: Ailis CiarachSex
: Wolfhound GriselHomeworld
: Somewhere in Skye ProvinceOriginal Faction
: Lyran AllianceDescription
: Physically, Ailis is easily overlooked - literally overlooked, by most people. She's small, deceptively cute, with short red haired, golden-tan skin spangled with freckles, and delicate. Her normal dress, either loose fatigues and a snug t-shirt, or a moderately grubby coverall, does little to remove the initial impression. Neither does the ubiquitous boot-knife, the leather and wire choker with a wolf's tooth focal, or the matching arm-band.Personality
: There is a lot of attitude packed into that tiny frame, tied up with a thick brogue and a cocky little grin. The only thing missing is the
arrogance that some claim typifies the Mechwarrior - Ailis makes up for it with a code of honour that makes her something of an oddity amongst many of her peers.Background
: Ailis' career could be accurately described as eccentric. Trained in the School of Hard Knocks, she spent a year or two with a small mercenary company. Since a nasty run in that largely gutted that company, she went looking for work and found the Bones. She's been with them since.
Her 'Mech, nicknamed Grisel, was picked up as salvage from the aftermath of her first battle. It is largely stock, although Ailis always has an eye peeled for upgrades.
I've been called a lot of things in my life. Heartless. Blood-thirsty. Cold. The boys say I've no care for anything that isn't my 'Mech, or the field ... well. They're about half right. Some get into this line of work for honour, for glory - how'd that line go? Blood and Honour! Bloody work, and little reward - but I'm a good shot, and possessed of steady nerves, so I earn my pay. ... and all I can spare goes home.
Home, where my sisters sleep, dreaming in safety. Home, where my parents wait, praying that my ashes don't salt the ground I died on. Home, where I might return, if I live that long. I'm not in this for glory. I might be one of the few... but I'm in this for them and my blood pays for their lives.
Ailis closed the book and leaned back, the plaintive strains of Devotee's newest release caressing her ear. ".. the stars wait with us, they say/ And they say that the stars ever burn. They've been saying that for a long time
. Ailis thought, with a wry chuckle, as she examined the playlist and the lyrics. She's been on a 'myths and legends' kick for a while. And they say that the stars will return/From the depths of the night,/from the cold reach of darkness they burn./And maybe, someday, they'll return. Heh. Wonder how many caught the reference?
Ailis shut the 'player off and straightened. There was work to be done yet. Have to replace that faulty myomer - hope my order finally came in. That benighted idiot in procurement has only screwed it up three times. Eight years ago
Muted scrapes and thumps led Marcus out to the back. He followed the sounds to the pile of unsorted scrap, and watched for a minute or two, letting his eyes adjust to the dim light. Eventually, he picked out the thin form of one of the many, many kids, adding to a meagre income with whatever he could steal. Marcus had seen a lot of those kids, many of them orphaned, most of them already living from hand to mouth. It didn't stop him picking this one off the pile with one hand.
She bit him. Marcus managed to keep a grip on the skinny child, even in his surprise and pain. "Here now - stop that! What're ye aboot, lass?!" He carried her into better light, and blinked. He recognised her - the wide green eyes and unruly auburn hair were unmistakable. "Well, now. Decided t' try theft, instead, then."
"That or starve." The child hissed back.
Marcus grunted. "Aye. I wager ye'll not starve in th' gaols."
"No!" The child twisted, kicking out. She had the right idea, but the wrong angle, the old soldier in Marcus noted. Lithe and quick, she tried again, and Marcus pinned her, turning out her pockets quickly. She had a good eye, too.
Marcus thought, ignoring the increasingly more frantic squirming. "Settle down. I've a proposition - nay, lass, settle yer hackles and listen." He held up one of the components. "Ye've a good eye."
"I told you that yesterday." The child had gone still, but he could see the fire still snapping in her eyes.
"Aye, true enough. And I didna believe ye." He leaned down. "But food is easier t' steal than components, inn't lass?" She looked away, colour staining her cheeks, and he nodded. "Ye can't steal food enough for all those who need it, can ye."
"Nay." She had gone limp, the fire gone.
Marcus nodded. "Then, as I said, I've a proposition for ye. Ye're right enough about me needing an assistant. Ye're still too small t' make a good job of it - but if ye can sort those piles, I'll pay ye for that."
She tensed, and her eyes searched his, looking for a trap. Marcus waited silently, and did not let himself smile when she finally nodded. "Alright then, lass. Now - ye've made a start, ye might as well finish 'er up." He straightened, releasing her. He pretended to ignore the flash of gratitude in her eyes as she returned to the pile.
Marcus watched her, as weeks turned to months and months to years. As she grew to trust him, to look up to him, he learned what had happened to her family, that she was responcible for lives other than her own. That she had put her dreams and desires aside for their sake. He saw the raw hunger - and the talent - as she manuevered 'mechs in and out of slips, the way a machine moved almost like a living thing under her hand.
