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Warrior: En Garde (The Warrior Trilogy, Book One): BattleTech Legends, #57

Michael A. Stackpole

  BattleTech Legends: Warrior: En Garde

  The Warrior Trilogy: Book One

  Michael A. Stackpole





  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16


  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39


  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50


  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Chapter 54

  Chapter 55

  Chapter 56

  Chapter 57


  Technical Readout

  About the Author

  Warrior: Riposte Sample Chapters

  Looking for More BattleTech Fiction?


  The Warrior Trilogy comprised my first published three novels. They originally came out from FASA in 1988 and 1989, but they were born in the summer of 1987 at Origins. The DragonLance novels had been released to great success a couple years earlier, and FASA had brought out the first Gray Death Legion novel by that time. I’d written a fantasy novel, Talion: Revenant, that I was beginning to shop around, but which had not had any takers as yet.

  At the convention, I stopped by the FASA booth. I saw Decision at Thunder Rift and commented to Sam Lewis and Jordan Weisman and Ross Babcock (at different times) that I’d written a novel and “if you have any needs, I’d be glad to work on something.” Back in those days, when I was a freelancer, that was my sophisticated method of cadging for work. Jordan showed me some material from the upcoming Renegade Legion game, and suggested maybe I could do a novel for it. Sam promised to send me some product, and Ross said he wouldn’t mind looking at writing samples.

  So I got home, sent six chapters from the fantasy plus a SF short story (set in Steve Jackson’s Ogre universe) to show I could do pyrotechnics. Shortly after the convention I got a box full of stuff, including a lot of BattleTech material, with a note promising Renegade Legion stuff when it was ready.

  I started reading. I devoured the source books (I had the Kurita one in proofs, the Steiner book in actual copy) as well as the novels. I found a really rich universe full of excitement and politics and history—all the things I love. I started getting some ideas for stories and jotted them down. This despite knowing I was going to be looking ahead for Renegade Legion stuff.

  On a Monday, Ross called. “I liked the chapters you sent. I want to read the rest of the book.”

  “Great, I’ll send the rest of it off to you.” Mind you, this meant creating a half-dozen 5.25 inch floppy disks, but I was happy to do it. And then, being a freelancer and cadging for work, I said, “Hey, I got all the BattleTech stuff you sent. It’s cool. If you ever need a book set in that universe, let me know. I have a couple ideas.”

  Ross, deadpan, said, “That’s what I want to talk to you about. We want you to do a trilogy.”

  The expression of my face—delighted surprise—scared my tropical fish.

  Then he continued. “Three books, 100,000 words each. You have nine months. Can you do it?”

  So in every writer’s life, there’s a serious gut-check moment. This was mine. If I said no, I got nothing. If I said yes, I had a boatload of work to do.

  I had but one choice.

  “Yeah, sure, piece of cake.”

  “Great, we’ll talk at Gen Con.”

  I should note, for the record, that it took ten and a half months to complete the trilogy. But, during that time, I also wrote the Kell Hounds scenario book and several other BattleTech related articles.

  Two other incidents I’ll relate, only because they were fun, and indicative of the whole process. When I’d sent the first book in, the editor, Donna Ippolito, called me. Once pleasantries had been exchanged, she said, “Well, this is like a real book.” To this day I’m not exactly sure what that remark is supposed to mean, but the editorial process was pretty easy, so I guess it was good.

  Later, when I was writing Riposte, right around Christmas, Jordan Weisman called. (Actually, it was during the FASA Christmas party.) “So we’ve been thinking, and this is what we see Comstar doing during this second book.” And I’m thinking, You mean the book I’ve outlined, had approved, and am working on now? But I listened. Turns out that everything they wanted fit well into stuff I was going to do anyway, and really tightened the screws on the whole universe. In fact, the repercussions of it can still be seen in the fiction today.

  With those books and all the others, I’ve been reminded of one thing: the abiding love all the readers have for the universe. Most folks look at the books as military-SF. Heck, there’s a vocal group of SF Literati who refer to such books as “war-porn.” This means, of course, that they’ve never read one, so they’ve never learned what the fans have. It’s not about war—it’s about soldiers and their lives.

  I don’t get comments about how things blow up—okay, aside from ribbing about things that become “the Stackpole rule” and the like. No, the comments are about characters; how much people love or hate them. I’ve seen tears come to eyes when readers describe the passing of a favorite, or looks of joy when something goes right for someone they love.

