Great Gaffa's Ghost
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|Great Gaffa's Ghost|
|Author||Blaine Lee Pardoe|
|First published||28 March 2005|
|Era||Clan Invasion era|
|Timeline|| 20 July 3058 (story)|
4 November 2765-10 October 3066 (essay)
In the BattleTech universe, "Great Gaffa's Ghost" (or simply "Gaffa's Ghost"; also "by Gaffa's beard") is an exclamation of fear, awe or wonder. It was created by author Blaine Lee Pardoe in his works.
Blaine Pardoe later wrote a combined short story/in-universe treatise titled Great Gaffa's Ghost that was published online on BattleCorps on 28 March 2005 as a twelve-page story (dedicating one page to a foreword/introduction), followed by an essay titled "The Legend of Great Gaffa's Ghost" purportedly written by one SLDF Historian Adept Karl Vosteral and published in Com Guards Veterans News, October 10, 3066.
|“||"Great Gaffa's Ghost!" has been heard by many MechWarriors in the heat of battle. Generally it's not associated with something good. But does anyone really know where it came from? Join us to find out...||”|
Lieutenant David Longstreet from Lindon's Battalion is patrolling the Jersey Flats brushlands near Sanyo City on Caph in the Chaos March on 20 July 3058 when his radio contact with the rest of his lance is jammed and he is jumped by Word of Blake BattleMechs. His Lineholder downed and essentially taken out of the fight by a Death from Above attack by an enemy Raijin. The dazed Longstreet helplessly watches how the Raijin aims its main gun at his cockpit to kill him when it is suddenly destroyed an eerie "museum piece" Highlander that appeared out of nowhere and disappears back into the dust clouds. Sergeant Shears, a lancemate in a downed 'Mech nearby, only saw a blur through the dust; when Longstreet tells him a mysterious Highlander had saved him Shears excitedly exclaims that it must have been Gaffa's Ghost.
The Legend of Great Gaffa's Ghost
In his 3066 treatise Adept Vosteral explains that the legend of Gaffa's Ghost refers to decorated SLDF General Stephen James Gaffa of the 364th BattleMech Division ("The Zulu Division"). Frequently leading from the front in a green Highlander BattleMech with the numerals "05" and (unusually) bearing three stars where a single star would have indicated a division commander, Gaffa was caught in a separatist ambush in a ravine area over Sander's Creek outside the town of Lyon on New Vandenburg on 4 November 2765 and supposedly killed, although no witnesses had his 'Mech in sight when it went supposedly down in a barrage of artillery and LRM fire while a company of BattleMechs bore down on him. No sign of General Gaffa or his 'Mech was found at the ambush site, though a bright flash indicated his 'Mech's reactor had been breached. An archeological dig in 3060 failed to reveal additional information, though it was difficult to identify the historical site after three centuries.
Three weeks later, one SLDF Lieutenant Sarah Fuller (piloting a Crab) was ambushed in the same general area while on patrol. Fuller later reported that, after her cockpit had suffered a hit and her 'Mech had effectively been disabled, a Highlander bearing the 364th BattleMech Division's markings appeared and saved her; she explicitly credited it with destroying an enemy Phoenix Hawk. However, as it turned out no friendly forces were operating within a twenty-five kilometer radius. Fuller's story reached a reporter who reported it as a ghost sighting, possibly for propaganda purposes, and it was later popularized and exaggerated in several books. Fuller herself became listed as missing in action some three months after the incidents.
Since then, numerous sightings of a mysterious green ghost Highlander with the numeral "05" and/or three stars, described both as an "old model" and a "command unit" (with a PPC instead of a Gauss Rifle), were reported. All remain unconfirmed and some of these sightings were proven to be fabrications. Others, including the following, could not be disproven.
During the liberation of Terra in 2779 one Nightshade VTOL pilot named Francis Holland crashlanded his craft in contested territory near Frankfurt, Germany, after a technical malfunction. Armed only with a laser pistol and with an open head wound (in his own words to a reporter, his "brains were spilling out") he encountered a Republican patrol. Something from behind him suddenly fired a PPC, lasers and missiles at the patrol, killing most. The rest surrendered, but suddenly dropped dead for no apparent reason. Looking behind him, Holland saw General Gaffa's Highlander. He lost his footing and when he looked up again the 'Mech was gone. Holland later returned to Terra, purchased the spot where this encounter took place, and erected a shrine. After his death, a church was eventually built in the place of the shrine.
After General Kerensky's Exodus, only two more reported sightings of the ghost 'Mech became known until the Fourth Succession War when the Northwind Highlanders returned to Northwind and battled the 2nd Sword of Light regiment. Highlander MechWarrior Matilda Ferguson ejected from her crippled 'Mech during the fighting outside Cromarty City, landing in contested territory. When rescue teams reached the seat much later they found it empty. The comatose Ferguson was found in a field hospital thirty kilometers from the battlefield. Her body had been delivered by a mysterious old-model Highlander in SLDF paint scheme, though a later investigation established no such 'Mech had been deployed by the Northwind Highlanders on Northwind at the time. Ferguson herself had no recollection of the event beyond being knocked out in her ejection seat by an errant artillery shell. She dropped out of the militia, became a nun in the church and died in 3062.
19-year-old SLDF MechWarrior Barton Vale, attached to the Northwind Highlanders during operations against Clan Smoke Jaguar, was attacked by Smoke Jaguar forces in flat open plains on Virentofta in his first and last battle. His Bushwacker quickly had its gyroscope destroyed but then a old-model Highlander in original SLDF paint scheme suddenly appeared and destroyed all Clan 'Mechs. Vale, a green recruit whose left arm had been amputated by a cockpit hit and whose right hand and hip had been shattered, was in no condition to fight, much less win, against his opponents and his downed 'Mech still carried almost full ammunition bins. His BattleROM had been destroyed. Despite his protests, an official investigation credited Vale with killing five Clan 'Mechs after being ambushed by them. He has been hospitalized for severe physical and psychic trauma ever since.
Vosteral does not provide an ultimate conclusion in his report.
- Fire Moth (Dasher)
- Phoenix Hawk
- Rifleman (described as a "Clan Rifleman", so possibly a Rifleman IIC)
- Fifth Sword of Light
- 177th Mechanized Infantry Division
- 364th BattleMech Division (the Zulu Division)
- Lindon's Battalion
- Northwind Highlanders
- Cranston Snord's Irregulars, p. 20 (sidebar)