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Poll

What is your favorite Star League Era story?

Fall From Grace
12 (50%)
What I Remember Most
1 (4.2%)
So Costly a Sacrifice
0 (0%)
A Veiled Betrayal
1 (4.2%)
Battlefields
0 (0%)
The Theseus Knot
0 (0%)
Memories of Rain
0 (0%)
Seventy
0 (0%)
The Pear
0 (0%)
Destiny's Call
1 (4.2%)
Destiny's Challenge
0 (0%)
Way of the Champion
0 (0%)
Pulsar
2 (8.3%)
The Top of the Scrap Heap
1 (4.2%)
Greater Than Yourself
0 (0%)
Self Defense
0 (0%)
An Ill-Made House
1 (4.2%)
Living Legends
2 (8.3%)
Rise of the Animal
0 (0%)
Star Lord
0 (0%)
Tactics of Betrayal
1 (4.2%)
Desertion
0 (0%)
Hard Justice
1 (4.2%)
The Dark Night of the Soul
1 (4.2%)

Total Members Voted: 24

Author Topic: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era  (Read 81723 times)

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #60 on: 05 February 2013, 06:48:24 »
----- 5 Months Later -----

Date: March 27-28, 2611

Location: Atreus

Title: Fall From Grace

Author: Chris Hartford

Type: Serialized Novel (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  Rhean joins her old Princefield classmate Madeline for breakfast.  Madeline is now a Star League Commissioner, while Rhean has been Warden of the Perimeter Defenses for five years.  She informs Madeline that Lambert Allison continues to be an argumentative bastard.

Rhean has been feeling unwell for months – headaches and now recurrent nausea.  Madeline asks if it’s morning sickness (which would be awkward, given that the marriage isn’t for another three months), but Rhean denies it.  She promises to get a medical checkup that afternoon.

Later, in the Parliamentary Grand Hall, Lambert Allison awaits Rhean’s arrival with his younger brother (Rhean’s fiancé) Carlton.  He needles Carlton with the insinuation that Rhean and Rinalla Centrella are lovers.

After Carlton is paged and abruptly leaves, Lambert chats with Narinder Selaj, making cryptic references to “the Alliance” they had with Marion Marik, Rhean’s grandmother.  Lambert notes that Selaj has been giving the orders and formulating policy, and admires him for being vicious, dangerous, and beloved at the same time.  Their discussions are cut off by Narinder’s news that Rhean has been diagnosed with cancer.

The following day, Rhean still struggles to come to terms with the diagnosis of an aggressive and malignant brain tumor.  Carlton Allison comes to comfort her and offer support, but she tells him she can’t marry him – saying it would be unfair to him.  He protests, telling her he’ll do anything for her, get her anything she wants.  As he departs, she whispers “Zane.”

Notes:  Rhean earlier suspected that Marion had ordered the death of Therese Marik and her unborn half-Liao child.  Now we have apparent confirmation that Marion Marik, Narinder Selaj and House Allison (probably Lambert’s father, since Lambert would have been too young to be involved in such activities) formed a secret Alliance when Marion was Captain-General.  Albrecht was clearly killed because he’d stumbled onto evidence of the Alliance, implicating Marion.

Just imagine if it had been morning sickness, though?  “Victor – we’ve got some unusual results back from the bloodwork on Isis, Thomas and Joshua.  Joshua matches Thomas now, and Isis was confirmed as Thomas’ daughter after the bombing.  However, Isis and Joshua don’t match.  Thomas Marik is an imposter!  Also, just for kicks, we ran Isis’ bloodwork against yours, and it turns out that you’re cousins!”
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 21:39:10 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #61 on: 06 February 2013, 06:50:43 »
----- 1 Year Later -----

Date: March 12, 2612

Location: Atreus

Title: Fall From Grace

Author: Chris Hartford

Type: Serialized Novel (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  One year into chemotherapy for her cancer, Rhean has lost her hair and is gaunt and emaciated.  Brion Marik argues with Rhean about whether she’s well enough to attend a session of the Star League council.  Brion (whose own health is failing) needs to bring an heir, and suggests Rhean’s younger brother Quentin, and that he can’t risk her collapsing at a meeting with the Dukes of Regulus and Oriente in attendance.  He relents, and allows her to attend, with Melissa Humphreys (a Duchess, but not linked to Andurien - which is a Capellan holding at this point) and her brother Quentin as advisors.

Notes:  Cancer remains one of the unsolved scourges of mankind, even in the Star League era.  The disease strikes Selanta Amaris in 2649, Michael Cameron in 2690,and Marco Steiner in 2952.  Cancer isn’t terribly common in the Marik line, with only Stephan Marik – Janos & Anton’s father – noted as dying of it in 2990. 

It’s interesting that with all the training and preparation lavished on Rhean, her brothers are regarded as significantly less qualified to fill her shoes.  Slacking off on their “just in case” preparations seems a major oversight for a House that’s particularly prone to cases of “sudden onset regicide.”

Continuing the serial’s theme of having Rhean as the personification of the Star League, her cancer would seem to reference the growing corruption within the League.  (The metaphor gets a bit temporally strained, though, since the Periphery tax shenanigans, secret border wars, and eventual Amaris coup won’t take place for more than a century.)
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 21:42:54 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #62 on: 07 February 2013, 06:27:56 »
----- 1 Month Later -----

Date: April 4 – July 2, 2612

Location: Terra

Title: Fall From Grace

Author: Chris Hartford

Type: Serialized Novel (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  Rhean and Melissa Humphreys talk during their DropShip’s entry into Terra’s atmosphere.  Melissa addresses the Zane Davion situation, letting Rhean know that her “diplomatic negotiations” with him in France were reported by the security details, though Melissa chose to keep Brion out of the loop.  Having spent 20 years as governor of Canopus, very little shocks her, and she offers Rhean a secluded place in Switzerland where she can meet Zane without risking a public scandal.

However, Zane fails to arrive at their rendezvous.  His wife, Elaine, arrives instead.  She warns Rhean to stay away from Zane, and says that she’s well aware of his “wandering eye.”  He’s apparently bedded scores of palace maids and junior staffers.  She’s more concerned that a falling out between Rhean and Zane could lead to war.  She threatens to leak recordings of Rhean’s 2610 fling with Zane if she persists, and Rhean agrees to back off.

After weeks of council sessions, Rhean meets with Rinalla and Carla Centrella.  Rinnalla reveals that she’ll be stepping down as Magestrix due to a cancer similar to Rhean’s, which will kill her inside of six months.  She says she intends to go out partying.

As the spring session recesses for the summer, the delegations go their separate ways.  Rhean and Rinalla watch “Sword-one” depart with Zane aboard.  Rinalla and Rhean say final farewells, and the Magestrix exhorts Rhean to continue fighting to live. 

Tragedy strikes again, as Rhean’s brother Quentin suffers a fatal heart attack.  This leaves only her younger brothers David and Ward, plus Quentin’s 14-year old son Tomas, behind Rhean in the line of succession.

Notes: The section of Fall From Grace focuses on endings.  More of the Marik family meet early ends (Brion dies little more than a year later), and the ever full-of-life Rinalla also succumbs.  Rhean’s love affair with Zane is decisively terminated.

