Wolves on the Border
|Wolves on the Border|
|Author||Robert N. Charrette|
|Cover artwork|| Hanzo (original cover art)|
Jim Nelson (original cover design)
Peter Peebles (reprint)
|Publisher|| FASA (original)|
Roc Books (reprint)
|First published|| 1 March, 1989 (original)|
1 May, 1996 (reprint)
|Era||Succession Wars era|
|Timeline||14 September 3021 - 17 August 3028|
Wolves on the Border, by Robert N. Charrette, narrates how Wolf's Dragoons, working as mercenaries for the Draconis Combine, become the target of a plot to either tie them to the Combine permanently against their will, or destroy them. Their liaison officer, Minobu Tetsuhara, a honorable warrior of House Kurita and close friend of Jaime Wolf, is trapped between friendship and duty.
The novel was made available on BattleCorps on 16 December 2009 as a PDF file (text only, without cover, pictures, or any other interior artwork except for the usual BattleCorps frame graphics). The PDF copy includes a disclaimer stating that it was created from a pre-final edition text that might differ from the printed version and that canon-wise, the print edition trumps the PDF edition.
From the back coverEdit
|“|| LIFE, DEATH, HONOR, FEALTY
Bushido is the code that governs all these concepts. As a MechWarrior of the Draconis Combine, Minobu Tetsuhara is bound by Bushido, a code that demands loyal service to the devious Warlord Grieg Samsonov.
When Minobu came upon a strange blue and gold Archer, the field littered with its vanquished opponents, and its weapons now empty, Bushido dictated that he not destroy an honorable but helpless warrior.
Minobu was then assigned as liaison to one of the Combine's most elite mercenary units, who treated him with the respect due a fellow warrior, and gave him use of a BattleMech once more. The skill and power of the mercenaries is unparalleled, and when they refuse to renew their contract, Minobu is instructed to use all means to destroy them.
1996 Reprint EditionEdit
|“|| LIFE, DEATH, HONOR, FEALTY
Bushido governs all these concepts. As a MechWarrior of the Draconis Combine, Minobu Tetsuhara was bound by Bushido—a code that demands loyal service—to the devious Warlord Grieg Samsonov.
But when Minobu came upon a strange blue and gold Archer, the field littered with its vanquished opponents, and its weapons now empty, Bushido also dictated that he not destroy an honorable but helpless warrior. And so he rescued Jaime Wolf.
Minobu was then assigned as liaison to the Wolf's Dragoons, one of the Combine's most elite mercenary units, who treated him with the respect due a fellow warrior. When the mercenaries refused to renew their contract with Samsonov, Minobu was instructed to destroy them.
Now Bushido dictates that Minobu oppose his honorable foe, a man with whom he has served and who deserves far better than betrayal....
In 3021, Wolf's Dragoons (under contract to the Lyran Commonwealth) battle Draconis Combine forces on Dromini VI. During the fighting, Tai-i (captain) Minobu Tetsuhara's command lance encounters a lone mercenary Archer that has valiantly destroyed a tank unit, but is now shut down from excess heat and helpless. Following his bushido code, Tetsuhara spares the enemy over the objections of his subordinate lancemate Jerry Akuma.
Book 1: HonorEdit
Following the Dromini debacle where the Draconis Combined had suffered a humiliating defeat, Tetsuhara was stripped of his command and denied the right to pilot the family 'Mech, a PNT-9R Panther called Katana Kat which has passed on to his brother Fuhito Tetsuhara. When Wolf's Dragoons are contracted by the Draconis Combine in 3023, Minobu Tetsuhara is promoted to chu-sa (lieutenant colonel) and assigned as their chief liaison officer (service with the Professional Soldiery Liaison being considered a shameful assignment).
Tetsuhara joins Wolf's Dragoons on their first combat mission for the Combine, an attack against Quentin IV in June 3023 alongside a Sword of Light regiment. He meets and is deeply impressed by their CO, Jaime Wolf, and by the mercenaries' sterling conduct in general. Rogue mercenaries—the Snake Stompers—continue to oppose the Kurita attackers on Quentin, and during a battle in the Fire Rift region the dispossessed Tetsuhara, piloting a borrowed Dragoon Vindicator, encounters the same Archer from Dromini VI, again in a critical situation. Together with Dragoon MechWarrior Dechan Fraser he rescues the Archer from a Snake Stompers ambush, only to find that he has twice now saved the life of none other than Jaime Wolf himself.
