compiled overview of the 35ton Firestarter 'Mech, from various BattleTech novels and game sourcebooks:

The Firestarter was conceived primarily as an indirect assault unit. Constructed by Argile Technologies of Skye from 2550 to the beginning of the Civil War in early 2776, it was successfully marketed as a highly mobile incendiary 'Mech. Nearly 3,000 Firestarter's saw active service. Most 'Mech regiments contained a number of FS9s, and spare parts were usually stocked at all repair depots. Though many Firestarters have been gutted beyond repair, those that survive are usually in good condition. Because the FS9-H was a popular 'Mech, a good supply of spare parts is still available.

The Firestarter was rarely attached to a lance, instead usually assigned to a company or regiment. The commander would deploy the 'Mech to support an attack group or to scout wooded terrain.

Though a real threat to light 'Mechs, a Firestarter can do little against the formidable armor and weaponry of medium and heavy opponents. It was the ability to set fires that made the FS9 so valuable. Skillfully placed blazes could rout enemy forces, break lines, and corner 'Mechs. A whole series of tactics was developed around creating and spreading wildfires. Firestarter pilots are particularly fond of setting dense woods afire while enemy 'Mechs are advancing through them and of igniting buildings that are sheltering enemy units. If an engagement is lost, a Firestarter could create fire and smoke to cover a retreat and to hamper pursuit.

The Firestarter also works well as a scout. Its speed and armor give it good protection in the field. Not only could it map terrain as it traveled, but it could also clear away wooded areas that the enemy might use as defensive positions or for an ambush.

The Firestarter also carried out scorched-earth missions in the early days of the Succession Wars. In recent decades, as armies attempt to capture and hold targets intact, scorched earth has become an extremely rare policy. It is only used when even long-term victory is impossible or when the target is too valuable to fall into enemy hands.

Because Firestarters were common in all 'Mech forces before the Succession Wars, none of the five Successor States has a shortage of these 'Mechs. However, more and more Firestarters are being assigned to lances to replace light and medium 'Mechs lost in action.

In the earliest days of the First Succession War, the Second Lyran Guard was assigned to garrison the planet of Port Moseby. In addition to the regular units of her regiment, Colonel Alexandra Waters was also assigned three Firestarters. Port Moseby was a vitally important trade center, and Waters was ordered to hold it at all costs.

In August 2786, House Kurita attacked. Elements of McGavin's and Johiro's Regiments landed near the capital city, despite the best efforts of Waters' aerospace fighter wing. To escape the constant fighter attacks, the invaders advanced on the capital through heavily wooded country. Seeing her chance, Colonel Waters sent her Firestarters into action.

An intense drought had left the forests tinder-dry, and the Firestarters quickly ringed the Kurita forces in flames. While the enemy 'Mechs struggled through the burning forest, moving slowly to avoid overheating, Waters brought her forces to the edge of the fire, engaging the enemy as it stumbled from the inferno. After only a few hours of combat, the Kurita forces were forced to retreat offworld. While the Second Lyran Guard had suffered only light damage, fewer than half of the attackers escaped.

This was the first major battle in which incendiary 'Mechs were used. Their limited usefulness was emphasized when Kurita forces again assaulted Port Moseby later that year. Because the forests had been completely destroyed in the first battle, Colonel Waters could not repeat her fire-starting tactics. The superior Kurita forces obliterated the Second Lyran Guard.

The first battle for Moseby enhanced the prestige of the Firestarter, and commanders began experimenting with various methods of deploying the FS9. One popular idea concerned grouping the Firestarters into igniter lances, which allowed better coordination of incendiary activities. While this concept worked well during major assault operations, the members of these lances were usually reassigned once the campaign was over.

Firestarters were often piloted by officers in cornmand of Wasp or Stinger units. These fast, light raiding groups usually attacked lightly defended targets or worked as deep penetration scouts.

Note: Information used here was the domain of FASA before they split the rights between Wizkids LLC and Microsoft (table-top gaming and video games respectively). Copyright of the fluff text is in limbo, but names of persons, places, & things are without any doubt the property of Wizkids LLC. Use of any terms here related to the BattleTech trademark are not meant as a challenge to Wizkids LLC's rights.
Author: Stephen King
Published: September 1980
428 pages
$13.95 USD
ISBN 0-670-31541-9
Intended audience: Young Adult

The story begins in 1969, when an experiment is done. Several college students including Andy and Vicky take part in a drug experiment for pay that is run by a secret, brutal government agency known only as “the Shop.” Some of the people involved suffered from dementia and even death. Vicky becomes mildly telekinetic. Andy shows powers of mental domination. These two students later marry and have a child, Charlie McGee. Before Charlie is even out of diapers they realize she has horrifying powers of pyrokinesis. “The Shop” would very much like to isolate, study, and control this child and her unique powers.

Agents for “the Shop” kill Vicky and relentlessly pursue Andy and now 8-year-old Charlie. They leave a wake of destruction. Eventually the agents manage to force Charlie to use her powers in numerous experiments. In doing this they unwittingly give her the opportunity to develop and train this power for a scene of incredible destruction.

This book appeals to science fiction fans, people interested in psi phenomena, and the supernatural, and fans of Stephen King’s style of writing.

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