Shrapnel – The BattleTech Magazine, is now available for sale on Amazon (Kindle)

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When the Kickstarter came out for BattleTech and I saw one of the incentives was a BattleTech magazine, I have to admit a little kid inside me squealed with joy.  I remember the old days when we had fan magazines, StarDate, and BattleTechnology.  BattleCorps was a good source of fiction, but there wasn’t enough of it. There is a lot of goodness out there for BattleTech that isn’t novel-length, and a magazine would be a great format.

The Kickstarter backers got their copies two weeks ago.  Stop whining if you think that wasn’t fair, you had your chance to take part in the Kickstarter…  I was stunned at the sheer size.  It took me a while to get through it.  This is easily the size of a small book…much more than I expected.

The fiction includes the first part of a multi-part story by Mike Stackpole on the Kell Hounds (huzzah!) some Crescent Hawks love, a fantastic piece by my favorite author (me) on the Smoke Jaguars, and several other solid pieces.  Some of these stories are pretty long and engaging, especially the Ghost Bears story.  Grimm Sentence by Chris Hussey actually made me give a damn about Hendrik Grimm, no small task mind you.  There’s a lot of unexplored corners of the BattleTech universe screaming for this kind of good fiction.

There’s some game support material on the Eridani Light Horse and sniper rifles, for you RPG fans.  I loved Craig Reed’s fiction, Tales from the Cracked Canopy.

Perhaps the most important thing is that Shrapnel opens the door for fans to get their fiction published.  The submission guidelines are there – so go to town!  Fiction is back in the driver’s seat for the universe so this is your chance to prove your mettle.  Will you accept my batchall?

My only hope for improvement is more artwork.  This issue was packed with fiction but not a lot of art.  I would have liked to see more artwork in the pages.

Don’t be a Bob and ask me if this is going to be in print-copy.  I heard it was, but I honestly don’t know for sure.  I also have no idea if this will be an audio book, and, I can’t stress this enough, I don’t care.

BattleTech is back baby!

Okay – The Cat is Out of the Bag Rock of the Republic, an Unnamed novel, and Hour of the Wolf!

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Strike the pipes Craig Gulledge!  It’s time for the Highlanders to wade into battle! 

I have been silent and deliberately misleading about the ilClan book for a long time.  But this announcement:  The Big News!  allows me a chance to finally say two titles out loud – Rock of the Republic and Hour of the Wolf.

There’s another prequel coming out that is not on the list.  I think it simply got overlooked.  Shit happens.  More on that as soon as I find out what is happening with it. I’m confident it will come out at the same time as HotW (Hour of the Wolf) or before since it lays some pretty critical foundation for the events of ilClan.

So, for over a year now I have used XXXX XX XXX XXXX XXXXXX for Hour of the Wolf in my social media posts. We were worried about the title getting out because people make assumptions – usually incorrectly.  Technically, to throw people off, this fake title could have been deciphered to: Hour of the Jade Falcon.  So all of you codebreakers out there, you didn’t count on me being a total douchebag and deliberately using the wrong number of X’s.  Bad call on your part. Welcome to the Thunderdome!

Key thing here…don’t let the title fool you.  As with everything in the BattleTech universe, nothing is black and white.  Personally, I think it is a fantastic book with some fairly significant twists and turns.  Then again, I wrote it.  We shall see when the editor comes back with final “tweaks.” I seriously doubt we will be changing the winner(s) in this coming struggle.

You don’t have to read the prequels that come out – but honestly, they all layer together to tell a massive universe-changing story.  The story stands alone for new fans that want to jump into BattleTech with both feet – but for the experienced fans, I recommend devouring all of the fiction leading to the big show.

Rock’s rewrite was finished last weekend, so it is going to happen soon.  This story will set the stage for Devlin Stone’s defense of Terra – with a dash of Fidelis goodness tossed in.  I haven’t seen the cover for it, but I know it’s being worked on.  Usually, around the time I see the cover, that’s when I know it’s going to pop.  The unmentioned book will set the stage for Clans Wolf and Jade Falcon.  Throw in Icons of War and some Northwind Highlander shenanigans, and what you’ve already read in Divided We Fall,  and everything leads up to Hour of the Wolf!

I only wish we could have done the release in August at GenCon – as planned. Then again, fans can’t strangle me if I’m not there…so there’s that.

Buried in the announcement is the Spotlight on Snord’s Irregulars…which dovetails into another fiction piece on that iconic unit.  The boys are back with a vengence!

So, finally, the title is out. People will read into the announcement summaries and see in them whatever they will.  Some of you can cook up schemes and plots better than I can.  All I can say at this time is we are building up to a huge fight, sweeping politics, and the deviousness of key characters that BattleTech is known for.  Which Wolf am I referring to?  What of the Dragoons?  Is there are reason that there are Northwind Highlander books coming out too?  What other new ‘Mechs are coming?  Will The Republic of the Sphere be triumphant?  What about the other Clans?  What is Julian Davion wearing to the fall formal?  How do you pronounce Alaric again?  Where is Terra on the map?  Where in the hell are the Wolverines?  He mentioned Snord’s Irregulars, what’s the deal with that?  Why does he mess with us so?

Stay tuned.  “Same bat-time – same bat-channel…”

Part 2: Discussion of Divided We Fall – BattleTech Short Novel

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Aw, they scuffed up the new paint job!

SPOILER ALERT.  I strongly suggest you purchase, download, and read Divided We Fall before diving into this because this blog post will RUIN the story for you.

If you have read the book, please post a review on Amazon or wherever you got it from.  Every little bit helps.

There is trepidation in writing about the Dragoons.  Wolf’s Dragoons lovers treat the regimental CO’s like saints in the Church of Jamie Wolf – I get that.  Just saying “Misery” conjures up images of deep-seated emotional pain for them, even after all of these years.  On top of that, when you write about Wolf’s Dragoons, it is always done in the shadow of Robert Charrette’s fantastic novels. As a writer, you have to admit that up-front. I always wanted to write about them, but was leery of doing so. After all, I am no Bob Charrette. The work he did with Jamie Wolf has stood the test of time. BattleTech fans can be pretty unforgiving (I know, big holy-shitballs revelation eh?) and the Dragoons were sacred ground for many of them. I knew whatever I wrote was going to be compared to Bob’s books and they were beloved. At the same time, I wanted to write this story.

I’m a gamer…and sometimes, you gotta roll the dice and pray for boxcars.

Some other “fans” warned me in advance about their feelings.  They told me they feel that the Dragoons are a “Mary Sue” unit, toughened by ferro-fibrous plot armor, immune to things that “normal” units (as if there is such a thing) must deal with.  I guess if you get nuked and survive the Mary Sue label comes with it. I never saw the Dragoons in this light.  They are the big boys on the block though, and deserve the respect they have earned. I don’t see them as plot armored, and it will be reflected in upcoming works. They are not infallible.  Some leaders have flaws that all leaders do.  In other words: “Hold my beer…I’ve got this…”

And to you Mary-Sue whiners”:  Who wants to read a story where the big unit gets its ass handed to it and everyone dies? You would bitch and moan if I wrote that story.  So I might as well write the story that I would like to read.  Note:  This is my approach to writing anyways – write what I want to read. 

I waited for years, biding my time for the right opportunity. Jason Schmetzer did some great work with the Dragoons a while back (Redemption Rift) and I knew he was paving the way for other writers like me. Besides, I wanted a really special story to write about around the Dragoons, and this is it.

After the Jihad era, I felt like the Dragoons were hard to distinguish from other big merc companies. Their luster was gone somewhat. The Jihad did that to the great mercenaries. Fu*king Jihad.  Yes, they had a storied past, but in that post-Jihad era we didn’t have Jamie Wolf, Natasha Kerensky, or the other iconic characters that had made the unit pop back in the day. Sourcebooks simply don’t allow for that. In other words, the time was right to tell a new story, with new characters, to make the Dragoons sizzle and pop again.

I wanted to tap the roots of the Dragoons and give the fans a small unit that they could easily embrace. To do that, I had to go back to the original Black Widow Company. I hope I achieved this. It was my desire to make the Dragoons stand out again for what they were. To go forward, you have to look backwards sometimes.

The plot was important, but not nearly as important as the characters. The things people like reading about are the characters.  I wanted to show the Dragoons, warts and all. The Dragoons are elite and when you have a bunch of elite characters, you end up with characters that start looking and sounding the same.  This is me fighting that Mary Sue contingent of fans. Most of the characters have flaws, and their flaws define them. In their heart and core though, they are God Damn Wolf’s Dragoons.  Unity!

