Hello, my name is…
1 - Medron - The Family Affair -
2 - Medron - The Thunderbird Affair -
3 - Medron - Wolfenheim Rising -
4 - Medron - Wolfenheim Emergent -
5 - Medron - The Gemini Affair -
6 - Medron - The Family Affair -
7 - Medron - BattleTech - Those of you who know me know that I am stubborn. I am opinionated. I have a very straight definition of good and bad. And when people tell me that I’m wrong when I know I’m right, I have a tendency to say “no, you’re wrong,” and then quote chapter and verse to prove it. And I’m not always tactful when sufficiently annoyed. That has earned me friends in good measure. It has also earned me enemies.
Some of those enemies lie about me. Some twist the truth about me. Some got me removed from my position as a Catalyst Agent.
I largely withdrew from BattleTech after that. I’d been writing and publishing my own Jack of Harts stories for years at that time, and I just dove further down into that. I’m still there, and still writing, and enjoying it. And I would not be playing BattleTech right now at all if one of my best friends had not pulled me back in.
He has spent years dragging me into games at conventions or in his house or anywhere he can. He asks me for my ideas about game rules and anything to do with BattleTech from the meta to the deepest of in character story elements. It was my greatest pleasure, at once of these conventions, to drag him over to an author I knew and introduce them. Because I knew he loved the man’s work. This Saturday, that author called my friend to wish him a happy birthday.
My friend kept me involved in a game that I would have walked away from entirely if left to my own stubborn pride. He is the primary reason I still have any involvement with BattleTech. He is the primary reason I recently began painting miniatures again for the first time in years. And he is the primary reason I recently put a couple hundred bucks into the BattleTech kickstarter.
This last weekend, while enjoying a time of playing BattleTech with friends and soon-to-be friends, I had fun. It wasn’t the first time I had fun doing so, you understand. But it is the first time I did so with people I did not know without wondering which one of those people was ready to stab me in the back at the first opportunity. We were all there to have fun and play some games. So we all had fun, and someone new to the game won it all.
And we all agreed about something. That BattleTech felt good good right now. It felt promising. It felt like it did two decades ago. Like there was a future that would be fun to be part of.
I’ve spent most of my life reading and studying and playing BattleTech. I will never be the fan I once was. The time when I would spend hours and days engrossed in every sourcebook, with a spreadsheet open so I could log the slightest minutia is long gone. That passion for what is undeniably one of the largest invented universes ever put to print was burned out of me by the actions of others. But I can enjoy it again. I can spend time with friends and play it again and can look forward to painting miniatures and putting them on the table again.
And that is why I put some more money into the Kickstarter for wave 2 today. The minis really are good. I want the ones that weren’t ready for wave 1. And, yes. I would even like to have a piece of art made for me in the style of the universe. My friend got that, and it is amazing. So I sprang for a canon character while I was at it. It really is a one-time-opportunity that may never be repeated.
So I’m going to get a piece of fantastic art that my friends and enemies will generally recognize as me if what my friend got is any indication.
That’ll be cool. And that’s enough for me. I like cool.
8 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Space Force transformed itself after the introduction of gravtech. New craft had longer range and flight duration, allowing them to easily and quickly travel anywhere inside a star system without requiring a transport. They could defend entire star systems, and they quickly built three craft to do so. The F-2 Star Fury, more of a refit of their existing F-101 Fury, was the first. The purpose-built A-2 Savage and the B-3 Tornado came next, and those three craft worked well together. Their combined mix of lasers, missiles, and autocannons proved devastating to both space and ground targets, and the dedicated hard points for external heavy weapons made them a threat to any enemy warship as well. The three craft dominated the Texas military around Earth and all of her colonies in the first half of the 23rd century, and were in fact still in service in many reserve units when The War came upon us all.
9 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Space Force introduced a new generation of gravtech combat craft in the middle of the 23rd century. The Super Tornado and Super Savage were billed as simple upgrades of the older Tornados and Savages for the bean counters, but used entirely new technologies and production techniques to make them lighter and far more maneuverable. The F-6 Mustang completed their new triumvirate of space combat dominance with more firepower and maneuverability than any other Terran fighter on Earth and beyond. The Mustang would lose the competition for federal service to the F-7 Hellcat, but Texas partisans always maintained that the Mustang was the superior space fighter. Texas deployed them as their primary combat craft of the Pre-War era, and they served throughout The War with great distinction.
10 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Space Force designed and deployed two new combat craft in the three decades that preceded The War. The A-7 Vigilante was expensive and complicated to build, but its heavy autocannon armament made it a superior ground attack craft. It could also perforate enemy starships, but it did not achieve widespread deployment before The War came. The F-10 Azcarate was built for the Mexican market, and its rugged and cheap design made it the new favorite space fighter in southern Texas and the Mexican States. It also carried autocannons, unusual for a space fighter, though they were light enough that it could maneuver with other fighters. They were surprisingly effective, despite requiring different tactics than those that carried guided missiles, and they were one of the more common space fighters in use when The War came upon us all.
