BattleTech Fanon Wiki
Salvaging from Strife (Chapter Cover Art)

Salvaging from Strife
- Chapter 11

Training in IndustrialsMechs[]

Citidal Station
Widow Star System

The IndustrialMech felt different to his Bloody Igor. That was to be expected. Monty had become intimately familiar with his custom Hunchback over the years he had piloted it, while the IndustrialMech was a complete unknown to him. But there was still the heady feel of power and control, the sensation of dozens of tons of metal and myomer obeying his command. After so long pent up on the Citadel, it was a welcome change.

Hunchback (All Systems Nominal Version)

Custom Hunchback BattleMech

"Training Lance, form up on me, Alpha formation," he ordered over the communicator. "Let's try the practice run again."

The IndustrialMech cockpit was nowhere as advanced as his Bloody Igor, let alone one of those advanced Great House models. With his neurohelmet being the most high-quality piece of equipment installed, Monty had to rely on torso-mounted swivel cameras to look to the sides and behind. They were still enough to watch the four other Mechs behind him amble into position.

It was easy to identify the two piloted by the salarian and turian. Their Mechs moved mechanically and steadily, while the human-piloted 'Mechs bobbed and weaved like drunkards, their occupants still unused to the neurohelmet. At this point, Monty wasn't sure which pair would do better. Still, that was what the exercise was for.

Once the five Mechs formed a narrow wedge on the end of the wide corridor, Monty gave the signal. He charged forwards, the training lance following suit to the sides. A few drones flitted ahead of them, holographic bulleyes shining in midair. Monty fired only weak targeting beams from his two lasers at them, leaving his missiles in their firing racks. His Mech stumbled briefly when a mass effect shockwave, generated by a modified freight drone rented from Serpent Utility Mechs, pulsed into the right leg, but recovered almost instantly. He continued plinking away with his energy weapons while traversing the virtual obstacle course, finally reaching the other end of the road.

Turning around, he watched the other Mechs blunder towards him. The alien IndustrialMechs were performing quite differently, the turian quadruped far ahead of the flailing salarian biped. The human pilots were between the other two, less stable than the quadruped but leagues better balanced than the salarian, the benefits of even basic neurohelmet ability. All four still had abysmal accuracy.

"Pointless," he heard the salarian complain, "training of no benefit. VI not improving."

"Your boss ordered this," Monty pointed out, "not me. I'd rather put a human in that pile of junk instead of you. Feel free to drop out at any time."

The salarian chose not to respond. Monty turned his attention to the rest of his trainees. "The four of you are the weakest part of your Mechs," he announced, "the point of this exercise is to change that. So don't blame the software. Form up again. Focus on piloting and keeping your speed up this time. We'll move on to the next portion after this."

The Mechs weren't alone. The crowd of onlookers had shrunken over time, but a sizeable number were still watching them from a safe distance, including C-Sec and media representatives. Officially, the Star Hunters were training the civilian pilots as extras for an upcoming holovid, as cover for their activities and actual contract. There were some wisecrack comments from reporters regarding the decline of the mercenary unit to consultants in IndustrialMechs, but the publicity helped, and staying anonymous was impossible in the tight quarters of the Citadel anyway. Renting such a large area of the cargo levels was probably costing the Serpent Utility Mechs a considerable sum already, but Monty had insisted on room to manoeuvre. All the instruction in the galaxy amounted to nothing if the pilots couldn't move in a battle.

Not that this batch would be anything more than cannon fodder. Matron Helena had insisted her own employees all received some training as part of the contract, and Shephard had acquiesced in return for extra pay.

The salarian piloting the two-legged Newbrute was a lost cause for obvious reasons. The actual salarian BattleMechs Shephard had encountered were all quadrupedal to compensate for the lack of neurohelmets, and designed to support infantry as a support unit, rather than facing other Mechs head-on. A human could fit inside the cockpit though, if Matron Helena could be persuaded to give up her crazy ideas.

