Author Topic: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star  (Read 52444 times)

Daryk

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #420 on: 09 April 2024, 19:31:51 »
And speaking of picking up that rock, I recommend watching through to at least 1:11 of this excellent (if unfinished) video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luIKMpl1lfk

Hotpoint

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #421 on: 16 April 2024, 09:18:37 »
Part XLVI- Section 1 of 2

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"Terraforming isn't a magic trick but a lot of it does involve smoke and mirrors."

Building Better Worlds: The Unofficial History of SLDoME - Niops Free Press, 2890


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Capital City – Niops Association (Niops VII) – 2840

If it had been raining, or snowing, or if he had been running late for his meeting Franklin Hallis would have requisitioned a vehicle to ferry him from SLDF Headquarters to the Association Council Building, seat of government in Niops, but as it was he needed to stretch his legs anyway so he decided to walk.

Although the capital continued to grow in population and geographic size it still wasn't exactly a teeming, sprawling metropolis by any means. Frankly describing it as much of a city at all would still be a bit of an exaggeration, and most of the government buildings were to be found near the centre of town anyway so it wasn't much of a hike in any case, just enough to get the circulation going and take in some fresh air.

There was certainly more traffic on the roads than there used to be, Hallis noted idly as he trudged along the pavement, glad that his new boots were more comfortable than the old ones. If he had known how well-made the new SLDF issue footwear coming out of Comstock was these days he might have dumped his old pair months ago but after you've polished the same pair so many times it was a little hard to let go.

The new uniform was better too. After much deliberation, and more than a little procrastination, General Romanov had finally admitted that the original SLDF pattern uniforms weren't the flawless design classic they were supposed to be and authorised a few changes to be made going forward.

To the untrained eye the new issue jackets weren't actually that much different than the old ones, certainly not different enough to warrant a mass changeover to the new pattern all at once, but the cut more closely resembled that of Terran Hegemony uniforms from before the foundation of the Star League, the rank insignia on them had been made slightly more prominent and the Red Cameron Star of Niops was on full display.

It wasn't quite as stiff and binding to wear with extra layers underneath either, something that was very important when you were outside on Niops VII and you didn't want to have to drag a heavy overcoat with you all the time.

Hallis still actually preferred his old Clan Wolverine issue dress uniform, the one with the even spiffier Prussian Collar and the Sam Brown belt that not only looked good but was practical for hanging your personal weapon, or weapons from, but even if Romanov had liked the look too, which she didn't, it was way too clan-looking to risk wearing it outside the Niops system.

With more people than decade ago, and higher wages thanks to the ongoing economic boom, it wasn't a surprise that there was so much more traffic on the streets, Hallis considered as he waited at a pedestrian crossing near the Planetarium for the lights to change so he could continue his journey.

People he encountered on the way generally fell into three groups based on how they reacted to coming across him, and there were quite a few of them out that day because it was a Saturday and not particularly cold out by Niops VII standards.

The majority were Niops-born civilians that either ignored him completely or at most vaguely registered his military uniform, whereas the smallest group were uniformed military themselves that saluted as they passed him going the other way along the sidewalk, Hallis crisply returning each salute.

The third group were those civilians, presumably of Wolverine origin, that greeted him with 'Khan Hallis' and a nod of recognition, some of those nods verging on a bow even though that certainly wasn't something he ever encouraged.

If people had expected clan culture to die out completely, a puddle less than a hundred-thousand strong immersed in a Terran Hegemony sea, albeit it with some Capellan admixture, they had been proved wrong though not for the reason they might expect.

It wasn't so much a top-down dictate from the Khan or saKhan that Wolverine identity needed to remain, nor even the influence of what had been the Warrior Caste, it was broader than that.

Nicholas Kerensky had ordered the annihilation of Clan Wolverine, the summary execution of any of its warriors that were captured and the sterilisation of its civilians.

If Clan Wolverine ceased to exist then that would be letting Old Nick win, if not in the way he had necessarily desired, and letting that tyrannical, murderous bastard win was simply unacceptable.

In reality of course any Wolverine cultural traits weren't going to end up much as more than a thin veneer plastered over the overwhelming late Star-League era Terran Hegemony culture of Niops eventually and Hallis knew it. After a while it would likely exist as merely a few odd quirks such as referring to military schools as 'Sibling Companies', being more tolerant of settling disputes with your fists than 'civilised' society would usually deem acceptable and of course still having a Khan, even if the role was now essentially honorary.

It was important to still have a Khan just in case they ever returned to Strana Mechty. Somebody had to formally declare that the Trial of Annihilation had failed, and that Clan Wolverine had won in the end before they raised the Wolverine banner over Bearcat once more and then reclaimed their holdings on Circe.

Also, someone had to piss on Nicholas Kerensky's grave. Ideally that person would be named McEvedy but a Robertson or a Hallis would do.

Arriving at the Association Council Offices Hallis returned salutes from the guards outside, the soldiers from the Niops Association Militia assigned to protect the building looking less bored than he might have considering the lack of an actual threat to its inhabitants, and then he entered being greeted by the receptionist.

"Good Afternoon General Hallis, the High Associator hasn't finished his meeting scheduled for before yours but I'll let you know when you can go up" the receptionist told him brightly.

"Thank you, Deborah" Hallis replied. "Working this weekend I see."

"Getting next Wednesday off in lieu" the receptionist replied, smiling. Most Civil Service employees worked a standard Monday to Saturday week but things tended to get busier and less rigid when a new High Associator took over. So much to do in order to get them up to speed.

The receptionist herself would have still likely been in Junior High the last time that had happened, Olson had won his first election in 2825 a couple of years before the SLDF showed up at his doorstep, but older members of staff had the institutional memory to deal with all the temporary chaos and hubbub that accompanied such a change in leadership.

Naturally it still went very much easier on Niops than it tended to do in the Draconis Combine or the Free Worlds League for example. For one thing you didn't have to clean up the remains of the former boss after their assassination, suicide or 'suicide'.

Despite having access to the best medical technology outside of Terra The average life expectancy of rulers of the Successor States was actually rather lower than it was for their subjects, Hallis knew. Hell, people on less developed planets in the periphery probably had a better chance of getting to a hundred than your typical Coordinator, Captain-General or whatever.

A political system that led to a smoother, less violent transfer of power, in this case democracy, didn't necessarily lead to the best person for the job getting it however. Franklin Hallis was of the opinion, one kept to himself naturally, that the new High Associator wasn't up to the job and that if it wasn't for an unlikely happenstance they might not have won the election at all.

An astronomer by background James Murray PhD had failed to gain a majority of the vote in the first round nor anything like it. He had obtained a narrow plurality, getting more votes than anyone else managed in an election where there were several candidates, but not by enough to avoid a second round of voting with only the two candidates who had obtained the most votes in the first round eligible to stand.

Depending on your point of view it was either a system that guaranteed that whoever won in the second round runoff election had the support of more than half the population, and was therefore democratically legitimate, or it was a system that made sure that the most unpopular of the two candidates couldn't become High Associator, but either way it produced a result that the majority were willing to accept as the better outcome.

In both the 2830 and 2835 elections, if not the one in 2825, Giles Olson had actually managed to obtain more than half the vote in the first round of voting which had ended the process there and then with no second round required. That was unusual though, most politicians in the Niops Association just didn't have his level of voter engagement, or frankly his charisma.

Fifty-two percent of those who voted in the second round of voting in the 2840 election had either liked James Murray, or else actively disliked their opponent more, so now he was in charge.

The winning margin was small enough to make Hallis wonder if not for the other James Murray whether the outcome would have been the same.

Given that the majority of candidates were dull technocrats promising to both continue the policies of Giles Olson and maintain the status quo if elected, they had all looked for something to make them stand out a little from the crowd. In the case of former astronomer Councilman James Murray PhD that issue was orbital solar mirrors.

The expeditions to McEvedy's Folly had brought the topic of using such mirrors to warm a planet into the public consciousness on Niops VII. Back in the day the Star League Department of Mega Engineering (SLDoME) had constructed an array of them around the world then known as 'Project Sagittarius Umbrella' to reverse the severe Ice Age that was gradually turning it into a snowball. It would in fact have ended up frozen solid from one pole to the other in only a few more centuries if not for the engineers of SLDoME and their habit of only using dictionaries that had the entry for the word 'Impossible' crossed out.

Some accused the terraforming crews of SLDoME of hubris, or of even playing God. Their usual response to that was, 'God made the universe, but the Department of Mega Engineering made Venus habitable' before getting back to work.

By comparison to reversing an apocalyptic Ice Age on McEvedy's Folly, warming up Niops VII a few degrees would be a piece of cake surely? Not only could they make the planet a more pleasant place to live reflected sunlight beaming down on arable farms and forests could increase grain yields and rates of tree growth. It was an argument that had caught some political traction given that Niops had spacelift capacity to spare, increasingly large-scale asteroid mining to provide the raw materials and the undeniable truth that no matter how high the standard of living got on Niops VII it was no substitute for having a pleasant climate.

Councillor James Murray PhD didn't give a crap about crop yields, or being able to enjoy a barbeque in your back garden without freezing your balls off, he cared about astronomy and hated the notion of honking great orbital mirrors blocking out the view.

Niops being a colony founded expressly for the purpose of astronomical research, and having a population weirdly obsessed with star gazing as a hobby, not just as a profession to boot, Murray's strident opposition to 'Orbital Light Pollution' caught some traction with the electorate, not much but some at least.

Then he was invited to speak about the issue by the news channel who thought that broadcasting a segment that combined politics and astronomy as part of their pre-election coverage might be good for ratings.

The producer knowing little about orbital mirrors had sought out an expert, and when he found one realised he had struck gold, quickly inviting them onto the show as well.

Thus it was that when Councillor James Murray PhD appeared on the news channel to talk about orbital mirrors and his objection to constructing any around Niops VII, he was confronted with a man who, in his youth, had once actually helped construct some of the things elsewhere. Captain James Murray MEng, Star League Navy (Retired) formerly of the Star League Department of Mega Engineering was only too happy to go on television to advocate the use of a well-established and proven terraforming technology that would improve the lives of everyone on the planet.

James Murray, the engineer not the astronomer, had officially retired from active service on his one-hundred-and-fifteenth birthday, although he still worked part time as a consultant because he knew more about the SLDoME tech recovered from McEvedy's Folly than anyone else and he was just old not useless. Famously irascible and short-tempered within certain circles the last time he gave a crap about civility or politesse in his dealings with others Kerensky was still in charge, Aleksandr Kerensky, and given free rein to express his views he proceeded to lecture James Murray, the astronomer not the engineer, about how gosh-darned awesome orbital mirrors were.

James Murray, the engineer not the astronomer, did not of course use the phrase 'gosh-darned'. The phrase he did use had to be bleeped out by the news channel. He was also bleeped out later when he called James Murray, the astronomer not the engineer, a narrow-minded, parochial, luddite mother-funster.

He didn't actually say 'funster' either needless to say.

Eventually James Murray, the astronomer not the engineer, snapped and started yelling at the other James Murray, bawling him out for lacking a soul, saying that every child on Niops should have the right to look up at the stars on a cloudless night and wonder in awe at the majesty of the universe without 'unnecessary orbital junk' getting in the way before launching into a diatribe about how Niops had fallen too deeply under the sway of engineers, bean-counters and military types and how people were losing sight of what the Niops Association was founded to do.

Changing demographics would erode the power and authority of what was effectively the ancien régime over time, but until then they were still living in a society where interfering with people star-gazing was a hot-button political issue, Jenna Romanov had observed to Hallis after the broadcast as polls subsequently indicated a surge of support for the James Murray running for office (they also indicated that quite a few people wished that the other James Murray was running instead, these being mostly SLDF types). In her opinion they were witnessing the last hurrah of the Old Guard as James Murray, the astronomer not the engineer, was suddenly thrust into the limelight as the reactionary champion of the ancient regime.

