|Author||Loren L. Coleman|
|Cover artwork||Bruce Jensen|
|First published||01 July 1997|
|Era||Clan Invasion era|
The novel was made available on BattleCorps on 2 September 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 coverEdit
|“|| BLOOD, STEEL, AND HONOR
Aris Sung is a rising young star in House Hiritsu, noblest of the Warrior Houses that have sworn allegiance to the Capellan Confederation. The Sarna Supremacy, a newly formed power in the Chaos March, is giving the Confederation some trouble—and Aris and his Hiritsu comrades are chosen to give the Sarnans a harsh lesson in Capellan resolve. But there is far more to the mission than meets the eye—and unless Aris beats the odds in a race against time and treachery, all the ferro-fibrous armor in the galaxy won't be enough to save House Hiritsu from the high-explosive cross fire of intrigue and shifting loyalties...
During the New Year celebrations at the Forbidden Palace on Sian on 21 February 3058, Chancellor Sun-Tzu Liao summons House Master Ion Rush for a private discussion. Rush fears that the Chancellor might have him killed for his part in the assassination of his mother Romano Liao, of which he is certain the Chancellor is aware. However, the Chancellor instead discusses the Confederation's strategic disposition with him and announces that he has decided to send a Warrior House to invade the Sarna Supremacy, a troublesome state in the newly formed Chaos March that stands in the way of reclaiming old Capellan holdings.
On 24 April 3047, 13-year-old Aris Sung has been arrested by Lance Leader Ty Wu Non for breaking into the House Hiritsu stronghold on Randar and stealing Crescent Moon, the ceremonial sword, from the House Master's throne room. Having prepared for this moment for the past 18 months, Aris manages to impress House Master Virginia York enough to be accepted into House Hiritsu despite being over-age. Ty Wu Non, who has developed an intense dislike for the street urchin, is appointed his mentor.
Chapters 1 through 6Edit
The war against the Sarna Supremacy opens with an attack against Kaifeng, a vital breadbasket world. The other two Sarna Supremacy worlds, Sarna and Sakhalin, depend on its food exports, making Kaifeng the fulcrum to bring the Sarna Supremacy to its knees.
On 10 July 3058 Jodo Shinsa, the Olympus-class recharge station at the zenith jump point of the Kaifeng system, registers the arrival of the JumpShip Liu. Carrying House Hiritsu troops, the Liu uses battle damage from a staged pirate encounter as a pretext to dock with the station. However, when it turns out that modifications to the station have sealed off their intended route to the comm center, Aris Sung has to damage its transmitter array to prevent the crew from transmitting a warning to the planet. After the transmitter has been repaired, the captured station staff are then coerced into cooperating to help cover up the ongoing invasion.
Shortly afterwards, House Master Virginia York is found murdered in the station commander's stateroom. Battalion Leader (previously Senior Company Leader) Ty Wu Non takes her place as leader of the attack forces. Aboard the Hiritsu JumpShip Tao-te he promotes Aris to Company Leader pro tem in his stead, but privately makes it clear to Aris that he only does this so that any failure of the operation will fall upon Aris whose overall battle plan House Master York had previously decided to accept.
Warrior House Hiritsu has just put down a rebellion on Gei-Fu, and House Master York is present in the Hsien Park in the city of Yushui to personally oversee the execution of the rebel leadership on 8 March 3051. 16 year old Aris Sung is present as one of the Hiritsu infantrymen on guard duty. Suddenly a Stinger, the last remaining rebel BattleMech on the planet, emerges from the nearby river where it had secretly approached underwater, and attacks the assembled Hiritsu troopers. Using grapple rods from dead infantrymen around him, Aris Sung climbs up to the 'Mech's head and pretends his medkit to be a satchel charge. The enemy MechWarrior surrenders, and Virginia York subsequently assigns the captured Stinger to Aris, thereby promoting him to the ranks of the Hiritsu MechWarriors.
Chapters 7 through 18Edit
While the four Hiritsu DropShips move towards Kaifeng there is some subtle bickering among the MechWarriors concerning the best battle plan. On 20 July, shortly before the DropShips enter the planet's atmosphere, they are surprisingly intercepted by Aerospace Fighters (Sparrowhawks and Lightnings) who had been hidden behind Kaifeng's tiny moon, Nochen. Faced with the possibility that the enemy is not as unaware of the attack as hoped, Aris makes some last-minute alterations to his battle plan.
