Old Legends Never Die

Old Legends Never Die
Product information
Type Short story
Author Louisa M. Swann
Pages 24
Publication information
Publisher BattleCorps
First published 4 March 2005
Era Civil War era
Timeline 5 April 3064
Series Justin Bell stories
Followed by Titanium Rose

Old Legends Never Die is a short story by Louisa M. Swann that was published online on BattleCorps on 4 March 2005. It was also published in print in the second BattleCorps print anthology, First Strike, in 2010.

Teaser text[edit]

Out in the Periphery, tales abound about lost cargoes, abandoned Star League stations, and phantom JumpShips crewed by shadows and spirits. But the locals know that sometimes the tallest rumor has its germ of truth, and, sometimes, even the oldest legends can come back to haunt the living. Story by Louisa Swann.

Plot summary[edit]

Justin Bell, the narrator, is the daughter of Silas Bell and Rachel Bell (née Murdock), a pair of space pirates. Over the course of the story it is gradually revealed that Silas Bell was involved in the vanishing of the DropShip Nova Hunter, but suffered a bullet to the head in the action and was thought dead. He married his first mate Rachel Murdock afterwards and the couple happily proceeded to "plunder, rape and murder" until Rachel Bell gave birth to Justin. Silas Bell suffered from pain and decreasing sanity from his head wound and eventually shot himself in 3054. Justin took over her father's Fortress-class DropShip and pirate crew, and continued a smuggling business while her mother set up a tavern, "Lost Tavern", in the edge of a ten-kilometer desert plateau on the edge of Silas' Outpost on Novo Tressida in the Magistracy of Canopus.

In 3064, Justin Bell temporarily helps out at the bar and is confronted by a group of offworld treasure hunters led by one Connie Clark. They question her about the Nova Hunter and the treasures it carried. Fortran Merrick, an old friend of the Bells and now consort of the narrator's mother, briefly discusses the old legend with her.

Justin returns home that night to find her mother murdered and Merrick knocked down. It seems to be the work of Clark and his men, and their BattleMechs are closing in on Justin's grounded DropShip, apparently believing it to be the legendary Nova Hunter. She immediately resumes command of her smuggler/pirate crew, takes control of the battle that sees off the attackers, and they escape into space.

However, Merrick then takes Justin captive aboard the ship. It was he who killed her mother after trying for years to learn the secret of the Nova Hunter from her. It had also been Merrick who had betrayed and shot Silas Bell in the original hijacking of the Nova Hunter. Justin manages to kill Merrick as he attempts to question her. She then proceeds to the bridge where she shoots her lieutenant Buck Jackson, who had sided with Merrick and assumed command of the DropShip in the mutiny. Having thus reaffirmed her rule over her crew, the story concludes with Justin observing that her DropShip is in fact not the Nova Hunter, unlike what people like to believe, and that Silas Bell, if he even knew where the Nova Hunter and its treasures ended up, had taken the secret to his grave. The Nova Hunter and its treasure are just a fading legend, just like the Paymon's Staff.

Featured characters[edit]

Featured BattleTech[edit]



Featured planets[edit]


  • Dropping the name of the latter vessel and ambiguous wording raises the distant possibility that the narrator's (unnamed) ship may actually be the enigmatic Paymon's Staff, but there is no further evidence or proof.
  • The story is set on Novo Tressida as indicated in the epigraph. In an earlier version of the story it was apparently set on Milligan's World in the Outworlds Alliance. This world is still mentioned several times in the story, in at least one case clearly referring to the planet on which the story is taking place; there is also a passing reference to furniture produced by the Omniss, a religious group from the Outworlds Alliance. The author herself clarified (in a posting (dead link) in the "Commentary on..." section of the BattleCorps forum while discussing this story) that this was an editing error, and that Novo Tressida is the right location.