|Cover artwork||Arndt Drechsler|
|Publisher||Fantasy Productions GmbH|
|Product code|| 31021 (print)|
|Era||Succession Wars era|
|Series||Classic BattleTech Novels|
Karma, by Bernard Craw, is the 17th of the German-language Classic BattleTech Novels published by FanPro. It describes an unauthorized raid by forces from the Free Worlds League's Duchy of Andurien against the Capellan world of Niomede at the onset of the Fourth Succession War.
The novel explores the technological and cultural implications of life in an underground civilization living in terraformed caverns, and the special characteristics of combat on the surface of the airless planet and within the cavern cities. It provides very detailed information about the planet Niomede-4 and its unusual civilization which combines typical Capellan tenets with unique local concerns such as the Worm Cult, a local religion centering around the planet and its native lifeforms, the Niomede Worms.
Written in German and exclusively published in that language so far, Karma does not meet the current criteria for Canon in the BattleTech universe. As an official product published under a valid license, it should be regarded as apocryphal.
The author himself stated on the CBT forums that the story was thoroughly checked for compliance with established canon and continuity prior to publication, and therefore it should not have canonicity issues with any previously published works. Subsequent (canonical) BattleTech publications are not checked for compliance against this novel, however, and would overrule it in the case of conflicting information.
From the back cover (translated from German)Edit
|“||The vacuum world of Niomede-4 moves along its path in the light of a blue giant star. In 3028, the 3rd Defenders of Andurien seize the window of opportunity in the wake of the Fourth Succession War to conduct a raid on this seemingly unimportant world on the Capellan Confederation's rim. But whatever their target might be: First they must overcome a company of the legendary Warrior House Kamata. And the planetary 'Mech lance that nobody took into accout may yet tip the scales of destiny...||”|
In an entry to his diary dating 15 August 3028, Company Leader Hong Wen Zien of Warrior House Kamata muses about possible reasons why he was posted to Niomede, a backwater world he resents, and about what it means to be a Warrior.
On 30 August 3028 Tiun Kuan, a SAFE agent posing as a meteorite prospector, returns to Niomede's capital city of Bram-Ze with his team after an unsuccessful sortie to stake a claim to the site of a recent asteroid impact on the planet's airless surface. Back in the city, they learn that the Fourth Succession War broke out ten days ago.
On the planet Shiro III in the Duchy of Andurien, Lieutenant General Menlo Drews meets with his daughter Vela, a Colonel with SAFE, on 31 August 3028. Loyal to the Duchy far more than to the Free Worlds League, Menlo Drews is highly critical of the Concord of Kapteyn which he describes as "a paranoid, a coward and a runner amok teaming up". In his opinion, House Liao is bound to go down and drag Houses Marik and Kurita down with it. Acting without sanction from Dame Catherine Humphreys of Andurien, who is on the return voyage from the Davion/Steiner wedding on Terra, Drews hopes to undo the Concord and provoke an attack by the Capellan Confederation through a raid against a research facility on Niomede that one of his daughter's agents revealed to exist. Skribtschak's 'Mech battalion of Drews' regiment, the 3rd Defenders of Andurien, has just finished maneuvers on Sadurni and is ready to jump out shortly, provided that Vela's spy on Niomede can provide data for a suitable Pirate Jump Point.
On 18 September Tiun Kuan, the reluctant SAFE agent on Niomede, forces his girlfriend Ju Tang at gunpoint to provide navigation data for Pirate Jump Points. Scientist Gion Zeng happens to interrupt them and Kuan flees the scene with the jump data printouts.
Three days later, MechWarrior Jen Xiao of the Niomede Lance discusses his sister Goda with his girlfriend Meh. He fears that Goda's political activities will get her in trouble, but Meh reasons that his fame will protect her. When Jen speaks about his dream of leaving Niomede, Meh gives him a self-made silver star amulet engraved with the word "Love".
