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Scars of Victoria (Cover Art)

Scars of Victoria[]

Chapter 10 - Children of Thunder[]

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Never Forget your Home[]

Fort Lee’s Aerospace Port and Railyard. - Victoria, Capellan Confederation - 10/19/3048

Minoru Kurita and Dereck Hatomuchi were two faces out of hundreds, big and tall, dark and light, a representative cross-section of the Capellan Confederation’s population. Their trolley passed by rail-loads of ergonomic containers leading into and from the mountain like a vast ouroboros beginning and ending at Fort Lee’s Aerospace Port and Railyard.

Trolley Car by Cargo Port

Trolley passing through a Fort Lee Aerospace Port/Railyard

<(“Stand clear of the door.”)>

Their trolley came to a halt at the base of two large mostly open blast doors painted with Shengli Advanced Technologies logo and motto. Everyone disembarked and joined the queue under the watchful eyes of Victoria Home Guard and Shengli Corporate Security within a tunnel voluminous enough to fit an eight lane highway with the rails chiseled into the ferrocrete. Dereck translated the Cantonese quicker than Minoru could, “When you move, fall like a Thunderbolt. Sun-Tzu, if I recall correctly.”
“You are really picking up on the language here Dereck.”
“I did some pre-study,”
Dereck looked over Minoru, “while you were getting jacked. It has come in handy; I’ve had better luck than Ryuun.”
“He should have learned Portuguese.”

Thunderbolt (in Desert)

Thunderbolt Heavy BattleMech

They looked over at one of the railcars cradling a supine TDR-5LS Thunderbolt, while gray camo’ed Corporate Security rode onboard, their submachine guns at the ready.
“Well, that explains the Thunderbolts.”

Firebee (In City Battlefield)

Firebee Light BattleMech

Another railcar contained a pair of the CCAF standard light mech, the Firebee, clearly showing its ancient pedigree but like the Wasp or Panther the ‘Firebug’ was cheap and had survived throughout the Successor Wars. “Not the Firebees however.”
“Doesn’t Sun-Tzu have a whole chapter on the use of fire?”
“It does, in fact. I stand corrected Minoru.”
“I suppose this explains why it is known as the Mountain of Thunder.”
(Author note – Mountain of Thunder in Chinese, ‘Léishān,’ Official BattleTech name – Mount Lee or is it, Lei?)

A towering man with a beard and beret the color of dried blood stood before them, “Glad you accepted my invitation Minoru Oji-san and Dereck-kun.”

Both Dracs cringed at the Highlander’s poor grammar, “You can speak plainly Major McCloud, please just Minoru.”
“If you insist laddie.” He guided them through the Home Guard checkpoint, who searched everyone for recording devices and made certain the rules regarding these were firmly understood. As he continued onward Minoru noticed that Magnus McCloud walked with a slight limp, “When you’re done make sure to put in a good word for me with Riva and Maxine.”
“Did Doctor Allard make your prosthetic, Magnus?”
“I was wondering how long it would take you to notice. Crushed during the Coup.”
“Romano’s Coup against Maximillian?”
“Aye, wish we had done it sooner.” He lowered the leg and tapped it with his knuckles,
“Might have saved some lives.”
“How did you end up on Victoria?”
“The Northwind Highlanders have a history of serving the Confederation whomever is in charge. Although I would never share the field with the Thugee if I had the option. We Highlanders fight hard but with honor, they do not, but Maximillian didn’t deserve it, so I overlooked it once.

I ended up on Victoria because I was medically discharged. That’s how most of us ended up working for Shengli. Being at war for almost thirty years limited the labor pool but there were plenty of medically discharged folk that could still serve the effort. Leeward had its big fancy hospital and was right down the road, makes logical sense.”

After Magnus mentioned it both Minoru and Dereck noticed that many of the Shengli uniformed workers were outfitted with prosthetics and labor-saving devices. Side-lifter cranes and heavy exoskeletons loaded yard-dog trucks and smaller transport who transferred containers, crates, barrels down narrow tunnels returning from the opposite side to load the continuous flow of cargo. “Are we taking one of these trucks down, Magnus?”
“Nah, lads we are going to use the funicular like all pedestrians must, to dangerous down those tunnels for men.”

Dereck scratched his head, “A what?”
“Cable car.”
“Then why didn’t you just say that? We had those in Masamori, remember, Minoru?”
“Yeah, they went right past campus. Wow, it has been so long since I’ve thought of that city.”