That led to going to my shelves of source material.  In doing this novella I broke out my first printing of Tales of the Black Widow Company as a starting point. Boy did that bring back some memories, since I was writing BattleTech back in those glory days. Admit it, you liked the rebellious nature of Kerensky’s band of misfits.  Elite?  Aff!  Perfect?  Neg.  I realized that no matter what I did, I wanted to have some ties to that era. I wanted to recapture some of what made that company so awesome back in the day. For the grognard fans, the old guard, this will hopefully bring back some of that era for you.

I wanted an enemy/antagonist that was worthy the Dragoons.  As it turns out, the best enemy for the Dragoons is the Dragoons.  No one is the bad guy in this book, which makes it complex.  They are all fighting for the right reasons.

I dove in on General Brubaker as a character. He is not Jamie Wolf. I hope that comes through in the story.  He is not beholding to the history of the Dragoons, and that is a huge hindrance to him as a leader.  We have all had that outside manager that came in as our boss who thought he kicked ass and took names later…only to fall short.  Brubaker created his own problem with Crews.  His response of leaving this people in a Combine jail tells you a lot about him.  He does reflect on that in one line of the story, which also gives him a lot of depth. People think that Crews is the one that set things in motion – but in reality, it was Brubaker’s decisions that forced Nicholas Crews into a specific course of action.

BEGIN SIDEBAR:  Not to criticize those that went before me, but when the Black Widows became a battalion, and were no longer filled with reprobates, some of the luster of the unit was lost to me. I wanted to go back, if only just a little, to those heydays of the game.  Small unit action is the core of BattleTech play. I like this book because you can play out the scenario for yourself – I did.  END SIDEBAR

Of course, I am treading on sacred soil.  There are some die-hard Dragoons fans out there who will light torches and grab their pitchforks when they read this book. By the same token, this is happening.  You either get on the bus or get run over by it. All I know is that I am behind the wheel with my foot on the accelerator.

In the final rewrite John Helfers had some good suggestions; his best being the death of Doc Crouch.  I loved that character and the thought of killing him bothered the hell out of me for an hour or so. I didn’t like the thought of Doc dying, by my hand.  It wasn’t that it was hard to write, that only took twenty minutes to make the changes.  My issue was that Doc was a neat character, not an off-the-shelf Dragoon. I figured that if it bothered me, it would play on the heartstrings of the fans too.  Doc was a vital link between the Dragoons of old and Marotta Kerensky; he was a bridge.  Removing him hits both me and the characters hard. So, I pulled the proverbial trigger.  Seyla Doc! Trust me, this is just the start of the blood I have on my virtual hands.

To me, writing about characters means they have an arc, a larger story, that is compelling. Some start small, like Major Andrew Krull in this story.  Seeds must be planted to grow.  You will see him again (assuming he survives the Survivor-ish editing process) and when you do, well, it is awesome. Minor characters can have great story arcs.  PS.  It helps that I know Andrew and I know he will pee (just a little) when he sees where I am going with all of this.

Garry Jackson got his name in the story as a request from one of the European BattleTech communities for his contributions.  Where I can, I try and be user-friendly with these groups.  Yes, I can be an egotistical douchebag most of the time, but not always. I try like hell to support BattleTech everywhere.

What you need to know is that this short novel is part of a series of stories that leads to, well, the big show – the ilClan.  That will be evident from the start.  Each one stands alone, but they all are connected and interconnected.  It is a massive thing you are starting with this story.

In the past, I was pretty casual with the paint schemes of BattleMechs.  After hall, camouflage is pointless on a three story running 80 ton 96 kph war machine. Seriously, hot pink would be just as good as gray or green.  I have changed that stand over the years. A lot of fans like painting a unit. As such, I spend some time on thinking this through. I really make a point of talking paint schemes now in the fiction.

Other Stuff

My favorite character is Marotta Kerensky, of course.  His character arc is much larger than this book.  Much larger.  He is a trueborn Clanner that has been given a nearly impossible task to accomplish in a difficult time line. I think Clan warriors are their most interesting when they are outside of their comfort zones. Marotta has to change as a character; learn or die. Unity!

Marotta can best be summed up with the fact that he painted the front of his BattleMech during his Bloodname Trial specifically to infuriate his enemy.  Marotta is not your typical Wolf warrior.  By the end of the book, he is a skilled diplomat too, and that is something rather unique.  His arc, as a character, is very big.  You are just seeing the start of the Marotta legend. Parts of that have already been written too, so be prepared.

About the scene on New Earth.  You get it right?  You know, that ancient Elemental, right?  Aw, come on! So what’s going on with that?  That Chapter 1 scene actually dovetails into another book that is forthcoming which will explain all.  The links (Easter Eggs) in these novels and stories are many and cool.  Some fans are going to say, how did he plan that out? Was that intentional?  The answer is, aff!  Note:  There are at least two Easter Eggs that fans have not called out yet.  

Other mysteries emerge.  Where in the world was Garner Kerensky?  Where is Anastasia going?  What’s going on with the Fidelis? I mean, this opens on New Earth…oh, the intrigue!  Is it possible that the Fidelis/Smoke Jaguars are fighting with Clan Wolf, or is something else in play?

Chance Vickers is introduced in Chapter 1 as well.  She slid in during the final rewrite.  She appears in two upcoming books in much greater detail and is one of the more interesting characters I’ve created in years.  Chance is someone worth following, as you will eventually see. It was time for a female character to emerge who was not overly quirky or batshit-Malvina-Hazen crazy.

In terms of the story, Deborah “Debacle” Sheridan is one of my favorites as well.  We are talking ties directly back to the Black Widow Company. She has to struggle with where her loyalties are – to a person, her past, or the Dragoons as a whole.  How we interpret honor and loyalty is a subtheme of this story. Also, her Bloodhouse is not a Wolf one, which leads to some interesting questions about the origins of the original Dragoons.  That will be further poked at in an upcoming story about Snord’s Irregulars that I have written.

The end of this book is a beginning of sorts. Sheridan’s new command is awesome and a tribute to the Black Widow Company of old.  Will we see them in action sometime soon?  (Yes, but don’t tell anyone.  It will be our little secret.)

Byrne is a neat character too.  We see so little of the lower castes in fiction – it is interesting to see a merchant playing such an important role, that of a mentor to a warrior.  I could have omitted that chapter but it also tells us about Marotta – he is amazingly self-aware for a warrior and knows he does not have what it takes.  He needs Byrne’s experience. Byrne is just freaking awesome because he is a teacher.

Another subtext of this story is the nature of Wolf’s Dragoons.  Are they just a mercenary unit, or do they have a higher calling?  What would Jamie Wolf Do…WWJWD…is important.  His ghost haunts the Dragoons, not literally, but metaphorically. PPS.  I will be disappointed if I don’t see T-shirts at the next Gen Con with WWJWD? on them. That, I’m afraid, will have to wait until 2021.  Unity!

One of my favorite moments of the book is a simple line.  The last time a Kerensky fought for the Dragoons it was Natasha – the Black Widow. Let that sink in and it makes those of us who have followed the unit from its origins smile.  That, my friends, is a moment in BattleTech history rekindled to a roaring flame.

Another favorite line is:  “My apologies, Colonel,” Marotta replied. “It is my first prison break.” Marotta has a quirky humor.

Should this have been a larger book?  Not really.  I was slated to do about 32k in words and went over because that is what I do.  Divided clocked in at over 42k words. Old school BattleTech novels were 65k words or more. It would have been interesting to draw out some parts of the story, but I think the pacing here is critical.  The pacing of the story mirrors the time constraints that Marotta is facing. Tick-tock! Yes, I do think at that level.  Pacing is everything, and I wanted readers to experience that tension. The first draft came in at around 33k words.  When I read it, I realized that we wouldn’t have a ‘Mech battle until the end of the story, which can make it a hard read for some fans.  People like the ‘Mech battles.  So I added in Marotta’s Bloodname trial. It tells you a lot about him.

Yes, I included fans in this book as I have been doing for the last few years.  Two are Kickstarter backers – the rest are volunteers chosen because I like the sounds of their names. I love incorporating fans in the fiction because it gives them a sense of ownership.  One is mentioned, Aaron Krull, but I didn’t put him in the acknowledgements.  He actually challenged me on Facebook to put something in about his canon character and, as it turns out, you can’t toss down that gauntlet casually.  I was including fans in the fiction long before the Kickstarter and will continue to do so. Please don’t ask me to include you.  If I need names, I will post it in Facebook. You don’t use Facebook?  Aw, too bad for you…

So, some douchebaggery to consider:

  • How will Alaric use the Dragoons?  Just the word of that question has a lot of potential.
  • What happens to those Dragoon units that were not heading for Terra?  Imagine how pissed the DCMS is going to be that a massive part of the Dragoons have packed up and left without notice.
  • Will they arrive in time on Terra, early, or late?  What are the implications of that?  Imagine a scenario where the Dragoons arrive after Clan Wolf and Jade Falcon slug it out.  Oh, intrigue…
  • Will any of the other Dragoon officers learn of the mutiny?  How will that impact Brubaker and the others?
  • Is Alaric playing the Dragoons as Brubaker insinuated?  If so, will the Dragoons flip it back on him?
  • Can Brubaker retain command after all of this?  He’s had a regimental CO mutiny, one he took an active part in lying about.  That lie can and should come back at some point to bit his ass.  Given this is BattleTech, it should happen at the worst possible time for Brubaker.
  • When all of the smoke clears, what is the fate of the Dragoons?  I can feel your angst with that question.
  • Marotta has been successful, but at what ultimate cost to the Dragoons? This is a Wolf who has now fought with his dream team as a Dragoon.  How far can we stretch his loyalties and what will be the result?

