Best Served Cold is a BattleTech fanfic written by ErikModi, posted originally to the BattleTech Forums and copied by the author to Spacebattles. Inspired by the tale of Clan Wolverine as told in Betrayal of Ideals, Best Served Cold asks where Clan Wolverine went, what they became, and what if they decided to reveal themselves early in the Clan Invasion of 3050?
The original story is complete, with an epilogue touching on events up to 3062. A new chapter (under a new subtitle, To Hold Back The Dark) was recently added, set in 3086 and showing the Wolverines learning of the Wars of Reaving. This potentially kicks off a continuation of the fic, showing how the Wolverines fit in around the events of the Jihad and foundation of the Republic of the Sphere.
Best Served Cold contains examples of:
- Action Girl: Our main character, Lilly, is an accomplished MechWarrior and officer. Her Command Star also happens to have all female warriors, and her force doubtless contains others. They kick all kinds of Smoke Jaguar ass. Lilly's mother, Khan Jennifer McEvedy, also certainly qualifies.
- Alternate Continuity: Mild. The Wolverines could be out doing their thing in the background of the canonical events, and for some reason no one ever talks about them. The only major divergence is Natasha Kerensky and Phelan seeking them out when, canonically, they were still involved in Clan Wolf's press deeper into the Free Rasalhague Republic.
- Berserk Button: Hearing about the Smoke Jaguar Orbital Bombardment of Turtle Bay redoubled the Wolverines' zeal to punish them. Actually seeing what's left when they finally get there results in a mild Heroic BSoD, and Lilly foregoing her plans to fight the other Clans in favor of focusing exclusively on Smoke Jaguar.
- Best Served Cold: It's right there in the title. Two hundred and fifty years have passed since the Trial of Annihilation on Clan Wolverine, but the survivors have neither forgiven nor forgotten. Lilly's initial goal is to use the opportunity of the Clan Invasion to wipe out the Clans as the Clans tried to do to them, before she comes to the realization that this would be both impractical and unethical.
- Bilingual Bonus: Theodore Kurita ends his call to the Wolverines in the (seemingly) final chapter with sumimasen. Roughly meaning "sorry," but it's bit more layered than that. It's a common apology, but also used to mean "excuse me," or "sorry I inconvenienced you," if you should stop a stranger to ask for directions or if someone kindly holds a door open for you. Theodore is apologizing for requesting to "negotiate terms by which (he) will allow (the Wolverines) to move through Combine space," since as the military commander of the Draconis Combine he can't just let unknown military forces move through his territory with no official permission, but he also recognizes this is a valuable ally (or at least, valuable disinterested third party) and doesn't want to antagonize or offend them.
- Bookends: The fic opens with Clan Wolverine assaulting a Clan Smoke Jaguar garrison unit in their occupation zone, heralding the start of the fight with their Battle Cry of WOLVERINES! It ends (temporarily) with another group of Wolverine warriors attacking Clan Wolf in their occupation zone in 3062, with the same battle cry.
- Continuity Nod:
- The Wolverines use "query affirmative/negative" and "affirmative/negative" instead of the common Clan "quiaff/quineg" and "aff/neg." Betrayal of Ideals shows the Clans not having contracted and shortened those terms yet.
- Similarly, the Wolverines use the call-and-response form of their battlecry, as they did in that novel.
- The startup sequence for Lilly's Pulverizer borrows elements from both MechWarrior and HBS BattleTech.Computer: Reactor online. Command interface engaged. Communications online. C3 network awaiting master signal. Sensors online. Weapons online. Receiving C3 master signal. C3 network stable. All systems nominal.
- For that mater, the Pulverizer was in some ways Clan Wolverine's signature 'Mech, used to great effect most notably by Franklin Hallis.
- How We Got Here: The first chapter opens with some Smoke Jaguars about to be obliterated by Wolverines. The story then jumps back to show how Lilly and her small command became aware of the Clan Invasion and decided to strike out against it.
- Loophole Abuse: Natasha Kerensky abuses the hegira rules to the point of breaking when she uses them to grant Lilly safe passage away from the Clan Grand Council, based on their much earlier Trial of Grievance. That's likely not at all how hegira is meant to work, but by the time anyone could get that sorted out, Lilly's long gone.
- Nightmare Fuel: In-Universe, The Not-Named Clan is this for the Clans. Exactly as Nicholas Kerensky intended. Phelan muses at one point that, while the official Clan history certainly makes for unpleasant reading, approaching it later in life as an intelligence briefing robs it of much of the intended emotional impact. Natasha Kerensky, on the other hand, was raised in the Clans, with the story of Wolverines and Annihlation lurking like a monster under the bed.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Phelan first realizes the gravity of the meaning behind the Wolverine sigil when he sees how it frightens Natasha "Black Widow" Kerensky. On the other end of the spectrum, Lilly becomes very wary when she realizes that Ulric Kerensky, rather than being frightened of the return of Clan Wolverine, seems to find it funny, immediately wondering what he knows that she doesn't.
