Old Pus Eye
|Old Pus Eye|
|Author||Blaine Lee Pardoe|
|First published||31 August 2008|
|Era||Succession Wars era|
|Timeline||1 October 3024|
|“||Even deep in the Periphery a man can come up with the age-old quandary: once you pay the danegeld, how do you get rid of the Dane? It takes a man willing to stand up.||”|
Bart is a resident of the town of Midvale on the independent Periphery world of All Dawn or, as Bart puts it, "a nothing town on a nothing planet." Every autumn, pirates come, represented by a Hunchback nicknamed "Old Pus Eye", to demand tribute. The town has a fusion reactor and some well-to-do families have hovercars, but outside of town the world resembles the Terran wild west of the nineteenth century.
Bart swore vengeance on the pirates after their last visit, when Old Pus Eye’s pilot demanded Bart's girlfriend, Sarah, and the townsfolk tied her up and meekly handed her over, never to be seen again. Last he'd been able to find out, she was taken offworld when the pirates departed in their DropShip. Bart's instrument of vengeance is "Rattler", a stripped-down 300-year old Phoenix Hawk retrofitted as an AgroMech. Bart has spent the past year attempting to re-rig it for combat, adding a homemade napalm sprayer and a rocket launcher to supplement the arm-mounted buzzsaw and balky Medium Laser. The armor is scrap metal and road signs.
Bart asked Sheriff Parker to join him in attacking the pirates, but the Sheriff dismisses the idea of "men against a BattleMech" as an impossibility and the planned battle as a danger to the whole town. On September 30, a runner came to Bart letting him know Old Pus Eye had returned and issued a demand for another young woman as part of the tribute.
With a leaky coolant vest and haphazardly welded armor chunks falling off as it moves, Bart pushes "Rattler" towards town. He finds the cobblestoned main street deserted except for a bound 14-year old girl, as the townsfolk flee the coming confrontation. The Sheriff runs out into the street and tells the pirate that Bart doesn't represent Midvale.
The two 'Mechs exchange laser fire, and Bart fires his rockets as he maneuvers to bring his buzzsaw into play. Bart's napalm sprayer coats the Hunchback in flammable liquid, but fails to ignite it. The buzzsaw disintegrates upon impact with the Hunchback's armor, but a last, desperate laser shot causes the Hunchback to topple, striking sparks as it lands and igniting the napalm. Bart flees the ruined Phoenix Hawk as both 'Mechs collapse and burn.
After the flames die down, the Sheriff recovers the dead pirate from the Hunchback wreckage (which turns out to have been just as jury-rigged as the Phoenix Hawk)—a 15-year old girl with a pirate tattoo on her cheek, who appears to have died when the ejection seat fired, but failed to blow open the canopy. Bart enlists the townsfolk to drag the wrecked 'Mechs back to his farm, where he plans to try to get one working again to protect the town.