Dark Age

What happened in Dark Age

By Pierce Brown

Red Rising: Iron Gold follows the characters of Darrow, Lysander, Lyria, and Ephraim as they navigate a solar system on the brink of war.

Darrow leads Republic forces in a desperate fight against the Society on Mercury. After initial victories, Darrow's troops become besieged and isolated in the city of Heliopolis. Darrow tries innovative tactics using rediscovered technology, but suffers crushing defeats that leave him presumed dead. His wife Virginia tries to send reinforcements from Luna but is betrayed and killed in a political coup.

Lysander, believed dead for years, resurfaces as heir to the Society. He infiltrates Darrow's forces in Heliopolis but is eventually exposed. Lysander leads a daring cavalry charge that routes Darrow's army and captures the city, though Darrow narrowly escapes.

Former Helldiver Lyria joins forces with rebel Obsidian Volga. They become embroiled in the schemes of crime lord Victra au Barca and her vendetta against the Syndicate. Lyria discovers she has strange abilities after being implanted with alien technology.

Disgraced war hero Ephraim is recruited by Obsidian Queen Sefi to train her assassins in the frozen north of Mars. But political tensions between the Obsidians and Republic erupt into violence, threatening to unleash total war across the system.

By the end, the major powers of the Republic, Society, Obsidian Kingdom, and Syndicate are locked in a tense standoff, with new and old heroes poised on the brink of an epic confrontation that will determine the fate of the solar system.

Dark Age Chapter Summary

Chapter 1

The chapter follows Darrow as he visits injured soldiers in the desert city of Heliopolis. He encounters an old friend, Dago, from his home of Lykos who gives him some of his Martian homeland soil to carry into battle. Darrow then boards a shuttle to travel north to the mining city of Eleusis where his Howlers are attempting to lure the enemy Fear Knight into a trap.

On the flight, Darrow reflects on the desperate situation of his forces, who are besieged by enemies in orbit and on the planet's surface. He hopes to break the enemy in the north. Darrow visits Orion, an allied fleet commander who was recently tortured, and finds her faith in democracy shaken. Darrow is troubled by her doubts, which echo his own, but he rallies her for the coming battle.

Chapter 2

The chapter follows Lysander as he travels with Diomedes and Seraphina of the Rim to meet Atalantia aboard her flagship, the Annihilo. On the journey, Lysander reflects on Atalantia's ruthlessness and unpredictability, wondering if she will see him as an ally or a rival.

When they arrive, Diomedes advises Lysander not to reveal how fast the Rim ships are to Atalantia. Seraphina distrusts Lysander, calling him a "Core tramp," but Diomedes maintains faith in their mission as ambassadors. Lysander worries that Seraphina will contradict Diomedes, as she serves Dido alone.

Diomedes asks Lysander to describe Atalantia in two words, and Lysander calls her a "velvet buzzsaw." Diomedes advises Lysander not to ramble when speaking to Atalantia. Lysander worries how she will receive him, an heir to Lune but with no legal claim while his face remains unscarred. Both Lysander and Diomedes are uneasy about seeing Atalantia and the Fear Knight again after so long apart.

Chapter 3

Darrow visits Cadus Harnassus, an engineer working to excavate an ancient weather-shaping machine called a Storm God from the ice on Mercury. Darrow reflects on Harnassus's competence but also his political ambitions. Orion, Darrow's loyal fleet commander, arrives and clashes with Harnassus over the project's secrecy. Inside the machine, Orion's engineers install new systems to control it.

The famous artificer Glirastes, who Darrow convinced to help restart the old tech, worries about potential genocide, but Darrow assures him they will be careful. At Darrow's signal, gravity engines reactivate the Storm God, lifting the mile-wide machine into the air to join others already awakened in the sea. Darrow hopes his enemy Atalantia doesn't know about these powerful weapons hidden on Mercury.

Chapter 4

The chapter follows Lysander as he arrives on Atalantia's flagship, the Annihilo, with Diomedes and Seraphina of the Rim. They are greeted coldly by Atalantia's Ash Guard. Lysander feels the hostility directed at the Rim delegation. He reunites with his childhood friend Ajax, who has grown into a powerful man and taken Lysander's family crest.

Ajax questions Lysander's identity until it's confirmed with a DNA test. Ajax insults and belittles Diomedes. Seraphina nearly draws her sword before Diomedes stops her. The Core Golds size up the Rim delegation, sensing weaknesses to exploit later. Lysander regrets bringing Diomedes and Seraphina into this viper's nest, but stays quiet to avoid conflict with Ajax.

Chapter 5

The chapter follows Darrow as he briefs a group of officers on Operation Voyager Cloak, a plan to lure the enemy into a trap on Mercury's surface. Darrow reveals they have awakened ancient weather machines called Storm Gods to aid in the fight. Afterward, Darrow confronts his rival Harnassus about sending ships away against orders. Darrow threatens Harnassus to get him to cooperate, but their argument is interrupted by a message from Alexandar.

Alexandar reports the enemy Fear Knight did not take their bait at Eleusis as expected. Instead he attacked Angelia, where civilians were evacuated. Darrow worries the Fear Knight guessed their plans. He sends Orion away to command the fleet while he goes to face the Fear Knight himself. Before leaving, Darrow shows Rhonna the master switch to disable the Storm Gods as a failsafe. Darrow heads to Angelia, wary of the trap being set by his nemesis.

Chapter 6

The chapter follows Lysander as he meets with Atalantia and other Gold leaders aboard her flagship. Lysander is wary of Atalantia's ruthlessness but hopes to convince her to ally with the Rim Dominion against the Republic. When Lysander's childhood friend Ajax arrives, he initially suspects Lysander is an imposter until a DNA test confirms his identity.

Atalantia and the other Golds are skeptical when Diomedes and Seraphina of the Rim Dominion request an alliance. To test their sincerity, Atalantia demands Seraphina join the upcoming Iron Rain assault on Mercury. Despite Diomedes' protests, Seraphina agrees.

Afterward, Ajax angrily confronts Lysander for being Cassius's ward for ten years instead of returning to the Core. Lysander explains he feared the Core's internal politicking. Atalantia says Lysander must prove himself by earning his scar in the Iron Rain. Lysander agrees to fall with Ajax's forces. Atalantia implies Lysander cannot reveal his return yet, forcing him to prove his loyalty on Mercury.

Chapter 7

The chapter follows Darrow as he travels with Rhonna and bodyguards to meet Alexandar, who has been tracking the enemy Fear Knight through the desert. Alexandar looks exhausted and haunted from weeks of pursuit. He leads Darrow to Thraxa, who is staking out a plain where the Fear Knight has erected a forest of impaled bodies before the city of Angelia.

Thraxa admits they lost the Fear Knight's trail due to exhaustion. Darrow chastises her for the failure. He contacts Orion about activating ancient weather control machines called Storm Gods to aid in the coming battle, but she warns it will take time to spool them up without revealing their capabilities early.

Darrow decides to initiate Operation Tartarus and order Orion to activate the Storm Gods to provide storm cover, despite the risk of tipping their hand too soon. He prepares to confront the Fear Knight in Angelia.

Chapter 8

The chapter follows Lysander as he prepares for the Iron Rain assault on Mercury. He boards Atalantia's flagship, the Annihilo, and undergoes preparations with the other Golds. His pilot, Pytha, expresses concern for Lysander's safety and questions his motivations. Lysander believes he must earn a scar to gain respect and have influence.

The Golds perform the Blood Benediction ritual before battle. Lysander's friend Ajax gives a rousing speech to pump up his Iron Leopards for the coming fight. Lysander learns Ajax plans to disobey orders and take Heliopolis instead of providing rear support. Lysander worries this will betray their ally Scorpio au Votum.

Lysander and Ajax reaffirm their bond before parting. Lysander senses fellow Rim Gold Seraphina is eager for battle. He realizes she betrayed her father not out of loyalty to her mother, but hunger for war. Now her long starvation is about to end on Mercury's surface.

Chapter 9

The chapter follows Darrow as he and his Howlers investigate the city of Angelia, which was attacked by the enemy Fear Knight, Atlas au Raa. They find a gruesome scene of impaled soldiers, many still alive, that was meant to delay and distract them. Darrow realizes Atlas has sent a signal to overload nuclear reactors across northern cities to bring down their protective energy shields.

With the shields down, the enemy fleet led by Atalantia au Grimmus begins bombarding from orbit. Darrow scrambles to reposition his forces, sending Thraxa to rally legions in the south while he heads to join the main army. He contacts Orion au Raa to activate ancient weather control machines called Storm Gods to help provide cover. Before communications are cut off, Darrow rallies his forces over the network for the coming onslaught.

