Ghost of Winter
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|Ghost of Winter|
|Cover artwork||Doug Chaffee|
|First published||01 October 1999|
|Era||Clan Invasion era|
|Timeline||11 April 3060|
From the Back Cover
|“|| All his life, Sturm Kintaro wanted to be a MechWarrior. Now he is one—untested in combat, but eager to show his prowess and be transferred away from the backwater planet Kore. But he is about to get a bigger opportunity than he ever wanted when a band of interstellar pirates launches a surprise attack and takes control of the planet. After the rout, Sturm finds himself stranded in the frozen wastes of Kore with no 'Mech, no help, and no hope...
Until he stumbles upon a long-hidden secret, one that will help him prove himself a worthy MechWarrior. Now Sturm must wage a one-man war against the invading force—and resurrect a ghostly legend of Kore—if he is going to save his people from annihilation.
The backwater mining world Kore, situated some 10 parsecs (ca. 32.6 lightyears) from the rim of the Lyran Commonwealth (later Lyran Alliance) and on the edge of the Clan Invasion corridor, is owned by the Alfin Mining Corporation and not technically under Lyran jurisdiction.
During the Clan Invasion, Clan Steel Viper forces shatter the local defenders and kill the commander, Jenna Kintaro. Their frontline troops then move on, leaving only a small second-line garrison force. The Steel Vipers construct a secret supply cache on the world, but then their weak garrison is wiped out by an unexpected counterattack from the Storm Riders, a mercenary unit working for the Alfin Corporation, and the planet is recaptured. A local legend henceforth tells of the "Ghost of Winter", the ghost of the last Steel Viper warrior who still roams the world, bent on repelling the invaders.
Some 10 years later, in 3060, Jenna's 21-year-old son Sturm Kintaro is a junior member of the Kore Lancers, a lance-sized BattleMech unit within the Storm Riders garrisoning the world. He is trained hard by Master Sergeant Aaron Krenner, a veteran from the Clan Invasion who promised to Jenna Kintaro to look after her son.
When the Union-class DropShip Tammuz arrives at Kore to ostensibly deliver supplies and ship out refined ores, it launches a sneak attack instead and deploys four 'Mechs with Clan Jade Falcon insignia - a Mad Cat, a Fenris, a Puma and an Uller. Lieutenant Holt and MechWarrior Hans Brinkmann are killed and their 'Mechs destroyed while Sturm Kintaro in his Thorn and fellow MechWarrior Volker in a Panther initially manage to escape. However, the pursuers quickly catch up with the slow Panther and force it to surrender.
Kintaro makes for the nearby Jotun Mountains, a treacherous terrain that he is intimately familiar with as he had to perform geological surveys here for his father. Using his knowledge of the region he manages to set a trap for the pursuing Puma and bury it in an avalanche, but his Thorn is then in turn destroyed by the Uller and Kintaro has to eject.
The attackers turn out to be Ryan's Rebels, led by the infamous pirate queen Susie "One-Eye" Morgraine-Ryan. They brutally capture the only settlement on Kore, Niffelheim, subduing any resistance with their superior firepower. The remaining defending infantry is imprisoned and the population rounded up. Captive Panther pilot Lon Volker offers to cooperate with the pirates in hopes to save his life.
Sturm Kintaro awakens still strapped into his command couch which is lying on a ledge on a cliff. Putting his arctic survival training to good use, he begins to climb up in search of shelter despite a wounded shoulder. On the way up, he is attacked by a Winter Wolf from a cleft, kills it and enters the cave to camp for the night. On the next day he explores it and finds a large metal tube running vertically through the cave. Intrigued, he cuts the tube open with his laser pistol to investigate. Inside the man-sized tube he loses his grip on the ice-covered metal and falls down the tube into the darkness.
Meanwhile, the pirates rescue their buried Puma but make no effort to search for the ejected Thorn pilot (Sturm Kintaro), instead leaving him to die in the frozen wasteland. Susie Ryan questions the geoplanetary researcher, who happens to be Sturm's father, Dr. Hidoshi Kintaro, about possible earlier settlements and orders him to assist with ground surveys. She is obviously searching for something but does not reveal what it is.
