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Fanfic / Along Came a Spider

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Along Came a Spider is a BattleTech fanfic written by drakensis in 2015 for NaNoWriMo.

The story re-envisages the Clan Invasion with one key difference: the Federated Commonwealth has known about the Clans for twenty years and prepared accordingly. Kai Allard-Liao and Vladimir of the Wards provide main viewpoints from the frontlines while a broad cast of characters address the political and military developments across the Inner Sphere.

Along Came A Spider provides examples of the next tropes:

  • Ace Pilot: Kai Allard-Liao, his sister Cassandra, Natasha Kerensky
  • Alternate Universe: Jaime Wolf dies in the Fourth Succession War, leaving Natasha Kerensky in charge of the Wolf Dragoons and responsible for preparing the Inner Sphere to fight the Clans.
  • Anti-Air: Kai Allard-Liao rides a Rifleman, a 'Mech specifically designed for air defense. While he's incredibly effective using it against other 'Mechs, he spends a lot of his time using it to defend his command against air attacks.
  • Arch-Enemy: Both the Inner Sphere and Clans have factions that have difficulty not turning on each other despite the larger war.
  • Ascended Extra: Dave Jewell was a Red Shirt in canon whose only significance was that Kai used his name and identification as an alias when he was left for dead on Alyina. He ends up Spared by the Adaptation here, being Kaiís aide de camp when he isnít recovering from losing a leg during an ejection.
  • Benevolent Boss: Caradoc Trevana to Kai. Candace Liao to Sun-Tzu. Hanse and Melissa in general.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The Battle of Luthien, where seven Galaxies face off against more than twenty Battlemech regiments.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: The Clan leaders, the Khans, are almost invariably elite warriors but they are escorted by a keshiks - bodyguard units of proteges who mostly aspire to one day be elites.
  • Boring, but Practical: Although assault 'Mechs are around seen occasionally, the bulk of the battles are fought with more affordable medium and heavy 'Mechs.
    • Similarly the AFFC keeps its warships rather than sending them to the frontlines.
  • Broken Ace: Kai Allard-Liao.
  • Capital Offensive: The Clans have the overall goal of reaching Terra. It doesn't occur to most of their leaders that the Federated Commonwealth couldn't care less about Terra.
    • Even when the Nova Cats launch an offensive towards Tharkad, they still see Terra as their overall goal.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Anastaisus Focht.
  • Death by Adaptation: Sharilar Mori is killed after a Just Between You and Me moment with Primus Waterly after she is found out to be a Draconis Combine plant.
  • Decisive Battle: Subverted, since the Federated Commonwealth are trading space for time and grinding down the Clans (whose logistics can't support extended heavy combat).
    • The Battle of Luthien looks like this but actually fails to settle anything, since both sides are crippled by the losses they take.
  • Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Subverted as the Federated Commonwealth couldn't care less who rules Terra, something that Myndo Waterly probably can't even comprehend.
  • Ensign Newbie: Kai Allard-Liao.
  • Exact Words: Pointed out by Victor Steiner-Davion when his father promises he is not trying to marry him off to Cassandra Allard-Liao.
    Victor: To be honest, mentioning Cassandra and not her twin [sister] isn't as subtle as you think.
  • Fantastic Rank System: The Clans play it straight. The AFFC and DCMS may seem to be also following this but their ranks are simply German and Japanese translations of Common Ranks.
  • Foreshadowing: Unsubtlely, the story cuts from the Nova Cat's talking about how a legend must die to Kai Allard-Liao powering up his mech, Legendkiller.
  • General Failure: Sharon Bryan of the 11th Lyran Guards.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Ghost Bears really regretted opening the Invasion Zones to the Home Clans.
  • Goomba Stomp: Twice, both times to people who were fighting Kai Allard-Liao.
  • Hero of Another Story: Theodore Kurita didn't have twenty years to prepare for the Clans or equivalent military technology but somehow still manages to bring the Draconis Combine through the Invasion as an intact, if bloodied nation.
  • Home by Christmas: The majority of the Khans start the fic convinced that they'll conquer the Inner Sphere with ease. They made the same mistake in canon, ending in utter disaster; here they don't even have the element of surprise they did in canon.
  • Home Field Advantage: The keystone of the Federated Commonwealth's strategy - they've spent decades preparing for the invasion.
  • Karmic Death: Elias Crichell causes his own political downfall as a direct result of his treating his deputies as expendable and replaceable minions.
  • Last Stand: Aidan Pryde chooses to die fighting.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: At one point a single 'Mech is targeted by over a hundred long range missiles at once.
