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merrick

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3024-12-23 Transit to Ur Cruinne

Hiya, Tatty.

Yes, I got your messages - all of them. Sorry for not replying earlier but we were chasing contracts out towards the Rimward edge and even JumpShips are scarce out there. Too much transit and not enough pay - but things are looking up at last. Darius landed us a big one, so we're heading back Coreward for the sweetest contract I've seen in a while.

I've put a little something in a packet with this for the kids. Sorry it's not very imaginative, but there aren't too many gift shops out on the Rim. Thanks for the pics. They grow up so fast - I don't believe Sal is going to big school this year. Tell her well done from me.

When am I coming back? Well that's something of a tickly situation. I know you say Jannie looked up the legal side and there are no warrants out for me, but as far as I'm concerned the Directorate is run by a bunch of backshooters who don't really care too much about "legal". I'd really rather not be a loose end someone decided to tidy up. I don't suppose you could see your way to taking a vacation on one of the independent worlds. Herotitus maybe? It's been too long since I saw you all. Give my best to Jannie anyway and hug the kids for me.

Here's to a good year.

Your blacksheep brother
Aleks

[Notes: This is a new campaign started with Urban Warfare
Settings are Ironman, CT destruction, rare advanced Mechwarriors, 5 salvage/mech, salvaged mechs are stripped,
otherwise standard]
 

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3025-01-01 Ur Cruinne

Hi Tatty,
Happy new Earth-year and I hope yours was better than mine. The big contract I told you about went bad. No-one's hurt and nothing's seriously broken, but that's about all thats OK. It looked such a sweet deal too, just enough oppo to make the clients pay high, not enough to make it a major risk.

It should have been a simple base raid. We try a flank approach but they spot us a long way out and we end up in the open getting hit by the turrets. Then they throw in a couple of Mechs. Dekker ends up slam-dancing with another Spider and the rest of us are trying to get in range to hit the generator without getting backshot or focused on. We take way too many hits cleaning them all up, and we were just lucky the oppo couldn't get their reaction lance there in time or I could have got really nasty.

We take out the reaction lance without any more foul-ups and roll back to the pick-up point thinking that we've earned our pay-off - and then the bleeding grubsnarks decide to try and double-cross us. Only good news was that they had their base set up with the generator in the middle of all the turrets - and we were in the middle of the base when they pulled their stupid stunt, so none of their turrets got a shot. What they had left wasn't worth a fart, so we got away without any more dents. Nothing broken, nothing lost, right?

Except that now Dekker's mad at me because I let him get isolated, Glitch is mad at Behemoth for going after the Mechs and leaving her on her own to take down the turrets, Behemoth is mad at Dekker and me for kill-stealing and Sumire is mad at everyone because, well, Sumire. And of course no payment, no salvage, no nothing and the local government hinting hard that they'd like us to pack up and leave orbit like any time now.

And now Darius needs me to go through the financials. Joy.

Hoping things are less fraught with you,
Aleks
 

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3025-01-02 Ur Cruinne

HI Tatty,

Yes, It's me again, and I wish it was good news. But no such luck. I've just had a really bad suprise and I need to tell someone, even though I feel bad about laying it all on you. No, I'm not sick and I haven't got shot up, but things have gone bad, real bad, and I didn't see it coming.

It's funny how the life choices that really screw you up are the ones you don't realise you're making. After Da, you know I've never trusted banks. When I was freelancing I alsways worked cash in hand, no debts, no obligations, if I couldn't pay upfront I didn't buy. When Mastiff got me into the Guard it was the same. Pay everything off every month, carry no balances and you don't have to worry. When I took over the Marauders, well, I didn't want to handle the money, I didn't trust myself to, so when Darius offered to look after the financial side I said "Thanks" and went on not worrying.

Well. it turns out I should have been worrying. Darius kept it all going, and I left him to do it, but it turns out we've been running on tick-and-hope for years. Yes, just like Da. Now there's nothing but debts, and not enough cash to cover them and the banks are closing in.