Draconis Combine Coordinator Takashi Kurita makes a personal appearance on Quentin to appraise the Dragoons' performance. He seems pleased with Colonel Wolf and his troops, and his parting words before boarding his DropShip to return to Luthien are to remind Tetsuhara to "be a dutiful samurai".
Over the next six months, Tetsuhara forges a personal friendship with Jaime Wolf. Wolf's Dragoons are headquartered in the city of Cerant on An Ting, though the individual regiments besides Alpha on An Ting are assigned to a number of other garrison worlds. Young Michi Noketsuna is assigned as Tetsuhara's aide and comes to regard him as his sensei.
On 12 November 3024 Galedon Military District Warlord Grieg Samsonov comes to inspect the Dragoons. Tetsuhara finds that Jerry Akuma is now a sho-sa (major), and aide to the Warlord. Samsonov confronts the Dragoons with allegations of incompetence and "arrogating command responsibility" during a recent mission on Courasin, and demands the Dragoon regiments be put under his direct command. Wolf and Tetsuhara, in his role as liaison officer, point out that this is in direct violation of the Dragoons' contract, and thus earn the Warlord's ire. When Samsonov threatens Wolf that he would have his way anyways due to his connections, Wolf all but dares him to try.
In the light of sterling service, it is only in a high-level meeting between the Coordinator and his inner circle on Luthien in December 3025 that Samsonov can begin to plot his revenge. By pointing out that the Dragoons have sent an officer to Galatea to review contract offers and thus apparently do not intend to renew their contract with the Combine which is due to run out in two years' time, he hopes to gain a leverage against them. However, Coordinator Takashi Kurita instead decrees that the Dragoons shall be ordered to teach their successful tactics to a new Kurita unit. Liaison officer Tetsuhara is to become commanding officer of that new unit, while Samsonov is given free reign to choose a replacement liaison officer for the Dragoons. The Coordinator also stresses that he does not want to lose the Dragoons' service, and notes that measures should be taken as precautions in case the Dragoons would go to work for an enemy of the Combine.
Book 2: LoyaltyEdit
By August 3026 the friendship between Jaime Wolf and Minobu Tetsuhara has deepened, even though the latter is no longer liaison officer to the Dragoons but commander of the Ryuken, the training cadre being built to adopt the Dragoon battlefield excellence. He is officially reinstated as a MechWarrior and assigned a DRG-1N Dragon. The new Dragoon liaison officer, meanwhile, is none other than Jerry Akuma, who immediately starts using his position to hamper and harass the Dragoons to the best of his abilities, by creating supply shortages and bureaucratic hurdles for them.
The first joint operation of Wolf's Dragoons and the Ryuken is an attack on Barlow's End in September 3026. After the Ryuken and Dragoon officers formulate a plan to acquire a certain prize from the Achernar Proving Grounds facility (a prototype later referred to as a jump stabilizer), Tetsuhara's hovercar is sabotaged by an inside agent and bombs are planted near the Ryuken field HQ on Barlow's End. When they go off during the night, Tetsuhara and Dragoon officer Kelly Yukinov use the car to reach their post and are injured when it crashes. Tetsuhara is maimed; he is evacuated on a Draconis Combine DropShip, and Akuma goes with him. (A later report by Akuma to Warlord Samsonov confirms that Akuma was responsible for the sabotage and implies that Akuma even tried to have Tetsuhara killed aboard the DropShip; he expressed regret at the physician's skill and ethic code.)
With both the Ryuken commander (Tetsuhara) and the Wolf's Dragoons liaison officer (Akuma) off-world, command falls to tai-sa (colonel) Elijah Satoh, a haughty but incompetent officer. The operation runs afoul of much stronger resistance than expected in the form of the White Witches and Eridani Light Horse mercenaries. Satoh cannot adapt to the changing situation and the attack unravels. The Dragoons only manage to destroy the prototype, not capture it, before being forced to retreat. Accusing the Dragoons of abandoning him, Satoh refuses to evacuate until his HQ comes under attack on the following day. At that point, Michi Noketsuna decides he is a liability for the Ryuken and shoots him after all others have left the HQ.
A month later, Warlord Samsonov is approached by the new ComStar Precentor on Galedon V, Alexandre Kalafon, who informs him about the disposition of disgruntled Dragoon MechWarrior Fadre Singh and knowledge Singh has about the Dragoons' "Hegira" plan which amounts to a full-scale exodus from Kurita space. He also delivers reports of the outcome of the Barlow's End battle. Infuriated by the unexpected loss and blaming it on the Dragoons, Samsonov decides to destroy the mercenaries.