  • Mrs. Robinson: Natasha Kerensky orders Santin to be in her quarters at night. She's 58 years older than he is.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: As the ideological factions among the Clans break down, the individual Clans become more internally cohesive... and more inclined to turn on each other.
  • No Place for a Warrior: Subverted by Justin Allard who points out to Theodore Kurita that their children have had the chance to grow up in the longest period of peace that the Inner Sphere has known since the start of the Succession Wars (twenty years out of almost three hundred).
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Several times the use of nuclear missiles is noted to be a tactic being held in reserve, only to be used as an absolute last resort.
  • Oh, Crap!: Conal Ward on learning the man he's been pushing as a candidate for Khan is dead.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Natasha addresses Hanse, Justin and Ardan politely by their correct titles. Hanse immediately pauses the conversation to have security prepare for problems on a planetary level.
  • Praetorian Guard: Numerous, ranging from the Keshiks that escort the Clan Khans to the various regiments around the leaders of the Successor States. The First Royal Guards fail to live up to this, leading to the Second Royal Guards taking over their prestigious role guarding the Archon when she's on the throne.
  • Pretext for War: Myndo Waterly manufactures grounds to try to overthrow the Federated Commonwealth.
  • Prevent the War: At the same time they're each waging war on a vast scale against the Clans, the Federated Commonwealth and Draconis Combine each have to watch out for hotheads likely to start a war between them, forcing them to divert strategic assets that their leaders can use as examples for why such a conflict would be so costly.
  • Powered Armor: The Clans have Elemental power armour, something the Federated Commonwealth haven't managed to duplicate yet.
  • Prophecy Twist: The Nova Cats, a clan known for its mysticism, received visions stating a legend must die for their invasion to succeed. As mentioned below in Straight for the Commander, they start looking for great commanders. They realize what it truly meant when Kai, piloting a 'Mech his father used on Solaris VII, Legend Killer took out the IlKhan. This fulfilled that part of the vision, but it led to a different route to their objective: they made a truce with the Federated Commonwealth, allowing them free passage to Terra, particularly since ComStar was getting nasty.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Frequently. Clan Steel Viper's entire invasion is string of these, paying such a brutal cost for their victories that they can't resist a coordinated counter-attack.
    • The destruction of the FCS Liberty.
  • Rank Up: Kai and Doc both get promoted for their hard work. Above them, General Kimmel becomes a Marshal.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Katherine Steiner-Davion, who somehow avoided military service in canon, is noted to be training to join the AFFC Medical Corps.
    • Her brother Victor serves as a military officer and diplomatic envoy.
  • Soldier vs. Warrior: AFFC vs the Clans.
  • Start My Own: two Clans splinter as a result of the invasion.
  • Straight for the Commander: Clan Nova Cat are following a prophecy that states a legend must die so they specifically seek out enemy commanders of note.
  • Super-Soldier: The Clans' trueborn warriors.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: The AFFC's basic plan for the early stages of the invasion is to have their troops retreat to prepared defensive lines after bloodying the Clans a little, since it'll take time to move up reinforcements in sufficient numbers to fight back effectively.
  • Tanks for Nothing: Mostly averted. Sharon Bryan criminally misuses her supporting tank regiments but she's the exception.
  • Tank Goodness: The AFFC lavished as much attention on upgrading their tanks as they did to 'Mechs, letting them make good use of tanks against the Clans.
  • Trading Bars for Stripes: Mechwarrior Diana volunteers to fight for the AFFC as an alternative to a POW camp.
  • The Cavalry: Right as Kai and his command is about to be overwhelmed by the Steel Vipers, his sister Cassandra and the Ishara's Grenadiers regiment of the CCAF combat drop into the battle to turn the tide.
  • The War Room: Nondi Steiner and Ardan Sortek oversee the war effort from a command centre buried under a mountain, with the nerve centre having not one but four wall-spanning screens (the room is hexagonal).
  • Up Through the Ranks: Feldwebel (sergeant) Dave Jewell is sent to command school to become an officer.
  • War Is Hell: The AFFC's preparations for the Clan Invasion include training up more psychiatrists to deal with the expected thousands of shell-shocked soldiers.
  • You Are in Command Now: Kai Allard-Liao finds himself in this position after the 11th Lyran Guards' first encounter with the Clans
    • The entire fic premise, with Natasha inheriting command of the Wolf Dragoons after Jaime Wolf dies on Crossing.