Kade: Aftermath of the Jackal

Kade sat at the terminal manipulating the hologram in front of her, adjusting the shapes of a mechanical assembly before sending it to the fabricators in the mech’ bay machine shop. Everyone had been working non-stop for days to repair the damage after the Marauders had fought jackal and his family.  Talon’s Dragon was more scrap than mech, Val and Sokolov had also taken heavy damage.  She was surprised they all weren’t dead really.  The thought of losing Sokolov made her hair stand on end.

The crews had all deferred to her authority in the shop, and not just because the Lord Commander had asked that she oversee the repairs, but because they had come to know her skill as a mechanic.  The repairs were well under way on Val’s, Sokolov’s and Talon’s mechs before she had turned her attention to Verdance’s Griffin.  She had never really “liked” Jackal, he was too unstable, too strange.  Sokolov had once told her that he respected the man, but that he was fundamentally broken.  She couldn’t imagine being married to that mental instability; or having to be the one to put him down.  She again thought of losing Sokolov and willed the gooseflesh from that line of thought to cease.

All the pilots had come down to check on their mechs, but not Verdance and Talon’s only instructions were to “Do something about that drill.”  Such a vague objective and the leeway of the best repair facilities on Zathras had set her in motion.  She had explored the strange Griffin carefully.  It had been modified for mining work.  The sensors had been augmented in some areas and the waldo mechanisms for manipulating the arms had finely tuned servos installed.  The jump jets had been removed for weight savings, though the ducting was still intact.  The ammo bays had been converted with terrible welding and the feed mechanism for the SRM’s were cobbled together from what looked like the original LRM and an old conveyor system.  She had it all ripped out and replaced with a more reliable custom machined system so there would be no jamming in battle. Finally she came to the drill.  Like the sensors it had been a loving conversion, designed for precision in the field.  It was a beautiful piece of work and Kade felt a pang of regret that she couldn’t talk to the person who had made the modification.  She would have loved to pick their brain.

Verdance had not come down to talk to her, or even check on the mech.  Kade knew that she was still dealing with the emotional fallout of killing her husband and expected she wouldn’t be by till much later.  Talon had obviously meant for her to pull the drill out and replace it with a weapon, or maybe a club like Val’s but she hated that idea for several reasons.  First:  because Val already had that, and Kade’s time as a performer in the circus had taught her that diversity in your act only made it stronger.  Secondly: because she would raise complete hell with anyone who touched her Shelley.  No one should modify a mech too far without the permission of its owner.  That had set her to thinking, and then to designing, and then to giggling as the initial idea had been jotted down with a grease pen on the side of some durasteel plating.  She was putting the final touches on the new mechanism she would need to make the project happen now, and it would be a work of art.

Kade finished the model and punched the keys to send it to the machinist in the bay below.  She pushed back from the terminal and ran out onto the catwalk outside the office.

“Hey, hey! Is that you Joey!” A youth in an apprentice-tech uniform far below stopped and looked up.

“Oh, hey Kade!” The boys face was radiant as he hollered back.  He was a sweet kid and she knew he had a little crush on her.

“Go tell master machinist Dawes I sent him the specs on that project for that Griffin!  Tell him to finish whatever he’s doing and get this next in line!”  Joey saluted and ran off.

Kade made her way to the stairs that would take her down to the mech bay floor.  She was going to replace that drill, but not with a laser or anything like that; no she was putting a new drill on.  This one would be smaller, designed for battle and less likely to get stuck if it got into a mech’s internals.  It would also have a series of exhaust ports through which the pilot could eject vented engine plasma like a flamethrower.  Reaching the floor she jogged to the machinist’s area in a corner of the giant hangar.  The final touch on her design was a highly modified jump-jet installed on the Griffin’s arm.  It would allow Verdance to amplify the speed of punches with her new depleted uranium coated plasma spewing drill from hell.  It would have been a real crowd pleaser in the circus.

“You’re crazy, you know.”  Dawes greeted her with a laugh as she approached the old man and his equipment

“I know, I know; but it’s why everyone loves me.” She leaned past the machinists shoulder to view the readouts on his fabrication devices.

“How long?”

“I reckon it will be done tomorrow, early morning.  Do you want some help getting it installed?”

“Absolutely!”  Dawes smiled and nodded at Joey.

“I’ll bring the kid for the wiring work.  It will make his day.”  Kade patted the old-timer on the shoulder and made for the nearest exit.  She was going to force Sokolov to take her to a nice dinner and then she was going to get some sleep.  She had a big project tomorrow; and just like with Shelley, she was going to make something no one else had ever seen.