Following his "accident" on Barlow's End, Tetsuhara has a prosthetic arm and leg. Jaime Wolf pays him a visit on An Ting on 24 November to discuss the deteriorating situation—the defeat on Barlow's End has given Samsonov leverage against the Dragoons. Shortly afterwards it is decreed that the Ryuken shall be expanded to five regiments under the Warlord's direct command and be deployed alongside the Dragoon regiments on their respective garrison worlds. Tetsuhara is to command the second Ryuken regiment, Ryuken-ni, on Misery while command of the first Ryuken regiment (Ryuken-ichi) on An Ting goes to Jerry Akuma, a calculated insult against Tetsuhara. He realizes that the Ryuken are becoming watchdogs over their Dragoon teachers as the relationship sours.
By April 3027 the supply situation of Wolf's Dragoons has become serious enough for them to launch unauthorized raids across the border. During one such raid against Udibi, the Federated Suns capture some of the attackers but send them back as messengers to make overtures to the Dragoons. Meanwhile on Benet III, the Dragoons' Black Widow Company runs into trouble after promised Kurita support fails to show. The Bounty Hunter corners Natasha Kerensky and informs her that he has a contract on her head, but feeling that he was abandoned by his employers he offers to join forces to fight their way off-world if the Widows will move his unit on their DropShip.
The Udibi raid has given Warlord Samsonov pretext to accuse the Dragoons of breach of contract and a number of other offenses, and Jaime Wolf is summoned to Luthien to defend for his unit's actions.
On Luthien, Samsonov and Akuma deliver a scathing assessment of the Dragoons' service before Coordinator Takashi Kurita, and Samsonov again demands that the Dragoons be placed under his direct command; he also demands death sentences for several commanders including Natasha Kerensky. Wolf, feeling his unit is prejudged, merely states that the Dragoons' command structure cannot be compromised, and refers to their own report on the situation as provided through a computer file upload.
Takashi Kurita points out to Samsonov that he is not to make demands of the Coordinator, and rules that the Dragoon command structure shall remain intact. After the shamed and furious warlord leaves, Kurita offers Wolf to improve his unit's supply situation and find a new liaison officer, and renews the offer to extend their contract. After Wolf leaves to think about the offer, Kurita feels that Samsonov's machinations have damaged the relationship between Wolf's Dragoons and the Draconis Combine beyond repair already and that Wolf will not return to accept the offer. Consequently, he orders recordings of the meeting be sent to ISF director Subhash Indrahar and muses about the hard, solitary choices that come with being Coordinator. His train of thoughts implies the decision to either tie Wolf's Dragoons to the Draconis Combine against their will, or destroy them before they can enter a new contract and work for the Combine's enemies.
Book 3: DutyEdit
Unlike on his trip to Luthien, House Kurita does nothing to expedite Jaime Wolf's return trip to An Ting. Upon his arrival on 2 January 3028 he learns that three Draconis Combine "civilians" were killed and five Dragoon soldiers injured in a barfight in what appears a set-up or subterfuge attack on the Dragoons. Public opinion turns against the Dragoons, implicitly because of propaganda and agitators, and riots break out. Wolf personally confronts one of the mob leaders, a man named Nitta, and tries to reason with him, but Nitta is shot by an unknown agency and the angry mob assaults Wolf and his entourage (including Stanford Blake and Anton Shadd) and Dragoon security guards with stunners are required to drive the crowd away. Shadd is sent to the local ComStar HPG compound to send a warning to the other Dragoon garrison worlds, but he reports that Kurita "civilians" with military equipment are patrolling around the HPG station and that the ComStar Adept informed him the HPG was forbidden for the "outlaw Dragoons".
Minobu Tetsuhara delivers the dead body of a gunman, whom he had spotted and shot with an arrow (implicitly the sniper who shot Nitta), and also brings Wolf's partner Marisha Dandridge to the relative safety of the HQ. Explaining that he must return to his regiment on Misery, he and Wolf have a sad goodbye; they both understand that Wolf will not give in to Kurita's demands and that Kurita in turn will not tolerate the Dragoons leaving his service to serve another empire, and that their respective paths thus seem to lead to conflict.
Shortly afterwards, Hephaestus Station broadcasts that it had been seized by "Kurita patriots"; station commander Kenneth Quo is shot on-camera when he urges the Dragoons to stand and fight instead of delivering a prepared speech.
