Black Marauder

The Black Marauder is an individual BattleMech featuring in several of Lance Scarinci's BattleCorps short stories. No proper name can be determined; it is frequently referred to as (The) Black Marauder, the Dark One or simply Marauder.

It is linked to a series of strange events and inexplicable (and often lethal) accidents, and seems to have a psychological effect on its MechWarrior. Within both the BattleTech universe and the stories, unreliable narrators and rumors portray the 'Mech as a character rather than a normal machine, in the sense of a malevolent demonic entity.

Description[edit]

The Black Marauder resembles an MAD-3R Marauder with flat black paint, although its shape supposedly looks somehow "wrong" and its "proportions not quite right", too sleek yet of terribly imposing bulk and with too-smooth angles. It has no serial number and no other factory markings whatsoever.

Its presence seems to grow larger when sight is obscured by darkness, fog or smoke, incidentally circumstances in which it seems to perform markedly better.

In some instances the 'Mech was—always inconclusively—described to move in ways that are impossible for a Marauder (or any 'Mech), including one tale where it was said to have turned its "head" by bending its long snout just forward of the arm joints and revealed a maw with rows of serrated teeth.

History[edit]

In December 3073 aging Sergeant Grange led militia MechWarrior Kevin Langstrom to a hidden bunker in the Padishan Flats desert on Warren where the Black Marauder was stored, and told him its backstory:

According to Sergeant Grange, the Ninth FedCom RCT had originally found the 'Mech by chance shortly after the Fourth Succession War, sitting on an airless asteroid in an uninhabited system one jump from Malagrotta where the unit recharged their jump drive. Their next jump to Agliana saw the crew emerge scared and fearful, with no recollection why or what happened in the split-second jump. One particularly sensitive man suffered a jump psychosis out of the blue and committed suicide by spacing himself. After a tech died from an accidental (and technically impossible) weapons discharge and a MechWarrior later vanished under mysterious and frightening circumstances while piloting the 'Mech, the Black Marauder was seen as cursed, and nobody wanted to pilot it. The unit's colonel finally picked it for himself and put it out on maneuvers, only to return two hours later than expected, pale and tired, and ordered the 'Mech be put away for good. Grange and one Jim Mullins subsequently stowed it away in the bunker on Warren after the War of 3039, vowing never to reveal its location. Mullins passed away without breaking his vow, but old Sergeant Grange would lead MechWarrior Langstrom to the hiding place thirty-five years later because he felt that the Jihad that was unfolding was a different kind of war, one that needed the Black Marauder to participate.[1]

The ambitious Kevin Langstrom, something of an outsider in the unit, was not afraid of the 'Mech at all, and instead regarded it as a golden opportunity.

In the following year he slew a fellow MechWarrior who taunted him in a fit of rage and hid the body in the Black Marauder's leg casing (which curiously seemed to cure a malfunction in the actuators on the sidelines that had been impossible to pin down and fix beforehand). Before the murder could be uncovered, a raid by Taurian Concordat forces sent the unit scrambling to defend the town of Cobalt. During the following battle Langstrom fell into a killing frenzy, refusing to withdraw when ordered and effectively razing the town while battling Taurians. When confronted by Grange who demanded he give up the Marauder, Langstrom attacked and destroyed Grange's Enforcer. At that point a pirate group, Grady's Grinders, arrived on the scene with six 'Mechs. They offered Langstrom to join them in the Tortuga Fusiliers, or face the prospect of being court-martialed and presumably executed for attacking Grange. Langstrom accepted their offer, then casually killed their leader by destroying the cockpit of his Phoenix Hawk with a PPC blast and declared himself their new leader.[2]

On Tortuga Prime, Kevin Langstrom would become known as Black Kevin. He and his 'Mech instilled fear in his fellow pirates. In 3080 pirate king Ravannion tried to sell him out by luring him on a mission deep into the Federated Suns that was in reality a trap set by Sergeant Grange. Black Kevin escaped in a bloody battle involving civilian hostages chained to the pirate 'Mechs, and returned to kill Ravannion. According to legend, when Black Kevin confronted Ravannion after his return he walked to the palace, with the unmanned Black Marauder walking behind him with its canopy open; it was later implied that the 'Mech may have been refitted with the remote drone controls from a Hi-Scout drone carrier they had destroyed during their mission. Black Kevin then left Tortuga with the Black Marauder, after having spoken in vague terms about a "place where the Star League poked through" to some unspecified "beyond" that he wanted to find, after having previously shown a keen interest in starmaps and, according to the narrator, having obtained starmaps from a library during the raid.[3]

Both Black Kevin and his Marauder vanished after the conclusion of the Jihad, but the legends and stories of "The Dark One" only grew in their absence, that it walked without a pilot and drained the souls of those who got to close to it. During the Dark Age era rumors of a black Marauder of somehow off proportions and unnatural movement operating again in the Spinward Periphery began to emerge. After two Knights of the Brotherhood of Randis set out in pursuit of a 'Mech rumored to be committing atrocities on Novo Franklin, with one Knight-Errant disappearing and the other returning Dispossessed and speaking of "The Dark One,"[4] Brother Perseus Schell of the Brotherhood vowed to personally melt down its every last circuit and scrap of armor to end the threat.[5] During this period jumbled BattleROMs recovered from a destroyed Third Raven Auxillary Star, lost three jumps from Valasha, reportedly show an encounter with a jet black Marauder, shrouded in both what appeared to be ECM and smoke. Effortlessly slaughtering two Raven Vipers and three Summoners, the Marauder immediately downed two of the Summoners by simultaneous cockpit hits before he picked off the lighter 'Mechs and finally the commander. The unnamed Star Commander's Summoner was found by the Raven Alliance recovery team upright and armless, its cockpit empty yet sealed from the inside.[6]

References[edit]

  1. Marauder (Grange's narration to Kevin Langstrom)
  2. Kindred Soul
  3. Ravager
  4. Recognition Guide: ilClan, vol. 9, p. 7 "Valkyrie"
  5. Recognition Guide: ilClan, vol. 6, p. 8 "Marauder"
  6. Recognition Guide: ilClan, vol. 3, p. 13 "Summoner (Thor)"

Bibliography[edit]