The turian might stand a chance if he were actually piloting a proper military BattleMech developed by the Turian Hierarchy, rather than a shoddily armoured Mech topped with an improvised turret. At least it was stable on four legs, but the IndustrialMech was a far cry from the mobile strongholds his species' military favored.

As for the humans, things weren't much better. The actual ex-militia were in another training lance, since they didn't need as much of a hopeless crash course. These two pilots, not Mechwarriors, needed at least one more month to reach an adequate proficiency with their neurohelmets, to say nothing of everything else they needed to quickly grasp.

If Harkin wanted the four rookies dead, they'd perish. At least Matron Helena wasn't taking part. Her asari Mech had already been used by Harkin's friends to send a message.

A ping sounded inside his cockpit, signalling an incoming call. He accepted it without breaking stride, hearing the translated words from Officer Vakarian in his headgear.

"Shephard, Harkin's coming your way with backup. You've got a surprise inspection incoming."

"Thanks, officer. I'll take it from here." Monty calmly replied.

"Just stay away from him. Last thing I need is an incident."

"Relax, Officer Vakarian. I know the drill. Shephard out." Shephard switched channels to his training lance. "Alpha Lance, abort run. That means stop. Practice is over. Follow me single file, back to the Mech hanger. And if you want to keep your job, fingers off the trigger. No shooting today."

He marched his Mech out of the training area, joining other heavy industrial vehicles traversing the tunnels honeycombing the Wards. The trainees followed close behind Shephard, familiar with navigating the civilian traffic and reluctant to be left behind. He kept to the speed limit, unhurried. The C-Sec officer was unlikely to pursue them. But as a precaution, the mercenary began contacting the rest of his comrades.

Troubles with IndustrialMech Maintenance[]

Mech Bay
Citidal Station Widow Star System

"You have nothing to worry about," Tali heard Smithon assure the nervous engineer. "I swear. We stay away from the action, you know? Anyway, you'll be safe, don't you worry."

"But what if they come here?" The human hiccuped, "They wrecked Old Hicks' ride right in front of the cops, and they'll wreck us too and-"

"That's not happening. For starters, we've got friends with big guns right here with us. Those jerks are too scared of the Star Hunters to mess with us."

"And I have a shotgun," Tali felt compelled to add from her part of the gantry.

"See? Nothing to worry about. Now, why don't you get back to installing that missile bin. I can't finish mounting the torso armor till you do. We're already behind schedule as is." Smithon continued coaxing the Serpent Utility engineer until he finally picked up a tool again.

With that mental breakdown solved for now, Tali finally broached a question she'd been having. "Hey, Smithon?" she inquired. "Those specs you gave me… the arm isn't rated for carrying so much armour. Are you sure we're supposed to install a missile launcher and laser as well?"

The engineer didn't spare her a glance, already clambering down the scaffolding to where she had been in the middle of installing a slab of armour plating before she'd been distracted. "It's fine. Just chubby it up."

Tali had been hearing that word frequently in the last few days. The slang 'Chubber' translated remarkably well into Quarian. As she understood it, with the introduction of humanity to the wider galaxy, just about every human with a Mech had grasped the vast potential element zero could provide and sought various means to implement it. Many used the mass reduction from the mass effect to add additional armour and weapons onto the vehicles. With some ending up over twice the mass of the original design, the resulting Mechs were naturally significantly bulkier than the originals, hence the 'Chubber' nickname.

The Chubbers, particularly the more extreme variants, did not perform as well as initial expectations had hoped. They were extremely dependent on their delicate Element Zero systems to carry their increased weight, and should those systems be disabled, the myomers would struggle to move all the additional mass. Battle damage could rapidly immobilize a Chubber, as cascading system failures turned it into a sitting duck. But worst of all for the insatiable humans, the cost of the Element Zero and accompanying mass effect equipment just made them too expensive. As a result, Chubbers mostly fell out of favor, aside from elite specialist units capable of handling the downsides and costs or fools with more Element Zero than sense.