We spent a whole cursed shift going through it. We're paying out 70K C-bills a month to these bloodsuckers. I knew that and it didn't seem to bad (I can see your expression from here, but really, it's less than a third of our standard monthly outgoings). But I'd never stopped and worked it out. 70K a month is 840K a year. I couldn't work out exactly what interest rates we're paying - there are umpteen contracts and the rates and rules are different on each one, but they mostly come out between 7 and 10%. Split the difference, call it eight-and-a -half. That means we're in the hole for somewhere around 10 million C-bills. And the resale value on an old Leopard and five beat-up Mechs doesn't come up to that, not even if you add in souls, first-born and domestic pets. Bottom line is that we're out of credit, bleeding cash - and the banks are guessing we'll fold and have started to sell off our notes on the secondary market. To the sort of vultures who live for short-term payoffs, collect with bounty hunters and don't worry about the details of contract law. I swore I'd never end up like Da, but if we can't find a way out soon I'm going to be left trying to smile and tell them it's all right while I hide the red letters.

We need some paying contracts and fast. Darius has managed to line something up on Bellerophon, so we lift direct, but it's small time. We've agreed he'll try and look for any unofficial contracts that may be going. I don't like going behing the Board's back, I don't like the clients and I don't like the risks, but needs must. Anything short of turning pirate, I'm in. Da played by the rules till the end, and it never helped him, so I may as well try something different.

You called me an idiot when I went back to merc work. Well I guess you were right, I was an idiot. But I'm in too deep for playing sensible to get me out so I'm left with the stupid risks. And I've made too many promises it looks like I can't keep. But if there's one thing I will do, I'll make sure none of this lands on you. My muck-up, my problem.

Wish me luck
Aleks
 

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3025-01-12 Bellerophon

Hi Tatty

The banks didn't even wait for us to get to Bellerophon before they tried to put the squeeze on. There was a message waiting with the Jumpship saying they were "restructuring" the contract and telling us not to argue or else. Darius wanted to sweet-talk; I got straight in their faces and told them that their little plan broke half the laws in the sector and I'd have their asses in court if they didn't back off. I didn't know whether they really were breaking the law or if the courts would care, but I guessed they were trying it on and I was right. You can tell Jannie that some of his courtroom stories were worth listening to after all.

And some good news - the contract on Bellerophon was a good one. A beat-up lance of "pirates" with a few small vehicles was making trouble on the north continent, and the local government didn't fell up to handling it. Between the lines, I'm guessing that a unit of the planetary militia went rogue, and the government either wasn't sure if the rest of the militia would shoot at their ex-buddies or couldn't afford to lose any more. Either way, we got two easy contracts, enough cash to keep the sharks away another month and even a bit of salvage.

And now the bad news - the sharks have leant on the Jumpships to limit our movements. No jumps outside the local cluster, which is exactly four dirt-poor worlds with piss-poor prospects. I guess that they want us to default so they can foreclose. All I can say is their collectors had better have a plan B 'cos I'm not going to play their game.

Darius has managed to line us up a contract off the books. The banks can't shut that one down, so maybe it's the break we need, and if not, well, there are still a few more dice to roll. Things can't stay bad forever (do I sound like Da? I'm starting to worry I'm sounding like Da).

Yours in hope,
Aleks
 

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3025-01-19 Transit to Detroit

Hi Tatty,

Just a note to let you know that the off-the-books client didn't have us all disappeared.

In fact, it was ... all rather strange. Our new client calls herself Anna-Marie Centrella and claims to be a big shot from Canopus. She wants us to run security for a salvage op - a big one, a Star League dropship that she's found wrecked on a some iceball moon that's not even on the charts. The first red light is that the the ship has been there so long that there's a base grown up around it, but she's not planning to search it for tech or even strip it for parts. No, our lady's planning to fly out the whole ship and she's lined up some big-shot engineer from the Inner Sphere who she claims can do it.

