With a lever big enough I can move the world (Chapter 9)
A Battletech FanFiction
With a lever big enough I can move the world
Andrew “MageOhki” Norris
See Chapter 1 for disclaimers and other information
I would like to thank Drakensis for kibitzing and Editing, JG/Joe Gunnarson (Of Whateley fame) for the same, Valles, Case/Fosfor, Minako/Scratx for kibitizing. Y'all made this go a LOT faster than the first two, thank you. Psyckosama deserves a special shoutout for helping reinspire, some basic visualization and idea throwing.
Friends are precious. Friends have your back when you need it. Friends are irreplaceable. But Goddammit! Helping them move bodies is hard on the back. Watching their backs is also stressful. It doesn’t help when they bait the tigers.
One thing I learned is that the Star League was close to real AI, as in artificial sapience, not just intelligence. They really came insanely close to it, and had even developed brain downloading. What kept their AIs from being people, instead of mindless drones? Kath and I spent time researching this, and we came to the conclusion they hadn’t made just one, little, step. ROB isn’t that nice apparently.
From the journals and notes of Kikyo Onishi, New Avalon Press, 3291 AD, as part of the “Century of Chaos: The Movers and Shakers.” series.
Nadir Point, Delos System, Morning New Avalon Time, Feb 1st, 3016
I strode in, somewhat still groggy, sipping at the coffee. “So, we’re here. While I spent the entire trip knocked out to sate an overprotective boyfriend.”
He hasn’t proposed yet?” Katherine asked. “Dammit, I’m going to owe Evie money.”
I looked at the blonde, then to the bickering redhead, who was having a discussion with Case.
"It’s so unfair.” Case actually whined. “I can’t smack Natasha around to deflate her ego! She won’t do it!” He sulked a bit. “And goddammit, how did you manage to fight a woman who starts getting twitchy if she doesn't take a beer bottle to the head periodically. You look like a fucking underage playboy playmate! What the hell?"
Evie smirked. “That’s because she thinks you’re adorable…” the singsong seemed to irritate Case even more.
"Adorable? ADORABLE?” His voice raised. “I’ll show that tubed and dyed Kerensky ADORABLE!”
Before Case could add to it, or Evie set him more in motion, I shouted. “ATTENTION ON DECK!”
Everyone snapped to, Case accidently bouncing himself off the top bulkhead. Apparently he forgot to lock his boots. Evie snapped out, and put him on the bottom bulkhead, and he then locked himself in, and popped to attention.
Now that we’re all here.” I dryly commented. “Petty officer?” Joshua Wolf had walked in, and had a smile on his face.
"Please send the recorded message.” I had taped a message, just in case it took me longer to wake up from the drugs used to keep people under during jumps. It was one of the concessions I had made to sate the overprotective boyfriend that called himself First Prince. He wasn’t happy about me going this early, nor was he happy about me not being fully medically cleared.
He wasn’t even happy that I had passed the neuro helm test. When I saw the bruises on his back, the last night before departure, I found out that Ardan had given them to him, by sitting on him, ‘til he thought better of the impulse to dedicate the entire First Davion Guards to my protection. I did however have to increase my personal detail to a full company.
Rios was very happy at that.
This is Triple-A calling a Mr. Praetorian, did you call for roadside assistance?”
We waited. Case broke the silence. “Twenty gets you ten, he’s just trying to figure out which song to play.” I didn’t mention that the channel was still open.
No,” an unfamiliar voice came back through the loudspeaker. “I always know what song to play for you, Case.”
Dennis Leary’s “I’m an asshole” began ringing through the compartment. Then Evie began gleefully singing along.
I and then Kath joined in, as Case once again hit the bulkhead.
CONTACT CLOSE.” the Tech shouted. “How in…”
Sorry about being late, Drak.” I responded after the singing had stopped.
Evie stared at the bridge display. “Fuuuck me. Drak, you’re HUGE!”
Yeah, my diet went to hell the last couple of hundred years. Probably not getting enough exercise.”
Case was rubbing his forehead. “He’s a singing troll battleship, he better be. British ass.”
Kath was just shaking her head.
I sighed. “What’s your situation, Drak? Or Praetorian, which do you prefer?”
Let’s save Praetorian for formal occasions. I’ve used basically every spare part aboard and cannibalised my main drives to get some sort of jump ability back or I’d still be somewhere behind the Outworld Wastes trying to reach civilisation on ballistic. Fortunately my jumpsail still works or I’d be out of gas. As it is, I have about a third of my tanks left… I could do with drinking a grand or so of H2.”
I see.” I tilted my head, as Asha swam in. “We do have an Aqueduct with a fair bit of pure high octane for you, if fuel was your problem… spare parts…”
Before Asha could speak to her salvation, or so she hoped, Joshua broke in. “Drakensis, I presume. I am Major Wolf of the Wolf Dragoons. You wouldn’t have a list and blueprints of your parts, would you?”
Asha finally got to speak. “Tell me, please, please, that you can help be the sanity of this group? Please? I know there’s a lovely set of mountains calling my name to build a ski chalet on! ” She paused, and then nodded. “More seriously, it’s good to see you, Drak, even if Griever isn’t likely to show.”
Case shot back. “No escape for you! Miss Phantom of the Skies.”
The fuck is this sanity thing you babble about?” Evie asked with a disgusted look.
Joshua shot our air stray a look, just asking. “What.”
Sanity is overrated anyways,” Katherine quipped.
Asha just sighed, looking like she wanted to cry after the comments.
There was a low laugh from the warship. “Major Wolf - is there a Minor Wolf around too, by the way? - if you came here with this lot and still need to ask that question then you’ve failed at observation. And yes, I do have blueprints. House Cameron was nothing if not paranoid and wanted to make sure that I could be repaired without leaving that data lying around at every possible shipyard.”
Wolf grinned. “Was being more polite, and was told you were an Englishman. As for Minor Wolf, I am trying to work on that.” He paused and nodded once. “Excellent. How fast can you do about one hundred forty light years? Five jumps, all F class or better stars.”
I and Kath turned to look at the Major. Kath looked more shocked than I was.
"He needs parts, we need the plans, and Kikyo’s station won’t be ready for him. Plus, we can put the parts in, even if we don’t have the dock.” Joshua shrugged. “Bit tricky, but since he took them out, I figure he can put them back in.”
