Bolo: Honor of the Regiment


My forty-seven pairs of flint-steel roadwheels are in depot condition. Their tires of spun ber~yl~lium monocrystal, woven to deform rather than compress, all have 97% or better of their fabric unbroken. The immediate terrain is semi-arid. The briefing files inform me this is typical of the planet. My track links purr among themselves as they grind through scrub vegetation and the friable soil, carrying me to my assigned mission.

There is a cataclysmic fuel-air explosion to the east behind me. The glare is visible for 5.3 seconds, and the ground will shake for many minutes as shock waves echo through the planetary mantle.

Had my human superiors so chosen, I could be replacing Saratoga at the spearhead of the attack.

The rear elements of the infantry are in sight now. They look like dung beetles in their hard suits, crawling backward beneath a rain of shrapnel. I am within range of their low-power communications net. "Hold what you got, troops," orders the unit's acting commander. "Big Brother's come to help!"

I am not Big Brother. I am Maldon, a Mark XXX Bolo of the 3rd Battalion, Dinochrome Brigade. The lineage of our unit goes back to the 2nd South Wessex Dragoons. In 1944, we broke the last German resistance on the path to Falaise—though we traded our flimsy Cromwells against the Tigers at a ration of six to one to do it.

The citizens do not need to know what the cost is. They need only to know that the mission has been accomplished. The battle honors welded to my turret prove that I have always accomplished my mission.

Cover art by Paul Alexander

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This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.

First printing, September 1993

Distributed by Simon & Schuster
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New York, NY 10020

Printed in the United States of America

A Baen Books Original
Baen Publishing Enterprises
P.O. Box 1403
Riverdale, NY 10471

ISBN: 0-671-72184-4

Copyright (c) 1993 by Bill Fawcett and Associates

"Lost Legion" copyright (c) 1993 by S.M. Stirling,
"Camelot" copyright (c) 1993 by S.N. Lewitt,
"The Legacy of Leonidas" copyright (c) 1993 by J. Andrew Keith,
"Ploughshare" copyright (c) 1993 by Todd Johnson,
"Ghosts" copyright (c) 1993 by Mike Resnick & Barry N. Malzberg,
"The Ghost of Resartus" copyright (c) 1993 by Christopher Stasheff,
"Operation Desert Fox" copyright (c) 1993 by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon, and
"As Our Strength Lessens" copyright (c) 1993 by David Drake.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.

Production by Windhaven Press
Auburn, NH

Electronic version by WebWrights

Baen Books By Keith Laumer

The Retief Series

Retief and the Rascals
Reward for Retief
Retief's War
Retief and the Warlords
Retief: Diplomat at Arms
Retief: Envoy to New Worlds
Retief of the CDT
Retief to the Rescue
Retief and the Pangalactic Pageant of Pulchritrude
Retief in the Ruins
The Compleat Bolo
Alien Minds
Dinosaur Beach
A Plague of Demons
The Ultimax Man
Zone Yellow
Judson's Eden
Time Trap
The Stars Must Wait
Star Treasure

(with Rosel George Brown)

Bolos: Honor of the Regiment