Tali suspected these Serpent Utility Mechs belonged more in the latter category. Upgrading IndustrialMechs so crudely was normally hardly worth the cost, but they needed whatever boost they could manage. Considering their foes were supposed to have done the same already to their own IndustrialMechs, it would merely put them on even footing anyway. That their employer was the one paying for everything and providing element zero from their bank account helped.

The arm Tali was working on had been stripped open to reveal its internal structure. Lacking time or materials for a comprehensive refit, the modifications were simply added on top of what couldn't be easily removed. Now the new mass effect field emitters were properly installed, the quarian turned her attention towards the weapon hardpoints.

She'd start with the laser first. Jury-rigging the power coupling and everything else from what was already inside should be easy. With a quick command, her personal drone levitated the weapon up to her position.

It was a familiar model, one Tali recognized. Jenkins had mounted such a laser on his Locust before she'd removed it for Feros. Given what the Spectre had done, perhaps it wouldn't have mattered how well armed the Mech would have been. Or maybe Jenkins would still be alive. Pointless as it was, she was tempted to query the inventory, to know whether this was that very laser.

Tali awoke from her brief reverie when the hanger doors opened with the sound of warning claxons. The forms of the training lance progressed past her gantry, Commander Shephard's IndustrialMech striding confidently in the lead, followed by a pair of overconfidently swaggering IndustrialMechs and another two stiffly moving IndustrialMechs. At the entrance, two more partially disembowelled IndustrialMechs standing guard relaxed their stances again as the outside was sealed away again.

Smithon knocked on the Mech with loud clanging sounds. "Alright, Tali, let's get back to work," the human engineer proclaimed. "This Mech isn't going to refit itself, you know."

Problem of an arrogent man[]

Citidal Station Widow Star System

"Officer Harkin," the salarian pressed, "if you are unable to handle Mech-associated infractions alone, you can request additional support from C-Sec Command. There is no shame in asking for assistance."

Harkin gritted his teeth, giving a wide toothy smile to the image of the salarian. "That won't be necessary, Sir. Officer Garrus Vakarian is clearly exaggerating. I have everything well under control here."

"If you say so," the other officer sceptically accepted. "In any case, the Commander does insist on the meeting tomorrow, so please show up on time." The hologram vanished, leaving Harkin sitting alone in his Commando.

"Stupid detective," he muttered to himself. "Just have to keep annoying me. Just watch yourself, beakie. One of these days…" He continued the diatribe absentmindedly as he patrolled through the Wards. Every other vehicle gave him right of way, just the way he preferred.

Some people just had no respect for their betters. Harkin was a Mechwarrior, far superior to the scaly freak. That birdface should have known better than to cross him. Frankly, none of the aliens showed him the respect he deserved.

Considering none of them could even pilot a BattleMech, it was obvious the Citadel needed real human Mechwarriors to protect themselves. He'd signed up to the Citadel's BattleMech force as soon as he had the chance, knowing how invaluable his expertise would be. It had seemed an easy long-term job, with free upgrades and high status.

Instead, he had to deal with all the obnoxious and disrespectful aliens who considered themselves his equal. They'd dumped him at the lowest rank, put a pacifistic spineless ComStar robe in charge of their BattleMechs instead and refused to grant Mechwarriors like him the usual privileges. And the aliens expected him to just accept his place. At least some other aliens knew how to treat a Mechwarrior properly. Otherwise, he'd have gone renegade long ago.

A nondescript datapad on his belt buzzed quietly. Annoyed, Harkin pulled it out and activated the interface. "What is it," he growled.

"Master Harkin," his servant's voice grovelled, "the Captain of the Black Talons requests an audience with you."


A small hologram of the Captain appeared in his cockpit. The turian, dressed in one of their ugly business suits, made a poor attempt to genuflect respectfully.

"My good friend, how good to see you again." Harkin greeted her. "Now, why are you in my presence? I am not to be disturbed at this hour."

The hologram bowed briefly again. "Sir Harkin," she beseeched, "I would not have taken up your precious time for anything trivial, but I humbly request your aid."

