Flight of the Falcon
|Flight of the Falcon|
|Cover artwork||Ray Lundgren|
|First published||1 June 2004|
|Era||Dark Age era|
|Series||MechWarrior: Dark Age Novels|
|Preceded by||Patriot's Stand|
|Followed by||Blood of the Isle|
From the Back CoverEdit
|“|| A Clan Jade Falcon force is en route to eradicate the Steel Wolves—but its true mission is the subjugation of The Republic of the Sphere. Constrained by an imposed peace for decades, the Falcons embark on their most spectacular war in generations—and the lust for blood runs hot...
Siblings Malvina and Aleks are Jade Falcon's best and brightest MechWarriors. Each achieved high command at a young age, and their bond is strong, but so is their rivalry. While Aleks believes warriors should protect the weak, Malvina is obsessed with dark visions of power and glory. If the leader of the Clan is destined to rule the Inner Sphere, then Malvina's first step toward seizing that role for herself is to conquer The Republic... or utterly destroy it.
On Skye, Tara Campbell faces a major invasion with too few Highlanders to beat it back. Some in the Planetary Council want to negotiate with the invaders to spare Skye the frightful carnage visited on other worlds. Now Tara—The Republic's greatest defender—finds herself fighting dissension at home when unity is needed in the face of Skye's greatest crisis ever...
The kaptain of mercantile JumpShip Faust von Himmel is terrified when a fleet of assault JumpShips arrive in Summit led by a Nightlord-class WarShip. Onboard, Clan Jade Falcon saKhan Beckett Malthus and Star Admiral Dolphus Binetti discuss the strategy of the Jade Falcon desant. Named after an ancient Terran military tactic of using airborne drops to land infantry deep in enemy territory for decapitation strikes, the Falcon's maneuver is to greatly expand its influence by striking through the Lyran Commonwealth into the chaotic Republic of the Sphere. Malthus would lead three Galaxies into Prefecture IX to establish a bridgehead which Khan Jana Pryde would later reinforce. The Falcons do not reveal their plans to the Lyrans, simply saying they are hunting the hated Steel Wolves. Not wanting an invasion, the Commonwealth turns a blind eye.
Galaxy Commanders Aleksandr Hazen and Malvina Hazen are called the "Eyes of the Falcon" among the Clan as the sibmates are the premiere Falcon ristars and a rare example of two Bloodnames won by the same sibko. Though devoted to each other, their personalities could not be more different. Aleks wins a Trial of Grievance against an Elemental with typical panache but does not kill him, as that would be an unnecessary waste of a warrior. The Trial was over an insult to one of Aleks' technicians, which he believes is a insult to the way a warrior should behave. Aleksandr sees himself as a hero of old, a knightly warrior that rules justly and protects the weak. Malvina agrees with his results, but not his reasoning. The defeat of the Elemental was good for discipline and enforcing dominance – violence and victory establish what is right. Aleks' sister is a firm believer of the Mongol Doctrine of warfare and it bleeds into her nihilist vision as well: strength is morality and if terror and slaughter will accomplish a goal than that is the prerogative of the strong.
The Khan has declared no Trials of Grievance during the desant as they could disrupt the complex mission. SaKhan Malthus knows about the Trial but ignores it, another subtle manipulation to control the extraordinarily charismatic ristars. Bec Malthus is a political mastermind, the quiet power behind the Khan, and is well aware of the dangerous potential of the Eyes of the Falcon. Aleksandr's knightly approach to war is childlike but inspiring and harkens back to the original traditions of the Clan. Malvina's Mongol Doctrine is monstrous but effective at a time when traditional Clan doctrines have failed. Aleks can be led by appealing to his better nature. Malvina's beliefs are ultimately heretical to the Jade Falcons and if necessary her and her adherents can be shamed into acquiescence. The trick is to exploit their talents to the fullest without giving up control. To do this he pits the sibmates and their philosophies against each other, knowing they are evenly matched and too devoted to destroy each other, and certain that he can influence the winner.