Zane Davion appears to have had more in common with Leonard Kurita than was previously thought, though at least he didn’t send troops to round up any children that may have resulted from his innumerable affairs.  Elaine Davion’s reference to Zane as a ‘charming bastard’ turns out to be more correct than Rhean knew.  According to Handbook: House Davion, the Star League courts finally ruled on the financial manipulations that the Mariks had engineered in the Federated Suns (and which Rhean and Zane were supposed to be resolving through “diplomatic negotiations”), awarding trillions of SL dollars in damages to House Davion (seizing and transferring FWL and Marik assets within the Federated Suns and Terran Hegemony to the Federated Suns) during the Captain-Generalcy of Rhean’s nephew Tomas, sending the FWL’s economy into a nosedive while Zane presided over a “golden age” for the Federated Suns.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 21:45:36 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #63 on: 08 February 2013, 15:32:17 »
----- 2 Years Later -----

Date: May 2 – June 10, 2614

Location: Terra

Title: Fall From Grace

Author: Chris Hartford

Type: Serialized Novel (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  Captain-General Rhean Marik (since her father’s death in mid-February), attends yet another Star League council session, assisted by Duchess Melissa Humphreys (now in her 80s).  She exchanges pleasantries with her peers – Archon Kevin Steiner, Coordinator Sanethia Kurita, and First Lord Nicholas Cameron, but acknowledges First Prince Zane Davion with cool formality.

This session is devoted to interstellar communications, and the debate over levying taxes on member states to pay for maintenance and expansion of the courier service. Kevin Steiner suggests research into drone JumpShips, which could improve communication times from Terra to House capitals from 3-4 weeks down to one week, with careful scheduling.  Rhean puts forth the idea of sending radio signals through hyperspace, noting progress by the FWL’s Rhylene HyperTech on a theoretical model.

Towards the end of the spring session, Rhean catches up with Madeline.  She complains that the business of the Star League is being complicated by feuding between Houses Calderon and Cameron, penny-pinching by Sundermann Liao, and tension between Rhean and Zane.  Rhean laments to Madeline that Lambert Allison never misses an opportunity to comment on how she ruined Carlton’s life by breaking off the engagement.  She mentions that the three leading families of the FWL – Marik, Allison and Selaj, once had a mutually supporting Triumvirate agreement, but that Albert Marik’s ascension to the Star League council had pushed the other Dukes to the background.  Madeline suggests she have her brothers David and Ward look into whether Lambert and Narinder are up to something.

Notes:  The technical discussions at the council meeting lay the groundwork for two key pieces of Star League technology – the HyperPulse Generator for instantaneous interstellar communications and the drone JumpShips which eventually evolved into the League’s Achilles heel – the automated drone warships that comprised the mobile element of the Hegemony’s space defense systems.

The ‘Triumvirate’ reference begins to shine some light on Lambert Allison’s reference to “the Alliance” with Marion Marik and Narinder Selaj.  It’s interesting to ponder whether Marion made some special arrangements with the Dukes of Regulus and Oriente to take covert action to keep the FWL from getting sucked too deeply into Albert Marik’s beloved Star League.  (For example – a Marik-Liao child in the line of succession could have been leveraged to further unify the states of the Inner Sphere, Federated Commonwealth-style, which is an outcome that many in the old guard would, and did, oppose.)
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 21:46:58 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #64 on: 09 February 2013, 07:20:56 »
----- 1 Year Later -----

Date: May 9-19, 2615

Location: Terra

Title: Fall From Grace

Author: Chris Hartford

Type: Serialized Novel (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  Rhean attends a soccer match with Magestrix Carla Centrella to watch Carla’s husband Curtis Yakubu play.  The recently wed Carla is expecting her first child, though Rhean recalls NIA reports that Curtis has a “wandering eye” similar to Zane. 

As the Star League council plows through economic and military planning issues the following day, Rhean collapses and is raced to the hospital.  Nicholas Cameron suggests experimental gene therapy pioneered by House Davion.  Rhean sees that Zane is in the hospital room, and the cold distance of the past few years evaporates.

Rhean lapses into a coma during treatment, going through an extended dream sequence.  She envisions herself as a Warhammer, striding through a vivid green landscape, destroying a pristine forest.  The scene shifts, and she’s now on Atreus (still as a ‘Mech).  Striding to Parliament, she sees Lambert Allison on the steps, laughing at her.  Enraged, she lays waste to the capital trying to get him, but fails.  The scene shifts to the Court of the Star League.  A demonic Leonard Kurita exhorts her to destroy it, while an angelic Rinalla cautions her to look elsewhere for the causes of her trouble.  The scene shifts to Avalon City.  Striding towards the palace, she finds her way blocked by Elaine and Sarah Davion.  Sarah screams at Rhean – “You can’t have Daddy!”  Banished from New Avalon, Rhean feels herself falling, then awakens in the hospital, with Zane bending over her.  He informs her that the treatment seems to be working.

Notes:  The dream sequence hearkens back to the story’s prelude, at which 3-year-old Rhean announced that she wanted to be a Warhammer when she grew up.  All around her, she sees her family and friends creating life and going for what they want, but she feels that all she can do is destroy.

The success of the gene therapy against Rhean’s cancer is interesting, given the number of high profile cancer deaths among ruling families in the coming centuries.  Either it’s not a full cure, only works for certain types of cancer, or else the treatment became LosTech during the Succession Wars.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 21:57:54 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Wrangler

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #65 on: 09 February 2013, 10:44:34 »
Its going to be interesting how this story going turn out.  If we'll see if Rhean lived beyond 2616, with Handbook Marik mentioning how there conspircy theory she lived heck of alot longer.
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #66 on: 09 February 2013, 16:21:58 »
If you're impatient, you can buy the finale here: http://www.battlecorps.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=2179 from the BattleShop.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #67 on: 10 February 2013, 00:35:13 »
----- 7 Months Later -----

Date: November 17 – December 11, 2615

Location: Atreus

Title: Fall From Grace

Author: Chris Hartford

Type: Serialized Novel (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  Rhean, still recovering from her cancer, attends a session of the FWL parliament on Atreus.  She feels the antipathy of many of the MPs towards her – especially those from the Oriente and Regulus blocs.  Speaker Shavpurtray asks how long until she departs for Terra again, causing her to think fondly of Zane.

At the end of the parliamentary session, in December, Lambert and Narinder discuss Rhean’s departure and the prospects for controlling young Tomas Marik – just seventeen years old and still at Princefield.  They discuss the option of eliminating Rhean, should she interfere with their plans, and obliquely reference their involvement in the killings of Therese and Albrecht.  Narinder mentions that NIA Director Kreiss supports the conspiracy, and views Rhean’s romance with Zane as a national security matter.  Lambert and Narinder resolve to seek actionable evidence so they can indict Rhean and propel Tomas into the Captain-Generalcy while he’s still young and malleable.

Notes:  Rhean torments the Regulan speaker of Parliament, who has hyperspace transit disorientation syndrome (aka ‘jump sickness’), with a description of the trip to Terra.  It takes five days to make the 15 jumps, doing three per day along the command circuit.  Going back to “Memories of Rain,” that means that the couriers between Barcelona and Tharkad could have put Viola on top of the Estates General in four days, rather than the 11 weeks it took to go it alone.

