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Aurigan Dreams (Chapter Cover Art)

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Nautilus Expedition

Chapter 28 - Aurigan Dreams (BattleTech CYOA)

Admiring the Argo[]

By the time we actually arrive at Artru, it is the latter half of September and we just jumped in at the Nadir point. Once we actually reach the planet, where our prize lies in the uninhabited arctic, the month will be almost over.

Argo DropShip (In Orbit - Gravity Modules Deployed)

The DropShip Argo

At least it isn’t as long as it could have been. The trip isn’t a total waste as I get to spend the trip aboard the Argo and even if its impressive recreation facilities are still mostly non operational, the rest of the ship is still very impressive. The DropShip is very well designed from an engineering perspective and its Multi-Docking Collar System is effectively unique. I lack the qualifications and knowledge to truly appreciate them, but I know enough about engineering to have a decent enough grasp of what is going on.

That is before Doctor Murad gets involved as the lady is more than happy to walk an eager listener through the aerospacey bits that I lack the expertise to understand on my own. Which is fortunately less than I fear as while the Argo is a DropShip, a good deal of its design isn’t that different to what you would find on the ground when it comes to the various electronic and mechanical aspects of the ship.

Then I get to the MechBays, the part of the Argo where I belong. When the amenities of the Argo took a backseat in the repair work, it was so more practical sections of the ship like the Mech Bays could take priority. All twelve Mech Bays are fully online while the last six in the…thing were retained as shuttle bays rather than being converted into another half a dozen Mech Bays.

The Mech Bays of the Argo are wondrous things. The refit harnesses are fairly mundane and should be included in every Mech Bay, but these days, it is hit and miss if a Mech Bay has functional refit harnesses. The repair scaffolding is also certainly mundane, at least not in the highly adaptable and flexible form that the Argo has. Some Mech Bays may have repair scaffolding, but they tend to just extend out in fixed positions.

The Argo has highly adaptive repair scaffolding that can be adjusted to fit the task at hand. Fully repaired, they automatically adjust to fit the ‘Mech they detected in their bay and the complex system of scaffolding and walkways can be manually adjusted to gain access to any part of the ‘Mech. Something that I have never heard of before except in historical texts.

And then there are the automated systems and they are glorious! I knew that Star League engineering was beyond anything that we can do these days, but the automation of the Argo’s Mech Bay is even better than I was expecting. There is an extensive network of machinery built into the walls of the Mech Bays, waiting to act as a massive force multiplier for any techs using the Mech Bay.

While they can’t quite replace the Mech Tech entirely, the automated systems come pretty close to it. They can do basic tasks and many advanced tasks with greater speed and precision than a mere human though they ultimately lack the flexibility of a real person. The end result is maintenance being reduced to being trivial rather than something that takes up a couple of days each week and repair work will take days rather than weeks or even months.

Simply glorious.

Finally, there is the machine shop aboard the Argo. Thanks to information that Lord Arano had provided me with. I had a good idea of what it is capable of, but it is another thing to see it in person. Machine shops aren’t LosTech these days, quite the opposite in fact as any seriously industrialized world will have some, but a machine shop of this quality? This grade of high quality is very much something that got lost with the fall of the Star League and the resulting technological decline.

The vast majority of machine shops will churn out second or third rate parts. Something acceptable in the face of lacking anything better, but nothing that beats getting proper parts from a factory. And then there is the general degradation of technological standards, reducing the quality of both machine shops and factories from what they once were under the aegis of the Star League.

The Argo and her machine shop are a throwback to those ancient times, built to Star League standards and it shows, especially when compared to modern day equivalents. I knew from that other life that the Argo’s machine shop could be capable of matching the parts produced in the neighboring Concordat, but I cannot help but wonder just how many other factories in the Inner Sphere the Argo can compete with when it comes to quality. It is certainly better than anything in the Periphery.

The biggest downside to the machine shop is its rate of output. It can make parts for many different ‘Mechs, but that flexibility comes at a cost in how much it produces as machine shops are not a substitute for dedicated production lines like the ones you find in a factory. You won’t be making a ‘Mech using the Argo’s machine shop. Well, you could in theory, but you’d be producing one or two a year rather than several in addition to not making any spare parts at the same time.

The machine shop works best when combined with its database of BattleMech technical specifications. Arguably, that database of technical specs is the second greatest treasure of the Argo, taking second place after the maps of SLDF locations across the Inner Sphere and Periphery. While it is no New Dallas Memory Core, the Argo had a lot of data on the various ‘Mechs used by the SLDF and contemporary militaries of the time. Far more than what the Aurigan Coalition previously had.

Now the technical specs weren’t enough to build a new factory as you need the technical expertise and know how to build the various components that made up the ‘Mech. However, it does allow the Aurigan Coalition to build spare parts for a lot of their ‘Mechs that they previously weren’t able to. Not to mention that the database isn’t limited to just the Argo and by the time we left Coromodir, the Espinosa Refit Yards had a full copy of the Argo’s technical database to use.

