|Cover artwork||Boris Vallejo|
|Interior artwork||Rick Harris|
|First published||October 1993|
|Era||Clan Invasion era|
Far Country, the only BattleTech book written by Peter Rice, is notable for its unorthodox storyline which has only tenuous connections with the established universe. It is the only canonical source where sentient aliens play a significant role, something many fans feel should have no place in the fictional BattleTech universe. As a consequence, its canonicity is often questioned (see below).
Other noteworthy aspects of the novel include the introduction of two new starship classes and a new APC type into canon, and some details on hyperspace jumps and the cockpit layout of a LAM.
The book's protagonists are marooned in an unknown star system with no chance whatsoever to return to or communicate with known space, effectively separating them from the rest of humanity. The story therefore has no impact on the fictional history of the BattleTech universe. As far as everyone else is concerned, the protagonists are considered killed in a jump accident.
The novel was made available on BattleCorps on 23 January 2010 as a PDF file (text only, without cover, pictures, or any other interior artwork except for the usual BattleCorps frame graphics). The PDF copy includes a disclaimer stating that it was created from a pre-final edition text that might differ from the printed version and that canon-wise, the print edition trumps the PDF edition.
- 1 From the back cover
- 2 Canonicity
- 3 Plot Summary
- 4 Featured characters
- 5 Featured places
- 6 Featured Units
- 7 Featured BattleTech
- 8 Explorer Corps context
- 9 Covers
- 10 References
From the back cover
|“|| Sho-sa Yubari Takuda leads a Draconis Elite Strike Team, one of the Combine's elite commando units. Well versed in techniques of conventional and unconventional warfare, even MechWarriors respect and fear the prowess of these deadly warriors.
A follower of the ancient code of the samurai, Sho-sa Takuda firmly believes in the superiority of the Combine warrior culture and has always maintained that it would produce a harmonious and prosperous society—if only the realm could be freed from the pressure of foreign aggressors.
But when a JumpShip malfunction catapults Takuda's team and a company of mercenary MechWarriors beyond known space, he finds long-held beliefs challenged. For the warriors find themselves on a planet inhabited by a primitive alien race, a race enslaved by the descendants of another group of humans—from the Draconis Combine.
Because of the sentient aliens featured in Far Country, the novel's canonicity is sometimes questioned. However, it does meet the current criteria for Canon and BattleTech Line Developer Herbert A. Beas has confirmed its canonicity, with the caveat that the authors and developers deliberately ignore the Tetatae and shall not revisit them. The impact on the BattleTech universe is minor, given that the Tetatae only (theoretically) exist in a place that has no connections to the known universe whatsoever.
- (see also this article's Talk page)
Prologue - Year 2510 (Chapters 1 and 2)
During the McAllister Rebellion, troops are moved from the distant edges of the Draconis Combine, including the 2452nd Battalion of the 5th Galedon Regulars on Salford under Chu-sa Tokashio Hamata. On 9 November 2510 he oversees his troops being loaded on Vulture-class DropShips and embarks one of them, the Hideyoshi Toyotomi. The DropShips take off and dock with the Leviathan-class JumpShip Raiden which is supposed to bring them to Brailsford.
However, the jump fails, effectively wrecking the Raiden and damaging all DropShips to some degree. They find themselves stranded in an unknown star system. Two locations, a planet and a large moon, are identified as being habitable for humans. The initial plan is to release the DropShips after six days of drift so that they can complete the voyage under their own power, but late on day five the Raiden's fusion core has to be scrammed. The ship is slowly breaking up and the DropShips must be released. One DropShip is trapped by a deformed Hardpoint in the process and ruptures its hull when trying to yank free. Four DropShips are clustered together, the others fan out. One ship brushes another while maneuvering; locked together and out of control they spin towards the planet for two days with no hope of survival. Lifeboats carrying the JumpShip crew follow the surviving DropShips to the planet, later known as Kaetetôã.
Part I - 3056 (Chapters 3 through 24)
On 7 November 3056 the Scout-class JumpShip Telendine has been awaiting clearance for fourteen days already while waiting at a Jump Point in the Salford system. Master and Commander Reston Bannin, a merchant, is fuming as he has a DropShip packed with valuable, but perishable Cholobara wine sitting down on the planet. Against his wishes he is assigned "military cargo" instead, namely a Leopard-class DropShip carrying a DEST team under Sho-sa Yubari Takuda and Garber Vost's mercenary unit, bound for a classified destination. Like the Raiden did 546 years earlier, the Telendine misjumps out of Salford and has to be abandoned. Its lifeboat and the DropShip descend on Kaetetôã, noting the derelict hulk of another ship (the Raiden) in orbit. They manage a crashlanding on-planet.
