Früchte voll Bitterkeit
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|Früchte voll Bitterkeit|
|Author|| Hermann Ritter|
|Cover artwork||Swen Papenbrock|
|Publisher||Fantasy Productions GmbH|
|Era||Star League era|
|Timeline||19 April 2604 - 01 May 2605|
|Series||Classic BattleTech Novels|
Früchte voll Bitterkeit ("Fruits (full) of bitterness"), co-written by Hermann Ritter and Erik Schreiber, is a German-language BattleTech novel published by FanPro in 2006 as the 10th in their line of Classic BattleTech novels. It has not been translated into English so far.
Set between 19 April 2604 and 01 May 2605, the novel depicts a sect leader's bid for power by attempting to abduct a scion of the ruling Marik family.
Written in German and exclusively published in that language so far, Früchte voll Bitterkeit does not technically meet the current criteria for Canon in the BattleTech universe. As an official product published under a valid license, it should be regarded as apocryphal instead.
From the back cover (translated from German)
|“|| Uproar in the Marik realm: Provincial planet Tamarind's capital city is the target of an attack by religious fanatics—well armed, highly motivated, unscrupulous.
Their leader wants to get hold of a member of the Marik family. Everything seems to be going according to plan until the "Mech Friends", a group of juvenile BattleMech fans, show up. With the help of some washed-up officers, they attempt to avert the disaster and mount resistance. An enthralling race against time begins...
Captain-General Brion Marik II sends his trusted personal friend, military inspector Katharina Wlaschek, to Tamarind with orders to inspect the local militia. The true reason is that Brion Marik's father-in-law, who lives on Tamarind, is terminally ill; Wlaschek is known to travel with her granddaughter, and the Captain-General wants her to take his son Thomas (apparently referring to his grandson Tomas; see Notes below) along incognito to see his great-grandfather one last time.
The plan is overheard by a spy from the Exituri sect who reports to his superior in the sect hierachy, Lieutenant General Maurice Dekobra, aboard a WarShip orbiting Atreus. Through the Exituri and their network of henchmen, Dekobra hopes to kidnap the young Marik scion and use him as a hostage to enforce recognition for his sect from the Captain-General.
150 sleeper agents are activated and trickle into Tamarind's capital city (also named Tamarind) over the upcoming months, blackmailed by their unknown master with various sins and crimes from their past such as illegal immigration, identity theft, fraud, and running a child porn network. Unawares of each other, they include common people as well as prominent individuals like the mayor of Tamarind City, his assistant and a police colonel. Combined, their individual orders—various acts of mischief, sabotage, murder and a bank heist—congeal into an intricate plan to sow chaos and civil unrest in the city on 2 April 2605, culminating in a nightly curfew. The general chaos, combined with supporting actions from the sleeper agents, allows groups of highly trained mercenary operatives to seize the planet's sole radio transmitter station, the militia barracks and the police headquarters in clandestine actions and impersonate the staff to pretend business as usual. Their ultimate plan is to trap the inbound DropShip Gustav Meyrink, which is carrying inspector Wlaschek and the young Marik scion, upon landing. (Dekobra's true plan is to be called to Tamarind with his WarShip in response, where he intents to become a hero by rescuing the young Marik heir from the religious fanatics, cover up his involvement by leaving no survivors among his henchmen, then have Brion Marik assassinated and be named his successor; it is implied that Dekobra was also responsible for the recent assassination of Albrecht Marik.)
The capture of the radio station goes smoothly. In the militia barracks, meanwhile, Captain Jiri Orten realizes what is going on and escapes an attempt to apprehend him. He races to meet a friend, Lieutenant Esah Ts'gna, who is celebrating his 35th birthday elsewhere that night. There, the assembled officers refuse to believe Orten's story, and Colonel Marlattow orders Lieutenants Cumrow and Lippinsky to "escort" Orten when they move out in two jeeps to investigate just to be sure. Enroute, Orten's jeep picks up Captain Egon Hostovsky and then they witness how uniformed strangers at the barracks gate arrest the officers in the other jeep, convincing the others that Orten's story might be true after all. Hostovsky, being the most experienced and also a trained special operations agent, assumes command of the group. Amidst the ongoing firefighting efforts following explosions and the collapse of the 'Mech hangars, Hostovsky and Cumrow find evidence of sabotage and overhear two mercenaries discussing their capture of the barracks, the planned capture of a Marik scion and the prisoners held hostage in the gym to ensure the cooperation of the militia commander.
