National Novel Writing Month

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National Novel Writing Month

Post  Brooks on Mon Nov 07, 2011 3:35 pm

The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) competition is on for November. Write a story of 50,000 words by 30NOV. Doesn't have to be edited or proofread, just typed out. Kelly told me about it and I figure why not. Writing a Battletech story.

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Prologue

Post  Brooks on Mon Nov 07, 2011 3:41 pm

August 17th, 3036
Ironden Training Facility, Bearclaw
Clan Homeworlds

Sonia crouched panting in the dry dirt. sweat streamed down her forehead as she glared at her opponent. Although the two of them were surrounded by more than a dozen spectators, the only thing she could see was Erik's form hunched opposite her. Blood trickled from a slice in his forearm, and dripped from the sharp piece of slate she clutched in her right hand. A bruise from the branch he wielded was spreading down her left thigh beneath her pale blue exercise gear.

"Watch the eyes," Hans, their martial arts instructor had always said, "the body can fool you, but the eyes will tell you where they will strike next." Not that the three-meter tall warrior of Elemental stock would need any warning to stop the blows of the seven year old trainees. Sonia latched her pale blue eyes onto Erik's matching pair, just in time to catch them flicker to the left. Flinging her arm up, she caught the blow meant for her ribcage on her forearm instead. Her skin stung from the impact and the rough bark of the branch, but she was too busy deflecting the next swing to notice.

Erik battered her back towards the edge of the circle of fellow trainees, relentlessly hammering her arms and legs with the tree limb. Suddenly, her back foot slipped out from under her as a lip of earth gave way. Glancing backwar, and getting a blow to the knee that left her right leg on fire for her distraction, she saw that Erik had forced her to the edge of the infantry holes on the small arms range. Just last week they had started learning how to fire training lasers from the meter and a half deep holes.

Turning back to the front, she made to strike Erik again, but realized she had lost the rock somewhere along the way. Erik smiled ferally, and leapt towards her, branch ready to strike. All she could do was grab futilely at his head and shoulders and try to twist into a martial arts throw, but she lacked the strength or the skill to accomplish it. Erik's branch smashed into her back as they twisted together in midair, before falling into the pit.

The branch cracked beneath them as the two hit bottom. The impact knocked Sonia breathless. She struggled to disentangle herself from Erik as she recovered. When she shoved him aside, his head lolled awkwardly, and he made no move to retaliate. Shocked, she froze, but he just lay there limp and motionless.

The shadow of a head and pair of shoulders loomed over the rifle pit. Startled, Sonia looked up to find Hans gazing down. His eyes were steely and hard, but he extended a massive hand down to her. Taking his hand in both of hers, for one of her hands could not even close around his wrist, she was lifted bodily out of the hole. Hans set her down then turned back to the hole, kneeling and reaching in again. Sonia watched numbly as he lifted Erik's lifeless body and slung it over his shoulder, before setting off towards the base.

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Chapter One: Trial of Position

Post  Admin on Tue Nov 08, 2011 12:44 am

Clan Homeworlds
Sonia stood at the doors to the ‘Mechbay, and stared up at the machine that would be her coffin.
The Ice Ferret stood more than 7 meters tall. A Battlemech, a fusion-powered walking tank, the machine that the Clans used to make war. As Battlemechs went, the Ice Ferret was a mediocre design. Weighing in at 45 tons, it had decent speed, moderate armament, and decent armor. Although more specialized designs could outperform it in any of these areas, they would be inferior in the other two.
Its versatility meant it was commonly supplied to training units, so that new Mechwarriors could learn to pilot these fearsome machines.
A Mechwarrior, thought Sonia, if I can survive today. Who am I kidding. But I’ve got to try. Steeling her will, she advanced towards the war machine, her stride steady on the concrete floor. Reaching the base of one massive foot, she grasped the first ladder rung, and began ascending towards the head.
As she passed the chest, she paused at a wet patch of paint on the Battlemech’s shoulder. Looking closely, she realized it covered the place where the symbol of Clan Ghost Bear was normally emblazoned. For her Trial, it had been painted over. She would have to earn the right to display the roaring bear’s head and spiral of claws that denoted her Clan. Or die trying.
Reaching the hatch built into the side of the head, Sonia was greeted by a member of the Technician caste. A short woman with massive arms, she hung effortlessly from a ladder rung, and offered Sonia’s neurohelmet in her other hand.
“Did you complete the configuration, Technician?” queried Sonia.
“Yes Ma’am. Primary weapons loadout configured. She’s green across the board.”
Sonia winced at the contraction, but took the neurohelmet and clambered inside without reprimanding the Technician. It wouldn’t matter in an hour or so anyway. Tightening the chin strap, she powered up the Ice Ferret’s computers and allowed the neurohelmet to synchronize with her brainwaves. The combination of the neurohelmet, the computer, and the Battlemech’s gyroscopes, just now spinning to life in its lower torso, allowed Sonia to keep the war machine upright, leaving her arms and legs free to manipulate the design’s weapon systems.
Reaching out a shaking thumb, she pressed the large orange button on the left side of her console, and the fusion reactor at the Ice Ferret’s heart hummed as it began to come on-line.

