Product information
Type Novella
Author Phaedra M. Weldon
Pages 102
Publication information
Publisher BattleCorps
First published 14 July 2010
Era Civil War era
Timeline 3065
Preceded by Epaulet Mate

Fianchetto, by Phaedra M. Weldon, was published online on BattleCorps on 14 June 2010. Following up on En Passant and Epaulet Mate, it concludes the story of Päl Wyndham-Sandoval's conflict with his scheming mother, Baroness Margarette Wyndham-Sandoval.

Teaser text[edit]

When we last saw Pal Sandoval, his family had been taken, his mother had betrayed him, and his world was turned upside-down. In "Fianchetto", Phaedra Weldon shows us that world has not yet righted...

Plot summary[edit]

With his wife and infant son held hostage by his own mother to enforce his cooperation, Päl Wyndham-Sandoval, still wounded from the assassination attempt, is a prisoner at the Wyndham-Sandoval estate for all intents and purposes. He is not allowed to speak to outsiders and has to feign support for his mother in public.

Duke Tancred Sandoval meanwhile realizes that there is a massive intrigue going on involving Päl. When Baroness Margarette Wyndham-Sandoval launches a subtle campaign to discredit him, he realizes that his ally Päl must be under her influence against his will, but the Duke is unable to intervene on Päl's behalf as he has to guard his own back in the treacherous political landscape. An intricate and dangerous game of political maneuvering ensues with Duke Sandoval trying to find out the situation of Päl and his wife and son, against the resistance of Päl's mother.

Meanwhile, Päl is lured into an escape attempt and set up for an ambush where he is severely beaten his mother's men, necessitating surgery to his wounded shoulder. His mother explains to him how the medical treatment of Päl was carefully manipulated to prevent him from recovering fully, and that he had a transmitter implanted during the surgery that will always reveal his location. To prevent Päl from leaking information to the outside about his predicament, she also had Päl's loyal wetnurse silenced as well as a reporter who went to school with him and realized something was wrong. Baroness Wyndham-Sandoval also announces to Päl that she has changed her plans: Päl, who is now totally under her control, is set up to become the new Duke, implying that Tancred Sandoval is going to be murdered. This also requires Päl to retract his resignation with the Robinson Rangers and accept a commission as Captain with the second regiment.

Deryck Bohen, a mercenary weapons master hired to train Päl, becomes a double agent ferrying information between all sides; Duke Sandoval thinks him in (unrequited) love for Päl's captive wife and decides to use him to rescue the hostages, denying the Baroness her fulcrum against Päl. Meanwhile, Päl slowly works to turn his nurse Abé Klasky, an agent of his mother, over to his side, not realizing that she is in fact a dangerous professional assassin who had to flee the Draconis Combine.

The spy game between the Duke and the Baroness comes to a head during the Change of Command ceremony on 25 November 3065 where Duke Tancred Sandoval is to be formally sworn in, having suceeded his father only recently. The ceremony includes a tournament where Duke Sandoval secretly changes places with the pilot of the 'Mech facing Päl in the finale. He uses this unique opportunity to speak to Päl in private over the radio. With the hostages safe, they quickly improvise an intricate plan that will not only rescue Päl, but actually see his mother's schemes undone by revealing them to the public. This requires Päl to have the transmitter (which includes a killswitch) surgically removed from his shoulder without anaethetic.

During the following festivities, Yvonne Steiner-Davion leads Päl away under a pretense for the Duke's personal physician to perform the surgery. Nurse Abé interrupts them with a gun in her hand, but Päl brings her down with his knife throwing skills, using a scalpel.

Afterwards, Baroness Wyndham-Sandoval is publicly confronted with the evidence and testimony from Bohen, three of her personal household guards, and a wounded Abé. She draws a gun on Duke Sandoval, but shoots her husband, the Baron, instead when he tries to hold her back. She is subsequently arrested.

A month later, in December 3065, Päl and his family are guests of Duke Tancred Sandoval and Yvonne Steiner-Davion at the Duke's Estate, Castle Sandoval, for the Solstice festivities. Päl, now Baron Wyndham-Sandoval after his father's death, learns that the bodies of his wetnurse and his reporter friend were found while his mother escaped after posting a bail, with assassin Abé on her trail.

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Like its predecessors, the story is named after a term from the game of chess: Fianchetto describes a tactic where a bishop is used in a "flanking maneuver", putting this particular chess piece in a powerful position.