Chapter 10

The chapter follows Lysander as he participates in the Iron Rain, a massive orbital drop assault on Mercury led by Atalantia au Grimmus. As Lysander descends through the atmosphere in his starShell battlesuit, he struggles with fear and self-doubt. His friend Ajax provides encouragement over the comms. Lysander is awed by the scale of the invasion force but disturbed by the wanton destruction.

When they reach the planet's shields, Lysander narrowly avoids being hit as the fleet punches through the breach. In the chaos, he loses track of Ajax but sticks close to Kalindora au Bellona and Seraphina au Votum. Seraphina spots and destroys an enemy railgun emplacement. After passing through the mountains, Ajax contacts Lysander and gives him flying advice. Lysander realizes war is faster and more overwhelming than he expected.

Chapter 11

Darrow's army is decimated by the enemy's initial bombardment. He scrambles to reposition his remaining forces as the storm intensifies. Darrow orders his pilot Colloway to tell Thraxa to retreat while he heads to reinforce Tyche before it is besieged. At a mountain base, Darrow rallies the Helldiver Legion inside, a group of elite Drachenjäger pilots. He leads them out to intercept the enemy before they can surround the retreating First Army at Tyche. Darrow hopes to keep the city from falling to buy time for the remnants of his Second Army to arrive as reinforcements.

Chapter 12

The chapter follows Lysander as he participates in the Iron Rain invasion of Mercury. During the orbital drop, Lysander struggles with self-doubt but his friend Ajax encourages him over their communications link. After landing, Lysander is disturbed by the wanton destruction of the invasion. He soon reunites with Rhone and a contingent of loyal Praetorian guards who have sought Lysander out since learning of his return. This angers Ajax, who sees Lysander as a rival. Before they can establish a proper base, giant hypercane storms created by Darrow's weather control machines sweep across the planet's surface, devastating the invasion force. Most transports are destroyed but Ajax is determined to press on to take the city of Heliopolis as ordered. Lysander advises waiting for the storm to pass but Ajax refuses, instead ordering Lysander to lead an attack on the Storm God generating the storm while Ajax heads for Heliopolis. Lysander reluctantly agrees, joined by Seraphina who has experience with storms. The chapter ends with Lysander wary but resolved to prove himself by destroying the Storm God.

Chapter 13

In chapter 13, Darrow leads a surprise attack with his army of Drachenjägers against the enemy Golds who have landed between Tyche and the Plains of Caduceus. A massive hypercane storm created by Darrow's weather control machines blinds the enemy fleet, trapping the invasion force planetside. Darrow's forces destroy the enemy's landing fortifications and heavy armor before they can organize. The Drachenjägers rampage through the confused enemy, killing commanders and taking enemy banners. Darrow and Alexandar kill the enemy Primus, Scorpio au Votum. With the enemy vanguard shattered, Darrow rallies his army to push on to Tyche and confront Atalantia.

Chapter 14

Lysander leads a group of Praetorians and Scorpion Legion soldiers through a massive hypercane storm to find and destroy an ancient weather control machine called a Storm God. They make slow progress against the winds but eventually reach the calm eye of the storm where the massive engine floats. Lysander is disturbed by the perversion of the machine into a weapon of mass destruction. As they prepare to attack, the Storm God fires on them, killing Seraphina with a railgun slug. Lysander and the others scramble to take cover as more shots rain down. Despite the chaos, Lysander is determined to prove himself by destroying the engine.

Chapter 15

In chapter 15, Darrow arrives with his army outside the city of Tyche as it is besieged and flooded by a massive hypercane storm. He realizes his ally Orion has lost control of the ancient weather machines, the Storm Gods, that are generating the massive storm. Darrow reluctantly disables Orion's connection to stop her, at the cost of her mind.

With Tyche drowning and the enemy closing in on Heliopolis, Darrow makes the difficult choice to abandon Tyche to save Heliopolis. He sends Rhonna to find Thraxa and the Morning Star legion to cross the dangerous Ladon River and reinforce Heliopolis. Meanwhile, Darrow will take his army through the mountains to meet them there.

Before leaving, Darrow allows Alexandar and 200 of his knights to make a doomed last stand to buy time for Tyche's civilians to evacuate. Darrow gives Alexandar his wolf cloak and makes him an honorary Howler before they depart. Darrow leaves Tyche with a heavy heart, hoping Alexandar and his knights can somehow survive to reach Heliopolis.

Chapter 16

Lysander wakes up after the battle at the Storm God to find many of his men dead and his starShell damaged. He reflects somberly on the death of Seraphina au Votum, killed by the Storm God's railguns. Lysander's childhood friend Ajax was supposed to evacuate them after destroying the Storm God, but he betrayed Lysander out of jealousy over his return.

Stranded, Lysander refuses to abandon his remaining Praetorians to death in the desert. Scout ships confirm enemy forces led by Darrow are approaching. Lysander prepares to make a doomed last stand. When Darrow arrives, his forces decimate Lysander's men. Lysander tries to attack Darrow directly but is battered down. Badly burned by a fallen starShell, Lysander lies helpless as Darrow's army moves on, leaving him for dead.

Chapter 17

In this chapter, Darrow leads his battered forces in a desperate attack to relieve the besieged city of Heliopolis. After surviving a massive hypercane storm, Darrow's army emerges to find Heliopolis under assault by Ajax's forces. Darrow launches a surprise attack, destroying the enemy's landing fortifications and routing their vanguard.

Meanwhile, Lysander lies injured after his failed attack on the Storm God weather machine. Darrow's forces decimate Lysander's men, leaving him for dead.

Darrow joins the brutal fighting at Heliopolis. Despite heavy losses, his army refuses to yield. The battle rages for over 30 hours before Ajax is forced to retreat with just a handful of men. Exhausted and wounded, Darrow collapses as his commanders declare victory.

Chapter 18

The exhausted Darrow collapses after the hard-fought victory defending Heliopolis. He dreams of his wife Mustang and is woken by his lieutenant Rhonna. She reports that Ajax retreated with only a handful of men left. Darrow's forces suffered heavy losses with over 40,000 dead.

Darrow meets with his war council including Thraxa, Orion and Harnassus. He tasks Orion with rebuilding their orbital defenses and orders the others to fortify Heliopolis. Darrow decides to travel to the capital Agea alone to confront the politician Romulus au Raa.

On the journey, Darrow reflects on the futility of the war and his failures as a leader that led to so much death. In Agea, he reunites with his mother-in-law Octavia au Lune. She convinces Darrow to be more pragmatic and make concessions to end the war.

Darrow then confronts Romulus, who criticizes him for abandoning Tyche. Their argument grows heated about morality in war before Darrow storms off, even more disillusioned. He decides his democracy project has failed. Darrow tells Orion to prepare a ship so he can disappear into exile after appointing a successor.

Chapter 19

Virginia au Augustus, known as Mustang, makes a speech to the people of the Republic from aboard a warship. She announces that the Republic forces on Mercury, led by her husband Darrow, have achieved a victory against the Society forces led by Atalantia au Grimmus. However, the Republic fleet meant to reinforce them was recalled, leaving Darrow's forces surrounded and outnumbered on Mercury.

Mustang harshly criticizes the Republic Senate for abandoning Darrow's forces and trying to make peace with Atalantia, who she says cannot be trusted. She rallies the public to pressure the Senate to send reinforcements to save Darrow and his legions on Mercury. Mustang declares she will lead a small fleet to reinforce them in four days, with or without the Senate's support. She reflects on the stakes of the war and her hopes to inspire unity to defend liberty and democracy. The chapter ends with Mustang ordering prototype railguns to fire supplies to Darrow on Mercury as a message that help is coming.

Chapter 20

Virginia au Augustus (Mustang) arrives in the city of Hyperion on the moon of Luna. She reflects on the meaning of Luna and its history as she meets with her bodyguard, Holiday ti Nakamura. Mustang has a tense video call with Dancer O'Faran, a Republic senator, asking for military support to reinforce her husband Darrow's besieged forces on Mercury. Dancer refuses, fearing it is a trap by their enemy Atalantia au Grimmus. Afterward, Mustang discusses the refusal with Nakamura and her worries about unrest from her own supporters if Dancer is harmed. Despite the opposition, Mustang remains determined to lead a fleet to save Darrow with or without the Senate's approval.

Chapter 21

In chapter 21, Mustang arrives at the skyhook headquarters of her political ally Daxo au Telemanus to rally support for a crucial upcoming Senate vote. She reflects on the high stakes of the vote, which will decide whether to send reinforcements to her husband Darrow's besieged forces on Mercury.

