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|Author||Michael A. Stackpole|
|Pages|| 324 (original)|
332 (anniversary edition & reprint)
|Cover artwork|| David English (original)|
Peter Peebles (anniversary edition & reprint)
|Publisher|| FASA (original)|
Roc Books (anniversary edition)
|First published|| April 1989 (original)|
November 1998 (anniversary edition)
February 2004 (reprint)
|Era||Succession Wars era|
|Timeline||27 February - 15 December 3029|
|Series||The Warrior Trilogy|
|Preceded by||Warrior: Riposte|
- 1 From the back cover
- 2 Summary
- 3 Featured characters
- 4 Featured places
- 5 Featured BattleTech
- 6 Notes
- 7 Covers
From the back cover
|“|| The minions of Maximilian Liao are about the deliver a crippling blow to the forces of Prince Hanse Davion—discovering a way to use Hanse's own technology against him.
The only 'Mech force capable of stopping that invasion—the mercenary Kell Hounds—is trapped in a game of search and destroy with the most fearsome Kurita unit ever formed. Even if they come back in time... how many would make it?
In a world where ten-meter-tall war machines are the soul of battle, assassins are state policy, and a spy's loyalty is always for sale, the only thing certain is death. Who can you trust? And in the bitter end, how will you be betrayed?
ComStar's First Circuit is divided over how to respond to the outbreak of the ongoing Fourth Succession War. Precentor Myndo Waterly is up in arms about Hanse Davion's highly successful surprise attack on the Capellan Confederation, but Primus Julian Tiepolo stalls her motion, arguing that ComStar must maintain its neutral and pacifistic image in order to maintain control behind the scenes. Still, subtle measures are initiated to hamper the Davion war efforts.
Book 1: Truth
Flush with success in the early stages of the war, Hanse Davion gives a press conference providing an overview of the war efforts, including the surprising change of allegiance of the Northwind Highlanders who returned to Northwind just in time to rout two Draconis Combine regiments. He spins the death of Michael Hasek-Davion into a hero's death in service to the Federated Suns while privately informing Morgan Hasek-Davion of the true circumstances.
Justin Xiang, by now not only a high-ranking Maskirovka analyst and part of Maximilian Liao's inner circle but also Candace Liao's lover, finds himself deeply involved in the intrigues of House Liao, particularly the competition for Maximilian's favor between him and Candace versus Romano Liao and Tsen Shang. Of special importance is Justin's Operation INTRUDERS COMMUNION, a plan to infiltrate a secret Davion research laboratory on Bethel and steal revolutionary technology (a side project of one Professor-General Sam Lewis) to upgrade Capellan BattleMechs.
However, despite all the patriotic fervor Candace Liao is more realistic about the war than her father or her sister. She prepares to secede her duchy, the St. Ives Commonality, from the Confederation rather than fight a hopeless war and gives Justin a recorded message to leave behind at Bethel, hoping to broker a private peace treaty with House Davion.
Meanwhile in the Lyran Commonwealth, Duke Frederick Steiner is plotting to usurp the throne with the backing of Duke Aldo Lestrade. They attempt to draw the aging former Archon Alessandro Steiner and Ryan Steiner into their camp, but because of his disdain for Lestrade, Alessandro Steiner decides not to support Frederick's coup and even pass his message on to Archon Katrina Steiner, in order to further his and his heir-designate Ryan Steiner's own agenda.
Book 2: Deception
Justin Xiang personally leads the successful attack on Bethel. Just as he deposits the holodisk with Candace Liao's message he is confronted by an assassin sent by Romano Liao; his aide Alexi Malenkov shoots the assassin. On their way out they are confronted by 'Mechs from the local garrison—incidentally, Andrew Redburn's unit. Justin Xiang personally defeats and humiliates his former friend.
