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Author Topic: The Bull and the Genie  (Read 3349 times)


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The Bull and the Genie
« on: 17 August 2022, 12:43:48 »
Taurus 3015

Zarantha Calderon frowned as she waited for her old mentor.  Jacob Wilson had been her tutor—her mentor, as a child and when he’d left to go exploring, looking for “buried treasure” in his words, it had hurt.

Most especially because many lostech prospectors never made it back home.  There were many who weren’t good at ferreting out the lost caches of the Star League—but very good at tracking down those who found them in time to relieve them of their treasure and their lives.

But Jacob had returned.

“Zarantha!”  Jacob said as he entered her office, a briefcase under his arm.  Her security guard looked annoyed. It had been scanned but not searched. Jacob had mentioned it was a “private present” to her and she’d forbidden it’s opening.

She’d ignored the muttered “and look how that turned out for the Camerons” from her senior security officer. Being paranoid was his job. Knowing when to not be paranoid was hers.

“Jacob! So, have you made yourself wealthy beyond measure?  Returned to purchase the planet with your lostech and retire to your harem?”

“A harem is only for those who cannot choose!” the gray-haired man replied.

As if you ever had eyes for anyone other than your wife, Zarantha thought. But she was now old enough to remember dear, absent friends and family members, and it was all to easy to understand why Jacob had chosen to leave the world his wife was buried upon.

“But no,” he said, and then glanced at her security officer. “But my gift might explain why I needed to come back, Zarantha.”

I know that tone… She looked over at the officer. “Wilson’s been with us since I was a child. There’s literally no secret he isn’t cleared for.”

“Very well. Look at this.” He opened the briefcase, and there was…

A data core. Fine, they were expensive, representing the best in long-duration, high density storage mankind had achieved, but they weren’t unknown, though most of them had been fried in the war and the only ones currently available were made on Terra. 

“A data core?  The genealogical records for mankind?”

“No. Zarantha. A database. The Prometheus database. This is the sum-total of everything the Star League knew, from royal battlemech designs to the newest R&D projects of HRAD before the coup.”

“You’re joking.” Zarantha said.

“No. Found it on the wreckage of a Star League warship—they were pulling back, something about a little periphery rebellion, and they had pulled the database and the equipment from a DOME base—apparently, Amaris had agents, and a nuke was detonated on this ship.  I found what was left of the crew. The ones that didn’t die outright, starved or committed suicide.”

“I…” Zarantha winced, running fingers through her white hair. Dying like that wasn’t something she’d wish on anyone. “Wait, how did you access the core?”

“We have Wilma Millikan to thank for that.”


“The DOME director with the mission. She survived. By the end…” He pulled out a stained journal. “She wasn’t entirely sane, I don’t think. Who could blame her. But she became convinced that the war might destroy all civilization, until nothing was left, and she had a duty to future generations. She cleared the security lockouts, and made copies. I have them in secure storage.”

Zarantha bowed her head. “I hope she found peace when she passed.” 

“If anything had convinced me it was for us, that was it.” Jacob quietly said. “The house lords haven’t stopped fighting once-and the only reason they stopped using nukes was that it might blow up the last ships they needed to move their armies. Comstar will work for anyone with the cash, and besides, they must be sitting on cores like this, and everyone else is either too disorganized, too small or too brutal to use this.” He lifted the core. “So unto you, I grant this boon.”

“Always a fan of drama.” Zarantha said. “It really looks less impressive than a magic sword.”

“Good. It’s not. It’s a genie’s lamp.”

“Yeah.” She sat back down, staring at the core. “And you know what happened to a lot of people who tried to make a wish on that lamp…”


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #1 on: 17 August 2022, 12:49:35 »
Thomas wasn’t unused to being called into his mother’s office. As the heir apparent, he already was the effective co-protector, but having a thick folder tossed at him was unusual.


“Sorry to spring this on you, Thomas, but it’s looking like you won’t ascend to the protectorship like we’d planned. I have another job for you. A more important one.”

Thomas blinked. What could be… Shaking his head, he opened the folder. Stupid questions could wait until he was finished.

Forty-five minutes later, he felt like he’d been punched in the gut.

“And this is… confirmed?”

“We’ve had a team looking at it, highest security, of course. MCMURDO level.”

A team which agreed to indefinite isolation. Well, if anything was worth that, this is.

“This is…”

“The holy grail,” his mother said. “Designs for human sized powered armor—we didn’t even know it existed outside of rumors. Designs for every weapon in their arsenal. Complete files on cutting-edge Hegemony research, from direct neural interfaces to mini-battlemechs. The complete database for the SDS system, including CASPERS. We could dedicate every one of our R&D departments to examining this, and it’d be years before we even scratched the surface.”  Zarantha shook her head. “And that doesn’t even get into the civilian benefits.”

“Which we’d need,” Thomas said. At his mother’s raised eyebrow, he chuckled. “Yes, you pounded into my head, mother, but to make use of this, we’ll need capital, and that means finding things that make money.”


Which shouldn’t be that hard, Thomas thought. After all, mankind hadn’t forgotten the science—there wasn’t a coreworld where you couldn’t find a course on theoretical KF interactions. It was the ability to take that abstract knowledge and turn it into reality, the endless engineering techniques needed to make processes cheap, that had been smashed along with their factories and schools. Even today, you could probably find… Not all, but much of what was in the core, but it was scattered in a million lost bits, a million books gathering dust because the other books needed to make them useful were somewhere else. And of course nobody was going to invest in a big factory that would take decades of painful development and might be destroyed next year.

But if it was all in one place…

“This could destroy us,” he quietly said. “The successor lords might be murderous bastards, but they’re not stupid. This technology was what allowed first Terra, then the Hegemony to dominate known space. If we get it, and develop it, all of it… We’d be equal, maybe superior to every other nation out there, no matter how much bigger they were.”

“And nobody would want to risk someone else taking it from us,” Zarantha said. “We could go the way of the Hegemony core worlds.”

“So what’s the plan?”

“We’ve found an old Star League cache,” Zarantha said. “Or, well, that’s the story, and you, as my son, will be sent out to supervise converting it into a new base for our colonial expansion. Of course, everyone knows that you and I have clashed on that, so obviously, you’re being sent into exile, while I keep my withered fingers on the levers of power.”

“What world?”

“Brannis,” she said.

Brannis… right. “Well, given how hard Amaris nuked it, it’s easy to sell that a base got lost in the shuffle.”

“And a billion people living on it, early 20th century technology, And we’ve been engaged in uplift operations so moving heavy equipment won’t look odd, to say nothing of the exploration base.”

Thomas nodded. “We do the R&D work out there, maybe some limited production, and claim it was reverse engineered.”

“Right, it’ll be slower, but hopefully we’ll have what we need before anyone realizes it, and be able to defend ourselves. If I tried to do it on Taurus…”

“Everyone would know,” Thomas agreed. Price of living in a free society, but it’s worth it.

“I’m also going to force through some more aid money for Brannis. They’ve got a fairly well educated population, and that can pad out our numbers without having to fake the deaths of our entire graduating class at Taurus U.”

“Yes, that would raise eyebrows.“  Thomas smiled. “So, shall I play outraged, calm, or just accepting of my fate.”

“Thomas, just think about that time I stuck you with those Davion missionaries. Remember, the ones who seemed surprised we weren’t painting our faces and marching around with a pig’s head on a stick?”  She laughed. “Now that’s the expression you need.”

HPG complex, Taurus.

Comstar HPG complexes came in two flavors. On worlds where pirates were a thing, they were fortified. On worlds like Taurus, they were open, airy complexes, including libraries, lecture halls (available for rental), and in this case, a petting zoo that a previous precentor had installed, including a wide range of animals from across the Inner Sphere. After all, nothing could keep an established power from taking an HPG complex, nothing short of sticking it in a Castle Brian, but an established power had everything to lose from antagonizing Comstar.

It was a sign of the relationship between Taurus and Comstar that the permits and quarantine fiasco ranked as one of the greatest battles between the two states, with harassed adepts having to get permits from everyone from the Concordat Department of Agriculture to the local humane society.

Still, it was a popular destination for most primary school children, so…

“Hearts and Minds, Will.” And now I have another group of bright-eyed children to deal with. With that, he breezed into an auditorium that didn’t look at all like a high-security zone, although even the best ROM agent would be hard pressed to eavesdrop.

He should know. He’d spent time in ROM.

“Hello,” He said, watching as the small group tried to stand at attention while sitting. Kids. “You’re our newest cadre of ROM agents, and you’ll be reporting to your department heads after his meeting. I’m Precentor Will Chang, and as such, responsible for you.  Please don’t take this personally, but far too many of our new ROM members seem to have spent a little too much time watching ancient James Bond flicks, when they should have been boning up on economic doctrines.  This has lead to the occasional interruption of my day in having to go bail some bright-eyed agent out of jail for trespassing on what he thought was a secret plot to infiltrate our sacred order… Which in fact turned out to merely be one of our Adept’s interest in extreme bondage roleplay.” Will didn’t have to hide his wince at that. “Keeping that out of the vids cost us six months free HPG time to the Taurus Weekly World.”

“What happened to the agent?” The woman ducked her head as Will looked at her. “Sir.”

“I’m told he makes an excellent cup of coffee back on Terra. Probably the highest qualified secretary in the Denver broadcast maintenance department.”

Everyone winced. Well, you don’t go into ROM for the paycheck. ROM’s final year Academy wasn’t on Terra. That bounced between the dead worlds of the old Hegemony, so everyone could understand just what they fought for.

“ROM’s job, specifically yours, is to keep your head to the ground and listen. Not act. That involves decisions at a higher level than you, or for that matter, I normally function at. But remember, sabotage, assassinations, and such, well, we’ve done them, but today, they’d be counter productive. They worked in the Second Succession War because everyone else was doing the same thing—Today, if we see a proscribed technology being worked on, we have other tools. Interest rates, accidental  disclosures to competing companies. Publicity campaigns.” Will chuckled. “There’s a reason we’ve worked to ensure that every movie involving a warship has a frothing lunatic for a captain, who at some point orders a planetary bombardment, and who is then killed by a brave and selfless mechwarrior. So, no adventures on your part. Not unless you want to risk your precentor coming in just in time to find you being beaten senseless by the sextoys of some outraged adult roleplayers.”