He wasn't actually that in reality of course. Councillor James Murray PhD was in fact broadly-speaking actually very much in favour of Niops stepping up and restoring civilisation in a galaxy that had gone all to hell since the Terran Hegemony collapsed. His televised rant however struck enough of a chord with enough people that it put him just ahead in the polls as the standard bearer of what some called the 'Great Purpose'.

While it had all made for great ratings, in retrospect putting a fairly strong-willed scientist up against a strong-willed engineer regarding what was a contentious issue had inevitably led to conflict. Scientists and engineers were natural enemies, like Englishmen and Scots, or Scots Highlanders and Scots Lowlanders, or Murrays and other Murrays.

Damn Murrays, they ruined Moray.
"A dread fear rests deep in the heart of Clan Coyote that one day a lawyer will arrive on Tamaron talking about intellectual property rights, the Mercury II and the Coyotl omnimech and this will herald the end of the Clan as the Not-Named sue their asses into bankruptcy for patent infringement" - The True History of the Clans (Dark Caste Press: 3050)

Hunted Tribes - Hotpoint's Battlestar/Battletech Crossover Series


Hotpoint

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #422 on: 16 April 2024, 09:21:06 »
Part XLVI- Section 2 of 2

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"The High Associator will see you now, General Hallis" the receptionist spoke up, breaking Hallis away from his thoughts. "Um… don't mention the desk" she advised awkwardly.

Wondering what exactly she meant by that Hallis made his way up to the High Associator's office, something he had done dozens of times before when it was his turn to brief them on behalf of the Joint Chiefs, and after told to just knock and enter by his secretary sat outside he did so.

At which point the 'desk' thing made perfect sense because newly-elected High Associator James Murray wasn't in fact sat at a desk, he was sat behind a folding-table situated where Giles Olson's very nice desk used to be.

"Good Afternoon, Sir" Hallis announced himself, stopping to salute while waiting for an invitation to sit down. In front of the folding table.

"You're probably wondering about the desk" Murray said, sounding rather aggrieved about the furniture situation judging by his tone of voice.

"I wasn't going to say" Hallis replied honestly, he certainly would have done if not for the warning though.

"Olson took his desk with him" Murray said bitterly. "Private property apparently."

"I see" Hallis replied comprehendingly, it was a very nice piece of furniture after all.

"They're trying to find the old desk that used to be here before he replaced it, the government owned one" Murray told him. "If they can't I'll have to get a new one made" he added with a sigh.

"Oh, I think that went to Admiral Bremman. It's in his office at Navy HQ by the spaceport" Hallis replied, instantly regretting saying it.

"Ah ha!" Murray exclaimed, sitting bolt upright in his chair. "Please tell him I want it brought back" he requested, tone indicating that it was not actually a 'request' so much as a command from on high.

"Will do, Sir" Hallis replied. Jacob was going to be really annoyed about this Hallis knew. The admiral had only gotten the desk because he had always gotten on very well with Giles Olson, they even socialised outside of work Bremman claiming that Olson was a surprisingly good rapper when he had a few drinks in him.

Hallis had never really gotten the 'rap' thing even though it was big on Niops. Listening to a nerd on the radio rhyming about thermodynamics wasn't his idea of a good time. Given him good old fashioned classical dubstep any time.

"Take a seat General, at least Olson left those behind" Murray said, sounding a little happier now he thought he might have a proper desk to sit behind soon. "I thought it might be General Romanov that gave me my first briefing?" he queried.

"General Romanov was injured yesterday morning; she's supposed to stay off her feet for a few days" Hallis explained her absence. That was the reason he was here now instead of at home looking after Judith even though he was supposed to be off duty this weekend. Fortunately Frederick was available to babysit his little sister, the boy had his uses even if he was still almost as such of a sarcastic pain-in-the-ass now as he had been in his teens. "The General offers her sincere apologies for not being able to attend."

"Injured how? Nothing too serious I hope?" Murray asked, sounding genuinely concerned.

"Running an assault course" Hallis explained, trying not to laugh. "The General doesn't seem to have mentally adjusted to the fact that she is over a hundred years old now and her ability to leap over obstacles isn't what it was when she was only eighty."

"Good grief. I'll have a word with her about that" Murray replied, rolling his eyes. "I know you Terra-born people are long-lived but you're not immortal."

"You're a third-generation Niops citizen yourself I believe?" Hallis noted.

"Third generation astronomer too, although I was the first in the family to go into politics" Murray replied. "But enough about me, I believe you have some updates regarding military deployments and developments?" he asked, looking down at his notes.

Hallis nodded. "The expanded training mission to Illyria progresses according to schedule" he began. "A number of the candidates for mechwarrior training picked out from the ranks of the Palatinate militia show sufficient promise that they should be able to field a combat-effective battlemech lance alongside their tank formations by the end of the year."

"They're using battlemechs captured from the Black Warriors correct?"

"Correct Sir" Hallis confirmed. "We repaired the battle damage they took ahead of receiving the reparation payments from Circinus in order to speed up the process of getting them operationally ready and available to take the field in needed."

"At which point we can withdraw our ongoing commitment there presumably?"

"Yes. It hasn't been too taxing logistically supplying a small expeditionary force in the Palatinate, we already had jumpships operating between Niops and Illyria hauling cargo and people seeking work on Alphard, but we never intended the commitment there to last quite this long. Mostly because we never expected somebody to attack Illyria while we were there, particularly not anyone that was a lot more formidable than your regular band of pirates."

"Very well" Murray replied. "Battlemech production on Alphard progresses as expected?"

"A few teething troubles with some of the plant and machinery, but nothing you wouldn't expect from a new factory that's still ramping up production" Hallis told him. "We're ahead of the game in terms of training mechwarriors on Alphard so while we will want to maintain a garrison of our own there to protect what will increasingly become the industrial heartland of the Hegemony, we can restrict that to no more than regimental size rather than up it to a full brigade as would have been necessary otherwise."

"I was under the impression that most of the Alphard Militia is still infantry and that will remain the case even once they start receiving battlemechs?" Murray responded quizzically.

"If fighting a defensive battle and properly dug in infantry shouldn't be underestimated Sir, but in any case our long-term plans for the various planetary militias don't just revolve around handing them a few mechs" Hallis replied. "We're already looking into putting the old Ballista self-propelled-gun into large-scale production to give the planetary guard units some useful artillery support and the Magistracy would be only too happy to sell us more Manticore tanks if there's room in the budget to push some more in the direction of the militias."

The High Associator frowned. "I thought we were already in the process of developing indigenous tank production?" he queried. "Why import them rather than simply make more for the militias?"

Hallis raised his eyebrows. "I'm sorry Sir, I thought you knew about the decision to manufacture the Von Luckner instead of the Manticore. It was featured prominently in the briefing documentation you were sent when you won the election."

"I'm afraid I'm still working my way through a mountain of paperwork" Murray replied, truthfully although he had opted to read it in a different order than the one suggested by his staff.

"Oh, well we were going to put the Manticore into production to save importing them from the Magistracy, but the opportunity to obtain a license to manufacture the Von Luckner instead for absolute peanuts came up so we jumped at it" Hallis told him. "The company that makes them, or should I say made them, HartfordCo Industries, just had their factory on Bryant levelled, and given their financial situation, not to mention the extreme weather conditions prevalent on the planet, they're in no position to rebuild."

"Bryant?" Murray repeated. "Isn't that the planet where Amaris destroyed the Storm Inhibitors?"

"Yes Sir" Hallis confirmed. "Without SLDoME around to fix them the planet's been gradually falling to wrack and ruin ever since" he said. "After we heard about their factory being totalled we sent HartfordCo an offer to buy a license to produce the Von Luckner and after accusing us of being vultures they agreed. Bryant is under occupation by the Capellan Confederation at present, but as we don't currently have beef with them they didn't try and block the deal."

Murray nodded his understanding. Bryant was a former world of the Terran Hegemony and hence deemed to be 'under occupation' according to Niops even if the Capellan's might not see it that way.

It was strange how the subject of orbital mirrors kept coming up in his life though, the Storm Inhibitors on, or rather over Bryant being exactly that. When extreme weather events just as hurricanes formed they would be disrupted by carefully aimed beams of reflected sunlight to dissipate them, it being just another SLDoME trick to tame planets that would otherwise be unsuitable for colonisation.

"Our armoured units operate a mix of the Von Luckner and Manticore tanks, the former is most effective at short-range engagements, the latter at long ranges so they complement each other very well" Hallis explained. "If our tank units on Illyria had fielded such a mix, instead of just the Manticore alone, it would have likely led to a quicker victory with reduced losses. If we were forced to only field one design it would be the Manticore incidentally, it's a better all-rounder, but since we can buy those from the Magistracy, while now making the Von Luckner ourselves, we don't have to compromise."

"I assume High Associator Olson signed off on all of this?"

"Yes Sir, not long before he left office. It was all done in a rush though so it's not surprising you hadn't heard given how busy you were with the election" Hallis replied. "It was definitely one of those situations where we had to jump in and grasp the opportunity quickly before someone else might have. As I said before, we really did get the license from HartfordCo for absolute peanuts, it was even more of a steal than when we got the license to produce the Thug after Maltex Corporation had their own factory blitzed."

Murray leaned forward in his chair. "Forgive me General Hallis, but if I recall correctly one of the selling points in the militaries proposal to build a factory producing the Manticore was that it presented an opportunity to repurpose surplus fusion power-plants stripped out from Stingray aerospace fighters imported from the Free Worlds League. Will that also be the case for the Von Luckner?"

"No" Hallis admitted. "The Von Luckner utilises a class 225 Standard Fusion Engine rather than the 240SFE powerplant of the Stingray and Manticore, however by the time the factory is complete we plan to have started importing Sabre light aerospace fighters from the Magistracy which do use a class 225 SFE so we'll modify those to power the Von Luckner instead."

"It's that easy?"

"Well, the VOX 225 engine in a Von Lucker isn't exactly the same shape and size as the Nissan 225 in a Sabre, but since we're making our own Von Luckner tanks we'll just change the design of the engine compartment to suit" Hallis responded. "We were going to do the same with our version of the Manticore, modify the design slightly to carry a VOX240a instead of the regular Pitban 240."

"I suppose when you get right down to it they're all just fusion reactors, it's just what the machine they're installed inside does with the power they generate that changes whether they're an aerospace fighter, a tank or a battlemech" Murray reasoned.

"Very true. We actually use a few old Wasp powerplants as emergency generators in our bunker complex on Reykjanes Island" Hallis replied. "For what it's worth, in the longer term I do still have a plan for the surplus engines from the Stingray, they won't go to waste. I'm hoping we'll eventually get a license to produce the Schrek PPC carrier made by Aldis Industries, they also use a 240SFE powerplant, although since Aldis is safely headquartered on Terra we're unlikely to get the license at the bargain price we did other machines."

Importing the Stingray and eventually the Sabre with a standard-fusion-engine already installed by the manufacturer, and then immediately switching those engines out for superior Extra-Light Fusion Engines to turn them into 'Royal' equivalent aerospace fighter, would have been a terrible waste of money if those surplus engines weren't going to be re-purposed. As it was if those engines were still going to be gainfully employed then the bean-counters and bureaucrats were generally willing to accept the argument made by the military as to why it was a good idea to go about it this way.

It wasn't a secret that Niops was importing the Stingray from the Free Worlds League, and it wouldn't be a secret when they started importing the Sabre from the Magistracy of Canopus either, what was going to be a secret was that those aerospace fighters in Niops service were going to be much better than the regular models of each type in service elsewhere.

The advanced Extralight Fusion Engines the upgraded fighters would require would have been a problem to put into production if not for the fact that Niops already had a couple of production lines for such engines crated up in storage. Retooling the machinery that used to produce the XL engines for the Mercury II and Stag II was a lot easier than having to create whole new manufacturing capability completely from scratch, and it was inordinately quicker than having to wait for Project Workshop time to be freed up.