"If I really pushed my luck, two weeks. My drive is fully charged right now and I have a lithium fusion battery, but I haven't chanced using that since before your ancestors' Exodus and I've been avoiding maximum range jumps and charging carefully... More sensibly, a month and a half."
Wolf nodded. “We’ll meet up with a chain, so we can send the data we need to start tooling those parts, so that’s not a big issue, it’d take even longer to tool them, I suspect. And if you have an HPG, it’d be even faster.”
"Well I had one., but I stripped it for parts. Right now it's making up most of the initiator I cobbled together for the K-F Drive." A slightly sheepish tone entered the voice. “You know how it is.”
Joshua shrugged. “Was a hope, we’ll need to make those parts as well. Well, if we can dock with you, or at least the Aqueduct, we can get you on your way to our chain.” He turned to me and nodded once. “Colonel Wolf really wants you to at least visit our station. Due to timing, as we both know, it’ll be a short visit, but it’s important, just… Trust us?”
Kath’s eyebrows raised, and she thought for a moment, nodding at me. “I’d do it.”
I simply nodded in response.
Drakensis’ voice rumbled. “Once you’re clear of the jumpship, surrender control and I’ll guide you in.”
We put his instructions to work, and were being docked when Drakensis’ voice came through again. “First, I’m afraid that I have no oxygen to allow you to wander me, I chose to keep focus on my hydrogen and helium tanks.” Various nods. “And second, are we expecting more visitors?”
Joshua turned to me and looked. I shrugged slightly. “No… what type of visitors?”
Jumpship or warship, more than likely jumpship, mind you given size, about… say between one fifty to two hundred kilotons.” Drakensis’ voice was bemused. “I’ve seen this size jump signature before, but never quite close enough to see it.”
How long before we can go?” Katherine’s voice broke in.
About an hour, I’m beginning the initiation now, but I’d prefer to have more fuel transferred. Ah, there you are.”
We all looked at the display showing a jump signature, and Asha’s soft voice asked.. “Drak… do you have big ass K-F detectors in you?” A soft chuckle in affirmation was the response.
Found one of the grids, did you?” An old man’s face appeared in a window on our main display. “Yes. Not quite as sensitive as those, but it does give a few extra moments of warning, and a bit more reach than other methods. BIt annoying, mind you, though.”
We all looked at each other and turned to him. His slight smile answered us. “Range is variable based on sensitivity, computer processing power, and how many KF signatures are involved. In the days of the League, Terra’s array, at best could cover fifteen light years. I have the math if you’re interested.”
"Yes.” Three voices answered as one. I continued on. “There’s a couple of places we’d like to check, but the odds of the toaster worshippers not fixing the Terran one, or the ones at Ross or Luyten?”
Quite.” He paused and seemed to shrug. “Well, let us see who this is. It will be a bit, mind you.”
I decided to give him something to read. “Uploading a file, Drak, it’s more or less what we’ve been up to.” A hum from the display indicated he got it.
Interesting.” He replied a minute or two later. “Oh, and that nice station you found, I’m afraid the deal you worked out with the First Prince, needs to change. I do need a flat, you understand.”
I turned to Kath who was shrugging, then back to the display. “Okkkaaay…”
"Cabbit, I can control those stations, easily, especially the last generation ones. Without any need for crew. Admittedly the whole complex would be a bit of a bother and time consuming, but a single complex to support a battleship? You’d almost say I was designed to do that.” The innocence in his tone amused me.
"We’ll see what we can do.” I finally responded. “Hanse might just give you the station as a way to keep yourself supplied and in money for books.”
A pause. “That would be quite useful, but where would I put the bookshelves?”
Joshua solved Drakensis’ problem as the signature firmed up beginning to reveal a jumpship. “You’re a battleship, my friend, you put them where you want. And dare anyone to gainsay you.”
"There is that, yes.” A pause. “Ah, they’re here. I have a small wager on how many brown pants are now on that ship… aha, it’s a Magellan, I believe. Rather remarkably like the art.”
Asha and Kathrine were studying the picture in the holotank, and from what I could see, I had to agree, and Case was just groaning.
Oh, for hell’s sake.” Case finally burst out. “The toaster worshippers.” He paused. “Hey, Drak?”
Want a cult?”
Everyone turned and looked at the slightly bruised teenager. “What?” was the universal word that we all said.
"I’m rather confused, this isn’t Exalted, after all.”
They worship toasters, and you are the prime example of the Machine God.” Case’s face was in a big grin.
Kath got it first, followed quickly by Asha’s groan. “Case… taking over Comstar by making it a cult worshipping Drak is insane!”
See what I have to put up with, Drakensis?” Asha’s soft moan caused a chuckle to enter the projection’s voice.
It does sound tempting. Do you think I could demand novels as offerings?”
Case grinned. “Absolutely! You’re the Grand Machine God of them all!”
Reborn as a battleship, I am now worshiped as a God Machine… but who would do the art for the light novels, the manga, the anime adaptation? I might have to annex New Kyoto.”
Beware, for I am a wrathful and angry machine God… OOOH MANGA!” Evie intoned giggling.
Asha just moaned. “I’m never getting the ski chalet with ski bunnies and hot chocolate, am I?”
Nope.” “No.” “Doesn’t look like it.” “I’m afraid not, m’dear.” was her response.
Before anyone else could respond, a transmission came though
I am Adept Smith of Comstar’s Explorer Corps. To unknown battleship, please state your name and intentions?” There was a sense of panic buried below the forced calm.
Pretty sure they’d object to my intentions,” Evie said quietly with a psychotic grin.
Try all of ours.” I quietly commented as Case snickered.
Drakensis prefaced his transmission with a long-suffering sigh. “Adept Smith of the ComStar Explorer Service - I don’t feel we’re on good enough terms for nicknames, you stalker - my intentions are to have a nice chat with some old friends, maybe have a few drinks. Fuck with each other’s heads. You know… socialise. And I, since you finally asked, am the Most Interesting Man In The Inner Sphere.”
Case and Evie just started to spin as they began laughing their heads off, while Asha just sighed again, and I just giggled. Asha finally gave in. “Stay thirsty, my friends, Stay thirsty.”
The two teenaged maniacs started chanting. “One of us, One of us!”
When the voice came back it was quite confused. “Ah, may I have your ship identification, and your name, Sir? It has been a long time since a battleship has been seen in the Inner Sphere.”
