So, to keep this from totally dying, and because I feel like spreading around some of my homebrew designs, here is what happens to the Hard Light Brigade. Obviously I haven't actually played out these battles. Hello, author fiat.
Timeline of Events: Hard Light Industries
January 1, 3049 – Hard Light Brigade officially incorporated as a mercenary company. CO: Major Caden “Easy” Webb. CEO: Stan “Strobe” Roberts.
February 19, 3049 – Major Webb and the rest of the Brigade conduct anti-pirate operations in the St. Ives Commonality, on the planet Milos. The Brigade unexpectedly lands almost literally atop the pirate base in the region, and over the course of nearly 15 minutes of heated combat deals a decisive defeat to the pirates. Then-Corporal Anders “Rapier” Bullman lays the foundation for a brilliant career by single-handedly annihilating an entire company of pirate raiders during the engagement.
June 7, 3049 – Repaired and fully rested after the Milos contract, the Brigade is enlisted to support a full planetary invasion in the newly-formed Free Rasalhague Republic.
June 20, 3049 – During brutal fighting in the frozen north of the planet Thule, Major Webb is crippled by then-Captain Lewis Cameron of the FRR First Hussars regiment. By September, Colonel Lewis is directly responsible for the destruction of six Brigade 'Mechs.
July/August, 3049 – Combat on Thule goes poorly for the Brigade. Despite the defenders' numerical inferiority against the invaders, several incidences of promised reinforcements from their Combine allies result in numerous Brigade defeats.
September 1, 3049 – Elements of the 1st Hussars cripple the 14th Legion of Vega's command structure, personally led by Colonel Lewis and his Trebuchet, and the Combine begins to withdraw. Combine dropships “forget” the Brigade is on-planet, and retreat without the mercenaries.
September 13, 3049 – Sergeant Major Bullman scores the second phenomenal victory of his career, engaging a full lance of Hussar 'Mechs by himself while dependents and support personnel for the Brigade retreat. All four Hussar 'Mechs are destroyed, but Bullman is shot down by Hussar reinforcements and captured.
November 18, 3049 – Hounded for greater than two months across three continents, the Brigade is finally cornered and forced to surrender to the FRR garrison. Despite the bitter fighting, Hard Light members are treated favorably by the greatly impressed Hussars.
November 22, 3049 – After four days of hospitable treatment, the planetary governor of Thule, one Bernard Forsythe, buys out the remainder of the Brigade's contract upon ComStar arbitration. The interstellar communication conglomerate rules that by abandoning the mercenary group, the Draconis Combine had severely breached its side of the contract.
November 23, 3049 – The Hard Light Brigade is officially contracted by the Free Rasalhague Republic as a garrison force on Thule, though their strength after five months of combat against the cream of the Kungsarme crop is barely a lance of 'Mechs and single platoon of foot infantry.
December 25, 3049 – During their first engagement in the employ of the FRR, the Brigade savages a 14th Legion of Vega raiding party. Master Sergeant Bullman, piloting the same Awesome he had been shot out of three months prior, personally decapitates the Combine commander.
January 1, 3050– One year to the day after its formation, the Hard Light Brigade consists of six 'Mechs, two Aerospace fighters, and one lance of artillery vehicles. Nearly all of the growth between November and this point has come as payment from the FRR in lieu of hard currency. Despite the lack of liquid capital, the 1st Hussars have provided full support to the mercenaries. Several of the pilots and techs raise concerns about a “company store” scheme by the FRR.
February 19, 3050 – One year to the day after its first battle, the 14th Legion of Vega returns to the planet of Thule in battalion strength. An initial beachhead is established in the “south”, and the Brigade is scrambled to engage.
March 1, 3050 – With the Draconis Combine forces on the run and numbering barely more than a dozen in number, victory seems all but assured for the Brigade. Nine hours later, unidentified dropships issue a challenge to the defenders on the ground. Lieutenant Arnold “Piper” Pettigrew is shot down attempting to investigate at impossibly long ranges.
March 7, 3050 – Six days after approaching seemingly decisive victory, the Brigade is once again in shambles. Four combat units are still capable, supported by a skilled by tattered platoon of infantry, solely because the Brigade still plays host to an entire company (and more) worth of techs focused on that single mixed lance. Captain Bullman is the senior surviving 'Mech pilot in his Awesome, along with Master Sergeant Richard “Night” Adeboro in a Phoenix Hawk salvaged over the course of the contract. A modified Hetzer artillery vehicle rounds out the ground forces, and Captain Chris “Tophat” Valsan sports the sole remaining intact aerospace fighter on the planet. Major Webb, since his injury, has remained Commanding Officer, but switched to a support role within the company.
The invaders, since learned to call themselves of “Clan Ghost Bear” take a special interest in Captain Bullman after he destroys a pair of Black Hawk Omnimechs in a duel.
March 8, 3050 – The Brigade's contract with the FRR reaches its “official” end. The Prince of Rasalhague, recognizing that the Clans are a threat to the very existence of his fledgeling state, personally extends an offer to Major Webb. Accept a contract extension, or be left behind as what remains of the Hussars retreat off-world.