- Power Armor: Clan Wolverine has their Feral PowerArmor. However, because they were removed from the Clans proper very early in their history, they have not kept up with the eugenics programs that bred the Elemental phenotype, nor have they expanded their PowerArmor research as quickly. They start with an Ultralight PowerArmor that, in game terms, will die in one shot from just about any weapon you can mount on a BattleMech, though they later upgrade to Light BattleArmor that has significantly more protection (though still almost half what Clan Elemental armor offers). Though there is a bright side. Like the Clans, Clan Wolverine's PowerArmor development was based on the Nighthawk suits of the Star League Defense Force, but where the Clans (initially) felt Stealth Armor to be dishonorable, Clan Wolverine considered it practical. Thus, their Power Armor has Improved Stealth Armor (something no one else in the setting will devise for another seven years).
- Rank Up: Lilly starts the story as a Star Captain, soon gets promoted to Star Colonel as she leads a (small) Cluster, and her last appearance in the narrative gives her rank as saKhan, with the implication she's on the path to becoming the Wolverines' next Khan. To Hold Back The Dark confirms she is now Khan of Clan Wolverine, with her Number Two from the main fic, Robina MacLeish Jung-Ja, serving as saKhan.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lilly drops a short but succinct one on the Clan Grand Council near the end.Lilly: As if we want to be part of your collective of bellicose arrogance. We are quite happy with what we have made for ourselves, far from you and the so-called 'great vision' of Nicholas Kerensky. But remember this well: You made us monsters. You made us your nightmare. Reject the truth now, and you abdicate your right to complain when we embrace it. In the black gulf between stars, we lurk. Behind the next hill of every world, we wait. Every time you claim a prize, you can lie awake at night wondering when Clan Wolverine will come and take it away.
- Rite of Passage Name Change: Clan Wolverine retains Bloodnames, but with a twist. Rather than taking the name of one of the founders of Clan Wolverine you're matrilineally related to, Clan Wolverine Bloodnames honor one of the seventy-eight survivors of the Annihilation who hid on the surface of Barbados. How many Bloodrights exist per Bloodname and what the standards are for obtaining one remains unexplored, but Lilly mentions her goal of obtaining "a warrior's Bloodname" and earns the same Bloodname as her mother, Walter, and her husband Andrei notes that a fellow scientist earned his Bloodname for a report on a supernova, so Bloodnames are not restricted to being won in combat by Warriors.
- Desperately trying to think of something to say to mark the historic moment of Clan Wolverine finally engaging the other Clans, the only thing Lilly can come up with is:
- When Khan Lincoln Osis rants that Clan Wolverine has no chance to prevail against the might of the Clans, Lilly agrees.
- Sins of Our Fathers: Triply so in Natasha Kerensky's case. Lilly points out how her abundance of spider iconography is basically proudly announcing her Widowmaker heritage, she's a Khan of Clan Wolf, and bears the Kerensky Bloodname. As Lilly puts it, Clan Widowmaker aimed the gun, Clan Wolf fired it, and Nicholas Kerensky gave the order, making Natasha three times over a symbol of everyone responsible for every scar on Clan Wolverine's collective psyche.
- Soldier Versus Warrior: Clan Wolverine are still very definitely soldiers, in direct contrast to the Warriors of the Clans. Notably, Lilly's starting Command Trinary consists of the five 'Mechs of her Command Star, the five heavy vehicles of Thunder Star, the five artillery tanks of Lightning Star, and she attaches a Star of Feral PowerArmor, inventing the Wolverines' "Reinforced Trinary." To the Clans, ten vehicles, not five, is a "proper" Star, because conventional vehicles are so much less than BattleMechs (this is a very wrong-headed assertion on the Clans' part). The non-artillery and non-BattleArmor segments of Wolverine Trinaries are also linked by C3 computers, granting the Wolverines exceptional coordination. TAG is standard equipment on Wolverine front-line units, and their artillery pieces have twin Arrow IV launchers with "sufficient" standard and homing missiles. They dispense with the Clan batchall, bidding, and zellbrigen, landing whatever force they think is sufficient to achieve their objective, and in battle focus on removing whatever target is currently most attractive with whatever firepower can be brought to bear on it.
- Tranquil Fury: In their Trial of Grievance, Natasha notes that Lilly is powered by huge, raw, and not unjustified rage, but it's the icy kind of rage that makes an opponent more dangerous, not less. In general, this is pretty much the default state of Clan Wolverine as a whole. . . it's been two-hundred fifty years, but they remember, and they're not happy.
- Wham Line: After being properly introduced to Lilly and spending some time in her head, we learn her last name when a subordinate addresses her.Star Commander Robina: You are finished, Star Captain McEvedy, query affirmative?