During the first night on the alien planet, the 27 remaining survivors form three distinct groups: Twelve DEST soldiers, eleven mercenaries and the four crew from the spaceships. Mercenary leader Garber Vost confronts Takuda with allegations that the Draconis Combine failed to fulfill their part of the mercenary contract, namely the safe insertion and extraction clause, and declares the contract null and void under the radically changed circumstances. He goes on to suggest that the surviving women should be dealt out to the best men to ensure survival on this new world, which all agree they have no chance to leave again.
Over the following days, edible plants are identified, solving the food problem. Garber Vost seeks to assume overall command. To this end, he wants to salvage the BattleMechs from the crashlanded Leopard. Mistrust and tension build up among the survivors.
A DEST patrol encounters a large, bird-like alien who speaks to them, introducing himself as Dakodo of the Tetatae species. Dakodo tells the survivors that other humans had arrived on the world centuries earlier. He recognizes the Draconis Combine's dragon symbol. While the Kuritans befriend the alien, a nearby mercenary patrol shoots another Tetatae specimen and wounds Dakodo. He is brought back to camp and his injuries are treated while the mercenaries apparently eat the one they shot. Later, Dakodo recounts the history of his species, how they separated into primitive plains-dwellers and slightly less primitive forest-dwellers (like himself), and how the first humans came five hundred years ago. The humans fought both among themselves and against the peaceful Tetatae, and took to enslaving Tetatae. Three human settlements remain on the planet, but their technology level is low; they have no aircraft. Vost and his mercenaries, especially LAM pilot Brian Seagroves, are excited to hear that and secretly decide that they can rule the planet by hiring out the superior firepower of their 'Mechs.
The mercenaries agree to have Seagroves reconnoiter the human settlements with his LAM, and for the time being the enstranged survivors cooperate to free the LAM from the hulk of the broken DropShip. Seagroves is then ordered by Takuda to make a high pass, avoiding contact as much as possible, while Vost secretly orders him to fly over the settlements as low as possible to inspire awe. Defying both, Seagroves lands the LAM in a plaza in one of the settlements (Usugumo, the city of traders) and makes contact. He is excited to see an abundance of gold used on the buildings, and is treated with utmost respect by the residents.
Tensions about how to proceed flare up again. Based on Seagroves' (incomplete) report, Takuda decides to send patrols to the three entrenched cities which are obviously fighting each other to scout them out. In the meantime, the remaining BattleMechs are to be recovered. Vost irritates everybody by insisting that his Panther be retrieved first, although it is the 'Mech that is most difficult to reach. Because of this, the patrols return before any of the 'Mechs are free, and report on their findings. Besides Usugumo, a merchant oligarchy where wealth defines status, there are the cities of Osio (run by a centralized dictatorship) and Amatakaze (religious fundamentalists with a pure Shinto/Buddhism philosophy).
Vost calls for an impromptu election in an attempt to have himself elected as overall leader, but one of the DEST soldiers subtly threatens him not to press the matter for the time being. The mercenary faction subsequently decides to secretly finish the retrieval of their 'Mechs and use them to attack the DEST command post. Locust pilot Holly Goodall and her tech Sagiri Johnson have second thoughts about the planned murder, however, and decide to warn Takuda and his men. Later that night, two DEST teams attempt to capture the mercenaries with tranquilizer guns. Reston Bannin happens to stand in the way atop his DropShip. He is hit and stunned, but falls to his death into the hangar bay. A firefight ensues between the DEST troopers and the mercenaries who are caught red-handed while trying to power up their 'Mechs. The Phoenix Hawk LAM, Panther and Javelin escape while Holly Goodall in her Locust manages to kill the other Locust pilot, Collis Brank, with a cockpit hit.
On the following day, the remaining nine DEST members together with Goodall, Johnson, DropShip pilot Parker Davud and JumpShip engineer Mark Jacobs, take the two remaining Locusts out of the DropShip wreck. At this point they are swarmed by cheering and excited Tetatae because of the bird-like look and movement patterns of the Locusts: While the other BattleMechs have a largely humanoid shape and were thus associated with the human newcomers by the Tetatae, the Locusts vaguely resemble the Tetatae body and are regarded as divine beings who will bring back the balance that the humans have upset. Takuda and his men, being the riders and masters of the Locusts, immediately gain god-like status with the primitive aliens, much to Takuda's dislike.
