Author Archives: Fishbreath

The Opinionated Bastards: Tukayyid (Jun. 1, 3052)

Tukayyid from the Sidelines

The Opinionated Bastards spend the month of May engaged in the typical activities of warriors removed from the fighting. Some work on maintenance. Others hit the simulators. Still more poke around the small city where the Bastards are ostensibly guarding evacuees from the combat zone, looking for leisure and finding little of it. Drake spends some time with MechTech Endo, learning the ins and outs of his Awesome’s guts. Between the new double heat sinks, the new power conduits and mounting points for the Clan PPCs, and the general rebuild-it-from-scratch thing, it’s a serious project, and is going to be a serious project for some time longer.

News reaches the Bastards both by radio intercepts and by our Free Rasalhague Republic liaison, who is a little more plugged into happenings than we are. The general impression is that things are going well. As mid-May passes, the news turns a bit more sour, but Hanzoku points out that Clan Wolf’s victories are largely symbolic. The Com Guards have already won the balance of the fighting, and that’s enough.

On the 20th, the fighting stops. The distant rumble of heavy weapons fire falls silent. News filters out: the Truce of Tukayyid is now in force. The Clans may not advance past Tukayyid for fifteen years.

With that, our purpose in the remains of the Free Rasalhague Republic is moot. Our liaison informs us that he’ll be paying us the rest of our fee, and that we’re free to stay for a while, but there’s no more combat against the Clans to be had in his government’s employ.

The Bastards stick around through the end of May, at least. Few of the planet’s residents join them; most of the large population centers were ruined during the fighting, and despite its newfound historical importance, Tukayyid is still a backwater. Our mechs keep an eye on the loading process, as DropShips arrive to carry off the portion of the population which doesn’t want to stay.

Kill Board(s)

Last Battle

Nothing much going on this month.

All-Time Leaders

  1. “Rook” Ishikawa (26, 7 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  2. “Drake” Halit (14, 6 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  3. “Woad” Kohler (13, 5 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  4. “Carcer” Ngo (11, 5 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  5. “Wizard” Que (7, 6 mechs, 6 Clan kills)
  6. “Teddy Bear” Jamil (5, 3 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  7. “Double Dog” Dare (5, 2 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  8. “Linebuster” Atkinson (5)
  9. “Severe” Payne (4, 4 mechs)
  10. “Milspec” Ortega (4, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  11. “Ker-Ker” Ec (3, 2 mechs)
  12. “Hanzoku” Yuksel (3, 3 mechs, 2 Clan kill)
  13. “Euchre” Kojic (2, 2 mechs)
  14. “Kicks” Hernandez (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  15. Simona (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  16. “Wojtek” Frajtov (1, 1 mech)

Status

It is now June 1, 3052, and a very different world awaits.

The Bastards are not currently under contract.

Finances

We have 47.259 million C-bills in the bank.

Repairs and Refits

The Awesome is still three months away from combat readiness. Otherwise, we’re in top fighting shape. An Ostroc is on the way for Blinky.

Mechwarrior Claims and Assignments

  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit (Mephansteras) – Awesome Custom (refitting)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson (Hasek10) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa (Culise) – Stalker STK-3F
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare (a1s) – Thunderbolt TDR-5S-T
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega (milspec) – Crab CRB-20
    • Sgt. Tedros “Teddy Bear” Jamil (Knave) – Vulcan VL-5T
    • Cpl. Damayanti “Carcer” Ngo (Dorsidwarf) – Flashman FLS-7K
    • Cpl. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler (A Thing) – Grasshopper GHR-5H
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic (EuchreJack) – Trebuchet TBT-5S
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne (Burnt Pies) – Koshi Custom
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec (Kanil) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Pvt. Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel (Hanzoku) – Guillotine GLT-4L
    • Pvt. Ik-jun “Wojtek” Frajtov (Blaze) – Trebuchet TBT-5N
    • Pvt. Xue-Min “Wizard” Que (Rince Wind) – Guillotine GLT-4P
    • Pvt. Abdul-Hafiz “Pepper” Popalzi (mrkilla22) – Archer ARC-2K
    • Pvt. Kevin “Blinky” Stirzacre (moghopper) – Ostroc OSR-2C (en route)
    • Pvt. Gwenael “Kicks” Hernandez (Sheyra) – Phoenix Hawk PXH-1K
  • The following mechwarriors are available.
    • Rec. Simona – Ryoken/Stormcrow B (missing lasers)

Action Items

The whole of the Inner Sphere is our oyster, as the saying goes.

  • In the short term, we’re in excellent shape. Our war chest is large enough to absorb a long wait while we refit most of our mechs to be more Clan-competitive. Alternately, we could take an easy contract while we’re refitting, taking it a bit more slowly and getting our greener pilots some experience against an easy opponent.
  • As it happens, there’s just such a contract available: ComStar offers us a job fighting rebels right here on Tukayyid. Since some of Tukayyid’s residents aren’t happy about the devastation or the ComStar takeover and the Com Guards are seriously battered after the battle against the Clans, our services command a premium. ComStar would be paying us better than the Free Rasalhague Republic did.
  • Do we take the ComStar contract while refitting, refit without taking a contract, or go looking for more opportunities to get stuck in against the Clans? (Although there was a truce, the Clans are a long way from the truce line across most of the coreward Inner Sphere.)
  • On that note, what do we want to refit? I think it’s probably a good time to get the Stalker done, at a minimum, but most of our heavy mechs would benefit from a double heat sink refit. We’re a pretty energy-heavy company at present.

The Opinionated Bastards: Tukayyid Interlude

Introduction

(If you’re reading at Bay12 as opposed to one of the other places this runs, you can skip ahead to the last two paragraphs of the introduction, which reproduces stuff I’ve posted during the week there.)

