Kolovraty, Lyran Commonwealth
19 July 3039
Garadun strolled into the Innsbruck Barracks main hangar wearing his cooling suit, his neurohelmet tucked under his arm. It seemed like forever since he'd done this and he was filled with a great sense of excitement. He had a BattleMech again.
Everything had gone pretty much to plan. It had taken two days to get Shearling ready for launch, and then she had lifted off to meet with Distant Memory at the pirate point. The ship jumped to Newton Square where Shearling detached and began the in-system journey, which took just over four standard days. There was some bureaucracy to deal with once they landed, which slowed things down, but Jimmy was able to give the Stinger in question a complete inspection. It was a typical STG-3R model, about ten years old and in relatively good shape. It would need work and customization to bring it up to Fusiliers standards, but there was nothing critically wrong with it. Jimmy haggled with the commander of the Bad Dream mercenary regiment, settled on a price, and then quickly had the BattleMech loaded aboard Shearling for the trip back to Innsbruck. Distant Memory jumped to a new pirate point within the Kolovraty system (they shifted over time) and Shearling began a three-day trip back to the base.
All the Fusiliers had been there of course to watch the unloading. Cera was even more excited than Garadun and gave a cheer when the Stinger walked off the DropShip with Jimmy at the controls. He wasn't a MechWarrior but he had enough skill to handle basic things like walking. Any proper Tech did; it was part of the job. He marched it into Garadun's usual spot and then shut it down.
The overhaul began first thing the following morning.
As a light recon BattleMech, the Stinger only weighed in at 20 tons. It had a top speed of over 90 kph and its jump jets enabled it to leap up to 180 meters. It was armed with an Omicron 3000 medium laser, held in the right hand like a carbine, and there was a LFN Linblad machine gun mounted in each arm to deal with infantry. It was protected by three tons of armour, average for light 'Mechs.
After discussing things with Garadun, Jimmy and his team of astechs went to work. They stripped off all the armour and began overhauling and refurbishing the entire machine from top to bottom. Any part that was damaged, showing wear and tear or simply not up to spec was either repaired or replaced entirely. The machine guns were put into storage and a Diverse Optics Type 10 small laser mounted on the head. The cockpit was refitted with new panels and screens, laid out in accordance with Garadun's wishes. Stingers had notoriously small cockpits, so Jimmy did what he could, which included installing a smaller, more ergonomic command couch that was still comfortable. The weight saved by losing the machine guns and their ammunition was traded for the small laser and additional protection. The Stinger was given 4.5 tons of brand-new armour, the maximum its chassis could handle. Jimmy painted it white with black stripes on the torso, with the name Running Amuck on the head.
Garadun looked up at his new BattleMech with a grin. The Stinger might be light and fragile when compared to his old Hunchback, but it was extremely fast and nimble. And it looked good. Hunchbacks were like bulldogs; you needed a special place in your heart for them because handsome they were not. Stingers, on the other hand, were (at least in his opinion) one of the coolest-looking 'Mechs ever designed.
"She's a beauty, I'll say that," said Cera, coming to his side.
"That she is," he said and made his way up the gantry to the cockpit. He wasn't a big guy so the cockpit wasn't too cramped. Just, well, snug. And thanks to Jimmy there was even a bit of free space. He settled into the command couch and connected his suit to the coolant supply, then put on his neurohelmet and attached the leads. The machine had already been matched to his brainwave patterns. He tapped a button.
"Please identify yourself," said the computer in a sensual female voice.
Garadun smirked. "It's me, beautiful. Garadun Morr."
"Voiceprint pattern match confirmed. What are the words of true love?"
"Miaow miaow miaow," he said with a huge smile.
"Authorisation confirmed. Shall we have some fun?"
With the final code cleared all the controls and holographic displays came to life. He checked his screens and everything was functioning and on-line. He lifted the 'Mech's left hand and gave a thumbs-up, and all the Fusiliers began cheering and whistling and clapping. They moved out of the way and he stepped the 'Mech out of its cradle, turning to face the open doors of the hangar. The last time he'd done this his ride had blown itself to pieces. He glanced at the control panel and saw the auto-eject light was glowing in standby yellow. He took a deep breath and trotted forward. Before he knew it he had cleared the hangar and was jogging across the tarmac.
Damn, this thing was fast! He loved blowing the hell out of his enemies and he was really going to miss that heavy autocannon, but he could definitely get used to this. He increased speed, made a flashy about-face, and ran back toward the hangar at over 60 kph. At twenty meters away he activated his jump jets and Running Amuck was sent rocketing up into the sky, clear over the hangar to land in a run on the opposite side. He kept going, vaulted the perimeter fence, and took off into the countryside.
"Show-off," said Ian, laughing.
"I'm just glad to see him happy," said Sayuki fondly. Glittering on her hand was her new engagement ring. She'd said yes, of course. In fact she'd been waiting months for Ian to ask her. She loved him desperately and couldn't wait to get married.
Cera looked at Alexandra. "Thank you. You've given him his life back."
"It was my pleasure, Cera, believe me. Having him Dispossessed
no, that wasn't right. Not after everything we've been through."
"Will he be given the Strike Lance?" Erik asked warily, knowing that Garadun was, along with the Cera and not counting Alexandra, the seniormost pilot.
"Of course not," Cera replied before Alexandra could. "He's commander of the Battle Lance. Just because he's got a light 'Mech now doesn't change things. Don't worry, Erik, you're not getting demoted. Right, Alexandra?"
"Correct. The Strike Lance is still yours, Erik."
"Thank you, my Lady," he said with obvious relief.
"Well, everyone, make the most of what time we have left here," said Alexandra, looking around at her people. "Our garrison contract runs out in a few weeks and we'll be heading into the Deep Periphery. We're going treasure hunting."
"I hope it pans out, my Lady," said Laura, crossing her arms over her chest. "I like Innsbruck and wouldn't mind staying longer. We've got a great thing here."
"I know, but I paid a lot of money for this lead and I intend to follow it up."
"Besides, we're mercs," Isabelle interjected. "Mercs move around a lot, right? If we don't then we'd just be kinda like House troops."
"Yes, that's a very good point," Cera agreed.
"In any case we leave in August," Alexandra told them. "Until then, have fun."