Campaign of the Month: June 2014
Battletech : The Farscape Campaign
* "The Skunkwerks"
R&D Division of the Iron Dingoes
The Iron Dingoes R&D Division, known as “The Skunkwerks”, falls under the aegis of * “The Dingoes’ Fangs”, and its “Intelligence and Analysis Division”, but is largely ignored and left to its own devices. In late-3031, the unit’s acquisition of a copy of the Helm Memory Core, led to a notable renaissance in Skunkwerks projects development, changing much of its focus from exclusive military designs to civilian projects as well.
The company was incorporated on December 25th, 3031, as a fully independent organization, with Executive Secretary Caitlin Haverlein as its CEO. The company is headquartered from “The Factory”, and maintains its open research site as the Royal Sangrian Academy of Sciences, but privately maintains its two black operations sites in “The Freedom of the Stars” and at * Sierra Madre Casino & Villa. It also has several small research sites, such as in Tuadann and Melang, but these facilities are very specific in their research purposes, and maintain quite casual operations.
The organization is firmly under the control of Doctor Max Helmut “Moxie”, and follows his personal agenda. The Skunkwerks has acquired various parts and blueprints from battlefields and LosTech caches, and has used its accumulated scientific personnel to study and assemble these and other assets in an effort to gain a cutting edge in their raw knowledge and technological assets. Under his direction, are several branches, largely defined by the location of their active lab space; Medical Studies, Technical Studies and Marine and Animal Studies.
The primary location of the Iron Dingoes scientific community lies in The Factory – Main Medical, which is possibly the best-equipped and -staffed research facility for its size in the system. The primary technical lead of the research division on The Factory, is Doctor Sid Sutherland who leads a tightly-knit team of former medical and science students. Their primary research focus is on Trooper “Scarlet Jade”, while Tech Sal Baledo operates his own research on the unit’s Combat Drug “Neo-Ghoul”, as well as running endless simulations on his lab’s MIcrodeck Computer Station regarding theoretical Scarlet Plague growth rates.
Moxie often travels widely on various research projects, but runs experiments regarding electronics and computers, occupying the computer/cryptography-lab, primarily following his interest in AI and cybernetics. The other labs are run by generic technical research teams with no notable leadership, who conduct geology tests on hull samples for repair work in the station’s repair bays, or engage in prototype construction for various Dingoes-exclusive weapons and support technology projects.
The secondary facility for research, is “The Freedom of the Stars”, an Explorer-Class JumpShip, formerly the unit’s main center for research. In early-3023, the ship was converted to support of * “The Werewolves”, and most of its techs moved to new facilities in the Factory. The ship hosts three compact labs; one for Computers/Cryptography, one for Weapons/Nuclear Physics, and the other for Biology/Chemistry. Senior Tech (Research) Stania Borodin leads an impressive collection of scientists in the unit’s Battle Armor – Tornado PA research efforts from both weapons and bio labs, that includes Tech (Research) Teresa Ruvin and Tech (Research) Willis Schwebberhaffenwurf. While their research efforts are a little scattered, Stania keeps the other two brilliant techs on course. They also have access to reams of real-time data from the constant activities of * “The Werewolves”, who are based from the ship’s marine barracks. The computer lab is occupied by a research team which includes Tech Brandis Turgan, that is engaged in studying various topics. Their primary project involves an ongoing study of maps of the Inner Sphere using Data Core – Decimator 397 to collate the data, but are always engaged in Moxie’s other private computer/AI research studies. Tech Jeyne Tull is loosely assigned to this group, though she is given a great deal of private latitude in her studies.
The Skunkwerks on the Freedom have also been assigned a force of four squads of typical Iron Dingoes StarGuards marines under the direction of Lieutenant JG Jayson “Jace” Stratton, protecting these valuable assets from casual theft. To assist in their operations, they have also placed a pair of CBR-34 Cobra-Class Courier (Gunship)s in the Freedom at the command of this force, for scientific exploration and other away missions.
The tertiary location for research efforts is the small research lab in Melang, along the east coast of The District of Garcia. The relatively young marine biologist Senior Tech (Research) Sarah “Sharkey” Richmond has assembled a small crew, who deploy in their Aquarius Research Submarine to study various bio-science matters (particularly marine life and seismic disruptions) first hand along the coastal waters of Sangria. The group has also spent a few months researching the Deepwater Crabs of Islas Brasilera, in early-3023. The crew also accompany Moxie on his trips into the Corazón Jungle, during his Nexu studies.