Readers familiar with the BattleTech lore will have put May 1, 3052 and Tukayyid together already.

For everyone else, the Battle of Tukayyid is one of the seminal events in the history of the Inner Sphere. ComStar, up until now believed to be merely the people who run the hyperpulse generator interstellar communications network, reveal themselves to be guardians of enormous caches of Star League technology and an army as large as any of the Great Houses of the Inner Sphere. They challenge the Clans to a Trial of Possession, a throwdown for the fate of the known galaxy. Seven miniature battles are set for Tukayyid, seven Clans against seven units of the Com Guards. If ComStar wins, the Clans advance no further than Tukayyid for the next fifteen years. If the Clans win, ComStar forfeits Terra itself. I won’t spoil the ending.

What I will do, since the Opinionated Bastards are on the sidelines for this month, is replicate one of the official Battle of Tukayyid scenarios and play that, with the Bastards replacing the Com Guards for fun.

The scenario is #3 from the BattleTech Tukayyid sourcebook: Battle in the Suburbs. Clan Nova Cat’s forces, battered somewhat by ComStar aerospace fighters while landing, nevertheless marched on the city of Joje in moderate force. In the real timeline, two veteran Com Guard divisions stood ready to meet them. The Nova Cat commander who won the batchall for the attack bid a single Cluster, which matched the Com Guard strength mech for mech, but ignored the Com Guards’ penchant for combined arms tactics. An engagement in the northern suburbs between the 9th Division and the leading elements of the Second Nova Cat Guards saw the Clanners stopped in their tracks. The Nova Cat forces, heavily dependent on ammunition supplies, made no further progress into Joje.

In our hypothetical timeline, it isn’t the Com Guards who meet the Nova Cat forces in Joje, it’s the Opinionated Bastards. In particular, it’s Drake’s Destroyers, Second Lance, and Reserve Lance. Facing off against them are two stars of Clan mechs, one medium, one light. The light star is down one mech, for a total of 9 Clanners. All are elite pilots.

Continue reading

The Opinionated Bastards: Tukayyid (May 1, 3052)

Introduction

001-awesome

Drake looks over the plans for the Awesome’s refit and deems them good. It’s Kepano Endo again who takes on the task. Between reconditioning all the damaged internals, coming up with a way to fit Clan technology in, and changing the engine heat sinks out, it’s going to take…

002-time

Five months. Well, when it’s ready, it’ll be a sight to behold.

The Action of April 10, 3052

There are rumblings amongst the Rasalhague garrison that something big is going to happen soon: a truce, an Inner Sphere counterattack, something.

That’s a long way off, though, and we have more immediate concerns. A Rasalhague officer appears in the Bastards’ command post—a little more makeshift and a little more tumbledown than in the past; moving world to world at this pace is hard—and lets us know that a full Star of Clan mechs has been spotted marching toward the city of Spanac. There’s a Rasalhague force moving to intercept, but they’ll need reinforcements. Second Lance and Bear’s Bruisers drew patrol duty today. Drake redirects them there. It’ll be a race against time.

003-dispositions

Since it’s been a while since these two lances deployed, here are their dispositions. The Ryoken still has a damaged arm, but will have to get by. The Ultra AC/20 is its main punch anyway.

The Opinionated Bastards are arriving a little late to the party. We’ll deploy as we arrive. To get full credit for the mission, we’ll have to keep at least some of the extant Rasalhague forces alive.

Round 1

004-round1

None of our forces arrive until before Round 4.

The Rasalhague forces deploy around the city in the middle of the map, while the Clanners appear all along the northern border. They advance, exchanging LRM and PPC fire to no effect.

Round 2

The Rasalhague forces remain entrenched in the city, while the Clanners close from all angles. The lightest Rasalhague mech, an Ostscout, takes heavy damage and loses a leg.

Round 3

The Clan mechs, rushing into combat and toward glory, slip on the pavement. A Fenris trips, sliding into an approaching Ryoken and nearly tripping. The Rasalhague mechs, whose pilots are largely green, fail to take advantage. The Clanners, however, remain focused on the ailing Ostscout.

Round 4

Severe is the first to arrive on the scene. (The minimap shot up under round 1 has her position highlighted.) Her sensors paint a confused picture. Firing continues in the city. Severe is going to move closer, but attempt to stay out of the way until reinforcements arrive. Teddy Bear‘s Vulcan arrives before Round 5, and Simona in the Ryoken appears before Round 6.

Round 5

005-round5

The Rasalhague Ostscout finally falls. A full company of mechs now battles in the city, although two of the Rasalhague mechs are hanging back. Teddy Bear arrives, and he and Severe link up on the road south of the city.

The heaviest Rasalhague mech, a Thunderbolt, falls. Chatter on the Rasalhague radio net turns panicky; that must have been their commander.

Teddy Bear quickly switches his radio over to the right channel, and calls for the Rasalhague forces to retreat and regroup south of the city, falling back on the Bastards.

Round 6

006-round6

The six remaining Rasalhague mechs are a little slow to respond, and a little out of position to boot. Happily, most of them have jump jets, and the command to turn and run seems to be a pretty welcome one. Milspec in the Crab, plus the ever-dependable Wizard and Hanzoku in their Guillotines, arrive soon. With the Rasalhague forces rallying to us, we may be able to turn this around on the Clanners.

The allied Lancelot appears to be trapped; unable to jump and deployed on the wrong side of the buildings, it’s facing down the enemy Ryoken and Man o’ War. We’ll see if we can extricate it.

We can’t support it with weapons fire yet. Its pilot aims, not for the Fenris shooting at it, but at the building underneath it.

Round 7

The gambit doesn’t work; the building survives. The Lancelot is likely to take a serious beating.