The fact that the NIA is working with a shadowy conspiracy is intriguing.  The Intelligence Operations book says that the NIA helped House Marik stay one step ahead of opposing factions in Parliament, while routinely lying to Parliament about its activities and falsifying records of operations.  The discovery of this double dealing led to a public scandal and the creation of SAFE.  Yet here, the NIA director is assisting the opposing factions against House Marik. 
 
The Covert Operations book adds more details, dating the beginning of the NIA’s corruption from 2588 and its disbandment to 2631.  That timeline would seem to link it to Marion Marik’s shadowy “Triumvirate Alliance” with Selaj and Allison.  Covert Ops says that the graft and corruption allowed NIA agents to pursue their own private agendas and those of their patrons – an apt description of Kreiss’ actions.  This would seem to confirm that Brion Marik’s head of security, Ross MacArthur, was a little too efficient in responding to Albrecht’s assassination.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 21:58:20 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #68 on: 11 February 2013, 06:45:06 »
----- 1 Month Later -----

Date: December 23, 2615 – January 19, 2616

Location: Terra

Title: Fall From Grace

Author: Chris Hartford

Type: Serialized Novel (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  The gene therapy has allowed Rhean to recover enough to renew her affair with Zane on Terra.  Zane no longer cares what Elaine thinks, and his daughter/heir Sarah has made her peace with the relationship.

Rhean realizes she needs to focus more on preparing Tomas to succeed her as Captain-General.  At his 18th birthday in January, Rhean hosts a party for him in Unity City.  She notices tensions between Tomas and her friend Madeline’s son Andrew – likely over Tomas’ relationship with Andrew’s sister.  Her bodyguard, Evie, reveals that her own son Jake has been informally keeping an eye on Tomas at Princefield.

With delegations from most of the Great Houses in attendance (minus Avellar and Liao), Rhean formally designates Tomas as her successor as Captain-General and delegate to the Star League Council.  At the party, Rhean and her peers chat, while their children bond (and flirt) as well – not unlike when Rhean was at the core of the “kids’ clique” in the Star League’s early days.

Rhean has to excuse herself from the party due to illness.  Morning sickness, to be precise…

Notes:  Dynastic unions have always been a major conflict driver in the Inner Sphere.  Therese was assassinated to prevent a Marik-Liao from entering the mix, and now we have a Marik-Davion potentially in direct line of succession.  A similar situation a century later led to a major Davion/Kurita border war over the question of succession.  Not to mention the chaos that ensued from the whole Steiner-Davion business. (Hmmmm – seeing a common theme that adding “-Davion” to an heir’s name leads to carnage.)  This probably isn’t going to end well.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 21:59:14 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #69 on: 12 February 2013, 00:21:14 »
----- 2 Months Later -----

Date: March 12-15, 2616

Location: Atreus

Title: Fall From Grace

Author: Chris Hartford

Type: Serialized Novel (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  Rhean breaks the news of her pregnancy to the ruling elites of the Free Worlds League, but does not disclose the identity of the father.  However, it’s clear to her from the expressions on Lambert’s and Narinder’s faces that they suspect.  Selaj questions whether the child’s lineage could create a diplomatic crisis.

In private, Lambert, NIA Director Maria Kreiss, and Narinder discuss options.  Lambert suggests an ultimatum – resign within 48 hours or die.  Kreiss worries that if she accepted resignation, the potential for political disruption would remain.  Selaj says that anything that would get Rhean out of power and her child removed from the line of succession would be acceptable, and the conspirators resolve to build a coalition among the other noble houses and in Parliament to force Rhean out.

The next day, Rhean ponders the petition calling for her resignation, backed by everyone except for her brothers, Melissa Humphreys, and General Pagliarulo – her former commandant at Princefield.  Tomas advises her to fight Regulus and Oriente, and says he doesn’t want the job of Captain-General.  Rhean tells him that she’s been training to be Captain-General since she was thirteen, but her cancer has changed her perspective.  Though her predecessors ruled for decades, she might have only months left, and would very much like to enjoy what time she has left.

On the 15th, Rhean signs a document announcing that she’s stepping down “for health reasons,” passing the Captain-Generalcy to her nephew Tomas.  Lambert chortles over Rhean’s departure, and tells her to be gone as soon as possible.  Narinder suggests that a camera crew could record a statement from Rhean for the press.  Instead of the camera crew, however, Carlton Allison (Rhean’s former fiancé) enters and pulls a silenced pistol on Rhean and her unarmed bodyguard Evangeline.

Without warning, he shoots the two guards dead, and informs Rhean that Lambert had planned for the guards to kill them once they were off-world and out of public view.  He reveals that Narinder Selaj gave the orders, and has been ordering similar assassinations over the years to protect the power of the Triumvirate – originally an alliance of the heads of Houses Marik, Allison and Selaj to subvert Parliament.  He confirms that Marion Marik ordered Therese’s death in order to maintain the purity of the family line.

With some equipment (guns, uniforms, security passes) from Carlton, Rhean and Evangeline attempt to escape.  Evangeline and Rhean switch clothes, since Evangeline looks enough like Rhean to serve as a body double.  Evie draws off the guards, while Rhean makes for the exit in an escape van.  Smashing through a security barrier, she speeds onto the streets of Atreus City and heads for the rendezvous point.  However, a Triumvirate Griffin is waiting for her there, and destroys her vehicle, despite a last-minute attempt by a loyalist Locust to intervene.
 
Lambert and Narinder crow over their victory, once the DNA confirms Rhean’s death.  They put out the story that Rhean died in her sleep, and begin making plans to deal with Tomas.  Selaj later meets with Tomas and informs him of his status as a powerless figurehead, as long as Selaj controls the FWLM as the Warden of the Perimeter Defenses, noting that the FWL can get along without a Captain-General, if need be.  Tomas shows some steel, however, reminding Selaj that he remains Duke of Atreus.

Notes:  Uff da!  A big finish to Chris Hartford’s massive “Fall From Grace” storyline.  One that should, by all rights, be ranked along with the main spine novels like ‘Heir to the Dragon,’ given that both chronicle the life of an Inner Sphere leader and touch on pretty much every major event that took place in the Sphere during that period, giving it a living immediacy that doesn’t come from a dry sourcebook entry.  The author notes that he modeled “Fall From Grace” on the structure of HttD, though Rhean Marik’s tale has more politics than action, compared to Theodore Kurita’s.

Of note, Rhean barely appears in the original Marik sourcebook, and just gets a sidebar listing in Handbook: House Marik, with a notation that some conspiracy theorists think she was the victim of an assassination plot.  Hartford took that small blurb (which, granted, he also wrote) and fleshed it out into a novel spanning the founding of the Star League, Reunification War, and more politics than you can shake a stick at.  Well done!