The chuckle was nervous.

“But beyond that, enjoy yourselves. The Taurans are prickly, especially given how many Inner Sphere citizens refuse to accept the fact that they’re just as advanced as anything you might find on New Avalon or Tharkad, but they’re thankfully, not interested in rocking the boat. At risk of violating my reputation for being suspicious of everyone, they’re good neighbors. Now, dismissed, check in with your department heads, and remember—this is your first off-Terra assignment, so be diligent, but don’t forget to have fun.”

As the crowd dispersed Will shook his head. Was I ever that young? The answer came back. Sure. Probably right when McKenna ordered his coup.


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #2 on: 17 August 2022, 17:14:29 »
Great start.  Great Precentor, who really doesn't deserve what's coming.
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
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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #3 on: 17 August 2022, 20:00:33 »

“Water purification systems?” Hanse leaned forward, frowning. “Are you serious?”

“Yes, Sir.”  The analyst gestured at the documentation MIIO had accumulated. “The Taurians are currently replacing many of their current systems with these units, and from what we’ve been able to determine, they appear to be based on Star League technology.”

“Could they have been recovered from a cache?” Hanse asked.

“No. We haven’t been able to recover a complete item, not yet, but we have enough evidence to determine that they have been built no later than the last nine months.”

“A factory,” Hanse muttered. The blueprints for the Star League era systems still existed—but not the supplementary material, the technology that made it work, and nobody had ever been able to come up with the capital to redevelop the technology. “Pragmatically, what does this mean for us?”

“Well, we can’t be certain, since we don’t know how much it’s costing them to make it, but Star League purifiers ran about 30 percent cheaper than what we have, and can go about twice as long without requireing maintenance.”  The analyst shrugged. “And they can handle a vastly wider range of environmental conditions.”

“We could really use something like that,” Arden Sortek muttered.

“I doubt the Taurians will be interested in selling to us,” Hanse said. “And this, if they can expand it, will improve their own economic position.”

“And make them more attractive to pirates,” Sortek said. “And… Freelance groups out of the Syrtis March.”

Thank you for reminding me of my problem child. But Sortek was right. For that matter, not all the raids were from any government—Hanse had a perennial problem with mercenary units who disguised pirate raids as “preemptive defense expeditions.” It was worse because he simply could not afford to keep the best and most loyal units on the periphery frontier.

“What’s the potential threat?” Hanse asked.

“Well, more money in their economy that is freed up means more economic development, which could translate to a larger military.” The analyst shrugged. “MIIO  is divided on that—as we’ve noted, they’ll be attracting more pirates, so it’s an open question as to whether or not more mechs would be useful as anything but a way to maintain the status quo.”

“There’s also the fact that Zarantha Calderon has always been more interested in internal economic development and her Far Lookers,” Hanse mused.  He’d only met her once, and it was a chilly meeting regarding some Taurian ships that had jumped into Davion territory and been seized as pirates. Hanse had sacked the governor in question, because only a blind man would think they were pirates, or a man hoping to make a quick buck, and returned the ships.

But the damage had been done. Most Taurians remembered just what had happened the last time such an accident had occurred and Hanse was certain that Zarantha was expecting something else than she received and was suspicious.

But Hanse did not want active hostilities with the Taurians.  Unfortunately, it looked like the best he could do would be to make it plain that the central government didn’t support the rumbling of raids and counter raids, while cracking down on anyone who gave him an excuse to do so.

“Thank God Thomas wasn’t put in charge,” Sortek muttered. “We still don’t know what he did to merit exile.”

“I—” Hanse blinked. “Maybe found something that needed a high level, but very quiet presence?”

“Like a purifier factory?”

“Or someone who can build purifiers who is trading with the Concordat.” Hanse said. The image of the periphery as a land of savages was popular, but anyone who thought about it knew better. There were worlds that had been originally settled by Alliance Refugees and the extent of the possible range of human settlements in the periphery was pretty much as far as a colony ship could travel.  A world, or even a polity, that had never experienced the Amaris civil war, or the succession wars, might very well equal the old Star League…

If so… “Gentlemen, I want MIIO to fast track this. Find out who is making them, where are they coming from, and whether or not this presents a danger to the Federated Suns.”  Hanse made a finger-gun gesture. “But soft methods only. Nothing likely to convince any unknown parties that we’re hostile, rather than curious.”

“Understood, sir.”

As the others left, Hanse shook his head. Now, in the dramas, would be the time that he dropped everything. But the fact was that he had a hundred emergencies and opportunities landing on his desk every day. He’d have to trust that MIIO would find out if this was one he couldn’t ignore.

“And with that, my IN box isn’t getting any smaller,” Hanse said as he started to go through his computer files once again.


Muleshoe, Mech Proving Ground Alpha.

Proving Ground Alpha was a network of narrow canyons and tall stone pillars, many of them impregnated with iron ore.

In other words, it was a perfect place for a miserable day of fighting.

Mary hauled her Marauder around, desperately avoiding the blast of fire from a Warhammer. The PPC (really, a low-powered laser), slashed across her forward leg, the armor indicator going yellow. But only yellow.

I love improved armor, Mary thought, but the fact of the matter was it wasn’t going to hold up forever.  She snapped off a shot from her left PPC, waiting and following up with her right, both beams hitting the Warhammer in the already damaged right torso. The machine did nothing for a moment, then slumped over, the indicators blinking red, showing that it was knocked out of combat. But behind it, another Warhammer loomed out of the windblown dust, and it was time for Mary to go.

Triggering her jump jets, she vanished over a low foothill, leaving the pilot behind her to curse his luck.


“The jump jets really sell it,” Mary said. “I know I’m but a lowly mechwarrior,” the 18-year-old said, “But the advanced heatsinks are good enough, heck they’re giving more cooling than the original fit. So using the saved weight for the jets is just great.”

“R&D thinks that more armor and weapons might…”

Mary shook her head. “Armor and guns don’t let us jump.  That makes the X1 model one of the few heavy mechs that can jump—and can still carry a full warload.”

Beyond the meeting room, Mary saw the big assembly floor—Brannis couldn’t build mechs, not yet, but they could assemble frames sent from Tarus, refitting them with advanced armor, heat sinks, and the jump jets the weight savings allowed.

And none of the refitted Marauders, Thunderbolts or Wasps would be deployed off world—not until it was decided that the rewards exceeded the dangers.

And better yet, they might be able to deploy in homogeneous units—four advanced Marauders in a lance would ruin anyone’s day.

And if so, I might just get off of this world… After all, there was only so much drilling you could do, and even taking liberty on any city on the planet she wanted (courtesy of the shuttle flights) wore after a time when you could just look up and see what awaited you…

“She’s good,” the training officer told Thomas. “Thinks before she moves, but doesn’t overthink it. She hasn’t had any combat experience, but we’re considering fast-tracking her for an officer’s posting.” He shrugged. “If she survives, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in charge of a regiment before the decade’s out.”

Thomas nodded. “We’re getting some rumbling that people want to see combat, I see.”

“They’re well trained, loyal, and can’t stop thinking what they could do to your typical pirate band.” The grizzled officer chuckled. “Can’t blame them.”

“They might be getting the chance sooner, rather than later,” Thomas said. “The amount of frames we’ve been pulling for refit is raising eyebrows and it’s an open question how much longer we can keep this secret.”

“Shouldn’t have started shipping the purifiers.”

Thomas made a quelling gesture. “Half the new toys we have were paid for by those purifiers.” Every replacement, every new settlement sent money back here, simply because they’re so much more efficient. “But we’ll be deploying an over-strength battalion.  The Third, and the 1st recon company.”

Mom wants us to send a message, and a battalion made up of upgraded Thunderbolts and Marauders, with a company full of upgraded light mechs…  Thomas had his reservations about showing their hand, but anyone who ran into his force would be very unhappy indeed.

“Why, sir?”

“Because we can drill on Taurus, show the rest of the military where their budget has been going, and talk about where we go from here.”

“More advanced mechs, I’d assume.”

“You’d think that, but right now, it’s not looking cost effective,” Thomas sighed. “We can build them here, but anything using electronics?  That means we need maintenance, which means we need to train techs and we don’t have that—not yet.  If we do come out, we can start training techs all over the Concordat, but for now… well. Now, the boffins have decided that it would be most cost effective to stick with armor, heat sinks and other things that give us maximum bang and minimum support headaches.  They found some other information in the core and we’re going to be focusing on upgrading a part of the Concordat that has been neglected for far too long.”


“Yah. You don’t have need to know, but suffice it to say, our enemies will be very surprised if we get it finished.”

“I see. Well, sir, I’ll start letting the troops know that some of them may, at long last, be getting to see the galaxy.” With that, he left the office. Thomas waited, grinning as he heard the dim cheer echoing down the halls. Alone he opened up his datapad and unlocked the fingerprint lock. Schematics and images scrolled down the screen, above them highlighted in red the name.


“Yes, they might be very surprised indeed…” Thomas said with a chuckle. Of course, it depended on what his mother thought, but well, he had a very convincing argument lined up.



Zarantha looked at a news broadcast talking about the upcoming talks to accept Brannis into the Concordat as an official member. The “recovered” battlemechs were marching down Independence Way, the traditional route for units that would be based in the military bases that surrounded Samantha.

“Very impressive,” she said. “The mask won’t last long, of course, but it’ll be several months I think before our neighbors realize what we have.”

“If they haven’t already,” Minister Wilma Zyvan said. The Minister of the Department of Economic Development gestured at the spreadsheet. “They can read trends just like we can, and they all know by this time that we are manufacturing water purification systems of Star League vintage.”

“Which means we need to be prepared!” Grover Shraplen snapped. His family had sent him to observe the meeting, and Grover was honoring the MacLeod’s World reputation for paranoia perfectly.

