Zen and the Art of Exo-Armor Maintenance

Who: Marissa Faireborn, Nate Briar, James Bailey, Andi Lassiter, Jayson Redfield
IC Year: 2029
Location: Hangar Bay - EDC HQ Alameda - Earth
TP: Non-TP

Random encounters in the EDC Hangar Bay, where king James likes to hold court.

Hangar Bay <EDC>

A large hangar, dark, but full of people working on various types of craft, all trying to make them ready in the least amount of time, should the threat siren go off. About a dozen craft, in various states of repair, but all bearing the symbol of the EDC are here. The main doors of the hangar stand open to let the fumes of damaged coolant lines, leaky fuel pumps and broken exhaust systems bleed out into the open air. Armed guards also stand near the door, but they seem to be more window dressing than anything else, their weapons held loosely, only snapping to attention when they see an officer coming across the tarmac. The bay is alive with sounds: techs yelling at each other, tools being dropped, the whine of protesting engines, the shrill shriek of the elevators as craft are raised or lowered from the underground storage bay, the roar as one of them passes by. The EDC is not all glitz and glamour, and this place proves it.

James Bailey is standing on the fuselage of his Talon, leaning over to stare down at the wing mounting. An EDC Exo-Tech on a step-ladder is peering at the same machanism from underneath, and they seem to be arguing quietly about something.

Jayson Redfield enters from the Main Complex <EDC> to the north.

Marissa Faireborn has appropriated a mechanic's outfit and is standing in front of her exo-suit. Marissa is like an army version of Barbie sometimes with all the military-related outfits she has. Her combat armour, a battered and dinged Warthog, is sporting damage all over, including claw marks and electrical burns. The suit's posture is hunched over, giving the impression of an elderly man who's tired and desperately needs a rest. Despite the outfit, Marissa isn't much of a mechanic, and she just seems to be concentrating on the simple parts of the repair job so that when a mechanic comes free, they won't waste time with the easy stuff.

James Bailey gets louder and more animated in his arguing with the tech, then finally holds up his hands in surrender. He speaks a bit more, and now it seems clear he's agreeing with the tech's points. This seems to mollify the engineer a bit, and he's smiling and even laughs a bit as James turns to leave him to his work. He hops down off of his Talon and heads over to where Marissa's working on her Exo. "Looks like they haven't made much progress on your ride, Colonel."

Everyone seems to have an exo except Jayson. Well, at least it's good to know that his teammates would trust him with one, unlike some of the technicians who seem to think of him as just a kid. He's doing his best to ignore it. Right now he's just bored out of his mind. He wanders into the hangar, glancing about at the various combat machines and aircraft. What he wouldn't give to fly one of those...

Marissa Faireborn wipes off her hands with a rag, getting off the grime and oil that's leaking from the Warthog. Mechanical work, she notes, is a very dirty job. Turning her head, Marissa can't help but overhear Bailey arguing with another engineer. Ultimately it ends quick enough, and so Marissa doesn't mention it. "They've been busy," the Colonel says, "And given the beating Geist gave it I don't think anyone's interested in volunteering," she says, shaking her head as she gazes back at the armour.

James Bailey comes closer, inspecting some of the rents in the armor. "I can believe people have been busy. I think their standing orders are to give the Talons and Shrikes priority because of their quick-response capabilities." He moves away from the damage he was looking at, and instead looks at some of the internal mechanics through an open panel. "Not so sure I'd buy that they're not interested in volunteering, though. These things are classics. They might not look fancy, but everyone of them is a tribute to EDC engineering."

Jayson Redfield comes to a stop, blinking. He brightens a little. "James!" he calls to his comrade, hurrying over to him. "So this is where you've been." Leave it to him to lose track of his teammates. Noticing Marissa, he straightens slightly. "Oh, uh, hello, ma'am."

