girl in the window of my cockpit so I can remember her at all time.  Then I will go do the explosive. Or I will do the other way around. If I am finish, I will go check if I can help anyone with anything.

GM

Alexandre goes to speak with Blowtorch to ask her what she would like him to do first. Between the two of them, they decide to have him start preparing the explosive devices to plant in the mechs being left behind. After that, she would like him to disable and remove the cockpit explosives in the mechs they are taking, before moving on to installing the explosive devices in the legs.

Alexandre also communicates that he has gear that he wants to collect from the Faculty room when there is a chance.

The other guards do as well… survival gear, personal weapons, etc.

Sal and Blowtorch move off to run a quick system diagnostic, set the mechs up to accept new access and piloting passwords, and install Gibs’ signal squelching software.

Dominic and Pietr gather all the tools Blowtorch indicates that they will need to mine the three mechs’ legs.

BT

It looks like things are pretty much in order. If things go well, between me and Sal we should be able to do the hacking to squelch the signal before we have to move out, but if the hacking attempts start to drag on, BT will run to let Mad Dog know about the situation and ask whether it’s better to adjust the schedule, or damn the torpedoes and forget about squelching the signal.

Also, once Dominic and Pietr have gathered the tools, BT will tell them to bring them to Alexandre and see if he needs help setting up the explosives.

GM

Although busy and seemingly focused on a single task, Blowtorch is intimately aware of everything going on in the repair space deep under the museum. Under her care, each mech comes fully to life. Each mech accepts its new instructions, and is readied to fight once again.

As she and Sal work away, Alexandre is busier with the dangerous task of preparing the deadly explosive surprise you intend to plant in the legs of the three mechs you are leaving behind.

Work is only interrupted for brief intervals, the largest being when Captain Rom reappears with a cache of files marked SLDF Technical Training Core, and presents them to the Master Sergeant with a flourish and a smile. “Merry Christmas!” he says. “Keep these safe – they are more important than any mech.”

The two go off for a few minutes to discuss the readouts and data taken from the mechs, and as Blowtorch holds off on having the neurohelmets synched to the mechs, a suspicion begins to grow that there will be a shift in mech assignments. Maybe Blowtorch was able to confirm some things about the mechs…?

While this goes on, Fitz makes irregularly timed patrols around the museum to check for intruders and watchers. Mad Dog joins him on one round, and Tate joins him on another. During these excursions, further plans are detailed, and the two men get to know Tate better.

During a period where Alexandre, Sal, or Dominic have to wait to gain access to a mech, Mad Dog takes them aside to talk.

By midnight, it looks like Fitz’s deadline of 1am will be met, and the burden of hardwork begins to lighten as the mood and excitement begins to build. While no one is truly looking forward to the prospect of combat again, the prospect of piloting a mech again…  of prowling the dark streets of Beasville heading for a rendezvous with an uncertain future… that is intoxicating.

At 12:45am, Fitz, Dominic and Tate begin organizing a small obstacle course and a few targets at different ranges.

At 1:20am, when work is done, the Captain calls everyone together, assign mechs, and prepare to run some checks of the mechs to make sure that all systems really are, “Go.”

Mad Dog calls everyone to attention, and the Captain comes forward to speak.

The assembly is decisive, and businesslike. Rom explains that the mechs are to be tested out down here before leaving to ensure that all systems are operational by running through a brief obstacle course, and checking the targeting alignments at short range. Once that is done, the unit is to form up into pairs to proceed up the ramp to the Warehouse exit in the Northern end of the park.

The neurohelmets, properly tuned and ready for synching with a mech, are lined up on a long, folding table beside Rom. Mad Dog is at the other end of the table standing at attention. The two men seem excited, and ready to take on this new phase in the denial of Oliver to the Lyrans.

“Velika! – Take the Spider,” Rom calls out.

As each mechwarrior steps forward, Mad Dog takes their helmet off the table and presents it to them with a salute.

“Fitz! – Take the Thug.”

“Alexandre! – Take the Guillotine.”

“Dominic! – Take the Crusader.”

“Pietr! – Take the Thunderbolt.”

“Tate! – You and Sal take the Orion”

“Mel!”  With this Rom heads over to the table to present the lieutenant with his neurohelmet. “Take the Griffin.”

Lifting  his own helmet, he turns to everyone and tells you to mount up, run some quick checks then form up to move through the obstacle and targeting course he had set up earlier.

One by one, each mechwarrior strips down to the shorts and coolant vests that are all most can stand to wear in an active battlemech being taken onto the field of honor.

Tate begins the long climb up the side of the impressive Orion, ready to link his neurohelmet to a machine he never even dared to dream he might one day ride into battle. Sal follows him up slowly, giving the security chief time to settle in.

Alexandre mounts the chain ladder into the cockpit of the massive Guillotine, a mech iconic in the forces of the Free Worlds League but in these dark days of technological design, rarely seen in the rest of the Inner phere.  Once mounted, Alexandre begins moving in place, checking the range of motion, quality of movement, and responsiveness of the systems.

