The Judas Blind
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|The Judas Blind|
|Author||Michael A. Stackpole|
|Era||Succession Wars era|
Patrick Kell (narrating the story in the first person) has returned to Murchison on a special mission from Duke Michael Hasek-Davion six weeks after the Kell Hounds withdrew from the planet, having attacked it to draw Draconis Combine troops away from Mallory's World. Looking for someone called "Little Dragon" in the Akumashima slum district of Hakkinshi, he finds that a price is on his head and has to fight off some street thugs before a renketsu woman named Takara reveals herself to be the Little Dragon.
Kell explains that he wants her help in finding Hanaka Aido, a sawararenai untouchable who is pregnant with the child of a Kell Hounds MechWarrior. Tanaka chastises him for blundering about so openly (disguised only with a recently-grown moustache), then invites him into her luxurious apartment which is hidden in a run-down building above an opium den. She tells Kell to stay here and warns him of the booby traps, the goes to find Hanaka Aido. Kell takes a nap, but awakens when someone cuts through the door with a vibroblade. A team of raiders storm the apartment, setting off an explosive trap near the door that kills some of them. In the ensuing firefight, Kell kills two more assailants, then escapes via the balcony.
Takara meets him in a restaurant. Upon leaving the restaurant, they are arrested and disarmed by a contingent of ISF ninjas and are marched to the former Kell Hound facilities, now occupied by a company from the 27th Dieron Regulars. They are locked up in a prisoner cell while an ISF Tai-sa (Colonel) is expected to arrive in two hours to question them. In the cell, Kell admits that he actually planned to be arrested and locked up in this cell, expecting Takara to betray him to the ISF (which she apparently did not, after all). He has an Allen wrench hidden on his body which they use to escape the cell.
Kell goes on to explain that House Davion failed to destroy all Star League-era books from the library discovered on Halstead Station that they could not carry off six months earlier. The local ISF Colonel, Harrison Ukita, salvaged some of the invaluable books and smuggled them to Murchison in crates marked as weapon shipments. The Kell Hounds withdrew from Murchison without a fight, leaving lots of equipment behind, to lead the 27th Dieron Regulars to believe they had driven them off while planning Patrick Kell's covert operation all the time to reclaim or destroy the books. He also mentions that the Kell Hounds, already in-system at a Pirate Jump Point, can arrive within two days when signalled.
Kell and Takara retrieve a set of ISF ninja uniforms and plastic explosives with remote-controlled detonators from a hidden equipment container. They break into the regiment's 'Mech hangar and seed it with explosives, but when an alarm is raised because their cell was found empty, Takara arrests Kell and surrenders him to Ukita whom she proceeds to seduce. Hours later, she dupes Ukita into activating the remote control for the detonators; it turns out she allowed all but one to be found and hid the last one in his heavy oaken desk, killing him. Then a surprise raid by the Kell Hounds throws the 27th Dieron Regulars into disarray, allowing for the DropShip Fukushu to be captured with the book crates aboard. It turns out that the Kell Hounds had never actually left the planet, but had hidden in the Suigin Mines only three hours away.
As the captured Fukushu, rechristened the Nuada Argetlan, prepares to leave Murchison, Patrick Kell urges Takara to come with him, but she cannot bring herself to leave Akumashima and her Little Dragon identity behind.
- This story presents one Harrison Ukita as the ISF Colonel who secured and shipped books from Halstead Station to Murchison, and gives a detailed account on how Patrick Kell arranged for the Kell Hounds to secure the books and a Kurita DropShip from the 27th Dieron Regulars. However, another canonical source (The Kell Hounds sourcebook) relates an ISF interview with one Chu-sa Imorie Sanders who tells an entirely different story about how the Kell Hounds took the books and ship from another regiment, the 36th Dieron Regulars. Patrick Kell and the 1st Kell Hounds battalion follow Sanders to the city of Partheria on Murchison where they capture a crate of books and a DropShip. To reconcile these two versions it could be assumed that Imorie Sanders and elements of the 36th Dieron Regulars lost one crate of books at Partheira when their DropShip was stormed, but the main share was later retrieved as narrated here by Patrick Kell.
- On the story's fourth page there is a picture of a woman with a ring through her nose's bridge. The same picture was previously published in the sourcebook House Davion (The Federated Suns), untitled. The picture's placement in Shrapnel suggests that the woman depicted is Takara, whose nose bridge ring is explicitly mentioned in the story.
- Christian Kell was the offspring of Patrick Kell and Takara's brief relationship.