The Price of Glory
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|The Price of Glory|
|Author||William H. Keith, Jr.|
|Pages|| 321 (original)|
|Cover artwork|| David R. Deitrick (original)|
Boris Vallejo (reprint)
|Interior artwork||Jane Aulisio|
|Publisher|| FASA (original)|
Roc Books (reprint)
|First published|| October 1987 (original)|
January 1993 (reprint)
|Era||Succession Wars era|
|Series||Saga of the Gray Death Legion|
|Preceded by||Mercenary's Star|
|Followed by||Blood of Heroes|
The Price of Glory, by William H. Keith, Jr., is the third book of the Saga of the Gray Death Legion. An established mercenary command by now, the Gray Death Legion suddenly find themselves framed for atrocious war crimes and in the end forge an unlikely cooperation with their old nemesis, Duke Hassid Ricol.
The novel was made available on BattleCorps on 26 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.
From the back cover (1993 edition)
|“|| The Gray Death Legion is in the employ of the Free Worlds League and has even been given a landhold on the planet Helm. But dark forces conspire against them and the Legion soon finds themselves declared renegade, fair game for anyone to attack.
Now they are on the run on their home planet, trying desperately to reach safety before the might of House Marik falls upon them. They are about to discover the true motives of those who engineered their downfall.
As of early 3028 the mercenary Gray Death Legion, in employ to House Marik, has been conducting successful raids and campaigns into House Liao territory for a year already. Their latest target is Sirius V, a hostile world where life is only possible in domed cities such as the capital city of Tiantan. After the world surrenders, the 15th Marik Militia was supposed to relieve the Gray Death Legion, but Carlyle and his unit are surprised to find that Lord Garth, Duke of Irian and Lord Commander of the Marik support forces, arrives with a DropShip carrying his own Irian Guard and demands the Gray Death Legion to turn local command over to him and leave the planet for Marik to supposedly receive some honors. As ordered, the Legion board their DropShips and leave, but Carlyle is wary.
Unbeknownst to the Gray Death Legion, right after they have left the planet conspirators including ComStar Precentor Emilio Rachan and Lord Garth destroy Tiantan's domes with bombs, killing some twelve million people, then deploy BattleMechs and DropShips painted to resemble the Gray Death Legion. The Gray Death Legion DropShips in transit to the jump point are left in the dark about what happened, but the total radio silence from Sirius V and the odd behavior of the Marik forces deepens Carlyle's concerns. He orders their JumpShip to bring them back to their landhold at Helm instead of taking the detour to Marik.
They arrive in the Helm system in the middle of an ongoing military operation against their holdings and dependents and manage to land near their base in the overall chaos. Carlyle learns from debriefing survivors in the ruins of Helmfast Castle that the attacking forces had immediately moved against the Gray Death Legion holdings with extreme prejudice. He secures an old map from the computer and uses it to find a refuge for the Legion's remnant in a valley. However, the battle is lost when Lieutenant Harris Graff, a Marik agent among the Legion's MechWarriors (and the traitor who allowed for the demolition charges to be planted outside Tiantan), enters one DropShip under a pretense and captures it from within, subsequently threatening the other DropShip with destruction. During the resulting standoff, Carlyle's remaining men become uneasy about how hostile they are treated by the Marik forces. When the Marik forces break the cease-fire and stage a nightly ambush, Carlyle escapes with a handful of troops and 'Mechs.
With his personal tech Alard King Carlyle travels 400 kilometers to the city of Helmdown to talk to contacts they have there and perhaps find out what is going on. However, the city is under lockdown, at least six DropShips are grounded at the starport, and both the House Steiner and the House Davion agencies Carlyle hoped to contact have been closed. He does manage to meet with both of the agents together and is confronted with the facts of the Tiantan massacre. Neither agent will help him though because they do not believe his claims of having been set up. King, secretly a spy for Duke Hassid Ricol, meanwhile contacts a House Kurita agent and learns that during the Star League era a massive amount of military supplies vanished on Helm and may still be hidden on the planet, possibly somewhere on the Gray Death Legion's landhold.
During a raid to destroy a Marik Mobile HQ the Legion happens to capture Graff, who admits to working for ComStar and more specifically, for Precentor Rachan. He confirms that the setup is about the old Star League storehouse and the immense weapons cache it holds: With Carlyle as the legal landholder (and potential proprietor of the supposed cache) branded outlaw, the fief would have been passed to Lord Garth of Irian who is in league with Precentor Rachan.
Grayson Carlyle can piece together the individual bits of information and, by using his ancient maps, actually finds the likely location of the cache. At this point King admits to being a spy for Duke Ricol, who reached the same conclusions as Garth and Rachan some time ago and has been traveling to Helm in person. Carlyle meets with Ricol, who has a company of BattleMechs and several DropShips at his disposal (masquerading as a merchant fleet), and strikes an uneasy alliance with his arch-enemy.
The Gray Death Legion moves out to the suspected depot site in the Vermillon valley, hoping to blast away a huge granite slab that Carlyle determined serves as the "door". As it turns out, though, Carlyle's ancient map files contain a code that opens the access door and allows them to enter. Maps of the surprisingly large complex under the Nagayan mountains and a transport network allow the Legion to strategically redeploy their forces and repeatedly ambush and pick off approaching enemy forces.