Dominic gets himself squared away in the Crusader. The mech remains motionless for quite some time as Dominic  waits for  Alexandre to work through his systems check and movement check, then briefly, the Crusader settles into a lower position with feet smoothly separating across the ferrocrete floor, and then he deftly pivots the torso to the right as the left hand slowly pushes across the torso toward the right, before rising in a circular clearing motion, followed by a repeat in the other direction with the other arm. Once this second push has been smoothly executed, the arms rise in a double clearing motion before the mech settles back into a posture of readiness. Light on its feet, poised for action. Taichi?

The speakers on the Crusader crackle to life, as Dominic voices his pleasure, “All in the green! It’s nice that the advanced movement controls are functional.”

Smiling, Fitz, most of the way up the side of the Thug, yells over the growing noise of machines and men in motion, “Show-off!”

Once mounted and hooked in, Fitz has the Thug throw a few punches and a snap kick. Unlike the Crusader, the machine’s movements are not lent a sense of grace by smoothly flowing joints and elegant fluted armour, but rather appear menacing and brutish as the hunching mech responds with power and authority.

Blowtorch slips into the tiny cockpit of the diminutive Spider, and quickly gets it up and running, ready to run the trials and get the hell out of here.

Pietr takes his time climbing up the side of the Thunderbolt, relishing each rung in the ladder. He pauses for a moment outside the cockpit and runs his hand down the armour plated seal around the hatch before vanishing inside. Although he has piloted most of these mechs before, this is as different from that routine drudgery as night is from day. It is clear, he doesn’t want to forget a moment of this experience.

Mad Dog nonchalantly swarms up the side of the Griffin as though it is something he does every day, which he does. Settling in to the familiar, but yet – unfamiliar cockpit, takes little time and he is up and running in no time.

Cool Hand, seemingly curiously out of place in the fragile-looking Hermes, wastes no time on ceremony or sentimentality. He climbs in, powers up, synchs the helmet, checks the comms, and simply says, “Let’s go.”

The mechs and pilots all perform well in navigating the obstacle course in forward and reverse. The mechs’ systems all seem to be in the green, and none of the pilots run into any trouble.

The test of the targeting systems goes equally well, and suddenly… it is time to go.

On the command channel, Captain Rom, callsign ‘Cool Hand Luke,’ has everyone form up in order, and tells you to get ready to exit the warehouse and proceed at no more than cruising speed (Walk) toward the NorthWest.

He and Blowtorch are to take point and head out quickly.

Mad Dog and Alexandre are to exit the warehouse next, leading the heavies slowly.

Tate and Dominic are next, as close on the heels of Alexandre and Mad Dog as possible.

Fitz and Pietr are to bring up the rear, sticking close to the others.

Hair of the Dog – Are you Afraid?  

 

In the silence in the darkness under the museum, Captain Lucas Rom speaks to everyone over the command channel.

“It’s quite fitting that we go war in these ancient steeds for our cause is as old as war itself. We go to war to defend our homes and our people from invasion and tyranny.

“These will not be the first shots in this war of liberation.  The first shots were cowardly strikes into the backs of four pilots outside of Gordon.  We will not strike first, but we will strike fast, and we will strike hard…”  He pauses, a moment, “And we *will* strike last.”

“These Lyran invaders shall be taught a hard lesson.  A lesson of heat and plasma and soul.  We shall show them what it means to be GreyHawk Irregulars.  We shall show them what it means to be of Oliver.  We shall show them what it means to be FREE World League.”

Without further hesitation, he spurs his Hermes forward up the steep ramp in the darkness and into the warehouse beyond. Blowtorch follows suit in the nimble and surprisingly agile and speedy Spider.

 As they hit the top of the ramp, the heavies begin their much slower ascent out of this crypt of ages, and toward the light of a new day.

Triggering the remote door release set up by Blowtorch from his highly advanced cockpit, Rom ushers in the first reddish rays of light from that new day, and is the first to plunge out of darkness and into light.

The resistance has officially begun!

 

END Act IV Bites

GM Note:

This ended Scene 9 and was the transition point from pure ‘A Time of War‘ rules for dismounted Mechwarriors, to using the Tactical Addendum with some of the suggested adjustments for scale.

This post, as it was wrapping up the scene, and realigning each of the separate threads into one unified place and point in time, features more exposition from the GM’s chair, but the bulk of action and dialogue featured therein was taken directly from player postings or intentions stated earlier, and glossed over into a suitable closing point for the Act.

Act IV ended here, and Act V began right away, using the posting and combat method described earlier to conduct the battle which has followed.  As with earlier combats, each player has their own thread coloured by their character background, capabilities, and location, with the focus on trying to produce a sense of what running these mechs might be like.

A Combat Log for the opening turns Act V’s Urban Battle have been posted here~

Stay Tuned!

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