Light Bringer

What happened in Light Bringer

By Pierce Brown

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown is an epic science fiction novel set in a dystopian future society with a rigid color-based class hierarchy. The story follows multiple characters including Darrow, an elite Gold who led a rebellion against Gold rule in the previous trilogy. In Iron Gold, Darrow struggles to help the new Republic he created resist conquest by the powerful Society government led by his rival Lysander au Lune.

The book begins with Darrow and his forces stranded after a failed attack on Mercury. Darrow grapples with anger and guilt over the losses. He finds comfort in manual labor repairing his damaged ship. His wife Virginia convinces Darrow not to return to war-torn Mars yet, tasking him instead with finding the missing fleet of the powerful Gold Quicksilver to gain reinforcements.

Meanwhile, Lysander rules as heir to the Society’s leader Atalantia. But he chafes under her domination and the expectations placed on him. Cassius, Lysander’s former mentor, tries to sway Lysander away from Atalantia’s cruelty. Other new characters are introduced, including Lyria, a Red girl with a special ability, and Ephraim, an Obsidian bodyguard.

As the story progresses, shifting alliances bring enemies together. Darrow forms a pact with the Rim worlds against Atalantia. A Rim leader named Diomedes tries to broker peace between Darrow and Lysander. But their meeting ends in tragedy and betrayal. Lysander’s destruction of the vital agricultural region on Io hardens Darrow’s resolve to defeat him. The book ends with both sides preparing for a final war to determine the solar system’s fate.

Light Bringer Chapter Summary

Chapter 1

The chapter follows Darrow, a Gold who led a rebellion against the ruling Golds. He is stranded on a forgotten moon with the remnants of his army after a failed attack. His ship is damaged and he waits for his friend Cassius to return with needed supplies. Darrow reflects on his anger and guilt over the losses from the failed attack. He finds some solace in manual labor repairing the ship. The chapter ends with Darrow having a brief moment appreciating the beauty around him and remembering his home planet, Mars.

Chapter 2

Darrow reflects on the losses from their failed attack on Mercury and his guilt over it. He finds comfort in manual labor repairing their damaged ship. Darrow worries about his son Pax and wife Virginia, as well as his friend Sevro who is missing. He visits his depressed comrade Screwface, trying to lift his spirits. Darrow then trains alone with a practice blade, listening to an inspirational speech from Virginia to focus his mind. The base's alarm sounds as an enemy ship approaches.

Chapter 3

The chapter begins with Darrow and his troops rushing to prepare for an approaching enemy ship. Darrow worries it will destroy their damaged base and stranded forces. The ship turns out to be an ally, the Wayward Chin, captained by Colloway Char. He has come to rescue Darrow's forces and bring them home.

Char provides updates on the war. Darrow learns his wife Virginia and son Pax are alive, though the system is filled with chaos from a new Gold weapon interfering with communications. Char reveals Darrow's brother Kieran is now ArchGovernor and that Quicksilver has abandoned the war effort.

Cassius soon arrives with helium-3 to fuel Darrow's ship home. But he also brings news that Darrow's friend Sevro, long thought dead, has actually been captured and sold at a Syndicate auction. Cassius warns the buyer's identity will upset Darrow.

Chapter 4

Darrow and Cassius prepare to leave the moon base to rescue Sevro from Venus. Their other allies try to stop them, insisting Darrow should return to lead the war effort on Mars instead. Darrow refuses, feeling compelled to save Sevro and sabotage the enemy shipyards on Venus. He convinces Cassius and the Siren Aurae to join him, though the others remain opposed. Darrow says emotional goodbyes to his friends before departing. He is determined to follow what he feels is the right path, despite their objections.

Chapter 5

The chapter follows Lysander as he presides over the opening of the Heliopolis Games. He watches the wild sunblood horses and their young riders enter the stadium to begin the festivities. Lysander reflects on his scar from Darrow's boot and the losses from the Battle of Mercury. In the stadium, he greets his allies Glirastes and Rhone, who bicker over Lysander's military spending. Lysander meets with Horatia au Votum, who warns him about the Carthii family in attendance. Lysander speaks with Valeria au Carthii, who implies she wants Lysander's help regaining her family's stolen shipyards. Meanwhile, Cicero au Votum, against Lysander's wishes, rides out to compete in the chariot race. The crowd cheers as the race begins.

Chapter 6

Darrow and Cassius infiltrate the Carthii dockyards disguised as House Rath knights to rescue Sevro. They make it past the station's defenses using a stealth ship and jump onto the hull of a doomed warship right before it enters the incinerator. Inside, they kill a Green administrator and force an architect to lead them to Sevro's cell. But when they reach Sevro, they realize it is an imposter with Sevro's tattoos and scars. It's a trap set by Apollonius, who increases the gravity in the cell to crush them. Darrow and Cassius are trapped, unable to escape before being captured by Apollonius's forces.

Chapter 7

In this chapter, Lysander attends the opening of the Heliopolis Games. He watches Cicero compete in a chariot race, despite Lysander asking him not to for safety reasons. Cicero wins and Lysander goes to scold him, but Cicero defends racing as honoring his father and Mercury.

Tharsus au Ladros, an ally of Lysander's rival Atalantia, approaches Lysander at the games. He reveals Apollonius has captured both Darrow and Cassius in a trap. Lysander is shocked to learn Cassius is alive, having assumed he died after leaving Lysander's service.

That night Lysander meets with Helios au Lux and Diomedes au Raa, leaders of the Rim Dominion military. They insult Lysander, saying he is not involved in the real war planning. Atlas au Raa, a feared Peerless Scarred, also arrives. The others shun Atlas as a traitor, but he implies he is there to monitor Lysander for Atalantia.

The next day, Lysander visits his mentor Glirastes and reveals Apollonius's news, hoping to cheer up the melancholy old man.

Chapter 8

In chapter 8, Darrow and Cassius are brought into the arena of the Hanging Coliseum on Venus to duel with Apollonius au Valii-Rath. Apollonius has a huge army of loyal Grays and dockworkers cheering him on. He implies he once had Sevro captive but has now killed him.

Darrow tries to avoid the duel by threatening to detonate a bomb, but Apollonius has already found and disarmed it. With no other options, Darrow and Apollonius begin their razor duel. Despite Darrow's training in the Willow Way, Apollonius quickly overwhelms him with his strength and skill.

Just as Apollonius is about to deliver the killing blow, a distant explosion rocks the station. Both Darrow and Apollonius are confused, realizing it was not Darrow's bomb. The chapter ends on this cliffhanger, with the source of the explosion unknown.

Chapter 9

In this chapter, Darrow, Cassius, and Sevro escape from Apollonius's forces amidst a battle between Apollonius and the invading Carthii fleet at the dockyards. Darrow and Cassius are initially trapped with Apollonius's legion, bound and forced to join the fighting. But Sevro creates a distraction by detonating a bomb, allowing Darrow and Cassius to break free. Sevro guides them through the chaotic battle using a stolen starShell battlesuit. He leads them through maintenance tunnels to an escape ship called the Archimedes. Sevro uses a thin wire to float them outside the station into space, where the Archimedes picks them up. They make it aboard safely, though cold and injured. Sevro reveals he's been waging a one-man war against Apollonius after escaping captivity. The chapter ends with them escaping the battle aboard the Archimedes.

Chapter 10

In this chapter, Lysander hosts a party aboard his newly rebuilt warship, the Lightbringer, to demonstrate its capabilities to Gold high society. He gives a speech taking credit for the ship's reconstruction. Lysander meets with Julia au Bellona's envoy, Pallas au Grecca, who implies Julia wants Lysander's help against Atalantia if he can prove his strength.

Meanwhile, Tharsus au Ladros arrives drunk with friends, causing a scene. After the Lightbringer successfully lifts off, news comes of a nuclear explosion at the Venus dockyards, sparking a Carthii invasion. Lysander privately tells Valeria au Carthii he enabled the invasion by smuggling in Martian troops, promising her control of House Carthii if she keeps his secret.

Suddenly, Atlas au Raa, Atalantia's enforcer, arrives pursuing Tharsus under the Dictator's Iron Fist. Atlas brutally kills Tharsus's friends then delivers Tharsus to be eaten alive by a manticore as the party guests watch. Atlas summons Lysander to Earth and has him beaten before they depart, despite his friends pleading for Lysander to resist. Lysander insists he must go, trusting his allies to enact contingency plans in his absence.

Chapter 11

In this chapter, Darrow and Sevro have an emotional conversation as they travel back to Mars on the Archimedes after escaping Venus. Darrow apologizes to Sevro for taking him for granted and not listening to his advice. Sevro implies their friendship may never fully heal but he knows Darrow will always come for him.

Aurae reveals she is an undercover agent called a Daughter of Ares. She shows Sevro a message from a Rim rebel leader called Athena, who claims to have inherited the military resources of the lost Sons of Ares. The message includes a recording from Sevro's late father Fitchner, explaining he started a revolution and entrusting Sevro with joining forces with Athena. Overwhelmed, Sevro asks Darrow to vet Athena's offer in his stead.