Dammit, Grover… Thomas agreed with him, but Grover and his mother got along like well, oil and water. 

“We are being prepared, or have you missed the shiny new battlemechs?”  Zarantha asked. “The economic situation, for the first time in decades, is allowing us to purchase the entire output of our indigenous industry.”  She gestured to an aide, and another graphic appeared on the displays. “In fact, as I’m given to understand, Marshal Willis, we’ll be adding another regiment to our forces, not counting our Brannis units, before the end of the year.”

“Yes,”  Willis was an older man, approaching retirement. “For now, we’re intended on keeping the upgraded units as a unified combat formation. That way, should there be a major conflict, we can reserve them for the point when their capabilities will come as the greatest possible shock.”

“Mph.”  Shraplen glared at the formations. “And they’ll be on the defensive, when we should consider retaking our ancient worlds!”

“Yes. The worlds that haven’t had a single pro-Taurian revolt over the last two hundred years, where it’s almost impossible to see where Taurian families end and Federated Sun families begin.”  The protector’s voice was dry.

“They’re just waiting for a call.” Shraplen said.

Nobody rose to his defense.

“But, since you’re all cleared, how is THUNDERCHILD going? Admiral?”

“Ah,” Admiral Tomoe Allister was a tall woman, her graying hair cut short. The head of the Bureau of Shipbuilding (Buships) gestured at the packets in front of hte various officers. “As you know, THUNDERCHILD is the program to rebuild a black-space combat capability. It is, as yet, merely in the planning stages, and I will tell you right now, that even assuming a maximum effort to build a warship, sacrificing all of our other military and civilian projects, as well as making it completely obvious to even a blind man what we are doing…”  She steepled her fingers. “15 to 20 years. Assuming no problems. Just as a bit of information—there will be problems.”

“We have dropships!” Shraplen said. “You build them.”

“Nobody has built a compact core in the Inner Sphere since the very beginning of the Third Succession War—and the Lyrans scrapped the project because it was too expensive.” Tomoe was unflinching. “You could drop our entire state into the Lyran nation and not cause their GDP to blip more than a few percentage points. Then you have transit drives, vastly larger than dropship drives, and everything else that goes into a warship. We might have the plans, but we’d be inventing everything else, from the expertise to the support industries, from scratch.”

“And while we were doing this, we’d be cutting everything else to the bone.” Thomas didn’t want to support the admiral, but she was right. “However…” He smiled. “That’s not our only option. Check page 22, please.”

“What are these?” Willis said. “They look like conventional lasers, but they’re… Much larger.”

“They are. These were some of the earliest designs used by the old Alliance for the first combat jumpships—well before anything like a dedicated warship as we know it had been fielded. They are, as you said, larger, but fundamentally no different than our conventional systems, which makes building them far easier than trying to develop a capital class weapon. Now…” Admiral Allister smiled. “We have this, again courtesy of R&D helped along by our archaeological finds.”

After all, only a few people here are Core-cleared, Thomas thought. 

Everyone paused at the large, wireframe image.

“That’s not a combat dropship,” Grover said.

“No,” Thomas replied. “It’s based on work we’ve done at Brannis and the Vandenberg shipyards.  About the size of the mammoth, multiple cargo handling facilities, modular engines that can be easily removed.”

“We’ve done studies,” Zyvan said. “There are multiple manufacturers of small and midranged dropships, but heavy dropships? Almost unknown, and there’s a screaming need for them. My people hinted at this design, and we’ve been getting inquiries about purchasing ships or licensing the design from almost every major manufacturer in the inner sphere.”

“And how is this a warship?”  Grover growled, glaring around around the room as he realized that he was not among those who had evidently been briefed before.

“That isn’t, this is.” The image shifted, and the new ship, while still having the engines of the old, was sleeker, with deadly weapons emplacements studding its hull. “The  Tentativa class, gentlemen and ladies. Based around a common core, we have a half-dozen notational designs for gunship, carrier, troop carrier, and escort models. Best of all, it has a sixty-five percent parts commonality with the civilian transport—every ship the Inner Sphere buys will be directly funding our military program.”

“How long until this… Dream becomes a reality.”

“We’ll have the first Dromedary class ready for test flights in the next four years. Presuming nothing breaks terribly, we can assume that a Tentativa may be fielded in about five to six years.”


“Lord Shraplen,” Zarantha was frosty. “Instead of shouting, maybe you should congratulate the admiralty in coming up with a design that will dramatically improve our defenses, without destroying our economy.”

“Yes. Forgive me.” Shraplen said. “I was overcome.”

I’ll bet you were, Thomas thought. Grover was going to take some delicate handling after this.


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #4 on: 17 August 2022, 20:22:54 »
He's got no clue how much work foes into anything.  Great "leader".
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.


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #5 on: 17 August 2022, 21:07:08 »
maybe Grover can have an accident??
"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!"

David CGB

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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #6 on: 18 August 2022, 00:14:42 »
maybe Grover can have an accident??
Or shown how stupid he sounds!
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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #7 on: 18 August 2022, 00:33:40 »
This is an interesting story.
I wonder how Grover is going to stuff things up. :thumbsup:
I wish I could get a good grip on reality, then I would choke it.
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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #8 on: 18 August 2022, 03:06:06 »

Samantha, 3018.

Don’t look like a country bumpkin. Her commander’s half-humorous words echoed in Mary’s memory. Here she was, wearing her mechwarrior uniform, every bit in place and…

She had to remember to not let her mouth hang open. She’d never seen skyscrapers to tall! Built out of crystal and cermacrete, gleaming in the light. And things were so clean! The air almost felt like ship-purified air, only it had that wonderful scent of growing things in it. The streets were wide and clean, the battery powered cars moving silently. Mary had nearly gotten lost once, but she’d walked up to a little kiosk with a touch-screen, and used it to find her way.

She felt silly, because in addition to her modern e-camera, she had an old-fashioned camera.

But mother had given it to her, along with enough film to fill a duffel bag. Her CO had smiled and ensured it was put where radiation wouldn’t damage it, but now she was here, and Mary wondered if there was even a place in the capitol of the Taurian Concordat that would process something as ancient as chemical film.

Come to think of it, she should take some pictures for Mother.

Click. Click. Click—HOONNNKKK!   

Someone yanked Mary back from the car that had almost run her down as she’d stepped onto the street. Mary squeaked and blinked as she looked around at the person.

Oh. Mary came to attention. “Sorry Ma’am.”

“Don’t sorry me,” the woman said. “I’m just here to avoid having to patch you up.”

Mary blinked and quickly nodded, looking at the Uniform. “You’re Medical Corps!”

“Guilty as charged. Name’s Darcy. You’re not looking where you’re going.”

“I’m sorry,” Mary said, putting her camera down. “Mama wanted me to get pictures and she’s a bit old-fashioned.”

“I see. Well, since my friends will be badgering me for information about our new mechwarriors, you can pay me back by letting me buy lunch for you. Or let me guess, you forgot to eat.”

Mary blinked then blushed as her stomach gurgled. She had forgotten lunch, since they only had two days before they were moved to base.

Mary soon found herself sitting at a little diner. A bit further away, some teens her age were trying not to stare at her.

“Is my uniform off?” Mary asked.

“No, it’s fine, but you’re a mech warrior who just took part in a parade that had 36 new Marauders walking down the street, along with your 12 long-range fire support mechs. It’s been a while, and they’re probably wondering who you had to kill to get the posting.”

“I was best in my class,” Mary said. Then she blushed.  “But that wasn’t hard.  I mean, we just had mechanical calculators—“

“Up!” Mary eeped at woman’s tone. “I’m not a Davion to ask you if you worshiped the Machine God. You used what you had, and between you, me, and the secret agent in the corner”—Mary tried not to glance at the corner—“Working with a mechanical calculator is harder than a noteputer.”

“Yeah…” Mary shrugged. “But it’s, well the one time the fire control failed, at least I could do some of the calcs in my head.”


“My training officer was a sadist.” Mary paused. “But I can’t say too much about that.”

“Understood.” Darcy paused. “I’ve been thinking about heading out to Brannis. My hospital has a relationship with the Brannis Health Department. I’m an ophthalmologist, and there’s a huge demand—“

“You’re an ophthalmologist?” Mary’s squeal attracted attention. “Oh Lord, can I get a picture? Have someone take a picture with us together?”

“You’re a fan of doctors?”

“You’re wiping out eye rot!”  Mary said.

Darcy shrugged. “I thought that we were already taking it down.”

Mary sighed. “Sort of. I know that most of the water where the midges bred has been sterilized but it’s hard. They’re not a bacteria you know, but a little worm. The problem is that they nest at the base of the eyesocket, and can stay there for years, before they start to mature and then they burrow up through the eye, and secrete this kind of… It makes the tissue go necrotic so eye…” Mary ran down and turned red. “I shouldn’t be talking about this when we eat, should I?”

Darcy laughed. “Mary, trust me, very few things about the human body can ick a doctor and yes, I know about eye rot. I know that we’re working on a treatment, but well, it’s difficult for already infested patients.”

“Don’t worry,” Mary said. “Ann, she was the prettiest girl in school, a lot more pretty than me, she developed it and the Taurian medical mission managed to extract them, and she only lost about 10 percent of her vision with only a little scarring. I mean, in the old days, if she lived at all, she’d have been blind.” Mary winked. “Just tell people you’re a doctor and you won’t have to pay for meals.”

The conversation continued, as Mary ate the spicy food, talking about places she could go when she was on leave. Mary tried not to talk the woman’s ear off, but…

She shook her head. “I never dreamed I’d leave Brannis, and I’m here… I flew through the stars…”

“And the Concordat might demand your life for it,” Darcy said.

“Eye rot might demand my life. Pirates might demand my life… if I live long enough old age  will demand my life. The Concordat gave us hope, so if they need me to die to give it to someone else…” Mary shrugged. “Okay.”