The Technician, a lower caste member who had failed her own Trial of Position years ago, leapt down the last meter to the concrete floor. Walking away from the awakening ‘Mech, she went down her checklist one last time. Reaching the last unchecked entry, she paused and looked back at the war machine. Sorry miss, but I won’t do that to you. I was in your place once, and I thought the same way, but I was wrong. You are too.
Turning away, she reached out with her pencil and checked off “Disable Auto-Ejection System.” Then she paced out of the bay.


December 25th, 3047,
Garde Ice Fields, Bearclaw
Clan Homeworlds

Sonia stood at the edge of the Circle of Equals in her Ice Ferret, her friend Fannie in a Nova beside her, and watched the Oathmaster intently. He piloted a massive Kodiak, an Assault design fashioned in the very image of their Ghost Bear totem. It perched nimbly atop an ice pillar at the exact center of the Circle of Equals, far better balanced than Sonia was in her own machine, even though it weighed less than half that of the Kodiak. She had known the procedure for years, but the words had to be said anyway, in an ancient ceremony.
“When the signal is given, your Trial of Position will commence. Both of you will advance into the Circle, which extends for one kilometer in every direction from my present location, and face your first opponents. They are active duty warriors, and they will pilot lightweight machines. Each will face off against one of you. To defeat them, you must disable their Battlemech of force them out of the Circle. If either of these things happens to you, than you have been defeated.
“Should you defeat your first opponent, you will face a second in a machine similar to your own, then a third with a superior machine. The number of opponents you defeat will determine your rank in the Ghost Bear Touman. One, and you will be a Mechwarrior.” Maybe, just maybe. “Two, and you will be a Star Commander, responsible for four of your brothers and sisters. Three, and you will be a Star Captain, commanding several Stars in a Binary or Trianry.”
“However, should you fail to defeat even a single opponent before you yourself are defeated, you will be relegated to the lower castes, and must forever renounce your claim to be a Warrior of Clan Ghost Bear.” No, I’d rather die!
“A further warning; should either of you break zellbrigen by attacking each other’s targets, or each other, all six opposition Battlmechs will proceed to engage both of you. This does not necessarily cause your failure, but it is unlikely that either of you will survive in the event of a free for all.”
“For the honor of the Ghost Bear. Seyla.”
“Seyla,” repeated Sonia, and she could hear Fannie and the opposition pilots do the same.
All was silent for three heartbeats, then the Oathmaster lifted off the central spire on pillars of flame, the Kodiak’s jump jets carrying him clear of the circle. Sonia unlocked the Ice Ferret’s knees and strode into the ice field, Fannie already disappearing from sight ahead of her.