Under the circumstances, you may not, although your interest is noted and perfectly normal.” His voice lowered as if speaking to someone else in an aside. “Asks for ship ID and doesn’t offer his own? How rude.”
"CSS Cook, my apologies, your presence has well, rattled me a bit. Are you sure you do not wish to give your name? Times have changed since you last served the Star League… as in, there is no more, and only Terra remains of the great legacies. You can help to defend that, and preserve the last element of the Star League, the Ministry of Communications, now called ComStar, the only truly neutral and helpful organization in the Galaxy, and we preserve knowledge. Not destroy it like the Scavenger Lords.”
I looked at the display, stunned. Case was busy coughing words like “Bullshit, wow, where are my hip waders, haven’t seen this much shit since I was on the ranch…” Evie was just smiling psychotically, clearly inclined to rip and tear. Maybe Natasha was right about Evie?
Kath and Asha had simply shared a long look, while Joshua tilted his head. “... I haven’t heard that before.” Paused. “And believed, anyways.”
That is absolutely adorable, Adept Smith. I am well aware of ComStar… and of the - let us be fair - many, many good deeds of your organisation over the centuries. But I am also aware that the organisation’s leadership is no less corrupt than the other Lords and that their commitment to preserve knowledge ends sharply when that knowledge is outside their power. Knowledge is power, Adept. And your leaders have no interest whatsoever in sharing power. My apologies if this leaves you somewhat disillusioned.”
Evie chimed in with a grin. “Hey Drak, the techno-luddites have an HPG. You should make sure they don’t light it up.”
"Alas, that’s not realistically possible, as we are departing.. Now.” WIth that, discontinuity flashed through us, as Comstar’s adepts watched for the first time in their lives, a battleship jump.
Station Kaiser, Dragoons Den System, Evening, Feb 2nd, 3016
Four more jumps, unconscious again, plus a bit of recovery time, added up. Evie and Case had been given a tour of the station we were docked to, and that Drakensis was making his way to, as they got started crafting the needed parts. Clan Wolf had set up their support mission very well, in four modular stations, and now even a small community of a half a million people on the planet, which was somewhat habitable. At least for about ten degrees off the equator each way.
The stations were somewhat haphazardly organized in orbit around the technically habitable planet, Natasha admitted they could build Elementals, but without Harjel… On the planet there were mining operations, and farming, plus a few small industrial lines.
"I’m impressed, this must have cost Kerlin a lot.” I finally stated. Joshua snickered. “With what I’ve read before you’ve woken up, he’s had this up and running for three years, now, and basically, every month, material is flowing back to the Clan.” He shrugged. “When you consider he’s also been having the stations build replacement dropships and jumpships, I figure give us maybe three more years here, and his investment is paid off on all the Dragoon’s equipment.”
Kath shook her head. “Not quite. Call it maybe four.” She tilted her head. “The Snowdens, if nothing else.”
"Ah.” I finally said. “Why in hell would Jamie want the person sleeping with Hanse Davion to know this. Yes, we see the warships, but again…”
"I’m not quite sure.” Joshua admitted. “But I know that was secondary.” Natasha raised an eyebrow.
"See that dropship?” I looked at the display, seeing a Lion make its way from a pirate point.
"That is Kerlin Ward. It’s time to make an impression.” My jaw dropped. Katherine Steiner, Star Captain of the Clan Wolf, cursed, while Natasha simply whistled.
Colonel Wolf doesn't do things by halves, does he?” I finally responded.
No, he doesn’t. Nor does Kerlin. Bring your A-game, General, you’ll need it.” Joshua Wolf answered soberly.
Station Kaiser, Docking Port, Dragoons’ Den System, Morning, Feb 4th, 3016
I waited along with Asha Blackwing, Katherine Steiner, Joshua Wolf and Natasha Kerensky, plus one Star Colonel Richard, the man in charge of the System. It was universally accepted that Case and Evie being here at least initially wasn’t a good idea, as Case had already been dragged to Natasha by an Elemental stating that she needed to control the sibko bratling even though the Elemental was amused by the will to fight. We watched as Kerlin Ward, in Clan Wolf ceremonial leathers swam down the docking tube.
He touched the bulkhead, was announced, saluted the Dragoon symbol on the wall, and asked the Star Colonel for permission to come aboard which was granted, then looked over the people waiting for him, after returning several salutes. Nodding once, he strode over, taking Richard’s hand. “You have done very well, Star Colonel, this system is almost ready to fully support the Dragoons, outside of personnel, of course, you have done wonders.” Richard nodded, and thanked him quietly, then Kerlin Ward turned to us.
Joshua! Katherine, Natasha… who are the lovely ladies next to you… No, let us make introductions somewhere else.” He raised an eyebrow at Joshua, who led the way.
I remained quiet, as Kerlin gave off a feeling that I in either life had only run across a few times… all senior Operators, such as Morgan, or old and wise masters of the martial arts. He was chatting and doing a bit of gossiping about affairs back in Clan space, clearly unconcerned with my presence, or Asha falling in behind me. Shortly we were in a conference room.
It has been quite a lively year,” Kerlin quipped, “And the project here is on schedule without anyone else being the wiser. At this stage the risk the other Clans will find out about this is minimal. Since everyone is aware of what we are, I will skip the introductory materials and go straight to the point. The Crusaders are not letting up on their desire to come and take the Inner Sphere, which would be a disaster to all involved so we have little choice but to start preparing the Inner Sphere to resist if need be. The delaying action has thus far been successful, but it will only work so far.”
He continued on, “Not only Blackwell, but Dragoons’ Den is meant to supply you with all the hardware you could ever want, once the last station is finished.” He looked at the Dragoon’s officers. “I am hoping now that we have a command chain in place, that we can send you enough personnel to keep the Dragoons, and maybe this lady’s…” He nodded at me, “unit up to strength, but no assurances on that.” He paused, and nodded once. “This world also makes for a good test bed to see if my supposition about the Inner Sphere citizens adapting to Clan ways is a virtual non-starter, or at least a far longer task than anyone would believe.”
Joshua tilted his head. “You think the Crusaders would come? In the future-that-was…”
The Crusaders would already be here if the Dragoon Compromise were not in place. They are one-track minds in that regard even as they prepare their toumans for the future glorious battles to be had in retaking the Inner Sphere and founding a new Star League,” he confirmed with a sarcastic tone. “Nevermind that I doubt any of them understand a thing about the Inner Sphere’s workings or what the Star League was. They would invade first then squabble between themselves about the meaning of what founding a new Star League is. That is no way of running things, to say the least.”
