A Guy Walks Into a Bar on Solaris VII...
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|A Guy Walks Into a Bar on Solaris VII...|
|First published||31 January 2006|
|Era||Civil War era|
|Timeline||20 May 3067|
A Guy Walks Into a Bar on Solaris VII... is a short story by Jeff Kautz that was published online on BattleCorps on 31 January 2006. It was also published in print in the third BattleCorps anthology, Weapons Free, in 2012 (where the title was shortened to "A Guy Walks Into a Bar..." in the index, but the full title was used in the story title and page headers).
|“||A Guy Walks Into A Bar On Solaris VII... ~Or~ Adventure Capitalism, Fun and Profit in the 31st Century. Jeff Kautz brings us a story of the most feared man in the universe... The Bounty Hunter.||”|
A first-person narrative by Vic Travers, better known as the Bounty Hunter, the story relates how he and his team—including "Walt" whom he grooms as his successor—carry out an operation on Solaris VII. Their target is one Kristof Szabian, who deserted and stole a BattleMech in the process, and is the son-in-law of an (unnamed) Lyran general. The same man is now wanted by two people: by the general, and by an equally unnamed noble whose young daughter is with child from Szabian. The Bounty Hunter acquired both contracts, making this effectively a double-pay mission.
Szabian has assumed leadership of a band of outlaws who used to call themselves The Highwaymen until he renamed them Szabian's Renegades. Walt infiltrates the Renegades and is invited to join a raid against an enemy gang—the Black Hats—for trial. Since the Black Hats are a powerful organization, Walt and his Thunderbolt are a welcome addition to their ranks, though the Thunderbolt is actually piloted by Vic Travers who is a much better MechWarrior than Walt. It is not until the Renegades have effectively defeated the Black Hats that Szabian himself takes the field, with two camera trucks in tow to generate suitably impressive footage of his Berserker destroying the last two enemy 'Mechs.
Travers has also uncovered evidence against Mister "Ghost Man" Yurei, a yakuza operative brokering deals between several parties and lining his own pockets in the process by betraying his own employers. He sells this information to the Hamagachi syndicate who have strong ties to the DeLon Stables, providing the Bounty Hunter with a company's worth of additional BattleMechs for the planned attack against Szabian's Renegades. At the same time, the Bounty Hunter uses the information to coerce Yurei into feeding false information to Szabian, in turn resulting in his Renegades moving out to attack a cargo DropShip while Szabian stays back. With the Renegades out of the way, the Bounty Hunter engages Szabian in a 'Mech duel that eventually goes bad for the Bounty Hunter, who ends up with his 'Mech shutting down from excess heat. However, this turns out to be another setup: The Bounty Hunter had prepared a flooded mine pit beneath a camo tarp on the ground and jumped his 'Mech behind the hidden pit prior to shutdown. Counting on Szabian's vanity, he fully expected Szabian to close to melee range in an attempt to finish the shut-down 'Mech off with his Berserker's hatchet instead of playing it safe. Thus, Szabian is finally captured. The Bounty Hunter can collect two hefty bounties, and has earned the gratitude of the Hamagachi and the DeLon Stables.