007-lancelot

South of the city, the Bastards and the Rasalhague forces are consolidating. Soon they’ll be in position to make a push.

008-round7

The allied Ostroc actually has a shot on one of the enemy Fenrises, and takes it gleefully. So does the Cicada. Severe joins in, firing the Bastards’ first shots in anger from a Clan mech.

Round 8

Double Dog hits the field. Only Rook remains to join the fray.

We don’t have a lot of LRMs, but we also don’t want to charge around the corner until we can bring more mechs to bear at once. The allied Cicada, perched atop a building but out of sight of most of the enemy mechs, will do some spotting, as will the Lancelot, which is probably doomed this turn.

009-round8

Round 9

The allied Lancelot does indeed eat it, and the Cicada takes a hit from one of the Fenrises which knocks out one of its legs. Fully half of the allied mechs have been either destroyed or rendered combat-ineffective. Happily, we’re now in a position to begin our own attack, swinging around to the left to engage the Clanners.

010-round9

Simona finds himself a good position with the Ryoken, switching his Ultra AC/20 over to burst mode and targeting the rear of the enemy Ryoken. Rook, too, takes her first shot of the day, a low-percentage LRM-10 salvo against the enemy Ryoken. The allied commander, who survived the destruction of his Thunderbolt and managed to eject, is directing fire.

For his trouble, he immediately takes a hit from the Man o’ War’s large pulse laser.

Simona hits with one of his two AC/20 shells, shearing off the enemy Ryoken’s right arm and cutting deep into its right torso armor: a successful sneak attack. He’ll get down from the building now, to avoid taking any return fire.

Round 10

The allied Cicada is still clinging to life, but not for very long. Rook, who took command when she took the field, encourages its pilot to eject. The Rasalhague pilot does so.

At present, our forces are still jockeying for position.

Round 11

The next round sees the Bastards moving into attack range of the enemy. Severe takes a shot at a Fenris caught a bit out of position, joined by Wizard and the Rasalhague medium mech drivers. Simona is itching to bring his AC/20 to bear, but is just out of range behind a building.

011-round11

The Fenris unloads at point-blank range with four medium pulse lasers, knocking the Rasalhague Wolverine over and readying a kick. Severe misses with everything, though Wizard scores with her PPC. The Rasalhague Griffin readies a kick itself.

Though the Wolverine absorbs a kick, the Griffin’s kick knocks the Fenris down.

Round 12

012-round12

A pillar of dust around to the west comes as a surprise to the Bastards on the field. Sensor records later indicate that it was an enemy Fenris, attempting to flank, which skidded into a building.

The Rasalhague Wolverine loses an arm to fire from the Fenris, but beyond that, not much happens.

Severe is on the hunt for the enemy Fenris to the north, while Simona and Milspec aim to put some fire on the enemy Ryoken. Simona, unfortunately, is under fire from the enemy Man o’ War, too. Hopefully he’ll weather it well.

It seems he does: he takes a few hits, and fire from the Ryoken facing him eats into his left leg and strikes the myomers in the shin. Otherwise, his armor holds, and with a devastating AC/20 shot to the chest, he knocks the enemy Ryoken out. We’ll have to see about salvaging it later.

Round 13-14

013-round13

The Clan Wolf Man o’ War moves up, and the battle is well and truly joined. Teddy Bear, Severe, Hanzoku, and Milspec have clear shots at it, while Simona has managed to move just out of its path. He exchanges fire with the flanking Fenris, now back on its feet, instead. Double Dog shoots at the back of the Fenris from up north, hoping to bring it down in concert with the friendly Wolverine.

As might have been expected, Simona loses the Ryoken’s right arm and its attendant medium lasers. Hopefully we can salvage those. The Man o’ War takes a good bit of damage, but Milspec‘s cockpit flashes with alarms: his right torso armor is gone.

Round 15

014-round15

The Man o’ War lays heavy fire on the Koshi, which I stupidly put a little too close to its arc of fire. Severe does what she can to stay on her feet, but bolts shear apart and her mech’s left leg detaches at the hip.

Hanzoku, however, scores a kill on the Fenris hassling Rook, while Simona blows a leg off of the other one.

Round 16

Simona is out of danger now, and Rook is in LRM and large laser range of the Mad Cat perched on a building over to the east. The enemy Man o’ War, though still evidently in good shape, has nearly been cored; its center torso is all but gone.

Wizard scores the kill on the Man o’ War, shooting through its tattered rear armor, and knocking out its engine.

Round 17

015-round17

Milspec is left to deal with the downed Fenris, while the rest of our little force advances on the Mad Cat, the only enemy still in fighting shape. Its pilot jumps down from the building, taking it out of the arc of fire of most of our mechs.

Trading fire with the Ostroc, the Mad Cat neither deals nor takes serious damage. Milspec gets the kill, kicking through the Fenris’ chest.

Round 18

For once, initiative goes our way. The Mad Cat moves first, and we’re able to bring a lot more firepower to bear; six or seven mechs take shots at the Mad Cat. Not many hit, however; we’re shooting from a bad position. Hanzoku and Wizard are going to try to get closer; their mechs are well-armored and have legs fit for kicking.

Simona takes a few hits, and his poorly-repaired Ryoken doesn’t behave quite like he expects. It tips over and falls, and as he recovers his senses, he realizes his left leg is out of action.

Round 19

016-round19

It looks like the end for the Mad Cat, and indeed it turns out to be. Wizard‘s barrage of medium laser fire chews through its engine and brings it down.

Damage, Injuries, Salvage

In the Crab, Milspec took heavy damage, while both Simona in the Ryoken and Severe in the Koshi lost legs. Despite that, injuries are light, and salvage is good. We take the Mad Cat and the Ryoken.