Discussing the damaged Locust they discover that Marc Jacobs is actually a dispossessed MechWarrior. While the DEST troopers are also qualified 'Mech pilots, they are more useful outside of the damaged machine while Jacobs has no particular role or function. He is therefore allowed to pilot the surplus 'Mech. They come under attack from the mercenaries while evacuating the DropShip, but escape into hidden caves with guidance from the Tetatae.
Part 2 - 3056 (Chapters 25 through 50)
Takuda has patrols infiltrate the three city enclaves with help from the resident Tetatae servants. In Usugumo, a female DEST trooper is taken captive as the inhabitants cannot accept a woman being in command. The Usugumo are also reported to be about to hire the mercenaries.
The next mercenary attack against Takuda's faction is repulsed by luring the attackers into various types of pit and other traps (built by the resourceful Tetatae workforce under directions from the DEST experts) while a DEST team infiltrates the prison and frees the captive, stealing a steam-driven Usugumo tank in the process. Combined, these events considerably lower the mercenaries' reputation among their potential employers. In response, they lead a Usugumo attack force against Takuda's men and the Tetatae, only to be repulsed again.
Both LAM pilot Brian Seagroves and Javelin pilot Kendall Pesht begin to make their own deals with the residents from all three cities behind Vost's back. However, the cities in turn approach Takuda's camp as well, and a secret coven of leaders from all three cities decides to play all factions against each other with hopes that the newcomer factions will eliminate each other. Once the mercenaries begin to realize their precarious position they decide on a demonstration of their power, and begin to destroy some defences at Osio and Amatukaze. Takuda attempts to exploit the situation by attacking the mercenary 'Mechs but this time his forces are driven off. However, in the aftermath of his failed attacks human and Tetatae recruits flock to Takuda's banner (against his wishes) as they regard his party as an alternative to the unsatisfying life in their cities.
A combined effort from the cities, supported by the mercenaries, eventually threatens to overrun Takuda's position and inflicts severe casualties among his followers. Inspired by a Tetatae legend about another human settlement in the mountains they eventually begin to move off in that direction, pursued by the mercenaries who manage to destroy one of the Locusts. Vost, who is also qualified as a LAM pilot, switches 'Mechs with Seagroves for a recon run but does not realize the LAM is almost out of fuel, as Seagroves disabled the warning light during a previous mission. The resulting crash destroys the LAM, presumably kills Vost and effectively ends the pursuit of Takuda's group. Seagroves and Pesht return to the warring cities to work as mercenaries.
High up in the mountains, Takuda and his followers eventually arrive at the resting place of the DropShip Hideyoshi Toyotomi. They review the last log entry which describes how the survivors mothballed the ship and committed seppuku, as the crew had been unable to contact any other humans and no women had survived the planetfall. Over time, Takuda and the refugees who came with him manage to bring the DropShip back to flying condition by scavenging parts from the remaining Locust, produce fuel and eventually lift off towards the second habitable world in the unknown system, the moon they have come to call Far Country.
- Chi-Ha APC
- Seeker (mentioned as modern successor to the similar Vulture class)
- Vulture (Hideyoshi Toyotomi)
Explorer Corps context
Around 1993, FASA planned to expand the BattleTech universe through a new story arc dealing with the exploration of the Periphery under the aegis of ComStar's Explorer Corps in search of Strana Mechty, the Clan homeworld. This would have expanded the game's scope beyond the known human sphere of influence, with possible encounters of aliens. The core product of this new line would have been the Explorer Corps Campaign Set which was originally planned to be a boxed set. Far Country was to be the first of several novels in the Explorer Corps setting; author Peter Rice was said to have had a contract for a second "Explorer Corps" novel. FASA ultimately did not follow up this plan, however. Instead of the boxed campaign set, Explorer Corps was eventually released as a sourcebook and no further "Explorer Corps" novels were published after Far Country.
An advertisement for The Far Country in the 1993 Update Flyer reads:
|“||In this Explorer Corps novel, a misjump traps a crew of mercenaries and DEST commandos on an uncharted planet. There they encounter a strangely hostile alien race, and realize that humans have been there before—and may still be around.||”|
- In Explorer Corps (sourcebook), p. 24, the loss of the JumpShip Telendine in a misjump in 3056 is quoted as a reason for the Draconis Combine Admiralty to abandon the practice of comandeering civilian vessels for military purposes.
- according to this posting (archived) on the CBT Forum; posting also copied to this article's Talk page for reference