|Author||Herbert A. Beas II|
|First published|| 10 January 2005|
14 May 2011 (re-release)
|Era||Star League era (Age of War)|
|Followed by||Nothing Ventured|
|“||Star League engineers created the first BattleMech, but where did it go from there? First up to the plate, the Lyran Commonwealth. In a daring raid on Hesperus, a Kelswa ancestor braves his own fears and fights for the future of the Steiner realm. Story by Herb Beas.||”|
|“||The Lyran Commonwealth cannot allow the Terran Hegemony to retain sole possession of the BattleMech--not when the Draconis Combine and the Free Worlds League are breathing down its neck.||”|
After the LIC has been unable to obtain the top-secret BattleMech technology from the Terran Hegemony for 15 years, Colonel Simon Kelswa is ordered to lead a team of operatives on a surgical strike into the Hegemony's manufacturing plant on Hesperus II in early 2455. The intricate plan calls for a rigged Drop Shuttle to simulate an exposive crash near the factory site to insert the teams, steal the blueprints, and then divide up. Kelswa's team plans to escape by taking the ostensibly crashed spacecraft to space to dock with a "pirate" JumpShip with RWR registry, while the other teams are planned to mingle with regular passenger traffic and secretly sneak off-world.
The Archon added one LIC member to the hand-selected people on the mission: Agent Brian Kirkpatrick, who alone ever got inside the Hesperus facility. During the mission Kirkpatrick, an agressive counter-terrorism specialist, frequently butts heads with Kelswa who tries to avoid bloodshed and is deathly afraid of the imposing BattleMechs. The situation comes to a head when Kirkpatrick, assigned to Kelswa's team, unsuccessfully tries to convince Kelswa that they should abandon the idea of escaping on the Drop Shuttle. It turns out that the shuttle was deemed a security risk, as it might be traced to the Lyran Commonwealth, and demolition charges eventually destroy the shuttle to maintain the impression of a genuine crash - killing four of Kelswa's men aboard it and over a hundred civilian helpers nearby. Kelswa and Kirkpatrick come to blows over this, yet in the end it is Kirkpatrick who saves the frozen Kelswa from being trampled by an approaching 'Mech.
In his debriefing, Kelswa describes Kirkpatrick's actions as reckless at best and treasonous at worst, but is shocked to learn that the Archon refuses to put Kirkpatrick on trial; Archon Alistair Marsden Steiner even tells Kelswa that while he does not condone the act, he understands the necessity. At this, Kelswa hands in his resignation, but is swayed to remain in service by the offer to lead a research team to find the weaknesses of BattleMechs, giving him a chance to cope with his personal demons.
- unspecified prototype (referred to as the "baby")
- Firebringer, unspecified 1000-ton Drop Shuttle (predating the DropShip concept)
- According to the first Periphery sourcebook, the Rim Worlds Republic's secret service, AsRoc, assisted the Lyrans in obtaining the BattleMech blueprints. This is dubious, however, considering that the RWR was notoriously light on BattleMechs even a century later, and is generally regarded as an unresolved continuity problem. The dodgy JumpShip with a (presumably forged) RWR registry mentioned in this story is a nod to the RWR's alleged participation in the action, while at the same time establishing that the RWR was not really involved beyond being set up as a possible fall guy.