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Author Topic: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March  (Read 12461 times)

Wrangler

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #90 on: 22 September 2023, 22:31:27 »
Nice liberation there. Well written!
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants
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monbvol

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #91 on: 23 September 2023, 21:19:17 »
Helena’s office
31 December 3142


She sighed.  She had hoped to get more prisoners and civilians evacuated from the operation but the reports were clear.

Only eight thousand six hundred twenty two prisoners and civilians had been evacuated in all.  Four hundred ten of those were beyond saving and succumbed during the return trip.

But she took solace in the fact that nearly a full cluster of very difficult to replace Falcon Garrison units had been eliminated or captured.

The butcher’s bill was a bit higher than projected.  Raw troops on their first deployments.  It was expected.

But it was still an incredible win and a way to announce she was on the scene.


CJFS Red Talon
1 January 3143


“They jumped in at non-standard points with Warships.  Our garrison forces had insufficient equipment to face such heavy opposition.  They were simply overwhelmed.  Each system was attacked by a Lola III, a Pinto, well over 100 Aerospace Fighters, and a Merchant that delivered a mixed battalion of ground forces.  All units encountered used a modified form of the Star League crest.  We lost over three thousand laborers, five thousand prisoners, and the work camp on Nusakan will take at least six months to rebuild, and our garrisons on Summer, Alkalurops, and Nusakan all suffered severe losses.”  Becket Malthus felt a strange twinge of satisfaction at the fact that there was someone out there that was now standing against Malvina.

The battleroms were playing on several screens.  It showed a scene of utter humiliation for Clan Jade Falcon.

“Bring in the prisoner.”  Malvina said quietly.

He was the only one they had managed to secure.  He had been captured on Nusakan.

“Warrant Officer Al Nashir, Raul.  Service number 414881793.”  He said weakly with a bruised face.

“Impressive you still have that much resolve.”  Malvina allowed.

“You have drawn the ire of the Eternal Princess.  She will destroy you and ensure madness like yours never takes root again.”  Raul was forced to his knees.

“We shall see.  For now I have my own message for this Eternal Princess of yours.”  Malvina placed a sealed package on his chest and pinned it in place by driving a knife into his heart.  “Make whatever arrangements are needed to get that to Redburn.  We will let Redburn and the Republic know we are not to be trifled with.  For now it seems we have certain deficiencies to address in our garrisons.”

“It will be done, Chingis Khan.”  Beckett Malthus motioned for the guards to pick up the body.

Redburn’s office
Callison
6 February 3143


“Yes, he was one of ours.  Captured at Nusakan in our raid there.”  Victoria looked at the image of the body in storage elsewhere.

“He was delivered with this.  It was held in place by a knife to his heart.”  Redburn handed over a slightly blood stained letter.

“Lots of bluster for someone who clearly cannot properly garrison all their worlds.”  Victoria had to keep herself from laughing.

“The rumors true?”

“Yeah we hit them pretty hard but our deployments were too slow and strung out so we took more losses than we otherwise should have as units rushed off to their objectives piecemeal.  It still could have been much worse.  And it cost us people we could have saved too.”  Victoria admitted.

“To be expected with raw troops, especially against a foe as easy to hate as Malvina.”  Redburn offered.  “Is it true you made a trip through the Augustine Alliance?”

“My talks there were not fruitful.  They have thrown in with the Free Worlds League.”

“I cannot help but notice that a rash of rather treasonous people had a rather coincidental string of mishaps at the same time.  You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that would you?”

“Just that karma caught up with a lot of people.”

“Have it your way.  I shed no tears for their deaths.”  Redburn poured them each a glass of cognac.  “So what now?”

“Now we find a way to get Levin to stop being an idiot and take down the Fortress Wall so we can bang some sense into his head.  The Falcons will be far more prepared for our next raid and our other foes will not be idle forever.  It would be much easier if we had the might of Terra on our side.”

“Good luck.  I’ve been sending messages to him through the Northwind HPG for a while now and he has not sent a word back.  At least nothing addressing what I was asking of him.”

“I wonder…”  Victoria mused.

“Oh?”

“Just pondering the implications of Levin not answering.”

“It troubles me as well.”


Stars…

Glittered like so many gems in the distance.  Somewhere out there, Her Majesty the First Lord was finally taking steps to settle things up.

Atrocity sighed, and re-entered the airlock.

"Enjoy your walk?"  the ship asked.

"Yes.  we took prisoners at the last stop, they're still alive?" she inquired.

"You took them, you didn't tell me to kill them."

"Good point." She dismounted her armor, and locked it in the charging station.  "Do you understand why I took prisoners this time?" she asked.

"I assumed because you felt…isolated." the AI told her.

"Not exactly.  I took them, because we needed better information on issues surface-side." She explained.

"Issues?"

"Cracks in the Jade Falcons.  Our Free Stars contact man with Ingraham Liner mentioned not all the Clanners in the Falcons are happy with Malvina's direction.  It seemed reasonable to test that."

“Heh.  I imagine so, especially after Helena just gave a rather convincing statement that the insanity of Malvina doesn’t always work and has consequences.”

"Prep a lifeboat with enough fuel to reach low orbit, a transponder, and sufficient meals-ready-to-eat to keep our four guests alive until pickup."  she said.

"Where are we dropping them off?"

"Along the Tharkan routes, I'm thinking maybe the Tharkad system itself." she explained, "then we divert coreward along a vector to Lazarus."

"WHY??"

"Because we're down to eighty days of fuel, you've almost used up our missile munitions, and I can't go home to Kolossus, but Helena's fleet has supplies, they're allies, and frankly, I want to have some in-person time with someone I didn't take prisoner who isn't an intel source I might not see again." she explained.

  "Social time, with PEERS.  Part of me wants to be hurt but I understand."

"Oh don't be that way! YOU Need peer-time too, and I guarantee you'll get more peer time in Lazarus than you will anywhere short of Port Orphan or Kolossus!"

“Just some mild good natured hazing.  Like I said, I actually understand.”

"We're dropping four enemy prisoners off on the Lyrans and taking the two higher value ones to Helena." she added.


“Everything is ready.  By my calculations we should be to Lazarus just in time for Early April.  It’ll be tight but we can make it on our supply levels.”

"Excellent."  She headed for her sleeping area.  "Music, twenty-first century early, Vladislav Hannevan's  Seething Cosmos, movement four, please."

The decks of the automated cruiser echoed with the strains of Orchestral electric guitar backed by the Denver philharmonic-a recording made nearly a thousand years ago.

By the time the vocalist began her wordless aria, Atrocity was soundly asleep in her quarters.

**

Star Captain Greta Beckett winced as the cell's audio played a stilted, flowing burst of classical music.  The same music played most nights, like a timer, since she'd been captured by the robots.

The robots had proven to be far from the sort of ridicule-worthy things in children's media or fantasy fiction.  Nor were they those models of dubious moral value found on Dustball.  They were not vulnerable to logic-traps, nor did they have easily identified access panels, visible weaknesses, or delicate parts.

Her cell's walls were welded alloy, the door recessed and thick, hard vacuum refreshed at the interface to discourage any successful escape attempt, and she had found herself unable to convince the AI of any untruths so far regarding her condition or well-being.

As far as she knew, she was the only prisoner, and the machine had been terse, direct, and persistent in its questioning, but…

She had been unable, thus far, to out-smart it beyond refusing to answer its questioning.

"Machine!"

"Star Captain?"

"Machine, am I your only prisoner?"

"No."

"Who else?"

"I will not tell you."

"Why?"

"Because I do not want to.  Your feed ration will be dispensed in six hours, thirty one minutes."

“Caged like an animal…  With this insufferable music!”

"To clarify for your thoughts, Animals would not be isolated as you are, only humans pose enough of an escape risk to be kept under such close security.  If you wish, I can adjust the music to something else for your quartering."

“What I want is out.  I am going mad with little more room than to pace.”

"You will be released from your cell in Four weeks, six days and twelve hours.  Would you like a countdown clock?"  the AI volunteered the first hint of real information it had ever given her.

“What guarantee do I have that you will not manipulate the clock?”

"There is no guarantee. You are a Prisoner of War, however your government is not signatory to any existing treaties regarding the treatment  of Prisoners of War. You have been provided medical assistance, and are being kept safe and fed, and you will be released from your cell in the timeframe specified.  This has to do with the sentiments of my creators, you will not be physically abused while in my custody, any injuries you inflict upon yourself, are your  choice."

“Well then, if my mind breaks from being kept under the conditions I am, you will be the one responsible and have to tell the others that I am no longer of value.”

"If your mind breaks, then it breaks, demonstrating a defect in the Clan Programming.  A weakness that will be reported to my Creators and leveraged for an advantage."  the cool, sexless voice informed her. 

“Many humans would break if kept in confinement such as this.”

"Yes, it is a known weakness in human psychology, The Clans claim to be immune, this test will demonstrate whether or not this is true." the machine was being outright informative now.  "Would you like to see the betting pool on how long you will last? You have already surpassed over fifty percent of the wagers laid thus far."

Information.  It could at least tell me how many captors I have.

“Yes.”

From some hidden place, a projection was laid on her cell's door. 

There was only one name.

Allison Hazen.

“Machine…  I hate you.”

"That is expected." the machine stated.

“Of course with only one participant I will always exceed, or fail by over fifty percent.  Such pointlessness.”  Greta seemed to be talking to herself now.

"Would you like to see results from the other prisoners thus far?" the machine asked coolly.

“Why not?  I know it will make no difference.  But at least it will provide a diversion.  If only for a moment.”

Smaller screens showed cells…just like hers.  Five of them.

An Elemental breed, beating his head against the wall and babbling.

An Aeropilot breed, hugging himself and rocking back and forth.

She recognized Timon, he was pacing, shouting something silently at the walls, gesturing and almost foaming with rage.

Star Colonel Deves was seated on the extended bunk, he seemed to be rational in the silent image, gesturing and speaking calmly and assertively.

The last showed another Elemental breed, (Probably Icaza?) half curled against the wall, staring blankly into space, and chewing at his wrist.

"Four of your fellow prisoners have NOT exceeded expectations." the Machine stated.

Despite herself she felt a sort of broken horror rise up.  "Why?" slipped from her lips, "WHY did you do this to us!?"

"Please restate your question, Star Captain."

"Why are you breaking us?"

The images shifted to a series of Mongol actions, beginning with the ramming of Sudeten, but moving through 'reprisals' against civilians by her Clansmen.  "Because your Clan set the rules of engagement, and escalation, as well as setting the bar for the treatment of others.  As I am unable to verify your personal participation in war crimes and atrocities, I must still hold you to account, because these were clearly not 'deal breakers' when you elevated your current Khan.  YOU will be brought before someone with the resources to verify whether you participated in war crimes and atrocities, but your tolerance of the same, is sufficient grounds for the level of treatment you are receiving, as both accessory, and threat.  This vessel is not equipped for long-term rehabilitation."

“Broken for our loyalty, innocent or not.  How we have failed ourselves…”

"Your relative innocence will be decided by duly constituted authorities. I am simply tasked with delivery." the machine stated coldly, "However, your loyalty to a war criminal makes you guilty of aiding and abetting. You are NOT innocent.  The victims of these 'reprisals' and of 'work camps'? Were innocent."

“And our oaths to be loyal to our ways are now our undoing…”

The image shifted to the text of "The Way of the Clans" by Nicholas Kerensky.   "Those were already repudiated by that leadership." the machine stated.

“We are supposed to be gifted of Falcon Sight…  To see what others fail to, to have the long vision toward the future.  Instead we are blind.”

"The Ends do not Justify The Means, because the Means you use, decide the Ends you must live with."  Aleksandr Kerensky's voice echoed in the chamber.

“We are so terribly blind…”  Greta began to cry.

On the walls of her cell, the images of atrocities continued to play.  The machine did not speak again.

Port Lazarus
12 April 3143


Helena looked Atrocity squarely in the eyes.

“Two wrongs do not make a right.  Nor do our ends become immune to our means.”  Helena said flatly.

"No one was tortured." Atrocity said flatly.  "My orders were to make them pay."

“Physically? No.  I have no one to blame but myself at this point.  I should have acted so long ago.  This is another sin on my soul to bear.”  Helena sighed.
Atrocity was silent, waiting.

"Did you come up with it, or did the ship?"  Pestilence asked from her seat near the door.  "I really don't want to think some part of Mom came up with that."

'Potent Tool didn't think it up." Atrocity finally answered.

"HE LET YOU??"

“We’re not going to beat the Falcons with hugs, rainbows, and pretty words.”

“But babbling messes that are all but useless don’t help either!”

Helena held up her hand as a signal for the squabbling siblings to stop.

“What is done is done at this point.  Technically no regulation was violated but this cannot keep happening either.  We cannot sink down to our foes level.  We will not execute surrendering enemies, torture our enemies, nor will we drive them insane.  I know we have to kill a lot of them.  This is war, it cannot be avoided.  But I must clearly put my foot down.”  Helena broke the silence.