  And that points out the key to BattleTech’s enduring appeal: these stories are about life and heart, not violence and death. Writing that type of story has always been my goal. Achieving it got a fine start here in the Warrior Trilogy.

  Michael A. Stackpole

  To Liz,

  for absolutely everything

  and then some…





  1 JUNE 3022

  Myndo Waterly, the Precentor of Dieron, tried to slip into the Primus’s chambers silently. So fluid was her gait that she made it all the way to the golden star symbol inlaid in the floor without so much as a whisper of her silken robes to announce her approach. Taking a deep breath, she stopped there and let the hood of her red robe slip back from her fair hair. In the half-second she allowed herself to recall the starting point of her argument, the Primus utterly shattered her strategy.

  Standing stock-still and with his back to her, the voice of Primus Julian Tiepolo suddenly rang out. “The Peace of Blake be with you,
Precentor Dieron.”

  How could he know I was here? Myndo thought, momentarily shaken. The man is unnatural. “And His wisdom with you, Primus.” Though she fought it, a nervous tremor undercut the boldness of Myndo’s riposte. She swallowed and waited as the tall, cadaverously thin leader of ComStar turned slowly to face her. He had been looking out through one of the high oval windows of the chamber, which let in enough of the bright afternoon sun to illuminate the room. His aquiline nose and piercing brown eyes had always made Myndo think of a hawk, but today she reacted differently to his gaunt boniness and bald head. He’s more a vulture, she thought. Keeping his hands tucked into the broad sleeves of his dun-colored robe, Tiepolo slowly descended the short stairway leading from the window to the main area of his private audience chamber.

  He narrowed his eyes slightly. “You rebuke me with your greeting, Precentor. I know better than to spar with you, for you soon become impatient of such games.” Tiepolo’s gaze flickered toward the wall behind her, where a massive star chart was splashed from floor to ceiling. “How you, with so little tolerance for wordplay, are able to deal with the Draconis Combine never ceases to amaze me.”

  Myndo Waterly stiffened and met the Primus’s dark gaze with the fierceness of her own. “More than words and honor, House Kurita respects action and wisdom.”

  Tiepolo pursed his lips and nodded his head slowly. “Again you chasten me.” He let his right hand drift back and point toward the window. “As you are not down below witnessing the signing of the treaty between Hanse Davion and Katrina Steiner, shall I assume that is the matter you wish to discuss?”

  She nodded curtly. “You’ve issued orders for me to leave for Dieron immediately. Is this just to be rid of me because I differ with you concerning this alliance?”

  “Precentor Dieron, you have made your concerns very clear in the communications you’ve sent me and during the First Circuit sessions we both attended here on Terra.”

  Myndo raised herself up to her full height. “You say that as though you have actually listened to my arguments and even given them due consideration.”

  “So I have, Precentor.”

  “No, Primus, you know that is not true, and now you send me away because I disagree with you.” She stabbed a finger at the window. “Down there in the courtyard, Hanse Davion and Katrina Steiner are being allowed to sign a treaty that will forever destroy the balance of power in the Successor States. With Davion’s Federated Suns and Steiner’s Lyran Commonwealth tied so closely together, we of ComStar lose all hope of maintaining stability. That piece of paper will destroy everything we’ve worked toward.”

  Primus Julian Tiepolo tapped his right index finger against his narrow chin. “Will it? You suggest that the treaty will destroy the balance of power between the five Great Houses, but I doubt that. Wolf’s Dragoons will switch from the service of the Lyran Commonwealth to your own House Kurita.”

  “Ha!” Myndo Waterly’s barked laugh echoed through the domed wooden chamber like a gunshot. “How dare you use information I supplied you as a means to refute my argument!”

  Tiepolo’s face revealed no embarrassment. “Ah, you were the one who provided the information about that mercenary unit. Then you must know as well that the Kell Hounds have accepted a new contract that will return them to the Federated Suns for the short term, though our analysts predict that they will eventually return to Katrina Steiner’s service in the Commonwealth. For now, however, the Lyran Commonwealth will be stripped of its two most capable mercenary units.”

  Myndo shook her head violently. “You know as well as I do that all this has nothing to do with troops—be they crack mercenaries or these new, half-trained units Prince Davion hopes to create. The Lyran Commonwealth is dangerous, and now you’ve allowed them to become paired with the most advanced of the Successor States.”

  Tiepolo nodded slowly. “Ah, now I sense the core of your discomfort. You are concerned that for the first time in the two hundred and forty years since the blessed Jerome Blake accepted his mission to restore communication among the stars, I have allowed an occurrence that jeopardizes the completion of that sacred mission. Is this what I am hearing you say?”

