A Call to Arms
|A Call to Arms|
|Author||Loren L. Coleman|
|Cover artwork||Ray Lundgren|
|First published||4 February, 2003|
|Era||Dark Age era|
|Series||MechWarrior: Dark Age Novels|
|Preceded by||Ghost War|
|Followed by||The Ruins of Power|
 From the back cover
|“|| Months have passed since the interplanetary communications net was destroyed, isolating planets across the Republic of the Sphere. Achernar is one of the few worlds still in possession of a working Hyperpulse Generator Station, a device that enables communications across the galaxy—and a much sought after prize for the splintering factions of the Republic...
After failing to qualify as an active MechWarrior, Raul Ortega finds some solace in the Republic's military reserves on Archenar and dreams of of the day he might know the adventure and glory of real combat. The Republic-loyal forces of Archenar are supported by a loose alliance with the Swordsworn, a faction pledged to House Davion, whose leaders have an agenda all their own.
When the planet falls under siege by yet another splinter group, the Steel Wolves, who are intent on capturing the HPG station, Raul is called to active duty. But when the Swordsworn desert Archenar in its time of need, Raul discovers that there's little honor in the subtle nuisances of treachery and the brutal realities of war...
 Plot summary
Raul Ortega is piloting his Legionnaire battlemech on Achernar's Highlake Basin. He comes into contact with an enemy JES I and with a quick burst of his 'mech's autocannon, easily destroys the vehicle. The fire that comes out from the vehicle looks odd, it looks fake. This is where we find that he is in a Mark III simulator in his final test to see if he is going to become the new MechWarrior for the planet's milita, or if he is going to become a new "desk commander." Unfortunately for him, his rival, who also has the same marks in academics and practical standings, is also vying for the MechWarrior role for the militia. The winner of the simulation graduates to fill the role that the militia needs.
The simulated battle is intense with each pilot pushing towards victory, than having to fall back in order stave off defeat. Through simulated destruction, each pilot is left with a near destroyed mech that has been pushed to the ground. Raul raises his mech so that it is on its knees, getting ready to take one last pull of his cannon to destroy the enemy pilot in order to gain victory. He pulls the trigger, and the screen goes black.
Someone bangs on his simulator to mark that the simulation is finished. Raul believes that he was able to get the final shot off before the enemy battle armor was able to break through his cockpit's shield. To his dismay, he hears the other cadets screaming with congratulatory cheers as the Achernar Militia has its new MechWarrior pilot. Charal DePriest.
Raul Ortega, two years after losing his graduation battle, is one of the customs officers at the San Marino Spaceport on Achernar. During one of his shift's, he was summoned to travel to a landing pad to deal with a situation that was happening. A dropship had landed and an argument was going on about what to do about a certain piece of cargo. The cargo, was a Ryoken II owned by a MechWarrior called Tassa Kay. She was arguing that the 'mech was hers so she did not have to hand it over, but the one she was arguing was quoting the law of The Republic which said that all personal 'mechs were to be handed over to the military. Ortega came over and suggested that Customs should hold the 'mech while she is on planet, that way she can keep ownership while following the law of the planet. Kay agreed to that statement, and to help end the dispute, she handed Ortega an Exarch proclamation from Damien Redburn that stated that Tassa Kay is an outstanding Republic citizen and that the Ryoken II is to remain her battlemech.
Erik Sandoval-Groell was sent to Achernar by his uncle, Duke Aaron Sandoval II of Tikonov, to secure the planet in the name of the Swordsworn and more importantly the working HPG communication relay. Erik, received a data crystal which relayed a message from his uncle, stating that his mission is still to secure the planet, but to keep the HPG out of the hands of another splinter group in the Republic, the Steel Wolves, which is trying to create an information network which no other faction has since the collapse. The message ends with the duke telling Erik, that failure is not an option, especially since his failed mission on Mara.
Star Colonel Torrent, winner of the bid to invade Achernar and one of the three commanders of the Steel Wolves clusters, prepares his forces for the jump into the system and to the inevitable invasion of the planet. He is taken aside by Star Colonel Colton Fetladral who wanted to remind Torrent that his invasion is part of a grander scheme. Knight-Errant Kyle Powers of the Republic of the Sphere is on the planet of Ronel, the same planet Fetladral is invading, and Torrent's invasion is a ruse to get the Knight to travel to Achernar to allow Ronel to be more easily taken. The same plan that Kal Radick, Galaxy Commander of the Steel Wolves, came up with. Torrent believes that he bid well on his invasion force to not only achieve the objective of luring Powers away from Ronel, but to wrest control of the planet away from The Republic.