11 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Space Force had been working on a new generation of bomber for years when The War began. Most bombers mounted single-shot anti-ship missiles, or other heavy weapons, on external hard points at the time, but Texas wanted a hypercapable bomber with internal, capital missile launchers. They were experimenting with both the weapons and the hyperdrive when The War forced them to rush what they had into production. The B-17 Valkyries quickly gave the Space Force the one thing it had always lacked. The ability to send their units to other star systems without requiring a Navy transport to get them there. That ability would fundamentally change the function of the Republic of Texas Space Force throughout The War and after War’s End.
12 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Space Force welcomed the F-12 Avenger with open arms. It did hit the “not invented here” problem, but they wanted a hypercapable fighter badly enough that they were willing to hold their noses and license the fighter for their own factories to build. The Avenger was too large to be a true fighter, an issue many noted at the time, so it was mostly used in the attack or bomber roles alongside the B-17 Valkyries that became their closest allies. Mixed Avenger and Valkyrie forces quickly became Texas’ weapon of choice when attacking enemy starships, and they racked up impressive kill numbers when those starships came in range. And since both craft were hypercapable, they could reach out and crush someone at a range far greater than anyone had previously dreamed.
13 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Space Force greatly wished a new series of homegrown hypercapable attack and fighter craft to go along with their Valkyrie bombers. Texas was getting its Texas on when it replaced the older Vigilante’s autocannons with gravitic cannons and renamed it the A-10 Righteous Vigilante. It was a mouthful of a name that was quickly truncated by almost everybody. The absolutely new F-15 Sabre sported a quartet of missile launchers along with a single gravitic cannon so it could handle more mixed missions. Both designs received their baptism of fire in the Hyades Cluster, where mixed hypercapable forces quickly moved through the close systems of the Hyades Core in a serious of feinting and slashing assaults. It is one of the crowning moments of Space Force history that they drove this campaign clear through to War’s End.
14 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Space Force operated the B-17 Valkyrie throughout The War, with successive point updates to cover up deficiencies in the rushed design. They promised an upgraded production version every year as The War continued, but retooling was difficult and the lost production time would have badly affected deployment. So they continued to build the Valkyries until they drove the Shang from the Hyades Cluster. Only then did Texas authorize the construction of the new B-25 Super Valkyrie that included every major update and lesson learned during the Valkyrie’s two decades of front line service. The first of them technically saw service before War’s End, but most military historians consider them a Post War design, as they saw no major combat actions. Very few were built before War’s End, and the factories were shut down afterwards. Those Super Valkyries, and the many Valkyries rebuilt to their standard, became Texas’ primary bomber in the decades of peace that followed.
15 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Space Force designed and deployed the F-23 Super Sabre not long after War’s End. It incorporated all of the lessons Texas had learned during The War into a single fighter that could, theoretically perform any mission assigned to it. The laser and missile arrays could engage in everything from ground attack to space superiority missions, while the single spinal gravitic cannon could penetrate even warship deflection grids when operating in squadron strength. The Super Sabre was the largest fighter in widespread usage, due largely to the small living space hidden behind the cockpit. Texas planned to use it for extended interstellar patrols, and wanted their pilots to arrive rested and ready to fight. The Super Sabre quickly became the dominant multi-role starfighter in Texas service, a position it maintained to good effect with consistent minor and major updates over the decades of peace we saw after War’s End.
16 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Marine Corps has been an odd organization since the beginning of the Republic. Part light infantry. Part mobile infantry. Part naval infantry. Part diplomatic guard. Some are lawmen. Some fight in air and space. All wear powered battle armor. Every Marine is a rifleman. They consider themselves the premiere Texas ground, air, and space combatants. The Space Force and the Army disagree with them. The Navy laughs in capital missiles. But it is undeniable that there is a certain mythos to being a Texas Marine that is larger than life. They have much in common with the Texas Rangers in that. They are relatively few in number compared to the other services, but their deeds are the stuff of legends. And wherever the Texas military goes in any numbers, you can expect at least some Texas Marines to be part of that force. Sometimes they are the entirety of the force.
17 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Marine Corps are not infantry. Ask them. They will be quick to disabuse you of that notion. They are Marines. They are trained to fight in space or on ground. They are trained in High Altitude Low Orbit drops from starships aboard assault shuttles, mechs, tanks, jeeps, cycles, or simply wearing the powered battle armor that is their uniform. When the fleets hold the orbitals, when the Army is planning an invasion, the Marines go in first to secure the landing zone, often in the face of planetary defense grids that do not wish them to come down alive. It is often Marine attack craft or starfighters that dive down with them, smashing the defenses or taking fire for their brothers and sisters. The Marines did this in countless small actions of the various brushfire conflicts out in the colonial regions that no major nation admitted went on. They ramped up during the Hyades Campaign and filled the skies with HALO Marine drops across the cluster.