Mustang meets with the leader of the Copper voting bloc, Senator Publius cu Caraval, who agrees to support the vote if Mustang can secure the Silver vote without making concessions to the powerful Silvers. Afterward, Mustang and Daxo discuss their political strategy and the challenge of securing enough votes. They are determined to use all means necessary to win the vote and save Darrow's legions from defeat.

The chapter ends with Mustang and Daxo rallying their political allies across Luna to begin an all-out lobbying and persuasion effort in the days leading up to the climactic vote. Mustang embraces the political knife fight ahead, hoping to secure the narrow majority needed to expand her executive powers and send reinforcements to Mercury.

Chapter 22

In this chapter, Ephraim wakes up in a medical facility after a crash. His right leg is severely injured and replaced with synthetic tissue that his body rejects. He is delirious with pain and addiction withdrawal, screaming for more drugs. A young boy, Pax, is watching over him and has his engagement ring. Ephraim begs Pax for drugs but Pax refuses, lecturing Ephraim about his addiction and past war crimes while on drugs. Pax says he will return the ring when Ephraim, also known as Tinman, is ready. Ephraim falls asleep chanting an old military chant, haunted by memories of his violent past.

Chapter 23

Ephraim wakes up in a lavish room in Eagle Rest, the citadel of House Bellona on Mars. He discovers his injured leg has been replaced with advanced prosthetics. An obese, tattooed shaman warns Ephraim of his fate and the danger of Valdir, a powerful Obsidian warrior. Ephraim flees but falls from the citadel. His new leg malfunctions, causing him to plummet dangerously. He manages to grab onto vines on the cliff face.

Ephraim climbs down toward the city of Olympia at the base of the mountain. Suddenly, Valdir arrives on a giant griffin with five more griffins. Valdir captures Ephraim with a tacNet and flies back up to Eagle Rest with the intent to punish him for his past crimes.

Chapter 24

In chapter 24, Ephraim wakes up in the Obsidian stronghold of Eagle Rest after being rescued by Sefi's forces. He meets Ozgard, a strange Obsidian shaman, and the warlord Valdir. Ephraim tries to escape but is recaptured. He's brought before Queen Sefi, who reveals she has broken from the Republic and plans to found her own Obsidian kingdom, Volkland.

Sefi wants Ephraim to teach her assassins, the skuggi, to be more practical and operate behind enemy lines. Ephraim initially refuses, but Sefi reveals she has captured his associates Volga and Lyria from the Julii family. Desperate to free them, Ephraim agrees to help the skuggi in exchange for money and their eventual release. He signs a contract with the Obsidians, hoping to save Volga and Lyria.

Chapter 25

In chapter 25, Ephraim begins training Sefi's assassins, the skuggi, in unconventional warfare and espionage tactics. He is frustrated to find only half speak his language. Ephraim lectures them on adapting to a changing world and learning new skills like manipulating security systems instead of just killing. He clashes with their leader Freihild, who is skeptical of his methods. Ephraim aims to teach them to operate secretly behind enemy lines to help Sefi build her Obsidian kingdom. He promises to make them masters of the city jungle who own the underworld. Ephraim is determined to transform the skuggi into elite operatives, though he faces major challenges in training them.

Chapter 26

In chapter 26, Mustang meets with the Zenith Ring, a coalition of powerful Silver industrialists and senators led by Britannia ag Krieg. The Zenith Ring makes extensive demands in exchange for their votes to send reinforcements to Darrow's besieged forces on Mercury. Mustang grows frustrated with their extortion and fires an anti-tank gun at an expensive statue to make a point, shocking the oligarchs.

Mustang confronts the legendary Quicksilver, who helped overthrow the Society but has grown cantankerous and opaque, hinting he knows something she doesn't. After failed negotiations, Mustang gives the Zenith Ring an ultimatum to vote her way or face consequences. She believes other Silvers will take their place if needed. Mustang leaves confident she can gain enough Silver votes through other means. She then heads to confront political rival The Goblin, who has created a new problem for her.

Chapter 27

In this chapter, Mustang interrogates the Duke of Hands, a high-ranking member of the Syndicate crime organization. She uses an advanced memory-editing device called a psychoSpike to repeatedly interview him, learning his secrets while erasing his memory of each session.

Mustang confirms the Duke's loyalty to the Syndicate Queen, who has put a massive bounty on Sevro's head. She also learns the Duke was likely bred by the notorious Hysperia Gardens. After multiple interrogations, Mustang's ally Holiday signals that their target - the Goblin of Mars - has taken the bait they set. Mustang concludes the Duke is now useless to her and prepares to hand him over to the Goblin to be killed.

Chapter 28

In chapter 28, Mustang interrogates the Duke of Hands, a high-ranking member of the Syndicate crime organization, using an advanced memory-editing device she calls a psychoSpike. After wiping the Duke's personality and memories, she hands him over to Sevro to kill. However, Sevro is disturbed when the Duke's wiped memories reveal that Mustang's political ally Dancer is connected to the Syndicate.

Mustang confronts Sevro about his vigilante mission against the Syndicate, revealing she knows Sevro's wife Victra went to pay their ransom demand. After convincing Sevro she already knows their plans, he agrees to follow her orders again. Mustang asserts her authority over Sevro and the Howlers, insisting they unite instead of splintering apart. She makes it clear she allowed Victra's deal with the Obsidians, hoping to bring them into an alliance against the Society. Sevro is amazed at Mustang's foresight and obedience. The chapter ends with Sevro disturbed about Dancer's betrayal and asking Mustang what she will do. She says the only option is to communicate.

Chapter 29

In this chapter, Ephraim continues training Sefi's Obsidian assassins, the skuggi. He struggles to teach them skills like lying and reading body language, as they are used to direct physical confrontation. Ephraim plays cards with them, using it to demonstrate how to read physical tells. He notices tension between Sefi's warlord Valdir and one of the skuggi, Freihild, who was once Valdir's student. Ephraim befriends Pax, giving him tips on fixing up an old gravBike, hoping to gain leverage in case he needs to escape. Pax implies he knows Valdir and Freihild are sleeping together. By the end of the training, Ephraim has earned more respect from the skuggi with his "skillgift." He plans to get Pax drunk to learn more about his father, the Reaper.

Chapter 30

In chapter 30, Mustang visits her son Pax's bedroom and reflects on his kidnapping by the Syndicate. Darrow's mother Deanna interrupts and convinces Mustang to meet with Dancer, who she has just arrived with.

Mustang and Dancer have an awkward reunion, still at odds over the fleet for Mercury. Sevro reveals himself and they inform Dancer about Pax's kidnapping. Mustang plays a memory she extracted from an interrogated Syndicate leader that implicates Dancer in an affair. Dancer is outraged, thinking it blackmail about his sexuality, but Sevro clarifies it proves the man was a Syndicate spy.

Shaken, Dancer realizes he was set up by the Syndicate as a scapegoat if the kidnapping was revealed. Mustang convinces Dancer that Senator Publius is likely conspiring with the Syndicate. She asks for Dancer's support in the upcoming vote to send reinforcements to Mercury. Despite their past tensions, Dancer emotionally agrees to unite against their true enemy, and support Mustang's request for the fleet.

Chapter 31

Virginia reflects on the impermanence of power while in the Ocular Sphere atop the Citadel of Light. She misses Octavia and Lysander, who are gone. Looking down on Earth and Mercury, Virginia worries about Darrow's fate in the war. She hopes he knows she still loves him despite their differences.

Sevro, Daxo and Kavax join Virginia. Sevro is ready to lead a strike against the Syndicate Queen on Earth. Kavax emotionally tells Virginia she deserves joy and proof her faith in democracy is right. After he leaves, Virginia tells Sevro to be careful but bring back the Syndicate Queen's head. Daxo makes plans for a family dinner that night to celebrate the impending Senate vote.

Chapter 32

In this chapter, Virginia finds herself trapped with Daxo and other Optimates inside the Senate Forum as a coup unfolds. Dancer and his moderate Vox Populi senators are killed by some sort of toxin, and Virginia realizes it is a setup. The Senate Wardens turn against Virginia's forces. A mob storms the Forum, set loose by Publius.

Virginia and Daxo fight against the mob, but are overwhelmed. Daxo is killed and his head tossed around by Lilath, revealed to be alive and leading the Syndicate. The mob drags Virginia away. She glimpses Daxo's severed head and realizes her democracy project has failed. The chapter ends with Virginia at the mercy of the mob, Lilath laughing at her.