  Myndo nodded quickly. “The Lyran Commonwealth sees us as nothing more than an organization of glorified messengers. Those cursed, money-grubbing Lyran merchants look at us as nothing more than another profit-seeking business enterprise. They do not realize how slender our profits are, much less do they understand that we care more for our mission than we do any profits. There is no way to explain the spiritual to those who see only with their eyes and understand riches only in a worldly sense.”

  “This is a truth we have long acknowledged, Precentor Dieron.”

  “Yes, Primus, we have acknowledged it and we agreed, several Council sessions back, to quarantine the Lyran Commonwealth. We wanted to isolate their view of us so that it would not infect the thinking of the other Houses. But in the sixteen months of negotiations for this Davion-Steiner treaty, it seems as though the resolution has been swept away. You’ve allowed the devil to mate with damnation, and utter chaos will reign because of it.”

  Tiepolo narrowed his dark eyes, which flashed with anger. “Your analogy, my dear Precentor, suggests that House Davion is worse in some way even than House Steiner…”

  Myndo was no less angry than the Primus, but she struggled for calm. “I have explained my reservations about House Davion countless times before, Primus. Prince Hanse Davion’s hunger for old Star League technology—what the unwashed have so quaintly labeled lostech—will bring him into direct conflict with us. And with the recent advances made by his New Avalon Institute of Science, I believe the conflict will come sooner than later. Quintus Allard and the Counter-Intelligence Division of Davion’s Ministry of Intelligence, Information and Operations have made it very difficult for us to get our ROM agents anywhere close to the Prince. And may I remind you, Primus, that even you have admitted that the Prince is impossible to read from a distance.”

  Primus Julian Tiepolo let a smile warp his thin white lips. “The Fox is indeed an enigma.”

  “You call him an enigma, but I see Hanse Davion as a dagger pressed against ComStar’s throat! You cannot deny that the treaty’s confidential clauses surprised even you.”

  The Primus nodded. “True. I never expected Hanse Davion would ask for, or receive, the hand of Melissa Arthur Steiner in marriage. That could well be an impressive event.”

  Myndo snorted derisively. “That’s not the marriage I fear between Houses Steiner and Davion. No, what I ask you to contemplate is the match between the Lyran Commonwealth’s contempt for us and House Davion’s technical expertise. The cultural and intellectual exchanges demanded by this treaty could well be the birth of a service to rival our own.”

  “Perhaps, Precentor Dieron, perhaps…” A skeletally slender hand waved her objections aside. “I do not see the reality of the Successor States in the same way that you do.”

  “I know this,” Myndo Waterly replied, her tone serious and even. “Indeed, I am prepared to ask the First Circuit to strip you of your Primacy because of it.”

  Primus Julian Tiepolo froze and studied his subordinate carefully, but she did not flinch beneath his stern gaze. Icy silence hung over the chamber as the Primus sorted through and organized his thoughts. Finally, with a slight nod, he dispelled the mood.

  “Very well, Precentor Dieron, you force me to reveal some of my thoughts to you. I do so reluctantly, and only because I sense in you a true concern for the Blessed Blake’s plan rather than a desire for personal power.”

  Myndo nodded formally. “I wish only that Blake’s Will be done.”

  “Indeed, Precentor Dieron, I believe this is true.” Primus Tiepolo pointed toward the enormous star chart on the wall. “Political,” he hissed. At his voice command, a computer superimposed a political map over the chart. “You are correct, Precentor, in sensing that Houses Steiner and Davion are the most dangerous to ComStar. My
decision—despite the excellent arguments you and other precentors presented during Council sessions—was to allow the two Houses to come together. It is my belief that a strong alliance between them will solidify the other Houses’ opposition to them.”

  Myndo frowned. “The opposition is not all that strong, Primus.” Pointing at a narrow wedge toward the base of the star chart, she said, “House Liao certainly poses a threat to no one. House Marik, positioned between Liao and Steiner, is still recovering from its civil war of six years ago. Meanwhile, Davion’s financial backing of insurgents is further keeping the Mariks off balance.”

  The Primus shook his head calmly, like a professor about to correct one of his students. “Liao’s Capellan Confederation may occupy a relatively small region of space, but it is rich in worlds. And though Liao’s forces are not strong enough to attack the Federated Suns, they are enough to repel any Davion incursions. Aside from the continual border raids and an occasional world won or lost, we will see no major shift on that front in our lifetimes.”