The image of Lord Commander Stryker fighting back-to-back with the ’jack affectionately named Ol’ Rowdy is indelibly imprinted on the minds of those who fight under the banner of the Cygnus. The earth-shaking blows of the warjack’s hammer striking in counterpoint to the flash of the warcaster’s heavy blade has become a familiar spectacle to the men and women of the Storm Division. Although Ol’ Rowdy may look like any other Ironclad at first glance, its eyes smolder with an unusual eagerness to charge into the heart of battle and reduce anything in its path to scrap. It is as much a simple warjack as Coleman Stryker is a simple soldier.
Hailing from the first generation of Ironclads hammered together at Engines East, Ol’ Rowdy has more than five decades of service to its credit. Many of the warjacks produced at that time had an unfortunate flaw in their cortexes that emerged only under the pressure of battle, but it was only after years of fighting during the Scharde Invasions that the ornery temper that would characterize Ol’ Rowdy came to the fore: the ’jack is so eager for a fight it will throw itself at any enemy that dares come near.
Of all the personality quirks a warjack might develop, the habit of charging into battle without prompting is among the least desirable. A ’jack found to have a flaw of this nature generally has its cortex wiped clean, but Ol’ Rowdy’s service record gave the mechaniks reason to leave its cortex untouched. Few ’jacks survived the war, and each boasted valuable combat experience that was impossible to replicate.
Eventually Ol’ Rowdy was retired from the field to serve in the training of young warcasters at the Point Bourne Strategic Academy. The warjack served in this capacity for several years, until it was assigned to twenty-one-year-old Lieutenant Coleman Stryker for his journeyman tour as a test of skill. Stryker’s instructors thought he would learn humility from the challenge of controlling Rowdy; instead, the journeyman warcaster thoroughly enjoyed the machine’s spirit and will to fight.
As the years go by, Ol’ Rowdy stands ever further apart from its peers. Its chassis has been demolished and rebuilt several times, but its cortex has endured. Stryker has invested a large portion of his wages in the warjack to enhance its abilities and keep it in prime fighting condition. At his direction, mechaniks have worked to squeeze every possible ounce of performance out of its systems. Huge custom-built armored plates provide additional protection for its arms, and its steam engine has been expanded and augmented to handle the added weight without sacrificing mobility. Its hull bears a collection of service markers earned in countless battles over the past fifty-odd years, and Stryker has lost count of the number of times Ol’ Rowdy has saved his life—whether by hurling itself into harm’s way or by simply refusing to stop fighting no matter how much punishment it has taken.