Both end up yielding good salvage. Unfortunately, we don’t manage to pull any intact ER PPCs out of the Mad Cat, but we do secure a Clan 375 XL engine, which we could probably trade for an Inner Sphere assault mech without too much difficulty.

The Ryoken ends up being an even better haul than expected. Its engine survived, too, and now we have a spare for Simona’s Ryoken. We also take an ER Large Laser from the wreckage.

Otherwise, the Mad Cat yields a brace of Streak SRM-6 launchers plus some ammo. We also strip a good deal of Clan Ferro-Fibrous armor off of the two mechs, which is important for our long-term capability to field the Koshi and the Ryoken.

Kill Board(s)

Last Battle

017-killboard

Wizard continues her charge up the leaderboard with another two kills this month. She’s tied for second in mech kills, and has a dominating lead when it comes to bringing down Clanners.

All-Time Leaders

  1. “Rook” Ishikawa (26, 7 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  2. “Drake” Halit (14, 6 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  3. “Woad” Kohler (13, 5 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  4. “Carcer” Ngo (11, 5 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  5. “Wizard” Que (7, 6 mechs, 6 Clan kills)
  6. “Teddy Bear” Jamil (5, 3 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  7. “Double Dog” Dare (5, 2 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  8. “Linebuster” Atkinson (5)
  9. “Severe” Payne (4, 4 mechs)
  10. “Milspec” Ortega (4, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  11. “Ker-Ker” Ec (3, 2 mechs)
  12. “Hanzoku” Yuksel (3, 3 mechs, 2 Clan kill)
  13. “Euchre” Kojic (2, 2 mechs)
  14. Gwenael Hernandez (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  15. Simona (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  16. “Wojtek” Frajtov (1, 1 mech)

Status

As the Bastards scramble, as usual, to repair and refit before the next fight, something strange happens. On April 15th, the Clan Wolf forces raiding Tukayyid pull back to orbit. Soon after, our little backwater is suddenly the center of a tremendous amount of activity. Ships from six other Clans appear in orbit, along with a vast fleet of vessels with the ComStar insignia.

Our Rasalhague liaison bandies about terms like ‘batchall’ and ‘Trial of Possession’, which Hanzoku explains, and other terms like ‘the fate of Terra’ and ‘utter ruin if they lose’, which the rest of the Bastards understand just fine.

ComStar has taken over all defense arrangements against the Clans, and shunted the Rasalhague Republican forces off to provide security for civilians evacuated from the combat zones to come. We’re more than happy to babysit refugee convoys and sit out of the action for a bit. After all, we still get paid.

It is now May 1, 3052.

Contract Status

Our contract has been extended, but there’s a reasonable possibility it might be cut short early, unless ComStar loses.

Finances

We have 42.046 million C-bills on hand.

Repairs and Refits

With the obvious exception of the Awesome, which is still four months away from completion, the Bastards are at full strength. With the Clan heat sinks we salvaged from the Mad Cat and downed Ryoken, we were able to bring Simona’s Ryoken back to a full complement, and we even have five to spare.

As far as negatives go, several of the ER Medium Lasers in our Ryoken’s arm were total losses. At present, it has four instead of the design six, and we have no spares.

Training and Promotions

Teddy Bear acquitted himself well in combat, rapidly taking stock of the state of things when he arrived on the field. By taking command of the Rasalhague mechs, he managed to keep a full lance of them alive in the face of overwhelming Clan firepower. As such, he’s been promoted to Sergeant.

Mechwarrior Claims and Assignments

  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit (Mephansteras) – Awesome Custom (refitting)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson (Hasek10) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa (Culise) – Stalker STK-3F
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare (a1s) – Thunderbolt TDR-5S-T
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega (milspec) – Crab CRB-20
    • Cpl. Damayanti “Carcer” Ngo (Dorsidwarf) – Flashman FLS-7K
    • Cpl. Tedros “Teddy Bear” Jamil (Knave) – Vulcan VL-5T
    • Cpl. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler (A Thing) – Grasshopper GHR-5H
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic (EuchreJack) – Trebuchet TBT-5S
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne (Burnt Pies) – Koshi Custom
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec (Kanil) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Pvt. Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel (Hanzoku) – Guillotine GLT-4L
    • Pvt. Ik-jun “Wojtek” Frajtov (Blaze) – Trebuchet TBT-5N
    • Pvt. Xue-Min “Wizard” Que (Rince Wind) – Guillotine GLT-4P
    • Pvt. Abdul-Hafiz “Pepper” Popalzi – Archer ARC-2K
  • The following mechwarriors are available.
    • Pvt. Gwenael Hernandez – Phoenix Hawk PXH-1K
    • Pvt. Kevin Stirzacre – Wasp WSP-1A
    • Rec. Simona – Ryoken/Stormcrow B (missing lasers)

Action Items

  • Not much to do right now, except sit back and watch the fireworks.

Patreon Launches Today!

Yes, that’s right. Do you like the content you read here at Many Words and the Soapbox? Now you have a way to support it on an ongoing basis, and we’ve even cooked up some extras as a reward for your patronage.

Before we get to those, though, there’s the matter of the implied contract: if you’re to be our patrons, we owe you content. In the parvusimperator era, the Soapbox has been pretty good about that. Many Words hasn’t been. No more! As part of the Patreon launch, I’m aiming for 48 weeks of writing content per year.

Now, about those rewards.

First off, all patrons, no matter the amount, get access to the patron channel at the Many Words Press Discord server. There, you can rub elbows with us, in addition to your fellow patrons. All patrons also get exclusive access to the originally-posted drafts of since-published stories at Many Words Main.