The acquisition of first the * Manticora facility and its research teams, as well as the development of the Lanseal Royal Technical College (LRTC) in mid-to-late-3027, are all seen as long-term factors in promoting new development teams for this division of the Iron Dingoes own science teams. Certainly within a few years, these departments will assist the Skunkwerks division in fulfilling its mandates.
To assist these diverse teams in coordinating all their efforts, a pair of administrative squads have been assigned to the Skunkwerks on “The Factory”, led by the experienced Executive Secretary Caitlin Haverlein, who also looks after most administrative matters for Moxie, such as the organization’s often demanding parts and materiel acquisitions.
In late-3027, as the hidden research facilities under * Sierra Madre Casino & Villa came online, it was assigned a variety of personnel who had served for a year as general techs, many of whom had been recruited from System – Promise. These personnel were assigned to this facility under the moniker of the “Sierra Madre Research Group”, known colloquially as the “Beakerheads”. These personnel live in the Sierra Madre complex, and are generally known only as techs serving with the Iron Dingoes, but are developing a complex series of experiments based largely on Moxie’s personal agenda in biology research (primarily cloning and advanced genetics), and cybernetics. This group is largely overseen by Senior Tech (Research) Kianna Cyr.
In early-3031, the organization handed over a single XL Fusion Engine (Prototype) to Terramatrix Industrial Salvage along with their Double Heat Sink (Prototype) technology for that organization to try and develop. It is expected that Skunkwerks will get the benefit of these technologies once they have been developed.
In mid-3032, Doctor Elsa Kast joined the unit as a civilian researcher, along with a crew of talented volunteer grad students, and was slated to take over the Nexu Research Group, based out of Tuadann.
- Skunkwerks AeroSpace Units -
- Skunkwerks Support & Technical Group -
8th (Foot) Marines Platoon, “The Hush Puppies”
Four (4) Squads Laser Marine Infantry (2 Vet, 2 Reg)
Research and Development Group – “Advanced Research”
Two (2) Administrative Squads (Vet, Reg)
Four (4) R&D Squads (2 Vet, 2 Reg)
Nexu Research Group
One (1) Research Bio-Science (Genetics) Squad (Reg)
Sierra Madre Research Group – “The Beakerheads”
One (1) Admin Squad (Green)
One (1) Medical Squad (Green)
Three (3) Tech Squads (3 Green)
Six (6) Tech (Science) Squads (Reg, 5 Green)
Skunkwerks Book Clubs
An often over-looked aspect of the Skunkwerks Division, is its so-called “Book Clubs”, four (4) small teams of civilian researchers who travel extensively across the planet and nearby constellation, conducting research and acquisitions efforts regarding various data, accessing libraries and other, often forgotten, data centers. These groups typically consist exclusively of civilian researchers with no military training, and so are always carefully given assignments that minimize the danger they might face.
With the beginning of “Operation Paperclip”, in early-3032, all “Book Clubs” were recalled to rendezvous in Dumassas, improving the number of personnel available to conduct dedicated research of the Helm Memory Core, and its associated products.
Combat Drug : “Neo-Ghoul” : Combat Drugs are complex combinations of drugs that include powerful stimulants, neural accelerators, pain killers, strength and endurance enhancers, and a series of neuro-chemicals which induce a near-fearless, ruthless, focused – and utterly lethal – frame of mind. This is highly useful in a fight; the user’s units each gain a -1 to hit, a +15% on their morale, ignore results that call for consciousness rolls, and a one-point bonus on their initiative. They must also roll a 6+ to abandon a target, an 8+ to retreat from a battle, and a 10+ to refrain from closing to at least medium range with their weapons. Worse, at least in many respects, is their tendency to under-report damage, over-expend ammunition, and to rush into things.
A full chemical research lab and technicians allows low-level production of this technology. For the present, Tech Sal Baledo has been made responsible for maintaining this technology and the various samples in unit control, occupying a bio/chem-lab on “The Freedom of the Stars” for these purposes.