The Gray Death Legion had also sent an infantry detachment to recapture their DropShips together with Ricol's forces, but the latter fail to show because, as it later turns out, Lord Garth has meanwhile landed a substantial force at Helmdown, making it impossible for Ricol's forces to move out. However, Graff had escaped the Legion during the trip and makes for the captured DropShips. His report results in a ramp being lowered, which is the chance the Legion forces at the DropShips have been waiting for. The DropShips are recaptured, the Legion prisoners aboard freed, and Graff is killed in the fight. The DropShips join the Legion at the cache, as do the six DropShips of Ricol's fleet somewhat later.
The cache turns out to contain a memory core, plus very large amounts of mothballed military hardware, an invaluable treasure but worthless to the Legion in their current situation. Despite the useful transport system and repair facilities, the onslaught by an overall much larger force threatens to overwhelm the outnumbered and exhausted defenders. Anticipating defeat, Carlyle eventually orders King to make copies of the library core which he realizes is by far the most valuable content of the entire cache, and because the entire setup only makes sense if Precentor Rachan intends to suppress the find.
Precentor Rachan has meanwhile seized overall command from the bumbling Duke of Irian. Together with a group of six ComStar adepts whom he intends to kill later, he wants to secure the memory core for himself and then destroy the facility and orders Colonel Julian Langsdorf, the commander of the Marik ground forces, to break through the rock in the Vermillon valley even while King is still copying the library core in the room on the other side, with an infantry detachment to guard the entrance. Amidst a firefight, Rachan and King have a shouting match where Rachan all but admits to being behind the Tiantan massacre and intending to keep the library hidden from the public. King escapes with a copy of the memory core. One Adept Larabee from Rachan's entourage is shocked enough by the revelations to inform Langsdorf, an upright soldier who had misgivings about the mission all along. On Larabee's testimony Langsdorf arrests Duke Garth and General Kleider.
Blasting open the access doors to the cache has triggered an ancient safety mechanism that overloads the facility's huge reactor. Even as Langsdorf's forces are retreating and the Gray Death Legion is moving out with their own and Ricol's DropShips (to be carried on Ricol's JumpShips), the entire facility self-destructs, killing Precentor Rachan in the process.
In the aftermath, the Gray Death Legion is cleared of all charges and copies of the memory core are distributed throughout the Inner Sphere. It is a groundbreaking find that will turn out to be the lynchpin to overcome the age of LosTech.
- Grayson Carlyle
- Lord Garth, Duke of Irian
- "Harris Graff"
- Lori Kalmar
- Colonel Julian Langsdorf
- Precentor Emilio Rachan
- Duke Hassid Ricol
- Phoenix Hawk
- Shadow Hawk
- Boomerang spotter plane
- Mobile HQ
- Packrat (modified ECM vehicles)
- unspecified hovercraft and APCs
- No dates are provided in the novel, but the Gray Death Legion scenario pack established that the first battle with the Hammerstrike Company in the ruins of Durandel, immediately after landing on Helm, occurred on March 24 ("Thirst for Vengeance" scenario epigraph, p. 33 top header) and the final battles and the recovery of the memory core occurred on 1 April 3028 ("Betrayal at Helm" scenarios, p. 35 top header).
- The Gray Death Legion being hired specifically to conduct aggressive campaigns into Capellan Confederation space demonstrates that the Concord of Kapteyn, which had been signed for over five years, did not cause much of a detente between Houses Marik and Liao after all. The scenario pack notes (in the unit history section on p. 7) that the unit was hired to keep the Confederation off-balance, and for over one standard year enacted a series of hit-and-run strikes against communication centers, fleet depots, 'Mech assembly plants, mines and industrial worlds. The writeup for Grayson Carlyle notes on p. 9 that the offensive took place (or began) in 3026.
- While it is explicitly mentioned on pp. 17-18 that the Invidious and its two DropShips, "merchanters converted to troop transports", have become the Gray Death Legion's Transport Division, from this book onwards the Gray Death Legion's DropShips Phobos and Deimos are consistently described as Union-class (pp. 29, 60, 78) whereas it had previously been established that they are refitted freighters outwardly resembling Union-class vessels. (The original Phobos was confirmed to be a Danais/Trojan-class vessel, strongly implying its sister ship Deimos was of the same class.) Both the Phobos and the Deimos are firing autocannons on p. 89, a weapon system not found on Danais/Trojan vessels but part of a Union's standard loadout. To explain this apparent inconsistency it can be assumed that two Union-class DropShips also named Phobos and Deimos are serving with the Gray Death Legion as of the Sirius campaign in addition to the original refitted freighters (which are not deployed at Sirius, and may have remained at the staging point at Graham IV).
- Both DropShips are mentioned to approach Helm with 4 Gs of thrust. However, neither the Danais/Trojan class nor the Union class can produce this much thrust. In fact, of all commonplace contemporary spheroid DropShips only the Seeker has this much thrust. The number is thus likely in error.