Next up, the $5 tier. In addition to the above, you get access to special patron-only posts at Many Words and the Soapbox (which we’ll also put on the Patreon feed). At the Soapbox, you’ll get Deep Thoughts with Parvusimperator and sometimes Fishbreath: interesting facts which we can’t expand to a proper post. At Many Words, you’ll get a monthly exclusive piece of writing: either a vignette or a bit of setting or backstory I can’t fit into a story. Also, whenever I release an e-book while you’re a patron, you’ll get a free copy. Sign up before June 9th and I’ll send you the two I’ve released already.

Lastly, the $20 tier. You get all of the above, a special thank you on the website, and a podcast mention when you sign up. You also get a free copy of any print books I release while you’re a patron, as well as access to the full Many Words Press e-book catalog. Lastly, if there’s something you’d like us to write about at the Soapbox or talk about on the podcast, well, I can’t guarantee that we’ll actually do so, but we’ll certainly listen. We’re only human. Money talks.

What do we intend to do with your patronage? Good question.

First and foremost, we’ll pay for our web hosting expenses. $20 per month would cover it all—server, domain name, image hosting. (We consider the latter especially important for the Soapbox. A lot of the pictures parvusimperator posts are rare or hard to find, and by mirroring them we can pretty much guarantee they’ll be available for at least as long as we’re doing this.)

Once this has turned from a revenue-sink hobby into a revenue-neutral one, we have a few things in mind. At Many Words, we’ll be able to continue to hire cover designers for e-books and spend a bit on marketing, and hopefully make the fiction arm of Many Words Press self-supporting. At the Soapbox, our plans are a little more up in the air. We’d like to pay parvusimperator at some point, and we also have a few podcast studio items on the shopping list. Otherwise, what we can do depends on what we end up making, and we’ll have that discussion, both internally and with our patrons, when it becomes relevant.

Thanks for reading this far. If you like the sound of joining us as we go forward, click here and take a look at our Patreon.

The Opinionated Bastards: Tukayyid (Mar. 11, 3052)

In the Mech Lab

The Opinionated Bastards reach out to FedCom officials via hyperpulse message, and the deal is made. We can now buy advanced Inner Sphere technology; our mech techs place a large order of double heat sinks on the same day.

Since the Awesome is a large part of our combat strength, we’ll have to hold off on refitting it until we’re between contracts. By February 6th, however, we’re ready to start on Severe‘s new ride, the Koshi. Hanzoku demonstrates to the techs how the omni system works, and all agree the interchangeable pods are pretty nifty.

The problem is, we don’t have very many podded weapons: just a pair of Clan ER Medium Lasers. Those go on, of course, but that leaves quite a bit of space left over. (Since the Koshi is an omnimech, we can’t alter its armor configuration without totally redesigning the chassis.) The techs scratch their heads, then draw up plans to wire in three of the ER Small Lasers from Hanzoku‘s old mech in fixed mounts. They can’t be swapped as easily, but at present, we don’t have enough Clan salvage to make that a problem.

Kepano Endo, one of the company’s original techs, takes a look at the specifications, grunts, and gets his team to work. On February 9th, he announces it’s finished. Severe takes it out for a spin and pronounces it good.

002-endo

And good it is, at least in large part. It moves 7 hexes while walking or 11 while running, and can jump 6 hexes. Its five lasers generate 24 heat, while it sinks 20 per turn. Its alpha strike at ranges up to 6 hexes is a highly respectable 29 damage, dropping to 14 damage at ranges out to 15. (That’s the same range as an Inner Sphere large laser.)

Unfortunately, it’s rather lightly armored. The arms in particular are pretty floppy, with only four points of armor and four points of internal structure. PPCs of any flavor will readily knock them off, as will Clan large lasers, lucky missile hits, and more. As such, the armament is placed in the slightly more durable side torsos. No important equipment is in the arms. This makes it a little harder to target enemies behind the mech, but also makes it less likely we’ll lose Clan equipment. At present, we don’t have enough of it to throw it away.

001-koshi

In the Field

Nox is quiet through most of February. On the 22nd, a panicked Rasalhague intelligence officer lets us know that a large Clan force has jumped into the system. On the 25th, they reach Nox and make landings. By the 27th, the planetary capital has fallen and Clan forces are advancing on our sector. While the Rasalhague crews pack up the DropShips, the Opinionated Bastards are tasked with making a delaying attack on an overextended Clan force.

The Action of February 27, 3052

We’ve had about enough of being outgunned by Clanners, so we deploy Drake’s Destroyers and Second Lance against a short star of Clan heavies and a handful of reinforcing lights. Our Rasalhague ally is driving a Scorpion, a rare quadruped mech, armed with a PPC and an SRM-6 launcher.

The map is a minuscule section of hilly badland with next to no cover. It’s going to be bloody, but we’ve also caught this detachment off guard, so hopefully it’s not terribly bloody on our side. Knock on wood.

Round 1

003-round1

We come over the ridgeline on the west side of the map and find the Clan forces arrayed before us. Only four mechs are in evidence at present, the heavies; we stumbled onto them before we found their screening forces. The latter should arrive shortly.

Although the numbers are heavily in our favor owing to whatever minor losses the Clanners took elsewhere on the planet, intelligence suggests these Clan pilots are more skiled than those we’ve faced previously. We’ll see how that plays out.

In the north, Drake is the target of most of the Clan fire, but gives out a beating too. He hits the enemy Mad Cat in the head; with a Clan PPC, he would have knocked it out instantly. As is, he wounds the Clanner pilot.

Return fire from the Mad Cat and Ryoken, however, knock out his right torso, which dramatically reduces the effectiveness of his armament. His center torso armor falls under the onslaught of the Mad Cat’s LRM-20 launchers. The Awesome is alive, but on shaky ground.

Round 2

The Clanners look at Drake‘s battered Awesome and seem to think it’s crippled enough to ignore for now. They probably aren’t wrong.

004-round2

He calls out for focused fire on the Ryoken, and most of the lance complies. Woad, chasing the Mad Cat further north, decides to shoot at the target directly in front of him.