Five minutes in, she continued to catch glimpses of Fannie’s engagement, but she had yet to locate her first foe. Fleeting glimpses of a blue-white shape and the occasional radar contact, but the reflective ice and falling snow made an identification impossible.
Offhand, she wondered how Fannie was doing.
Missile alarms blared a split second before her Battlemech rocked forward. Explosions rippled down the Ice Ferret’s left arm, and a pair of ruby beams slashed over her left shoulder. Schematics blinked from green to yellow as she jerked the joysticks around. Pivoting, she saw a Kit Fox darting left.
She centered her crosshairs on its hunchbacked form and squeezed the triggers just as her left leg hit a patch of ice. Tumbling sideways, she watched helplessly as her own missiles flew wide and the other Battlemech rounded an ice spire, passing out of sight.
A sibbie mistake, she mentally berated herself as she regained her footing, keep the terrain in mind. Checking her scans, she winced. Her left arm was still solid, but the right shoulder armor was stripped almost completely away from the fall. Damage assessment complete, she enabled the safeties on her SRMs, I’m not going to waste another salvo on a snapshot, she assured herself.
Setting off into the strengthening snowstorm, she switched her scanners to magnetics, hoping she could find her foe on a battlefield made mostly of frozen water. Sure enough, three hundred meters to her left, a fast moving magnetic source. Bringing her aim about, she sliced a laser beam into the storm.
The contact changed course, angling in toward her. An ice spire towered out of the snow, and she leaned forward over her controls, come on, a little closer. There! A shadow in the storm, but she fired anyway, her laser stabbing out again. A hit!
Her target stumbled, and she sped up to close the distance. The Kit Fox limped through a turn and fired back, but the beams and missiles went wide. I’ve got you now! Sonia slammed her thumbs down on the missile triggers as the targeting reticle burned red with a solid lock.
Nothing happened.
“Stravag!” she cursed, fumbling with the missile safeties as the Kit Fox burned more armor off of her chest, before disappearing back into the snow. Pounding a fist impotently against the viewplate, she accelerated after the magnetic contact. Rage fueled her now, overpowering her fear and trepidation. I will destroy that Battlemech, and earn my place in the Ghost Bear warrior caste! she fumed, Once I have a rank and a Battlemech of her own, I can challenge that warrior to a Trial of Grievance for humiliating me. I can-
Missiles spiraled out of the falling snow, blasting armor to shards on her Battlemech’s chest.
“Aargh!” She triggered one of her Short Ranged Missile launchers in return, swinging her arm in an arc so they spread apart in flight. One exploded, throwing snow and chunks of metal into the air. Swinging her joystick back around, she fired again, stabbing her larger laser out at the same place. No more return fire came.
Edging forward, she could see an outline lying in the snow. The Kit Fox lay facedown in a snow drift, it’s left leg standing upright a dozen meters away. Over the intercom she heard the pilot’s voice, low and deliberate. “I concede defeat, Mechwarrior Sonia.”


Despite the fury of the blizzard outside her cockpit, Sonia paused a moment to wipe sweat from her eyes in the baking heat. Letting her coolant systems work to vent bleedoff from her lasers, she scanned her sensors again. Her second opponent was a Shadow Hawk IIC, an outdated design she shouldn’t have any trouble defeating. But with the damage dealt by the Kit Fox, their machines were evenly matched. Actually, her foes jump jets tipped the scales against her ground bound machine, now that the snow had begun to accumulate and slow her steps.
Sparing a second to wonder how Fannie was doing, she spurred her machine back into action, heading towards a faint magnetic trace. Wading through the meter-deep snow, she entered a maze of ice spires. Movement at the far end of her current path caught her eye, and she traded laser blasts with the other machine.
Breaking into a run, her Ice Ferret closed the distance rapidly, and when the Shadow Hawk next peered around the corner, she met it with a full spread of SRMS. The flight spread across the other Battlemech’s chest, pocking armor and blasting external equipment like sensors and radio antennae. Her rapid approach had obviously startled the other pilot, as it turned away and began to run down this side passage. In hot pursuit, she rounded the corner and loosed her second to last salvo, shredding the Shadow Hawk’s rear armor into ruin but not punching through to deal critical damage.
“It ends now,” she muttered, slapping cut-offs as a return laser beam punched through to graze her reactor shielding. A glance at her schematics showed that the her chest armor was still intact, so the laser must have found a minute flaw. He won’t be able to do that again.
More alarms wailed for attention, but she silenced them and rounded the corner, firing all her weapons and shouting with glee as metal flew from the blossoming explosions. A cloud of smoke filled the icy canyon, and she slowed to a halt as yet more temperature alarms accompanied the wash of heat that swept into her cockpit. Her Battlemech was near an emergency shutdown, but she slapped the override so she could confirm her second kill.
There, something in the smoke. Movement. A foot stretched out. A big foot, far larger than the Shadow Hawk’s. Sonia froze as a 70-ton Summoner loomed from the black pall, bringing its weapons to bear. Beyond it, she saw Fannie’s Nova and the Shadow Hawk both shocked into stillness at the other’s appearance.
It all made sense in an instant. Her previous salvo had crippled the Shadow Hawk’s sensors, and she had been too focused on her pursuit to pay attention to her own screens. When her foe had rounded the corner, he had encountered Fannie’s duel, and jump jetted overhead to avoid a collision. Which meant her last volley had hit-
The Summoner’s weapons lashed out, tearing away the last of her armor and shattering the magnetic bottle contained the Ice Ferret's fusion heart

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