Masters of War
|Masters of War|
|Author||Michael A. Stackpole|
|Cover artwork||(no attribution)|
|First published||3 April 2007|
|Era||Dark Age era|
|Timeline||3136 – 3137|
|Series||MechWarrior: Dark Age Novels|
|Preceded by||Dragon Rising|
|Followed by||A Rending of Falcons|
From the back coverEdit
|“|| As Clan Wolf launches a daring campaign of reprisal against The Republic, three warriors will find their destinies intertwined on the field of battle and in the fight for their futures...
Alaric is a living legend among the Wolves: fearless, ruthless, merciless. But his own lust for victory may mean his undoing, unless he learns to see beyond himself—and recognize what a true warrior fights for.
Anastasia is a former Wolf Clan warrior, now leading a band of mercs against her onetime comrades. She knows that to lead, she must prove not only her ability but her complete separation from the Wolves. And there is only one way for her to do so—in combat.
Verena is the new commander of a ragtag merc force. Her desire for greatness will uncover her own superior abilities and draw her ever closer to a final confrontation in which mercy is unheard-of - and only death awaits the unworthy...
Archon Melissa Steiner hatches a complex and risky plot to secure the Lyran Commonwealth for the coming Dark Age wars. Believing the greatest threat is a united and resurgent Free Worlds League, the Archon looks to duplicate the Arc-Royal Theater, where the melding of Clan and Inner Sphere forces created a powerful and lasting buffer between the Commonwealth and the invading Clans. Her idea is to convince Clan Wolf to move its entire touman and people to the border between the Commonwealth and former Free Worlds League, with the bait being the many wealthy worlds available for the taking. Her cousin, Trillian, thinks the idea extremely dangerous, but the Archon believes the gamble is worth the danger.
Clan Wolf Khan Seth Ward accepts the proposal and challenges three of his ristars to design a strategy for moving the entire Clan without inviting attacks of opportunity. Star Colonel Alaric's audacious proposal wins: invade The Republic of the Sphere, drive straight for Terra, and become the ilClan. Their enemies will be forced to unite against them, leaving a path open to the Commonwealth's rimward border, and only after reaching the border will the Wolves' assault be revealed as a feint.
Meanwhile, Colonel Anastasia Kerensky and her Wolf Hunters have been hired by business interests in Prefecture IX to defend against possible Clan Wolf and Clan Jade Falcon attacks. Mercenaries are being hired all over, including Verena, a former Steel Wolf who was rejected and cast out by Kerensky. Verena uses her reputation as a former Clansman to secure a position commanding an undisciplined company of misfits. Her unit barely cohesive, she is assigned to protect the world of Baxter, which is under assault by forces led by Star Colonel Bjorn, one of Khan Ward's three ristars. Through a combination of luck and daring she is able to bait Bjorn into an ambush and kill him. As the most senior of the surviving commanders in the field, she is proclaimed a hero and a champion to the people. Business moguls turn her into a media darling and she receives a promotion, a new 'Mech (a Mad Cat), and an overwhelming amount of exposure and responsibility.
Star Colonel Alaric is assigned the world of Yed Posterior. His Binary easily takes the planet, but insurgency tactics prevent him from controlling it. Realizing the goal is not to win the planet, but rather the planet's resources, he neutralizes the insurgency by refusing to launch a counter-insurgency. By changing the rules of the game he gave his opponents no chance to win. This type of high-level gamesmanship was useless, however, against an opponent like Anastasia Kerensky. Arriving with three battalions, she bids everything against Alaric's tiny force, as she does not care about Clan honor, but rather quick victory. When Alaric devises an insurgency of his own, Kerensky destroys the dikes protecting the city, flooding his defenses. Thoroughly beaten, the Star Colonel surrenders to the Wolf Hunters.
Anastasia Kerensky sees exceptional potential in her captive, so she breaks him. Sleep deprivation, stimulants, mind games, physical torture—after two days Alaric is stripped of his pride, his confidence, even his megalomania. While Kerensky does not know Alaric's background, she does know that he was the only Wolf warrior without a Bloodname at the funeral for Victor Ian Steiner-Davion, that he planned Clan Wolf's strategy, and that his soldiers see him as an almost mythic figure. His potential seems limitless, if he can learn that war is more than gamesmanship. But Kerensky does not want him as a bondsman—she wants to release him back to the wild. Anastasia understands that in the far future the Wolves and the Wolf Hunters will inevitably meet in an epic battle, and what better opponent than a future-Khan that she has already broken?