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Author Topic: Davion & Davion (Deceased)  (Read 52046 times)

Siden Pryde

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #30 on: 18 November 2017, 01:58:56 »
Lovin this.  The orginal timeline was great, but this expanded fic is amazing.  O0

drakensis

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #31 on: 18 November 2017, 14:44:51 »
LXII Corps HQ, Kaiyuh
Crucis March, Federated Suns
12 July 2763

“It’s not a bad exercise,” McGuiness told her commander. “We’ve got observers in both operational HQs and down to their division and some brigade HQs, so there’s a lot of data for SLIC to look at when it comes to AFFS capabilities.”

Tatjana Baptiste nodded. The commander of the SLDF’s Fourth Army didn’t get excited about much – even things that McGuinness felt that she should. “Give me a thumbnail.”

Gesturing to the local strategic display – her operational area was one of the largest in the Federated Suns Army Group, stretching from the Taurian border almost as far as New Avalon – Roseleen McGuiness highlighted a border. “The scenario called for Field Marshal Waynewright in Chirikof to stage an invasion of the neighbouring Minette region – under Field Marshal MacDonald.”

“Forces?”

“MacDonald has – had – four March Militia formations, along with nine ‘Mech regiments, twenty armoured regiments and thirty-four infantry regiments from the Draconis March. That’s seriously pulled down their numbers on the Draconian border.”

“Four infantry divisions and support, more or less,” Baptiste said, converting the numbers into SLDF formation equivalents.

“Except think of it as made up of independent regiments, most of which haven’t worked together before.” The Corps Commander shrugged. “Organisation above the regimental level tends to be poor for the House militaries, honestly. “He spread two-thirds his force along the border, then held the remaining third in reserve. On the other side, Waynewright had nine Capellan March ‘Mech regiments and twenty-seven tank regiments, along with thirty-one infantry regiments that are split evenly between those from the Crucis March and Capellan March. Add that to three March Militia combat teams. Unlike MacDonald, he took the time to form them into some degree of organisation – ten roughly division-sized outfits, three of them built around his militia.”

Baptiste closed her eyes a moment in thought. “You mentioned brigade headquarters.”

“It’s a little experimental on their part but they seem to have settled on two full regiments to a brigade, along with battalions to support them. It’s not really the equivalent of a SLDF brigade task force, but it’s manageable for their logistics.”

“The other weak spot.”

McGuinness nodded toothily. “And Waynewright made a pretty good job of manipulating it. He’s punched a focused advance as far as Baxley – halfway to MacDonald’s headquarters on Minette – with his main force and turned the three units built around Militia loose to harass the Minette region’s logistics. Something like a third of the jumpships available to MacDonald have been logged as destroyed, completely stranding two ‘Mech regiments near Maram and crippling the ability of the regiments in Broken Wheel to go to the support of Point Barrow where the main push is going.”

“That could be concerning. If the AFFS learn from that then we could be seeing a sharp rise in their effectiveness.”

“Talk about Inner Sphere problems,” McGuinness snorted. “At least while they’re rushing around the bandit problems in this sector have dropped off. No one knows where they might run into one of the regiments from the exercise, so most of the troublemakers have probably looked for safer areas to operate in.”

“Nothing lasts forever, General. How long do you see them as continuing?”

“Maybe two months. After that they’ll really have to push everything back to the borders. Anne Borden told me that trouble there is on the upswing. While the cat’s away…”

Baptiste grunted and looked at the display. “How do you rate them, effectiveness wise?”

“About seventy-five, maybe eighty-percent effectiveness against my line regiments,” her subordinate replied without hesitation. “For Waynewright’s troops, low end of that once you get past regimental-sized engagements. MacDonald’s force organisation is a joke – I could roll them up with the 225th and a couple of combat teams.”

She got a shake of the head for that but Baptiste dismissed the map and walked back to sit in the lounge area. “You wanted to discuss supplies.”

McGuiness joined her superior. “I won’t recount the issues, but we might have found a handle on that.”

She got an arched eyebrow.

“It seems John Davion is serious about patching up relations with General Kerensky. He’s authorised AFFS supply lines to ferry sealed dropships from the Hegemony – no questions asked, first priority even over his own unit’s non-essential supplies.”

“It’s still a security risk.”

The Major General sighed at the kneejerk reaction. “We can’t get those parts in the Suns, they’re proprietary, and so they have to come from the Hegemony. He’s even offered to let us put guards on the dropships. Can you see Liao offering that – hell, would any of the other Council Lords do it? You know how stretched our own jumpships are. This could let us bring our maintenance levels up to where they’ll need to be.”

Baptiste considered that. “I see the benefits. I’ll consider it, but you know how tight security has to be around our hardware.”

“Okay, I understand. But if they turn it down I do have another option.” McGuiness opened a folder. “We have fourteen heavy tank regiments in my operational area that use classified technology. If we redeployed them to LIV Corps’ area that would cut almost two hundred light years off the supply lines for them. In their place we could pull forward heavy tanks equipped with older Merkava and Alacorn models.”

“And where would you get parts for those? They may be older but they’re still Hegemony designs.”

“Johnston Industries have made an offer for a license to build replacement components – and even fresh chassis – on Kirklin,” McGuinness grinned toothily. “That’s in Third Army’s area, but again – it’s a lot closer and no one cares about secure parts for designs that haven’t been used since the Reunification War.”

The Army Commander’s eyes narrowed. “You want me to endorse the license request?”

“If you and General Stangher of the Third sign off on it, General Kerensky is almost certain to approve it.”

“It means giving the AFFS access to design data for heavy combat vehicles – they’re not exactly the First Lord’s favourites after the Border War.”

“Yeah, but you know John Davion wouldn’t have gone in if he’d been able to get the SLDF to do the investigation. He’s a straight-shooter, I think we can do business with him.”

Baptiste held her hand up. “That’s political. I’ll see what my staff think about this. But don’t try to move ahead with authorisation.”

“Who do you think I am?”

Her superior sighed. “That’s why I said it, Roseleen.”

.o0O0o.

The Forbidden City, Sian
Sian Commonality, Capellan Confederation
11 August 2763

There was a certain stiffness in the Chancellor’s posture today. Tai Yang Gwak had learned to recognise it as a sign that she was making a decision of whose merits she remained unconvinced.

“After careful consideration of recent activity by the Capellan Confederation Armed Force,” Barbara Liao announced carefully, “It has been decided that the needs of the state increase the demand upon our military leaders. To ensure that officers in command over the most critical battlefields may be focused upon these tasks, eight officers of the utmost character have volunteered to surrender their existing titles and regimental associations to better serve the Confederation.”

The six men and two women lined up before the throne bowed deeply and dropped to one knee, keeping their faces directed at the polished floor. They had been chosen for reliability, rather than ability although Tai Yang hoped he had managed to identify any truly incompetent candidates for this test. At least they all had useful faults that could be employed to bring them down if the need arose.

As they knelt, servants moved soundlessly down the line, stripping away the various insignia that marked the wearers by their ranks, regiments and positions in the nobility. Four of them originated from the noble Sheng dynasties that dominated the Capellan court, while the other three had possessed life titles among the Barduc warrior nobles. Only one had no title to relinquish. It had taken remarkably little prodding to persuade them to surrender those distinctions, perhaps a sign that the Chancellor’s unease was well founded.

“Today,” the Chancellor declared, “These seven officers are nothing except soldiers. All else has been sacrificed except service to the state.” She lifted her hand and a servant brought out a tray carrying sashes of crimson silk. “And for this service they are granted a new distinction among our soldiers.”

“Aral Ridzik. Step forwards.”

The man who rose stepped forwards was the very image of a professional soldier. Tall, broad-shouldered, a keen eye and crisp movements. Of all of them, Tai Yang felt Ridzik was the least dangerous – he lacked the intellect and connections to undermine the authority of the Chancellor. He could only be a problem if they lost control of his strings and let other people make him their puppet.

Barbara secured the sash across Ridzik’s chest. “As the new Strategic Military Director of the Capellan Confederation, I name you a Marshal of the Confederation.”

Applause greeted the announcement and Tai Yang backed discreetly away while the other officers were appointed as the Directors of Operations for each of the seven Commonalities, and given their own sashes. One of the few pleasant things about growing older – other than not dying – was that as long as you made some appearance at formal events, almost everyone accepted medical excuses for leaving early or arriving late.

Stepping through the entrance to one of the washrooms he opened a locked door that was marked as cleaning stores with a sweep of one ring on his hand against the lock. The interior did have cleaning supplies neatly shelved, but the wall at the end slid to one side with another tap of the ring and a spiral staircase that made his hips ache led down to the working levels of the palace.

The analysts he’d called for were waiting in one of the smaller conference rooms. “Gentlemen, ladies.” Tai Yang seated himself with a sigh. “Let us all take a moment to mourn Ewan Marik. Such a useless Captain-General was a gift.”

His juniors lowered their heads for a moment.

“No need to go overboard though. So, the son? What are his weak spots?”

“He’s driven – highly ambitious. If his father hadn’t died, there was a non-trivial chance he would have mobilised Parliament to remove him.”

Tai Yang nodded. “And now that he has his father’s place, what’s left for him? A young man, not even thirty yet.”

“The most likely outcome seems to be that he’ll find someone to focus his energy against,” a second analyst proposed. “While the backlash against his father leaves him in a generally solid position, the Regulans have yet to commit so they could be a centre for internal opposition.”

“Elsa Cameron-Jones. Cautious but similarly ambitious.” The Director considered. “Given that Duke Allison of Oriente is within the new Marik’s circle of supporters we must assume that the Confederation may be targeted. Rivalry between Oriente and Regulus should be encouraged. Who else?”

“Externally, Marik served with the SLDF until 2757 when he was cashiered by General Kerensky. That suggests he might seek to intrigue against the Commanding General, given the chance.” The woman who raised this lowered her head. “Whether or not it would be advantageous to the Confederation for him to pursue this vendetta is outside my expertise.”

“Highly advantageous,” Tai Yang informed her. “John Davion is aligned with Kerensky and conflict between Marik and Davion is a key priority. To facilitate this… hmm. Did not Davion propose that the SLDF take over additional military academies within the Member-States?”

“There were some suggestions that he was pursuing this prior to the First Lord’s majority.”

“Good. Kenyon Marik graduated from the Allison Mechwarrior Institute. We will arrange to leak Davion’s interest in this, adding that AMI was in consideration. This should reduce the possibility of collusion between our neighbours against us. Remember, the Confederation may be able to withstand a conflict against the Federated Suns or the Free Worlds League, since each has a hostile neighbour we may ally with on their other flanks. We cannot afford to fight both at once.”

.o0O0o.

Nadir Jump Point, Tortuga Prime
Tortuga Dominions, Periphery
21 September 2763

The jump point was defended by a pair of pirate warships.

Well, warships was perhaps too strong a word. They were about the size of 24th century corvettes – significantly smaller than FSS Markesan – but they had in-system drives and what looked like weapon batteries.

They were definitely pirates though and in firing range of the jump-point as the Markesan jumped in.

“Launch fighters.” Light Commodore Kenneth Jones gripped the shock frame of his seat. “Get those dropships loose and get us under power.”

The bridge was close enough to the fighter catapults that the thump-thump-thump-thump-thump of the first five aerospace fighters almost drowned out the distant rumble of the three mighty fusion thrusters half a kilometre behind him igniting.

“Tactical, are they firing?”

“Negative sir.” The leftenant paused and then amended. “No weapons, sir, but fighters are being launched and their drives are lit.”

One good thing, Jones thought and then a groan went through the hull. “What was…?” He caught sight of the ship status monitor and swallowed a curse. “I said cut those dropships loose.”

The dropship collars were technically rated to support the mass of small dropships while under thrust, but it wasn’t recommended – if only because without very careful docking the parent vessel’s angle of thrust wouldn’t align with the bracing of the attached dropship, not to mention what it did to the weight distribution of the combined vessels. And the Overlord-class ‘Mech transport Chieftain currently docked to the Markesan’s D-collar wasn’t a small dropship.

“Colonel Perez has ordered the dropships to remain attached, sir. He’s… he’s preparing to put his ‘Mechs on our hull to support our guns.”

Jones’ lips went pale at the corners. “Trigger the emergency ejection of all dropships,” he ordered flatly. “Helm, give me twelve degrees roll to port and forty percent power on the main drives.”

The Markesan surged forwards and the groaning of the hull was cut off as the first of four detonations cracked the drop-collars. It would take weeks of work to repair them without access to a shipyard, but the Overlord and three Union dropships were unceremoniously detached from Jones’ ship by shaped charges, the roll scattering them like drops of blood from a piercing wound.

“You’re clear to engage,” he added for the tactical officer’s benefit.

The tactical holo-display lit up as the main computers finished rebooting from the jump and collating the sensor data. The two pirates had the Markesan flanked but one of them had been pointed the other way and it was having to flip end on end before they could match trajectory. The second had been on a more comparable vector and the two ships were roughly broadside on, converging.

“At least we must have caught somewhat off-guard,” mused Jones. “Otherwise they could be firing by now.”

“Colonel Perez is on channel two for you, sir.”

“He’ll have to wait.”

The tactical officer confirmed the targeting calculations and the port broadside’s particle beams and lasers fired. Vastly out scaled versions of the PPCs and lasers mounted on ‘Mechs two of the three heavy turrets smashed brutally into the hull of the pirate, only the mid-ships particle beams missing. A moment later and the aft turrets fired on the second vessel as it was still in mid-rotation.

The nearer ship finally returned fire, but it did so with a cloud of smaller munitions rather than with capital weapons of its own.

The small warheads sounded like firecrackers against the hull of the Markesan but sections of the hull flagged as amber, indicating armour had been partially compromised.

“No penetrations, sir, but we’re picking up incidental damage to sensors and to other external fittings.”

“Return fire with our own secondaries, tactical.” Jones checked the location of the four dropships and saw that they were doing the sensible thing and scattering. I told them they needed a cruiser for this, the Markesan’s a transport, she isn’t rigged for contesting a jump-point.

Unfortunately, the second corvette seemed to have given up on chasing after the Markesan and was instead turning towards the Overlord-class, Centurion fighters from the army squadrons sparring with the pirate aerospace craft of the same type.

His own fighters – aged Tomahawks from naval squadrons – were having more success – there were more of them and they were larger than Centurions, with heavier armament. Still, there was no time to waste on this ship if the ‘Mech transports were to be saved. “All hands brace for a 180 degree rotation. Helm, once we’re reoriented I want maximum military power.” Twenty five meters per second squared of acceleration should leave the first pirate overshooting them and with a bit of luck the damage they’d taken would deter them from trying to close again.

The guns fired again and Jones locked his chair into place. “Rotate!”

Navigational thrusters roared and for a nasty moment, gravity pressed everything aboard in the direction of the ends of the ship. The tactical display blinked out and then lit up again.

Then gravity was towards the deck again, weight pressing Jones down into his chair as he seemed to weigh more than twice as much as normal.

“Forward guns tracking,” snapped the tactical officer.

“Fire.”

The two heavy cannon in Markesan’s nose shook the bridge as they hurled explosive shells across the hundreds of kilometres between the warship and her target. There was a drawn out pause as the small icon representing the shells traced a line towards the pirate.

When they connected there were sighs from several officers.

“It may take more than that,” Jones reminded them. “Reload and hit them again.”

A second salvo rushed out this time only one shell connected, but it was apparently a sufficiently solid ship for the corvette’s electronic output cut sharply and the LIDAR ceased to display volleys of missiles flung at the dropships.

“Major heat flare,” the sensor chief reported. “Best estimation is that we hit their hydrogen tanks.”

Jones restrained a flinch. While properly stored hydrogen was safe enough, have it leaking into the halo of oxygen as air escaped from holes in a ship’s pressurized decks and the results could very damaging indeed. “Very good. Helm, bring us around to engage with broadside weapons. We only have a limited store of shells for the main guns.”

“Should we demand a surrender, sir?”

“No, Major,” he told his exec, listening in on the conversation from the Combat Information Centre. “Our orders are: ‘no quarter’.”

Turning his chair he looked at the communications officer. “Is Colonel Perez still hailing us?”

“Yes sir.”

Jones glanced at the tactical display. The second corvette was wallowing under fire and the first had apparently decided to make for Tortuga Prime rather than resume the engagement. The Markesan’s fighters had broken off to re-join their mothership… yes, everything was in hand. “I’ll speak to him then.”

The Mechwarrior’s face popped into view on the secondary screen in front of Jones’, pale with fear, anger or a mix – the naval officer was genuinely unsure. The command deck of the Chieftain was visible behind him. “Your murderous coward,” Perez spat. “You just killed half my men.”

If he wasn’t wearing a pressure suit, including helmet, Jones would have reached up and tugged on his moustache. “I’m reasonably sure none of our fire has struck you, Colonel. Perhaps you could expand on your meaning.”

“When you cut and ran, that ship came after us and its missiles breached the ‘Mech bays.” Perez’ lips curled in contempt. “Clever use of a decoy, but the Judge Advocate will have something to say about using a full battalion as one.”

“How extremely unfortunate.”

“Hand over command to your executive officer and restrict yourself to your cabin. I’ll have the embarked battalion secure you until can be brought before a general court martial.”

Jones raised an eyebrow and then opened a second channel. “Major Picard, I stand relieved of duty by the mission commander. You have the conn.”

“Understood sir. I have the conn.”

“Is there anything else, Colonel?”

Perez seemed on the brink of saying more but refrained, instead cutting the channel.

“Sir, how much trouble are you in?”

Jones shrugged. There was no point heading for his quarters until the Markesan stopped manoeuvring. “I’m on record as protesting the assignment of a transport to a jump point assault and as further objecting to bringing ground troops with us when I was overruled. And while Perez may be mission commander, he doesn’t have tactical authority in a space combat situation. Finally, while a general court martial would be open to public review and he might manage to convict me by media, this is a classified operation so it’ll be a summary court martial, records sealed for the next fifty years except for the verdict. I’d say, given the usual predominance of army officers in the Judge Advocate’s office, I’ve a forty percent chance of acquittal.”

He smiled tightly. “Anyway, you’re in command of a warship in action, Major. That’ll look good on your record when it’s time for promotions.”

Brookes stared at the screen and then saluted before cutting it off.

Sitting back, Kenneth Jones watched his ship finish of the pirate, the crew working together like a well-tuned musical instrument. Somewhere in the back of his mind he started mentally composing a letter to his wife to inform her of what he could without breaking censorship regulations.
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

drakensis

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #32 on: 18 November 2017, 14:45:11 »
Imperial City, Luthien
Pesht District, Draconis Combine
8 October 2763

“The Federated Suns military exercises have concluded with a victory for the aggressor.”

Minoru’s father gave no immediate reaction to the report. Seated on teak stool carved with dragons, he was watching the first snow settle upon the gardens of his favourite palace.

He lacks none of his insight, the Heir-Designate thought sadly, but it takes him longer now to reach decisions. These last few years… my children still safe from the demands of adulthood, my hands and voice acting as his will in the affairs of state, guided by his wisdom. Was their beauty the reason they must be so brief.

“Lord Davion is our most advantageous ally,” the Coordinator said at last. “He will be your most dangerous foe.”

So. “His armies remain weak and unfocused.” Minoru allowed a sliver of amusement to enter his tone. “His vaunted First Avalon Hussars were lost on the far reaches of the Suns for almost a month, nearly a full battalion slain by chance. Even then, the naval officer responsible was judged blameless. The prince himself is a threat, but without discipline…”

“A sword will cut clay, yet shape the clay around crude iron, place it in the fire… and it will yield the finest steel.”

“Or without steel, a pot. Or a plate.”

Takiro Kurita smiled slightly. “A samurai can use both of these things. Swords defend civilisation but they do not define it.”

“Of course, father.” Setting aside the report, he moved to the next. “Also within the Suns, the Boeing Interstellar Orbital Megaplex has accelerated its pace of construction despite the First Lord’s decision not to subsidize operations. We believe SLDF discretionary funds have been allocated for this.”

“Mmm. Davion’s openness is a weakness but by sitting athwart the best routes between Terra and the battlefields of the Periphery, he has made a weapon of it.” The old man sighed. “There is something you have not mentioned yet of this matter.”

Minoru bowed his head. “As always, you read me like an open book. One of the orbital docks that was to be used in construction has been diverted away from Galax and the ISF has yet to determine the destination.”

“Unusual. This speaks of especial precautions by the Suns.” Takiro folded his hands together. “Call my grandson to me, Minoru.”

With a bow, Minoru backed out of proximity and retrieved a small radio from his sleeve. With Jinjiro now enrolled in Sun Zhang Academy on New Samarkand, this could only mean his younger son, Zabu.

Summoned from his studies, the child nonetheless arrived with decorum. Bowing first to the Coordinator and then to his father, he knelt politely before them and let silence fall. Minoru studied him and thought again what might come had he not legitimised Jinjiro. Zabu, after all, was the son of his wife and the older boy only of a concubine. And yet… there was an edge to his first born. Zabu would be a fine lord, wise in the mould of his grandfather – but Jinjiro had the seeds of greatness. To stamp the Dragon across the stars as their ancestor Shiro had, or to purge it of weakness like Martin McAllister.

Truly it is a blessing that they are devoted to each other. Is there nothing that my sons could do together?

“Zabu, do you tend your lessons well?”

“Hai, grandfather.”

“Good.” Takiro raised his hand and beckoned for the boy to come closer. “Now I have another lesson for you.”

Seated at the old man’s feet, Zabu nodded and looked up with bright eyes. “I am ready, grandfather.”

“The Davion lord is of value to us now, but one day our swords will clash against his. This you have been taught. But now I would have you unravel one of his plots, as you will one day need to without us to guide you. Do you understand?”

Even at a mere six years old, the child took the meaning of the words. He prostrated himself. “I thank you for this lesson.”

Takiro’s lips parted in a smile. “Up, up. Your father will provide you the first thread of information.”

Dropping to his knees next to the Coordinator, Minoru nodded to his son. “The Davion have inveigled with the Star League to build a vast new shipyard near the centre of his realm. It is a matter of great prestige for him, as well as a tool that will profit him greatly.  The First Lord is wary, as well he should be but Davion has gone to great lengths, perhaps even great risk, to have the yards built sooner – years sooner – than was originally planned for.”

“And yet, despite the high priority that has been placed upon this, one of the orbital docks that was to be used in the construction has been hidden from sight. Sent, we do not yet know where, nor for what purpose. These questions we must seek answers for, yet where should we have our servants begin their search?”

Zabu screwed his eyes closed intent on thought. It was a familiar expression and the two older men exchanged fond looks as the boy turned the question over in his mind. “Father, may I call upon your greater knowledge?”

“You may,” Takiro allowed.

“May these docks serve other purposes besides the construction of shipyards?”

“They may build all manner of facilities in space. Some may even build ships, though this one does not seem to be suited to the purpose.”

The boy nodded confidently. “You have described Lord Davion as valuable so I believe he is not foolish. He would have chosen a dock for the purpose. Clearly he must intend that something be built in space, which is vast. Do we often lose track of his shipments?”

Minoru gave him a proud look. “We do not. These matters are typically transparent to our eyes and ears.”

“Then what means has he used to cloud his tracks, father?”

“Much of Davion’s shipping was engaged in transporting elements of his armies to stage a great campaign for the purpose of training his armies. These same vessels now ferry the regiments back to his borders and there is great disorder within the freight lanes of the Suns.”

Zabu bowed his head again. “Grandfather, I believe that just as Lord Davion used the transport of his regiments to hide the movement of this orbital dock, he has used the creation of the new shipyard to mask the creation of a second, hidden yard. It will likely be found among the worlds where this training campaign took place for this is where the movement of ships outside of normal schedules would arouse little suspicion.”

“Perhaps so, but why would the Davion desire to hide a shipyard so deep within his realm, hundreds of light years away from ourselves or from House Liao of Capella?”

The boy hesitated. “I regret I know too little of such subjects,” he confessed, shamefacedly.

“Hmm. Well, you are very young.” Takiro waved his hands. “Still, you have deduced well. Go to the kitchens and tell the cooks that I have directed you should receive a treat.”

“Layers within layers,” Minoru murmured. “The location is far from us and from Liao, but it is closer to the Taurians.”

“Davion does not send his forces against the periphery, but Kerensky does. Perhaps we are dealing with his stratagem here,” Takiro mused. “If Davion is but the glove he wears for this then they have become closer than we suspected.”

“Marik, Steiner and Cameron are all suspicions of Kerensky – what did the young Marik call him? A jumped up Russian peasant.” Minoru shook his head. “He is a warrior – one of the Star League’s gunslingers who are trained to duel against our own samurai. And he was regent for Cameron. If, faced by the suspicion of the lords and supported by the adoration of his soldiers he sought to take a throne for himself…”

Takiro closed his eyes. “Cameron has flatterers on his side, and little more. Many of the people of the other states would urge their leaders to support Kerensky. Davion would likely do so. Liao… perhaps. The periphery are like whipped dogs, he could offer them tokens and they would fall over themselves to worship him… And yet I do not think he is driven to that form of power. No, Kerensky is that rarest of men – he lacks all ambition for further advancement.”

“So he is no threat.”

“Oh, my son, such men are the most perilous of all.”



Sidebar: History of the Draconis Combine

"House Kurita’s leaders are of two breeds: wise old snakes who live long, poisonous lives and those whose overweening pride makes them the prey of the first breed."

Founded through a mix of diplomacy, military force and reckless duplicity by two brothers, Shiro and Urizen Kurita, the Draconis Combine superseded the slightly earlier Alliance of Galedon, which had been their tool to break the power of the Ozawa Mercantile Association. In 2311 Shiro called a council of his so-called allies, many of them outraged by his scheming. When a vote was called upon his leadership, the majority of the leaders of worlds in the spinward-coreward regions rejected Shiro Kurita. Those wiser were spared when Urizen’s soldiers executed the dissenting majority, setting the tone for House Kurita’s totalitarian rule.

More than a century later, House Kurita’s fortunes seemed to have fallen irreversibly, for both Shiro’s successors on New Samarkand and his brother’s heirs in the long attempts to subdue the neighbouring Principality of Rasalhague had been overthrown by bastard kinsmen. Nihongi von Rohrs, born to a Kurita princess by way of a stablehand, slaughtered his cousins and established a paranoid new dynasty that rarely left their guarded palace, even as they schemed eternally against each other. Meanwhile Urizen’s grand-daughter, having fallen into the hands of the Rasalhague resistance, bore Daniel Sorenson. Growing up in his uncle’s court on occupied Rasalhague, the young Daniel repaid every slight inflicted on him when he seized power during the uneasy months after Nihongi’s coup and re-established an independent Rasalhague.

As the twenty-sixth century dawned, a third branch of the apparently ousted Kurita Clan rose to power. Descended from Shiro’s second son, Martin McAllister served as one of the Von Rohr’s diplomats to their rivals on Rasalhague. Falling madly in love with Prince Sorenson’s daughter, the two united the two lineages of House Kurita in their daughter Siriwan. Their efforts to conceal this succeeded and, due to his carefully plotted successes ‘against’ Rasalhague, McAllister rose in his overlords’ regard and trust, receiving command of their Household Guards. In 2510, McAllister took the obvious next step and eliminated the Von Rohrs, finally uniting Rasalhague with the Draconis Combine through his daughter’s inheritance.

Siriwan McAllister-Kurita laid the foundations for the modern Combine, wedding an undistinguished descendant of the last Kurita Coordinator in order to reclaim the symbolic family name. Siriwan, her son Hehiro, great-grandson Urizen and great-great-grandson Takiro for two hundred and eleven years out of the next two hundred and fifty-two, long-stable reigns that allowed them to mould the Draconis Combine into a strong but isolationist realm even after joining the Star League.
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

idea weenie

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #33 on: 19 November 2017, 15:00:26 »
Younglings parse the hidden truth, when only mysteries are provided.  Good training for the kid too.

drakensis

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #34 on: 19 November 2017, 15:51:36 »
Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
19 December 2763

“I don’t fault you for the decision, sire.” Thomas Green-Davion shook his head as he and John watched the sun setting over the mountains from one of the castle balconies. “Colonel Perez was clearly in the wrong, but the Avalon Hussars are rallying around him and they’re the backbone of our Battlemech corps.”

“I agree. Moving Jones to a staff position should hopefully keep him out of line of sight until tempers cool.” John sighed. “Losing a battalion of the First was a blow, I admit. And the damned thing is, other than pissing off the Navy, Perez did a good job on Tortuga. He’s an excellent ground commander and I could use him in a brigade slot, but right now he’s unpromotable.”

“I take it we couldn’t put him in a diplomatic post, let him pick up some polish?”

“He didn’t exactly show a sign of being diplomatic to begin with.” John picked an apple out of the dish between them and took a bite. “Besides, he knows more about Tortuga than I like – I’d rather he wasn’t outside the Suns.”

“Good point.” Green-Davion tapped his fingers on the side of his chair. “With Heather taking over MacDonald’s op-area, perhaps he could be shuffled into her staff. It’d keep him out of view for a little while and I could ask her to take him in hand.”

The prince nodded in approval. “Thank you, Thomas. That’s one problem out of the way. And speaking of Green-Davions taking people in hand…”

The older man gave him a quizzical look. “Who do you want me to keep an eye on?”

“As you said earlier, the Avalon Hussars are the backbone of our Mechwarriors. We need to get them on-board with the new combined arms tactics if they’re to get widespread acceptance, not to mention cooling off this budding feud with the navy.”

“I don’t disagree but they’re scattered across the Suns and under the command of every Combat Region Marshal we have. Reaching them all at once with anything but official memorandums isn’t all that straightforward.”

“I’m thinking a two-pronged approach. Firstly, I’m going to blanket attach a battalion of artillery to each regiment of the Hussars. The added firepower should be popular and it moves them half-way towards the new demi-brigade model the Crucis Dragoons and Ceti Hussars have developed. Johnston Industries are confident they can adapt their gun carrier chassis into a self-propelled gun for the artillery, so breaking loose light artillery battalions for that shouldn’t affect our general deployments too much.”

“Ah, the Carronade proposal. I heard about it from the Count. I understood he was looking at the SLDF as a market though?”

“They’re being very non-committal and Elias knows a confirmed contract from us is better for him than a maybe from Kerensky’s staff.”

“Hmm. Having first call on artillery should appeal to the Hussars, I agree. But where do I come into this?”

“That’s the other thing. It’s been largely honorific, but there’s the tradition of having Colonels-in-Chief for the major troop formations. Alexander Davion stripped away most of the practical power from the position when he reunited the Principalities, but he didn’t abolish them outright.”

Green-Davion nodded. “I recall Rita Hasek carrying out some visits to the Fusiliers as their Colonel-in-Chief while I was her regent on New Syrtis. I’m not sure if Vasily does the same for the Chevaliers.”

John chuckled. “He’s actually Colonel-in-Chief for the Tancredi Loyalists, not the Robinson Chevaliers. Not quite so demanding a position given there are only four regiments.”

“I take it you want to appoint me as the Colonel-in-Chief for the Avalon Hussars then?”

