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|Author||Randall N. Bills|
|Cover artwork||David Kerber|
|First published||29 November 2019|
|Era||Succession Wars era|
|Timeline||17 June 3005|
|Series||MechWarrior 5: Origins|
|Preceded by||Endless War|
|Followed by||Dissimulate Wanderer|
Contested Dreams, subtitled A MechWarrior 5 Origins Series Story, Installment 4, is an original BattleTech novella penned by Randall N. Bills, offered as a free tie-in product supporting the MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries computer game.
It was originally released in electronic format on 29 November 2019, before being also included in an electronic omnibus collection on 12 December 2019, two days after the game's launch. The novella was later re-released as part of The Mercenary Life anthology released 12 April 2021, with an additional author post-script.
After years of high-paying hazardous deployments with the Eridani Light Horse against Houses Kurita and Liao along with some astute financial investments, Chloe Reed has secured a nest egg to fulfill her dream of her very own mercenary unit. Convincing Nikolai, Dawson and Ryana to follow her, all four travel to the Mercenary's Star of Galatea to formally incorporate the Chloe's Cavaliers with the ComStar Mercenary Review Board and announce they are available for immediate hire.
Their initial high-spirits give way to dejection as the reality of being untested new unit take hold and the months drag on. Chloe focuses on filling holes in the Cavalier's operations and technical staff as much as saving kindred spirits from becoming despondent and broken Contractless, worried such a fate may await her too. Dawson tests and reviews utterly lackluster MechWarrior recruits as an excuse to get back in the cockpit and avoid spending ever more increasing time in the dives and illegal card games of the planet's underworld. Ryana struggles to keep her emotions in check as she constantly reviews and rejects contracts of a suitable size for the Cavaliers that would leave them bankrupt or worse even if completed successfully.
With the quartets malaise increasing, a desperate Nikolai breaks his promise to Chloe and uses his underworld contact to seek out non-MRB sanctioned contracts. Angry that he broke her demand that the Cavaliers would only ever entertain above board contracts, Nikolai finds Ryana surprisingly agreeing with him and convincing Chloe that its either this or giving up their dream. Realizing he is right, Chloe is amused and shocked when Nikolai announces the contract he found is from Sebastian Spears of Interstellar Expeditions, discussing Ryana and her bizarre encounter with the man back on Hesperus. With their very first contract finally in hand, the Cavaliers prepare for the future.
- Sergeant Brooklynn Jales
- Captain Chloe Reed
- Dawson Clarmont
- Fahad Arazad
- Nikolai Mason
- Ryana Campbell
- Baron Geric Keeling (mentioned)
- Jules Vonic (mentioned)
- Sebastian Spears (mentioned)
- Wilhelm Mouttheim (mentioned)