Warrior: En Garde
|Warrior: En Garde|
|Author||Michael A. Stackpole|
|Pages|| 329 (original)|
358 (anniversary edition & reprint)
|Cover artwork|| Jeff Laubenstein (original)|
Roger Loveless (anniversary edition & reprint)
|Publisher|| FASA (original)|
Roc Books (anniversary edition)
|First published|| August 1988 (original)|
April 1998 (anniversary edition)
September 2003 (reprint)
|Era||Succession Wars era|
|Timeline||1 June 3022 - 10 June 3027|
|Series||The Warrior Trilogy|
|Followed by||Warrior: Riposte|
Warrior: En Garde, by Michael A. Stackpole, is the first book in The Warrior Trilogy. It narrates the respective adventures of the half-brothers Justin and Daniel Allard during the build-up to the Fourth Succession War in two story arcs which are only tenuously connected. Contrary to what the back cover suggests, they are not set up as antagonists and do not even meet in person throughout the book.
Many references are made to the Doppelgänger ploy narrated in the earlier novel The Sword and the Dagger, to the point where it could arguably be regarded as a prequel to The Warrior Trilogy.
From the back cover
|“|| Stripped of his rank, exiled Justin Allard is given one last chance to save his honor—by risking his life in the gladiatorial arenas of Solaris VII. But his newest Game World opponent—more skilled at 'Mech-to-'Mech combat than any other rival—raises the stakes even higher. It's Justin's own half brother, Daniel, lance commander in the dreaded Kell Hounds mercenary battalion.
Both Daniel and Justin face fierce battles, but in the Inner Sphere, where nobles have schemed for centuries to win the ultimate power, those who interfere with the Successor Lords are sometimes called heroes.
And sometimes called victims.
An argument between Primus Julian Tiepolo and Precentor Myndo Waterly on 1 June 3022 concerning the planned wedding between Hanse Davion and Melissa Steiner reveals that ComStar is not quite the benevolent and neutral agency it purports to be; they have an agenda of their own and are actively playing the Successor States against one another to maintain control from behind the scenes.
Justin Xiang Allard story arc
On the Federated Suns world Kittery, situated on the border with the enemy Capellan Confederation, anti-Capellan sentiments run high. Major Justin Allard, born to a Capellan mother when his father was a diplomat in the Confederation, is facing unrest among some of his subordinates after cashiering popular troublemaker Philip Capet.
On 27 November 3026 Major Allard (piloting a Valkyrie) and his loyal aide and friend, Leftenant Andrew Redburn (piloting a Spider), lead a training battalion of thirty cadets in Stingers on a patrol when they are ambushed by a company of Capellan Cicadas. Feeling they are being herded to the west, Allard investigates a possible contact in that direction and finds a Rifleman waiting, out of sight of the others. Ordering Redburn to take command of the cadets and make a stand, Allard engages the heavy Rifleman in his light Valkyrie. During the lopsided fight, the Rifleman flips arms into its rear firing arc in a surprise maneuver that decides the battle. Allard is defeated and heavily wounded, losing his left arm from the elbow down.
Although the cadets suffer losses, their training and Redburn's leadership suffice to fight off the Capellan ambush. Allard is retrieved from the wreck of his 'Mech; no trace remains of the Rifleman.
In the aftermath, Allard is brought to New Avalon for treatment; the New Avalon Institute of Science test a bionic prothesis on him that will even allow him to remain a MechWarrior despite the crippling injury. When Redburn also travels to New Avalon to be decorated, Duke Michael Hasek-Davion—himself suspected of treacherous collaboration with House Liao—sends messengers along who, populistically playing on the anti-Capellan sentiments, demand Justin Allard be branded a traitor and subtly threaten open rebellion if Allard is not court-martialed. Allard is arrested on 10 January 3027 and subsequently a kangaroo court finds overwhelming evidence suggesting Allard was really working with the Confederation to prepare the assault. His claims about the Rifleman are dismissed, and it is instead officially assumed he faced a (much lighter) UrbanMech which allegedly attacked him by mistake when he attempted to join the Capellan attackers. Even Allard's father, Federated Suns secret service director Quintus Allard, and finally First Prince Hanse Davion appear before court. Although Hanse Davion admonishes the court and prosecutor Count Anton Vitios for their unfair handling of the case, Allard acrimoniously rejects the offer that he should only be demoted and be pardoned otherwise. After a shouting match with Hanse Davion, Allard is stripped of his rank and name and exiled from the Federated Suns. With only Andrew Redburn still believing him innocent, an embittered Justin Allard assumes his mother's Capellan name, calling himself Justin Xiang fortwith. He leaves New Avalon on the DropShip Sigmund Rosenblum bound for the gaming world of Solaris VII. Redburn embarks on a tour of the Lyran Commonwealth with Ardan Sortek.