Khan Jana Pryde loaned her saKhan her personal unit, the Turkina Keshik. Malvina commands the elite Delta Galaxy, the "Gyrfalcons", who are devoted to her. Aleksandr had been given command of Zeta Galaxy, "Turkina's Beak", a dezgra Galaxy filled with green and solahma warriors. He chose it deliberately, as victory with a rehabilitated force would be greater than victory with an elite Galaxy.
On Shionoha in the Draconis Combine, the Knave of Hearts, a covert operative, escapes a police raid by blowing up his apartment. His mission, to inject a virus into JumpShip navigation systems to interrupt DCMS logistics, was a success. He exalts in the chaos and disappears into the population.
At Beckett's insistence, and over Aleks' objections, Turkina's Beak raids the poorly defended planet Porrima to give its warriors a taste of battle. While an easy victory, Aleksandr is almost assassinated by a sniper; Star Colonel Magnus Icaza gives his life to save him. Aleks levels the surrounding district as punishment, though his actions haunt him.
Alerted to a potential Falcon invasion, Exarch Damien Redburn sends hero of the Republic, Countess Tara Campbell, to Skye to reinforce Prefecture IX for the coming war. Though still exhausted from repelling the Steel Wolves' assault of Terra, she takes with her a portion of her Northwind Highlanders. She is met by the complicated politics of Prefecture IX, which is riven between current loyalties to the Republic, older loyalties to House Steiner, and even older dreams of independence. Prefect Duke Gregory Kelswa-Steiner is a Republic loyalist, but his son Jasek is a Steiner nationalist who founded the Stormhammers to defend the Isle of Skye against anyone, including the RAF. When the Stormhammers left the system they took the best of the planet's soldiers with them, leaving only the unruly and untested Skye Militia.
Following the blooding on Porrima, the Falcons conquer the planet Chaffee in Steiner space, more because of its central location than its isorla value. Though the taking of the planet is unremarkable, the populous quickly starts an uprising and guerilla war. The unprepared Caracara is destroyed by a kamikaze strike from a civilian Planetlifter, doing significant damage to the saKhan's Turkina Keshik. In response, Malvina orders the Hamilton Massacre, slaughtering all 50,000 inhabitants of the city of Hamilton.
Though Chaffee is not thoroughly pacified, the saKhan begins the desant in earnest with a rapid, continuous invasion of Prefecture IX. Aleksandr and Malvina continue their philosophical argument with their tactics: Zeta Galaxy takes Alkaid by Trial of Possession and keeps the population calm by promising not to overly meddle in their affairs. Malvina's Delta Galaxy takes Ryde, also by Trial of Possession. After the planet capitulates, Malvina decimates 6,800 random citizens on live Tri-Vid to enforce obedience. Zeta takes Summer with brilliant tactics. Delta leaves Zebebelgenubi in slaughter.
Not all Falcon offenses are successful. Star Colonel Noritomo Helmer's force become mired on Kimball II and are unable to rejoin the Expeditionary Force. The tiny garrison left behind on Chaffee is killed by an angry mob, unknowingly encouraged by Anastasia Kerensky. The Steel Wolves are hiding in the La Blon system; battered, low on supplies, and deeply shocked by their loss on Terra. Kerensky has killed a number of her own warriors in Trials of Grievance. When word comes that the Jade Falcons are in the Prefecture hunting the Wolves she takes a JumpShip to see their progress and discovers the force is smaller than expected. The invasion, at this point, can only really take and hold a single world, and the target must be Skye.
The Jade Falcon Galaxies had suffered significant casualties by striking so many systems in such a short time, notably fanatical Delta Galaxy, now at 50% readiness. Meanwhile, since arriving on Skye, Countess Tara Campbell has been building a volunteer unit called the Forlorn Hope to augment her undermanned Highlanders and the untested Militia. She also struggles with local politics, especially with conniving Chief Minister of Skye Augustus Solvaig, but finds unexpected help from Republic "forensic accountant" Paul Laveau.