Darrow and Cassius have a heartfelt conversation about keeping faith despite setbacks. Cassius offers to train Darrow to regain his razor-fighting confidence after the duel with the Minotaur. Darrow accepts, hoping to repair his body and skills before the war continues.

Chapter 12

In this chapter, Lysander arrives on Earth and is brought before Atalantia at her palace in Agea. She accuses him of treason for enabling the Carthii invasion of Venus and has him beaten again. Lysander maintains his loyalty, saying he only wanted to draw out her enemies. Atalantia reveals she knows Lysander freed Cassius and allowed Darrow to escape. She gives Lysander a chance to prove his loyalty by executing his trusted advisor Xanthus. When Lysander refuses, she has Xanthus and other allies executed instead.

Atalantia promotes Lysander to her heir and they tour Agea together. Lysander is disturbed by the poverty and cruelty he witnesses. That night, Atalantia explains her belief that Golds require an iron hand to maintain order. Lysander pretends to agree but realizes he must undermine her from within. He sends a secret message to his allies, instructing them to prepare for war against Atalantia.

Chapter 13

The chapter follows Lyria, a Red working with Republic long-rangers searching asteroids for a secret laboratory. Their ship is attacked and destroyed by Dustwalker ships. Lyria and Fel, the squad leader, take cover in an abandoned pirate base but are cornered by Dustwalkers. Fel fights bravely but is dismembered. As Lyria is about to be captured, mysterious chrome orbs rise from the asteroid and destroy the Dustwalkers. One orb approaches Lyria, saying her "sister" is injured. Lyria broadcasts a message about finding a weapons lab before passing out.

Chapter 14

The chapter follows Lyria, a Red who woke up in a strange underwater room after being injured. She meets Matteo Sun, who reveals he knows her identity and history. Matteo offers to repair the damaged psyche in Lyria's head to give her great powers, but warns it may erase parts of her memory. Lyria refuses, valuing her identity and memories of her loved ones too much. Matteo respects her choice and agrees to surgically remove the psyche. Before the surgery, Matteo implies Darrow may still be alive, giving Lyria hope. The chapter ends as Lyria goes under anesthesia, with Matteo thanking her for reminding him of the importance of one's past and identity.

Chapter 15

Virginia waits at her son Pax's military school to visit him, reflecting on the war to come. Pax greets her formally, having been put on an accelerated naval training track. Virginia is disturbed by his cold demeanor and the premature tattoos marking him as a starship hunter.

Pax asks about pardoning an Obsidian rebel leader. Virginia refuses, still bitter the Obsidians left Darrow vulnerable. She reveals Lyria found a secret armory that may belong to the missing Quicksilver. Pax criticizes Virginia's plan to send emissaries, insisting only he could persuade Quicksilver to join their side.

Before leaving, Pax embraces Virginia, telling her not to feel guilty for the war-torn world he inherited. He says her gift of love and truth taught him life is struggle. Virginia is heartened, hoping her love for Pax can be her armor in the battles to come.

Chapter 16

This chapter follows Lysander as he arrives on Earth to meet with Atalantia. He is greeted by his friend Ajax, who warns him to kneel and submit when Atalantia strikes him. Lysander attends Atalantia's cheetana hunt, where she reveals plans to invade Luna and gives command of Earth to the gens Falthe. Lysander argues they should invade Mars instead but Atalantia refuses.

Atalantia brings out Lysander's friend Glirastes, whom she's captured and tortured. She threatens to kill Glirastes if Lysander doesn't obey her. At a party that night, Ajax secretly meets Lysander and implies Atalantia killed Lysander's parents. The next day at the summit, Atalantia demands Lysander publicly support her against dissenters. Lysander realizes he must pretend to submit to Atalantia while secretly undermining her. He sends a hidden message to allies to prepare for war against her.

Chapter 17

In this chapter, Lysander attends a summit of the Two Hundred Gold houses convened by Atalantia in Rome. He maneuvers politically, pretending loyalty to Atalantia while secretly arranging with allies to undermine her. The Rim and Core worlds clash over war strategy. Dido au Raa demands they invade Mars, but Atalantia insists on conquering Luna first. When Dido threatens to withdraw Rim support, the assembly falls silent, afraid to challenge Atalantia. Lysander remains seated, unwilling to risk his mentor's life opposing Atalantia. But when she announces Lysander will lead her invasion of Luna, he defiantly stands and declares he will invade Mars instead, rejecting Atalantia's control. His stand sparks turmoil in the assembly.

Chapter 18

In this chapter, Lysander attends a summit of the Two Hundred Gold houses in Rome convened by Atalantia. He maneuvers politically, pretending loyalty to Atalantia while secretly arranging with allies to undermine her. The Rim and Core worlds clash over war strategy. Dido au Raa demands they invade Mars, but Atalantia insists on conquering Luna first. When Dido threatens to withdraw Rim support, the assembly falls silent, afraid to challenge Atalantia.

Lysander remains seated, unwilling to risk his mentor's life opposing Atalantia. But when she announces Lysander will lead her invasion of Luna, he defiantly stands and declares he will invade Mars instead, rejecting Atalantia's control. His stand sparks turmoil in the assembly.

Lysander argues passionately that Gold must unite and invade Mars to end the war, nominating Apollonius au Valii-Rath to lead the campaign. Apollonius and Valeria au Carthii appear via holocube, announcing a peace treaty brokered by Lysander. The assembly erupts in support of invading Mars.

Atalantia insists on maintaining the siege of Luna but allows the others to invade Mars without her. She implies Lysander will sacrifice more friends in this war before leaving. Lysander's friend Ajax abandons Atalantia to stand with Lysander instead.

Chapter 19

In this chapter, Virginia rushes to meet with Victra and other returning allies - Harnassus, Screwface, Thraxa, and Colloway Char. They reveal to Virginia that her husband Darrow and Sevro are alive after their mission on Venus. Virginia is overjoyed but knows they must focus on preparing Mars' defenses, as the returning allies have spotted a large enemy fleet including Lysander's ship the Morning Star near Mars.

Virginia orders Victra to recall all ships to defend Mars. She asks the battered but loyal returning allies if they are fit to fight despite their hardships. They all eagerly volunteer to defend Mars, moving Virginia with their dedication. The chapter ends with Virginia feeling the weight of command as she prepares for the coming attack, but heartened by the support of her allies.

Chapter 20

In chapter 20, Virginia prepares for battle against the invading enemy fleet at Lykos, the mine where her husband Darrow was born. She joins Darrow's mother Deanna in a speech to rally the defenders. Deanna invokes those who died in the mines, including Darrow, to inspire the crowd to fight for freedom. Virginia and her commanders have their sigils covered in red mud and pledge to be the people's "wrath."

Virginia reflects on the losses of the war as she looks out over the vast army assembled. Her friend Victra gives an aggressive speech to the soldiers, promising they will turn the tide when released. Privately, Victra shows grief over her son's death. Virginia promises Victra to keep perspective amidst their fury. They depart to their ships, resolved to defend their people against the coming attack.

Chapter 21

Virginia prepares to defend Mars against an invading enemy fleet led by Lysander. She joins the military leaders in the Nucleus command center of the moon Phobos. Virginia takes command and reviews the defensive strategy, noting Victra and other allies are in position with their fleets. She observes the enemy ships, including Lysander's stolen Morning Star, now called Lightbringer. Virginia's advisors believe Lightbringer poses little threat despite its size.

The enemy fleet slows as it approaches, puzzling Virginia. She wonders if Apollonius or someone other than Helios is in command. Her security chief Holiday reports all defenses are ready. Virginia hates playing defense but sees no better option. She waits anxiously as the enemy nears, unsure why they attack without Atalantia.

Chapter 22

In this chapter, Virginia prepares to defend Mars and its moon Phobos against an attack from Lysander's fleet. She coordinates the Martian defenses from the command center on Phobos, overseeing her allies Victra and Niobe who are positioned to intercept the enemy fleet. Lysander's ship the Lightbringer initially seems vulnerable, but Virginia realizes it's likely a trap.

The enemy fleet suddenly fires a massive volley of rail slugs that devastate Victra's forces at the north pole. Virginia is shocked by the scale of the attack, realizing Lysander must have used the salvaged remnants of her own fleet for raw materials. With the north pole defenses weakened, Lysander's ships advance to destroy Victra's remaining forces. Virginia sends reinforcements but knows Lysander intends to decapitate her fleet's leadership.

As Lysander's ship approaches alignment with Phobos, Virginia prepares for his likely assault on the moon itself to eliminate her. She rallies her commanders and resolves to make Lysander pay dearly, hoping her depleted defenses can withstand his attack.