His customers saw it too. When she was denied entrance to the Naglering, on grounds of insufficient funds and training, a few of them took her on instead. They taught her to read a battlefield - and an opponent. They taught her to do more than just manuever a machine - for the men of that battered garrison, Ailis was almost a mascot as much as she was a student.
They never expected her to step up and become more than that - for all the hours of drilling and training, it still came as a surprise to them when she 'borrowed' a 'Mech to help them fight off an attack. When the dust settled, the garrison commander was torn. He considered the girl as she stood in front of him. Sweat still slicked her skin, and strands of dark red hair clung to her face, despite the braids.
"By all rights, I should have you horse-whipped." Cedric informed her, quietly. "At the same time, without your quick thinking, we would have lost." He watched her, watched her hands twitch as she seemed to shrink slightly. "So. What have you to say for yourself?"
Ailis looked down at the floor for a long moment. "I dinnae have anythin' t' say, sir. I was watchin' th' fight. I saw what was happenin', when they started th' flank. I knew ye hadna th' men t' hold th' line if they did it. But... if I borrowed Grisel, I could get there in time. An' one could hold th' pass, if I got there before they did. I should ne'er have done it ... but.. I couldna' watch ye fall."
Cedric nodded slowly. He had seen what Ailis had left of the flanking manuever, in Grisel. "Rest of the month. Active drill." He eyed her. "Full load." Her eyes widened, and he winked at her, before the stone mask fell back into place.
"Aye, sir." Ailis' gaze dropped again to the floor, and she slipped out silently. She knew what 'active drill' meant - it meant she would be running with the infantrists for the next three weeks. And as much as they liked her, there would be no mercy for her - they would, and they could, and they did run her until she collapsed, one way or another.
A year later:
Ailis leaned against the doorframe, listening to her siblings playing. Nearby, Siobhan watched Ailis. She had grown some - better food and exercise had filled out and hardened her tiny frame - but Siobhan could not, quite, imagine Ailis getting much bigger.
"Are you sure about this, Ailis?" Siobhan asked, finally. Her soft Gaelic lilt fractured a little, and Ailis winced.
"Aye. I'm sure." Ailis leaned her head back. "Da would never admit it, but ... no. No, we talked. He agrees - it's the only way. Cedric's agreed to sponsor me - he couldn't get me into the Naglering, but he said .. he knows some people. He can get me a good posting, at least. He'd rather not, but after the trouble with those other mercs..."
Siobhan winced. "And you're sure that's been dealt with? They're not going to come looking for you?"
Ailis sighed. "I'm sure. They might come after /me/ - but not you." She sighed, thinking about the 'Mech now in the garrison's 'Mech bay, waiting. It's former owner would probably not be making any bets like that one again - but then, he wasn't like to forget it either, nor his commander, or any of the rest. Ailis found a smile for her mother. "Don't worry, Mama. I'll be fine. Harris swears up and down this is a good bunch. And I'll send you all I can."
Siobhan snorted, then doubled up coughing. When she finally recovered, she straightened. "Pfah, money. I don't care about money."
Ailis winced again, listening. "To be sure, I'd rather not have to - but it's a fact, you need it. Marcus agreed to apprentice Camden and Laila. Harris found me a good posting - an old friend of his, he said. Between us, you should be okay - all of you." She ran her hands over her hair and folded her arms, looking away. "Anyway... I.. I want to go. I can /do/ this, I know I can. And I want to. It's.. it's not like I'm being forced."
Siobhan sighed. "Write often."
"Of course!" Ailis dropped to a crouch, leaning gently against her mother's legs. "Of course I will." She felt a shaking hand stroking her hair, tucking one of the long braids back and straightening the fluffy 'tail. "And I'll visit when I can." If I can, she thought, with a sigh.
"I know you will." Siobhan sucked in a breath, then leaned back. "You're ready?"
Ailis nodded. "Packed. Said goodbye to Da. Still have to tell the rest."
"Go, then. You don't want to be late." Siobhan lifted her hand, and watched, her vision blurring, as Ailis straightened and walked away. A trail of moisture tickled her cheek, and she wiped it away, saying nothing.
Ailis needed a good fifteen minutes to explain to her siblings and bid them farewells. Her youngest sister gave her that very serious look she sometimes got, then ran off. She came back, clutching her favorite doll.
"Ahh.. Sanna.. I can't take Mirmir.. she's your doll."
Sanna's lower lip pouted. "You need her more than I do." She shoved the doll at Ailis again.
Ailis eyed the doll, then her sister, and the corner of her mouth quirked. "Alright. Alright - don't look at me like that." She crouched down, grunting at the strength of Sanna's hug. "I'll take good care of her."
