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A Warrior's Family (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 19[]

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A Warrior's Family[]

Life of Codey and how he became a Tech[]

October 3029

"Remind me again why I'm looking at this broken holoviewer." Codey said as he sat down at his workbench. He unfolded the paper around his sandwich and admired the dent in the holoviewer.

"Anastasia asked me for a favor." Mal said as she sat down next to him and put her sandwich on the table in front of her, "Asked me" She repeated, "Since most MechWarriors usually bitch and yell at us to fix some piece of their 'Mech that they broke, I thought we'd reward her good behavior by helping her."

Hap sat at a loveseat near the work bench, he leaned back and got comfortable and started to eat his sandwich. Anastasia sat down next to him. She kept her back straight, crossed one leg over the other and carefully balanced her sandwich on her knee. Hap felt self-conscious and sat up a little straighter.

Codey mumbled to himself as he took a bite of his sandwich. The holoviewer rattled as he picked it up. He glanced over at Anastasia, "These things aren't supposed to rattle."

"You hear this guy Anastasia, he's a pro. Knows that holoviewers don't usually rattle." Joker laughed to himself as he took a chair next the couch. He slouched in his seat and began to loudly eat his sandwich.

Anastasia ignored Joker and looked at Codey, "I thought the same thing when Mags handed it to me. She was insistent that I try to fix it. She said it broke during the drop on Klathandu."

Codey nodded, "We lost an engine coming down. Let me tell you, that was an exciting drop even for us non-MechWarrior types. I wonder why she didn't ask me to look at it."

Hap smiled, "You know Mags. I'd say you're probably better off having her not ask you for help."

Codey mulled that over as he took another bite. He nodded and looked at Anastasia, "Yeah, he's right you're going to have to tell her we can't fix it."

Anastasia daintily unwrapped her sandwich. "I was hoping the memory module was still intact and you could transfer the data from this one onto similar model. I was also hoping, that since you used these as HUDs, I could purchase a spare unit from you"

Mal shook her head, "No need, we'll swap ya for it. We can use this one for spare parts. I like Mags, she doesn't take shit from anybody."

Codey gave Mal a questioning look and she responded with a look of her own, "Come on. It's usually the holo array that burns out, and this one looks intact, it's probably the board that's broken. It's really no big deal. Besides this is for Mags. She's usually pretty cool to us, or at least me." Mal told Codey.

"Are you and Mags friends?" Hap asked

"Sorta. She dated my brother for awhile. It was fun to watch her keep him in check." Mal set her sandwich down, "We got along pretty good while they were dating, and we still do."

"Who's your brother?" Joker asked as he sat up and leaned forward.

"Grizzly. It only lasted a few weeks. Grizzly decided she wasn't marrying material." Mal said.

Joker looked indignant, "What do you mean not marrying material?"

Mal shrugged, "I dunno, he thought she was too wild. I'd guess probably wanted a woman that didn't argue with him about everything."

"Or he didn't want his children's mother to be a woman that constantly says 'I'll cut you'" Anastasia said.

"Has she ever actually cut you?" Joker sneered at Anastasia.

"I pointed that out to her a few days ago in the showers. She replied I was lucky she didn't have a knife."

Before Joker could answer her Hap asked, "So Grizzly is your brother? How did the two of you come to be part of McFinnigan's company?"

"Dad joined up when Commander McFinnigan thought he had enough work for a company of Mechwarriors. When Dad retired Gerald, I mean Grizzly took his place piloting the family Wolverine. Codey's dad taught me to program and fix stuff. When Dad split Kelly offered to put me on the payroll."

"What sort of programming do you normally do?" Hap asked

Rifleman unseen fanmade

Rifleman Heavy 'Mech

"Usually it's pretty simple stuff, we got a broken system in a 'Mech, or in one of the shuttles, and then we find a similar part and I, as Commander McFinnigan likes to say, 'make it behave'. Basic stuff, modify the readout on a Targeting System to say Jagermech' instead of Rifleman,' or change some of the basic configurations, sometimes I do some custom work for a MechWarrior or the shuttle pilots. Most times though, the Commander has these crazy ideas, like making these 'Mech simulators."

"You've done quite well." Anastasia said, "These simulators are very complicated."

Mal's eyebrows shot up, "Uh… thank you. Sorry, I don't often get compliments."Bold

"What about you, Codey? How did you join?" Hap askedBold

Codey sat up from soldering the holoviewer, and glanced over at Hap, "Oh my story is similar to Mal's. My Father signed up as an electronics expert, and eventually I took his place."

"So your dad taught you everything he could about electronics?" Hap asked.

"I wish. He taught me a lot, but not everything he knew." Codey turned back to the holoviewer and continued to solder. "My dad was a high ranking ComStar Adept that got disillusioned with ComStar and walked away. That man probably forgot more about electronics than I'll ever know."