Later, in a joint training exercise with the Warrior House, Commander Niu Doun, offended by how the Warrior House troops look down on the Niomede Lance under his command, challenges them to hand-to-hand combat with wooden swords and spears. Wen Zien explains that he regards them as parade soldiers, not as warriors, and challenges the Niomede Lance to fight Te Kung who proceeds to defeat all four opponents simultaneously. However, when she spits on the ground before them, Wen Zien harshly calls her to order and she humbly apologizes for her disrespect.
On the following day (22 September), a FWL JumpShip arrives between the third and fourth orbit around the Niomede sun and deploys three Union-class DropShips. Aboard the invaders' flagship Zinne, Major Karla Skribtschak confers with her company commanders. As the agent on the planet has not yet reported the exact location of the secret lab, they plan to attack one city after another in search for it yet agree that they must act quickly before Capellan reinforcements can arrive. Flag Captain Eric Batton complains that they had insufficient vacuum training, but Flag Captain Pavel Padura dismisses this, pointing out that the cavern cities are pressurized. Lieutenant Commander Patrick Hens, the aerospace commander, announces that his Stingray flight will easily be able to neutralize any surface targets on this vaccum world but will be of little use once combat moves underground.
While eavesdropping on members of the scientist caste to find out the location of the secret lab, Tiun Kuan is recognized in a bar by Ju Tang and arrested on 23 September. However, when he is brought before Refrector Elan Yü and the assembled military leaders, Yü falsely deducts from the available information that Kuan, who has not seriously harmed a Capellan citizen so far, must be a Maskirovka agent working undercover. Kuan plays along, but Jen Xiao is not convinced. During the hearing it is reported that enemy DropShips are inbound, then Major Skribtschak advises the Capellans to surrender to her battalion over the radio. Refrector Yü indicates that he would prefer to minimize damage by surrendering the research facility to the attackers. Hong Wen Zien announces that this is not an option. When Yü points out that he represents the Capellan Chancellor on Niomede and moves to answer the radio and negotiate a surrender, Wen Zien draws his sword and nails Yü's hand to the desk with it. In the ensuing commotion, Kuan disarms a guard and escapes.
When he realizes that Kuan is missing, Jen deducts that the spy will need to sabotage the planetary missile battery control center below the observatory. He tries to quickly get there from the Refrector's palace by public transport without causing a panic among the population; owing to his fame, he has to give autograms on the way. When he finally arrives at the observatory he meets Ju Tang and urges her to bring him to the fire control room. Tiun Kuan enters after them, armed with a pistol while Jen finds he had to surrender his sidearm when he was admitted into the palace earlier. Kuan shoots the fire control computer, then leaves, but Ju Tang announces that they still have a day until the ships arrive and that she has an idea.
The three FWL Unions arrive as predicted and prepare to land, escorted by their aerospace fighters. Lured into attacking a 'Mech lance through weak AA fire, the fighters run into unexpected curtain fire from the missile batteries and four out of six Stingrays are destroyed. The Zinne is also damaged by the sudden intense fire, losing a thruster. Once on the ground, however, the DropShips are too low to be targeted by the batteries, and deploy their 'Mechs.
Later on the same day, Ju Tang is commended for jury-rigging an air defense by linking asteroid spotting systems. The ceremony is presided over by Hong Wen Zien who now represents Refrector Yü, who was officially injured in an "accident". After the ceremony, the Capellan officers hold a conference and Wen Zien admits that the loss of the enemy aerospace fighters will not have any impact on the battle in the caves; it is merely useful as a morale boost for the population who is largely unaware of the true situation. Wen Zien's battle plan is for the Niomede Lance to deploy their three Hermes II as baits, to lure the attackers into ambushes by Warrior House troops. Commander Doun objects to this plan and reveals that the Hermes II's advanced avionics allowed for a modification that links them to a grid of sensors placed around the cities. The Niomede Lance can thus cancel out interference from the ore deposits in the rock and benefit from superior sensor performance that amounts to the effects of a lostech Beagle Probe while all other 'Mechs suffer reduced sensor range. Wen Zien is initially angry that he was not told of this beforehand, but humbly acknowledges his mistake when Doun points out that he never bothered to ask about the Niomede Lance's capabilities.
