|First published||31 August 2007|
|Timeline||27 October 3068|
|“||Although the Word of Blake's domination of Outreach seems absolute, pockets of resistance still lurk beneath the surface, striking where they can, reminding the Blakists that even a wasteland can be dangerous. When the Word reveals a powerful prize, however, the remnants of the Dragoons must act.||”|
Point Commander Merced is waiting in ambush with other members of his point, carefully concealed near the remains of Herrara Street, within sight of the Gap - the space where once the Hiring Hall stood - when Merced realises that the passing Word of Blake convoy is too important to attack. One of the convoy vehicles is a BattleMech Recovery Vehicle, modified to become an obvious and highly-visible cage for displaying a special prisoner. Trapped underneath the thick transpex is something Merced never expected to see - a woman, a survivor from Zeta Battalion, all of which was believed to have been lost in the disastrous attack on Mars.
Merced and his point return to their operating base - a bunker underneath the remains of the Harlech DropPort, close to the site of the last stand made by Battle Magic during the first Blakist-sponsored attack on Outreach. There, Merced is able to bring the news to his commander - Major Elson Novacat - and in turn to the other survivors of the Dragoons Elemental Strike Cluster, reduced to little more than a Binary but still determined to fight, and to exact vengeance upon the Blakists.
Elson's pronouncement that Tara Lucas is alive and that the Blakists are parading her around to lure out the Dragoons provokes the gathered Dragoons into a furious rage, united in their determination to do exactly what Elson demands: they are the Toads from Hell, and regardless of the certainty that this is a deliberate lure, they are going to get their trothkin back.
While the Dragoon Elementals prepare, Tara Lucas drifts in and out of a drug-induced haze, recollecting mismatched events from Mars - and from her interrogation by the Blakists.
Lying in wait, Merced is sure that the convoy is a lure, and that the twelve Bulldog trucks are likely to contain infantry to support the convoy - either for them, or perhaps for the surviving Dragoon BattleMechs still operating on Romulus, striking at the Blakists, even if they aren't working with the Dragoon Elementals. Despite that certainty, he watches as Alpha Star attack the convoy, disabling trucks and other vehicles with their carefully-hoarded SRMs... and then he sees the squads of Purifier battle armor emerging from the trucks, moving swiftly to attack the Dragoons.
With the Purifiers revealed, Elson orders Beta Star into the fray - apart from Two Point, Merced's point, which he orders to free Lucas. As Lucas struggles to understand what's happening, Merced and his point battle Purifiers and try to tear her prison apart, Elementals falling as Merced tries to remain focussed on the mission. When a Blakist Panther moves to attack, Merced finds himself working directly alongside Elson himself to fell the enemy 'Mech, before returning to try and free Lucas... only to find most of the rest of his point dead.
As Merced and his surviving point member tear at Lucas' prison, Merced is attacked again by Purifiers, and fells several before the damage inflicted on his suit leaves him facing certain death at the hands of a taunting Blakist soldier... immediately before Lucas, freshly freed, distracts the final Purifier, giving Merced and his surviving pointmate the chance to slice the Blakist into pieces.