Anastasia looked at him in disbelief, "I didn't know one could just walk away from ComStar."

"Normally one can't, or at least they usually don't. We lived in a tight little community that felt like military campus, or a prison, and we were surrounded by other ComStar members. When Mom was dying from cancer Dad needed a place to get away from it all. He found a bar he could slip away to and drink. For the year my mom was dying from cancer he'd just go and have a drink some nights. At first he thought ROM agents were tailing him, so he never talked to anyone. He stopped seeing them so he figured they gave up out of pity or boredom." Codey used a magnifying glass to inspect his work.

"So how'd the two of you end up here?" Hap asked.

"One night Dad overheard Erik and Mike talking about some 'Mech subsystem they couldn't make work." Codey passed the holoviewer to Mal, "It's your turn now. I bypassed the broken section of the board to get power to the memory module. Hopefully you can copy the data before the battery dies." Mal took the holoviewer and started connecting cables between her terminal and the holoviewer.

Codey turned back to Hap and Anastasia. "Dad told Erik and Mike how to fix their system. They talked awhile and they asked him to come to their garage. When Dad got there he easily fixed their problem. They showed him a dozen other systems that weren't working or were only partially functional, and by morning he had fixed those too. The next time he went to the bar McFinnigan offered him a job."

"Was it more money than what he got at ComStar?" Joker asked

"Yeah, but it wasn't about money, it was a way out. You have to understand my dad had a couple problems with ComStar. First, once you make it through the initial Acolyte period you become an Adept or a Precentor. According to my dad, if you were smart and showed you could figure stuff out like, like how to operate a Hyper Pulse Generator, you'd become an Adept. If you were more into the spiritual nonsense and management you become a Precentor. The Precentor Dad worked for was an idiot. He could quote Jerome Blake, and say all the right ComStar catechisms, but he was incompetent. Dad and his team kept the Hyper Pulse Generator working in spite of his boss's nonsense."

"Yeah that sort of thing pisses me off too." Joker said.

Hap looked over at Joker, "What are you talking about?"

"Uh, not you, I meant whenever I see that sort of thing." Joker lied

Hap shook his head, "Next shit detail is all yours." He looked to Codey, "Apologizes, please continue."

"Another problem Dad had was that he hated the way ComStar played Inner Sphere powers against each other, especially how they pretended to be neutral but were actually using information they got from running the HPG network. He didn't think they had the morale authority to condemn the House Lords, and thought ComStar had made themselves unworthy to bring about a new Star League.

Anastasia nodded as he spoke, "My father said the very same things."

Codey looked at Anastasia suspiciously, then shrugged, "It's sort of an obvious secret, I guess. The final thing was my mom got cancer. Dad requested a transfer to a core world so he could get her the best medical care, but his Precentor denied it. The Precentor knew Dad kept the HPG running, and if Dad left the HPG might fail. After Mom died that was it, he was done. Then Kelly offered him a way out."

"Wow" Hap said with a sigh, "Where is your dad now?" Haps asked

"Dead." Codey said matter-of-factly, then quickly added. "He was killed by a ROM agent. He had figured it would happen eventually. The real wonder was I survived and they haven't come back for me."

"I hate to pry," Anastasia said, "but, may I ask what happened?"

Codey nodded, "We were on Buckminster doing some jobs for the Lyran Commonwealth. We had set up a forward ammo and resupply point because the missions were almost back-to-back. Dad and I were working on a Range Finder when he got shot by a sniper. Everyone dived for cover and Erik called into Ops to let them know we were pinned down. Usually Ops would respond with artillery if we could call in an exact location. I was trying to see the sniper when I thought I heard Dad move. I carefully looked over the pile of armor I was hiding behind, and I saw this man's face floating in the air, and where his body should have been it looked like a rainbow of heat waves and weird colors."

"That sounds like an advanced mimetic cloaking device." Anastasia said.

"Yeah a sneak suit. ComStar has a bunch of high tech, lostech, and advanced kit. So I knew this had to be a ROM agent. It was just like Dad had warned me. The sniper saw me, and told me to come to him. He asked me if I was Codey, and wanted to know everything my Dad hold told the mercenaries."

"How did you get out of that?" Hap asked

"Well, he was asking me a lot of questions about who my Dad had talked to, what sort of help he had given the mercenaries. It was a lot of stuff about tech exchange. I knew Dad was smart and a technical expert, but this guy made me think Dad knew everything about everything. He asked me about stuff I never imagined. While he was interrogating me, Mike slipped behind with that giant torque wrench."

"What giant torque wrench?" Joker asked.