Marissa Faireborn opens her mouth to reply, but then realizes that she was just about to launch into a 'back in my day' story concerning how easy the old Ares classifications were able to get back into operational status. She tosses the towel she was using to wipe her hands over her left shoulder and decides to spare Bailey the rant. "They're alright. It wasn't long ago that the Warthogs were built. First combat grade exo-suit capable of a transformation." This excludes Daniel's weird little car exo-suit in the movie, since it wasn't all that combat capable... Shrapnel and Scavenger just suck. As Redfield approaches, Marissa turns about, trying to identify the young man. She can't place him, though. "Soldier," she replies by way of a greeting.

James Bailey looks over and gives Jayson a friendly nod. "Come over here kid, you might learn something. Look at how much stronger the armor is over the knee joint." He picks up some tools and starts to work the damaged armor casing free. "But when you're bending the leg unit, it exposes some of the weaker armor. There's just no way to protect the whole thing and still make it flexible, so the engineers had to make a trade-off. But the secret is to try and keep the limbs straight when you know you're gonna take a hit. Just like the Colonel did. That's something to keep in mind once you start piloting your own Exo, which from what I hear won't be too long." He finally tugs the armor off to let it fall with a loud echoing CLAAAANGG!!! on the ground.

"That also goes for elbow joints, shoulders assemblies, everything that bends or flexes. Don't just keep your arm units pointed at the enemy to keep him in your gun-sights...take your shot, then bring them back down for maximum defense." He spots some carts with new, undamaged knee casings and goes to get it.

Jayson Redfield approaches James, peering at the exo. "Oh, wow...hey, you think I can pilot one of those?" He winces at the loud clang, rubbing an ear. Turning back to Marissa, he decides it would be best to introduce himself. "Private Jayson Redfield, codename Redspot. Pleased to meet you, ma'am."

Marissa Faireborn folds her arms and listens to the discussion between Bailey and Redfield. Ah, this newcomer is a cadet, perhaps? She has of course heard all the tactical information about how to use the exo-suits before, but she glances at Jayson to see whether it looks like he's at least absorbing any of it. Jayson introduces himself, and Marissa finally is able to place him. Right right, the whole codename thing. She never really saw the point of them. "Colonel Marissa Faireborn. Good to meet you, Private. Welcome to Earth Defence Command. As for piloting the exo-suits, that depends on which direction your training takes you. Ever used one of these before?" There are a relatively few exo-suits out there in the civilian world, used mostly for construction and the like.

James Bailey nods as he wheels the cart carrying the new knee armor back to Marissa's Warthog. "Sure, kid." To be hones, James doesn't see the point of a code-name either, especially one like 'Redspot' that doesn't always flow off the tongue. Besides, there's currently only one 'kid' on the base, so everyone knows who he's talking about. He maneuvers the cart into place (luckily the carts also come with hydraulics and lifter-claws capable of lifting the heavy replacement parts and holding them up for the techs), then secures the new armor casing. "The Ghost have got big plans for you. But first the EDC's going to spend a pile of credits training you. Then the rest of us will add some of our own finishing touches, of course. We've picked up a few tricks of the trade of our own. And plus, these things don't come cheap." He finishes with the knee unit then starts to work on similarly repairing some of the armor plates on the Warthog's chest.

Jayson Redfield shakes his head. "I never had the chance to use one, so I never learned. I've made it a goal, though." He grins at James. "That sounds sweet." He muses for a moment. "Expensive, huh...damn."

Marissa Faireborn is never going to remember the codenames anyway, so for her they're going to be moot. She'll set up a macro on the Warthog's onboard computer to translate for her whenever they're used. "Each of these machines is twenty million to produce, and more per year to maintain," she tells Jayson, letting it sink in just how expensive 'expensive' is. Repair job like this..." Marissa shrugs, reexamining the combat armour, "Maybe around two hundred thousand?" she glances at Bailey for confirmation, since he's more likely to know for sure.