Though the antagonists come out on top, many of them have sown the seeds of their own destruction.  Narinder Selaj’s hostility towards Tomas Marik foreshadows the coming showdown between the Mariks and the Regulan rulers, which peaks with the Regulan-backed Scourge of Death’s attempt to wipe out the Mariks wholesale by bombing a family retreat in 2678, and the subsequent expulsion of House Selaj from the Free Worlds League.  Likewise, the NIA’s involvement in the Triumvirate conspiracy to undermine Parliament is what brings about its dissolution in 2631 and replacement by an intentionally handicapped SAFE.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 21:59:59 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #70 on: 12 February 2013, 11:58:26 »
Wow, what ending for her.  I kept thinking she escaped due to what the Family Tree suggested. 
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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #71 on: 12 February 2013, 16:36:37 »
He hasn't come to the epilogue yet.....*whistles innocently*

Seriously, this and Bonfire of Worlds were one of the best two reasons to have a BC Subscription.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #72 on: 13 February 2013, 00:12:22 »
----- 9 Months Later ----

Date: December 2, 2616

Location: Bellatrix

Title: Instant Fame

Author: Randall N. Bills

Type: Scenario (Northwind Highlanders)

Synopsis:  Ajax’s Avengers, disreputable mercenaries formed by troops demobilized in the post-Reunification War peace, had turned bandit and tried to take over the Capellan colony on Bellatrix.  The Second Battalion of McCormack’s Fusiliers was dispatched to eliminate them, but found themselves facing a whole regiment.  The Highlanders’ superior tactics turned the tide and put the Avengers to flight. 

This scenario takes place during the mopping up on Bellatrix’s southern continent, pitting middle-weight Highlander ‘Mechs against eight Heavy/Assault ‘Mechs from Ajax’s Avengers.  The terrain is fairly open, with clusters of woods providing some cover, and the Snowfall rules (+1 penalty on all to-hit rolls, +1 penalty on all piloting rolls, PSRs required when jumping into woods, +1 penalty to the TN when jumping into heavy woods) apply.

The Avengers’ goal is sheer survival.  They get only 7 points for taking out a Highlander ‘Mech, while the Highlanders get 15 for bringing down an Avenger ‘Mech.  The Avengers get a 5 point bonus for each ‘Mech that survives to the end of Round 15. 

Notes:  The sourcebooks refer to social problems that developed after the Reunification War ended.  With no more enemies to fight, huge numbers of professional soldiers who couldn’t make the cut for the SLDF or the downsized House militaries hit the open market as mercenaries or, in many cases, bandits.  It’s odd that Ajax’s Avengers believed that they could knock over the local militia and simply take over a member world of a Great House/Star League Member State without fear of retaliation, since their former colleagues in the SLDF (not to mention the CCAF) would be only too happy to get some action by putting them down hard.  Perhaps they did something to take out the courier JumpShips in the system, and assumed that the system would just fall off the maps if nobody heard from it in a while.  (Heck, it worked for ComStar during the 1st Succession War…)

As with the previous Northwind Highlanders scenario, “Rebirth,” the TO&E for the two forces is rife with anachronisms.  Most designs are from TRO: 3050.  The author’s goal, of course, was to show that Star League-era ‘Mechs were superior to 3025-era downgrades, and there was a limit to what ‘Mechs Randall Bills had to work with when he compiled the book.  Given the greater details we now have of this era, the scenario should be seen as more of an approximation of a historical engagement, rather than an accurate recreation.

Using the Historical: Reunification War RATs, I’d recommend the following substitutions:

Highlanders

1st Company Command Lance: 

STC-2D Striker -> STC-2C Striker
ON1-M Orion -> ON1-C Orion
DV-7D Dervish -> DV-6M Dervish
GRF-1DS Griffin -> GRF-1N Griffin

2nd Company Command Lance

ARC-4M Archer -> ARC-1A Archer
RFL-5D Rifleman -> RFL-1N Rifleman
OSR-2D Ostroc -> OSR-2C Ostroc
SHD-5M Shadow Hawk -> SHD-1R Shadow Hawk

Recon Lance

CLNT-3U Clint -> FRB-1E Firebee  (The Clint debuted in 2607, but Capellan-aligned mercs probably wouldn’t have access to cutting edge designs intended for the exclusive use of SLDF regulars only nine years later.)
COM-5S Commando -> FLC-4N Falcon  (The Commonwealth went to great pains to keep the Commando exclusively in Lyran hands during the Star League era, so the Capellan-made Falcon seems more appropriate.)
FS9-S Firestarter -> FS9-A Firestarter

Ajax’s Avengers

Command Lance

WHM-7M Warhammer -> WHM-6R Warhammer
ZEU-9S Zeus -> BWP-2B Ymir (the Zeus didn’t debut until 2787, per current canon)
HBK-5M Hunchback -> HBK-4G Hunchback
WHM-7S Warhammer -> WHM-6R Warhammer

Assault Lance

STK-5M Stalker -> STK-3F Stalker
VTR-9K Victor -> VTR-9B Victor
WHM-7S Warhammer -> WHM-6R Warhammer
TDR-9SE Thunderbolt -> TDR-5S Thunderbolt

Optimal strategy for Ajax’s Avengers would seem to be to cluster in one of the two large groups of woods on the eastern map and sit tight while trying to concentrate their fire on the Highlanders as they approach.  If they rotate damaged ‘Mechs to the rear as they get critically damaged, they may be able to keep their numbers up to the deadline.  They don’t have the speed to outrun the Highlanders, so forting up and relying on massed firepower would seem to be the order of the day.  Aside from the Hunchback, the Warhammer-heavy force has plenty of long-range firepower, so if they position themselves where they have clear, overlapping lanes of fire, the Highlanders will suffer heavy damage on the approach.

The Highlanders enter from the west, and have less in the way of armor or long-range firepower.  If the Avengers hunker down in the central eastern woods, the Capellan mercs could approach along the south, using the southeastern stretch of woods for cover until they get close enough to rush the Avengers’ positions.  1st Company’s Command Lance is LRM-heavy, so putting a spotter out of range on the western side of the map and softening up the Avengers before the charge would make things easier, depending on how close to the time limit you cut it.  Charging the fresh, undamaged Avengers would probably be a slaughter (Running + Snowfall + Enemy in Heavy Woods = +5 TN penalty for attackers, vs. Standing + mobile enemies + Snowfall = +3 TN penalty, on average)

If the Avengers get aggressive, then the Highlanders have it made.  Their vastly superior mobility can allow them to maneuver around the clusters of woods and bring superior numbers and firepower to bear on the Avengers as they get strung out and separated.

The Highlanders need to kill at least two Avengers to break even against the Avengers’ survival bonus, and take out one Avenger for every two Highlander ‘Mechs that go down in order to maintain pace in scoring.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 22:01:11 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #73 on: 13 February 2013, 09:51:22 »
Mendrugo, have writers said anything about canonity of the scenario book pre-4th succession war events?  That answer you got back from them about TPTB about "Rebirth" didn't sound good about book's content remaining canon.. I hope remains canon, just fixed..
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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #74 on: 13 February 2013, 10:04:21 »
I haven't asked, but I assume that everything except "Rebirth" remains canon.  The primary issue with "Rebirth" wasn't just that anachronistic units were used, but that the core premise of the scenario was that the FWL was field testing technology which, per current canon, wouldn't exist for nearly a century.
« Last Edit: 13 February 2013, 10:09:49 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #75 on: 13 February 2013, 11:53:25 »
I haven't asked, but I assume that everything except "Rebirth" remains canon.  The primary issue with "Rebirth" wasn't just that anachronistic units were used, but that the core premise of the scenario was that the FWL was field testing technology which, per current canon, wouldn't exist for nearly a century.
It be easier TPTB could just say the original arthor made typo on the year. I found allot of the house books usually suffer from that.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #76 on: 14 February 2013, 00:13:10 »
----- 4 Months Later -----

Date: April 9, 2617

Location: Terra

Title: Fall From Grace

Author: Chris Hartford

Type: Serialized Novel (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  An epilogue to Fall From Grace reveals that even the conspiracy theorists didn’t come close to the real story.  Annalise’s Locust managed to hold off the Triumvirate Griffin long enough for Rhean to escape from the van and for Evangeline to throw a vial of Rhean’s blood into the wreckage to confuse the DNA analysis and effectively fake Rhean’s death.  They successfully extracted to Terra, where Rhean is now living in Switzerland under her Princefield cover-name of Frieda Moran.  Tomas knows she’s alive, as do Nicholas Cameron and Zane Davion, but to the rest of the Inner Sphere, she’s dead and buried.

