Marauder (short story)
- This article is about the short story. For other uses, see Marauder (disambiguation).
|First published||21 April 2010|
|Timeline||8 December 3073|
|Followed by||Kindred Soul|
Marauder is a story by Lance Scarinci that was published online on BattleCorps on 21 April 2010. It introduced the Black Marauder, a highly unusual BattleMech resembling a Marauder and with a reputation for being either cursed, or a malevolent demonic entity unto itself.
|“||The tools of warfare are amongst the most fearsome ever crafted by man, capable of great destruction and great salvation... but not all tools are worth the cost.||”|
On 8 December 3073 aging Sergeant Grange of the Capellan March Militia's detachment on Warren leads MechWarrior Kevin Langstrom to a hidden bunker in the Padishan Flats where an eerie, flat black Marauder BattleMech is stored. Langstrom feels the 'Mech looks somehow odd and unsettling.
Grange tells Langstrom its backstory, in a ghost story fashion:
It was found by the Ninth FedCom RCT by chance 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 on the way back to Warren. No serial number, factory markings or insignia could be found on the black Marauder. 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. Shortly afterwards, a tech who called the 'Mech names following a coolant spill died in an accidental discharge from one of its PPCs that should have been technically impossible on a powered-down 'Mech. Yet later, the 'Mech was suddenly nowhere to be found in the middle of a training exercise after it got separated from its lance. Its pilot was heard screaming and praying over the radio. The Marauder was later discovered standing in plain sight in a vale that had repeatedly been searched during the incident, with its cockpit sealed but the pilot gone. The Black Marauder was subsequently seen as cursed, and nobody—not even dispossessed—wanted to pilot it. The unit's colonel Johnstadt 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 abandoned gold mine on Warren after the War of 3039, vowing never to reveal its location. Mullins passed away without breaking his vow, but old Sgt. 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. Grange feels that Kevin is cut out for piloting it.
Somewhat disconcerted after Grange's unsettling ghost story, Langstrom nevertheless feels the 'Mech is a golden opportunity for him to get away from the militia and get the recognition he feels he deserves. During startup he thinks he hears a voice say "kindred soul", but it turns out it wasn't Grange who instead tells Langstrom that he has been setting explosives outside for the past two hours (when Langstrom thought it had been just minutes since he entered the 'Mech). This makes Grange wary, but against his better judgement he triggers the charges to blast open the entrance and set the 'Mech free.