Poison/Toxin : “Deathpaste” : Deathpaste is almost universally banned and despised – but it’s still occasionally used. In concept it’s very simple; you mix something utterly lethal – a bio-agent, nerve agents, plutonium dust, whatever – with a sticky base. You load it into combat missiles, and shoot some enemy units. The pilots will be exposed as they get in and out. Mechanics will be exposed as they work on the units. Noncombatants will be exposed, either in passing or by their parents. Blackmail, usually in the form of some treatment, antidote, or vaccine, commonly follows. Even if the target discovers what’s going on soon enough to take precautions, they’ll still have to decontaminate everything, run all kinds of tests – and still not be sure. There are viruses which are lethal in doses as small as ten molecules. Using Deathpaste can reduce a targets effective force by (2D6*10)% over the course of a campaign. Unfortunately, it will also reduce your own forces by (1D6*5)%, usually provokes a massive loss in loyalty and morale if/when it gets out – and often leads to the more “honorable” MechWarriors abandoning your cause. It is sometimes used by pirates and renegades.
Access to a laboratory with appropriate containment facilities and technicians, as well as access to radioactive materials (a ton of weapons-grade radioactives would suffice) would allow development and production of this dangerous product.
Support Technology : “Beagle Active Probe (Prototype)” – (BAP-P) : Taken from the Blue Rock Candy Mountain data storage facility before its destruction, this technology was hacked from a secure data core, and is presently stored aboard “The Freedom of the Stars” in its computer lab. It represents a poor version of the advanced devices deployed by the Star League, but provides a force multiplier to units equipped with this powerful sensor array.
Production of the device is possible with access to a weapons lab, advanced electronics components, and these prototype blueprints, the Beagle Active Probe – Prototype could be developed in small quantities for limited deployment to most combat units.
Support Technology : “CASE (Prototype)” – (CASE-P) : Looted from the data storage module in the Blue Rock Candy Mountain data vault in early 3023, these blueprints are stored on “The Freedom of the Stars”, in its computer data labs.
Production of the device is possible with access to a weapons lab, advanced electronics components, and these prototype blueprints, the CASE – Prototype could be developed in small quantities for limited deployment to most combat units.
Support Technology : “Chip 10987” : Something of an unknown quantity, Tech Brandis was engaged in examining Chip 10987, and has learned quite a bit over the last few years. Its eventual involvement in the “Cortana Project” was inevitable. The device was attached to The Fisher King’s Neurohelmet in February, 3021, activating “Cortana”, and apparently stabilizing her matrix enough that she has gone mostly silent.
This technology cannot be reproduced, and is a unique item without peer.
Support Technology : “Decimator” : Salvaged from a LosTech bunker (Depot 519), this item has since had its core programming deleted, and has been converted into a large, mainframe storage device.
Somewhat unique, Data Core – Decimator 397 cannot be reproduced, and is a solitary device with a single purpose in the unit researcher’s minds; data storage. Towards this end, the unit was believed to be wiped clean as of April 26th, 3021, and its resulting storage space was filled with the complete navigational star chart from “The Iron Vagabond”, for comparison with more modern star charts. The device is presently stored aboard the Computer/Cryptography Lab on “The Freedom of the Stars”.
Support Technology : “Double Heat Sinks (Prototype)” – (DHS-P) : Considered a LosTech module blueprint recovered from the Blue Rock Candy Mountain data vault in early 3023, this technology has a wide-range of potential to improve the unit’s capabilities.
Production of the device is possible with access to a weapons lab, advanced metal alloys and chemicals, and these prototype blueprints, the Double Heat Sink (Prototype) could be developed in small quantities for limited deployment to most combat units.
Support Technology : “Endo-Steel (Prototype)” – (ES-P) : A valuable LosTech support technology, Endo-Steel (Prototype) is another salvaged blueprint from the Blue Rock Candy Mountain data vault, recovered in 3023. It’s potential is invaluable to the unit’s future development.
Production of the technology is possible with access to a weapons lab, advanced metal alloys and chemicals, and these prototype blueprints, the ES-P could be developed in small quantities for limited deployment to most BattleMech units.
Support Technology : “Ferro-Fibrous (Prototype)” – (FF-P) : Another valuable LosTech support technology, Ferro-Fibrous Armor (Prototype) was salvaged from the data vault in Blue Rock Candy Mountain. The widespread use for this support technology makes its potential particularly valuable.