On 25 September, "Long Jopp" leads his FWL scout lance of Locusts across the rocky surface, bombarded by the sun's bright blue light and hard radiation, and notes the extreme temperature in direct sunlight which alone threatens to overheat his 'Mechs. He is unhappy to find that this, combined with the high metal content in the local rocks, renders most 'Mech sensors useless, necessitating a visual reconnaissance run. Ordered to keep radio silence and a low profile, they bypass a missile battery and a six-wheeled Capellan scout vehicle, and proceed into the Taucherschlucht ("Diver's Gorge") where the entrance to Bram-Ze is located. They find defending 'Mechs in the process of constructing a barricade. Five hours later the greater part of the FWL battalion stages a frontal assault. Warrior House Kamata, equipped mostly with UM-R60L UrbanMechs, mounts a dogged defense, but they are pushed back towards the city gates where infantry in space suits and the Niomede Lance have prepared an ambush for the attackers involving explosive charges. It is the first combat action ever for the Niomede Lance. In the face of the enemy, Commander Doun freezes in panic, then simply walks back to the city. MechWarrior Kato Dschi is swarmed by Locusts and dies when his Hermes II is destroyed. Jen Xiao sees how an enemy Orion detects the cable for the hidden charges and cuts it with a laser. In desperation, Jen attacks the much heavier 'Mech and covers its head in flaming gel from his flamer. This causes the enemy pilot to eject into the vaccum in panic. Jen then uses his 'Mech's hand to re-connect the cable and the defenders detonate the charges. This buries several attacking 'Mechs and allows the defenders to retreat behind the city's impregnable airlock.
Unaware of the fighting, Jen's sister Goda returns from a deep mining operation below Bram-Ze with a container full of Niomede Worms, appalled by the living conditions of the servitor castemen working in the mines. When she arrives back in the city proper she finds the population celebrating their victory over the attackers. Militia officer Chawen Xiao, their 65-year-old father, is proud of his son's accomplishments as a MechWarrior, but also remembers that over 100 infantrymen died and seem to be forgotten already. Meanwhile, Jen seeks out his friend, commander and former idol Niu Doun who explains to him how he suddenly realized that the enemy would shoot back, trying to kill him, and how he wanted to see his children grow up. In Doun's words, his wife married a hero and is now married to a coward; he cannot forgive himself.
Later Hong Wen Zien invites Jen to meditate with the Warrior House troops. He explains to Jen that the Niomede Lance were shunned because of the bad Karma of their 'Mechs: Their Hermes II, a model exclusively built in the Free Worlds League, were captured without a fight when their previous owners surrendered them on Ipswich. Doun was overcome by the bad Karma, while Jen proved to be stronger and became a warrior. It is planned that Jen and Private Li Ewuon, who gets to pilot Doun's 'Mech, shall go to the run-down mining city of Wa-L-Sum, where the laboratory is hidden, and evacuate the scientists while House Kamata buys them time by defending Bram-Ze.
The attackers meanwhile decide that they must take the capital to deactivate the space defense system and allow their DropShips to leave safely. Two officers announce that they regard breaking through the airlock as a war crime and would not follow such an order, and Skribtschak sends them to occupy the spaceport of E-Pe instead.
It falls to Jen to deliver a funeral eulogy for his fallen lancemate when Kato Dschi is "brought to the caves" (interred) on 28 September. Afterwards, he and Ju Tang are guests in a talk show where they are hyped as war heroes to boost morale. After the show, they spontaneously make love in the cloak room where they are surprised by Jen's girlfriend Meh.