“Yes, it’s been in abeyance since my cousin Joseph died – Uncle Richard never appointed a replacement.”

“That should say everything about how influential it is.”

“It’s one of those things that’s what you make of it. It gives you unquestioned access to all their social events, for example, so whenever you’re on world with one of their regiments you can touch base with them and see how the mood is without it ruffling any feathers.”

“And how often is that going to happen?” Thomas gave him a sceptical look. “I had the impression I’d be spending more time on New Avalon now that the Galahad exercises were over.”

“Think of a working vacation, Baron Green-Davion.” John took one last bite of the apple and dropped the core in a waste bin. “The High Council approved of it and you have a nice little estate on Damerang, conveniently garrisoned by a regiment of the Hussars within three others within a one jump radius. It would be terribly insensitive of you not to visit them, since you’re their new Colonel-in-Chief.”

He received a suspicious look. “How many excuses do you have to send me running around the Federated Suns?”

“I’ve got two more lined up to send you to the Capellan March next year,” John told him. “Starting with an inspection of the Demeter salient now they’ve had a time to settle down from the fighting and then Rita has some sort of honour she wants to hang on you, which means visiting New Syrtis.”

“It had better be a very nice estate,” Thomas told him. “Alright, you’ve a willing horse, sire. What’s one more mile?”

.o0O0o.

Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
22 December 2763

“I’ve found a place for Commodore Jones,” John told Hanse as he watched another Italian opera. Talking to his descendant was cutting into his personal time more than he liked but there wasn’t much alternative if he didn’t want some suspicions raised about his sanity.

Edwina wasn’t at all fond of the operas, which was a mark of her good taste in John’s view. It meant she left him to watch them alone, more or less once a week. He’d rather have spent the time with her, but at least she didn’t think he was sneaking off to see another woman, which some of the other cover ideas would have allowed for.

“Good, you want the man safe. He turns into our best admiral twenty years from now,” Hanse replied absently as he watched the screen.

“Well he won’t come to harm on the Navy’s procurement board. In a year or so I should be able to bump him up to Commodore and give him one of the heavier ships. From the way he handled the fighting over Tortuga, he’s more than ready for the responsibility.”

“What’s he going to be handling? The new transport dropships or the capital ship board?”

“The latter. I’m not an idiot, Hanse. We don’t have many warship commanders who’ve engaged hostile warships – for a given value of warships, at least. Besides, if he was looking at the new battalion-transports then he’d have to work with the Army on the design requirements – too much chance he’d run into someone who bought into Perez’ version of events.”

“At least you’re not starting with almost two hundred years of not even having warships. The RX-78 was enough headaches.”

John nodded and flipped through the documents he’d brought with him. “Even if we wind up pushing a new arms limit through the Council, taking the chance to replace and refit some of our older hulls should be worth it. The ex-Hegemony ships are taking up more of the maintenance budget than I’d realised. Mothballing them would save us millions.”

“The time may come when you need expendable ships,” Hanse warned. “And you’d be surprised what can be put back into service. The Lyrans considered their last Tharkad as a wreck too broken to be worth fixing by 2821, but they managed to drag it back into action for the fighting around Hesperus thirty years later.”

“Yes, you’ve made a point of how much hardware survived the centuries with only patchwork repairs. With how durable ‘Mechs and ships are, I’m surprised things fell apart as far as you described.”

“The factories weren’t as durable,” Hanse told him. “And someone kept assassinating the people with the skills to repair them.”

“Now, you see, this is why I don’t want to start assassinating people. You never know where when we might need them – you said yourself that this Blake character was vital in rebuilding the HPG networks after the coup. If we can’t manage to avoid that then he’s going to be needed. Killing him would be disruptive.”

“And I yield the point, but his successor didn’t do anything like that.”

“I’m not having someone arrange a traffic accident for a ten year old, Hanse.”

“He’d be eleven now. Alright, not the point, I know. But ComStar’s scheming killed tens of thousands directly and probably millions indirectly. I spent years rooting their spies out. Trust me, you don’t want to get them entrenched again.”

“It won’t be a factor unless the League fails,” John said heavily. “If it comes to that, I promise I’ll take steps to make sure they can’t do what you describe.”

“I’ll hold you to that.”

John relaxed. There were some points that he wished Hanse would stop pressing him on, but just as the other man couldn’t make him do anything, there was nothing John could do to shut him up. “There’s been at least a little progress – Richard hasn’t stopped the Star League Council from meeting the way you described, and Francesca tells me we’re compiling a good case to show that the Periphery are receiving shipments of military hardware from sources deep inside the Hegemony. Nothing’s pointing at Amaris yet but at least we can show that as many are going to the Rim Worlds Republic as they are to the other territorial states.”

“That could useful,” the redhead agreed. “It might be enough to persuade Richard that the SLDF should send troops back to the Republic. Even if Amaris claims to be a loyal, the Reunification War is evidence that the Rim can be a nest of anti-League sentiment whatever House Amaris has to say.”

“I’m not sure the Commanding General would thank us for adding another battle-front to his operations, but better to be aware of the threat. If MIIO can add it all together than I’ll see if I can make the case then.”

Hanse rubbed his hands across his face. “You’re right that things are changing. Barbara Liao never appointed Marshals in my history, so maybe things might not go the way they did in my history. I’m not confident that we can avert the fall of the Star League, but at least there might be a chance.”

.o0O0o.

Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
5 January 2764

“Where did this information come from?” Green-Davion asked, looking at the data on the command centre’s main display. It was the last meeting before the Chief of Operations departed for the extended vacation on his new estate in the Draconis March and while this wasn’t exactly a crisis, it was probably another headache he didn’t need.

“The Ministry of Intelligence put it together based on information from several sources,” Pond explained. “Without going into detail about where some of our people have managed to penetrate DCMS security I can’t say more, but I’m confident that the data is genuine.”

“It’s good to know that we’re not the only ones finding it hard to fill officer command slots,” said Eis Moscoe. “This seems a little radical though.”

John snuck a look at Hanse who shook his head. “They didn’t do this in my history.”

“It could also be a response to our decision to improve the coordination of our forces above the regimental level,” he pointed out.

“Or just taking their obsession with the number five to new heights.” Moscoe rubbed his chin. “This will play hell with their transport arrangements.”

Whatever the reason behind it, the DCMS had decided to reorganise their forces across the board. Where they’d previously operated more or less along the same general pattern as the SLDF, with lances, companies and battalions the ‘new model’ that Minoru Kurita had apparently approved on behalf of his father cut the number of command slots, and thus the number of officers needed for a regiment.

Previously a regiment would require three battalion commanders, nine company commanders and eighteen additional lance commanders. In the future, the regiments would be divided into five companies of twenty-five ‘Mechs, vehicles or infantry platoons. That cut the demand for officers by sixteen percent, particularly in the field-grade ranks. Academies could increase the number of lance commanders comparatively rapidly, even if AFFS policy was to give graduates at least a few months experience in the field before actually promoting them to officers. Company and battalion commanders were harder to come by though.

“It’s going to cut into the rate of advancement for their junior officers though,” observed Manabe. “In the long run that could cause some dissatisfaction.”

“House Kurita have never been afraid to pit their officers against each other.” Pond folded his arms. “Rather than blaming their leaders for removing the middling command slots, the junior officers will turn on each other to compete for promotion. And they’ll be highly motivated to make names for themselves in order to receive promotions.”

Green-Davion swiped through the data. “I’m more concerned about the fact they’re forming permanent Divisions. The changes we’ve been making to improve our coordination was to prepare us to face conflicts with the other house armies. Particularly the DCMS. We have to face the facts that they’re working to retain the edge they had over us thirty years ago.”

“It’ll still be a lot smaller than an SLDF division or our equivalents. Really it’s more of a reinforced brigade.”

John leant on the desk table. “It’ll depend to some extent on how the commanders handle them. If they’re planning to make heavier use of their infantry, with three of the five regiments in a division as foot soldiers that won’t necessarily make a huge difference if they’re focusing on manoeuvre warfare the way most conflicts were handled after the Ares Conventions were imposed. But if they’re instead looking at controlling territory, the way the SLDF has to operate in the Periphery then a heavy infantry presence could be very useful for them.”

The high command exchanged looked at each other.

“You think they could be gearing up for a long term offensive?” enquired Green-Davion.

The prince tilted his hand back and forth. “It’s one possibility. We’ll have to see how they develop the units in practise. They might simply feel that it takes a brigade of infantry to equal the effectiveness of the ‘Mech regiment and the tank regiment.”

“Another factor is that the Combine hasn’t previously brought their armoured units together operationally. It’s more common for them to use tanks as battalions rather than complete regiments. The new organisation won’t really allow for that, so the DCMS armoured forces will have to develop new approaches.” Eis ran his fingers back though his hair. “It’s a very large step for them to take and it’s going to draw a lot of attention.”

“It’s certainly going to be interesting to see if this means that the Lyrans and Free World will also be looking at reviewing their own command arrangements above regimental level,” Pond agreed. “We haven’t see that so far and the Capellans are being very cautious about exploring the idea but this raises the game considerably.”

“Should we move faster with integrating our forces into divisions?” asked John. “Opinions?”

There was an uneasy silence. “As much as I think it’s the right direction, we’re doing well already by building up from the bottom,” Green-Davion said at last. “Bringing troops together is only the first step and we need to train up the commanders and staffs to handle brigades and divisions. By the time the Combine has worked out the basic issues for this reorganisation – a year or two from now – we’ll have a solid core of combined arms brigades and demi-brigades that we can begin forming divisions from with much less friction.”

John nodded. “Does anyone disagree?”

“With all respect, sire, the Field Marshal is right that we’re already moving ahead fairly fast. Slow and steady wins the race.”

“I’m not going to bite your head off, Eis. Actually, I agree. As important as our reforms are, having the DCMS push the pace would be a mistake. Pass on a request to the Ministry of Intelligence to watch for any further information on this and any similar actions by other member-states, so we can learn from any problems that they encounter. But there’s no need to change our plans at this time.”

.o0O0o.

Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
25 April 2764

Holographic warships hung in the air in front of John’s desk. “This looks like something of a budget challenge,” he said thoughtfully. “You’ve got a very well developed plan for the cruisers, scaling up from the Congress-class frigates, but these Protector-class battleships would be larger than anything our yards have built before.”

“We probably would need to rely on the new yard at Galax for this, given their experience building larger ships for the SLDF.” Admiral Richardson looked apologetic. “Smaller hulls were considered, but given the Soyal and Du Shi Wang classes in service in the CCN, we simply couldn’t meet the goals for a battleship that can contend within the battlecruiser weight ranges.”

“I take it the drafts for battlecruisers are in the alternative proposals?”

Rike Moore, the Rear Admiral from the Navy’s Design Bureau nodded. “The preliminary studies are in the appendices, sire, however…”

“However?

“However,” Richardson picked up with barely a pause, “The plan we’ve presented is the consensus of the full board. Eight new cruisers and four battleships are what we need to keep the Navy competitive through until the end of the century.”

“I see.” The prince rested his fingers on the very edge of his desk. After a brief moment of thought, he shook his head. “I realise that I don’t have first-hand naval experience, but I asked the board to outline options for moving forwards. If this proposal – as detailed as it may be, as solidly as you all seem to favour it – is the only one presented then the board hasn’t completed the work asked of it.”

He closed down the display. “What other plans were rejected in favour of this one?”

Vice Admiral Yusuke Goto stepped forwards. “If I may?” Although he’d not served aboard a ship in years, the grey-haired officer’s last command had been a dropship on the frontlines of the War of Davion Succession. Thirty-one years at naval headquarters had honed his skill in the tactics and strategy of the halls of power rather than the blackness of space, but at least he’d seen action – something that many of his compatriots had not.

“Go ahead.”

“Besides the proposal we have here, there was a consideration of upgrading the Congress-class ships and expanding them to provide a backbone of frigates to support our Robinson-class transports. However, we don’t have the number of slips available to build them in the numbers to deal with heavy Capellan ships or to match the existing numbers of destroyers and light carriers fielded by the Combine. Once we began looking at improving the Congress-class, scaling it up to a cruiser was initially explored as the single design – for the same costs as the current proposal we calculate that fifteen cruisers could be built. However, this still wouldn’t be enough for the Capellans. Finally we reviewed building a large number of corvettes on the hull of the Robinson, using civilian yards for the basic hulls so that military yards could save time only installing the armour and weapons. Commodore Jones made the excellent point that his ship took serious damage against converted merchantmen in recent operations, though, which suggests such a force would be of questionable value.”

“There was…” Moore hesitated. “I don’t wish to expose the Commodore to criticism.”

“Well now that you’ve started, Admiral?”

Richardson cleared his throat. “I believe that Rike is hesitant in light of the army’s suggestions that Commodore Jones is lacking in moral fibre. His recommendation was that we focus on delivering dropships and aerospace fighters to the battlespace. His view as that we should build destroyers for those warship clashes that can’t be avoided and otherwise use carriers to avoid direct action.”

“That… could work.” Hanse moved up and perched on the desk, arms folded and eyes narrowed in thought. “Given the use of nuclear warheads for fighters… how many fighters could be carried aboard a warship?”

“Interesting.” John rose. “I will defer judgement until the high command can review your position, Admirals. You’ve two weeks to put together presentations for all of those options, including Commodore Jones’. Since the options will be issued under the names of the entire board there’s no need to worry about any blame falling upon him specifically.”

“Two weeks isn’t a great deal of time.”

“Admiral this has been under discussion for three months. I appreciate your preference in this matter and the prospect of being able to match the Capellan battleships is very appealing but this is my decision, not yours. Since I have to justify it to the High Council, I want to be able to show them alternatives and why they’ve been rejected.”

Goto saluted. “I understand, sire. We’ll have the information for you.” The old veteran knew when it was best to retreat and regroup.

“What’s the bet that they canvas the High Council for support before the next meeting?” Hanse chuckled, “Appealing to their patronage and ‘we have insufficient manhood’ without big ships as substitutes for shiny sports cars.”

John didn’t think that that even deserved a response. Whatever he chose, he’d need to make sure his allies within the Council were primed. The decision made was going to cost billions of dollars either way, which made the attempt to railroad him all the more irritating.

Moore and Richardson followed Goto’s example. As they left, Moore paused. “I’m sorry we misunderstood your instructions, sire. I just wanted to say… I appreciate what you’re doing, fighting to get us the budget to turn the navy into a real fighting force and standing up for Jones against Perez.”

“I’m glad to hear that, Rike. But give some thought to why I’m doing that. It’s not for the navy, it’s for what the Navy can do for the Federated Suns.”

The admiral paused and then nodded. “I’ll do that.”

John stretched as the door closed. “What happened at Tortuga showed we need to do some things differently. We didn’t expect to be facing warships, but even converted merchantmen armed with conventional weapons hurt the Markesan badly.”

“It’s not an area I can give a lot of advice on, other than historical records and naval history wasn’t a huge priority when I was in the academy. The Clans used their warships mostly as mobile supply bases and command centres, but they didn’t have any real opposition. The closest we came was one suicidal ramming by a fighter – which didn’t even mission-kill the ship.”

Hanse jumped off the desk. “The SLDF does about the same, right now, but they’re not fighting a comparable fleet. No one’s attempted unrestricted fleet actions since before the Ares Conventions were drafted early in the Age of War and the technology back then simply wasn’t comparable.”

“So we’re going to have to write our own book,” John decided. “At least we have some idea that we could have to fight, that’s more than the other fleets do.”

“Which way are you leaning?”

“The first plan is the best prepared,” the prince told him. “And since the navy likes it, I could take advantage of their appealing to the High Council and get it approved more easily than the alternatives.” He hesitated and then added: “But from what you said about the attrition warships suffered in the Succession Wars, something that relies more on fighter wings for damage might survive longer if it comes to war.”
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

drakensis

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #35 on: 19 November 2017, 15:51:51 »
Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
11 May 2764

“I appreciate your position, Admiral Richardson, but while the majority of the naval board may favour building battleships, you’re the only member of the High Command who feels that way.”

“Respectfully, sire, I’m also the only naval officer on the High Command.”

“That’s true, but you’ve also failed to persuade the finance committee. You provided a very detailed proposal for paying for the twelve warships in your plan, but Commodore Jones managed to compete with a proposal to not only build six fleet carriers and six new destroyers in the next ten years, but also to refit twenty-six of our existing warships to the same standard… and still came in at only ninety percent of the cost.”

“Your highness, do I have permission to speak freely.”

John looked at him and then nodded. “I don’t record private meetings, Admiral. Whatever you say is off the record and between the two of us.”

“Sir, the Jones plan will leave the navy with a capital force whose only solution to a battle will be to run away and hope that their aerospace wings can save the day. The Soyal-class can smash a New Syrtis-class carrier with two square hits of its spinal gun. Maybe three, allowing for the improved protection Jones has called for.”

“And how many shots could your battleship have taken? Five, six?” John leant back in his chair. “What decided me, Admiral – and the argument that I’ll take to the High Council – is that while we’d need to replace a defeated ship in either case, a victorious battleship would need dockyard work because it would still have taken damage. A carrier that’s avoided taking direct fire would simply need a replacement aerospace wing and it could be back in action without time for repairs, or even to return to a shipyard.”

“If it wins, sire. If it wins.” Richardson gathered himself. “I recommend against this in the strongest possible terms. If you go with Jones’ plan… I don’t feel I can be responsible for naval operations in that case.”

“That’s a very strong statement to make, Admiral. You would be difficult to replace.”

“I know sir, but if we’re to be a fighting navy then I firmly believe this isn’t the path we should be taking.”

“I see.” The prince rose and walked to the window. “I appreciate your forthrightness. I’m not a naval officer myself but I have looked at the history of our service. You’ll recall that of the two classes of capital ship the FSN has fielded in the past, the Defender-class of battlecruiser wasn’t particularly successful while the New Syrtis-class have performed superbly.”

Richardson set his jaw. “The New Syrtis fills its role, sir. As an escort for transports. I thought you wanted a fighting navy.”

“Alright. If that’s your final word, Admiral then I’ve no choice to accept it.”

The admiral paused. “Sire?”

“I’ll advise Field Marshal Green-Davion to expect your resignation when he returns from New Syrtis. I hope you’ll remain until then so we can find a replacement.”

In the window’s reflection, John could see Richardson’s face pale.

“You’ve given many years of service, Admiral. If, as you say, you don’t feel that you can continue to operate in naval operations while we follow this course of action, then all I can do is to offer my sincere thanks for everything you’ve done to bring us this far.”

“I…”

“I don’t think there’s anything more to say.” Not to say, at least but John let his face show for a moment his anger at the Admiral’s attempt to bully him into changing his decision. “Goodbye, Admiral Richardson.”

He walked the man to the door and closed it firmly behind his guest. “Dammit, Hanse. Did you ever have to deal with someone trying that sort of trick on you?”

“Once or twice when I was younger. You did a pretty good job of shutting him down. Once word gets around, they’ll be more cautious.”

“It’s a new experience for me. The closest was Eric Bond, when I set up the Ministry of Intelligence, but he genuinely thought he was in the wrong and being punished.”

“There’s always pushback when major changes are being made.” Hanse reached into the fruit bowl and scowled as he failed to pick one up.

“Do you even get hungry?”

“That’s not the point. He might not have been so reckless if he knew that the delegates from Delavan and Layover had agreed to support the Jones plan rather than voting for the battleships, but it’s better to move him out now and set an example.”

“Well that was simple logic. Building warships is a great profit per unit, but aerospace fighters are a more sustainable source of income. It’s fortunate that we optioned licenses from Wangker Aerospsace back during the Reunification War even if we never utilised them at the time. I doubt Barbara Liao would have agreed to them now.”

“She’ll likely challenge the arrangement now,” warned Hanse. “If she takes it to the courts, Richard Cameron could take her side.”

“You’re the one who said we needed those fighter designs. With Dynamico, Sacrado and Salvatore all adding aerospace manufacture to their dropship lines we’ll be in a much stronger position.”

The redheaded man looked at John and then smiled. “You have something in mind, don’t you?”

“We might not be able to pin the arms purchases to Amaris but Reznick has been able to identify some of his cut-outs. Each of the three firms has approached one of those agents as possibly customers for the fighters. If Amaris wants to use those factories’ output for his plan, he’ll keep Richard from interfering.”

Hanse’s laughter filled the room.



Sidebar: The Age of War

"Let he who desires peace, prepare for war."

Although military conflicts on some levels had been ongoing since the Outer Reaches Rebellion of 2236, the First Andurien War of 2398-2404 is generally held to be the start of a new era of interstellar conflicts. Eight of the ten states that would later make up the Star League had come into being by the mid-twenty-fourth century, with the six great Houses of the Inner Sphere gobbling up smaller rivals until their borders were now pressed against each other.

Smaller states continued to exist along the periphery but their conquest was no longer the focus of attention. Starting from 2398 all six Great Houses shifted to a new mode of strategic thinking. It was no longer possible to consider conquering their rivals outright – all six were of sufficient size and power that this was logistically untenable given the economics of the time. Since each state bordered at least three rivals, it was unfeasible to divert enough resources to one front to attain ultimate victory without exposing yourself on two more.

Instead wars were fought cautiously and for limited goals felt to be attainable. Only through a succession of such campaigns could great progress be made, but the breaks between campaigns to consolidate would inevitably allow the defender to regroup. Exacerbating this were the Ares Conventions, which succeeded brilliantly in preserving the infrastructure of still fledgling economies and populations but legitimised war as a method of addressing conflicts of interest. Borders fluctuated rapidly but even internal turmoil such as the Dark Years of the Commonwealth (2467-2504) and Davion Civil War (2525-2540) didn’t inflict long-term harm upon the states, any more than military advances such as the BattleMech provided long-term domination.

The Age of War was therefore an age of deadlock, a ‘golden age of chivalry’ that Ian Cameron decried as pointless and futile bloodshed as he worked to establish the Star League as a viable alternative. He was right that warfare had accomplished very little during the previous century and a half – all three Andurien Wars had ended with more or less identical disposition of the worlds in question, and the only realms to vanish from the maps during this era were the result of diplomacy, with Rasalhague formally throwing its support behind the revived Kurita dynasty in 2510 and the United Hindu Collective allying with the triumphant Alexander Davion in 2540.

While the border worlds were shaken and dissidents from these regions were directly responsible for the creation of the last two major states within the Periphery (the Magistracy of Canopus founded by a renegade Andurien Mechwarrior and the Outworlds Alliance by a retired Federated Suns admiral respectively), the core worlds of each major state had settled into recognisable and cohesive national identities.

As the Star League was formed, economies struggled to adapt and discharged soldiers looked for places to turn. It was as much a nostalgia for the old certainties of conflict as Periphery recalcitrance that led to Cameron’s new Age of Peace sparking war on a scale never before seen in human history.
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

drakensis

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #36 on: 20 November 2017, 16:46:06 »
Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
19 July 2764

“Sir. The Minister of Intelligence is on line three for you,” Owen reported.

John closed down the report on education levels along the outer edge of the Suns – for all the concerns about wars, civil or otherwise, there was still the mundane business of government to deal with – and turned to the video phone. “Francesca,” he greeted her as the screen lit up. “Has something gone wrong?”

“I couldn’t say, but you did ask to be kept up to date about any developments affecting President Amaris.”

John straightened. “I did indeed. What have you learned?”

“It seems that he’s intending to depart Terra for Apollo,” the Minister of Intelligence reported. “And not for a brief visit – all indications are that this will be his first extended absence from the capital in more than ten years. His departure is expected before the end of the week.”

John took a deep breath. This sounded unfortunately similar to what Hanse could recall of the events from his history. “Do we have any idea why he’s decided to leave – some argument with the First Lord?”

“That’s possible, sire. We know he has had sequential meetings, first with General Kerensky and then with the First Lord. Lord Cameron is reportedly quite upset about the decision.”

“And Kerensky?”

“It’s hard to say. His staff are extremely loyal and he went to Fort Cameron almost immediately.” The minister paused. “Sire, if you have any additional information from your other sources then my analysts might be able to assemble a better picture of what’s going on.”

“Other sources, minister?”

“Respectfully, sire, there are a couple of times where you’ve been just a little too accurate in pointing us towards data for it to be guesswork – I’m assuming that House Davion have their own private informants outside of normal channels.” She hesitated again. “By the writ you set up for my office, the Ministry ought to be receiving all intelligence data, whatever the source.”

John laughed. “Even if the source is the First Prince, eh? I’m sorry to disappoint you, Minister, but there’s no secret. Just my own personal analysis of events.”

Reznick’s lips twisted. “Sire, Military Intelligence have been looking for the source of some of the raids on the outer reaches of the Suns for decades, but the data that let us narrow down an approximate location of the so-called ‘Dominion’ was you and I can’t trace it back any further.” She met his gaze. “I understand protecting sources, sire, but the entire premise behind my Ministry is that we needed a wider view of events than that which MI2 was providing. If information is being withheld, I can’t offer you assurance that we’re giving you the best possible data.”

The trouble with sharp subordinates was that sometimes you cut yourself on them, John thought ruefully. “If there were such a source, Minister, hypothetically, then let us suppose that it was something that had no material records whatsoever. And that it concerned a handful of data points so sensitive that they were only discussed in person and never with an absolute and definite need to know.”

“That’s no way to run an intelligence operation, sire. Hypothetically.”

“Think of it as a classification that matches the old saying, Francesca. The one along the lines of two can keep a secret, if one of them is dead.”

Her eyebrow arched. “I know the word is abused, but do you mean that literally?”

“I’m sure you don’t expect me to answer that. You can speculate, of course, but privately.”

“I… see. Or rather I don’t but this will likely keep me up at nights wondering.”

“Your curiosity is one of your key qualities, Francesca.” John paused and coughed. “Anyway, we were discussing Stefan Amaris and reactions to his departure. Based on your Ministry’s analysis it seems very likely that anti-Star League sentiment in the Rim Worlds Republic is just as strong as it is in the other territorial states, correct.”

“While MilInt has limited infiltration of the Republic, our available sources confirm that.”

“The insurgency movements in all three of the other Territorial States all have appear to have at least tacit support from the governments – again, nothing’s proven, but it’s very likely that information and even material is being provided. What’s the end goal?”

Reznick considered that for a moment. “There’s no hope of a military solution against the SLDF. It’s just too strong. My assumption has always been that they were hoping the expense and effort of keeping the peace would force the Star League to change the policies that have been put in place. The, if you’ll excuse me, the very short-sighted policies.”

“You’re not wrong on that last point – and I supported some of them so I can’t look elsewhere for blame. Of course, the weakness with that is that the SLDF is disproportionately supported from the Terran Hegemony, so the costs don’t impact the other five member-states to a great effect. A super-majority of the Council, in other words, have no driving reason to do as the Periphery lords hope. And having attended Council meetings with them, they’re fully aware of that.”

“So what do they hope to gain?”

“Let’s look again at the Rim Worlds Republic. Why are they different from the others?”

“That’s their traditional position – House Amaris were founded by a Terran ambassador to the Republic, they’ve always considered themselves to be at least half Terran. I believe Lord Amaris actually has citizenship in the Hegemony.”

“Yes, but what’s that ever got them. Their personal loyalty to the League didn’t sway the rest of the Republic and even when the SLDF forced the Rim Worlders to bow to House Amaris’ wishes, they didn’t get treated as equals. In short, they’ve been treated the same as the Calderons, Centrallas and Avellars – rulers of conquered provinces, retained simply to retain a layer of legitimacy. A pretty weak layer of legitimacy.”

“So you don’t think that Lord Amaris is actually loyal to the Star League, sire?”

“I am speculating, I admit that. But if we accept that the arms shipments you’ve been trying to trace are actually going to the Periphery to support insurgencies, then someone very well connected is covering for them. And who’s the most prominent representative of any Periphery state in the Hegemony?”

“Stefan Amaris.” Reznick’s mind was ticking over rapidly. “He’s not just the First Lord’s confidante, he’s met practically everyone who is anyone in the upper levels of the Hegemony and the Star League’s government and business circles. And even if someone wouldn’t do a favour for him, all he’d have to do is drop a hint that he’s acting on Lord Cameron’s behalf and he’d have a lot of credibility. If he really is the Periphery’s inside man then he’s in position to do an immense amount of damage.”

“There’s no proof, of course. Suspicion is far from enough to do anything directly, and even if I had some evidence, it would need to be incredibly damning in order to convince the First Lord. We’d be accusing his closest friend, someone who’s almost a second father to him. Anything short of a personal confession by Amaris would likely be rejected.” John took a deep breath, “This could all be wrong, of course, but if it isn’t… then why would he leave Terra?”

Francesca Reznick grimaced. “The only plausible reason in that scenario would be that they’ve reached a stage of operations where an inside man is no longer useful. Respectfully, sir, that’s a worrying proposition.”

“Oh, I can think of worse.”

“I’m quite terrified to ask.”

John met her worried gaze with her own. “We agree that there’s no way the Periphery can defeat the SLDF as it stands, but the SLDF is highly dependent upon the Terran Hegemony. So is everything in the Star League – it was deliberately set up that way. So, how could the Periphery states eliminate the Terran Hegemony as a factor?”

.o0O0o.

LXII Corps HQ, Kaiyuh
Crucis March, Federated Suns
18 October 2764

“So that’s the latest development in the house militaries,” McGuinness’ staff intelligence officer reported. “It’s unlikely to impact on us directly, but if a Lyran formation does turn up here, remember that from the regimental level up they’ll be significantly larger than unit designations suggest.”

“Also unwieldy as all hell,” the Corps Commander noted. “God in heaven, can you imagine trying to ship a sixty-four ‘Mech battalion anywhere?”

“To be fair, at other levels it wouldn’t be out of line,” General Delacroix noted. “Just treat one of their regiments as an understrength brigade or a brigade as a division in all but name.”

“That’s just going to be even more confusing,” complained McGuinness. “Probably the idea, actually, the Archon might be trying to confuse force listings when sanity breaks out and the Star League Council put some arms limitations back in place. Sooner or later this arms’ race has got to hit the limits of what they can afford. Is there anything else on the docket?”

“Nothing from my office, ma’am,” the intelligence officer confirmed.

“Right. Well that brings us to the immediate future.” Standing, McGuinness moved over to the wall display and zoomed out until not only her own operational area but also the entire Taurian Concordat was visible. “We’ve had an advisory for Headquarters to draw up plans for a possible redeployment.”

Delacroix smiled slightly. “My 225th, the Corps or the entire Army?”

“The army.”

“Merde.”

“Quite.” McGuinness’ face was set. “We all hoped that the SAS busting the headquarters of the TFA on Camadeierre would give the insurgents across the border second thoughts, unfortunately every other band of terrorists in the Concordat seems determined to make up for the lack of that particular group.” She shrugged. “So while nothing’s been confirmed, the Commanding General has given advance warning that if things continue to deteriorate he’s going to reinforce Nineteenth Army and declare martial law across the Concordat?”

“Can he do that?” asked the staff legal officer. “It would need -”

“I think we can assume that General Kerensky wouldn’t put it in a briefing if he wasn’t sure he could,” McGuinness cut the junior officer off. “General Baptiste has given us and outline and we need to be ready to move fast if the order is given.”