Oh, the burdens of power. "You test my patience. What is it this time?"

"An upstart merchant has been interfering in our trade, and arrogantly refused to parley with us. We would correct this intrusion ourselves, but he has chosen to hide within the Iridium Quarters and recruit others to aid him. The Black Talons are too weak to challenge the security of the place, but it is well within your means to bring him to justice. As your most faithful ally, I request on behalf of the Black Talons your immediate intercession in our favor."

Well, he couldn't tolerate that. The Black Talons gave him good tribute, and he wasn't about to let some foreigner interfere with them. "Your request has been heard, Captain. Rest assured, madam, that merchant will regret insulting you. Relay the information to my majordomo." Still, he needed to remind the turian who was in charge. This wasn't urgent, and he wasn't at her beck and call. "I will handle this matter when I feel like it. Do not disturb me again." He shut off the call before the Captain could protest.

"Is that most wise, my Master?" His servant asked. The man he had hired to manage his affairs had been listening in from his office. "The Black Talons are powerful."

"Powerful?" Harkin laughed. "They have not a single BattleMech to their name, and only two SecurityMechs. They are weak. Did you not just hear how they begged for my aid? The Black Talons are irrelevant for now. I'll fix their problem once the Serpent Mechs have been dealt with."

"As you say, my lord."

"Shut up and do what I paid you to do." The channel closed with a click.

Harkin pulled up a map of the Ward. The Iridium Quarters were on the border to his territory. He could probably work up some hot pursuit nonsense to the supervising C-Sec officer. He'd sort out the problem later. Right now, there were other matters to attend to. He checked his position again, then proceeded down the prearranged route.

The Presidium Riots, or whatever C-Sec decided was the correct name now, had been a golden opportunity. He'd been restricted in his dealings beforehand to stay under the radar, but Harkin had built up quite a few connections and friendships among those who knew his value. With all the Mechwarriors with ties to the Great House militaries considered of questionable allegiance, he'd been given far more leeway and freedom as a 'trustworthy subordinate' with no dangerous loyalties. The medal he'd received was just the icing on the cake. Harkin had been smart enough to leverage that responsibility into new operations.

Then ComStar got into trouble with the aliens. Between the resignations, reassignments and investigations, the new commander simply didn't have time to bother with him. Harkin had seen the chance to finally gain what he deserved. With the backing of his associates, he was setting himself up as the hidden lord of the Ward, free to exact tribute and demands from his subjects as he wished. Those who resisted would serve as an example to the rest.

"You had your chance, Helena." Harkin whispered under his breath as he got into position. The mercenaries with the Serpent Utility Mechs had hired were an annoyance, but they soon wouldn't matter. With the press of a few buttons, new data appeared on his screens. Monty Shephard was right where his informants had reported, but two of Harkin's lackeys were out of position.

He jabbed a button. "Bonnie, Clyde," he hissed angrily, "What are you doing? I gave you orders!"

A static-filled transmission crackled in reply. "Uh, sorry, boss. We got kind of held up at the intersection. A line of those bug keeper things were blocking it, traffic warden wouldn't let us pass. Thought we'd step on one. We're on our way, don't worry boss."

The two markers moved slowly on his tactical map. "Well hurry up," Harkin demanded. "I want those mercs dealt with."

His Commando was now hidden safely in a culvert. Nobody else was visible on the road outside, courtesy of acquainted officers redirecting possible witnesses away before they could prove an inconvenience. The IndustrialMechs should be able to do their part properly. He'd swoop after enough damage had been done, with no evidence he was involved with the 'accident' and clean the mess up before the turian could prove anything. And just in case, he had contingencies prepared.

After this, he just had to get rid of Vakarian. Then handle the Iridium Quarters problem for the Black Talons after having the meeting with the C-Sec commander. When this was done, he would put the Serpent Utility Mechs under new management. So many tasks to do, so many problems which demanded his attention.

"I need to hire some help." Harkin muttered to himself.

Previous Chapter - Return to Story Index - Next Chapter