Battle of SkyeEdit
The three Galaxies reunite in August, and shortly before launching the assault on Skye saKhan Malthus calls a kurultai to decide the tactics of battle. Again he pits the sibmates against each other, letting both speak to the warriors for their own approach to war. Shockingly, Malvina uses the opportunity to cut the saKhan's last advantage over her. She openly and proudly admits that the Mongol Doctrine is heretical and that fact does not matter. Clan Jade Falcon has grown beyond the original vision of the Founder and the Doctrine is the natural evolution of her people. Her vision wins the kurultai and her "heresy" is accepted, at least among the warriors of the desant. Beckett has lost the opportunity to shame her and her Mongol Doctrine into silence. Malvina Hazen is now unbound.
Undeterred, Aleks demands a Trial of Refusal. Since Malvina won the vote 2-to-1, by right she can respond with a second defender. Instead she chooses to fight alone, augmented. For the first time Aleks defeats her 'Mech-to-'Mech, forcing the invasion to be fought on his terms. Enraged and embarrassed, Malvina launches an attack anyway with her Golden Talons but they are caught in a trap and several of her 'Mechs are incinerated by explosives. Finally chastened, she obeys the saKhan's orders and joins his Keshik as it descends at speed on the city of New London.
Ardent and overeager, the Forlorn Hope die in large numbers but their sacrifice slows down the Falcon's advance. Skye's defense in depth further staggers the Jade Falcon forces. Seeing an opportunity, Tara Campbell attacks Malvina Hazen's Shrike from behind with a swing of her Hatchetman's hatchet. Malvina's instincts save her, but the close-quarters combat prevents her much heavier 'Mech from pummeling Campbell with its weaponry. Instead she starts crushing the Hatchetman in a bear hug. Tara Bishop's Pack Hunter slips around the Shrike and unleashes an Alpha Strike. Malvina shrugs it off and fires her Ultra AC/5, forcing Bishop to eject. The Countess frees herself enough to use her autocannon, cracking Malvina's cockpit and felling her 'Mech. Their exalted commander defeated, the Gyrfalcons claim her Shrike and withdraw.
While Delta Galaxy is defeated and Zeta Galaxy weakened, Turkina Keshik has seen little fighting and reinforces the line. Aleksandr reaches Malvina's broken Shrike and finds her alive but comatose. He and the remnants of Turkina's Beak go headhunting for Tara Campbell.
Paul Laveau finds Chief Minister Solvaig alone in his home, preparing to flee the city. Calling him a traitor to Skye he placidly kills him and then heads for the nearby spaceport. Hearing on the radio that the Falcons had breached the city's outer defenses and were slicing through the suburbs, he turns his motorcycle around. Though his mission is complete, he decides that a Falcon victory here is a fundamental threat to his employers; besides, he is a "romantic at heart". He happens upon a forward scouting Jade Falcon Phoenix Hawk IIC and climbs it with just ripper gloves. The pilot, distracted by a pair of Demon medium tanks, realizes too late that the operative has forced open the cockpit door and is shot. With an advanced Loki codebreaker, he is able to use the foreign neurohelmet and turns to join the Falcon front line.
The Turkina Keshik is too much for Skye's defenders and they start to break, but too late, as Anastasia Kerensky has timed her Steel Wolves arrival to perfection. At the cusp of a total rout, Campbell is forced to swallow her hatred and accept Kerensky's terms: Republic amnesty for the Steel Wolves while in-system and Jade Falcon isorla in exchange for their support. Bid well and done, Kerensky herself hot drops into the battlefield. The Falcons begin to withdraw as Steel Wolf DropShips land behind their lines. However, Aleksandr and his Turkina's Beak linger as they have found Tara Campbell's Hatchetman. She offers hegira which Aleks declines; instead he rushes her, the image of a hero. Campbell's hatchet strike is both lucky and flawless, cleaving the head of his Gyrfalcon in two. Aleks' honor guard goes berserk and Tara is only able to retreat with the help of Kerensky and an unexpected suicide strike by Laveau. Aleksandr's body recovered, Zeta Galaxy joins the retreat from Skye.