Woad‘s gamble pays off. His lasers cut into the Mad Cat’s left torso, striking its LRM ammunition and slicing off its left arm.

He attempts to kick the Clanner to add injury to injury, but doesn’t quite connect. Wizard, along with Milspec and our ally in the Scorpion, engage one of the enemy Fenrises and pierce its armor, but can’t quite bring it down.

Round 3

I’m a little concerned for the Awesome, which is attracting fire from the Ryoken and the southern Fenris.

005-round3

Rook in the Stalker has laid down some serious damage, but not quite finished anything off yet. I have high hopes she’ll manage to do so against the Mad Cat.

It’s a close-run thing, but unfortunately, Drake‘s Awesome goes down to center torso destruction. It’ll probably be salvageable, but will take some time and some doing to put back into service. At the very least, it’s down for the remainder of the contract.

As a consolation prize, Rook takes down the Mad Cat. Under heavy fire, both Fenrises fall down. Wizard stomps the southern one, crushing it.

Round 4

The pilot of the enemy Ryoken ejects, for reasons not entirely clear to me. His mech was still in fighting shape, just shut down and fallen over. We may be able to salvage it, too. Although we’re already at our salvage limit, there isn’t going to be a Free Rasalhague Republic to complain for very much longer.

In a curious exercise in futility, the remaining enemy mech on the field, a Fenris, tries to stand up five times, failing the first four attempts. On the fifth try, he manages to stand… directly in front of Double Dog, who’ll compete with Carcer and Woad for the kill. Double Dog gets it.

Round 5

We reset, arranging ourselves to meet the Clan reinforcements. Inner Sphere screening units might have retreated, but Clanners are cut from different cloth. The two lights will attempt to avenge their compatriots.

Round 6

The enemy deploys at the northeast corner and southeast corner of the maps: a Koshi and a Puma, respectively. Perhaps we can score some spare parts for Severe‘s new ride.

The Koshi manages to find a spot where it’s very difficult for the northern force to hit it. In the south, however, the enemy Puma takes a solid thrashing.

006-round6

Round 7

007-round7

This time, the Koshi isn’t so lucky. The Puma, too, is facing down a ton of firepower.

Carcer‘s mech takes a hit to the head, knocking her out, but Woad retaliates by downing the Koshi. Wizard brings down the Puma, knocking out its engine with a shot to the left torso.

Damage, Injuries, Salvage

Salvage is good. Because its pilot ejected after it overheated, the Ryoken is simply sitting on the battlefield, crippled but able to move under its own power. Drake, extricating himself from the Awesome’s cockpit, calls Rook on his handheld radio and has her bring in Hanzoku, who simply starts the Ryoken and marches it off the field.

008-damage

Contrary to reports, the Awesome is down, but not out. The Rasalhague officers, watching reconnaissance reports warily, agree to loan us a few tanks to drag it back to the DropShip. As our techs cut into the shattered center torso, they find enough of the internal structure left there to make a rebuild a possibility, but it’s going to take a long time to get it back into full-on fighting trim. Drake is out a ride for now.

We receive about two and a half million C-Bills in battle loss compensation, most of it for the Awesome. Our Rasalhague liaison is sheepishly apologetic as he authorizes the payment.

Kill Board(s)

Last Battle

009-killboard

After-battle review suggests Rook should be credited with the Ryoken, in addition to the Mad Cat. That breaks her kill drought, and puts her ahead of Drake again in mech kills.

Wizard has another good day, making ace on four Clan mech kills and one vehicle kill. She’s the current leader in Clan kills.

All-Time Leaders

  1. “Rook” Ishikawa (26, 7 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  2. “Drake” Halit (14, 6 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  3. “Woad” Kohler (13, 5 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  4. “Carcer” Ngo (11, 5 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  5. “Wizard” Que (5, 4 mechs, 4 Clan kills)
  6. “Teddy Bear” Jamil (5, 3 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  7. “Double Dog” Dare (5, 2 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  8. “Linebuster” Atkinson (5)
  9. “Severe” Payne (4, 4 mechs)
  10. “Ker-Ker” Ec (3, 2 mechs)
  11. “Milspec” Ortega (3)
  12. “Hanzoku” Yuksel (2, 2 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  13. “Euchre” Kojic (2, 2 mechs)
  14. Gwenael Hernandez (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  15. “Wojtek” Frajtov (1, 1 mech)

Status

The Bastards pack up and burn away from another fallen world. In the command center of the Union dropship we’ve crammed into, Drake asks an officer where we’re headed next.

“A little nowhere world I doubt you’ve heard of,” the officer says. “Tukayyid.”

It is now March 11, 3052. We land on Tukayyid in two days.

Contract Status

Once we land on Tukayyid, the Rasalhague Republic will likely extend our contract by another two weeks to cover the travel time, which will push us into June. I can’t imagine they have much money left, though.

Unit Market

Nothing to report. The only mech available this month is a Blackjack BJ-1.

Finances

We have 31.621 million C-bills in the bank.

Repairs and Refits

As mentioned above, the Koshi is in fighting shape right now. We will have to do a little more work on it, swapping out the Clan anti-missile systems for Inner Sphere versions of the same. We can’t get ammunition for the Clan system, so right now it’s just taking up weight.

Surprisingly, the techs have managed to get the Awesome into something approaching fighting shape. It’s standing on its own two legs, and looks approximately like it did prior to the last battle. The techs have also informed Drake that it’s just in cosmetic good shape right now; it could possibly be rushed into combat, but would be questionably functional.