18 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Marine Corps has two primary components. The ground combat arm, and the ground-support combat arm. Or so those in ground combat would describe them. Those who fly starfighters disagree with that characterization of their arm. Ground pounder Marines come in many flavors. When the President flies, he flies on Marine aerospace craft, which are guarded by Marines. Marines guard the various embassies scattered all over known space. Marines guard every Navy starship in service, and stand ready to jump out of those perfectly good starships when their services are needed on a planetary surface. Many Marines serve on Marine bases in Texas or the various colonies, acting as a fast combat reserve on a system level. It is ironic that the Marines stationed on these fixed bases are the most transient of Marines, as other commands are always seeking to acquire the best and brightest of them for more challenging duties.
19 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Marine Corps’ ground pounder elements typically use a mix of armed cycles and jeeps for short-range transportation. Many transform around the pilot into small mechs to improve combat capabilities. Standard Marine mechs usually deploy for atmospheric insertion in an aerodynamic mode similar to other reentry vehicles. They then transform into mech mode upon arriving at the landing zone, whereupon they help to secure the zone for further deployments. Marine tanks represent the primary offensive and defensive firepower of any Marine battalion, and no major battle is complete without their input. Various close air support craft were always included in Pre-Contact Marine units, but modern gravtech integration changed everything. When every unit can fly at need, which ones hug the ground and which ones fly overhead to rain destruction down on the enemy can become blurred.
20 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Marine Corps’ aerospace elements used a mixture of various small short-ranged spacecraft in the past. They flew bombers, fighters, attack craft, and even armed transports in their missions, but none of them could move between planets. Gravtech and the immense increase in range its full implementation provided made them truly interplanetary craft, but the Marine’s twin aerospace missions remained the same. Support the ground pounders in short-term combat missions flying over targets, and protect Navy starships from enemies that meant them harm. The War brought a new range of hypercapable small craft, and the Cowboys adopted the first prototypes of the F-12 Avenger. It quickly proved that they could move independently of large of Navy warships and engage the enemy at far greater ranges than any previous mission had envisioned. That would change everything for the Marine Corps.
21 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Marine Corps began acquiring hypercapable small craft immediately after The War began. The F-12 Avenger was the first, followed quickly by the B-17 Valkyrie, and later by the A-10 Righteous Vigilante. They also forced through a rapid program to upgrade their older Savages and Vigilantes with Peloran-supplied hyperdrives. The new small craft lacked the range to be true interstellar craft, but the Hyades Campaign was a different matter. The stars of the Hyades Cluster core were far closer to each other than in the outside galaxy, allowing the Marines to send entire wings out ahead of the Alliance fleets on lightning campaigns to harass enemy bases and fleets. They sowed chaos and scattered confusion in their wakes, leaving star after star easy targets once the fleets arrived. The Marines embraced their new role as independent movers and shakers in the years and decades to follow.
22 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Marine Corps’ military campaign in the Hyades Cluster was unlike any seen since we left Earth. They embraced the old slogan “improvise, adapt, and overcome” and came out with many new and old tactics to throw at the enemy. Hard points had been a staple a century before, often used to carry heavy missiles that could threaten warships into battle. A century of miniaturization had allowed fighters to carry far more powerful weapons with greater endurance on internal mounts, to the point that most new designs did not even incorporate the old hard points anymore. But enterprising individuals had designed powerful sensors, jammers, point defense mounts, and many other systems for hard points over the years. The Marines wanted access to those systems and fitted hard points onto all of their frontline designs for the Hyades Campaign. It is impossible to overestimate how much that flexibility affected Marine tactics in the years and decades to follow.
23 - Medron - Merry Christmas - Merry Christmas from Mars.
To all our friends in Northern Minnesota, we hope to see you again soon.
Sarah, Ruth, and Mary Carter.
24 - Medron - Merry Christmas - Santa would like to wish a very, Merry Christmas to all the good little boys and girls out there. And to make sure that message gets delivered, he’ll even send people out dressed like him to attend parties all over Earth and beyond.
Here is young Jack, as an aspiring Santa, in the middle of a good night’s work with the elves spreading Christmas cheer and musical numbers. This photo was taken during “Santa Baby,” a rousing number that kids of all ages enjoyed.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
25 - Medron - Merry Christmas - Merry Christmas to all my friends on Earth and beyond.
I’m a science fiction writer. I can hope that people out there like me too.