Chapter 33

In chapter 33, Darrow attends a funeral for fallen soldiers outside Heliopolis. He reflects somberly on the dire situation of his besieged forces, who suffered catastrophic losses defending the city. Darrow's officers warn him that anti-radiation medicine is dangerously low, threatening his army and civilians with radiation poisoning.

Engineer Harnassus suggests surrender may be the only option, but Darrow refuses to lose faith in his wife Virginia's promise that reinforcements are coming. He orders his officers to share anti-radiation supplies with civilians despite the shortages. Darrow later receives an ominous message from enemy leader Atalantia requesting an audience regarding his wife.

Chapter 34

Darrow has a tense video call with Atalantia, who shows him footage of Virginia's death during a coup in the Senate. Atalantia demands Darrow surrender or she will destroy Heliopolis with nuclear weapons. Darrow realizes no reinforcements from the Republic are coming. He informs his commanders about Atalantia's threats and Virginia's likely death. Darrow steps down from commanding the army, leaving his officers to decide whether to surrender or fight on. Darrow reflects somberly on his failures as a leader that led to this dire situation. He waits to hear his commanders decide the fate of the army and the war.

Chapter 35

Lysander recalls a traumatic memory from childhood where his grandmother Octavia forced him to run blindfolded down icy steps with a heavy rock to teach him a lesson about always being mentally alert. In the present, Lysander is barely alive, suffering from horrific facial wounds and leading a small band of surviving Golds through the desert toward the city of Erebos. Most of their men have died from heat, radiation poisoning, and lack of water. Lysander reflects on the recent battle, realizing Ajax betrayed him and left him for dead. He feels responsible for all the deaths. That night, they find a crashed ship to make camp in. Two Golds, Cicero and Kalindora, imply they may kill the remaining Grays to conserve water for the Golds' survival. Lysander refuses to abandon the Grays. Kalindora supports him. Lysander falls asleep wary of Cicero's intentions.

Chapter 36

In chapter 36, Darrow is led by his Howler Screwface to witness a group of soldiers undergoing a cleansing ritual in the sea before the city of Heliopolis. Darrow feels like an outsider intruding on the private moment and leaves. He walks along the beach with Screwface until they discover a group of stealth ships that have landed offshore, sent by Virginia with desperately needed supplies and medicine.

Darrow receives a message from Virginia explaining the dire political situation on Luna and her belief their son Pax was kidnapped by Sefi as leverage, but remains safe. Virginia promises to come herself with reinforcements in five days, with or without the Senate's approval.

After reviewing Virginia's intelligence reports, Darrow meets with his high command about Atalantia's surrender ultimatum. To his surprise, they refuse to surrender or turn Darrow over, instead firing on Atalantia's fleet. Darrow takes command again, rallies his officers, and decides to endure and find a way home. He summons the Master Maker Glirastes to aid their cause.

Chapter 37

Lyria lies starving in her prison cell, tortured by lights and sounds. She reflects on her past and family. When Virginia au Augustus visited, she made clear Lyria is being punished for her role in kidnapping Pax. After Virginia leaves, Lyria descends into madness. She stops eating and wallows in filth. Eventually Lyria decides to fight for survival. She forces herself to eat and sleeps tied to a vent to withstand the room's shifting gravity. One day she discovers a hidden message in the vent from Volga, asking if she is alone. Lyria debates responding, but decides to write back, hoping for someone to talk to. She writes her name and hints at their shared history with Ephraim.

Chapter 38

Ephraim and his skuggi assassins are summoned by Queen Sefi aboard a derelict cruise ship. In the haunted opera house, Sefi reveals Virginia au Augustus was killed in a coup and orders Ephraim to ready the skuggi to help seize Mars' helium mines. Ephraim watches in horror as Sefi executes a loyal servant, Amel. Afterward, she informs Pax and Electra their mother is likely dead. Pax flees in grief. Ephraim confronts Sefi about provoking another war. She claims it is necessary for Obsidian independence. Despite reservations, Ephraim agrees to ready the skuggi for her assault on the mines.

Chapter 39

In this chapter, Lysander and a small group of surviving Golds continue their trek through the desert toward the city of Erebos. Lysander is severely injured and infected from the battle. Kalindora helps support him on the journey. When they stop to rest, Cicero implies they may need to kill the Grays to conserve water for the Golds.

A stampeding herd of sunbloods races past, followed by an enormous sandstorm. Cicero and the uninjured Golds sprint for shelter in a crashed bomber, abandoning Lysander and the Grays. Lysander sends Kalindora ahead and takes cover in a hydra burrow just before the storm hits. He crawls deep inside as the storm rages over the entrance.

Chapter 40

Lysander takes shelter in a hydra burrow during a sandstorm. After it passes, he finds the other Golds abandoned him. Ajax's men track Lysander down to kill him, but he defeats them in a blind battle using the Mind's Eye. A mysterious man named Apollonius reveals himself, desiring to learn the Mind's Eye. Lysander refuses to teach him. Wounded, Lysander continues north alone, rejecting Apollonius's offer of alliance against Atalantia and Darrow. Though abandoned, Lysander feels he has regained control of his life and is determined to survive.

Chapter 41

Ephraim watches as the Obsidians, led by Queen Sefi, perform a ritual sacrifice of an aurochs and make wagers on the upcoming battle. Though initially dismissive, Ephraim is angered when many Obsidian leaders, including Sefi's warlord Valdir, insult his battle plan by making only token wagers. In a defiant move, Ephraim makes a full blood wager by cutting his hand over the aurochs ribs, matching Sefi's own wager of her life. Afterward, Sefi implies Ephraim will be rewarded if they are victorious, but killed if they lose, as is tradition. She states she knows his worth despite the others' skepticism. Ephraim regrets his rash wager, but resolves to see his plan through.

Chapter 42

In chapter 42, Ephraim is aboard an ore hauler heading to Mars for Sefi's planned assault on the Republic's helium mines. He is completely sober and anxious about the impending battle. Ephraim reflects on how the Obsidian skuggi assassins he trained are unprepared for this coordinated attack.

On the ship, Ephraim gets high after accidentally eating hallucinogenic "spirit berries" belonging to the Obsidian shaman Ozgard. Ephraim hallucinates bizarre visions as Sefi's forces prepare for the drop. Ozgard leads a ritualistic ceremony before the Obsidians depart. In his drug-induced state, Ephraim sees the assault begin and impulsively jumps out to join the Obsidians, only to land defenseless amongst hunterkiller robots. The chapter ends as Sefi and Valdir arrive to engage the robots.

Chapter 43

Ephraim comes to aboard Sefi's ship after his reckless jump into battle while high on spirit berries. He learns the assault on the helium mines failed disastrously, with most of the skuggi assassins dead. Sefi's warlord Valdir abandoned the attack. Ephraim argues with Sefi about the failure, blaming Valdir. She defends Valdir, saying the mines were too heavily defended.

Ephraim visits the wounded skuggi in the medical bay. He apologizes to Freihild for the failed plan that got most of them killed or captured. She says they will endure and learn. Back on the ship's bridge, Ephraim confronts Valdir about abandoning the assault. Valdir says it was foolish and futile. The two nearly come to blows before Sefi intervenes. She reprimands them both for letting anger cloud their judgement.

Sefi reveals Republic forces are en route to attack their ships. She orders Ephraim to take command of the ship's defenses despite his lack of experience. Ephraim protests but Sefi insists he must prove himself. As Republic interceptors approach, Ephraim takes command on the bridge, determined not to fail Sefi again.

Chapter 44

Lysander travels through the desert after being abandoned by Ajax's men. He finds a farmhouse to recover in before continuing towards Erebos. Along the way, he learns the city has been flooded by a broken dam. Upon reaching Erebos, Lysander discovers hundreds of impaled bodies left by Atlas au Raa's Gorgons as a horrific warning. One victim begs Lysander to mercy kill him, which he does, only to realize it's a trap that ensnares him in a tacNet. Lysander lies immobilized for hours until discovered by Gorgons, who mock him as a "blood traitor" before knocking him unconscious.

Chapter 45

In chapter 45, Lysander wakes up chained in a cave with a group of captured Howlers led by Alexandar au Arcos. Lysander pretends to be a civilian named Cato au Vitruvius who got caught up in the war. The Howlers share news about the recent battle at Heliopolis, where Darrow led his army to victory over Ajax au Grimmus. Lysander gains their trust by passing their questions about his fake identity.

Alexandar remains hopeful that Darrow will rescue them, though the other Howlers are skeptical. Lysander implies he has heard Darrow crossed the desert and broke the siege of Heliopolis, boosting Alexandar's morale. Lysander is wary of revealing too much, but hopes learning about the Howlers will provide insight into Darrow and his plans.

