For more than two years, John Hancock and Bianca Rinehart have stared down the richest person in Australia.
Yesterday, their mother finally blinked.
Gina Rinehart's surprise backdown in the bitter family feud just days before it was set to go to trial is a spectacular capitulation by a multibillionaire who has rarely, if ever, given up on a court fight.
The mining magnate is famously litigious and her top-heavy legal team has been aggressive in its assertion that she would come out on top. Their message has been simple and harsh: her children would regret their "ill-advised" move.
Few family battles in Australian history have been so gripping, so public and so venomous. And despite Mrs Rinehart's efforts to have the case thrown out or moved behind closed doors, it has lumbered steadily towards a showdown that was set to air the family's dirty laundry and put one of the richest women in the world on trial over claims of gross misconduct and dishonesty.
Not that much of it hadn't been aired already. Emails, documents and allegations in and out of court have left no family member unscathed and shed a light on how a family split plays out in a billion-dollar world.
"This goes beyond my arguments/concerns with you regarding your not looking after your dear children properly - if you prolong this litigation you will also be running the risk of jeopardising their lives and your mother's," Mrs Rinehart wrote to her second youngest daughter Hope Welker, urging her to drop the case.
Hope pleaded: "I'm down to my last $60,000 and your only paying my husband $1 a year (sic)".
Her younger sister, Ginia told her: "Just take the 300 MILLION dollars mum has repeatedly offered you and walk away", while Ginia's fiance Ryan Johnston said: "I'm not sure what you've been offered exactly as I'm not privy to all that but my suggestion is to get as much as you're being offered, go buy two massive houses, a jet and five cars and send your kids to the school you want. Much better than trying to make a deal when you are out of money and at your weakest time to negotiate."
Hope would later pull out of the case, reportedly broke. Her older brother John Hancock would not.
John, who has spearheaded the battle against his mother, issued a warning through The West Australian to any potential kidnappers hoping to reap a reward from her if they took him or his family: "What more can I do than communicate to any kidnappers out there - over my dead body and you will be wasting your time anyway. If you think you're going to get anything from my mother, good luck."
This vicious split in one of the country's most famous families can be traced back to one weekend in September 2011, when Mrs Rinehart issued a bombshell ultimatum to her four children - John, Bianca, Hope and Ginia - over the Hope Margaret Hancock Trust, which was set up for them by their grandfather, the legendary miner Lang Hancock.
Named after their late grandmother, the trust was formed in December 1988 with the four children, then aged between two and 12, as beneficiaries. Lang Hancock would be trustee until he died and then his daughter Gina would take over.
The trust - which owns almost a quarter of Hancock Prospecting and is now worth billions - was due to vest on September 6, 2011, when Mrs Rinehart's youngest child Ginia turned 25.
But three days before that milestone, she contacted the four children, telling them she was going to delay the imminent vesting of the trust until 2068, when John would be 92.
Hope, John and Bianca took immediate action against their mother in the NSW Supreme Court. Ginia sided with her mother.
In the two years since, the slow and increasingly malicious build-up to the trial over the trust has been marked by so many public shots across the bow that it was always suspected one side would buckle before the feud played out in open court.
Few, though, expected it to be Mrs Rinehart.
But while her son John hasn't yet inherited the family company, he has at least inherited his mother's formidable single-mindedness and has driven the case against her with an unwavering determination.
"Compared to other battles this is a small step for man," he said yesterday, after his mother's decision to step down from the trust.
"But mankind needs professionals and this will be a core focus of my future."
The cards have been stacked against John and Bianca for much of the battle. They were cut off financially by their mother the moment they launched their legal action against her and have had to juggle raising young families with maintaining a marathon legal action against her.
Documents before the court allege that Mrs Rinehart has withheld hundreds of thousands of dollars in family trust payments which were meant to go to them, saying she was using the money as security to repay her defence costs against their "malicious" litigation over her management of the same trust.
According to paperwork submitted to the Australian Taxation Office, each was supposed to have received $398,206 in the 2011-2012 financial year. But Mrs Rinehart withheld the payments, arguing she was entitled to "issue a lien".
So the pair have relied on loans and a network of Australian and international supporters to fund the case against Mrs Rinehart, which at times cost them $100,000 a month in legal fees.
The financial pressure saw one casualty - their sister Hope - who was part of the legal action when it was launched but pulled out earlier this year, reportedly broke and unable to pay her bills.
Depending on how things end up, yesterday's decision by Mrs Rinehart leaves her public reputation battered but her relationship with her children - once described by John as "complex" - as potentially salvageable. It heads off the imminent and embarrassing public bloodletting and potentially moves the family fighting indoors.
It also means she is likely to avoid the examination of serious allegations that she deliberately misled her children with her September 2011 ultimatum over the trust.
Mrs Rinehart's eleventh-hour capitulation yesterday came in the wake of her failure to prevent John and Bianca from getting access to hundreds of pages of documents between her company, Hancock Prospecting, and accountancy firm PrincewaterhouseCoopers.
In the study at his home, John Hancock has marked up two boxes - one labelled "PwC" and the other marked "Newby", a reference to Hancock Prospecting's chief financial officer Jay Newby.
It was Mr Newby who contacted Mrs Rinehart's four children in September 2011, urging them to agree to her bombshell move to delay the imminent vesting of the family trust by more than half a century.
And, according to documents before the NSW Supreme Court, he also asked the company to "sanitise" its own tax advice about the vesting implications of the trust three weeks earlier.
John and Bianca saw these documents as the smoking gun in their allegations that they were deliberately misled when their mother told them they would be crippled by capital gains tax if the vesting went ahead.
Those allegations are now unlikely to be played out, at least not publicly.
The epilogue to the case will begin in mediation over the next few days to determine who will replace Mrs Rinehart as head of the family trust.
According to the terms of the trust, it can only be a lineal descendent of Mrs Rinehart.
John is expected to put his name forward, something likely to be opposed by both Mrs Rinehart and Ginia. Mrs Rinehart is almost certain to put forward Ginia's name, which will be opposed by John.
In a statement released by Mrs Rinehart's legal team yesterday, they said the litigation was "essentially over".
They said the mining magnate had grown the principal assets of the trust which "unarguably proves that She has been very conscientiously carrying out her duties (sic)".
The capital S is theirs but the mistake sums up nicely the significance of what happened yesterday.
Mrs Rinehart is a formidable and almost mythical figure. She has not wavered in the past two years in her assertions that her actions, at all times, were right. Few go against her and she has rarely, if ever, backed down.Until now.