She took a laser pointer and ran it along the Taurian border with the Federated Suns and the Capellan Confederation. “Once the order is given, the first step will be to relocate the armies in question to cantonments along the Taurian borders – secure bases for future operations. House Liao is likely to squeal, so be grateful that we’re not having to deal with them. The First Prince is much less likely to object given how co-operative he is in general. My understanding is that if SLDF bases don’t have enough capacity, AFFS bases may be loaned to us for the purposes.”

“So we move to reinforce the 101st Jump Infantry on the border?” asked Delacroix, pointing to where the nearest of the LXII Corps divisions to the Concordat was stationed on Armington.

“Not quite. We’ll use those bases as transit points, but we’re just preparing them for units further away. “Third Army will be staging into those bases and as soon as they arrive we’re to continue our movement and join forces with the other three Corps of Fourth Army at the spinward end of LXX Corps’ usual operational area.” She circled the region in question.

“Two entire armies would seem sufficient,” her Chief of Staff said thoughtfully, “but that would leave half the border so I assume there’s more.”

“Spot on, Douglas. Our neighbours in Sixth Army will be consolidating into XXXVII Corps hunting grounds to cover the far end of the border and Seventh army will leap frog them to join us in LXX Corps sector. Added to the Nineteenth Army inside the Concordat and that’s near enough a quarter of the SLDF’s strength. Back in the Reunification War it took twelve divisions to bring the Taurians to heel – well now we’re going to have just over a hundred.”

“Now maybe they’ll do the smart thing when they see what’s lined up. I wouldn’t expect it, personally, but it could happen. Professionally, I hope it happens. But if it doesn’t… then we’ll be crossing the border. We don’t have any plans for that yet, although we will need them ready so that’s going to be an order of business in the next few months, but the movement plan comes first.”

Delacroix cleared his throat. “If we do, as you say, cross the border then will you be remaining with us?”

“I damn well, better had.” McGuinness jutted her jaw out. “I know my great-grandfather served here. I know the Taurians take issue with him and by extension, with me. That’s not my problem and I don’t care one way or the other about the Taurians. If HQ choose to recall me, I will protest it.”

“If they’re trying to persuade the Taurians to stand down then you could be a bit… inflammatory.” Douglas Pardoe shrugged when she glared at him.

“Maybe. I’ll grant you that maybe it might have an effect. But we’ve tried sweet reason for a long time and I don’t think the Taurians are likely to listen. But force – or the threat of force – should. And just maybe, when that happens, the lords on the Star League Council will look at it and remember that we’re not just here to keep the Periphery in line. That thought could get it through to them, with a bit of luck, that they need to start thinking very hard about the decisions they’ve been making.”

“Because if they start mobilising then we’re the ones who will shut them down. And none of them, not one of them, wants to be the next one that this happens to.”

McGuinness’ grimly determined face reminded her staff all too well of another face, one from the historical holovids. Their corps commander’s great-grandfather, General Amos Forlough, had been one of the most noted officers in the SLDF’s first generation, the generation that had fought the long and bloody Reunification War. History recorded that he’d commanded both the war effort against the Outworlds Alliance and later that against the Taurian Concordat with great success… but also with unparalleled brutality compared to his peers on either side of the conflict.

.o0O0o.

New Avalon Military Academy, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
1 November 2764

The BattleMech on display this time wasn’t a cutting edge prototype, or at least, not exactly. It moved with certainty and the blocky profile made it clear that this wasn’t intended as a specialist unit but more for tough, frontline operations.

“It looks like a Warhammer knock-off,” Joshua muttered from beside his father.

“Actually, the Warhammer was a Terran copy of it,” John corrected him.

“I know, dad. But that’s what everyone’s going to think. And the Warhammer replaced this, so it’s a knock-off.”

“For those facing it, young sir, we don’t mind that impression,” advised the representative from Achernar. James Barrowcliffe had served twenty years with the SLDF and then another ten years with the AFFS as an instructor before the Federated Suns’ premier BattleMech manufacturer had made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Or at least, he would have been mad to decline – his salary was comparable to that of a Marshal and most of all, he had a chance to play with all the newest ‘Mechs in development while the AFFS had been about to retire him from active piloting due to his age and a suspicious heart flutter on his annual physical.

“But those piloting it should know better. The basic design is three hundred years old but there are still Battleaxes in secondline service in some units. And the reason the design was copied is because it’s sound – you drive a Marauder, right?”

Joshua nodded. “Sure.”

“So what are you complaining about PPCs in each arm for?” Barrowcliffe turned back to John. “The original had LRMs launchers in the chest, so they could alternate fire with the PPCs – the heatsinks weren’t enough to handle sustained PPC fire. Well now we have modern cooling technology, the same ones used in the Emperor assault ‘Mechs Star Corps sells to the AFFS, so that’s not an issue. We replaced them with short range missile launchers like the one mounted up above the right shoulder to provide a cohesive short-range punch – twelve tubes in total. That’s as much as a Javelin or a Whitworth.”

John nodded. “I noticed that and I recall that a lack of short-range firepower was one of the reasons the Battleaxe was originally retired, but another was the armour protection.”

“Sire, we are way ahead of you. This using Norse-34 plating instead of the original StarGuard X and we allocated more weight to protection as well. The chest plate section is between twenty-two and forty-five percent thicker, depending on angle, than the original. That’s comparable to your son’s Marauder.”

“Well if it’s sufficient for the First Prince and his heir, that’s quite respectable,” John agreed, amused at how Joshua had turned away and was counting under his breath.

“And then there’s the cap de’ resistance,” the ex-SLDF sergeant revealed. “Don’t ask me where they got this, but the electronics… I’d swear they’re on par with SLDF line hardware.”

“That’s rather impressive.” John knew exactly how Achernar had come by the electronics, but he wasn’t about to discuss that in public.

Barrowcliffe beamed. “So would you like to give it a try?”

“Ah, I stay current but I’m hardly test pilot material,” the prince demurred.

“You shouldn’t need to be – it’s fully specced for production standards. This is exactly what we’ll be supplying when it’s accepted for service.” The older Mechwarrior grinned. “I suppose I should say if, but a little bird tells me that this demonstration is mostly for form’s sake.”

He was right about that. Forming the four Crucis Dragoon regiments had tapped out a lot of the available heavy and assault weight BattleMechs in stores and if the plans to double the strength of the formation went through, with the idea of maintaining them as the equivalent of their SLDF counterparts, then demand for heavy ‘Mechs would spike again.

John was about to decline the offer when he saw Hanse grinning and nodding. “Well, maybe just once around the testing track,” he conceded. “I do have other commitments today.” I should really give it a try before asking our soldiers to use them, he justified the decision to himself.

With the academy facilities on hand it didn’t take long to outfit the Prince with a cooling vest and a neurohelmet. As a jeep carried him out to the feet of the Battleaxe, he found Hanse – perched beside him – was similarly dressed.

“Eager for a ride?” he murmured, counting on the sound of the jeep’s engine to prevent the driver from overhearing him.

“Yes, I am,” the 31st century Mechwarrior admitted. “I can’t eat or drink, my wife isn’t here and you’re literally the only other person I have to talk to – which is nothing against you, but riding a ‘Mech, even as a passenger, is one of the few experiences left for me.”

Rather than a ladder – although it was embarrassing to be treated as if he were old and decrepit, the First Prince was too valuable to risk him losing his grip and falling several metres – John was lifted up to the cockpit and clambered into the cockpit. Hanse darted past Barrowcliffe and clung to the back of John’s seat, where there probably wasn’t actually room for him. The Battleaxe’s cockpit hadn’t been designed with all the modern amenities and displays that were standardised now, and fitting them had left it a little cramped.

Still, there were worse. Family legend had it that the reason the Suns didn’t build the Stinger, alongside the Wasp one of the most common light ‘Mechs in use, simply because Nikolai Rostov – father of the traitorous general who had been Alexander Davion’s last rival in the Davion Civil War – had been unable to fit inside the cockpit when the Hegemony manufacturers sent an example of what they hoped to export to the Suns. Perhaps that was just a myth – John had never been in a Stinger himself, but the head was certainly slim enough to make it plausible.

Barrowcliffe leaned in and went through slight variations from standard controls that the Battleaxe sported. The primary triggers on each joystick were for the respective PPCs, the secondaries for the missile launchers in the chest, while the right thumb controlled the shoulder mount – very similar to the layout of his Marauder. Assured that John was confident about what he would be doing, the test pilot pulled back and the cockpit sealed, air pressure building slightly as the environmental systems kicked in and over-pressurized in case of any external smoke or worse, any chemical agents. Not very likely on a test track, but you trained the way you expected to fight.

John pressed the activation bar on the fusion reactor and felt it rumble to life beneath him. They must have expected someone to accept the offer to try it out because instead of the usual voice print checks, the security was restricted to a pair of keys that had been the hands of Barrowcliffe and the pilot who had carried out the earlier demonstration.

“Let’s go,” Hanse urged eagerly.

“Hold your horses.” John ran the basic diagnostic checks first, checking that all systems were good to go. It occurred to him that someone would be monitoring him on the radio and chuckled. Fortunately he’d not said anything suspicious. Who wouldn’t be eager, under these circumstances?

Finally assured that he was fully prepared, he pushed down with his feet and seventy tons of metal moved at his command, striding forwards across the training ground.

Hanse cheered loudly. “I missed this, have them set up targets for you to shoot.”

John shook his head but after they’d completed a half-circle of the track, a target indicator popped up anyway, simulating a hostile ‘Mech – amusingly enough given his earlier musing, a Stinger. “Track control, am I cleared to fire on the target.”

“Roger that, sire. Show it what for!”

“I’m surrounded by children,” John said with fake disapproval and moved the joysticks to centre the crosshairs over the simulated Stinger. On impulse he closed his fingers on all the triggers, unleashing a complete alpha strike. The interior of the cockpit grew close and unpleasantly warm in response, the limbs of the Battleaxe moving sluggishly as the heat of the weapons fire sapped the effectiveness of the myomers – but the target had vanished in a very satisfying flash, just as a real Stinger would have if struck by such a tight salvo.

“Nice shooting,” Hanse encouraged him. “Are you going to try to try the jump jets?”

It was an immobile target, John reminded himself. Nothing to be too excited about. “I’ve not jumped a ‘Mech since I graduated from NAMA,” he said, half to track control and half to Hanse. “I think I’ll refrain from putting these to test.”
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

drakensis

  • Lieutenant
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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #37 on: 20 November 2017, 16:46:25 »
Court of the Star League, Unity City
Terra, Terran Hegemony
12 February 2765

“The problems of the Periphery are problems of our making,” John warned. “Some of them date back to before I was part of this Council, but I’ve seen some of them come to pass.” He looked around the table – Minoru Kurita was deputising for his father, Kenyon Marik sat between the Combine’s heir and the First Lord (who was resting one elbow on the table). Closer sat Barbara Liao and Robert Steiner.

When did I become the old man at this table – by God, it’s been twenty years since I first sat here?

“Not one of you was here for the vote to remove the Edict of 2650 or to approve the Tax Bill of 2753. I can tell you now that they are among my most serious regrets.” He looked across at Kenyon, partly hoping that his appeal would find some traction with the young Captain-General and partly to avoid looking at Hanse, as the redhead had wrapped ghostly fingers around Minoru’s neck and was attempting to strangle the oblivious samurai. “We have a chance to rectify the mistakes that I and your forefathers made. I therefore ask for your support in removing the taxes imposed in 2753 and placing a new cap upon the military forces permitted to the Star League’s member-states.”

There was a pause as he sat down. He hadn’t expected applause, but would someone at least respond?

Richard Cameron moved his arm suddenly. “Ah. Uh, thank you for your proposal. Who wishes to speak next?”

Had he even listened? John thought bleakly.

Beside the First Prince, Robert Steiner harrumphed. “I’m not convinced it would be fiscally responsible to overturn 2753. The League’s budget has already required fresh taxes, as the First Lord put forwards eighteen months ago. Without that revenue, the various expenses of running the Star League… well, something has to give.”

“Subtracting the costs – the vast costs – of the SLDF fighting a constant guerrilla war in the Periphery would more than counter-balance that. We’ve spent more supporting those efforts in the last ten years than we did paying for the entire Reunification War!”

“Well, if you don’t adjust for inflation perhaps,” the Archon shot back.

“You have an idealist’s view of the Territories.” Kenyon Marik spoke at last. “They don’t respond to softness, only to violence. Perhaps you should turn your eloquence to the well-being of the SLDF’s soldiers, Prince Davion. It’s wasted on proles.”

Not one of the four Territorial States was represented today. Amaris, of course, remained in self-imposed exile on Apollo, which had allowed seating arrangements to return to the traditional. The other three had cited the unsettled status of their states as reason to remain at their capitals to ‘co-ordinate’ with Kerensky’s armies.

No one had called them on the fact that Kerensky was sufficiently convinced of their collusion with the insurgents that he had placed an embargo on any efforts to coordinate SLDF activity with local military forces or through the offices of the national governments.

“I am thinking of the soldiers – because if it does come to open warfare, they’ll be paying the price for our high-handedness,” John advised. “You’re all aware by now that General Kerensky is planning to redeploy more than half of the SLDF out into the Periphery, barring any drastic improvement in the situation there. But you may not be aware of the opposition they’ll be facing.”

“The territories don’t have fifty ‘Mech regiments between them,” the Marik reported scornfully, “And more than half of them are in the Republic where -” he nodded to the First Lord “- they needn’t be considered hostile. Kerensky is taking more than thirteen hundred BattleMech regiments to the other three states, even before you consider the supporting arms. Calderon, Avellar and Centralla would be outnumbered something like seventy to one if they tried anything.”

“It’s closer to four or five to one,” John told him. “And Kerensky will be fighting them on their home ground, which evens things out even more. He’ll probably win but the butchers’ bill will be a heavy one.”

“You must be exaggerating,” Barbara Liao said sharply. “Where would they find hundreds of regiments’ worth of equipment from?”

“General Apfelbucher has had a few findings on that matter.” He gestured to the door. “She’s in the palace now – would you rather hear it from her than from me?”

“By all means, I’m rather sick of your voice,” the Chancellor told him frankly.

It only took a few minutes for the head of the SLDF’s Intelligence Command to arrive, standing in the middle of the horseshoe table where they could all see her.

Minoru spoke first. “General Apfelbucher, the First Prince has suggested that the Periphery has assembled some kind of ‘Secret Army’ that represents a sizeable fraction of the SLDF’s strength – comparable to any of our individual House militaries in fact. Can you support this?”

“I can confirm that someone is, Lord Kurita,” the white-haired woman replied politely. “And if it isn’t someone at this table then that doesn’t leave a long list of suspects.”

“Start at the beginning,” Richard told her testily.

“Of course, sir. My own command and Member-State Liaison began an investigation a few years ago. Military manufacture has been a booming industry since the days of your grandfather, Jonathon Cameron. Much of that has gone to the SLDF of course, and over the last ten years to the House militaries, but the numbers didn’t seem to add up.”

“What we found is a pattern of shipments that we couldn’t pinpoint a recipient for. Small quantities individually, the sort of orders that might be made by corporate security forces or a mercenary outfit, but the buyers seem to be shell companies, existing only on paper. To give an example, a shipment of twelve Firestarter light ‘Mechs was ordered from Coventry Metal Works in 2759, in the name of a company registered in the Hegemony. We’ve followed the ‘Mechs as far as Alarion but as far as the paperwork shows, they should still be in a warehouse there. They aren’t, of course.”

Barbara Liao sneered. “A few ‘Mechs here or there don’t add up to Davion’s alarmist predictions.”

“Individually, small shipments. In total the numbers are much higher, Chancellor. Saroyan Special Production, on your own homeworld, has sold over four hundred atmospheric fighters in the last ten years to companies we’ve been investigating – never more than thirty at a time, but it adds up. And heavy military equipment like this is just the tip of the iceberg. The quantities of first rate infantry gear that we can’t account for is even larger.”

“What sort of numbers are we looking at?” asked Minoru thoughtfully.

“You’re correct to compare this to the size your own forces, sir.” Apfelbucher twitched a control wand and a set of charts popped up on the holo-display. “There’s enough equipment here for six hundred or so regiments, perhaps a quarter of them BattleMechs. If that’s split across all three of the current battle zones it would represent near parity of strength with the individual SLDF armies that make up normal garrisons. If all of them are located in only one of them, then it could be as high as sixty or seventy percent of the forces on hand if General Kerensky’s proposed redeployments go through.”

“Let’s not fool ourselves,” John warned. “If this comes to a fight then the SLDF won’t have an easy fight on their hands. Casualties will be in the tens of thousands, at least. That’s young men and women from our worlds, bleeding and dying because we’ve gouged the Periphery like pigs at a trough. There’s very little opportunity left to avoid that.”

“I have to disagree,” Minoru said slowly. “Thank you, General,” he added to Apfelbucher. “I have no further questions, but I hope you’ll share your findings with the ISF?”

“We’ve been sharing data with all national agencies,” she confirmed. “My report is available in today’s classified data archive.”

“You’re dismissed, general.” Richard waved his hand at her. In a wonder of patience he waited for the doors to close before standing. “How dare they!?”

“They -”

“And how dare you,” he continued, pointing at John. “How dare you suggest appeasement? The Captain-General is right, completely. These traitors have been plotting rebellion, and you think that sweet words and tax cuts are in order?”

“I’ve seen war, Lord Cameron. I’ve begun a war once. No soldier in their right mind considers war anything but a last resort.”

“And I have seen the SLDF in action,” the First Lord replied. “I spent three months with General Kerensky observing the PERSUASIVE FORCE exercises eight years ago, right on the frontlines. More forces were amassed for that training exercises than everything you and Chancellor Liao committed to your so-called war. It’s time for the Periphery to see that might first-hand. My lords, I call the vote on Prince Davion’s proposals and I vote nay.”

“Nay,” agreed Kenyon Marik and a moment later Barbara Liao repeated the same word. Half of the council against, which made the decision even before Robert joined them in opposing the abolition of the taxes and of re-instatement of arms limitations.

“Lord Kurita?” asked Cameron.

“On balance, I abstain.” Minoru shrugged. “I am personally as shocked as you to hear that the Periphery has built up such forces, but my father has spoken alongside Lord Davion in the feeling that perhaps some of the measures that they voted for during Kerensky’s regency were less than well thought out. It would be unfaithful of me to vote against wishes of my father but nor can I sanction treason by the territorial states.”

Unseen by anyone but John, Hanse Davion jumped up onto to the table and kicked Minoru full in the face. It had no effect, of course.

“Very well. The council has voted and I accept your decision.” He closed the folder with his proposed legislation and set it inside. “I take it then that General Kerensky has approval to move his forces out to reinforce the garrisons in the Concordat, the Alliance and the Magistracy?”

Minoru nodded. “I suggest we approve by acclamation. Do I hear opposition?”

No one spoke. Marik nodded, as did Robert Steiner, albeit grudgingly. The Coordinator’s son rose to his feet and turned to face Richard squarely. “First Lord Cameron, it is the unanimous opinion of the Council that the SLDF should carry out the recommended troop movements and be placed on a war footing.”

Richard Cameron nodded sharply. “I will have my aides prepare the order for us all to sign before we conclude today’s session.”

I wonder, John thought, how long it will take for anyone else to realise the size of the precipice we just stepped off.

.o0O0o.

Sidebar: History of the Lyran Commonwealth

"The original banner of the Commonwealth was the Lyre, to show they’re a bunch of fiddlers."

The Terran Alliance’s three generations of stagnation produced a new wave of migrants as the victims and losers of 23rd century politics made an exit. However, the commercial availability of starships also provided a lure of profit. The scattered colonies desperately needed trade to survive and this offered wealth and power to those who could deliver it.

In the Coreward-Anti-Spinward sector of human space, the Tamar family had an early advantage, having an established trading network they quickly transitioned to providing anti-piracy defences after the fall of the Alliance. Before the end of the century, Ian McQuistion had transformed Skye Traders into the Federation of Skye and shortly afterwards his one-time protégé Seth founded the Protectorate of Donegal. The reformation of the Terran Alliance into James McKenna’s Terran Hegemony in 2314 marked an upswing in trade, leading to increasing industrialisation by Skye (which was surrounded on all sides) and expansion of Donegal and Tamar with dozens of new colonies.

In 2339 Kevin Tamar brought the established links between the three states to a new level, proposing that they form a combined state that could compete with the much larger Draconis Combine on his border and the Free Worlds League that flanked the other two. While the basic agreement to form the Lyran Commonwealth was concluded in 2341, it took until 2346 to come to an agreement on the government structure and the merger of three distinct economies provide wildly problematic.

The original council of nine Archons also proved drastically corrupt and utterly unable to agree upon which of them should be first among equals (Archon Basilieus). In 2375, with the Tamar Pact on the brink of exiting the Commonwealth they themselves had formed, Seth Marsden’s grandson Robert had had enough. Gathering evidence of his fellow Archons corruption he embarked on a tour of the Commonwealth to assess the results of efforts to stabilise the economy and secure support of planetary leaders. With this support, Marsden formally ousted his peers and became the sole Archon and absolute leader. A new constitution established the Estates General, dominated by his allies, and established a loose set of rights and responsibilities for member rules. Worlds that didn’t comply were brought to heel with blockades or in eight cases by invasion. Both Tamar and Skye were among the eight.

Robert’s brother and heir Alistair Marsden led the Commonwealth into the Age of War, dying victorious after the first great victories in holding back the Combine. His widow, Katherine Steiner, secured the support from the Estates-General and (to the gratitude of history students everywhere) resumed her maiden name, making the son Marsden had never known Alistair Steiner. House Steiner had arrived and while Margaret Olsen, wife of Alistair’s younger son, almost repeated Katherine’s feat in 2501, Robert Steiner successfully secured domination for his House after three years of civil war.

Like any dynasty, the Steiners have produced strong leaders and weak ones. Ironically the Star League has thus far posed the greatest threat to their rule. Archon Viola Steiner’s absence to command the Rim Worlds front of the Reunification War exposed her family to an attempted coup and her berserk response severely damaged relations with the powerful rulers of Skye and Tamar. A generation later, the wealth and prosperity of the Star League persuaded many of the Estates-General that the Commonwealth should be disbanded with the Star League as the only government needed. Only a passionate appeal by Archon Kevin Steiner saved the Commonwealth as a unitary government.
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

mikecj

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #38 on: 20 November 2017, 18:54:25 »
Hanse cracks me up  ;D :))

nice look at the SLDF's preparations for the war.
There are no fish in my pond.
"First, one brief announcement. I just want to mention, for those who have asked, that absolutely nothing what so ever happened today in sector 83x9x12. I repeat, nothing happened. Please remain calm." Susan Ivanova
"Solve a man's problems with violence, help him for a day. Teach a man to solve his problems with violence, help him for a lifetime." - Belkar Bitterleaf
Romo Lampkin could have gotten Stefan Amaris off with a warning.

drakensis

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #39 on: 21 November 2017, 14:18:16 »
Fort Cameron, Unity City
Terra, Terran Hegemony
12 February 2765

“And that’s it,” John explained. “I’m sorry, general. I didn’t want this to happen but I haven’t been able to persuade anyone that the problem starts here, not out in the Periphery.”

Kerensky nodded and exhaled. “I thought that it was a long shot, your highness. But I appreciate the support.” He looked down at the sealed envelope on his desk. “This is it?”

“I thought the least I could do was to deliver it personally.”

The general took a letter opener from his desk and levered the archaic wax seal away from the paper envelope. Electronic copies would be on file but there was a degree of additional security and formality in having a paper copy of the orders.

Inside was one sheet of headed paper. Framed between a formal citation that this was a directive of the Star League Council and five signatures were only two paragraphs of instructions.

“I’ll send the orders then,” Kerensky confirmed. “And I’ll join the forces in the Concordat myself – it’s the most likely flashpoint and if one of the other states needs my attention, I’ll be in-between the Alliance and the Magistracy.”

John nodded. “I asked the Council members to send some of their house regiments to support you, but they weren’t interested. Even Minoru refused.”

“That doesn’t particularly surprise me. They’re probably all considering the possibility that you’re wrong about the missing equipment going to the Periphery.”

“Well it has to have gone somewhere.”

The Terran ran one hand back over his shaved scalp. “It’s an interesting blind spot for you to have – didn’t you consider that one or more of the Council could be behind the purchases? The equipment could be sitting in Combine military stores, or somewhere in the Free Worlds League with no one the wiser.”

First Reznick and now Kerensky, I need to be more careful, John thought. “It’s possible, but since Takiro Kurita revealed the depth of the reserves that the DCMS had been building up, the member-states have been watching each other like hawks and we’re all under broadly the same constraints when it comes to personnel and of financing that sort of build-up. The Periphery might have been hit harder by taxes, but they don’t get the same scrutiny.” He smiled sadly. “It’s ironic really, despite everything we’ve done to disadvantage them, the Member States still trust each other less than we do the Territorial States.”

“You may be right. I’m not quite as convinced, but even the possibility of running into that equipment in the Periphery is concerning.” Kerensky shook his head. “Don’t worry too much about not getting support from the House Militaries, it would really only have symbolic value.”

“Sometimes symbolism is important. Even if they’ve decided to sit back and let you do the lifting, the AFFS isn’t going to make that mistake. I’ve given advance orders to concentrate the equivalent of one of your infantry divisions in the Draconis Combine to support your operations in the Outworlds Alliance and I’ll scrape together another unit that size for the Concordat.”

Kerensky’s eyes widened. “That’s quite generous of you, Lord Davion. Are you sure that your High Council will approve of such a deployment.”

“The High Council will listen to the people’s voices and the Star League has a lot of grassroots support, General. You saw it when Simon visited the Lyran Commonwealth in 2750 – it didn’t matter that the Archon and his nobility snubbed him, crowds gathered to see the First Lord and to support the Star League. We – the great lords – have spent too long selfishly thinking that we could prioritise our own realms and leave the League to sort itself out. I don’t have to keep making the same mistakes I did before, that the others are still making.”

Wordlessly, the general extended his hand to John and the two men shook hands.

“Your troops will be welcome,” Kerensky promised, voice full of emotion. “I’ve got a great deal of work to do now, but I hope to speak to you again before we both leave Terra – and perhaps I could visit New Avalon when I’m on the way to the Concordat?”

“Of course, General. It would be my honour to host you and your staff. And please don’t hesitate to call on the AFFS’ shipping and facilities to help with the redeployment. We’re at your service.”

“I’ll hold you to that. General Venel has been tearing his hair out over moving so many units across the Inner Sphere. A few hundred more jumpships and warehouses might stop him from ending up as bald as I am.” Kerensky’s lips curved as he made one of his rare jokes.

.o0O0o.

Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
20 April 2765

“Sire, your son is here to see you?”

John looked up from the financial reports he’d been examining. Supporting the SLDF’s movements was costing the AFFS a small fortune, although it would eventually be offset by Kerensky’s Quartermaster Command ordering billions of dollars of supplies from worlds along the Outworlds Alliance and Taurian Concordat borders. It would be a bumper years for farmers there, as well as the manufacturers of thousands of mundane items that were consumed by military formations. A proportion of that investment would make its way back to the treasury as taxes were collected.

“Send him in.” He rubbed his eyes and closed down the terminal. While he trusted Joshua, there was no point making him look at fiscal reports – he’d have to suffer that soon enough as it was. In another fourteen months or so his son would have completed his five years of military service, qualifying him for formal recognition as Heir Apparent.”

The door opened and Joshua closed it behind him. “Thanks for making time for me, father.”

“You’re a welcome relief from some of this paperwork. I’d have thought you’d be enjoying your last couple of days of freedom before the ‘Bane redeploy to Galax.” Shuffling units to cover for regiments being attached to the SLDF had left the increasingly important industrial worlds in need of a new garrison and Colonel Stopec had agreed that the Fourth Davion Guards could be spared from New Avalon to fill the need, since there would still be the New Avalon Crucis March Militia and a battalion of the First Guards to ensure the capital’s security, along with elements of the SLDF’s Sixty-Fourth Royal Brigade.

Joshua moved to one of the armchairs in the office and leant against the back. “That’s what I was hoping to ask you about.”

“Oh?” John walked around the desk.

“I’ve requested a transfer to the Twenty-Second Robinson Chevaliers.”

“The ‘Zombie Knights’?” he asked, using the regiment’s nickname – reference to how often they’d been destroyed in action, survivors used as a cadre for raising a new regiment of the Chevaliers. “I didn’t think you were unhappy with the Fourth. They’re who you asked for when you graduated.”

“I’m very happy with the Fourth, dad, it’s just…” The younger Davion looked down at the chair, fingers plucking at the cushioned back.

“It’s just that the Twenty-Second are one of the regiments we’re sending into the Outworlds Alliance, while the Fourth are on garrison assignment.”

He got a nod in reply.

“You’re eager for glory?” John was surprised at the harshness of his tone.

“What?” Joshua looked up. “No, not at all! It’s just… I’ve got experience, well some. The Knights don’t have anyone in a company grade slot that’s done that and there’s an opening for a lance commander. I figured…”

“Most of the regiments in the AFFS haven’t seen much real action. Probably less than twenty percent of our junior officers have been shot at for real.”

“Yes, I know. It’s why I thought, it could save lives if they’ve someone who’s already been through that. That’s all.”

“One of the reasons I chose the Twenty-Second for this deployment was so they could get that experience. It might also tame some of their… wilder qualities.” John turned to the window. “You know how nasty it’s getting there.”

“I heard that there was a nuclear attack, like the one on Demeter.”

“Something very like it. But it wasn’t a factory, it was one of the SLDF’s fortified bases, and half a regiment was vaporised, most of the survivors hospitalised. Say what you will about the war with the Liao but we had some restraint on the battlefield. The Taurians and the Outworlders know they don’t have that luxury, they’re so badly outnumbered.”

Joshua straightened up. “Sir, I know I’m your heir but regulations ban any special favour for Davions served in the AFFS.”

“That’s true, so why are you asking for one.”

“I mean you can’t keep me out of danger.”

“I wish I could,” John told him. “Your mother wishes that too. But Davions don’t shirk our duty and one of those is service to the AFFS. I won’t block it if General Moscoe’s department decides you should join the Twenty-Second, or any of the other regiments we’re seconding to the SLDF for operations. But I won’t pull any strings to get you selected either. If they say no, you’ll suck it up and get on the job you have been given.”

He felt like a hypocrite for saying that. He and Eis Moscoe had already agreed that vacancies in the units operating with the SLDF would be filled first out of sister-regiments, as would transfers of experienced personnel out. The Robinson Chevaliers in the Draconis March and the Syrtis Fusiliers in the Capellan March badly needed combat veterans and so they’d be the first choice for blooding on this campaign. No regiments of the Davion Guards were being sent, so Joshua’s transfer request wouldn’t be approved.

At least, I’d decided that before Joshua brought this up, John comforted himself.

His son nodded obediently. “I promise. I won’t bring it up again, whatever happens. Mark’s putting his name forward too.”

“I’ll be hands off on that as well, although I doubt that Personnel will be moving anyone out of the First Avalon Hussars when they’re still rebuilding from the battalion they lost during GALAHAD.”

