Able Manski, Tech Repairman, rose at 0500 hrs to grab a cup of coffee and make his way to the 'Mech repair bay. Able grabbed a cup and filled it from the dispenser. A 'Clansman' sat in the tech lounge reading an inner sphere repair manual and snickered till he saw Able.
“That coffee is for clan members only, Terran.” He said not removing his gaze from the manual.
Able raised his middle finger at the tech while stirring the cream in with a toothpick he too not removing his gaze from his task.
“As you say pal.” Able said calmly.
“I thought I told you to stop calling me ‘pal’ bondsman Able!” The tech snapped.
“You did, I just don’t listen to you... Pal.” Able smirked.
Able left the room headed for the 'Mech bay. Able, an engineer by trade; had learned his whole livelihood here in this very 'Mech bay. When the 'Clans' attacked Terra he was stranded here along with his contingent and a skeleton crew of techs. And here he remained with his techs to be ridiculed by their 'Clan' tech counterparts. And so shaking his head he opened the pressure door to the bay and stepped into another 'worst day of his life'.
A Clan Warrior was bellowing at one of his younger techs. The young man was thin slight of build and shy. The clansmen, all ninety seven inches and 500 pounds of genetically engineered killing fury, made the poor young tech the example of the inherent weaknesses of Terra. Able downed the cold, bitter coffee in one quick slurp and tossed the cup aside briskly hurrying to his tech’s aid.
“Hold on here!” Able yelled above the already roaring warrior. “What is the problem private?”
“This worthless piece of Terran slop can do nothing right!” The towering warrior continued. “The first time we discover he is too weak to function without a power suit in his assigned duty of technician. Then he is unable to handle the mental tasks of maintaining an aerospace fighter. Now he has proven an incompetent fool at the simplistic task of battle armor maintenance!”
"He was trained as a Medic, warrior,"
"DO I LOOK LIKE I NEED A MEDIC, DOG!" The Warrior roared. The clans had no use for men and women of the noble trade. In true Darwinian Extremism, if you were dumb enough (or indeed weak enough) to get hurt then you deserved death.
“Alright, I’ll ask again…what is your problem, warrior?” Able said with care, knowing what would come next.
The brute grabbed the little medic by his jumpsuit, Able now recognized the poor fellow as Cecil, and began to shake him off of his feet.
“Wait! Stop!” The now fully awake Chief Tech. said in an unusually strong voice which dropped to its usual soft monotone thereafter. “It’s me you angry with, he is my tech and im responsible for 'im … I’ll fight you.”
A hush fell over the bay as Cecil regained his feet thanks to the warrior dropping him.
“No!” Cecil yelled after the warrior. “No! He is no match for you, you’ll kill him!”
The warrior smiled as he put his hands on his hips.
“You heard the slop,” he yelled to the gathering crowd of onlookers including the Galaxy Commander who had entered hearing the commotion, “draw the circle and prepare to be educated.”
“Dear God Able!” Cecil protested. “Beg for the right of forgiveness and stop this stupid … stupid thing!”
“It’s alright C-Man.” Able intoned. “I now know what I have to do here.”
“Able! You don’t know squat about fighting, he will rip you limbs out of their sockets and beat you with them!” Cecil said trying to stop the murder of his Cheif Tech, more out of fear that he would be replaced by another uncompromising clansman than of actual love for his soon to be dead savior.
“Your motherly pleading falls on deaf ears tech.” The warrior said smiling as he limbered up. “I will stop his wasteful use of air and food in this circle today.”
“Maintenance suits.” Able said calmly.
“What?” The warrior replied confused as the room fell silent again. “What did you say?”
“I said,” Able breathed deeply, “maintenance suits you deaf empty-headed pig.”
The warrior roared as he lunged at Able across the circle only to be sacked by his four other squad-mates before he could tear strips of flesh off of Able’s chest with his bare hands.
“The circle, Private Berger! You are in the circle.” the Galaxy Commander said as he shoved Private Berger back forcibly. “Only you can call the trial for him yes?”
Berger barked at him. “Yes!”
“And you did call the circle to be drawn thus calling the trial between you, correct?” The commander asked.
“Yes!” Berger snapped back.
“Then as the challenged the grand law states HE is allowed to choose the means by which you will kill him.” The commander now stopped pushing him and just stood in front of Berger.
“Don an exoskeleton and beat him to bloody pulp but do not dare to break the laws Berger or I have to face you in the circle after you wipe off his blood.”