Chapter 46

Ephraim is brought to see a new ship called Snowball that Sefi has gifted him. He attends a ceremonial Obsidian dragon hunt led by Sefi and other Valkyrie. During the hunt, Sefi seems unable to draw her bow to kill the dragon. Ephraim shoots the dragon with a rifle to save Sefi, Freihild, and Pax. At the feast after, Ozgard implies something is wrong with Sefi. Ephraim gets drunk and reflects on his growing connection to the Obsidians. He confronts Valdir about his affair with Freihild and warns it hurts Sefi. Ephraim wonders if he could find a permanent place here with the Obsidians.

Chapter 47

Ephraim and Ozgard travel to the ruins of the Valkyrie Spires to perform a ritual. They find a field of nightgaze flowers and Ozgard is filled with wonder. But they realize they are being watched, and find Freihild's mutilated body hanging in a tower. A giant pale Obsidian with metal implants emerges and brutally blinds Ozgard, declaring he has come to challenge Sefi's claim as Queen of the Obsidians. The Obsidian implies he is the legendary Reaper and gives Ephraim Freihild's heart to bring to Sefi as a message. Ephraim is shaken and fears delivering the news to Sefi.

Chapter 48

In chapter 48, Ephraim attends Freihild's funeral after her murder by the mythical Volsung Fá. Valdir angrily accuses Sefi and Ozgard of lying about the Ascomanni threat during the funeral feast. Later, Valdir butchers Sefi's griffins in a fit of rage induced by hallucinogenic mushrooms slipped into his drink. Ozgard is blamed for poisoning Valdir and banished.

Sefi then reveals to Ephraim that she is dying from a incurable poison called Yellow Death given to her by Atalantia. Sefi explains she wanted Volga, who is the daughter of legendary Obsidian Ragnar, to be her heir and unite the Obsidian tribes. But Ephraim refuses to let Volga be used, claiming her as his own people. He decides to find a way to escape Sefi and take Volga with him.

Chapter 49

In this chapter, Lyria is taken from her cell aboard the JBS Pandora along with Volga. They are met by a mysterious woman named Fig who seems to know Volga and Ephraim. Fig reveals Ephraim arranged for Lyria and Volga's exchange back to him.

Lyria and Volga are cleaned up before being taken to the ship's barracks. A guard named Paxton implies Ephraim is now allied with the Obsidians and considered a hero. He also reveals that Virginia au Augustus, known as the Sovereign, is dead.

While showering, Lyria discovers a strange tunnel that forms in the wall. Fig's body transforms as dark shapes emerge from the tunnel. The chapter ends as some sort of creatures fall out and begin moving on the floor.

Chapter 50

Lyria and Volga are taken from their cells by Paxton and Figment. Strange intruders emerge from the walls and attack the guards. In the chaos, the gravity fails and a fight ensues in zero gravity. Figment detonates a bomb, breaching the hull. The intruders are sucked into space. Lyria and Volga crawl through the damaged ship, finding dead guards floating everywhere. They see more intruders attaching to the hull outside. The ship's armor seals the breach. With no oxygen left, Lyria retrieves an air tank from a dead guard to save Volga and herself.

Chapter 51

Lyria and Volga escape from their cells during an attack on the JBS Pandora. They encounter strange intruders and a massive pale Obsidian called Volsung Fá who seems to know Volga. After a brutal massacre by Volsung Fá and the intruders, Lyria and Volga flee, crossing paths again with Figment. Figment reveals she has a secret escape ship and convinces Lyria and Volga to join her, though tensions remain high amongst the group.

Chapter 52

Lyria, Volga, and Figment escape from their cells aboard the JBS Pandora during an attack by strange intruders. In the chaos, they encounter Victra au Barca, who punches Lyria before being sucked out into space. Lyria and Volga make it to an escape pod, which crash lands in the Pyrrian Fjords of the Cimmerian Highlands on Mars.

After finding supplies, Lyria discovers a mortally wounded Figment. Before dying, Figment has a seizure and a metal creature bursts out of her face and attacks Lyria, causing her immense pain. Figment speaks in a strange voice before dying. Lyria and Volga are now stranded in the frozen north of Mars, far from civilization.

Chapter 53

Lyria, Volga, and Victra flee from members of the Red Hand who have arrived at the crash site. Lyria spots their leader Harmony, who killed her family years ago. Volga offers to snipe Harmony for revenge, but Lyria declines, not wanting to endanger Victra's unborn child. The women realize Victra's men likely won't find them before the Red Hand does. Victra says they must head south to find a way to contact allies or escape across the sound. Lyria is troubled by the metal creature inside her and her changing abilities. She decides sticking with Volga and Victra is her best chance of survival for now.

Chapter 54

Ephraim walks through the city of Olympia, reflecting on the changes under Sefi's rule. He is recognized by a Red boy, prompting a chase that ends at a brothel. After seeing a news report about an attack on the JBS Pandora, Ephraim realizes Volga was likely killed. He rushes to grab explosives and weapons, evading Sefi's soldiers. Ephraim reaches Pax and Electra just as they are escorted to a bunker. He uses a magnet and explosives to separate the children from their Valkyrie guards. Though injured, Ephraim escapes with Pax and Electra using harnesses and his ship, the Snowball. On board, Pax and Electra remove tracking devices implanted in Ephraim without his knowledge. They decide to search for Victra, who may have escaped the attack. Ephraim reflects on how much Pax has matured.

Chapter 55

Virginia is held captive and interrogated using a device that reads her memories. She realizes her enemy Lilath is behind it, seeking revenge. Virginia is brought before a court where Publius accuses her of crimes. She is paralyzed and unable to speak in her defense. Publius claims he wants to remake the world equally without hierarchy. He shows Virginia holograms of executions of her allies before her trial. Publius believes he is in control but Virginia realizes Lilath is manipulating him for her own ends. Virginia knows they will find her guilty and she will be executed according to her brain's self-destruct protocol. She hopes her husband Darrow can endure on Mercury as enemy forces close in.

Chapter 56

Virginia is brought before a tribunal of senators to face charges of treason and other crimes. She is paralyzed and unable to speak in her defense. Publius accuses Virginia of imposing her will on humanity and shows holograms of executions of her allies. Suddenly the cameras go dead and Golds from House Pluto attack and decapitate the guards. Lilath, revealed to be the Queen of the Syndicate crime organization, enters and forces Publius to submit to her as punishment for trying to kill her after she helped him gain power.

An abomination with the voice of Virginia's brother Adrius, wearing the face of a young boy, enters with the legendary Sword of Silenius. He mocks the senators for thinking themselves special and orders them to eat the brains of a killed senator. Virginia realizes with horror that her brother has returned in this new monstrous form.

Chapter 57

Virginia is brought before Adrius's clone and Lilath along with captured Howlers Sevro, Pebble and Clown. The clone reveals he was created by Lilath from Adrius's DNA to continue his plans. He forces Sevro to watch as Howlers are burned alive inside an iron wolf statue. The clone threatens to mentally break Sevro by having Lilath alter his mind. Virginia is paralyzed and unable to intervene. The clone offers to ally with Virginia, claiming she deserves power over the "sheep." Virginia rejects his offer and insults the clone as an imitation of Adrius.

Chapter 58

In this chapter, Virginia finds herself at a banquet held by her brother's former followers, the Boneriders, who have been freed from prison. She observes their depraved behavior as they indulge in drugs, violence, and debauchery. Virginia realizes they are shallow and stuck in the past, unlike her brother Adrius.

Virginia is seated next to Adrius's clone, a creation of the crime lord Lilath who was raised to continue Adrius's legacy. The clone enjoys doing puzzles with Virginia, surprising her by not being angered when she solves them, unlike Adrius. Virginia sees this as an opportunity to drive a wedge between the clone and Lilath by implying the clone's memories were redacted.

When the clone demands to see puzzles from Adrius's childhood that Lilath hid, Virginia paralyzes Virginia's legs so they can speak privately. The clone confides he finds the Boneriders pathetic and plans to betray Lilath. Virginia argues the clone is not truly Adrius. When he threatens to erase her mind, she tempts him to ask how the mind-wiping technology works. As he steps closer, Virginia hands him a poisoned flower, causing his gruesome death. She hopes her friends can survive as civil war erupts across Luna.

Chapter 59

In this chapter, Virginia wakes up aboard Kavax's warship after being rescued from captivity by her allies. She is severely injured but alive. Virginia learns that her husband Darrow is still besieged on Mercury, her son Pax has been abducted again by Ephraim, and Sevro remains a prisoner. With enemy fleets closing in, Virginia decides they must retreat from Luna to defend Mars instead of trying to break through to rescue Darrow.