My only regret is that we don’t have any damaged ‘Mechs with us to fix up. Even if that is an ultimately desirable set of circumstances to be in, I would have loved to use the Argo’s Mech Bays to get a banged up ‘Mech back into working shape.

Ah, a woman can dream.

“It feels like you live in the Mech Bays these days,” says Belinda from behind me, making me jump.

“Don’t do that,” I tell her as the Canopian woman laughs at me.

“Now come on, boss.” says Belinda as she flutters her eyebrows at me and, to my embarrassment, I blush a little, “You’ve spent at least half of the trip down here in the Mech Bays. Sometimes I wonder if you are a Mech Tech or a MechWarrior.”

“I’m both,” I reply, “and I’m a Mech Tech at heart. Being a MechWarrior is just something I do for the opportunities it brings me. Now is there anything you want from me or are you just here to torment me?”

“I would never treat my boss in such a way.” protests Belinda in mock indignation and I roll my eyes.

“Seriously, do you need me for anything?” I ask.

“No, I just want to talk,” answers Belinda.

“About the mission?” I inquire.

“About asking you out on a date,” replies Belinda and at that I definitely blush, “You find me attractive, I find you attractive, there are no regs about fraternising and we’ve known each other long enough now that it wouldn’t be out of the blue.”

“Oh.” I say as I am not sure what else to say.

“Look, you’re an attractive, dependable and intelligent young woman and so am I,” says Belinda, “I’m not saying that we need to jump straight into sex or even cuddling or that you need to give me an answer now. I just wanted to make my interest clear to you since I got bored of flings over a year ago and I’m looking for something more steady. A steadiness that you look like you can give.”

“I just-” I start before thinking over my words, “I’m not saying yes or anything, but why now? There isn’t going to be anywhere romantic to go at Artru. Wouldn’t it have been better to wait until we got back to Coromodir?”

“I only decided that I want to ask you half an hour ago,” answers Belinda, “As for going somewhere on Artru, I read up on the place when I found out we would be going here. You might be right about there being nothing on the surface, but the hab stations in orbit have a few places for both the high-ranking executives and the middle managers. Can’t have the CEO not having a fancy place to eat out after all.”

“I’ll think about it,” I say, “You’ve sprung this on me.”

“Of course, I don’t expect an answer right away,” says Belinda before shooting me a sly look, “Now I’ll be taking some time in the sim pods. Something you might want to consider given your appalling MechWarrior skills.”

“Up yours,” I retort and Belinda laughs as she begins to leave.

“Now, now, Elizabeth,” replies Belinda, “I wish you were putting it up mine.”

I’m still trying to come up with a good comeback when the Canopian woman walks out of sight.

Reaction to a Meeting with a Canopian[]

“She asked you out?” exclaims Kamea on the screen.

“Yeah, she did,” I confirm before shrugging, “I’m not sure whether to say yes or no. On the one hand, she is an attractive and intelligent young woman, but on the other, I’m not sure if I’m ready for a relationship. Or if I want to get into one at this point.”

“She really asked you out?” asks Vanessa, sounding shocked.

“She did,” I answer.

As much as I would like to discuss Belinda’s offer with my two girl pals in person, both Kamea and Vanessa decided to spend the trip to Artru aboard the Durendal. While I wanted to spend more time admiring the wonders of the Argo, both Vanessa and Kamea wished to be aboard the DropShip that had their ‘Mechs aboard.

If I make an attempt at being objective, they are probably making the right choice. Going into a potentially hostile situation means that you’ll want your ‘Mech at hand. And as cool as the Argo is, Solus Prime is still aboard the Durendal and I have no easy way to access it until we have already landed on Artru.

“And you’re okay with that?” asks Vanessa and I narrow my eyes at her.

“Yes,” I answer firmly, “Why wouldn’t I be okay with that?”

“Nothing!” Vanessa is quick to answer, “It is just…is it a Canopian thing?”

“No, it is a normal thing,” I tell her.

“Liz is right,” adds Kamea, “Asking someone out is a normal thing. Arranged marriages, formal courtships and the like are only in the realm of nobility. Most people don’t bother with that sort of hassle.”

“Not really what I meant, but I’ll drop it,” says Vanessa, “You like her?”

“She makes for pleasant company and she is very easy on the eyes.” I answer, “I enjoy having her around when she isn’t in a teasing mood, but I don’t know if I like her in that particular sort of way.”

“Then I would recommend waiting and figuring out how you feel about her.” says Vanessa.

“I agree with Vanessa,” says Kamea, “You won’t be able to wait forever until Belinda moves on, but you have time and she is giving you that time instead of pressing for an answer. I would bet she is even willing to wait until this job is done if you told her that you wanted to focus on finishing this job first.”

“If she isn’t willing to give you time, she isn’t worth your time,” adds Vanessa.

“Vanessa is right again,” says Kamea, “If she isn’t willing to give you the chance to sort out your feelings, she isn’t worth your time.”

“Thanks for the help,” I tell them, giving them a smile, “I appreciate it. See you both on Artru.”

Author's Chapter Notes[]

Word from the Author
And here we get to the first part of the expedition. Next part will be arriving at Outpost Castle Nautilus.

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