On Solaris VII, retired champion MechWarrior Gray Noton, now a mercenary, information broker and underworld kingpin, meets with his Capellan contact Tsen Shang to discuss his latest mission—it was Noton who had piloted the Rifleman and led the Capellan attack on Kittery. He is paid with a betting voucher for a rigged arena fight. Next, Noton is contacted by Enrico Lestrade, Baron of Summer, who seeks to hire Noton for the planned abduction of a DropShip (later revealed to be the Silver Eagle). He, too, pays Noton with a betting voucher for a rigged fight. However, when that fight takes place on 20 February 3027 Justin Xiang has taken the place of the duelist who was supposed to lose, and proceeds to vanquish his opponent Billy Wolfson. Noton is initially angry at losing his bet, but also impressed by Justin Xiang's skill. Baron Lestrade had invited the match winner to his lounge (expecting Wolfson), where Xiang meets the baron and his mistress Kym Sorenson as well as Noton. He gets into an argument with the baron and hits on Sorenson; they soon begin an affair. With her help he acquires an old Centurion—Yen-Lo-Wang—and proceeds to vanquish yet another Davion-aligned gladiator, Peter Armstrong, in arena combat.
Noton takes Xiang under his wing and inducts him to Thor's Shield Hall in Valhalla, a very exclusive MechWarrior hangout. There Xiang is confronted by none other than Philip Capet, up-and-coming champion on Solaris VII. With access to Noton's collection of arena fight footage for training and study, Xiang discovers before long that Noton's combat style with the Rifleman matches that of the unknown pilot on Kittery who cost him his hand and indirectly led to his banishment.
Kym Sorenson, meanwhile, is in reality a spy for House Davion. She uncovers and reports proof that Xiang was innocent. However, Noton and Xiang discover her spying activities (but not what she reported). Noton wants to kill her on the spot; Xiang instead knocks her down, breaking her jaw but incidentially saving her life.
Xiang's meteoritic rise and string of victories in the Solaris Games, particularly against Davion-affiliated opponents, provides a much-needed morale boost for House Liao and the entire Capellan Confederation. They begin to openly woo Justin Xiang through their Solaris spymaster Tsen Shang. Noton also begins to work with the resourceful Xiang in the information brokering and intelligence fields, and offers him to become his partner. He also gives him access to the files pertaining to the Silver Eagle abduction.
On 5 May 3027 Tsen Shang enters Noton's office and finds Noton dead; Xiang has killed Noton and appropriated money, documents and access to Noton's Rifleman. In Valhalla, Xiang challenges Capet to a duel that takes place on 26 May. To everybody's surprise, Xiang enters the arena in Noton's Rifleman. He proceeds to defeat Capet (and two others).
Following this grandiose victory in the arena, Justin Xiang is drugged by Tsen Shang and abducted to Sian, where Chancellor Maximilian Liao personally recruits him and grants him Capellan citizenship. Xiang meets the treacherous Duke Michael Hasek-Davion on Sian too, plotting the downfall of House Davion.
Kell Hounds story arc
Justin's half brother Daniel Allard is serving with the Kell Hounds, currently stationed on Chara III (Pacifica). He is shattered when he receives word of Justin's injury.
The Kell Hounds have a special emnity with House Kurita, and elite MechWarrior Yorinaga Kurita in particular, following an event in 3016 after which both Yorinaga Kurita and Kell Hounds colonel Morgan Kell went into exile. On 1 January 3027 Yorinaga Kurita is recalled from exile and tasked with creating a new elite formation, the Genyosha; House Kurita also pledges to destroy the Kell Hounds for good. Two months later, a first surprise attack on Pacifica by the 2nd Sword of Light regiment fails because the Kell Hounds had been aware of the inbound forces. Sortek and Redburn, en route to Tharkad, partake in the battle. However, the attack was a diversion and a company of Kurita 'Mechs secretly remains on Pacifica.