“I kind of thought not.” Joshua finally sat down and John took the chair across from him. “I get the feeling he’s going to stay in though. It’s not like me – I know I need to do my time in Administrative Services after one tour of duty. Mark likes having some structure and the military gives him that.”

“He’s a smart boy. He could go far.”

“Yeah, if things had been different then he might have made a good First Prince.”

John shook his head. “I have trouble seeing my cousin Joseph as settling down with anyone, perhaps especially Susan Rand. There was a lot of passion there, but underneath that… maybe not much. A good woman, no doubt, but Joseph had a double-dose of our family’s wild streak.”

Joshua shrugged. “If something were to happen to me, I’m just saying that the Suns could do worse.”

“Mark’s grandfather could have legitimised him if he’d wanted to. I told him when he declared me his heir that I wouldn’t protest. Since he didn’t I’ll respect his decision. If the worst comes to the worst, the next in line is your cousin Alexandra.”

“She’s going to the Concordat, isn’t she?”

“Her regiment’s one of the jump infantry units we’re tapping for that, yes. They almost got called up for the Border war when we considered pushing on St Ives instead of the Sarna worlds.”

Joshua shuddered. “And mom was upset about me going to war. At least I was riding something with armour, you’d never get me up on a jump-pack.”

.o0O0o.

Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
23 April 2765

“I was impressed with Johnston’s demonstration,” Kerensky agreed. “I’m not going to commit to them at this point of course, but for a company new to the military market, they seem to have their act together.”

“I’m sure the Count will be glad of the endorsement, even if you don’t contract them for any units.”

“I suspect he’d find a customer anyway.” The general declined a glass of water and looked down over Avalon City from the windows of John’s office. “You certainly snapped up General Motors’ new medium when our procurement decided it didn’t suit.”

“One man’s mistake is another man’s opportunity,” John told him. “We had Blackjacks in the field three years ago and they didn’t have any of the problems that the press reported. Good workhorses.”

His guest made a non-committal noise. “Anyway, I’ll cut orders to see if Johnston can rework the Culverin to suit our needs. If we do need more tanks, it’d be quicker to ship them from Barstow than from Terra, even if Johnston can’t build them as fast.”

“Every little helps.”

“I’d hoped five hundred light years of distance might loosen Amaris’ grip on the First Lord, but apparently not.” Kerensky pressed one hand against the window. “I expect he’ll be back on Terra within the year. Richard claims that I threatened the man somehow, that he didn’t feel safe being on the same world as me.”

“I know he met with you before he left for Apollo, but wouldn’t have thought you’d have been so blatant.”

“I was tempted to,” the older man admitted. “That fat fool. Richard needed more attention than I could give him but he wasn’t spoiled until Amaris turned up. The court on Apollo is a snake pit and he brought its poisonous ways to the heart of the Star League.”

“It’s easy to underestimate Lord Amaris. He plays the bluff provincial very well.”

Kerensky turned. “You think it’s a front?”

“You said it yourself, the Rim Worlds Republic’s court is a political nightmare. House Amaris has had to struggle against their cousins in the other major Houses to retain power – look at the Siever Coup. Two brothers work together to kill the new President and then turn on each other with knives only moments later. Do you really think someone as simple as Amaris claims to be would have survived so long?”

“I thought he spent so much time on Terra because his rivals wouldn’t dare to try to remove him while he was surrounded by the First Lord’s security.”

John shook his head. “It probably doesn’t hurt, but I believe he’s been several steps ahead of his enemies all along – both those on Apollo and the others across the Inner Sphere. And I’ve no doubt he considers us amongst them.”

“Would someone who’s pushed Richard into so many damaging decisions really be the sort of… mastermind that you’re suggesting?” asked Kerensky hesitantly.

“I wondered the same. If his goal’s to be the power behind the throne then he’s more or less managed that. But perhaps we shouldn’t confuse a skill at manipulating people with administrative skill. The Rim Worlds is ruled with a heavy hand, I suspect that much of the First Lord’s mistakes stem from thinking that emulating Amaris will work when in fact the political traditions of most of the Inner Sphere are far more liberal. I warned him two years ago about that.” John shrugged. “I doubt much of it sunk in.”

Kerensky shook his head. “Tyrannies rarely end without pain. I’m Russian, we know this.”

“I don’t see a Simon Davion waiting in the wings, perhaps fortunately. Just because it worked for my revered ancestor, a palace coup on Terra would be a disaster.”

“Ah yes. Your own tyrants. But they ruled only for a few years. Not like the Czars of old.”

“I’m glad I didn’t offer you more than water, you must be an incredibly morose drunk if you’re this bad sober.”

Kerensky shrugged. “I’ve no idea. I don’t drink to excess.”

“Are you sure you’re really Russian?” John teased.

“Quite.” He turned around and walked over to the desk. “I have limited time and you said something about shipping.”

“I did, yes. Calderon and the others have to know that even if they do have the sort of reserves General Apfelbucher uncovered, they can’t realistically hope to fight the SLDF on equal terms. That means we have to expect asymmetrical warfare, and logistics are the Achilles heel of any operation – particularly on the sort of scale we’re faced with now.”

“You expect that they’ll try to target supply bases in the Member States?”

“Possibly, but your deployments allow for that. The Taurians have a long naval tradition though, and they might target the supply convoys instead. Nuclear missiles aren’t easy to come by but they’re far easier to come by than warships and even a single hit could wreck a jumpship or put one of your frigates in the dock for a year of repairs.”

“Delivering such a missile is not as easy as one might think, but they only have to get lucky with one missile to hurt us, yes.” Kerensky rubbed his chin. “So we will need more ships for escort duty.”

“Yes, and honestly, the Federated Suns isn’t big enough to make up the difference.”

“I didn’t want to be the one to say it, but no. That would leave the ships we have in the mothballed reserve fleets.”

John moved behind his desk. “Takiro Kurita is as sympathetic as any of the other Council Lords and Barbara Liao hates me, not you. And they’ve probably been looking at the military contracts being picked up by the Federated Suns and feeling a little hard done by.”

“If they were to be as unobstructive as your realm, I would be happy to buy from their corporations,” the General protested.

“It’s always easier to blame someone else though. What I had in mind is the old Carson and Naga-class destroyers the SLDF mothballed years ago. They’re well behind the cutting edge but they’re suitable for convoy defense.”

“The Carsons were retired for engine difficulties, were they not?”

“According to my naval staff, it was due to faults with extended use of their engines above routine thrust. Given they were supposed to patrol, that was a problem but convoy work means sticking at jump points with the freighters and transports, so that shouldn’t be a problem.”

“You want me to authorise yards in the Combine and the Confederation to recondition those ships for service?”

“It could soothe some feathers – some of them could be repaired in the Suns but we don’t have the capacity for a hundred destroyers and the Hegemony’s yards are mostly committed to new construction or your existing maintenance schedule.”

“All of this will cost millions of dollars, of course.”

John spread his hands. “One successful raid on the supply routes could cost that much easily. You and I have both warned the Star League Council of how expensive this war may become. Perhaps when they see the impact on the budget it’ll persuade them that we’re not just blowing smoke in their face.”
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

drakensis

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #40 on: 21 November 2017, 14:18:35 »
Newhope, Mavegh
Perdition Union, Taurian Concordat
28 May 2765

Alexandra Davion liked to think she was basically a good person. She spared at least a split second to hope that the family who lived in the apartment had evacuated the building before the fighting began. With that done she threw a concussion grenade through the window.

The explosion cut off the machine gun fire that was coming from the balcony and two of her squad dashed forward in the opening. As soon as they were far enough away not to catch someone in the backwash, they ignited the jump-packs they were wearing and bounded up and off the street. Someone down the street turned a second machine gun in their direction but it was too late, the men plunged into the apartment, one going through what was left of the window and the other crashing through the French window of the balcony.

From the cover she’d ducked back into, Alexandra unslung her carbine and lined up a shot on the second machinegun using the optical sight on the upper rail. When she fired the laser she saw the machine barrel jerk fiercely. With luck the shot had damaged it rather than just brush it aside. While barrel replacement wasn’t a matter of Kearney-Fuchida physics, it wasn’t something you wanted to be doing in the middle of a fire fight either. That made just about everything harder.

“Clear!” the two advance members of the squad called and the next two joined them rushing across the street. This time one of them, Brubaker, took a hit and blood sprayed from his leg as he went down.

Without thinking about it, Alexandra dived out from behind cover and caught hold of him by the jump-pack, yanking him towards the opposite side of the street. Her pack couldn’t have carried them both, even if she could have supported the weight of someone who had a good ten kilograms over her, but he had sense to kick off with his feet and they somehow reached the shelter of the entrance to the apartment building’s lobby.

“You going to be okay, Brubaker?”

The energy behind the obscenities he was muttering convinced her that the answer was yes.

“Did anyone see who shot Brubaker?” she demanded on the squad push.

“Sniper, leftenant. APC’s moving forwards to suppress him so we can re-join you.”

“Right.” Shaking her head she looked up at the stairs as heavy boots stamped down it.

“L-T?”

“Yeah, give me some cover.” Bending she checked Brubaker’s leg now that she wasn’t having to keep an eye out for more Taurians. It looked like a through and through – must have been a small calibre round. “What are you whining about?” she asked him, pulling an injector out of her vest. Stabbing it into the man’s calf she injected him with a painkiller and then uncapped the other end so she could spray the outside of the wound with a combined anti-septic and sealing agent. “I’ve hurt myself worse playing hockey.”

“I heard about girls’ hockey,” he grunted. “Worse than rugby.”

“Sit down and sleep it off,” Alexandra directed as the remaining three members of her squad joined her. “You guys keep an eye on the stairs, the front door and -” She looked across the lobby, seeing that a second door opened on a children’s playground, surrounded on three sides by the U-shaped block. “- the back too.”

“Sniper’s dealt with,” Weber advised, his broad face discomfited. “Kid with a hunting rifle, he fell out of his roost after Second squad threw a grenade up into it.”

“Alive?”

“Three floors down, broke his neck,” the trooper said sadly. “What the ******, L-T? I mean, why?”

“Good question. Keep an eye on Brubaker while I scare up a medevac.” Adjusting the settings on her comm-gauntlet, she raised it to her lips. “Third squad, can you bring the APC forward two streets. Brubaker’s taken a leg hit and we need him inside of something mobile.”

“Got a problem, Leftenant. A bendy tank’s between us and you, can’t get past it.”

“Never rains but it pours,” she said. “Taurian or a SLDFer who got stuck?”

“Number one. We don’t have the firepower to handle that.”

“Great.” The Turhan – nicknamed the bendy tank for the articulated joint linking the armoured cab and one infantry compartment with the turret and a second infantry bay in the aft section – was a middling sized tank designed to get around the tight confines of an urban combat. The dual lasers would be lethal against the wheeled APCs that provided her three squads with most of their mobility. “Where’s our heavy support?”

“Last word from Golf Seventeenth was that they were ‘jousting’ with enemy ‘Mechs about five klicks away.”

‘Jousting’? ****** mechjocks. G Company of the Seventeenth New Syrtis Fusiliers were supposed to be backing up this infantry sweep, not chasing bait around the corn-fields. “Anyone else available?”

“Next nearest is the SLDF task group thirty klicks south.”

“Yeah, not figuring they’d get here in time to be useful.” Besides, they had their own infantry to support, she thought. “Okay, I’ll figure something out. Let me know if it starts moving.”

Right, Alexandra. Tactical exercise time. One tank, armed with two machineguns, one in a cupola, and a pair of large lasers. You have nineteen jump infantry counting yourself, and three APCs. Terrain is urban, four storey blocks… Right. Use the rooftops.

Against ‘Mechs that would be stupid – you wanted to be down in the dirt where the lordly ‘Mechwarriors would miss you scurrying around their ankles. But tanks were different, they were more likely to be watching ground level and miss something above them – unless the tank commander was smart. But how likely was that?

This one is smart enough to divide your force, she reminded herself. And the Turhan might have supporting infantry. “Who has grenades left?”

Three hands went up. “Great, well volunteered. You’re with me.”

“Save the grenades, Jack, you might need them later,” the oldest of the three jump troopers grumbled as he followed her up the stairs. “Great thinking, Danny. Especially if we get dragged into playing hero.”

Alexandra chuckled. “Right, we need the Turhan out of the way so we can get Brubaker to the APCs. In theory there could be anything up to a platoon with it so we need to play this cagey.”

The roof door was locked. Alexandra shook it once, then pointed the carbine’s muzzle at the hinge pins where they were visible. Two long pulses pulverised the pins and when she smacked the door it bounced out of the frame.

“Why not shoot the lock?” the youngest member of the squad asked, adjusting the shooting goggles he wore under his helmet.

“It’s usually a safe bet that the bar of a lock is sturdier than the hinge pins,” Jack told him before Alexandra could reply. “If you don’t mind, L-T, I’ll take point.”

Easing out through the door he swept the roof with the muzzle of his own carbine. “Clear, but we’ll be awfully exposed. Better crawl.”

The four soldiers wormed their way along the roof and the spectacled soldier produced a field periscope – not part of the usual kit – from his pocket so Alexandra could look over the edge of the roof without exposing herself.

Sure enough, she saw a Turhan occupying the next junction broadside on, turret pointed in the direction of her APCs and Third Squad. There were dismounted infantry facing the same way, except for a couple of sentries covering the rear – perhaps two squads in total. The tank itself had SLDF colours except for a hastily stencilled white set of bull-horns painted on the side to mark its Taurian allegiance.

“Could be worse.” She turned around and lifted her comm gauntlet to her lips. “Second squad, what’s your position?”

“Moving back to support Third.”

“Right. We’re going to want suppressing fire on the enemy infantry in a couple of minutes, can you provide that?”

“We’re more or less in front of the Turhan. Once its machinegun opens up we’ll have to back off.”

“That’s fine, just get their attention.”

“Can do, L-T.”

“You’re thinking vertical envelopment,” said Jack, now looking through the periscope. “That means taking out the men covering this side.”

“Yep. Who are the best shots?”

The man raised his hand and then pointed at the thus far silent woman with them. “Me and Sammy. That just leaves you and Danny to handle the grenades.”

“Hand over your spares,” Alexandra demanded and raised an eyebrow at the selection. “Four frags, two concussion, a smoke grenade and… is that an incendiary?”

Sammy flushed. “They’re handy sometimes,” she said defensively.

“That wasn’t a complaint,” Alexandra assured her, taking the incendiary and a concussion grenade. “You take the smoke and a frag,” she instructed the other trooper. “If they’ve dismounted the infantry then the hatches won’t be dogged down from inside. Or it’s not likely – they’d want the men to be able to get back inside quickly and the commander would want to be able to stick his head out of the turret to talk to them. So I’ll jump for the top of the turret and you take the side-hatch on the forward section. Crack it open, drop the grenades in and then get away.”

“This isn’t exactly the approved way of dealing with tanks, Leftenant.”

Alexandra grimaced. “I know, but the Mechwarriors otherwise involved.”

Jack looked up at the sky. “Somewhere out in the open with no cover?”

She followed his gaze and saw the contrails of jet engines marking the sky. “I’d assume so. I suppose they’ll be getting a lesson in close air support. Nothing much we can do about it.”

Her comm-gauntlet crackled. “L-T, we’re ready when you are.”

Alexandra turned, gripping the two grenades in her free hand. “Ready?”

Jack and Sammy crouched, ready to lean up over the roof edge, while Danny nervously adjusted the fit of his jump-pack. They all nodded.

“Go!” she snapped and took two running steps before triggering her pack.

As she arced up over the street she saw laser fire impacting the front of the Turhan. Both sentries turned in that direction and then fell without any other warning.

As the machine gun on the prow of the tank opened fire, Alexandra saw the hatch on the turret open and the helmeted head of the tank’s commander rise into view.

He couldn’t possibly miss seeing her, she saw wide eyes and the machine gun in the cupola slewed towards her but she was too close, above its arc.

Her boots crashed down onto the roof of the tank with knee jarring force and Alexandra let her legs collapse beneath her, driving the heavily reinforced comm-gauntlet into the side of the tank commander’s head, right below the edge of the helmet. She felt bone break and he slumped sideways.

Not stopping for a second hit, the young woman primed both grenades and dropped them past the stunned man.

She flung herself off the Turhan and sprinted for cover inside the nearest building, a corner store. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Danny heading for cover behind a heavy planter on the pavement.

Thick ochre smoke billowed from the forwards hatch of the Turhan, followed by the thump of her concussion grenade and the sharper bang of the frag.

For a moment nothing seemed to happen and then the tank commander started screaming. He dragged himself out of his hatch and rolled himself off the edge of the turret, legs on fire. More smoke, this black and greasy, rose from the cupola.

“Tank’s out of action,” she snapped. “APCs, move in and clear the infantry.”

With a roar of engines the three personnel carriers accelerated down the street towards the Taurian infantry, twin mini-guns spitting fire at them. Without the lasers of the tank to deter them, they were more than able to push the Taurians back and four of the infantry tried to fall back behind the burning Turhan’s bulk. Renewing their fusillade, Second squad cut them down.

Five minutes later Brubaker was sitting in one of the APCs while three prisoners were being manacled inside another as Alexandra conscientiously reported in the sight of jet aircraft, knowing that none were in use here by the AFFS or SLDF. It probably wouldn’t help the Fusiliers, but at least she’d tried.

.o0O0o.

Sidebar: Autocracy vs. Democracy

"To lead, first find out where your followers are going. Then get out in front."

The political chaos of the Terran Alliance Parliament was the herald of the end for the liberal western democracy as a model for leadership over the centuries to follow. Out on the colonies, the turmoil led to a demand for strong executive authority to deal with the crisis situation, rejecting the ‘tyranny of a distant majority’ that the Terran Alliance had represented. Almost immediately, attempts were made to rein such authority in with checks and balances.

Naturally the growing pains of new systems of government were drawn out and bloody. In general though, the era was one of worlds rallying around capable and charismatic leaders. The wisest of these leaders listened to popular opinion but delegated power only to trusted friends and family who they knew shared their interests. Typically these rulers amassed power in part through ownership of the industries growing up to fill gaps left by the Terrans. It’s no accident that even before House Davion rose to dominate New Avalon they owned the shipyard responsible for the first Avalon-built starships.

With communications still limited to courier vessels, diplomacy took time and military forces could be out of touch for months or even years. Both diplomacy and military leadership became invested in personal relationships. Shiro Kurita’s ability to dominate a vast swathe of worlds in a very short span of time was very much invested in the trust he could place in his brother Urizen and their respective broods of children. Terms of office were no longer customary given the preference for long-term stability and rulers groomed their successors within their inner circles, raising their children to inherit not only their property but the political power that their wealth would grant them.

The establishment of the Free Worlds League in 2271 brought together three dynasties that had each established multi-world realms. In order to tie House Selaj, House Allison and House Marik’s interests to the new state, each family was granted hereditary control over one of the government ministries. While the League’s power would primarily be invested in a Parliament, it was understood that the Houses would be dominant within it. Similarly, the Lyran Commonwealth was founded upon the alliance of worlds dominated by the Tamar, McQuiston and Marsden families.

Once again, these realms learned however that sharing power left their alliances uncertain in leadership. While the Free Worlds League addressed this by appointing Captain-Generals to serve two year terms in the event of war or other crisis (a post that House Marik would almost exclusively control), the Lyran Commonwealth endured a generation of strife before Robert Marsden ousted his fellow Archons and assumed sole power. And yet… even here a balance was needed for among the first steps the new ruler of the Commonwealth took was to create the Estates General, an advisory board representing the interests of more than half the worlds in the Commonwealth.

While the dynasties adopted the titles and styles of a millennium before, very few would be so foolish as to assume their power rested anywhere but upon the, sometimes grudging, consent of those they led.
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

nerd

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #41 on: 21 November 2017, 19:30:52 »
Nice. Are you sure you aren't drawing on official sources for those sidebars?
M. T. Thompson
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Member of the AFFS High Command

David CGB

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #42 on: 21 November 2017, 22:30:14 »
Nice. Are you sure you aren't drawing on official sources for those sidebars?
seconded
Federated Suns fan forever, Ghost Bear Fan since 1992, and as a Ghost Bear David Bekker star captain (in an Alt TL Loremaster)

alkemita

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #43 on: 22 November 2017, 01:16:55 »
Just returned to the board after a long hiatus, and look what I find!

Your writing just keeps getting better, Drakensis.

drakensis

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #44 on: 22 November 2017, 04:29:19 »
I'm not inventing any of the information in the sidebars, although it's my own summary of the events and information.

The fic is posted on several sites so I'm including the sidebars for the benefit of readers who may not be familiar with the Battletech universe.
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

drakensis

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #45 on: 22 November 2017, 16:44:17 »
Court of the Star League, Unity City
Terra, Terran Hegemony
24 July 2765

“The fighting in the Periphery is expected to take at least another year, potentially two,” Kerensky warned them. His presence was virtual – an expensive double-chain of HPG connections linked every capital world, even those of the Periphery, to Terra. Worlds anywhere long those chains could use them, so while the Hyades themselves weren’t secure, Kerensky was able to use the HPG stations on New Vallis to address the Star League Council from his flagship in orbit and receive their responses with only a few seconds lag.

“It’s unfortunate, but at least we now know where the missing equipment went,” Kenyon Marik noted drily. “I trust that measures have been taken to confirm that our own manufacturers aren’t sending replacement weapons to the Periphery to replace those that the SLDF is destroying?”

“Yes, yes.” Richard nodded dismissively. “The BSLA has taken care of it. And fines are being levied for support of the rebels.”

“Very sagacious.” Barbara Liao’s voice was sarcastic. “A hundred million or two against the billions being poured into the Federated Suns and Free Worlds League economies in support of the war efforts.”

“Along with the payments going to your shipyards and Kuritas.” Robert Steiner gave the Chancellor a peevish look. “It seems that only the Lyran Commonwealth isn’t worth the SLDF’s time.”

“You have the luxury of not bordering one of the uprisings,” General Kerensky noted after a few seconds delay. “However, if you wish to contribute and since I understand you’ve decided against volunteering soldiers to fight in the Periphery, there would be a case for hiring your forces as mercenaries.”

Richard’s head snapped up. “What do you mean?” he demanded shrilly. “Why is this the first I’ve heard of it?”

“While the bulk of the rebel activity is located in the Periphery, attacks by the PLM have continued to affect the Hegemony and other major worlds,” Kerensky reminded them. “There have been a number of arrests, however the SLDF’s forces are now stretched to the point it’s proving difficult to provide the support which security services have previously been able to call upon.”

“If you think I will allow Lyran troops into the League, you’re delusional,” snapped the Captain-General.

“I do not. However, if they were to be deployed into the Hegemony – given the traditionally warm relations between House Steiner and House Cameron, it would raise no eyebrows and free several divisions from First Army to reinforce operations in the other member states. I trust,” Kerensky added heavily, “that the Star League’s most elite soldiers would not be similarly unwelcome.”

If Kenyon’s face was any indicator then the Commanding General’s trust might be misplaced, but he said nothing in direct response.

“Something might be arranged,” Robert said in a considering tone. “We do have our own security to consider with the reduced SLDF presence, but something could perhaps be -”

“No.”

All eyes went to the seat of the First Lord. John felt a quiver of anticipation. For the first time in the years since he’d taken his seat – perhaps for the first time in his life - Richard Cameron actually sounded like his father.

“You will not bring the armies of another House into my realm without my consent, General Kerensky. Much less without so much as consulting me.”

John leant back. Just for a moment he could imagine that it was Simon Cameron, that mad idealist who believed in the Star League with every fibre of his body and who might, just possibly, have had the spark of charisma and unflinching determination to make them all believe in it again.

“I’ve made other arrangements, General Kerensky.”

The transmission delay wasn’t enough to explain the pause. Clearly this had taken the Commanding General as much by surprise as anyone else. “And what arrangements might these be, my lord?”

Richard’s face split in a smug grim. “Per a treaty I arranged last year, regiments of the Rim Worlds Republic will supplement the defensive needs of the Hegemony.”

John closed his eyes and swallowed curses. He should have known, Hanse had warned him. But he’d allowed hope to over-ride good sense.

“Are you sure that that’s wise?” Takiro Kurita’s voice was level and measured. “While I have no grounds to doubt President Amaris’ own fidelity, history has shown that the Rim Worlds regiments are more likely to side with the other periphery states than they are with the Star League. Placing them at the heart of the Star League seems… unwise.”

“Have your regiments faced the rebels in battle?” Cameron asked rhetorically. “Or yours, Chancellor? Archon Steiner’s have not, nor the Captain-General’s forces. It is hardly fair for you to question the loyalties of Stefan’s forces when you have chosen to stand aside from this conflict. And his soldiers will not be present as mere mercenaries, which is what you propose, General Kerensky. They will serve here as loyal regular soldiers of the Republic and of the Star League. What more could be asked?”

“I trust you will not dispute that the AFFS has participated in fighting the Uprising,” asked John. “Perhaps that will give some credibility when I say that I share Lord Kurita’s concerns.”

“Very well, Lord Davion.” Richard turned towards him. “I do accept your commitment as greater than that of your peers. However, I ask that you extend the same courtesy towards Lord Amaris. You may be unaware but the Rim Worlds Republic has not been entirely spared from the fires of this conflict.”

“Please enlighten me.”

“As it happens, a division-sized force of rebels entered the Rim Worlds Republic earlier in the year, attempting to rally support against Stefan and to incite his realm to join them in seceding from the Star League. In light of the immense scale of operations that have been necessary already, I think we can agree that this would have been disastrous had they succeeded.” Richard paused for effect. “However, they failed utterly. A force of the Rim Worlds Army under a General Eukai converged upon the rebels and cornered them at Gotterdammerung, less than seventy light years from Apollo. And they destroyed the rebels utterly.”

The First Lord placed his hands on the table. “News has only just arrived here of the battle, I understand of course that General Kerensky and Prince Davion could not possibly have learned of it before now. But surely now your doubts can be dismissed!”

John’s heart sank. What the hell could he do now?

“An impressive feat, Lord Cameron.” Takiro Kurita remained rigid in his chair. “However, given the limited forces available to him, even in victory the forces of the Rim Worlds Republic must have been depleted and they are of course many times smaller than the armed forces of the Member-States. He cannot possibly replace a large portion of First Army’s garrisons while still protecting his own realm.”

“At least he is prepared to try, which is more than I see you doing!” Richard rose to his feet. “This is my decision, and my word is final. I will not be lectured by a relic of the last century.”

Takiro’s face whitened and he braced to stand. Before he could retaliate, however, Robert Steiner spoke: “Lord Cameron, I must apologise.”

All eyes swung to the Archon, who had been called many things over the five years since he replaced his father in the Council, but never apologetic.”

“You are right to say that the majority of us have not contributed to your efforts to subdue the rebels. May I therefore suggest that as a compromise, while Lord Amaris’ forces may supplement your own as you see fit, that the five of us, less Lord Davion if he feels his existing commitments in the Periphery too draining, should also provide regiments to assist. There are after all, a number of worlds garrisoned by the First Army which are jointly owned by the Terran Hegemony and our own realms.”

Kenyon Marik nodded. “Agreed. The League – the Free Worlds League – will protect the shared worlds.” He looked over to Barbara Liao, on the far side of Richard. “And you Chancellor?”

She sniffed. “If the First Lord finds it acceptable.”

“I do,” he said, taking his seat.

As he descended though, the Coordinator rose. Taking his cane he walked away from the table. Only when he reached the door did he turn to address them. “The Mustered Soldiery will play their part,” he said shortly, before stumping away.

Richard shook his head. “Stubborn old man. What about you, Lord Davion? You’ve already sent two divisions to help Kerensky.”

Looking into the centre of the room, John saw a defeated look on the general’s face that reflected his own feelings. “I’ll see what I can do. Robert, the Illician Lancer’s contract is up for renewal before the end of the year isn’t it? Let me hire them away from you and I should be able to stretch the AFFS a little further.”

The Archon gave him a sour look. “And I should do this because…?”

“It’s your idea.” And I’m going to need every regiment I can get if things go as badly as Hanse told me. I’m sorry, Robert, but push comes to shove I care more about my people than I do the Lyrans.

.o0O0o.

Court of the Star League, Unity City
Terra, Terran Hegemony
3 August 2765

For a member of the Star League Council and presumably one of the most important people alive, it had been dismayingly difficult to persuade the Ministry of Communications to set up these calls for him. John got the feeling that frantic conversations had taken place between the Minister and General Apfelbucher before the connection had been approved.

The screen lit up and John found himself looking at a moderately pretty young woman wearing a simple light blue dress, scores of hand-made necklaces around her neck.

“Oh, Prince Davion!” she exclaimed. “I was so surprised to hear from you.”

“I wanted to express my condolences upon the death of your grandmother, Lady Avellar.”

“Oh that is so kind of you.” She looked down for a moment. “She’d been so terribly ill, and she must have been in terrible pain, but you know: when she died she was smiling so she must be in a better place now.” A thought struck her. “Oh, and you don’t have to call me Lady Avellar. Allyce is fine, after all we’re neighbours.”

“Uh, then please call me John.”

“Thank you, John. I hope you’re well – and your family?”

“They’re doing very well, thank you. I hope to return home to them soon.”

“Oh that’s right!” Allyce struck one fist against her open hand as if in realisation. “You’re on Terra, aren’t you? With that nice Richard Cameron and Uncle Stefan.”

Feeling distinctly out of his depth, John nodded. “Uh, well Richard, yes. Lord Amaris returned to Apollo last year.”

She shook her head. “Poor Richard, that must be so hard for him. They’re devoted to each other, you know. He’s a very lonely boy and Uncle Stefan’s such a sweet, jolly man.”

“Richard’s married now,” John pointed out. “That often makes changes to one’s life.”

“Oh yes, and there’s a baby on the way. I hope to visit next year when the child’s due.”

John made a mental not to ensure he had excuses ready around the start of the year so that he didn’t have to deal with Allyce Avellar in person. Hanse had been entirely too evasive in describing her and he was beginning to suspect why. “I was hoping we could discuss the current war.”

Allyce’s face fell. “It’s all anyone wants to discuss, but no one seems to see how pointless it is,” she said. “I’ve listened and listened, but everyone claims that they don’t have a choice and that the other people have forced them into it. Wouldn’t it be so much easier for them to simply not shoot at each other?”

“Sometimes it’s the simplest things that are the hardest to accomplish,” he offered sympathetically. “I’m doing everything I can think of to bring it to an end quickly.”

“Thank you, John. That means so much to me, that you’d be willing to take the first step and have your soldiers lay down their arms.”

“Well, one step at a time,” he said, thinking quickly. The Chevaliers had taken a pounding and two regiments of infantry had been rotated off the lines while the others had received quite a lot of replacements. “They’re under firm orders to act as peacekeepers, but things get very difficult when they’re being shot at.”

The young woman actually had tears forming at the corners of her eyes. “But that’s what everyone else says, and nothing ever gets done to stop this,” she said, just a little accusingly.

“Well, has anyone discussed relief efforts?”

