The Story of Maria Seydlitz by Rich
A/N: The next chapter of "The Youngstown Campaign" isn't ready yet. But here's a bit of "backstory" that I think can stand on it's own
Generations ago, her family had lived by the gun. But Maria had been a preschool teacher, like her parents and grandparents, with a young husband and a year old son. It had taken the Clans two hours to take all of that from her. In rage and grief, she had turned to the ways of her ancestors.
She hadn't always been a quick student, but she was a thorough one. She learned about weapons. She studied the tactics of covert war. She even learned to pilot the mech which her group of freedom-fighters stole from a poorly guarded supply dump.
She never expected to win her private war; in fact, she never intended to survive it. But on an undercover scouting mission, luck had thrown her in the path of Ian Youngblood and Jack Fetterman, two warriors barely older than herself. The Rangers were an understrength company then, fresh from defeating the bandits who had tried to extort the Horsebreaker Mining company on New Moab. With only two lances (one light and one medium), they couldn't hope to stand against the Jade Falcon Clan. But Youngblood knew a secret, which really was no secret at all.
In the Clans, almost every dispute is settled with Trial by Combat; and a challenge can not go unanswered without shame. Youngblood challenged the Falcons to a Trial of Position, seeking a rank within the Clan. This set off a frenzy of competition among the warriors, who challenged each other for the privilege of humiliating the impudent freeborn. In the end, Younglood and Fetterman faced off against the Clan's best fighters.
The Clansmen may not have known, and would not have cared, that Youngblood and Fetterman had placed first and second, respectively, in the arena on Solaris. The two men systematically outmaneuvered, outshot, and outlasted all six of their opponents. At the end, their own mechs were barely standing - but stand they did. They had earned their place in the Clan.
Then Youngblood challenged again, for possession of Maria's world. That was unprecedented, but it was allowed; if only because it would give the Clan the excuse to rid themselves of the arrogant interloper. This time, the battle was one-on-one, between Ian Youngblood and the Clan's chosen champion. When the smoke cleared, Ian Youngblood, by the Clan's own law, owned a world.
He didn't want it, of course. He just wanted the Clan to leave and never return (and salvage rights to the mechs he'd defeated -that went without saying). The Clan could have refused, but only if they were willing to challenge him
. It seemed that for some reason no one was in any hurry to do that.*
Youngblood and Fetterman had gone back to New Moab, with enough salvaged mechs to equip a third lance. Maria had healed and returned to teaching. She married again and had two more children. She also served in, and eventually commanded, the local militia company. She practiced regularly with her aging but still serviceable mech.
Fifteen years later, the Word of Blake launched their Jihad. As she buried her second husband, holding the hand of her surviving child, she was once again siezed by rage and grief. This time, she knew who to call.
* There's a story about William Marshall of England, who supposedly fought and won something like 300 battles, duels, and tournaments in the Middle Ages. The story goes that Prince John (yes, that
Prince John) once made a remark that Marshall found offensive. Since he couldn't legally challenge his sovereign, he offered to fight any other knight in the court. No one dared accept the challenge, even though Marshall was over seventy at the time. It probably never happened, but it's still a good story.