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|First published||11 April 2006|
|Era||Star League era|
|Timeline||4 October 2662|
|Followed by||The Pear|
|“||New BattleCorps Author Rhian Hunt tells a tale of the best of House Kurita vs that of the Star League.||”|
On Buckminster, Kawana Takauji and Shimobu Yoshitora study at the feet of their sensei, Nagamaru Okimoto. Okimoto has won sixty-nine BattleMech duels and, per the elaborate codes governing ‘Mech duels in the Draconis Combine during the relatively peaceful early Star League era, will be allowed to open his own MechWarrior dojo upon winning his seventieth battle. Okimoto was a Chu-i in the DCMS before the mass peacetime demobilization of 2650, and describes himself as a follower of the Way of the Bow and Spear.
For the seventieth battle, Okimoto selects SLDF officer Hans Badeau, who agrees good naturedly, having already defeated ten ronin in previous duels, eight of whom were so shamed in the battle that they committed seppuku afterwards. Many had similar track records to Okimoto’s own, and had been close to opening their own dojos. Okimoto contemplates defeat if he adheres to the path of the samurai, and suggests to Kawana that the path of the ninja might lead to victory, should Badeau’s ‘Mech be sabotaged before the fight. Kawana departs with a substance that, properly applied to myomer, will slow a BattleMech’s response time.
Badeau meets Okimoto at the controls of his Black Knight, while Okimoto pilots a Guillotine. The battle rages until Okimoto estimates that the myomer sabotage has taken effect. His alpha strike cores the Black Knight, but Nagamaru feels deep shame for having resorted to dishonorable tactics to claim victory.
That night, to atone for having strayed from the road of honor, he prepares to end his life with the seppuku ritual. However, he is interrupted by Takauji, who apologizes for not having carried out the sabotage. As this renders Okimoto’s victory honorable, the two rejoice and commence planning the creation of their new dojo.
The story’s datestamp of 2662 is somewhat questionable, vis-à-vis the sourcebook accounts. While the Edict of 2650 that capped House army sizes means that Chu-i Okimoto would have mustered out 12 years prior to this story, the Star League sourcebook and Field Manual: SLDF state that the first duel involving an SLDF warrior took place on Benjamin in 2681 – a good 19 years after Seventy, and no SLDF MechWarriors achieved a legitimate win until after the Gunslinger Program graduates arrived in the Combine in 2687. The story would work perfectly as written if it were set in 2692 instead of 2662 (albeit making Okimoto in his 60s or 70s, rather than his 30s-40s – though that’s not really an issue in an era when people regularly live active lives past the age of 100). (Daniel Allison, one of the best SLDF duelists, engaged in 60 duels over the course of 42 years, Wilbur Frews fought 19 in seven years, and Oha Heller fought 10 duels in four years, so Badeau’s 11 duels in five years would be in the ballpark.)