For a short novel, there’s a lot of possibilities opened in just a few short words.

I have had the honor of writing about some fairly historic mercenary units in BattleTech fiction: The Northwind Highlanders, Snord’s Irregulars, the Eridani Light Horse, and now I get to add The Wolves Dragoons to that list.

So – enjoy – savor what is here and start to anticipate what is to come.

Part 1: Discussion of Divided We Fall – BattleTech Short Novel

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Seyla Doc! 

SPOILER ALERT.  I strongly suggest you purchase, download, and read Divided We Fall before diving into this because this blog post will RUIN the story for you. You will be devastated, upset, and may cry. Then again, the story may have the same effect.  Okay, it’s your call; consider yourself warned.

This short novel almost didn’t happen.  True story.

First and foremost, there is a lot of build-up to the ilClan novel. It’s a big event (and a large book) so there is some stage setting books that are coming.  This story is one of those tales. It is the first step on that journey which will include several short novels, two of which I wrote, and then the big book. There are other things I didn’t write that will come out as well – so be prepared!

You can’t imagine the immense relief and ever-present dread tied with this story coming out.  I’m excited because this is not exploding something that is already in a sourcebook.  This is fiction driving the fucking BattleTech universe again!  I think that was one reason people liked Forever Faithful, you didn’t know where it was going because it was new.  It was boldly going where we have gone before-ish. Divided We Fall is breaking new ground right off the bat. I have long missed the days when fiction called the shots in our universe.  Oh, I like sourcebooks, but in the end, give me a beefy novel first.

This all began years ago, literally.  We had a writer’s meeting in 2017 at GenCon and we talked about all of the big stuff coming.  It’s all very hush-hush, (okay, it was all about the ilClan.)  Jason Schmetzer and I were in the camp of, “The Dragoons have to be a part of this thing.”  Everyone loved the idea at the time. Jason and I felt that Clan Wolf would simply hire the Dragoons. Hey, they are mercs!  Like Larry, Darrel and Darrel; anything for a buck.  At the time, everyone agreed to that concept and that went into the first draft. In my copy I paid them in gold, since C-Bills are worthless thanks to Clan Loan Shark buying Space AT&T at a yard sale in the Duchy of Andurien.

The book underwent two big rewrites since then. I won’t bore you with the petty details, but there was one night when I almost pulled the plug on this book…it had gotten that frustrating.  You have to bear in mind, this was a period of time when we got the Game of Thrones final season (WTF?) and Avenger’s Endgame (yay!).  So as we approach the ilClan era, sensitivities are heightened about ending the Dark Ages and starting the ilClan period of the universe.  Add to that, everyone has their own sense of what they think the Dragoons are from a canon perspective. Everyone thinks they know the lore of people and units, especially the big ones.

My philosophy is simple on this subject: Don’t tell me I don’t know the lore – I AM THE LORE. I’ve been at this for 35 years so if you have a number of novels under your belt, I will gladly listen to your input. Beyond that…well…it gets graphic and involves hand gestures and comments about coupling with your mother.

But I am a professional author. (Interpretation:  A hot-steamy raging egomaniac with delusions of grandeur. All of which is well earned. I know I’m a raging self-centered asshat. I own that shit.) If the suggestions/changes people were shoving in front of me could be tweaked, I could make an even better book, well, suck it up buttercup. I’m your Huckleberry.

I also knew that if I walked away from it, another author would screw it up with idiotic changes.  Some of these characters I was deeply invested in and that thought bothered me.  Also, this book dovetails into the much bigger ilClan novel, tentatively titled XXXX XX XXX XXXX XXXXX. Anyone else tampering with it could set off a chain reaction of stuff I would have to clean up later.

So I shelved my massive ego and ate a slice of humble pie and rewrote this bitch, almost from the ground up in many places. The final product was mine – not somebody offering their view of the Dragoons – it was mine. Most importantly, I am proud of the final product.

The original title of this book was Wolves’ Dragoons.  Jason Schmetzer had a great theory he shared in 2017. “The title should always tell you the end of the book.”  I don’t necessarily subscribe to that theory but I went with this title because it was subtle and grabbed your attention.  Editor John Helfers asked me to change it in the last draft. I suggested, The Mutiny.  John liked that but in the end came up with a better title that accomplished the same thing.  As a joke, in the first draft, I had the subtitle of the book as:  The Enchanting Prelude to XXXX XX XXX XXXX XXXXX.

I violated my long-standing self-imposed rule and created a new BattleMech – stats provided in the back of this novella. She’s called the Dominator.  Originally I wanted to go with Dominatrix but that opened up a whole bunch of kinky issues and frankly, I did not want to stat out the ‘Mech sized cat of nine tails. I miss the old days when we put art in the back of the novels.  In this case, I figured, let’s do the full tech write-up and stats.  Brent Evans took my design and tweaked it.  I identified the other new ‘Mechs – like the Goliath C.  Brent worked out the stats on those and some other new ones that are forthcoming, and hired a great artist to work on the tech drawings.  Will they be coming out soon?  Time will tell.

About the story itself; this was always a story about Dragoons facing-off against other Dragoons.  Why?  Like it or not, they are the best at what they do.  Hence the reference to their “Tip of the Spear” clause.  The Dragoons want to be at the front, leading the battle.  They are not garrison forces by nature.  Who else would be a worthy foe, if not themselves?  I didn’t want this to be pitched fight for control of the Dragoons – and it isn’t.

Yes, a Dragoon civil war has been done before, but that was for control of the Dragoons. This is not that story.  This is not a civil war.  It is nowhere near that. It is a mutiny. I actually watched Mutiny on the Bounty the weekend of the rewrite to set my frame of mind. Crews and Kerensky are not vying to control the Dragoons.

Having watched Kelly’s Heroes and The Dirty Dozen, I knew I wanted to write about bad boys and girls. This story definitely has ties to The Dirty Dozen in that these are prisoners, elite soldiers that have run afoul of the law.  We have never seen this side of the Dragoons outside of sourcebook material for the Black Widow Company…35 years ago.  God, I feel old.

Divided We Fall is also a story with no bad guys, which is tricky as hell to write. In other words, it is complex and very human.  Everyone is doing what they think is right for the right reasons.  These are the best kinds of stories I think because it is closer to what we see in the real world.  Black and white characters and scenes are good sometimes – but we live in a world of shades of gray.  If you mentally side with Brubaker, that’s fine, he’s right.  If you fall in with Crews, well, that’s fine too, because he is right as well.  Both have valid arguments and reasons for their actions. Both are passionate professionals. Given the choice to influence the history of the Inner Sphere, what would you do?  Where would you throw your loyalty?

BEGIN SIDEBAR:  In this book you see the Dragoons and they are not cookie-cutter elite warriors. I know pundits will say, “The Dragoons would not tolerate that shit in their ranks.”  Well, you are dead wrong.  Boys will be boys.  I have met some special-forces types, best of the best, elite dudes, who are the hardest to control and the first to break with order and introduce chaos into the mix because they thrive on mayhem. END SIDEBAR

So, needless to say, the journey of doing this book was long, painful, frustrating, and in the end, highly rewarding and almost fun. I love the final product.  I am proud of this novella. Not because of the last minute fact-checker shenanigans, but because I made it into a freaking good core story and wonderful characters that will live on far beyond this book. A new era is coming…sound the alarm.

A few questions have arisen, so I will address the ones I keep getting asked despite my Threat Level Four Bob Warnings.

