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What is your favorite Age of War story?

Just Following Orders
1 (7.1%)
Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight
3 (21.4%)
Forms of Betrayal
2 (14.3%)
Break Away
0 (0%)
Prometheus Unbound
4 (28.6%)
Nothing Ventured
0 (0%)
Goliath Out of the Box
0 (0%)
A Dish Served Cold
1 (7.1%)
The Spider Dances
1 (7.1%)
Far Country
2 (14.3%)
Paladin
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 14

Author Topic: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War  (Read 20370 times)

skiltao

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #120 on: 27 January 2019, 17:40:10 »
at least one was apparently trying to set up a backstory wherein the earliest 'Mechs topped out at 55 tons

??? The Griffin only claims to be *a* "heavy" design, not the heaviest 'Mech possible, and its account of early 'Mech capabilities is fully congruent with the "ultra-heavy" Banshee's. Apparently the intent was that heavier designs did exist, they just didn't have "heavy" enough firepower and "heavy" enough armor to take the "assault" title away from the Archer and Thunderbolt.
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #121 on: 27 January 2019, 23:33:01 »
The language is ambiguous at best, and can be read in a number of ways.

Phrases like "considered a heavy 'Mech early in its career, the Griffin was superseded by heavier and better-armored vehicles within a century" and "Though the Griffin was initially designed as an assault 'Mech, its capacity was soon surpassed by more advanced weapons technology" indicate to me that the author was hinting that the weight classes were different at the dawn of the BattleMech era, with units that were originally classified as "Heavy" being downgraded to "Medium" once heavier units became possible. 

That, of course, doesn't remotely jibe with units that fit the modern "Assault" class being the first ones out of the prototype stage, nearly half a century before the Griffin left the drawing board.  Some people tried to square the accounts by creating an apocryphal 50-ton prototype Mackie design (one version comes built into the default Heavy Metal Pro database) that would allow the Griffin flavor text to not be invalidated by the design written up in "Tales of the Black Widow."
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

skiltao

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #122 on: 28 January 2019, 12:52:25 »
the author was hinting that the weight classes were different at the dawn of the BattleMech era
<snip>
That, of course, doesn't remotely jibe with units that fit the modern "Assault" class being the first ones out of the prototype stage

I agree with the first point, but for the second to follow from it you'd have to assume that the assault class wasn't open-ended at the top at the time, and the text gives us no reason to assume that. (This TRO is probably even the first time that FASA broke the modern 80-100 ton bracket off into its own weight class.)

I agree that the wording has confused lots of people over the years - it tripped me up too, back before I'd begun looking at these things carefully.

I'm aware of the mythical 50-ton Mackie; I kinda wish TPTB had used its stats for the Talos, to represent Taurians reverse-engineering their first 'Mech. :(
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #123 on: 28 January 2019, 13:03:30 »
Date: February 13, 2462

Location: Alarion

Title: A Dish Served Cold

Authors: Chris Hartford and Jason M. Hardy

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: At McNeil's pub, Singh, Rive and Connor discuss the malicious purposeless of their new work schedules at AlarCorp.  Connor says he wishes he had leaked the data, because there would at least have been some reward to go along with the punishment he's receiving.  Singh agrees, exclaiming "Screw AlarCorp and screw the Commonwealth."

Rive tells them about his encounter with "Johnny."  Connor is wary about trusting him, worrying that the job fair could be a trap.  Rive says he plans to look into it, and see if it could be their ticket out of AlarCorp.  The others remain cautions and non-committal, for now.

Notes: The systematic mistreatment of these three skilled engineers on a project of immense importance to the Commonwealth makes me strongly suspect that AlarCorp CEO Manvers (or someone claiming to act on his behalf) is an NIA mole that doesn't have clean/untraceable access to the heavily guarded 'Mech schematics, but does have the authority to rejigger the trio's work schedules. 

Attitude is key in asset recruitment.  When I was at graduate school, my Latvian language instructor told me a story about one of her students, another Latvian, who'd been at the school in the 1980s.  He was very anti-Soviet and pro-Latvian independence.  One evening, at a party by the swimming pool, there was an exchange student wearing a black leather jacket with the hammer/sickle logo and CCCP emblazoned on the back, talking loudly/drunkenly about the superiority of the USSR and the communist system.  The Latvian student kept glaring at the guy, balling his fists.  Moments later, my instructor heard a splash, and saw both her student and the Russian in the pool, the Latvian having tackled him and thrown him in.  The "Russian" was laughing - he was a CIA recruiter looking for people with the "right attitude" and offered the student a job then and there. 