Zane’s renewed pursuit of massive legal claims against the Free Worlds League is placed into context, reflecting his attempt to harm the conspirators who deposed Rhean and tried to kill her.  Zane and his daughter Sarah visit Rhean’s safehouse in Switzerland, and Rhean presents Zane with his son – Albert Alexander Marik-Davion.  Sarah immediately dotes on her half-brother.

Notes: A happy ending after all for Rhean and Zane.  It’s interesting to speculate on the fate of Albert Alexander “Moran” and his offspring on Terra.  It would be cosmically ironic if ComStar had recruited one of his descendants to stand in for the wounded Thomas Marik in the 3030s.  (Hey Victor, it turns out ‘Thomas Marik’ isn’t related to Isis…but he is related to you.)
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 22:02:30 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #77 on: 15 February 2013, 01:07:47 »
----- 75 Years Later -----

Date: October 4-5, 2692 [See Notes]

Location: Buckminster

Title: Seventy

Author: Rhian Hunt

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  Kawana Takauji and Shimobu Yoshitora study at the feet of their sensei, Nagamaru Okimoto.  Okimoto has won sixty-nine BattleMech duels and, per the elaborate codes governing ‘Mech duels in the Draconis Combine during the relatively peaceful early Star League era, will be allowed to open his own MechWarrior dojo upon winning his seventieth battle.  Okimoto was a Chu-i in the DCMS before the mass peacetime demobilization of 2650, and describes himself as a follower of the Way of the Bow and Spear.

For the seventieth battle, Okimoto selects SLDF officer Hans Badeau, who agrees good naturedly, having already defeated ten ronin in previous duels, eight of whom were so shamed in the battle that they committed seppuku afterwards.  Many had similar track records to Okimoto’s own, and had been close to opening their own dojos.  Okimoto contemplates defeat if he adheres to the path of the samurai, and suggests to Kawana that the path of the ninja might lead to victory, should Badeau’s ‘Mech be sabotaged before the fight.  Kawana departs with a substance that, properly applied to myomer, will slow a BattleMech’s response time.

Badeau meets Okimoto at the controls of his Black Knight, while Okimoto pilots a Guillotine.  The battle rages until Okimoto estimates that the myomer sabotage has taken effect.  His alpha strike cores the Black Knight, but Nagamaru feels deep shame for having resorted to dishonorable tactics to claim victory.

That night, to atone for having strayed from the road of honor, he prepares to end his life with the seppuku ritual.  However, he is interrupted by Takauji, who apologizes for not having carried out the sabotage.  As this renders Okimoto’s victory honorable, the two rejoice and commence planning the creation of their new dojo.

Notes:  The story’s datestamp of 2662 is somewhat questionable, vis-à-vis the sourcebook accounts.  While the Edict of 2650 that capped House army sizes means that Chu-i Okimoto would have mustered out 12 years prior to this story, the Star League sourcebook and Field Manual:SLDF state that the first duel involving an SLDF warrior took place on Benjamin in 2681 – a good 19 years after “Seventy,” and no SLDF MechWarriors achieved a legitimate win until after the Gunslinger program graduates arrived in the Combine in 2687.  (Daniel Allison, one of the best SLDF duelists, engaged in 60 duels over the course of 42 years, Wilbur Frews fought 19 in seven years, and Oha Heller fought 10 duels in four years, so Badeau’s 11 duels in five years would be in the ballpark.)

The story would work perfectly as written if it were set in 2692 instead of 2662 (albeit making Okimoto in his 60s or 70s, rather than his 30s-40s – though that’s not really an issue in an era when people regularly live active lives into their 90s).

Okimoto’s “path of the ninja” myomer slowing substance seems like a trick right out of the Solaris VII playbook.  One might suspect that anyone searching the storerooms of the DeLon, Toranaga or Silver Dragon stables could find substantial quantities.  It would be interesting to know whether it has any chemical similarity to the catalyst that causes triple-strength myomer burst into flame.  It's fun to speculate as to its in-game effects:  -1 MP to walking rate? -1 bonus on to-hit target numbers against affected targets? +1 penalty to piloting rolls made by the affected unit?
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 22:08:57 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #78 on: 16 February 2013, 07:43:05 »
----- 2 Years Later -----

Date: July 18, 2694 [See Notes]

Location: Buckminster

Title: The Pear

Author: Rhian Hunt

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  Nagamaru Okimoto trains his students in the Way of the Bow and Spear at his dojo on Buckminster.  An engagement between Kawana Takauji in a Champion and Shimobu Yoshitora in a Lancelot ends poorly for Kawana, when Shimobu violates engagement protocols on Okimoto’s orders to teach Kawana the dangers of complacency and assuming your opponents will play by the rules.

Okimoto follows the training session with a tea ceremony for his seven best pupils.  Yoshitora contrasts sharply with Takauji.  While Takauji strives for honor and subtlety on the path of the samurai, Yoshitora would prefer to slam back sake in an ukiyo with some geishas than perform tea rituals.

A message arrives from the Coordinator, asking for the dojo’s assistance in acting as bodyguards for a Combine negotiator named Kobota and his wife, Hisa, during sensitive talks with Star League envoys.  Takauji is assigned to shadow Kobota, while Yoshitora will protect Hisa.  After an uneventful day of guarding their charges, Yoshitora gets bored while Lady Kobota is shopping, and accepts a drugged cup of sake from someone in an SLDF uniform.  When he awakens, Hisa is gone and her maidservant lies dead in the back of her limousine.

Tempers flare at the dojo, as the students call for vengeance against the Star League.  Sensei Okimoto calms them by pointing out that having someone in an SLDF uniform do the drugging is probably just a clumsy ploy to shift blame to the League.  Discussing the crime scene, Yoshitora recalls smelling a pear inside the groundcar where the maid was killed.

Okimoto declares his intention to seek assistance on this matter from the rival Kikuhonshi dojo, despite a history of tense relations.  Kikuhonshi has more students, but the better candidates tended to gravitate to Okimoto.

At the Kikuhonshi dojo, Okimoto is greeted by the top student, Norizawa, who has a brutal reputation of killing and maiming his rivals.  They meet with Kikuhonshi – a lean old man with snowy hair and a fearsome reputation as a MechWarrior.  Norizawa (like Okimoto’s students) suggests an attack on the Star League.  Kikuhoshi pledges his support for Okimoto, once he has determined what course to take.  During the discussion, a student cuts himself with a katana, and is instructed to clean the blade with a pear, per the dojo’s tradition.

