Tales from the Cracked Canopy: The Red Wraith

Shrapnel Magazine 004 (Cover).jpg
The Red Wraith
Story information
Author Harper Brand
Pages 14
Type Short Story
Product Shrapnel Issue 4
Era Jihad Era
Timeline 25 March 3068 - 11 November 3084
Series Tales from the Cracked Canopy
Preceded by The Razor's Edge of Opportunity
Followed by Shadows of the Past

Tales from the Cracked Canopy: The Red Wraith is a short story by Harper Brand that was published in the fourth issue of Shrapnel on 15 March 2021.

Plot summary[edit]

Politely laughing to a blowhard patron's terrible jokes, barman Leo notices a beautiful but haunted woman that has been visiting the Cracked Canopy for the past week seemingly looking right at him. Handing off the boorish man to Sege, a hopeful Leo approaches the woman to ask if can refresh her drink where she reveals she was not interested in him, but was instead struggling about placing something on the "Memory Wall". Baffled as to why, she admits her hesitation was because she fought for the Word of Blake, causing hateful whispers and angry stares from the patrons close to the pair. A more friendly Leo instead beckons her to tell her tale...

Insisting she was not a devoted follower of the Blakists, Marlena and her husband Roldán joined the Word of Blake Militia purely to defend their homeworld and their teenage son Dimas from a supposedly vengeful ComStar, deploying when Case White occurs. Spirits are initially high as they easily defeat the outnumbered and isolated secular BattleMechs they encounter, until word reaches the unit that ComStar had apparently taken the Ninth Division's homebase of Houston, detonating a tactical nuclear weapon that obliterates the city when the Word attempts to retake it
Convinced that ComStar killed her son, an enraged Marlena and the now Roldán-led Level II continue to hunt down and kill Com Guard troops only to lose the trail on the outskirts of Albuquerque, realizing the ComStar forces had to have local assistance. As the Level II rounds up ComStar sympathizers, Roldán demands they reveal the location of the Com Guards or face harsh justice, the civilians retorting that they'll be slaughtered anyway and their deaths blamed on ComStar just like Houston. Slowly Marlena realizes that the weakened ComStar had no reason to nuke the city and that the Word of Blake provoked the entire conflict and was the real party that killed her son.
Frantically attempting to sway her husband from committing an immoral war crime, Roldán however coldly cites the orders he's been given and refuses to delay, ordering the Level II to open fire on the civilians. A desperate Marlena fires an unintentionally lethal warning shot that breaches his 'Mech's cockpit killing him instantly. Distraught, Marlena flees as her remaining Level-mates chase after her and away from the civilians. Finally cornered at Sandias, Marlena resolves to go down fighting until a pair of Com Guard 'Mechs arrive to offer assistance in response to her turning on the Word, driving off her former companions and saving her life. Aiding the surviving Com Guard sympathizers in salvaging her husband's 'Mech, Marlena is able to recover Roldán's wedding ring, a now constant reminder of her son's innocence and her husband's murderous actions.

Commenting on the grand irony that the very Com Guard troops she was originally hunting down took her in, divulging the extent of the Blakist lies about the horrors they were unleashing on the rest of the Inner Sphere. When Leo asks her what she did after the events of Sandia and Albuquerque, she reveals she spent the next decade fighting alongside the anti-Blakist resistance, responding to a curious patron's question as to her name that she'd been called "La Fantasma Roja". Leo and other patrons are in utter shock that she is the supposedly unkillable "Bane of TerraSec" known as "The Red Wraith", gladly offering to buy her whatever drink she wants, as well as accepting Roldán's wedding ring on the "Memory Wall".

Featured characters[edit]

Featured BattleTech[edit]

Featured planets[edit]