"It's this two meter long adjustable torque wrench that looks like it was made for a 'Mech to perform its own maintenance. Mike and Erik are the only people I know that can even pick up the damn thing, and Mike walked behind this guy as silent as a cat and with one swing bashed in his skull."

"Damn, Hap. Didn't you say Mike hated you after working with you on your 'Mech?" Joker said.

"Mike told me my welding didn't look like a bag of ass. So I think I'm good." Hap replied.

Mal laughed, then looked around nervously, "Sorry, that just so like Mike." She quickly resumed typing.

"Mike might be a bastard sometimes, but he saved my life. The next day two people claiming to be representatives from the Mercenary Review Board came by, and asked a bunch of questions about the sniper and my dad and me. I wasn't there for the conversation but from what I was told Kelly knew something was up because they hadn't reported anything to the Review Board. Kelly gave them the body of the sniper and his gear, and told them all my dad's stuff had been burned, per his instructions.

Then Kelly convinced them that Dillon was me. Dillon's mech had taken a hit in the meat, so he was banged up pretty bad, and almost unrecognizable. Whatever answers he gave the "representatives" convinced them that I was an idiot. They left and told Kelly if he found anything odd in my dad's effects to bring it to the nearest COMSTAR office, and there'd be a reward." Codey said.

"I don't get it. Why would they care about any of your Dad's crap?" Joker said.

"Dad had some books and things that were very technical. ComStar actively seeks to prevent any high end technology from being recovered by the inner sphere House Lords. Like I said, they want the great houses and periphery bandits to destroy themselves. Then ComStar will usher in a new Star League and a new age of enlightenment, or some bullshit. The sad thing is, according to Dad, ComStar used their monopoly on interstellar comms to provoke or perpetuate the Second and Third Succession wars."

Anastasia nodded as he spoke. "Exactly. I'm sorry about your father, but, if I may, you said your Dad had ComStar books. Do you still have them? Are they ComStar technical readouts?"

"Sorta. I have several manuals on electrical engineering and communications." Codey said as he pulled a large plastic box out from under the table. "They're almost text books, and Dad used them to teach me and Mal. I still reference them sometimes." He opened the plastic container and pulled out a large black book that had Electronics Manual emblazoned in front of a Greek Alpha and the ComStar symbol.

Anastasia took the book from him and her perfect posture disappeared as she leaned back on Hap. She hands slightly shook as she opened to the table of contents. Her eyes flicked across the chapter titles and she rapidly flipped to a chapter near the end of the book. Hap could feel her almost trembling as she began to look over a chapter titled "Hyper Pulse Generator theory and Interstellar Communication"

Joker leaned over and frowned, "There's no words there, just a bunch of strange symbols and math problems. It was like the books for those math classes I wasn't smart enough for."

Hap glanced down and saw that there were several pages of mathematical equations. He couldn't tell if it was just one equation, or dozens. Anastasia turned the page as she explained, "It's similar to the equation a jump ship would use to calculate a jump between systems. Except a jump point is usually at the nadir and zenith of star's gravity well, but this equation is much more specific and complicated so that you can transmit your data as close as possible to your destination HPG station."

Codey eyes grew wide, "You shouldn't know that. You're right, but according to my Dad, Acolytes would not be taught that until they became Adapts and most Precentors were too stupid to understand that."

"Damn, if we were in ComStar all of you smart people would be working for me." Joker laughed.

Anastasia shook her head and turned a page. "I'd quit so fast it would seem like I never worked for you."

"Anastasia, how do you know how Hyper Pulse Generators work?" Codey asked.

"My dad wanted to build out his own competition to ComStar, so we read everything we could get our hands on. When I was at NAIS I had access to the Halstead Station library and the Helm memory core, so I did research for him. " Anastasia looked up for a moment, "May I borrow this book?"

Codey gave her a hard look, "That book is one of the few things I got to remember my dad, and I need it from time to time." He hesitated for a moment, "but yeah, just get it back to me before we land."

Anastasia nodded eagerly, "Certainly, yes. I understand."

Anastasia pressed herself closer to Hap. The elegance and formality were gone from her posture, she was focused on learning now. Hap put his arm across her shoulders and gave her a gentle squeeze.

Mal turned around with the new Holoviewer. "Alright people, moment of truth, let's see if the data transferred." She flicked the power switch with her thumb and the system lit up and displayed a menu. Mal selected the most recent video and a holographic image of an old man appeared. He looked mean. He had multiple scars and was missing a tooth. His features softened as he looked into the camera and began speaking in fluent Spanish. Mal quickly paused the holo. "Oh! That's Mag's dad."

Hap nodded. "I think that's a private message. Thank you again Mal. Are you sure we don't owe you?"

"Naw, It's nice to have MechWarriors that appreciate my skills. Tell your friends." Mal joked

Codey stood up, "Well now that the charity work is over, I think we should get back to packing up."

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