Later, as Mary headed back to her base, Darcy relaxed. She was an ophthalmologist, but her reserve commission was in intelligence. The TDF trusted everyone in the unit, but mechwarriors who might be fast-tracked for command got a bit more of a check for their discretion. And save for the one, very minor slip up about her training, Mary had been very discrete indeed.

Well, other than the camera. Darcy smiled and looked up at the skyscrapers, starting to gleam with office lights as the sun went down.

But then, sometimes it’s good to see how other people view us. To see just what achievements familiarity has made us ignore.  She shook her head. First a report to her boss, and then study her medical plans for tomorrow. With that, Darcy got up and headed off to her apartment.


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #9 on: 18 August 2022, 16:30:20 »
Nicely written little bit of vetting
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.


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #10 on: 20 August 2022, 22:53:45 »
Lyran Business Hour 3020

“Welcome to Lyran Business Hour!” Michael Winston grinned with professional glee  at the audience and his committee of experts. “Today, we’re talking about a new development, and there are bulls running rampant on Tharkad!”

“Hardly running rampant, Michael,” Greg Kowalski said. “But definitely moving with a plan.”

“And one that benefits the Commonwealth,” Michael said. “Can you give us a rundown on what is happening?”

“Well, about two years ago, the Taurian’s sent a new company rep to talk to some of our industries about teaming up to build new model water purifiers. And, while the tooling and such has been an issue, it’s looking like we’re going to come off quite well.”

“If it’s so well, why didn’t they build them themselves?” Commandant (ret.) Luther Hayes asked. He wasn’t much of an economist, but was here for the next segment, and discussion ws the reason Michael had a show.

“That’s simple.” Kowalski said. “It’s difficult to ship through the Federated Suns, and there’s a certain amount of prejiduce, regarding Periphery products.”

“Meaning they’re junk.” Hayes muttered.

“Not at all!” the economist sounded insulted. “Taurian gear, in fact, is known for its durability—but the distance can be an issue when repair problems do arise.”

“So what are they getting out of it?” Michael asked.

“Mostly? Machine tools. In this case, the Taurian’s seemed to be extremely interested in a trade in kind, rather than in C-bills, something that made their offer all the more attractive.”  Everyone agreed at that.

“But that’s not the only thing they’re selling, and the newest item they’re wanting to license production for is…” He gestured at the third guest, an elderly man who had been silent. “Mr. Hanson, would you care the weigh in.”

“Yes,” he said. “A month ago, the Taurian’s offered a new licensing deal for a new—or rather, old, form of superconductor wire. It was common enough during the Star League, but between the loss of factories and information, today it can only be fabricated in small amounts.”

“What does it offer us?”  Hayes asked.

“Militarily? Nothing. It’s far too fragile for use in battlemechs, but economically?  It becomes a superconductor at -110 degrees Fahrenheit, just above the point where CO2 freezes. It’s a tremendous advantage over conventional superconductors, which usually require nitrogen cooling. It’s the kind of thing that can make literally billions of Kroners over the next few years.”

“And what do the Taurians want?”

“To share in the production, evidently their own industrial plant is working at capacity.”

“Well,” Michael said.”That’s interesting, but we’re not the only ones to benefit, are we.”

Hanson nodded. “No. They’re also working a deal with the Free Worlds League.”

“Well, if anyone knows what it’s like to be tied to one supplier, it would be the periphery,” Michael laughed. “But what do you think they’ll be doing with their bounty?”

“Continuing to industrialize.” Kowalski said. “In fact, if I were an investing man with money to spend outside of the Commonwealth, I’d give some serious consideration to Taurian stocks…”

“And with that, it’s time to move on to events closer to home. What do you all think of the current thaw in relations between New Avalon and Tharkad…”


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #11 on: 20 August 2022, 23:05:14 »
Brannis: 3020.

“Sir! This could revolutionize mech combat! Give us an utter, incomparable advantage!”

“Uh-huh. A direct neural interface. Based on the idea of wearing a smaller suit, which is itself powered armor, and hooked directly into the larger battlemech, allowing you to treat it, truly, like an extension of your own body.”


The man sitting behind the desk smiled. It was not a nice expression. “The revolutionary system that was still sitting at: “we have pretty computer simulations” in the most advanced R&D facilities of the Hegemony.”

“But I think it could be done!”

“Sure,” Jack told the bright-eyed young scientists in front of him. He reached under his desk and brought out a thick stack of paper.

“What’s that?”

“A list of everything we’d have to be able to do first. Not a synopsis, not detailed descriptions, a list of the ****** names of what we’d need to understand. Starting with, oh the important part that was holding up the Hegemony “how not to kill 50 percent of the candidates within the first five years of implantation, never mind the 20 percent who die on the operating table.” He got up and loomed.

Jack was 6’4 and wide. He loomed very effectively. “Now, you’re allowed to look into stuff on your own time. You’re not allowed to start trying to push things that will hurt the project, hurt the Concordat, and make the Protector very angry so he yells at Me. Since I can’t yell back, it makes me cry. Do you want to make me cry?”

“Uh…no sir?”

“You’re damned right. I ugly cry at romcoms, and it’s not a pretty sight.  The reason you’re here is that you’ve let this little project take time away from what you are supposed to be doing, which is finishing up vetting the schematics for the light fusion engines, which the fabrication department has been telling me they’ve been waiting for since the last week. No more fantasy projects, not until this project is back on track!”

As the two scuttled out of his office, Jack sighed, waiting while the other door opened, and after two security officers checked it, the Protector entered. “I make you ugly cry?”

“If I’d had to explain this the hard way, yeah. They should be happy I’m a kind individual, or I would have had you do that so they can see how ugly I cry and realize that the Protector was listening in.”

“Is it causing any real problems?”

“Nah, we’re well within the margin, and the thing is, you hire geniuses, expect ‘em to go off the reservation, now and then. We’ve had a few breakthroughs, but everyone wants to be the guy who changed the world, instead of the guy who pioneered the 10 percent more effective fuse.” Jack shook his head. “Okay, and the fact that I’m an applied engineering puke with a BA in engineering and twenty years in uplift, makes some of them wonder if they’ll catch me banging rocks together and ooking at the pretty sparks. But  you’re not here to hear about my problems from kidnapping half the geniuses in the Concordat. You’re here to see the first fruits and yeah, it’s finished all of its test flights. Follow me.”

As they walked out of the complex, Thomas looked around. There were now hangers and cermacrete bunkers, more and more people from Brannis working in the ever growing factories and fabrication sites. Not the only ones—both the core and some of its tech was being proliferated all over the Concordat, but here was where it could be in the open.

Everywhere else we pretend that we found a few books or manuals, save for the highest clearances. Here, anyone cleared to be here can call up the total contents.  Best of all, the money from licensing the super conductor and water purification systems to the Lyrans is letting me do this without destroying our budget.

“Behold the Victory!” Jack said as they entered big hanger. The big aerospace fighter was sitting, test insignia on it. Behind it were two more of the same design. “65 tons, Two and a half g’s standard thrust, decent warload, most importantly, it includes the advanced armor and heat sinks.”

“Some of my staff think it’s sluggish,” Thomas said.

“Sure. We’re not ready to start producing light engines sir, at least not light engines that are reliable enough for field use, to say nothing of the need for trained technicians.” Jack shrugged. “The fittings are designed to accept a light engine when we get it done, but it still has a better acceleration profile than a lot of fighters, and it’ s also tough. Double heat sinks let us put in two ppc’s and some medium lasers for up close, so no worries about running dry.”

“And the flight tests?”

“Over eighty hours on every frame we have, and we’ve put them through a ton of work, but you’re not here to hear about boring things.”

Thomas tried not to smile. Jack Chen had been vetted and chosen mainly because in the private sector he’d gotten a reputation for taking failing factories, figuring out what was wrong and fixing it—just the kind of man needed to manage a project like this, and he hadn’t disappointed.

“The Victory Mod A is our vanilla fighter. I give you the Victory Mod B bomber.”

“Improved engines,” Thomas said. “I did read the synopsis.”

“It looks better in person. We pulled one of the PPC’s and associated heat sinks which gave us a bomb-bay and it can run a full external bombload while keeping up with the Mod As. It’s a bomb truck that can shoot back, and since the acceleration profile will be the same the bad guys can’t pick ‘em out of the swarm.”  He chuckled. “Mod C  is our “punch big holes in things”. The last fighter had a ugly autocannon muzzle set beneath the pilot’s cockpit, along with several SRM launchers.

Thomas wasn’t entirely certain about that design. Such a fighter would have to accept everything the enemy could throw at it. On the other hand, if they failed to stop it…

Well, even a dropship would know that it had been nudged.

“And the guided anti-spacecraft missiles.”

“Eh,” Jack shrugged. “They can be made, but not in large numbers. I mean, some of the guidance systems aren’t just expensive, they’d be competing for things like onboard targeting computers when it comes to the chip source. I figure we can start manufacturing them, but it’s going to be a long time before they become something a pilot just grabs because he has an empty hard point.”

“And compatibility?”

“Outside of weapons? Every airframe is 100 percent parts compatible. Couldn’t quite get to the point of just being able to change things on the fly, but no mechanic is going to be unhappy.”

“Good. We’ve got three production lines on Taurus ready to go.” And advanced armor and internal structures won’t be quite as obvious as advanced electronics. Thomas turned to Jack. “Now for the other things. Project Panzer is on schedule, but… I’ve been getting complaints that you aren’t treating Project Knight with the importance it deserves.”

“Well, sir, in my uncouth opinion? The complainers need to sit and spin.”

Thomas raised his eyebrow.

“Look sir, yes, we have the complete documentation for the Nighthawk. I also have the complete data for a CASPER destroyer, and about as much chance of getting it done. I know people look at a load lifter and say: that’s easy, just slap some armor on it, but that’s like saying a biplane and drop ship both fly so they’re the same. They have no idea what it’s like to build a suit of armor that you can treat like an infantry kit, and abuse in the field, that will still keep running with just the maintenance a grunt can do on it. Not to mention the huds, the systems that let him see better than a grunt, let him be able to pull off gymnast style stunts, but that that doesn’t let him move the armor so he shatters his legs—I’ve got some of the bright boys looking at dumbed down versions, which do have more commonality with traditional exos… but yeah, unless you want me to pull a lot of people, it’s not going to happen.”