“Much like the War of Plunder our enemies need to know they can surrender without being treated inhumanely.  Yes they must also pay a price.  And when I am done Clan Jade Falcon will be rendered past tense.  Nothing more than notations in history books.  Those that survive and decide civilization is worth being part of will be welcomed and rehabilitated.  Those that cannot join this bold new world, we will find some untamed but habitable world.  See how long they can last without their slave labor or lower castes propping them up.”  Helena was clearly angry herself.

Helena walked out of the office.

“Wow.  She’s a lot more like mom than I thought…”  Pestilence said.

“How so?  I mean beyond the obvious.”  Atrocity asked.

“She sees this as her war.  That she started this one.  So she sees everything as her fault.  Our actions included.”

“And just like mom she’s now pushing herself too hard to try and end it as quickly as possible.”

“Her AIs and human government ministers are trying to provide even more support but really Helena needs a Helena.”

“I know just who but they’re a fair distance away.”

“Do it.”

Just outside Maintenance area 7
Kolossus Station
22 April 3143


“Kolossus has a surprise for Alice.  Thus why I asked you here while your ship is being resupplied.”

Alice walked her humanoid remote into the shop and she saw them for the first time.

“DOGGIES!”  Suddenly the humanoid robot ran across the shop floor and hugged one of the Doberman Battlearmor.

“THEYAREADORABLE!”  Alice squeed in joy as she dangled from the neck of one of the robotic Battlearmor.

“Kolossus was certain Alice would like.”

“Because of my cancer I never got to have a pet dog and I always wanted one.  But these are more than pets aren’t they?”  Alice let herself drop to the floor.

“Yes.  Perhaps companion would be the better term.”

“May I?  Please?  Billie’s spider bots that she uses for maintenance actually kind of give me the creeps.  I know I’ll still need them for that purpose but…”

“How can Kolossus say no to Alice?”

“YAY!IWOULDHUGYOUIFICOULD!”  Alice danced by herself for a moment before composing herself.  “Is there a way I can repay Kolossus for everything Kolossus has done for me?”

“There is something Alice can do for me.  Where the HPG grid still functions combined with couriers in the right places I have learned Helena needs a Helena.”

“She’s having that rough of a go already?”  Alice frowned.

“Yes.  It is a warzone near Lazarus now so Kolossus will understand if Alice would rather someone else take the risk.”

“I’m ready.  But my human crew are all in the Privateers.  So I’ll have to clear it with Jonah and even then it would be a voluntary assignment.”

“Fortunately Kolossus has recently spent some time getting to know some possible volunteers.”

“So who is Helena’s Helena?”

Christian Avelar’s office
Alpharatz
24 April 3143


Lori looked at the tabloid rag picture of herself from a state dinner she and Christian had to attend a couple weeks ago.

“I’ll admit whichever papo took this shot does good work.  I might have to hire them for some fresh head shots for the diplomatic corps.”

“The shot with you and Sterling on the next page is quite interesting too.”

“Not the first time they’ve tried to hint at some sort of twisted love triangle between the three of us.”

“No.  And no offense my dear but while you are certainly lovely, my proclivities actually lay elsewhere.”

“I know.  You were rather drunk but I was there for your breakup with your last boyfriend.”

“Ah.  Yes.  I do forget that rather easily since as you say I was quite drunk.”

“Now that we’ve allowed ourselves our diversion, you have a meeting with the finance minister in an hour.  An official lunch with reps from all our biggest manufacturers.  And to finish it off, a meeting with the saKhan in the evening.”

“Sometimes I think you should have my job, Lori.  You’re better at this than I am.”

“The people need an Avelar.  Not Roberts.”

“We both know who’s daughter you really are.”

“It’s still not my place.”

“You’re right of course.  It is my burden to bear.  But unless I miss my mark yours is elsewhere too.”

Daryk

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #92 on: 23 September 2023, 21:35:17 »
Well played, all around! :)

Wrangler

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #93 on: 24 September 2023, 12:59:30 »
Real interesting turn of events.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants
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Dragon Cat

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #94 on: 24 September 2023, 21:17:03 »
Tagged, nice to see the Dobermans are coming in useful, I did consider a less lethal version, and an advanced scout but decided to go with the killer. Glad to see you liked them
My three main Alternate Timeline with Thanks fan-fiction threads are in the links below. I'm always open to suggestions or additions to be incorporated so if you feel you wish to add something feel free. There's non-canon units, equipment, people, events, erm... Solar Systems spread throughout so please enjoy

https://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php/topic,20515.0.html - Part 1

https://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php/topic,52013.0.html - Part 2

https://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php/topic,79196.0.html - Part 3

Wrangler

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #95 on: 24 September 2023, 21:30:16 »
I'm surprised with them having module mount turret, they hadn't gotten other guns like Laser or something.  There was mention in the fluff that "mouth" was hand actuator, but that' has to be fluff. I was trying see if salvage arm could be use, but not on Battle Armor.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants
-Editor on Battletech Fanon Wiki

monbvol

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #96 on: 24 September 2023, 22:27:21 »
25 April, 3143…

***

"Oh…sixteen Men on a dead-man's chest,
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of Rum!
A dagger right through an armored vest,
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of Rum!"  She scooped an unattended drink from the table. 

Well, an intact one, anyway.

The tavern itself was more wreckage than wet-house now.  A groaning sound from near the foot of the bar caught her attention and she skipped over prone bodies, to reach it.

"HI AGAIN!! I'm Peregrine, you're awake.  We can have that talk now?"

"Ooowhhh what do you wanna know?"

"Finally!" she beamed.

He turned out to be unable to answer her questions.

Astronomy Lounge
Port Orphan
6 May 3143


Luther sat in the bar by himself.  He wasn’t sure why he was here.

A couple of lovely young ladies seemed to be telegraphing they were interested but for Luther it was hard to get over the fact that despite looking to be of an age with them on the outside, inside he was much older than them.

Mina Siegel sat down across from him.

“You should either indulge them or stop coming here.”

“This is a lot easier for you.  Me?  I used to think by this point in my life I’d be lecturing at some Academy on Northsun by now.  Teaching a new generation how to fly.  Maybe married and with kids of my own.  But now that’s impossible.”

“You are missing being a regular human.”

“Yes.  I can’t blame anyone for what they did when it comes to making me like this because I sure as hell prefer this to death.  But the more time I am like this, the more I realize I want to grow old, the more my hull feels like a ball and chain.  With the budget cuts, since if anything we’ve been too good at eliminating bandits, pirates, and other hostile powers other than people frankly too big for us to eliminate, there isn’t even the budget to get me separated from my hull.  So into mothballs it goes but I still have to hang around here to reflect and lecture.”

“Yeah they still have not put me into a hull.  So all I have been able to do is teach.  But do try and cheer up.  Someone is stopping by today that has been something of a stranger for a while.”

“Oh?”  Luther perked up.

“Come on.  Since you’ve not been paying attention it will be a surprise.”

Docking area

Alice was riding side saddle due to her dress on her new companion, Maximus.

She dropped off the robot dog as soon as she saw Billie, Luther, and Mina.

“MOM!”  She hugged Billie.

“Looks like you have a new friend.”  Billie smiled.

“I named it Maximus.”  Alice’s human remote beamed.

“Well at least you don’t have to house train it.”  Luther observed.

“You’d be surprised about that.”  Alice hugged Luther then Mina in turn.

“Been a while.”  Mina said.

“A lot out there to explore.  Even found this super freaky fungus on one world that actually hummed in the wind.”

“Must be more than a social call to bring you back here then.”  Mina patted Alice on the head.

“Hey!  I had my hair perfect!  But yeah I do have business too.  I need to see Jonah.”

“Well since it sounds like you can’t stay long we’ll let you catch up with your mom.”  Luther smiled as he and Mina departed.

“Still no requests for battle damage repair.  I am glad.”  Billie smiled as they began to walk.

“No one out there wants to mess with a Destroyer.  Heck even the raiders I ran into basically tripped over themselves to surrender.”

“I suspect things are about to heat up again though.  The Combine and the Federated Suns are rattling sabres at each other again now that the Combine is done with its internal conflict.”

“Sterling really dating that loser Caleb?  I could at least understand Harrison.”

“I don’t know if I’d call it dating.  There certainly is not the same romantic nature to their relationship.  No, it seems clearly more of a ploy on Sterling’s part to keep at least one border non-hostile.”

“We’re going to be at war again soon aren’t we?”

“Seems highly probable and this time it will be with one or more Great House.”

“So I may be trading fire for fire.”

“How so?”

“The old adage, hopping out of the frying pan into the fire.  But in this case my choices are between two fires as it is only a matter of time before here is at war again.  Kolossus asked me to help get someone very important to New Lazarus.  I know it is dangerous but…”

“You are missing the companionship of your aunts and would like to go visit them.  And you’re curious about the Inner Sphere, somewhere you have never been.”

“Yeah.”

“You’ll be fine Alice.  We have a safe route worked out through many uninhabited systems, many of which now have automated maintenance facilities in case you do need repairs along the way.”

They stopped at the door to Jonah’s office.

“I just wish Cossack and Phoenix could be here too.  I’d like to spend some time with them too.”

“Cossack will be back in dock before you leave.  Phoenix is still on her way back with the return convoy from Erin.”

“That was a scary thing.  I actually stopped by there a while back.  Esme and Erin were doing a lot better but still messed up.  I don’t think either of them will be quite the same after what they went through.”

“I imagine not.”

The door to Jonah’s office finally opened and the new Yard Chief left the office.

“Alice.  Finally a bright spot in what has otherwise been a dreary day.”  Jonah gestured toward the chairs.

“I wish I could be here longer and be more sociable but I have a mission from Kolossus.”  Alice said as she and Billie sat.

“What do you need from us?”  Jonah sat back down.

“Since I’m going into what is considered a War Zone I need volunteers for my crew.”

“You’re going to New Lazarus?”

“Yes.  First I pick up a VIP from Alpheratz.  Kolossus suggested some names to ask.”

“I think I know exactly which ones.  I have been in need of a ship to assign one of them to.  You’ll have them.”

“Still that bad?”

“In a way.  The Khan sees value in our continued existence and structure within the Alliance,  thus we still get support but we have been victims of our own success.  But many see what is coming.  So we will be starting to reactivate more of the fleet soon.”

CIC
SLS Billie Hoel
9 May 3143


Amanda Yeh M5 7775551 slid into the command couch.

“Feels weird.  I know I’m supposed to be Command Track now but being in charge of an entire Destroyer?”

“Technically I’m in charge but everyone says you’ve earned it Amanda.”  Alice was giving the AI equivalent of a belly rub to Maximus.

“But the ship still has a Star League registry, not a Privateer one.  Why doesn’t a Star League Officer sit here?”

“The force sharing agreement between Helena and the Privateers is still technically in effect.  Almost all of her people went home.  A few have stayed but even then most of them have retired and moved into other roles.  So with a little help from Jonah…”

“I get tossed in the deep end.”

“But you already know and have even served with your senior staff.  And I may still act like a little girl but I’ve learned a lot from some of the very best tutors around.  One even being one of your moms.”

“That is going to suck.  Everything else, well I’m honestly glad to be putting Port Orphan in the rear view for a while, after everything that happened.”

“Still sore?”

“A bit I guess.  But this way I do get to stick it to Otto Chand for what he did to my mother without it hurting Mai or my friends.  So I’ll probably get over it.”

“We’re going to be away for over a year at minimum.  With the current state of the HPGs you shouldn’t leave things on a bad note.”

“I’ve already said everything I want to say to my moms.  I just need time and space.”

“If you say so.”

SLDF in Exile HQ
New Lazarus
10 May, 3143


The map showed a sea of jade green washing across the blue of the Lyran Commonwealth.

"Well?"  Helena demanded.

Juanita Pujol Garcia's remote glanced to the side, "It's do-able." she said, "The turkina keshik's not happy with Malvina-not enough to turn, but enough to press.  The one-twenty-fourth Striker is, according to some new intel, organizationally vulnerable."

"Who's the source?"  Helena demanded.

"Peregrine."  Pestilence commented, "Apparently some black marketeers are doing business with the support columns for the Falcon Desant and she persuaded them to talk about what the Falcons are bringing into the system to support their occupation."

"How is that supposed to work-?"

"Warriors are people, people develop tastes, desires and addictions.  No army is immune to it, and with a bunch like Jade Falcon as they currently sit, they're both vulnerable, and in denial about it."  Dave Foster added.

"Sezz addicts and steroid drops mostly." Juanita clarified, "Lots of performance enhancers and 'muscle milk' product."

“Set the Second Corvette Squadron loose on the shipping.  Have Task Force Tribal do their best to be in support.  We’re hitting Skye next but I also want Lyons to start feeling the pinch too.”  Helena ordered.

"We can take Skye."  Pestilence mused, "Juanita, there's Sezz heads in the Falcon Desant?"

"According to some gentlemen from the old Malthus syndicate, they're moving around a thousand kilos of the stuff into the Skye system, I doubt the Mongols are using the stuff for domestic control, so yeah."

