THE MERCENARY LIFE
SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE.
Epithets spit by Great House troops, but badges of honor embraced by the men and women who hear the call of freedom only the mercenary life can bring.
From their first recorded use in history by the Sumerian King Shulgi of Ur across four thousand years of warfare, nearly every empire has employed them. From dog soldiers to shock troops, the lowest dregs of a force to the finest soldiers on the field, mercenaries cover every gamut imaginable.
Whether you embrace the call yourself, swear fealty to a Great House, or were born into the military castes of the Clans: the mercenary flag stands tall across all of human occupied space.
Join us as we delve into mercenary life like never before!
A COST IS ALWAYS PAID…
Nikolai Reed is a trader on a Lyran JumpShip plying the space lanes…
Chloe Mason is a hot-shot tech with the Hsien Hotheads mercenaries…
Leaving the Highlanders, MechWarrior Ryana Nikol fills a billet with the Eridani Light Horse…
Disparate lives, but a unified dream that will bring them all together on a fateful course that will span decades, cover hundreds of light years, and involve love, friendship, and loss across a dozen worlds. Each will pay a price along the way,as a cost always comes due.
The Mercenary Life anthology is a compilation of stories written by Randall N. Bills. Including tales from several different characters as they cross, and the dream to found a new mercenary command is born. Their unique lives showcase the struggles and trials of the men and women who take up the mercenary mantle from a variety of angles, all bound around that central vision.
The first eight stories of this anthology were originally posted for free alongside the release of the MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, acting as the origin stories for the mercenary command within that computer game. This is the first time they have been compiled into a single volume to allow for a Print on Demand physical copy.
Additionally, an all-new ninth entry has been added—The Sun Will Rise—along with postscripts for every story that gives the reader insight into how stories are crafted within a shared universe between tabletop, computer games, and fiction that spans more than thirty years and tens of millions of words.
GRAY DEATH LEGION.
The titans of the mercenary field, these multi-regiment commands demand respect and fear in equal measure on every planet of human-occupied space.
But for every legendary command, there are hundreds of outfits living contract-by-contract, one step from destruction, such as Wilson’s Hussars.
From the veterans in Hansen’s Roughriders to the new-kids-on-the-block Black Thorns to the infamous Stealthy Tigers, mercenary commands run the gamut from the regiments to companies, professionals to opportunists, honorable to ill-reputed.
The outfits are legion.
The characters are unforgettable.
The myriad stories are legendary.
And one of the most storied commands of all to return…
A HISTORY THAT STRETCHES CENTURIES
ONE OF BATTLETECH’S MOST FAMOUS MERCENARY UNITS IS BACK!
Beginning April 2021, follow the Eridani Light Horse as they fight from the fall of the Star League through the rise of the ilClan!
Ten new stories written by some of BattleTech’s most storied authors, including: Craig A. Reed, Jr., Randall N. Bills, Jason Schmetzer, Michael J. Ciaravella, Joel Steverson, Chris Hussey, Jason Hansa, Daniel Isberner and Alan Brundage cover every era in the Horses’s long history.
ERIDANI LIGHT HORSE
Formed as the Star League Defense Force’s Third Regimental Combat Team in the early 28th Century, merely a few decades later the unit resisted troops sent by the Prince of Rasalhague “like spirited Eridani stallions chasing after fat, clumsy Luthien cows,” and thus the Eridani Light Horse (ELH) unit was born. Fighting through the whole Amaris Coup, the Eridani eventually fight all the way to Terra itself.
A MOMENT OF SILENCE
When General Aleksandr Kerensky departed the Inner Sphere to embark on the Exodus, the Eridani decided to remain behind, their connection to their home even stronger than their loyalty to the General. They nurture the hope that one day the SLDF will return. To mark the occasion, the Eridani remove the Star League flag and lower their flag to half-staff. It will only be raised once again when the SLDF returns to the Inner Sphere. It is a tradition that has been maintained for generations.
AS THE SUCCESSION WARS RAGE ON…
THE DRAGON, THE SWORD, THE FIST, THE EAGLE, AND THE DAO.
After the fall of the Star League, the Eridani made for safer pastures, but an overzealous Combine administrator captured and killed their dependents in a failed bid to keep the Light Horse in the Draconis Combine. Eridani vengeance was swift and absolute.
After the Sendai Massacre, the Light Horse went on to fight first for the Free Worlds League, then the Lyran Commonwealth, and then the Federated Suns. For three centuries, the Eridani fought for nearly every Great House, eventually ending up with the Federated Commonwealth.
ALL HOPE LOST…
The Clan Invasion shattered the hope that had sustained the Eridani Light Horse since Kerensky’s Exodus. Forced to accept the truth, the 71st Light Horse regiment is shattered by the Jade Falcons in 3053. Rebuilt a short time later, the re-formed 71st defeated every Jade Falcon attack thrown at them, and was part of the coalition force that liberated Coventry in 3058.
…AND HOPE RETURNED
THE STAR LEAGUE REBORN
Shocked by the re-formation of the Star League, the Eridani Light Horse became the first combat command of the new SLDF. Their mission: destroy Clan Smoke Jaguar. Assigned to Task Force Serpent, the Light Horse traveled to Huntress, homeworld of the Smoke Jaguars. There, the ELH brought the full fury of the new Star League with them, paying a heavy price during the battle. Devastated by the vicious fighting, the victorious Light Horse survivors witnessed the Great Refusal and end of the Clan Invasion.
Returning home to a hero’s welcome, the ELH were so overwhelmed with new recruits that they were able to rebuild the long-destroyed Nineteenth Striker regiment.
EDGE OF EXTERMINATION
When the Jihad began, the Eridani’s 21st & 19th regiments were on Dieron, the 71st was on Huntress, and the 151st was returning from the Clan Homeworlds. After the Word of Blake destroyed most of the ELH on Dieron, the 71st was forced to endure an endless series of Clan Trials to survive, but they were eventually absorbed by the Goliath Scorpions. The 151st was annihilated by Blakist orbital fire. Across the galaxy, the ELH was pushed to the brink of extinction.
DARK CHALLENGES & REBIRTH
By 3144, a slowly-rebuilt Eridani Light Horse was defending itself against the predations of Clan Jade Falcon and now also the Hell’s Horses. Abandoned by their employer, the intense fighting between the mercenaries and the Clansmen left few surviving Light Horse warriors. Those that escaped the carnage were hunted down to the last soldier.
Has the fabled story of the Eridani Light Horse come to an end, or is there some spirit left in the stallions?
AND THIS IS JUST THE START…
Look for future mercenary action on all fronts, including another anthology of all-new fiction that will include the best of the already-named above outfits, along with such units as Avanti’s Angels, McCarron’s Armored Cavalry, Hansen’s Roughriders and more, including several brand new commands premiering in this volume!
HAVE ’MECH, WILL TRAVEL
Catch up on centuries of mercenary action with these titles…
OTP: Death to Mercenaries
OTP: Red Corsair
SO: Crescent Hawks
SO: Holt’s Hilltoppers
Field Manual: Mercenaries
FM: Mercenaries Supplemental I
FM: Mercenaries Supplemental II
FM: Mercenaries Update
Era Report: 3145
Field Manual: 3145
Combat Manual: Mercenaries
TRO 3145: Mercenaries
Recognition Guide Series
Catch up on centuries of mercenary action with these titles…
Decision at Thunder Rift
The Price of Glory
Wolves on the Border
Kell Hounds Ascendant
Tactics of Duty
Hearts of Chaos
Impetus of War
The Dying Time
Embers of War