Allyce frowned. “Yes…” she allowed, hesitantly.

“I’ve had some very worrying reports about infrastructure damage,” he explained. “Things like water treatment plants being damaged, or the fusion reactors that power the cities. For every person who’s been wounded, I’m told there are fifteen or maybe even twenty who are struggling to receive clean drinking water or electricity for their household.”

“Oh yes, I know. But everything’s so expensive and when I asked Richard for help he said that I’d have to stop the fighting first, which is just a little unfair when I’ve been trying so hard and he wouldn’t agree to tell Mr Kerensky that his soldiers could go home.”

“Well, he’s under a lot of pressure. As I understand it, a lot of the reactors and so forth were made in the Hegemony originally? I know a lot of the reconstruction and the new colonies set up after the wars two hundred years ago used them because the Hegemony equipment was cheaper than building locally, even with the shipping costs?”

She frowned. “That sounds a great deal like what Simpson told me a few weeks ago. My brother Simpson, I mean,”

“Well I don’t have access to Hegemony parts either, so repairing your equipment will take longer but we do build emergency generators. They won’t last as long, but we’ve got a good reserve of them as well as emergency water filters, medical supplies and so forth. I was hoping I could send a few ships into the Alliance so that we can start making things better for your people.” He smiled warmly at her. “Maybe the soldiers can spend their time setting that up instead of fighting.”

“Oh John!” Allyce pressed her hands together. “That would be wonderful. Would Mr Kerensky let you do that?”

“Well, I asked him and he seemed to think it was a good idea.” Admittedly, he’d presented the idea in terms of stick and carrot, but there was no need to tell Allyce that.

“You’re being incredibly generous, John. Thank you so much.”

“And you are very welcome,” he said, trying to work out how he could politely extricate himself from the conversation.

.o0O0o.

“Hanse, what the hell?” he asked, almost an hour of platitudes later.

“I think you’ve made a friend,” the man said with a grin.

“No, seriously. Why didn’t you tell me what she was like?”

He got a shrug. “I thought about it, but honestly, would you have believed me?”

“How in the world did she end up President of the Outworlds Alliance?”

“She’s the oldest Avellar alive, that’s more or less the only requirement. Most of the power rests with the Executive Parliament anyway, so there’s no great pressure to ensure the President can do more than stand in front of a podium and read a speech. Allyce is a bit of a character, isn’t she?”

“Does she even live in the same universe as the rest of us?”

“There’s a part of me that would like to visit that universe,” Hanse said under his breath. “I’d probably be running it in a fortnight. If Melissa was with me, four days at most.”

John shook his head. “She’s going to be a disaster.”

“Oddly enough no. Oh, she’s replaced eventually, but according to the history books even if she made the decisions she does for all the wrong reasons it’s very likely they were the best decisions that could have been made under the circumstances.”

“I have trouble believing that.”

“She’s immensely popular, you have to remember that in the core systems of the Alliance as much as forty percent of the population are hard-core pacifists. And since the last thing Allyce Avellar would ever do was start a war or join in with an existing one, her approval rate was immense.”

“And that’s the right thing to do?” asked John.

“The Alliance Military Corps is tiny, and the vast majority of the population willing and able to fight are with the forces the SLDF is very effectively smashing. There’s really no way that joining the war against Amaris would ever have benefitted the Alliance. All they want is to be left alone and since they don’t really have anything that anyone needs, a leader who refused point blank to have anything to do with Kerensky or Amaris exposed them to as little damage as possible.”

John shook his head. “I suppose I could see that. I’d still rather deal with someone with their head screwed on tighter. What were her reasons, anyway?”

Hanse blinked. “Oh, for not getting involved?”

“Yes, you said they were the wrong reasons.”

The redhead shrugged. “She didn’t believe in it.”

“In what?”

“Any of it. That Amaris had killed Richard or that Kerensky would really have to fight world by world across the Hegemony. It simply made no sense to her so she assumed that everyone who told her it was so was mistaken. By the time Kerensky actually returned to the Hegemony she’d been removed, but at that point everyone had more or less accepted that the Alliance wasn’t going to get involved.”

John exhaled slowly. “Poor girl. She didn’t come to a bad end did she?”

“I believe she spent the rest of her life as an artist. There was a picture by her in the palace gallery – not my preference but it was more or less priceless by the 31st century.” He looked down at her watch. “Oh, you mentioned wanting to speak to someone with their head screwed on better… isn’t it nearly time to talk to Nicoletta Calderon.”

Glaring at him, the Prince refilled his water glass. “I take it back. Talking to the Protector is like digesting broken glass.”

.o0O0o.

Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
1 December 2765

Heather Green-Davion’s replacement wasn’t turning out to be one of John’s favourite people. Hans Zibler was from a veritable military dynasty, whose members had served in the AFFS for generations. More recent generations had sent some of their scions into the SLDF, creating a web of connections that the Prince had hoped would help with the challenges of coordinating the supply of equipment to the AFFS while still allowing the Federated Suns’ manufacturers to fulfil SLDF contracts.

“So what seems to be the problem?” he asked. “We’re going to need the additional personnel carriers for our infantry, and reports from the field have made it clear that they need something that can provide better fire support.”

Despite the lessons learned over the last few years, there had been too many instances of ‘Mechwarriors being drawn away from the infantry they should have been. Tighter discipline should help, and there had been court-martials to make the point, but that wouldn’t bring back the infantry who’d been lost as a result.

Combined with the SLDF making blanket purchases to replace their own APC losses, the need had been there to explore new sources and several corporations had submitted candidates.

“The development board has approved the Cazador, from Jerricho Industries,” Zibler responded defensively. “We’ve issued the first contracts and we’re very close to finalising our approval of the Kynigos urban infantry transport. We’re just waiting on a few more tests of their missile launcher systems but I don’t expect there to be any problems so Corean can expect orders from my department by the end of the year, it’s just a question of whether we need to ask for some very minor changes or not.”

“Aye, well and good,” Stopec grumbled. “But the tracked bids are the most important, more than forty percent of our infantry use tracked transports and you’re saying you’re not ready to make a decision and won’t be until the next quarter.”

“That’s very much the issue, Colonel.” Zibler tugged on his uniform tunic. “We’re going to be needing the new tracked infantry carrier in large numbers and there are serious questions about whether or not the leading contender can be built in the quantities required.”

John twirled an electronic stylus in the fingers of one hand. “But there is a unit that stands out – as with the other categories you’ve settled on a design and it’s the details of the contract holding things back.”

“Precisely, sire. We’ve a team on the way to New Syrtis now to check the production facilities. If they’re adequate, then we can go ahead, but otherwise we’ll need to look at arranging licensing to other firms. You know how delicate such negotiations can be.”

“I’m also aware that we need the vehicles sooner rather than later. Couldn’t you have sent a request to New Syrtis for someone to carry out those checks immediately? It’s only the command centre for the entire Capellan March so they wouldn’t have much difficulty finding some officers for inspections.”

Zibler shook his head. “I’m sorry, sire, but the owners of Johnston Industries are very well connected on New Syrtis. I’m not saying that they would attempt to influence any survey team arranged locally, but even the possibility could cause allegations and possibly tie up procurement in lawsuits for years. I have to make sure this is above board in all respects.”

Stopec shook his head. “And we need those vehicles as soon as possible.”

John put down the stylus and gestured for the commander of the Fourth Davion Guards to let him handle this. “General Zibler, as soon as this meeting is over I want you to contact Corean and Johnston directly and informally let them know that their designs have been accepted for production and that contracts will be forthcoming by the end of this month for Corean and the end of next month for Johnston.”

“Sire,” the general responded, not in protest as much as grudging acknowledgement.

“Then send word ahead to New Syrtis for them to begin the survey work. Your team can cross-check their results if anything seems out of order once they arrive. In the meantime, I’ll speak to Count Johnston and let him know how important this is to the AFFS and that we’ll be putting a clause in the contracts such that if they can’t meet the rate of production we’re looking for after twenty-four months that we’ll require licensing to be sold to a manufacturer of our choice at a nominal fee, say one dollar per unit built.”

“Will Johnston Industries agree to such a contract, sire? Those are quite stringent terms.”

“The owners are extremely wealthy, general. And as you said, they’re well connected on New Syrtis. I’m fairly sure that rather than see such a lucrative contract potentially be assigned to someone outside her bailiwick, Duchess Hasek will do whatever is necessary to make sure production goals are met.”

The prince sat back, confident that he’d made his point. “And before you go, what’s the status of Project H?”

“The latest reports from Achernar are promising, sir. The test chassis from the original plans showed no unexpected issues and they’re now working on bringing it up to current technical specifications. Of course, it does depend on whether or not Kallon are successful in reverse-engineering the SLDF’s Code Red autocannon.”

“If they don’t there are other avenues we can follow,” Stopec growled. “The SLDF’s taken heavy losses on the few occasions the Taurians have drawn them into urban fights. We need something suited to that situation, so even aside from the morale implications of resurrecting the design, this project needs to happen.”

Zibler nodded patiently. “I’m sure they’re working as hard as they can. But it’ll still be anything up to two years before we can look at the first production, and that’s pushing the very limits of the development cycle. It usually takes decades to develop a new ‘Mech.”

“Thus the decision to start with previous designs and adapt them,” said John. “Very good, general. That’s everything for your team. Now, Eis, how does your department stand?”

The head of personnel leant forwards. “We projected that troop losses in the periphery would be about fifty percent higher than those suffered facing the Capellans,” he said sombrely. “I’m sorry to report that we’ve underestimated considerably, it’s closer to a hundred and fifty percent higher.”

If his pause was to allow for shocked remarks then he’d judged his audience well. Over Stopec’s subdued obscenity, John could hear the ripple of shock around the room.

“Despite all the replacements sent in, we’ve already had to pull some regiments out of the line and shuffle in replacements, which has caused headaches for Vanessa’s department, Gregg’s -” He nodded to Marshal Sharpe of Transport and Resupply. “- and, of course, for Marshal Green-Davion’s operational planning.”

“Duchess Hasek had some strong words for the SLDF’s Member-State Liaison,” added Vanessa Manabe. “I’m not entirely sure she was justified, but the Seventeenth Fusiliers were in a sorry state when they were pulled out. We’re giving serious thought to disbanding the regiment rather than rebuilding them.”

“If you feel that it’s the right course of action, then do it.” John picked up his stylus again. “I’ll deal with Rita Hasek. The Seventeenth have not covered themselves with glory and given the Judge Advocate’s been investigating a story about them refusing to support a SLDF brigade because the commander was a Capellan, we may have to cashier those of the senior staff who survived the debacle.”

“It’s not doing wonders for morale, sire.” Vanessa stabbed at her console. “I’d strongly recommend we consider sending in regiments of the Avalon Hussars with the next rotation, just to defuse the gossip about the brigades from the border marches being sent in because they’re expendable.”

“They’re not wrong,” Hanse counselled. “I know you planned on getting as many units blooded as possible, but if it’s undermining their solidarity then something has to be done.”

“Alright.” John shook his head. “The Fourteenth Fusiliers have already been pushed forward, haven’t they? Who can we send from the Avalon Hussars in the next few months?”

“Given they’ve just come back up to strength and they’re already in the general area, I’d almost have to recommend the First,” Green-Davion advised regretfully. “Colonel Perez has been… highly motivated to redeem himself after their losses two years ago.”

John hesitated and then nodded. “Alright, do it. And we’ll look at doing the same in the Outworlds postings a little afterwards. Adjusting both deployments at once would give away the political factors, but if we do the Concordat first it might spur the Fusiliers to a better performance.”
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

drakensis

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #46 on: 22 November 2017, 16:44:37 »
Khalsu Mountains, Logan’s Land
Perdition Union, Taurian Concordat
31 January 2766

There was nothing of any strategic value this deep in the mountain range, which was how the Taurians rebels had managed to hide their headquarters for so long.

Roseleen McGuinness would grudgingly allow that it might have taken longer to find source of the raiding parties without the analysis provided by the Feddie’s Military Intelligence. Whatever their other failings, the AFFS had clearly put serious resources into building the capacity, even at regimental level, to pull data together from dozens of different sources and build a good picture of the enemy’s actions.

That was about as far as she was prepared to give credit to the SLDF’s allies though. “Did Colonel Dixon happen to give any details of where he was engaging the so-called armour column before he went radio silent?” she asked, rhetorically.

Douglas Pardoe, located in the command van parked near the feet of her Cyclops, shook his head. “Negative, ma’am. We have a fix on where he was signalling from but it’s a good distance east of us and we don’t know which direction he moved in after that.”

“I swear, that man’s worth a brigade on his own – to the rebels!” She rolled her neck and then settled the neurohelmet back down over her head. “Are his infantry still in touch?”

“We’ve confirmed that they’re guarding the supply base at Giza,” her chief of staff confirmed. “I touched base with them and they don’t know where he is either. Given that we have to assume the First Fusiliers aren’t going to respond if Giza comes under attack, I’ve broken off one of our armoured regiments to support them.”

“Yeah, not their fault Dixon can’t find his ass with both hands. Do you think Feddie intelligence could find him? They’re pretty good at finding hostiles.”

Pardoe snorted. “It’s worth a try.”

“See if you can find out why he’s so damn aggressive, too. I swear it, it’s like the Fusiliers put something in their water.”

Rather than switch channels, McGuinness raised her ‘Mech’s arms and waved it in the air, signalling the command company to join her as they moved up behind the advancing combat teams of the 168th Jump Infantry Division.

So far they’d found three of the hidden entrances used by the rebels to enter and exit the base they’d dug into the range. Thus far, as soon as a foothold was made the Taurians had brought the tunnel down, forcing the SLDF to start again from square one – even less well off than that, in fact, since an observation team had to be left to make sure the rebels didn’t simply excavate the tunnels out again.

Still, McGuinness was satisfied that progress was being made. There was a practical limit to how far the tunnels could have been dug through the mountains, so they had an approximate radius to search and the direction of the tunnels gave at least some hints to narrow things down. Specialist geo-sonar teams were on the way so all the 168th had to do was finish winnowing out the entrances and sooner or later they’d either manage a serious penetration or the Taurians would have to choose between burying themselves alive or evacuating.

Colonel Dixon’s report of an armoured column was the only on fly in the ointment. If the column was inbound then the rebels might be about to make a fight of it and the 168th was the most under-strength of her Divisions. Alternatively, they could be sending out whatever was left of their mobile forces to another base, which would reduce the impact of reducing the Khalsu redoubt.

“If the stupid ****** would report in then I’d know what I was dealing with.”

“Sorry, ma’am, I didn’t catch that,” Pardoe said over the command channel. It was hard to tell if he’d genuinely missed it or was just being polite.

“Just talking to myself,” she said as the command company reached the rear of one of the mobile field hospitals and slowed down. They were a tempting target individually so the two groups travelling together might draw someone out. McGuinness wouldn’t have tried it if there were any injured with them but right now the last casualties had been airlifted to Giza and the medical staff were technically from a combatant arm – for some damn reason that made no sense to her, but was presumably tradition.

“I’ve heard from the intel section of the 91st Federal Mobile Infantry,” he continued. “They offered to break out some VTOL drones and try to track the First Fusiliers down, but it’s even odds the Taurians will have man-portable anti-aircraft missiles scattered around.”

“Worth a try, if nothing else it’s more data on where the rebels are trying to keep screening. Did they have any idea about the burr up Dixon’s ass?”

“The First are apparently traditionally a very aggressive regiment, General. However, Colonel Dixon’s uncle was the AFFS field commander for most of the Border War with the Capellans.”

“Um.” McGuinness hadn’t been following every detail there, that stretch of the Capellan-Suns border was the responsibility of Second Army and Fifth Army. “Didn’t they court martial the guy?”

“Not exactly, but he was relieved with cause and apparently retired following very strong suggestion that he’d spend the rest of his career counting mess kits somewhere obscure. The First Prince apparently wasn’t impressed with his vigour in prosecuting the campaign.”

“Ah, so little Dixon has something to prove. You know, just once it would be nice if the House Lords would clean up their own messes and not hand them off to the SLDF.”

“Yes sir, but then units like the First Syrtis Fusiliers would get lost forever in these mountains with no one to recover them.”

“And nothing of any value would be lost.”

.o0O0o.

Sidebar: History of the Free Worlds League

"House Marik’s expertise in warfare is unrivalled, for they are always at war with Parliament over something."

The first great alliance of the Inner Sphere, the Free Worlds League was formed in 2271 by the alliance of three expanding empires: the Marik Commonwealth, the Federation of Oriente and the Principality of Regulus. Sir George Humphreys, a Terran émigré and special envoy of President Tomas Allison of Oriente, brought the three rulers together over the course of five years and established a parliament based on relative economic might to balance their interests. Sir George’s descendants would later be appointed to rule the important province of Andurien.

The League expanded through diplomacy where possible but they also established their might in the conquest of the six-world Stewart Confederacy before Terran resurgence sent shockwaves through human space. One of these diplomatic approaches was a marriage between the Mariks and the Sian family, who then ruled an independent realm from what is now the capital of the Capellan Confederation. This union provided disastrous for the Sian-Mariks were excluded from succession to House Marik’s honours and the resentment exploded into a campaign of assassination and counter-insurgency that killed Captain-General Geraldine Marik and left her son Allan under effective house-arrest as Mikhail Marik launched brutal campaigns of reprisal. The Sian-Marik’s power was broken by the time of Mikhail’s suicide but members of the family plagued the Free Worlds League for decades, arguably preventing them from crushing the nascent Capellan Confederation.

House Marik’s prestige didn’t recover until the 2422s when they were called on to turn the tide against the Lyran Commonwealth, the League having chosen Captain-Generals from other families without success. Thereafter the Mariks retained a close grip on the office. Even the erratic Carlos Marik was unable to shake this, power usurped by his brother Brion with Parliament’s full support. Carlos fled into the Periphery and was never seen again.

Brion’s son Albert the Great, was a startling figure. A dwarf, particularly in comparison to his tall and charismatic father, Albert nonetheless proved to be a superb diplomat and businessman in his own right before succeeding Brion to the Captain-Generalcy. Victor of both the Second and Third Andurien War, Albert was remembered more for what followed: together with Ian Cameron he persuaded Terrence Liao to form an alliance of their three realms and lay the groundwork for the Star League.

Albert didn’t live to see the Reunification War, something he had opposed in favour of diplomacy. His daughter Marion led the invasion of Canopus and worked together with House Humphreys to not only conquer the periphery realm but also to conciliate it with the Star League. Regrettably later leaders were faced with new challenges – from 2667 to 2679 House Marik and House Selaj waged a private war for control of the Free Worlds League and the reign of the paranoid Elise Marik sparked a new civil war between 2729 and 2734 between the Captain-General and Parliamentary representatives spearheaded by her brother Oliver. On both occasions the Star League chose to treat these as internal disputes, with misgivings in the 27th century and distracted by the Davion’s War of Succession sixty years later.
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

mikecj

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #47 on: 22 November 2017, 18:27:56 »
Nicely fleshing out the AFFS and why the 1st War went so badly for them.
There are no fish in my pond.
"First, one brief announcement. I just want to mention, for those who have asked, that absolutely nothing what so ever happened today in sector 83x9x12. I repeat, nothing happened. Please remain calm." Susan Ivanova
"Solve a man's problems with violence, help him for a day. Teach a man to solve his problems with violence, help him for a lifetime." - Belkar Bitterleaf
Romo Lampkin could have gotten Stefan Amaris off with a warning.

Zureal

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #48 on: 22 November 2017, 18:52:08 »
This is SOOOOOO good, i am loving it.

drakensis

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #49 on: 23 November 2017, 16:26:52 »
Khalsu Mountains, Logan’s Land
Perdition Union, Taurian Concordat
31 January 2766

As it turned out, the drones did last long enough to pick up a trail from Colonel Dixon’s last known position but when they tried following it southwards they ran into heavy jamming that endangered their control signals.

Disgruntled that she apparently couldn’t entirely blame Dixon for dropping out of radio contact, McGuinness pulled back one of her combat teams and reinforced it with one of the armoured regiments that Fourth Army had cut loose to support her Corps. If nearly eighty ‘Mechs, seven hundred jump infantry, over a hundred tanks and a full battalion of artillery wasn’t enough to at least report in on Dixon’s alleged armoured column then the rest of the 168th would be better hunkering down and waiting for reinforcements.

Terraforming had never really taken hold up in the Khalsus and thus there only green to be found was a native moss and the olive drab of SLDF vehicles. No trees, no grass.

As they reached trail left by Dixon’s ‘Mechs McGuinness noted that the footprints of her ‘Mechs merged almost seamlessly with those left already. Only the tracks of the Marksman self-propelled guns, Magi tanks and the infantry’s APCs added something new.

As the sun dipped towards the horizon on the left, one of the ‘Mechs in the scout companies halted and lifted something from the ground in its clawed hand. “Armour shard,” the Mongoose pilot reported coolly. “Traces of dark green paint, which would match the Fusiliers’ ‘Mechs.

There were more shards along the path and McGuinness called a ten minute wait while the scouts – both ‘Mechs and dismounted jump infantry – fanned out to look for the source of whatever fire had been hitting the Fusiliers. No one mistook the pause for a chance to relax, the tanks laagered in a tight knot around her command group and the artillery, the rest of the force forming a looser perimeter beyond them.

“There were definitely hover vehicles up here,” came the report from one of the teams that had worked their way further up the slope. “And looking down from above, I can see artillery impacts – hard to tell on the ground with the bedrock. “I’d guess the tanks up here were spotting for a field battery.”

“Got a direction on where those tanks went?” asked McGuinness.

“South, ma’am.”

“Right. We’ll press on.”

The trail extended on. One ‘Mech in four used searchlights to illuminate the mountainside for the rest of the force. The debris increased in quantity – myomer strands, the arm of a Wasp. Twelve kilometres after the first shards, a Wolverine lay where it had fallen. The Fusilier markings had been almost obliterated but one shoulder still sported a nearly pristine sword and sunburst.

The cockpit, and presumably the Mechwarrior within, had been pried away. That hadn’t been the kill shot though. Peering into the ruptured torso, the distorted gauss slug was still visible in the floodlight.

“Where did the Rebels get a gauss rifle?” asked one of Mechwarriors who moved their ‘Mech up to look at the wreck. “No one outside the SLDF should have them.”

“The manufacturers might have sold some off the books,” McGuinness told him. “Or, more likely, there was an armoured regiment on Logan’s Land as part of the garrison. Their fort was over-run by the rebels in the first wave of attacks, last May. Some of their tanks could have been captured still working.”

They found evidence of that less than a kilometre later, a pair of Fury tanks smashed open by missile, autocannon and quite possibly by the armoured feet of BattleMechs crashing against their flanks. A one-armed Wasp, head reduced to wreck lay on the ground nearby.

McGuinness looked around. “A running fight,” she deduced. “First the Taurians lured them in and softened them up with artillery. Then they must have closed in with their tanks once the Feddies looked like easy prey.”

“They could still be fighting, ma’am.”

“Still as it is, I think we’d hear them. But we’ll pick up the pace.”

‘Mech after ‘Mech, tank after tank they followed the battle up the valley, jamming increasing in intensity until all communication had to be by laser tight-beam.

Then there was a roar of an explosion and the jamming cut out sharply.

“What was that?” McGuinness demanded.

“Sorry, sir.” The sideband data indicated the response was from the commander of one of the line ‘Mech companies. “We found the source of the jamming and took it out, but we misjudged how much protection was left on the tank’s fusion bottle.”

“Did you take any prisoners?”

“Negative, crew compartment was gone. It was a converted Fury chassis.”

That came to twenty heavy tanks, McGuinness thought. Add the spotting hover tanks and a battery and that was roughly a battalion. There were at least thirty wrecked ‘Mechs in the valley. Adjusting her radio she tried the Fusiliers’ frequency. “Colonel Dixon, this is Major General McGuinness. Respond with your location and condition.”

She was about to repeat the signal when Dixon’s voice came back clearly. “Good to hear from you, General. We’re at the head of a valley.” He read off a list of coordinates that McGuinness identified as perhaps a kilometre and a half ahead of her own position. “We’ve defeated an enemy heavy tank regiment and located an entrance to their base. Unfortunately they dropped the tunnel before we could make any progress down it.”

“A regiment, huh.” She checked her surroundings again. “Looks like you’re not far ahead of us, Colonel. We’ll link up shortly.”

And with a bit of luck, she thought, what’s left of your toy soldier regiment can be sent back for extended repairs outside my Corps’ area.

.o0O0o.

FSS Tancredi, Delavan Orbit
Crucis March, Federated Suns
3 April 2766

The shuttle carrying Kenneth Jones to his new command went past the occupied slips and he looked out the window to see what the Universal Air yards were working on. Among the oldest warship-capable yards of the Federated Suns, he’d visited them several times before and found that knowing what they and the newer McKenna shipyards over Kathil had in dock was good guide to what the Navy was up to.

Locked against the open framework were six Naga-class light destroyers, not ships that he’d known were in FSN use. So far as he knew, the SLDF had retired them from service decades ago, replacing them with the more modern Essex-class.

“I didn’t hear anything on New Avalon about buying in SLDF destroyers,” he noted to Admiral Moore, who sat across from him.

She looked up at him and then out of the window. “Ah. Well, it’s not above your clearance level, but they’re not ours. The SLDF needed additional escorts for their convoy work and the refit work on our own ships doesn’t really require full docking so UA are stretching themselves to handle both jobs.”

Only a few moments later, the shuttle crew advised them to strap in for the final approach. Obediently, the Commodore and the Vice Admiral made sure all their possessions were contained and fastened the five point-harnesses that held them in their seats as the shuttle went through the process of matching velocities and easing into the bay of their destination.

“Welcome aboard your new command,” Moore said as there was the sound of clamps securing them to the ship.

“Thank you, sir. It’s good to get out from behind a desk.”

She let a tight smile cross her face. “You thought you’d dropped off the command track and would be stuck pushing papers for the rest of your career?”

“Even if the court martial cleared me, that’s not the sort of black mark that usually gets forgotten, Admiral.”

“Yeah, well unofficially, you weren’t going to get another job that rubs you right up against the Army for a while longer. But you have a powerful patron.”

Jones reached up and tweaked the corner of his moustache, then saw the landing light go out and reached down to his harness. “I don’t know who that might be, honestly.”

“Don’t you?”

“No, sir. I’ve no family connections or mentors within the naval hierarchy.”

“A little higher than that. I’m told that Marshal Moscoe personally added you to the short-list to command one of the capital ships being brought out of mothballs.”

“I’ve never even met the Marshal,” Jones protested. They stood and he automatically waited for the Admiral to precede him out of the shuttle.

“It was a royal command,” she told him as she walked past.

I’m not sure how I should take that, he thought as the shuttle hatch opened.

A bosun’s whistle greeted them. “Division arriving, Tancredi arriving,” an NCO bellowed and a file of spacers crammed into the small bay snapped to attention.

“Permission to come aboard?” asked Moore as she reached the bottom of the steps down from the shuttle hatch and returned the salute.

“Permission granted.” The officer of the deck didn’t relax from his own salute until Jones had returned it as well. “Welcome aboard your flagship, Admiral Moore.”

“Thank you,” she said smoothly. “If someone can direct me to my quarters, I’ll let you get your feet under you, Kenneth.”

Jones refrained from responding to the deliberate informality. The first consequence of patronage, he thought sardonically. Everyone wants to take advantage of the connection, for good or ill. And the greater the patronage, the closer they want to be. “Of course, Admiral.”

There was a brief pause as Moore exited and Jones turned back to the officer. “I take it that my kit and that of the Admiral will be taken care of, Leftenant?”

“Yes, Commodore.” The captain gestured to the hatch. “Major Kaga is waiting for you on the bridge.”

Unlike traditional layouts, the navigational bridge of New Syrtis-class ships was amidships, aft of the flight decks. Familiar with the design from study over the last year even if he’d not served aboard one before, Jones found few surprises. Laid down two hundred years ago, the Tancredi had been mothballed on the formation of the Star League, re-commissioned for the Reunification Wars after the debacle at Tentativa and then laid up for a second time in 2651. In all that time no one had ever fired her guns in anger.

Jones thought that that made her a lucky ship. If he was fortunate then she’d keep that status for his tour of command. If he wasn’t… well, her sister-ships had performed well historically.

With the ship at rest the navigational bridge only had a skeleton crew on watch but two officers hung near the centre, gripping rails around the captain’s console as they waited for him. Both snapped crisp salutes as Jones entered.

“As you were.” Pushing off from the door he coasted across the compartment and caught himself deftly on the open shock-frame. “Commodore Plains, Major Kaga.”

“Welcome aboard, Commodore.” Weiss Plains looked entirely too young to be air boss of all six wings of fighters aboard a carrier, her snub nose and short blonde curls making her look more like one of the young pilots rather than their master under the Naval God, otherwise known as the captain of the Tancredi.

“Sir.” Major Mary Kaga, a lean brunette, nodded towards Jones’ attaché case. “Your orders, please.” The chain of command was convoluted due to carrier operations. Plains, as air boss, was on paper simply executive officer to the carrier’s commander who had joint responsibility both for the ship and for the over-sized aero-regiment she carried. Meanwhile Major Kaga was second-in-command and should anything happen to him, she would be required to take over and give orders to the air boss despite being outranked. In theory, a Light Commodore should have been assigned but the navy was as strapped for field officers as the army was.

“Naturally.” Opening the case he took the envelope, seal still visible although he’d opened it earlier, and handed it over.

Extracting the document inside, the Major unfolded it and looked it over. “All in order, sir. I relinquish command.”

“Major, I accept command.”

“Thank you, Captain.” The metaphorical cape of responsibility settled onto Jones with those words. Putting the orders away again he fastened the attaché case to the clips of his chair and gestured around the room. “Be so good as to acquaint me with our ship, starting with flight operations.”

.o0O0o.

Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
21 May 2766

The Director of Naval Command was the administrative head of the Star League Navy but Joan Brandt preferred to omit ‘administrative’ from that – she’d been a hard-charging fighter jock before she made the mistake of getting promoted too far up the ladder to stay in the cockpit. Closing in on her fifty-fourth birthday she probably wouldn’t pass a flight physical these days… but you never knew for sure.

John had the distinct impression that the expression on her face was the same one she’d worn for all of her more than fifty kills. “Your highness, you told the General twelve months ago that we’d see the first destroyers back from your yards in a year. Why are they still docked?”

“I told him that it would take a year to refit them. The ships didn’t even arrive until the end of June last year, so there’s just shy of six weeks for McKenna to finish closing them up. The current projection is that they’ll be done in four.”

“I have crews arriving for them in two weeks, we need those escorts now. I can’t afford to have your shipyards dragging their heels!” she barked. “The yards at Keid could have had them done two months ago.”

“If screaming at me make you feel better, Admiral, then I’m happy to help the SLDF. But keep a civil tongue in your head about my workers. I’m sure that Keid’s docks could have done the work faster, but we both know they’re tied up through to the end of next year with bigger ships anyway. By the time you cleared the docks you’d have saved maybe a month at best, and then had to do without the cruisers being built.” John rose to his feet. “I heard about the Newport News as well.”

