After resting and recuperating from the shock of Khan Ulric's revelation, I decided that there would be plenty of time to deal with it after my Trial. So, to put it out of my mind, I started practicing furiously in the simulators, and taking out a real Mech whenever the opportunity presented itself.
Some days later, the time for my Trial had arrived. I was assigned to pilot a Timber Wolf, an awesome machine if ever there was one. Not so heavy as Assault class Mechs, it nevertheless carries tremendous firepower, without sacrificing speed. I was allowed minor customizations, so I chose to use a standard configuration; but I decided to drop the near-useless machine guns and the medium pulse laser, and instead add more heat sinks. The conversion was soon completed, and I was allowed to take my Mech out for a test run.
During this period I kept thinking about my strategy on the battlefield. I knew that older warriors were often discomfited if more than one was engaged by an enemy. Further, a battlefield where four Mechs are active and firing is a lot more confusing than one where only two Mechs engage in combat. I had also heard of warriors who had made agreements beforehand so that if the opportunity arose, they would attempt to take down one of their opponent's Mechs in an effort to bag four, and enter the ranks as a Star Colonel -- a feat rarely, if ever, accomplished.
I decided to combine these strategies. Should I feel it would be to my advantage, I would throw the battlefield into a melee by shooting one of my opponent's Mechs. [Note: for more information on what Adrian is talking about, read up on the Trial of Position in the Clan History.] This might just give me a psychological advantage over my opponents -- and also give my opponents something to think about when my erstwhile "comrade" -- the cadet taking his trial at the same time as me -- starts shooting at their backs! However, I decided not to commit myself to this course of action right from the start, for fear that they might be expecting it. I finally settled on a plan -- I would fight the first opponent in the traditional method. If during combat I see that it would be to my advantage to start a melee, I would deal with that situation as appropriate.
Soon after, we were summoned to the battlefield. I mounted my Mech and brought all its weapons online. After performing preliminary checks, I headed to my assigned starting position. Facing me some distance off were a Mad Dog, a Timber Wolf, and a Warhawk. Once combat began, the Mad Dog moved first. I immediately locked on to him, and let loose with 40 LRM's. Then the battle began in earnest.
The Mad Dog put up a valiant struggle, but I outmassed it by fifteen tons, and outgunned it due to my heat dissipation capacity -- it could only fire about half its weapons without risking immediate shutdown! I, on the other hand, could fire almost everything I carried at will. In the end, the Mad Dog went down, but not before severely damaging my armor.
At this point I assessed my situation. I realized that more than half my armor was gone, and there were two Mechs still waiting for me. I decided that it would be inadvisable to bring down the wrath of a Warhawk, in addition to that of the Timber Wolf, in my present condition. Thus, I went one-on-one with the Timber Wolf.
The situation was very similar. Although the other Timber Wolf was also a Prime variant, it was apparently unmodified. That meant that although it matched my armor, it was hobbled by heat problems just like the Mad Dog. However, its pilot was more skillful than that of the Mad dog, and although I eventually shot off both his feet, I was hard pressed to survive the battle.
By the time I was finished with the Timber Wolf, my armor was all but gone, and I had taken several critical hits in the torsos. I realized that I had no chance of defeating the Warhawk, but I charged anyway, hoping to catch the pilot unawares. However, he was ready for me, and after a few well-placed PPC hits, I chose to eject rather than risk being caught in a fusion reactor meltdown.
After cleaning up after the battle, I learned that Khan Ulric had announced my true heritage for all to know, and had assigned me to the Sixteenth Battle Cluster of Gamma Galaxy, one of the most preeminent units in the whole Clan! After proceeding through the ritual acceptance into the warrior ranks and the House of Spoint, I was sent off to meet my new commanding officers. Newly christened Star Commander Adrian Wolf, House of Spoint, I hurried to meet my future.
To be continued ...