Whoever is manipulating the trio's work environment is clearly working to shift their attitudes and give them the proper motivation to betray the Commonwealth.  Manvers seems to be the one doing it, but if he's already an NIA asset, why couldn't he simply give the data to House Marik?  Are the Molehunters watching him too closely?  Sandi also seems to be an NIA asset, but she wouldn't have the authority in the company to muck with their work schedules.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #124 on: 28 January 2019, 13:08:38 »
I agree with the first point, but for the second to follow from it you'd have to assume that the assault class wasn't open-ended at the top at the time, and the text gives us no reason to assume that. (This TRO is probably even the first time that FASA broke the modern 80-100 ton bracket off into its own weight class.)

I agree that the wording has confused lots of people over the years - it tripped me up too, back before I'd begun looking at these things carefully.

My interpretation had been that 55-tons was considered "Assault Class" when the Griffin was being designed, that 60-75 ton units debuted by the time the Griffin went into mass production, resulting in it being downgraded to "Heavy," and was later relegated to "Medium" once the 80-100 ton range was broached.  That was all "head-canon," of course, and not borne out by how the line developed.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

skiltao

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #125 on: 28 January 2019, 17:07:59 »
That's fair, though it's also at odds with remarks like the Charger and Victor referring to themselves as "heavy," which is what makes me think TR3025's developers were considering capabilities rather than absolute tonnage.

Regardless, my interpretation is actually almost the same as yours. I basically just tack on an extra "super heavy" category where the technology hadn't matured yet. (Which doesn't seem like a stretch, considering the Atlas entry mentions 'Mechs bigger and heavier than the 80-100 ton category.)
Blog: currently working on BattleMech manufacturing rates. (Faction Intros project will resume eventually.)
History of BattleTech: Handy chart for returning players. (last updated end of 2012)

Wrangler

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #126 on: 29 January 2019, 09:29:28 »
I kept thinking that the authors were confusing the "Assault" Role of Mech verses it's Weight Class.  I'm doing my slow nightly reading of TROs again, started with 2750, now into original TRO 3025 where i ran into the passages for our most storied Mechs/Units.  Thunderbolt was part of the assault role sort thing.

Primitive Griffin we know now, as fluff had left seed for it to have it's prototypes of the 60 weight class.
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #127 on: 04 February 2019, 13:19:06 »
Date: February 17, 2462

Location: Alarion

Title: A Dish Served Cold

Authors: Chris Hartford and Jason M. Hardy

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: At the job fair, Rive, Connor, and Singh circulate through the kiosks for an hour, but fail to find any of the promised opportunities the mysterious recruiter promised.  They end up at the Stanislaw Consultants booth where a speaker promises the opportunity to earn a living while strengthening the Commonwealth, working in the defense logistics sector.  Rive realizes the job is nothing more than paperwork processing, and suggests that they depart, but finds Connor and Singh talking with another Stanislaw recruiter.  He hands them brochures and his card.

On the way out, Connor throws his brochure in the trash.  Rive, looking through his, stops and tells Connor to retrieve his and open it up.  Inside, they find notes specifically made out to them offering jobs as "Goodwill Ambassadors" on a twelve month contract with a huge salary, instructions to contact "Emile Morton" and instructions to tell him "Johnny sent you."

Notes: Once again, the NIA showcases its tradecraft in recruitment, snagging three skilled engineers from AlarCorp probably right under the noses of LIC's Molehunters. 

The logistics jobs seem like the kind of operations that would be used to launder the kind of kickbacks Duke Bernstorff got in trouble with.  Logistics tails must have been much worse to manage in the Age of War, because of the lengthy communication delays.  Supply ships might arrive in a system weeks after the troops they were intended for had been redeployed or destroyed on a rapidly changing front.  Couriers on command circuits can bring the most vital info to the central command quickly, but at an exorbitant cost in terms of the resources that need to be put in place for communications, pulling assets away from troop movement.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #128 on: 05 February 2019, 12:55:31 »
Date: February 19, 2462

Location: Alarion

Title: A Dish Served Cold

Authors: Chris Hartford and Jason M. Hardy

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: The three engineers and their significant others, Lanai Singh and Sandrine, gather to discuss how to handle the covert job offer.  Lanai is suspicious that the offer is too good to be true.  Rive concurs that the scheme seems likely to do more harm than good.  The others are more enthusiastic, noting that Stanislaw is a legitimate organization with a good track record and ties to the Coventry Defense Conglomerate. 

Sandrine speculates that this is a gambit to put them back to work on 'Mech projects for CDC without having to risk AlarCorp invoking the "strategic occupations" clause, since they'd still be under the CDC umbrella.  She says she can check with people at the CDC to see if this is on the level.  Lanai protests, but the engineers decide to go with Sandrine's plan.