Now,” he looked at the Strays, “I admit to some surprise and skepticism to what I was told about the ‘Strays’ as was put but,” he focused on Katherine, “You were always a little odd, even for an abthaka from the Cloud Cobras. You were holding out on everyone, Star Captain.”
Yes, I was, Khan,” she confirmed, “Given the circumstances and my inability to prove, even to myself, that it wasn’t just some hallucination I felt it was best if I kept it to myself until I could prove it, one way or the other.”
She paused for a moment before letting out, “It wasn’t easy on me.”
I cannot say I imagine, for I have absolutely no idea,” Kerlin admitted, “But I understand your motivations for keeping your mouth shut about it and in fact, I agree it was better. I do not think anyone would have believed you and if they had… I have no idea what would have happened to you. Now, about the other Strays,” he looked at them in turn before laying his eyes on Kikyo, “I have heard much and I am most interested in hearing your stories. General Kikyo Onishi, I believe?”
Yes, Khan Ward.” I nodded slightly. “What tale do you wish?” I smiled.
I understand your inheritance was substantial and you have used it to build Onishi’s Heavy Cavalry as an unit. What do you envision doing with it? I am curious, since you were an actress… and a twentieth century US military officer? Warfare has changed.”
"I would argue only the means have changed, not the fundamental truth. Sun Tzu is still as valid today, as he was in the twentieth Century, or even back in the era of the Three Kingdoms. But, the purpose of the Heavy Cav, is in primus, what shock cavalry’s mission has always been. By maneuver and shock tactics, such as concentrating fire, break hard positions or hard targets. The Germans adapted it for armored warfare, in the Second World War, and Battlemechs fell naturally into that role, supplanting tanks, when the Mackie first came to light.”
I shrugged slightly, then added: “While I would prefer to use them as primary guardians for industry to build up the Federated Suns and Lyran Commonwealth, in one regard, the Inner Sphere isn’t so different than the Clans, both truly only respect those who fight. And some objectives to build and defend the industry requires us to take that industry.”
I finally pause and admit: “And while make no mistake, I find most aspects of the Clan culture abhorrent, at least from the way I was raised twice. I’ll say this. There are worse than some clans. Ghost Bear might be tolerable, Ravens in the future-that-was, came to reasonable terms with the Outworlders, The Sharks… I can’t quite figure out what their objective was, or will be, and the Wolves under you and Ulric, at least tried to be somewhat understanding.” I look him in the eye and state. “There are cultures worse than those. And they are in the Inner Sphere.”
Kerlin pondered the answer for a moment. “I cannot base my decisions on the future-that-was, although I can look for clues as to what might happen from there. I would venture a guess as to which cultures you might mean but that is besides the point right now. You have a good grasp of theory, at least. What I want to know, though… is something else. Have you seen war?”
Which lifetime.” I simply think back, eyes going distant, as I think of the pilot who died at Spencer as her Sparrowhawk exploded, or the dusty streets of a city long gone. “I will say this, war at the level of what Aleksandr Kerensky led his people into? No, the last wars of that nature in Katherine's and my time, were long over, and there hasn’t been that war here. But I have been shot at, and have shot back. In the end, that’s what matters, if it’s one on one, or as part of the largest armies ever assembled in memory. I have and I will put myself on the line for my goals, and my ideals. And write the letters that come with command.”
He nodded. “Close enough. The ritualized form of combat we perform in the Homeworlds is a good thing. It keeps combat clean, avoids civilian casualties and the waste of life and property that are inherent to that. When I suggested the Dragoon Compromise, I was not quite as… aware of the savagery of real war. It was not until I watched the holo-vids, tactical manuals and saw them being practiced by the Dragoons that I truly understood what war on that scale does… and what kind of war would be waged against the Clans were we to come. And, obviously, how we would likely react to that.”
It is no coincidence that I trialled for the commander of the Heartvenom’s Cluster after the training was done. I needed his insights, to confirm whether my thinking was correct. He proved to me that I was, as far as we both could tell. War as the Great Father and our ancestors practiced, whether waged by us or against us, would destroy us as a culture. Our code of honor would have to be thrown away and from there, where would we land? Would the savagery be brought to our Homeworlds? That… would be the end of us.”
That is why I am fighting tooth and nail to keep us out, but success is far from assured. Ideally… if the Clans were to come, it might be possible to beat them in a Trial of Refusal, like this Anastasius Focht, was it? Managed to do in the future-that-was. For that… we will need elite units that know what they are up against. Units like yours, I would hope. Are you up for such a challenge? It may well be the cleanest way of stopping an invasion.”
I thought for a moment. “It’s doable, the more time the better, to close the tech gap, and if I can get the Kells back together, even easier. But, that doesn’t square a fundamental circle. Unless each clan is beaten, either by trial, or by force direct, they’ll argue, as they did in the future-that-was, the invading clans just weren’t up to the task.” I thought. “But we can square this circle.” I smile. “And while the Crusaders won’t get everything, it turns the problem around.”
It is a problem that can be dealt with or at least controlled,” Kerlin agreed, “if nothing else works to keep them out.” He looked around and addressed everyone, “I will trust Katherine’s assessment about just how wide the technological gap really is and I will leave it to you to work on that problem. It is imperative for the sake of Clan Wolf that Dragoon’s Den works to replace the hardware we had to commit to building and supplying it, particularly stations and jumpships, so I am afraid that you will not have full usage of it for a while yet. The other Clans will notice sooner or later there is a discrepancy between what we have built and what we have deployed where they can see it if we do not remedy it. Once that problem is solved, however? Its resources can be used fully as you see fit. This world will be handed fully to the Wolf Dragoons once I am done preparing it and covering up our tracks.”
I nod. “And we’ve come into some assets ourselves that’ll make us less dependent on one source.” I thought about it. “It’s not too much to say, but we found a Navy hidden fleet yard.” I smile. “Just a tad helpful, as you can imagine. The trick is keeping it from being destroyed, and we have plans for that. But, to the root of the problem. Would you say, a new Star League, at least forming, and visibly so, even if not the name, would soothe some less than… egotistical Crusaders? Especially if there was a place for the Clans in it?”