Chapter 23

In this chapter, Lysander prepares to lead an assault on the moon Phobos, which is defended by Virginia's forces. He rallies his Praetorian soldiers in the hangar of his ship the Lightbringer and they prepare to launch in spitTubes. Lysander's friend Ajax joins him despite reservations about the risky plan, called Operation Polyphemus. Lysander gives a rousing speech to his Red drill operators, who have faced discrimination, telling them this battle is their chance to prove their worth. As they prepare to launch, Ajax tells Lysander he is here because he sees them as family now after realizing Atalantia killed Lysander's parents. Lysander struggles with fear in the spitTube before the launch but steels himself, embracing his Iron Gold identity. The chapter ends as the countdown nears launch.

Chapter 24

In this chapter, Virginia prepares to defend the moon Phobos against an assault led by Lysander. Lysander's fleet charges Phobos, sacrificing destroyers to weaken the moon's shields. Virginia makes the difficult decision to lower the shields, allowing a destroyer to impact the surface. This prevents a catastrophic overload but causes massive damage.

Lysander's ship the Lightbringer engages in a slugging match with Phobos's guns. Lysander also drops clawDrills carrying troops to the surface. Virginia sends Kavax to lead a charge against the enemy beachhead. She rallies her commanders, resolving to make Lysander pay despite being on the defensive. Virginia and Kavax share an emotional farewell, both knowing he may not return. The chapter ends with Virginia steeled for the brutal battle ahead.

Chapter 25

Lysander leads a drop assault on the moon Phobos, which is defended by Virginia's forces. He and his soldiers free fall through chaos and destruction as the battle rages around them. Lysander struggles to process the sensory overload but focuses on reaching his destination.

He lands on Phobos near his drillship, which begins boring into the moon's surface. Lysander assesses the progress of the invasion and worries when he sees enemy fighters emerging to attack his forces. He and his men rush to secure their landing zone before advancing. Lysander is shaken seeing the destruction but feels powerful as an inhabitant of the moon stares at him in terror through her window.

Lysander descends into the giant borehole created by his drillship with Ajax and Rhone. He reflects that war seems both terrible and awesomely beautiful. Underground, they prepare to continue their assault through the moon's infrastructure, hoping to disable the defenses before Virginia's forces can regroup. Lysander contemplates the paradox of human nature that allows both beauty and destruction. He steels himself to plunge further into the dark "mouth of hell" they've created.

Chapter 26

In this chapter, Virginia struggles to defend the moon Phobos from Lysander's invading forces. She coordinates the Martian defenses from the command center, directing troops to intercept Lysander's clawDrills boring into the moon. Despite early successes containing the invasion, Lysander's reinforcements overwhelm the defenders.

Virginia realizes she has to order a retreat, evacuating forces from the besieged Sector One to defendable Sectors Two and Eight. She manages the difficult retreat, sacrificing soldiers to enable the escape of more elite troops. Just as Virginia prepares to evacuate the command center before it is overrun, she receives a call from the enemy - it is Apollonius, not Kavax, implying Kavax has been killed. Apollonius declares he is coming for Virginia next.

Chapter 27

In this chapter, Virginia and her remaining Lionsguards attempt to escape from the moon Phobos which is under attack from Lysander's forces. Virginia's command center, the Nucleus, is destroyed by enemy fire, forcing her to flee on foot through the moon's infrastructure.

Virginia and her guards are hunted through the corridors and passageways by enemy soldiers, taking casualties along the way. They attempt to reach an escape shaft but find it likely rigged with traps. Apollonius himself seems to be stalking Virginia, trying to capture her alive.

Virginia decides their only hope is to try to capture Apollonius in turn to trade for her ally Kavax. They lure Apollonius into an ambush and manage to temporarily immobilize him. But before they can tranquilize him, Apollonius triggers a hidden grenade which allows him to break free.

Severely depleted, Virginia and her remaining guards are forced to retreat, unable to capture Apollonius. Virginia is determined to survive and keep fighting, but their position seems increasingly desperate as the enemy closes in on all sides.

Chapter 28

In this chapter, Virginia attempts to escape from the moon Phobos which is under attack from Lysander's forces. Her remaining bodyguards are trapped and besieged. Virginia frees a group of imprisoned Obsidian warriors, led by Valdir, to help fight their way out.

Valdir and his Obsidians create a brutal diversion, killing many of the enemy soldiers pursuing Virginia's forces. This allows Virginia's guards to escape the trap. Virginia leads them to the waste system to try to flee underground.

They are pursued by Lysander's men, including Apollonius and Cicero. Virginia and Valdir know they will likely be caught if the enemy follows them down the waste tubes. Virginia escapes down the tube first as the enemy closes in. Valdir's fate is left uncertain as he stays behind to delay their pursuers.

Chapter 29

Lysander leads his forces in an attack on the moon Phobos, which is defended by Virginia's army. He coordinates with his allies Horatia and Diomedes as they push through enemy bulwarks sector by sector. Lysander's friend Ajax successfully breaches a key defensive position.

But then Lysander learns Julii au Jovian's forces have landed behind his lines, threatening to cut them off. Lysander recalls his overextended troops to avoid being surrounded. Ajax proposes leading a fast strike force to kill Julii and neutralize the threat. Lysander agrees, hoping Ajax's bold attack can turn the tide back in their favor. Meanwhile, Lysander continues pressing the frontal assault, trying to take as much ground as possible before Ajax completes his mission. The chapter ends with the battle hanging in the balance, victory or defeat riding on Ajax's risky gambit.

Chapter 30

Virginia and her remaining soldiers escape through the hydroponic farms after being pursued by enemy forces led by Apollonius and Cicero. They are saved by a counterattack led by Victra. Virginia learns Victra dropped forces behind enemy lines to halt their momentum and save Phobos. Virginia's exhausted soldiers make it to safety but Victra is still behind enemy lines. Virginia goes to the command center and prepares to recall the counterattack to try to save Victra.

Chapter 31

Lysander meets with his ally Diomedes to discuss their assault on the moon Phobos. Diomedes warns they may be overextended and need to pull back. Lysander learns his friend Ajax was killed in an ambush by Victra and her forces. He watches drone footage of Ajax's brutal death and is devastated by the loss.

Lysander realizes taking Phobos will now be a long, grinding battle instead of a quick victory. His advisor Rhone tries to encourage him that they can still win despite this setback. But Lysander feels only the bitter loss of his ambitious plans and his friend Ajax, who died for his cause. The chapter ends with Lysander in despair over the rising costs of the war, which he now sees as a Pyrrhic victory at best.

Chapter 32

Virginia visits wounded soldiers in the medical wing, heartened by their faith in Darrow. Victra returns from behind enemy lines with Cicero captured and Ajax's head. The Pegasus Legion cheers Victra's return, reinvigorated to continue the fight. Virginia realizes Victra's daring raid has broken the stalemate and given them leverage over Lysander with Cicero as a hostage. She tells Victra to get rest while she plans their next move. Virginia meets with advisors and they agree to propose a prisoner exchange with Lysander to negotiate a ceasefire. Virginia knows the stalemate is unsustainable and hopes this is a path to peace. She sends the prisoner exchange offer to Lysander, hoping for a reply.

Chapter 33

Virginia meets with Lysander to negotiate a ceasefire and prisoner exchange. Lysander offers to allow Virginia's trapped forces to withdraw from Phobos in exchange for leaving the shipyards intact. Virginia realizes Lysander needs a victory to unite his allies against Atalantia. Lysander reveals Atalantia killed his parents and he plans to challenge her. Virginia agrees to the deal, hoping a divide between Lysander and Atalantia will weaken the Society. She tells her commanders, who are outraged but agree it buys time against Atalantia. Victra returns Kavax alive, lifting morale despite the lost moon.

Chapter 34

Lysander hosts a ceremony honoring the soldiers who fought at Phobos. He awards medals and razors to the new warriors who proved themselves. He is moved by the devotion of a badly wounded Red soldier named Orlow. After the ceremony, Lysander attends a party at Victra's estate. He speaks with Julia about war plans and convinces her to back an immediate Iron Rain assault on Mars. Lysander gets Dido's agreement to defend against Atalantia if needed. He searches for Diomedes in the garden to propose they lead the vanguard. But as they talk, Lysander suddenly collapses in agony from apparent poisoning. He suspects Atalantia and tries to use the Mind's Eye to stop the poison but is overwhelmed by pain and childhood trauma. Diomedes calls for help as Lysander loses consciousness.

Chapter 35

Virginia speaks with Darrow over a tightbeam communication from his ship the Archimedes. She informs him that she surrendered Phobos to Lysander's forces after a brutal battle in exchange for safe passage of her remaining troops. Darrow is dismayed to learn the extent of their losses. Though he wants to return to Mars immediately, Virginia convinces him he must stay away. She explains the enemy wants him to return so they can destroy him along with the rest of the Republic's leadership and break the spirit of Mars. Virginia implores Darrow to trust her judgement and remain outside the siege lines surrounding Mars. She asks him to build a force capable of breaking the siege when the time is right. Though it pains them both deeply, Darrow agrees to Virginia's request, realizing he must have faith in her leadership. He vows to follow her guidance going forward. The chapter ends with Virginia giving Darrow his orders to find a path to ultimate victory against their enemies.