The line that used to make the engine for the Pulverizer was already in the process of being re-tooled to make the powerplant for the Thug instead. Those machines were going to be hand made in Project Workshops as and when they were available, rather than put into mass production, although the definition of 'hand made' when it came to high-tech artisanal production in a Project Workshop was a slight misnomer.

Especially with the engine being made in a separate facility a Project Workshop could 'hand build' an assault mech around an endo-steel frame, itself also made elsewhere, somewhat faster than a bunch of guys in a garage could have managed.

Eventually when he had a Project Workshop of his very own working for the army full-time Hallis was aiming towards round-the clock production of 'hand-built' assault mechs, not just the Thug but also the King Crab if they could get the license. The Devastator and the Rifleman II wouldn't need a license, nobody was making them anyway and as far as Hallis was concerned the designs were SLDF/Hegemony property in any case.

"I believe that construction of the dropship maintenance facility has begun?" Murray checked.

"Yes Sir, once completed the Alliance Station now being assembled in orbit will not only be able to service our existing dropship fleet but we'll be able to put the CargoKing into production" Hallis confirmed. "It's coming at a useful moment, we're starting to suffer from a shortage of available cargo transportation as our interstellar trade increases and they're automated enough not to put as much of a strain on our labour resources as older types such as the Mule would. The military model, the CargoMaster, will also help us out a lot logistically as the Hegemony expands."

"Admiral Bremman is pleased I'm sure" Murray surmised.

"He is, Sir" Hallis replied. "Though I don't think he'll be happy until we get the first orbital shipyard built over Niops VIII, or maybe not even until the second over Niops IX."

Murray's eye twitched. "By 'Niops VIII' and 'Niops IX' I assume you mean the astronomical objects known as Elizabeth as Helena which are situated in the Niops asteroid belt?" he asked coldly.

"Yes" Hallis replied, slightly vexed by the man's reaction and manner.

"Those are Dwarf Planets, merely large asteroids" the High Associator stated firmly. "As such they are not to be designated as Niops VIII and IX."

Hallis raised his eyebrows. "But they're actually round and both well over fifteen-hundred klicks in diameter, Helena is closer to two-thousand..."

"Nevertheless, they are Dwarf Planets according to the official criteria established for such by the Niops Astronomical Union" Murray told him sternly, cutting him off mid-sentence. "I suppose you're one of those people that thinks Pluto in the Sol system is a planet too?" he asked sarcastically.

"Well, it is isn't it?" Hallis replied, confused.

The High Associator stared at him. "GET OUT AND DON'T COME BACK!" he bellowed, jumping to his feet and pointing at the door.

Since it was a direct order General Frankin Hallis immediately shot out of his chair to comply even if the entire situation was insane as far as he was concerned.

"No, wait" the High Associator said more quietly, sitting back down. "Get out and come back with my ****** desk" he corrected himself.

Later, while Franklin Hallis explained how his day went to his wife back at home Barbara had stared at him. "You called Pluto a planet?" she asked in horror, staring at her husband aghast and making him wonder if he was the mad one or if everyone born in this system was completely nuts.



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Note from the Author:

Our first look at High Associator James Murray PhD, although we've met Captain James Murray MEng before in Part XIX (in universe the two men having the same name is a coincidence). James Murray was originally an astronomer who ran for political office becoming a member of the Association Council and now the High Associator, meanwhile James Murray worked for the Star League Department of Mega Engineering (SLDoME) and then the SLDF. They have very different opinions on the subject of Orbital Mirrors.

Niops uses a Two Round Voting system to elect the High Associator (France uses it to elect their President too). In an election with multiple candidates it stops someone getting elected that a clear majority don't like on a fraction of the vote (which can easily happen in First Past the Post elections with three or more candidates).

The
Storm Inhibitors used on Bryant (and other worlds) kept the severe weather in check there until Amaris and the Rim Worlds Republic blew them up. With their planet a mess HartfordCo Industries manufacturer of the Von Luckner tank was unable to rebuild their factory after it was destroyed in 2840.

In the universe of Battletech
Pluto retained its status as a planet (a political decision no doubt, regarding it as a Dwarf Planet is more logical given the other rocks floating out there in the outer Solar System). On Niops however during their isolation the astronomers had their way. Like Ceres in our own asteroid belt Elizabeth and Helena in the Niops asteroid belt are also dwarf planets.

High Associator James Murray has a berserk button or two, Hallis hit one of them square on!
« Last Edit: 16 April 2024, 09:24:04 by Hotpoint »
"A dread fear rests deep in the heart of Clan Coyote that one day a lawyer will arrive on Tamaron talking about intellectual property rights, the Mercury II and the Coyotl omnimech and this will herald the end of the Clan as the Not-Named sue their asses into bankruptcy for patent infringement" - The True History of the Clans (Dark Caste Press: 3050)

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Giovanni Blasini

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #423 on: 16 April 2024, 13:07:32 »
Dwarf planets are still planets.  I will ride or die on that hill.
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PeripheryExplorer

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #424 on: 16 April 2024, 13:19:47 »
Justice for Pluto!

Daryk

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #425 on: 16 April 2024, 18:46:47 »
HILARIOUS! Says the Astronomy Minor from over 30 years ago (and current Information Warfare officer)... ;D

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #426 on: 16 April 2024, 19:59:18 »
Funny and worrisome, the guy....is not all there.

Wasn't there suppose to be some diplomatic mission to Terra or was just talk?  Murray doesn't seem to be stable isotope to me.
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Daryk

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #427 on: 16 April 2024, 20:01:49 »
I expect he'll be a one-term wonder... I wouldn't bet against the Engineer in a future election... ;D

Wrangler

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #428 on: 16 April 2024, 20:04:35 »
Depends if he does damage to the SLDF while he in office, that's more pressing issue.
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Daryk

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #429 on: 16 April 2024, 20:06:39 »
I wouldn't expect the Engineer to do ANY damage to the SLDF... you don't bend your own crowbar... ;D

Giovanni Blasini

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #430 on: 16 April 2024, 22:57:07 »
I wouldn't expect the Engineer to do ANY damage to the SLDF... you don't bend your own crowbar... ;D

Yeah, but this is the Scientist.
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Daryk

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #431 on: 17 April 2024, 03:28:48 »
Ah, wasn't sure which "he" Wrangler was referring to...

Wrangler

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #432 on: 17 April 2024, 06:10:28 »
Ah, wasn't sure which "he" Wrangler was referring to...
Awww......I was talking about the guy in charge of the Niops , the new High Associator James Murray.   Fruit cake who overreacts to planets status.  Yelling at his highest commander over something like that is very....bad.  Means he either he could be unstable or might be influenced by others, including ComStar.
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Vizzer

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #433 on: 17 April 2024, 07:03:33 »
Funny and worrisome, the guy....is not all there.

Wasn't there suppose to be some diplomatic mission to Terra or was just talk?  Murray doesn't seem to be stable isotope to me.
Obviously he won't be going to Terra until they correct the status of Pluto 😋

crestrunner

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #434 on: 17 April 2024, 11:51:17 »
Dwarf planets are still planets.  I will ride or die on that hill.

Sure, they're planets, it's in the dang name.  The problem is that absolutely no astronomer would ever count them when they number the major planets, because otherwise the Sol system would have anywhere between 12 and 15+ planets with Ceres, Eris, and a couple other large asteroid belt and Kuiper belt objects.  From an astronomer's viewpoint, that way lies madness. If nothing else, the usual mnemonic to name the planets would probably have to be updated every few years as another dwarf planet the same size or larger than Pluto was discovered hiding out among the comets.  School children and their teachers would justifiably riot. (Cats and dogs, living together; Mass hysteria!)

Vizzer

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #435 on: 17 April 2024, 15:10:38 »
Just looking at the comments here I'm not surprised a professional astronomer becomes irate about what counts as a planet. 🌌

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #436 on: 17 April 2024, 17:53:01 »
Heck, I'm sure some professional Astronomers NOW get irate about that... ;D

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #437 on: 17 April 2024, 21:50:13 »
We do not talk about the secret facilities that are clearly not located on the object that is clearly not the ninth planet in the Niops system. Ever.

We especially do not talk about the planetary scale thrusters that are not located on that object’s dark side.

 :evil:


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David CGB

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #438 on: 18 April 2024, 00:59:37 »
Justice for Pluto!
Seconded, all for this say yup!
Federated Suns fan forever, Ghost Bear Fan since 1992, and as a Ghost Bear David Bekker star captain (in an Alt TL Loremaster)

PeripheryExplorer

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #439 on: 18 April 2024, 08:58:38 »
Sure, they're planets, it's in the dang name.  The problem is that absolutely no astronomer would ever count them when they number the major planets, because otherwise the Sol system would have anywhere between 12 and 15+ planets with Ceres, Eris, and a couple other large asteroid belt and Kuiper belt objects.  From an astronomer's viewpoint, that way lies madness. If nothing else, the usual mnemonic to name the planets would probably have to be updated every few years as another dwarf planet the same size or larger than Pluto was discovered hiding out among the comets.  School children and their teachers would justifiably riot. (Cats and dogs, living together; Mass hysteria!)

I disagree I think it would be cool to have 15 planets in the solar system. Or more! I think it would be fun, and we could even get kids involved by having them learn about astronomy by pouring over data and if they find a new planet they can get invited to NASA or something. I'd love to spend tax dollars on that.

Hotpoint

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #440 on: 23 April 2024, 08:56:31 »
Part XLVII - Section 1 of 2

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"We are not as brothers, the Widowmakers and the Ghost Bears, we are brothers."

Joint Declaration of saKhan Hans Jorgensson of Clan Ghost Bear and saKhan Cal Jorgensson of Clan Widowmaker - 2842CE

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Hall of Khans – Strana Mechty – 2840

"While our reconnaissance team should be commended for carrying out their mission in an exemplary manner" Khan Kesar Jerricho of Clan Coyote spoke up, "about the only good thing I can say regarding the intelligence they have brought back is that at least the deployment of nuclear ordnance by the Traitor Lords seems to have been scaled back somewhat" he observed.

"If I was more certain that was because they were starting to regain their sanity, rather than simply running out of targets actually worth expending thermonuclear weapons on, I would view that knowledge in a more positive light" Sandra Tseng of the Ghost Bears responded wryly.

"I would have to concur with Khan Tseng" ilKhan Nicholas Kerensky added for himself. "This so-called 'Second Succession War' that has now raged in the Inner Sphere for a decade, and which shows no sign of ending anytime soon, is no less horrifying to me than the mindless slaughter of the First Succession War was when we learned of it five years ago" he said. "That fewer continents are routinely scorched by thermonuclear fire, fewer worlds are poisoned with chemical and biological weapons and fewer cities are devastated by orbital bombardment than before is likely due as much, if not more, from a lack of capability as it is a sudden recognition of basic morality" he opined, the assembled khans nodding their agreement.

"As regards orbital bombardment capability in particular," James McKenna of the Snow Ravens interjected, "judging by the intelligence data our operatives collected it is logical, indeed undeniable, that the navies of the Great Houses are incapable of fielding anything close to the number of warships they used to" he suggested. "During the First Succession War fleet actions were seemingly commonplace, certainly in the early decades of that conflict at least, now however for even a single warship to be deployed into combat seems to be a noteworthy event much spoken of."

Rafe Kardaan of the Cloud Cobras nodded. "They threw too many of them away attaining pyrrhic victories that proffered only short-term advantage and now cannot replace their losses because their shipyards are evidently just debris in decaying orbit for the most part" he concurred. After the Snow Ravens the Cloud Cobras were the clan that most concentrated their focus on the arena of aerospace warfare rather than ground combat and viewed the universe through a similar prism. Holding the high ground was the best way to achieve dominance.