“No. But some of the ones in the loop think that we’re sitting on the thing that will save the Concordat.”

“They won’t. Oh, they’d mulch regular infantry, but on the battlefield—big deal, but probably not a game changer. Again, we do have some ideas—one of the bright sorts suggested making a heavier suit with a little cockpit, which solves the issue of designing arms and legs that don’t twist the meat arms and legs off, but still… lots of work.”

“And how long?”

“At our current pace, and assuming no miracles?”  Jack shrugged. “3030. 3030 for limited designs. Maybe 3025 for a dumbed down nighthawk but that’d be only for very elite forces, and don’t expect it to be able to spend a week in the field like regular infantry. And I can’t really speed that up, because a lot is depending on us figuring out other things. The core helps, but it didn’t come with machine tools or trained workers.”

“I’ll keep them off your back, but what else do you have for me?”

“Well Sir, they’re going to be expensive, but how would you like to come out with me to the test field tomorrow so you can see our first test of the guided Arrow missiles and our new heavy IFV.”

“The Rampage?”

“Just the one, and thanks to yours truly riding herd on our geniuses, it’ll be the base of five different models, with again, at least 70 percent parts commonality.”

“I would be delighted…”

Space Fabrication Dock 1

SFD 1 was far from Brannis, in a place that made little sense. At least unless you had the core. Granted, the Hegemony had flexible fabrication systems that could dynamically adjust heat and magnetic fields while curing a core to make up for changes in gravity.

They couldn’t do that. Those systems were too expensive, which was why they didn’t exist outside of Terra.

Which is why so many cores go bad, Dr. Janice Sims thought. Just the cost of doing business, since you couldn’t afford the needed computers, which were all too often diverted for military use.


She had figured away around that. Instead of using a computer to dynamically calculate how to keep a KF core happy in changing situations… use the computer to calculate where you could put a KF core drydock where the conditions wouldn’t change.  And it was beyond the jump limit of the system. Once it was cured, they’d fit it with a navigation computer, charge it up, and jump it to a final fabrication dock.

Something the Hegemony had never worried about because until the end, they had powerful defenses. But here at Brannis, the first six cores were being cured, each one safely far away from the others, each one concealed by the immense void around it…and even better, because they were outside of the jump limit, there was a charged jump ship with an assault ship on its rings ready to come their assistance in minutes.

If this works, six cores in a year. And two years after that, twelve cores in a year. And better yet, the information they got and the work on it had let them start big. Half of the cores were Invaders, and half were Star Lords. Enough ships to start building up a real merchant navy.

The thunder of the big fusion engine would have deafened anyone close enough to feel the heat from it. Even here, in the bunker, it set the teeth to vibrating.

“Shut it down!” Wilma said. “Four hours… Good job.”

“Now we tear it apart,” her assistant said, sounding grouchy.

“Computers don’t tell you everything, and I’d hate to have someone find out the hard way about microfractures,” Wilma said. The single engine was nearly as big as a Union’s entire drive assembly, but given it’d be part of a drive assembly for a ship slightly larger than a Mammoth…

And to think that the super conductor is paying for this. The Inner Sphere Militaries had lost interest when they found out it couldn't be used in mechs. But according to her sister, the phone was ringing off the hook at Taurus from civilian buyers. Even some Davions had come sniffing around, and been shown the door.

Though according to rumor, they were buying via the Lyrans.

Which didn’t bother Wilma. After all, Davions funding the Concordat’s industrialization was just wonderful, and they were probably paying through the nose for the privilege if Wilma knew the Lyran’s.

Fine with her. Her family still had preserved pictures of the lush forests of New Vandenburg before Forlough turned them to desert. Even today, they were pale shadows of what had come before, many species having been exterminated, and if Forlough had been SLDF, everyone knew that their destruction was Davion’s price for his membership in the gang of thieves that called themselves a Star League.

No, she didn’t mind them paying for the Concordat’s guns at all.


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #12 on: 21 August 2022, 02:06:26 »
I'm not sure what the Victory is supposed to be outperform. It may be incrementally better or worse than a Lucifer or a Stuka, but it's solidly in that bracket. That's not appalling for a dropper-chopper and if the 'upteched' version has a 260 XL then it'll be competitive against most dogfighters, but it's at the bottom end of acceptable performance by ASF standards.
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #13 on: 21 August 2022, 03:42:17 »
It's not great, but it's their first attempt at designing and building a new fighter, most importantly one focused on reliability and not stressing the logistics chain. It's probably not as good as they could build, but it's giving them experience. One big thing the TDF is avoiding is lots of neat toys--that they really can't support in the field, which is why things like Endo steel, better armor, and double heat sinks are getting priority--all things with less of a tech burden than advanced and delicate weapons.

Think of the way the Concordat is approaching the core in the same way the US approached R&D  and industry during WWII.


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #14 on: 21 August 2022, 03:56:33 »

Mary swore as she jinked Baby to the side, kicking the jumpjets. The big Marauder rose up and shot to the side, the spray of shells from the pirate Vulcan missed her. The pirate was trying to get out of the canyon he’d fled to, driven into the arms of the heavy mechs by the pursuit company. Mary hit the Vulcan with paired shots from her arm mounted PPC’s before opening up with the third PPC that the Mod IIA refit had given her, losing the AC. Three shots carved into the already battered armor and the mech collapsed, the pilot fried.

Yes, it saves on ammunition, but now I have a big ass blind spot. She stared at the dead mech. He should have charged her, trying to get into her blind spot. But the moment the Pirates had realized that Mary’s company had twelve Marauders along with a support team of infantry and missile carriers, they’d panicked.

“Air cover, call it in. We had nine enemy battlemechs, plus light forces. What’s their status.”

“This is Angel. The enemy dropship has been secured, and we show nine enemy battlemech casualties. Good show, Subaltern.”

Mary snorted. Good show. Half of them didn’t even start their mechs until we were already shooting at them. Pirates. They seem to think it’s unfair when we track—



“We have one prisoner mechwarrior. The Firestarter.”

“Ah. Get a firing squad.”

They’d have to have a court, but really it’d just be to verify that he was the mechwarrior and not some mechanic.

But there wasn’t a periphery state around that wouldn’t execute anyone who piloted a firestarter. Pirates liked them for their ability to cause terror, and Mary was perfectly happy to return the favor. Especially since this lot had used their firestarter.

She wiped her face, some cool air starting to fill the cockpit. That was another reason why Mary didn’t like the third PPC. Oh, you have plenty of double heat sinks, so let’s just add more guns so you won’t make the pilots of other battlemechs feel bad. Let us all broil for the glory of the Concordat!”

Later, after the trial and execution, for which, Mary had to admit, the pirate had stood with dignity, they were policing the site.

“Another ****** merc unit out of the Suns,” Thomas said. Her XO gestured at some of the equipment. “Probably a contract dispute, or maybe The Fox”—he spat on the ground—“using some of his waste to make life hard for us. I’m telling you, we should just return the favor and drop a regimental raid on New Syrtis.”

“I’ll be certain to tell the Protector your opinion when I dine with him,” Mary said.

“Humph, You did get to dine with him.”

“Me and six hundred other people,” Mary told him. “Status on the salvage.”

“Eh, four mechs are likely going to be salvagable, the rest are parts banks. Militia back home will be happy to get them. “

“Good. What about Morris?”

“Not much, they took off the top PPC, but we pulled a spare and can have it ready by tomorrow.”

“Good.” Not that they were going to be fighting tomorrow, but you always needed to prepare like you might be. “When we get back, he needs more drills. I saw him, hitting his jump jets every other second, trying to get close.”

“He’s young.”

“He’s a glory-seeker,” Mary said, with the wisdom that came with being twenty-two. “And he let that hunchback get into his blind spot. If it hadn’t been for Wilma  and Hank…”

“More drills?”

“More drills. Also, I’m going to be running the opfor on the way back. Rig the cockpits for the drills.”

“And what will you be playing?”

“Some SRM and AC boats. Just to remind people getting close isn’t fun.”

“Maybe we could suggest pulling the third PPC for some SRMs—“

“Don’t you dare,” Mary said, her voice quelling. “It took a month to get everything ready with the last refit, and besides, I don’t want yet another lecture on ‘well, a properly handled long range mech will never be engaging at close range.’ Yes, and we’ll always be fighting dumb people, and not say, the Eridini Light Horse or Wolf’s Dragoons.”

“I was thinking the Samantha Girl Scouts. Those kids can be vicious.”

“I wouldn’t even ask my men to stand up to cheap cookies,” Mary said, then laughed. “Let’s get the site policed, and have our inspection team bag and tag. Maybe we’ll get lucky and ruin some middlemen’s image as pillars of the community…”

“The problem with Tortuga has been that like cockroaches, they always come back,” General Rikard said. “But today, that changes.”

“I’ve heard that before.” Millicent Jakes, secretary for justice, said. “What are you going to do, annex them?”

“In a word? Yes.” Thomas stood up, the rest of his cabinet staring at him. “We will never be rid of the bleeding wounds inflicted by pirates until we destroy their hide outs—but Tortuga isn’t a hide out, is it? It sits there, pridefully flaunting a slave holding culture where atrocity is something to be aspired to. Slave raids have taken citizens from Taurian, Davion, and Outworlds’ planets alike.”

“And how do we do more than a raid?”

“The TTI’s Maxi class dropships are bigger than anything other than a Behemoth. They’re dual use, and we will use them to transport an actual full scale infantry invasion force to Tortuga Prime. Not just mech warriors who will bust some things up and then leave, but conventional forces which will, starting with Raider’s Roost, occupy and restore the rule of law to the region. This is not a punitive raid. This is a long-term invasion.

“Those dropships aren’t intended for contested entry.”

