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The Archer cockpit's metal shell was dented and distorted but appeared unbroken. Minobu could vaguely see a moving shape within. The warrior lived! Carefully, he began to peel the shard of armor locking the access hatch in place.

Minobu had snatched this man from death, literally taking the ‘MechWarrior's life into his own hands. If not for Minobu's actions, the warrior would be dead, his future blown to the winds with his atoms. From now on, the karma the man earned, good or bad, was also Minobu's karma. The man's words, his deeds, even his life were now Minobu's responsiblity. Bushidodemanded it.

The hatch was cleared. It opened with a groan of protesting metal, and the ‘MechWarrior's neurohelmet appeared. Moving slowly, he emerged, battered and with his left arm hanging limp at his side.

“Looks like I owe you one,” the pilot said, using his good hand to force his neurohelmet free from his head. Finally, Minobu could see the other warrior's face. The man he had saved was Colonel Jaime Wolf.




Robert N. Charrette


Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Books USA Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Books Ltd, 27 Wrights Lane,

London W8 5TZ, England

Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood,

Victoria, Australia

Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2 Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, 182-190 Wairau Road, Auckland 10, New Zealand

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England

Published by Roc, an imprint of Dutton Signet, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc. Previously appeared in a FASA edition.

First Roc Printing, May, 1996 10 987654321

Copyright © FASA Corporation, 1988 All rights reserved

Series Editor: Donna Ippolito Cover: Peter Peebles


BATTLETECH, FASA, and the distinctive BATTLETECH and FASA logos are trademarks of the FASA Corporation, 1100 W. Cermak, Suite B305, Chicago, IL 60608.

Printed in the United States of America

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, ‘Mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.


If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

To my parents, without whom I would not be what I am, and to ERJ and RW, without whom this book would not be what it is.

Cast of Characters

Jaime Wolf

Founder and mysterious commander of Wolf's Dragoons mercenary unit

Minobu Tetsuhara

Samurai sworn to the service of House Kurita, original Combine liaison to Wolf's Dragoons, later founder of Ryukenregiments

Grieg Samsonov

Warlord of Galedon Military District of the Draconis Combine, answerable only to Takashi Kurita

Jerry Akuma

Aide to Warlord Grieg Samsonov; later Draconis liaison officer to Wolf's Dragoons

Natasha Kerensky

Feared commander of the Black Widows, one of the independent units of Wolf's Dragoons

Hanse Davion

Prince of the Federated Suns

Takashi Kurita

Coordinator of the Draconis Combine

Subhash Indrahar

Chief of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), the Kurita secret service

Quintus Allard

Chief of the Ministry of Intelligence Investigations and Operations (MHO), the Davion secret service

Michael Hasek-Davion

Duke of the Federated Suns' Capellan March; brother-in-law and arch-rival to Hanse Davion

Michi Noketsuna

Aide-de-camp to Minobu Tetsuhara, original Combine liaison officer to Wolf's Dragoons

Hamilton Atwyl

Commander of Blue Flight, a unit of Wolf's Dragoons Orbital IAeroSpace Operations Group

Jason Carmody

Commander of Wolf's Dragoons Orbital IAeroSpace Operations Group

Dechan Fraser

MechWarrior promoted to command Fraser's Company of Wolf's Dragoons Alpha Regiment, Able Battalion

Kenneth Quo

Commander of Hephaestus Station, Wolf's Dragoons' orbital space station

Anton Shadd

Commander of Seventh Kommando, Wolf's Dragoons Special Services unit

Fadre Singh

Former Dragoon ‘MechWarrior, later a defector to the Draconis Combine


Franchelco Province , Dromini VI

Dieron Military District, Draconis Combine

14 September 3021


The sounds of battle had ceased—along with all communications with Tercian's Company. Tai-iMinobu Tetsuhara could still see smoke rising from beyond the ridge. That oily smudge meant burning vehicles, and burning vehicles meant trouble for the counterattack by the Dromini Ducal Armored Hussars.

Tetsuhara's Recon Company had been ordered to support Tercian's unit after reports had come in that BattleMechs belonging to the invading Steiner mercenaries were in the area. If the enemy were about to make a major thrust, the forces of the Draconis Combine were in trouble. It would take more than Minobu's twelve 'Mechs to blunt any serious push.

With the rocky outcropping blocking his sensors as well as his sight, the only way for Minobu to learn what had happened was to go and see. Ordering a 'Mech lance to maneuver wide on each flank to block either end of the valley, he led his Command Lance in a straight line over the ridge.

The lance's three 35-ton PNT-9R Panthersmoved with a grace that belied their size. From a distance, a casual observer might mistake a Panther'Mech for an armored man at a run, but any resemblance to Humans would be shattered as soon as it passed a tree or building. Like all 'Mechs, it stood as tall as a three-story house.

The fourth machine of the lance was an OTT-7J Ostscout.Though it too strode forward on two legs, no one was likely to mistake the 'Mech for a man at any distance. Its long legs connected to a squat, egg-shaped torso and twin antennae poked from behind the small dome of the cockpit. Its arms were sensor arrays, skinny, tapered housings that waved and circled as the 'Mech advanced, gathering data for the machine's specialized scouting computer.

As the ground began to rise toward the ridge, Minobu had to slow down over the rough terrain. Just short of the ridge crest, he stopped and signaled the rest of the lance to do the same. He crawled his machine toward the edge, being careful to keep the Panther'sright-arm particle projector cannon clear of debris. Selecting the visible light spectrum for the first feed, he raised the 'Mech's head to let the scanners fill his cockpit screen with data.

What he saw in the valley below was a scene of carnage, scattered over with the smoking hulks of the light hovercraft of Tercian's Company. Minobu counted all nine of the vehicles he knew the company was operating. Half a kilometer beyond the nearest wreck stood a single enemy BattleMech.