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For Want of a Nail

For Want of a Nail
Product information
Type Short story
Author Dan C. Duval
Pages 11
Publication information
Publisher BattleCorps
First published 30 September 2004
Era Civil War era
Timeline March 3067

For Want of a Nail is a short story by Dan C. Duval that was published online on BattleCorps on 30 September 2004. It was later also published in print in the first BattleCorps anthology, The Corps.

Teaser text

In the Periphery, fighting a ground war often involves using what you have. Or, what you haven't sold off. Dan Duval shows us an unlikely hero reaching deep and using whatever he has left to defend his home and nation.

Plot summary

Following a very embarrassing experience with a live grenade in training, Alliance Military Corps soldier Defoe finds himself assigned to grunt work involving spare parts and supply runs on Ramora as part of the Alliance Borderers. While he is replacing a damaged communication component on a decreipt and grounded Pegasus Scout Hovertank, the nearby fighter factory comes under attack from a company of BattleMechs and Defoe is trapped inside the tank with the two spotters (Benny and Hutchins).

The tank is hit and critically damaged. Defoe awakens from being knocked out in the back compartment to find Benny dead and Hutchins heavily wounded. Over the radio, they are urged to provide targeting data for the incoming air wing. Defoe prepares to run away. Hutchins, having lost an arm among other injuries, is in no condition to do anything but commands Defoe to report targets, but Defoe points out that the tank's transmitter was destroyed.

Recalling the saying about "For the want of a nail..." and realizing that providing the targeting information may make all the difference in the fight now, Defoe reconsiders. He rebuilds the still functional receiver unit, which uses the same antenna and data bus as the transmitter, by exchanging receiver modules for transmitter modules even while an enemy 'Mech is approaching to finish off the wrecked tank.

Defoe awakens in a hospital, the only survivor. He learns that his improvised transmitter worked. The factory was saved and all enemy 'Mechs were destroyed, yielding valuable salvage.

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