"Their merchant fleets have suffered less but are still demonstrably only a shadow of what they were" the khan of Clan Sea Fox, Karen Nagasawa, chipped in. "Based on admittedly limited data my analysts conclude that their economies have most likely been as devastated by the precipitous drop in interstellar trade resulting from losses to jumpships as they were destruction of industrial facilities. Planets that were once economically vibrant and productive wither on the vine for the lack of shipping needed to transport raw materials and finished products."

"Given that this economic strife has not resulted in a noticeable slackening of their constant warfare against each other, my assumption is that they heavily prioritise their remaining resources towards their military at the expense of the standard of living of their civilians" Kerensky said then paused for a moment looking thoughtful. "It could be said that we do the same, I am sure many a malcontent would contend so, but our people are not starving to death by the millions amidst cratered radioactive hellscapes, nor are they dying of thirst in droves for the lack of basic water-purification technology" he stated, looking suitably appalled by the reality of life across much of the Inner Sphere these days. "The society we created is one of warriors, based upon martial competition, but with the goal of creating a military able protect civilisation from any threat, not to war mindlessly with itself while civilisation collapses around us" he continued, now looking to khan of the Coyotes. "Your clans innovation zellbrigen, Khan Jerricho, which I embraced after Klondike and the needless death of my brother, seeks to limit losses of lives and resources so that we do not spiral into the kind of apocalyptic madness and mindless slaughter that has befallen the Inner Sphere, and we need only look to the current state of what was once the glory that was the Star League to see what happens if war is practiced without restraint" he said, casting his eyes towards the holographic projection of the colonised star-systems within a thousand light-years of Terra that currently dominated the hall.

As well as the stars themselves the projection showed the route that the reconnaissance mission had taken. Two Tramp jumpships belonging to the clans, both armed and equipped with lithium-fusion batteries though disguised as mere periphery traders, had followed the Exodus Road back towards the Inner Sphere together, only separating as they neared the Draconis Combine.

One of the two vessels had started at Knutstad and then skirted the Inner Sphere in an anti-clockwise as far as Icar and Steelton, systems that once been part of the fallen Rim Worlds Republic but now belonged to the Lyran Commonwealth. Meanwhile the other jumpship began at Farstar and travelled clockwise, eventually passing through the territory of the Outworlds Alliance as far as Haynesville in the Federated Suns.

The intelligence they had brought back was considerable, far more than the previous mission had obtained five years before. Although they had deliberately not penetrated more than a jump or two into any of the Successor States at any point, mostly for fear of encountering naval forces and being potentially unmasked, they had gathered data relating to the current situation in the Inner Sphere as far away as the Magistracy of Canopus which seemed to be coping better than most.

As for the rest of the near periphery most of the former Rim Worlds Republic had fallen to brigandage and piracy, with only those systems annexed by the Lyran Commonwealth retaining some semblance of order. The Outworlds Alliance was falling apart, with Wynn's Roost seceding and most the Trader's Domain region following them and the Taurian Concordat was apparently stuck in an inward-looking decline and still somehow convinced that Davion was going to invade them any second despite the Federated Suns being far too busy already fighting the Draconis Combine and the Capellan Confederation.

Meanwhile the so-called Pirate Kingdoms such as the Tortuga Dominions were enjoying a Golden Age, raiding with near impunity as the exploited the military weakness of the Great Houses in their periphery regions. According to the pirates the clan scouts had captured, interrogated and subsequently executed near Star's End, the only exception to that situation was apparently in the region between the Magistracy and the Illyrian Palatinate. That area was reputedly the Bermuda Triangle of space if you were of a buccaneer persuasion, pirate bands that went in had a nasty habit of never being seen again and as word of that had spread few still chanced it.

As regards intelligence on the Great Houses themselves simply the opportunity to collect newspapers in Steiner and Davion controlled space had proved extremely fruitful, certainly more so than it had before on worlds belonging to House Kurita where public access to information was much more tightly controlled. Stories concerning the HPG Interdiction that ComStar, the former SLCOMNET had placed on the Free Worlds League recently and its effects were of particular interest to the clans since it demonstrated that ComStar was no mere observer but an active participant in the affairs of the Inner Sphere.

Nicholas Kerensky looked away from the starmap. "Based on what we have learned my opinion remains unchanged that the clans have a moral obligation to return to the Inner Sphere on day, end this destructive Second Age of War, impose order and restore the Star League" he declared before sighing. "Unfortunately however, it is my belief that the combined militaries of the so-called Successor States still outweigh our own forces by too much to believe that we are in any position to attempt such an undertaking with any realistic chance of success" he added. "Quantity has a quality all its own, and what they lack in weapons technology and skill they more than make up for in sheer numbers" he said, feigning regret. "Are there any among you that disagree, quineg?"

The assembled khans chorused 'neg' is response, all of a like mind, although many of them were looking at Ellie Kinnison of the Steel Vipers as they did so, thinking that if anyone there was crazy enough to think that they could actually conquer the Inner Sphere it would be her.

"On a more positive note, the precipitous reduction in their naval strength and their apparent inability to replace their losses does provide some hope" Nicholas Kerensky told the Grand Council. "Not only does it mean our naval strength is unmatched, the fact that they threw away their warships in foolhardy frontal attacks, heedless of the loss of capability that resulted from doing so, leads me to believe that they may do the same for other increasingly irreplaceable assets."

"From what we have learned they certainly do not shy away from squandering their battlemech regiments in unfavourable terrain" Elizabeth Hazen of the Jade Falcons observed, checking her notes. "At some point you might expect the Combine to realise that the mountains and dense jungles of Hesperus heavily favour defence, but they just keep flinging themselves against the Lyran Commonwealth there over and over" she said, rolling her eyes. "The Steiner forces can literally replace their own losses straight out of the factory and their casualties are always lower in every engagement because Kurita has to come to them."

"Their supposed sense of honour and an unwillingness to ever retreat even when it is foolish not to blinds them" the khan of Clan Blood Spirit, Colleen Schmitt, noted. "As you all know I am not exactly one to downplay the importance of honour and duty" she continued to polite laughter, "but our tradition of hegira, allowing retreat without dishonour, exists for a reason. There are times when everyone sane must recognise that enough is enough and accept that the sunk cost fallacy is an actual thing."

"Do the Traitor Lords strike you as sane, Khan Schmitt, quineg?" Ellie Kinnison asked sarcastically.

"Aff" Schmitt replied, choosing to disagree with the woman on principle. "Self-serving, immoral verging on malevolent and seemingly incapable of seeing the big picture, but not necessarily insane, not most of them anyway. If they were truly mad I would not harbour such hatred towards them because I would assume them incapable of understanding the gravity of their crimes" she said. "On that note may I suggest that the ilKhan has much of what we have now learned declassified and distributed to all of our people, regardless of clan or caste, so that all are aware of why we are calling upon them to continue to sacrifice for the greater good of humanity."

"I agree" Sandra Tseng concurred. "Given how many of our people, or at least their parents and grandparents, hail from one of the worlds that the Traitor Lords have burned to ashes in their constant struggle to try and come out on top it would likely drive them to greater effort for their clan, and the clans as a whole, if they were as cognisant of the facts as we are."

ilKhan Kerensky frowned. "While I believe that our people should obey lawful orders without question or hesitation, should already strive to do all they can as best they could in undertaking whatever task they are assigned, I concede your proposal has merits" he seemed to concede reluctantly while inwardly smiling. Kerensky believed that the clans needed a goal to unify around, the people themselves an enemy to direct their hatred towards so that hatred might not be directed towards him one day instead, and if the absent Wolverines were proving to be an elusive bogyman then the Successor States would do very nicely instead.

The fact was that a disproportionate percentage of the SLDF that had followed his father on the Exodus were from the Terran Hegemony worlds, few of the units that had decided to remain behind being from the Star League Navy or the Royal Divisions of the army. As such they, and their descendants, looked upon what had befallen their former homeworlds with a mixture of horror and rage and for Nicholas Kerensky in particular the whole situation was a blessing because even the most heinous things he had ever ordered done himself paled in comparison to what had been going on back in the Inner Sphere at the same time.

Over the last few years Nicholas Kerensky himself had even on occasion openly, if mildly, criticised some of his own orders given while seeking to pacify the Pentagon Worlds after Operation Klondike, referring to them as necessary evils that he regretted before comparing them with the truly unforgivable and unjustified actions of others such as the Kentares Massacre. A limited application of brutality to restore order and compel obedience in dire, chaotic circumstances was one thing, but to order millions of unarmed civilians to be literally put to the sword because you were angry about the death of a close relative was quite another. As he put it himself in an address that was broadcast by HPG to every world under clan rule, he had been personally devastated by the death of his younger brother during Operation Klondike but having everyone on Eden put to death because of it, even the ones living on the other side of the planet from where it happened, did not cross his mind for an instant because unlike those that held sway in the Inner Sphere these days he was neither evil nor mad. The clans had of course slain those directly responsible for the death of Andery Kerensky, but only those directly responsible because to do more than that was insane and unjust.

All things considered Nicholas Kerensky had weathered the storm of the Wolverine Secession and their successful escape better than he had hoped for at the time, albeit more by luck than judgement because the news from the Inner Sphere had been so appalling it eclipsed everything else in people's minds.

If there was one thing about the current situation however that did annoy Nicholas Kerensky somewhat it was that if anything clan society seemed to be operating considerably more smoothly and efficiently now that the other castes were happier to go along with things by choice, than it had when they were coerced into compliance. To give one example productivity in munitions factories was up by a statistically significant amount in nearly every clan as the labourer and technician castes were no longer grudgingly doing the minimum they could get away with but saw themselves as contributing to a higher purpose that they actually agreed with.

You can force someone to work at bayonet point but getting them to do they best they can is another matter entirely. Part of the reason why production was up was that some of the workers themselves had made suggestions on how to improve it, something that happened rarely before because so many of them were unhappy about their lot.

The change was actually so stark that even Jerome Wilson, the khan of the clan Kerensky had chosen to join himself, had been heard to remark that they were probably seeing why the damnable Chalcas Clan had been able to outperform the others economically and scientifically. Their labourer, technician and scientist castes had not just doing the minimum required to stop them getting put up against a wall and shot.

The truth was that even now only a small minority of the population had actually been born and raised within clan society, most of the workforce being from the Pentagon Worlds, and many of them had bristled against the shackles, usually metaphorical but occasionally literal, being placed upon them under clan rule. The seething criminal underbelly of clan society, the so-called 'Dark Caste' of rebels and malcontents, had been ever expanding until news started to arrive as to the state of the Inner Sphere but these days dissent was noticeably more muted.

Sarah McEvedy had loosened those shackles and it had paid off because her workforce had looked at how their opposite numbers faired in other clans and it made her look good, much as the bloody Succession Wars were now making Nicholas Kerensky look good, or at least not nearly as bad.

Nearly everyone that had followed Aleksandr Kerensky on the Exodus had expected the Inner Sphere to collapse into war once the SLDF was no longer present to act as a constraint on military adventurism, but few had predicted just how bad it was going to get. Most had assumed that the scale of destruction and death toll would be similar to that of the Age of War before the formation of the Star League, the more pessimistic arguing it would be like the Amaris War, or even the Age of War was itself before the signing of the Ares Accords put some constraint on how the factions behaved.

In reality the Succession Wars had proven orders of magnitude worse than almost anyone had predicted. So bad in fact that it forced clan society, all castes of clan society, to reassess their place in the universe and consider what they were going to do about it.

Majority opinion was that the SLDF should have stayed and fought and would have if it had known what was going to happen. Given that they couldn't wind the clock back and do it all again they should at the very least go back, save the Inner Sphere from continued strife and give the murderous scum ruling over the Great Houses a much-deserved shellacking.

As Nicholas Kerensky had declared in a fiery speech, billions, tens of billions of dead cried out for vengeance, and it was their duty as the Star League in Exile to answer that call.