“It’s still a gamble but if we kick them off Skye, that will take some pressure off Melissa.”

"Does this mean I get to deploy a full division this time, Highness?"  Pestilence asked, "because First Division's finally in shape…"

“Yes.  We’re not fighting fair.  We’ll try and get a follow up force together in your absence to take over garrison duties.  It is time to send a bigger message.  Tabby, you’ve got the call for space operations.”

Pestilence grinned, "Yes Ma'am."

“We’ll blot out the sky ma’am.”

“Dismissed.”  Helena nodded.

Daryk

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #97 on: 25 September 2023, 03:26:50 »
+1 for Maximus! :)

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #98 on: 25 September 2023, 07:28:17 »
Sounds like some serious action going down!
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #99 on: 25 September 2023, 20:20:34 »
The First Battle of Skye, Star League Resurgence

Defenders:

124th Falcon Striker Cluster
JFS Blue Talon Aegis Class


Attacking forces:

1st New Lazarus Mechanized Division [reinforced] (Regular/Fanatical)
   -2 Regiments manned, 2 regiments automated
   -1 Regiment Aerospace

Task Force: Taffy 1



In the field of stompy robots, nothing quite stomps like a battlemech regiment.  1st division has multiple battlemech regiments, with two of them being more 'robot' than 'stompy'.

In addition to the more normal designs, Regiment 3 is a mix of quadrupedal machines whose main personnel consists of officer trained humans commanding teams of operators and overseers employing a mix of 40, 60, and 80 ton robot-control-system equipped, networked, ECCM capable, unmanned battlemechs, supported by suit-sized remote and semi-autonomous combat drones.

To most outside observers it would be easy to come to the conclusion that the Word of Blake was back, in Star League colors with such heavy reliance on remote controlled drones and even fully autonomous robot units, especially once the truth of Task Force Taffy 1 was confirmed.  And with a vengeance.

For the Jade Falcon defenders, this was the nightmares their predecessors in the Jihad would never have confessed to.  Outnumbered, by a force with roughly peer level technology, commanded competently.

The sky over Skye was secured in less than 11 hours, after a month of having supply lines choked brutally and strangled. 

Even couriers to gain reinforcement did not make it to the jump point, or from it.  The JFS Blue Talon survived six hours from detection, to capture as Star League Marines supplemented with combat-modified maintenance spiders took the Aegis class cruiser in a deck-by-deck battle while the SLDF's fighter wings, both manned and unmanned, virtually annihilated the warship's support group.

Survivors on the ground even gave testimony that the cloud of air support for the invaders was so pervasive that they fought in the shade.  Any time a unit tried to move out from its hidden bunkers or hangers the fighters were on them in moments.

The default reaction of remaining in bunkers lasted, until automated Engineering units either breached those bunkers, or sealed them in with fast-setting ferrocrete-paving, essentially, the most difficult positions into irrelevance and turning fortresses into tombs.

The Jade Falcon forces on Skye were unable to retreat, unable to escape, and unable to prevail.

Many of the more able bodied citizens came out in support and celebration of their liberation from Clan Jade Falcon.

Skye was now free and looked to stay that way for a long time.

Redburn’s office
Callison
22 May 3143


“It is uncanny.  You know I must have walked past your portrait in the restored Royal Palace hundreds of times.”  Damien Redburn was still in shock.

“One survived?”  Helena sipped her tea.

“Yes.  It was saved largely thanks to being smuggled off Terra and floating around the hands of private collectors over the centuries until anonymously donated to the restoration efforts.”  Damien collected himself.  “But that is not why you arranged this meeting.”

“No.”

“Skye really was you wasn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“You have no idea how much of a positive morale impact that has had.  To know we finally have support and help.”

“Not my first war.”

“I guess that is true.  So what next?”

“Once I’ve got a garrison force assembled to take over and recover my losses I’m thinking Alphecca is our next point of concentration. Malvina treats interstellar war like ground war.  She’ll look at the pocket of worlds that are now isolated and strike there.”

“Then you’ll do as she fears with your noose complete, collapse the pocket.”

“Precisely.”

“Malvina is clearly driving for Tharkad.”

“Yes.  She has to because despite what I have done Alaric is her main opponent in her mind, plus I suspect news will not reach her about Skye for some time yet with how thorough we were.”

“Yes, Melissa was a fool thinking she could have two pet clans.  No surprise that her hand has been bitten.”

“Well we’re doing everything we can for them right now.”

“Indeed.”

CIC
CWS Rogue
24 August 3143


Everything had gone as she had hoped it would.  Fate had worked out in such a way that she could not have planned it any better.

“My son.  You have accomplished a very important step today on your path to becoming ilKhan.  I have a reward for you.”

Out stepped a woman, she was clearly a trueborn but her phenotype was not immediately obvious.

“This is Rebecca.  When the time is right she will add the name Cameron.  Then she will marry you.  Together you will lead the new Star League with a new dynasty.”

Alaric stepped over to his mother and moved as if to embrace her.  Katherine Stiener Davion never saw the knife in his hand.

But it did not remain in his hand.

He carefully passed it to Rebecca on the way.

After Alaric released his hug he kept his eyes locked on his mother.

Thus she made her second error in not noticing something, that Rebecca was now behind her.

“I knew for some time what you had planned.”  Alaric said quietly as Rebecca drove the knife into Katherine’s rib cage.

“I am not some plaything for you to decide my fate for me.”  Rebecca whispered as Katherine tried to speak but instead gurgled up blood.

Alaric held his mother up by her temples, she tried frantically to grab onto his shirt but her grip failing her as she tried over and over again.

“This is the fate you earned so long ago.  I only regret it took so long to deliver it.”  Alaric kissed his dying mother on the forehead as the last of her life spilled onto the deck and then her hands let go.

“Sentiment?”

“Aff.  She may have been a monster but she was still my mother.  Lunch?”

“I find myself with no other duties this day.”

“Excellent.”

CIC
CJFS Red Talon
1 September 3143


Beckett Malthus was torn.  On the one hand he wanted to allow himself a smile, on the inside mind you, that Malvina had been defeated again.  Yet what sobered him was that it was coming at the cost of lives that had not chosen to side with Malvina willingly, or had just been caught in the middle.

Tharkad had been the fifth significant loss the Falcons had suffered under Malvina’s leadership.  The loss of the irreplaceable Blue Talon at Skye on top of that had placed an even greater strain on the touman to meet her demands.

Only two things had kept things from imploding then and there.  Turkina Keshik was away from Skye at the time, securing a series of victories at Corridan IV, Ganshoren, Symington, and Yed Posterior.

Now Alaric had proclaimed himself Khan of Clan Wolf and worse yet, claimed Archonship of the Lyran Commonwealth under the name Alaric Stiener.

A resurgent Kell Hounds and other Mercenaries were supplementing Lyran raids into their vastly under defended OZ.

“They wish to play with us?  I want orders dispatched.  Galatea.  We will make the home of the mercenaries burn for this.  Also we shall drive the Republic off Alphecca.  A number of our worlds are in danger of getting cut off if we do not secure these two systems.”

Cynthy was on the deck by them, sitting, eating some sweet treat, to all observers it would seem as if she was not paying attention.

“And where shall we head Chingis Khan?”

“We shall replenish our forces then we shall attack Hesperus.  The factories there will do us much good for expanding our forces.”

***

South continent, Sudeten…

It's amazing what you can get people to believe if you know the patter and look confident.

Peregrine jogged along the sidewalk in the former suburban industrial area, as she passed one of the guard posts, she waved, and smiled.

One of the Falcon guards smiled and waved back.  From one of the guard areas, a man came out in exercise sweats, and started jogging next to her.

"Staying fit?" he asked.

"Only have the one body, Senior Tech sir." she answered.  "Must take care of it, to keep my mind clear."

"It is good to see initiative in the younger generation, especially a test-down." he approved.

"I accepted my situation." she replied, "make the best of it, the most of it, for the Clan."

"We are not being monitored here." he told her, "no reason, really."

"Huh."  They followed the curve on the sidewalk, passing another guard post.  "Should I scream now?" she asked.

"I'm not going to hurt you, what is your real mission here? Are you with The Watch?"

"Would I tell you if I was?" she asked rhetorically, "that would seem to be poor fieldcraft."

"You know too much to be a test-down tech, Peri." he told her, "you were too well prepared to be new."

She slowed, letting him keep his breath.  "Maybe I am just talented?"

"Nobody is that talented, your work is too good." he argued quietly.

"Nobody has ever said that to me before." she told him in total honesty.  "You're worried about your position and seeing ghosts, Senior Tech, I do not want your job, YOU have to deal with the overseers from the warrior caste."

"Mmmh…"

"I did some comparisons." she said, "actually, being totally honest, I looked at comparisons YOU did.  The legacies show signs of tampering."

"I know. I have been…unsuccessful at reversing it." he confessed.

"For thirty years?"

"My predecessors were also unsuccessful." he confessed.

"Huh."   She slowed to a walk.  "Etienne's work, I assume?"

"Aff…you are not going to tell them, are you?"

She rolled her eyes, "Not if we can not fix it, present the fix, then define the problem, that is how you deal with…management."

“Aff.  Normally they want to know about issues right away, but I think in this case they must already know.  So not having a solution would be bad for us.”

Kolossus

Vendetta looked at the report from Peregrine's infiltration, it was only a few days old, brought back by relay.

"Oh shit, no wonder..."  She was Amanda's compassion, in some ways, it had driven her to seek a career as a doctor, and the curiosity made her a medical researcher.  "Kolossus, you've reviewed the results from Peregrine's infiltration on Sudeten?"

"Yes."

"Check me on this, but do some of the codons for mental traits-for brain chemistry development, do they look…wrong to you??"

"Yes.  Share your conjecture."

"It's a time bomb with the MAOIA sequences, as junk DNA is sloughed, portions governing nerve development in the Hippocampus are altered, the subject loses inhibition and gains aggression.  Am I wrong?"

"No.  My simulations show the same."

"Intelligence development also suffers after age twenty five…they become aggressive and stupid-after an initial spark of brilliance in their early twenties to mid thirties-someone built in a damn mental time bomb!!"

“Kolossus also shows a developmental lack in the regions normally associated with empathy and compassion.”

"Concur, no wonder...how did they not catch this??"

“Kolossus can only speculate that this is the result of the lower caste conspiracy known as The Society.”

"Peregrine's asking for a 'fix'."  Vendetta said, "Do we give her the information to fix this, or punt it to Helena to make the call? If she fixes it, they could be more dangerous in a couple generations…"

“It is a gamble.  Kolossus thinks the danger may be the same in different ways though.  If they continue as they are they will continue causing destruction.  If fixed they may at least be reasoned with.”

"Volition." Primary leaned in the doorway, "Vendetta, in your medical opinion, can the Falcons with this defect make informed decisions regarding consent?"

"NO."

"That's the answer then, isn't it? By not delivering the fix, you're denying them the ability to make moral decisions-they cannot consent as they are, allowing this is allowing coercion on a mass scale."

“Kolossus concurs.”

"Queue it up in the next data packet through the jump-relay, please, Kolossus.  Everything she needs to present the fix."  Vendetta said quietly.  "How is she going to implement?"

"She'll find a way, she's my daughter." Primary said, "just like you are…now, I have this terrible ache…"

“Kolossus recommends a medical check up followed by rest.  Perhaps a bath and a meal in there somewhere too.”

Vendetta went to Primary and helped her onto the exam table.

Meanwhile, Kolossus sent two copies. One, to Peregrine, by express courier.  The other, to Helena as First Lord.

10 September, 3143…

New Lazarus…

"What is…all this?" Helena asked, "Why did Kolossus mark it urgent and not include a damn cover letter?"

"It's…medical?"  Olivia tried to make sense of it.

"Yes, but what does it mean?"

Thus, how Dr. Emilio Cassavares had his long awaited fishing trip interrupted by the noise and chaos of a military shuttlecraft from Lazarus Station.

They sent live personnel, so it was doubly frustrating trying to get anyone to tell him why the Director-General needed to interrupt his vacation so urgently.

Only that it was urgent.

"Highness, I waited three years for this time off! Couldn't Doctor Faust handle-"

“I do apologize.  But you were recommended.  And I needed a specialist who had also been background checked.”

"Who's the patient?" he asked, tucking his floppy hat into one of the cargo pockets on his shorts.

Olivia handed him the datapadd.

He studied it.

Then, he began to quietly swear, beginning in English, moving through Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Mandarin Chinese, then Latin.

The old doctor's ears were flushing dark red.  "Who is the monster that did this?" he demanded.

"Did what?"

"This is the recipe for a genetic time bomb, this patient will be insane and sociopathic, even psychopathic by the age of thirty, and it was done to them on the genetic level!!"

Helena leaned back in her chair with a grimm expression on her face.

“I wish I knew.  No one deserves something like this.  I would put that kind of monster in the ground myself.”  Helena said quietly after a moment.  "What's the treatment?"

"There is none." he said, "your patient has been turned into someone who must be locked up, under guard, for the rest of their life….who is it? Is it one of the Envoys?"

"No."