Okimoto departs, leaving a short haiku on his tatami.  Kikuhoshi reads it and realizes that Okimoto has connected his dojo with Lady Kobota’s abduction. He orders his students to their ‘Mechs, knowing that Okimoto’s students will be attacking soon.

As nine Okimoto-dojo ‘Mechs approach the Kikuhoshi dojo, one of Kikuhoshi’s students emerges, returns Lady Kobota, apologizes for his incompetence in carrying out the abduction, and performs the seppuku ritual.

The ensuing battle between the dojos rages for hours, with each warrior striving not only for victory, but for perfect adherence to the dictates of bushido.  For Okimoto, honor demands the extermination of Kikuhoshi and all his students.  Six of the nine Okimoto-dojo ‘Mechs survive the battle to witness Kikuhoshi’s seppuku.

Notes:  As the sequel to “Seventy,” this story inherits its chronology problems, and would work best set in 2694 instead of 2664.

Urizen II’s cultural impact is very evident in these stories.  The House Kurita sourcebook notes that he implemented a new “National Learning” program which stressed Japan’s ancient history in its curriculum, spent lavishly on Japanese-style architecture for his growing new capital on Luthien, and inspired a renaissance of interest in bushido and the Way of the Sword and Bow in the 2650s.  Though not all of the dojo students are totally enraptured with tea ceremonies and meditation, even Yoshitora thinks wistfully of sake and geishas, rather than ale and whores.

Urizen II also wanted House Kurita to become self-sufficient for its weaponry, without relying on imports.  This obviously hasn’t been effectively enacted as yet, since Okimoto rides an FWL-made Guillotine, while his students run a Capellan-made Champion and a Terran-made Lancelot.  On the battlefield, they face a Terran-made Kintaro and an Archer (probably from LexaTech – making it the only domestic product on the field), along with numerous unspecified Mediums.  It was probably just this sort of reliance on imports that drove Urizen II to push for more domestic production.

The informal use of ronin cadets as security, rather than ISF, DEST, or even a few squads of Friendly Persuader candy-stripers raises a number of questions.  (Granted, the Combine officially classified the ronin as ‘private security,’ to conceal their true role as off-the-book reservists, but was the Coordinator actually using them in that capacity?) What was Kuroda negotiating that couldn’t be taken care of in Unity City on Terra?  If the negotiations were “off the record,” were there elements within the SLDF that wanted to discuss something without the First Lord getting wind of it?   Or perhaps Urizen II wanted an incident to provoke a fight with the Star League.  If that were the case, perhaps Kikuhoshi-sensei also got a message from the Coordinator regarding Kuroda.  As Yoshitora mentions in the story, committing a dishonorable act on the orders of one’s master carries no dishonor, as giri trumps ninjo every time.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 22:11:14 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #79 on: 17 February 2013, 07:38:37 »
----- 27 Years Later -----

Date: April, 2721

Location: Tharkad

Title: Destiny’s Call

Author: Loren L. Coleman

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis:  20-year-old Alek Kerensky studies history and political science Tharkad University, mentored by his friend, Michael Steiner II, a researcher there.  The story opens as Kerensky recovers from a beating administered by some of the Lyran-national cadets, who resent Alek’s skills and Terran origins.  Alek refuses to divulge the identity of his attackers to Michael, and returns to his classes.

The “unnamed attackers” were led by Elias Luvon – a good warrior, but one whose weak academics are only overlooked on account of his father’s generous donations to the university.  Alek notes his surprise when Alek shows no weakness following the beating…at least until he collapses into a three-day coma from a cerebral hemorrhage in the midst of a discussion of the Davion-Kurita succession crisis.

When Alek recovers, he’s interviewed by Colonel Baumgarten, commandant at the Nagelring, who invites him to transfer to the SLDF academy.  Alek refuses, earning the disappointment of the commandant and further ire from Elias Luvon, who is also a cadet at the Nagelring.  Within a few days, Luvon turns most of the rest of the student body against him, intimating that he feels that he’s “too good” for the non-Terran academy.  The only people who’ll give him the time of day are Michael and fellow classmate Gabriella Bailey.  She invites him to take her to the Spring Reception, the biggest social event of the year at Tharkad University.

During exams, Alek is disgraced as Elias Luvon plants a wireless transmitter under Kerensky’s desk, making it appear he was using it to cheat.  An academic review clears him of having cheated, freeing him to continue at the University and attend the Spring Reception that night.  (He gets full marks after a debate over the ronin attacks backtracks to Leonard Kurita, and it dawns on Professor Kleppinger that he’s talking to Tanya Kerensky’s descendant.)

At the reception, Alek dances with Gabriella and finds out that Col. Baumgarten ordered the academic review that allowed Alek to exonerate himself.  He faces down Elias Luvon and takes Gabriella outside to watch the stars.  However, as they move towards their first kiss in a secluded courtyard, Alek is attacked by Elias and three of his cronies.  Alek simply takes the beating (and the broken ribs) and continues to calmly debate Luvon, but when the Nagelring cadet threatens to ruin Gabriella’s reputation, Alek lunges at Elias, sending him toppling over a ledge.  He lands badly, impaled on his own dress saber, but survives (though he is subseqently expelled from the Nagelring).

Alek tells Commandant Baumgarten that he’s changed his mind, and would like to transfer to the Nagelring.  He feels that if he was unable to restrain himself from fighting to defend himself and Gabriella, then he should learn how to fight correctly.  The commandant replies that he cannot refuse Alek, given the special status conferred on Tanya Kerensky’s descendants.

Notes:  Elias Luvon’s attitude showcases a substantial level of resentment within the Star League, as Royal units get preferential treatment, and places like Sandhurst on Terra are seen as far more prestigious than institutions such as the Nagelring, despite both being top level SLDF academies.
 
Current events in the Sphere are referenced – the Kurita-Davion succession debate, the launch of the Terran Hegemony’s prototype SDS, and the legal changes that permitted Inner Sphere companies to run rampant in Periphery states.

It’s interesting to see the greatest general in the history of the Inner Sphere as a bookish pacifist who works enough historical and literary quotations into his conversations to put a hardcore Blakist to shame.

The datestamp of the story is just 2721.  One would assume that the “Spring Reception” would be in Tharkad’s spring season, but previous stories have placed Tharkan summer in January and Tharkan winter in March, so the date in question now is up in the air.  (One strong possibility is that Tharkad’s seasonal cycles don’t correspond to a 12-month calendar, so winter might be in March one year and in October the next.)  [Update: Further research indicates that Tharkad is on a "nearly two year" cycle, leading to lengthy seasons.  Assuming a five month season, if winter is January-May in 2800, the next one would will be September-January of 2801-2802.]  If it’s an annual event, it’s probably named according to Terran cycles – putting it in April-June.  However, at one point, it’s mentioned that Kerensky has spent 18 months on Tharkad.  If the TU term starts in September like most Terran universities, that would place the Spring Reception in late March or early April 2721.