In the next mech bay over, the newly-salvaged Ryoken looks to be in pretty good shape. That’s a little misleading, though. It’s missing a few at-present-irreplaceable Clan double heat sinks, and its right arm, where most of its ER Medium Lasers are mounted, is in dire shape beneath the armor, barely attached to the chassis. It’ll need to be replaced; when reattaching it, the techs discovered critical damage we won’t be able to repair. To replace it, we’ll have to take all the medium lasers out, as well as the armor, and I don’t want to have to deal with that yet.

Recruitment

One of the Clanners survives, clambering out of the wreckage of the Mad Cat. He’s quickly taken into custody by our pilots. We’re about to cut him loose—the Clanners don’t pay ransom, and keeping a bunch of prisoners on hand isn’t really in the cards—when Hanzoku asks to have a word.

After a conversation of surprising speed and length, Hanzoku explains that the Clanner, Simona, is now a bondsman in Rook‘s service—an indentured servant who must prove himself to possess loyalty, integrity, and combat skill to earn his freedom back.

010-simona

Mechwarrior Claims and Assignments

  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit (Mephansteras) – Awesome AWS-8Q (out of action)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson (Hasek10) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa (Culise) – Stalker STK-3F
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare (a1s) – Thunderbolt TDR-5S-T
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega (milspec) – Crab CRB-20
    • Cpl. Damayanti “Carcer” Ngo (Dorsidwarf) – Flashman FLS-7K
    • Cpl. Tedros “Teddy Bear” Jamil (Knave) – Vulcan VL-5T
    • Cpl. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler (A Thing) – Grasshopper GHR-5H
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic (EuchreJack) – Trebuchet TBT-5S
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne (Burnt Pies) – Koshi Custom
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec (Kanil) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Pvt. Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel (Hanzoku) – Guillotine GLT-4L
    • Pvt. Ik-jun “Wojtek” Frajtov (Blaze) – Trebuchet TBT-5N
    • Pvt. Xue-Min “Wizard” Que (Rince Wind) – Guillotine GLT-4P
    • Pvt. Abdul-Hafiz “Pepper” Popalzi – Archer ARC-2K
  • The following mechwarriors are available.
    • Pvt. Gwenael Hernandez – Phoenix Hawk PXH-1K
    • Pvt. Kevin Stirzacre – Wasp WSP-1A
    • Rec. Simona – Ryoken/Stormcrow B

Action Items

  • We can take advantage of the Awesome’s downtime to refit it now, adding double heat sinks and Clan ER PPCs, or we can rush it back into action so Drake has a ride again.
  • We can refit the Ryoken further, switching to Inner Sphere double heat sinks in OmniPods. Doing so might not actually gain us anything over its present, damaged state—I’ll have to look at its current setup to see if it has the internal space to fit Inner Sphere heat sinks. Or, we can leave it as-is, down two heat sinks. (If we’re going to add Inner Sphere heat sinks, we should probably also take the time to scrap its damaged arm and replace it with a new one.)

Fishbreath Shoots: CZ P-09 .40 S&W USPSA Limited Match Report

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll no doubt remember my project gun from last winter, a CZ P-09 in .40 set up for USPSA Limited. You can read about the process here, or carry on to the next paragraph, where I’ll sum up the changes.

The Changes, Summed Up

The C-Zed, as I’ve been calling it, looks pretty much like a CZ P-09 externally. The only notable change is the Dawson Precision sights, a blacked-out rear unit and a fiber-optic front sight. As I’ve repeatedly complained, they may be Dawson sights, but they sure aren’t Precision. It took half an hour of filing to get the rear sight in, and because Dawson uses the least-stainless steel they can get their hands on, it’s already rusty less than a year in. Hopefully the Rustoleum in the garage will take care of it.

Internally, most of the original parts are gone in favor of Cajun Gun Works gubbins. The upshot is that the trigger, in single-action mode, is crisp, resets quickly, and weighs in at about 2.5 pounds. That’s in the ballpark of tuned 1911 trigger weights, although 1911 triggers are admittedly better in other dimensions. You’ll also note magazine extensions and a magazine well funnel, courtesy CZ Custom. On the belt, the gun rides in a race holster from Cook’s, with a Tek-Lok attachment thing1.

The Match

The match in question was at a local Western Pennsylvania gun club, and featured six stages. The first two were both hoser stages to one degree or another, with a large number of close-in targets, and a focus on leaning around barriers to hit targets otherwise inaccessible. Since I’m a young buck by the standard of the average club-level competitive shooter, the leaning and running plays to my advantage, as does the ability, when presented with a close target, to shove the gun in its direction and pull the trigger twice really fast. The next two were a bit more cerebral, with longer-range targets and some arrays which could be attacked from multiple positions. The last two were classifiers or classifier-like stages: a two-position classifier with six paper targets, and a three-string Virginia count stage with some strong hand only and weak hand only shooting.

Notes from the Range

The CZ’s trigger, as mentioned, is now pretty darned good. I can pull it twice really fast. As such, I set a new personal best for hit factor on the very first stage I shot in Limited2. I set my prior hit factor record of 6.34 on a no-movement burn-it-down classifier stage with the M9. On a move-and-shoot stage with 16 targets3, I ran the CZ to a 6.35. In fact, on three of the six stages, I notched hit factors greater than 5, which corresponds to an average of about one hit to the center of a target per second4. Although I made a mental error on the classifier stage, I was still fast enough to score a C rating, which is always my baseline goal for a new gun or division.

In general, I scored sufficiently well to beat a Production shooter I’m usually neck and neck with. Some of that may have to do with the more generous scoring for major power factor5. We’ll look into that a bit later with the match results.

I did run into one problem, which is most likely a shooter issue more than a gun issue. One-handed shooting is an old nemesis of mine. In this case, it wasn’t that the shooting was hard6, it was that the CZ repeatedly failed to feed, slowing me down and throwing off my place-keeping on the Virginia count7 stage. I suspect I was simply not giving it enough locked wrist and elbow, which I intend to verify at the range, or the next match if I can’t make it out to shoot before then.