In the early hours of 3 January, Jaime Wolf assembles all commanding officers from company command up and they vote to enact the Dragoons' "Hegira" contingency plan—Wolf's Dragoons feel the Draconis Combine has broken their contract, and they prepare to leave. Anton Shadd and elements of his Seventh Kommando are sent into the An Ting HPG station during the night, where they manage to overpower the staff and send off the message, but are then surrounded and killed to the last man. Ostensibly in response to the raid on the HPG, the terrorists aboard Hephaestus Station destroy the entire station, killing all aboard (including a Seventh Kommando team that was attempting to recapture the station). In the planning session that follows, an enraged Dragoon officer throws an item into a corner of the room where it hits a panel and reveals a hidden camera that Akuma used to spy on the Dragoons. Feeling that the Dragoons are now demoralized and divided anyways, Akuma orders the Ryuken-ichi to attack the Dragoons on An Ting.
The attack falters and devolves into more than a week of urban combat in Cerant during which the Ryuken-ichi are decimated. On 13 January, Akuma is confronted by his bodyguard Quinn at gunpoint who informs him that he has overstepped his bounds and failed, and would now have to pay the price. Before Quinn can kill Akuma, the building is in turn attacked by Dechan Fraser's Shadow Hawk and Quinn is killed; Akuma is subsequently incinerated by a laser blast as he tries to run.
In the aftermath of the fighting on An Ting, Jaime Wolf recalls all Dragoon units to Misery and issues a challenge to House Kurita, in part to distract them from the Dragoon dependents who are evacuating on a different route.
On Misery, Warlord Samsonov personally promotes Minobu Tetsuhara to tai-sho (general), gives him command of all Ryuken regiments plus several others, and charges him with eradicating Wolf's Dragoons on Misery. Over the next weeks, Wolf's Dragoons pull together at Farsund, on the eastern half of Borealis, the northern continent on Misery, while the Kurita regiments are initially spread out but then also concentrated at the Ryuken field HQ. Since the Dragoons only deploy BattleMechs, Tetsuhara opts to forego aerospace or vehicle support as well, assuming Wolf is offering him a traditional 'Mech battle.
Just after midnight on 23 April 3028, when the formal contract between Wolf's Dragoons and the Draconis Combine has run out, the Dragoon forces move out. During the first clashes, Fadre Singh is captured while leading a Kurita company. He is brought before Wolf, where he brags about having told Samsonov about Wolf's "bolthole" (implicitly, the Hegira plan). Natasha Kerensky shoots him on the spot.
Over the course of several weeks of fighting it becomes apparent that Samsonov has set up Tetsuhara, as promised reinforcements fail to show time after time. In a final battle on 20 May, the Dragoons break through the Ryuken ranks and attack the HQ. Tetsuhara can flee for a time and tries to rally his troops from his Dragon, but his 'Mech is eventually tracked down by Dechan Fraser's lance and he is captured.
Although treated more like a guest than a prisoner by Jaime Wolf, Tetsuhara decides that he must commit seppuku to atone for his failure to carry out his mission. He remains adamant even when Wolf points out that Samsonov did not properly support him and admits that the Dragoons tricked him, using his sense of honor against him, by placing satellites in orbit that Tetsuhara's forces remained unaware of because he (falsely) felt compelled to also forego the use of aerospace assets. Tetsuhara asks Wolf to be his kaishaku-nin for the ceremony, to which Wolf agrees unawares of what the role entails.
On 27 May 3028 Minobu Tetsuhara commits seppuku in the presence of Michi Noketsuna and the assembled command staff of Wolf's Dragoons. In his role as kaishaku-nin, Jaime Wolf shoots him with Noketsuna's laser pistol as he disembowels himself with his ritual sword. Afterwards, Wolf collects the swords and promises Noketsuna to arrange for a suitable delivery to Tetsuhara's family.
At the reception on 17 August 3028 leading up to the wedding of Hanse Davion and Melissa Steiner, Jaime Wolf appears in a Wolf's Dragoons dress uniform. He walks up to Coordinator Takashi Kurita, throws Tetsuhara's swords at his feet, and delivers a scathing address in fluent Japanese, berating the Coordinator for betraying and ruining a worthy underling and declaring war between Wolf's Dragoons and House Kurita. His face an unmoving mask, Takashi Kurita orders the death of whoever is responsible that news of the outcome of the Misery battle did not reach him earlier, and also demands the delivery of Warlord Grieg Samsonov's head.