“No, they aren’t, and so they’ll stay behind the first wave.” Thomas smiled. “Ever since our find, we have been improving out economy, our military—and this? This is a step we need to take. Tortuga was founded by the dregs of the Inner Sphere—their own problems that they couldn’t be bothered to clean up, so long as they only victimized us. And when their problem child started raiding their own worlds, they didn’t have the ability to stop. We will stop it.”

“Might not be such a bad idea,” the Secretary of Planetary Development said. “Now that we have water purifiers, the worlds might have some benefit.”

“And…” General Rikard said. “This is a full-scale planetary invasion, yet not against a foe who can match us, or over match us. Put bluntly, if it doesn’t work, we can retreat, albeit with a blow to our pride. But our troops have spent literally centuries more or less standing on the defense, and all the training in the world doesn’t make up for a lack of practice. This is to see how well our forces can operate in a full scale combat environment.”

“They’ll love it. It’ll be the biggest pirate hunt in recent history.”

“No,” Thomas said. “Ideally it will be the first of many pirate hunts, and far from the biggest.”

“Where is the money going?” Will murmured. He was sitting in his office, all the anti-evesdropping systems on, and he was facing a puzzle.

“To mechs, sir?”

Will turned to his aide and raised one eyebrow. The younger woman blushed. “TTI opened another Marauder line and they’re buying the entire production run, along with the new vehicle designs.”

“Yes, and even a new aerospace fighter.” That had been kept quiet, but even though Will didn’t have detailed specs, you just couldn’t keep something secret, not when you were starting to field it. Granted, it was overshadowed, pardon the pun, by the first cargo dropships.  According to his sources, the Taurians were trying to build up at least three more assembly lines, not for themselves, but for the demands coming from the Lyrans, who were eyeing new Mammoth style dropships with greed and had even offered Taurus some very enticing licensing offers. So had the Free Worlds League and the Combine. The only ones being frozen out were the Capallens and Davions. 

“But here’s the problem,” Will called up the graphs. “Here’s the money they’ve been spending, both official numbers and our estimates. Here’s the money they’ve been pulling in. Here’s the money they’re spending on those six shiny new battlemech regiments, to say nothing of their support units. And here’s the difference.”

“That is… a lot of money.”

“Yes. Now if this was say, the Marians, I would expect to find that they’re building a 1:1 replica of Rome, only in gold. But it isn’t. The Concordat’s corruption numbers are equal to or better than most of the Inner Sphere. We’ve seen some increased funding in education, especially basic education. Because Comstar is offering it’s humanitarian aid there, yes, thank you everyone, as always honey works better than vinegar.

“Saving it—no, that wouldn’t work. If they were sitting on that kind of surplus, they’d have to be spending it, they’re not stupid enough to fail to realize the economic issues.” Stacy bit her lip. “And they’re not just dumping into the economy. We’d see the inflationary impact.”

“And most Taurian economists have “inflation” next to “Satan” in their bibles.” Will nodded. “That is a lot of money and it’s going somewhere. Stacy, it’s time for you to learn an important truth about Comstar.”

“Our role in protecting the Inner Sphere?”

“No. Why interns exist to be abused. We have a bunch of bright young things who are getting tired of running tours in the petting zoo, so we’re going to give them their chance to shine!”

“Doing what?”

“Going over every financial record we can lay our hands on for the last five years. We’re seeing this now, but this kind of money doesn’t just appear out of nowhere.”

“Yes sir.” Stacy paused. “I really had expected more action.”

“Well, Elliot Ness had fun busting up speakeasies, but remember, it was the IRS that got Al Capone.”

Stacy sighed. “Now I’m going to have to go into the history section to figure out what you just said. Thank you sir.”

“Just don’t take it out on the Interns… too much.”

When Stacy left, Will turned and looked out of his window, after depolarizing it. The clouds over the city were illuminated, the roads by the compound full of people enjoying their evening.

Please don’t be playing Inner Sphere games. Be smarter than that.

“War Games,” Hanse said.

“Yes.” Quintus Allard said. The images were playing out on the big screen in the briefing room. A Concordat flight of Victory fighters stooped over a range, unleashing hell from their bombs, while below, Mechs and vehicles advanced firing low powered lasers to mimic guns. Here and there white painted “referee” hover craft darted across the field.

“Our sources believe they may have as many as four regiments of new mechs. New mechs.”

“They’ve been rolling in the money,” Hanse said, trying not to frown. Friendly relations or not, the Lyran businessmen would only sell exports to the Suns at enough of a markup to tell the Taurians they were soaking the Suns.

“Yes, but it’s not just four regiments of mechs.  Each regiment has been practicing with two regiments of armor, and two of infantry, with other units added and subtracted as needed—it looks like they’re still  keeping artillery and battlefield engineers at a higher level.”

“An RCT?”

Quintus nodded. “Not just that, but these war games have involved full scale operations—they embarked from Taurus, jumped to the drill site, and then did a full press invasion.”

Hanse leaned back and whistled. Even for them, that cannot have been inexpensive.

“And what is your opinion.”

“Well, until this week, the staff was divided. Some thought this was trying to a more flexible defensive operational plan, other’s argued that the TDF is finally trying to develop an offensive capability.”

“Which they’ve never had.” Hanse nodded. Even before the Reunification war, the TDF had been focused on defense first, expeditionary warfare second.

“Well, this week we got new information. First of all, their new ground combat vehicles are mostly fuel cell powered, more expensive than internal combustion engines, but…”

“But anywhere there’s water, you can crack it and fuel them. A nice compromise  if you can’t afford fusion power plants.”

“But that wasn’t what convinced me. Well three things convinced me. We just got the AAR’s from our sources, and just over 20 percent of the officers have been transferred or demoted due to what these exercises showed. These aren’t staged events, they’re really hammering their people.”

“Where are the transfers going?”

“Back to the older units.”

Which aren’t involved in these exercises. Are they trying to cut loose a real mobile force? 

“And the other thing,” Quintus said. He handed an image. It was poor quality, not that Hanse would ask where it had come from. But…

“Is that a jumpship with a…”

“Pod. No internal look, but we got a dock worker who was talking about it. 100,000 displacement tons, and mostly dedicated to cargo, along with a tug attachment.”

“This is… brilliant.” Hanse stared at it. Once you secured the space, this could hold more material than a dozen overlords. Supplies, spares, hell, even extra mechs. And it wouldn’t tie up a jumpship. “I wonder why nobody thought of it.”

“That’s what most of my analysts said, only with a lot more profanity.” Quintus shook his head. “But this isn’t by accident. Now for the last thing.”  He put out a last page on Hanse’s desk. Hanse stared at it. It was a topographical map. Of Tortuga Prime.

“Every unit has been getting monthly updates about Tortuga, along with updated maps.”

“Do you have someone in their command staff?”

“If I did, I’d ask for a raise. I have someone in the janitorial services and evidently a few of their officers find shredding and burning classified materials too boring for their exalted position. I think they’re going for Tortuga, and in a big way. That presents an issue. Michael.

Hanse sighed. Michael’s tendency to allow mercenary and pirate units to “accidentally” stray over the border had been a growing problem, especially after the Taurians started linking up with the Lyran business interests. Hanse had cracked down, but there were still cases of inexplicable “failures” of communication or action.

He’ll use this. Claim I’m ignoring the March and letting the Taurians get ready to invade. Which was idiotic. A war would go only one way and Thomas knew that. Which meant…

“Quintus, I’m going to issue orders, not just to Michael, but directly to every command in the march. No attacks into Taurian space. All units are to remain on the defensive, and no right of pursuit is granted without my direct authorization.”

“He’ll claim you’re overreaching.”

“That’s fine. I have too many irons in the fire to deal with a war with the current apple of the Lyran Stock Exchange’s eye.”


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #15 on: 21 August 2022, 05:04:47 »
Noice, I wonder how Michael will take that. Not lying down I guess.

 ??? Aside from putting the units at the border on defensive posting I wonder what Hanse could do to improve relations with the Taurians...

Offering referendums on the old Taurian worlds about a possible return to Taurian hands won't fly at the moment I think.

idea weenie

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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #16 on: 21 August 2022, 07:41:46 »
The best thing for the FedSuns right now might be helping to expose a Comstar plot.  Let the Taurians chew on the idea that their fight with the FedSuns might have been engineered to continue due to Comstar meddling, rather than just regular anger at each other.


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #17 on: 22 August 2022, 11:26:07 »
Except the anger is almost completely one sided. The FedSuns for the most part ignores and leaves the Taurians alone. It is just that the Taurians have too much pride to accept that the FedSuns doesn't really care about them.

And Hanse could create a vote on the former worlds but like Thomas's mother pointed out there has never been an uprising, the people are so mixed you can't distinguish, and more importantly those worlds have been part of the FedSuns far longer than they ever were part of the Taurians.
« Last Edit: 22 August 2022, 11:28:59 by Adventwolf »
Fun quest that need more people:

Skywalker For Senator (Star Wars) - Q, Star Wars: Beyond the Republic, We Stand Against the Stars (Gundam/Macross) Crossover, Mobile Suit Gundam: Divided Federation (Civ Quest), The Lords of Ruin -- Battletech/Killzone Crossover, Star War Moff Quest: Lost in Space


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #18 on: 22 August 2022, 18:39:01 »
Sure, the FedSuns is ignoring the fact they've occupied Taurian worlds for generations...  ::)

David CGB

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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #19 on: 22 August 2022, 22:24:27 »
Sure, the FedSuns is ignoring the fact they've occupied Taurian worlds for generations...  ::)
After all this time, those worlds are Federated Suns worlds nothing more or less
Federated Suns fan forever, Ghost Bear Fan since 1992, and as a Ghost Bear David Bekker star captain (in an Alt TL Loremaster)


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #20 on: 23 August 2022, 01:19:04 »
After all this time, those worlds are Federated Suns worlds nothing more or less

Yeah, to put it in perspective, the Reunification WAr ended in 2597--in 2035, that's 428 years. 
To put it in context, Jamestown was founded in 1607, and we won't equal the amount of time that passed in Btech until 2035. 