With any luck however, Kerensky had thought to himself, he would be dead long before they were remotely in a position to do so. If not then the Successor States would surely come to their senses, scaling back on the war-crimes and lessening the clamour for the clans to intervene, but for now having the khans grumbling less about his rule and the lower castes mollified somewhat was a undeserved win he happily embraced.
"A dread fear rests deep in the heart of Clan Coyote that one day a lawyer will arrive on Tamaron talking about intellectual property rights, the Mercury II and the Coyotl omnimech and this will herald the end of the Clan as the Not-Named sue their asses into bankruptcy for patent infringement" - The True History of the Clans (Dark Caste Press: 3050)

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Hotpoint

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #441 on: 23 April 2024, 08:58:37 »
Part XLVII - Section 2 of 2

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"I do not know if any of the rest of you have noticed" John Fletcher of the Hell's Horses spoke up. "But it appears that the various armies of the Great Houses seem to have forgotten how to properly conduct combined-arms warfare" he observed professionally. "It is certainly possible that I am extrapolating too far based upon limited data, but the only time we see mention of tank and infantry formations being used is when there are not enough battlemech regiments available to undertake a particular task."

"Much of what we know comes from open-source intelligence, newspapers, rumour and the like" Raymond Sainze of the Fire Mandrills noted. "Battlemechs are 'sexy' in media terms, mention of them is likely to attract more interest so they are likely to be disproportionately featured in accounts of battles."

Fletcher shrugged. "You may be right" he conceded, "however I took note of a mention of the mercenary brigade known as the Crater Cobras, an appellation they seemingly earned because they were deemed mere 'crater makers' by a critic due to their heavy employment of artillery during combat operations" he continued. "The fact that their heavy use of artillery was itself seemingly so noteworthy makes me wonder how rarely it must be encountered."

"Mercenaries are cowards, hungry for profit and loathe to risk their lives" Ellie Kinnison said dismissively. "To criticise them for bombarding their foe from tens of kilometres away rather than facing them honourably makes perfect sense to me" she said. Her Steel Vipers actually paid more attention to the effective employment of ground forces other than battlemechs than any clan other than the Hell's Horses themselves, the Viper infantry arm in particular being unusually large and chock full of those that had failed to make the grade in a clan where the standards for qualification as a mechwarrior was unusually high, but even they regarded artillery with distaste.

John Fletcher looked at Kinnison askance. Whether artillery gave you the warm fuzzies or not, failing to give the great killer of the battlefield its due respect was foolhardy. The clans might 'play fair' in trials but the Great Houses most certainly would not. "The Crater Cobras are our lost brethren, formed from several former SLDF units that chose to stay behind rather than join the Exodus" he pointed out. "Their original commanding officer was Lieutenant-General Alexander Baldwin who, unlike certain people, earned his spurs fighting Amaris in an actual full-scale war where combined-arms-operations were the norm" he replied, the dig at Kinnison having been too young to fight Amaris like he had obvious to all. "It is more than possible that the reason why they earned their nickname is because Baldwin still followed SLDF doctrine while commanding his brigade, employing his artillery to support his infantry, tank and battlemech units as he was trained to do" Fletcher continued. "The point I am making, which should be obvious, is that the armed forces of the Inner Sphere have forgotten the lesson."

"Which is a good thing" Elizabeth Hazen realised. Like Fletcher she was old-school SLDF by background, both of them were fast approaching their hundredth birthday and were starting to look it despite the anti-agathic treatments of their youth, living hard lives had aged them.

"Which is a good thing" Fletcher confirmed. "Battles where artillery is used less frequently greatly favour the clan way of war, it plays to our strengths. The skill of our warriors and the greater effective ranges of our new autocannon and direct-energy-weapons" he noted. "Incoming high explosive fired from beyond the horizon cares little for your skill or courage, it only cares if you are present in the grid square it was aimed at when it arrives" he said, expression very much one of a man who had been stuck in a trench while a battery of howitzers showed great interest in shuffling him away from both the location itself and his mortal coil.

"Coincidentally, while reading the reports I too made note of that particular mercenary command, admittedly at first because I could not help but approve of their choice of name, crater-making notwithstanding" Rafe Kardaan of the Cloud Cobras spoke up smiling, his choice of words triggering some polite laughter from the other khans. "It is worth consideration that these 'Crater Cobras' as well as being former SLDF include the Cameron Star on their unit insignia which indicates to me that despite choosing not to join the Exodus they still bear some admirable allegiance to the Star League" he said. "Although they chose to become mercenaries I have to wonder if that was only because they did not believe that any of the Great Houses were deserving of their fealty?" he added.

"The Eridani Light Horse continue to fly the Cameron Star also, I believe" Colleen Schmidt said, pursing her lips as she considered what the khan of the Cloud Cobras had said.

"Indeed" Kardaan responded, nodding. "I realise that my clan is slightly unusual in paying as much attention to base political considerations as we do, but given that there does still seem to be a degree of loyalty to the Star League remaining in the Inner Sphere, a number of those loyalists being under arms, might we not consider reaching out to them when the time comes to launch our crusade, quiaff?"

"Aff" Schmidt concurred. "I would not wish to slay those that still fight under the banner of the Cameron Star unless I had to."

"Me neither, but I was actually thinking more in terms of swaying them to our cause" Kardaan explained his thinking on the matter.

James McKenna scratched his chin looking thoughtful. "Although it ended badly, and I confess I am not sure how much of the blame for that rests with me, my Snow Ravens would not have so easily dealt with the Empire of Hidalgo as we did on Circe during Operation Klondike if the forces of the Kerensky Dominion, who still professed loyalty to their former commander, had not fought by our side" he said. "Even if we were only able to get the likes of the Crater Cobras and the Eridani Light Horse to stand aside it would be of help in our campaign, even more so if they joined our cause to reestablish the Star League" he suggested.

"Given our gross numerical advantage I can only agree" ilKhan Kerensky interjected. "We should find time to discuss this further and I would also suggest that when we send our next intelligence-gathering mission to the Inner Sphere we instruct our operatives to gather as much information of former SLDF units that did not formally sign up with one of the House armies as possible without them risking being captured and identified. If there is one thing that we do not need it is the Traitor Lords being given the opportunity to prepare for our crusade. Even with the element of surprise the scale of the undertaking is daunting to contemplate" he said, frowning for a moment before suddenly smiling. "On a somewhat related matter, learning the fate of the 295th Division came as something of a pleasant surprise, and I would personally hope that we could avoid crossing swords with them also. They were one of the units that fought in the Battle of Moscow in 2777, an event that I think you can all understand is dear to my heart" he said honestly. He vaguely recalled his mother mentioning once that she had been introduced to a 'General Romanova' by his father after the battle, the officer's family name being something that had caught her attention for obvious reasons. Apparently the officer was unable to speak Russian, something which had disappointed Katyusha Kerensky somewhat, but still for a direct descendant of the Tsar's themselves to command a division involved in the liberation of Moscow was portentous she thought.

"The 295th fought their way from Apollo all the way to Terra, it was a shame they were left behind during the Exodus, though in their particular case it seems to have been largely by accident not choice" Colleen Schmitt commented. "I was also pleased to hear that, finding themselves stranded in the Inner Sphere, instead of abandoning their duty they decided to establish themselves on a Star League colony to protect it from the predations of others" she said. "Incidentally, do we know much more of this 'Niops Association' than is mentioned in the report, quiaff?" she asked hopefully.

"Aff' Nicholas Kerensky confirmed. "As well as being a self-sufficient colony of the Terran Hegemony established for astronomical research, a study of old files in the SLDF databases indicated some connection between the Niops Association and the XXXIV Corps which had been stationed in the periphery bordering region of the Free Worlds League before the Amaris War" he said. "Niops provided logistical support to the XXXIV Corps, supplying technologically advanced spare parts that would have otherwise had to come all the way from the Hegemony itself" the ilKhan continued. "It seems that a manufacturing base sophisticated enough to maintain cutting-edge Hegemony astronomical sensors and the like was also up to the task of producing short production runs of late Star League military equipment including that only in the possession of Royal formations at the time."

"Which explains nicely how they were able to keep the war machines of the 295th operational in the years since" Elizabeth Hazen remarked. "I was wondering about that. In fact it even vaguely crossed my mind that the Chalcas Clan might somehow be involved, what with the rumours of Niops still operating equipment regarded as 'lostech' elsewhere in the Inner Sphere" she added.

"It seems more the case that Niops never lost the ability to manufacture Star League equipment, rather than having it reintroduced thanks to someone like the cursed Calchas arrive at their doorstep a few decades after the 295th did" Kerensky replied. "Being able to manufacture and maintain your own HPG network might seem like some kind of dark sorcery to those living in the technologically regressed Successor States, but before the Traitor Lords burned much of the rest of the Hegemony in nuclear fire knowing how an ERPPC works would not incur accusations of witchcraft' he said sardonically. "I also doubt that the Chalcas Clan would like the Niops Association flag, to my eye their Red Cameron Star resembles the Clan Daggerstar a little too much for them to embrace it" he joked.

Stephen McKenna chuckled for a moment before becoming more serious and professional again "The 295th did have warships assigned to them, which included the destroyers mentioned in the report as being operated by Niops, although I have seen no mention of the Potemkin class cruiser that we know General Romanov had at her command at the time of the Exodus" he said. "I wonder if Niops has been keeping her existence a secret, something to surprise the Free Worlds League with if House Marik casts envious eyes in their direction?" he suggested.

"It would be sensible to keep an ace up their sleeve given what the loathsome Mariks did to Brownsville and New Dallas" Kerensky agreed with the theory. "The mention of Niops boasting of the size of their nuclear deterrent indicates they are aware of the threat they are under."

"We should not be surprised perhaps that a planet full of astrophysicists and SLDF military personnel who served against Amaris is somewhat knowledgeable regarding both the theory of nuclear fusion and its practical application to warfare" Raymond Sainze wryly observed. "Given that we know the 295th are on Niops and still apparently a cohesive unit I wonder if the SLDF divisions that aligned with Jerome Blake and took control of Terra are still mobilised and battle-ready as well?"

"Our intelligence regarding the current situation on Terra and Comstar generally is sparse unfortunately" the ilKhan replied regretfully. "Airing on the side of caution we must assume that the eight divisions that my father left under the command of General Lauren Hayes, those that joined the cause of Jerome Blake, are still capable of taking the field, even if by now they lack a strong core of veterans to stiffen their ranks" he said. "Given what was happening to the other worlds of the Terran Hegemony I have to assume that ComStar is not stupid enough to have demobilised."

"It is possible they have warships too" Stephen McKenna warned. "The Titan Shipyards survived the Amaris War after all, and if it suits this Niops Association to keep a secret capital ship in reserve just in case then the same would be true for ComStar" he said. "They might conceivably have even begun to rebuild the SDS system" he added with an involuntary grimace. As a naval officer who had commanded warships during the liberation of the Terran Hegemony during the Amaris War his nightmares were haunted by M-5 Caspar warships and M-3 Pentagon drones.

Since talking up the potential difficulty of the task of 'liberating' the Inner Sphere very much suited Nicholas Kerensky he was only too happy to entertain such a notion and he steered the conversation over the next few minutes along those lines. Even without warships and murderous artificial intelligences opposing the clans, he then warned, their achieving uncontested dominance of the high ground of space was still in doubt because of the sheer number of aerospace fighters and armed dropships that could be thrown at them, many loaded down with nuclear-tipped ordnance.

With broad agreement from the Grand Council that the time was not yet right to contemplate launching their crusade to save the Inner Sphere from itself and restore the Star League the ilKhan proposed two votes. The first vote was whether or not they should send another reconnaissance mission to the Inner Sphere in five years or leave it for a full decade, with Kerensky advocating the latter arguing that the clan's ongoing military buildup would not bear fruit for at least a decade anyway, the so-called Second Succession War was highly unlikely to end anytime soon, and that every time they sent people back they unnecessarily risked exposure.