Two days later, the explosion in the militia barracks is downplayed as an accidental fuel dump explosion in the news. Ostensibly to prevent the involvement of military forces in the ongoing riots, the militia was ordered to stand down and keep the barracks gates closed; Orten is called upon to report for duty in public media. Hostovsky unsuccessfully tries to contact the secret service and an attempt to find other militia soldiers also fails.
Desperate for allies, Orten then introduces them to a friend: Ota Pavel, an ex-MechWarrior who now owns a rundown combined tech workshop, garage and scrapyard. It turns out that Pavel is an associate of the Freunde der Mechs ("Mech Friends"), a group of youngsters sharing a fascination for BattleMechs, and that they are working on refurbishing a functional Clint from individual scrap parts. With Ota's help the officers convince the group to assemble the 'Mech and help in simultaneous attacks on the barracks and radio station. To this end, they have to obtain numerous parts from across Tamarind during the curfew, including obtaining a cockpit from a private museum across the sea; Mech Friend Karel Polacek works for a shipping enterprise and can convince his boss to help them.
Orten then contacts the tiny planetary navy, correctly assuming that they are too small and unimportant to be involved in the kidnapping ploy. He manages to convince the navy commander of the situation, gaining her support and a contingent of troops. Meanwhile, Hostovsky calls in a favor from a crimelord who owes him a favor, and also gains a detachment of trained combat personnel for the planned mission.
On 8 April 2605 the attacks are launched. Because of a traitor among the soldiers (implied to come from among the navy forces), the assembly site of the Clint in an abandoned industrial area comes under attack from mercenaries just as cranes pull the Clint upright and Cumrow, who was to pilot the 'Mech, is wounded in a shootout. With Cumrow disabled, Mech Friend Arpan Kodicek tries to fill in for him and is quickly joined by Karel Polacek. However, due to his lack of proper training they cannot adequately support the attack on the barracks which is led by Lippinsky. The ineptly piloted 'Mech breaches the wall for the navy APCs, but is then quickly defeated by militia tanks. Local news media observe the battle and report on it.
Orten meanwhile leads the successful recapture of the radio station, but is wounded and incapacitated by the enemy commander who then locks the station's system with new security codes. Mech Friend Pjotr Miksch manages to bypass the crude security measures and establish contact with the inbound DropShip and transmit a warning. Katarina Wlaschek initially refuses to believe his story, but reconsiders when Tomas Marik's name is mentioned, something nobody on Tamarind should know. The news of fighting in the city including a 'Mech prompt her to have the DropShip hover above the barracks, order all fighting parties to stand down, and deploy heavily armed troops via landing craft who indiscriminately arrest everybody to find out what is going on. The kidnapping attempt has thus been averted.
In the aftermath, Hostovsky is promoted to garrison commander and Orten, Ts'gna, Cumrow and Lippinsky as well as the Mech Friends and navy soldiers are commended for their actions. Arpan is sent to Atreus to have his leg operated, with the prospect of joining a MechWarrior academy. Ota Pavel's pension is raised significantly, allowing him to give up his garage and retire.
Deeply moved by his young son's heroism, Arpan's father decides he needs to be a hero as well and to finally overcome his past; it turns out that he, too, was one of the sleeper agents who were blackmailed into playing a part in the scheme because of something he did twenty years ago and never dared to tell his wife.
Maurice Dekobra is angry and frustrated to learn of his plan's failure, but has covered his tracks well enough (including setting up a fellow sect member as scapegoat and then poisoning him) not to be suspected.
- Lieutenant Martin Cumrow: A capable soldier, he nevertheless provokes Ota Pavel into choking him to near-death by mocking his cybernetic implants. The only MechWarrior among the resistance who has any simulator training whatsoever on the rare Clint design.
- Lieutenant-General Maurice Dekobra: Exituri member, but in fact also the leader of a small, secret and apparently prosecuted sect of Skopze that has infiltrated the Exituri ranks and aims to use them as disposable terror tools because they do not truly share their religious convictions. The Skopze aim to blame the atrocities committed on Tamarind on the Exituri, but unbeknownst to them Dekobra is actually prepared to sacrifice both sects in his bid for power, considering himself a chosen one.
- Frantisek Gellner: Mech Friend
- Captain Egon Hostovsky: A former intelligence and special operations agent of the National Intelligence Agency who joined the military following an injury to his hand, making him feel unfit for further duty as a field operative. 1.85m tall, 45 years old.