The warrior stomped over to a waiting exoskeleton and began to strap into it. Cecil looked over in complete shock and utter terror as his Chief tech buckled the safety harness onto himself in one of the multi-tool exo-suits.
“Able!” Cecil pleaded as he got face to face with the man. “What the hell are you doing? Do you want to die? Able he is gonna crush you dead…that’s it isn’t it?” Cecil’s face plunged ashen upon seeing the resolve in Able’s eyes. “Dear God you want him to kill you.”
“We can’t live like this anymore C-Man.” Able replied. “So please lock my safety harness in the quick release position, and get out of the circle.”
“You now seek to deface my honor before I have even wiped his blood from my fists tech. After I end him, you will be thrown into the circle as well to share his chosen fate.” Berger said calmly without a hint of remorse. Cecil's face turned parchment white.
The other Clan Warriors present deposited Cecil and the other Terran techs and the circle was closed. The crude white paint circle was sprayed onto the floor of the bay with plenty of room for the two combatants to move within. Able flexed his arms moving the heavy exoskeleton with great ease and control. Cecil looked at his chief tech as he set the suit for his personal preferences and began to hop lightly from strut foot to strut foot.
“C, o’ll Abe's is gonna get his head torn off by that monster.” Able’s second-in-chief Tech Allen Winski said as the two stood and watched in horror. “Those warriors are practically born into those powersuits. Them tool suits can’t be much different.”
Suddenly Cecil’s eyes grew wide and his face almost jumped off his body with the dark realization of what was about to happen.
“No Allen, those suits are nothing like each other. Battle suits are limber, fast, and designed to move. The tool suits are meant for lifting armor and parts, cutting steel plates and welding them together on a 'Mech, not for going 'ape-shit' on someone else.” Cecil said as his jaw went slack. “He’s not trying to get killed. He’s gonna kill that private!”.
Cecil always was an astute young fellow. Thats why Able liked to keep him around.
The warrior stepped to his half of the circle and waited as Able turned on his suit’s spinning yellow crown light warning light. The crowd laughed as Able gently stepped his suit opposite the warrior in his suit and waved at him with the suit’s lifting claw.
“Fool!” Berger yelled at the top of his lungs. “I will pinch your skull in that claw! Freebirth fool!”
Able calmly turned on his radio mike and loudspeaker to max and spoke over the vulgar outbursts of the warrior.
“Any time you’re ready, I’m waiting for you.” Able goaded him.
In response, another warrior outside the circle struck an armor plate with a large hammer in a make-shift bell and Berger lunged at his opponent. His powerful legs propelled him forward, but the suit he was wearing was not designed to leap up onto BattleMechs while being shot at, it was meant to lumber around and slap armor on said BattleMechs. Private Berger fell flat on his belly with the three quarter ton suit crashing down on top of him. The warrior let out a strangled grunt as he shattered his front teeth, and most of his not too handsome face, on the concrete floor of the repair bay. Then, in full view of the startled crowd Able calmly walked over to his fallen opponent, stepped on his arm, and extended the suit’s circular Iron-saw attachment. The other warriors in the bay began to scream and pound their fists on the floor and each other as they watched the inner sphere tech close in for what they thought was the kill.
Much to everyone’s surprise, Able spun the saw and cut the power lines and the hydraulic feeds with the blade. Berger was powerless on the floor beneath the strut of Able’s tool suit.
“That’s enough Able!” Allen yelled above the commotion in the room, he noticed that no one was running out into the circle. “He’s done Able! Let him out now!”
Blood from Berger’s mouth mixed with the drive fluids for the suit’s severed hydraulics. Then with one icy plate-steel glare at the crowd, Able lit the suit’s magnesium fueled cutting torch and ignited the hydraulic fluid. He quickly jumped back as the suit Berger was in literally turned into a funeral pyre. Berger screamed an unholy screech as he burst into flames along with the suit. He ripped the burning safety straps off and tried to perform a push up to throw off the burning tool suit. Soon enough however, Berger stopped screaming as the sheer mass of the suit held him down in the burning fluids, then the main tank ruptured and the circle was filled with flames. The automatic sprinklers doused the area with water as the burning chemicals continued to smolder. Then without a word Able walked towards the open bay doors and out of the artificial rain. The crowd parted as he left the circle, half out of stark fear of the demented Cheif Tech. The other half because Able had not shut off the cutting torch.
"Y'see Cecil," Allen Winski said motioning to the roasting elemental, "It's just like I keep say'n. Nobody listens to o'll Abe when they need to!"
"No," Able said nodding in agreement blank faced and emotionless to his techs, "no they don't...do they?"