  1. So what is a White Raven? Up until the last minute, Marotta was piloting a totally rebuilt Black Python in his Bloodright Trial.  Ray apparently suggested a White Raven and I told my editor John, ultimately it didn’t matter to me as the writer since Marotta had stripped and rebuilt the BattleMech. To me, as the author, it didn’t matter because the ‘Mech was not the story, Marotta was. I stand by that and since I’m right, your whining means nothing to me. So at the last minute, the White Raven appeared. Not one of mine, so I had no idea what it is supposed to be carrying. One word: shenanigans. Two words:  Editorial shitfuckery.
  2. When do we get the rest of the story? Has it been written?  Okay, let me break this down for you.  I have written two additional prequel novellas and the ilClan novel.  They are done.  This story is continued (mostly) in the big honking novel, though honestly, it will go much farther.  Divided We Fall sets things in motion for the Dragoons. There are a number of other authors writing material that needs to come out before the big novel as well. No, I do not have timing or the schedule.  I have seen some artwork and stuff for the upcoming stuff, so I know it is in the mythical pipeline.  In other words you will get it whenever CGL determines you will get it.  Suck it up, buttercup. Welcome to my world.
  3. When do we get all of the new ‘Mech stats and stuff? Ray assures me that is forthcoming.  There are quite a few, some tied in with the other novellas and the big novel. I trust that Ray is in contact with IWM on the mini’s too – but that is for him to address.  Remember, I’m just a tiny cog in the vast CGL machine.  I write stories. Some don’t suck.
  4. Will we see Marotta, Crews, and Sheridan again? Yes.  You have to understand, John Helfers is orchestrating a rather complicated sequencing of the stories/books.  Each one lays a foundation, a building block, leading to the big show in the ilClan novel.  Beyond that I have sketched out a further arcs for those that survive what is coming – which is awesome. I can’t promise you that they will all make it.
  5. Where is Anastasia Kerensky going? Sorry, that is classified by the Wolf Watch – though I did write her orders personally in 2017. No, a Trial of Grievance will not solve the issue.  I am not talking.  For some of you it will be a surprise, for others not.
  6. Is that Paul Moon in Chapter 1? Duh.  Of course it is.  Ancient Elemental…New Earth.  Come on!  That entire chapter dovetails into a chapter of one of the novella’s that is a prequel.  That story will explain the whole Fidelis thing once and for all…well, until the big novel comes out.
  7. Why did you stop? Why not tell the rest of the story?  Simply put, the arc for the Dragoons and these characters is big. This novella is not the entire story, it was never intended to be.  It is the first step on a journey.

I know at the end some of you are befuddled…you are wondering what all of the implications are to this.  What happens if word of this mutiny gets out the rest of the Dragoons?  What happens if they don’t arrive on time to Terra?  What if there is a romantic scene with Marotta and Debacle? What is the reckoning that Crews will ultimately face? Is this the end of Wolf’s Dragoons as a unit, or is this going to go a whole different direction?  When will this pandemic lockdown BS be over?  Well, you will have to wait.  Think of this as the BattleTech equivalent of The Empire Strikes Back or Avengers Infinity War.  You got to the end and are left hanging, wondering, speculating…

Yes, I am that evil.

In my next blog post – other stuff, my favorite characters and why, and me being a douchebag with theories, etc.

Snarky Summary of the Jihad the Dark Ages of BattleTech

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A fan, I’m sure jerking my chain, asked me what eras followed the Civil War and Clan Invasion.  Now, a sane person would have steered him to Sarna.net.  I refused to accept the title of “sane.”  So I started a snarky response, a little BattleTech humor, for that fan.  Well I tweaked and modified it.  So, when someone asks me about the Jihad or Dark Ages going forward, this is what I steer them to.  I thought all of you still self-imprisoned at home might enjoy a little quirky humor.

Jihad Summary

Space AT&T (The Word of Blake) gets “a bit uppity” and decides that the best way to unify mankind is by destroying most of mankind.  The Wobbies magically super-jump warships to every capital world, lay waste to them and invade everything at once with an army of cyborgs and crazy-cool looking BattleMechs that somehow they have built roughly a bazillion of.  According to the Word of Blake, it was all just a “slight misunderstanding.”  They were not sending in invasion forces, these were “gifts.” Imagine their rage when they didn’t get thank you cards.  How rude!

They were led by a deformed and disfigured individual dubbed, “The Master,” because that title was bound to calm everyone down.  Anyone that has ever watched Dr. Who knew some serious shit was coming with that name.  Added to that, The Master was actually Thomas Marik – as if his adoption into a techno-cult and horrible face mutilation wasn’t enough, he came from House Marik…only slightly more stable than Charles Manson’s family.

Skull-fuckery was the mainstay of the day.  You get that with people that think you have to chant a song to get your Keurig to work.  Almost all of the major characters, mercenary units, and a few billion passersby are killed in a fate worse that death, killed ala sourcebook footnote.  Assassinations, betrayals, bombings, and outright debauchery happen everywhere at once with no apparent strategy, endgame, or even a bit of common sense.  Everyone agreed that the Word of Blake was rather rude, uncouth, and overreacted often with weapons of mass destruction.

The Wobbies used nukes, chemical, and biological weapons combined with badly written rap music to attempt to persuade their victims that worshiping technology was hip.  In a perfect response to this crisis, the House governments were caught with their hands in their pants and tried to fight the Word of Blake on their own because we all know that isn’t going to work.

Out of this utter drug-addled chaos, a nobody named Devlin Stone emerges and rallies the governments to kick the Word of Blake’s ass.  The Blakeists waged a scorched planet policy until everyone glows a pretty shimmering shade of orange.  You know the old saying, what do you call a million dead followers of the World of Blake?  A good start.

Somehow Stone unites the leaders, apparently because he’s not one of them.  He tells the Ghost Bears that the Word of Blake is actually descendants of Clan Wolverine, which unleashes them on a murder spree.  Nothing says loving like good bear mauling.

Eventually Terra was recovered, or what was left of it – then The Master got nuked, reliving a chapter out of Hitler’s last few days.  No one shed a tear.

Dark Ages Summary

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So Devlin Stone forms the Republic of the Sphere, a kind of Terran Hegemony on acid.  A dash of Camelot, a dollop of the Roman Empire, and a healthy dose of raw egotism were the foundation of the Republic. Stone wears a ball cap that says, “Make the Inner Sphere Great Again!” – true story!

He runs his new realm on a promise to beat swords into plowshares – and if you don’t do that, he will go to war with you.  Ask the Cappies about it.  Go on, I dare you.

Stone promises a golden age of peace and everyone is sick and tired of fighting, so they use ‘Mechs to cut down trees, dig holes, and other goofy shit.  I swear, you will see a mining ‘Mech on Gold Rush, season 522.  His great new universe works, for a few hours/days/years.  Even the Clans chill, having gone Reaving-ass on themselves in the homeworlds, wiping out many clans and forming new ones like Clan Stoned Pony.  It’s like My Little Pony got ‘Mech upgrades.  So the homeworlds are left to be a total frame-up restoration and even their Facebook pages were taken down.

Stone’s knights and paladins run around squashing everyone that gets a burr up their ass to start a new war.  Strangely it works, Wizkids even considers renaming BattleTech to PeaceTech.  Everything is mellow and cool, so much so that Stone packs up and disappears, supposedly sitting on a beach somewhere, getting laid and hammered.

What could go wrong?

Well, 80% of the HPG network goes offline and apparently you can’t shut off the HPG network and turn it back on again to fix the problem.  In a normal society, this would lead to caution, but for the Inner Sphere, it was time to open a whole case of whoop-ass which had been on the shelf for years.  Everybody starts beating their plowshares into swords.  For a while, Industrial ‘Mechs are armed until the factories start spitting out newer and more potent BattleMechs.  They even have Superheavies, which is not a description of someone coming out of Space Golden Corral but a three-legged monstrosity clocking in at over 100 tons.  Who would have thought that cultures that have lived at war for centuries might fall back on that the moment they can’t access Space PornHub?  Oh wait, all of us.

The Republic of the Sphere is seen as an easy target and the House lords hit them like hungry sharks on chum.  The Republic gets gobbled up until puts up, “Do Not Disturb!” signs at all jump points and it turns on its magic space shield (Fortress Republic) that somehow scrambled JumpShips trying to penetrate it.  This super-powered space chastity belt allows a few Republic worlds to survive and prepare for the inevitable onslaught.

Outside of the wall we have Knights, Paladins, Fidelis (Smoke Jaguars disguised as ninjas) and Anastasia Fucking Kerensky.  It’s always a party with a Kerensky in the house!

The magic space shield collapses around to Terra while everyone on Earth runs out and hoards toilet paper and meat products because the Clans are a’comin’!  The Wolves have played hippity-hoppity-get-off-my-property and moved to the Lyran/FWL border.

In this corner, his hair weighing in at 12 kilos alone, Alaric Ward, genespawn of everyone’s favorite star of Real Wives of ComStar, Katherine Steiner-Davion-Wolf and Victor Steiner-Davion.  Alaric is preparing to wreck Terra’s ass because he has the genes of a person that rates a 9.2 on the Amaris Scale of Douchebaggery.  PS.  Before your whine incest…Katherine stole Victor’s DNA.  Ew…why would you go there?