Later on the same day, Aris' 'Mech company is on the ground and engaged in combat in the Tarrahouse district, one of the cargo centers on Kaifeng where grain produce is shipped down the Jinxiang River. At Port Terminal 12 North the well-prepared defenders (Jacob's Juggernauts) spring a trap on his company using numerous 'Mechs with heavy tank support, and the Hiritsu troops barely manage to withdraw across the river, losing MechWarrior Justin Loup and his Hatchetman in the process. After some field repairs, Aris decides to change the plan again and move directly into the city of Tarrahouse. When his subordinates object, he reasons that the plan was to draw the defenders out of the city, which they have obviously achieved already.
They are ambushed again shortly afterwards by a Kaifeng SMM 'Mech company under Major Karl Bartlett while crossing a bridge across the Jinxiang River. Recognizing Bartlett's BJ-2O Blackjack Omni, Aris realizes that they are up against regular Sarnese troops and orders his company to retreat. His own Wraith takes damage to its jump jets in mid-jump over the river and falls into the waters; Aris blacks out.
Waking up somewhat later, still strapped into his submerged 'Mech's cockpit, Aris realizes that he is now behind enemy lines and remembers the Stinger on Gei-Fu. He crawls his 'Mech underwater right into the city of Tarrahouse, where he disembarks in Lake Ch'u Yuan in a park area, swims ashore and enters the city. He soon meets and befriends Li Wynn, a petty criminal.
Two days later, the Hiritsu commanders hold a strategy meeting in an administrative building near the (already secured) Beijing Aerodrome on Kaifeng. Aris Sung is considered missing in action, and it is obvious that the Hiritsu attack had been anticipated by the defenders. Tarrahouse is the last stronghold of the defenders. Ty Wu Non reveals that the Capellan Confederation's nascent WarShip navy has enacted a blockade of Sarna and that no reinforcements will be arriving for the defenders. Honoring the population's chinese heritage and customs, a cease-fire is announced for the Dragon Boat festival in three days; the Hiritsu officers hope that the defenders will somehow break the cease-fire and thereby lose their standing with the population.
One day later, on 23 July, Aris is frustrated because he has been unable to relay a message to his House from within the city. Li Wynn tells him about the cease-fire and that a Hiritsu attack is expected before it takes effect. Aris is shocked to learn that the Kaifeng SMM receives intelligence on the attackers' movements from a Hiritsu traitor, and are preparing an ambush.
One mercenary MechWarrior in Tarrahouse has been bribed by criminals to kick in jewelry stores and banks during urban combat so that they can be robbed. Li Wynn takes Aris along for the action. When the Hiritsu attack comes, Aris manages to foil one of the defenders' traps and alerts a fellow Hiritsu 'Mech with molotov cocktails and Hiritsu infantry signals, warning his comrades about the trap. The Hiritsu forces disengage, but cannot evacuate Aris whose track is lost during combat.
During the Marik-Liao offensive into the Chaos March (Operation Guerrero), one Hiritsu company fights on Sarmaxa under the command of Ty Wu Non. In a running battle on 2 August 3057, Ty's Charger is paired with Aris' Wraith. Ty repeatedly ignores Aris' tactical advice and rebukes his plans, even after suffering heavy damage to his 'Mech, and Aris unquestioningly accepts the decision of his superior officer despite his conviction that his own plan would work better.
Chapters 19 through 30Edit
Having survived the battle with minor wounds, Aris decides to track down the Hiritsu traitor. At the same time, the Hiritsu officers decide to start a rescue mission and Company Leader Terry Chan volunteers to infiltrate Tarrahouse to extract Aris.
Meanwhile, Major Bartlett plots to step out of General Cynthia Fallon's shadow and reap the reputation of having defeated a Capellan Warrior House. He dupes two of his MechWarriors into piloting militia 'Mechs painted in Hiritsu colors and launching a terror raid against the Dragon Boat Festival during the cease-fire to discredit House Hiritsu.
