Two 'Mechs, Three Queens and a Pug
|Two 'Mechs, Three Queens and a Pug|
|Author||Louisa M. Swann|
|First published||25 February 2006|
|Era||Civil War era|
|Timeline||15 December 3066|
|Series||Justin Bell stories|
|Preceded by||Titanium Rose|
Two 'Mechs, Three Queens and a Pug is a short story by Louisa M. Swann that was published online on BattleCorps on 25 February 2006. It continues the story of Justin Bell from the previous story, Titanium Rose.
Although the story ends with a surprise revelation suggesting the storyline was to continue, no sequel was published so far.
|“||Her Crew killed, her family murdered, and a mystery on her hands... Louisa Swann tells another twisting tale of life, trading, and small vermin.||”|
Following the murder of her entire crew except for her first officer Doni Matherson and pursuing the quest of finding her kidnapped cousin with leads from her late aunt's journal, first-person narrator Justin Bell has arrived on Campoleone in the Free Worlds League after flying her Fortress-class DropShip here with the help of only one other person, her first officer Doni Matherson. Doni's sister Retha and her pug Charlie live in a secluded cottage on the outskirts of Belona, near the Rocky Hills Resting Home, an asylum where the journal points to an inmate called Moloch.
In the bathroom at Retha's house, Justin has a bizarre encounter with a Galatean Mole that emerges from the toilet and moves to the next room; then, an explosion from that room causes considerable damage.
Justin, Doni and Retha discuss plans to break into the asylum in a restaurant. Doni indicates she can help, but demands to be accepted into Justin's crew. It is revealed that she is a skilled tech, and has actually built a functional FrankenMech in her barn. Before they can finish their discussion, another Galatean Mole appears in the restaurant. Recalling her earlier encounter, Justin dumps the animal into what turns out to be an ornamental well that nevertheless seems to minimize the overall damage when the mole explodes.
Retha's fiancé Ben Hoer is actually working at the asylum, though his queer antics make Justin wonder if he should not rather be an inmate as well. During a rather bizarre visit to the asylum they seek out Moloch, who does not strike Justin as quite as dangerous as her aunt made him out to be. Moloch, who immediately recognizes Justin as Silas Bell's daughter, seems to be in control of the asylum in some way, with Ben taking orders from him and addressing him as "Sir". As they go for a walk Moloch starts a fire alarm. Ben is called away by another staff member in the ensuing chaos, and they agree to meet at Retha's barn. While everybody else is scrambling towards the main exit, Moloch leads the women in a breakout attempt. When they are stopped by a guard they incite a riot among the inmates and escape to the hedge surrounding the asylum. There, Moloch leads them through a crawlway through the hedge to an outer chainlink fence that Moloch opens with a cutting tool he brought.
After the escape, Retha goes back to the parking lot to get the car while Justin, Doni and Moloch move through the woods. They encounter yet another Galatean Mole, though this one turns out to be Sam, Moloch's trained pet.
At Retha's barn they prepare to retrieve her FrankenMech, only to find Ben's dead body in the cockpit, his throat slit and Lost Tavern tokens on his eyes like Justin's aunt. When Justin fills Moloch in on the other killings and the exploding moles, Moloch surprises her with the statement that they needed to get going and find her father now (whom Justin thought had been dead since 3054)...