March 15, 3050 – Despite immediately accepting the contract extension, it takes nearly a week for FRR dropships to arrive and pick-up the weary defenders. No contact is made with Clan aerospace assets, despite their obvious presence. Minutes before boarding the dropships, the Brigade is interrupted by a Clan “Star” of 'Mechs. Their commander, Star Captain Quentin Kabrinsky, challenges Captain Bullman to a “Trial of Possession” for the Brigade's remaining personnel.
Over the course of the next six minutes, Captain Bullman cements his status as one of the Inner Sphere's premier pilots by systematically disabling and forcing the surrender of the Clan commander's Mad Cat. When an upstart warrior of the remaining Star attempts to engage the victorious Awesome, Captain Bullman calmly lands three PPC hits in quick succession on the Loki's torso, destroying the engine. The entire second engagement lasts less than ten seconds, and results in no damage to Bullman's 'Mech. No other Clan 'Mechs attempt to engage, and the Brigade, now with two Clan 'Mechs salvaged off the field of battle and a Clan officer as a prisoner, escapes Thule.
March 29, 3050 – After two weeks of dedicated, nearly non-stop work, Captain Bullman becomes the first Inner Sphere pilot in the FRR to turn the Clans' Omnimechs against them. Due to the nature of the Mad Cat's damage taken during his duel, Captain Bullman is forced to pilot a “custom” configuration of the powerful Omni, switching the five lost double heatsinks from the formerly A config's arms for an additional Streak SRM system, as well as a the Loki's electronics equipment. Brigade techs experience the modular nature of the Omnimech firsthand, developing essential experience with the equipment.
April 4, 3050 – Another week after Captain Bullman's Mad Cat walks out of the repair gantry, he records his first kill in the 'Mech. Significant experience fighting the Clans on multiple worlds encourages him to use their system of honor against them. Though the fight is close, Captain Bullman successfully challenges and destroys Star Captain Helen Jorgensson's Executioner in single combat.
April 10, 3050 – With 42 kills to his credit, including no less than eight Clan Omnimechs, Captain Bullman is the single most experienced pilot to fight the Clans. The rest of the Brigade quietly supports their champion, as his presence distracts many Clan pilots, and keeps attention away from other Brigade assets. At this point, the Brigade re-christens a second lance – including the Loki salvaged on Thule. With six 'Mechs, nearly a third of the Brigade 'Mech strength is composed of Clan equipment – and the Awesome Captain Bullman initially piloted receives Clan tech as well.
May 13, 3050 – Despite the best efforts of the Trondheim militia and the Brigade, Clan forces take the planet. Recognizing the writing on the wall, the Prince releases the Brigade from their contract.
June/July 3050 – Against Captain Bullman's advice, the brigade sells the two Omnimechs salvaged from the Clans for an exorbitant price (in the form of a functional 'Mech production line) from the Free Worlds League. Captain Bullman learns his Awesome has been upgraded with Clan weapons, and instantly stops complaining.
August 3050 – The Hard Light Brigade mercenary command is officially disbanded. Hard Light Industries is formed, intent on using the production line to drive profit. Pilots are allowed to leave the company if they so desire, while any and all Techs that stay on board are offered substantial bonuses. Planning work immediately begins on retooling the line to produce a new variant of Hermes II geared toward effectively fighting the Clans, based on the extensive experience that the pilots of the company have accrued.
April 3052 – The first contribution of Hard Light Industries in a form other than line combat troops arrives in the shape of the Hermes II HER-2H. Designed from a duelist's perspective, the -2H traded autocannon for ER PPC, flamer for medium laser, and switched to double heatsinks. The saved tonnage went toward a third medium laser and an additional ton of armor, bringing the load to very nearly the maximum possible. Similar to a Wolfhound in performance after the change, the -2H unfortunately suffered from the Hard Light techs' inexperience with designing new 'Mechs, and was more difficult to maintain than a normal Hermes II. The trade-off was that Inner Sphere pilots suddenly found themselves able to engage Clan Light 'Mechs on roughly even terms. In the early years of the Clan invasion, that was a significant step.
May 13, 3052 - “Dasher Slasher”, the only HER-2H on Tukayyid, during the climactic battle, claims its first kill – an Uller A. It is subsequently destroyed by a point of Elementals, highlighting a change in design paradigm for the Hard Light production line. While excellent at dueling, the -2H is specialized against 'Mechs. A second variant, the -2H2, enters the planning stages, incorporating improved anti-infantry capabilities.
December, 3052 – Much faster than the previous variant, the -2H2 rolls off the lines in limited numbers, trading the extra ton of armor and all three medium lasers from the -2H for a single SRM-6 that comes standard with a ton of inferno ammunition. Luck willing, the -2H2 is capable of neutralizing an entire point of Elementals in twenty seconds. This capability is not overlooked by Inner Sphere commanders, and nearly a dozen -2H2s are sold before summer of next year. Additionally, improved machining to mount the SRM system and tighter tolerances make the -2H2 much easier to maintain.
January 1, 3053 – Four years to the day after the initial formation of the mercenary company, the 'Mech production company celebrates the sale of its one-hundredth 'Mech from the lines. Plans are publically unveiled for the first new 'Mech design to roll off the lines in the young company's history. Impressive sales on the HER-2H and -2H2 spur expansion of the existing facilities to include a second production line.
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