I'm not so sure. From the pics we've seen, someone else found the ship first, and if Lady Anna-Marie needs a lance of Mechs for security I'm guessing they're still there. So that means clearing them out without shooting any more holes in the ship - and what's she planning to do with an off-the-books DropShip anyway?
And the really weird thing is that Darius say she was looking for us. For me, specifically, by name. I've never met the lady, and I've never worked in the Magistracy, so why me?
Of course, I said yes. I tried to play it cool, but what choice do we have? She's offering more than we've seen in the last six contracts together, and it's not like we have other options. I'll try and string her along and find out as much as I can before we jump. Darius also found a Board contract on Detroit, where the League are having a dust-up with the local government, so we have an excuse to go there first.

Cross your fingers for me.
Aleks

P.S.
Just when I didn't need any more trouble Dekker decides to remodel the ship. Which the banks own more than we do, and when we have to be real careful to stay inside the lines. I told him to cut it out and now of course he's mad at me. So what's new?
Tell me, is dealing with teenagers anything like this?
 
Last edited:

BARBOSA (Aries)

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Nice :)
Just an opinion, if isn´t a bother to do, keep the date and planet at the start of the letters. I think its a cool detail.
 

merrick

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Sorry, missed a line in the cut-and-paste. Fixed now. It's nice to know that someone's reading this.

Anyway, here's the next installment:


3025-02-01 Detroit

HI again, Tatty

Greetings from Detroit, which is a step up from Ui Cruinne and Bellerophon in not being a blasted wasteland, but is still exactly as backward, provincial and tedious as you think. Not the sort of place I really want to spend the rest of my career, so I'm really rather hoping that this new deal comes off.

Laugh if you like, but I've spent half my time in the last jump scanning the newsplats and gossip feeds. It turns out there really is an Ana Marie Centrella, and she really is from the Canopian ruling House. She's rich, she's stylish, she goes to all the right parties - but no-one seems to know what she does. She's never held a military rank or a government position but she hangs out with a lot of people who do. So she could be the Magistryx's private fixer or a spoiled rich girl who wants a new toy. I'm not sure I like either option. Or our "Ana Marie" could be a fake and we're being played by someone big or crazy enough that they don't mind insulting the Centrellas. I'm damn sure I don't like that option.

Business on Detroit, at least, is living up up to expectations. A nice easy contract - smashing up a convoy that was bringing supplies to a bunch of guerillas who have been giving the League a hard time. Kinda funny, really. The escort was a pushover, so the convoy tried to run. Ended up with a bunch of vehicles going hell-for-leather down the highway with Medusa in his Locust going after them full throttle, popping away with the MGs and trying to kick them at a dead run - real morning cartoon stuff. And we mopped them up with nothing broken and scored some nice salvage into the bargain. And Darius has found some more contracts on planet.

Maybe I should just call "Lady Centrella" and tell her no. What do you think?

All Best
Aleks
 

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3025-02-03 Detroit

Hi, Tatty

Looks like our mails crossed. So you finally found a place going on the South Side you could afford? Congratulations for your persistence and I'm sure it'll look great once you've got it fixed up. I'd say be careful with the mortgage, but you'd laugh at me and I'd deserve it. Thanks for the pics and no, I have not forgotten Tam's birthday.

Last time I wrote, I was still trying to make up my mind about Lady Centrella's offer. Well, it got made up. Darius landed us another couple of low-level contracts, one hitting a "guerilla base" for the League, and the other targeting a "pirate lance" for the local government. That's what they said but I can join the dots. I'm damn sure we just worked for both sides in this piss-ante little war in the space of two days. They could have just agreed to swap the lance for the base and they'd have kept their people alive and saved our hire. Except that both of them were paying us not just the square but the cube root of damn all. Sometimes I don't remember what I got into this life for, but it sure wasn't killing people for no money in a back-assward system too poor to be worth a proper war.

So it's roll the dice with Lady Centrella. The good news is that we scraped up enough salvage to give Behemoth's ShadowHawk the refit we've been planning for years, and we've got plenty of downtime with the jump to Alloway and the another to wherever the moon is. By the time we get there, Black Bart will be a force to be reckoned with.