It is unlikely,” he admitted, “Hatred for the Great Houses is imbibed into us, and denying glorious battle against them? Now that’s just ruining the Crusader’s fun dream. However, you may well find a great deal of Wardens following you into it. Remember what I told you, the Crusaders don’t even know what the Star League they envision recreating is. You could call a street fair a Star League and some of them might fall for it, for all I know.”
Joshua laughed, with Asha smiling as well. Natasha just shook her head. “That would be the Smoked Kitties, I would put money on it.”
I had to smile at that. “As I see it, the main two issues, is that the Clans in general are in a resource poor environment, though I suspect that’s as much of as a design, than it is a flaw.” I thought about it… “And their tales of the Inner Sphere, do have some truth, mind you, about how wealthy we could be.” I shrug. “And of course, a culture built around might makes right.”
"Both are solvable. There are several worlds of the old Hegemony that we can’t terraform back, or are virtually depopulated, as well as lost colonies here and there.” I looked upwards… “And as for prestige and honor and glory… we bring back the Olympiads. Every four or five years, the Clans, the stalwart defenders of the human race, clash for the best able to guard the motherworld and capital. Once we bell the bigger cat, that is.” I smile twistedly. “Uniting the Great Houses back.” I shake my head. “The idea of a total united humanity won’t work in any of our lifetimes. How the Star League brought in the Periphery and then exploited them later on… left generational bad blood there.”
Asha shifted at that, and I sighed. “But yes, there are ways to solve some. Did Colonel Wolf send a full military background on House Liao?”
I have read his reports on the state of affairs in the Inner Sphere, including military strength,” he said, clearly wondering why House Liao was being singled out.
"While Liao itself is diseased, every so often, they come up with some good ideas. I was specifically referring to their Warrior Houses, and the basic concepts behind them.” Joshua nodded at my statement, indicating Jamie had sent those. “It is similar to the Clans, similar to the holy orders of Knights, and several other examples I could give. It could be a template for the Clans to adapt.” I smile. “It’s a thought.”
That is an idea I will look into,” Kerlin said, “It had not occurred to me to look at it in such a manner. I cannot say it will work or that it will not, but the basic idea seems to hold some promise. Naturally, I cannot ask other Clan’s opinions on such an arrangement.”
He paused for a moment before continuing, “I can see why you brought it up, one possible way of integrating the Clans with the Inner Sphere without destroying either. Might be, might be. Or it might not. Of a more immediate concern is ensuring the Inner Sphere can stand on its own if the Crusaders get their way. If you can figure out a way to make the entire Warden versus Crusader divide obsolete, all the better.”
I nod. “Which means I need to decide within days, at least by the time we get back to New Avalon, for OPERATION IDES, if I push Hanse Davion away, or accept his courtship fully.” I shake my head. “Because, the easiest way, is a series of dynastic marriages, Steiner-Davion, then add the Mariks in. Liao, honestly can die in a fire, and the Combine, is the worst traits of Imperial Japan, a society that didn’t get enough kicking around, and I say that, as I have the set of memories of a man raised by a man who lived through the Second World War in Tokyo. You can guess my view of the Combine with that information, I suspect.”
I might have an idea,” he said drily. “House Kurita is set in their ways. If there is a Great House deserving some kicking around from us, I would look at them first. But for all that, the arguments against invading still stand well above that. It is a problem for you to solve.”
They started the Succession Wars,” Katherine interjected. “We will make them pay for it. If nothing else, strip them of their gains so they cannot even claim they got anything out of it.”
I would hardly suggest anything less,” Kerlin said with a smile.
I shook my head. “As you say, it is our problem, not yours to consider. And if we solve it, we are well on the way to solving yours. Maybe not completely, but it is a route out. But the primary concern is to show the clans that, for all their breeding programs, which… no offense, Khan Ward, strike me as at best haphazard, but I’m biased, for reasons you may not have been informed of.” I smiled in amusement. “It is the person that matters, the soul of the soldier, the warrior, the sailor, not what flesh they are in. I would stack Morgan Kell up against Natasha Kerensky, and have 99% confidence she’d lose.” I looked at Natasha.
"... I will be honest, that is not a fight I would go into expecting an easy victory.” The redhead thought. “It all depends on what happened on Mallory’s World, really. But yes, Morgan Kell is a mechwarrior I would not take lightly. Nor your Zackary Winters, or even you, once you have some more experience and training.” She smiled. “And I see your point, remove our technology, and I would agree, that the Inner Sphere Elites by and large match ours, or come close enough that outside outliers like myself or Katherine, it would be difficult to say who is better.”
"And lets’ not forget that we practice fighting, not war.” Joshua looked his Khan in the eye. “That’s where the Inner sphere would crush us. Not in one on one, but they’d send a lance to deal with a single warrior. And that lance would be better fed, better equipped in relative terms than our warrior.”
And then we would start crying foul, that you do not practice honorable combat and escalate. Everyone loses,” Kerlin summed up. “You see it as I do, I think. Although I disagree with the General’s opinion regarding the breeding program, at least without clear evidence, I do agree it is just one component of what makes a Clan Warrior what they are. And, to be entirely fair, if we thought nature could not at all potentially match or exceed our best efforts, Warriors like Star Captain Steiner would not exist.”
Katherine nodded in agreement there - how could she not, as a freeborn herself?
I waggled my hand. “I’m biased, as I said, but to be fair, I’ll admit that nature often trumps design. If nothing else, there’s more chances for nature to get it right.” I snicker. “Commander Blackwing and I wish to put on a show for you and your … Keshik?” I tilted my head. “I understand while you retained a fair bit of the martial arts, I doubt you’ve seen an Outworlder martial artist, or some of the Order of Five Pillar’s styles. And I’m very curious to see how I stack up against one of their best.”
Asha groans softly. “Ferret… I was tournament, and you were movie. I’m sure the Clans have better than us.” She spoke softly.
I have seen you move, Asha,” Katherine put her two cents in, “I am quite sure of the otherwise, notwithstanding the old adage that there is always someone better than us. Clan warriors, with the exception of aerospace phenotypes, are bred with a bias for strength. We mostly practice hard styles as a result. A soft style practitioner who knows what she is doing?”
I smile innocently at that statement, as Asha sighs. “Okay, okay, let’s show these poor warriors how it’s done in Alpheratz, then?” She looks at me, “And I’m a mixed stylist, your soft mistress is her… and I think she needs to indent a wall or two. Standard freestyle tournament rules, correct?”