On Lyons, Duke Aldo Lestrade has reluctantly allowed the Heimdall refugees from Styx (whose retreat was compromised when they helped in the Silver Eagle Affair) to settle in the newly-built town of New Freedom on orders from the Archon, but has ordered the Kell Hounds mercenaries away, ostensibly so that Lyons would not be regarded as a military target. Shortly afterwards, Clovis Holstein, who remained behind at New Freedom as a teacher, finds himself, teacher Karla Bremen and thirty children holed up in a bunker as Kurita troops attack and ravage the town, indiscriminately executing the population. Trying to get a message of the attack to Morgan Kell he is caught, but saved by the sudden appearance of Dan Allard in his Wolfhound—the Kell Hounds have returned and are hunting down the attackers. They jumped back to a pirate jump point near Lyons when they learned of the Kurita attack, but it means they will miss their arranged fight with the Genyosha on Ryde. Analyzing their defeated opponents' computers they find that the ISF felt the Styx refugees posed a danger to the Draconis Combine (presumably because of the Silver Eagle Affair) and had ordered their extermination. The Kell Hounds deduct that it was none other than Duke Aldo Lestrade himself who set the unwanted colony up to be destroyed, to further his own political agenda. At this, Clovis Holstein reveals that he is Duke Lestrade's illegitimate son and announces that he will personally kill his treacherous father.
At the Liao palace, Justin receives a commendation and decoration for the Bethel raid. He learns that Maximilian Liao's wayward wife Elizabeth Liao was recently found dead, presumably killed on Romano Liao's orders but officially reported to have died in a swimming accident. Also, Tormana Liao is missing and presumed dead on Algol. On 20 May 3029 news arrive that House Davion has launched a fifth wave of attacks. One of the targeted worlds in this fifth wave is Sarna, where Xiang had secretly stationed the remaining four regiments of McCarron's Armored Cavalry. The initial attack force—the 5th Syrtis Fusiliers, incidentally a regiment more loyal to the late Michael Hasek-Davion than to Hanse Davion—is wiped out by the powerful defenders, delivering the first defeat of the war to the Davion troops.
On the sidelines, the attack on Sarna gives Myndo Waterly leverage to push for action in ComStar's First Circuit. Over Primus Tiepolo's better judgement it is decided to place House Davion under a communications interdict to stop them. Engineered footage of an alleged attack by the 5th Syrtis Fusiliers against the Sarna HPG station is used as a pretext. The interdict in turn prompts Hanse Davion to use his top-secret Black Box superluminal fax machines, to maintain a minimum of communications among his troops. They also hope that their agent network (which includes Alexi Malenkov) will still be able to keep contact. The need to requisition commercial JumpShips for commando circuits and communication purposes still puts a heavy toll on the Federated Suns. Davion also encourages Pavel Ridzik and his Free Tikonov Republic to attack the Free Worlds League through Ardan Sortek who serves as a liaison officer of sorts.
Book 3: Duty
Candace Liao's peace proposal (the holodisc left behind at Bethel) is received by the Davion high command. With that part of the front safe from counter-attack and Ridzik's troops lashing out against the Free Worlds League, Hanse Davion can reassign the troops from Kittery to the sixth attack wave. Following the events on Tharkad, Misha Auburn has arrived on New Avalon and preparations are made for Melissa Steiner to return to Tharkad.
Pavel Ridzik and Ardan Sortek are both military commanders with limited political skill or interests. Their relationship quickly sours when Ardan points out in no unclear terms that Ridzik is wholly dependent on aid from the Federated Suns to garrison his Free Tikonov Republic Worlds and remain a political power. Ridzik's demand that Tikonov be handed over to his control is rebuffed. An angry Colonel Ridzik decides to take matters into his own hands, and makes plans to intercept Melissa Steiner on her voyage to Tharkad upon realizing that she will travel through his realm. Before he can set his plans in motion, though, he is trapped and cruelly executed by an assassin sent by Romano Liao.
