Ravager (short story)
- This article is about the short story. For other uses, see Ravager (disambiguation).
|Ravager (short story)|
|First published||27 April 2014|
|Timeline||8 March - ca. December 3080|
|Preceded by||Kindred Soul|
Ravager is a short story by Lance Scarinci that was published online on BattleCorps on 27 April 2014. It continues the story of the Black Marauder, albeit coming from a highly unreliable narrator, a pirate from the Tortuga Dominions who concludes his tale with "Truth? You figure it out. That part ain't my job. I just tell it like I hear it."
|“||Tortuga pirate Eddie knows how to spin a good tavern tale, but Black Kevin and his strange ’Mech have a past better left untold.||”|
Booze-loving pirate gossip Eddie narrates the story of Black Kevin and his eerie black Marauder (both of whom are interchangeably referenced as "The Dark One") as something of a horror story, continuing the portrayal of the 'Mech as an evil demonic entity unto itself.
It has been six years since the pirate group Grady's Grinders encountered Kevin and his Marauder during a raid; Kevin killed Grady and assumed command of the shabby group. They died off one by one since, until only Twitch remains, a Stinger pilot, scout and tech. Over the past six years Twitch became a heavy user of a wide range of whatever drugs he can get, including K-Z and Spazz.
On 8 March 3080 pirate king Ravannion (who claimed to be a descendant of some "famous Kurita officer") holds a bidding for a raid against the planet Defiance, deep in Federated Suns space, where Task Force Serpent had been gathered. Some of their equipment — thought to be one or two companies' worth of BattleMechs—was left behind when they set out and later forgotten in the chaos of the FedCom Civil War. Kevin assembles a force including Eddie (implicitly to keep the raiders entertained on their month-long voyage to and fro) and Twitch. At the bidding he offers the pirate king a huge cut of the profits, so much that he might not make any profit from the raid himself. Twitch immediately assumes Kevin "knows something".
During the voyage, just prior to the final jump to Defiance, Kevin confronts Eddie and informs him that he does not care about the booty. What he really is after are the unsurpassed starmaps Task Force Serpent had, and he orders Eddie to look for any such astrographical information. He then delivers a strange sermon about how the Star League found things during their expansion that no man should have found, and about humanity being insignificant like protozoa. The following jump is a dreadful experience that leaves Eddie with the impression of being watched by some entities bigger than his mind, and he gets violently jumpsick. Kevin remarks that he has heard of a world where "the Star League poked through, and the beyond bleeds into our universe", and where "their" footsteps begin, suggesting his true quest is to find that place.
After landing on Defiance the pirates first loot some other towns to draw off local forces. During one such raid Eddie comes across a library networked into the planet's database, enters on a hunch and obtains the astrogation data Kevin sought. Later, Twitch discovers that they are being monitored by a PathTrack drone. He finds a Hi-Scout drone carrier and kills the crew.
The actual target of the raid turns out to be a trap: Kevin's nemesis Grange confronts the pirates with a lance of BattleMechs and two lances of tanks. In the following hellish battle, the Black Marauder seems in its element in the smoke and darkness engulfing the battlefield. The pirates retreat into a nearby city where they cruelly cause considerable carnage and eventually chain hostages to their 'Mechs as human "armor" to make a breakthrough to their DropShip. Most hostages die, but one pregnant woman tied to one of the Black Marauder's PPCs survived as the weapon apparently was not fired during the fighting. Eddie notes her dead eyes as she is set free, feeling that "now, there was another".
The DropShip sets down on Tortuga six months after setting out. To take revenge for the set-up, Kevin walks up to King Ravannion's palace while the Black Marauder, canopy open to reveal no pilot inside, walks behind him "like a protective parent". Kevin strangles Ravannion in short order. A week later, Kevin tells Eddie that he is leaving Tortuga and that Eddie should stay and tell the tale.
Twitch curiously had not been seen ever since the DropShip had returned. Eddie concludes his tale by stating that Twitch was found in an unused stowage room aboard the DropShip months later, with a piece of machinery from the Hi-Scout (implied to be drone control equipment). The door had been welded shut behind him and he had cruelly been left to starve.
- Black Knight
- Brigand (LDT-X3 subtype)
- Enforcer III
- Marauder (the Black Marauder)
- Shadow Hawk
- Although only one pirate DropShip is mentioned throughout the story, there have probably been at least two. One fellow pirate shares his concerns about being set up with Eddie, pointing out that the Union they are traveling on can only accommodate twelve 'Mechs; already carrying six for the raiding force, it would not be able to take more than six additional 'Mechs out of the two dozen they supposedly hoped to get from the depot. Unions are infamous for their barely sufficient life support and have no vehicle bays yet a contingent of pirate infantry and at least four APCs are part of the raiding force and hope to bring back slaves. This strongly suggests an infantry carrier DropShip with at least four vehicle bays was also involved.
- The story is not properly dated. After the bidding on 18 March 3080 Kevin orders to launch "in twenty" (hours, apparently). The DropShip is said to have returned to Tortuga almost exactly six months after having left, i.e. in early to mid September. The narrator then spends "a week" in his quarters prior to being visited by Kevin, and finally narrates that Twitch was found "months" after Kevin left.