|Author||Jason M. Hardy|
|First published||27 April 2006|
|Era||Civil War era|
|Timeline||8—12 December 3062|
|“||Stratham Vole makes a living at ferreting out peoples' dirty little secrets. But when the local regiment has something to hide, he quickly finds himself over his head.... Story by Jason Hardy||”|
An operative of relatively low rank in the Intelligence Ministry on Hamilton, Stratham Vole is informed by a mysterious woman that the planetary military is mobilizing and that she and others think this is a "bad" thing. Vole is to gather information and "put it in the right hands", but besides finding out what is going on he is also supposed to divine who is the right person to inform when the woman tells him it would not be her.
His interest piqued, Vole quickly finds that the military has indeed embarked on "maneuvers". Defense Minister Veralin Cauthon, a supporter of Katherine Steiner-Davion, is preparing a military coup against Prime Minister Eddina Verrily. The senior military leaders on the planet are behind Cauthon, each for different reasons, and intelligence channels appear to have been silenced from within.
In a desperate race against time as BattleMechs and tanks are already on the move towards the capital, Vole tries to find out who is on which side and gather allies while he is at the same time on the run from Intelligence Ministry elements who have sided with the rebels. He meets the mystery woman twice again, first when she commands him to cease his meddling and forget that they ever met before, and again when she bails him out of rebel detainment. She is obviously working for the rebel faction but covertly supporting the Prime Minister.
Together with other loyalists (and expertly manipulating neutral parties) Vole ultimately engineers the resignation of Commander of the Army Kurt Gimmer and convincing or coercing the the eligible voters to install Commander of the Infantry Ty Blank, a supporter of Victor Steiner-Davion, as Gimmer's successor, eroding away Cauthon's power base in the military. As a result, the coup stalls without a shot being fired.
During the debriefing by Prime Minister Verrily Vole has to admit that he still does not know who the mystery woman is or why she alerted him to the developing situation. Only later does he briefly see her again when she and newly appointed Commander of the Army Blank kiss. Somewhat amused, Vole realizes that he was manipulated in much the same way as he had been manipulating people throughout the crisis; he finds that he can live with the results this time.