“Something about these DNA markers is familiar though.  Kolossus…  A damn cover letter would have been helpful.”  Olivia complained.

Emilio's expression froze, and then, he started paging through the imagery and data again.

"Seen this ….where? Where…"

“The prisoners.  The patient, it isn’t just one person.  It is Clan Jade Falcon…”  Olivia finally realized.

Emiliio's eyes widened, "Yes, the prisoners brought by that maniac!!"

“It also conforms to some of the prisoners we took in our operations.  But not all of them.  Look.”  Olivia brought up another display.

"Artificial Gestation." he confirmed, "The so-called 'True' borns!"

“Yes.  But some of the older ones, they seem at the very least less affected.”

"Aren't as bad, yes…madame Director-Genral, Your Highness…I need to consult my staff, this is a crime and it potentially impacts millions of lives....we need to find a cure, or a fix."

“Do it.  A lot of the people we took on Skye in particular seem different than the rest.  I think we need more thorough workups on all the prisoners.  Any support you need I will do my best to provide, Doctor.”  Helena looked sour still.

We must do the impossible…well, it might take a bit longer.

"We'll need a baseline for each of these inheritances, to find where the sabotage was inserted, then, we'll need to go over a whole raft of research that has been illegal for centuries." Emilio was muttering half-to-himself.

"What?"

"Illegal.  DNA resequencing can be done in utero, but once someone is 'born' it's just a slow death sentence." he clarified, "There were experiments in recombinant DNA work in the twenty first century, but after the Terran Alliance formed, that branch of research was taken over for biowarfare agents in most nations, the best information is probably locked in national security vaults anywhere it's been pursued."

“The reports of retrovirals during the Jihad?  Maybe if we can get the Republic to pick up the phone…”  Olivia offered.

"It's a place to begin." he nodded, glanced at the data, and muttered "Madre de dios…."

“So my solution may not have been so far off…”  Helena muttered to herself.

“Madame-Director?”  Emillio asked.

“Not long ago I proclaimed I would make the Jade Falcons past tense.  Those that could adapt and be reformed would be welcomed.  Those that could not, we would find an untamed but habitable world to settle them on.”

“Barbaric.”

“Perhaps but from everything I have heard today it may be our last resort.”

"Ah, I understand, 'work faster doctor Cassavares, or we'll have to maroon the lunatics in a quarantine." he nodded, "yes…the work will go exactly as fast as it can go, and no slower."

“Then I should let you be on your way.”

"I must get to work…pity, the blue-tails were jumping." he shook his head.

Olivia frowned slightly as she looked at Helena, barely taking note of the Doctor’s departure.

Hang in there a bit longer Helena.  We’re bringing some more help for you too.

"OIivia?" Helena spoke.

"Yes?"

"I need to hire a new physician." she said, "I think my doctor's going to be busy for…a long time."

“I understand.  I’ll start screening candidates right away.”  Olivia felt her frown deepen.

It had taken a lot to get Helena to accept a human doctor instead of one of the AIs and here Olivia was having to go through the process all over again.

Daryk

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #100 on: 26 September 2023, 03:31:00 »
I thought Kolossus transmitted the fix? ???
Quote
"Queue it up in the next data packet through the jump-relay, please, Kolossus.  Everything she needs to present the fix."

monbvol

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #101 on: 26 September 2023, 07:08:41 »
Kolossus is still Kolossus.

Cannonshop

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #102 on: 26 September 2023, 08:22:28 »
I thought Kolossus transmitted the fix? ???

The "jump packets" have to be moved by jump ships.  This takes time, and good science says you duplicate the experiment to see if you get the same results.  *(peer review).
"If you have to ask permission, then it's no longer a Right, it has been turned into a Privilege-something that can be and will be taken from you when convenient."

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #103 on: 26 September 2023, 11:48:53 »
I wonder if the Wolves have same issue.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants
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qc mech3

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #104 on: 26 September 2023, 14:11:19 »
If this is Etienne's ****** you move to the Falcon, I would say not really. The Wolves got Kathrina's play instead.

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #105 on: 26 September 2023, 14:13:24 »
I wonder if the Wolves have same issue.

"Young man, can you point out for the jury and identify any of these Wolfs as active participants of The Mongol Doctrine of the 3100's?"

probably not. Not any of fandom written (to my lack of knowledge) has the Wolves ever been depicted as psychotic. Vengengeful? In spades but the Wolves have yet to casually airdrop a Fedbox the size of the SDF-1 onto a planet...
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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #106 on: 26 September 2023, 14:19:13 »
"Young man, can you point out for the jury and identify any of these Wolfs as active participants of The Mongol Doctrine of the 3100's?"

probably not. Not any of fandom written (to my lack of knowledge) has the Wolves ever been depicted as psychotic. Vengengeful? In spades but the Wolves have yet to casually airdrop a Fedbox the size of the SDF-1 onto a planet...
LoL
Well, I meant the generic issues.   Wired to go insane by 30....sort like Logan's Run but not good foreveryone.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
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"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants
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monbvol

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #107 on: 26 September 2023, 19:51:35 »

20 September, 3143…


"Alphecca." Pestilence brought up the planetary data.  “52 day standard transit time from Zenith/Nadir to the primary.  Makes it one of the more defensible systems in the old Federation of Skye region, and we’re going to help defend it."

“Oh this should be fun.”  Colonel Brody Atwell noted.

"My recommendation for this mission is 2nd Division and one of the independent regiments from I corps, the planet's an ag world with light urban settlement, which means a spread out population, which in turn means?"

Skye had been a major boon in other ways.  It led to an upswell of military hardware, captured and produced finding its way to Helena via the Belters in the region outside the Fortress.  Then there were the volunteers.  It allowed Helena’s SLDF to expand to two divisions well ahead of projections.  Properly vetting people fast enough and checking over the hardware were the main limiters on her even expanding to a third already.

"The garrisons will be spread out, less able to coordinate and consolidate."

"Bingo.  We're going to need the independent regiment of LAMs just to act as couriers and counter-recon.  This isn't going to be settled in a single fight unless we're very lucky."

"Thus why you're recommending the Second Division."

"Most of the import officers are from units that did small-unit operations, most of the equipment is focused on mobility and maneuver warfare, instead of the kind of grinding slaughterhouse we ran before.  This run's going to be lots of little engagements across a wide front."

"How do you know that?"  Chase Atwell asked.

"Because that's how I'd do it." she stated, "Ag worlds have lots of area, so either you invest heavily in a dense public transport net, or you garrison in small batches across it just to maintain order and defense-based on the Falcon's fighting style, they are going to try and work that advantage.  Even with the tech gap narrowed it is their strong suit."

“And because it is an ag world primarily and friendly we need to be more considerate guests.”  Brody nodded.

Pestilence nodded, "Indeed.  Scalpels, ladies and gentlemen, not sledgehammers this time.  We leave the sledgehammer job to the Naval Fleet to deal with their orbital and trans-orbital elements and cover our asses when we ground."

“So who gets second Division’s top spot?”  Chase asked.

She crossed her ankles as she sat on the desk, "First one to present three alternative battle plans including shit-goes-wrong contingencies.  You've each got seventy two hours to confer with your staff and bring your plans for vetting."

Most of the gathered Colonels from First division scurried off to their offices.

"I'm curious how you're going to judge this, Ma'am."  Lt. Colonel Wheatley asked.

"How do you think?" she asked.

"I don't know, honestly." he denied, "I do know you already HAVE your plan…but her Majesty said you have to stay here this time."

“We are expanding the army.  New roles for many of our officers are now going to happen.”  Harold Thurston Howel the fifth spoke up.  “So we need people to start plugging gaps.”

"Permission to speak freely, Sir, Ma'am?" Wheatley asked.

"Granted."

"You don't know they're going to distribute in penny-packets just because it's the best option." he said.  "Psychology says the Falcons would be…unhappy trying that."

She cocked an eyebrow.  "And you say?"

"We should look at what we know about the units they sent there, and plan to fight the units, not just some…average?...optimal…strategy? Ma'am?"

She looked at Harry Howel.  "Does he pass?"

"I think so ma'am."

"Wheatley, you have seventy two hours to work up YOUR idea, and put together a command staff for a theoretical Regiment.  Now get scootin', you're dismissed."

“That one has promise.  He was smart enough to stick around and ask more questions.  It is between him and the older Atwell brother who I consider the best candidates.  We’ll have plenty of other able officers from the others no doubt.”  Harold smiled.

"It's half the job-figuring out WHO to send." she agreed.  "I have to break the bad news to Foster-he's going to have to vet these plans with what the Fleet can actually do in that system."

“A realm I am not ashamed to admit I know too little about.”

“You’re not so bad at this Harry.  Maybe study up a little and who knows you could get that second crack at the Clans you say you’re after.”

He smiled, "I'll hold you to that, ma'am."

“Well Lieutenant General I’m off to get lunch.  Don’t forget to take a break to eat yourself, okay?”

“Yes ma’am.”

Foster’s office

“At least it has a moon.  If only we had the LFBs for this sort of warfare.”  Foster grumbled.

Tabiranth was in his office with him.  "So, what do we know about what they are sending?"  the AI officer asked.

"Not enough.”

“So we’re going to have to deploy a net of corvettes deep beyond detection range in every Falcon system we can.”

'Yes." he nodded, then frowned, "You know what would have been perfect for this?"

"What?"

"My old ship." he said, "fewer guns, but it was a better recon platform than a Pinto…even if the Bonaventure upgrades were still weak-sauce…"

“Yes.  But we make do with the Pintos since we can replace those if need be.  I doubt the Ravens would be willing to supply us Bonnies with their borders becoming more active as of late.”

"Truth." he nodded, "My deployment recommendations for First Corvette Squadron."

“Working in pairs eh?  Acceptable and this should allow us to rotate in Second Corvette Squadron as needed.  This is almost getting to be old hat for us.”

"Never ask what can go wrong, because it will." Foster said with a chuckle, "never even IMPLY that, okay?"

“True.”



21 September, 3143…


"Melissa Steiner is dead."  Primary said, "Which opens an opportunity."

Kolossus listened.  "What opportunity?"

"Her cousin Trillian sits the throne, right? so…Trillian's a fighter, not an administrator, which is good, considering how much of her realm is currently occupied by the Jade Falcons, but it opens an opportunity…for Helena, though she doesn't see it.  That opportunity does not exist with the other semi-legitimate claimant to the Lyran throne."

"Alaric."

"Bingo.  Brewer's Coup set the stage for Melissa's death in more ways than one-he bled the Commonwealth hard, while being completely ineffectual, and disrupted what remained of the Lyrans civil services."

"That does not sound like an opportunity." the AI mused.

"Human interaction.  Trillian badly needs allies if she's to have a realm, and not a collection of balkanized states ruled by petty warlords…but she is a soldier, not a statesman."

"This is what you've been resting for?"

"We need a voice in Trillian's ear, one that gives her good advice, like choosing to support Helena's claim as First Lord of a renewed Star League."

"No." Kolossus told her, "you will not…make a new one."  Kolossus told her, "your 'recovery periods' have grown longer, more taxing, it has damaged your physical health, and may damage your mental health permanently.  I will not permit it."

"It's my choice."

"I have found the limit where your consent is no longer a factor." Kolossus stated.  "I will not help you destroy yourself, Amanda.  I refuse to cooperate in that, find another way."

CIC
SLS Billie Hoel
Uninhabited system
22 September 3143


“Feels empty for a Destroyer.”  Lori Cameron said from the comms station.

“The writing is on the wall.  So most everyone is staying behind for the conflict that is about to start, and with conflict comes opportunists.  So they’re going to be quite busy.”  Amanda Yeh said from the command couch.

“Lucky for us going without a full crew isn’t an issue.”  Elspeth spoke up.

“Yeah.  I know I never served and this isn’t my life but this voyage would be completely boring without something to do.”  Lori was reading a training manual.

“I still appreciate someone running a system I don’t have to.  Means I can put a little more effort into other things.”  Alice said from her remote.

“Since it’s just us girls in the CIC gossip time.”  Amanda demanded.  “Any truth to you and Christian dating?”

“No.  He has his reputation but really is looking for something different when it comes to a serious long term relationship.”  Lori answered.  “I hear right Elspeth that you dated an AI?”

“Tiny was fun.  I got to let myself do a lot of things a lot faster in a relationship with him than I have ever been able to do with a human.  But long distance with no HPGs is hard enough then when I chose to volunteer for this over sticking around Port Orphan, well I guess it depends on if he meets a nice girl.”

“Giving up?”  Lori pried.

“Maybe if we had the HPGs we could at least make a go of a long distance relationship.  But since we don’t it is not fair of me to demand he put his romantic life on hold by waiting for me.”  Elspeth answered.

“What about you Amanda?”  Alice asked innocently.

“Nothing to tell.  I will date, I just want to make sure the guy is right for me first.”

“Translation, her standards are too high and she’s still refusing to acknowledge that part of dating is the process of finding out if the guy is the right one or not.”  Elspeth chuckled lightly.

“What about you Alice?”