Notes: And here's where having an NIA team in place pays off, with Sandi as the "inside man" to confirm the offer's legitimacy.

One interesting bit is the mention that the various members of the Coventry Defense Conglomerate have separate management structures and, though they have strict agreements not to poach each other's engineers, generally regard each other as competitors rather than co-equal partners.  While it fits the Lyran ethos to a "T", it leaves room for corporate espionage and other shenanigans that prove highly beneficial to the Free Worlds League.

At this point, it's been about seven months since DEST Two covertly raided the CDC facility on Coventry and snagged enough data to enable the Combine to start making its own 'Mechs.  Since that intrusion was carried out without any killing or explosions, one wonders if the Lyrans are even aware that the Combine has 'Mech technology yet?  I wouldn't think the engineers would speak so reverently about CDC if they knew their hard-guarded state secrets (which they'd been punished for allegedly leading) had already walked out of Coventry Metals' wide open barn door.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #129 on: 06 February 2019, 12:42:07 »
Date: June 8, 2462

Location: Alarion

Title: A Dish Served Cold

Authors: Chris Hartford and Jason M. Hardy

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Rive and Connor are enjoying their "goodwill ambassador" jobs, watching sports and playing virtual games.  Singh remains restless, impatient to get back to doing real work.  Rive notes that Sandrine is happy with how the new job has restored his spirits.

Notes: The same sort of "cooling off period" rules apply to a number of real-world industries.  I've known several people who, after retiring, had to spend a year not working before returning to their industries as consultants or contractors.  The intent is, superficially, to prevent people coming out of public service jobs from leveraging their contacts from their last position to give special advantages to companies that are regulated or otherwise interact with that agency.  (Or, in the private sector, to keep people from transferring cutting edge technology to a competitor, since the bleeding edge will have moved on during the cooling-off period.)

It would be interesting to see if the firm is mostly legitimate, with these positions being specially created by NIA agents, or if the entire firm is an NIA front.  In any event, the fact that NIA agents have positions of authority in the firm implies that a fairly large chunk of the LCAF's logistics network is an open book to the FWL - they'll know what's being sent where, on what schedule, and in what quantities, and can extrapolate from that what worlds are being used as staging bases, and identify likely targets.  If the whole firm is on the NIA payroll, they could, in an emergency, use their position to scramble the supply shipments, cause delays, and otherwise muck up the military timetables, to the FWL's advantage.  Such infiltration may explain how the FWL managed to carve such a deep salient (the Bolan Thumb) into Lyran territory by the close of the Age of War.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #130 on: 11 February 2019, 13:16:32 »
Date: May 14, 2463

Location: Alarion

Title: A Dish Served Cold

Authors: Chris Hartford and Jason M. Hardy

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: At Coventry Defense Conglomerate's Alarion offices, Herman Winthrop gets Rive, Connor, and Singh settled into their new state-of-the-art work station overlooking the vast production floor.  Winthrop introduces them to Russell Schwieger, from Human Resources, to continue the orientation.  Rive recognizes him as "Johnny."

At the end of the first week at CDC, the trio are thrilled about the working environment, and Rive comes home every day babbling to Sandrine about their latest technical breakthroughs.  Despite her apparent boredom with the technical aspects, he kisses her and tells her everything he has, he owes to her.

Notes: Of course, Sandrine almost certainly has a micro-recorder with everything Rive says stored for transmission to an NIA dead-drop site.

Clearly, NIA was easily able to infiltrate the human resources departments at both AlarCorp and CDC, since both Sandrine and Schweiger are NIA moles.  The FWL doesn't just want technical data, they want experienced technical experts who can be pressured to use that data and their expertise to bootstrap a FWL 'Mech program so that they can counter the Lyran advantage as quickly as possible, before all of Captain-General Geralk's advances are rolled back.

Rive certainly isn't blameless.  When people have access to classified information, they are instructed to a) not discuss it outside of secure facilities; b) not discuss it with non-cleared personnel.  Rive telling Sandrine about it at home violates both those strictures.  Given the cloud of suspicion Rive was operating under at AlarCorp, and the widespread surveillance state operated by the LIC (as seen in the Warrior Trilogy), it boggles my mind that the LIC hasn't bugged Rive's quarters. 

Either it was incidents like this that incentivized the LIC to begin constructing a comprehensive surveillance state, or his quarters were bugged, but Sandrine located the bugs and is feeding them false data.  (Removing them or destroying them would tip the LIC off that something suspicious is going on.)