Chapter 36

In this chapter, Darrow learns from Virginia via hologram that Quicksilver and his fleet disappeared into the asteroid belt after fleeing the battle at Luna. Virginia believes Quicksilver has built a secret military base and weapons lab in the belt. She tasks Darrow, Sevro and Cassius to find Quicksilver and persuade him to rejoin the war effort against the Society.

Darrow is reluctant to accept the mission, wanting to return to Mars. But Virginia insists Mars is surrounded and he would only die if he came back now. She says he must build an external force capable of breaking the siege. Sevro is distraught he can't see Victra, but Virginia convinces him his family's safety relies on winning the war.

Before the transmission ends, Virginia promotes Cassius and asks Darrow to pass a message of love and pride to their son Pax. Afterward, Sevro isolates himself, struggling with being unable to reunite with Victra. Darrow tries to comfort him that their families will keep each other safe in their absence.

That night, Aurae's music helps Darrow and Cassius grieve those they have lost. Darrow finds purpose realizing he must follow Virginia's guidance to find a path to ultimate victory. He watches Mars shrink away, holding hope inside even as he leaves his home behind.

Chapter 37

In Chapter 37, Lysander prepares to depart Mars with a small contingent of Praetorians to aid the Rim in defending against an attack on their home system of Ilium by the Obsidian warlord Volsung Fá. Despite objections from his advisor Rhone, Lysander insists on honoring the alliance with the Rim by lending support, hoping to prevent the Rim from abandoning the siege of Mars.

Lysander meets with Diomedes and his mother Dido, who explain that Diomedes's uncle Helios now has command of the Rim fleet. Helios only agrees to allow 10 of Lysander's Praetorians to travel with him on his ship. Lysander accepts the condition, hoping to prove his trustworthiness. Before departing, Dido gives Lysander a medicine to help with the pain from being poisoned. Lysander wonders if Helios's reluctance to accept his aid means the Rim may need his help after all. He boards Helios's ship despite his injuries, willing to risk himself to maintain the alliance.

Chapter 38

Lysander travels to the Rim system of Ilium with a small contingent of Praetorians to aid in the defense against an attack by the Obsidian warlord Volsung Fá. Lysander's ship docks with the massive Rim flagship the Colossus, commanded by Helios au Lux. Helios treats Lysander with disdain, denying him access to the ship's bridge.

Lysander explores the lower decks, troubled by the squalid conditions for lowColors compared to Golds. He befriends a young Red mechanic named Caleb and a cynical Gray officer named Orius au Drakdir. Lysander attends a war council where Helios outlines the defensive strategy against Volsung's armada. Helios tasks Lysander's Praetorians with boarding enemy ships during the battle. Lysander bristles at the dangerous assignment but holds his tongue.

As the battle begins, Lysander watches helplessly from a viewport as Volsung's forces advance. Orius escorts Lysander to his boarding ship. Lysander rallies his Praetorians for the assault, reminding them of past glories. He joins the chaotic boarding action, fighting viciously alongside his men. The chapter ends amidst the fury of battle, with victory or defeat hanging in the balance.

Chapter 39

Darrow, Cassius, and Sevro arrive at an asteroid where they hope to find Quicksilver and his fleet. Darrow reflects on their journey through the Belt and his efforts to improve his mind, body, and spirit. When they reach the asteroid, ships emerge from a hidden hangar, confirming someone is there.

They are greeted by Matteo, who seems unsurprised by their arrival. Matteo's ships escort them to land inside the asteroid. Darrow goes to retrieve Sevro, who has isolated himself during the journey. Sevro reluctantly agrees to join them in meeting Quicksilver. Darrow hopes Sevro will overcome his grief and anger enough to aid their mission. The chapter ends as they prepare to meet Quicksilver, on whom the success or failure of their quest relies.

Chapter 40

Darrow, Sevro and Cassius arrive at Quicksilver's asteroid base seeking ships and weapons. Quicksilver shows them it is not a military base but an interstellar generation ship called Tabula Rasa, filled with colorless children. He and Matteo plan to abandon the war and colonize a new world. Sevro is enraged at their cowardice. Darrow tries to understand Quicksilver's perspective. Quicksilver gives Darrow a tour of the lush interior of the hollowed asteroid containing the ship. Darrow is conflicted, seeing the appeal of Quicksilver's utopian vision but feeling unable to abandon his responsibilities. The chapter ends with Darrow's decision unclear.

Chapter 41

Darrow meets with Quicksilver, who reveals his traumatic past and why he built the generation ship Tabula Rasa to take his adopted children to colonize a new world away from Gold oppression. Though disappointed Quicksilver won't join the war, Darrow understands his motivations. Using Quicksilver's powerful telescopes, Darrow discovers the Rim armadas have left Mars to defend their home system of Jupiter from an attack by the Obsidian warlord Volsung Fá. Darrow proposes meeting with Athena's rebel forces to gain their military support. Sevro declines joining the dangerous mission, instead returning to Mars and his family. Darrow, Cassius and Aurae prepare to travel to Jupiter's moon Kalyke and meet the Sons of Ares remnant called the Daughters of Ares, hoping to gain ships to break the siege of Mars.

Chapter 42

In this chapter, Lyria prepares to depart from Matteo's asteroid base. She undergoes one final test to ensure the parasite has been fully removed from her brain. Matteo then reveals that Darrow has arrived seeking ships and is departing for the Rim. Eager to find her friend Volga, Lyria goes to ask Darrow to take her with him. But Darrow refuses, saying the Rim is too dangerous and he likely won't even encounter the Obsidians there.

Dejected, Lyria boards the ship that will take her back to Mars. She is shocked to find Sevro is her fellow passenger. When she tries to apologize to Sevro about his son Ulysses's death, Sevro reacts violently, not having known his son's fate. After Lyria explains what happened, a distraught Sevro gives her a message cube to deliver to Virginia and leaves the ship.

With Sevro gone, Lyria debates staying on the ship as instructed. But she decides to sneak off and stow away on Darrow's ship, hoping it will take her to Volga.

Chapter 43

Darrow wakes up feeling rejuvenated after a lightwave treatment from Quicksilver. He performs morning exercises and is impressed with his increased flexibility. Darrow goes to Sevro's room but finds he has already left to return to Mars per his decision.

In the hangar, Darrow inspects their stealth ship Archimedes and converses with Cassius and Quicksilver. Quicksilver gifts Darrow a black helmet once worn by Fitchner. Darrow decides to wait to wear it until he meets with Athena. Quicksilver and Darrow say farewell, with Quicksilver urging Darrow to prove him wrong about the Republic's chances.

Matteo also bids Darrow goodbye. To Darrow's surprise, Sevro returns to join them on the mission. Sevro's appearance is changed and he seems deeply troubled. Darrow is glad to have Sevro along despite his mood. They depart aboard the Archimedes for the Rim system to meet the rebel group known as the Daughters of Ares and gain their military support.

Chapter 44

Lyria sneaks out of her hiding place on the Archimedes to steal food. She's caught in a trap set by Sevro, who suspected a stowaway was stealing supplies. Sevro wants to eject Lyria out an airlock, but Darrow allows her to stay after Aurae argues Lyria could be useful. Cassius gives Lyria a pilot's old quarters. Later, he brings her clothes and food, bonding with her over whiskey. Lyria tells Cassius she knows his reputation as the Betrayer. But she sees he is still trying to do good, unlike his former crewmembers who left with Lysander. Cassius appreciates Lyria's empathy and acceptance despite his past.

Chapter 45

Lyria continues hiding aboard the Archimedes as it travels to Jupiter's moon Kalyke. She sneaks into the galley for food and is caught by Sevro, who threatens to eject her out an airlock. Darrow intervenes and allows Lyria to stay, seeing she could be useful. Cassius gives Lyria an old pilot's quarters. He later bonds with her over whiskey, appreciating her empathy despite knowing his reputation as the Betrayer. Lyria sees Cassius is still trying to do good, unlike his former crewmates. Darrow, Sevro, Cassius and Aurae prepare to meet the rebel group known as the Daughters of Ares on Kalyke. They hope to gain the military support of these remnants of the Sons of Ares.

Chapter 46

Lysander travels with Diomedes to meet Helios's fleet near Jupiter's moon Kalyke. Helios reports enemy forces are stronger than expected, equipped with advanced weapons. Helios takes command of Diomedes's ship, the Dustmaker. When Helios activates the ship's control device, the Cestus, Lysander notices something is wrong. Diomedes forces Helios to reveal he has a prosthetic lower arm. Helios is an imposter, though he knows all the proper codes. Lysander and Diomedes realize Helios has been replaced by an enemy agent somehow. They are now trapped on the ship under the command of this false Helios.