That's a bit... unreasonable.


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #21 on: 23 August 2022, 02:30:33 »
Samantha 3023

Mary adjusted her uniform for the tenth time. Brigadier. She wasn’t supposed to be one, but then a quarter of her superiors had been shuffled out, and then Brigadier Sorenson had taken compassionate leave.

They had improved much of their technology, but late stage cancer could still be deadly. Mary didn’t begrudge him for wanting to be with his wife for her last few months.

But the orders had come as a shock.  She was now twenty-three and young for her position, which required juggling a million more things than a humble company commander.

And now she was meeting the Protector. Zarantha had resigned in 2022, and nobody begrudged her it, but she was still keeping her hand in, scuttlebutt said.

Maybe your promotion was a clerical error and he’s here to let you down gently? The  secretary opened the door and Mary walked in.

“Congratulations on your promotion, Brigadier Cheng.

Not a mistake. “Thank you, sir,”  Mary said.

“No thanks are needed. You achieved it yourself. But now, we have a problem. Have you ever heard of the Aurigan Coalition?”

“Yes sir. We have disputed territory with them, but their military capabilities are more or less nil in terms of being able to support offensive operations, and they are currently engaged in a low level civil conflict.”

“Which is where we come in. We support Santiago Espinosa, who overthrew the current leadership. Ruthlessly. But… At least now he can negotiate with us, without the former council refusing to lead, follow or get out of the way. Then the heir, who we believed was dead, resurfaced, and she is obtaining financial support from the Magistracy.”

Mary was young, not stupid. “Who we are officially enjoying excellent relations with.”

“Correct, but they worry  about what might happen if we gobble up the Reach or make them a client state. On the other hand, nobody is willing to fight a war over this. But right now…” Thomas turned to the screen and an aide Mary hadn’t noticed brought up a map. “That’s an entire region of space bordering the Concordat. I’ll be blunt, getting the worlds back is a secondary objective to avoiding some kind of long-term conflict that is going to destabilize the entire region just as we’re getting ready to plan for operation Clean Sweep in Tortuga.”

“That would be unpleasant.”

“Which is why your unit is going to the directorate. Espinosa may not be the nicest leader, but he can at least make agreements without everyone and his brother having a veto. On the other hand, if our intelligence is right he’s burned a lot of bridges, although he still has widespread support.”

Mary had read some of the news reports. Burning bridges included evidently suspending most elected planetary leaders.

“And if he falls?”

“Lady Arano was the former heir, but she’s unknown to us, and the aftermath of a civil war, if she wins, could see the entire thing fall apart, and that might see the Capallans decide to make a grab for some of their worlds.”

Which would give us another hostile Border. Mary generally didn’t talk politics, especially since all too many of her fellows believed that Davion uniforms were designed to hide their tails and horns, but she really didn’t want a larger border with the Capallans.

Least they’re not the Draconis Combine.

“And my role, sir?”  Mary paused. “With all due respect, I’m a bit young for something that might be… political.”

“We have the over all commander for that, as well as some of our diplomats. But you, Mary Cheng, are from Brannis. And you can talk to them about the benefits of a closer relationship with the Concordat.”

Which means politics. Is it too late to transfer to the infantry? But that wasn’t something you said to your boss.


Four Unions would handle the mech battalion, since TDF formations were larger than their Inner Sphere counterparts. Mary found herself deep in paperwork hell—the Aurigan Coalition couldn’t supply most of their spare parts, and they were actually taking along enough spares to build a few battlemechs from scratch. That was especially true since the recon company had a fairly diverse set of mechs. They’d be imitating a regimental unit in small scale with two infantry battalions and one armor battalion coming along. The infantry and armor would be coming along with uparmored civilian dropships, since combat landings weren’t anticipated, something their commanders weren’t happy with, but their protests landed on deaf ears. They also weren’t getting any assault ships. The Navy had archly informed them that as none of the factions in the current conflict had a major fighter capability, let alone assault ships of their own, what were they expecting to find? The Children of Kerensky?

“And of course we don’t have any good information.” Mary tossed her papers to the side.

“Problems?” Thomas asked, her XO was going through some papers of his own, mostly thrilling adventures in ‘did you remember to pack enough toilet paper’.

“Oh, none, not unless you count a supposedly official and classified report referring to Director Espinoza as a ‘bright, shining hope.’”  She shook her head in disgust. “It sounds more like the official papers talking about a Liao than a decent intelligence brief. As for his opposition, the reports seem to be divided as to whether she eats children, or merely uses them to lubricate her battlemech.”

“Make sense.” Thomas said. “Espinoza is a guy we can negotiate with. The diplomat who can hand the Protector a former Taurian world, even one that we abandoned, isn’t going to have to worry about his retirement benefits.” He grinned. “See, that’s what age gets me. If you’d been promoted the normal way, you’d have known this.”

“Colonel Sims isn’t happy about it,” Mary said. “I mean, some of the other…I know the people love him. The reports tell us, he’s universally beloved.”


“So why are half his requests for crowd control equipment?” Mary sighed. “I mean, sure we can probably smash any mech units the opposition has, but we can only smash them where were are, and a world is an awfully big place.”

“True.” Thomas grinned. “Wanna have something else to worry about?”


“If this blows up badly enough that they have to pull the reserve and cancel Clean Sweep, you’re one of the ten highest ranking officers in the expedition. I of course am just an unambitious…”

“Thomas?” Mary said, as she crumpled a paper into a tight ball.


“SRM incoming,” And then she beaned the paper off of his forehead.

And with that, I’d better get back to work. At least I can make certain we don’t show up to save the day and then find out we left something at home. The logistics officers were handling this, but it never hurt to back them up…

Forty-eight Taurian mechs strode down the main parade street of Cordia City, the banners of House Espinoza and the flag of the Aurigan Reach next to the Concordat flag. Behind them came the armored and infantry units of the 1st Expeditionary Allied Force. The crowd was impressively big, people pointing as the metallic behemoths strode past.

I understand why… After all, there hadn’t been forty-eight mechs in one place on this world well, since forever. So hopefully anyone planning on supporting the rumored return of Lady Arano would think twice.

But right after this, they were going to have to divide them back up and send them to the jumpships because only an idiot would go straight for the capitol.

And that means parsing out our light mechs, what few we have, or depending on the central government’s battlemechs. Mary knew it was ironic, given the annoyance she’d felt at some of the… condescending comments about Brannis, but she didn’t trust a bunch of random noble pilots.

The problem was that Mary’s regiment had been designed to function as part of a full RCT. And her single battalion was very much focused on heavy mechs. Bad news if you were going to get into a head on conflict, but if it came to blows, the rebels, unless they were conveniently stupid, weren’t going to try and attack a bunch of Marauders. No, they’d go around them, which meant she needed medium and light mechs.

Of which she didn’t have nearly enough.

Probably the first time someone has bitched about having too many Marauders.  Mary shook her head. Maybe they’d back down.

And now she was at the podium where Lord Espinoza and his daughter stood, shutting down Baby and getting ready to get out. Fortunately, they hadn’t been shooting at anyone, so the cockpit was actually cool.

Especially since Mary was dressed in a dress uniform for this display.

Pasting a smile of her face, Mary left the mech, joining her CO and the other’s on the stage to talk about the enduring friendship of the Concordat and Reach.

And as usual, she was the shortest person on the stage.

Blegh. I’ll just hide by the buffet table.

“And this is Brigadier Cheng, a member of one of the Concordat’s newest members, Brannis.” The ambassador’s smile was bright.

“Hello,” Mary said. Dammit, you’re not supposed to notice people lurking by the buffet.

“Thank you for assisting us,” Espinoza said. “I expect that this is the harbinger of many wonderful developments. Why Ambassador Timmis and I have been speaking of the investment potential of this region. I believe you know of Taurus Territorial Industries?”

“I should hope so, TTI built my mech.”

“Yes,” Espinoza said, swirling his wine glass. Mary notices that it was the same glass he’d started with and it looked like for all he brought it to his mouth, he was barely tasting it. Ambassador Timmis was on his third glass. “I wonder what it would be able to do with a new battlemech factory on a world with, I’m told, lower costs than Samantha?”

Wait, what? For a moment Mary frantically tried to remember if she’d missed something, but no. There were some carrots in their bundle, but nothing to the scale of a full battlemech facility. Even with their economic windfalls, that wasn’t something you casually promised, especially to a nation that might not be there in the next ten years.

Is the ambassador holding this out in front of Espinoza as a lure?  Mary didn’t know. She did know that it was unlikely that Timmis was able to pull the wool over Espinoza’s eyes. The Reach was not a prestige posting for the diplomatic core—and he just had his glass refilled.

“Andreas!” Another voice intruded, and a woman wearing a shimmersilk gown that cost more than Mary made in a month made her entrance.

Mary remembered the face on her briefing card. Ambassador Juleka Rogers, from the Magistracy. Also, believed to be MIM’s section chief here.

“Not introducing me to our dashing mechwarrior?”

“Ah, yes, Ambassador Rogers, this is Brigadier Cheng.”

“So young, and cute for your position,” she gushed.

“Don’t mind her,” Espinoza said. “Apparently behaving like an actress in a Magistracy movie is a requirement for their diplomatic staff.”

Timmis laughed, but Rogers and Espinoza didn’t, both of them staring at each other.

Can someone please find something for me to shoot?  Mary had a brief, horrifying thought that she’d died, God had found her unworthy, and this was her hell, to be stuck here for the rest of eternity.

“I do have to wonder if your credentials equal the ability to keep your government from supporting the last hold outs of the old order.”

“You mean your niece? Oh, Santiago, we couldn’t turn out a member of your family. Besides, here you are, with the TDF assisting you, it’s only fair we provide a little help.” She paused. “I’m surprised they only came with the forces they did. After all, six new regiments, with supporting forces…”

“We’re not here as an occupying force,” Mary said. “Merely to assist the legitimate government.”