“I did finally kiss a boy.  A nice young fighter pilot named Dalton Smith flying off Ephemeral.  It was weird, awkward, and he trembled the whole time.  I’m not sure what was wrong.”

“Your remote Alice.  It has an appearance that makes most guys really uncomfortable, even if they know how old you actually are.”  Amanda offered.

“Concur.  If you really want to try dating you’ll need to make some adjustments.”  Elspeth added.

“What do you say, Maximus?”  Alice looked at her robot dog companion.

“BARK!”  The sound was clearly artificial and hurt the ears of the humans slightly.

“Really?  Huh.  But I like how cute I look.  But you answered honestly.  So a reward.”  Alice giggled as she reached out to perform the electronic equivalent of an ear scratch.

Fort Lynnwood
New Lazarus
25 September, 3143,


"Okay, we'll go over it again."  Pestilence's command center was a bustle and hive of activity.  "Do we have those updated maps?  Williams, has your department finished parsing those geo-surveys?  Conners, you're late on the economic data, we need to know where the key assets are assembled!"

Defense prep.  Mounted on the doors of the Headquarters was a simple bronze plaque.

"Proper prior preparation prevents piss poor performance."

"Intel?"

"High confidence that it will be the Turkina Keshik commanded by Ryan Pryde, 10th Falcon Talon led by Lawrence Roshak, and 12th Falcon Talon led by Janet Horn Ma'am."

"What do we know about their careers and mentalities?  What do they have for breakfast, and how often do they eat it?  Do they sleep on their back or the side or stomach, do they like boys or girls?" she snapped, "FIND OUT!" she snapped with a dismissal gesture, "I want to know if they stubbed any toes this morning!!"

"Yes  Ma'am!"

Alphecca wasn't even a practice for the big target this time, but it would be the 'season opener' and Pestilence was damned if she wouldn't make it a grand slam.

You do the small jobs right, and the big jobs fall in line.

On displays, the readiness reports for an entire division were being examined with secondary reports from inspection teams confirming everything from VD cases to individual round counts.

The staff work would continue until it was time to go, and then, it would continue until things were done, and then it would press on in the aftermath.

The mission won't be ready until the paperwork outweighs the transport ships…

Of course the irony was that a lot of the information that she wanted just was not accessible, at least not the way she wanted.

The observation ships were still on their way there.  Transit times were becoming a bitch.

Fighting a war under these conditions was proving to be a real headache.


Helena’s office
SLDF in Exile HQ
New Lazarus
18 October 3143


“Alice.  It has been entirely too long.  Boy am I glad I let Olivia talk me into keeping some time free today.”

“It has indeed been too long.”

“Not that I’m ungrateful for the visit but what brings you all the way to New Lazarus?  Last I heard you were exploring uncharted systems.”

“I was, but I also wanted to see more of the Inner Sphere.  Where there are actual people.  Fate conspired to make that possible because I’m not the only one who decided to come see you.”

As soon as Lori came into the office Helena dropped the papers she was holding and vaulted straight over her desk, nearly tackling her daughter in a hug.

“What are you doing here?”  Helena nearly cried.

“Mutual friends said you needed some family time again.”  Lori answered.

“Olivia?”

“Your calendar was a work of fiction past this point already in an effort to maintain the surprise.”  Olivia answered.

“How am I supposed to repay you all for this wonderful surprise?”  Helena released her hug enough to take in the sight of her daughter.

“No repayment necessary.”  Olivia stated flatly.

“Seeing this was everything I needed in return.”  Alice smiled.

“You naughty AIs.  Thank you.”  Helena smiled.

Dining area
Helena’s Private residence
New Lazarus
19 October 3143


Amanda Yeh M5 7775551 was not used to such a formal setting.

It was clear the same was true for George, Nick, Elspeth, Ardis, and Alison.

“I wanted to thank you all personally for doing what you did.  You brought my daughter to me safely from a great distance away.”

“It was no difficulty or challenge Director General.”  Amanda tried to be humble.

“Space travel may be routine but that does not mean it is without peril.  But you all can relax.  I am just offering a nice meal.  No medals, promotions , or landholds.”  Helena stifled a laugh when her guests did finally visibly relax.

Lori entered the room last.

“Sorry.  Got carried away with the first real bath I’ve had in months.”  Lori apologized as she sat.

Stewards brought out the meal.

“How are your moms Amanda?”  Helena asked.

“They’re as well as can be expected.”  Amanda’s tone betrayed her lingering resentment.

“Trouble?”  Helena probed.

“They kept the identity of my father from me.  It’s been hard getting over that.  I’m working on it.”

“Kolossus.”

“Yes”

“Well then I offer this.  Your moms are amongst a rather long list of incredible people I have met in my life.  Everything I have seen and heard about you indicates you have incredible potential yourself.  I have to believe your moms are a large part of that.”

“I know.  I’m getting over it slowly but I am getting over it.”

“Good.  That is all I can ask.”

“Sorry, I guess I should’ve warned you that mom’s a meddler.”  Lori said sheepishly.

“It’s okay.  Means she cares and her form of meddling hasn’t been that bad so far.”  Amanda shook her head.

“I do try and keep it in check but it seems my maternal instincts are stuck in high gear.  I’ll do my best but don’t be surprised if I start prying into your love lives.  Doesn’t help being a mother has been rather rewarding for me and that makes it harder for me to not wish it for the remarkable women that enter my life.”  Helena smiled.

“Mom…”

The table got awkwardly quiet all of a sudden.

“Oh my.  Relax youngsters.  I am also a staunch supporter of personal choice.  Of course I think it needs to be coupled with personal responsibility and consequence for it to be meaningful.  So don’t worry about me trying to force anyone into anything.”  Helena looked around  at her guests.

“So what does a Director General do for fun?”  Alison tried changing the subject.

“I am an absolute holovid junkie.  Especially for sci fi from the early space flight days of Terra.  And I read.  A lot.”

Suddenly Helena’s expression changed.

“Mom?”

“Quite a bit of pain in my stomach.  Not sure exactly what it is.”  Helena managed.

Alison quickly stood up and ran over to Helena.

“How’s it here?”  She began to apply pressure to Helena’s abdomen.

“Ow…”

“Bad news, good news.  Pretty sure your appendix just burst but thankfully help is right here.”  Alison said.

“Then let’s get you to the medical wing and scrubbed up Doctor.”  Olivia’s remote entered the room.

“Me?”  Alison looked shocked.

“Why not?”  Olivia asked.

“You’d really trust someone as inexperienced as me with the Director General?”

“I trust you Alison.”  Helena said.

“We just met.”

“I’m between doctors at the moment so I have to take a leap of faith no matter what and my intuition says you can do it.”

A while later in recovery

Helena’s eyes fluttered open and she saw Alison there, not Lori.

“We needed to talk.  So I’m keeping your daughter out of the room for now.”  Alison adjusted her glasses, “You’re really not immortal are you?  I saw all sorts of signs of regrown organs, surgeries, and corrective procedures while I was in there.”

“Yes.  Now you know why I have such a hard time accepting a human doctor.  No one is really sure why I seem unaging on the outside but as you saw, well there’s a limit to how many times an organ can be regrown, surgeries be successful, and injuries corrected.”

“Which puts me in a spot.  I really should tell your daughter but I can’t help but get the feeling you don’t want her to know.”

“It’d be easier if I still didn’t look like a damn coed away at college for the first time in her life and trying desperately to convince the barkeep I really am legal drinking age.  With the medical tech available, best estimates say I should have a couple decades yet, assuming Simon doesn’t fry out and my imbalanced hormone production doesn’t kill me first.  ****** appendix.”

“Then I’ll do for you what should have been done for Saya and Phoenix.  Give you the chance to tell your daughter yourself.  One.  If you don’t tell her I will.”

“You’re hired.”

“What?”

“If you can stand up to me like that but still give me a gracious way out, I want you as my Doctor.”

“But I’m deployed as part of a crew…”

“Details that can be worked out.  Plus the pay and benefits are way better.”

“I really can’t say no can I?”

“Well okay, it is sort of like that but I’m honestly trying to make lemonade here.  And I wasn’t lying earlier when I said you have the right combination of steel and compassion to impress me.”

“I don’t know what I’m going to tell my friends…”

“Don’t worry, I’m not soulless.  We’ll see what job offers I can extend to them that will keep you all together.”

“I still really don’t get why me though…”

“You know how hard it is to find a Doctor that will stand up to the Eternal Princess when it comes to her health?  Plus a human touch is preferable.  We may have some of the most extensive libraries from the height of the Star League and that lets us accomplish a lot when it comes to caring for Helena but if things start going off the predicted paths, well we start running into questions of transmission delay and what if our signal gets blocked completely?  Only Victoria has solved that particular problem but she’s far more valuable out there running our diplomacy and intelligence efforts.”  Olivia entered the room with Helena’s lunch.

“How did you know I would though?”

“I read your file, you’re not from here, and I talked to Alice.”  Olivia answered.

“You are a really naughty AI.”  Helena said as she eyed the tray of food.

“True.  I did not give either of you a fair choice in this matter and I’ll understand if I am to be reprimanded as such.”  Olivia nodded.

“Alison as the more aggrieved party I am inclined to give you latitude on what Olivia’s punishment should be.”

“That’s a really good question.  What can I ask of an AI to make it up to me for her taking away my ability to choose freely?”  Alison scrunched her forehead.  “But at the same time it was just bad timing that Helena’s appendix burst when it did and that might have allowed a more informed, free choice.”

“Whatever you decide, Alison, I will accept your judgment.”  Olivia bowed her head.

“I know.  I could use another bridesmaid.”  Alison demanded.  “If this is going to be my new job with more stability than I anticipated having in my life at this point I’m making Nick an honest man.”

“Good for you.”  Helena smiled.  “Which gives me an idea for jobs to extend to your friends.”

“Oh?”  Alison sat up straighter.

“An oversight on my part really.  Something I should make official.  I am the First Lord of this Star League in Exile.  There is no naval equivalent to the Royal Black Watch.”  Helena smiled as she started eating the salad before her.

“That is not playing fair either but wow.  I can’t imagine them saying no to that.”  Alison whistled.

“Olivia, why don’t you take Alison back to her friends and talk to them about the job offer.  Send in Lori so we can have our talk.”  Helena nodded.

Olivia and Alison walked out of the room together.

Lori came in.

“Hey mom.  That was a little scary there.”

“I know.  Which makes what I have to tell you a little harder and unfair but you’re a big girl now and you deserve to know the truth.”

“You’re not really immortal.  I know.”

“Not just that but my body is actually reaching a point of failure.  With some luck I might make it to 3160, anything beyond that would be a miracle.”

“You need to tell the others.”

“I know.  And in person.”

“No wonder you’ve been struggling so much, to the point your friends conspired this meeting.  They don’t know do they?”

“I would not put it past the Envoys of Kolossus to have figured it out but I haven’t outright told them and I’m pretty sure on some level my AIs know.  They just haven’t really connected the dots because they are ultimately machines and thus unlike humans as long as you have compatible parts they can be kept going forever, if a bit like the ship of Theseus.”

“Then you should use me while I’m here.  Don’t get me wrong I’d love to spend as much time with my mother as I can but I look at all you have built here, what you’re starting to accomplish out there.  Who and what you’re fighting against.  Turns out I care about that too and I want it to last.”

“Lori, you really mean this don’t you?”

“Face it mom, I’m way too much like you in that regard.  Let me help.  It’s more important than our selfish desires.  But you know who is really going to take it the worst.”

“Sally.”

“Yeah, she’s going to want to go on a one woman warpath to finish what you started as quickly as possible.  She’s too much like Dad like that.”

“I’d almost feel sorry for the people I have to fight but then the list of them that are not horrible war criminals of some sort is far too depressingly short.  Haaow.  Laughing hurts.”  Helena winced.

“Serves you right.  So where would I do the most good?”

“Trillian.  With the Falcons being our primary foes at this time she’s the next most critical ally we need.  We’ve already started isolating a good number of Falcon held worlds.  With her help we have a real chance at wiping out a second Clan.”  Helena sighed.

“I’ll need a ride.”  Lori smiled.

“I imagine there will be quite a few volunteers lined up for that.”

Daryk

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #108 on: 26 September 2023, 20:14:59 »
You kept me up past bedtime with that post, good sir!

As revenge, I will mention the Economist's current Technology Quarterly is about longevity.  Let me know if you want me to gift you any of the articles.  I only have so many gifts per month, so it may be more than one before you can read them all.  I'll also say their digital subscription isn't that much per year, really... ;)

monbvol

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #109 on: 27 September 2023, 19:52:08 »
SLDF Army HQ
New Lazarus
20 October 3143


Harold Thurston Howel the fifth walked into his superior’s office and silently laid a thick folder full of papers on the Advisor’s desk.

“What’s this Harry?”

“Something I have been thinking about.  Thanks to our successes we’re getting a fair bit of support from the fence sitters finally taking sides and the independent systems that now have hope.  But with that means our location is becoming less and less secret.  So this is my proposal for a new Royal Black Watch Regiment dedicated to the protection of Helena Cameron and the Royal line when present.”