Chapter 47

Lysander is aboard the Dustmaker with Diomedes when the ship is taken over by Atlas au Raa disguised as Helios. Atlas paralyzes Diomedes and kills the crew, revealing he is working with the Ascomanni under Volsung Fa. Atlas uses the Dustmaker to destroy the flagship Dragon Song with Dido aboard. He then disables the engines of the Rim fleet, leaving them trapped. Volsung Fa's forces hidden on Kalyke attack the paralyzed fleet. Lysander manages to get the paralyzed Diomedes into an escape pod before being captured. Lysander's own Praetorians arrive, revealing they work for Atlas. Atlas takes Lysander prisoner as the Ascomanni invade the disabled ships.

Chapter 48

In this chapter, Darrow, Sevro, Cassius, Aurae, and Lyria arrive at the moon Kalyke in the Rim system after a long journey, hoping to meet with Athena's rebel group known as the Daughters of Ares. But they find Kalyke has been destroyed in a mysterious attack that annihilated the Rim fleet. They search the debris and discover the only survivor is Diomedes au Raa.

Back on the ship, Diomedes regains consciousness but refuses to speak about what happened. Sevro threatens torture to get answers, causing tension with Cassius, who owes Diomedes a debt. Aurae says torture won't work on Diomedes's conditioned mind. Darrow decides to continue slowly into the Rim system towards Diomedes's home moon of Io, hoping he will eventually talk.

As they travel inward, signs of destruction are everywhere but they find no enemy ships. Darrow and Sevro debate who could be responsible. Darrow suspects the Obsidian warlord Volsung Fá but struggles to understand how he accomplished such a devastating ambush. Sevro thinks Darrow is just jealous he didn't win such a victory himself. They agree the attack was aided by someone familiar with the Rim fleet's secrets. Darrow hopes reaching Io will convince Diomedes to explain what happened.

Chapter 49

Lysander is taken prisoner by Atlas au Raa after Atlas's forces ambush and destroy the Rim fleet. Atlas reveals he has been manipulating events for years to bring down the Rim and reunite the Society under his vision. He replaced Helios with an imposter to gain control of the Rim defenses, allowing the Obsidian warlord Volsung Fá to invade Io.

Atlas tries to recruit Lysander as a figurehead leader for the Society after the Rim falls, seeing him as a unifying force. Lysander pretends to accept at first, but ultimately refuses to take part in Atlas's brutal plans. Atlas threatens to have Lysander killed and replaced by a doppelgänger if he does not cooperate. The chapter ends with Lysander's fate uncertain as Atlas awaits his answer.

Chapter 50

Darrow is woken by Lyria saying Sevro is torturing their prisoner, Diomedes. Darrow rushes to the med bay and finds Sevro interrogating Diomedes violently. Darrow stops Sevro with Cassius's help. Sevro and Cassius get in a brutal fistfight, during which Cassius reveals Sevro's son was killed on Mars. Darrow breaks up the fight but Lyria is knocked unconscious trying to intervene.

After, Darrow confronts Sevro about his behavior. Sevro is distraught over his son's death and feeling he failed his family. Darrow tells Sevro he needs to move past acting like a 'Goblin' and embrace his true self again. Darrow says he'll help carry Sevro's pain but won't tolerate him lashing out at allies. Darrow gives Sevro a choice to get his head right or leave the mission. Sevro is left to reflect on Darrow's words.

Chapter 51

Lysander travels with Atlas to meet Volsung Fá on Io. They disguise themselves as Obsidians to avoid detection. In the conquered city of Plutus, Lysander is disturbed by the cruelty of Fá's Ascomanni and Volk forces against the people of Io.

They meet Fá's trusted Obsidian warriors, the Kinshield, who reveal surprising sophistication. Lysander realizes managing the volatile army is complex. When Fá returns from battle, he shocks Lysander by dropping his barbarian persona to reveal a cultured intellect.

Fá captured Atlas's family members, including his crippled sister Vela. Atlas implies Vela will be used somehow by his ally Xanthus. Lysander argues to spare Diomedes's young niece Thalia as a future political pawn. Atlas reluctantly agrees to consider it.

Lysander feels sympathy for the captives, but resigns himself to Atlas's plans, hoping the ends justify the means.

Chapter 52

Lysander meets with Volsung Fá and Atlas au Raa on Io. Fá reveals he is not actually a barbarian warlord, but a cultured man following Atlas's orders. Atlas shortened Fá's planned conquest from years to weeks per Lysander's request. Fá will fake his death so Lysander can defeat him heroically.

Atlas explains he is after a genetic virus called Eidmi stolen by the Raa family, which can target and eliminate specific colors. Atlas believes this weapon will ensure peace. Lysander is deeply disturbed, realizing the virus could commit targeted genocide.

Atlas is traveling to the secret moon Orpheus using Diomedes's niece as a key to access the Raa vault there. He expects to lose many soldiers acquiring Eidmi. Lysander pretends to accept Atlas's plans, but is secretly horrified by the extent of death and trauma Atlas intends to enable "peace." The chapter ends with Lysander playing along while fearing what Atlas may do with the virus if acquired.

Chapter 53

Darrow and Sevro travel across the moon Io towards the city of Sungrave. Io has been conquered by the forces of Volsung Fá, who has captured the vital Demeter's Garter region. Darrow is impressed yet disturbed by Fá's ruthless strategy. They fly low to avoid detection, passing ruined cities and signs of Fá's brutality against the people of Io. Reaching Sungrave is dangerous but necessary to make contact with Athena's rebel group the Daughters of Ares. Sevro joins despite his recent isolation over his grief. Using stealth armor from Quicksilver, they traverse treacherous volcanic terrain on their way to Sungrave. Darrow reflects on the suffering of Io's people and questions if his enemies deserve such cruelty. Sevro is somber passing the destroyed city of Darkfall, thinking of the captives taken away on transport ships. They continue on their dangerous mission, hoping to reach Sungrave and find the allies they desperately need.

Chapter 54

In this chapter, Darrow and Sevro scout the ruined city of Sungrave on the moon Io, which has been conquered by the forces of Volsung Fá. They are disturbed by the brutality inflicted on the city's inhabitants. Cassius brings their prisoner Diomedes au Raa to see the devastation, hoping to gain his cooperation. Darrow agrees to let Diomedes search for his family, accepting his parole.

Darrow, Sevro, Cassius and Aurae enter the deserted city. In the Spine, the grand stairway linking the city's levels, they find a gruesome display of a dragon's severed head. Descending further, they discover the corpses of the city's defenders and civilians who perished in the attack.

Darrow separates from the others, taking Diomedes to search for his kin while the rest go to the market. Diomedes is distraught at the loss of his home and family. Darrow sympathizes with his grief and hopes Diomedes may become an ally after witnessing the brutality inflicted on his people.

Chapter 55

Darrow and Diomedes discuss the warlord Volsung Fá's improbably successful conquest of the Rim. Darrow implies a hidden force is aiding Fá, citing the convenient timing and ease of Fá's victories. Diomedes seems disturbed by the implications.

Cassius reports finding enemy Volk forces with child captives. Despite orders, Cassius engages to try to save them. Darrow rushes to support Cassius, leaving Diomedes behind. Sevro refuses to help, insisting their mission to contact Athena is more important than the captives.

Darrow calls Lyria, instructing her to fly their ship Archimedes to their location for air support. He races to reach Cassius before he is overwhelmed by the enemy forces.

Chapter 56

Darrow and Cassius fight a group of Obsidian warriors to try to rescue civilian captives being taken to a transport ship. Darrow arrives to help Cassius, who is outmatched by the Obsidians' anti-air tactics. Darrow uses speed and verticality to take down the enemy fighters. Cassius sneaks aboard the departing transport, forcing Darrow to chase it down. After the ship crashes, Darrow and Cassius free the captive civilians inside. But their victory is short-lived when the ship's waste compartment opens, revealing a new threat.

Chapter 57

Darrow and Cassius are surrounded by Obsidian warriors led by Skarde. Darrow reveals himself as the believed-dead Reaper and confronts Skarde over betraying the Republic. Before they can fight, snipers open fire. Darrow and Cassius take cover. Darrow realizes it is a Republic hit squad targeting him. He contacts the Archimedes to evacuate the civilians while he and Cassius flee the snipers. They escape into the volcanic wilderness using camouflage capes from fallen Obsidians. Skarde does not pursue them, more interested in looting the crashed transport ship. Darrow and Cassius head for their rendezvous point, hoping Lyria can extract them before the snipers find them again.

Chapter 58

Darrow and Cassius fight a group of Obsidian warriors led by Skarde who are taking civilian captives to a transport ship. Darrow arrives to help Cassius, who is outmatched. Darrow uses speed and verticality to take down enemy fighters. Cassius sneaks aboard the departing ship, forcing Darrow to chase it down. After crashing the ship, they free the captives inside. But their victory is short-lived when the ship's waste compartment opens, revealing a new threat.