Nicholas Kerensky won the first vote by a comfortable margin, with only the lunatic fringe, which included his lover unfortunately, dissenting.

The second vote was on whether the Grand Council should in future once again have the saKhan of each clan attend as well as the khan, as had been the norm before the Wolverine Secession. After Franklin Hallis had blown the original Great Hall to rubble via orbital bombardment a concern that the man might well come back one day and do it again had led to a decision that having all the Khans and saKhans in one place was a bad idea in terms of ensuring continuity of government after a decapitation strike.

The second vote was tighter, but seeing as how they had heard nothing of the Chalcas Clan in a decade and a half and Strana Mechty was much better protected now anyway the majority voted to go back to the old way of doing things.

Kerensky took note of the fact that Jason Karrige of the Widowmakers, who had spoken little throughout the rest of the proceedings, had become quite animated when the name of Franklin Hallis was said aloud in the context of the vote. Nicholas Kerensky could not help but conclude from the man's demeanour that he still lay awake at night fretting that Hallis was going to sneak into his room just before dawn, cut his balls off and then gut him like a fish.

That was certainly how Kerensky himself daydreamed about getting rid of the man at least. If not for Karrige's scheming the whole business with Sarah McEvedy might have turned out very much differently. The death toll would have certainly been much lower, the ilKhan wanted to break the Wolverines, make an example of them to encourage the others, not nuke their capital city in a massively excessive false-flag operation.

As the years went by Nicholas Kerensky occasionally wished he could turn back the clock and pick Clan Widowmaker to be the one he made an example of, citing their underhanded back-stabbing and plotting as being even more in opposition to the basic principles of clan society than McEvedy and her loosening of the caste system.

Karrige was definitely up to something, Kerensky knew, using his saKhan's ties to his own brother who served as the saKhan of the Ghost Bears to weave together an alliance to rival the one Clan Wolf had with the Coyotes.

The prospect was almost as disconcerting as the way Clan Mongoose and the Snow Ravens were seemingly falling into each other's arms, with the Cloud Cobras and Burrocks also starting to align themselves into that new power-block.

If the Great Houses of the Inner Sphere were not such monsters providing a unifying foe to rally against the clans might have even been facing a major schism, and his position as ilKhan itself beemn under threat. As it was Nicholas Kerensky could only breathe a sigh of relief and offer thanks for the likes of Jinjiro Kurita for making him look so damn good by comparison.


----------

Note from the Author:

Clan society is not developing as it did in canon. Power-blocks are forming and becoming deeper (the Mongoose/Snow Raven axis being the one which is most suspicious of Nicholas Kerensky with the politically adept Clan Cloud Cobra moving their way) and if not for the horrible news still reaching them from the Inner Sphere the clans would not be near as unified as they still are. Kerensky does not have the untrammeled power and authority he had before the successful Wolverine Secession but had gained some figurehead status as someone to rally behind when contemplating a crusade to 'restore civilisation' in the Inner Sphere.

In cannon the supposedly annihilated Clan Wolverine were referred to by the clans as the 'Not-Named' with saying their actual name out loud a strong taboo which would cause great offence. Here saying 'Wolverine' will not get you physically assaulted, but a clanner in the vicinity might spit on the ground when they hear the name and it is considered more polite, or politically correct, to call them the 'Chalcas Clan', with 'chalcas', or challenging the caste system, being greatly frowned upon in clan culture.

The clans are far weaker militarily here than the were in the 31st Century when they launched their campaign against the Inner Sphere in canon, simultaneously the Successor States are stronger in 2840 than they were in 3040 and there are still plenty of veterans around that fought in the Amaris War that they understand logistics and strategic depth. Most of them would like to go back and paste the 'Traitor Lords', being rather angry about all the billions of deaths back home, and its not just those of the Warrior Caste who support military action, but they know fulll-well that they'd lose if they did.

Clan
Cloud Cobra having a particular soft spot for the Crater Cobras mercenary brigade seems appropriate (the clans do like their totem animals), the fact that the Crater Cobras are made up of former SLDF units and still feature the Cameron Star on their insignia makes that easier to justify. On the subject of insignia the Clan's Daggerstar really isn't that far removed from the Red Cameron star being used by Niops.
"A dread fear rests deep in the heart of Clan Coyote that one day a lawyer will arrive on Tamaron talking about intellectual property rights, the Mercury II and the Coyotl omnimech and this will herald the end of the Clan as the Not-Named sue their asses into bankruptcy for patent infringement" - The True History of the Clans (Dark Caste Press: 3050)

Hunted Tribes - Hotpoint's Battlestar/Battletech Crossover Series


PsihoKekec

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #442 on: 23 April 2024, 11:40:49 »
Quote
On a somewhat related matter, learning the fate of the 295th Division came as something of a pleasant surprise

[Whistles innocently]
Shoot first, laugh later.

DragonKhan55

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #443 on: 23 April 2024, 14:21:21 »
We again see the effects of time on the Clans - the Khans assembled here still remember vividly what it was like to fight with combined arms rather than get Kowlooned over and over again.

Daryk

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #444 on: 23 April 2024, 18:57:24 »
Over time, they'll forget or die... that memory will not last.

Wrangler

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #445 on: 23 April 2024, 20:17:02 »
I would thought be interesting this point history the Clans realized that there was a second division in Niopis, perhaps jump starting the invasion at very different time in history. 

Then again, they pointed out they were not ready (Kerensky not motivated...) to retake the land of his father.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
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Daryk

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #446 on: 24 April 2024, 03:12:52 »
With their (very) imperfect intel, they ascribed it all to the 295th.

Seydlitz

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #447 on: 26 April 2024, 00:34:43 »
Niops should quickly jump on the opportunity to secure a license for the Grasshopper since it's only manufacturer, Lantren Corporation is also based on Bryant. First and foremost, set up a realitivly visible production site to churn out the simple and reliable 5J model, the bulk of which will available for export at a "reasonable" mark up to all parties who have cordial relationships with them.

Of course its only natural that Niops should stipulate a set percentage of production be reserved for the SLDF and the planetary militias to supplement their "poor, pitiful Blackjacks", after they've had some "minor upgrades" to proper SLDF specs of course. Such as Clan grade DHS, some combination of a CT mounted ER PPC, ER LL, or LPL and quad ER MLs or MPLs with maximum Standard Armor for the militias and SLDF Line Regiments and a variant utilizing the most advanced ECM and Stealth systems for the Elite BlackOps and Gunslinger graduates. The LRM5 will remain unchanged aside from using the lighter Clan version, primarily as a harassment weapon, but most often as a means to deploy Thunder munitions as a deterrent or wreak havoc behind enemy lines, and to make the Mechs visually indistinguishable from the 5J model. This will allow the Grasshopper to fulfill roles once held by the Exterminator and Guillotine, both former workhorses of the Regular Army and Special Forces Commands, neither of which if I recall, the Wolverines or 295th had in any useful quantity.

« Last Edit: 26 April 2024, 00:41:05 by Seydlitz »

Hotpoint

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #448 on: 30 April 2024, 08:21:06 »
Part XLVIII - Section 1 of 2

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"The Cameron Star was raised over us a hundred years ago and, unlike the rest of the Terran Hegemony, on Niops it has never been lowered and never will be!"

Giles Olson, Master of Ceremonies - 2841CE

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Capital City – Niops Association (Niops VII) – 2841

On any other day, or rather night, lighting up the sky over the capital with a massive fireworks display would have been strictly verboten, even during celebrations of the coming of the New Year, where sending tiny pyrotechnics skywards was the norm on almost any other planet, such a thing would normally be regarded as unnecessary light pollution on Niops VII.

Plenty of land and decent town planning meant that the capital city of the Niops Association was blessed with a number of large parks breaking up the urban sprawl and although the climate meant they were usually a little underutilised they did provide a nice place for people to congregate in on special occasions such as Star League Day on July 9th or, as noted before, just greeting the New Year along with thousands of other people.

It wasn't however New Year that saw the uncharacteristic explosion of several tonnes worth of low explosives and assorted metal powders over the capital that particular evening of course, it was a celebration of a rather more unique event.

One hundred years ago, back in 2741, a small fleet of dropships had set down on Niops VII, bringing with them the first fifty-thousand official colonists and the Niops Association was formally founded as a self-governing colony of the Terran Hegemony.

There were actually a few individuals living on Niops whose parents had actually been resident before then of course, hence the fifty thousand only being the first official colonists. The people already living there when the dropships set down in 2741 had been part of the various Star League engineering teams which had spent years constructing all the buildings and other infrastructure needed for a self-sufficient scientific research colony situated way out in the periphery, and a few of them had decided to stay on afterwards.

Naturally the Niops Association being the Niops Association it was considered that anything that happened here before the astronomers and astrophysicists got there was just prologue. It was a colony founded for a specific purpose, not a colony founded as just somewhere new to live out on the frontier, so the arrival of what became first permanent residents wasn't marked on the calendar as an anniversary to be celebrated, whereas the arrival of the first stargazers was.

The last surviving member of the engineers who had actually built the colony and then opted not to return to Terra afterwards had passed on of old age just a few years before the SLDF arrived, their passing at least being officially commemorated at the time so it wasn't like the pre-2741 colonists had been totally written out of history, but the school textbooks still tended not to put much emphasis on their story.

A recent campaign to actually add the date the Star League engineering crews actually arrived in Niops to the calendar as another public holiday on Niops had fallen afoul of an objection that if they did that then other people might start clamouring for the anniversary of the arrival of Capellan Refugees to be celebrated too.

Judith Hallis, sat on her father's shoulders in the big park near the planetarium while looking up at the fireworks, couldn't really see the problem with that. Not so much because she was the granddaughter of Capellan refugees on her mother's side but because it would have gotten her a couple more days off school every year. If it was up to Judith they would also get a public holidays on the anniversary of the day the Star League Expeditionary Brigade jumped in to survey the system for the first time, the day the Star League Astronomical Office decided that Niops would be a good place to build the astronomical research colony they wanted and the day James McKenna founded the Terran Hegemony, June 2nd.

Judith insisted that thinking June 2nd should be a public holiday had nothing to do with the fact that it was coincidently her birthday.

"Don't go thinking that just because you're getting to stay up late on a school night we'll let you do that again" Franklin Hallis warned his daughter, grateful that General Romanov had agreed to take on his duty shift that evening, not that she didn't owe him a favour or two for repeatedly making him deputise for her when it was her turn to attend some kind of social function or another as Commanding Officer of the SLDF.

Hallis didn't much like attending dinner parties and galas any more than Romanov did, but she outranked him and Barbara always loved having the opportunity to dress up and play 'wifeKhan' as she jokingly called it.

Thank God she worked for a company that made clothes, because the new dress she insisted upon for nearly each one would have hammered their family finances worse than the wretched mortgage did.

"They should give us tomorrow off too" Judith opined, watching as a volley of rockets crackled into the sky and exploded in a shower of red and blue sparks. The park was big enough that each family or group of friends could be far enough away from each other to enjoy some personal space, although it certainly didn't look half deserted by any means what with so many out watching the display.

"You should be happy enough to have gotten today off school so you could attend the parade" her father replied. The organisers had roped in former High Associator Giles Olson to act as Master of Ceremonies, the man himself joking that it was mainly because being unemployed that got him cheap, and he seemed to enjoy himself a lot in the party atmosphere treating the whole thing with some irreverence.

His successor, James Murray, gave a speech which fell more than a little flat because he just wasn't the public speaker Olson was. It wasn't actually a bad speech as such, it hit all the right notes, it just failed a little in delivery compared to Olson's own relaxed joviality intermixed with gravitas when that was required.

