A Different Hope
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|A Different Hope|
|First published||19 August 2007|
|Timeline||1-20 January 3069|
Set during the reconquest of Black Earth by Clan Jade Falcon in early 3069 and the destruction of the Blue Star Irregulars in the process, A Different Hope is a short story by Kevin Killiany that was published online on BattleCorps on 19 August 2007.
|“|| "My hope is to be standing dead square in their way the next time [the Jade Falcons] try that shit again."
For the citizens of Black Earth, that next time is here and now. Fortunately for them, Leftenant Rasheeda Hugie is a part of the Blue Star Irregulars contingent stationed there. But her hope's not enough to live for; in time, she'll need to supplant it with a different hope...
Although hailed as a hero for her actions on Ballynure where she spent four months scouting behind enemy lines, and for her actions on Tharkad at the conclusion of the FedCom Civil War, Rasheeda "Sugarfoot" Hugie thinks she failed over and over again. Her erstwhile unit, Roman's Bar Hounds, had been crushed by Clan Jade Falcon on Ballynure, with most of her comrades killed or crippled, and she refuses to even talk about Tharkad. Still, a glowing recommendation by Colonel Roman landed her a position of lance commander for a scout lance with the 1894th Light Horse of the renowned Blue Star Irregulars mercenary unit, stationed on Black Earth.
Hugie is the focus of a "Notable MechWarrior of the Week" INN article by Daffyd Porter on 2 January 3069. In the interview, she answers his question about her hopes for the future claiming that all she wants is to stand in the Jade Falcons' way when they attack again, having lost her homeworld to them nearly two decades ago and the Bar Hounds in 3064.
Porter meets Hugie again six days later. She recalls that he is clearly interested in forming a relationship since meeting her for the interview, and that he managed to mention her in many pieces he has posted since. He reveals that he lost his family as a kid when his hometown on Coventry became collateral damage during a Jade Falcon attack eleven years ago. He tried to enroll in the military but was rejected because of a hereditary heart condition. Denied his vengeance, he became a writer instead and shifted his perspective to reminding people of possibilities—schmaltzy, banal and predictable by his own admission, but he found it helped. Hugie leaves, noting that although he is ten years younger than she he is "cute" and that when she is ready for a different hope.
Three days later Clan Jade Falcon launches a massive invasion of Black Earth. Forgoing a batchall, zellbrigen or any of the ritualized Clan restraints on warfare (presumably because they had previously occupied Black Earth for fourteen years before being driven off, and because they hold a special grudge against the Blue Star Irregulars for capturing the WarShip Kerensky's Blues), they roll over the defenders within days. Facing defeat, the Blue Star Irregulars prepare to evacuate the world, taking with them civilians including handicapped who would be purged, and very young children who shall have a chance to live free. Two Overlord-class DropShips, the Loyal Son and the Heritage, are tasked with bringing the refugees to safety together with several civilian ships, escorted by the corvette Kerensky's Blues. Parker is put aboard the Loyal Son because of his heart condition.
Just after midnight on 16 January, as the DropShips are being loaded, a pair of Jade Falcon OmniMechs make a run at the Overlords, trying to prevent them from taking off. Hugie and two other Blue Star Irregulars in damaged 'Mechs engage the OmniMechs, but one of the attackers cripples a bus full of children on the Loyal Son's loading ramp. During the fighting, Hugie sacrifices her Night Hawk to push the bus up the ramp and provide cover so that it may be retrieved. The DropShip manages to take off in the nick of time, pulling her incapacitated 'Mech aboard with a magnetic crane as it leaves.
The vengeful Jade Falcons send two WarShips after the retreating fleet and indiscriminately massacre them at the nadir jump point (including the Kerensky's Blues). Only a single JumpShip manages to escape, jumping to the Blue Hole system. It happens to carry the Loyal Son, the only remaining Blue Stars Irregulars DropShip. In sickbay, Parker fills Hugie in on what happened and how she is a hero to both the survivors aboard the Loyal Son and those remaining on Black Earth for what she did to allow the ship to take off. Although Hugie remains focused on a rematch with the Jade Falcons, she repeats that she'll let Parker know when she has time for a different hope.
- Cougar (wrongly referred to as Coyote throughout the final battle; see Notes below)
- Dire Wolf (Daishi)
- Falcon Hawk
- Kit Fox (Uller)
- Night Hawk (-2S, -2Q)
- Nova (Black Hawk)
- Summoner (Thor)
- Warhawk (Masakari)
- Fredasa (Kerensky's Blues)
- Vincent (not named in the story but revealed to be the Lightning Strike in Mercenaries Supplemental Update, p. 11)
- One character (Sula) is described to pilot a Cougar in -B configuration with two ER PPCs. In the final battle at the DropPort, his 'Mech is consistently called a Coyote though there is no 'Mech with that name. Since his 'Mech is still prominently wielding two ER PPCs, Coyote is apparently an oversight and meant to read Cougar.