The Back Road

The Back Road
Product information
Type Short story
Author Louisa M. Swann
Pages 16
Interior artwork Klaus Scherwinski
Publication information
Publisher BattleCorps
First published 7 August 2004
Era Clan Invasion era
Timeline 17 August 3057

The Back Road is a short story by Louisa M. Swann that was published online on BattleCorps on 7 August 2004. It was later also published in print in the first BattleCorps anthology, The Corps.

Teaser text[edit]

Louisa M. Swann brings us to Buckminster in the Draconis Combine for a story about coming home after years away.

Plot summary[edit]

The unnamed first-person narrator (called "Hendal's boy" at one point in reference to his father) has just killed a cab driver and disposed of the body in a farm field outside the city of Nagoshima on Buckminster when he is confronted by Con, a young farmer boy about ten years of age and wielding a pitchfork.

Over the course of the story it is gradually revealed that the narrator grew up on this very farm and had a falling-out with his father over his decision to become a soldier. The narrator left home and became an elite DEST trooper but never saw his father again who sold the farm and has died since. Now the narrator, burnt out and utterly tired of killing, realizes the wisdom in his late father's words and attitude. He has deserted the military and is on the run.

The farm's new owner, Phelan Lucas (who is also Con's father), knew the narrator's family and his father, and seems to be much alike the narrator's father, an attitude the narrator has only recently come to respect. Seeing how the narrator has come "home", Lucas hides him in the barn. Con, however, aspires to be a MechWarrior himself one day (much like the narrator when he was Con's age) and has nothing but contempt for the deserter. When a BH-K305 Battle Hawk approaches the farm on patrol, possibly in search of the narrator, Con openly spurts out to the pilot that they have a deserter hidden in the barn who killed a cabby and threatened his (Con's) father. In the ensuing confrontation the narrator kills the 'Mech pilot, but Con is wounded by a stray rifle shot from his father.

Resigned, the narrator realizes that "coming home is not always the answer" and moves on, hoping that Con will one day understand; for now, however, the angry boy swears that he will become a MechWarrior and come after the narrator one day.