Two days later, Uller pilot Karl Yaeger is ambushed while on a survey mission to the Jotun Mountains. He can report being attacked by a Goshawk with Steel Viper insignia, but he is killed and his 'Mech is destroyed before reinforcements arrive from Niffelheim. On the following day, a similar attack is carried out on the pirate Puma by a Hellhound with similar markings. This time, Susie Ryan had support nearby, making the attacker retreat without destroying the Puma. She begins to suspect that Sturm Kintaro may be behind the attacks, and questions Volker about his fellow MechWarrior while seducing him.
One day later, Kintaro lures the Fenris and Puma on a wild goose chase into the mountains. In their absence, he attacks the Kore Lancers Command Center outside Niffelheim in the Goshawk and rescues the captive soldiers. During the firefight, Volker joins the breakout and saves Krenner's life by shooting a pirate who was about to shoot Krenner. Kintaro leads two Winterhawk hover APCs carrying the escapees to Shangri-La, the hidden facility he discovered, where he explains that he only managed to bypass the security systems on two of the five 'Mechs there. Volker tries to raise an issue about command rights, pointing out that he is the senior officer, but Master Sergeant Krenner convinces him to accept Kintaro as being in command.
During the night, Storm Riders tech and former ComStar acolyte Tom Flannery finds a Hyperpulse Generator in the facility and notes that it activated several days ago to send an automated message into the Clan Occupation Zone, presumably a warning that was triggered when Kintaro broke into the facility. Steel Viper forces might arrive within days—if they choose to respond at all. Not trusting Susie Ryan, who was obviously after the BattleMechs stored here, the defenders agree they cannot strike a deal with her. Instead, they decide that the two qualified MechWarriors (Kintaro and Volker) must train others using the simulators also found in the base, so that all five 'Mechs from the depot can be used against the pirates.
Susie Ryan broadcasts a recorded message four days later where she demands Sturm Kintaro to surrender himself, the Kore Lancers and the 'Mechs from the depot to her or she will kill his father who is shown captive. To demonstrate that she is not making idle threats, she shoots Derek Nordstrom, the Alfin-appointed governor, in cold blood in front of the camera. This prompts Kintaro to leave the base that night in his Goshawk. Fully aware that he might be walking into a trap, he approaches the base through a hidden crevasse and parks his 'Mech there, then proceeds on foot during a snowstorm. Inside the weakly guarded base he reaches his father in the brig, but is subsequently caught and imprisoned with his father by pirate troops who had been waiting for him. Some time later the timed bombs explode that Kintaro had planted on his way inside, sowing chaos while he escapes with his father.
Meanwhile back at Shangri-La, Volker tries to convince Krenner that they should negotiate with Ryan. When Krenner refuses, Volker shoots him, hides the body and signals to the pirates before assuming command of the defenders, claiming that both Kintaro and Krenner left. Then he leads the defending troops into an untenable situation and Susie Ryan demands their surrender. When Volker admits to having switched sides, Trainee MechWarrior Laura Metz, Volker's former girlfriend, opens fire on him with her Vixen and a battle between Volker (piloting the Hellhound) and the remainder of the Kore Lancers ensues. The pirates hardly intervene as they are under orders not to damage the valuable 'Mechs.
In the end, Kintaro joins the fight and shoots open a magma pocket that floods the valley, ending the battle. Susie Ryan disengages and withdraws, taking the badly burnt Volker with her back to Star's End; she plans to turn him into a rage-driven weapon against Kintaro. In the aftermath of the incident, Colonel Gerald Quinn, the commanding officer of the Storm Riders, arrives on Kore aboard the DropShip Inanna. Sturm Kintaro is promoted to Lieutenant and receives command over the "Winter Ghosts" lance formed from his ad-hoc team. Colonel Quinn also informs Kintaro that Shangri-La's HPG unit received a message from the Steel Vipers indicating that they will not reclaim the cache's contents.
- Adder (Puma)
- Conjurer (Hellhound)
- Horned Owl (Peregrine)
- Ice Ferret (Fenris)
- Incubus (Vixen)
- Kit Fox (Uller)
- Timber Wolf (Mad Cat)
- Vapor Eagle (Goshawk)
- Winterhawk hover APC
- Tammuz (Union-class)
- Inanna (class unknown, carries at least one BattleMech company; presumably Union class)
The novel was made available on BattleCorps on 29 October 2010 as a PDF file (text only, without cover, pictures, or any other interior artwork except for the usual BattleCorps frame graphics). The PDF copy includes a disclaimer stating that it was created from a pre-final edition text that might differ from the printed version and that canon-wise, the print edition trumps the PDF edition.