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Unit Log, VeeMech TDR-1-74-01107C-J, Log Entry 9 Supplemental

We're still going through the aftermath of the battle, assessing our damages, and trying to figure out whether Manx's AI core can be moved into a different AutoMech. Ripley says she has something important to show us, but it can wait until we've finished our damage assessment, and she's been a big help getting the wreckage of the DemoCons we fought, and of Manx, off the battlefield and back into the bunker. Spanner is hoping that the DemoCon Sounder's gyro is intact enough to use for spare parts for his own damaged gyro, while Glyph has to face the joyous decision that the only replacement foot for her nearby is either going to come off a destroyed DemoCon, or the wreck of her protege Manx. Personally, it feels a bit ghoulish to me, but then I have to remember that, were these regular BattleMechs somewhere in the Inner Sphere, salvaging components off of destroyed 'Mechs to keep yours running would be par for the course: just because they're autonomous doesn't mean that's different here in Syberia.

Meanwhile, I'm getting ready to poke my head outside, trying to keep to what little cover there is, so I can bounce a signal off a satellite, and get word to Primus Optimal that we're gonna need a bigger boat. Because we're worried about being monitored, Glyph has me using one of their stealthier low-orbit satellites, which make regular passes, rather than one of their geosynchronous ones that everybody on the planet knows about.

That gives me some time, and one thing I've been neglecting to do, though, and really should have already, is to record for posterity more information on the AutoMechs I've encountered so far. I don't know for sure whether anyone who may read this journal will be from the Inner Sphere, and thus familiar with BattleMechs, at which point some of the stuff I'm including will be needless detail. On the other hand, though, maybe you'll be from my original universe, and not as familiar with this one. Or maybe you'll be from somewhere else entirely: I ended up here, after all, so there's no guarantee I won't end up somewhere else, whether within the California Nebula or in another universe. So, don't stop me if you think that you've heard this one before.

Beetle-Class / Ender-Class Wheeled AutoMechs[]

Beetle/Ender-Class Wheeled VeeMech in Mech Mode
Ender-Class Wheeled VeeMech in Vehicle mode

--Take one of each of the above, throw them in a blender, bake at 350 degrees, and the result is a Beetle Class

The Beetle-class seems to be the basic footsoldier of the Autonomous Barony of Primus faction, and, at 35 tons, are generally the lightest class of AutoMech in common frontline service. Nine meters tall, and big for a light 'Mech, Beetles are still light 'Mechs, emphasizing speed and agility over firepower and armor. Beetles are capable of 64 kph walking, 96 kph at a full run, and 118 kph flat out in its wheeled mode, making the Beetle-class a solid scout and courier. Protection is solid at 6 tons, though not as heavy as it could be, and a single extended-range large laser is mounted on the right forearm, able to burn through a half-ton of 'Mech-equivalent armor out to 590 meters.

Evidently, the Beetle class isn't as common amongst the Democratic Industrial Conglomerate (DemoCons) as they are among the Autonomous Barony of Primus (AutoBoPs), where they're everywhere. I don't know if the DemoCons just can't build many Beetles, or if they're unable to build Beetle-class AutoMechs at all, and instead salvage them off of the AutoBoPs instead - wouldn't that be disturbing? Either way, those that do serve the DemoCons, though, do so with a different name: Ender-class, rather than Beetle-class, but they're functionally identical.

Glyph is, and Manx was, a Beetle-class AutoMech. On the flip side, one of the DemoCons we fought, whose IFF signal identified him as "Wild Ender", was an "Ender-class", ie. the same thing.

CON-series Carbine ConstructionMech[]

Carbine ConstructionMech

--Yep, that's a Carbine

Not every AutoMech can transform. That's something mainly reserved for the frontline ones, the ones expected to see combat. For what we'd normally think of as civilian roles, which aren't expected to fight, quite often these are filled by AutoMechs that can't transform at all, often built with industrial grade, rather than battle grade, components. Ripley is a prime example of this, an autonomous version of the CON-series Carbine ConstructionMech. I haven't met others yet, but I'd presume there are other AutoMech worker types filling other roles that the rest of humanity built IndustrialMechs for, too. Well, maybe except agriculture. Not much need of AgroMechs on Syberia these days.

Seeker-Class / AeroMech-Class Fighter AutoMech[]

Seeker Class AutoMech (by Herbert Beas II)

Seeker Class Fighter AutoMech, Bit Seeker

Seeker-Class / AeroMech-Class Fighter AutoMech - Mech Mode
-- The wings aren't visible in this picture, but this is pretty close to a bog-standard Seeker.