The names of the characters in the story are a veritable who’s who of ancestors of main characters in the 31st century fiction.  Luvon’s descendant Arthur married Michael’s descendant Katrina and gave birth to Melissa and thence the Steiner-Davion line. Nagelring cadet Patrick Ward is likely an ancestor of both Phelan Kell and the whole Ward bloodname house.  And Kerensky, of course, is a distant ancestor of Natasha, Ulric, Ranna, Anastasia and the rest of the Kerensky Bloodname.   (See the trope: Everyone went to school together)
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 22:12:29 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #80 on: 18 February 2013, 00:03:05 »
----- 6 Months Later  -----

Date: October, 2721

Location: Tharkad

Title: Destiny’s Challenge

Author: Loren L. Coleman

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps Anthology Volume 1: The Corps)

Synopsis:  Two months out of OCS summer school, Nagelring cadet Alek Kerensky pushes a Striker through its paces on a training course, paced by the drill instructor in a Pillager equipped with a Chameleon light polarization shield.  A Nagelring tradition calls for a 5-km race back to the barracks once the instructor gives the signal by playing music.

Surprised and off to a late start, Kerensky angles for the high ground while the other cadets sprint neck-and-neck along the flats.  Still getting the hand of jockeying a ‘Mech, he loses time with a slightly lopsided gait.  Even so, his choice of route aids him, and he pulls abreast of the other cadets as they struggle up a steep rise that he avoided.  However, their superior control allows them to race past him at full speed, and Alek finishes last.

Cadet Patrick Ward, one of his attackers while he was at Tharkad University, greets him with hostility in the locker room after the post-mission debriefing.  Ward is still on probation, and Alek hasn’t had to deal with the physical harassment he faced at TU – a welcome respite, since he’s trying to catch up on academic courses at the Nagelring so he can graduate in only two years, rather than the usual four.  Ward asks Alek what he’s trying to prove by taking on so much, and to whom.  Alek answers that he’s trying to prove his ability to master himself, and to prove it to himself.

Ward tells Alek that he must be holding himself back, psychologically, since his field performance is well below what his neurological tests and simulator performance would predict.  He says he wants to get to know Kerensky better, to see if he’s worth befriending.

In response to Ward’s accusation that he’s holding himself back, Kerensky finally admits, taking in the vast ‘Mech bay, that “The whole thing, all of it, scares the hell out of me.”

Notes:  My guess is that Patrick Ward is intended to be a relative (father, uncle, cousin, etc.) of the Jal Ward who was in Nicholas Kerensky’s Wolf Clan during Operation KLONDIKE, as well as being an ancestor of Salome Ward->Phelan Kell.

This story, included as an exclusive new story in the first anthology of previously published BattleCorps stories – “The Corps,” continues Aleksandr Kerensky’s portrayal as a reluctant warrior with a deep philosophical background and a healthy respect for the BattleMech’s capacity for destruction.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 22:13:25 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Nerroth

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #81 on: 18 February 2013, 01:16:27 »
Those are two of my favourite BattleTech stories; though I must admit that I'm not nearly as well-read as you are on that front.


Is there any relevant info for Tharkad in that world's Jihad Turning Points pdf, that might help sort out the variations in the local seasonal climate?
« Last Edit: 18 February 2013, 01:18:16 by Nerroth »

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #82 on: 18 February 2013, 07:01:59 »
The writeup for Tharkad in Handbook: House Steiner notes that "An axial tilt of 31 degrees and a period of revolution of nearly two standard years means that the planet has long, long seasons.  Summer days are long and cool under a wan and shrunken sun.  Winter days are short and bitterly cold." 

This would seem to support the idea that Tharkad's seasons don't stay in synch with Terra's 12-month calendar.  One would presume that each season lasts about 5.5 months, explaining why January is summer in 2455, but March is winter in 2592.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Wrangler

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #83 on: 18 February 2013, 07:42:04 »
I remember reading the story, but the part 1 wasn't very appealing to me.  Sections that appeared in Anthology were better to me as casual reader.  Heavy handedness of the harrassement seemed bit over the top in somecases.   Until i read the review, i didn't realize the instructor was using a Pillager with a Chameleon light polarization shield!  I thought the Pillager was actually rare machine like Thunderhawk was, but have variant that disappears be pleasing to have in modern era and in a double blind game.  ;););)
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #84 on: 18 February 2013, 08:17:59 »
Going back to the conclusion of "Fall From Grace," I was speculating on the possible roles the descendants of Albert Alexander "Moran" might have played in future events, and did a keyword search for Moran with the following results:

In "Decision at Thunder Rift," Renfred Tor refers to one of his crewmen as Moran.

The "Mercenary's Handbook" shows a Gene Moran as a Wasp pilot in the 5th Striker Battalion of the Eridani Light Horse.

The House Steiner sourcebook lists Kraig Moran as the Division Head of Defiance Maintenance (part of Defiance Industries).

The Periphery sourcebook lists Heloise Moran as the Chairman of the Alliance Borderers' third battalion.

Starterbook: Sword and Dragon lists a Captain Moran (Renfred Tor's old crewmate, perhaps?) as a DropShip pilot for the Fox's Teeth.

In "Natural Selection" a Kell Hound officer, Captain Michelle Moran (a tenacious fighter, but one that tends to hang in a losing fight slightly too long), reminds Victor of a Damien Moran who served with him in the Twelfth Donegal Guards and died on Trellwan fighting the Jade Falcons.  Amusingly, there's either been a typo or some surgery, because Mercenary's Handbook 3055 lists only a "Michael Moran" as a Kell Hound Captain.  (Given the Lyran setting, perhaps Michelle and Damien are Kraig's kids.)

Field Manual: Updates lists Ilya Moran as commander of the 3rd Raven Auxiliaries.  (So Rhean may be the ancestor of a Snow Raven bloodname house, via its founder Kaori Moran - named in Historical: Operation KLONDIKE)

"Case White: The Voice of the Resistance" includes a Jacob Moran who serves as communications officer for an anti-Blakist resistance cell.

JHS:3076 lists Chris Moran as a Tai-sho in the DCMS, who fought to defend Isesaki Shipping's headquarters in Ukonsoi  against the Opacus Venatori.  Voice of the Dragon casts the battle as a DCMS victory, but does acknowledge that Isesaki Shipping's HQ was destroyed, and the commercial district was heavily damaged, resulting in 6,400 civilian casualties.

The MWDA dossier for Kenyata Woods lists "K.M. Moran" as a member of the Ghost Legion's Reconnoiter Lance.  The Ghost Legion was Swordsworn, so perhaps K.M. is descendant of the Fox's Teeth DropShip captain.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Nerroth

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #85 on: 18 February 2013, 13:50:38 »
The writeup for Tharkad in Handbook: House Steiner notes that "An axial tilt of 31 degrees and a period of revolution of nearly two standard years means that the planet has long, long seasons.  Summer days are long and cool under a wan and shrunken sun.  Winter days are short and bitterly cold." 

This would seem to support the idea that Tharkad's seasons don't stay in synch with Terra's 12-month calendar.  One would presume that each season lasts about 5.5 months, explaining why January is summer in 2455, but March is winter in 2592.

Sounds reasonable; almost like the planet has a Martian orbit, but in a Terran Goldilocks zone.

I guess when someone on Tharkad says that "Winter is coming", they really mean it...

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #86 on: 19 February 2013, 00:04:31 »
----- 4 Years Later -----

Date: June 16-25, 2725

Location: Paris

Title: Way of the Champion

Author: Steven Mohan, Jr.