Despite being a centenary celebration any telling of the history of the Niops Association had to include the fall of the Star League and the Terran Hegemony and the long period of isolation for Niops from the rest of the galaxy that resulted from it.

Olson's triumphant following line that the Dark Age that followed the collapse of civilisation was now being pushed back again by the light of the Red Cameron Star had been greeted by cheering as the brief sombre interlude of the story of Niops was replaced by an era of hope.

Judith had herself been largely unmoved by the rhetoric, she had other interests. "The parade was okay I guess" she conceded, "But I liked the big barbeque afterwards more" she told her father. At the taxpayer's expense the government had imported the equivalent of several herds of animals from Francas for a 'free' public feast that was accompanied by what must have been an Aqueduct cargo carrier's worth of beer for the adults and soft drinks for the kids… and certain genetically-engineered people of a Wolverine persuasion that were legally barred from consuming alcohol. "It would have been more than okay, but half of it was just a bunch of people following a marching band" she critiqued the event earlier in the day.

Franklin Hallis smiled. "It really wasn't" he responded, most of it was actually made up of a series of floats with big models of stars and planets on them, plus a few inflatables. "And one of those people marching behind the band was your brother."

"Yeah, but I get to see him all the time and he wasn't even in his battlemech" Judith replied, dismissively. "They didn't have any assault mechs" she complained, a single lance of Hussar lights being the only battlemechs that joined the parade.

Hallis sighed. "They didn't want any mech over thirty tons, too hard on the road otherwise" he told her. The aerospace guys had gotten to put on a much better display, dozens of fighters in formation hurtling over the city at barely subsonic speed and even the navy got into the act with a fly-by of aerodyne dropships, a Titan and a Triumph.

"The Militia rolled a whole bunch of big tanks down the street in their part of the parade, those must weigh more than thirty tons" Judith said confidently, still looking up as yet more fireworks wooshed into the sky and exploded. There had been so many so far that you could easily see all the smoke they left behind drift in the air and distinctly smell the gunpowder residue.

"Their tracks spread the weight, the ground pressure under the feet of a mech is really hard on asphalt" her father explained. "It's why we don't just use mechs for recon, light tanks can sometimes go places where a mech the same weight would sink up to its knees" he said. "Ground pressure is also the reason why your Mom's high heels are hell on the floorboards at home" he added, seeing her approach weaving through the crowd and taking the opportunity to raise the issue again without necessarily sounding like he was nagging.

"Are you still complaining about that?" Barbara Hallis replied. "They didn't have the soda you asked for at the refreshment stand, I got you cherryade instead" she told her daughter, passing her up a can. Even while wearing high heels she was still quite a lot shorter than her husband, without them, because they were in a park wrapped up warm for the evening, he towered over her though not as much as Frederick did.

"Sugar and caffeine, she'll be awake all night" Franklin Hallis groaned, "and yes I'm still complaining about the floorboards. Importing that wood from Stafford costs a fortune. Can't you just take your fancy shoes off as soon as you get home. You always tell me to take off my boots."

"Your boots usually filthy, and my shoes look good" Barbara retorted.

Hallis was agnostic as to whether any of her multiple pairs of shoes imported from Comstock she owned looked good, although he did appreciate what they did for her legs and backside in the right dress so he wasn't going to quibble on details. Pregnancy had restricted her footwear options somewhat but with her ankles and feet giving her less trouble again, not to mention loosing a lot of weight all at once, a process accompanied by some truly first-rate painkilling drugs, Barbara was back to ruining the floorboards again.

"Remind me to thank your mother again for watching Tax Break tonight" Franklin asked.

"Zach, our son's name is Zach" Barbara replied, wagging her finger at him chidingly although she was well aware he was only doing it to yank her chain.

"Technically it's 'Zachariah', but I'll concede you're closer than I was" Franklin conceded, amused. "Probably best he always calls himself Zach though since I'll bet the half the kids born on this planet this year could call themselves 'Tax Break' if everyone was being honest about it and that could get confusing at roll call."

"Roll call? What makes you think he join the military when he grow up?"

"Of course he'll join the military" Franklin responded. "No son of mine is joining the chairforce instead" he joked, dearly wishing there was a fighter-jock in earshot that could have taken offence. Even after a thousand years the tradition of the army and navy mocking the johnny-come-later third branch persisted.

Barbara rolled her eyes. "He might want to become astronomer or something instead."

"And if that day comes I'll be getting a paternity test" her husband replied deadpan.

"It good job I know you think you funny" Barbara replied, shaking her head sadly. She blamed Trish for much of that, she encouraged him by laughing sometimes.

"The holograms are starting!" Judith exclaimed excitedly as the fireworks ceased and now lasers started playing across the smoke drifting above. After a moment they became massive three-dimensional images in the sky starting with a Red Cameron Star the size of a Behemoth Class dropship that started rotating in the air.

Supposedly the engineers from the laser research team at the Skunk Works had built the oversized holo-projectors in their spare time, and their recently announced delay in turning out a prototype of the new pulse laser was just a coincidence, but Franklin Hallis wasn't sure. The former members of Clan Wolverine's science and technician castes working there were focused enough but he occasionally worried some of the Niops-born civilians also on the project were more prone to goofing off or just getting distracted by pet projects.

That wasn't to say that all their pet projects weren't worthwhile, some were downright intriguing like the notion of taking an Anti-Missile-System and replacing its machine-gun with one of the prototypes of the next-generation Small Pulse Laser. If they could get that to work it would not only greatly improve the survivability of battlemechs and aerospace fighters to deal with barrages of SRM's and LRM's, Admiral Bremman was already cackling to himself at the thought of being able to mount dozens of the things to his warships and then safely wade into whole wings of enemy fighters flinging nuclear-tipped missiles at him.

As the Red Cameron Star being projected above morphed into an image of the Niops system itself, the seven planets and two dwarf planets sped up in their orbits so you could see them move, Franklin Hallis inwardly winced when he remembered it was his turn to brief the High Associator again next week. It wasn't as if the man had actually yelled at him again in any of their meetings since the unfortunate 'Niops VIII and Niops IX' incident but just knowing the man had a 'berserk button' as Trish called it, one you could inadvertently push, made things a little tense.

It wasn't like High Associator Murray was Stefan Amaris, Nicholas Kerensky or Jinjiro Kurita level nuts, but Franklin Hallis liked his political leadership a touch less volatile by preference. On the other hand, in Hallis's opinion Murray's election had served one useful purpose in that it demonstrated that democracies weren't immune to putting whackadoodles in charge either.

Still at least in a democracy you could vote the whackadoodle out at the next election. According to rumour even after he had clearly gone clinically insane it had still taken a fair while for the Draconis Combine to push Jinjiro off the throne in favour of his half-brother Zabu.

It wasn't really a good look for the Combine that soon thereafter they had then quickly ousted the sane and competent Zabu in favour of his son Yoguchi, the current coordinator, because facing economic strife Zabu had wanted to cut the military budget.

It was apparently more acceptable for a Coordinator of the Draconis Combine to be paranoid and deranged than it was for them to be fiscally prudent. Honestly they were just lucky that the generals of the Lyran Commonwealth were too inept for the government in Tharkad to properly bring the size of its own far less imbalanced economy to bear on Luthien in an effective manner.

"Look at Elizabeth and Helena daddy" Judith said, pointing up at the hologram with her free left hand while holding her can of drink in her right. "They're not real planets like the others" she added, making sure he knew that.

Franklin Hallis narrowed his eyes as he turned towards his wife. "Did you put her up to saying that?" he asked suspiciously.

"Maybe" Barbara replied, smirking.
"A dread fear rests deep in the heart of Clan Coyote that one day a lawyer will arrive on Tamaron talking about intellectual property rights, the Mercury II and the Coyotl omnimech and this will herald the end of the Clan as the Not-Named sue their asses into bankruptcy for patent infringement" - The True History of the Clans (Dark Caste Press: 3050)

Hunted Tribes - Hotpoint's Battlestar/Battletech Crossover Series


Hotpoint

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Re: Guided by the light of a (Red) Cameron Star
« Reply #449 on: 30 April 2024, 08:23:41 »
Part XLVIII - Section 2 of 2

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"Hey, it's Danny from my school" Judith exclaimed, waving to a boy stood near his parents also watching the display. "Hi Danny!" she called out to him. "He's in the year above mine, he's Ironborn like Fred, only without the genetic engineering" she told her parents as the boy waved back.

Looking over Franklin Hallis recognised the boy's parents and frowned. He had no idea that their son went to the same school as his daughter and felt relieved it hadn't been him that personally handed over the assignment that the boy was likely to be a little sore over. They were both with the 295th so General Romanov had taken it upon herself to deliver the news thinking it might be badly received under the circumstances what with the boy being so young.

As it happens Danny Donovan had taken the news much better than his parents had thought he might, something that his mother was both pleased about and mildly upset because she had expected him to be considerably more distressed to find out that he wasn't going to see her for nearly a year than he actually was.

Claire Donovan noticed her son waving to someone and saw it was a girl sat on General Hallis's shoulders, like her and her husband he was in civilian clothes and presumably also off-duty having taken his own family to the park to watch the firework and hologram display.

"Friend of yours?" Danny's father queried, also noticing the waving.

"Kinda, she's in the year below me at school" Danny replied, "My friend Alan always says hello to her because her Dad's the Khan" he explained.

"Not our Khan" Claire Donovan reminded her son.

"Nah, but he's still a General" Danny replied. "Did you ever want to be a General?" he asked his mother.

"I didn't even want to be a Major, but they stuck me with the promotion when they handed me the new assignment" Claire Donovan replied. At least it wasn't just a brevet rank which meant it did come with a pay-rise not just a fancier title.

"I never wanted to be a general either," her husband told their son, "but I always thought being a Lieutenant-Colonel would be nice" he said. "I certainly never thought I'd be stuck as a Lieutenant for half a century, finally make Captain and then have my wife promoted over me" he muttered. "Not that I'm bitter or anything Ma'am" he added wryly.

"I always outranked you at home anyway Douglas, so don't pretend the natural order has been upended" Claire told him, smiling.

"When you visit Terra you're going to bring me back a present right?" Danny checked, watching a holographic image of that very same world appear in the sky. As he watched the image seemed to zoon out to show Luna orbiting it and then further out to show the entire solar system the homeworld of humanity was in.

At school they talked about the Terra system almost as much as they did Niops and the other systems that belonged to them now. It was important to teach kids where they came from after all.

"I'm not there on vacation or to sight-see Danny" Claire reminded her son. "But I'll try to bring back a souvenir" she promised.

"I wish I could go" Danny said.

"Because you'll miss me?" Claire asked.

"Well yeah" Danny replied, "but I've never been to Terra" he added.

"I'm a little jealous too" Douglas Donovan remarked. "Your mother and I haven't been there in sixty years, and I might never get the chance to go back."

"That is so long" Danny responded, unable to imagine being as old as his parents. Most of the kids at school had grandparents younger than his parents even if his parents didn't look as old as they really were. "Do you remember when Niops was founded Dad?" he asked deadpan, knowing that he wasn't that old.

"No, I don't, I wasn't born yet" Douglas Donavan replied, slightly annoyed at the accusation he was well over a hundred years old. He was only ninety-seven, which was admittedly pretty old to have a son Danny's age, even by Terran Hegemony standards, but he wasn't quite into the three-figures yet. His older sister Deborah had been born in 2741 though, so if Amaris's troops hadn't killed her on Caph back in 2767 she would actually be celebrating reaching her own century this year, just like the Niops Association.

Getting to fight the bastards again on Algenib a few years ago had been inordinately satisfying, as well as having made him feel younger than he had in years.

Running around after Danny all the time however was making him feel old. Fortunately Claire felt much the same, their son from the Iron Wombs was a blessing, as well as being a miracle of science, but tax advantages or not they really didn't want another one.