Chapter 59

Lyria speaks with the captured Obsidian Sigurd, who reveals Volga has been given soldiers to command by Volsung Fá. Lyria is disturbed to hear Volga may be aiding Fá's brutal conquest. As the Archimedes descends to Europa, Lyria sees a massive leviathan rise from the ocean.

Sevro joins Lyria and they have an emotional conversation about his son's death. Lyria describes being present when Ulysses was born and later finding his body. Sevro opens up about his reluctance to wear Fitchner's helmet, feeling it was a prison for his father. Lyria encourages Sevro not to let expectations trap him, saying the helmet could instead be a key to escape what others want him to be. Sevro implies he will speak with Lyria again if she remains useful.

Chapter 60

In this chapter, Lyria and the others arrive at Europa and board a submarine to travel to the underwater city of Helisson, where they hope to meet Athena and gain her support. On the journey, Lyria bonds with Aurae but dislikes their guide Cheon. When they reach Helisson, Cheon and her soldiers betray and imprison Darrow's group, revealing the air was drugged to sedate them. Cheon hits Darrow for his past betrayal of the Sons of Ares and takes Fitchner's helmet. Just as it seems violence will erupt between Aurae and Cheon, Athena herself intervenes. She reprimands Cheon and frees Aurae, revealing that Aurae succeeded in her deep cover mission to reach Athena. Lyria accuses Aurae of betraying them, but Athena implies this was justice and part of the plan all along.

Chapter 61

Darrow wakes up imprisoned and chained in an underwater city. He is confronted by Athena, leader of the rebel group known as the Daughters of Ares. Athena implies Darrow will stand trial for betraying the original Sons of Ares years ago. She shows no sympathy for his mission to save Mars, believing the Republic is doomed. Athena reveals she sent Aurae to lure Sevro as bait for her trap. Darrow tries to reason with Athena that they should work together against their common enemies, but she remains set on prosecuting him for his past crimes. Athena leaves Darrow with a recording of the executions of the Sons he betrayed. Darrow watches the holograms, finally confronting the guilt he has long avoided. He sees that the lowColors he betrayed died bravely in his name, believing in him, which makes him feel even more remorse. Darrow grapples with his guilt and the likelihood of execution by the Daughters.

Chapter 62

Darrow stands trial before the Daughters of Ares, accused of betraying the original Sons of Ares years ago. He pleads guilty to all charges against him, admitting his crimes and failures. Darrow makes an impassioned speech, saying he betrayed the Sons out of fear and a belief he was alone. He urges the Daughters not to make the same mistake - to unite with all colors fighting for freedom instead of isolating themselves. Darrow argues they should let Diomedes help evacuate civilians from Io's surface instead of judging him for his ancestors' sins. He begs the Daughters to learn from his mistakes and not surrender their dream of liberty and equality to fear. Darrow says he does not ask for mercy, only that his death help save lives by bringing unity. After his speech, Diomedes is brought forth but refuses to apologize or defend himself. He says the social contract between Golds and lowColors is broken and they should take their due. The chapter ends with the judgments still uncertain.

Chapter 63

Darrow and Diomedes are imprisoned together after their trial, awaiting the verdict. Cassius is also there, having been captured trying to rescue them. Diomedes finally reveals that the ambush at Kalyke was aided by someone impersonating Helios au Lux. He suspects it was Atlas au Raa, seeking to punish the Rim for rebelling against the Society.

Darrow realizes Atlas likely plans for Lysander to defeat the Obsidian warlord Volsung Fá and emerge as a heroic savior. But Cassius argues Lysander would never align with Atlas's cruelty. Diomedes reveals Lysander was aboard his ship when the ambush occurred. Though Lysander's fate is unknown, Diomedes believes Lysander tried to save him before being captured himself. Cassius is devastated, having hoped Lysander survived.

They bang on the cell door trying to warn Athena that Fá is a threat, but receive no response. Darrow reflects on his likely demise, regretting he could not see his son Pax again. The chapter ends with the three master razormen awaiting their fate in the cell.

Chapter 64

In this chapter, Darrow, Cassius, and Diomedes are brought before Athena and the Daughters of Ares after their trial. Sevro arrives wearing Fitchner's Twilight Helm and gives an impassioned speech arguing they should unite against their common enemies instead of judging each other. He says the light of revolution comes from all of them together.

Sevro's words sway Athena, who agrees to commute Darrow's death sentence so he can lead them against the enemy forces of Volsung Fá and Atlas au Raa. Darrow proposes a plan to kill Fá and shatter his army. Athena provides Darrow with Ares's old razor Pyrphoros to remind him of his oath to face justice after defeating Fá.

Diomedes is presented with a proposed social contract abolishing the hierarchy. He resists at first but is moved by Aurae's arguments. Diomedes agrees to swear an oath to personally advocate for abolition after the war, becoming an ally instead of a prisoner. With a new unity amongst former enemies, they prepare for the coming battles ahead.

Chapter 65

Lyria disguises herself as a Daughter of Ares to gain access to the command center, hoping to speak with Darrow. Sevro catches her and brings her to Darrow. Lyria reminds him of his promise and asks to help turn Volga against the enemy. Darrow doubts Volga can be swayed but Lyria argues her connection to Volga gives her the best chance. Sevro seems to support the idea, hoping Lyria can get evidence against Atlas. Darrow agrees to let Lyria try to turn Volga, though he warns Lyria she will be on her own among the enemy. Lyria accepts the danger, willing to risk her life if it helps Mars.

Chapter 66

Lysander returns to his fleet after escaping the ambush at Kalyke. He pretends to be a survivor to maintain the ruse that Volsung Fá destroyed the Rim fleet. Lysander rallies his soldiers and allies for a campaign against Fá. In private, he struggles with guilt over deceiving his men and not confiding in Pytha. Lysander rehearses the story he will tell about the "ambush," though it pains him to lie. He cries in Pytha's arms, wishing he could tell her the truth. Lysander prepares to lead the fleet to Io to fight Fá's forces, despite knowing Fá is allied with Atlas.

Chapter 67

Lyria disguises herself as a Daughter of Ares and travels with Cassius and Sigurd to the underwater city of Heraklion. They take a lift from the depths up to the surface station where refugees are boarding transports to escape the city. A Gray soldier tries to stop them, but backs down when he sees Cassius is a Gold. In the lift, Cassius explains he is there as an ambassador for Diomedes to convince the city leaders to accept help evacuating civilians.

At the surface station, a giant Obsidian warrior suddenly appears amidst the refugees using some sort of cloaking technology. Before anyone can react, he brutally kills several civilians with his long blades, then disappears again, laughing. Grays mobilize to defend the station as panic spreads through the refugees. Sigurd identifies the killer as a Harbinger, elite Obsidian warriors for Volsung Fá. He warns more may already be hidden in the city. Cassius prepares to defend Lyria as the situation descends into chaos.

Chapter 68

Lyria disguises herself as a Daughter of Ares to accompany Cassius and Sigurd to the city of Heraklion. At the surface evacuation station, they witness a brutal attack by elite Obsidian warriors called Harbingers working for Volsung Fá. Despite Cassius's efforts to defend civilians, the station descends into bloody chaos. Sigurd guides them to ascend through the city towards the acropolis to meet his allies. But the city comes under heavy assault from above. After a harrowing journey upwards, Sigurd directs them to wait in a relic garden. But when his "friends" arrive, they are revealed to be Ascomanni looters. Sigurd misdirects them to protect Lyria and Cassius escapes. Two of Sigurd's real allies, Gudmund and Fenrir, arrive and drive off the Ascomanni. They escort Lyria away from the fallen city towards Volga's ship, though Lyria worries what awaits her there.

Chapter 69

Lyria is brought to Volga's warship, where she sees Volga presiding with Volsung Fá over the brutal feeding of prisoners to leviathans. In private, Lyria tries to convince Volga that Fá is just a pawn of Atlas au Raa. But Volga refuses to believe Fá would deceive her, insisting the conquest is for the good of the Obsidians.

Their argument turns bitter as Volga accuses Lyria of being a traitorous "rat" spying for Darrow. When Lyria refuses to leave without Volga, Volga reveals she already beheaded Lyria's Obsidian escorts Gudmund and Fenrir. Still Lyria refuses to abandon Volga, hoping to reach the friend she once knew. But Volga calls guards to imprison Lyria, intent on delivering her to Fá.

Chapter 70

Lyria is brought to Volga's warship, where she sees Volga presiding with Volsung Fá over the brutal feeding of prisoners to leviathans. In private, Lyria tries to convince Volga that Fá is just a pawn of Atlas au Raa. But Volga refuses to believe Fá would deceive her, insisting the conquest is for the good of the Obsidians.

Their argument turns bitter as Volga accuses Lyria of being a traitorous "rat" spying for Darrow. When Lyria refuses to leave without Volga, Volga reveals she already beheaded Lyria's Obsidian escorts Gudmund and Fenrir. Still Lyria refuses to abandon Volga, hoping to reach the friend she once knew. But Volga calls guards to imprison Lyria, intent on delivering her to Fá.