Best of luck on your move,
Aleks
 

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3025-03-02 Alloway

Tatty,

I'm leaving this on time-delay at Alloway, just in case we don't come back. Lady Centrella is insisting on a comms blackout now we know the details of the mission, but that won't matter if it all goes wrong - and it ain't looking good.

First up, what Lady Centrella hadn't been telling us is that the wreck - or at least the base built around it - is HQ and Ops Centre for the biggest pirate gang in the Reach. It's headed by a charming lady calling herself Grim Sybil, who apparently ran with Lady Death in Tortuga before she moved out here, and is just as psycho as her ex-boss. And has been digging herself in on her private moon for years. So much so that the DropShip can't approach and Lady Centrella needs a ground assault to take out the defences. Which is where we come in. Assaulting fixed fortifications, backed by "unknown strength" of mobile units, in vacuum, with no evac. Joy.

And to cap that, they're planning to take us out there through a pirate point. Sumire worked it out just in time, which at least spared us from turning up to the fight with half our Mechs in the shop. So now we're killing time in orbit while Yang gets Black Bart up and running and everyone else sits around sniping at each other. Sumire was just about to walk off rather than go through the pirate point, but I talked her down. Or she talked herself down. She's like the rest of us - nothing to lose and nowhere else to go.

Give the kids a hug and cross your fingers for me.
Love,
Aleks
 

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After 30 years of playing BATTLETECH it's easy to forget your MechWarriors are just ppl.... it's easy to become jaded after blowing up so many mechs.

Its nice to see a human side to the characters in the game.
 

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3025-03-05 Alloway

Hi again, Tatty

I hope that last message didn't scare you too much. I tried to stop it when we got back to Alloway, but it had already gone. I'm fine. We got lucky - well, most of us did. Dekker's in the med-bay for a month - nothing really serious but he took a nasty knock. The op went better than I'd expected. The pirates didn't know jack about land combat and it showed. The outer defences were turrets backed up by vehicles - who acted like they didn't want to fight and barely took a shot as we took the turrets out. If they'd has somewhere to run I reckon they'd have run, but as it was they tried to snipe from cover and we picked them off one by one.

Grim Sybil held back her "elite guard" - one lance of junker light Mechs - until we'd actually broken into the base. If she'd got her head together and had the Mechs and vehicles mob us together while we were still taking out the turrets it would have got very messy, but at close quarters with no back-up they didn't have a chance. Black Bart was everthing we'd hoped and Behemoth was having a ball. Believe it or not, I was actually feeling sorry for the pirates - yeah they were dumbasses for being there and double dumbasses for not surrendering when they saw what they were up against - but I guess in a funny way they were fighting for their home. They had a bunch of greenhouses set up in the courtyard of the base - mostly vegetables but in one of them someone had planted flowers. Behemoth went straight through it. I felt bad about that. And then Grim Sybil showed up in person and I had to stop feeling and start fighting.

She came at us in a heavy Quickdraw, with her most trusted lieutenant backing her up in a ShadowHawk. Dekker thought it would be a good idea to jump in right behind him and hit him in the ass, and he just spun round and caved in the whole side of Dekker's Spider in one punch. There wasn't much cover and no room to dodge - I was standing there and hammering on the lieutenant to try and distract him from Dekker, while Glitch was ducking around sniping Grim Sybil and Behemoth went toe-to-toe in Black Bart.

We got them down in the end, but we had to shoot just about every part off the Quickdraw to do it and she swiss-cheesed Glitch's Vindie pretty badly. And we were the half of the op that went well - Lady Centrella's marines got themselves cut up pretty bad taking the ship and her engineering team lost a lot of people. But it turned out that her hotshot engineer really was as good as she claimed and she actually managed to get the ship to lift. So Lady Centrella is now the proud owner of a semi-flight-capable former pirate HQ and we, well, we sort of have an arrangement to work with her long term. There's something big about to go down, but I can't tell you much about it. You'll see it in the news feeds soon enough.

