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|Author|| Tara Gallagher|
William H. Keith, Jr.
Michael A. Stackpole
Ken St. Andre
|Cover artwork||Jeff Laubenstein|
|MSRP||18.00 US $|
|Era||Succession Wars era|
|Timeline||ca. 2980 – 3028|
Shrapnel (subtitled Fragments from the Inner Sphere) is a collection of graphic artwork and short stories set in the BattleTech universe in the "Classic" era from 3025 to the Fourth Succession War that begins in 3028, with some pieces of fiction reaching back as far as approximately 2980.
Besides an introduction from Jordan Weisman and "ContribuTech", a three-page rundown of BattleTech designers, authors, artists and editors listing their respective contributions by George O'Dajungle, the book contains the following short stories:
- Old MechWarriors Never... (Ken St. Andre): Down-on-his-luck Solaris VII Arena MechWarrior Trev-R learns that he may lose his life in an upcoming rigged arena fight.
- Black Cats Cross Your Path (Tara Gallagher and James Lanigan): The Black Cats, an all-infantry mercenary unit, defend a city against a rather unprofessional BattleMech company posing as the Black Widow Company and prove that even infantry can down a 'Mech with ingenuity and some luck.
- Think like a Liao (Susan Putney): After a falling-out with his father, Tormana Liao finds his life threatened by a doppleganger bound to supplant him.
- Dance of Vengeance (William H. Keith, Jr.): Past antagonism and the destruction of Tyrell's Raiders, a minor mercenary unit, in a devious scheme culminate in a honor duel to the death between Chu-i Salvadore Tyrell and Sho-sa Victor Garreth during a reception on Kajikazawa.
- And Then There Was The Time... (Mark O'Green): While an Slayer AeroSpace Fighter pilot boasts about his exploits, namely a dogfight with the Stuka of famous Karl Stephens and how he could have shot him down, the rather bored and distracted thoughts of his female attendance provide a stark contrast to his story.
- Dispatch (Elizabeth T. Danforth and Michael A. Stackpole): A sequence of military mail traffic consisting of orders and brief reports illustrates how Snord's Irregulars embarrassed the Second Free World Guards in 3020 through a successful objective raid on the Kincaid peninsula on the world of McAffe, despite being positively expected to raid the facility where a trap was set for them. In this raid they reclaimed a collection of various pieces of art previously lost to House Marik forces. The last message is a sarcastic message to Janos Marik himself by Cranston Snord, thanking him for the items on behalf of his daughter.
- Legion Team (William H. Keith, Jr.): Tracy Maxwell Kent is a Phoenix Hawk pilot with the Gray Death Legion. During a raid on Shionoha she commands the light 'Mechs of the training cadre (two Locusts, Stingers and Wasps each) on a mission to destroy an undefended factory. However, on their way to the target they stumble right into an enemy staging area and find themselves surrounded by strong forces. The resulting engagement will later be celebrated as the Victory at Mifune Pass for the Legion, but it is an ordeal to teach Tracy what it means to take command and is in fact only won by sheer luck.
- Where Lies the Honor? (William H. Keith, Jr.): On the poor backwater Draconis Combine world of Kawabe, Corpsman Yancey of the Civilian Guidance Corps becomes increasingly irritated over the dishonorable and despotic behavior of his sworn master, Prefect Vander Hassan. The execution of a peddler who only tried to keep his family fed is one injustice too many, and Yancey finds himself trapped between his oath to his master and his honor to serve the people of his homeworld.
- Natasha Kerensky: A Biomedical Report (Tara Gallagher and James Lanigan): Excerpts from a secret service file on Natasha Kerensky that include references to a biomedical report from Chukchi III, 3020, an interview by Misha Auburn dating 7 April 3023, and various other material reveal that the "Black Widow" has repeatedly undergone plastic surgery between approximately 3007 and 3026 but little more. The interview transcript raises more questions than are answered as Kerensky is obviously skilled in evading all questions about her past and seems to toy with the interviewer, adding to the overall mystery surrounding her.
- Painting the Town (Mark O'Green): In an attempt to capture Theodore Kurita, who is (falsely) rumored to be around, a mysterious group of Marauder BattleMechs without insignia or markings, and sporting the exceptionally rare original armor of the design without any patches, attacks a Kurita outpost. After the destruction of all Kurita tanks and vehicles, five Kurita soldiers take up the fight, making ingenious use of paint grenades and utility chemicals found at a paint factory they had been guarding.
- The Race Is Not To The Swift (Bear Peters): Captain Cyrus St. George is leading his unit, the "Swords of St. George" Company (Keshii's 131st Battalion, 33rd Marik Militia), in a raid on Solaris by his regiment together with the mercenary unit Seguin's Strikers. The raiders encounter far more resistance than anticipated, including Lyran regular units and Hansen's Roughriders, and the attack turns into a retreat under heavy fire. With the regimental command structure coming apart around him, St. George tries to organize an orderly retreat for his forces while taking heavy losses from superior enemy firepower and air superiority.
- Final Exam (Bear Peters): At the Free Worlds League's renowned Princefield Academy, Cadet Willis Crawford beats the computer at the tactical plot simulator with a bold and innovative maneuver under the watchful eyes of retired General and Professor of 'Mech Deployment and Assault Strategy Sizigmund MaqAloo. The professor acknowledges his success but points out that it entirely depended on the computer's predictability; against a human opponent the simulated operation would have cost him his DropShip. Crawford remains convinced of his skills, however, and his younger friend and classmate Anton Marik reassures him that between them, they can "lick anything", foreshadowing future events...
- Judas Blind (Michael A. Stackpole): Six weeks after the Kell Hounds withdrew from Murchison, Patrick Kell returns to the planet for a covert mission. He meets a mysterious woman named Takara, the "Little Dragon", and enacts an intricate plan to secure the books that House Kurita could recover at Halstead Station. Patrick and Takara have different agendas and do not trust each other. They repeatedly cheat and betray each other over the course of the operation which ultimately ends in a decisive success for the Kell Hounds, including the capture of the Union-class DropShip Fukushu (which the Kell Hounds rename to Nuada Argetlan), because of a single detail Takara had not known. After all that happened, Patrick finds himself hoping that Takara would come with him.
Through their Phoenix imprint, FanPro published a German edition of Shrapnel in 1997. Unlike the original FASA publication which was in sourcebook format, the German edition was a 216-page book the size of a paperback novel. The ContribuTech section and the rich color art from the US edition was missing. Instead, the stories got new, original illustrations by Hartwig Nieder-Gassel depicting, among others, Patrick Kell, Salvadore Tyrell (implicitly), "Boots" Hill, and the unit insignia of the Black Cats mercenary unit. These illustrations are apocryphal as they were only printed in the German edition which is not a considered canonical source in and of itself.