|Author||Christoffer M. Trossen|
|First published|| 18 February 2005|
15 May 2011 (re-release)
|Era||Star League era (Age of War)|
|Preceded by||Prometheus Unbound|
|Followed by||Fall Down Seven Times, Get up Eight|
|“||What do you do when your best military efforts have failed, and your nation runs the risk of fielding an inferior military? When you are the Federated Suns, you quite simply put your best man on it. Even if the fight will take place off the battlefield, and inside the ambassadorial chambers on Tharkad itself. Christoffer Trossen unveils this third part in The Proliferation Series, giving us a man with an eye toward the art of the deal.||”|
|“||The Hegemony has it. The Lyran Commonwealth has it. House Davion cannot allow itself to not have the secret of the BattleMech.||”|
Believing that the Lyran Commonwealth has successfully acquired BattleMech blueprints from Hesperus II, Prince Simon Davion of the Federated Suns is frustrated to hear from chief scientist Dr. Carino that they are not making any headway into reverse-engineering the technology from the samples they obtained. Worse, the Lyran raid has perked up Hegemony security, and put a severe damper on the Suns' own clandestine efforts to steal the blueprints.
Hoping to gain the technology through negotiation instead, Davion eventually sends a delegation led by Lord Delton Felsner to Tharkad to negotiate with his slick Lyran counterpart, Bernstorff. Upon arriving, Felsner learns that the Suns' intelligence network on Tharkad is in shambles. During negotiations, he actually manages to bring Bernstorff to admit that the Lyrans have BattleMech technology, but before he can capitalize on this, he and his team are incapacitated by a random terrorist attack carried out by Draconis Combine agents.
While Felsner is recuperating, the intelligence service identifies one Eva Sorken as a potentially important contact of Bernstorff. The woman is captured and interrogated, revealing that Bernstorff is in the middle of a corrupt web of firms that sells overpriced equipment to the Lyran military. Using this information as a fulcrum, Bernstorff is eventually forced to convince his Archon that selling BattleMech technology to the Federated Suns - thus cashing in on the opportunity while it lasts, before the Suns can gain the technology by themselves - is a wise move. Incidentally, it is Bernstorff's cartel that stands to gain the most from the mutual weapons exchange deals. To ensure his loyalty, Eva Sorken is "transferred" to New Avalon, and Bernstorff is also forced to accept a Federated Suns agent as an aide (and caretaker).