On 29 September, the warring factions arrange for a no-fire zone at the city airlock, elevators and entrance area to prevent damage to the irreplaceable Star League constructs which are vital to the city's survival. Skribtschak's battalion gains access. Initially awed by the huge cave system with its artificial daylight and ecosystem, they soon wind up in bloody urban fighting and slowly seize control of the city. On the second day of the fighting, while civilians are moved to the safety of the outer burial caves, Niu Doun separates from his family. He comes upon the grave of Kato Dschi and watches as the enemy Locusts cause a bloodbath among the militia, explaining the battle to a bystander that happens to be Ju Tang. They come to briefly discuss their respective roles - she craves to act but has no function besides hollow representation, while he failed to act when he had the chance. Inspired by a bitter remark from Doun that all Capellans should fight, she springs to action in her bright yellow dress to rally the militia, waving a Liao flag and leading them against the 'Mechs. Militia officer Chawen Xiao unsuccessfully tries to reason her out of it. Suddenly an earthquake hits the city, not an unusual occurrence yet a morale boost for the defenders under the circumstances as it briefly halts the attackers. Ju Tang declares this to be a sign of support by the Niomede Worms and leads the hopeless charge on in religious fervor. Major Skribtschak in her Orion reluctantly shoots her with a 'Mech laser in hopes to scatter the militia, to prevent having to kill them all. Meanwhile, Hong Wen Zien's CPLT-K2 Catapult is destroyed, killing him.
Jen and Li embark on their mission to Wa-L-Sum aboard the Silberstreif, a Silic Mining asteroid mining vessel piloted by a disgruntled Goda who took her little daughter with her while her husband elected to fight with the militia. Their Hermes IIs are stowed away in the cargo hold.
On 1 October, Bram-Ze surrenders to Major Skribtschak. She coerces Refrector Yü into revealing the exact position of the secret lab to her. The scorched body of Ju Tang, still alive, is brought to a hospital to be stabilized. The damaged Zinne is sent back to the JumpShip with salvage and the most heavily damaged 'Mechs aboard. Flag Captain Batton is tasked with hunting down Kamata 'Mechs that have withdrawn into the mining tunnels, still genuinely trying to avoid unnecessary deaths.
Meanwhile at Wa-L-Sum, the scientists in their hidden laboratory are oblivious to the dangerous situation while the 'Mech of Li Ewuon delays the rescue mission because of a vacuum leak freezing up a leg. Aboard the Silberstreif Jen, Li and Goda spend many hours frantically trying fix the 'Mech as the lack of tunnels large enough for an asteroid miner to land means that Jen and Li have to walk their 'Mechs into Wa-L-Sum across the airless surface. When they finally approach the airlocks on 2 October, they are enthusiastically greeted and learn that an uprising is going on in Wa-L-Sum - the Servitors are revolting, besieging the citizenry in the administration quarter. On their way to the secret laboratory they cannot avoid getting involved in the conflict, and Jen has to kill numerous rioters to save the lives of a group of militia. Then he learns over the radio that ten enemy 'Mechs are approaching Wa-L-Sum, threatening to blast open the airlock. The scientists have meanwhile realized their predicament and prepare to evacuate via their own surface lifts. Gion Zeng, the young scientific genius, decides that he should use this opportunity to escape Professor Honime Duao, who stole his research results and presented them as her own. Setting up a dummy with worthless data crystals in his stead, he stays back while the other scientists escape and later hitches a ride aboard Jen Xiao's Hermes II. However, the pursuing Locusts are very close and corner them near the exit to the surface. Jen and Li have to fight their way to the airlock and arrive on the surface where they run into more enemy 'Mechs, but the unexpected support from Kamata 'Mechs under the command of Te Kung results in a standoff. After Jen explains the situation to her over the radio, Te Kung negotiates a cease-fire with Major Skribtschak, surrendering the fleeing scientists to the FWL troops. She then orders Jen to board the asteroid miner with Gion Zeng and immediately make for a Capellan JumpShip at the Zenith jump point.
On the next day, Tiun Kuan, who cannot stop thinking about Ju Tang, attends a public speech by Refrector Yü in Bram-Ze. He witnesses how Niu Doun addresses the assembled crowd and delivers a religous sermon about the Worm Cult, how Ju Tang was cleansed in fire and that her survival proves her to be their avatar. Despite, or perhaps because of, his special pariah status, his speech has a great impact. People flock to his words in religious frenzy and Niu Doun is established as a prophet.