Before leaving, Virginia learns the Rim Dominion has secretly allied with Atalantia against the Republic. Kavax reveals he sent an agent to Mercury to try to bring Darrow home if the city falls. Though it pains Virginia to abandon Darrow on Mercury, she accepts going to Mars as the only viable strategic option with their limited forces. She hopes somehow Darrow can survive until they can return.

Chapter 60

Darrow visits Glirastes aboard the Morning Star as he works to build a powerful electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapon from the Spirit of Faran torchShip. Glirastes explains the technical challenge of creating a unique waveform for the EMP to penetrate enemy shields. Darrow's commanders are disturbed by Glirastes' temperamental genius. Darrow learns Glirastes demands sardines for breakfast to avoid headaches, so he unsuccessfully tries to steal some from Sevro's booby-trapped quarters. While recovering, Darrow reflects on Sevro's devotion to both war and family. Darrow decides he was wrong to ask Sevro to choose between them. He resolves not to close himself off from his own family and hopes to see them again.

Chapter 61

The chapter follows Lysander after he is captured and tortured by Atlas au Raa's Gorgons. Lysander is wary of revealing his identity to them, fearing it would allow his rival Ajax to finish his assassination attempts. After several days of torture, Atlas himself speaks privately with Lysander. Atlas reveals he knows Lysander's identity already and that Ajax has betrayed Lysander out of jealousy, on orders from Atalantia.

Atlas explains that Atalantia plans to unleash a chemical weapon to destroy Heliopolis and its civilians. Though troubled, Atlas feels bound as a soldier to follow orders. Lysander convinces Atlas to pretend to be captured so Lysander can infiltrate Heliopolis and stop the chemical attack. After Atlas pretends Lysander has escaped, Lysander "captures" Atlas and takes him to the imprisoned Howlers. Alexandar and the Howlers are inspired to escape, believing Atlas can provide intelligence to save millions. Under the guise of a loyalist civilian named Cato, Lysander joins the Howlers in fleeing through the tunnels.

Chapter 62

Lysander and the captured Howlers, including Alexandar, flee through underground tunnels to escape Atlas's Gorgons. Lysander pretends to be an ally named Cato to gain the Howlers' trust. The group encounters dangers like guano pits and milkbats before finding gravBikes to escape.

Outside, a massive force led by Atlas tries to recapture them. The Howlers make a desperate bid to reach Darrow in Heliopolis. When it seems hopeless, Darrow's artillery strikes create an opening. Lysander, Alexandar, and Drusilla barely make it aboard Darrow's shuttle. Lysander feels conflicted about the violence caused by both sides seeking to use Atlas as a weapon in the war.

Chapter 63

Darrow rushes a severely injured Alexandar to the medical bay after rescuing him from Atlas's captivity. Alexandar barely survives, losing his ears and teeth. Darrow confronts Atlas, who implies both sides have committed atrocities. Darrow refrains from torturing him for information.

Darrow allows Alexandar's ally Rhonna to visit him in recovery. Alexandar confirms a man named Cato helped them escape. Darrow tasks Thraxa with interrogating Atlas humanely. He refuses to judge Cato without more information, despite Glirastes' pleas. Tests on Cato's DNA, brain scans and linguistics suggest he is likely telling the truth about his identity and origins. Darrow has Screwface observe Cato's interrogation to ascertain if he is lying.

Chapter 64

Lysander is interrogated by Darrow's forces using a lie-detecting machine. He expertly evades its questions by drawing on his training in deception. Darrow interrupts the interrogation, pushing aside the machine in frustration. Lysander continues playing the part of an opportunistic civilian named Cato. Darrow agrees to release Lysander to his ally Glirastes, but under guard at Glirastes' estate. Lysander is reunited with Glirastes, who is overjoyed to see him alive. Lysander hopes to learn more about Darrow's plans while under loose guard at Glirastes' villa.

Chapter 65

Thraxa and Harnassus debate whether to interrogate Glirastes' new ward, Cato. Thraxa believes Cato's piloting skills prove he is hiding his true identity. Harnassus argues they need Glirastes to finish a vital project, and threatening Cato would make him uncooperative. Darrow decides to allow Cato's release to Glirastes, but orders Screwface to secretly implant a monitoring device in him. Though Cato seems unremarkable, Darrow is suspicious how he survived capture when other soldiers did not. Darrow hopes to uncover Cato's true motives, and Glirastes' loyalties, by monitoring their interactions.

Chapter 66

Lysander visits Glirastes at his estate outside Heliopolis. Glirastes is initially cold to Lysander, wary of being monitored. Lysander pretends to be a libertine houseguest, covertly surveilling Heliopolis's defenses. He calculates the city is building a powerful EMP device.

Lysander manipulates Glirastes emotionally, implying Atalantia will destroy his life's work. Glirastes shows Lysander his dream city model, Oculus. Lysander gains Glirastes's trust by reminding him of their past bond. Glirastes agrees to help stop Atalantia's planned chemical attack on Heliopolis. His staff, led by Exeter, pledge loyalty to Lysander as the Heir of Silenius, revealing a network of Society loyalists who can aid Lysander's cause.

Chapter 67

In this chapter, Lyria witnesses Victra give birth to her son in the bedroom of a Red fisherman's home during a storm. Victra refuses any assistance and delivers the baby while standing, catching him herself as he emerges. She cuts the cord and cleans the newborn's airways before nursing him for the first time. Lyria is struck by the tender intimacy between Victra and her child. At Victra's invitation, Lyria comes to greet the baby and is amazed as his tiny hand grasps her finger. Victra whispers a blessing to her son, calling him Ulysses. Afterward, Lyria leaves Victra to bond with the newborn in private. She tells Volga the good news, and they both feel a surprising joy at the birth of Victra's son despite their wariness of her. The chapter captures the transcendent power of childbirth and the unbreakable bonds of family.

Chapter 68

Lyria is with Victra and her newborn son Ulysses at the home of a Red fisherman, Cormac, during a storm. Volga goes to the nearby village to find a transmitter. While fetching ice for Victra, Lyria sees Cormac's mute daughter Brea signal a warning. Lyria realizes Cormac has freed himself and attacks. Victra kills Cormac but Brea shoots at them from her room. Lyria finds Brea mortally wounded and tries to save her as the house burns. Victra flees with Ulysses into the woods. Chased by villagers, Lyria loses Victra's trail in a snowstorm. Returning later, she finds signs of a battle and Volga captured. Following crows, Lyria discovers Ulysses nailed upside down to a tree, murdered.

Chapter 69

In this chapter, Lyria finds Victra's newborn son Ulysses nailed upside down to a tree, murdered by the Red Hand. Overcome with grief, she takes his body with her. Lyria returns to the village and meets a woman named Maeve whose daughters were raped by the Red Hand. Maeve's youngest, Mora, is to be taken as a child bride. Lyria decides to infiltrate the Red Hand base disguised as a potential bride to find her captured friend Volga. She examines the contents of Figment's orb, but finds no weapons, only strange technology she doesn't understand. Lyria enlists Maeve's help disguising her as an eligible girl to be brought to the Red Hand base for inspection before being taken as a wife. She is determined to rescue Volga and the other girls from their fate.

Chapter 70

In chapter 70, Lyria infiltrates a Red Hand base disguised as a potential child bride. She pulled out her own teeth and replaced them with metal teeth from Figment to avoid detection. On the transport to the base, Lyria establishes herself as the leader of the captive girls. She intimidates them into compliance and pulls out a girl's tooth as punishment for being a potential informant.

At the base, Lyria meets Harmony, the leader of the Red Hand. Harmony gives an impassioned speech to the girls about bearing children for the Red Hand warriors. Lyria maintains her disguise despite hating Harmony for killing her family. After the speech, the girls are paired off with warriors to be raped. Lyria and the girls plan to steal weapons when alone and turn on their captors.

Chapter 71

Lyria infiltrates a Red Hand base disguised as a child bride. She pulled out her own teeth and replaced them with metal teeth from Figment to avoid detection. On the transport to the base, Lyria establishes herself as the leader of the captive girls. She intimidates them into compliance and pulls out a girl's tooth as punishment for being a potential informant.

At the base, Lyria meets Harmony, the leader of the Red Hand. Harmony gives a speech about the girls bearing children for the warriors. Lyria maintains her disguise despite hating Harmony for killing her family. After the speech, the girls are paired off with warriors to be raped. Lyria and the girls plan to steal weapons when alone and turn on their captors.