Chapter 71

Lyria is brought to Volga's warship, where Volga and Volsung Fá preside over the brutal ritual feeding of a leviathan. Fá forces Volga to prove her loyalty by executing captives with a powered gauntlet. When Fá brings out Lyria and Sigurd as captives, Volga hesitates despite Fá pressuring her that this is necessary. Lyria pleads with her eyes for Volga not to kill her. But Volga steels herself and chooses to obey Fá, approaching Lyria to carry out the execution.

Chapter 72

Lyria is brought before Volga and Volsung Fa as a captive. Volga is forced to prove her loyalty by executing other prisoners with a powered gauntlet. When Volga hesitates to kill Lyria, Fa pressures her to do it for the "Allfather." Lyria pleads with Volga, reminding her of who she used to be. Volga lowers the gauntlet, unable to kill Lyria.

Suddenly, Darrow, Sevro and Cassius burst out from inside a dead leviathan's belly where they were hiding. They ruthlessly kill the Ascomanni shamans. Darrow howls victoriously as they turn the ambush against their enemies.

Chapter 73

In this chapter, Darrow invokes an ancient Obsidian ritual called ashvar to challenge Volsung Fá to a duel to the death. Darrow emerges from the belly of a leviathan where he was hiding with Sevro and Cassius. He confronts Fá, accusing him of dishonoring Ragnar's legacy. Darrow marks himself with coal and claims holy vendetta against Fá.

Fá tries to deny Darrow's right to ashvar, but Skarde argues Darrow was made a son of the Volk so he can invoke the ritual. Other jarls support Skarde, forcing Fá to accept. Fá chooses a full-metal panoply duel in the dome. Darrow accepts the terms, though it will be difficult to defeat Fá in power armor. The chapter ends with the duel set to take place, with Darrow's life on the line.

Chapter 74

Darrow accepts Volsung Fá's challenge to an Obsidian ritual duel called ashvar. They will fight in full armor with ritual warsaws inside a domed forcefield. Darrow tries to get Fá to confess he serves Atlas, but Fá refuses.

The duel begins and Fá quickly overwhelms Darrow with his superior size, strength and thick armor. Darrow struggles to penetrate Fá's defenses. Fá herds Darrow towards the edge of the dome, limiting his mobility. Darrow avoids going airborne, realizing it is a trap.

Fá's warsaw glances off Darrow's armor, drawing blood and poisoning him. Fá declares Darrow is already dead from the poison. Darrow retreats to regroup, realizing Fá has all the advantages in this fight. Darrow must find a way to defeat Fá before the poison spreads further. The chapter ends with Darrow poisoned and on the defensive against the larger, stronger Fá.

Chapter 75

In this chapter, Darrow engages in a ritual duel with the Obsidian warlord Volsung Fá. Darrow initially struggles to penetrate Fá's heavy armor and withstand his brutal attacks. Fá's poisoned spikes wound Darrow, but anti-toxins counteract the effects.

Darrow adapts his fighting style, moving fluidly to evade Fá's charges while systematically destroying his armor. Darrow invokes memories of his past and Mars itself to achieve an enlightened battle flow state. He uses this newfound clarity to deconstruct Fá's fighting style and exploit weaknesses.

Darrow accuses Fá of serving Atlas au Raa, but Fá refuses to confess despite being severely wounded. When Fá tries to have Darrow assassinated to avoid defeat, his own men turn on him for violating the honor of ritual combat. Darrow continues dominating the duel, leaving Fá terrified and exhausted.

Finally, Fá attempts to flee the duel. Darrow pursues with allies as Fá retreats to his ship, threatening to destroy the island. Darrow vows to force Fá's confession as the chapter ends.

Chapter 76

In this chapter, Darrow pursues Volsung Fá in a hunt across the islands after their ritual duel. Fá tries to flee back to his warship but is blocked by Diomedes and Athena's forces attacking his reinforcements. Darrow, Sevro and Cassius chase Fá as he seeks refuge among feasting Ascomanni tribes on various islands. Darrow battles Fá through their feasts, pursuing him relentlessly despite Fá's attempts to slow him down. Many Ascomanni spectators follow the spectacular hunt through the sky. Darrow hounds Fá from island to island, gradually destroying his reputation and myth as he refuses to fight honorably. Fá becomes increasingly desperate and exhausted as Darrow dominates their confrontations. Darrow continues to demand Fá confess he serves Atlas, but Fá refuses to admit it. The chapter ends with Darrow still in pursuit as Fá flees across the islands.

Chapter 77

In this chapter, Lyria confronts Volga about her role in Volsung Fá's brutal conquest. Volga tries to flee in an escape pod, but Lyria stops her, arguing she must face the consequences of her actions. Lyria says if Volga runs, she'll have no people left - not Lyria, the Obsidians, or the Republic. Lyria reminds Volga of Ephraim's values and says a person worthy of friendship chooses accountability over escape.

Volga hesitates but ultimately decides to return with Lyria instead of fleeing alone. As Darrow continues pursuing Fá across the islands, Volga carries Lyria back towards the Obsidians to take responsibility for the violence she enabled. Lyria convinces Volga to prove her loyalty is to her people, not to Fá. Together, they fly back into danger, with Lyria insisting Volga protect her from the giants while she protects Volga from the wolves.

Chapter 78

In chapter 78, Darrow continues pursuing Volsung Fá across the islands after their ritual duel. He chases Fá to the island of Hades, where Fá has nowhere left to run. Darrow demands Fá confess he serves Atlas au Raa. Fá finally confesses after realizing Darrow will not stop pursuing him.

Darrow declares Fá is not the true king of the Obsidians for serving Atlas. He invokes an Obsidian ritual to allow Volga to execute Fá as vengeance for his crimes against her people. After Volga kills Fá, Darrow has Sevro announce rules for the Obsidians to elect their next monarch democratically. This prevents Darrow from becoming king by killing Fá.

Darrow, Sevro, Cassius, and Diomedes then join Athena in attacking Volsung Fá's ship, the Pandora, to free enslaved workers. They clash with Ascomanni forces aboard the ship. Darrow argues with Diomedes about his handling of the Obsidians, but they set aside the dispute to focus on freeing the slaves.

Chapter 79

Lysander arrives at the battle over Io and is shocked by the destruction. His fleet engages the enemy ships of Volsung Fá, not yet aware of Fá's death. Lysander's forces gain the upper hand with their superior training and discipline. Diomedes contacts Lysander, revealing Darrow killed Fá in a duel. Diomedes warns that the real enemy is Atlas, who conspired with Fá. Lysander pretends disbelief, maintaining his charade.

After defeating Fá's forces, Lysander lands on Io. He gives a speech declaring victory and calling for unity between Gold and Obsidian. Privately, Lysander meets with Darrow, who urges him to reject Atlas's cruel vision. Darrow argues they should forge a new social contract to break the cycle of oppression. Lysander is conflicted, wanting change but doubtful of Darrow's ideals. He neither fully commits to Darrow nor renounces him. The chapter ends with Lysander's path forward unclear as both Atlas and Darrow seek to sway him.

Chapter 80

In this chapter, Darrow travels with Cassius to the abandoned island estate of his late mentor Lorn au Arcos. Darrow reflects on the losses of the recent battle and his complicated relationship with Lorn. He shaves his beard in Lorn's bathroom to symbolically say goodbye.

Darrow and Cassius discuss the leadership qualities Lysander inherited from Cassius versus the cruelty of Atalantia. They receive word that the Obsidian election results are in. Volga comes to speak with Darrow, worried about being manipulated into becoming queen. Darrow convinces Volga she can lead her people away from violence into a hopeful future. He promises Republic amnesty and support if she is elected. Volga accepts the duty that has fallen to her and prepares to become queen.

Chapter 81

Darrow speaks with Sevro via hologram about Volga's coronation as the new Obsidian queen. Sevro describes how Volga renounced gold and jewels, cut off her valor tail, and pledged to fight for Mars and equality. Darrow feels Volga is keeping her word to be a just queen.

Darrow and Cassius pilot their ship Archimedes towards Io. They expect to find bunkers of fighters loyal to Diomedes who can help reclaim the vital Demeter's Garter region from the Ascomanni. Darrow and Cassius reflect on their strengthened friendship, with Cassius expressing gratitude for Darrow welcoming him despite their past conflicts.

As they approach Io, Cassius spots a Society fleet including Lysander's massive warship, now called Lightbringer. Darrow is disturbed to see his old ship being used against him. They realize Lysander's forces did not retreat as expected. Darrow worries what Lysander's presence means for their mission on Io.

Chapter 82

In chapter 79, Lysander arrives at the battle over Io, expecting to fight the forces of Volsung Fá. But he finds the orbit filled with Ascomanni ships instead. Lysander realizes Atlas misled him about the number of enemies, but sees this as an opportunity for his forces to vent their rage.

Lysander leads the assault, slaughtering the unprepared Ascomanni forces in space and on Io's surface. He coordinates the systematic massacre with his allies Cicero, Rhone, and others. Lysander lands in the conquered city of Plutus, where his soldiers are rooting out and killing remaining Ascomanni.

