Katze unter Bären
|Katze unter Bären|
|Cover artwork||Swen Papenbrock|
|Publisher||Fantasy Productions GmbH|
|Product code||31018 (print)|
|Era||Clan Invasion era|
|Timeline||20 March 3053-27 June 3054|
|Series|| Classic BattleTech Novels|
Katze unter Bären ("Cat among Bears"), by Arous Brocken, is the 11th of the German-language Classic BattleTech Novels published by FanPro. Set in 3053/3054, it describes the rise of MechWarrior George in Clan Ghost Bear in the time of change brought about by the Truce of Tukayyid.
Written in German and exclusively published in that language so far, Katze unter Bären does not meet the current criteria for Canon in the BattleTech universe. As an official product published under a valid license, it should be regarded as apocryphal.
From the back cover (translated from German)
|“|| 3053: Ever since the Battle of Tukayyid, an armed truce reigns. Although the Clan military is rearming everywhere, young MechWarriors find themselves bereft of any opportunity to prove their abilities and gain honor.
Having succeeded in his Trial of Position only a few weeks ago, George of the Nova Cats suddenly faces a superior foe—and defeats him.
Impressed, the Ghost Bears take him as bondsman, and shortly afterwards George is placed into the elite 371st Assault Cluster despite his lack of combat experience and sent to the Inner Sphere to hunt bandits...
First Part of the Bear Cycle.
Trueborn to a Lenardon-West sibko in Clan Nova Cat, cadet George prefers light BattleMechs and is a talented reconnaissance pilot. Training at Attika Academy on Tranquil, he is at odds with the remaining seven cadets in his sibko for what they consider his underhanded tactics.
On 24 May 3053 the cadets are surprisingly informed that their Trial of Position will take place this afternoon. George elects to fight in a 50-ton Huntsman whereas all other cadets chose 75-ton or 80-ton 'Mechs. The Trial is to take place in Minos' Labyrinth, a network of narrow canyons with limited radio contact. George is surprised to encounter a poorly piloted Glass Spider with odd markings as his first opponent and, upon inspecting his foe after defeating him, realizes that bandits bearing the crest of long-dead Clan Mongoose are attacking the academy grounds. He breaks radio silence to report his encounter and overhears Bravo Cadet being overrun by unknown hostiles at Nav Gamma while an unbelieving instructor (callsign Alpha Assault) chastises Bravo Cadet for his supposed overreaction. George (who is Gamma Cadet) rushes to Bravo's aid but is defeated by the unknown attackers. Alpha Assault's Timber Wolf is destroyed by an enemy Summoner, and George passes out in the 'Mech's subsequent explosion.
Upon awakening, George is informed that he is the only surviving cadet. Destroying the bandit Glass Spider before being destroyed himself could be seen as passing the Trial of Position, pending Star Colonel Dalibo Lenardon's approval. He is ultimately assigned a Jenner IIC in acknowledgement of his skills as a scout, and relocated to Aksan Base on Shadow, effectively a resupply jumpoff and training world for troops on their way to the Inner Sphere.
There, on 15 July 3053, Star Commander Vijo's Mad Dog is ambushed by a Kodiak and Vijo's star including George is sent to assist him. George arrives first but winds up facing an enemy Stone Rhino and tells the remainder of the star to stay clear as he realizes the fight is hopeless. Vijo and George are defeated in short order by the two enemy assault 'Mechs. In desperation, George fires a last Alpha Strike and lands a lucky hit on the Stone Rhino's cockpit just before ejecting into the icy waste himself, destroying the much heavier 'Mech. He regains consciousness in a DropShip airlock and dizzily attacks the nearest enemy on instinct. Through sheer luck he snaps the neck of an Elemental warrior who had already deactivated his suit and removed his helmet, which slowed his reactions to George's sudden attack.
The combined feats of destroying a Stone Rhino (piloted, as it turns out, by one Star Commander Ribak) with a Jenner IIC and then killing an Elemental in an unaugmented attack impresses acting Star Commander Natalja, the Kodiak pilot, enough to claim George as isorla bondsman once he has recovered from his substantial injuries.
Bondsman George is assigned as astech to chief tech Ardath, Natalja's personal tech. He and Gemar, a bondsman taken from Clan Smoke Jaguar, ponder possible escape plans. In the meantime George decides to learn as much about the Ghost Bears as possible. On 8 October 3053, while George is piloting a maintenance crane vaguely resembling a quad 'Mech, the DropShip 'Mech bay is suddenly stormed by Elementals who mow down the technicians. Initially shocked at this wasteful display of un-clanlike behaviour, George takes up the fight. Utterly disregardful of the techs who are still alive he rips off a gas line to use it as an impromptu flame thrower and turn the bay into a flaming inferno. Gemar escapes in the chaos, but George remains at his post. In the after-action report it is mentioned that the intruders killed eighteen techs while the flames killed twenty-four, though some of the charred corpses may have been killed by the attackers previously. Star Commander Natalja considers George's action reckless and wasteful, but over her objections George is drafted into a Ghost Bear sibko (Tseng) with the aim of indoctrinating him, then assigning him to the understrength 371th Assault Cluster who are desperate for qualified warriors.