In the ongoing competition for Maximillian Liao's favor, Romano Liao and Tsen Shang have concocted a plan to send the Death Commandos on a covert mission against the critically important but weakly defended Davion shipyard system of Kathil, in hopes of crippling the Davion war effort. Justin Xiang is caught by surprise. He composes a message to his father in the Federated Suns, offers ComStar a large sum to deliver it despite the interdict, and sends Alexi Malenkov (who is actually a Davion agent) to deliver the verigraph message to the ComStar HPG station. Upon arriving at New Avalon three days later the message is found to contain a hidden warning about the impending attack on Kathil. Greatly alarmed, Hanse Davion pulls together all available forces and reluctantly puts Morgan Hasek-Davion in command of the ad-hoc defenders because of his apparent military genius and the urgency of the mission (Morgan had been held on New Avalon for safety as he was Hanse's designated heir). Furthermore, he is tasked with traveling to Sian and extract a Davion agent following the defense of Kathil.
In the Draconis Combine, Theodore Kurita is mounting an effective defense against the Steiner front in the ongoing war. Under his skilled leadership troops are drawn together at Dromini VI for a counter-offensive. However, the LIC learns of this in time. For his failed coup (and in the face of proof of his complicity, provided by Ryan Steiner), Katrina Steiner offers Frederick Steiner the chance to lead his elite 10th Lyran Guards in a suicidal attack against Dromini VI to destroy the Kurita supplies stockpiled there, with the understanding that he is not supposed to return. Deeply tired of politics and a soldier at heart, he accepts for the greater good of the Commonwealth.
Book 4: Honor
During a session of the First Circuit on 19 August 3029, Myndo Waterly openly proposes to remove Primus Julian Tiepolo from office. Before he can respond to her motion, he suffers a heart attack and hardliner Waterly is elected his successor.
Morgan Hasek-Davion arrives on Kathil on 29 August 3029 with Andrew Redburn's unit and the survivors of the 5th Syrtis Fusiliers under his command. He forms Redburn's unit and the Kathil Militia into a new unit, the Kathil Uhlans, and immediately begins to prepare the planet's defenses. When the Death Commandos approach on 7 September, one Union is destroyed by redirecting the microwave transmitters of the Kearny-Fuchida Yare Industries complex. The Liao attack is narrowly repulsed by Morgan's Kathil Uhlans, and the demoralized 4th Tau Ceti Rangers DropShips surrender to the Uhlans in return for the promise to repatriate them to the Free Tikonov Republic. Morgan Hasek-Davion seizes the chance to use the ships to spirit his remaining troops to Sian for his second mission, pretending to deliver Morgan as a captive. The failure of the attack reveals the presence of a Davion agent in House Liao's inner circle, and Alexi Malenkov is apprehended by Tsen Shang.
On 10 September, the NAIS complex on New Avalon comes under attack from what appear to be Death Commando troops as well. Riva Allard and Kym Sorenson, who work in the labs, are caught in the fighting as are the mercenaries of Team Banzai who are being treated at the facility. Hanse Davion personally joins the fight in his BattleMaster, and the attack is narrowly repulsed.
Frederick Steiner did not return from his mission to Dromini VI—he has been captured. Just as he is interrogated by Theodore Kurita himself, news arrive that Kurita's JumpShip fleet in the Dromini system was sabotaged by Lyran operatives. Enraged at such treachery, Kurita proceeds to shoot Frederick Steiner on the spot.
Book 5: Courage
In Castle Lestrade on Summer, Clovis Holstein confronts his father, Duke Aldo Lestrade, reveals his identity and finally watches the Duke die from the poison he gave him.
The Kell Hounds under Morgan Kell and the Genyosha under Yorinaga Kurita finally meet for their prearranged showdown on Nusakan. The 5th Sword of Light regiment under Palmer Conti is already present on-world and has attacked the Kell Hounds, but with little success. Ultimately, Morgan Kell and Yorinaga Kurita face each other for a replay of their epic duel from thirteen years earlier. The duel ends like the first: Yorinaga gains the upper hand, but to the shock and awe of friends and foes alike Kell's 'Mech essentially vanishes from all targeting systems and Yorinaga Kurita finds that he is unable to hit Kell's Archer at pointblank range to deliver a coup de gracê, to the point where his attempts overheat his Warhammer in the Nusakan desert and cause a shutdown. Shamed, Yorinaga concedes victory to Kell. He then commits seppuku. After the ceremony, Akira Brahe and around a dozen Genyosha MechWarriors, feeling the Combine has shamed or betrayed them, announce they will join the Kell Hounds while others including Narimasa Asano remain loyal, yet accept their decision.