And in this corner, weighing in at 56 kilos, chock-full of maniacal mayhem, the one and only Malvina Hazen of Clan Jade Falcon, the Butcher of Wotan.  Malvina makes the Master look like a choir boy sans the pedophile priests of ComStar.  Seriously, she crashed a Jade Falcon WarShip on one of her own cities – just to make a point.  She is intent on taking Terra too – so that she can crash more WarShips onto more cities as part of the Jade Falcon’s Inner Sphere Urban Renewal Program.

Meanwhile, Stone apparently didn’t retire to a Canopian Pleasure Pit but instead put himself on ice and is now thawed and ready to be tagged in on the match.  House Kurita has landed on New Avalon which has had a significant impact on property values and resale value.  The Capellans are making their own run on Terra (and the Federated Suns) with some solid leaders for the first time in ages.  As it turns out, if you don’t have batshit crazy in your genes, you can actually run the Confederation rather well.  The Free World’s League is doing what it does best, shooting itself in its feet over and over again.

The Federated Suns lost one First Prince, Caleb Davion, the Harvey Weinstein of the Inner Sphere.  No one cried over that death, trust me.  Julian Davion runs it now, wrapped in plot-armor, and dealing with the reality that his nation is about to be pinched off like a turd.  The Lyrans are on their 17th Archon in eight months.  Wedged in between Clans Wolf and Jade Falcon, things are looking pretty dire.  Trillian Steiner seems to have what it takes – but she inherited the equivalent of a mobile home owned by a hoarder with a condemned notice tacked on the front door and 100 hungry cats wandering around.  Let’s just say, it’s not great.

So the stage is set, the music is queued, the DJ is on space-meth, and the Inner Sphere is ready to rock.

 

Review of BattleTech – Shell Games by Jason Schmetzer

Shell Games

This is the story of The Republic of the Sphere launching a military offensive against the Draconis Combine – striking first at Dieron.  As with most novallas, there is a lot packed into a relatively small package.  Jason Schmetzer does an admirable job of giving us the fight for Dieron far above and beyond what was published in the Shattered Fortress sourcebook.

For a decade or more, the Republic has hidden behind Fortress Republic.  Suddenly they reappear mounting a dagger-thrust into the Draconis Combine.  That alone is enough to make you want to pick this novella up.

Sourcebooks tend to be like the bullet points in a PowerPoint presentation.  Stories like Shell Games put some meat on these and tell the kind of in-depth coverage of battle that fans have come to love.  In this, Schmetzer does a great job of taking two paragraphs of sourcebook and turning them into a story of characters, strategy, and honorable struggle.

Most folks have written off The Republic of the Sphere.  Let’s face it, they have suffered defeat-after-defeat throughout the Dark Ages.  Now they strike at the Combine led by Paladin Max Ergen.  Ergen goes after the Combine with the precision of a surgeon, carving up his enemies with a calm that is a mix of confidence and a dollop of arrogance.  Using the secrets that Devlin Stone possesses to outmaneuver the Combine defenders; this is a story of someone manipulating his enemies and them attempting to not play his game.  We learn a lot about Ergen without him saying very much in the story – testimony to Schmetzer’s writing skills.

One thing I liked about this story is that it emphasized that the Republic is not a push-over – they can and will strike and strike hard.  More importantly the paragraphs on Stone inheriting the secrets of the Word of Blake were fantastic.  You get a creepy vibe from these two paragraphs about Devlin Stone, without him saying a word. The phrase that came to my mind was: That when you inherit the secrets of your enemy, you become the enemy.

Novellas are tricky.  You have limited runway to develop characters. Schmetzer works well in this format.  We learn a great deal about the characters through their actions and dialogue.  I loved his one word from a Combine officer when they realize they are being invaded. That one word told me a lot about the character without forcing me to read a lot of sentences.  That one word was powerful and perfect writing – a trademark of Schmetzer’s style.

This is a fight where you find sympathies with the junior officers and front line troopers more than the leaders.  This is their story after all.  True, we get an epic fight between Max Ergen and Tai-shu Kambei Okamoto, Warlord of Dieron, but that is not what this story is about.

I enjoyed the story because the focus was less on the BattleMech battles than it was the execution of a strategy.  I like characters that outthink their foes.  On this front, Schmetzer delivers.  Overall, I give this a five out of five stars for me – enjoyable with some memorable characters.

I couldn’t find this on Amazon – but you can get it from the Catalyst Game Labs store.

New BattleTech Tease – Wolf’s Dragoon Short Novel – Divided We Fall

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So, have we all figured out who this book is about?

Supreme Editor Demi-Precentor John Helfers, said I should show you more of the ‘Mech in this tease…and tell you the title and the release date.  This is one of those rare moments were I am more than willing to comply. Which caught him off-guard.

As a sidebar; My wife and I have sold our house and started construction on a new home near Fredericksburg VA, and are moving into an apartment in the next two weeks – so my time on social media will be hindered.  For those of you taking note, I will be living closer to Tex from the Black Pants Legion and that alone should make you all worried or delighted – your choice.

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You gotta love that new BattleMech smell…

Behold, more of the mystery BattleMech!  It’s a new model – this book will introduce a few new ‘Mechs.  This one we will be releasing the stats on in the book – grin (at least they were there before editing.) This one is called the Dominator. I violated my long-standing self-imposed rule and created this new BattleMech. Originally I wanted to go with Dominatrix but that opened up a whole bunch of kinky issues and frankly, I did not want to stat out the ‘Mech-sized cat of nine tails and other kinky items that the fans would ultimately demand.  There IS some sexiness to this new model, which you will see when they show the full cover.

I miss the old days when we put art in the back of the novels.  In this case, I figured, let’s do the full tech write-up and stats.  Brent Evans took my design and tweaked it.  I identified the other new ‘Mechs – like the Goliath C.  Brent worked out the stats on those and some other new ones that are forthcoming, and hired a great artist to work on the tech drawings.  Will they be coming out soon?  That question is best leveled at Ray Arrastia.  I do know the art is done.

Yes, that is a rear firing laser behind the head.

The story is called, “Divided We Fall,” which was not the first or second title for this project, but is, well, perfect.

One thing I love about this story is that it is new fiction.  In other words, the events you will be reading about have not taken place in some sourcebook.  This is the fiction back behind the steering wheel of the BattleTech universe.  Yes, you can argue that the sourcebooks are fiction – but I am talking meaty, extra-beefy novel fiction.  The stuff (including key characters) in Divided We Fall feeds into my ilClan books that are forthcoming.

Yes, it is all about Wolf’s Dragoons. Yes, I am going to take them in some new and interesting directions.  If you don’t like the Dragoons, don’t buy this book.  Life really is that simple.

So when will it be out?  John has authorized me to tell you that it will pop on or near May 18, 2020.  I am not responsible if it comes out late.  Which brings us to…

It’s available for pre-order!  Preorder Divided We Fall

Don’t be Bob.  Don’t ask when it will be in paperback or some other format because you want it that way for your collection.  I have no idea – I just write this shit.  Don’t ask if it is going to be an audio book.  I don’t know or care. Don’t nag me about when the new ‘Mechs will be out with stats – I don’t know, ask Ray. Don’t ask when the next book will be out – I don’t manage the schedule.  Don’t ask me to read your Clan Wolverine screenplay, I won’t. Don’t ask me if I have included you as a canon character or if you ended up on the cutting room floor. The fact you think I keep hundreds of characters and their individual fates in my head is both complimentary and drunkenly delusional.  I know nothing about the schedule when products will come out – so don’t bother me with that.  Don’t ask me about the Kickstarter – I’m not in the loop.  Don’t ask me for a free copy of anything, I’m not a “giver.”  In other words, don’t be Bob!

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All Bob’s get kneecapped.  I’m sorry, it’s ComStar’s rules…

One of my BattleTech Treasures

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The Rules – Only Cooler

My wife and I are building a new house and we have sold ours (after five hours on the market – screw you Covid-19!).  As such I am packing.  I have a set of shelves filled with the stuff I wrote as well as mementos.

One I have is one I contributed to – this little gem.

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I haven’t seen these up on Ebay before.  

What I REALLY like about this is that it was personally made with my name on the cover and it was a limited print run.  For me, it’s a BattleTech treasure.

I have been pushing John Helfers, my editor at Catalyst, that we ought to do a special print run of the ilClan novel when it finally comes out along the same lines as this book.  I said, “Some fans would pay big bucks for a hard cover elite printing.”  I’m sure it won’t happen…but if you like the idea, please nag the powers that be.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share this with you all just for grins.  Enjoy

Blaine Pardoe’s Annual BattleTech April Fool’s Prank 2020 – The BattleTech Kickstarter – Fulfillment of the Canon Characters

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In keeping with my tradition of April Fool’s BattleTech Pranks:

Operation Freaking Awesomeness

BattleTech Products That Never Came To Market

Failed BattleTech Storylines

Blood on the Canopy

Outline for the ilClan Sourcebook

This was my suggestion to address all of the people that opted in for the canon character option in the Kickstarter.

