Grace O'Malley's ragtag forces stand valiantly against the fearsome Roughriders-determined to write their planet's history in the scorched wreckage of the battlefield...
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April 05, 2004
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Excerpt from Patriot's Stand by Mike Moscoe
Grace O'Malley loosened the straps on her harness, rested her elbows on the open cockpit of "Pirate," her MiningMech, and focused her binoculars. A quick sweep of the Gleann Mor Valley before her showed no sign of the raiders whose arrival she dreaded.
Lately the chatter on the Net had been scary. Usually, Grace ignored Net gossip, but Allabad, the capital of Alkalurops, had dropped off-Net a week ago with no explanation. Then hysterical postings and phone calls started pouring in about BattleMechs stomping through houses, tanks shooting up shops, and off-world troops hijacking 'Mechs -- followed by that town dropping off the Net. Now the Net blackout was about to overwhelm Grace's hometown of Falkirk.
The evening before, her friend Gordon Frazier, mayor of Kilkenny, not two hours' drive south, slapped up a hasty e-note that BattleMechs and a whole lot of other armor were coming up the south road from Amarillo. Grace had called Gordon, but by then both voice and data links were dead. It looked as though Falkirk was on its own and raiders were coming to swipe Pirate.
Last night's town meeting in Falkirk had been the shortest since Grace had been elected mayor. Some citizens were for running, but most agreed: "Alkalurops takes care of itself." The vote was to fight. That didn't surprise Grace. For much of the week, Mick's 'Mech Maintenance Mavens had been adding armor to the six local 'Mechs and jury-rigging weapons like the Gatling gun made of six hunting rifles that was now strapped to Pirate's right arm. John Shepherd, the local gunsmith, had specially loaded them with high-powered, steel-jacketed shells.
Grace shook her head as if to clear it of a bad dream. Since she was a kid, her mom had told her how ancient Ireland once trembled at the name of Grace O'Malley, the pirate woman. Grace had even named her MiningMech Pirate "because he steals metal and hydrocarbons from the ground." But real pirates! She'd hoped never to face anything like this in The Republic of the Sphere.