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Black Cats Cross Your Path

Black Cats Cross Your Path
Story information
Author Tara Gallagher,
James Lanigan
Pages 4
Type Short story
Product Shrapnel (anthology)
Illustrations Jeff Laubenstein
Era (see text)
Timeline (see text)

Black Cats Cross Your Path is a BattleTech short story by Tara Gallagher and James Lanigan.

It was first published in the 1988 anthology Shrapnel and again in the MechWarrior, Second Edition RPG rulebook. The German edition of CityTech also features this short story in the rulebook, instead of Life in the Big City as in the original.

Plot summary[edit]

The story is narrated in the first person by "Big Bill Flynn", a soldier with the Black Cats, an all-infantry mercenary unit. Defending the city of Lawrence on an unnamed world against a rather unprofessional BattleMech company posing as the Black Widow Company, they lure two unspecified 50-ton 'Mechs (artwork by Earl Geier in MechWarrior, 2nd Edition, p. 7, suggests at least one of them is a Trebuchet) into an industrial bakery complex where the 'Mechs slip on lard and fall down. The lard is then ignited by a trooper with a flame thrower. The resulting fire causes the ammunition on the 'Mechs to explode, destroying them.

Time and place[edit]

The exact time and place of the story are indeterminate as no dates or epigraphs are provided. The story may initially have been meant to be set sometimes in the late Succession Wars era, i.e. around 3025, like all other stories in Shrapnel; it has to be set later than 3015 as the Black Widow Company, which has apparently already racked up quite a reputation by the time the story is set in, was created in that year.

However, the protagonists and their unit are covered in Mercenaries Supplemental Update. According to this source, the unit was briefly disbanded between 3048 and 3050. "Boots" Hill was a corporal in 3048 while she is a sergeant in the story, suggesting it takes place in 3050 or later but before 3071 when Lou Lingg has risen to the position of unit commander.

Featured Characters[edit]

  • Big Bill Flynn
  • Sergeant Elisabeth "Boots" Hills, aka "Boot Hill"
  • Lou Lingg