At first glance, the the 50-ton Seeker-class AutoMech would be the type of AutoMech most familiar to the inhabitants of the Inner Sphere. For those who may read this journal and are more familiar with the Transformers than with BattleMechs, your first assumption would be Seekers are basically expys of Starscream and similar flying Transformers.

While it's fully AI-controlled like all the AutoMechs, Seekers are basically a a variation on the Phoenix Hawk Land-Air-Mech, or LAM, and the Inner Sphere has plent of experience with those. Seekers, like all transforming AutoMechs, are bimodal, lacking an "in-between" mode like the regular Phoenix Hawk LAMs, instead transforming directly from BattleMech mode to Aerospace Fighter mode. That makes taking off and landing tricky to manage.

Like their presumed progenitors, the Seeker class has a ground speed of 54 kph walking, or 86 kph running. It uses some early form of improved jump jets for thrusters, making it capable of 180 meters jumping on the ground in 'Mech form, and in the air has 3G of standard or 4.5G of maximum thrust. Those jets are heavy, though, cutting the available mass for armor and weapons. Most AutoMechs aren't fitted with jump jets, though, so while the Beetle-class AutoMechs might be able to run slightly faster, those jump jets help tremendously with their maneuverability.

Given the mass they devote to movement, standard armament is relatively light, with a single regular medium laser and medium pulse laser in each arm. As a result, Seekers need to get in close in combat, since those medium lasers can't reliably burn through 'Mech armor closer than 270 meters, and the medium pulse lasers are optimized for 180 meters or less. Their armor is similarly light at 7 tons, with surprisingly heavy back armor compared to most 'Mechs, which helps them when running into close-range combat, but hit them hard enough, and you can hurt them.

Evidently, only the DemoCons and their allied subfactions call this class of AutoMech a "Seeker", where they tend to be somewhat common. Spanner tells me that the AutoBoPs and their allies use smaller numbers of similar fighter-class AutoMechs they call "AeroMechs". There can be some variations between individual Seekers or AeroMechs, even within factions; the loadout I've described here is the most common, and was what Fire Seeker, the DemoCon we fought, was kitted out with.

Sounder-Class / VeeMech-Class Wheeled AutoMech[]

-- The TDR-1C Thunderbolt, progenitor of the Sounder-Class Wheeled AutoMech and its variants.

Sounders are an odd duck. Both the DemoCon's Sounder class and the AutoBoP equivalent, the VeeMech, are supposed to be based on the Thunderbolt series of BattleMech, shedding five tons and gaining the ability to transform into a big truck. Both the Sounder class and VeeMech class have the same basic layout and armament: arm-mounted ER large laser, a six-tube short-range missile launcher (SRM-6) on top the right side of the torso, able to target 'Mechs out to 270 meters.

Feeding the SRM launcher is one ton of ammo, enough for 15 reloads, with specialized Cellular Ammunition Storage Equipment (CASE) to give them blow-out panels in the rear torso to keep an ammunition explosion from blowing them the hell up. Star League standard double-capacity heat sinks to keep them cool, and lets them keep up a high rate of fire, with weaponry useful at both long and short ranges.

In 'Mech mode, both the Sounder and the VeeMech can walk at 43 kph or run at 64 kph. In their truck mode, they're a bit faster, cruising at 54 kph and topping out at 86 kph, but combat is evidently awkward in this form, since their weaponry isn't in true turrets. Armor is thicker than the Seeker/AeroMech at 9 tons, but still weaker than their progenitor. Like the Seeker, their rear torso has thicker armor than most human-piloted BattleMechs do, I suspect that AutoMechs sometimes get fixated and lose situational awareness in combat, and don't always notice when someone's gotten behind them until they get shot.

Despite their size, Sounders tend to work well as recon units, packing pretty solid electronics, with a Beagle active probe system to ferret out hidden units, and a Guardian ECM suite to provide electronic warfare capability. They also carry a 3-ton cargo hold in each side of their torso, allowing them to carry small, supplemental recon drones, extra parts and supplies, or other mission-specific equipment. Glyph tells me she managed to shoot down one of the drones following Manx, and it looks like I crushed another one in the Sounder's cargo hold during the battle, based on what we've seen of the wreckage.

So that's pretty much the layout Blast Sounder, the DemoCon we fought, was set up with, but evidently the DemoCons are starting to field a new variation on the Sounder, but I'm given to understand the primary change is moving from using a bunker-like cockpit like the Thunderbolt did to an actual centerline head. Why? Good question: maybe it's easier to access the AI computer for maintenance or retrieval, maybe since AutoMechs tend to aim for center of mass, Sounders were getting hit in the "head" more often before, maybe it just gives their head mounted sensors a better view, or maybe it's some kind of higher ranking Sounder variant. I don't know. Tell you what, though, it'd make my life easier if my head were where I expected it to be, I bet.