One of the SLDF’s massive yardships, capable of docking even a battleship for vital repairs, the SLS Newport News had been rammed the previous week, immobile as it worked to repair a destroyer’s jump-drive. Although the dropship had been hit repeatedly by shots from the escort, it had still been nearly ten thousand tons of metal, moving too fast to be stopped. Neither the yardship nor the destroyer had survived, and almost none of their crews had reached lifeboats.

“We’re having to pull corvettes forward from the supply lines to give the support squadrons extra cover,” Brandt told him, calming down a little.  “That’s going to leave the convoys exposed, which is exactly what those destroyers are supposed to doing.”

“Then there’s going to be a gap. It’s very unfortunate but shouting at me won’t change that.” John shook his head. “We’ll have all ten of the Naga you sent to us ready before the end of next month, which is still going to be faster than the Confederation or the Combine is managing. I don’t necessarily recommend screaming them, either.”

Brandt glared at him. “Crap rolls downhill, your highness. In my experience a little well directed anger can usually motivate people to work faster.”

“That isn’t how I run my realm or my military.”

“From what I hear, it shows in some of their performances.” The admiral pulled the soft purple cap of her dress uniform out of the pocket she’d jammed into. “But whatever method you do use, I’d appreciate it if you could see if the Carson’s are handled faster.”

“There are work crews aboard them now, getting started on anything that doesn’t require a full dock for,” John assured her. “I can’t promise an exact date yet, but they shouldn’t take longer at least. It’ll depend how much of what they did on the Nagas can be applied.”

“Maybe we should have just focused on the Nagas, then.” Brandt donned the cap. “You might beat the other yards on the first run of reconditionings only to come in third with the next one.”

“Now you see, that’s one of the motivations that I do use.” John rose and walked her to the door. “We have some of our own ships working up not far from Kathil, I’ll see if we can have them adjust their schedules to cover convoys.”

“And what do you want for that?”

“Normally I’d say nothing, since I usually feel that what’s good for the SLDF benefits me down the line. But since you’ve been such a delight to work with, ask General Kerensky to appoint someone of a suitable stature to act as a permanent liaison between my staff and his.” John gestured towards the door. “Bon voyage, Admiral Brandt.”

He closed the door behind her and leant against it for a moment before going to his desk again. “Owen, can you clear me the next fifteen minutes?”

“Of course, sire. I’ll let your wife know you’ll be a couple of minutes late to meet with the Scout troop from Arcadia.”

“I don’t pay you enough, Owen.”

“Well I wouldn’t refuse a wage hike, sire, but could it come from the black budget? I do have to work with the rest of the secretarial staff and it wouldn’t do to rub it in.”

John snorted and made a note to make sure to ask Edwina for suggestions on what Owen might appreciate as a gift. Then he made sure the intercom was off and looked over at Hanse. “I don’t know how Kerensky works with that woman.”

“She’s probably like most of the SLDF and thinks that the only reason he uses dropships is that it would make them feel inadequate if he just jumped up and down between McKenna’s Pride and planetary surfaces.”

 That got a forced chuckle from the First Prince. “I’ll send him a message to make it clear that asking for a liaison isn’t really a quid pro and more to ease frictions. I can live without more meetings.”

“Sure, but you didn’t need fifteen minutes to tell me that. What do you want to get off your chest?”

He sat down heavily. “You were right.”

Hanse moved to the desk and perched on one corner. “I manage that often enough that I need to ask what you’re referring to.”

“Amaris.” John hunched forward over the desk. “We’ve tried for years but we still don’t have any evidence to pin anything on him. Now I can’t see anything we can do except kill him if we’re to save the Star League.”

“When we discussed this six years ago, you pointed out that his son might simply take over. Tadeo’s of age now, which makes him even more dangerous.”

“At this point I don’t think we’re going to be worse off.” John raised his hand and started ticking off options on his fingers. “There are basically five scenarios here. First I do nothing, in which case it seems highly probable that Amaris will take Terra and the Hegemony just as he did in your history. Second, we try and fail but it’s not traced back to me. Really we’re no worse off at that point.”

“Third, it fails and Stefan can pin it on you. Richard would believe him.”

John nodded. “Joshua completes his military service this year, he’d be ready to take over and I’d be able to show that he had no hand in it. In that case, I take the fall and abdicate. The chances of the Star League Council supporting any drastic measures against me are slim, they’d not want to set a precedent. My story would be that I blamed him for the sniper in ’62.”

“Which might even be true.”

That got a shrug from the First Prince. “If so, then fitting I use it now as an excuse.” He examined his hand, with three fingers extended and then straightened his little finger. “We succeed but it’s traced to me. Same scenario, really, except that House Amaris might try to take up Stefan’s plan. Given the snake-pit of Apollo’s court, there’s at least a reasonable chance that someone would betray the coup attempt.”

“And finally he’s dead and no one identifies you. Which has the same chance.” Hanse shook his head. “Of course, if the attempt is linked to you then it’ll be damaging to the plans we’ve been working on. I know there are contingency documents prepared so Joshua wouldn’t be coming at it cold, but we’d almost certainly be unable to influence events any further.”

“I think it’s worth the risk.” To you, Hanse, the deaths that a collapsing Star League would cause are a statistic, something from a long time ago. But these are my people. I have the responsibility to do everything in my power to protect them from that.

The 31st century man spread his hands. “It’s your decision, John. Do you have the capability?”

“We have someone on Apollo. If it’s to be done, it has to be done there. He’s a local, as far as he knows the people supporting him are a cell of the Rift Republican Army…”
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

drakensis

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #50 on: 23 November 2017, 16:27:08 »
Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
21 July 2766

Joshua’s new office was luxurious, but it felt like a cell to him.

He’d had an office for the last six months when he commanded a company of the Fourth Davion Guards, but that was just somewhere to keep the unavoidable paperwork and for privacy when someone needed some career guidance, also known as an ass-chewing. It wasn’t where he did his real job, in other words.

After four hours of reading reports he hadn’t requested and covered matters whose relative importance he didn’t feel he could judge, he’d made his escape and started visiting subordinate offices more or less at random.

Apart from giving his bodyguards a headache – and that was something else he’d have to get used to again, the detail at NAMA had been fairly unobtrusive and with the Guards his security had rested more on being surrounded by the regiment’s personnel and being on military reservations most of the time – he at least had some more context for what his Ministry did, and more importantly how. The Ministry of Administrative Services was a catch-all for any department that didn’t fall neatly into the purview of other Ministries. As such, the various department heads had little need to actually coordinate with each other.

Joshua’s task, as he understood it, was to have an overview of any problems that arose and to sort out any conflicts his department heads ran into with their counter-parts in other ministries. That felt a little daunting, since most of them were of his father’s generation or older, but at least in general he knew who they were and was their legal equal within the bureaucracy.

That didn’t mean he was ready to go back to his office though. An overview was all very well, but he’d spoken to the officer equivalents so far. The career managers who proposed policy, presented reports and spent their time in meetings with each other. Important, certainly, but what he needed if he really wanted a feel for the nitty-gritty then he wanted the sergeant equivalents, the long-service staff who carried out the work itself.

Thus, on his second day – and giving both the staff and his bodyguard details more warning this time – Joshua Davion adopted the threadbare disguise of combing his hair the other way, wearing a cheaper suit and a security badge that claimed he was ‘JD Winters’. Rather than visiting private offices, he sat on cheap government issue chairs in open plan offices and listened discreetly as the Federation Parcel and Post Agency dealt with complaints, the Federal Prison Service updated the dossiers of both current confines and on discharged prisoners who would still be on watch-lists, and finally the Department of Transportation as they struggled to co-ordinate the immense flow of shipping across the border of the Terran Hegemony and the Federated Suns.

Grabbing a quick dinner in one of the staff canteen, which he rated as somewhere between field rations and what he could have expected in a military barracks, Joshua went back through the notes he’d taken. He frowned. No, he wasn’t imagining it. Every time the Hegemony came in in discussion, regardless of the department, the same general perspectives came out.

“Time to head back home,” he decided aloud and put his tray away, the meal only half-eaten.

That was second on the list of things he was going to change, he decided. If the AFFS could deliver better food to soldiers on their bases, why couldn’t canteens in the middle of Avalon City?

It was only a short drive up Mount Davion to reach the family residence. At least home hadn’t changed, the sprawling fantasy castle that had been claimed centuries ago as the seat of power for House Davion. It was a national icon and two dollar bank notes printed in the Suns still bore its image on the rear, a holdover from the pre-Star League currency.

“Is my father home?” he asked at the security desk, only the most obvious of the multiply redundant layers of protection around the castle.

The conservatively-suited woman behind the desk – actually a Corporal from one of the infantry regiments assigned to the Royal Court - checked her console. “He should be in the family apartments,” she advised. “Welcome home, Prince Joshua.”

“Thanks.” He was about to go further when he caught her tapping the lapel of her jacket. Why was she…? Oh! With an embarrassed grin, he removed the security badge he’d been wearing. Probably some of the people he’d been sitting in with had guessed who he was, but no one had challenged him on it. Most had probably just taken him for another incoming manager getting some orientation – it would have been disruptive for a Minister to openly visit without more warning, particularly one of the royal family. Perhaps he should keep the badge in case he needed ‘JD Winters’ again, it could come in handy.

A lift took him up to the apartments and he ditched both the jacket and waistcoat of his suit before going looking for his father. One of the lounges was locked and he knocked. No one outside his parents should be here and behind a locked door.

A moment later the door opened and he saw John Davion, similarly dressed down for a private evening. “Home is the warrior?” his father greeted him. “I hope those aren’t the trousers you wore to the office, your valet will be crushed.”

“I don’t have a valet, and I was more or less incognito today.”

“You should. Like it or not, we’ve got to maintain a proper image.” The older Davion opened the door wider and gestured for him to come in. On one of the wall screens some sort of stage performance recording had been paused. “So how was your day?”

“Well I have a better idea what I should be doing compared to two days ago.”

“Good.” John sat down and lifted the remote for the wall screen.

Joshua winced. “Is that one of those Italian operas that mother despises.”

His father grinned and shut the display down. “I don’t expect you to listen to it, just keep whatever music your age bracket like lately inside your own rooms, fair?”

“Deal. I’m not spoiling your evening, am I?”

“We haven’t exactly spent a lot of time together since you graduated, Joshua. It makes a nice change to see more of you.”

“Thanks.”

“Of course, if I’m cutting into you going out and finding some nice young woman who can provide your mother and I with grandchildren, then go forth, young man, and multiply.” John raised his hand in mocking benediction.

“Father!”

“What, you’re not thinking about it?”

“I don’t want to be another cousin, Joseph.”

“Ah.” John’s smile dropped. “Alright. I won’t press you too hard on that then. It’s harder for us, in some ways, than other people. Our lives are more public. Don’t let chances slip through your fingers.”

“I wanted to talk to you about work, actually,” Joshua told him, pushing the other topic aside. “There seemed to be something… wrong with our relations with the Terran Hegemony.”

“Oh?”

“It came up a few times today, that when our people contact their counter-parts in the Hegemony they’re not getting the same co-operation they used to take for granted. Requests are lost, or slide back and data only arrives at the last minute. Sometimes later. I don’t have any overview, but it’s costing us time and money. Hurting people’s livelihoods.”

“Yes, it is,” his father agreed.

“You know about this?” Why aren’t you doing something about it? He didn’t ask that though.

For a moment John looked much more than his forty-six years of age. “When the First Lord farts, a thousand bureaucrats crap bricks,” he answered, bluntly. “Richard Cameron may not be much of a First Lord, or much of a Director-General, but the Hegemony still takes its general policies from him and good relations with the Federated Suns are a long way down his priorities.”

“But why? Of all the states, we’re supporting him more than anyone!”

“We’re supporting the SLDF, and by extension, supporting General Kerensky. In Richard’s eyes that isn’t the same thing.”

Joshua slumped into his chair. “So for that he’s putting the entire administrative structure of the League at risk? We’re one of the Hegemony’s biggest trading partners, or at least we were. Just today I saw at least three major contracts that could collapse because of this.”

“You’re not wrong, son. But how Richard chooses to run the Hegemony is up to him, not me. I can’t make him fix these problems, all I can do – and all you can do, now – is try to cushion our corporations against the damage it’s causing.”

“There has to be a way.” He clenched his fists. “Have you talked to Bennett Green? Isn’t this exactly what the Bureau of Star League Affairs should be digging into?”

His father shook his head. “I have, yes. But if you want to do the same then by all means. Maybe you’ll find a solution I haven’t. That would certainly be a relief.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“Chin up, it’s only your second day on the job.” John stretched his arms out above his head. “It’s a big adjustment from being in the military. There you need to be decisive, try to solve everything with one clean sweep. That’s not how bureaucracy seems to function. I found it the same twenty years ago when I was in your shoes.”

“Was it that bad then?”

“No. No, it wasn’t.” John slumped into his chair. “And that, more than anything, is how far I’ve failed as the First Prince.”

.o0O0o.

Sidebar: The Star League Defense Force

"The PERSUASIVE FORCE exercises suggested that the combined forces of three SLDF armies could potentially overcome the Hegemony’s defenses. Of course, no member of the Star League could field a force of that size, so the Hegemony was deemed entirely secure."

Founded in 2571 shortly after the Star League itself, the SLDF had a rocky beginning. All the member-states had contributed portions of their armed forces to the new service. With the exception of the Terran Hegemony, which transferred its entire regular military, these were often regiments and ships that the Lords preferred to do without. Alexander Davion, for example, selected the thirty-seven regiments he sent from the Terran March and Capellan March forces that had opposed him in the Davion Civil War, and twenty-two of the twenty-three warships he handed over were block-I Davion-class destroyers of questionable utility (the SLN refits to make use of them ultimately yielded the Whirlwind-class in 2606).

Ian Cameron originally vested leadership of the SLDF in his wife, Lady Shandra Noruff-Cameron, who was a respected military leader in her own right. Disbanding existing regiments, she merged troops together from various realms, ensuring they were posted away from their home states to avoid conflicting loyalties. In addition, a core of elite regiments drawn solely from the Terran Hegemony were established as the Royal Command, who received preferential equipment. The SLDF’s initial actions weren’t promising – seeking to support a Capellan regiment against brigands made up of ex-soldiers from the Confederation, the Twenty-Second Royal BattleMech Regiment found itself under fire from the Capellan Regulars. A year later, poor coordination hobbled SLDF divisions during large-scale exercises against House units.

It was almost fortunate that in 2573, incidents on Malagrotta and Santiago drew the SLDF out into the Periphery and into the sprawling conflict later named the Reunification War. Given outside opponents to focus upon and a war-time budget, the SLDF matured into a powerful and flexible military force. As the House militaries were cut back further in 2650, greater responsibilities were delegated to the SLDF which grew to meet them.

By the 2760s, the SLDF numbered seventy-two regular corps, fielding between four and nine divisions of forces. These were grouped into twenty armies, along with an almost equal number of independent regiments and brigades. Supporting these were twenty fleets that totalled 1500 warships with a further 750 warships operating independently or in detached squadrons or divisions. Originally each fleet was attached directly to one army but reforms had separated them, with the fleets operating in their own areas of responsibility, overlapping the military districts occupied by the armies.

Until the Edict of 2650 was overturned, the SLDF possessed more than twice the military might of all ten states combined. As a result the commanders were vetted extremely carefully. Only one Commanding General would ever break faith with their First Lord, and even General Fredasa was motivated by the good of the Star League – First Lord Jonathan Cameron was a functional paranoid, obsessed with threats he perceived in dreams – rather than any personal ambition.
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

drakensis

  • Lieutenant
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  • Posts: 998
Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #51 on: 24 November 2017, 12:27:22 »
Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
14 August 2766

“Your highness.” The man saluting John was wearing the uniform of the Star League Navy, but he showed no sign of Brandt’s unrelenting aggression.

“Commodore Grec. It’s good to meet you at last. General Kerensky sent me a glowing recommendation when he told me you were on the way, but your record speaks for itself.”

“You’re too kind,” the Star League officer demurred. “There’s no shortage of fine officers who could have been sent. I suspect my old friend picked me because I’d carry the most literal weight.” He slapped his uniform waist-sash, which was straining just a little more than was ideal. “I hope I’ll be some use to you, though.”

John gestured towards the couch. “You’ve a reputation for fairness, and you managed to keep a cool head when you were posted to the border between the Lyrans and the League. Given some of the conversations I’ve had with Admiral Brandt, I hope we can get a good working relationship going.”

Janos Grec took the indicated seat. “Admiral Brandt has a great deal of pressure on her at the moment,” he said diplomatically. “I can see how there might be some… unintentional friction as a result.”

“Let’s move forward then.” John sat opposite him. “Our supply and transportation department have been looking at the situation and they’ve come up with an idea to stretch convoy escorts further. It’s a little more pressure on the transports themselves, but increasing their number is easier.”

“What do they have in mind?”

“Right now there are two primary supply lines going through the Federated Suns – one through the Draconis March to the Alliance and the other through the Capellan March to get to the Taurians. Instead of that, the idea is to establish several depots in the central Crucis March, roughly equidistant between the two war zones – the existing SLDF Forts on Andalusia, Minette and Bonneau would be ideal as starting points, possibly expanding their underground facilities for additional warehousing. While shipping items from the Hegemony out to those depots would extend the total distances required, convoy escorts would only be essential for shipments from there to the frontlines.”

Grec raised an eyebrow. “You don’t think that the rebels would strike at the first leg of the supply lines?”

“It would be very hard for them to identify critical cargos being shipped due to the sheer amount of shipping that already moves between the Hegemony and the Crucis March,” John pointed out. “And contracting civilian shipping would let you move stocks of fuel, ammunition and the most commonly needed spare parts – armour plating and myomers – out of the Hegemony and still be able to adjust the flow of supplies between the two battle fronts as needed.”

“That would help but there would be some short-term disruption and with the progress we’re making, it’s not clear the fighting will last for another year. What if we end up moving millions of tons of supplies only to then just ship them back to the Hegemony?”

The First Prince shook his head sadly. “There’ll need to be a long occupation,” he predicted gloomily. “Remember, Aleksandr Sergeyevich and I had discussed moving the SLDF out to the periphery before we learned about the hidden forces being built up. If anything the insurgency will have more to fight for and just policing the battlefields to ensure they aren’t obtaining munitions and weapons from wrecked combat gear will take years.”

He saw the Commodore pick up on the use of Kerensky’s first name and patronymic, a reminder that John and the Commanding General were on close terms. “As far as I can tell, right now it’s cheaper for the SLDF to buy supplies from my factories than to ship your existing stocks from Terra, but of course the Federated Suns can’t come close to supplying your needs alone.”

Grec nodded slowly. “If you have a detailed proposal then I’d be happy to discuss it with the General and his staff. You’re probably not wrong about the logistical demands now that the existing depots in and around the warzones have been emptied.”

“I’ll have the data sent to your office today for you to look over,” John promised him. “The next thing I wanted to suggest was the SLDF’s wounded.”

The commodore’s shoulders tensed. “Is there a problem?” Something like four hundred thousand wounded soldiers were being treated at SLDF facilities in the Suns.

“They aren’t a problem at all, actually I’m hoping that they’ll help me to solve a problem. There have been some rumbles from the High Council – nothing too surprising and I don’t think it’s a widespread issue as far as my citizens are concerned but some of the nobility and the media outlets they control have been shifting the focus of their coverage a little lately.”

“How do you mean?”

“To give an example, one of the major magazines in the Capellan March put out a survey earlier in the year, something they do annually for hot-button political questions to get a feel for what their readers care about. Last year they asked if the Federated Suns should do more to support the Star League in the periphery – the result was solidly yes, by the way.”

“Good to know,” Grec interjected. “And it’s hard to deny that you’ve been doing that.”

“Thank you. But this year the same magazine asked ‘Is it fair that the Federated Suns provides ten times the support to the Star League that the Capellan Confederation does?’”

“Ten times?”

John shrugged. “I’m not sure how they reached the number, probably through some fairly creative accounting of what constitutes support. The point is though, that’s a very inflammatory question to ask. It’s hard to give any answer but no – and it impacts the way millions of readers feel about the war effort.”

“I see. How do our wounded come into it then?”

“The best way to counter this sort of thing is through good publicity. Some of the wounded are fit for light duty even if they still need regular medical care. Could you see if some of them would be willing to volunteer to make public appearances?”

“I can ask, of course. Volunteers only?”

John snorted. “With the amount of public appearances I make, I wouldn’t considered ordering someone to go through that. But if we don’t do something then the support I can give you might turn out to be contingent on horse-trading with the High Council. I may have day to day authority to run the realm as I see fit, but I’m also answerable to them.”

“And a milligram of prevention is worth a kilogram of cure,” agreed Grec. “If I could raise a matter from our end, Lycomb Technologies have raised concerns about some of their recent interactions with the AFFS and how it might impact on the upgrade programme for our Stuka heavy fighters…”

.o0O0o.

Res Publica Star Port, Apollo
Apollo Province, Rim Worlds Republic
5 November 2766

In theory the Blackshark hangers were under constant guard by some of the President’s most reliable regiments. In practise, with so many regiments despatched to the Terran Hegemony, the most that could be said of the infantry regiment stationed at the star port was that they were sincerely committed to the perquisites provided by House Amaris.

Since one of those perquisites was access to the luxury goods warehouses, Phillip Drummond was fairly sure that the squad stationed at the rear access point were keeping an eye out for their own officers more than for any serious infiltration. After all, the officers had instructions to keep pilfering within reasonable grounds – a debateable term at the best of terms – while infiltrators would have had to get past the outer perimeter.

He was careful to make enough noise that the soldiers had time to tuck bottles and injectors out of plain sight before he reached the guard post and didn’t raise an eyebrow at the cards still on the table, imperfectly covered by several patriotic or sporting magazines.

“Keeping warm?” he asked, blowing on his gloved hands. “These damn gloves aren’t thick enough for weather like this.”

“Lowest bidder, sir,” the sergeant said wisely. He looked down at his hands and then apparently thought better of what he was about to say about his own gloves. “I understand Lieutenant Cole in Baker Company has a source for some better ones, though I couldn’t say where from. Regulation cut but better insulation.” He shrugged. “Out of my salary’s reach, but for an officer.”

The lieutenant refrained from letting a cynical grin cross his face. Out of salary indeed. More likely they were from a crate somewhere on the port, one advantage of civilian fashions being to ape militaristic styles. “Thank you for the advice, sergeant. Mind if I tap your coffee supply before the next leg?”

“Ah…” Objecting was clearly out of the question but the man was evidently reluctant to hand over the flask.

Drummond reached into one pocket and showed him the top of a hip flask. “This stuff makes me feel warm but it’s not actually helping.”

The man relaxed and poured out a cup for the lieutenant. Sniffing, the younger man was amused at the scent. Good beans had gone into this, but so had some pretty expensive whiskey unless he missed his guess. Maybe even some of the Terran bottles. If this kept up there might be a pretty fierce crackdown by the Household.

Of course, they might have other concerns shortly.

“Good stuff, sergeant. Glad to see you’re looking out for your men.” He finished the cup and handed it back before leaving the little pocket of warmth and heading back outside. From the sounds behind him, the squad was busy getting back to their cards and other entertainments before he’d even closed the door – too busy to notice that he dropped out of sight at the door of the hanger not the corner.

The security lock was first class and the first time he swiped the card through it, nothing happened. That was good – an improper card should have set off alarms. Twirling it in his fingers he tried the other edge, the one with the factory default codes. There was a click and then he was into the hanger, closing the door behind him.

It was dark but not pitch-black, a few low intensity lights in the ceiling giving him rough outlines for the maintenance gear around the edges of the hanger and the elegant delta-wing of the President’s personal dropship. Tonight was the one chance he had – Stefan Amaris would be leaving in the morning on the two month journey to Terra. The ground crew had done a system by system check over the last three days which would have turned up any sabotage, but it was likely that a standard pre-flight would miss something subtle.

Making his way towards the rear of the ship, Drummond looked for something he could move. A wheeled tool cart caught his eye and he unlocked the brakes. The auxiliary engine would be too obvious so he had to rely on brute force to wheel it over to beneath the maintenance hatch that he wanted.

Scrambling up on top he slipped the hydro spanner out of his sleeve and set it against the first securing bolt. It slipped. A second attempt did the same and the young man swore under his breath. He froze at the carelessness, stood obviously atop the cart. If anyone was in earshot…

Fortunately, there was no sound to indication investigation. Relaxing at last he placed the spanner over the bolt again and wiggled it gently. Dammit. Dammit. It wasn’t fitting, it was the wrong size. Now where was he going to get another…?

Looking down at what he was standing on, Drummond snickered privately and climbed down. A moment’s comparison and he found a smaller hydro spanner in the racked tools. This one fitted and he quickly removed seven of the eight bolts. The last he only loosened, letting the panel loose without disconnecting entirely from the hull. Rotating it carefully he held it up with one hand while the other reached into the cavity behind it.

The inside of the hatch was in shadow so he had to work by touch. One, two, three… his gloved fingers found the fourth circuit board and he pulled it free. With barely more light to work with than there was inside the ship Drummond squinted at it and was relieved to see that it matched what he’d been told to expect. Dropping it on the trolley, he almost lost his grip on the cover.

Carefully, carefully, he reminded himself. The replacement circuit-board was inside his jacket. Plugging it in was the work of a moment and then he rotated the panel back into place. Only then did he realise he’d dropping the bolts on the trolley and couldn’t recover them while holding the panel.

Dammit, this is a two man job. But I’m the only one who could get in to do it.

Resecuring the bolt as tightly as he could, Drummond crouched and groped around and found two more bolts. When he straightened up he found the panel already working loose. Pressing it back in place he used the bolts to secure two more corners, then climbed down to find the other bolts.

Only four were in evidence and he’d somehow knocked the circuit board off the top of the trolley. He cursed his carelessness, for a missing bolt was the sort of thing a pre-flight walk around would definitely spot. I should have got a technician’s vest or something.

He knelt down to recover the board and registered something about the wheels of the trolley. One of them was… With a relieved sigh Drummond identified the cause of the distorted shape – the missing bolt had rolled under one of the rubber tyres. He scooped it up. Right, that should be the worst of it…

Forcing himself to work steadily and not to make a mistake by rushing, Drummond resecured the panel and then pushed the trolley back to where he’d found it. He patted his pocket, making sure he still had the circuit board he’d returned and the hydro spanner he’d brought with him. All secure!

The door would be the big risk, he thought as he opened it a crack to listen for any sounds outside. If anyone tried to use it before Blackshark One took off then they’d know the codes had reset. It wasn’t unheard of for electronic locks of this type, but it could still arouse suspicions given that Amaris paid only for the best.

There was nothing he could do about it, he decided. For his personal safety it only had to last until he got off base. He had a bag waiting for him and enough cash to get him to the next supply cache he’d set up. At the end of a convoluted escape route was a hidden shelter with six months’ rations and a stack of book-tapes. Let the initial heat pass, get plenty of healthy exercise and he’d be able to risk getting back to his RRA contact – looking like more of a body builder and maybe with a beard. Learning Greek had been on his bucket list anyway…

Thoughts of the future vanished as he heard a muffled putt-putt sound from the guard post. Was it another officer?

Forwards and he might be able to explain himself, back and he’d be properly ******. Drummond let the door close behind him and unsnapped his pistol holster.

Shadows were moving around the guard-post and he saw a small electric freight-cart parked outside. The sort of thing a technical crew might use, not powerful enough for proper military use.

Creeping closer, he saw a stack of tool kits in the rear. Nothing out of the ordinary. And on the front a security pass for the area. Two mug-shots to reflect the authorised operators and a magnetic strip that you could run a sensor across.

Oh good, a distraction. He pulled his flashlight from his belt and flashed it over the security pass, knowing the squad inside the light would take it as a warning he or another officer was in the area. Satisfied, he pushed the door open with casual confidence.

The sergeant before was still at the table, one pocket bulging as if a wad of bank-notes – for example – had been crammed hastily into it. Two men in technician’s coveralls were opposite him, clutching mugs of coffee and Drummond’s eyes narrowed sharply in suspicion – those faces weren’t the ones on the security pass.

“Evening, Lieuten -” was as far as the Sergeant got, before the nearest of the technicians burst into action.

In the split second as the table up-ended and both the technicians pulled derringers from their vests, Drummond blamed the accumulated nerves of the evening for having let them realise he’d made them. The nerves, or more likely the fact that he’d allowed himself to relax after getting out of the hanger. What, in the end, did he care what two intruders were up to? Dereliction of duty would be small change once the Republic’s security apparatus realised that Lieutenant Phillip Drummond had attempted – hopefully succeeded – the assassination of the President and his family.

All of that went through his mind but none of it affected the trained reflex that threw him backwards out of the door, tearing his automatic pistol from his holster.

A shot went past his face, close enough that Drummond was left blinking and half-stunned at the hammer-blast of air and cordite particles. His fingers tightened reflexively and his own gun barked.

He rolled then, cursing himself for being slow, too slow…

“Clear!” the sergeant shouted shrilly. “All clear! Hold him, Graves! I said, oh for god’s sake…”

There was a meaty thump.

“Useless sack,” the sergeant’s voice continued. “You okay, sir?”

Drummond blinked, lowered his pistol. “I… think so.” Then he recalled himself and raised the gun again. “What’s going on?”

“Not sure,” the older man admitted. “Don’t know why they went for you like that, but we grabbed the one you didn’t get.” He paused and then added, respectfully, “You’ve got reflexes like a cat, sir. And a steady hand to drill him square between the eyes. I never seen the like.”

Hell, I couldn’t even see him.

.o0O0o.

Six hours later, Phillip Drummond was standing with his eyes watering in front of the man he’d tried to kill. He wasn’t sure if the eye-drops were at fault for his eyes or the lights. Or possibly the simmering rage.

“I’d wait for a more formal occasion,” Stefan Amaris told him warmly, “But who knows when I’ll be back from Terra and some things should be done personally.”

“It’s an honour,” he lied.

“It’s I who’s honoured.” The fat man gripped him by the shoulders, hands shaking with emotion. “You saved my wife and our children, Captain – no, Major - Drummond! And less importantly, my own. Those RRA scum had sabotaged the dropship and if you hadn’t caught them on their way out, the first we’d have known of it was when we fell out of the sky.”

“I was in the right place at the right time. Really, the other soldiers did as much as me.”

Amaris shook his head, long moustaches flying back and forth. “No false modesty!” he insisted. “Selim will take care of seeing to your promotion, and you’re to be transferred to the Amaris Dragoons at the next opportunity. We’re in dark times and it’s men like you that give me hope for the future.”

“Stefan, let the poor Major breathe.” The First Lady of the Republic was still a striking beauty after twenty years married to her husband. “His eyes must still be paining him.”

“Oh, of course.” The President released Drummond and squinted at his eyes. “What was I thinking?”

“Please don’t concern yourself, sir.”

“Nonsense, nonsense.” Seeing an aide gesturing, Amaris looked over and seemed to pick up on some signal. “Ah, the replacement shuttle is ready to leave. I’m sorry I can’t give you more time to express my gratitude, Drummond, but apparently even a member of the Council must bow to the dictates of jump-ship scheduling.”