I nod, bouncing slightly. Finally. Case was impossible to spar against, Evie too dangerous, Kath too easy. “If nothing else, you can try to beat sanity into my head…”
Asha snorted at that. “If I thought it’d work, I’d have done it already.”
Well, well… if you want to make a display of martial arts I surely have no objections in a proper setting. The question that I now pose is where? I assume you would rather avoid a mud pit, as amusing as it might be for the audience…”
He got four amused looks and one snicker.
Landing Circle of Equals, Landing, Dragoons’ Den, Midday, Feb 5th, 3016
Asha handed me a bottle of water, and slightly smirked. “Sorry about the nose.” I shrugged, testing it, and finding it nice and painful, but not broken.
Eh… it happens.” I swished some water and spat out the bloody water. “Sorry about the ringing of the bell.”
Asha shook her head. “Had worse myself. Not too bad, you could compete on Alpheratz.”
And you could make a fortune in holovids.” I shot back. Asha had won the sparring match, pretty clearly, but I had given as good as I got, to most extent, Asha was just better and more in tune with her art and body.
Kerlin walked up, carefully eying us both. “Quite invigorating, though I do have a few questions.” Asha and I looked at each other, then looked at him.
Yesss?” “Okay.” we answered.
"First, why are you not aerospace pilots, I’ve seen some of ours move, and you both put them to shame…” He nodded. “Second, is a shame you did not do the mudpit.” I looked at Asha, she looked back, and two empty water bottles went flying at his head, and he laughed as he dodged.
"She is.” I finally responded. “I know a bit about it, but I owned a Mech, not a fighter.” Kerlin nodded.
Asha spoke up. “Pretty much that, yes. My father runs.. Well, ran, now is head of overall space operations for the Heavy Cavalry, a fighter mercenary regiment.”
Ah!” Kerlin nodded. “I will not say the Inner sphere is as bad as we are about Mech combat glory, but …” he spread his hands. Asha laughed, I had to chuckle ruefully.
"I’m an Outworlder, Khan. We love our fighters.” Her slight smile was amusing.
Kerlin thought for a moment. “More seriously, are not the Outworlders pacifists? Forgive me, that was, and combined with the reputation of the aerospace wings of your birth nation… I am beginning to wonder.”
"The Omniss are pacifists. The rest of us are merely... peaceful. Which is not the same thing as 'defenseless'."
I snorted. “What she’s not mentioning is her mother was a member of a similar sect. So… bred for peace, because war is too damned easy.”
Asha paused, about to protest, then thought about it. “... I got to admit, that’s actually as good of an answer as any. A lot of the Outworlders came from higher than Terran gravity, and most of our worlds aren't light in gravity as is. Add in late Star League genetic engineering…” She shrugged. “The only real reason we weren’t as bad as the Taruians or Canopians in the uprising, is realistically, we weren’t as aggressive as a culture, nor did we have leadership publically hating the Star League.”
Kerlin blinked. “Really?”
"That’s my take on it. I don’t know what you know of Furlough, but he left a very bad impression on us, much less the Taruians, for far less reason.”
Kerlin’s voice was quiet. “What the Scorpions and I know… and what the rest of the Clans know, is far different. I will say this. The Scorpions are very much a Warden clan, because they know they cannot afford the loss of their souls.”
Asha nods. I interject. “Add in the rapacious taxation that the House lords put down, and effectively the Star League as a belief falling apart in not just the Periphery, but the Houses… and you see why the Uprising happened.”
"A good point.” He shrugged. “Something to consider, if all the Outworlder pilots are as good as you are on the ground, that would be… troublesome, though I can see the Cloud Cobras being very interested.”
Kath had walked up, and she laughed. “They and the Ravens, yes.” She shook her head. “But that is neither here nor there.” She grinned wickedly. “Case got his ass kicked.”
Asha and I turned to him. “By whom?”
Taped?” I had to ask
"Oh yes.” She snickered. “But she admitted he is good for his age, and she is not sure she would have beat him at the same age.”
Kerlin nodded. “That does help, and if I spread that around a bit, it might sober up a few of the more realistic Crusaders.” He shrugged. “A few, you understand.”
Asha snorted. “So, no Smoke Jaguars?” Kerlin laughed slightly.
Even there, a few may be reachable. Contrary to what you all think, and to be fair, I have to admit, with some justification, we are not all mindless warhawks.”
I shot back. “Just mostly?” His answering smile sobered up.
I understand from Kath, that you recovered a Star League Weapons project, a Marine powered armor suit?” He finally answered.
"Yes.” I hadn’t told Kath to keep that secret, since with a bit of luck, Jamie could help us convert it to regular infantry, and with even a bit more of luck, work on Inner Sphere Battle Armor, removing the one huge tactical edge that the Clans absolutely would have. Heavily armored and armed infantry, where five could chew easily on a light ‘Mech, was one of the massive edges the Clans had. And the worst to counter initially.
I do not suppose you are all plotting Inner Sphere Elementals, are you?” He grinned. “If not, I would have to question your sanity.”
I snickered. “Ask no questions…” He laughed.
"I will detail some additional scientists and personnel to help Kath make that work. Jamie is ahead of where I expected him to be, but something that advanced, not without prodding.” He smiled. “As we both agree, the Clans don’t teach forward thinking.”
"It’s the reverse.” Asha said quietly. “You reward short term gain and short term plans, over long term.” Kerlin thought about it, and nodded.
"And the Inner Sphere doesn’t.” He thought and nodded. “Well, I believe you have a mission to get to, and I cannot be away from the homeworlds for too long.” He finally stated. “Good hunting.”
I nodded. “As well as you, Kerlin, though your prey is much more elusive.”
Kerlin looked at Asha. “As your lovely Blackwing may put it. A Challenge.”
Asha’s snicker was his only answer.
Winterfell Castle, New Avalon, Evening, Feb 22st, 3016.
Kath sipped at a Pyramid, and shook her head. “Command circuits really spoil you. You all have it so easy…”
"Uh… huh. Spending a year in a tin can, you said?” Evie snarked back. “How long were you in, Kiki?”
Long enough not to complain, long enough.” I stated, amused.
"And Xanadu. Sooo wasteful.” Kath simply sighed.
Asha snorted. “I don’t see you turning down berthing in her, instead of an Overlord.”