VeeMechs, on the other hand, haven't moved their "heads" into an actual head yet, and lose the extra electronics equipment, freeing up another three tons of mass for other specialty equipment. In Spanner's case, that mass went into a salvage arm in the place of his left hand, a specialized set of manipulators and micro-manipulators that he can use to help make delicate repairs on other AutoMechs, while still being capable of lifting heavy equipment. Like the Sounder, he still packs two three-ton cargo holds, but he says that other VeeMechs might instead pack another cargo hold, or a lift hoist or...

"Groundwave-Subclass" - VeeMech Wheeled AutoMech[]

Groundwave (WiS)

Groundwave'-Subclass VeeMech Wheeled AutoMech

-- Add some wheels, swap that missile launcher for an electronics pod, and this is pretty much what I look like

...technically, according to Spanner and Glyph, I fall under the category of being a VeeMech subclass. However, I'm more primitive, in a lot of ways, than your average production-model Sounder-class like Blast Sounder was, or VeeMechs like Spanner. I lack the SRM launcher of the regular Sounder-class or VeeMech class, which freed up four tons of mass, and I also drop one of my three-ton cargo holds, and I also lose a half-ton of mass since I don't have CASE equipment to store ammo in. Like the other VeeMechs, I lack the dedicated active probe and ECM suite.

So where's that 10.5 tons go compared to a regular VeeMech or Sounder?

Most of it's taken up by six tons of specialized communications gear: radios and antennas covering everything from shortwave wavelengths like 160 meters or 80 meters all the way up to centimeter-wave radio for satellite or ground-to-space communications, divided up between the spot where most Sounders or VeeMechs have their right torso cargo bay. Mounted in my back in 'Mech mode are a trio of jump jets, letting me leap up to 90 meters at a time: it's usually easier to walk or run, but it lets me climb some otherwise impassable terrain.

That doesn't leave a lot of space for extra weapons, and where the progenitor Thunderbolt packed a trio of medium lasers in its chest, I have a trio of smaller lasers with a third their range instead, where I need to get within 90 meters to have a real chance of damaging 'Mech armor. My other problem is that my subclass was either an earlier version or one they skimped on, because I've got ten standard-grade single heat sinks to their ten double heat sinks, and my large laser is the older standard-grade, rather than extended range, so I can only hit out to 450 meters against other 'Mechs. However, I wasn't always a VeeMech. before that I was a...

GRF-series Griffin BattleMech[]

GRF-Series Griffin BatteMech
Yep. Used to look more or less like this, evidently, though I don't particularly remember it. Based on the wreckage we found, I didn't have that drum missile launcher, instead appearing to have used the same electronics setup that then got transferred into my current VeeMech-based body. Everything else would've been the same, though, as a standard Griffin: same 55-ton mass, same 86 kph top speed, same pack of jump jets allowing me to leap 150 meters. Griffins generally carry a rifle-style particle projector cannon, or PPC: it's a particle beam weapon that hits a bit harder than the large lasers more common amongst AutoMechs, if not quite as far as an ER large laser, but that have magnetic field interference trying to hit within 90 meters. Griffins were generally mobile fire support platforms, emphasizing long-range fire, and relying on their own fists and feet up close. That doesn't seem so bad to me.

Leader-Class Wheeled AutoMech[]

Grand Titan-Class Assault Mech --Yeah, that's not quite Primus Optimal right there, a prime (heh) example of the Leader-Class

Even running around as a 60-ton semi-humanoid war machine, the Leader class is big and imposing, standing nearly 14 meters tall, and massing 85 tons. Because of their size, and the weight of their transformation gear, they're not as fast as smaller AutoMechs, with a 35 kph walking and 54 kph running speed. The Leader's vehicle mode helps a bit, but even then, Primus in his command truck mode driving flat out is only able to maintain 64 kph, which I can run at, and Glyph can do walking.

Instead, looking at the triad of speed, firepower and armor, Leader-class AutoMechs like Primus Optimal go for the second two. Protected by 14.5 tons of armor, Leaders are tough to damage, and they can hit back, hard. Most carry a massive gauss rifle in their right arm, a large pulse laser in the chest, and generally carrying a massive anti-'Mech hatchet in their left hand for close-combat, though they appear to have a way to mount this to their back when they're not using it.

So, yeah, that's a basic rundown. If you'll excuse me, I've got a satellite to catch.


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