The 4th Tau Ceti Rangers DropShips carrying Morgan Hasek-Davion, Andrew Redburn and the Kathil Uhlans descend on Sian to a reception by the local dignitaries (including Justin Xiang and Candace Liao) and a parade of Warrior House Imarra BattleMechs that have been refitted with the Triple Strength Myomer recovered from Bethel. Unexpectedly, the DropShips open fire with missiles containing a green gas. As it turns out, the gas reacts violently with the new myomer, disabling the defending BattleMechs before they can mount an effective defense. Andrew Redburn goes to find the unknown Davion agent they were sent to recover and is shocked to find it is none other that Justin Xiang who utters the code phrase ("sic semper tyrannis") to him—Justin had been a Davion agent all along! In the chaos, the Kathil Uhlans manage to extract not only Justin but also Alexi Malenkov. Candace Liao has Justin at gunpoint as he leaves a message holodisk behind. Cornered by Tsen Shang and his troops, they fight their way out together and she decides to go with him. Upon their triumphant return to the Federated Suns, Justin Xiang Allard, Alexi Malenkov (Alex Mallory), Andrew Redburn and Morgan Hasek-Davion receive decorations and highest praise in a big ceremony on 29 August 3029.
Myndo Waterly, who was the real power behind the "Death Commando" attack on New Avalon, announces to the First Circuit her plans for ComStar's future: She is determined to take a more active role. As a first step, she has bargained for a permission to station armed forces at all HPG stations in the Federated Suns in exchange for lifting the communications interdict. This shall be a first step towards similar measures in other states, and eventually, in strengthening ComStar's political position. The order will never be the same again.
By 15 December 3029, Maximilian Liao's mind has been shattered by the crushing defeat that Hanse Davion delivered. Romano Liao has taken over as the de-facto ruler of the remnant of the Capellan Confederation and is making plans for revenge.
- Dan Allard
- Fuh Teng
- Quintus Allard
- Riva Allard
- Misha Auburn
- B. Banzai
- Akira Brahe
- Jeana Clay
- Palmer Conti
- Hanse Davion
- Morgan Hasek-Davion
- Clovis Holstein
- Danica Holstein
- Morgan Kell
- Theodore Kurita
- Yorinaga Kurita
- Aldo Lestrade
- Candace Liao
- Maximilian Liao
- Romano Liao
- Tormana Liao
- Alexi Malenkov
- Andrew Redburn
- Joachim Rheinstag
- Tsen Shang
- Kym Sorenson
- Frederick Steiner
- Katrina Steiner
- Melissa Steiner
- Julian Tiepolo
- Fredek Vebber
- Justin Xiang Allard
- Zhelang Qua
- Brazen Heart (mentioned)
- New Avalon
- Solaris VII
- Centurion (also Yen-Lo-Wang)
- Phoenix Hawk LAM (mentioned)
- unspecified combat exoskeletons (used by CCAF troopers in training)
- Like other early BattleTech novels my Michael A. Stackpole, the book's first edition by FASA features a tongue-in-cheek "About the author" appendix of dubious canonicity in the end. It is written as a ComStar dossier in which Michael A. Stackpole, referring to and continuing from similar writeups in the previous novels, describes himself as a delusional subject who maintains that he is a historical writer who was born in 1957 and was held in the "ComStar Reeducation Compound: Phoenix". A situation update from ROM dated 2 August 3030 alerts the ROM headquarters at Langley, Terra, that he eluded his captors and is suggested to have possibly been extracted by the Manannan MacLir which took off from the Phoenix spaceport and escaped the system by means of a JumpShip at a pirate jump point just the other side of Saturn; a "shoot on sight" order is issued.
Original 1988 cover. Art by David English.
1998 anniversary edition cover. Art by Peter Peebles.
1990 German cover. Art by Alan Gutierrez.
2005 German reprint cover. Art by Franz Vohwinkel.
1990 spanish hardcover edition. Art by Ciruelo Cabral
2018 reprint (30th anniversary edition). Art by Marco Mazzoni