At a seedy bar, Aris is listening to militia MechWarriors talking when Terry Chan enters and openly calls him by his name. She escorts him out of the bar where Major Bartlett arrests Aris. Terry explains that she is disgusted with how the Warrior Houses are treated by the Capellan leadership; a discontented group from within House Hiritsu has chosen to leak information to the enemy so that combat attrition among the loyal elements will wash the traitors up into leading positions, effectively giving them control of the House. Li Wynn overhears the entire conversation from a hiding place under a car, including a later mentioning of plan to "smash" the Dragon Boat Festival with painted militia 'Mechs. When the unconscious Aris is hurled into the back of Bartlett's car for questioning and later disposal, Li rescues him by stealing the car.
During the Dragon Boat Festival on the next day, Aris and Li are part of the rowing crew aboard one of the racing boats. When two black-and-green 'Mechs approach, Aris commandeers the boat and has it move to the makeshift buoy that marks his own BattleMech's resting place in the lake. Retrieving his Wraith, Aris defeats the two attackers (a Raven and a Blackjack) which are posing as Hiritsu 'Mechs, then returns into the lake.
Back at the Hiritsu camp, Terry Chan reports on the 'Mech battle and declares that Aris Sung has turned renegade on House Hiritsu after being criticized for his unsuccessful battle plan at every turn; she alleges he is now fighting a private war. At the same time, Major Bartlett, having murdered the surviving Kaifeng SMM warrior from the fake Hiritsu 'Mechs to cover up his ploy, delivers a twisted report to General Fallon and secretly plots to make her a priority target for the Hiritsu troops.
During the night, Aris moves his 'Mech underwater to the Hiritsu camp at Port Terminal 5 South, disembarks and infiltrates the camp to confront Ty Wu Non whom he manages to convince of Terry Chan's duplicity. They then form a plan: Terry Chan is set up with a false battle plan in a tactical meeting, and is caught red-handed when attempting to transmit the data to Bartlett. To save the face of House Hiritsu, she and four others who had conspired with her are offered the chance to redeem themselves as a suicidal attack commando in the real battle; her message to Bartlett is sent anyways as the false information therein will set the defending forces up for the real Hiritsu ambush. In the ensuing battle on 27 July, Terry Chan and four other Hiritsu MechWarriors pilot 'Mechs rigged with explosive devices in the cockpits to ensure their deaths in battle.
The defenders, having relied on the fake Hiritsu battle plan, are decisively beaten in the last battle. Ty Wu Non and Aris Sung together bring down General Fallon's Atlas. Surviving the destruction of her Cataphract against all odds, Terry Chan personally climbs Bartlett's Blackjack, mimicking Aris' achievement with the Stinger back on Gei-Fu, but her satchel charge is a real one. In plain sight of Aris, she squeezes the demolition charge through a crack in Bartlett's cockpit window, killing both him and herself.
Following the defeat of the planetary defenders, a press conference is held near the spaceport and General Cynthia Fallon announces the defeat of her forces. During the formal surrender, Aris steals Crescent Moon once more (from Ty's quarters) and proceeds to execute Company Leader Thom Lindell with the blade for the murder of Virginia York, stressing that Ty Wu Non is not yet House Master and that it therefore still is Virginia York's blade. It is revealed that Lindell was another conspirator, but Aris considered him different from the others, less honorable and more dangerous to the House, and therefore had denied him the chance to redeem himself in a suicide action.
In the Celestial Palace on Sian, Ion Rush meets with Strategic Director Talon Zahn on 9 August to discuss the outcome of the Kaifeng campaign. Ty Wu Non has reported the world pacified and requested additional garrison troops with are going to be granted.
- Karl Bartlett, Kaifeng SMM Major
- Terry Chan, WH Hiritsu MechWarrior (Lance Leader)
- Raven Clearwater, WH Hiritsu MechWarrior
- Cynthia Fallon, Kaifeng SMM General
- Sun-Tzu Liao, Chancellor of the Capellan Confederation
- Ty Wu Non, WH Hiritsu MechWarrior (Battalion Commander)
- Ion Rush, WH Imarra House Master
- Aris Sung, WH Hiritsu MechWarrior (Company Leader)
- Li Wynn, a pickpocket from the Tarrahouse district on Kaifeng
- Virginia York, WH Hiritsu House Master
- Talon Zahn, Strategic Director of the Capellan Confederation
- Battle Hawk
- Blackjack Omni
- Hermes II
- Huron Warrior
- Shadow Hawk
- War Dog
- Olympus-class space station Jodo Shinsa (modified, with several decks of long-term storage lockers)