 Battle Begins
On the 16th of February 3133, Star Colonel Torrent contacts the Republic militia's command post telling them that he will be landing his dropships in the Highlake Basin, the same location where Ortega lost his simulator battle against DePriest three years ago, and asking for uncontested landing on the planet. When Colonel Blair denies the request, Torrent than asks with what forces he will bring in the defense of Achernar. Blair tells him he will bring everything that he has to defend the planet. "All you have set against all I have?" Torrent paused, shrugged. "Bargained well and done."
Torrent began by using his AeroSpace Fighters as a ground-strafing attack to allow his dropships to freely land on the planet and to allow his forces to disembark without having to worry about the militia's aerial assets. Once his forces were on the ground, he continued the assault by probing the defenses of the militia and the Swordsworn, not really putting a huge push to break through their lines.
Erik Sandoval-Groell force marched his men the two klicks over the Taibek Hills in order to link up with the militia to extend the line of defense and to help repel the probes that the Steel Wolves were making. His goal is to break off the line and move more towards the northwest of the militia in order to be on the "safer" flank of the Wolves. This is to allow his men to get combat experience from repelling any probes the Wolves send, but not being in the bigger fight between the Wolves and the planet's militia. After all, he commands a much smaller force than either of them, and his primary goal is to secure the HPG on the planet.
Tassa Kay and Raul Ortega ride their respective 'mech to the front lines to help in the defense. Raul wants to stay in the defensive line that is forming with the other militia to keep the Wolves from advancing. Tassa on the other hand wants to push through the Wolves line and do as much damage as possible. Ortega goes along with her plan since she has more combat experience and that he is infatuated with her because she lives the life that he has always wanted to. Their counter-attack breaks through the invader's lines which make them have to fall back to regroup. The Wolves decide to halt any more probes for the day because of something they have noticed. The Ryoken II battlemech is more advanced than anything the intelligence has gathered on the forces of the militia and Swordsworn. Torrent begins to doubt whether or not he can take the planet if their are any more forces that he does not know about which the militia might be able to field.
With the assault on Achernar, Knight-Errant Kyle Powers has been relocated to help the defense of the planet. The main goal of the Steel Wolves has been achieved. However, unknown to all but the militia, another knight has come to help in the defense of the planet Ronel, Knight-Errant Janella Lakewood.
 Swordsworn Betrayal
With the Republic of the Sphere knight coming to the defense of Achernar, he sends a message to the Swordsworn that tells them that he will give the group legitimacy if they will help the militia to repel the invaders. This is exactly what Erik wants because it will give them presence on other worlds that they are coming to bring peace and stability in these trying times of the blackout.
Once Powers is on the planet, they all start strategizing about the best way to stop the onslaught of Torrent's men and defeat them in the quickest way. Unbeknownst to everyone but Erik, no matter what they decide upon, he will bring his men into as little contact as possible with the enemy. Better to have the two giants whittle each other away while he can come in later with force and meet little resistance.
A stalemate has formed with the arrival of the Knight, neither side has the heart to attack the other. They have become complacent with each other. Erik is not happy with this. He can not control the planet as long as the two forces decide not to fight and lose their strength. So he sets his plan into motion. He lays a trap for a Steel Wolf salvage squad in order to goad the two sides to fight. He then moves his forces to the south in order to "defend" the city of River's End which puts the militia in the middle with Steel Wolves to the north and the Swordsworn to the south.
 Steel Wolves Initiative
Fuming over the cowardly attack on a salvage squad by the Swordsworn. Torrent places full blame on Knight-Errant Powers since he has given them legitimacy. He challenges Powers to a Trial of Grievance which is quickly accepted and is just as quickly told what forces the Republic will bring, the location of the trial, and when it will commence. In addition, it is agreed upon by the combatants that if Torrent wins, the republic will lay down arms and cease fighting. If the militia wins, the Steel Wolves are barred from bringing in any additional forces to help in the invasion.
The trial takes place on the Flatlands next to the Highlake Basin during a thunderstorm. To the horror of the militia forces, and the planet's population who is watching this being broadcast, Knight Kyle Powers is killed while piloting his Jupiter. His cockpit was systematically targeted by every weapon system of Torrent's Tundra Wolf. The cockpit was targeted exclusively by Torrent, because he felt he was being toyed with because Powers was ignoring him to target the rest of Torrent's force. To the dismay of Torrent the Legionnaire, which is piloted by Raul Ortega, does not stand down because of their leaders death. Instead he fights on and inflicts serious damage on Torrent's 'mech. Torrent leaves the field which means that the militia has won the trial.
Aghast that Ortega did not fold up and instead kept fighting, Raul is a reservist with no combat experience, Torrent issues the order to move his invasion force on the other side of the militia's lines and into the city of River's End.