Kath blinked. “I may have been raised in the Homeworlds, I’m not insane…”
"Ha.” Case snorted into his beer. “We’re all crazy, period. We just admit it, unlike the rest of the galaxy.”
I shook my head. Sipping at my Timbuktu Dark, I simply looked at them. “Does anyone have a problem with Operation IDES?” We had received the changed plans, and differences less than two hours ago, thanks to Jamie opening the spigots of Dragoons’ Den, at least for this mission. Adding an additional hundred ‘Mechs, to the already fairly impressive pile that Hanse built up, as well as adding to each thrust an additional company or so of ‘Mechs a month as replacements, not counting the ground vehicles.. Enough said about how Hanse viewed that.
"I don’t like it.” Asha finally said. “It’s a serious diversion of force. The Seventeenth, the Assault, and all three Lancer brigades, plus another roughly four ‘Mech battalions for Ares, is fine. Hasek’s decision to send two of his three Syrtis Fusilier RCTs to hit Texlos to take it, plus what? Another mech regiment, thereabouts?” She looked at me and I nodded.
That could be used at Ares to finish it faster, yes.” Kath sighed. “Michael won’t let Hanse have the glory, though. And let’s be honest, if Texlos is under siege, St. Ives won’t be willing to free up assets, since in reality, there’s still… what? Another half dozen to dozen RCTs lurking to pounce?”
I wiggled my hand. “Practically, another two to three, yes.” I shrugged. “Hanse’s op plan makes it clear he’s playing games with the new dropships and jumpships we’ve gotten him, but it still is tricky. Michael won’t have the level of replacements Ares will, or our prong. Make no mistake, if he does pull it off, Hanse will contrast our rate and our campaign, vs. his.”
Everyone nodded. Kath picked up. “Us, and the Heavy Guards hitting Ronel is fine. We should have that over in a week. Especially if we do the test of the Ricos there.” We had renamed the Project STAR suits as Ricos, for Johnny Rico of Starship Trooper fame. We all agreed, and Hanse after laughing, agreed.
I raised my eye, noting that she wasn’t finished. “New Hessen, with the Dragoons at four regiments and the Crater Cobra’s pair backing them up, should be fun, and hopefully the Dragoons will draw out the Highlanders to take the bait.” We all nodded at that.
And?” I prodded.
"It’s what comes after that gets me. Taking one of the reserve RCTs, the Mercs, hitting Indi?” She shakes her head. “Heavy Guards and the Cobras for Small World, and maybe a detachment of the 1st?” She took a long pull out of the can. “And then us and Tybalt with the FSAC.”
His op plan explained why, you realize.” I childed.
Asha nodded. “While I tend to agree with you that the Fury is a bit overdone as a tank, it’s still a good one, and if the plant’s fixable easily…” She shrugged. “Though I agree with Kath’s point. This is risking defeat in detail.”
"We’ll still have the second RCT in reserve, and it’d not surprise me if they can’t pull anything off.” Case interjected. “You really think Marik, at least Oriente and Andurien won’t start biting when the Big Mac and Highlanders are in play, and we’re still moving?” Case shook his head. “We’ll roll them!”
I thought about the points. I tended to agree with Case, but the Capellans fought.
Kath apparently agreed. “You weren’t at New Aragon, Case. Don’t mistake weakness of strength for weakness of will.”
Bah, they’re not Snakes. We’ll crush them.” Case smiled lazily.
I was getting a bad feeling about this. It’s a good thing I had the rocket launchers in production, now, even though it cost a fair bit of change. I had a feeling I’d need them. Shame about the LRM manpacks not being ready yet. After the bickering between the Strays went on for a few. “Right. We took his coin, we go with his plans. I dislike it myself, but I do have a date tonight with him, remember?” Laughs answered back.
So, decided?” Kath shot back.
I still have a day or two, I suppose.” I finally answered. It’d be nice if I could just let the future take its course. Then again… wasn’t that one reason we were here?
Main Bedroom, Winterfell Castle, New Avalon, Late Night, Feb 23rd, 3016
I rolled on my side, seeing Hanse simply look up at the ceiling. “As much as I hate this, business is needed. I have a few ideas.”
Hanse snorted softly. “Softening me up?” He grinned, rolling to lay on his side, face-to-face with me. “I’ll at least consider the idea, mind you. But…”
I shrugged slightly, amused on how Hanse’s eyes drifted, then snapped to my face.
"Well, I had several ideas, though I think you personally leading the Heavy Guards, instead of Ran, is a bad idea, Hanse.”
"Ran isn’t thrilled himself, nor are the rest of those involved. But I have to do this, politically, and personally?” He looked me in the eye. “I am not going to let you go out and fight alone, you realize. If nothing else…”
Your manly pride?” I teased, then shrugged. “But that’s not the items I wanted to discuss.” His eyebrow rose and I took that as permission to continue. “Helm. We don’t need the equipment as much as we used to, but…”
"The Core, and getting it without Comstar.” His voice hissed on the last. Hanse could hold a grudge like no one’s business, and while Liao thanks to us all confirming Doppelganger and what it did to the poor sap, had made Mad Max an especial target of his fury, Comstar’s actions in the future-that-was, confirmed by their assassination attempts… Well. I knew that the Word of Blake would have serious problems. He continued. “Knowing. I have some ideas…”
So do I, and they may benefit us, politically.” His eyebrows rose. “We nixed a long duration probe on New Dallas until we could see how sensitive the arrays likely are, though Praetorian was helpful there…”
Verification - which we’ll have by the end of August, if all’s on track - is always a smart play for this score.” I nodded. That’d open up a few other locations as well, and how sensitive the sensors were to low level transits, such as the Scout’s small signature would be ideal to know as well for other operations.
You’re of course, correct.” I smiled. “Don’t let it go to your head.” Hanse mimicked a touch by a fencer, with a comedic look of dismay. “But, instead of a smash and grab on Helm, let’s do it stealthily.” His eyebrows furrowed, and he nodded once. “We send a team in, get the chip, duplicate it, open the site without anyone being wiser, a few geeks copy the core, and voila… We can do it under the movie cover that was my original plan.”
Hanse thought for a moment. “Doable, and if we plot it right, we can actually send a Scout to investigate the deep naval anchorage that was there. I’m not sure what would be in it, but it’d be useful to know. Maybe Kerensky left some more ships.”
