Rags to Riches or To the Stars or Bust
The Hermes II was first produced in 2798, based on the original Hermes BattleMech that had been used by the Star League. A heavy scout, the Hermes II boasted respectable weaponry, armoring, and speed, allowing it to easily brawl with lighter ’Mechs or survive an encounter with heavier ’Mechs and retreat. Out of all medium-weight ’Mechs at the time the Hermes II was the easiest to perform field maintenance on, leading to its nickname “old reliable.”
As combination scout/light strike platforms Hermes II ‘Mechs often operated alone, employed for missions for which lighter ’Mechs were too fragile and heavier ’Mechs too clumsy. The Hermes II was in its element when operating in a restrictive environment like a forest or city, where it could employ a most unusual tactic of setting its surroundings on fire to escape pursuit. Since most ’Mech pilots would naturally avoid a fire to prevent overheating and the flames interfered with most thermal scanners, setting a blaze allowed the Hermes II to more easily slip away. When operating as part of a team the Hermes II was usually paired with ’Mechs sharing similar performance statistics, such as the Vulcan or Phoenix Hawk, but it was also paired with heavier ’Mechs like the Hunchback or Centurion where it served as bait to draw the enemy in to its compatriot’s heavier guns.
When first produced the Hermes II had its autocannon mounted in the center of the torso, although this proved to be disastrous since even a minor hit to the chest rendered the weapon inoperable. A replacement model armed with lasers was temporarily deployed while Irian BattleMechs reworked the design and shifted the weapon to its current placement. The Hermes II stayed in production throughout the Succession Wars (with minor stoppages every time Irian’s ’Mech factories were destroyed) and served almost exclusively with the Free Worlds League. A few could be found in the arsenals of the other Great Houses as a result of battlefield salvage and IBMU was willing to sell the design to mercenary units; the company preferred to sell the ’Mech in large lots but was willing to make small custom orders for a premium.
With the slow recovery of lostech Irian was not only able to begin producing the original Hermes again but also upgrade the Hermes II, building upon the original Star League-era schematics they had saved to create the HER-5S model in 3050. As a result of the Clan Invasion and the accords reached by the Great Houses on Outreach, Irian began selling these upgraded models to the rest of the Inner Sphere. The HER-5S was also used to replace older variants within the Free Worlds League Military as part of a massive upgrade program, with the first models going to elite units such as the Free Worlds Guards and slowly trickling down to other units. This also meant a large number fell into the hands of the Word of Blake and were used on both sides of the Jihad.
Weapons and Equipment
The primary weapon on the Hermes II is an Oriente Autocannon/5 in the right torso, a reliable weapon which gives it a respectable reach on the battlefield. A single ton of ammo in the left torso only supplies twenty rounds for the weapon, limiting its utility for true front-line combat. As secondary weapons, the Hermes II carries an Irian Weapons Works Medium Laser in the right arm for anti-’Mech combat as well as an Olympian Flamer in the left for anti-infantry combat. Unlike most ’Mech flamers the Olympian is a liquid-fuel flamer, although it is far safer that other models in that it uses a flammable gel which is prevaporized before ignition by the heating element. This gel is also harder to manufacture and takes up more space than equivalent fuels.
Seven and a half tons of armor provides the Hermes II with good protection, superior to that of the lighter scouting elements it’s likely to encounter. Its Hermes 240 engine gives it a respectable cruising speed of 64.8 km/h, enough to scout ahead of the main force, although the heart of this reconnaissance ’Mech is its Irian E.A.R. Communications System. Powerful enough to communicate with orbiting satellites, drawbacks to system include its bulk and the required surface area it takes up on the ’Mech in order to function.
Ten heat sinks provide the Hermes II with adequate cooling, and were originally what gave the ‘Mech its moniker. The prototype model mounted two of the heat sinks on its heels in the form of distinctive “wings” which could swing away when the ’Mech lay prone on its back. Engineers eventually decided to forgo this layout and removed both from the legs, putting one back with the engine and the other in the left torso. The latter’s placement has provided some relief to Hermes II pilots over the years as the heat sink acts as “armor” for the vulnerable ammo bin. While no longer serving their intended function, the wings remain in place on the production model.