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Fighting Uphill (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 3 - Fighting Uphill[]

* Mixed Messaging​​ *[]

20 February 3006
Chesterton V
Federated Suns (Former Capellan Confederation)

"Welcome to Ming's Mech Smithy." greeted the portly man at the front desk. "I'm Ming. What can I do ya for?"

Dealing with merchants was not Natasha's job. She was after all just a lowly lance commander. But after the beating the Dragoons had taken securing this planet, she had become acutely aware of how much of a disadvantage using inferior equipment was even if the Dragoons were much superior pilots and gunners.

Also, it was extremely infuriating to have to wait for your mech to cool down when the enemy could fire their energy weapons as much as they wanted. Hence Natasha's visit to this shot that doubled as a minor battlemech factory and refit facility.

"I require my mech to be upgraded to use double heat sink technology." Natasha told the merchant. This should be Joshua's job, but Joshua was back on New Valencia and Jaime and the rest of the Dragoon leadership were busy with more important business.

"Hmm, that's your Marauder out front?" Ming asked thoughtfully.

"Yes, it is." Natasha answered curtly.

"Looks like a 3R model, right?" At Natasha's nod, he continued. "Quite the beauty that. They don't make mechs like that any more." Surprisingly, he sounded more nostalgic and wistful than contemptuous.

"I was under the impression that the Inner Sphere made better mechs these days." Natasha said dubiously. "And mechs like mine are obsolete."

"I wouldn't call your mech obsolete." Ming disagreed. "The technology on it might not be the most advanced available, but it's all extremely reliable, and the Marauder is a very good design. Sure, no one uses the base 3R variant any more, but that's true of pretty much every mech that's old enough to date back to the Star League unless it just got pulled out of some Star League cache. Customizing old mechs with new tech is what smithies like mine do."

"Ah, so you can swap my Marauder's engine for one that is double heat sink compatible?" Natasha asked hopefully.

"Sure can." Ming confirmed. "Except we don't have any in stock." Natasha's face fell. "Sorry, but Marauders use 300 rated engines, which are very popular, especially the ones that have built in double heat sinking ability. We got some on order, but it'll be a month before they're delivered. Probably longer because the planet just changed hands."

"That will take too long." Natasha said, disappointed.

"I suppose I could order through Comstar." Ming said speculatively. "They tend to have more reliable delivery schedules, but the required 'donations' tend to be well above the market value of their 'miracles from Blake'. You're still looking at two or three weeks before the engine even gets delivered and that doesn't include install time."

"That is still too long." Natasha complained. This visit was turning into a big waste of her time and that annoyed her. "It is likely my unit will be shipped off planet by then."

"However, you don't need a new engine." Ming told her. He went to a nearby shelf, plucked a small box off of it, and tossed it to Natasha. "You just need these and a good supply of double heat sinks."

"What is this?" Natasha asked as she caught the box.

"Coolant plumbing adapter." Ming told her. "For some reason, the Star League didn't design double heat sink connectors and plumbing to be compatible with older heat sink technology. These adapters are designed to fix that problem. Use these and your techs should be able to plug double heat sinks into you mech without changing out the engine at all. Lots of mechs in the Inner Sphere still use older heat sink technology in their engines, mostly because their owners can't afford to change their engines out. So adapters like these allow them to use double heat sinks."

Natasha turned over the box and found the price tag. Using money was still new to her, and Natasha still only had the fuzziest idea of what things cost, but she did know that military equipment tended to be on the expensive side. But Natasha and other Dragoon warriors had visited a great many bars and bought a great many drinks, and the price of this one adapter was comparable to a serving of beer!

"Are these common?" Natasha asked, feeling like a green warrior fresh out of the sibko who had just realized that she didn't know everything there was about fighting.

"Common? Heck, yeah, they're common." Ming said with a laugh. "You can pretty much find these for sale on any planet that's commonly fought over or has a long standing garrison. Heck, even people who use mechs with double heat sinked engines will use these adapters to cram in a non-double heat sink or two into their mechs because they've run out of room for actual double heat sinks. Or sometimes because their local mech parts market is out of doubles."'

"I am so going to lay into Joshua next time I see him." Natasha growled under her breath. Joshua was supposed to be the Dragoons' front line officer for dealing with civilian suppliers like Ming. How had he missed this? The Dragoons had a large supply of Star League designed double heat sinks that they thought they couldn't use because Jaime had decided to leave their more advanced mechs in storage, and that the Dragoons did not have time for engine conversions before this mission.

"If the Dragoons want to start equipping their mechs with double heat sinks, I can spare a crate of adapters." Ming offered. "It's got a hundred and twenty five adapters in it. I'll even give the Dragoons a wholesale discount."

"I will have to talk to my Colonel about that." Natasha told him as she read the specs on the box. "What does 'Quickscell' mean?"

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