Turning now to the belt and holster, I am entirely satisfied. The cheapo Midway belt is entirely up to the task of holding up a loaded CZ and spare magazines. The one downside is that, between the inner and outer belts, it’s quite fat, which reduces the amount of room you get for offsets.

The holster, the competition kydex model from Cook’s, did its job, besides the afore-footnoted out-of-spec offset. (That’s on me, anyway.) The adjustable retention did its job; the gun comes out buttery-smooth, but the holster still grips it enough to keep it from falling out. I’d be interested in a drop-only piece with no offset and maybe a bit of reverse cant, but such a thing does not appear to exist. On the other hand, kydex sheeting is cheap, and a simple drop is going to be pretty straightforward to fabricate. A project for the future, perhaps.

Conclusions

Match Performance

Lastly, let’s talk match results. How did I do, both overall and compared to other comparable shooters with Limited widebody 1911s? Did I perform meaningfully better than I did with my Production gun, accounting for the difference in scoring?

Overall, I placed 52nd of 92 shooters, a middle-of-the-pack finish, which isn’t surprising. I’m very much a middle-of-the-pack shooter. Since last summer was pretty busy, and the last match I shot last year was all classifier stages, we have to go back to May 2017 to find a comparable match: club-level competition, a single classifier, and a number of longer stages. In that match, I was 32nd of 40, scoring 34.37% compared to the match winner. This time, I scored 59.59%. If I hadn’t scored a goose egg on one of the stages, I likely would have come in ahead of a pair of Open shooters in my squad.

How about in my division? Surprisingly, despite blowing a stage altogether, I still managed 14th out of 30 Limited shooters8. I scored 65% of the Limited winner’s points. I’d have to cross-check more closely than I have time to, but I think it’s fair to say that most of the widebody 1911 shooters beat me, which is to be expected. Most of them have been doing this for more than one season. Again, if I had managed some points on my zero stage, I might well have moved up as high as 11th.

Scientific Testing

Now, though, we come to the interesting mathematical part. How good is my gun? How much better is it than my Beretta? Well, we can compare hit factors. My hit factor over the entire match with the CZ was 4.049. My hit factor over the comparable match with the M9 was 2.47. Clearly, the CZ is the winner!

Not so fast. The CZ benefits from major scoring. If we rescore my CZ match with minor scoring, my hit factor drops to 3.6810. In addition to the fascinating result that major power factor is worth about 10% over minor, this suggests that the CZ is definitely better than the Beretta.

Just a minute, though! I’m most likely a much better shooter in April 2018 than I was in May 2017, by dint of focused practice and a number of matches. What we really need is a benchmark. Which we have. We’ll call him L. He also shoots USPSA in western Pennsylvania, and last year, when I was shooting in Production with him, we were neck and neck through several matches. Luckily, L was at the match last weekend, still shooting Production. Presumably, he’s also been improving. So, his full-match hit factor? 3.22.

Worth It?

At this point, I think I’m finally comfortable saying the CZ improves on the Beretta by somewhere between 0.5 and 1.0 points per second, independent of more generous scoring as well as my changing competence. Of course, that figure is mainly of academic interest. “This gun is better, independent of the conditions in which it’s used,” is not a statement with a lot of practical application. The true test was this: with the CZ, am I faster than the people that I should be faster than? The answer is yes. The CZ passes with flying colors. As poor-man’s-Limited guns go, I think you’d have a hard time doing better11.


  1. I bought it with a drop-offset bit between the Tek-Lok thing and the holster, which drops the gun to a questionably legal height—the back of the magazine funnel just barely clears the top of my belt—and offsets it to a flagrantly illegal three or three and a half inches from the inner belt. Oops. Happily, the local match let me off with a warning. 
  2. USPSA scoring is a bit arcane even to the initiated. It goes like this. For each stage, you have a number of points based on where you hit your targets (up to a maximum of 5), and a time. Your hit factor is simply your points divided by your time. (It’s easier to think of it as points per second.) Each stage is worth a certain number of match points. The shooter with the best hit factor on a stage gets the full amount of match points from it. Other shooters get a percentage of the full amount of match points, based on the ratio of their hit factors to the fastest shooter’s. 
  3. All else being equal, a longer stage is harder to score a high hit factor on than a shorter one. In particular, a longer stage requires reloads and movement. 
  4. This is a little misleading, because there’s usually some dead time in moving and reloading. 
  5. Power factor: the weight of the bullet in grains, multiplied by the velocity in feet per second, divided by 1000. Greater than 165 (one way to get there is a 165-grain bullet at 1000 feet per second) is major. Less than that is minor. Minor scores 5 for an A zone hit, 3 for a B/C zone hit, and 1 for a D zone hit. Major scores 5/4/2. 
  6. Well, it was hard, but that wasn’t the issue. 
  7. Virginia count is a scoring mechanism where you’re penalized for extra shots and extra hits. 
  8. Many of whom were shooting minor, however, especially those who didn’t score as well as me. Out of the thirty shooters, four minor shooters scored ahead of me, and only three major shooters scored behind me. Read on, however, to see how big an advantage that actually is. (I don’t know yet. I haven’t written it up.) 
  9. The numbers in the next few paragraphs ignore misses and penalties, because, for a given stage, online-scoring system Practiscore only reports the raw point totals, ignoring misses, no-shoots, and procedurals. As long as I calculate everything the same way, I think the comparison is still valid, even given the different reloading requirements. 
  10. I’m going to ignore reloads here. On any legal USPSA stage, the Production magazine limit doesn’t really matter; you can reload while moving between arrays. 
  11. If parvusimperator ever wants to try a Limited Glock, we might see how wrong I am.