On 4 October, while engaging in small talk with her SeniorTech who is disappointed to find Honime Duao nowhere the genius he expected, Major Skribtschak comes to realize that the captured scientists are worthless and that the true scientific genius must have escaped aboard the asteroid miner that left the planet shortly after the cease-fire was declared. She immediately sends orders to her JumpShip to detach a DropShip and capture it. The damaged Zinne had her drive system already disassembled for repairs, but a faster Leopard-class DropShip (with barely any armor remaining) had been carried along for the space dock at Andurien. Flag Captain Borman orders damaged BattleMechs from the Zinne and a Stingray fighter be transferred onto the Leopard and takes it out to intercept the asteroid miner.
A day later, the FWL troops on Niomede begin to pack up and leave the planet. Aboard the asteroid miner, Goda informs Jen that the Leopard will succeed in intercepting them within a few hours because their course called for a swing-by maneuver that will bring them close to the FWL JumpShip. They veer the asteroid miner off-course into an asteroid field, hoping to shake off their pursuers. Jen claims that he does not want to miss what he calls his appointment with his life, referring to the friendly JumpShip, and Goda accuses him of egoistically leaving his home, his family and his girlfriend Meh behind. At that point Jen hands her the star medallion Meh made for him and tells her to return it to Meh. Three hours later they come under attack from the Stingray and elect to land on a major asteroid to hide until help arrives. The Leopard suffers damage from asteroid impacts, lands on the asteroid too and deploys an Orion and a Locust while Jen and Li mount their Hermes IIs. Over the radio Te Kung announces to Jen that a friendly DropShip will relieve them in six hours. Despite being mauled themselves, Jen and Li manage to destroy the Locust and fight the Orion to a stand-off. At that point the attackers agree to a cease-fire which in turn ensures that the asteroid miner and its crew are rescued by the Capellan DropShip.
On 16 November 3028, a ceremony is held at the ducal summer residence on Principia. Duke Pao Tell of Sax decorates the survivors of the Kamata company as well as Jen Xiao and Li Ewuon. Ju Tang, now known as the Aschehexe ("Ash Witch"), and her prophet Niu Doun have arrived on the same JumpShip, and their religion appears to be spreading. Jen cries tears of joy when he visits the ducal gardens and stands beneath a real sky for the first time in his life. Looking in the mirror back in his apartment, Jen finds that his decoration, the Star of Sax, looks very much like another star with the word "Love" engraved on it that someone once gave him in another life...
Major Capellan Confederation charactersEdit
- Commander Niu Doun - The proud commander of the planetary 'Mech lance on Niomede-4 likes to butt heads with Company Leader Wen Zien over the perceived disrespect for his unit. He is a local celebrity until he suffers a nervous breakdown in his first real combat situation. Guilt-ridden, and scorned or ignored by the public henceforward, he is treated like thin air by everybody to the point of never being officially discharged from the military. A pariah forthwith, he finds solace in the Worm Cult religion and becomes a charismatic prophet of the Ash Witch.
- Goda Dscheng - Resenting the Capellan caste system which amounts to slavery for the Servitor caste, Jen Xiao's sister barely passed her philosophical exam, narrowly avoiding the fate of a Servita herself. She still performs as a subversive underground poet in her spare time. Yet she has also come to realize that her skills may grant herself, her husband and their young daughter a comfortable life in Capellan society. Working as an executive for Niom-Silic, the local subsidiary of Silicom Mining, she loves her scientific work on Niomede-4 and declined a promotion because she would have had to leave Niomede for the corporate headquarters on Principia. When Niomede comes under attack, threatening her family, she is also forced to reconsider her pacifistic attitude.
- Subcommander Kato Dschi - As a MechWarrior in the Niomede Lance, he made extensive use of the privileges of his position and positively approved of the Capellan caste system. Killed in battle because Commander Doun abandoned his post.
- Professor Honime Duao - Overrated elderly scientist who became famous in her youth, but has since devoted her life to grooming her reputation instead of advancing her scientific work. Considering herself indispensable, she is in charge of the secret research facility on Niomede-4, but does not really contribute anything to the work and remains oblivious to the fact that she is acutally more of a hindrance. To further her own fame, she presents Gion Zeng's groundbreaking private work as results from her research group without even mentioning him, depriving him of any acknowledgement for his work. Her grip on reality may be waning, as indicated by her childish character and her helpless reaction to the imminent capture of the laboratory; she later repeatedly asks her captors what year it is.