Meanwhile on Tharkad, Jeana Clay is recruited as a double for Melissa Steiner. Upon arrival on 10 April, Sortek and Redburn are introduced to both Melissa Steiner (whom Sortek had already met and befriended in the past) and Jeana. With Jeana remaining on Tharkad in her place, Melissa Steiner plans to travel to her fiancé, Hanse Davion, on New Avalon incognito. She books the voyage on the starliner Silver Eagle under the name Joana Barker. Redburn is ordered to travel on the same ship to serve as a discreet bodyguard.
In mid-May, Heimdall agents in Gray Noton's employ (unawares that he is already dead by this time) sabotage the JumpShip Meridian in the Fomalhaut system, resulting in the Silver Eagle being reassigned to the Heimdall-affiliated JumpShip Bifrost instead. Unaware of who the high-profile passenger aboard really is, Danica Holstein and her son Clovis abduct the Silver Eagle to an abandoned mining colony in the Styx system. To their shock, Kurita JumpShips appears in-system on 23 May and deploy DropShips, obviously aiming to capture the Silver Eagle. "Joana Barker" reveals herself as Melissa Steiner and the likely target, prompting Heimdall to ally with their erstwhile hostages in an attempt to fend off the incoming troops and prevent her capture.
Concurrently, the Kell Hounds repel another sneak attack by Kurita forces against their base. The unit subsequently embarks on their DropShips and docks with their JumpShip Cucamulus, deploys debris to suggest they were destroyed in space, and jumps into the A2341CA system in Kurita space to avoid presumed surveillance of nearby Lyran Commonwealth systems. However, they run afoul of a Kurita JumpShip and, after quick-charging their own Kearny-Fuchida Drive, jump to the nearest friendly system which happens to be the Heimdall-controlled Styx system. They arrive in the middle of the Kurita operation against the Silver Eagle which has docked inside a mining asteroid. Yorinaga Kurita and his Genyosha have arrived and surrounded the Silver Eagle, threatening to destroy it if the Archon-Designate is not handed over. The Kell Hounds engage and repel the Genyosha, though unit commander Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick Kell loses a BattleMech duel with Yorinaga Kurita and later dies of the wounds he suffered. The entire affair is later covered up.
- Daniel Allard
- Justin Xiang Allard
- Peter Armstrong
- Narimasa Asano
- Philip Capet
- Jeana Clay
- Robert Craon
- Hanse Davion
- Walter de Mesnil
- Clovis Holstein
- Danica Holstein
- Patrick Kell
- Yorinaga Kurita
- Enrico Lestrade
- Maximilian Liao
- Gray Noton
- Andrew Redburn
- Tsen Shang
- Kym Sorenson
- Ardan Sortek
- Katrina Steiner
- Melissa Steiner
- Julian Tiepolo
- Anton Vitios
- Myndo Waterly
- Billy Wolfson
- Centurion (Yen-Lo-Wang)
- Cicada (also CDA-2B variant)
- Grand Dragon
- Hermes II
- Locust (mentioned)
- Shadow Hawk (also SHD-2K variant)
- Leopard (Manannan MacLir)
- Monarch (Silver Eagle)
- Overlord (Kiken, Lugh, Shori)
- Union (Nuada Argetlan)
- unspecified spheroid DropShip Sigmund Rosenblum
- unspecified spacecraft Mistletoe and Hemlock (Shuttlecraft associated with the JumpShip Bifrost, they would implicitly be either DropShips or small craft; if they are small craft they would likely be K-1 DropShuttles which is the only known kind of small craft that can be docked on hardpoints like DropShips and does not require small craft bays to be carried, since the Bifrost is a Merchant-class vessel and as such does not feature small craft bays.)
- Invader (Cucamulus)
- Merchant (Bifrost)
- Scout (mentioned)
- unspecified JumpShips Intrepid, Meridian, Tsunami
- The book has a tongue-in-cheek "About the author" appendix of dubious canonicity in the end. It is written as a ComStar dossier dated 13 January 3028, in which Michael A. Stackpole describes himself as a delusional subject held in the "ComStar Reeducation Compound: Phoenix" who believes to be a writer who was born in 1957 and has "fabricated" a complete history with publishing credits for himself. ComStar notes that his insights into the workings of the Successor States are interesting.
Original 1988 cover. Art by David English.
1998 anniversary edition. Art by Roger Loveless.
2005 German reprint. Art by Franz Vohwinkel.