Lysander frees a ship full of lowColor slaves captured by the Ascomanni, earning gratitude from the prisoners. After the battle, he pretends to be surprised to learn his ally Gaia au Raa survived captivity. Lysander goes along with the charade that Fá was the real enemy, hiding his knowledge that Atlas conspired with Fá. The Moon Lords declare their debts to Lysander for liberating them. Lysander tells them he will bring Fá's head to avenge Io.

Chapter 83

In this chapter, Darrow and Cassius observe Lysander's forces attacking the Ascomanni forces that had conquered Io. Lysander broadcasts propaganda of himself heroically liberating Io, which angers Darrow. Darrow wants to attack Lysander, but Diomedes convinces him that they should use the time while Lysander waits for reinforcements to find leverage against him.

Diomedes explains that Lysander is still seeking an alliance with the Rim and wants to maintain his reputation. Diomedes suggests they travel to Io's surface to find his grandmother Dido and reveal to her that Lysander is working with Atlas. Darrow realizes Atlas is operating in secrecy, so they can delay Lysander realizing his plan has gone awry. Cassius confirms Lysander values his reputation above all.

They decide to use their stealth ship the Archimedes to reach Io's surface and locate Dido in the vital Demeter's Garter region. Diomedes knows how to access the Garter. Their goal is to find leverage against Lysander before he discovers they have disrupted his alliance with the Ascomanni under Atlas.

Chapter 84

Lysander prepares for battle against Volsung Fá's forces on Io. He participates in a Rim Knight ritual confessing fears before battle to unite Golds of the Core and Rim. Diomedes suddenly arrives, having survived Kalyke. In private, Diomedes reveals he knows Lysander conspired with Atlas. Lysander admits it, ashamed. Diomedes understands why Lysander compromised and offers discretion.

Diomedes brings Lysander to a shrine, supposedly to receive a relic. Inside, Lysander finds Darrow waiting. Darrow's presence shocks Lysander, confirming Diomedes made an alliance with Darrow against Atlas and the Society.

Chapter 85

In this chapter, Darrow meets with Lysander and Diomedes in a secret meeting arranged by Diomedes. Diomedes reveals he knows Lysander conspired with Atlas, but wants to broker an alliance between Darrow, Lysander and himself against their common enemy Atalantia.

Darrow and Lysander are initially hostile, each wanting to fight the other. But Diomedes implores them to find a path to peace instead of vengeance. He argues their war has only strengthened Atalantia, and they must unite against her tyranny.

Diomedes suggests concrete acts of good faith - Darrow returning Volsung Fa's head to the Obsidians, and Lysander bringing Atlas's head to the Rim lords. This would help unite their factions against Atalantia.

Both Darrow and Lysander are conflicted, wanting to continue their war. But they agree to consider Diomedes's proposal for an alliance, and to give their answers at a meeting of the Rim lords. The chapter ends with Lysander's departure and Darrow's path forward unclear.

Chapter 86

In this chapter, Lysander is visited by Cassius, who sneaks aboard Lysander's warship. Cassius apologizes for trying to mold Lysander into someone he was not after his twin brother Julian died. He says he wants to help free Lysander from the pressure and expectations placed on him by others like Atalantia and Atlas.

Lysander admits he has felt like a prisoner, unable to be his true self. When Cassius suggests they kill Atlas together when he arrives, Lysander has an emotional breakdown, afraid of what Atlas will do to him. Cassius comforts him and promises to help Lysander defeat Atlas.

Pytha arrives and supports Cassius's plan to kill Atlas, believing together they can free Lysander. Lysander agrees to go through with their plot, hoping that by removing Atlas he can finally be free of compromises and be his own man.

Chapter 87

In this chapter, Lysander kills Atlas au Raa and Cassius au Bellona in a confrontation in a hangar bay. Lysander had arranged the meeting, pretending he would help Atlas but planning to kill him with Cassius's aid. But after killing Atlas, Lysander turns on Cassius when Cassius insists on destroying the biological weapon Atlas brought back. Lysander shoots Cassius repeatedly when he charges, then stabs himself to make it look like Cassius attacked him.

Lysander retrieves the biological weapon Atlas obtained and spreads false rumors it was the Raa family behind the assassination attempt. He manipulates his loyalists to eliminate possible threats like Demetrius. Lysander hopes to use the chaos to consolidate power and frame his killings as self-defense. The biological weapon will help him unify the worlds under his rule after he defeats his remaining enemies. In the end, with Cassius and Atlas gone, Lysander believes he is finally free to pursue his destiny, regardless of the costs.

Chapter 88

In this chapter, Darrow travels with Diomedes and Gaia's bodyguards to a summit of the Moon Lords at the House of Bounty. As they walk through the city of Plutus, Darrow reflects on the damage from Volsung Fa's invasion and worries about Cassius meeting Lysander aboard the Lightbringer warship.

At the summit location, Darrow learns that Gaia has no intention of supporting his proposed alliance with Lysander against Atalantia. She reveals she already knew Atlas conspired with Fa to attack the Rim, but will keep silent out of duty. Darrow is distraught that the Rim leaders seem willing to accept Atlas's actions.

Diomedes then makes an impassioned speech rejecting the hierarchy and pledging to reform Rim laws and society. He offers his neck to Gaia to kill him if he must, but refuses to swallow Atlas's lies. Gaia is horrified but comes to accept Diomedes's convictions. She agrees to support him at the summit.

With Gaia's blessing, Darrow and Diomedes prepare to go to the summit to propose an alliance, hoping Lysander and Cassius will join them. But Darrow remains anxious, knowing much depends on Lysander's choice.

Chapter 89

Darrow waits anxiously for Cassius to arrive at the summit of the Moon Lords on Io. Diomedes is elected Hegemon and reveals to the lords that Darrow killed Volsung Fa. Darrow formally apologizes for destroying their dockyards years ago. Diomedes proposes an alliance between himself, Darrow and Lysander against Atalantia. The lords are outraged, demanding vengeance for Fa's invasion. Diomedes argues they must compromise and unite against Atalantia. A lord questions why Lysander has not arrived. Diomedes claims Lysander will soon bring Atlas's head. Darrow worries, as Cassius has still not appeared. Diomedes is notified Lysander is sending a tightbeam instead of coming in person. Darrow fears this means something has gone wrong.

Chapter 90

In this chapter, Lysander broadcasts propaganda to the Rim lords claiming Darrow sent assassins who killed Cassius and attacked Lysander. He demands they hand over Darrow or face consequences. When the lords refuse, Lysander's fleet begins bombarding Io's surface and the city of Plutus.

Darrow is devastated to see Cassius's mutilated body and realizes Lysander killed him. Darrow and the lords flee the collapsing House of Bounty as Lysander's missiles strike. Darrow helps hold up a pillar so the lords can escape. Once outside, he follows them into bunkers beneath a giant statue of Demeter.

In the bunker, Diomedes rallies the lords to go help people trapped on Io's surface. Darrow carries the injured Gaia au Raa on his back as they head to the vehicle garages to reach the surface. Darrow reflects on Cassius's death and prepares to face the destruction above.

Chapter 91

In Chapter 91, Lysander oversees the sacking and looting of the Demeter's Garter agricultural region on Io. He has his forces uproot valuable fruit trees and other crops to take back to Mercury. Lysander justifies this destruction as necessary to end the war and bring long-term peace and prosperity.

Lysander's advisor Pallas praises his ruthless pragmatism, having doubted his resolve before. Pallas implies she knows Lysander recently killed allies to consolidate power. Lysander pretends Cassius was killed by Darrow's assassins.

Lysander notices his friend Cicero is disturbed by the wanton destruction. Lysander claims it is required for the greater good and future unity. After the looting is complete, Lysander has his fleet depart despite a potential battle, valuing the captured bounty over glory.

Back on his ship, Lysander reflects sadly on killing his friend Cassius. He returns Cassius's body and the helmet of Ares to Cassius's ship, allowing it to depart to the Republic. Lysander feels more at peace, finally free of expectations and compromises now that Cassius and Atlas are gone. He ponders which of two biological weapons to use first against his enemies.

Chapter 92

Darrow emerges from an underground bunker on Io weeks after Lysander's forces bombarded the moon's surface. He surveys the destruction of the once-fertile agricultural region. Relief efforts are underway, aided by Volga's Obsidians and Athena's Daughters. Darrow reunites with Sevro, who reveals Cassius has been killed. They meet with Diomedes, Volga and Athena to formalize a military alliance against the Society. Darrow convinces them to work together despite lingering tensions. Before departing Io, Darrow and Sevro visit the recovered Archimedes, where Darrow mourns Cassius. Sevro shows Darrow footage of their youth at the Institute, which Cassius had saved. They depart Io with a combined fleet, hoping to join forces with the Republic navy and gain reinforcements from Diomedes to defeat the Society.