Chapter 72

Lyria and Freckles infiltrate the Red Hand base disguised as potential child brides after poisoning many of the men. Lyria is captured and tortured by Harmony, who killed her family years ago. Freckles shoots one of the men holding Lyria. In the chaos of the poisoning, they escape to the communications room. Lyria uses the radio to broadcast a message calling for help from anyone receiving. Meanwhile, the other girls attack their would-be rapists. Lyria hopes her message reaches potential allies who can come rescue them and Victra.

Chapter 73

In chapter 73, Ephraim, Pax and Electra receive a distress call from Lyria asking for help attacking the Red Hand's base. They debate who to contact for reinforcements since the Republic and Obsidians are on the brink of war and won't trust each other. Pax suggests boosting Lyria's signal so it reaches Mars. Ephraim is hesitant to get involved in the war on Mars, but Pax convinces him it's the only way to potentially save Volga and Victra. Ephraim agrees to sneak into Agea to broadcast Lyria's call through the Hyperion, the tallest tower on Mars. Pax expresses pride in Ephraim for risking himself to help others. Ephraim reflects on how he's come to care about the children, and hopes he can be the man Pax believes he is.

Chapter 74

In this chapter, Lyria infiltrates a Red Hand base disguised as a potential child bride in order to rescue her friend Volga and other captive girls. She pulled out her own teeth and replaced them with metal teeth from the deceased Figment to avoid detection. On the transport to the base, Lyria establishes dominance over the other captive girls.

At the base, Lyria meets Harmony, the leader of the Red Hand who killed her family years ago. Harmony gives a speech about the girls bearing children for the warriors. Lyria maintains her disguise despite hating Harmony. After the speech, the girls are paired off with warriors to be raped. Lyria and the girls make a plan to steal weapons and turn on their captors when alone.

Lyria is captured and tortured by Harmony after the girls poison many of the men. In the chaos, she and Freckles escape to the communications room. Lyria broadcasts a message calling for help from any potential allies. Meanwhile, the other girls attack their would-be rapists. Lyria hopes her message reaches someone who can come rescue them.

Chapter 75

Lyria pursues Harmony into a tunnel but loses her. She hears gunshots and finds Victra fighting Harmony, who is out of ammo. Lyria takes aim but Victra gets the upper hand, breaking Harmony's hands. Lyria stops Victra from immediately killing Harmony, wanting her to suffer. Harmony threatens to have her ship destroy the mine but Lyria kicks her into a pit of snakes who paralyze and burrow into her.

Lyria and Victra find the slaves have turned on the Red Hand soldiers. Volga is leading them but there's no exit from the mine. On the cameras, they see Harmony's ship rise from the sea to attack. Just as they resign themselves to death, dots appear on the scanners - potential reinforcements summoned by Lyria's distress call to Mars.

Chapter 76

In chapter 76, Ephraim prepares to return to the Obsidians to warn Sefi that Xenophon is working with Volsung Fá. He reflects on his growth and how he now sees the Obsidians as his tribe. Volga wants to join Ephraim but he insists on going alone, promising to return.

At Trigg's memorial, Ephraim realizes he wants to help Sefi despite not owing her anything. Volga protests but understands Ephraim's need to go. They share an emotional goodbye.

Ephraim asks Pax for help acquiring weapons. He hopes to sneak into Olympia and expose Xenophon before Fá and the Ascomanni can destroy the Obsidians from within. Though reluctant to leave Volga again, Ephraim feels compelled to try to protect Sefi and her people.

Chapter 77

Ephraim sneaks into Griffinhold to confront Xenophon, who is revealed to be a Gorgon spy. Xenophon shows a hologram from Atlas au Raa praising his loyalty. Ephraim realizes Xenophon has been manipulating events to provoke war between the Obsidians and Republic. Xenophon tries to recruit Ephraim to the Society but he refuses. Ascomanni aliens appear and knock Ephraim unconscious.

Ephraim wakes chained in Sefi's throne room, accused of treason with Ozgard. Xenophon claims they tried to install Valdir as king. Sefi sentences them to death. At a gathering of war chiefs, Sefi gives a speech against Volsung Fá. A Republic shuttle arrives, revealed to be bringing Volsung Fá himself. Xenophon declares Fá is the true father of Ragnar Volarus, and sings his lineage and titles before introducing him as the "Broodfather of Ragnar Volarus."

Chapter 78

Volsung Fá arrives and claims to be the father of Ragnar Volarus. He easily kills Sefi's Valkyrie guards and turns the male Obsidian war chiefs against Sefi by stoking gender tensions. Sefi accepts Volsung's challenge to ritual combat for the throne. Despite Sefi's skill, Volsung quickly and brutally defeats her by crippling her limbs. Volsung then publicly tortures Sefi to death in front of the Obsidians, before eating her heart and declaring himself king. He orders the Obsidians to sack the city and slaughter the inhabitants. Ephraim tries unsuccessfully to intervene and witnesses the horror unfold.

Chapter 79

Ephraim is forced to attend a feast held by Volsung Fá and the Ascomanni after they sack the city of Olympia. Ephraim tries to convince Xenophon, a Gorgon spy, to let him speak with Fá. Xenophon philosophizes about the Obsidians embracing their true violent nature now that Sefi's rule has ended.

Ephraim activates a remote heartspike to kill Xenophon before confronting Fá. Fá reveals he seeks to find and mold his daughter Volga as his heir. Ephraim lies that Volga is dead at the bottom of the sea. When Fá orders Xenophon to kill Ephraim, Ephraim detonates explosives he hid in Xenophon's clothes, severely injuring Fá. But Fá survives and brutally kills Ephraim by ripping out his heart and eating it.

Chapter 80

Lysander travels to the city of Hyperion on Luna undercover as a lowColor dock worker named Cato. He reflects on the dire situation of the war - Darrow's forces still besieged on Mercury, the Rim Dominion secretly allied with Atalantia against the Republic. Lysander hopes to find clues in Hyperion about the Republic's plans.

On the docks, Lysander is bothered by the ingratitude and entitlement of the highColors he works for. His Obsidian companion Rhone is also posing as a dock worker. They debate the merits of the Society versus the Republic as they unload cargo.

While exploring Hyperion, Lysander and Rhone are attacked by street toughs when Lysander intervenes to help a lowColor woman being harassed. Lysander easily defeats the attackers, contemplating how violence comes naturally to him despite his philosophical musings.

Rhone spots suspicious shipments to a warehouse that may be connected to the Syndicate crime organization. Lysander decides to investigate the warehouse that night for intelligence, hoping to learn what the Republic is transporting.

Chapter 81

The chapter follows Lysander as he prepares to infiltrate Heliopolis and stop Atalantia's planned chemical attack. Lysander is visited unexpectedly by Alexandar au Arcos and Rhonna, who want a tour of the city before the Republic forces depart. Lysander tries to avoid them to stick to his timetable, but Alexandar insists on staying. Lysander hides his equipment and tries to politely defer the tour, but Alexandar will not be deterred. To avoid suspicion over the security spike still in Lysander's shoulder, Alexandar and Rhonna are allowed into the library. Lysander debates how to proceed without ruining his plans, as he is supposed to depart for the Hippodrome soon.

Chapter 82

The chapter follows Darrow as he discovers the true identity of the man posing as Cato au Vitruvius. After reviewing surveillance footage, Darrow realizes Cato's murmurings in his sleep match the motto "truth over all," which triggers his suspicion. Darrow orders DNA testing that confirms Cato is genetically related to enemy leader Atalantia au Grimmus.

Darrow realizes with horror that Cato is actually Lysander au Lune, the heir to the Society, who has infiltrated Heliopolis. Darrow scrambles his forces, ordering the destruction of the EMP that Glirastes was secretly building for Atalantia. He warns Rhonna and Alexandar, who are with Lysander at Glirastes' estate, not to engage him. Darrow prepares for an imminent enemy attack, hoping Alexandar and Rhonna can stall Lysander long enough for Darrow's forces to reach them. The chapter captures Darrow's alarm at discovering the enemy within and his desperate efforts to thwart their plans before it's too late.

Chapter 83

Lysander, posing as Cato, is giving Alexandar and Rhonna a tour of Glirastes's museum when he realizes they suspect his true identity. Lysander attacks Rhonna and takes her gun, holding her hostage. Alexandar prepares to fight Lysander but hesitates when he sees Rhonna in danger. Lysander confirms he is Lysander au Lune by referencing Alexandar's grandfather. Lysander tells Alexandar to surrender but he refuses. Lysander shoots and kills Alexandar to eliminate the threat he poses.