Taborri Amaris sniffed slightly at that idea and then stepped in to kiss Drummond drily on one cheek. It felt more to him like some shark bumping its snout against something to see if it was edible than any affection. “Thank you, Major, with all my heart,” she told him stiffly.

He bowed, hoping it hid any ambivalence on his part. “It’s my privilege to serve you, my lord and lady.”

“Ah, if I could only take you with me, but you need to see a doctor about those eyes.” Stefan jostled him again. “You know, that lout Kerensky’s family have some sort of hereditary honour for defending a Cameron, I should… Yes, yes, I’m coming.”

He bustled away and Drummond was left to stand, fists clenched as he watched the Amaris family board the shuttle that would take them to orbit and the ship pressed into service at the last minute to replace Blackshark One.

What the hell? he thought in frustration. If those men were RRA, then who is it that I’ve been working with? Are there separate cells that didn’t talk to each other? Or was one of us set up by someone else?

Something told the young officer that he’d be a long time finding out, but for now he had to turn his attention to the more pressing matter of surviving the attention he’d just drawn to himself.

.o0O0o.

Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
9 December 2766

“Sire, with the greatest possible respect, I wish you’d discussed this with me first.”

It would have been harsh to say that Joel Parks, Minister of Ways and Means, was the stereotypical accountant. Harsh, but with his thinning hair, horn-rimmed glasses (a fashion statement rather than a medical requirement) and plain grey suit, not entirely unfair. His expression of restrained disappointment was the most emotion John had ever seen of him.

It also made him a devastatingly effective poker player. An entire team of internal affairs was constantly scrutinising senior members of the Exchequer and given the potential impact of gambling debts, they paid particularly close attention to Parks. (It cost a depressing, if mundane on governmental scales, amount to insert agents into high level poker tournaments on a regular basis). All reports indicated that neither winning nor losing amounts coming to three or four times his annual salary had shaken his demeanour.

“I won’t say that the money you’re providing won’t be valuable, with the programmes you’ve ordered us to instate helping firms to find alternative markets and sources to the Hegemony, but I’m concerned about how you’ve obtained it.”

John nodded. “It was in the nature of a unique opportunity, Joel.” He leant back and spread his hands. “But we’re in private, please feel free to have your say now. I want your unvarnished opinion.”

“In aggregate, I think this is the largest loan the Federated Suns has taken out since Prince Alexander’s Reconstruction Bill of 2545, and that was from internal sources and understood to be a long term repayment backed by the confiscated Rostov estates.” Joel pushed his glasses up his nose. “Slightly more than half a trillion dollars, from Terran banks is an extraordinary degree of exposure that I’d find hard to justify even if it wasn’t for the nature of the securities involved.”

“I understood it to be quite ordinary to secure loans with personal property,” John said, hiding his amusement. Hanse, the lucky fellow, was snickering loudly from the couch. “Mortgages and the like.” He made a dismissive gesture. “I’ve never had one myself, but it’s a major part of the credit industry, isn’t it?”

“I’d hesitate to commit myself without seeking legal advice,” Parks responded peevishly, “But I’m not entirely convinced that what you’ve offered as collateral counts as personal property – or even your property. I don’t have access to your personal finances, of course, but I’m frankly shocked that such reputable firms would have accepted some of these terms.”

“I gather…” John leaned forwards and lowered his voice, “In confidence, you understand, that they may have over-extended themselves in other commitments and need to maximise the return on their remaining liquidity.”

Parks’ humph was severely understated. “I’m beginning to understand how someone might feel that desperate, sire. The comprehension may not be sinking in fully yet as I haven’t examined yet how the Exchequer can be expected to find the instalments on this. You understand that over the next five years we’ll need to add a total of over seven hundred and fifty billion dollars to our outgoings?”

“That’s what I’d thought, yes. Although it’s good to have confirmation, of course.”

“With tax revenue out of the Territorial States at below thirty percent of previous levels, and unlikely to recover whatever Kerensky’s able to accomplish.” Parks shook his head slightly. “There’s been an unavoidable cut in revenues received from the League and I understand the BSLA is already having to look very carefully at what it can afford to cut, which will have con-current effects on our own economy -”

John raised his hand. “Good point, please look at setting aside funds we can loan to the local office if need be. It’ll be far easier to get the money back from them in the long term than to recover from losing some of those programmes.”

Parks gave him a cool look. “I’m not given to dramatic gestures,” he said quietly. “I find myself hoping that you have something in mind to address these issues, which are only the first and most obvious to spring to mind.”

“I do,” John said confidently. “It’s not quite ready yet and I’d prefer to present it as a package to the rest of the Privy Council a little down the line… Six weeks or so from now, maybe the start of February depending on what happens over the Christmas period.”

Parks arched one eyebrow but John shook his head slightly. “I see… or rather, I look forward to seeing your plans. Are you entirely sure that this is wise?”

“With the situation we’re in at the moment, yes.” The First Prince met the Minister’s eyes steadily. “I admit it’s out of the ordinary, but right now anything else would be madness.”

“I’m told that House Davion has produced many people of remarkable talent. History supports this theorem.” Parks rose from his seat. “One hopes that you are such a talent in financial affairs. I regret to say I have found too many of my social contacts to have been similarly confident… until the time that they found themselves financially bankrupt and socially disgraced.”
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

drakensis

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #52 on: 24 November 2017, 12:27:42 »
Unity City, North America
Terra, Terran Hegemony
27 December 2766

The Boxing Day Soiree had kept Helena Cameron up late, far too late for her to be enthused about a morning event scheduled the day after. The only reason she’d refrained from cancelling it at all had been the deferred arrival of her brother’s friend this morning.

Richard had always been cruel, but for some reason he was worse around Lord Amaris. She didn’t know why it was – and on some level, she’d ceased to wonder – for the man himself didn’t seem especially given to the pettiness of her brother, but it was one of the few observations she’d shared with her sister when they could still rely upon each other.

That had changed last year, when Elizabeth came of age and could do so. Since then, Helena hadn’t heard from her sister – whether intentionally on her part or because of some action by Richard. She’d seen her yesterday, of course, but from long habit they’d avoided each other and resorted to whatever they could in order to get through the night.

The car’s mini-bar didn’t have anything Helena thought could be counted for ‘hair of the dog that bit you’ without being detected on her breath, so she’d settled for bottled water and several painkillers.

At least the cloud cover meant she didn’t have to deal with morning sun as she walked from her car up the steps of the Federated Suns embassy. Much to her surprise though, the grand hall behind the double doors wasn’t the usual bustle of bureaucrats and minor nobility wishing for an introduction or a chance to have their photo taken with her. Instead there were only a sprinkling of men and women in civilian attire but with distinctly military hair-cuts, moving purposely from room to room under dimmed lights.

“Lady Cameron, this way please.” She had to bite back a gasp at the way the man seemed to appear out the darkness.

“What’s going on?” the head of her security detail asked suspiciously, one hand inside his jacket. Only two of them had followed her inside and she was suddenly and uncomfortably aware that the door had closed behind them.

“Essentially -” And then there was a thump and the security man was on the floor, a red stain forming around his chest despite the body-armour she knew he wore. “We’re going to borrow Lady Cameron.”

Helena looked for her other guard and saw her reeling, gun out but pointed firmly at the floor due to the two rather large men pinning her between them.

“Don’t worry, Miss Helena.” The Feddie gave her a crooked smile. “She’ll be fine in ninety minutes, just a little sedative spray. Well,” he cocked his head to one side. “Let’s say that she’ll have as much chance of being fine as we have.” He took her arm and pulled her firmly forwards and deeper into the embassy.

“What’s going on?” she asked, realising that she was asking the same question that Mr Rowe had. “Why did you kill Mr Rowe?”

“In reverse order, he was one of Amaris’ men. A Krypteia member, no less. We don’t know the same about his colleague so we’ll leave her somewhere she can escape from easily. And what’s going on is a coup.”

“A coup. But… are you Feddies?”

“Yes, that’s right. You can call me Rafael.”

It was a nice name and he had a nice smile, she thought. “But why would the Feddies… The Federated Suns launch a coup? There are thousands of Rim Worlds troops loyal to my brother and millions of SLDF soldiers in the Suns…” She gasped at a thought. “Is it Kerensky?”

Rafael shook his head. “I didn’t say that we were behind the coup, and none of the Rim Worlders are loyal to your brother.” He opened a door and led her inside, releasing her to close the door. “I’m sorry I can’t give you privacy, but please change your clothes.”

The room had been an office of some kind but now it was a mess with every computer opened and parts yanked open. Cabinets had been left open and the chair upended on top of the desk. A poorly pressed set of pants and a military-style tunic hung from a hanger suspended from a chair-leg. Beneath was a rugged hiking backpack and some boots with thick socks stuffed into them.

Helena looked at Rafael, judging her chances of getting out of the room. Slim, she judged. Although he didn’t seem to be looking at her with any of unpleasant looks she’d had sometimes from her brother’s ‘friends’. He might just be hiding it, but there didn’t seem to be any better options than compliance.

As normal then.

Matter-of-factly she unbuttoned her top and made to drop it on the desk. Rafael moved, wraithlike, and took it from her hands without a word, dropping it in the metal waste bin.

When she removed her skirt she heard a slight change in his breathing. Oh. So it was like that.

But he took the skirt without comment, putting it with the top. He’d added her shoes to the little heap before he said anything. “Has a doctor seen those bruises?”

“They’re nothing serious,” Helena said reflexively as she pulled on the pants.

“I see.” There was definite weight to his words now. The man picked up a small bottle she’d not noticed before and emptied the contents into the bin, over her clothes. “Would you like to do the honours?”

“What?”

He handed her a small device, little more than a hand-grip with a button and a tube sticking out of one end. “Click the button.”

When she obeyed, sparks flew from the end of the tube.

“Light the fire and we can go,” Rafael told her.

Ah. She thrust the tip of the tube into the bin and clicked. Her clothes lit immediately. Something to do with the bottle’s contents? She recalled vaguely that clothes weren’t supposed to be easily inflammable. “What now?”

“If we’re lucky, a few years of a new life being someone other than Helena Cameron.”

That sounded terribly appealing to Helena.

“But we’ll start by talking to one of our medics. There’s a bit of walking and I don’t like the look of those bruises. What happened?”

“I fell,” she said reflexively.

“I’ll bet.”

.o0O0o.

Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
4 January 2767

The sound of a phone interrupted John at one of the worst possible moments.

“John!” Edwina protested as he reached for the phone.

“I’m sorry,” he said, lifting the handset. “This had better be good,” he half-snarled down the phone.

“The Minister for Intelligence, sire. She says it’s Priority Absolute.”

“God.” It was happening. It was really happening. John realised he’d more than half not-believed it. Even despite everything that had happened, despite years of thinking about it.

“Sire?”

“Put her through.”

Edwina moved up behind him on the bed. “What is it?”

He flipped the switch for speakerphone. “Minister.”

“Your highness, I apologise for the hour.”

“I assume it can’t wait for the morning then.”

“No sir. Regular daily HPG transmissions from the Terran Hegemony to stations in the Clovis Combat Region weren’t received starting from the twenty-seventh of last month. It’s taken until now for word to get to us because apparently,” and her voice grew disgusted, “No one on those stations had the authority to up the priority.”

John swung upright. “Then the Hegemony’s gone silent.”

“I’ve spoken to the New Avalon representative of the Ministry of Communications and he’s authorised top priority querying of the rest of the network, we should have confirmation from stations in the Combine and Confederation by tomorrow. Per your standing instructions for any crisis affecting the Hegemony I’ve had a preliminary report forwarded to General Kerensky’s headquarters.”

“Good.” He sighed, mind racing. Was he ready for this? Was anyone ready for this? “Francesca, in your honest opinion, what are we looking at?”

“Doctor Bancroft is our top expert on K-F physics, over at MI2. She says there’s no way this a system failure or some natural disruption. We’re definitely looking at human action – and if it was just one or two stations falling out of connection then word should have been sent indirectly. That would mean that either the Hegemony’s dropped out of the HPG network, or the Federated Suns has been cut off.”

John drummed his fingers on the bedside table. “Is that including shared worlds?”

“They’re not responding.”

“Then our soldiers are cut off.” He wasn’t exactly dressed for this but history caught you on its own schedule. “Francesca send what you have on this to all members of the Privy Council. I’ll speak to the High Command myself.”

“Sire.” The line went dead.

“John?” Edwina rested one hand on his shoulder. “What’s going on, who would cut off the HPGs?”

“It’s hard to say for sure, but the most likely explanation is that someone’s up to something in the Hegemony and they don’t want the rest of the Star League to interfere. Most probably a coup.”

“Against Richard Cameron? I know he isn’t popular, but… really?”

“It’s been tried. Ian Cameron only inherited because his brother was killed, remember?” John picked up the phone and thumbed the controls. “Get me Michael Stopec.”

“What are you going to do?”

Before he could answer, Stopec’s voice came over the phone. “John? What can I do for you?”

“Michael, I’m declaring Case Attila. The High Command is to assemble at 0900 tomorrow but I want orders out for preliminary action, right away. Can you take care of that for me?”

“Ordering the meeting or sending the orders?”

“Both.”

The Colonel grunted. “Attila. You’re sure?”

“As sure as I can be.”

“Damn. Just… damn.” It was easy to imagine the Champion shaking his head, as if trying to shake off the impact of a physical blow. “Alright. I’ll get on it.”

“Thanks, Michael.”

“God bless,” the grizzled soldier replied, even more grimly than usual. “God bless us all if you’re right.”

John ended the call and looked back at his wife. Her eyes were worried. “Attila, as in the Hun? The Scourge of God, the man who sacked Rome?”

“I think that last bit was someone else, but otherwise yes. I speculated when the Periphery Uprisings began that the only way they could ever hope to win was to neutralise the Hegemony. Attila is the contingency file for that happening.”

“That’s impossible, surely.”

He looked at her sadly and then shrugged. “It’ll take a few days to find out.”

“And if it’s true? What happens then?”

John closed his eyes. “Then Kerensky will be taking the SLDF home, and all the horrors of war we’ve seen in the Periphery will be re-enacted on the richest and most populous worlds of the Star League. The Periphery realms will be left in virtual freedom unless the other Member States decided to take a hand – which would be foolish, really. And worst of all, we might have to answer a question no one ever thought to ask when they laid out the Star League Accords.”

Edwina pulled him down to lay against her, wrapping her arms about him. “What question?”

“Can the Camerons’ still lead the League if the Hegemony’s no longer the most powerful of all the Member-States?”

.o0O0o.

Sidebar: History of the Rim Worlds Republic

"Keep your friends close and House Amaris where you can see them."

The collapse of the Terran Alliance’s interstellar domain left chaos in its wake. Many colonies were not yet self-sufficient and it would take time for trade networks to develop to support then. Some sought alliances with their more established neighbours, others put armed men on the available starships and tried to take the needed resources by force. Others did the same for different reasons. Before the rebellion, Hector Rowe had been a professor of classics at the small university on Alexandria. Changed by his experiences fighting against the Alliance, in 2244 he recruited a band of followers and commandeered a ship at gunpoint to travel to the nearby Luciana where an isolated Terran garrison was still waiting for transport home. After a surprise attack, Rowe captured the garrison, condemning them to death by torture as ‘war criminals’.

Recognising that he had rendered himself an outlaw, Rowe turned to piracy in order to amass supplies before establishing a new colony on the distant world of Apollo. Modelled on his beloved classical Greece, Rowe’s new republic didn’t shrink from slavery or brutal law enforcement. Over the next century, as the great interstellar nations rose, refugees from worlds forcibly incorporated into them fled outwards and established nearby colonies. While both Hector Rowe and his son Maxwell were in turn overthrown by their offspring, the Rim Worlds Republic was the first world in the area and cautious diplomacy persuaded their new neighbours of benefits of close working relationships and eventually of joining the Republic, particularly after Arabella Rowe moderated the more extreme of her grandfather’s legacies.

Arabella’s children Michael and Heather Durant brought the Republic back into the mainstream of the dawning Age of War. While Michael relied on bluff and trade ties to expand the Republic’s power, Heather laid the foundation of another tradition by establishing a powerful intelligence service knowing that information could be sold both for profit and to keep the nearby Lyran Commonwealth and Draconis Combine focused on each other and not the Republic. In 2459, the childless Heather Durant named a successor: her close friend and rumoured lover, Lady Terens Amaris – the Terran ambassador to the Republic.

The status of House Amaris as outsiders led to resistance and harsh measures to suppress that resistance did little to endear them to their opponents. Nonetheless the new dynasty provided strong leadership and a connection to Terra that made their neighbours hesitant to make enemies of the Republic. In 2573 the Rift Republican Army – a veteran’s association whose name predated the current Rim Worlds Army - began to openly resist House Amaris. Gregory Amaris responded by seeking closer ties with Terra and the new Star League, either unaware or careless of the strong anti-Star League sentiment upon his worlds. In 2575 workers in a ‘Mech factory went on strike and overpowered the army regiment sent to break their occupation of the factory. When regular forces defected to the strikers, Gregory Amaris retreated to his estates and asked for Star League support.

Heavily engaged in fighting the other periphery states, it took six years for the Star League to deploy a relief force and fifteen more for them to liberate the embittered Gregory Amaris and restore him to power. The Rim Worlds had learned that the Star League would support House Amaris’ tyranny over their citizens and House Amaris had learned their low position in the League’s priorities. Neither lesson would be forgotten… or forgiven.
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

drakensis

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #53 on: 25 November 2017, 16:28:38 »
Zenith Jump Point, Ozawa
Lockdale Province, Terran Hegemony
15 January 2767

They hadn’t brought dropships with them, the mission was strictly reconnaissance, so at least Jones didn’t have to deal with the problems that had arisen at Tortuga. On the other hand, Moore had decided to detach three of the onboard fighter wings to reinforce the worried garrison on Mallory’s World, which Jones wasn’t happy about.

FSS Tancredi also wasn’t the first ship to jump into the destination system – that was what her escorts were for and the two destroyers had jumped ten minutes earlier. If all was well, they would have cleared the immediate battlespace around the jump point of all threats.

Actually, he thought as the universe lurched and Commodore Plains covered her mouth with a drawstring bag, if all went well there wouldn’t be any threats.

Then the transit was over and systems that had been locked down against the side-effects began to spin up again. Plains was bent over next to her console but long routine had her petty officers working around her for the thirty seconds it took her to get her dry heaves under control. The confirmation that nothing obstructed the launch axis of the ship came in before the little blonde had finished wiping her mouth with an absorbent cloth but she nodded to the questioning look from the man next to her and the first eight fighters streaked out into space.

The jump point was cluttered with traffic, mostly civilian boomers and the dropships they were carrying. The familiar icons of FSS Arthur Davion and her sister ship FSS Katherine Davion were amidst them, under one gravity of thrust and escorted by their own fighters.

“- aware armed jumpships among the civilian vessels.” Pyotr Antonov was senior of the two destroyer commanders. “One vessel engaged and destroyed, two others using civilians as cover.”

“Understood,” Moore answered crisply. “Form on our flanks and send us as much ID material as you have, we don’t want to cause casualties among the civilian shipping. Captain, proceed with caution.”

“Aye sir.” Jones spun his chair back to Plains’ station. “Air boss we need a search pattern for two hostiles. Possible converted pre-League merchantmen, possibly heavily armed. More detailed information to follow.”

“Search pattern, aye. Red and Blue wings on dorsal and ventral patterns. Holding Silver and Copper for response.”

Jones didn’t bother with confirmation – it was her decision and it was the right one. The first two wings she referred to by their colour-coded wing-tips were in Centurion interceptors – fast and agile which made them the best for finding the targets. The next two wings, not yet launched although they’d be out soon were in heavier Lightnings loaded with heavy autocannon. Not ideal for taking on enemy shipping but this was no situation to break out the nuclear warheads in the Tancredi’s arsenal.

Checking the data from the Arthur Davion he confirmed his guess: the ships were both built on the hulls of small pre-League starships that had been designed around compact jump-cores that had since been reserved to military function. About the size of a Merchantman-class boomer, but more slender and sporting a fusion thruster that pure jumpships – most of which never went in-system from jump points – didn’t need.

“If it wasn’t so packed, they’d stand out a wolf among sheep,” he noted. “Ships like that aren’t exactly common this near to Terra.”

“Periphery raider, perhaps,” Moore speculated. “It’s armed, though. The first sighted gave the Katy a real nudge before she could fire back.”

“Yes...” Jones looked at the data and then frowned. “They only fired with capital turrets, not with secondaries. They might have been holding them back until fighters were launched, of course.” He glanced at the tactical display. “Admiral, I recommend we make headway x-20, y-75 and get clear of the civilians.”

“That could leave them clear arcs to fire on us from among the civvies,” she observed. “On the other hand, with forty fighters combing through the area they’ll have to fight or run – Barry, have you got anything from the civvies yet? A lot of contradictory talk from them,” she added to Jones “I think our targets may be transmitting bad data when we try to get facts. Make headway, let’s see if it gets a response.”

“And likely the civilians are worried that if they’re near one of them they might be targeted for talking. Or just caught in the crossfire.” Jones turned to the helm and gave the necessary instructions.

Something was said on the flag-deck and Moore spoke up again. “They’ve been here two weeks, long enough to charge their drives.”

“Then they have an alternative to standing and fighting.”

“Target one sighted,” snapped Plains. “Position data being plotted, Silver – ah, hell – Silver Wing is going after it. We lost the fighter that spotted them but the rest of the squadron is closing in to reacquire.”

“Good work, Weiss.”

Silver-white icons threaded their way through the tactical plot, racing towards the orange-haloed blue marker of the lost Centurion. Hopefully the pilot had made it out but there was little chance of that if the thirty ton fighter had taken a hit from a weapon intended for use against ship massing hundreds of thousands of tons. The blue markers were also coalescing towards the same point, hunting the killer.

“Launching Gold Wing,” the air boss announced absently. “Green Wing is on hold for rearmament.”

Jones frowned. Green Wing were interceptors, they could only carry around sixty percent the external load of the Lightning wings and had no internal ammunition bins. Then again, they might need all the punch they could muster to take out the enemy ships without using the Davion-class destroyer’s capital autocannon. “Conventional warheads?” he asked her.

Weiss shook her head, short blonde curls surrounding her face like a halo. “Rocket pods.”

Jones arched an eyebrow. Weren’t those usually used for surface strafing? “Proceed then.” Second-guessing his Air boss could wait until after the fight – by which point her decision might have been vindicated.

The enemy ship popped back up onto the display as Blue wing reacquired it, skulking behind a flotilla of egg-shaped bulk-carriers almost as large as the shark-like starship.

Copper Wing  arced away from the Tancredi, moving to intercept the enemy’s course as it realised it had been sighted again and lit up its main drive, no longer coasting. Before they arrived and before the ship could build any serious speed, Plains vectored Silver Wing around the Behemoth-class dropships and the twenty fighters slashed down on their prey, racing along its length from prow to stern.

Plains straightened. “Blue Wing reports the enemy navigational bridge is out, bow armour compromised.” A blue-white flash on her display. “Confirming three capital energy turrets in the enemy stern,” she added sourly as orange flashed around one of the silver fighters and it fell out of formation, tumbling. “Two lasers, one PPC, dual mounts. Amend attack patterns to avoid the aft arc.”

Silver Wing broke away behind cover, circling towards the nose of the enemy ship. Copper had reached position though and they drove in laterally, savaging one side of the bow. In response the ship rolled over and its much heavier massive autocannon sent trails of shells chasing after the Lightnings. None of them showed damage markers, but one of the trails of fire intersected with a Star Lord-class jumpship and blew it in half without the slightest effort. Escape pods burst away from the prow section.

“New contact, same class as before,” Plains reported and Red Wing began to converge before she scattered them sharply. “Keep looking, we don’t know there are only three. Green launching, Gold move to engage.”

“Hold that,” Jones ordered quietly.

Plains amended her instruction and then looked at him. “Captain?”

“As long as Red are still sweeping the area, they may not realise they’ve been spotted. They’re headed for our rear but we’re opening the range right now. Get Green out there and both wings can engage as a concentrated strike. In the meantime, it buys us time.”

She nodded in understanding.

Silver Wing was re-engaging the other ship, abandoning the earlier high speed pass and instead matching approximate vector and velocity, relying on their higher thrust-to-weight ratio to dance evasively around the enemy prow, weapons firing each time they spun their noses past it. Like a bull stung in the nose by a picador’s blade, the enemy returned fire with autocannon and at least one particle beam. At least, since it was pulling out of the civilian ships, there was less chance of them hitting another boomer.

That didn’t mean that Silver weren’t paying a price and they were short by two more fighters before Copper bled off their own previous speed and re-joined the fight.

“Moving Green and Gold in,” Plains reported. She careted way points on the tactical display. “No over thrusting, they’ll pick it up for sure.”

Compared to the rush to engage the first target, the two squadrons seemed to crawl across the battlespace. Jones took the time to launch recovery craft, both for the wreckage of their own fighters and for the civilian escape pods.

“Captain,” Moore called out. “I think I’ve got it through the civvies heads that the enemy are too focused on us to stop them jumping. We should see…”

“Multiple K-F fields building,” one of the sensor operators reported.

“Shoot it to the Air boss,” Jones snapped. If his fighters was in the wrong place when they ships jumped they could be torn apart by the jump-field.

Green and Gold accelerated sharply, over thrusting to get away from one of the building K-F jump drives.

“Target Two is accelerating.”

“A foolish decision,” Mary Kaga noted from the Combat Information Centre. “He should have held his position and jumped out. Our fighters couldn’t risk approaching him if he was about to jump.”

There were flashes of light and the battlespace began to clear. Hopefully the civilian ships would go somewhere safe.

“Engaging Target Two,” reported Plains. On the display, all forty aerospace fighters went across the bow of the ship, spreading out as they slowed and twisted away to avoid its return fire. The little woman gripped her console. “Their forward particle beam is out – the rockets did significant damage to sensor externals. That should hurt their accuracy.”

“Sir, target one is signalling.” The comms officer tapped his ear piece.

“On speakers.”

“They’ve ceased fire,” Plains noted, shifting attention back and forth between what were effectively separate engagements.

“-sel, this is the RWS Theban Legion. I request, terms of -”

The message, but not the transmission, was cut off with the retort of a gun and a second voice spoke up. “No surrender.”

Jones spun his seat to look at Moore’s face on the feed from the flag bridge. She was looking back at him with the same forced blandness he thought he was showing.

“The signal cut off, sir.”

“It seems as if they’re not of one mind over there,” Jones said out loud.

“Yes, and a Rim Worlds ship? Some of their fleet would be stationed in the Hegemony but I don’t recall anything like these in their listed forces.”

“A secret fleet to join the Periphery’s secret army?”

It seemed possible. Jones looked at Light Commodore Plains. “Continue the engagement. There are still civilians in the region, we’ll take escape pods if they launch them but I want those ships gone.”

“Aye sir. Pulling Red, Blue and Green back for a perimeter, with the pods expended they’re not adding anything to the other wings.”

Jones nodded. The modest lasers of the Centurions’ integral armament wasn’t intended for anti-shipping strikes.

A moment later, the first of the two enemy ships lit up with explosions, compartment after compartment gutting itself as fire spread along its hull. Jones winced – something must have ruptured the hydrogen fuel storage from inside the shop and it was venting into the personnel spaces.

“We’ll need a reload for Silver and Copper before they re-engage,” Plains reported.

Jones nodded. It’s an issue with carrier doctrines, he noted to himself. Death of a thousand cuts works for extended fights but we’ll need heavier fighters or better ammunition loads if we want to take out ships with a single fighter sortie. At least without the civilians we could use nukes now.

The Katherine Davion pulled away slightly from the Tancredi and began to rotate end to end.

“Captain Riley has a firing solution now that the civilians are clear,” Moore advised. “Pull your fighters back.”

He gave Plains the nod and saw the twenty fighters open the distance from the last enemy. All twenty? Yes, they hadn’t lost a single Gold Wing Lightning so far.

The destroyer opened fire with its forward guns, raking the Rim Worlds ship with heavy autocannon fire. Video feed from the fighters showed the hull being torn open by the heavy shells and Plains all but pouted.

.o0O0o.

Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
23 January 2767

Francesca Reznick stood in front of the Privy Council. The first shock had passed, for the most part. Now they could confront the grim reality.

“The FSN has made contact with the garrisons we loaned to the Terran Hegemony on jointly administered worlds and seven other Hegemony worlds,” she reported. “All four worlds lost their HPG stations to sabotage and in the cases of Ozawa, New Florence and Rio, the primary jump-points were interdicted by warships of the Rim Worlds Navy. All seven Hegemony world had some degree of Rim Worlds presence either on the ground or in space.”

“Carrier divisions Tancredi and Pleiades were able to break the interdictions at Ozawa and Rio and several hundred civilian jumpships were able to escape, but we don’t have a great deal of information about what’s happening deeper inside the Hegemony and the New Florence picket managed to destroy FSS Buccaneer, with her escorts hot-loading their drives to escape.”

“Weren’t there any captured personnel?” asked Benton Hasek, representing his cousin Rita for the Ministry of the Capellan March.

“A few enlisted personnel. The most Military Intelligence has established so far is confirmation that as far as they’re aware, their ships were acting under the orders of President Stefan Amaris as part of a general operation to isolate the Terran Hegemony – and that operations commenced on the morning of the twenty-seventh of December.” Reznick folded her arms. “We know from the last information to reach us from Terra that President Amaris was scheduled to arrive the day before but bad weather kept him from landing until the evening. Whether that had an effect on his plans is hard to say.”

“What about our people on Terra?” asked Joshua quietly.

“With relations at such a low ebb quite a number of Council Aides and senior bureaucrats elected to return to the Suns for Christmas,” his father advised him. “It was intended as a low key message to Richard, but there were still hundreds of staff members and tens of thousands of tourists on Terra. Across the entire Hegemony, counting tourists, business travellers and whatnot it’s likely hundreds of thousands.”

“This is going to be a disaster.”

“Yes.” Joel Parks looked over at Bennett Green of the Bureau of Star League Affairs, invited by John to sit in on the meeting. “On many levels. Administrator Green, did the January credit transfer arrive from Terra?”

The man – Thomas Green-Davion’s maternal cousin – shook his head. “Our first sign of problems was when we didn’t get confirmation of the end of quarter tax transfers.”

Parks looked up the table to John. “That will cripple BSLA operations,” he said quietly.

“But you said that tax transfers hadn’t been sent? Can’t those be used instead of the usual funding?” asked Joshua.

“It’s a different account,” Green explained. “Until the Department of Revenue disburses the funds we can’t touch it. In fact, the banks aren’t sure if it should still be credited against the local Star League accounts or the accounts on Terra. We’re stuck in limbo.”

“Banking regulations aren’t a suicide pact,” John told them. “Joel, issue an instruction to the banks that until and unless transfers to the Hegemony have been verified they’re to assume that they transfers have failed and advise their customers as such. There must be millions of private and corporate accounts with the same problem.”