- Private Li Ewuon - The fourth member in the understrength Niomede Lance, she is a fully trained replacement MechWarrior and gets to pilot Niu Doun's HER-2M Hermes II (Mercury variant) after he walks away from his position in the first battle. She provides valuable support to Jen Xiao in later battles.
- Tiun Kuan - A native of Sadurni, which the Free Worlds League conquered from the Capellan Confederation some years ago for the purpose of pressing Capellan citizens into service for SAFE. With his mother held hostage, he is the reluctant spy who uncovered that research equipment was spirited to Niomede and that a Warrior House company was sent to guard this ostensibly unimportant planet. When the Fourth Succession War breaks out he is already working on Niomede under the disguise of a prospector, and has begun a relationship with Ju Tang. Torn between his many loyalties and discovering too late that he truly loved Ju Tang, he manages to disappoint all sides and loses everything. He is noted for unusually strong hairiness.
- Lance Leader Te Kung - Proud pilot of a VND-1R Vindicator with a distinguished history in the Kamata forces. A powerfully built woman with considerable martial skills, she assumes command of the House troops after the death of Hong Wen Zien.
- Dr. Ju Tang - Bright and attractive young scientist who works in Niomede's planetary observatory. A loyal Capellan citizen, she cannot forgive herself after Tiun Kuan forced her to provide jump data for the invaders. Her ingenuity leads to a militarily worthless victory over the enemy aerospace assets which nevertheless raises morale and establishes her as a figurehead for Capellan resolve. She fully immerses herself in that role to the point of leading lightly armed militia forces against BattleMechs in a yellow dress robe, brandishing a Liao flag, when the caves are stormed. Lacking any military training, she tries to attack a BattleMech with what turns out to be a fire extinguisher and is shot with a 'Mech laser. Although charred beyond recognition, Ju Tang miraculously survives and her comatose body gains a cult following as the Ash Witch after Niu Doun declares her an avatar of Niomede's Worm Cult.
- Meh Walong - A silversmith and Jen Xiao's lover. A content and conservative citizen, she honestly loves him, hopes to marry him and prays for his safety in the Worm Temple. She is left behind when Jen seizes his chance to leave the dull world.
- Company Leader Hong Wen Zien - Commanding officer of the Warrior House Kamata company on Niomede. He is unhappy with the boring and honorless assignment to Niomede, which he regards as a penance. When Refrector Yü announces his intention to negotiate terms of surrender with the attackers and commands Wen Zien to stand down, Wen Zien nails Yü's hand to his desk with his sword in response and assumes de-facto leadership of the defenders. He dies in the final attack on Bram-Ze, having briefly been a fatherly mentor to Jen Xiao after he proved his worth in battle.
- Subcommander Jen Xiao - Pilots a Hermes II in the Niomede Lance. A celebrity on Niomede, he is painfully aware of the insignificance of his world and dreams of leaving for the stars. Gains the respect of Hong Wen Zien when he proves to be a capable MechWarrior under fire. His ingenuity ultimately saves Gion Zeng from being captured, robbing the attackers of their victory.
- Refrector Elan Yü - Easily mistaken for a befuddled grandfatherly coward, the fat, white-haired representative of House Liao on Niomede knows about the precarious nature of Niomede's artificial ecosystem and is driven by genuine care for the population. He holds the noble title of Shonso and tries to pull rank on Company Commander Wen Zien when he opts to negotiate surrender, only to be deposed by the Warrior House officer who immediately assumes command of the defenders.
- Gion Zeng - Physicist, married to his science. A scientific prodigy, he can count the number of his visits to a bar on the fingers of one hand by the age of 25. He is a member of Honime Duao's research team, but unhappy with how she orders the team to verify the worthless and well-known results all over again that once made her famous. He considers this a frustrating waste of his precious time and has obtained permission to conduct private research in his (limited) off-time. Here he works on optimized silicon structures based off unique compounds from the muscles of the local Niomede Worms. It is this work that really pushes the research forward in the secret laboratory, which House Liao created on Niomede in 3015 for the purpose of researching what amounts to Endo-Steel skeletons for BattleMechs.