Internal Memorandum to Catalyst BattleTech Staff

Per our meeting, we was discussed the need to address the seemingly tens-of-thousands of Kickstarter backers who opted for canon characters in the universe. Some are easy, some are complicated to the point of absurdity. Example:  “I want to be a Khan of Clan Jade Falcon, who is really a covert Clan Wolverine operative that is also a DEST agent with secret information on Omi Kurita’s love child with Victor.” Yeah, I have tried to craft that story but it caused a small brain hemorrhage.  Let’s save it for the magazine (our new default answer to hard stuff).

Then it came to me. As you know, in an upcoming piece of fiction, I have bar where dead MechWarriors are commemorated for the stupid ways they died.  Their names are written on the wall along with how they died.  That got me thinking – what a great way to deal with all of these canon characters!

I propose this “memorial wall to the dead,” describing all of the dead and how they died.  Sure, it’s a sleazy way to address this, but that’s why you assigned it to me.  All we have to do is stick their names in before each of these glorious deaths and we can chalk it up as a win!

Example: Bob Roberts harbored the illusion that 28 centimeters of ice could support his BattleMech.

Extra points if you realize this guys name was Bob – twice.

What do you guys think?

Blaine “Buck” Pardoe

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Fulfillment Options (Insert names where appropriate) 

  • Killed in a bar-fight with _____ when a bottle cut his jugular.
  • Self-detonated his ammunition, forgetting that he did not have CASE.  Two tons of autocannon rounds left little to be recovered.
  • Last words – “They are only stupid Capellans – charge!”
  • His tactic of, “Let’s lure them in to point blank range,” proved to be incorrect.
  • Stopped moving in his ‘Mech and became the largest, stationary LRM and Arrow target known to mankind…for 20 seconds.  Then he became the largest LRM crater in the history of that world.
  • Last words – “We have them on the run!”
  • Killed by _____ in a bar-fight when he pulled a bottle out of his jugular, tossing it into _____ and cutting his throat in the process.
  • Drew a Square of Equals, just to be different, and was killed for his slight to Clan Ghost Bear tradition.
  • Got into a name-calling match with his armorer just before he went into battle.  As it turns out, he had no ammunition in his missile racks of his Archer.  The investigation remains open as to how that could have happened.
  • Decided to test the altitude limits of his jump jets without paying attention to his fuel.
  • Failed to do the mental math when charging four enemies.  Remains unrecoverable.
  • Was bragging in a bar about having sexually conquered a number of “Kerensky broads.”  He should have checked to see that it was a Wolf Clan bar.
  • Learned there is validity in the old saying that you should not bring a knife to a gunfight.
  • She made the comment, “All you ROM guys are pussies.”  She has not been seen since, presumed dead.
  • Volunteered to be point one time too many.
  • Ventured that the low rumble was a ground tremor, not the approaching enemy RCT.
  • Told an Elemental she, “…had your head up your ass.”  She demonstrated that positioning using him as the subject.
  • Pressed the “override” button on his automatic shutdown controls one time too many.  Body still too radioactive for normal burial.
  • Told the joke, “How many Capellans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Misunderstood his CO’s warning about a, “Steiner Recon Lance.”  He didn’t realize that was a lance of Atlas’s.
  • Last words – “I bet I could kick your Elemental-ass!”  Her body had to be identified via DNA.

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  • Proof that drinking and piloting a BattleMech in combat is a deadly combination.  “Don’t you kids try this at home.”
  • Proved you cannot tap dance in a mine field.
  • Last communication to the approaching enemy:  “I don’t think you have the guts to charge our position.”
  • Learned the maximum depth a BattleMech can operate under water.
  • Misread the map when calling for air support.
  • Last words – “Clanners never attack in the rain, everyone knows that.”
  • Despite training, held onto a grenade by the pin – once.
  • Last words – “I could beat you with only one arm.”  The Jade Falcon Elemental obliged by ripping off one of his arms.  He was wrong.
  • Went outside to urinate, in -70c weather and locked the door behind him.  Body eventually thawed and pants pulled up for his family’s sake.
  • Incorrectly calculated the range that an enemy sniper could fire from.
  • Told his tech that his actuator was, “Just fine.”  It wasn’t.
  • Decided to experiment in what could be fired from a gauss rifle.
  • Ignored his jump jet fuel indicator as he rushed off the edge of the plateau.
  • She became a “trainable moment” in overheating her ‘Mech.
  • Proved you cannot use a tank as a roller-skate for a BattleMech.
  • Discovered that no amount of camouflage can hide a BattleMech running in the open.
  • Last words – “Someone hold my beer…”
  • Failed to inform the enemy that the area was secure.
  • Hit eject but his canopy did not deploy before the seat hit it.  Remains scraped up and sent to his family.
  • Proof that Elementals are not “Cuddly.”
  • Put to test the engineering specifications for his ‘Mech going over a 200 meter cliff.  The engineers, as it turned out, were right.
  • Ignored his CO’s warning that the roof of the apartment building would not likely support his ‘Mech.
  • Last words – “I thought the map said there were mud pits around here…guys?  Guys?”
  • Learned the importance of checking the safety strap on his ejection seat, in the last ten seconds of his life.
  • Told his tech, “I’m in a hurry, don’t worry about those heat sinks.”
  • Tombstone reads:  “Fell asleep at his guard post the night that the DEST commandoes decided to pay a visit.”
  • Learned what the odds were of a gauss rifle hitting his cockpit.  Hint, they are higher than you might think.
  • Punched a Ghost Bear in the nuts – once.
  • Trusted his DropShip pilot to determine a safe altitude to deploy – over his own eyes and sensors.
  • Dated a cruel mistress – gravity – one too many times.
  • Refused to top off his missile and autocannon expendibles saying, ‘They won’t be mounting a counterattack for hours.’
  • Claimed that a one-shot missile rack was ‘plenty.’
  • Last words – “I bet I can pick up that Smoke Jaguar Elemental…”
  • Made the eternal mistake of volunteering to hold the rear flank against ComStar.
  • Ignored the smell of smoke in his cockpit…and the smell of bacon.
  • Told the Manei Domini at the bar, “Interdict this!” and grabbed his crotch.
  • Refused to panic…but should have.
  • Determined that urban camouflage did not work well in the desert.
  • Last action – Flipped the bird to the regular troops in the bar and initiated a lethal bar-fight.
  • Last words – “I’m well out of their range…”
  • Ignored the no smoking signs in the armory.  ID determined by the one square CM bit of flesh recovered from the explosion.