“Secondly, as of tomorrow we’ll have been out of touch with Terra for four weeks. While there’s no specific provision for this under the Accords, in an emergency even a non-quorum of the Star League Council can issue temporary directives subject to later ratification. While one member is a fairly long way from a quorum, I think this qualifies as an emergency.”

Green considered and then nodded cautiously. “Within reason, your highness, and only for temporary measures.”

“That’s acceptable. In that case I’m temporarily appointing a committee to direct Star League civil activities within the Federated Suns, handling any decisions that would normally be dealt with on Terra until contact is re-established.”

“You said the magic word,” Hanse noted. “He relaxed the minute you said committee. All bureaucrats love those.”

“I hereby appoint you as chairman, Administrator Green, and the senior representatives within the Suns of each department are also summoned to New Avalon as members.” That wouldn’t be hard, since all of them had offices here and all but one was on-world already. “Minister Davion of Administration Services will also sit on the committee as a liaison to the Federated Suns government.”

Joshua opened his mouth, possibly to protest, but John glared at him. You wanted to improve relations with the Hegemony, son. Now put your money where your mouth is.

“Your first priority is to maintain normal operations in the short term, disbursing Star League revenue as necessary to your departments. Your second priority is to have the Ministry of Communications re-establish links to the rest of the Star League Council. I realise we can’t coordinate real-time meetings without the connections through Terra, but we can vote by letter if need be.”

“Of course, your highness.” Green pushed his chair back.

John held up his hand. “Finally, you’re to draft a plan for the orderly scaling back of non-essential Star League programmes and the prioritisation of funding to the SLDF. We’re still on a wartime footing and General Kerensky has a lot of expenses that need to be paid for.”

Thomas Green-Davion leant forwards, drawing attention from his cousin. “A fight in the Hegemony would get ugly in a hurry,” he warned. “No one’s ever seriously tested the defences Lord Jonathon ordered except in simulated combat but based on exercises ten years they’d be a formidable force multiplier and we don’t even know how strong Amaris’ forces are.”

Eyes went to Reznick who nodded. “His expected deployments were around seventy-five percent of the RWA’s reported strength which would have put them on par with the one Corps of First Army still in the Hegemony. We have to assume that those numbers are under-reported though, because they’d have had to neutralised the SLDF forces and the Hegemony’s militia forces to have got this far.”

“Surprise and ruthlessness could have cut those odds,” John told her. “It’s entirely probable that many of I Corps’ and the militia’s bases were targeted with nuclear or chemical attacks in the opening stages and stragglers could be mopped up in isolated groups. If there are holdouts, as I very much hope, they’re likely to be the exceptions which managed to get an organised resistance together. Still, we have to assume that Amaris’ forces are much larger than reported. It would be consistent with the other Periphery states’ forces.”

“And they’re still in the field,” Stopec noted. “So Kerensky can’t simply withdraw from the Periphery without leaving a hostile force to his rear.”

The First Prince shook his head. “That’s also not a given. If Amaris was moving in concert with the rest of the Periphery then he should have moved much sooner. A year ago you’d have been right, but since then the other three states are probably down to only a couple divisions worth of troops each – and not as formed divisions, most of them are scattered in regiment or battalion pockets, sometimes even companies and lances fighting guerrilla-style wars.”

“This is probably more of a matter for the High Command,” Green-Davion pointed out. “Will you be making a public address?”

“At this point, yes.” John looked around the room. “I know this is going to affect all of our ministries on some level. For now, my son’s office will act as our point of contact for any matters that would usually involve the Star League. Joshua, don’t actually try to resolve all them directly, set up lines of communication between departments and the relevant members of Administrator Green’s committee.”

He rose to his feet. “The Star League was built on the premise that we could work together, which was the basis for the Federated Suns, on a slightly more local scale. What we’re facing isn’t a crisis, it’s a challenge. A challenge that we’re going to rise to.”

With forced humour, he added: “The crisis is going to be Stefan Amaris’ cleaning bill when General Kerensky has the SLDF back on Terran soil. Because that’s going to be a lot of brown pants to get stains out of.”

.o0O0o.

Avalon City, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Suns
6 February 2767

The holographic image of Aleksandr Kerensky stood facing John across his desk, courtesy of the HPG channels between New Avalon and New Vallis. Damage to HPGs in the Concordat had forced the Commanding General to return to his previous command post for this conversation.

“Have you received any further communication from the usurper?” he enquired coldly.

John inclined his head. Stefan Amaris had broken the silence of the Terran Hegemony on 31 January, although it had taken time for word to spread. The President of the Rim Worlds Republic had announced his removal of the ‘Cameron tyrant’ and election as the Director-General of the Terran Hegemony. By the logic that the Director-General was the First Lord of the Star League, he also proclaimed himself the leader of the League – although he apparently preferred to style himself Emperor rather than merely ‘First Lord’.

“Not since he asked me to pass on his best wishes as Emperor to all his minions. His own words, in fact.” The First Prince shrugged. “I’m not inclined to do so. I can’t see any of the Council supporting him as Director-General, much less as Emperor. Bennett Green tells me that Duke Ueno ordered him to resume normal BSLA operations, including sending tax revenue to Terra. That isn’t happening and at least in the Combine and Confederation his colleagues are taking the same position.”

Kerensky lowered his head in a fractional nod. “I’m relieved to hear that. I will need time before the SLDF can respond. All of our communications will need to be re-arranged, thousands of functions that were handled on Terra or New Earth now have to be taken care of without their facilities or records. And… the men are shocked. Angry and fearful for their families.”

“I know.” John shook his head. “HPG communications are almost choked by families trying to contact relatives in the Hegemony. Have you heard from the other Council Lords?”

“Only Liao so far. She was reserved, assured me she would not support Amaris.” The general drew himself up. “However, she said that as Amaris is a Hegemony citizen, to act against him would be to interfere in internal Hegemony affairs.”

John winced.

“Yes.” The general nodded in agreement. “Kurita has had time to reply but has not.”

“I’ve had some unconfirmed reports from my people in the Combine,” John told him. Which was even true, albeit supplemented by Hanse’s information. “The Coordinator’s health is poor, and out of all of us he’s the only one of us with close family on Terra.”

“Us?”

John shook his head. “The Council, my apologies. You’re from Moscow, so…”

“We all have our hostages to fortune,” Kerensky replied coldly. “I will do my duty, Prince Davion. And part of this is that I must ask what will you do?”

“The AFFS is on a war-footing and I’m moving troops and ships to reinforce the seven worlds we’re garrisoning already – it’s a foothold for operations in the Hegemony once you’re ready. The High Council will be voting on war against the Rim Worlds Republic and, what did you call him, the Usurper? And with Stefan Ukris Amaris in whatever capacity, as soon as I can get them assembled. In the meantime, Administrator Green is handling Star League civil affairs within the Suns and Commodore Grec has been liaising him where those touch on the SLDF.”

“Janos is a good man, but his family are on Keid.”

“Fortunately not. I invited them to New Avalon for Christmas – it didn’t seem fair for them to be separated at that time of the year. Most of your senior staff’s families though… It’s a nightmare.”

Amaris will know who they are. And I could only get a handful of MI6 teams into the Hegemony, working against the League’s own security apparatus.

Kerensky made a helpless gesture. “You understand why I need time. You’re with us then.”

“To the end of the line, Aleksandr.”

“That, at least, is good news. I will need your support almost more than your soldier. You understand that I cannot continue operations in current warzones.”

“I agree completely. It would be bad enough if it was just adding the Republic to the problem but with the Hegemony…” John shrugged. “If the other Lords wish to make an issue of it they are welcome to send their own regiments to fight the rebels.”

“No.” Kerensky’s voice was like iron. “They would not be there to restore the League’s rule but to conquer worlds for their own realms. Soon they would begin to wage war with each other over the control of prized worlds -” He broke off and snorted. “Of such wealth as remains after two years of fighting. That must not be allowed. I will negotiate a ceasefire but it will be binding on the entire Star League.”

“The irony if you wind up having to send regiments back to, for example, the Alliance to defend them from the Inner Sphere would be painful.”

“I was not fighting against the territorial states, only the secessionists,” the general insisted.

John pinched the bridge of his nose. “Alright, General. I’ll coordinate with Second Army to see what supply shortages you’ll be facing with the Hegemony unavailable. Most of it’ll probably be hardware we can’t build for you but Commodore Grec may have some idea what we can substitute. In the meanwhile, I’ll freeze all Rim Worlds assets in the Suns for confiscation and on a case-by-case apply the same principle to Hegemony assets associated with Amaris’ supporters.”

Kerensky frowned but nodded reluctantly. “We can’t let him pull resources from the rest of the League,” he agreed. “I can’t withdraw from the area until I have the ceasefire, but as soon as possible as I’ll relocate my headquarters to New Syrtis to coordinate withdrawing from the Periphery.”

“Respectfully, I suggest you depart immediately,” John counselled. “Without headquarters, much of the SLDF’s cohesion relies on you and General DeChevilier. Amaris can’t have consolidated his position yet and it may still be possible to relieve pockets of loyal troops.”

“How would we even find them?”

“Based on the reports of refugees who escaped the Rim Worlds blockade on civilian ships, some SLDF vessels are still operating in the Hegemony, presumably operating from concealed fuel and repair stations.” He grinned at Kerensky’s chagrined expression. “I may not know where they are but the fact the SLDF has such stations isn’t a very well-kept secret I’m afraid. The 568th transport flotilla has volunteered to try to establish contact – actually, I gather it’s everything Janos has been able to do to persuade them not to try to hook up with whatever ground troops they could find and try to liberate the Hegemony immediately.”

“That’s insane. Nine warships and a few transports can’t possibly contest against the forces Amaris must be able to bring to bear.”

“And that’s assuming they don’t rush headlong into one of the Space Defense Systems. Those systems could effectively have full fleets guarding them if Amaris has control of the drones – or be wide open if he doesn’t. We just can’t tell.” John spread his hands. “To come up with a strategy against Amaris, you’re going to need information – and if there are loyal troops holding out on some worlds, then we owe it to them either to evacuate them or to reinforce them.”

“Reckless, very reckless.”

“Let’s see what we can find out. I can meet you on New Syrtis in a month and by then we’ll know better what we’re dealing with.”

Kerensky considered and then nodded. “I’ll have the location data for some of the stations sent to Commodore Grec, for relay to the flotilla’s commander. In the meanwhile, we both have much to do.”

“Then let’s be about it.” John stood and bowed respectfully as the holographic image winked out.

With a sigh he looked at Hanse. “You’re sure?”

The other man nodded. “Amaris’ control of the SDS networks won’t be complete for two years and at the end of that time he’d raised something along the lines of thirty divisions of admittedly under-equipped and trained troops from the Hegemony. Press him hard, now and in places where he hasn’t focused the bulk of his attention – like the worlds scouted so far – and cracks should start to show.”

John sighed. “Should. If Brasco’s flotilla shows the same then I’ll press on but if not then I’m not risking thousands of troops by moving in without the SLDF.”

“I can’t fault you for that.”

The First Prince picked up his phone. “At least I can relieve someone’s concerns.” He tapped the control, “Owen, get me Joel Parks please.”

A moment later and the Minister of Ways and Means responded. “How can I help you, sire.”

“It occurred to me that I’m very nearly late in getting back to you about those loans I took out last year.”

“You have been very busy,” the other man conceded, “All things considered.”

“Well, conveniently all of the banks involved have made very sizeable loans to Stefan Amaris,” John advised. “Before and after his declaration last week. That’s treason, and General Kerensky has concurred with me that the assets of Amaris supporters should be frozen and confiscated. So that’s one less headache.”

Parks narrowed his eyes very slightly. “Sire, did you by any chance expect this?”

“Joel, really! If I had evidence that Stefan Amaris was plotting treason I would have shared it with General Kerensky immediately.”

“Evidence. Indeed.” The corners of Parks mouth seemed to shift slightly upwards. It might have almost been considered a smile. “Sire, do you play poker at all?”

“No, or at least not since my military days. Not really my passion.”

“Good,” the Minister said with audible relief and ended the call.
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

drakensis

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #54 on: 25 November 2017, 16:28:55 »
Saso, New Syrtis
Capellan March, Federated Suns
14 March 2767

“Amaris will expect us to return directly to the Hegemony,” Aaron DeChevilier explained from the large holo display of the Cave, the Capellan March’s command centre. John had co-opted it for this discussion. “Lord Marik remains uncooperative and the new Coordinator has so far declined to respond to messages, so the easiest route would be for all three of the current Army Groups to withdraw into the Capellan Confederation and Federated Suns, then move into Terra Firma and Lockdale provinces.”

He gestured with the control wands, arrows arcing across the Inner Sphere to show three blocky blue arrows extending across the Inner Sphere only to be halted by solid blocks of red. “For this reason we assume he’ll be prepared for such operations. At the same time, moving the SLDF directly into the attack would further play into his hands by sending depleted units into action before they’ve fully integrated replacement personnel and equipment. On the morale level, many soldiers may not be thinking clearly, as we’ve seen with the measures necessary to prevent the Thirty-Fourth Royal BattleMech Division from launching an immediate counter-attack on Epsilon Indi. The reports received make it clear the Caspar Drones in that system, they’re fortunate no transport was available for their attempt.”

“I take it that you feel returning to the Hegemony would be premature,” John asked politely.

DeChevilier cleared the map of troop movements. “I feel, Lord Davion, that returning to Terra immediately is the most important thing in the universe. But I cannot allow myself to be ruled by my heart. If we are to prosecute this war then it must be done correctly.”

He brought up new icons. “Currently we have five armies within the Inner Sphere, one in each Member State, reinforced by elements of First Army’s two remaining Corps. This should be sufficient to contain Amaris’ forces and prevent them from striking at the Member States. In addition they can support information gathering and provide logistical support to such resistance as may be operating within the Hegemony.”

“Meanwhile -” Leaving five blue blocks around the Hegemony, DeChevilier sketched two arrows that almost encircled the Inner Sphere, terminating at either edge of the Rim Worlds Republic. “- we’ll reorganise the fourteen armies operating in the Periphery into two army groups, each made up of three armies tasked for assault operations and four of the more badly depleted armies to act as a reserve and occupation force. Striking from two directions we’ll secure the Rim Worlds Republic, cutting Amaris off from his sources of equipment and personnel in the Periphery. Indeed, where possible we’ll try to take the infrastructure of the Republic intact so we can use it to help reconstitute the SLDF for operations in the Hegemony.”

“I see.” John folded his arms. “You’re looking at four to six months to position your forces and then campaigning upwards of three hundred light years with each of these army groups. For comparison, the Outworlds Alliance, which was arguably the worst battle zone of the Uprising, is smaller and more sparsely settled than the Republic and it was expected to take another full year to finish pacifying it. So assuming serious opposition, which I personally feel is unlikely but has to be the operating assumption, the SLDF could require three years, or perhaps even four, to complete operations in the Republic. That would set any serious return to the Hegemony as falling in 2772 at best.”

“That would be in line with our estimates.” DeChevilier gave John an impressed look, unaware that John had the advantage of Hanse’s hindsight and of spending several weeks working this out with his staff rather than coming in cold as most of the SLDF staff had – after all, they’d been fully engaged with wrapping up their existing campaigns.

“I hate to think how deeply Amaris will be entrenched in the Hegemony four years from now,” John said quietly. “Especially as any factories lost to him in the Republic will be far off-set by the immense military-industrial complexes of Terra and the other old Alliance Worlds. Just on a naval level, he could control quite literally half the Inner Sphere’s major shipyards.”

“Do you have an alternative proposal for how we should proceed, Lord Davion?” asked Admiral Brandt. “Or are you simply playing devil’s advocate?”

John pulled a data disc from his attaché case. “If I may take the floor, General DeChevilier?”

For the first time since his arrival, he saw something approaching a smile upon the Deputy Commanding General’s face. “I blame you for this, Admiral,” he said as he handed his control wands over.

The disc was compatible with the holo-display of course, since it was AFFS equipment. There were some slight differences in the map projected. “I don’t have detailed breakdowns of your current strengths, for obvious reasons,” John observed. “And I apologise if the change in colour confuses anyone.” His projection marked SLDF troops in olive rather than blue, while the Rim Worlds Republic and Terran Hegemony both glowed a more malefic crimson than that in DeChevilier’s briefing. There were also a smaller number of golden icons: the AFFS.

“My staff and I basically came to the same conclusions that you appear to have drawn about time taken to reconstitute and redeploy,” he advised, indicating a timestamp. “As of late summer this year, this plan would have the existing Army Group Twelve move from the Magistracy across or around the Free Worlds League to bases around Rajkot in the Bolan Pocket. General Surban’s Thirteenth Army is familiar with the area, of course.” An olive arrow marked the progress.

There were a couple of snorts. Rajkot was one of the hotspots in the Thirteenth Army’s traditional operational area, a pocket of Lyran space surrounded by the Free Worlds League and the Rim Worlds Republic.

“From there the Twelfth Army would detach and move up to Twycross where it would join Army Group Thirteen.” A smaller arrow extended from Rajkot to connect to the much larger one that circled the Draconis Combine. “While I can’t comment on Kenyon Marik’s state of mind I strongly recommend against trying to redeploy through the Combine at this time. Our understanding is that the Combine Ambassador was on Terra during the Coup, and he’s the new Coordinator’s first cousin. There’s no way to know at this point how much leverage that gives Amaris.”

“Why deplete Army Group Twelve for Thirteen?” asked Brandt. “I agree, as it happens, but I’m curious as to your reasoning.”

“Primarily it’s to make sure the Twelfth and Thirteenth Armies are in place within their old operational areas,” John told her. “Generally they’ve had good relations with the LCAF and since this plan would involve operating out of the Commonwealth, that seems important. To offset the transfer, some elements of the Twentieth Army – primarily LXVII Corps – would detach and be transferred to Army Group Twelve. Twentieth Army itself would essentially disperse to give each element of the two Army Groups a force familiar with the Rim Worlds Republic. In addition, Army Group Twelve would be responsible for securing the older core worlds of the Republic so they could face stronger opposition.”

The admiral nodded thoughtfully but said nothing. DeChevilier gave her a suspicious look.

John looked around for more questions and when there were none he advanced the display again. Now the olive arrows moved into Rim Worlds space, which slowly began to fill with olive in place of the previous crimson. “There’s a more detailed operations plan, but I think we all know that when it comes to the ground, these maps have a fairly limited relationship with actual battlefields,” he said wryly.

There were audible chuckles now, not just snorts.

“Obviously I haven’t mentioned Army Group Eleven, yet.” John indicated the mass of troops hovering on the Taurian border. “They will move towards the Terran Hegemony, with a schedule to be in position to attack into Lockdale Province at around the same time as the attacks on the Rim Worlds Republic.”

The last arrow appeared, charting this movement and John reached into the display to highlight it. “A large and obvious offensive,” he explained and then zoomed the map in. “Something to draw Amaris’ attention.”

.o0O0o.

Saso, New Syrtis
Capellan March, Federated Suns
14 March 2767

Later that day, Kerensky had withdrawn to a more select group of advisors. “We’ve all discussed your plan’s merits, Aaron,” he told his deputy. “I think we’re familiar with its strengths and weaknesses. What do you make of the Prince’s?”

“I’d like to hear from Jack first,” DeChevilier replied. “If things go wrong then he’ll be the one who has to pull IX Corps and the AFFS out of the fire.”

Two years before, Jack Lucas had been one of Tatjana Baptiste’s many, many regimental commanders, part of the 202nd BattleMech Division. When the division paid the price for poor leadership from a commander more skilled in handling a single BattleMech than almost seven hundred of them, Lucas had shone out in contrast. Roseleen McGuinness had given him command of first the brigade-sized remains of the 202nd and then the prestigious 225th Royal Mechanized Infantry Division – a position he wouldn’t normally have qualified, having been born outside of the Hegemony – to replace the dead General Delacroix.

The rapid rise had caught DeChevilier’s eye as the pressures of war forced the flaws in officer after officer to the surface. Headhunting Lucas for a vacant Corps command in Third Army, he’d personally championed the aggressive Mechwarrior to Kerensky when General Strangher’s health had finally made it impossible for the aged officer to keep up with his duties.

“I agree with Davion’s point that we still have a window of opportunity before Amaris has a solid grip on the Hegemony,” he responded bluntly. “Feddie intelligence in the Periphery was good, better than ours sometimes. If they’re telling him that the spinward fringes of Lockdale Province are still a soft target then I’ll take a chance on it.”

“But there’s something that bothers you?” asked Baptiste.

“The rest of the AFFS isn’t as good. If IX Corps runs into trouble, I don’t want them relying on Feddie regiments to back them up.”

“I see.” Kerensky nodded and then looked over at Baptiste. “You’ve had a broader view of the AFFS than Jack over the last few years. What do you think?”

“They’re inconsistent,” she said after a moment’s thought. “Some of their regiments are good and there’s some idea of operations above that level but the first regiments sent to us were probably picked for being close to the Taurians over ability.”

“We don’t have that luxury for that with this plan,” DeChevilier warned. “Could you tell by looking at his force listing if he’s assigning sandbags or competent soldiers?”

“LXII Corps should have records of AFFS exercises in ’63,” she told him. “McGuinness thought the winning side was good.”

“The others weren’t,” Jack observed. “I was there and they got rolled, hard. But yeah, some of them can fight,” he admitted grudgingly.

Kerensky nodded. “Aaron?”

“The logistics are there. In some ways it’s easier than my plan, less need to shift shipping out of the Suns. We’d need a hard stop line, thus far and no further. And to have some oversight of the forces the First Prince sends.”

“General Verschaffelt is an old friend,” Kerensky said slowly. “I consider her very able, but we have found many officers react less well to warfare of this scale than to our operations in the past. And she does not have the seniority to lead a joint operation of this nature.”

“I rather expected to stay in charge of the Army Group,” protested Aaron.

Kerensky shook his head. “I will need you in the Republic. And I must go there myself, so that means that you and Joan must trade places.”

DeChevilier and Brandt traded glances. “Can you work with the First Prince, Admiral? You seemed to have some friction previously.”

“Leave Grec as liaison,” she told him. “I don’t particularly like Davion but he’s got backbone and I’ll put up with him over most of the other lords.”

“Faint praise.”

“You said earlier, Aaron, that you felt that we should strike for Terra now, but that you refrained because your heart could not rule you.” Kerensky ran his hand back over the crown of his head. “I feel the same way. But perhaps, just perhaps, we have therefore pushed ourselves too hard to reject the idea. There would be… political advantage,” he added, disdainfully.

“You don’t mean Davion’s support?” Lucas asked.

“No. No, that I do not doubt. But the others, if they see him fighting alongside us. If they see that Amaris cannot fully guard himself…” The general straightened. “I will require assurance that the attack will be within sane limits and that the AFFS participation is not of a nature that we risk losing IX Corps. But if these are met, then I will accept his plan.”

.o0O0o.

Saso, New Syrtis
Capellan March, Federated Suns
15 March 2767

John opened the balcony door of his guest suite and stepped out to watch the sunset.

The day had been filled with settling not only Kerensky’s conditions for the tentatively designated Operation MATADOR but dozens of other matters that would be necessary for the SLDF and the Federated Suns over the next few years.

“Count Johnston looked pleased,” Hanse observed as he walked out to join John.

“He just had a more or less open-ended contract from the SLDF to buy as many Culverin gun carriers as he can build. He’s going to be richer than ever.”

“It’s not a closed system.” The redhead moved around, hair ruffling in the cold wind. Why it did that, John wasn’t sure. Possibly just because Hanse believed it should. “It doesn’t really matter how much money’s in the economy as long as it keeps moving.”

“I don’t need a lecture in basic macro-economics, Hanse.”

“Sorry.” He leant on the rail next to John. “So what do you want to talk about? Getting crews for the SLDF destroyers in the dockyards, now they can’t pull crews together from the Hegemony? That’s going to be fun.”

“I don’t want to talk about anything!” John shook his head as he realised he’d raised his voice. “Sorry.”

Hanse cocked his head and then grinned. “Sorry, force of habit. When you go somewhere private, I just tend to assume you want to talk to me without people looking at you funny. I forgot you might want some time alone.” He pushed himself back from the rail and turned around. “I’ll go follow Jack Lucas around. Interesting guy, I wonder what happened to him in… you know. Exodus fleet, I suppose.”

John glanced back and saw Hanse enter the rooms. “Wait,” he said on impulse.

The other prince turned and smiled warmly. “Sure.”

“There is something, I’m just not sure how to say it.”

“Take your time.” He leant against the door-frame, entirely at ease.

John turned back to the landscape, letting the cold New Syrtis air press his uniform tunic against his chest. “I’m not giving up,” he said at last.

“I never said you were.”

“Maybe I was wrong about Amaris. We’ll never know, but I’ll give you that.” He looked up at the sky, knowing that behind him, behind the ducal palace, the dusk was beginning to set in. When he lowered his gaze the sun’s rays stabbed out, forming something like the un-even Cameron Star in his eyes. “But the Star League’s worth saving. And if I couldn’t save Richard, maybe I can at least change the outcome of this war. Win it sooner, at less of a price. Before the last hope of pulling the Council back together has gone. It starts with the worlds we’ll target for MATADOR, but that’s just the first step.”

“A long road,” Hanse told him drily. “But I believe you. I heard you speaking to Kerensky after all. All the way to the end of the line?”

“Whatever it takes.” He hesitated. “But I’m sorry.”

“Why are you apologising to me?”

“Well, it means you’ll never exist. You or your family. There’ll be other Davions, but it won’t be the same.”

“Yeah, I kind of figured that. They existed for me, that’s good enough. And the universe is a funny old place, so it’s just as likely that they do exist somehow, somewhere. It’s no stranger than me being here in the first place. Hell, I could wake up suddenly and be back on New Avalon getting politely told off for dozing off at my desk.”

“You think that could happen?”

“Could? Sure. Will? Eh, I’m beginning to doubt.” Hanse didn’t sound too disturbed. “Almost, lord, almost twenty years ago now, I figured I’d had my days of glory and that it was time to settle down on raising my family and making sure things were ready for Melissa and I to hand them down to our children. Whatever my neighbours thought, I really had no plans to go to war again. Well, contingencies, but I wasn’t going to start one.”

“And then you woke up here.”

“And then I had to deal with an invasion out of nowhere, but after that I ended up here.” The redhead shrugged. “It’s not bad, really, being able to step back and let someone else carry the responsibility. Kind of like it might have been if Ian hadn’t died.”

John shivered. “I see.” He walked back inside and closed the balcony door.

“Had enough privacy?”

“No, it’s just freezing out there. Go indulge your man-crush on Jack Lucas.”

Hanse Davion threw his head back and laughed. “Right, right.”

John waited until Hanse was almost through the door and then confessed. “I always wanted a brother.”

The ghost paused in mid-step for just a fraction of a second, partly immersed in the door. And then he stepped forwards and out of sight.

The First Prince slumped on a couch, opened up a note computer and started refining his plans for the eight division attack – a quarter of them from the AFFS – to push the Rim Worlders back the first twenty light years on the long road to Terra.

.o0O0o.

Sidebar: Warships of the Federated Suns Navy

"I hereby christen this vessel the FSS Charles Davion. May god bless the spacers inside him – her!"

In theory, warships of the FSN were named for planets of the federation, this being deemed a politically neutral statement, or at least less divisive within the High Council than naming ships for politicians. It’s all relative, one supposes. Typically planets chosen to contribute their names are politically or historically significant, although a sufficiently charismatic or well-funded member of the High Council might sway support in the favour of their homeworld.

FSS Markesan, a Robinson-class transport, is named for the capital of the Markesan Operational Area, one of the Crucis March’s major sub-divisions and the most exposed of them to raids from the Capellan Confederation or Draconis Combine. FSS Tancredi, a New Syrtis-class carrier, is named for Tancredi IV, the capital of the Draconis March until the Davion Civil War in the early 26th century. Having seceded to the neighbouring Outworlds Alliance after the defeat of Laura Davion’s Draconis March-centred faction in 2533, Tancredi IV was ceded back to the Federated Suns in a secret ‘arms for worlds’ treaty in 2581.

Davion-class destroyers are one exception to the usual traditions of ship-naming, each ship honouring prominent members of House Davion. This list is not limited to the leaders of the family: FSS Katherine Davion is named for Doctor Katherine Anne Davion (2208-2242), one of the four members of the Davion family who first settled on New Avalon in 2232; and FSS Arthur Davion is named for Major Arthur Davion (2410-2447), a minor military hero and the son of Edward Davion, the last President of the Federated Suns.

The Defender-class battlecruisers predate the system of naming ships for planets and a considerable number of the current FSN’s warships were transferred from SLDF mothballs at the time of the Reunification War. Attempts to rename these ships in line with common practises were fiercely rejected by the FSN, who abide by ancient tradition that once a ship has been named it is unlucky to rename her.
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

Daryk

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #55 on: 25 November 2017, 17:28:44 »
*snip*
He rose to his feet. “The Star League was built on the premise that we could work together, which was the basis for the Federated Suns, on a slightly more local scale. What we’re facing isn’t a crisis, it’s a challenge. A challenge that we’re going to rise to.”
*snip*
Now THAT is how you motivate bureaucrats!  8)

2ndAcr

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #56 on: 25 November 2017, 17:58:29 »
 Excellent writing. Keep it up, I have always wondered how an alternate universe might be like if one of the Houses had actually thrown their full weight in with the SLDF. Maybe if the Star League falls apart, Kerensky might throw in with the House that actually helped him fully or even if he does the Exodus more troops side with that house over the others.

 Plus it helps to have some hindsight thru good old Hanse Davion to guide John Davion.

Zureal

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #57 on: 25 November 2017, 18:21:11 »
things are getting even more excited, there were after all plenty of systems with no drones in space or even a full SDS. these they should be able to take without to much dificulty. the others with risistance, such as the  SLDF HQ on New Earth held out for months i belive as well as severall other facilities and planets. I think the Davion special forces are what will get the cordinators family safe to get them into the war and if anything the AFFS will get tons of experience and be seasoned troops second only to the SLDF. They will be fighting with them for a long time after all and SLDF stuff will rub off on them in a good way I think. The butchers bill will still be high as hell but in the end will be worth it. Hell the SLDF will probably push huge ammounts of cash and tech into feddie factories to help support them. Davion is so far the only house that is going 100% support to the SLDF after all. Hope the prephery nations get a official seat at the high councel and become full memburs with all the assocciated benifits. that will stop the rebellion and all that and will make them much happyier to boot. ..... yea... please do not hate my bad spelling XD [blank]

snakespinner

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #58 on: 25 November 2017, 18:38:23 »
Great to see you writing again, Drakensis.
This reminds me of your old stories well thought out and an excellent job of writing.
Hope you keep it up. O0
I wish I could get a good grip on reality, then I would choke it.
Growing old is inevitable,
Growing up is optional.
Watching TrueToaster create evil genius, priceless...everything else is just sub-par.

DOC_Agren

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Re: Davion & Davion (Deceased)
« Reply #59 on: 26 November 2017, 00:32:09 »
I want to say Bravo and well done
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

 

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