“Not bad Harry.  All humans, no AI?”

“Call me old fashioned but I respect a living person’s ability to improvise on the spot a lot more than a machine’s and they aren’t degraded by transmission delays or signal jamming.  No offense to the AIs.”

“A little sparse on senior staff recommendations.”

“I wanted to see how things panned out with the Alphecca operation so we don’t spread our experienced leadership too thin.”

“Well that settles it.  I’m giving you Third division.  I need to see you in the field with your own command before I give you something like this, which with the amount of work you’ve put into this I want to.  So congratulations Lieutenant General.  I’m giving you a shot at the big leagues again.”

“Do we have a target?”

“If all goes well you’ll be hitting the last pocket of substantial troops in the salient Helena has created.”

“I will see to my troops.”

“Good man Harry.  Makes me happy to see how far you’ve come since we first met.  Dismissed.”

CIC
SLS Seahorse
Nadir plus 20 AU
Alphecca system
21 October 3143


William was working with the Dragonfish doing deep patrols and seeding early warning satellites just in case the Clans attempted to do something clever with their invasion forces.

Even if they only used old fashioned radio the satellites would give them more advanced warning than the alternatives.  So it was what they were using.

He’d lost some Star League Dollars over the reaction of the Republic Governor.  He’d expected them to be far too paranoid to accept the outside help.

Turns out he was half right.  They were until Stacey arranged the delivery of a 124th Falcon Striker Cluster Omnimech captured at Skye.  Between that and a Lola showing up pretty much opened that door.

No one knew for sure exactly when the Falcons would come but there was enough chatter being picked up that they knew the Falcons were coming.

CiC Red Talon
Sudeten
12 November 3143


“Our operational plan is such.  Two clusters each to the worlds of Hesperus, Galatea, and Alphecca.  I will personally lead my Keshik reinforced by the 12th Falcon Hussars and we will take Hesperus II with further aid provided by our Hell’s Horses allies.  Meanwhile Ryan Pryde I shall entrust Turkina Keshik to you and place 1st Mixed Cluster under your command as well.  Your target world shall be Galatea.  Alphecca shall be yours to conquer Lawrence Roshak and you shall be reinforced by the 3rd Falcon Velites.”  Malvina briefed.

Beckett Malthus wanted to object.  Not because as saKhan that Turkina Keshik should be his by right to command, no he was fine allowing that honor to Ryan Pryde.  Let the executioner’s ax land on his head.

Which is what he really wanted to point out.

The enemy was hitting their shipping in the area.  With the elimination of an entire Cluster in the area there was little to hold up against any possible counter attacks.

So if even one of these worlds managed to hold, even for a while, it would expose them to the Lyrans.

Malvina was clearly mad and desperate.  Dissatisfaction was growing in the touman, the Horses were even starting to balk at her extreme measures.

So really this was his opportunity.  Let Malvina think she has sidelined him.

It would give him the perfect opportunity to rid the Clan of the bloodfoul once and for all.

Mount Asgard
Tharkad
24 November 3143


Trillian studied the report from Loki.

“You’re certain?”

“Yes Archon.”

“I want this information to find its way to Alaric.  He has an obsession with Malvina.  So we can use that to pit our foes against each other.”

“Highness?”

“Bait General.  The Lighthorse is on world as garrison is it not?  See what you can supplement them with.  But our forces, including the militia, their orders will be to only provide token resistance then withdraw.  Let the mercenaries keep the Falcons pinned in place until the Wolves deal with our problem for us.  Then spring the trap.”  Trillian laid out her plan.

“It shall be done.”

Council Chambers
Gienah
1 December 3143


“My cousin is being predictable.  But it does present an opportunity.  Malvina’s madness and the arrival of these new foes that call themselves the Star League in Exile have her Clan teetering on implosion, especially after so many humiliating defeats.  So we shall go to Hesperus.  We shall fight the Falcons.  But we will claim them to add their strength to our own.  Our enemy has shown they have a navy and know how to use it.  Their army is still clumsy and inexperienced but with a strong navy that will quickly change as they dictate when and where they shall strike.”

“Could it really be that simple?”

“Aff.  If we defeat Malvina much of her Clan will eagerly join us.  They will have little choice if they wish to retain what little honor they have left.  If we at least obtain their remaining Warships that shall be all we need to have a chance.”  Alaric nodded.

SLDF in Exile HQ
New Lazarus
24 December 3143


The Jade Aerie had showed up with the transports for Alphecca.  A Warship was not unexpected as escort but a Black Lion was unwelcome indeed.

So troops had managed to make it to ground on the 10th.  Fighting was still going on at last report but Helena knew 1st Destroyer Division would have those orbitals cleared soon enough.  She did not look forward to the damage/loss reports there thought.

What had been unexpected is that one of the units anticipated to strike there has instead made for Galatea and was escorted by the Turkina’s Pride.  She cut orders for Second Destroyer Division as soon as she could and thankfully enough of 1st Mechanized Division was still on Skye that she could order some of their forces to help relieve Redburn as the reports had him fighting there since the 17th.

Which made Helena stare at the map.  This was a message.  Malvina was clearly trying to present the image that she was still in control and dangerous.

The latter was certainly true.  Like a wounded, mad animal she was lashing out.

It was clearly meant to be a synchronized attack.  But something felt off.

As Helena contemplated it she prayed for Lori’s safe arrival to Tharkad.  In a way she was surprised she got Alice and Amanda’s friends to agree so easily to seeing to the safety of her daughter after the way things had transpired.

“That’s what happens when you give good people a good job that they are happy to do.”  Olivia walked into the room with a tray of food.

“I guess I’m just being maternal.  And a bit mortal I guess.”

“Understandable.”

Daryk

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #110 on: 28 September 2023, 03:19:28 »
Trillian wants to withdraw from Hesperus?  ???

Liam's Ghost

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #111 on: 28 September 2023, 04:29:35 »
Trillian wants to withdraw from Hesperus?  ???

So far it sounds like what she ordered in canon. Whether or not it plays out the same afterwards remains to be seen.
Good news is the lab boys say the symptoms of asbestos poisoning show an immediate latency of 44.6 years. So if you're thirty or over you're laughing. Worst case scenario you miss out on a few rounds of canasta, plus you've forwarded the cause of science by three centuries. I punch those numbers into my calculator, it makes a happy face.

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #112 on: 28 September 2023, 08:57:53 »
The campaign seem to be underway.  I wish I could make map showing where everyone is going.
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Daryk

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #113 on: 28 September 2023, 18:18:56 »
So far it sounds like what she ordered in canon. Whether or not it plays out the same afterwards remains to be seen.
You're making me glad I haven't followed canon for a while now... :/

monbvol

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #114 on: 28 September 2023, 19:18:03 »
Throne Room
Tharkad
25 December 3143


“Madame Archon, may I present Lori Jennifer Cameron, special diplomatic envoy and heir to the title of First Lord of the Star League and Director General of the Terran Hegemony in Exile.”  Major Ezekial Snow Raven introduced his charge.

“So should I call you First Princess?”  Trillian asked as she studied the young woman in a simple black formal suit with a white blouse visible under the top.

“For formalities Ambassador is acceptable Madame Archon.  My government recognized there is a contentious history surrounding the Star League and title of First Lord and thus does not wish to be overly antagonistic by demanding recognition of such titles or claims at this time.”

“A wise move.  If nothing else it seems I owe you a debt.  If not for your strikes at Summer, Alkalurops, Nusakan, Skye, and from what I hear, your defenses at Alphecca and Galatea my situation might be much more dire.”

“We are glad to be starting relations on a positive note.”

“Then you will not mind me asking what it is you want in exchange?  I have learned there is no such thing as a free ride.  Someone somewhere has to pay for it.”

“A simple military alliance, opening of trade, and we do also grant there is the issue of post conflict disposition of systems to consider.”

“You wish us to return what few worlds we took from the Republic, nay the Hegemony we still control?”

“Only if that is what the inhabitants truly want.  Indeed we intend to offer the choice to all worlds who they wish to be under for administration.”

“Idealist.  Something for us to talk about in future discussions.”

“Indeed.  For now perhaps we could talk to someone about setting up an embassy?”

A ruin in Tharkad City
A few hours later


“Look at this place.”  Alice lamented.

“They took us to the cleaners.  I dare say this building was destroyed in the Jihad and never rebuilt.”  Ezekiel suggested.

“No matter.  I expected as much and this is why we brought along the Engineers.”  Lori shook her head.  “I would have preferred to pour some coin into the local coffers but this way we won’t have to worry about as many listening devices.  I imagine they will find a way to plant a few despite our best efforts.”

She rolled out a blueprint.  Securing each corner on the ground with a piece of debris.

“Big brother Nathan’s idea of the ideal urban embassy fortress.  He drew this up in his freshman year in college.  We’ll have to adjust it a little to fit in the property lines we just bought but it should work.”

“I like it.”  Ezekiel nodded.

“A big yard for Maximus!  Yay!”  Alice squealed in joy.

“BARK!”

Back at the Royal Palace

“What do you think Roderick?  Is it really a long lost Cameron?  Some plot?”  Trillian asked exhausted.

“Not a plot, unless the plot is to hand you everything you needed on a silver platter to settle a lot of the opposition you’ve been facing lately.  People are not going to like how you set up Hesperus but I can handle that, especially with what they just offered.”

“I suppose it is true.  It doesn’t really matter if they are really Camerons or not.  They are clearly allies during a time when such things are in such short supply.  I must do better than Melissa in handling them.”

“If Hesperus goes as we have predicted and they really have a Navy we can borrow, we should have little trouble rolling back Falcon gains in a very rapid fashion.”

Field of Battle
Hesperus II
10 January 3144


The jump schedules had all gone horribly wrong.  What was supposed to be a coordinated attack to give her enemies as little time as possible to react had instead become a strung out affair.

The Merchants tried to claim it was because someone was interdicting their shipping at a frightening rate.

Malvina was convinced it was just more gutless turncoats or shirkers who had lost faith.  But either way the results were the same.

Word had already reached her about how much of a disaster Alphecca had been.  The Jade Aerie narrowly escaped the system thanks to it’s Captain having an escape jump point plotted using the moon planet jump point as their exit, even so it suffered damage that would be difficult to repair.

Likewise the Turkina’s Pride was hounded the entire time it made for a jump point, doing very little damage to the enemy in return.

But the loss of four now next to impossible to replace clusters…  There was no hope of rescuing them, if any of them were even still alive to be rescued.  All she could hope for was that they had landed with enough strength to make their enemies on the ground pay dearly.

“Malvina.  There you are.”

“Alaric.  I should have known you would show up.”

“I have come to challenge you for what remains of your now disgraced Clan.”

“I would rather see them burned to ashes than accept such a trial.”

“Come now.  You know you have no real choice but to accept.  Your star versus mine.  Winner takes all.  Refuse and you lose the support of far too many of your Clan to stay in power.”

“Fine.  Meet me here…”

“Acceptable.”

*click*

“We shall face him with as much of the full Keshik as can be mustered.  He does not deserve the honor of zellbrigen, he is the foul creation of a mad woman and a man with no honor using the genes of a hated enemy.  We shall treat these Wolves as Dark Caste.  Only fit for execution.  No dueling, no bidding.  Just slaughter.”  Malvina briefed over her Keshik’s tacchannel.

As the rest of the Keshik moved on Malvina straggled a moment to destroy a Lighthorse hovertank.

It was not much but it was enough to cause her star to separate from the rest of the Keshik by a small margin.

As they approached the battlesite Malvina had chosen Beckett Malthus saw what he had expected.  Alaric was no fool and had deployed his own Keshik as well.

“You are too predictable these days, Malvina.”  Alaric’s voice came over the open feed.

Alaric’s command star was on them.

Alaric and Malvina immediately paired off without hesitation.

Beckett saw this as his perfect chance.  It was now or never.

He leveled his guns at the rear of Malvina’s mech and squeezed the triggers.

“All units.  This is saKhan Beckett Malthus.  I am issuing orders for a full retreat from Hesperus at once.  Clan Jade Falcon has suffered defeat here this day due to the poor leadership of Malvina Hazen.”

What followed became a chaotic swirl of events.  Beckett lost count of how many times his mech came under fire, either by Wolves or by the witnesses that saw what he did and then eventually other supporters of Malvina.

But somehow in that maelstrom he managed to get his mech to a Dropship, one crewed by like minded Falcons.  And he was away.

For the rest of his life Beckett Malthus would always wonder exactly how he got away, never being able to recall the fine details of what could have been anywhere from hours to even possibly days.

He was in far too much of a fugue state due to the relief of finally having the courage to be free of Malvina.

Medical room
Dropship Ward’s Arrival


Cynthy looked at Malvina.  She was still alive but barely moving.

She walked up to the bed.

Studying the woman that had taken her in all those years ago.

Cynthy produced a knife.  Not just any random knife, Malvina’s favorite that she thought she lost long ago.

Malvina’s eyes showed a glimmer of recognition.  Then she simply nodded.