 Militia's Gamble
With the obvious backstabbing by the Swordsworn of not helping the militia at all during the defense, as well as their sudden conquest of taking the HPG station in the city. The militia has decided to go with a plan that will either drive off both parties leaving the militia as sole owner of the planet, or it will cause their demise and the planet will no longer be in the Republic's control. They are going to split their forces, one attacking the Wolves while the other attacks the Swordsworn who have garrisoned themselves within the city. The plan is to bring them all out into the open and push them together so they will have no other choice but to fight each other and to ignore the militia. The real goal of this plan, is to allow a small unit to enter the city and infiltrate the HPG station to plant explosives and blow it up. If there is no working station, why fight for control of the planet.
Tassa Kay commands the group which will lure the Swordsworn from the city. She pilots Ortega's Legionnaire because her Ryoken II was badly damaged in a previous engagement. This also helps to lure Erik's force out of the city because he wants Ortega dead because he has irritated Erik one to many times. Raul, piloting Power's Jupiter leads the rest of the militia in an attack on the Steel Wolves. Not only is Torrent goaded by the fact that Ortega is the one leading the attack on him, he is also infuriated that he is piloting the same 'mech that he killed the Knight in.
Tassa Kay is able to lure Erik and his men from the city towards the militia's garrison compound while Ortega is orchestrating a fighting withdrawal to meet up with Tassa's group. Once they meet up, they create a wedge formation to slowly bring the Wolves and the Swordsworn closer and closer together. After heavy casualties, the other two sides accidentally start fighting each other when their flanks start engaging. This accidental engagement brings the brunt of each force fighting each other while Torrent pushes towards Ortega with a narrow minded focus. Finally, Ortega is able to give the command to detonate the explosives in the HPG station. Unfortunately, he thought that once the station is destroyed it would deflate the fighting spirit in the two splinter groups, they kept on fighting trying to become the sole force left on the planet.
Trying to stop the bloodshed, Raul tries to talk to Torrent to stop fighting and withdraw since the HPG station is destroyed and Achernar holds no military value. Torrent, trying to avenge his honor from the trial, tells Ortega that the planet can still become a staging ground for future attacks and that he will kill Ortega where he stands. Alas, Ortega is able to break through the shielding on Torrent's engine able to penetrate the reactor killing Torrent and knocking the Jupiter to the ground.
With the death of Torrent, the command of the Steel Wolves falls to Star Captain Nikola Demos. Nikola tells Raul that she is taking him as her bondsman. However, Raul tells Demos that tomorrow they can bargain for an honorable withdrawal. Demos agrees to this and calls off the rest of her forces to head back to the dropships. Erik, takes this opportunity to grab the rest of his men and retreat to the city in order to regroup.
Tassa Kay is announced to Nikola Demos as the one to negotiate on behalf of the Achernar militia because Raul has another pressing matter to go to. As Tassa walks onto the dropship and into Torrent's old office, she asserts that she is taking command of the attack force and leaving the planet never to return. This confuses Demos because the invasion force is hers due to Torrent's death. Tassa gives Nikola her data crystal which shows all of Tassa's military achievements. It also shows Demos the bloodright trial that she went through in order to secure a bloodname. Tassa Kay is actually Anastasia Kerensky, a trueborn warrior from Clan Wolf.
Raul Ortega heads to the HPG station to assess the damage that was done. Erik Sandoval-Groell is there as well to see for himself the destruction of the station. He tells Raul that the Swordsworn will leave the planet because their is no military value of the planet anymore since it no longer has a working HPG. Though to everyone it looks like the station is destroyed, it was actually a deceiving trick to make it look like the station is no longer able to be used. It was fake explosives to make everyone think it was real. Raul talks through the HPG to Janella Lakewood who congratulates him on his trick, only wishing that it would work on Ronel as well, but the Dragon's Fury and the Steel Wolves are more intent with destroying each other more than anything else. She tells him that she will put his name forward to become a Knight-Errant for his hard work in order to protect the planet in the name of the Republic.
 Featured characters
- Raul Ortega
- Tassa Kay
- Erik Sandoval-Groell
- Knight-Errant Kyle Powers
- Star Captain Nikola Demos
- Star Colonel Torrent
- Star Colonel Xera
 Featured worlds
 Featured BattleTech
- Black Hawk
- Pack Hunters
- Ryoken II
- Tundra Wolf
- converted AgroMech
- converted ForestryMech
- converted MiningMech (Dark Age)
 Combat Vehicles
- BE701 Joust
- Demon Medium Tank
- JES I
- JES II Strategic Missile Carrier
- M1 Marksman Tank
- Ranger VV1
- Yellow Jacket
- unspecified hoverbikes