The FWL really cut off their nose to spite their face when they nerfed the NIA to create SAFE, prizing personal loyalty to House Marik over operational effectiveness.  (Of course, if they hadn't, we'd likely be discussing the activities of Captain-General Selaj these days.)
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Kojak

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #131 on: 11 February 2019, 22:56:22 »
The FWL really cut off their nose to spite their face when they nerfed the NIA to create SAFE, prizing personal loyalty to House Marik over operational effectiveness.

Not that the former even ended up panning out, in the end: remind me, how many splinter versions did SAFE break up into after the League dissolved in 3081?
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #132 on: 12 February 2019, 12:34:56 »
Interestingly, while the main cultural theme of the Lyran/League fight was Germany vs. the Balkans, if the Tamars had succeeded in betraying and overthrowing the Steiners, and had the Selajes (of Regulus) displaced the Mariks, they would have recreated the Pakistan/India dynamic in the "western" half of the Inner Sphere.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #133 on: 12 February 2019, 12:51:05 »
Date: November 24, 2463

Location: Alarion

Title: A Dish Served Cold

Authors: Chris Hartford and Jason M. Hardy

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Rive's new office is a gray holding cell, which he's occupied since being arrested the previous day.  The only bright thing in his life is Sandrine, seen through the glass barrier in the visitation room.  She says her experience in contract law won't be sufficient to defend him against charges of treason brought by CDC.

Rive denies that he's done anything wrong and wonders what could have happened.  Sandrine says she'll find someone to help.

Notes: The NIA gave Rive and company half a year to get comfortable at CDC, and to become familiar with the specs of the latest designs (this being the COM-1A Commando, introduced in 2463), then lowered the boom.  I wonder if the unnamed Light AlarCorp was working on was an early prototype for the COM-1A?  It's listed as the second 'Mech to come out of Coventry - the first presumably being the Ymir.  So who was making the Mackie clones for the LCAF?

Rule of law seems to be far more stringent in the Age of War period than during the tail end of the Third Succession War.  In the Warrior Trilogy, the LIC doesn't have a second thought about disappearing one of their citizens who they just happen to find useful.  An accused traitor would, if Loki had free rein, simply vanish into an LIC oubliette for narcointerrogation until every last shred of info had been wrung from the corpse.  Actually getting a lawyer and being prepped for a trial is a very different scene than one would expect having seen the power of the Archons in action in later centuries.

It does make sense, though.  The Age of War is the period when interstellar leaders agreed to be constrained by the Ares Conventions, despite the lack of external enforcement bodies.  Perhaps the same factors that led to the rise of republics (expansion of empire and slow communications making direct rule by fiat impossible for the tyrants of the time, requiring the creation of standardized laws and local administrators to enforce them) also was in play during the Age of War, when the lack of HPG technology slowed communications and limited executive power.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Wrangler

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #134 on: 12 February 2019, 16:36:05 »
It would been cool if it was short-lived primitive original light we hadn't seen before.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - Age of War
« Reply #135 on: 15 February 2019, 12:54:21 »
Date: November 26, 2463

Location: Alarion

Title: A Dish Served Cold

Authors: Chris Hartford and Jason M. Hardy

Type: Short Story (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: Rive is visited by his lawyer, Claudia Thorne.  She tells him she's arranged bail, and ensured that the AlarCorp incident won't be raised.  She recommends he seek a separate trial from Singh and Connor.

Surprised, Rive answers that the three are a team, and should stand together.  Thorne admires his loyalty, but suggests that the leak at AlarCorp and the leak at CDC came from the trio, implying that at least one of them is guilty.

Still angry over the implication that his friends are suspect, Rive is returned to his cell to think it over.

Notes: It's interesting in the discussion of bail that Rive has local ties, and hasn't been off Alarion in decades.  I wonder how mobile people were during the Age of War.  Merchants certainly got around a fair amount, but a lot of colonies were still in their infancy, with only the earliest having hit their tricentennials.  Would that have been enough time to support an interstellar tourism industry?  Solaris VII wasn't yet "The Game World," and sports from across the Inner Sphere are apparently accessible via holovid.  If not traveling for business or military reasons, would people in the Inner Sphere be expected to go on offworld trips?

I wonder if Thorne is a legitimate lawyer, or (more likely) yet another cog in the NIA's team working to manipulate Rive and his comrades into an untenable situation in the Commonwealth.

I'm surprised that bail is even an option for Rive, given what he knows and the red flags in his history.  I would imagine that, at this stage, there must be at least some level of LIC surveillance.  When a U.S. nuclear weapons scientist was accused of having given blueprints to China (he was later cleared after spending a year in prison), he was out on bail for a few months before incarceration.  During that period, teams of FBI agents were on stakeout in front of his house 24-hours a day, following him wherever he went, and interrogating anyone he had contact with.  I'm frankly stunned that the LIC would do less in this instance.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.