George qualifies for Warrior caste membership in a live-fire trial on Bearclaw that goes awry and causes substantial collateral damage including the death of a fellow cadet. Next, the cadets are set almost naked into the polar region and rescued just short of freezing, to familiarize them with the environment in which the Ghost Bear is at home. Finally, on 20 December 3053, he undergoes another Trial of Position, this time piloting a Warhawk. However, the 'Mech has a faulty nav system and George cannot accurately determine where his opponents are awaiting him. He eventually encounters, attacks and destroys a Glass Spider, only to find out it was one of fellow cadet Tanja's opponents. Having inadvertedly broken zellbrigen, he helps Tanja fight her other opponents who may now attack her simulatneously, then they move against his opponents together. The ultimate result is that they are granted only one scored kill each, discounting all kills they scored together and narrowly making them MechWarriors.
On the next mornig George awakens next to Tanja in an unknown basement boiler room with a terrible hangover. They somehow ended up in a restricted zone and upon trying to sneak out they run into some scientists working on a new 'Mech design. After some consideration George volunteers as a test pilot for what turns out to be the Ursus, hoping it will somehow advance his career and guarantee him a predictable 'Mech assignment. This works out as intended, and thus George is piloting an Ursus when the 371th Assault Cluster is unexpectedly chosen for rotation into the Inner Sphere within a star entirely formed from his adoptee sibko. However, George's star (Five-Bravo) is disliked and openly shunned by the other members of the unit; they feel the newly graduated MechWarriors are not up to the 371st Assault Cluster's standards and detest a light recon star in their otherwise heavy/assault lineup.
They are put through harsh extended training sessions against the rest of their unit. George is not too happy with his Ursus after all, and finds the design lacking. Also, his prototype units does not have established maintenance parameters yet, making it somewhat unreliable under stress and on extended duty.
During the long journey to the Inner Sphere, George befriends an aerospace pilot and qualifies for flying Sabutai fighters to the point of joining a patrol flight and thus gaining honorary membership in the JumpShip's aerospace squadron, though he is not technically qualified to pilot a fighter in combat. However, his MechWarrior skills are in decline because he spends his spare time training in aerospace fighters instead of 'Mechs, and decides to end his cross-training when his own starmates begin to react hostile to his new interests.
They have already arrived in the Ghost Bear occupation zone when the Naga in George's star is found to have been disabled through Arrow IV warheads that had somehow been tampered with. With the resupply situation being as it is, they have to make do with poor quality replacement 'Mechs. The star's first combat mission finally occurs when they are dropped to guard the remote polar HPG station on Mannedorf against a possible bandit raid, a disgraceful side mission nobody else wanted. After a long journey from their dropzone and a friendly fire incident from the HPG base they actually wind up in combat, as a mercenary unit had unexpectedly deployed against the HPG after all. Five-Bravo star acquits itself well, and George learns from the head scientist that the station is trying to seed live Ghost Bears into the polar wastes on Mannedorf. But that does not explain why the station came under attack; George thinks it must be because of the Star League depots which are empty, but may still attract treasure hunters. He and his star have their 'Mechs repaired and resolve to defend the station from the inevitable next attack.
- George: The protagonist
- Star Commander, later Star Captain Natalja: Kodiak pilot in the 371st Assault Cluster. Takes George as bondsman on Shadow, but dislikes him for his actions in the Elemental attack and feeling his dezgra presence sullies her elite unit. She repeatedly displays the unusual ability to shoot down incoming missiles with her 'Mech's lasers.
- Star Commander Ulern: A Warrior from George's adoptee sibko and later his Star Commander; pilots a Naga and later a Supernova
- Mick: A starmate of George and something of a friend
- Tanja: Another starmate with whom George maintains a good relationship; they like to couple until she switches her attention to Mick when she feels George neglects his star for aerospace training
- Urtan Mitshan: Aerospace pilot who forms a friendship with George and teaches him to fly aerospace fighters
- Dire Wolf
- Fire Moth
- Glass Spider
- Horned Owl (as Owl)
- Ice Ferret
- Jenner (likely referring to a Jenner IIC from the context)
- Jenner IIC
- Kit Fox
- Mad Dog
- Stone Rhino
- Timber Wolf
- Vapor Eagle (as Mist Hawk)
- Warhammer IIC
- Wolfhound (mentioned)
- unspecified helicopter
- Union-C: Tatzenkralle ("Paw's Claw"), Polarhöhle ("Polar Cave"), Bärenpirsch ("Bear-Stalk")
- unspecified Titanklinge
- The Trial of Position borrows heavily from the introduction cinematics of the MechWarrior 2 computer game. The terrain and tactical situation are almost identical, and the radio dialogue between "Bravo Cadet" and "Alpha Assault" (one of the trainers coming to his rescue) is reproduced almost verbatim.
- Similarly, the attack on Star Commander Vijo in the ice wastes on Shadow is a carbon copy of the introduction cinematics from the Ghost Bear's Legacy add-on for the MechWarrior 2 game (with Vijo as "Cat-12" instead of "Jag-12", while George is identified as "Cat-11").
- A recurring character (Natalja's chief tech) is named as Ardath, and a few pages later in the same chapter one Galaxy Commander Mayhar Gurdel is introduced (apparently a reference to Ardath Mayhar).
- The cover depicts George (in a Vapor Eagle) and his starmate Mick (in a Conjurer) defending the polar HPG station on Mannedorf