Top of the Scrap Heap
|Top of the Scrap Heap|
|Author||Jason M. Hardy|
|First published||10 September 2007|
|Era||Succession Wars era|
|Timeline||14 September 2783—5 May 2784|
Top of the Scrap Heap is a short story by Jason M. Hardy that was published online on BattleCorps on 10 September 2007. Written in the spirit of the Proliferation Cycle stories, albeit not as a part of that series, it narrates how the Outworlds Alliance gained BattleMech technology.
|“||New times call for new practices, and when something as volatile as the BattleMech is added to a nation's arsenal, new practices are the only way to get through generations of institutional dogma.||”|
An Alliance Defenders Limited (ADL) skunkworks team is frantically attempting to create a working Locust prototype, relying heavily on battlefield salvage, black marketed parts, and baling wire. ADL CEO Emma Jacobs and head technician Caleb Murphy doubt that the Outworlds Alliance Militia will be charitable when it sees it in action. When OAM General Bashere observes a field trial, he glowers at its wobbly movement, sub-standard armor, electronics reverse-engineered from Tortugan equipment.
Bashere tells Jacobs that he understands that the lack of government and popular support has made the firm’s progress difficult, but that if they can’t come up with something better than the cobbled-together Locust in six months, he’ll demand her resignation. Jacobs and Murphy discuss their options, noting that no matter what they do, the Locust can’t be brought up to the level of the tech being used by nearby pirates within six months.
A month later, Jacobs meets with a mysterious contact, “Jerome,” to discuss her new initiative. He tells her that they’ve managed to pinpoint the location of a number of pirate gangs operating near Valasha and made contact with several, and negotiations are in progress. However, two months later, Jacobs is on the run from OAM security teams. She is captured and placed under arrest on charges of treason, piracy, and conspiracy against the Alliance. Four months later, still in detention, she meets with her lawyer, Brinson. She seems much calmer than usual, and asks him to make sure that her trial is pushed back beyond May 5.
On May 5, Brinson meets the OAM prosecuting attorney, Velma Crawford, arriving at the prison at the same time. She got word that Jacobs wanted to make a plea deal. They’re interrupted by Caleb Murphy, who tells them that their questions will all be answered shortly. Seventeen minutes later, the prison commandant summons them and asks them to explain the BattleMech looming over the north wall of the prison.
Murphy introduces them to the captured AFFS Stinger, which is “the most powerful weapon in the entire Outworlds Alliance.” He informs them that, if Emma Jacobs is released and allowed to continue as CEO of Alliance Defenders, Ltd., she’ll reverse engineer it and build more for the Alliance. If not, the Stinger will trash the prison and free Emma, who will then scrap the ‘Mech and leave the Alliance at the mercy of pirates and other enemies. After three days of negotiations, the Alliance grants all of Emma's demands.
This story is set in 2783-2784, in the aftermath of the Star League Civil War, and presents a practically unarmed Outworlds Alliance trying to gain BattleMech technology with which to protect itself. However, Historical: Liberation of Terra Volume 1 notes that the Secret Army brought the OAM up to 72 conventional regiments and 100 BattleMech regiments by 2765, backed by 15 WarShips. Thus, it is nonsensical that a captured AFFS Stinger is the "most powerful weapon in the Outworlds Alliance" 20 years after the unveiling of over 11,000 BattleMechs by the Secret Army. Resetting the date to the 2750s, when piracy was rampant due to the Third Hidden War and the OAM consisted of only five conventional regiments, allows the narrative to work as written.