Production of the technology is possible with access to a weapons lab, advanced metal alloys and diamonds, and these prototype blueprints, the FF-P could be developed in small quantities for limited deployment to most combat units.
Support Technology : “Hydride Fuel” : This is a non-explosive fuel additive for Internal Combustion Engines. The user’s ICE units will ignore a Fuel Critical.
This technology is in active production at the unit’s The Fuel Rats facilities. Recent expansion of their facilities have allowed its production to progress into a wider network, particularly in demand by various national military forces.
Weapons Technology : Battle Armor – “Shadowhound” : Battle Armor – Shadowhound is a spin-off from the Skunkwerk’s research of the Battle Armor – Tornado PA, and is a readily-built unit that is within the unit’s capability to produce in the future. It is never intended to be used for full manufacturing purposes, but to be deployed to future special forces units in the future.
Full production of this technology, however, should prove difficult, requiring an entire production line of advanced equipment to manufacture. The unit does, however, have several key pieces of machinery to at least build prototypes from blueprints and conduct repairs on existing equipment, but such production is extremely limited, expensive, and slow.
Weapons Technology : Battle Armor – “Tornado” : Battle Armor – Tornado PA represents a new concept in personal protection for an infantry trooper, effectively making single soldiers a sort of super-heavy infantry trooper. The unit has multiple examples in their inventory, but have chosen to disassemble one of these captured units in an effort to develop a working blueprint for possible future production. Also, the unit has a full working blueprint of Battle Armor – BH-18 “Waddle” Combat Walkers at their disposal, which, aids greatly in their own development of this technology. Limited study of this equipment for blueprints production has begun as of March 3023, and has presently resulted in the development of the GloryHound Exoskeleton, with plans to expand it to include two separate versions; a stealth and a straight combat model.
Full production of this technology, however, should prove difficult, requiring an entire production line of advanced equipment to manufacture. The unit does, however, have several key pieces of machinery to at least build prototypes from blueprints and conduct repairs on existing equipment, but such production is extremely limited, expensive, and slow. The spin-off of this technology, was the creation of the Battle Armor – Shadowhound and several associated technologies.
Requiring a weapons lab and a science team to research, this weapon has a unique potential for the combat effectiveness of the unit.
Weapons Technology : “Deadwood Special LMG” : Acquired early in the unit’s career, the unit has numerous copies of this weapon and its ammunition. Although lacking proper tools and dies, the unit has numerous working copies, full production blueprints and the technical data to freely manufacture these weapons.
The Deadwood Special “Metal Storm” Light Support Machine Gun can be produced at a limited-level of manufacturing, provided the unit has access to proper tools, materials, space and personnel. Otherwise, its ammunition can be manufactured given a laboratory space, personnel and materials.
Weapons Technology : “Fibre-Optic Guides” : These allow lasers mounted in the center torso to “fire” from either arm, as well as in the usual frontal arc. The guides have a weight of (# of lasers/10) tons, rounded off to the nearest half ton. In most cases this is effectively zero.
Access to weapons-grade components, such as industrial fibre-optics and a functioning laboratory with staff, would allow low-level development of this technology.
Weapons Technology : “Long Tom III” : Salvaged from System – Claybrooke early in their career, the unit possesses both two working “prototypes” of these weapons, as well as numerous technical details and blueprints. Working units ainclude Kate/Leopold Support Vehicle.
Development of these weapons is easy, granted a full weapons production line, including proper tools and dies, space and personnel are available. The ammunition can be manufactured at a low-level given lab space, materials and personnel.
Weapons Technology : Munitions – “LB-X AutoCannon” : Originally taken as salvage from a downed Mech, the gun itself is something of a mystery and not under investigation, but reproduction of its munitions is being studied, through the reverse-engineering of most of a ton of the gun’s ammunition.
Development and production of this ammunition is relatively easy at low levels, given lab space, materials and personnel. Use of these munitions, however, is limited exclusively to autcannons bearing the light alloy and heat dissipation capabilities of the LB 10-X designation.