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  • Bet his life that the Jade Falcon Star Colonel would not draw down his bid and call for orbital bombardment.
  • Beat his tech the night before the battle in poker and thought it was funny.  So did the tech.
  • Did his own field repairs and learned the engineering limits of Duct Tape.
  • Last words:  “I think all ISF DEST operatives are wussies…”
  • Created his own chapter for future training classes.  “Always check the liquid you are wading in before you fire on it.”
  • Told everyone that camouflage did not matter on a BattleMech – and went with “Target Orange” with florescent yellow highlights…perfect for forest operations.
  • Misread the elevation lines on the map and his own eyesight out of the cockpit.
  • Taunted one too many enemies with, “Your mother was a Fed-rat and your father sold futures to the FWL.”
  • Tombstone reads:  “I told you I was sick.”
  • Learned that once you go Elemental, you do not ever come back.
  • Came as The Master to a Federated Suns Halloween Party during the Jihad.
  • Decided to make his own modifications to his bionic arm.
  • Last words – “Why is that forest moving?”
  • Learned how close you could stand to a firing PPC blast…and lost the bet in the process.
  • Wore her Wolf’s Dragoon gear into a bar filled with Waco’s Rangers to “intimidate them.”
  • Learned why they are called, “The cheap seats” in Solaris when a missile barrage went wild and killed him.
  • Issued a batchall to the incoming Clan Commander and told him, “If you had the balls, you’d face me alone.”  He did, apparently, have the balls.
  • Did not make his piloting skill roll.
  • Last words – “I can outrun her…”
  • Killed in the great Toilet Paper Riots of 3048 fighting a rear guard action over a mound of Charmin 8000.
  • Told his tech to, “Not waste time replacing my damaged rear armor.”
  • Face-planted his BattleMaster into the canyon despite numerous warning signs.  Earned a new nickname – Wile E. Coyote.
  • Learned he did not have the skills to override Clan BattleMech security.
  • Told a group of clan warriors that Nicholas Kerensky had a furry fetish.  They were less-than-amused.
  • Last action – Successfully mooning the enemy.
  • Proved he was not proficient in energy weapons.
  • Decided to exit the DropShip early, like 3000 meters up too early.
  • Tombstone reads:  “Here lies Corporal Dave who chased the Clanner into a cave…”
  • Tried to impress the lieutenant by offering to scout ahead.
  • Ignored the radiation warnings one too many times.
  • Died confident that the roof of the building would support his 70 ton BattleMech.
  • Disregarded his tech’s warning of, “I wouldn’t stand under that arm if I were you.”
  • Grabbed the first ‘Mech available when the enemy showed up.  Footnote:  A Stinger taking on a Timberwolf is never a good idea.
  • In his last moments regretted calling the ComStar adept, “A techno priest” when he went to send the message for reinforcements.
  • Last words – “They are attacking with only a star of ‘Mechs – we’ve got this…”
  • Last communication to the approaching enemy:  “Why don’t you come over here and make me?”
  • Accidentally dumped his ammunition at the first sign of the enemy.  Turns out, you need that shit in a firefight.
  • Asked Blaine Pardoe to read his fan fic piece with stolen cover art. Remains are yet unfound. The investigation remains open.
  • Made the comment in a Capellan bar that the Death Commandoes were ‘vastly overrated.’  The one at the bar proved him wrong.
  • Ignored the warning during ‘Mech startup when the voice told him, “All Systems Not Nominal.”
  • Told a group of Clan Warriors he was going to “Get all Task Force Serpent on their assess.”  The fight, for the record, lasted less than eight seconds.
  • Forgot to wear a hard hat in the repair bay.  A swinging piece of ferro-fibrous plate can leave a nasty mark on one’s head.
  • Was adjusting his play list when the first wave of missiles enveloped his ‘Mech in a bright orange ball of flame.
  • Last words – “It’s just a heat warning…”
  • Ignored the “Danger Radiation” warning label on fusion reactor access panel 3B
  • Walked into a bar and said, “All Bless Jerome Blake!”  Body identified by DNA.
  • While drinking at a bar, took a 5 C-bill bet that he could give that Elemental a wedgie.
  • Learned the importance of proper weapons maintenance when his laser rifle misfired during battle.  In fact, he become the poster-child for checking the barrel for burned clogging material.
  • Made the classic military mistake of volunteering.
  • Learned that not all civilian bridges are designed to hold up 100 ton BattleMechs.
  • Stepped under Captain Jackson’s jump jets during a take-off.  The good news is the body was pre-cremated.
  • Was poisoned by the company cook for making comments about his lousy, “Shit on a shingle.”  Only person in the Sword of Light to die by French Toast.
  • Electrocuted while trying to prove you can hot wire a BattleMech.
  • Last words – “I can prove there are no Snakes patrolling that valley.”
  • Proved the inherent dangers of grenade juggling in the barracks.
  • Misread the words “Lava Flats” on the map.
  • Died of heart failure when a gauss rifle slug opened his heart and pulverized it into a thin DNA paste.
  • Worst intelligence officer ever.  Spent the night before the battle surfing for Elemental porn rather than pulling up the satellite relays.  Shot by his own men.
  • Executed a HALO jump sans a working breathing unit.
  • Learned that Friendly Fire isn’t and that it has the right of way.
  • Tapped the warhead of a stack of LRM’s with a hammer “to make a point.”
  • Killed by his own men after purchasing surplus WOB munitions for their mercenary company, only to find that they were all mislabeled practice rounds.
  • Went into battle claiming the enemy could not see him because he was piloting an “Unseen” BattleMech.  As it turns out he, and Harmony Gold, were wrong.
  • Convinced his superiors that he was ready for his first battle.
  • In retrospect, his callsign of “LRM Target” was a bit of heavy-handed foreshadowing.
  • Called a group of clan warriors, “Wolverine-humpers.” They were less-than-amused.
  • Charged up over the ridgeline into a battalion of Davion’s alone, believing we were all following him, when we were just sitting back wondering, “Why is he being so stupid?”
  • Ignored the scout lance one time too many.
  • Tombstone reads:  “When his tech told him, ‘I wouldn’t do that shit if I were you,’ he decided to try and prove the tech wrong.”
  • Currently in orbit over Thorin as a non-operative satellite. Learned that piloting a BattleMech in space it is always a good idea to have a tether or magnetic boot attachments.
  • Last words – “Let’s rush their DropShips!”
  • Learned that when your artillery is in range of the enemy, their artillery is in range of you.
  • Thought it would be funny to paint a large white and red target on the cockpit of his BattleMech.
  • Told his lance mates that, “ECM is for wusses.”
  • Adjusted his IFF transponder incorrectly and at the wrong moment.  “Hey, where did that enemy Wasp come from?  Hit it boys!”
  • Refused to look both ways before driving his tank across the maglev tracks.
  • Was last seen with a toolkit saying something about fixing airlock four’s controls.
  • His friends replaced his coolant with Coolant Flush ™ energy drink as a prank.  Body was found to be extra crispy and caffeine infused.
  • Told his infantry support their “pansy-asses” weren’t needed.
  • Learned that Streak missiles can acquire new targets – including your cockpit.
  • Last words – “I don’t care that I am danger close, drop the barrage!”
  • Believed that the mine field sign was incorrectly posted.
  • Stood up the general’s daughter for a date and was assigned to, “An extended long range patrol to find the enemy main body.”  He did.
  • Yelled “charge” before making sure that the rest of his lance was willing to do so.  “It was spectacular the way he ran alone into the middle of that Clan Cluster…and over quickly.”
  • Ignored the “Launch Doors Jammed” warning indicator when he unleashed a salvo of SRM’s.
  • Two words – Autoerotic Asphyxiation.
  • Learned there is a wrong way to load short range missiles.
  • Told his tech, “Stop worrying about those cracks in the cockpit canopy…it’s just fine.”
  • As a newly pinned Lieutenant, he ignored the sergeant’s warnings about poking the bear.
  • Made the mistake of drinking too much and commenting in front of clansmen that Nicholas Kerensky got his names for the clans from a kids petting zoo.
  • Protected the ammunition dump – but too closely.
  • Two words – Terminal Diarrhea.
  • Last action – disabled his ejection seat because the power cable rattled too much.
  • In a bar bet he placed 100 C-Bills on the table that someone could slam an entire glass of coolant fluid.  He both won and lost.
  • Exited the DropShip to descend on his jump jets…which is ‘Mech was not equipped with.
  • Did not notice the large white and red target painted on the back of his ‘Mech.
  • Pulled the pin and fumbled one grenade too many.
  • Proved that standing still does not draw attention (or incoming fire) away from you.  FYI – Commonly known as Draxing.
  • Became the poster-child for not piloting your BattleMech underwater when your cockpit has been compromised.
  • Told his physician that his eyesight was just fine.  He was incorrect.
  • Thought it would be fun to cover himself in catnip and then seduce a bunch of those crazy Periphery cat-people from Canopus.
  • Believed he could outrun an avalanche.  Was off by 47 kph.
  • Bad eyesight made him confuse an enemy ‘Mech as a Crab when it was a King Crab.
  • Last Words: “What are the odds of them both hitting my cockpit?”  It is 6.94% – for the record.
  • Threatened his Tech prior to the big battle.  Mysteriously his weapons systems failed after their first shot.
  • Hid under the dropship.  Failed to check its departure orders first.
  • Last communication to the approaching enemy:  “Ghost Bear – what’s that?  One of the Care Bears ™?”
  • Was confident that he had dug has foxhole deep enough as the tank rolled over it.  For a millisecond before his crushing death, his confidence waned.
  • Learned that in an emergency you cannot replace coolant vest coolant with urine.
  • Said he would take the old-school Charger into the battle and that it was an underappreciated killing machine.
  • Learned that the warning labels on the fusion reactor output cables were there for a reason.  Can you say, “Extra Crispy Please?”
  • Last words, “They have nowhere else to run.”  As it happens, they could turn 180 degrees and charge.
  • Learned an important physics lesson regarding jumping, distances, and the structural integrity of BattleMech legs.
  • Learned there is a good reason to not tape your hand grenades.
  • His flagrant disregard for artillery barrages will immortalize him for years to come at NAIS as an example for future generations about “what not to do.”
  • Nickname – Squats.  Decided to go behind a tree and take a dump at the moment of the enemy counterattack. Never made it back to his ‘Mech.  Death by Taco-Bell.
  • Took the phrase, ‘…or die trying…’ far too seriously.
  • Suggested that he could write a better novel than any of the established BattleTech authors.  Was castrated, drawn and quartered, trampled on, and his remain were buried in eight different latrines.  According to the authors, “We could and should have done so much more but we are paid by the word.”

Updated – Fans in My BattleTech Fiction

IMG_0292
He’s right behind me, isn’t he?