Chapter 84

Darrow and his Howlers attack Glirastes's estate searching for Lysander. They find Alexandar murdered and Rhonna gravely injured. Lysander flees using gravBoots and Darrow's forces pursue him through the city. Lysander broadcasts his face on the city's screens to rally Society loyalists as coordinated attacks begin across Heliopolis. Darrow realizes Lysander is heading to free prisoners and spark an uprising. He tries to shoot Lysander down but Lysander escapes by parachuting into the Water Gardens. An EMP goes off, knocking out power across the city including the protective shield. Darrow's forces crash as the city plunges into chaos.

Chapter 85

Lysander, disguised as Cato, escapes Darrow's forces after the EMP knocks out power across Heliopolis. He changes into armor and heads to the Hippodrome, where loyalist forces have gathered a herd of sunblood horses. Lysander dramatically rides into the arena on a legendary horse named Blood of Empire. He rallies his Praetorian guards who have come to meet him and arms them for battle. Kalindora, the Love Knight, joins Lysander, who plans to launch attacks across the city to spark an uprising against Darrow's forces. Lysander believes he must achieve a decisive victory before Atalantia's fleet can reinforce Darrow.

Chapter 86

Darrow wakes up after crashing in his armor during the EMP blackout. A mob tries to kill him but he slaughters them in rage after they drop a statue on him. Darrow rallies some young Reds to help find his men. He sees signs of chaos across the darkened city as Lysander's forces attack. Darrow orders his troops to retreat from the city into the mountains. He decides to make a stand with Thraxa at the Water Gardens to block Lysander's advance down the Via Triumphia boulevard. Darrow knows Lysander seeks glory by attacking while the fleet is disabled. His plan is to delay Lysander long enough for his support troops to escape, even if it means death. The Howlers split up to defend other boulevards into the city. Darrow tells them that if the lines break, rally at the Mound for a last stand. He knows it will be a brutal, desperate fight against Lysander's veteran troops without tech or air support. But Darrow is ready to sacrifice himself so his army can survive.

Chapter 87

Darrow prepares to make a desperate last stand with his remaining forces against Lysander's cavalry charge down the Via Triumphia in Heliopolis. Darrow forms a hedgehog formation with his armored Golds and Obsidians at the center, flanked by lowColor legionnaires. When the massive herd of sunblood horses charges, Darrow's men lay flat with razors extended, shredding many horses. But Lysander and his Golds still break through, massacring Darrow's unarmored troops.

Badly wounded, Darrow sees Lysander reveling in the slaughter. Enraged, Darrow abandons his defenses and charges alone into the fray as the Reaper. He screams a battlecry to kill Lysander, seeking vengeance for the atrocities committed against his people. Darrow is determined to stop Lysander's rise or die trying.

Chapter 88

In this chapter, Lysander pursues Darrow on horseback through the streets of Heliopolis after Darrow's forces are routed. Lysander challenges Darrow to single combat atop their horses. As they charge each other, Lysander anticipates Darrow's move to switch his slingBlade to his other hand for a killing blow. Lysander counters by throwing a razor into Darrow's chest before their horses collide, though both men are unseated by the impact.

Lysander's arm is badly injured but he finds Darrow was also wounded, the blade of his slingBlade shattered by their clash. As Darrow flees, Lysander realizes the chest wound likely only pierced his lung. But with Darrow's army shattered and Heliopolis largely under Lysander's control, he believes Darrow will not survive his injury for long. Lysander returns to his forces victorious, having defeated the Reaper himself in a dramatic duel, though disappointed he could not capture Darrow.

Chapter 89

Darrow is severely wounded and fleeing Lysander's forces through the streets of Heliopolis after his army is routed. He makes it back to the Mound, their last refuge, but realizes the city is lost. Lysander's cavalry and freed prisoners are slaughtering the survivors. Darrow's remaining forces prepare for a doomed last stand.

Darrow speaks with his allies Harnassus and Thraxa, who urge him to accept defeat. But Darrow rallies to organize a defense, unwilling to surrender. When enemy starShells appear signaling Atalantia's arriving fleet, Harnassus tells Darrow they should die on their own terms instead of being captured and tortured.

Alone in the tower, Darrow reflects on his failure and lost hopes. But when he speaks of wanting to see his wife and son again, Harnassus is moved and agrees to die with Darrow's men instead of suicide. As Atalantia's forces descend, a voice behind Darrow speaks - it's Cassius, sent by Kavax to help Darrow escape.

Chapter 90

In this chapter, Lysander's forces have captured Heliopolis after routing Darrow's army. Lysander reflects on the battle, feeling troubled that his victory over Darrow was not a fair fight since Darrow's forces were already weakened. Ajax arrives with reinforcements from Atalantia's fleet. There is tension between them as Ajax is jealous of Lysander's success. Lysander recommends immediately rescuing Atlas au Raa before Darrow's men can execute him.

Ajax leads forces to attack the Mound, Darrow's last refuge. But Cassius, revealed to be alive, helps Darrow escape in a cloaked ship. Lysander is shocked to see Cassius, who he thought was dead. Despite capturing the city, Lysander feels the war will go on with Darrow still free. The legendary figures of his youth like Darrow and Cassius continue to elude death, keeping the conflict alive. Lysander reflects that nothing is permanent and everyone faces their end eventually.

Chapter 91

In this chapter, Lyria watches Victra mourn the death of her infant son Ulysses, who was murdered by the Red Hand. Lyria reflects on the losses Victra, Volga, and Pax have suffered. After swimming ritualistically to honor Ulysses, Victra renews her oath of loyalty to her allies.

Pax's uncle Kieran, the new ArchGovernor of Mars, arrives and informs them that the legendary Reaper has been killed in the battle for Heliopolis. He says Lysander has returned and Heliopolis has fallen, with millions impaled. Kieran reveals that to secure peace, he bargained with Volsung Fá to hand over Volga, who is apparently Fá's granddaughter and heir. Despite Lyria and Victra's protests, Volga voluntarily goes with Fá to stop further bloodshed.

Afterward, Pax implies to Lyria that he knows her parasite implant contains advanced technology. He offers to help Lyria gain abilities to make a difference in the war, if she will retrieve something for him from the asteroid belt. Lyria is intrigued by Pax's offer to unlock her potential, but wary of his motives.

Chapter 92

In this chapter, Lysander reflects on the recent Triumph celebrating his victory over Darrow's forces in Heliopolis. He is troubled by the impaled bodies of Reds and Golds that Atalantia ordered displayed leading out of the city. Lysander attends a private meeting with Atalantia aboard her flagship, the Annihilo. She reveals plans for Lysander to lead rebuilding efforts in Tyche and promises to provide funds from his inheritance. Lysander is surprised by her apparent generosity.

Atalantia then brings Lysander to her private chambers and aggressively initiates sex with him. Lysander hesitantly goes along with it out of a sense of duty. Afterward, Atalantia implies they will soon formally announce their engagement. Lysander worries how his rival Ajax will react, but Atalantia dismisses him as unimportant. The chapter captures Lysander's unease with Atalantia and her domineering nature, but his willingness to appease her for political reasons.

Chapter 93

Lysander visits Kalindora on her deathbed. She reveals that his mother was killed by Octavia and Atalantia for plotting reform. Lysander is devastated to learn Atalantia, his lover, murdered his mother. Kalindora makes Lysander promise to claim his birthright as heir and stop Atalantia's cruelty. After she dies, Lysander attends her funeral, feeling trapped with Atalantia. He sleeps with her again despite feeling dead inside.

Chapter 94

Virginia reflects on the loss of her twin brother Adrius after learning his clone was created by Lilath. She misses her husband Darrow, who is still missing after the battle for Mercury. On Mars, Virginia completes the Iron Circle arrival ritual, signaling her dominion over the planet. She emotionally reunites with her son Pax, who has matured during his captivity.

Virginia visits the grave of Victra's murdered infant son. She tries to comfort Victra, who is furious over the abandonment of her captive husband Sevro. On Luna, the Rim and Core have allied and conquered Earth. Virginia realizes Cassius was right about the danger of the Rim-Core alliance. She renews her vow to find her husband and seek vengeance against their enemies.

Chapter 95

Lysander meets with Apollonius au Valii-Rath in the desert and they make an alliance. Lysander arranged for giant statues of the Sovereigns to be brought to the desert as a spectacle for Apollonius. Apollonius agrees to help Lysander defeat Atalantia, Ajax, Atlas and then Darrow. In exchange, Lysander will take on the burden of rule and exempt Apollonius from fealty and oaths, allowing him to be free to pursue his enemies. They make a pact and Lysander reflects that together they will point the way to conquering Mars.