No more time - more later.
Best,
Aleks
 

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3025-03-08 Alloway

Hi Tatty,

Thanks for your latest - the plans look great I'm a bit worried by something I saw on the newsfeeds - one of Espinoza's frontmen talking about a big renewal project in the City. You really don't want to get in the way of whatever they're planning, and it's not safe to be part of it either. Yeah, I know Espinoza's pretending to play by the rules these days, but "pretending" is the operative word. He's not as stable as he thinks.

Here's the "more" I promised you last time. There's not much to it, because we're still in orbit over Alloway and we may be here some time. The good news is that Lady Centrella paid us well enough that we don't have to worry about cash for a bit. The better news is that she leant on the banks to get our travel restrictions lifted. The best news is that we managed to score a Centurion - a complete. working medium Mech - in salvage. The weapons have been stripped, but I have plans for that Mech. You should have seen how Medusa's eyes lit up when I told him.

The not-so-good news is that we're going nowhere, short-term. Glitch's Vindie is pretty badly shot up, Dekker's Spider is half-wrecked, Medusa's Skitters is half-dismantled for a refit because I didn't think we'd be needing it for Lady Centrella's job and the Centurion is stripped. So we've two working mechs left and that's not enough to take a contact even on Alloway. So some enforced R&R, or at least grunt-work and snarking. Yang is buried in the Mechbay, Darius is stalking the corridors with a pack of cards in his hand and the Mechwarriors are bored and fractious. At least I have time to worry about other things than going broke.

I've put a little something in the package for Tam. Tell him I hope I'll see him soon.

Best of luck with builders and contractors
Aleks
 

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3025-03-20 Transit to Cluff's Stand

Hi Tatty,

Hope you're all well. I'm fine myself, but things are a bit scratchy after our unplanned vacation on Alloway.
It was all going well. Since we weren't moving, Yang was able to shift a bunch of stuff out of the Mechbay which meant we could get the Mechs fixed up faster. Darius lined us up a sweet contract with the local League rep - good pay, decent salvage, not too much oppo - and it was all going swimmingly until right at the end, after we'd dropped off the package, when some dim-bulb mech-monkey in the planetary militia decided to fight instead of running and took Skitters' leg clean off with a lucky hit. So now I have another bust-up Mech to fix and now Medusa and Dekker are both in the Medbay and squabbling like a couple of kids.

Heading coreward to Cluff's Stand looking for some more League contracts now we've a toe in the door. Yang says the Centurion should be ready by the time we hit orbit.

Rushing to drop this off at the Jumpship before we undock.

Best
Aleks


Barbosa, Ganggreenkhan - Glad you like it. I get a bit discouraged when I think it's just me and the webspiders in here.
 

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3025-03-27 Cluff's Stand

Hi again Tatty,

Best wishes from Cluff's Stand. When a man is tired of New Durban, he is tired of ... anarchy and dashed hopes, I guess. At least it's a prosperous anarchy, unlike most of the rockballs out here. But what does it say about a city that the streetgangs have Battlemechs?

Yeah, I'm feeling grouchy. I made the mistake of being optimistic again. You'd think I should have learned. Cluff's Stand was looking great on the screen - lots going on, big slate of contracts, money and salvage right there. I picked what looked like an easy one to test out the Centurion - cleaning out an outlaw lance that was extorting one of the city districts.
Should have known better. I hate fighting in cities - short sightlines, no cover, easy to get caught. The outlaws knew what they were about and had brought UrbanMechs. Bloody little trashcans hit hard and take way to much fire to take down. They pinged Glitch's Vindie early and she didn't pull back quick enough. The LRMs in the Centurion didn't work out as well as I'd hoped and they followed up and just focused on her. Should have punched out but then she wouldn't be Glitch. By the time we'd finished up the outlaws the Vindie was half-wrecked and Glitch was hurt bad. The med-techs say nothing permanent but she's looking at a month of rehab. At least. The payment for the contract barely covers the cost of putting the Mech back together. And now we're down to three fit Mechwarriors and another long repair list.
And a bunch of fat contracts just sitting there. Lady Centrella's money won't last forever.