- Jerry Akuma
- Quintus Allard
- Hamilton Atwyl
- Stanford Blake
- "Gentleman" Johnny Clavell
- Marisha Dandridge
- Hanse Davion
- Thom Dominguez
- Charles Earnst
- Dechan Fraser
- Keith Gatlin
- Willard Gibbs
- John Hayes
- Takiro Ikeda
- Alexandre Kalafon
- Natasha Kerensky
- Takashi Kurita
- Colin MacLaren
- Michi Noketsuna
- Kenneth Quo
- Grieg Samsonov
- Elijah Satoh
- Lynn Sheridan
- Fadre Singh
- Minobu Tetsuhara
- Tomiko Tetsuhara
- Calvin Wakeman
- Thomas West
- Jaime Wolf
- Frank Woomack
- Kelly Yukinov
- The Bounty Hunter
- Subhash Indrahar
- Michael Hasek-Davion
- Jason Carmody
- Anton Shadd
- Fuhito Tetsuhara
- Jackson Hayes
- Syovo Yorioshi
- Atlas (mentioned)
- Crusader; also, CRD-3L
- Ostroc (implicitly, also OSR-2C Ostroc Michi)
- Phoenix Hawk
- Shadow Hawk
- Leopard CV
- Overlord (Chieftain)
- unspecified DropShips Alabaster, Starblade, Winter Dragon, Wolf Pack One
- unspecified JumpShip Okomaru
- Wolves on the Border frequently ranks very high on fan ratings and polls and has consistently been named among the best BattleTech novels, if not the single best BattleTech novel, published so far (as of this writing in 2018).
- The BattleCorps stories Feather Versus Mountain and Rise and Shine are tie-ins to the novel, providing what amounts to an extra chapter. They describe the fighting in the city of Cerant on An Ting that leads up to Jerry Akuma's death in more detail, and shed some light on what happened after the novel's prologue scene with a focus on the minor character of chu-i Gibbs (whose first name was revealed as "Willard") and his strained relationship with Jerry Akuma.
- The novel Redemption Rift narrates how Wolf's Dragoons take up service with the Draconis Combine again in the Dark Age era to fight against the Federated Suns, a situation similar to the setup in Wolves on the Border a century earlier. The opening scene of Redemption Rift prominently involves an old piece of pottery crafted by Minobu Tetsuhara himself and the characters use it to remind themselves of the historical implications of the situation. (Throughout Wolves on the Border, Minobu Tetsuhara tries his hand at crafting and painting pieces of pottery.)
- The climactic epilogue scene at the wedding—Jaime Wolf throwing Minobu Tetsuhara's swords at Takashi Kurita's feet—was already mentioned (from a different perspective) in the previous BattleTech novel, Warrior: Riposte, which had been published five months earlier, but readers would not know the meaning of the commotion. Later sources imply that Takashi Kurita suffered a stroke during Wolf's address or shortly afterwards, yet managed to conceal it.
- Some scenes involving Wolf's Dragoons, particularly when they vote on Hegira, are recognizable as Clan tradition and terminology in hindsight, and many last names in the unit are either recognized Bloodnames or otherwise associated with people from Aleksandr Kerensky's Operation EXODUS. However, when Wolves on the Border was first published readers would not be aware of this as the Clans and their culture were only introduced in a subsequent novel (Lethal Heritage) that was published six months later. The true identity of Wolf's Dragoons as a scout and reconnaissance force for the Clans was a big reveal at that novel's conclusion.
- Natasha Kerensky's run-in with her arch-enemy, the Bounty Hunter, on Benet III where she agrees to evacuate his lance on her DropShip is the last time that this particular Bounty Hunter persona appeared in fiction. The Bounty Hunter's next appearance in fiction was after the persona was taken over by Michi Noketsuna on his quest of revenge following the events from Wolves on the Border. It was not explained what had transpired in the meantime.
- The 3024 battle on Courasin that Samsonov tries to use as a pretext for assuming direct command of the Dragoon regiments is a reference to the "Spider Trap" scenario from the Tales of the Black Widow Company scenario pack (pp. 20-21) where the Black Widow Company faces off against the 3rd Davion Guards and Lindon's Company on Remis III, aka "Coursadin".
- The 3027 raid on Udibi by a Dragoon contingent under Cpt. Frank Woomack as mentioned in this novel is a reference to the "Battle for Udibi" campaign from the The Fox's Teeth: Exploits of McKinnon's Raiders scenario pack, pp. 40-48, where it is erroneously dated May 3029. (In 3029 Wolf's Dragoons were in Federated Suns employ already.)