"You better." Sanna turned and ran then, and Ailis sighed, as she heard the curtain slap against the wall. She carefully tucked the doll into her rucksack, already resigning herself to a certain amount of teasing for possessing it. It fit very well with the other tokens - a piece of agate one of her brothers had found on a long-ago trip, polished smooth from years in a riverbed. Laila gave her a tooth, fashioned into a necklace with the help of a little wire and some leather cord. Camden had helped the rest make a bracelet to match, although Ailis wore it as an armband, instead. Small things. Little pieces of home, to carry with her wherever she went.
Ailis paused in the doorway, taking in the familiar surroundings. Then she closed her eyes and stepped off the stoop. ... and if you're not careful, it'll sweep you away... she chuckled softly, as she opened her eyes, and lengthened her stride. The road could take her where it would. Someday, one way or another she would come back. With her shield... or on it.
"I restored 'er, didn' I?" Ailis eyed the towering hulk of the Wolfhound. Taken as salvage from the self-same battle she had piloted Grisel in to such devastating effect, she had taken on the project of restoring the thing to working order. "Seems appropriate. 'Sides, ye know th' boss'd chop his own leg off afore handin' Grisel - his Grisel - over t' me." She snickered.
"Aye, that he would." Leonard snickered. "Still - ye knocked a fair chunk out of 'er..."
"An' yer point?" Ailis grinned. "Ye know th' Wolfhound's a solid 'Mech - I'd have t' have done more'n kick 'er legs out from under her t' finish 'er off."
"Gah, teach me t' argue with a bonafide expert." Leonard snorted. "Alright. Ye be careful."
Ailis shrugged. "If somethin' does happen.."
"Aye, aye. But still. YOU. Be careful." Leonard prodded her in the ribs. "Ye're a little bit of a thing - half th' Mechwarriors out there got weight on ya outside a 'Mech."
"Half of everybody." Ailis shrugged. "Been so all m' life. Ya fuss like an' old henwife!"
Leonard swelled up like a fighting cock-bird, as Ailis had known he would, and blustered all the way to the Dropship, where they were loading the Wolfhound in. Ailis' new company commander eyed her with some skepticism - Cedric might have spoken well of the girl, but she looked to him like half a child, standing next to the stockier figure of Leonard McAree.
"You Ailis Ciarach?"
"Aye. An' ye'd be Thomas Aubrecht, of th' Silver Legacy Company." Ailis grinned a bit as she snapped to attention.
"Well ... get on with you." Aubrecht looked dubious still, but he waved her past, and watched as she jogged up the passenger ramp, after a good long look at the crew loading her 'Mech. "I was expecting someone ... taller."
"Aye. She'll do ye well, though." Leonard sighed. "Hate t' see 'er go."
"Two six!" Henny's voice was high-pitched and strained. "Two-six! Damnit, Babh, where ARE you?"
"Keep yer britches on.." Ailis muttered. She had Grisel half on all fours, stalking crouched - feeling her way step by cautious step through a miasma of smoke and airborne dirt. "An' all patrols...." She muttered, freezing. An enemy 'Mech paused, leaned forward, as Ailis took a bead. "LOOK OUT!" She roared, at the same time Grisel's heavy laser fired. The other 'Mech straightened - but it was too late. Ailis had had the time and opportunity - and the melted, burned hole in the cockpit told the tale.
"Jeeezus, Babh.." Henry's voice whispered. "You scared the piss out of me."
"Yer welcome. Now get'cher ass out here an' help me get these sassenach straightened out!" Ailis watched her readouts nervously as the smoke began to clear.
"Where's the boss?!"
"I dinnae know! Now get OUT here! There's two left, an' we've got I dinnae know how many left of the Silvers!" Ailis startled herself with the power of her own voice, but it got Henry out of his hiding place. With his help, she could chase off the remaining enemies - most of them, at least. Enough to find enough of the others to regroup and chase them off for good.
It wasn't enough. What remained of them in the aftermath was barely enough for a lance, and the lieutenant reluctantly disbanded the company, once he had done a proper accounting. Most of them headed for Solaris. Ailis headed for Outreach. From there, she joined the Bones, and has been with them ever since.
(Someone want to write in some background on that, toss me a PM - the inbox, it is always open.)Speciality Skills
Considered a decent mechanic/weapons tech. Computers hate her, and the feeling is mutual.
Ailis swears up and down she doesn't have a hobby other than books, but she turns out pretty good camoflage designs, for someone who doesn't paint.
She collects knives, and she's never seen without one. She is quite skilled with them, or without them, albeit this is not common knowledge outside the unit.
Weight Class: 35 tons
Description: Ailis generally has the help of a friend to keep Grisel's paint job in good order. The camoflage patterns give the suggestion of celtic knotwork in the form of a heavily stylised snarling wolf.
1 x Large Laser
4 x Medium Lasers
General Armor Values: 119
Head: 3 9
Center Torso: 11 16
Center Torso (Rear): 6
L/R Side Torso: 8 11/11
L/R Side Torso (Rear): 5/5
L/R Arm: 6 12/12
L/R Leg: 8 16/16