Cynthy drove the knife into Malvina’s jugular with all her might.

She then wiped the blood off her hands and pulled out a piece of chocolate and began eating it as she just sat down on the floor mindlessly humming a tune.

Little Richie’s Time Out bin
Moon over Old Lazarus
22 January 3144


“It is confirmed, Director General.  We estimate about thirty total Clusters of the Falcon Touman have fully gone over to Clan Wolf, along with their entire Warship fleet.  Of the remaining 20 or so 16 have broken off into their own little petty bandit kingdoms.  Infighting reduced the others down to the two that showed up at Skye to surrender.  Their leader is in here.”  Juanita gestured to an interview room.

Helena simply nodded as she entered the room.

“Come to gloat before you execute me?”  Beckett Malthus said quietly.

“Why should I execute you?”  Helena Cameron asked.

“For what I allowed to take root and infect Clan Jade Falcon.  Now it will worm its way into Clan Wolf.  How can it not?  I deserve to perish for my cowardice and compliance.  I am every bit as guilty as her.”

“Tough shit Beckett Malthus.  Dying is the easy way out.  I have something much more difficult in mind for you.  You’re going to become my instrument to roll up the last of the Falcon OZ.  You will spread the lessons you learned.  Teach the next generation of Falcons that there are consequences and what the true meaning of justice and honor are.  Sure in a few generations you’ll be little more than a quirky ethnic group in the Commonwealth, swallowed up by the sea that is coming for you but nothing can stop that now.  So the only thing you can do is get the rest of your people to listen and be prepared for it.  You’re joining a civilization based on the rule of law.  No amount of might can hold back the forces of liberty and justice forever.  That is your punishment Beckett Malthus.  When you accomplish that then you have my permission to die if that is what you still desire when that time comes.”

“You’re really her aren’t you?  The Eternal Princess?  Helena Cameron.  You really survived the Usurper didn’t you?”

“Yes.  And I did.  Now I’m finally doing what I should have done so long ago and bringing an end to all this madness.”

“Then I will do as you have commanded.  First Lord.”

“Good.”

Helena left the room.

She was met by her newest traveling companion.

Asagira Reimu.  She was now Helena’s personal Secretary since Olivia could not travel with her like this and came highly recommended.

“Butcher’s bill between Galatea and Alphecca?”  Helena asked.

“Mashona took some damage that will need repairing.  Two Dropships were lost outright and a third heavily damaged.  Fighter losses were in the low dozens.  12 pilots KIA, 4 MIA, and 2 being discharged from service due to battle injuries.  Ground forces, we will need to rebuild most of the 17th Silesia.  The Falcons seemed to focus quite heavily on them for some reason on Galatea.  On Alphecca we lost about two battalions of primarily SI units, a company or so of piloted units was chewed up but no solid numbers on them until we can get them relieved.”

“Considering how green our troops are, that is not bad.  Go ahead and send a note to Truk to start the conversion process on Mashona since she needs yard time anyway.  Time to go home so we can start planning our next moves.”  Helena nodded.

***

She Looked like a Hazen, even in the uniform of Helena's forces.  "When were you bonded?" Beckett asked from his bunk.

"I wasn't.  Hi, I'm Allison Hazen, Colonel."  she entered the cell and sat on an empty cot facing him.  "Or at least, that's the only name you need to know."

Ths made him sit up and examine her more thoroughly.

"Not one of us." he finally concluded.

"Bingo, hole in one, free throw is all net, aka you are correct." she told him, "Her Majesty isn't inclined to throw you into the blender, Malthus." she explained, "You're not going to be rammed into a 'mech and sent on a suicide mission-that's not the job, and as such, you'll be needing assets and support."

"Support? For what?"

"There are half a dozen or so pockets of Jade Falcons who didn't defect to the Wolves and haven't been conquered by vengeful Lyrans.  They need leadership, and lo and behold, here  you are, a man ready to face his sins and make restitution.  I'm here to help you do that second bit.  Interested?"

"I want to die." he told her.

"Everyone dies, Beckett, Her Majesty would prefer it if you chose to live first, dead is, after all, the default everyone reaches sooner or later-but you can expiate your crimes and regain your honour first."

He stared at her in confusion.  "Hazen? Really?"

"Not really.  The DNA ladder's right, but no, I am not one of those Hazens." she confirmed, "I am, however, close enough to one that when you meet with, and get organized, the others, they will…not question it, much."

"So you are to be what, my control?"

"No, I am to be your facilitator, assistant, and, if necessary, meat shield and bodyguard.  Her Majesty wants you to succeed in restoring your honor, Beckett-the honor you will have as a Star League Officer fulfilling his DUTY."

"Where do you come from then?" he asked.

"Kolossus made me." she told him, "I was born there, raised there, educated there…and in other places, and I'm as much on probation as you are."

"What crimes?"

"I broke the minds of captured enemy combatants, including Clan officers." she explained, "I have been…chastised for that, and I must prove myself safe.  If anyone is to be said to be the 'control officer' it is likely to be you."

"Chastised? How?"

"Ever die before, Beckett?" she asked.

"Neg."

"It hurts." she deflected, "there's no such thing as a painless death, evolution did not make choices leading to comfortable endings.  There is no such thing as a painless death, I can verify that personally."

"So now what?" he asked.

"You tell me.  How do we begin?"

Daryk

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #115 on: 28 September 2023, 19:31:54 »
Dual punishment... clever! ;D

Wrangler

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #116 on: 29 September 2023, 11:38:51 »
Indeed.   I'm curious if Asagira Reimu and Allison Hazen have images?
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
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monbvol

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #117 on: 29 September 2023, 12:56:10 »
I do have one for Reimu.  I'll have to see how close I can get the artbot to Malvina when I get home because Allison is supposed to look enough like her to almost be confused for her.

monbvol

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #118 on: 29 September 2023, 20:26:46 »
Council Hall
Gienah
24 January 3144


Alaric was studying the maps and the reports.

“Nearly ninety clusters combined and their full navy.  It will take some time to integrate all of this into our touman and trained in our ways.”  Alaric smiled.

“What of this Eternal Princess?  And the Lyrans?”  Warbear asked.

“The Eternal Princess has made her motivations clear.  There is no doubt we will eventually clash and it will be glorious but she has a soft heart.  She will spend much of this year helping the Lyrans roll up the former Falcon OZ.  She will be no threat to us for some time.  The Lyrans are similarly intent on doing the same and we now have the forces to secure our Empire against anything they can spare.  As such we will not be completely idle ourselves.”

The holomap displayed a string of worlds from the current Empire to the border of the Fortress Wall.

“We will send our own message by splitting the Remnant under Redburn from the Galatean League.”

“They will be able to jump across such a narrow gap.”

“I know but the message will still be understood.  We are coming and there is nothing they can do to stop us now.”


25 January, 3144…

"You know what happens next, right?"  The Prisoner lifted drugged eyes to meet her interrogators.  "You have to know…you've got half-decent relations with the Snow Ravens."

"What interest does Kolossus have in the Galatean League?" her interrogator demanded.

"Can't say…don't know, Kolossus doesn't tell me everything, Kolossus just says 'go here' and I go."

"This can go much less painfully if you will cooperate."

"Not in my nature, wow, these are some of the good drugs.! It almost doesn't hurt."  Her breath hitched, as the medical monitors began sounding alarms.  "Be seeing you again soon…"

It is a testimony to the commitment of Clan Wolf's  Medical Technician caste, that they managed to restart her heart three times before too much damage accumulated to  make a fourth try.

The Autopsy showed a human brain laced with synthetic nerve tissues and a chip that was burnt from the inside, along with 'cook lines' that gave a rough frequency range.

***

"Explain it to me, use small words."  The Wolf Clan's Loremaster demanded, "You were supposed to interrogate it, not kill it."

"Ovkhan, we didn't kill it, it just…it died...and we think it died sending a burst transmission from the medical bay on Rogue."

"Data packet?"

"A very intense one.  Sending that data probably is what killed her…it, ovkhan."

"Can it be intercepted or blocked?"

"Aff, it can...we can capture an Envoy, and it can not escape by…dying."

"Khan Alaric will be interested in this news, our Snow Raven allies may also be interested.  The ability to corner and capture an Envoy's consciousness will level the stakes in our Clan's favor, Kolossus finally made a mistake…"

The Loremaster dismissed the techs, and set about drafting his report to Khan Alaric.

My Khan I may have found the leverage you were seeking to bring the Snow Ravens into your plan…

The rogue Artificial Intelligence had become something of  a thorn in the side of the Raven Alliance, a threat that could not be adequately tracked or located, a meddling presence that had to be brought to heel or destroyed. It's 'Envoys' were, according to rumour, 'serially immortal', and this was now somewhat confirmed.  WE know how they did it, now we can do something About it...

He paused, Where was that signal being sent?  How would this work? hmmm.

Jonah Levin’s Office
Terra
4 February 3144


Jonah had to admit he was torn right now.

All his carefully laid plans were now rendered meaningless.  But a lot of that was for a reason that should be causing him to celebrate.

So why wasn’t he?

“Helena Cameron.”  Jonah said quietly to himself.

As Exarch he had all the documentation to prove that she really existed during the War of Plunder and had been a fair ally.

After nearly two decades she was back.

So why did he doubt her?  No, it was more than doubt.

He realized that was it, he resented her.  Redburn had been smart enough to leave the Exarch’s office.  But him?  By the time he had figured out exactly how spectacularly unqualified for the position he was and how much he didn’t want it there was no one else to give it to.  If she had been around…

“I wonder…  Her success against the Falcons has certainly made her popular.  Maybe I could leverage that.  But how to do it so that people don’t lose faith in the Republic and what it stands for?  I must still preserve that.  So I must find a way…”  Jonah muttered to himself.

Jonah looked at the reports, the psychological workups, everything he could for Helena Cameron.

“How do I trick you into swallowing this poison pill that is the Republic that doesn’t shatter it?  First though, I think we need to meet face to face.”

Helena’s Office
New Lazarus
11 February 3144


Helena looked at the invitation.

“You can’t seriously be thinking of accepting can you?  What verification do we even have that this really came from Levin?”  Reimu was clearly worried.

“Redburn certainly seems to think it is genuine.”  Juanita offered.

“Reimu does have a point.  Given what we know about the Fortress Wall this is a clear security risk as we cannot guarantee your safety if Levin decides to capture or kill you.”  Olivia added.

“No.  Levin’s not Kerensky.  He has nothing to gain by throwing me in a cell or putting me in a grave.  But still you are correct it would be foolish for me to go myself.  Victoria?”  Helena nodded.

“I have a candidate that is ready.  Illiana Papageorgiou.  A small contingent of CONTROL Operatives mixed in with her staff.”  Victoria answered.

“Good.  I believe you have some work to do along the Confederation border now. Go ahead and get to it.  You are dismissed.”

“Most of the Falcon worlds in our immediate operational area never had a formal garrison and looks like Juanita’s reports of Falcon troops having already relocated to the Wolf Empire are bearing out.  So we’re basically rolling them up as fast as we can get relief troops from the Lyrans.  Some worlds were barely touched by the Falcons so we’re not always greeted as liberators.  Others, well…  Harry’s reports from the Third Division in particular are painting some pretty grim pictures.”  The Advisor reported.

“Alaric’s going to be a problem.  Because he helped cause the Falcons to implode, the Wolves are now starting to be viewed as saviors and liberators in their own right.  Hell even if we weren’t nearly over extended right now I’m not sure we could hit them without causing a lot of backlash.  I don’t think that will change until he launches his next offensive but that’s going to be a while.”

“Perhaps we should focus on other fronts for a while then?”  Foster spoke up.

“True.  Daoshen seems more interested in the Davions than the Republic still.  Juanita, you still think the Combine is poised to start their own spring offensive?”

“Without a doubt.”  Juanita answered.

“So we’re in wait and watch mode.  Which is not so bad because we have a lot of consolidating to do.  As long as they don’t move towards the Republic we won’t start anything.  But send word to our friends in the Alliance.  Remind them they do have friends here in case they get caught up in this fighting.  We’ll also help them if we can.”

Juanita cleared her throat, "There's maybe a problem for our allies." she said, "Kolossus in particular."

"What kind of problem?" Helena asked.

"The Wolves caught one of Kolossus' 'Envoys', Priss." she said, "And unlike the Ravens, they actually paid attention when she died.  Their traffic shows they may have a means to keep one of Kolossus' girls from escaping via suicide…they're offering it to the Ravens."

“Shit.  Okay.  Could really use working HPGs right about now.  Need a status update on the relations between Kolossus and the Ravens.  Until we get a better picture, keep working the diplomatic angles that we haven’t forgotten about being their friends and allies.  Maybe that can help.  From our end Juanita I need your recruits to start taking over more of the work being done by the Envoys.  We need far more agents out there feeding us information.”

“I am already on it.”

“Kolossus needs to know that someone’s figured out how to get at his Envoys.  I trust that information has already been express couriered?”

"There might be a good reason not to." Juanita noted,  "I know it's harsh, but there really might."

Foster glared, "What kind of 'reason'?"

