The Dying Time
|The Dying Time|
|Author||Thomas S. Gressman|
|Cover artwork||Fred Gambino|
|First published||1 January, 2002|
|Era||Civil War era|
|Series||Saga of the Gray Death Legion|
|Preceded by||Operation Excalibur|
The novel was made available on BattleCorps on 30 January 2011 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.
From the back cover
|“|| Only days after the demise of legendary warrior Grayson Death Carlyle, the mercenary forces of the Gray Death Legion are called into action. Their mission is to protect Hesperus II in the Isle of Skye. With civil war raging, it is vital that the planet's famous Defiance BattleMech production facilities not fall into the hands of the enemy. Seeing the Lyrans and Davionists at each other's throats, the Skye separatists have seized the opportunity to instigate a new rebellion, and they too threaten the safety of Hesperus II and its factories.
Now commanding the Legion is Lori Carlyle, widow of Grayson. But what Lori doesn't realize is that her troops are little more than pawns in the continuing hostilities between the factions of Victor Steiner-Davion and his ever-cunning sister, Katrina—and that the Gray Death are about to enter a battle they are meant to lose.
If there is one constant in the universe, it is that pawns are made to be sacrificed...
Grayson Carlyle, Baron of Glengarry and founder of the famous Gray Death Legion, passes away on 22 May 3065. Shortly afterwards the Legion, one of Katherine Steiner-Davion's most loyal and trusted units, is ordered to move to Hesperus II and bolster the defenses there against an expected attack.
They arrive in mid-June to a lukewarm reception by the house units already present. Having assaulted Hesperus II back in 3057, the Legion had fought against these same units then and is thus outright shunned by Leutnant-General Peter Zambos of the 36th Lyran Guards while Hauptmann-General Gina Ciampa of the 15th Lyran Guards tries to cooperate despite the losses her unit suffered against the Legion, and the bad blood it caused. The Defiance Self-Protection Force under Major James Goree is initially distrustful of the mercenaries as a matter of principle, to the point of nearly provoking a friendly fire incident when a Gray Death patrol comes close to the factory perimeter. Daniel Brewer, who is at the same time a company commander in the Gray Death Legion and a board member of Defiance Industries, has a hard time reconciling them. Having inherited operational command of the Gray Death Legion from her late husband, Lori Kalmar-Carlyle is struggling to keep up with the political aspect of the assignment and the added responsibility, and relies heavily on the advice of experienced Legion officers such as Davis McCall and Julio Vargas.
Soon after the Legion's arrival, a suspect IR spike indicates a JumpShip may have appeared at a pirate jump point, prompting aerospace assets to move out to investigate. It is really an attack by Skye Separatist forces: The 22nd Skye Rangers snuck into the system aboard three Overlord-class DropShips, hiding first near one of Hesperus V's moons, then on Hesperus III, a barren world with merely a trace atmosphere, while slowly moving closer to Hesperus II. Their plan is to attack the planet and capture the starport when the main invasion fleet would arrive in-system and draw the defending aerospace assets away from the planet. However, when their DropShips are detected by the defenders while hiding on Hesperus III the 22nd Skye Rangers initiate an alternate battle plan, an all-out attack against the civilian infrastructure in Melrose Valley to decimate the defenders and possibly draw them out before the main body of the attack force arrives. That attack coincides with the arrival of the enemy main strike force who, following a space battle at the zenith jump point, manage to capture the Avalon-class WarShip Simon Davion and turn its guns on non-combatant JumpShips at the jump point including the Carolyn and the Gray Death Legion's Invidious, prompting the surrender of the Legion's other two JumpShips. Incensed, Lori Kalmar-Carlyle sends a battalion under Major Rae Houk to Melrose Valley to confront the attackers there, but facing an entire regiment the battalion is forced into retreat.
On 30 June the Separatist DropShips descend on Hesperus II. The Gray Death Legion's fighter wing scrambles to meet them, destroying at least one Leopard but suffering heavy losses in turn including Julio Vargas. The Legion is heavily involved in the subsequent fighting on the ground. Despite their best efforts, they are repeatedly pushed back. On 1 July they attempt to deploy from the starport at Maria's Elegy for a flanking maneuver against the enemy main force on a maglev train. An enemy 'Mech spots the train, however, and stops it by destroying the maglev rail. This causes a train crash that causes losses for the Legion and throws them into disarray while strong enemy forces close in on their position. Captain Daniel Brewer is instrumental in rallying the Legion in this critical situation, and they repulse the attack.
To prevent the besieged defenders from calling for reinforcements, the Simon Davion is ordered to destroy the ComStar HPG station, but instead of a surgical strike the entire starport is devastated through naval bombardment.
Holed up at the Defiance Industries complex, the Legion fights several battles over the following days, and their losses are mounting. During a battle on 8 July, Davis McCall is killed in full view of Lori Kalmar-Carlyle. She feels the Legion is being whittled away, with as much as fifty percent losses already, even with Defiance Industries servicing their 'Mechs or providing complete replacement 'Mechs. On 18 July the 32nd Lyran Guards reinforce the attackers and combat-drop directly onto the Defiance Industries complex in conjunction with an attack by the Separatist forces already on the ground. In the fighting, Lori's Victor is downed near its hangar which is overrun by enemy 'Mechs. On foot, she tries to hide in the hangar but is found by enemy infantry and killed by a grenade in a brief shootout.
Captain Brewer leads a successful counterattack, ejecting the attackers from the facility. Afterwards, he and an equally exhausted Major Thomas Devin discuss that the Gray Death Legion's original core of veteran officers has been killed, with only twenty or fewer MechWarriors remaining (and even heavier losses among the infantry and tank crews). They both feel the era of the Gray Death Legion has ended, unless Alexander Carlyle would take up the legacy. As it turns out though, he is not allowed to resign from his posting with the Royal Guards because Katherine Steiner-Davion feels she cannot afford to lose him until the civil war is over.
- Colonel Grayson Death Carlyle
- Colonel Lori Kalmar-Carlyle
- Hauptmann Alexander Carlyle
- Hauptmann-General Gina Ciampa
- Major Rae Houk
- Colonel Davis McCall
- Archon-Princess Katherine Steiner-Davion
- General Nondi Steiner
- Wing Commander Julio Vargas
- Leutnant-General Peter Zambos
- Black Knight
- Grand Dragon
- Grim Reaper
- Hellbringer (Loki)
- Locust (mentioned)
- Mist Lynx (Koshi)
- Summoner (Thor)
- Timber Wolf (Mad Cat) (mentioned)
- War Dog
- The BattleTechnology magazine is canonized as an in-universe magazine through a reference within this novel.
- Alexander Carlyle never returned to rebuild the Gray Death Legion; his ultimate fate is unknown. It is generally assumed that he became an anonymous casualty of the bombing of Tharkad in the opening moments of the Jihad, sealing the fate of the Gray Death Legion which is also considered destroyed following the events from this novel.
German 2002 cover. Art by Franz Vohwinkel.