The Steel Wolves leave the system with significant isorla – captured 'Mechs, new supplies, and the improved morale they desperately needed.
Prefect Duke Kelswa-Steiner learns that Chief Minister Solvaig was a Marik-Stewart SAFE operative, working to further destabilize the Republic. He remembers that his son had never trusted the man, and considering the infiltration and dysfunction of the government he may need the support of incorruptible soldiers, even if their loyalty is not to the Republic. He begins making overtures to the Stormhammers.
Tara learns from Republic Intelligence that the Loki agent Knave of Hearts is in the region and concludes that Paul Laveau must have him, and is probably still alive since a body was never found. The Knave of Hearts himself has moved on as "Rabbi Yitzhak Martínez", traveling to Syrma for some downtime.
Malvina Hazen finally awakes to hear from Bec Malthus that her brother is dead. Rage and grief overwhelm her and she calls for the death of every being in the universe, including herself, and breaks down weeping. Malthus is certain that without the emotional balance of Aleksandr he will now be able to control her and her bestial Mongol Doctrine. Her charisma and vision are far beyond that of Khan Jana Pryde, and her potential greater still. She and her fanatics are his ultimate weapon. He tells her that her nihilism is salvation, her hate will bind all of humanity, and names her the Chinggis Khan.
- Flight of the Falcon is the first MechWarrior: Dark Age novel about Clan Jade Falcon and begins the desant storyline. It continues in Blood of the Isle and A Rending of Falcons.
- For some reason Clan warriors use the Inner Sphere names for 'Mechs instead of Clan ones.
- Galaxy Commander Aleksandr Hazen
- Galaxy Commander Anastasia Kerensky
- Master Sergeant Angus McCorkle
- Chief Minister of Skye Augustus Solvaig
- saKhan Beckett Malthus
- Exarch Damien Redburn
- Prefect Della Brown
- Star Admiral Dolphus Binetti
- Star Captain Folke Jorgensson
- Duke Gregory Kelswa-Steiner, Prefect of Prefecture IX
- Star Colonel Magnus Icaza
- Galaxy Commander Malvina Hazen
- Star Colonel Noritomo Helmer
- Paul Laveau
- Master Merchant Senna
- Captain Tara Bishop
- Countess Tara Campbell, Prefect of Prefecture III
- Black Hawk
- Mad Cat
- Night Gyr
- Pack Hunter
- Phoenix Hawk IIC
- Ryoken II
- Shadow Hawk IIC
- Tundra Wolf
- Asshur Artillery Spotter
- Bellona Hover Tank
- Crow Scout VTOL
- Demon Medium Tank
- DI Schmitt Heavy Tank
- Donar Assault Helicopter
- Epona Pursuit Tank
- Fox Hovertank
- JES II Strategic Missile Carrier
- JES III Missile Carrier
- Marksman M1 Heavy Tank
- Mars Assault Tank
- Nacon Armored Scout
- Planetlifter Air Transport
- Scimitar Mk.II Hover Tank
- Shandra Advanced Scout Vehicle
- Skanda Light Tank
- Sekhmet Medium Tank
- SM1 Tank Destroyer
- Carrier-class White Fist
- Overlord-C-class Bec de Corbin
- Union-C-class Caracara
- Union-C-class Red Dragon
- Blue Bayou (unknown class)
- Red Heart (unknown class)
- Paris MacBride (unknown class)
- White Reaper (unknown class)
- Black Dalliance (unknown class)
- Dan-no-Ura (unknown class)
- Faust von Himmel (unspecified mercantile JumpShip)
- La Vie en Rose (unknown class)