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Lt. Aleksandr Kerensky leads Blue Lance in training exercises at the SLDF’s massive Fort McKittrick on the Draconis Combine world of Paris, facing off against Red Lance commander Paula Nilssen.  Aleksandr is piloting his trademark Orion, and leading a lance of Phoenix Hawks, while Red Lance is composed of a Rifleman and another three P-Hawks.  Despite Red Lance’s use of misdirection and duplicity, Kerensky manages to stall Paula long enough for his lance to take hers out and then double back and take her down, though he’s “killed” in the process with a low-power laser to the cockpit.  Kerensky ends the exercise knowing that his actions have earned the respect of his lancemates.  After the battle, he confronts Paula about her actions, worried that his fellow Gunslinger is overly focused on winning individual duels at the expense of the unit and the mission objective.

With this in mind, he files a complaint with base commandant Colonel Hermann Scheer.  Unfortunately for Kerensky, the commandant disagrees with his assessment, and says that he respects Nilssen for her demonstrably superior dueling skills, which are more important (in his view) than grand strategic vision at a post that only faces single-combat challenges from ronin.  Speaking of ronin, a Thug from a local dojo appears to announce a challenge, interrupting Kerensky’s meeting.

The ronin identifies herself as Mary Quinn.  As a servant of Bushido, she seeks to challenge any SLDF warrior worthy to face her.  Scheer sends Nilssen out to meet the ronin’s challenge.  Thug vs. Rifleman.  Do the math.  Within minutes, Paula is dining with her ancestors, Mary Quinn is one battle closer to opening her own dojo, and Kerensky is promoted to new base champion.

Mary Quinn returns a week later for another challenge.  Kerensky proves better at the challenge wordplay, and forces the ronin to come to a venue that favors his Orion.  Aleksandr is in top form for the battle, debating his foe as he fights, and launching a barrage of quotations along with missiles and autocannon rounds.  He fights well, but his ‘Mech is defeated.  However, he’s won the philosophical argument with the ronin, and she leaves without killing him.
 
Notes: Kerensky appears to have worked through his inhibitions at the Nagelring, becoming such a crack MechWarrior that he earned a spot in the Gunslinger program, and a follow-on posting as a Lieutenant in the SLDF’s 564th Hussars.  He drives his famous Orion, which the Star League sourcebook notes that he was issued at the War Academy of Mars in the Gunslinger program.  Interestingly, the SLSB says that Kerensky “like many MechWarriors, had grown fond of his first ‘Mech and never willingly piloted anything else.”  If that’s the case, why isn’t he in his “Destiny’s Challenge” Striker;)

Oddly, in this story he intersperses his conversations with Russian words and seems to speak with a Russian accent, both of which were absent in the Destiny’s Call and Destiny’s Challenge stories.  It’s most notable when Kerensky says lines like “This is battlefield.” or responds to questions with ‘nyet’ and ‘da.’

One wonders if recitations of this story at Kerensky family bedtimes affected young Nicholas’ decision to implement formalized dueling rituals and bidding procedures for his Clans.
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 22:14:24 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

FedSunsBorn

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #87 on: 19 February 2013, 06:03:58 »
Got the 3 battlecorps combined books due in no small part because of this thread....thanks, Mendrugo.

Also, about the Striker being his 'first' mech and not the Orion, I think that assault mech was just a training mech handed down to cadets rather then an assigned unit. Also, given his misgivings at the time, I don't think Kerensky had fully given over to the idea of him being a soldier and warrior. With him joining the Gunslingers etc, I think he has now fully accepted his role in life and so his first assigned mech, the Orion might be (in his own mind) his 'first' real mech.

Ach, went longer then I intended to. Anyway, another good write-up.
Made by HikageMaru

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #88 on: 19 February 2013, 07:26:54 »
I totally agree with you that Kerensky would've bonded more with his Gunslinger Academy ride than his "learn to drive" ride.  (Otherwise, all the vaunted Gunslingers would be tooling around in Wasps, Chameleons, Crocketts and other training 'Mechs)

Glad you liked the writeup.  There's such a wealth of fiction set in the BattleTech universe that many fans are largely unaware of.  The focus of discussion on the site tends to be on the novels (and lack thereof since the end of the MWDA line), since that was how many of us were introduced to BattleTech fiction, but the short story e-fiction has long since eclipsed the print novels in terms of word count and breadth of scope. 
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Star League Era
« Reply #89 on: 20 February 2013, 06:03:01 »
----- 4 Years Later -----

Date: July 14, 2729

Location: Royal

Title: Death of a Prince

Authors: Aaron Pollyea and Joel Steverson

Type: Track (Era Report: 2750)

Synopsis:  The veteran forces of the 5th Benjamin Regulars face off against the elite Davion Heavy Guards in the immediate aftermath of First Prince Joseph Davion’s death on Royal.  The DHG are battling for time to allow recovery teams to reach Joseph’s fallen Marauder and recover his body. 

The defenders are, at a minimum, the First Prince’s command lance, headed by the Prince’s Champion in a tricked out HWH-3D Hammerhands, two heavies, and one player’s choice.  At a minimum, the attackers consist of five ‘Mechs, including a customized Victor with an Elite pilot, and the other four Veteran.  Given the descriptive text, one should be a Wolverine

The DCMS goal is to take out the Heavy Guards’ command lance and drop the AFFS numbers to less than 50% before its own numbers drop below that threshold.

Notes:  I hope the recovery team includes a Vampyr, considering the cause of death was a stream of depleted uranium rounds fired at point blank range directly into the cockpit.  Those hoses for liquid suctioning would be handy.

This takes place in the context of the War of Davion Succession (see what could have happened, Rhean!).  In 2725, the 11th Benjamin Regulars attacked Marduk after a Star League commission had fruitlessly debated the issue of whether Vincent Kurita-Davion or Richard Davion should inherit the mantle of First Prince for eight years.  First Prince Joseph Davion retaliated with a deep strike against the Combine.  Rather than falling back on defense, the DCMS intensified its assault and drove for New Avalon, steadily gaining ground while the Star League, under the mentally unstable Jonathan Cameron, failed to take action. 

The AFFS forces found that the Combine’s “ronin” (Okimoto-dojo on deck!) were substantially bolstering their combat forces to a level well beyond the limits imposed by the Edict of 2650.  The AFFS deep strike was hastily organized, and lacked much in the way of logistical support.  The Combine push on New Avalon wasn’t halted until General Kessem (commander of Draconis March border forces) broke the Combine garrison on the key administrative center of Ludwig.  As DCMS troops fell back to deal with Kessem, the AFFS salient force had to withdraw, while Joseph Davion’s ad-hoc “Army of Crucis” began to retake worlds. 

Kessem and the First Prince linked up on Royal in 2729, inflicting heavy casualties on the main Kuritan taskforce in a surprise attack, which the First Prince insisted on leading personally.

Finally, following a failed coup by SLDF officers, Jonathan was galvanized to action and ordered the SLDF to prepare Operation SMOTHER to end the War of Davion Succession.  However, before the League’s peacekeepers arrived, the First Prince had fallen in battle. 
« Last Edit: 29 April 2013, 22:24:41 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

 

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