Jarvain had resisted going into addiction treatment – and even to the old-style AA meetings (the House of Roses was willing to be accommodating) at first. He wasn’t raised to be a quitter.
On the other hand, arguments like “I’m not sure that usually applies to giving up a vice” and sarcastic comments like “I know cigarettes are killing me, but my momma didn’t raise no quitter!” “I don’t want to hear none of that bit about nicotine patches!” – and especially “I’ll quit when it kills me!” definitely had a point to them.
It worked pretty well. It might wear thin under stress if he got back out in the Manifold again – but Core was pretty good at psychology. In fact, the more he thought about things, the sillier some of his objections sounded. He still wasn’t sure he wanted to pilot a living Mech that remembered being human though. It was just kind of creepy. The Mirage would make a great wingman, but he’d rather have something more conventional himself.
As for his four Cadets… They were young. On the other hand, they were inhumanly fast, tough, and talented, and could come right back if they were killed. They’d certainly developed a good sense of how to work as a unit. They’d seemed to handle the little dose of actual conflict that they’d gotten without any problem. There really wasn’t any reason not to let them be combat pilots if they wanted to.
Besides they were apparently getting bored as hell with the four-Mech unit drilling that they’d been going through in computer simulations – and the House of Roses thought that leaving any of Kevin’s Thralls sitting around doing nothing was a dreadful waste of their potential.
The Cadets were delighted to find out that they’d be getting some action; they were pretty sure that simulation-drills had done them all they good they were going too.
He DAMNED well wasn’t taking Jaiden though. She was almost four and a half months along now – and that was DEFINITELY far too pregnant to be going to war!
Personally, HE was getting pretty tired of the people who wanted to interview him. He’d consented to a few – but they’d kept wanting to go beyond his adventures, his general reactions, and general questions about the Cadets into stuff that was definitely other people’s business – or which the House would prefer to keep classified.
Now, where to take them for a shakedown mission? The House of Roses really didn’t seem to use many Mech units.
Putting it that way made it pretty obvious. From what he could find out, the Inner Sphere – and his old House – weren’t doing very well. The Clans felt that the current warlord – this “Wrath Pei” fellow – had abandoned all honor by spewing nuclear weapons like SRM’s, and were pressing the attack because they’d discovered that almost EVERYONE seemed to have a pretty good idea of where their homeworlds were and that their technological edge was eroding at a fantastic rate. At least two of the other houses were touting mysterious allies, showing off weird technologies, and trying to claim that they were the inevitable winners. The “Five Worlds alliance” had seized several worlds, and was exploiting them with utter ruthlessness.
Still, nobody seemed to be deploying anything like the Mirage, the redesigned Atlas, the Farslayer, or the Falconstrikes yet. Sending the cadets in with those wouldn’t be much of a test; they’d simply outgun most planetary garrisons or warships on their own.
He’d need some less-upgraded units for them if they were going there. Something that was at least marginally believable.
That was going to take a little planning. Lets see…
Taraq had been piloting the Atlas – mostly a Wellstone framework, fusion power plant, coolant systems, and laser weapons systems. Not flight capable, but optimized for what the Singularites seemed to consider “close combat” – mounting the weapons and armor to dominate battle to the local horizon. His personal talents – as opposed to the generic ones that Kevin seemed to issue to all his recruits (He still couldn’t imagine how the kid did that) – ran towards healing people and repairing things.
Sorith had been piloting the Farslayer – a unit with limited aerospace-capabilities optimized for very long-range combat. Tight-focus lasers and long-range smart missiles with effective ranges in excess of eighty miles. His personal talents ran towards the stuff that Jarvain had decided to consider “Special Tactics” – Conjurations, Illusions, and Evocations.
Pakria had been piloting one of the Falconstrikes. Those were fully aerospace capable, optimized for mobility, scouting, and hit-and-run “midrange” combat (out to 40 miles or so in atmosphere, a damned long ways in space), and her personal talents ran towards management and logistics – as well as a knack for simply “producing” needed items from somewhere or other.
Kaliat had been piloting the other Falconstrike, and her personal talents ran towards tactics and command – which definitely put her in command of this little expedition.
For the Battletech Realm, they’d be wanting ground-based Mechs – and apparently Kevin had left a limited authorization for the Cadets to draw on the resources of some world he controlled. Jarvain opted for an upgraded Mauler for Taraq, a Warhammer for Sorith, a Mad Dog for Kaliat, and a Summoner for Pakria. Upgraded weapons, but nothing too insane (that is to say, hopelessly obsolete by Core standards). That would fit in better – and it would give him a chance to see how the Cadets handled getting a different machine and learning a different style of Mech combat.
He wasn’t sure whether to be annoyed or delighted when it turned out that – after a short adjustment period – they adapted quite quickly. It looked like – for them – the skills they’d been learning were little more than a gloss floating on top of whatever-the-hell-it-was Kevin had done to them. They all felt that the new Mech’s were very slow and unmaneuverable – but that was only to be expected. They’d work fine in universes that didn’t allow that kind of maneuverability, which was a lot of them.
“These are going to be your new homes away from home kids, I’ve trained you about as good as I can do short of actual combat. You’re getting your frist assignment to actually put that training to use and develop your own skills in this kind of life.”
Hm… He’d better be careful about the orders he gave. The kids didn’t mind combat a bit, and (not surprisingly given their abilities), seemed to have very little personal fear. In fact, they tended to prefer captures and soft options – unless they felt that their mission objectives were threatened, in which case all compunction dropped away and efficiency was king. They seemed to feel that they were tools, and that strategy was up to their commander – and that included the “laws of war” and “rules of engagement”. If he called for a massacre, they’d obey without any hesitation.
Still, Kaliat seemed to be up to being given tactical control over this deployment.
He’d be sending them to the Battletech Realms to help out his old house. They were apparently being fairly hard pressed at the moment between Wrath Pei, the Five Worlds, and the Clans. That shouldn’t be insanely lethal, but it would certainly be a good shakedown mission.
He’d have to look into how he could get them inserted into the area. He doubted that Kevin’s budget ran to supplying him with a dropship on short notice.