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Published July 23, 2013

PNT-9R Panther

July 20, 3048
Talicar Continent, Planet Breed
Draconis March, Federated Commonwealth

Nakao Shigimori’s thirty-five ton Panther had a misaligned jump jet. He knew because the little `Mech shook itself violently every time he depressed the floor pedals far enough to trigger them. He winced, though the shaking didn’t, as he continued to claim, cause him headaches. In truth, he barely noticed it, though the Panther now had an annoying tendency to turn slightly to one side or the other mid-jump. It didn’t take much to compensate once one realized that the targeting computer would tend to overcompensate for each slight shift. His hand was steady; it was just the principle of the thing.

His technicians told him he was simply imagining things, that everything matched the Panther’s factory specifications. If Nakao Shigimori had his way, the whole lot of them would be boiled in oil alongside their entire families. As a mere Chu-i in the Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery, it was fortunate for the astechs of the 10th Pesht Regulars that Nakao had no authority to make such a decree stick.

Yet.

A PPC flashed past Nakao’s left shoulder, missing his ascending `Mech by less than a meter. With a yell to focus his own flagging attention, the young Chu-is unsteady crosshairs dropped over the offending enemy `Mech. A Griffin, he noted with displeasure, sporting the blue, red, and white stripes of one of the Davion Guard regiments. He was sure he’d learned in the briefing which one, but he hadn’t cared enough to remember. Seizing Breed’s mineral stockpiles was paramount and the young lieutenant didn’t care who he had to fight to do so.

The distant Griffin touched down, its legs partially hidden by a protruding boulder. For an instant, the bigger, faster, more powerful enemy machine was vulnerable. An easy target. Nakao didn’t hesitate, the Panther’s powerful Lord’s Light PPC crossed the distance between them in an instant, obscuring the enemy `Mech in a ball of smoke and static electricity. Nakao pumped a closed fist but his celebratory elation quickly soured as his Panther started a swift descent.

Nanda yo?!” What the hell, he cursed, his hands leaving the `Mech’s controls for a moment as he thrust them bodily at the Panther’s transplex windshield. The Griffin’s chest was unblemished, the blistered crater of a direct PPC hit was nowhere to be seen. His shot had been dead on, this simply wasn’t possible!

His radio crackled, interrupting his fiery tirade. “You hit a rock, Chu-i.”

Battlefield Role: Poptart Sniper
Tonnage: 35
Approximate Base Cost: 2.5 million c-bills
Likelihood it will appear in Mechwarrior Online: Moderate
Realtalk: The Panther is a slow but solid light `Mech with a lot of armor and firepower for its weight. It’d be an interesting `Mech for MWO, because it doesn’t play like any of the current light `Mechs. I feel we’re probably more likely to get the Wolfhound, but the Panther is a very iconic `Mech for House Kurita.

GRF-1N Griffin

July 20, 3048
Talicar Continent, Planet Breed
Draconis March, Federated Commonwealth

Hauptmann Tyrell Sarchet breathed a quiet sigh of relief as the Panther’s potshot struck the intense magnetic field emanating from the boulder he’d taken cover behind. Firing a stream of charged particles at near light speed, the PPC was a devastating weapon—but it was also almost completely neutered by Breed’s unique mineral deposits. Extending dozens or (as some NAIS scientists had suggested) hundreds of miles underground, the rock formations on Breed’s largest island continent Talicar were laced with iron apparently so tortured by geological actions, beyond even the New Avalon Institute of Science’s ability to adequately explain, that each rocky outcropping generated an electromagnetic field strong enough, in rare cases, to bring a running `Mech to a painful and unexpected halt.

The Panther’s PPC lost cohesion as it passed through the field and simply detonated, expending all of its energy harmlessly in an explosion that served only to send a few chips of stone rattling against the feet of Tyrell’s Griffin. The Panther’s arms twisted upwards in denial, its clawlike hands tensing as though trying to tear out the sky’s own beating heart. Its left hand balling into a fist, the little `Mech turned to threaten something behind it.

“Stupid Samurai sonofabitch,” Tyrell grunted. “It’s time you learned a little respect.”

The Griffin’s wedge-shaped chest canted backwards an instant before Tyrell let fly with his LRMs. He had to fire in a high, slow arc unless he was willing to lose a missile or two to a rock outcropping; but it was a shot he couldn’t resist. The Griffin’s ten-shot launcher wasn’t much of a threat normally, as the Panther pilot apparently chose to ignore the warnings of hits battle computer and simply continued to menace its unseen companions.

The combined firepower of Tyrell’s command lance—a pair of Archers and a single slow, forty-ton Whitworth—added a hundred missiles to Tyrell’s original ten. The Panther pilot only learned his mistake when missiles began raining down around the `Mech’s slab-shaped head and shoulders.

And never stopped.

Battlefield Role: Poptart Sniper
Tonnage: 55
Approximate Base Cost: 5 million c-bills
Likelihood it will appear in Mechwarrior Online: Moderate
Realtalk: The original Jump Jet and PPC Fighting Machine; only two months ago I would’ve sworn that seeing the Griffin in Mechwarrior Online would be an impossibility. That was before the Project Phoenix announcement, and like those `Mechs, the Griffin is now fair game. Like the Shadow Hawk and Battlemaster before it, the Griffin is iconic and well loved (particularly by House Steiner), and for a long time was one of the most common `Mechs in the Inner Sphere. It’s a versatile long-range attacker that seems well-suited to the current PPC-heavy metagame.

PoptartsNinja
I'm a published BattleTech author who's also responsible for inflicting the "Let's All Play BattleTech and rewrite Inner Sphere history" thread on the Something Awful forums for the past 2+ years.

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