James Bailey pauses from where he's repairing the last few damaged armor plates on the Warthog's torso. These are the spots where Geist's claws created rents - they can be filled in for now with a special hardening sealant. "Two hundred thousand sounds about right. Of course, the EDC gets volume discounts from our suppliers. Otherwise the materials fabrication for replacement parts would be even more expensive." He sprays shut one of the lasts rents, then steps back and inspects his work. "I think it's almost ready for action, Colonel. The paint could still use some touch-up work, but that's easy enough. You can probably get a couple of troopers with some automated paint-sprayers to help you out."

Marissa Faireborn watches as Bailey works over her Warthog. She really is grateful to have skilled technicians on hand given how hard they are to find right around now. With his skills, James could probably be making a lot more money in the private sector than in Earth Defence Command. When those Warthogs cost... well, you heard the cost. When they cost that much, salaries suffer. Such is the way budgets are handled in the military, sadly. Marvelling at the work done to it, she says with genuine appreciation, "Thank you, Private. I can handle the paint job once I put it through its paces."

Jayson Redfield looks a bit stunned. "Okay, expensive is an understatement..." He idly adjusts his goggles. "So how do we get the money to pay for it all, anyway?"

James Bailey tosses off an informal salute. "No problem, Colonel. Like I said, working on a Warthog can be kind of a rare treat." He turns to look at his own Talon again, then grimaces slightly when he sees that the tech he was arguing with before has removed several panels from the underside and is now tinkering with the wing mounting that was the object of their discussion earlier. "Uh -- Excuse me...I'd better go make sure things are under control over there."

(later, in the same hangar bay...)

Exo-Armor Talon <Andi Lassiter> Robot comes clomping into hangar bay. It's clearly seen some abuse recently, bearing dents, dings, a gash on one side that looks like someone mistook it for a rolled up bamboo mat...

Exo-Armor Talon <Andi Lassiter> Robot keeps moving, the occupant must not have heard Zoe. It stops next to a repair nook and powers down, the compartment opening and Andi climbing out.

Andi Lassiter leaves the Exo-Armor Talon <Andi Lassiter>.

Andi Lassiter has arrived.

James Bailey comes out from beneath his Exo-Armor, where he was working quietly with a few techs. He wipes his hands on a small towel, then looks around and spots Andi. "Hello, Lieutenant." He nods politely. Then he glances over her own Talon. "Everything okay with your ride?"

From Glaive II - Prototype <Nate Briar>, Zoe Briar continues to button mash, somethign will start to work eventually.

Andi Lassiter looks over at James as he says hello and smiles a bit tiredly. "Well, mostly. It's got a few quirks since that tiger-Decepticon bashed it on the side, but otherwise it's been okay. I thought since I've been rotated off of UN cleanup detail for a few days that I'd bring it in to get the dents beaten out."

James Bailey smirks. "I can help you with that. That is, if your normal crew doesn't mind. I can't imagine they would though, the EDC's got a lot of Talons in rotation right now. Those poor techs have to shuttle back and forth between different hangar bays all over the globe just to keep up with the troop rotations."

Andi Lassiter hesitates. "Uh...normal crew?"

From Glaive II - Prototype <Nate Briar>, Zoe Briar presses the button to open the hatch, and looks a bit disapointed.

James Bailey hesitates too, then answers slowly. "Uh...yeah, your normal maintenance crew. The average Talon class takes about three techs to keep in perfect running order." He shrugs. "A lot of pilots don't realize, but it takes about an hour of maintenance time for every four hours a Talon is in operation. And when they're involved in combat, that usually jumps up to one hour of maintenance for every -ten minutes- in combat. That's why most aircraft actually have a dedicated crew of three assigned to them. Wherever your Talon goes, your crew goes."

Uh...oops. Andi now looks like a teenager with their first car who never realized that with the car comes the responsibility of maintenance.

