Prologue; galcen nearspace: sword-of-the-dawn
THE HEARTWORLD of the Republic hung against the darkness of space like an enormous,
glittering opal, swirled with bright green and deep blue and white streaks of cloud. Looking out from the
observation deck of his flagship, Grand Admiral Theio syn-Ricte sus-Airaalin knew that he had
accomplished the impossible. He had brought a warfleet through hyperspace to strike without warning,
and all the enemy’s inmost citadels lay under his hand. He called the roll of them in his mind: Galcen
Prime Base; Galcen South Polar; the Grand Council of the Republic; the Adepts’ Retreat.
Knowledge of his victory brought sus-Airaalin no special pleasure. Now, and not the long years
of preparations or the desperate battle just past, was the period of greatest danger. Having done the
impossible, he would have to do more-hold what he had gained, and bring the outlying sectors of the
Republic securely under control.
We can do it, he thought. With luck, and with the aid of the Circles. If we don’t lose too
much of the fleet in any one action, or if we can augment our forces somehow . . . we’ve spent too
much already, in ships and in lives, when we had little enough to begin with.
The commander of the Resurgency’s warfleet was a realist, or as much a realist as any man could
be and hope to bring back the old ways and the old knowledge. sus-Airaalin had understood from the
beginning that his only chance for success lay in throwing massive strength into a single unexpected blow,
crushing the head of the serpent while it slept. But the broken pieces of this particular serpent could still
fight; and if they should rejoin, like the braidworm of legend that made one beast out of many, then what
the Adept-worlds had done to the Circles thirty years before would pale beside their vengeance now.
He would stop that, if he could, for the sake of a generation not yet born when the Old War
ended in crushing defeat and systematic, relentless destruction. The young men and women who crewed
the ships of sus-A