The trio joined a mass of workers as the funicular drifted downward into the mountain’s heart.
“You never forget your home. I can still see the misty moors of Northwind, and the fine lasses of its pubs. Ah those were the days, Clyde and I caused so much trouble for the bonnie girls…”

Descending from the Mountains[]

The funicular car slowly descended to a final assembly area where BattleMechs in various states of assembly, from a skeleton with reactor installed to ready units. Many more exoskeletons and other vehicles zoomed below the walkways and small buildings made of repurposed containers suspended by the ceiling where ducts and power cables were firmly and neatly attached.

“…and then me dog Angus ran off into the woods with Blair’s bloomers. Twas a cool, windy day as she had to head on back to the village.”

Minoru and Dereck nodded affirmatively as to not offend their guide as they walked out toward the viewing pavilion/break area, “That was a very long descent.”

“Aye, and there’s more too, this facility can take a Class-P nuke detonated above. Right now we are just in the final assembly area where it all comes together before being transferred topside. Shengli makes many of our own components but there is no way we could do it all in this facility. It only got up to speed the year Tormano came into power, and it’s been slowing down since the AFFS left. Peace dividend and all after so many years of conflict.

We keep most of the staff employed in R&D and fabrication. Most of our new orders are coming from mercenaries, you can’t beat our rates, delivery times, or the customization options we offer. If there is a Thunderbolt variant you desire, it can be made here.”

Dereck looked through the viewfinder onto the factory floor, “Magnus, is that Thunderbolt in the middle a southpaw 9SE?”
Magnus looked through the same viewfinder, “’Tis does appear to be so. Very curious variant, haven’t see many of those since the St Ives Compact merged back into the Confederation, certainly not an off-handed one.”

Minoru did the same, “I don’t hear of many left-dominant Mechwarriors.”
“Sometimes a Merc or
Gladiator will try to surprise a foe with an off-handed variant. You can mirror the controls of a Mech to match your handedness if you’d like, although most designers prefer symmetrical layouts. Although that one is in Lancers colors so it’s probably a SIAMS cadet’s mech. We get some in for their tech rotations each quarter.“

Hunchback (All Systems Nominal Version)

Hunchback Medium 'Mech

Dereck clenched his fist, “I knew it had to be a cadet!”
“What are you talking about Dereck?”
“Ryuun and I got wrecked in our Double Death Match by that exact mech in the same colors. Initials were K. A. I. if I remember correctly.”
“Kai Liao, yep that would be the Chancellor’s nephew, he’s a lefty, and SIAMS cadet. His sister, Cass, is here too, I think I’ve seen her HBK-4SP
Hunchback, with dice painted up on it, walking around Fort Lee. She’s a little young to be taking it out on maneuvers but kids have no choice but to grow up quick in a warzone.

Alright you lads wait here while I get us a car for the tour and call up the boneyard for a demo of our suits. Don’t stray or Security will get ja if the knockers don’t.”

Their guide departed down the swaying stairs toward the factory floor leaving Minoru and Dereck in the corner of the viewing platform. “Knocker?” Dereck lifted his wrist but found it empty of his smart watch, “You know ,Minoru, there are times where I’d actually like Sidney to be here, but it isn’t, and then it shows up when I don’t want it.”

“I disabled it on my first day after it couldn’t pronounce my name.”
“It just needed some coaching, but it only slightly butchers my last name now. I find it cute. Hey aren’t Kai and Cass…”
“Kuan-Yin’s siblings, yes, she didn’t tell me they were on planet though.”
“Does she know?”
“I don’t know, I don’t think we have run into them yet.”
“Its just kind of strange that…”
“Yes,” Minoru recalled Chancellor Tormano’s parting words on Capella as he looked toward the floor at a SIAMS jumpsuit’ed figure at the foot of the Thunderbolt, “I agree.”

Scrapyard near Fort Lee’s Aerospace Port and Railyard. - Victoria, Capellan Confederation - 10/19/3048

“I have never seen so much junk.”

Minoru and Dereck both looked at the piles of accumulated detritus in the immense hewn stone cavern before them. The whine of heavy machinery and hollow clunk of steel falling on stone filled the volume. A large door behind them opened eventually to the exterior. Blinding blue light and red sparks could be seen intermittently from welders and grinders carried by scrappers. “And HTI had one of the largest junkyards in Combine space.”