James Bailey grins. "Well...your situation's a little unique, Lietenant. Maybe the maintenance roster just hasn't caught up with you yet. But I'm sure the tech divisions been making sure your Talon is up to specs. Things just get a little stretched during busy periods. After big raids, that kind of thing." He walks over to look at Andi's Exo. "You said you've been noticing a few quirks?"

      • The scanning equipment reports: "Exo-Armor Talon <Andi Lassiter> has 37 out of 62 endurance."***

The Exo-Armor Talon <Andi Lassiter> is at 59% efficiency.

James Bailey's eyebrows go up slightly as he gets a better look. :)

Andi Lassiter nods, turning to follow James back over to the Talon. "Yeah. It's got a little bit of a limp now, and sometimes hitches like a twinge of pain when I would turn the torso to the left." The sword-cut is on the left side of the Talon's torso, about where the waist would be on a human.

James Bailey nods along with each detail as Andi explains. "Yeah, I can see what you mean...well the bad news is, all of those are signs of some pretty serious internal damages. The mechanisms that make our Talons move in robot form are pretty tough, but if they get damaged, even if they're just knocked out of alignment, they start acting up in little ways under all kinds of activity." He turns and whistles loudly, causing the tech still under James' own Talon to look over. James waves him over before continuing. "Luckily, Anders here is a wiz at internal Exo-mechanisms. Between the two of us we can have this thing in shape in no time."

Andi Lassiter watches James and Anders work, fascinated by the differences between the exo-unit's systems and those of a similarly sized cybertronian.

James Bailey completes his repair work on Exo-Armor Talon <Andi Lassiter>.

Andi Lassiter idly comments while watching, "So, um, is there any way to tweak the reflexes on the thing? Sometimes it feels like trying to ballet dance in scuba gear."

James Bailey steps back from where he was working on the Talon and looks up at it in thought. "In theory...but honestly, the current thinking is that if you upgrade a Talon, then what happens when that pilot same has to use an ARES, or a Warthog, or fly a Shrike for some reason? Right now all Exo's perform about the same, aside from small differences in mobility and maneuvering systems. If individual machines are being tweaked, that compatibility and interoperability goes out the window. And it's also an added headache on the tech crews - instead of using the stock parts that work for every Talon, when they work on yours they have to use custom parts."

Andi Lassiter ohs, a bit deflated. "Because I think I could have avoided that cut there if I'd been able to bend just a little more."

James Bailey shrugs. "What I'm saying is, when it comes to reflex and precision, your Exo's mostly only as good as you are. An alternative to upgrading the machine is to option the pilot. That way, no matter what you're strapped into, it performs just as well. Ballet dancing in Scuba gear is actually a good analogy - a world-class ballet dancer would still look graceful. A good dancer is just good, no matter what costume she's wearing." He looks around at all of the techs in the crowded hangar bay, then takes Andi by the elbow and gently leads her a few steps to the side. He says in a low voice, "I actually took Ballet lessons for a couple of months, back when I first started learning to pilot an Exo. It did wonders for my reflexes and coordination. Of course, I like to tell people it was getting involved in the EDC basketball and hockey leages." He grins.

Andi Lassiter smiles, seeming neither surprised nor amused. "Makes perfect sense. I've heard that professional American football players used to do the same for similar reasons. And I've been debating trying my hand at gymnastics for that reason as well.

Nate Briar comes back and feels better now that he no longer has the shrimp attack. Although he feels like the McDonalds he had for breakfast is killing him. He looks at James Bailey and his Ballet speech. He just grins for a moment.

James Bailey shoots a challenging look back at Nate as he catches the end of his little confession. That's right, James is admitting to studying Ballet. According to Andi, NFL players have done it too! That makes it tough and macho, right?? Anyway...he nods to Andi. "In my book, that could only help you piloting one of these Exos." He nods to Anders the NPC techie as he finishes up and wanders off to other work. "Should be as good as new now, Lieutenant."

Andi Lassiter nods, then looks at Nate as he continues on his way.

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