Spoiler Alert: Go read the story before reading this.
When the Kickstarter was starting, I volunteered to do some writing for it. The first piece was Rules of Engagement. I had three criteria handed to me. 1. It had to cover the Clan invasion. 2. I was given some people’s names to include in the story. 3. It had to be done before GenCon.
I decided to write about the Ghost Bears because I love the Ghost Bears and they don’t get nearly enough time in the fiction. I wanted to harken back to that era when the Clans were mysterious and strange invaders. It was freebee fiction for the Kickstarter backers, but I knew I wanted to come back to the story.
I wanted some cool characters. I wanted an idealistic Ghost Bear that would take a bondsman, and eventually have that bondsman flip. Why? Because the concept of bondsmen is cool between Clans, but a tough-sell with the Inner Sphere. Mike Stackpole did a great job with Phelen Kell/Ward, but it is hard to picture a lot of Inner Sphere warriors signing onto the alien concept long-term. Of course, honor-bound House Kurita warriors might – which allowed for some fantastic character development.
I wanted two friends that started together, but went on divergent paths, only to be brought together years later. We all experience that at one time or another, just not on this scale.
When working on the characters, I left a lot of ambiguity into their past – which opens some incredible doors for future work either by me or another author. It was done deliberately to allow some expansion. Not every character is a Morgan Kell or Victor Steiner-Davion – some are merely good men and women put in extraordinary circumstances. Over the years, I have come to feel these are the stories that are worth telling. I have one coming soon in Shrapnel, called Waylon’s War, which goes down that rabbit hole.
I was asked to write the fiction for the boxed set – a distinct honor I might add. I wrote, at that time, Burdens of Honor. It dealt with the same characters 2+ years later during the fight on Tukayyid. The feedback I got was, “we love it, but we don’t want to cover Tukayyid in the boxed set.” So it got shelved.
Instead I wrote the middle piece, The Bonds of Battle, which took place right after Rules of Engagement with the same characters. I enjoyed doing it because it allowed for some great character development on both the Clan and Inner Sphere perspectives. Also, I rarely have written from the Draconis Combine perspective, so I had some fun with it.
I was holding onto Burdens of Honor for possible use in Shrapnel, but when I was asked if I wanted to do a Tukayyid-piece, I knew it had to be included. I suggested to my editor that all three pieces be bundled into a novella at some point. Hell, I’d be willing to add some stuff to it all. Who knows? There’s a ton of stuff that still has to be delivered from the Kickstarter in terms of fiction, so I’m sure it is low priority.
Well, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.