Everyone keeps asking me the same things, over and over:  “When is the Wolf’s Dragoons novel coming out?  When is that big book “you promised” last year coming out?  (I ‘promised’ nothing you filthy surats!) “Is my character still in book X or did I die in an editing accident?”  This is usually followed with questions about will the books be in hard copy, audio books, translation to foreign languages, and inquiries about the Kickstarter.

Hopefully this post will stop the inquiries.  Oh, who am I kidding?

First off, this is all my mistake.  I own it.  I shouldn’t have been so open with the fan community in the first place. I should have just included fans covertly, under the table. I also should never have presumed that things would have released when they were supposed to. My bad. It won’t happen going forward.  If you ask me the dates on when anything I have written will be coming out I will refuse to answer and likely be snippy with you in the process. I AM TALKING TO YOU BOB.

Allow me to introduce you to some realities as an author:

  • I do not know if anything will be in hard copy. Complaining to me does you zero good. Telling me you want to hold a physical book is not necessary. What you do with your hands is between you and your hands.  I just write this stuff.
  • I don’t know anything about audio books. I can’t stress enough on this point – I really don’t care about audio books. I have a raging ego, but even mine isn’t big enough for me to want to listen to someone read my books out loud.
  • I do not have dates when anything is coming out. I have projected dates but I will not share them.  Don’t ask. Sometimes even my editor is surprised when stuff comes out.
  • I am not affiliated with the Kickstarter. Don’t ask me questions about it.  I don’t know. I like not knowing. I have no idea if Kickstarter exclusives will be available to non-Kickstarter people, but I think the word “exclusive” is a pretty big clue.
  • No, I will not tell you if you appear in the fiction as a Khan, First Lord, Custos of the Fidelis, a MechWarrior, a member of Clan Wolverine, a salty tech, a cook, a drunk, a swamp, a city, some ruins, or anything else. Yes I know, no I will not share. NOT EVEN TO YOU BOB.

So here’s what happened in the last few months.

The books got written and went through edit reviews early last year.  Ta Da!  The Powers That Be realized that the sheer scope of these things in the books was staggering.  So some decisions were made at the writer’s summit last fall about the best way to approach this.  First, we had some changes suggested to the Wolf’s Dragoons novella – which became a short novel.  (Don’t’ ask me to explain the difference, it has to do with word counts, magic, and stuff.)

The big novel I wrote, got broken up into two short novels and the big book (which got bigger), working title, XXXX XX XXX XXXX XXXXXX (oh, and by the way, that isn’t the real title, I am just messing with you.)  Those are just the parts I had to write.  There are other novellas by some great writers that tie into all of this too. Let’s just say, we took something big and made it massive.  Some chapters simply are gone, tossed out.  Shit happens. A lot of new material got added, and many things got changed.  The result is a much better product which I think makes up for the wait. 

Before you ask, you do not have to read all of the prequel material to XXXX XX XXX XXXX XXXXXX, but it will help your overall entertainment experience.  AND, BOB, BEFORE YOU ASK, I DON’T KNOW IF THEY WILL BE SOLD IN HARD COPY.

In the middle of all of this came the Kickstarter and people purchasing canon characters.  Where practical, I needed to use them.  I am not deliberately pushing fans out of the book to put in canon characters, I AM using whatever constitutes the best character for the story.  For the record, the list of canon characters is a huge blessing for me…though there are some “challenges.” The net result, in XXXX XX XXX XXXX XXXXXX there will be my usual cadre of fans and a lot of canon characters from the Kickstarter, some of which are downright awesome!

On top of this, I also volunteered to write stuff for the Kickstarter before the canon characters survey got distributed. That added a layer of complication but in the end, it’s all cool.

You may be wanting to say, “This sounds like a hot mess,” but you would be wrong.  It’s only a hot mess to me (which everyone seems oddly comfortable with.)  Most of the stuff actually makes the books better, and cooler, and there is more there. Honestly, it is a nightmare for me to keep it all straight, but I am (so far).

On top of this, during this “process” John Helfers and I have discussed shortening the character arcs for a few characters.  That’s my way of saying, “We decided to kill off some characters.”  I did get John to agree that some of the chopped chapters (and fan characters) could be published in the magazine sometime down the road.  If he fails to live up to that, they will go in my blog as “The Missing Chapters!”

I am not making a big concerted effort to find homes for characters that got cut. My job is to write a good story with great characters – not turn this into a hodge-podge of fan fiction wet dreams.
On the Wolf’s Dragoons stuff, it is done and through edit.  I have seen and offered comments on the cover art concept.  NO BOB, I DO NOT KNOW WHEN IT WILL BE RELEASED. I have finished the prequel short novels, in draft, but hey, a lot can happen in editing.

All of this is good in the end, more fiction, more fan community involvement and engagement, more BattleTech.

PS. Don’t be Bob.

So, here is the updated list:

The Anvil

Moses Obadiah

Nicholas Tockert

David DiFranco

Eric Belcher

Clifford McKinney

Jeff Sockwell

Daryl Noonan

Jonathon Scott Schofield

Cord Awtry

Ryan James Broadhead

Ben Myers

Troy Lee Cowell

Krzysztof Krecislaw

Chad Parish

Jack Lafreniere

Joshua Bressel

Marcus Odekirk

Robert Ostrowski

Mark Havener

George Tholburn

Erik Helgeson

Winter Guite

Jukka-Emil Vanaja

Christopher Turco

Juan Ochoa Jr.

Steven Molen

Broccán Mac Rónáin

Kenyon Burguess

Dave Alsager

 

Forever Faithful

Benjamin Starkey

Av Paredes

Adam Mckern

Brian Blaney

Trixter Phillips

Alexander JW De Santis

Jamie Rife

Brandon Fisher

Andrew Gardenhire

Todd Farnholtz

Clint Woodall

Clifford McKinney

Adam Thompson

Ray Arrista

James McHenry

Patrick Finnegan

Oliver Kraft

Camille Klein

Shane Jaskowiak

Shawn Bruno

Colin Duffy

James Eyers Mclean Miller

Nathan Pelchat

Josh Ellis

Craig Gulledge

Peter Farland

Eric Eny

James Bixby

Thomas Lagemann

Craig Reed

Mike Lubowitzki

Devin Ramsey

Dustin Ballard

‎Jose Alvarez‎

Aaron Gregory

Bradley Proffitt

Dean Manning

Brian Chiasson

David Shell

Keegan Reid

Sam Snell

Alex Clarke

 

The Short Story – Redemption and Malice – Which, to my surprise, is coming out to the Kickstarter backers any day now: 

Derek King

Gerry S. Xydis

Jack Halloran

 

Rules of Engagement – Released for the Kickstarter

Cymril Tseng, Star Commander of Clan Ghost Bear

Tai-i Adam Cunningham (Kaningamu) of the Draconis Combine

Tai-sa David Vivas, of the Draconis Combine

Tabor Heine, contributing for his daughter Charlotte Warrior of Clan Ghost Bear

 

The Bonds of Battle (To Be Released in the Clan Boxed Set)

Star Commander Cymril Tseng, Clan Ghost Bear

Adam Bear, (Kaningamu), contributed by Gregory Adam Cunningham, formerly of the Draconis Combine, now bondsman to Clan Ghost Bear

Tai-sa David Vivas, of the Draconis Combine

Tabor Heine, contributing for his daughter Charlotte Warrior of Clan Ghost Bear

William James Hamblin, Chu-i Biru Hamblin of the Draconis Combine

Chu-i Ayden Ryken, of the Draconis Combine

Chu-i Carrie Shumar, of the Draconis Combine

Sho-ko Mateo Vaux, of the Draconis Combine

Jason Cabral, Cabral, Ghost Bear Warrior

Kashira Jack ‘Reverend’ Benner, Sonkei-suru Benner of the Draconis Combine

 

The Upcoming Wolf’s Dragoons Short Novel (I am not releasing the title because it may contain a spoiler)

Michael Barber

Timothy Byrne

Felipe Cintron

John “Doc” Crouch

Tony Deegan

Jared Donner

Wes Frenz

Jürgen Frey

John Gaisano III

Ed Hatchel

Matthew Hinks

Hannes Hinterberger

Robert BJ Horncastle

Cal Hornstien

Garry Jackson

Alex Kaempen

Kristopher Tyson Koniczek

Andrew Krull

Wayne Ledbetter

Brianne Elizabeth Lyons

Joseph McEachern

Joshua McHugh

Roderick van Noorloos

William C. Pelcham

Lon Porter

Corey Riordan

Nicholas Roche

Andrew Roy

Patrick J. Saul

Sebastian Schröder

Kevin Seibert

Richard Skelton

Andrew Sternglass

Jason Tuttle

Matt Valgardson

Derek Weese

Jason Weiser

Scott Whyte

 

Honor and Glory Short Novel – An Eagle Among Falcons

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UPCOMING NOVELLAS AND XXXX XX XXX XXXX XXXXXX 

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