The Bitter Taste of Hope

The Bitter Taste of Hope
Product information
Type Short story (2 parts)
Author Steven Mohan Jr.
Pages 57
Publication information
Publisher BattleCorps
First published 29 June 2006 (part 1)
3 July 2006 (part 2)
Era Civil War era
Timeline 27 February-2 March 3066
Preceded by Red Khopesh
Mark Castor's Banshee during the battle at the Swing Circle spaceport, with Tracy Malfont's Quickdraw finishing off an enemy Spider in the background; cover of the Weapons Free anthology
The Bitter Taste of Hope is a short story by Steven Mohan Jr. that was published online on BattleCorps in two parts on 29 June and 3 July 2006, respectively. On 30 April 2012 it was also included in the omnibus EPUB/Kindle (re-)publication of its prequel story, Red Khopesh. In the same year it was published in print in the third BattleCorps print anthology, Weapons Free, with a battle scene from this story's second part on the book cover.

Plot summary[edit]

Part 1[edit]

published 29 June 2006
Tracy Malfont's life was an endless flight from fear and betrayal—that is, until Mark Castor showed up on Randis, foiling her scam. Now in the Tortuga Dominions, her new boss covets a pile of crap not worth stealing, much less dying for; she finds him a hard man to understand. It doesn't help that she's an embittered cynic. Hope holds no place in her heart; it was burned away, a dozen years earlier...

Just after having her unit (Malfont's Raiders) pressed into service in Red Khopesh, Mark Castor's private army, Tracy Malfont finds herself preparing a raid on the Port Royal Bazaar in the city of Swing Circle on New Port Royal in the Tortuga Dominions. Castor's plan for the raid includes deploying one BattleMech lance from Malfont's DropShip, the Leopard-class Maelstrom, because the bazaar is adjacent to the spaceport. To this end Malfont (who knows her way around the Tortuga Dominions) tries to convince port master Ox Simonian to relocate the DropShip to a port quadrant closer to the bazaar. But Castor, who insisted on coming with her to the meeting, bungles the delicate negotiations. As a result, the Maelstrom ends up placed on the far side of the spaceport from the bazaar instead. Malfont's men subsequently lose their faith in Castor and consider mutiny.

Tracy Malfont meanwhile reflects on a situation on Hahira back in 3054 when she was a MechWarrior sergeant and competent scout pilot with the Hahira militia, piloting a Javelin. On a world with a conservative attitude, she had married an abusive suitor at the age of sixteen to evade her yet more abusive father. After three years of domestic violence, she fell in love with Lieutenant Sam Aiken and began an affair with him.

Part 2[edit]

published 3 July 2006
Tracy Malfont finds hope to be a cruel suitor, constantly promising better things in its beguiling voice, only to disappear at the worst possible moment, leaving her frustrated and bereft. This time she wasn't quite there. Yet. But her new boss, Mark Castor-Davion, is threatening to push her over the edge; he's planning a tactical assault with three lances of 'Mechs...only one of which actually exists. She's placed her hope in him; did it betray her again?

A raid by Fuchida's Fusiliers on Hahira in 3055 saw Tracy Malfont in her Javelin encounter a strong enemy force moving towards the city of Safi. She reported this to Lieutenant Aiken, and he promised to flank the enemy force while she engaged to buy him time, having her 'Mech destroyed in the attempt. It later turns out that Aiken, apparently afraid to confront the strong enemy force, did not carry out his part of the plan. 214 civilians died in the city, and Aiken used Malfont as a scapegoat, claiming she panicked and could not provide him with a sufficiently detailed situation report while withholding recordings of their battle plan from her court martial.

Burnt by her history of having her trust betrayed, a distrustful Tracy Malfont agrees with her crew that Mark Castor's assault plan on the bazaar is doomed and prepares to abandon him. Just when they have agreed, a battle erupts around their DropShip: Castor's other two 'Mech lances are deploying from an Union-class DropShip. Malfont changes her mind again and leads her lance out onto the starport, where she is surprised to find Castor not attacking the bazaar at all. It turns out his real plan is to steal an Overlord-class DropShip from the Drop port (he bungled the Leopard's relocation on purpose to have it placed away from the bazaar and thus near the Overlord). However, the fight goes badly for Castor's disparate forces when the defending Tortuga Fusiliers and various nearby DropShips grasp the situation quickly and react accordingly. At that point Malfont's Raiders break again, only to learn that Castor had a special ops team seize their Leopard, cutting off their escape and thereby forcing them to play along with his plan or face the enraged pirates.

In the chaotic battle, the Red Khopesh forces fail to board the Overlord before it can take off. They, including Tracy Malfont, capture a nearby Union from the Death's Consorts instead and escape on that ship.

Featured BattleTech[edit]





  • The planet name Hahira is repeatedly mis-spelled Harira in this story.