Magnus loomed over their shoulders, “Before you are all the rejected components from the factory and some leftovers from the SLDF initially excavated by the Feddies. We still pull some stuff out as we expand into deeper levels of the facility, a bit of a treasure hunt although most of it is broken beyond repair.
It’s not nearly as bad as it looks, the space is small, and this is all due to be reprocessed eventually. Had to outsource our scrappers, its dirty, dangerous work, and the pay is shite.
However, it makes for a great exoskeleton training ground and then we can head outside if you’re up for a spirited walk outside. Weather’s a brisk five c.”

Six powered exoskeletons hung from the charging cradles nearby, each showing a full charge on their power packs. Minoru ran his fingers across the scratched steel and actuators of a grit-covered one, “Looks like these need some TLC Magnus.”
“Aye, that ones a GM
HeavyHauler, we can’t get parts for it anymore since the Feddies cut us off.” Magnus slapped one of the other models, an industrial frame with large hydraulic bi-claws for hands and a wire screen protecting the user’s face, “Waytani has better tech support anyway even if the P-five thousand can’t lift as much.”
Dereck leaned over another version which looked like a lizard with salvage arms folded into its ‘back’, “How do you pilot this one?”
“The Ground Hog is piloted on your belly. Blue Shot built it for mining or salvage applications, it’s a maintenance hog and the ergonomics still needs some work, Minoru might be able to fit but big fellas like you and I can’t.
This one over here we call '
The Beast.'”

A hulking machine like a miniature Buster LoaderMech loomed over Magnus. “Ceres Metals Heavy Industrial Exoskeleton, closest to a mech you can get without being in one. Environmentally sealed, mostly used to carry heavy tools for industrial operations. Very stable and precise with its tread-foot movement.”
They stood alongside the machine which stood a head taller than them in its ‘crouched’ ground state, “Looks like Franklin’s Sutak Minoru. I wonder if he got it from the Confederation?” “I don’t know what that is but this model is very popular with spacers. The lower carriage can be replaced by some decent mechanics with thrusters. It’s got a big power supply for all kinds of tools.”
“That’s what our friend Franklin Sakamoto did with his.”
“He has good taste.”

Minoru waved his hand like a balance, “Ehhh…expensive tastes, Hatamouchi?”
“Definitely expensive tastes. He’s a bit old fashioned in our opinion.”
“Nothing wrong with old fashioned tastes. If it were allowed, I’d be wearin’ me kilt.”

The Prince was drawn to the smaller exoskeleton with a gold faceplated ballistic helmet, its body, the myomer actuators, and metal frame encased in some kind of white woven sheath. “This one seems appropriate for our needs Magnus.”
“That’s a hostile environment suit. Not really an exoskeleton, it doesn’t make your stronger, but it can basically support itself.”
“That’s basically what we need it to do at first. We don’t have these in the Combine as far as I know.”
“You didn’t need to fight through an NBC battlefield.”
“And thank the kami for that. What do you think, Dereck?”

His companion peered at the gleaming steel of a powerfully built suit with two large tri-claws with a third waldo arm telescoping over its shoulder with a partially contained Myomer strand tensed inside it. “I think this looks awfully like the machines that tried to kill Isoroku-denka in Masamori.”

Magnus tapped a piece of debris on its wire-screen faceguard, “StarCorps Industries PEX-Two-Alpha aka 'The Gorilla.' It’s a wicked piece of tech, just released this year. We only have a few, just arrived brand new from the St Ives factory with the SIAMS rotation.”

Minoru joined Dereck as they evaluated the design, “No, this is the base platform for those aggressor suits. I am certain of it.”
“We poured over every spec sheet from Hachiman Taro when we made our own.”
“Impossible, Prince Minoru, these were built using Helm Core tech.”

A chill ran down Minoru and Dereck’s spines, “How many…”

StarCorps Industries Interstellar HQ - New Earth, COMSTAR Protectorate - 02/21/3016

“...units did you want to order Primus Tiepolo?”

Primus Julian Tiepolo leaned forward behind tented fingers at the head of the table flanked by the eight regional chiefs of one of the largest industrial conglomerates in the Inner Sphere of which it owned a large minority share.

“All of them.”

The holoscreen behind him showed the top news for the last two months, ‘New Avalon Institute of Science enrolls inaugural class’

“Shall I arrange payment ahead of time?” He lifted a noteputer and leaned back pulling the stylus from behind his ear to look down through his circular glasses, “or upon delivery?”

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