- Silva Jovanova: Alfred Weilgunny's attractive 16-year old cousin. She is the voice of reason among the Mech Friends and cautions the group against simply building a BattleMech and giving it away, pointing out that they know next to nothing about the officers and their motives and that it might be illegal to provide them with a powerful weapon system.
- Arpan Kodicek: 17-year old Mech Friend who suffered a crippling injury to his leg when he was 12 years old, smashing his dreams of becoming a MechWarrior.
- Lieutenant Lippinsky: A somewhat inexperienced militia officer. His first name is never mentioned.
- Captain-General Brion Marik II
- Pjotr Miksch: Mech Friend and computer expert/hacker
- Fjodor Nuhdeal: Father-in-law to Brion Marik (II) and great-grandfather to Tomas Marik. He has withdrawn to Tamarind to live out the remainder of his life, and is too ill to travel.
- Captain Jiri Orten: A small (1.69m) and slightly overweight militia soldier whose career stalled (a past demotion is mentioned). He is implied to be a heavy drinker and is in fact the only officer at the party who remains sober (or alcohol resistant) enough to recognize the infiltrators, attempt to raise alarm, and escape to inform others.
- Ota Pavel: A former MechWarrior, he was grievously wounded in a combat drop on Bethonolog when a "TV satellite" turned out to be armed and damaged his Drop Cocoon. After crashlanding his Kintaro on a mountain side, he fought his way through enemy lines for four days before his 'Mech was destroyed. The bald, sixty-year old man now has a prosthetic hand and leg and needs a speech synthesizer to speak. He cannot pilot a 'Mech anymore and runs a junkyard/garage for a living. Associate of the Mech Friends.
- Karel Polacek: Trainee merchant with Trans Universalis and a skilled organizer. Mech Friend, manages the group's finances.
- Vojtech Rakous: Mech Friend
- Lieutenant Esah Ts'gna: Not native to Tamarind and of african descent, the 35 year old deputy commander of the Fourth Tamarind Home Militia is a close friend of Jiri Orten, who has taken him under his wing and considers him something of an adoptive son.
- Alfred Weilgunny: Mech Friend
- Inspector Katharina Wlaschek: A stern and incorruptible military inspector, and one of the preciously few in her time to effectively combat the rampant corruption, incompetence and mismanagement in the Free Worlds League's military forces.
- Anegasaki (mentioned, as "Anegaski")
- Bethonolog (mentioned, as "Betolonog")
- Hesperus II (mentioned)
- Jessica III (mentioned)
- Kosciusko (mentioned)
- Millungera (mentioned)
- Saltillo (mentioned)
- Spad-class courier boat
- Lola III destroyer (mentioned presumably in error; see Notes below)
- Vincent Mark XXV corvette
- unspecified DropShip Gustav Meyrink
- unspecified landing craft (presumably small craft) launched from the DropShip
- The child to be kidnapped is initially wrongly described as Brion Marik (II)'s 7-year old son Thomas. However, Brion Marik had no son named Thomas. Instead, is is later established that the child in question is Brion Marik's grandson Tomas Marik, born in 2598 to Brion's son Quentin Marik.
- Dekobra's flagship, the Vlad Tepes, is initially introduced on p. 81 as a Lola III-class destroyer, which is impossible as this class first entered service in 2662. In a later chapter on p. 177, it is described as a Vincent Mark XXV corvette instead, and the vessel's length is given as "over 400 meters" (accurate for a 402 meter Vincent).
- The refurbished Clint featuring in the story is problematic for several reasons. It is explicitly described as a CLNT-1-2R, but even this earliest model was only introduced in 2607 according to the Master Unit List, i.e. 3 years after the events described. The 1-2R series normally has an AC/10 barrel instead of a right hand, plus a single medium laser, and is not equipped with jump jets. However, in the novel the 'Mech uses jump jets and twin Magna medium lasers which are mounted on the right arm, as well as a fully modeled right hand. This could be taken to mean the 'Mech was customized when it was hand-built (possible given that the Mech Friends knew all along that they had no ammunition for the autocannon), though the Clint depicted on the book cover features a regular barrel arm and no hand. Further, the Mech Friends complain about having no ammunition for the missile launcher despite no known Clint model mounting a missile launcher of any kind.
- Tamarind's capital city is explained to be named Tamarind as well in this book; later sources name it Zanzibar, though it is possible that the capital was switched to another city or renamed since 2605.
- The DropShip Gustav Meyrink was apparently named for the austrian author Gustav Meyer, who used "Gustav Meyrink" as a pen name and was a noted author of supernatural fiction. Author Hermann Schreiber had written an article about Gustav Meyrink in 2002.