Now allow me to wax a bit poetic. Christmas is not simply a time for us to get together and enjoy meals with friends and family. It’s not simply a time for us to help Santa bring gifts to all the good boys and girls out there. It is those and more.
It is a time for us to remember that God loved us enough to send his Son to Earth to minister to us in person. It was the greatest gift He could give us.
So in remembrance of that gift, I say to all of you,
26 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Marine Corps passed on the F-15 Sabre early on as the Hyades Campaign heated up. The new F-12 Avengers and A-10 Righteous Vigilantes did what they needed, and famous units like the Cowboys made them household names. The Sabre’s manufacturers wanted a piece of that action, and so they went through the work of adding a pair of external hard points to the fighter before initiating the second production run. The Marines accepted that version of the fighter, and soon deployed Sabres next to their Avengers and Vigilantes. It performed well, and the citizens of Texas quickly received footage of it excelling in battle. That increased demand in both the public and military sectors, and the Marines continued buying the Sabre throughout The War. It was the most numerous single craft in the Texas Marine Corps by Wars’ End, and would continue to serve in the years that followed.
27 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Marine Corps had a great deal of experience with the F-15 Sabre by Wars’ End, and greatly wished to continue using it in the years and decades to follow. They required some modifications to the design before acquiring it in large numbers, though. The B-17 Valkyries and F-12 Avengers were large enough for small living quarters or armories behind the cockpits, which made them excellent for long-range deployments, but the Sabre was too small for anything but a minor gesture in that direction. The Marines had made due with the small space they had been able to excavate, but would not continue to buy more Sabres after Wars’ End if the issue was not addressed in future construction. The manufacturer responded with a plan to rebuild all existing F-15 Sabres in Marine service, and to incorporate a decade’s worth of advances into new production. Thus the F-23 Super Sabre was born.
28 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Marine Corps accepted the first new-build F-23 Super Sabre nearly a decade after Wars’ End. The manufacturer spent that time negotiating all of the design changes required to meet the demands of all the services that would purchase them in a Post-War environment. The Marines had been refitting their older Sabres to the new standard for years, though. Expanded fuel tanks, small living quarters with an integrated armory behind the cockpit, and more numerous laser arrays made them far more capable of extended deployments than older fighters. They were even capable of true interstellar travel on their own. This made the Super Sabre the preferred Marine starfighter of the Post-War era, and the Marines slowly retired almost all other craft in their service. Wherever the Texas Marines patrolled, it was almost always their capable Super Sabres that would deliver them rested and ready for any fight, on ground or in space.
29 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Army has been the primary defender of the republic since the republic reasserted itself. If you doubt that, you need simply ask them and they will happily inform you. Texas Army troops and tanks stood against the might of the United States military during what they still like to call the Second Civil War, shattered the Mexican Drug Cartels, helped to halt the Chinese advance in Indonesia, and participated in the final assault against the Singapore Collective. The Army defended Texas colonies on Luna, Mars, Venus, the outer planets, and interstellar colonies over the following centuries. They defended numerous United States and Western Alliance colonies before The War, and Texas Army troops, tanks, and attack craft led the invasion of many worlds during the Hyades Campaign. The Texas Army has been the single largest national army in the Western Alliance since it was founded, and they have always been a common sight throughout Alliance space.
30 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Army was started in Fort Hood, which was the home of the armored cavalry in those days. Tank country. They had infantry, jeeps, helicopters, and even mechs, but it was the tanks that they swore by. It was the tanks that earned them spurs and a cowboy hat. It was the tanks that killed anything that moved, it was the tanks that won wars, and it was the tanks that received all of the glory. And Texas was all about making certain all of that stuck when it came time to deal death to their enemies. The Republic of Texas armored cavalry regiments are still the bar that all other tank commands are measured against. In training, organization, and numbers, they simply outmatch the competition. Texas tanks truly believe they are the best of the best of the best. They live up to that belief enough that others respect them, even as they dislike the arrogance that can accompany it.
31 - Charles - The Republic of Texas - The Republic of Texas Army mechanized cavalry regiments have been a bit of an odd duck since the early days. While they have never lived up to the grandiose standards of Japanese anime, or the prolific Mechs of War franchise, they have forged a valuable role for themselves over the centuries. The largely humanoid mech designs move at the speed of thought, making a veteran mech pilot a true danger to any foe. Mechanized cavalry scout and skirmish mechs bound across every battlefield, maneuvering around the main battle lines and engaging the enemy in their vulnerable flanks. Battle mechs are also a large part of the battle, even if they cannot match the firepower of a main battle tank. Their maneuverability is a powerful weapon, and many battles have been decided by a well-timed mechanized thrust that broke the enemy battle line. This makes the mechanized cavalry a valuable part of the Texas Army for now and the foreseeable future.