I feel like I should begin this post with a line borrowed from one of my favorite writers….Asha Bandele
This is a love story.
And it begins in 1996 when I met the woman who would become my dearest friend. We met on America Online back when AOL was the only online place to be. This was the 90’s when you couldn’t open a magazine, order a pizza or grab the mail from your mailbox without an America Online “free trial’ CD-Rom falling out. The 90’s…before personal computers were anywhere as ubiquitous and everyday as smartphones and tablets are today. Her and I didn’t meet in some early-gen chat room for fans of quilt patterns, quantum leap enthusiast or guys with a fetish for amputees. No, we…she & I…Theresa and me met in a Ready Room in MPBT (MultiPlayer BattleTech) an online game years before Everquest or World of Warcraft took over online gaming. This may surprise you but long before games were “massively” multiplayer the were just “multiplayer” and most of the players knew the rest of the players and the personas they portrayed.
Now this game, MPBT was all sorts of kick-ass. In it you were a ‘mechwarrior’. One of the few elite pilots skilled enough to climb into the cockpit of a 20 ton walking tank to battle mano y mano (or even mano y womano). These walking tanks were called “mechs” and there were a couple dozen different models of them to choose from.
I played this game as a noob for months and after these months of playing people better than me….after untallied hours of getting my mechwarrior ass handed to me…after my third $100 joystick got bounced off the indoor/outdoor carpeting of my basement floor and disintegrated into hundreds of pieces. After all of this frustration I miraculously transformed into quite the ‘mech pilot so I deleted my profile, shedding my newbie persona, my handle and my abysmal dueling record. I re-emerged in the game, metamorphosis complete, as “DireWolfe” and instead of being the annoying newbie always asking questions sponging up any and all tips, tricks and tactics from the game’s grizzled veterans I became a larger than life Mechpilot extraordinaire. Not only was I pretty deadly with my sidewinder3D joystick and good at piloting my few fave mechs, but I was also bold and bragadocious and I could type so fast with one hand I was able to wound my foes with my rapier-like wit and my precision lasers simultaneously!
And then….it happened. On a seemingly normal Tuesday night in a random ready room I went from little known to legendary. From, “Who’s that?” to, “Psst…look it’s him..that’s the guy!”
That night there were eight of us in the battle; 4- two pilot teams. There were no tournaments that night, no sanctioned duels or battles between rival houses or warring stables. It was just eight good people hanging out destroying each other’s billion dollar robots of war. I was paired up with a pilot who rocked the handle “Red Delicious” an apple enthusiast (obviously) who I had seen running around in a “Catapult” a heavy-class bird-legged ‘mech with a rack of long-range missiles on each shoulder and a couple lasers. I blew the dust off of my “Wolverine” that night. A medium sized ‘mech with 4 lasers(1 large, 2 medium and 1 small) along with a few jump jets. When everyone in the ready room finally chose their ‘mechs and hit the ready button indicating that they were….well….ready, the dropships rocketed us planet side where the battle was set to take place. The moment our HUDS (heads-up display) popped up My teammate and I used our team comms to layout a very basic strategy:
Red Delicious: Hi.
DireWolfe: See that bunker over to the right?
Red Delicious: Big grey building? Square-ish?
DireWolfe: Yeah…just past the mountain….see it?
Red Delicious: Nope….can’t see it (smile)
DireWolfe: Kool….I’ll scout…you lumber….meet you there.
To be continued….
Does Direwolfe actually become legendary?
Do the two of them win the ‘mech battle?
Is this Red Delicious character the dear friend this entire story is about?
Is the obvious answer to all these a resounding yes?
See it all unfold in the next exciting installment of The Story of BAE!
Rock on and Drive safe
Daniel J. Royston
Categories: Daniel Royston