The Race Is Not To The Swift
|The Race Is Not To The Swift|
|Era||Succession Wars era|
No exact time is given for the story. The author apparently wanted the story to take place in 3002, but a note in Technical Readout: 3039 (Patton entry, p. 60) establishes that it must have occurred while the Patton was in prototype stages, i.e. between 3020 (when it was first unveiled) and 3027 (when it entered full production). (See Notes.)
Captain Cyrus St. George is the company commander of The Swords of St. George, 131st Battalion (Keshii's Battalion), 33rd Marik Militia. The regiment, augmented by the Seguin's Strikers mercenary lance, is attacking the Lyran Commonwealth world of Solaris. They managed to sneak in on disguised DropShips and achieved their initial objectives, but relentless aerospace fighter attacks and a mounting counterattack by regular Lyran forces and Hansen's Roughriders threaten to overwhelm the Marik forces.
Now the 131st Battalion is ordered to leave their entrenched position at the power plant they captured and make for the countyside in hopes that they would draw off the heaviest counterattacking defender units. They move out from their entrenched position at the power plant in waves of one company each while Seguin's Strikers remain to guard the power plant.
The plan does not work out, as the Lyrans gradually attain aerospace superiority and push the attackers on the defensive. St. George tries to organize an orderly retreat for his exposed unit at the point of the attack while the regimental command structure is coming apart around him and losses are mounting. The Marik advance turns into a retreat, then into a rout. The regiment is ordered back to the DropShips.
On their way back, St. George's decimated unit integrates on two Rifleman pilots from Leonard's Lions into their ranks who were separated from their unit during the fighting. Captain Seguin, the mercenary commander, is impressed with St. George's care for his people, telling him that if it was not for him, the Marik forces would have broken up. St. George persuades the mercenary to maintain his position long enough for the Swords to make it back to the DropShips, one of which is already making for orbit by the time The Swords of St. George race past the power plant. Captain Seguin then surrenders to the Lyran Regulars in an attempt to buy the retreating Swords some more time.
The Swords make it to the starport by the skin of their teeth, only to see their DropShip wrecked and burning - they took too long. Roughrider 'Mechs, an Atlas and a Cicada, approach and demand their surrender.
- Trooper Bryant
- Private Cho
- Colonel Drinkwater
- Sergeant Harris
- Corporal Jones
- Force Commander Sen Sho Keshii
- "Lippy" Lipescue
- Master Sergeant Allen McHaigh
- Captain Patel
- Captain Julian Seguin
- Captain Cyrus St. George
- Lieutenant Trapp
- Hansen's Roughriders
- Keshii's Battalion (131st Battalion), 33rd Marik Militia, The Swords of St. George Company
- Seguin's Strikers
- Hermes II
- Shadow Hawk
- Wolverine (also Wolverine-M variant)
- The overall description of the attack strongly suggests that the undated story was meant to be set during Willis Crawford's unsuccessful attack on Solaris VII in 3002. This is supported by the fact that the same author wrote another short story (Final Exam) which centers on Willis Crawford's graduation exercise, foreshadowing his reckless tactics that would prove his undoing in the 3002 attack on Solaris VII. However, later publications established that Hansen's Roughriders did not become mercenaries until after 3014; their appearance in this story among the House Steiner defenders is an anachronism if the story was really supposed to take place in 3002. Technical Readout: 3039, published in 2009, finally established that this fight took place while Hansen's Roughriders were field-testing the then-prototype Patton tank which was unveiled in 3020 and entered full production in 3027.
- Two previously published pieces of BattleTech art are included on pages 3 and 10 to which the story apparently makes reference:
- Captain St. George pilots a Shadow Hawk, "Lippy" Lipescue a Crusader, Master Sergeant McHaigh a Wolverine-M and Trooper Bryant a Wasp. This is the lance depicted on the cover of the BattleTech Reinforcements box (which was also used for Ral Partha's "Medium Lance" miniatures set), although the Wolverine pictured looks like an unmodified WVR-6R model and the 'Mechs appear to bear the crest of Helmar Valasek's pirate band, Santander's Killers.
- The standing Atlas from the last scene, with a Cicada moving up and both sporting the crest of Hansen's Roughriders, is reminiscent from the cover of BattleForce although they are depicted with a wilderness background and a clear sky whereas the scene in the story takes place in urban environment, during or shortly after heavy rainfall.