Like the vast majority of those who found themselves stranded on Buffalo Meadows the Donovan's had not ended up having kids there. A lack of the required equipment needed to found a colony from scratch, along with the environmental conditions on the somewhat marginal planet, meant it had taken decades to actually build a colony suitable to raise children by which time it was too late.

The Wolverines turning up at Buffalo Meadows one day, bringing their Iron Womb tech with them, had changed all that of course and Douglas and Claire Donovan were far from the only nonagenarian veterans of the 295th on Niops with an elementary school aged child these days.

Actual centenarian Jenna Romanov had outsourced the problem to someone younger, having found a volunteer family to raise her own biological/technological offspring for her, but that solution did not appeal to many of her somewhat aged division.

Danny had a thought. "When you meet the Pope can you get me his autograph?" he requested.

Claire burst out laughing. "I don't think I'm going to get to meet the Pope" she replied eventually. "And even if I did, I don't think that's something you're supposed to ask him."

"Why not? He's famous" Danny persisted.

"Yes, but he's not famous like a holovid celebrity" Claire explained, but judging from her son's expression he couldn't really grasp the distinction. "Would you ask the First Lord of the Star League for his autograph?" she asked.

Danny thought about that. "Yes, but I don't think ghosts can hold a pen" he replied eventually. "Maybe if he was a poltergeist?" he reasoned.

"There are no such things as ghosts Danny" his father told him.

"You can't know that for sure Dad" Danny replied. "It's not completely ridiculous like believing in astrology" he argued, confirming to his parents that their son was very much Niopsian. "What I don't get is why you have to deliver Critchly to the Vatican?" he asked his mother. "Just because you were the one that shot his mech out from under him that doesn't mean you have to be the one that has to escort him all the way to Terra."

"The government think it's a good public relations opportunity" his mother explained. "They want to maximise the press coverage on Terra and the rest of the Inner Sphere. They think having me there to personally hand him over in front of the cameras will be good for Niops, and if the people at the top order me to do something I do it because I'm a soldier."

"Yeah, I guess" Danny replied without enthusiasm. He had always thought it was pretty cool that his mom was the mechwarrior that took down a famous, or rather infamous, war criminal, a guy that was literally mentioned in all the history books about the Amaris War, but that had never affected him negatively before. Usually it just meant showing off the chunk of Critchly's Rampage assault mech that his his mom had hanging on the wall at home to other kids when they came around his house the first time, the thick metal massively dented from the gauss rifle slug that had impacted it and torn it right off the machine.

Mom's ride was a Pillager assault mech, an old design but one that mounted twin improved gauss rifles that, in Mom's words, hit like a meteorite strike. Dad's mech meanwhile was a Thug which had recently had its Enhanced ERPPC's swapped out for the newer Improved Enhanced ERPPC's that could cause as much damage as a gauss rifle, but were smaller and lighter.

During one of their occasional arguments over dinner Mom had eventually conceded that the IEERPPC had its charms, but still insisted that 'There ain't no kill like a kinetic kill' while noting that while a particle projector cannon might burn the armour right off an enemy mech it wouldn't pollaxe one like a gauss slug could.

The most annoying thing about the whole thing as far as Danny was concerned was that Mom would complain if he ever said 'ain't' himself, was bad grammar only okay for adults?

Both his parents had been military brats when they were his age, back when Simon Cameron was still First Lord of the Star League and Danny was pretty sure dinosaurs still walked on Terra. As such they had raised their son in the way they had been raised, as far as they could on Niops anyway, and they didn't really see being deployed away from their own child for a year as being nearly as weird as the parents of most kids at school would have.

The Wolverine kids, or 'kits' as they liked to call themselves, got it, but they were a whole other kind of weird even if they didn't think Danny being Ironborn was all that strange like some other people did.

Being asked at school by regular kids if he would go completely crazy if he drank a beer or if he had 'superpowers or something' got old fast. He wasn't that kind of Ironborn, until they started giving him the anti-agathic gene-therapy treatments the DNA of his cells was barely tinkered-with at all.

The holograms in the sky were replaced by the beginning of another volley of fireworks which increased in volume over a few minutes before reaching a crescendo of light and sound heralding the end of the display and also the end of the centenary celebrations.

Danny's parents wouldn't be there for the bicentenary of Niops in 2941 which made him feel a little sad, although he would be thanks to all the jabs. He might even still be around for the two-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Association in 2991 which should be pretty cool, although by then he guessed they might just be calling themselves the 'Terran Hegemony' because Mom and Dad said that once the jerks ruling the Successor States had beaten each other into a pulp, the Clans were dealt with and ComStar was put back in its place they were going to take it all back and restore the Star League under the Cameron Star.

First things first though. Niops had to raise its profile in the Inner Sphere, project an image into the galaxy a little like the holograms earlier had been projected into the sky over the city, something to be wondered at, perhaps even be a little awed over eventually.

Sending a ship all the way to Terra to publicly hand Bernard Critchly over to the Vatican was part of that, Danny's parents had explained. It was something that even ComStar would find difficult to downplay because the Catholic Church, both of them, would spread the word far and wide, and Niops and the 295th would forever be remembered as the ones that finally brought the evil bastard to justice.

Danny wasn't usually allowed to swear, but it was okay to call Bernard Critchly an evil bastard because he was one, just like he wasn't supposed to spit on the ground unless he was outside and he had just said the name 'Stefan Amaris' then it was alright.

The Wolverine kids at school did that too, although they also spat on the ground if they ever said 'Nicholas Kerensky' as well. Danny assumed that children in the Federated Suns did that when they said Jinjiro Kurita, him being another evil bastard because he ordered the Kentares Massacre.

For some reason Danny couldn't quite understand killing billions of people with nuclear weapons didn't seem quite as bad as killing millions of unarmed civilians with swords as Jinjiro had done, or even hundreds of protesting Catholic Monks by stomping them with your mech as Critchly had. It was probably because when you dropped a bomb on someone you couldn't actually see them making it feel less real, like playing a computer game he reasoned.

Danny had occasionally wondered if the ghosts of all those dead monks haunted the piece of the Rampage that stomped them, the one hanging on the wall at home, but he figured they wouldn't want to bother the people that caught the guy that murdered them so it didn't bother him too much.

Despite her promotion Danny's Mom wasn't going to be in charge of the mission, Colonel MacArthur would be. He would have some 'name recognition' on Terra according to Dad because his Mom, General Leigh MacArthur, had commanded the 295th before General Romanov which meant there would be files and documents about her on Terra. Colonel MacArthur's granddaughter was a teacher at Danny's school and his parents had told him when she started that he must always behave for her because of the family she came from, not that he was allowed to misbehave for any of the other teachers, it was just that the MacArthur's were important.

Leigh MacArthur had still been the commander of the 295th when Danny's parents joined, both being Terran Hegemony born they were the type of recruits the general had been looking for in her quest to get the division's original 'Royal' title reinstated, as well as turn them into an elite formation. If not for her and her recruitment policies Danny's parents would have probably never even met, and Danny himself wouldn't even exist, so he kinda understood why they thought that way about 'House MacArthur'.

When the fireworks display ended everybody started heading home, filing out of the park with some of the adults swaying a little because they had enjoyed a little too much to drink. One of those a little worse for wear after enjoying one too many beers was Gareth Jeffries of the Diplomatic Corps who had not only been celebrating the Centenary but also his recent success in getting ComStar to repair the Thraxa HPG with a little, rather undiplomatic, political chicanery.

As Niops main trade link to the Magistracy, having Thraxa fall off the HPG grid because of a technical failure in admittedly aging machinery had been a potential problem, one that the Association felt ComStar was seeking to use to pressure them into signing up to the terms of the Communications Protocol of 2787. It had been less-than-subtly hinted by ComStar that if Niops played ball then the Phone Company would find it in their hearts to install a new HPG at Thraxa with all haste, all it would take if for NHCOMNET to be handed over to them.

Instead the Director of NHCOMNET, with both the High Associator and the Diplomatic Corps urging him on, had sent an HPG directly to Primus Raymond Karpov telling him that either ComStar could fix the Thraxa HPG or NHCOMNET would install one of their own.

Jeffries himself had suggested a few additions to the HPG message which vaguely referred to the possibility of NHCOMNET perhaps going on to install new HPG's on other Magistracy worlds in the future if they weren't properly maintained. That had probably caused Karpov to blow a gasket, but it was amazing how fast Thraxa's HPG was up and running again afterwards.

Before the ComStar Interdiction on the Free Worlds League the Magistracy of Canopus would have been a little annoyed to get dragged into this diplomatically in any way, even as a mere bystander, but the Magestrix seemed far more amused than annoyed about it all. ComStar losing some faith in their absolute monopoly on providing HPG communication was good for everyone, except for ComStar that is.

In a few weeks Gareth Jeffries would be on a jump-ship heading to Terra, representing the civilian government of Niops and being temporarily accorded the status of Ambassador to the Holy See. This was the kind of opportunity that would make or break his career, that thought being another thing which had led to him getting drunk, and at a stroke make him the most senior diplomat ever to be born on Niops.

Fortunately High Associator Murray was only too happy to follow the advice left behind for him by Giles Olson as regards foreign relations, and since Jeffries had worked closely with Olson in his final few weeks of office last year in formulating those plans the diplomat was more than familiar with them.

One thing was for certain regardless of how smoothly the mission to Terra went, if ComStar had been pissed off about losing their HPG monopoly and then having NHCOMNET mouth off at them then they were going to be apoplectic with rage when the Niops Association publicly announced it was going to start providing the plans for civilian lostech to the entire Inner Sphere, starting with the Jamerson-Ulikov Water Purifier, for free as part of an interstellar aid program.

Not knowing how ComStar would choose to react, attempted sabotage by ROM or even actual military action by their own troops or hired mercenaries could not be ruled out, Jeffries had also put together a series of proposals to retaliate to any such moves.

By far the funniest in his own opinion was building a new university on Alphard which would offer scholarships to people from throughout the Inner Sphere.

First course to be featured on the curriculum of the physics department: Hyperpulse Theory, while meanwhile the engineering department would be teaching HPG Maintenance and Repair 101.

Just thinking about it caused the still inebriated Jeffries to suddenly start howling with laughter as he stumbled his way home.


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Note from the Author:

According to Field Manual: Periphery the Niops Association was founded in 2741, although that was when the first fifty thousand actual colonists arrived, not when the engineering crews who actually built the colony did. Niops being Niops only counting when the astronomers turned up as being their founder's day seems apt. There are people on the planet whose parents or grandparents were there before 2741, although not many.

The Donovan family, Claire and Douglas, has appeared before a couple of times in the story although we've never seen their son Danny before. Danny is Ironborn in the sense that his parents utilised the Iron Womb technology to be able to have him but not in the sense of him being a genetically-engineered Wolverine type. Both being well into their nineties the Donovan's are old to have a pre-teen child even by Terran Hegemony standards (having kids in your seventies was pretty normal just not twenty years older than that) but to look at them you'd think they were only in their sixties at this point. Being the mechwarrior that brought down Bernard Critchly of the infamous
Greenhaven Gestapo, Claire has been assigned to the mission that is taking him back to Terra to hand over to the Vatican.

Battletech has a rather feudal outlook as regards allegiances to certain families. The MacArthurs as the descendants of General Leigh MacArthur are looked upon by the 295th as special (especially for the Donovans who were recruited into the division by her). The 331st have House McEvedy and House Hallis, the 295th House Romanov and House MacArthur in effect (these would be considered 'Martial' rather than actual 'Noble' Houses although the Romanov's can always point to the Tsars if they want to pull rank). 

As well as being the centenary of the founding of the Niops Association, 2841 is also the year that Jinjiro Kurita finally died (although having gone nuts he hadn't ruled as Coordinator of the Draconis Combine for some time by then). They're celebrating on Kentares IV too but for a very different reason than on Niops VII.
« Last Edit: 30 April 2024, 08:58:22 by Hotpoint »
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