Weapons Technology : “Needle Laser” : Needle Laser : “The Hatpin” is presently a single prototype, once installed aboard Captain Mitchell Kitsune “Wraith”‘s Wolverine for testing. Constant combat testing has proven the viability of the technology, though its mass production is far beyond unit capabilities. With techs to retro-develop the weapon, a limited number might be hand-built with the proper tools and personnel. At present, a limited run of these weapons is being conducted aboard “The Factory”’s weapons lab.
Full production lines for laser weaponry, including licensing of said weapons components would be required for development of this technology. To produce the weapon in very small, limited amounts, would require a weapons laboratory with personnel, access to weapons components, and lasers of the appropriate size for development of each weapon.
Unassigned Equipment and Projects
Four (4) tons Rare Books and Manuals on History, Economics and Technical Manuals, dating to the height of the Star League (2750 AD) : 40,000 Cs per ton.
Five (5) tons of books, technical manuals and data disks dating from the Reunification era (2596 AD), including numerous ancient Terran bibles, popular novels and general information magazines : 15,000 Cs per ton.
Twelve (12) MPC-1700 Scanalyzers.
Nine (9) tons Lab Supplies (Word Processing Computers & Printers, Alloyed Assembly Tools & Geiger Counters, Microscopes, General Processing Equipment, Pumps, Centrifuges and other useful tools : 120,000Cs each).
Two (2) individual units of CASE, salvaged from destroyed Mechs.
Eight (8) individual units of AMS – Anti-Missile System salvaged from destroyed Mechs and the remnants of a Rattler (Mk 1) Mobile Fortress destroyed on System – Gollere. Approximately 150 rounds of ammunition are also available.
A single HCT-3F Hatchetman Head with an intact escape equipment module.
Skunkwerks Patch (3023)
Originally conceived during the unit’s encounter with The “Shadow Station” over System – Dunkelheim, various technical data and prototypes recovered at that time were secreted in the unit’s vaults, and their future was discussed. Little more than a few parts and a dream, the collected data and equipment have slowly grown over time, and with the inclusion of a large collection of data tapes, books and technical manuals recovered from The Rock it could become the core of an actual research project.
The name Skunkwerks is a reference to an ancient Terran research company division of Lockheed-Martin, an aeronautical firm, that developed cutting-edge technology for various nation-states. It still exists, best represented by House Davion’s NAIT : New Avalon Institute of Technology, considered the Inner Sphere’s greatest research facility, and home to its greatest scientific minds.
At present, the Iron Dingoes have dedicated the JumpShip “The Freedom of the Stars” to store and study this data and prototypes, but are constantly looking for proper lab equipment, personnel and, perhaps most importantly, money to exploit their study. There are techs in place, and at least one of their projects is soon to come to fruition.
The Skunkwerks unit spent much of early-3026 engaged in rolling out their long-awaited project, the Battle Armor – Shadowhound and its associated technology, such as the Lightning Claws. The PAL was designed for extremely limited release, and most of the unit was completely unaware the suits even existed, though the Command Council were aware.
Thereafter, many in the Skunkwerks were engaged in working with data from the unit’s newly acquired * Manticora facility, and by year’s end were also instrumental in understanding the unit’s new * Husky Heavy Industries plant and its production line development, particularly in adapting the ICE engines for the Packrat LRPV, which required a great deal of reworking to implement. By the time the facility was declared operational, in mid-3027, they were on to developing other new technologies, though they remain in close contact with select members of the * Manticora research and development teams, who are a valuable resource for understanding some of the more fundamental concepts of design and development.
On the 26th of November, 3031, Executive Secretary Arlana Jericho returned from a trade mission into the heart of the Davion Outback, with a copy of the Helm Memory Core, code-named “Clippy” by its technicians. This vast repertoire of information brought Skunkwerks a vast collection of many underlying basic principles required to understand much of what is considered LosTech by modern standards. While it is expected to take some time for Skunkwerks teams to assimilate this information, in the long-run, its results should be astounding.
On December 25th, 3031, the company officially incorporated itself as an independent entity, officially changing its name to “The Skunkwerks”, and taking a decidedly civilian air to its operations, though many of the old ranks and affiliations remained for some time, and the company still operated closely with the Iron Dingoes organization, just operating under “military contracts”, rather than direct cash infusions and operational mandates. in contrast however, the company began to work as ardently on civilian technologies for development and sale than military ones. Executive Secretary Caitlin Haverlein was made into its first official CEO.