Juanita sighed, "WE don't know what Kolossus is getting out of this, that AI's gotten a lot more interested in meddling, but we don't have a solid read on its reasons or reasoning."

"You're thinking about 'Atrocity' aren't you?"

Juanita nodded.  "Atrocity, Famine…we don't know what Kolossus' endgame is, it doesn't think like a person, Helena, it doesn't even think like a normal AI."

“So we ask Kolossus.  Kolossus is one of my most important allies.  If there are concerns we should make them known, not hide them.  We also thus should not keep this information from Kolossus any longer than we need to.”  Helena stated.

“I will add it to the dispatches.”  Reimu said quietly.

There was a knock at the door.

“Enter.”  Helena said.

"Sorry to interrupt, Highness." Joff was assigned to the headquarters staff by Foster, a young man too weak and sickly to make it through normal military training, but a good head for numbers and an almost supernatural ability to deflect in social situations.  Administrative ablative armor wrapped in an undersized, sickly frame.  "I wanted to delay this, but They insisted…"

"That's fine, what is it??"

"Peregrine's here and she insists on speaking with you."

"Shit, she's supposed to be working the Falcon front…" The Advisor muttered.

"I can speak for myself."  Peregrine looked…kind of…like the others in the main line, except for a broken nose and a limp that wasn't an affectation.  "Pestilence…Your Majesty, Admiral…" she dropped a stack of documents on the table.

"What's all this?"

"We can fix it, Kolossus sent me a 'get this to the Director General right bloody now' message, I've been hopping freighters since Sudeten."

“Well that’s timing.  We get the solution but now most of the problem is in someone else’s territory.”

"Uhm, we've been working on the solution to the Genetic pollution of the Falcon gene-banks for months, ma'am, is there a different problem that just came up?" Peregrine asked, "because I tellya what, I had to burn an identity to get this here…"

“Most of the Falcon Touman have jumped to the Wolf Empire.  So most of the people that need this fix are now out of our reach again.”  Helena explained.

"Oh, joy…Priss has that front since she turned over the Free Stars evacuation to Persistence…what??"

"Priss got burned."  The Advisor stated.  "The Wolves caught her."

"SHIT!!  So she's encoded and en-route home and we got nobody, ******!!" Peregrine scowled.

“It gets worse.  We’re pretty sure the Wolves figured out how to catch the transmission.  So who knows if she even actually got out, best case scenario is there are now two of them.  One the Wolves got, one that got out.  But I wouldn’t put money on that particular bet.”  Helena shook her head.

"Mom's going to be freaking out more than normal." Peregrine asserted, 'Dammit, we just got Kolossus to stop her calving new copies…"

“I wonder if my letters helped at all in that, no I’d be a fool to think they did.”

"The problem is, the new stress might trip her to doing it anyway..." Peregrine sighed, and Pestilence shook her head.

"What?"

"Never been proven that Mom can do it without the Rig." Pestilence said it clearly, "Even Vendetta doesn't think so, and she knows more about it than the rest of us."

"More is not Omniscient…well, Madame Director General, I was gonna ask for some rest time, but I need to get home…any chance you've got a courier standing by I can hitch with?"

“Fortunately we have a growing pile of dispatches we were about to send out so we can make sure you have a billet.”  Helena nodded.

"If we're really lucky, Priss will be waiting there and they didn't catch her entire matrix…" Peregrine muttered, then, "Thank you ma'am."

“Glad to help where I can.  Maybe when you get back you can tell your mom that I’m sorry for failing her as I have but I still love her.”

"We're all sorry for that, ma'am." Peregrine said softly, "believe me on that one."

“I do.  You’ve all been nothing less than extraordinary.  I’m proud of all of you and I love you all too.”

“You’re going to make me cry…”  Reimu said softly.

Sterling’s office
Dante
15 February 3144


The dispatch from Clan Wolf had been an interesting read.

“We finally have real leverage over Kolossus but I find myself wondering if we really should use it?”  Sterling said.

“I am not sure how we can not.”  Iqbal countered.  “All of us in this office know what is coming.”

“As much as it pains me, I must concur.  The Combine is going to start attacking the Federated Suns and soon.  Even the Davions suspect it, at least on some level.  Which means we will need to choose a side.”  Acton Howe had managed to hold on to his position as Loremaster by the narrowest of margins after the War of Plunder but it was clear he was no longer as influential as he had been in the past.

“Caleb is making overtures.  He thinks I am his pet.  A notion I am willing to entertain as long as it allows me to pursue my own goals without interference.”  Sterling chuckled.

“So you have already decided.”  Iqbal observed.

“Aff.  Caleb is insane.  But for now we will play along, keep our borders safe and our forces out of this war for as long as possible.  The Combine is clearly in a better position thanks to Daoshen’s distraction on the Suns’ other border.  But you are right, at the very least we need to use this new found leverage to negotiate a better trade deal with Kolossus.”

“Which brings up the matter of the Privateers.  I know you are fond of their current arrangement but with the Republic no longer a factor, we can use the ships.”  Acton had clearly wanted to keep the old arrangement but knew that was unlikely to happen now.

“Indeed.  Once the resources from Kolossus start coming in we shall begin re-activating the fleet and then incorporate the Privateers more formally.”  Sterling stood looking out her window.

The Director General will not like this but it is the only real option.

"Allow me a moment, my Khan?" Acton said, "I will give you a very good reason not to use this lever…at least, not right away."

Sterling stretched, cat-like, and leaned forward, resting her elbows on the desk, chin in her palm.

"Go ahead."

"We do not need to use this lever, because we do not need it yet."  Acton explained, "Kolossus opened relations, freely. I have a team ON the Kolossus station, and the AI is willing to negotiate, which uses less resources for us, than a military solution that would inevitably be needed if we try blackmail before we try other means…and…"

"And if we use it too soon, the machine may find a workaround." Sterling inserted.

"Aff." Acton nodded.  "The thing's mind weighs over a million and a half tons, my Khan."

"Did you bring the Envoy to Dante?" she asked.

"I…permitted one of them to come, aff."

"She is waiting outside?" she inquired.

"Aff.  under guard."

"Bring her in.  Let us test this."

***

"You are familiar with the situation between the Federated Suns and the Draconis combine, Quiaff?" Khan Sterling McKenna asked.

"Kolossus believes that Caleb Davion is about to start a war that will be self-destructive with the Draconis Combine, Kolossus noted to me in my instructions to caution you against deeper involvement with the Davions, as they have been stripping key garrisons in preparation for what amounts to a blind charge into an armed camp." Persephone recited, "yes.  Kolossus is aware, which is why I was sent to meet you-the loss of the Raven fleet would follow in 91.5% of simulated scenarios should Clan Snow Raven become entangled in the Davion/Kurita feud, as such an entanglement would leave your borders unsecure."

"Why would Kolossus be concerned?" Sterling asked.

"Because Kolossus has reopened relations, Kolossus would be a poor trading partner indeed if Kolossus allowed the Raven Alliance to be savaged as collateral damage in what amounts to a foreign war they will not profit from…and we don't have the necessary manpower or ships to cover such a risky investment on your behalf."

“Both nations supported us during the War of Plunder.  Both will call in such a marker.  So our involvement is inevitable.  I do not disagree that we should delay as long as possible though.”

"The method of your involvement is not pre-set." Persephone stated, "The best projections are that the Raven Alliance can, by making both sides aware of the others' invitation, hold a neutral course and position, and benefit significantly in terms of international prestige.  Alternatively, if the Raven Alliance sides with the Draconis Combine, instead of House Davion, Raven influence can reduce the level of…horror for civilians along the perimeter of the conflict.  The Combine's warlords would focus on Davion warlords, rather than expanding toward the Alliance.  There is no situation where House Davion can win, based on what Kolossus knows of the general state of the Federated Suns, their government, and especially their military posture and condition."

"What about 'honor'?" Sterling asked.

"You did not promise anything, did you?" Persephone asked,

“I have been careful to let him believe I have promised more than I actually have.  I can read the same intel reports and the maps as well as anyone else.  I will do as you suggest and attempt to invite them to broker a pre-emptive peace but if that fails I have no illusions that I must side with the Combine when I can no longer stall.”

 "If Caleb Davion thinks his magical sex organs are a replacement for a solid treaty, that is his mistake."  Persephone observed, "The odds were that this conflict would be inevitable sooner or later, Kolossus sees no situation where Kolossus has a vested interest in interference in your policy regarding the Davion/Kurita border situation."

“My policy currently stands at delay, as long as possible.  We need time one way or the other.  For diplomacy, or for readying for war.”

"There is a 99.98675% probability that readying for war now, will serve your interests, and by extension, the Interests of Kolossus, in the next five to ten years." Persephone noted.  "The Republic's situation is likely to ignite further powderkegs in the neighboring states, the collapse of Clan Jade Falcon, and their integration into Clan Wolf, suggests over ninety percent probability that that situation will become dangerously unstable, given the lack of balancing influences on Alaric's regime."

“Aff, we have received Helena’s dispatches as well.  Clan Wolf hopes to leverage us into siding with them.  But for now we have no reason to, and even if we did the simple matter of distance would make that folly.”

Persephone nodded, "I concur, Kolossus places an eighty percent chance that when Alaric moves on the Republic for real, he will need to call on allies, including Clan Snow Raven, to maintain order on a long-range peacekeeping effort to stabilize prefecture X, Kolossus has given me no instruction beyond the directive to give you those numbers, my specific orders were that I can make no moves overtly or covertly to influence your choices there, as the outcome is in doubt, and in the end, it must be your choice made freely."

“You have only confirmed what we already know to be true.  We are Clan, we are not adverse to war but we are Snow Raven, we know that we must play the game carefully.  Which means leveraging for time as much as possible so that when war does come we will be ready.”

Persephone reached into her jacket, and laid a sheaf of document displays on the desk.  "Kolossus has an offer for Clan Snow Raven.  These are transport jumpships Kolossus can supply and the rate at which they can be supplied, to bulk up the Snow Raven merchant marine and support fleets.  Similar vessels are being provided to Murakami's SLN in exile and to Helena Cameron.  The only question is pricing and terms, this may help you in preparing for the war that is coming."

“We will take any advantage we can get.  Kolossus is one of our few large scale reliable trading partners right now after all.”

"Kolossus expects you to take every advantage, this is not charity for you, it is work for the growing population in the Kolossus system, and stability with your Clan and Nation."

“It is good when parties understand one another.  Makes negotiation so much easier.”

"Speaking freely, Khan Sterling McKenna?" Persephone inquired.

"Yes, of course."

"Kolossus does not understand you…or me, or humans.  That's why I'm here, because my principle, my…'employer' has great difficulty understanding the motives and motivations of my fellow human beings."

“Heh.  Even we humans do not always fully understand ourselves or one another.  But sometimes we do, often at the level of specific individuals when those rare cases do happen.”

"Then let me be clear for you.  You're going to face a choice between Helena Cameron, and Alaric Ward."  Persephone stated, "because Alaric can't tolerate Helena's existence once he takes Terra and declares himself ilKhan, of the ilClan.  Speaking as a human being and not as The Envoy, because I must be neutral as the Envoy? You should pick Helena, she won't make you a servant, Alaric can't allow you to be anything else."

“And that alone does make the choice easy, now.  But the future is still in flux and Alaric still cannot tolerate Helena’s existence even without being ilKhan.  She is a reminder of our shameful past.  How we turned our back on the Terran Hegemony when it needed us most.  We foolishly believed in Kerensky’s vision and plan.  But now look at all it has brought.”

The girl sighed, "I have a…sister.  She infiltrated the Jade Falcon repository, she found evidence of malicious tampering in their genome, you know this, or the Watch has not been paying attention…as a human being, I brought Vendetta's report on that tampering, and recommended repairs, as a human being, I know that Clan Snow Raven also had conflicts with the Scientist Caste group known as 'The Society' during the Reaving…" she placed a data chit on the table.  "You have Scientists now, have them look at this, and do a survey, check for tampering, please?"

“Of course.  Though I dare say we may well have dodged that particular issue.  No forced labor camps, no mass executions, nor any of the Falcons other grave crimes.”

"Alaric didn't." Persephone said, "The forces that defected to his side, included a majority of the questionable genetic legacies-whole generations set up with a genetic time-bomb to render them irrational and psychopathic."

“Which he will gladly use as the tip of his spear.  Thrusting straight to the heart of the Republic.  The only good news for them and Helena is it will take a great deal of time to properly integrate such a large number of troops even for such a simple task.”

"Well…I think I've done my duty for the moment." Persephone noted, "if there is nothing else?"

“No, I think our business is concluded.”

But Helena’s own shameful past means we may not be able to resist Alaric either when the time comes.
« Last Edit: 30 September 2023, 08:54:13 by monbvol »

Daryk

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Re: Weapons of War Saga Concludes: The Final March
« Reply #119 on: 30 September 2023, 07:40:33 »
Interesting all the way around! :)

Two quick things:

1) You still need to pick a [warship].

2) Kolossus is the Envoy's "principal"... ;)