“Ah, but who is that? But I agree, there’s nothing here worth a war, especially since some people seem more interested in their stocks—oh, look, there’s Danica. I must congratulate her on her engagement!”

After a few more words, Mary consulted her watch. Surely she—nope, two more hours.



Will leaned back as he looked at the data chips and text on his table. “So we found their dastardly secret out.”

“Yes.” Stacy said, calling up the imagery. Buildings with excavation equipment around them. “This was Brannis, which had a substantial SLDF and DOME presence. The Taurians, according to the documents we’ve managed to find, recovered a maintenance library while they were engaged in uplift operations.”

More images flashed through. “They’ve managed to reverse engineer a number of SLDF era developments, both civilian and military. In terms of civilian materials, they have the super conductor compound and have reverse-engineered the water filters. There may be more. In the military arena, they were able to suss out freezer tech, as well as improved alloys.” She paused. “And we actually have some proof of their sources.”  She dropped a volume on Will’s desk. “A 2690 era reconditioning manual for a standard SLDF freezer.  We were lucky—evidently, someone got lazy and just ran the whole thing through a duplicator, so we were able to trace signs of wear and tear on the pages, and it’s equivalent to what you’d get sitting in an archive for a few centuries.”

“And they're using that to develop Brannis as a fall back position, probably to prepare for the Federated Suns.”  Will shook his head. The money tracks and everything else makes sense if you have more money to put into R&D.

“But nothing fundamentally destabilizing, Sir,” Stacy said. “More mechs, tougher mechs, but…”

“But the Concordat is too small to really be a player in the Inner Sphere and they’ve never been that interested.”

And I expect that Tortuga is going to occupy your attention for quite some time.  “Good work, Stacy. Now let’s get our make up and perfume and make it look good for the First Circuit.”

“Yes, sir.” Stacy paused. “Make up and Perfume?”

“It beats my idea when I was an acolyte.”

“Which was?”

“I set up a routine to, when you were reading the message, have the computer boom out: HEAR THE WORD OF BLAKE and then start spouting obscene limericks.”

“You put that into our customer’s messages?”

“Of course not, It was just a joke, until my finger slipped and It was inserted into a message for… the First Circuit.”

“What happened?”

“According to what I was later told, half laughed, half wanted me excommunicated, and they compromised on sending me to Taurus. Let’s get to work.”


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #22 on: 23 August 2022, 10:07:27 »
Now playing for one night only:  The Word of Blake!
Precentor Berith's killer one man show.  Dirty limericks in High Dominus!
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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #23 on: 23 August 2022, 21:58:13 »
Yeah, when the government is making lots of requests for crowd-control equipment you start to wonder just how 'beloved' they are by the population.

The fun idea would be if the Magistracy 'representative' were to slip Mary a few records of what the Espinoza government has been doing to people.  How will Mary react to the data, and how much will be passed on to her superiors to arrange a quiet 'accident' for Espinoza?


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #24 on: 25 August 2022, 02:14:40 »
We have a force that can smash the rebels.  Mary knew that. So did the rebels, which was why the rebels, or loyalists, or whatever the hell the term being used today in the briefings were, hadn’t obliged them by giving them a fight. They had a merc group, but they were engaged in hit and runs. Not even really trying to do damage, just showing that Lady Arano was back.

Mary had woken up yesterday to find a poster of her Arano’s on Baby. Which meant that now half their infantry were back guarding their mechs, because clearly Espinoza’s claims about the loyalty of his people were overstated.

Another bottle smashed on the cockpit. Mary  didn’t move. Nor did the other three Marauders in the lance. She was in the front lines because it wasn’t as if there was a major fight. So now, they were providing security for a speech by…someone, at the Golden Treasure Big Box store.

“Ma’am, what do we do?”

“Sit pretty,” Mary  replied. Not much we can do. The Marauder was a terrifying tool of war, that could slaughter troops with impunity. What it wasn’t was set up, at all, for crowd control. And the orders were clear, no firing unless antimech weaponry was used.

The orders I gave.

“Crowd’s getting restless, Ma’am.”

“I know, Jenks, but I don’t think shooting them would make things better.” The police lines were now bending in front of the crowd. “You know, who would have thought that telling people taxes were going to be doubled as an emergency measure wouldn’t go over well?”

“Ma’am, if the line breaks they’ll be right under us.”

“I know.” Where we will squash them if we move and they’ll be able to use antimech charges if anyone brought them. Granted, the most lethal thing the crowd had deployed so far were rocks but…

“This is Brigadier Cheng, what is the status on crowd control?”

“On its way.”


Mary waited, watching every indicator. The crowd was now throwing rocks and some molotovs at the police, who were forming a shield wall in front of the mechs. The big wig had vanished inside the store. Moments later, she heard sirens.

An armored car pulled up at one of the streets, riot police and order troops forming up from other units. They started pushing forward, shock sticks rising and falling.

Mary blinked. The crowd in front of them was backing up, which was pushing more people against her unit, and now there were screams of fear as people in the middle of the scrimmage fell and couldn’t get back up.

“This is Cheng, you need to open a path for the crowd to move to. We have civilians down.”

“Negative our orders are to seize the ringleaders.”

“Look I’m telling—“ Mary would have missed it if she hadn’t been looking in the right direction. One of the protestors, an older man, blood running down his face, raised his sign and started hitting one of the order troops. The soldier fell back, raising his big riot gun, and then, on purpose or by mistake, Mary would never know, fired. The flechettes sprayed out and the people directly in front of him were torn to shreds. Those around them shrieked and then there were scattered shots from the crowd.

“We’re taking fire!”

“Do not return fire, do not—“ Mary snapped her mouth shut as the malignant sound of support needlers ripped through the air, as CS gas grenades were lobbed into the crowd, sending them into a complete panic. “****** cease fire or I will blow that tinkertoy car to bits!” Mary snarled and brought her PPC’s around to bear on the car, just in case they didn’t get the hint. “General order, open up the barricades to all side streets and inform any local hospitals of a mass casualty event.”

The troop proximity alert started to wail, and Mary looked down. There were people clinging and climbing up Baby’s legs, not to fight, but to pull injured, young, and elderly out of the colossal rout of the demonstration.

“You can stay there,” She told them over the loudspeaker. “I won’t be moving.”

What a disaster.


“The thwarted attempt to assassinate the vice minister for taxation resulted in the deaths of nearly 100 civilians at the hand of the Arano insurgency’s illegal weapons. Four hundred more were injured seriously enough to require hospitalization.  Four order troops were slightly injured during rescue attempts. A number of paid agitators were arrested along with caches of antimech weaponry. We’re going to be hearing about the enhanced security measures that will be put in place for your safety…”

Mary stared at the reporter on the big screen. “Does anyone believe that?” she muttered.

“Remember, we’re “no comment” and we provided our black boxes to the proper authorities.”

“I know,” Mary said, stabbing a fork into her spaghetti. The food here had an interesting spicy-sweet taste, unlike Brannis or Samantha’s offerings. At another time, she’d be interested. Now, she just stabbed it,  imagining the face of that idiot order trooper. “Should have let them torch the store.”

“Really?” Thomas asked. He’d been guarding a power plant, lucky fellow.

“If they couldn’t find enough normal cops? Yes. Burning down the place would have been fifth page news, instead of… this.”

“Think it’s going to be—Down!” Thomas grabbed Mary and pulled her down, her food landing on her head. Mary didn’t even squawk at that. Thomas had seen—


The explosion was small but loud, and there were screams from the street.  A little scooter roared past, two people on it, a girl raising her hand, fist clenched.

“VENGEANCE FOR THE 100 MARTYRS!” she screamed. “FREEDOM FROM THE SLAVES OF TAURUS!” then they were lost down the crowded street as Mary and Thomas vaulted the low barrier. A few people were injured, including one of the privates from the Taurian infantry units. Mary clamped down on his arm, staunching the wound, while one of the waiters ran up with a first aid kit. There were police now, impressively late.

And were they just not here, and if so, did someone tell our friend with the bomb?  Or did they arrange to not be here?

“If your question was: Think it’s going to be a problem? Yes, Thomas. I think this is going to be a huge problem.”

“Yeah. You know, I never thought I’d feel any sympathy at all for Kerensky…”
« Last Edit: 25 August 2022, 02:16:19 by Korzon77 »


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #25 on: 27 August 2022, 07:11:32 »
Frankly, this version of the Aurigan Reach is screwed. With the full Battalion and support units there, unlike the single mixed battalion of canon, the Arano Restoration has no chance. Except by getting the entire Castle Outpost's content which they actually could get since without the hate boner commodore around they won't go after them there. Though because the Directorate might be stupid enough to do the Perdition stunt they will lose any support when it comes out. And the Taurians will need to keep supporting a highly repressive regime which unless they can force Espinosa to ease up will not play well with their own people. But Kamea has nowhere near the support required to win. The likely outcome is a drawn out war that just wrecks the region and the exact outcome the Taurians didn't want to happen comes to pass.

The only chance the Reach has is a quick end to the war for either side. Because like in canon Kamea retains all the powers of the Directorate so she can still fill the same role as the Director. But she is completely unknown. So the best the Reach can hope for is a Directorate victory with the Argo captured by the Taurians and with the increased influence of the Taurians the Aurigan Reach has the measures decreased for continued support. If not then annexing the whole area and occupying it will be the only way to keep it out of the hands of the Liaos.
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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #26 on: 27 August 2022, 10:15:25 »
unless the directorate does something to piss off the bulls, and the bulls switch sides, then everything is up in the air
Wolf wins every fight but one, and in that one he dies, his fangs locked on the throat of his opponent.


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #27 on: 27 August 2022, 10:37:35 »
Which is where I think this story is going...  ^-^


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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #28 on: 27 August 2022, 13:21:04 »
Which is where I think this story is going...  ^-^

Same!  I expect the Arano Restoration to still happen.
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Re: The Bull and the Genie
« Reply #29 on: 27 August 2022, 14:37:28 »
agreed, which is why i made the comment
Wolf wins every fight but one, and in that one he dies, his fangs locked on the throat of his opponent.