Sigh. Hope your plans are going better than mine.
Aleks


[I'm on holiday for the next week so no more updates for a bit.]
 

Rymeer

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Apr 24, 2018
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1
Hello there Merrick.

I've got to say, your Letters idea is pretty neat and well done, so far. Keep it up! Playing the Missions and fighting the battles is one thing, but these letters home give a depth to things that you just don't find in a game. I can see that you are playing the Campaign and doing 'side' missions as well. All to the good. More grist for the mill, so to speak.

I am assuming that the reference to Darius and the deck of cards is a reference to the Poker Night random event popping up. If so, there will be more such random events to add to your letters home, and some of them quite humorous.

Like, I can just see Aleks sending a single still frame from the Argo's cameras of the Zero G Pool incident, just to show Tatty that not everything in a Merc unit is always grim and dire. And then there is the 'Spend a night with xxxxx weapon' random events. Which can lead to gaining an improved weapon.

I can just see the entry: "I wasn't so sure that allowing Glitch to play with a spare Medium Laser was worth the damage she might cause, but... She pulled it off, and Glitch proudly showed off an Improved Medium Laser that is a bit harder hitting. Enough so, that I am going to have Yang add it to her Mech, when we can spare the time..."
 

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3025-04-10 Transit to Linhuaiguan

Hi again, Tatty

Sorry I haven't written earlier, but it's been a bad few days. The good news is, no-one's dead. That's about it.

Where to start? There were some good contracts left on Cluff's Stand and we had the cash, so I decided to hire another Mechwarrior to cover our gaps. Griffin "GV" Voyls. You'd like him - easy-going guy, ex-League, ex-spacer, knows his way around the Mechbay. I thought he might be good for the long run if he fitted in well with the team.

We owed the outlaws one, and there was another contract going against the same gang in the same city. We went in with Dekker in the Centurion and the new guy borrowing Skitters. This time, it all went like it should have. The outlaws didn't have any more UrbanMechs and this lot didn't know how to fight in a town. We were able to split them up and take them down, no-one hurt, nothing broke, payment in full and a little payback as well. All good.

In fact it was going so good that I let Darius and the local Magistracy agent talk us into taking a third contract on the same people. Sounded simple - straight-up extraction, an artist of all things, who'd managed to hack off the local hard boys but (surprise) was real popular with the Canopians. They warned me it might be rough, but I reckoned the bad guys couldn't have that much left. Me and my bloody optimism.

They came at us with two full lances, mostly Javelins, and we just couldn't take them down fast enough. Behemoth made the pickup, but a whole lance of them mobbed her as she tried to get out. One of them had a Firestarter and he hit Black Bart with enough flamers that she couldn't risk shooting back or using her jets. The rest of us couldn't fight our way through - we'd got four of them, but that meant four left and they and they were all piling on Black Bart. I didn't think Behemoth would back down to anything, but she commed me that she was hurt, and legged and overheating with the Firestarter in her face. I told her to punch out, I don't know if she heard me.

We found Behemoth half-alive in what was left of her pod. The artist's dead, Black Bart's wrecked and of course we defaulted on the contract. We crawled out of Cluff's Stand with one Mech fit for action and headed for Linhuaiguan to try and recover. Behemoth still hasn't woken up.

Hope things are still OK with you,
Aleks


Hi there, Rymeer. Glad you like the AAR. I'm trying to work the random events as they come up (and there are some fun ones), And I'm trying to work in some character stuff (like Darius's poker-shark ambitions) rather than making it a straight list of mission reports (besides, after 3+ years, Aleks has probably worked out that Tatty isn't interested in blow-by-blow battle descriptions). Trouble is, the campaign's taken a bit of a rough turn at this point...