Major Free Worlds League charactersEdit
- Flag Captain Eric Batton - A capable leader under fire, but otherwise known as an overly cautious pessimist. Batton disagrees, feeling that sloppyness, ill-preparedness and a lack of caution as displayed by about everybody else could cut short his career and his life; he does not want to die because someone else made a mistake. He has red hair and blue eyes, and pilots an ON-1VA Orion variant with extra armor compared to the standard version.
- Lieutenant General Menko Drews - Stauch supporter of Dame Catherine Humphreys. Believing his unauthorized action to be in the best interest of the Duchy of Andurien, he sends a battalion of his troops to attack Niomede to provoke a reaction from the Capellan Confederation in a deliberate attempt to undo the Concord of Kapteyn and perhaps gain Capellan scientists and research as booty.
- SeniorTech Otto Flagann - A quiet background worker who does not mind that he does not share the MechWarriors' fame as long as he is not fired at either. He is a scholar who fights against lostech, and is familiar with Honime Duao's work. However, when he gets a chance to talk to her in person, he is disappointed by her backward-looking attitude and lack of vision and realizes that the man she loudly complains about (Gion Zeng) must have been the true driving genius in her secret lab.
- Lieutenant Commander Patrick Hens - In charge of the aerospace assets, which suffer critical losses early on.
- Force Captain Jopp Higgins - Known as "Langer Jopp" for being almost two meters tall; his knees jut out too far for him to close the toilet cabin door aboard a Union. Commander of the battalion's Scout Lance of LCT-1E Locusts, which was officially dubbed "Long Lance" in reference to his nickname.
- Flag Captain Pavel Padura - Physically similar to Batton, Padura is a decorated officer eager to be promoted to battalion commander and advocating a brute force approach. He is a devout christian and carries a St. Christopher Medaillon in his ON-1V Orion.
- Major Karla Skribtschak - A sober, by-the-book officer with doubts about the mission, yet determined to carry it out. Piloting a ON1-V Orion, she tries to limit casualties and collateral damage to the best of her abilities, but the stiff resistance frustrates her efforts. She inexplicably never stutters while using a neurohelmet, but does so otherwise. Divorced from her ex-husband.
An appendix lists the full rosters of all units that participated in the fighting on Niomede, naming each individual MechWarrior and BattleMech.
- Catapult - CPLT-C1, CPLT-K2 ("K2" misspelled as "2K")
- Hermes II - HER-2S, HER-2M Mercury
- Locust - LCT-1V, LCT-1E, LCT-1M
- Orion - ON1-V, ON1-VA
- UrbanMech - UM-R60L
- Vindicator - VND-1R
- Unspecified six-wheeled scout vehicle, capable of operating on the surface of Niomede-4 (vacuum, hard radiation, extreme heat)
- Union (Zinne)
- "Silberstreif", an asteroid mining vessel of unknown type; might technically be a DropShip or a Small Craft. Noted to be incapable of atmospheric operations due to its non-streamlined shape. Built for multi-day trips to the asteroid rings, it has room for 10 passengers in the cockpit and features a kitchen and a storeroom for space suits. It can carry at least 80 tons (two Hermes II) in the cargo hold, but does not feature proper 'Mech bays. Mounts a civilian asteroid laser which is unsuitable for military purposes.
- "Gebron's Pride", an unspecified asteroid mining vessel, possibly of the same type as the "Silberstreif"
- Unspecified FWL JumpShip that carried (at least) three Unions and one Leopard; presumably Star Lord class
- Niomede-4, as it is consequently spelled in the book, denotes the formerly fourth planet of the Niomede system (Niomede IV). It is explained to be the only remaining planet out of 17 in the Niomede system; the others have broken up long ago to form extensive asteroid fields.
- The city names of Bram-Ze and Wa-L-Sum appear to be puns on the German towns of Bramsche (the author's birthplace) and Walsum (now the northernmost district of Duisburg).
- CBT.com forums, "Shadow War German Novel": posting by Bernhard Craw; see also this articles Talk page