I shook my head. “I doubt warships, I really do. Or they’d be in the same condition overall that we found at Watchtower. But the slips might be worth the effort, and it’s far enough away from any possible array, that it’s not even a risk.” I shrugged again. “Using a movie cover, for another weeaboo atrocity… say a Robinson-based film production?”
He nodded. “It would fit, and focus attention back on the Combine, or so people would think. Aaron would be all for it, as a real movie.” He grinned lopsidedly. “I can find some people, and we can kick it around. I’d like to borrow Blackhand, if we agree to the mission.”
I thought about it, and nodded. “And I presume Dr. Cunningham?”
You presume correctly.” He thought about it for a moment, then nodded. “And with the unknown location your father found, I’m quietly assembling a jumpship chain so you can go out there, after the campaign's over quickly. It will take time to get in place, but most of it will be covert.” I smiled. “My suspicion as well as yours and Colonel’s Steiner’s is that it’s an Amaris location, but still…”
Extra recovered items are good items. If the team can get the core, copy it several times, get it back to us, after making it look like it’s never been filled with the data?”
He grinned. “I have some ideas on how we can use it, yes.” He thought for a moment.
"Normally it’s the lady that brings this up, but, you’re remarkably hesitant, or uncertain of things, and well, given the future-that-was, I can actually understand it.” He shrugged. “But where do you see us going? Morgan’s completely clear, and I suspect we can make doubly sure of that, Marie approves of you, or at least is willing to wait and see… Plus, seriously, marrying a woman not even half my age?” He shuddered. “I can understand why I did it. But, I have the potential for other options, and well, I would rather explore those. And if Katrina still does the peace proposal, and we end up walking the same dance… I suspect she’d prefer my heir, and I don’t want anyone to be a cougar.” He grinned. “Unless it’s their choice. Poor Case.”
I laughed at that. Case was often chased by the more amorous of the older nobility, as well as some young ones, given his bad boy vibes, as well as his new title. However, I thought about what he was saying for a moment. “... One of the problems is, by all accounts, it was a happy marriage.. Though you seemed to overshadow her.” I sighed. “But …”
"Yes, the children. I can actually see how that happened as well.” He tilted his head. “Something I doubt severely you’d allow.” I had to admit he was right. Again.
How do I poke your ego when you’re often right?” I plaintively asked.
He grinned. “By being around to see my screw ups and remind me of them. Rome’s tradition was right. Every leader needs that.” He sobered. “But, that depends on your choices.”
I knew what he was asking. I knew what he wanted. And the future was already in change. “We haven’t had enough time to see fully, but…”
I say this. Let’s see. We’ll have some time on the campaign, so we’ll know.” I nodded once.
His eyes brightened, as he leaned forward. “Excellent. Now there is no way I could be kept away... Too many firm emplacements to assault.“ His wicked tone as well as his movements indicated his plan. I smiled back, and responded.
Then be firmly and aggressively about it… shall you?”
Mech Bay, Dropship Xanadu, EnRoute to Ronel, March 15th, 3015
We Strays all stared at the slightly fidgeting Katherine.
"Where is Redline, clanner bitch?” Case snarled.
Evie was looking around. “Hey, where are my mechs?”
Where. Is. Bun. Bun?” I hissed at her.
"They’re coming! Jamie asked to ah, adjust them somewhat.” Kath hurried seeing the sheer level of violence. “He thought we could use a bit of an edge. I told him we already had that taken care of, but …”
"Oh, for the…” “You Let clanners touch my baby?” “... what am I gonna learn on now?” was the response.
Kath was saved by a buzz.
She looked and sighed. Outside were five super large trucks, each with one of our ‘Mechs. Jamie stepped out of one of the cabins and walked over. Looking at us, then looking at Katherine, he ignored Case running to Redline and fussing over the hunchback
"I see you didn’t tell them before I made off.” He tsked. “Upside, I get to present a surprise. I like doing that. Consider this a down payment on the debt.” He raised his hand. “And I believe it’s owed, so… I’d appreciate it if you just accepted.”
I shook my head. “What did you do to Bun Bun?” I looked at him.
Jamie grinned. “Oh, a bit of this and that, though honestly, when my techs were done analyzing and duplicating everything, I think we owe you more. Bun Bun seriously wasn't’ spec, even for a 2Rb, was he?”
I nod. “I can’t find the name, but his pilot was a female Major General, it appears.”
I’II see if I can find any info in our records. I’m really curious about the tech.” Jamie shrugged.
So?” I ignored Kath and Tasha walking over to her Marauder, while Evie had been drawn off by Colonel Jamison, to look over her King Crab.
Jamie grinned. “Besides copying and duplicating those nifty features the tech put in, we rebuilt the frame with Clan Endosteel structural members, instead of the SLDF-spec you had, put in a Clan XL, restoried the original Artemis fire control, added an anti-missile system, our ECM, armored to hell your cockpit, sensors and life support… oh, and you have a pair of medium lasers, and small pulses on each arm, instead of just the one machine gun and a pair of lasers. And eight tons of ammunition now. Should keep you alive. The rest of the tonnage was freed up by putting on new armor.”
I blinked. “And his computers?” I was really worried about those.
Untouched, though some additional programming added.” He nodded. “As I have said, we’re copying those to put into some of our machines. Same with the cooling jackets, whoever did them was a genius. All your lancemates have them too, so…”
I tilted my head. “Repairs?”
You’ll have a few spares, so you can keep these machines running.” Jamie nodded. “I need to get my people and my trucks back to my dropship so I can get to my attack…”
I let him walk me over to Bun Bun, and help me get in. Shortly, Bun Bun was joined by 4 other mechs, and they were being put into their cubicles, waiting for their time to unleash their new firepower and capabilities. I made a mental note to come and sim the changes, and verify that the electronics remained the same. Those were important.
Command Center, Ronel Defenses, Ronel, April 24th, 3016.
Gry!” I called, slightly muffled through the filtration mask, as the weather beaten General, and commander of my first brigade walked to me and Hanse. “Report.”
M’lady, Your Highness.” He didnt salute, indicating it was still a potential hot zone, but continued on. “Spaceport and the main command center for the defenses captured. Enemy KIA, two hundred and thirty, wounded about four hundred, captured about nine hundred.” I whistled. He smiled. “And what I know is more important to you, no one killed from the Heavy Cav, thirty nine wounded. Material losses, nine Rico suits, though the techs think they can get three back together, armor damage to all of the command mechs, and about half the main combat vehicles, ammunition needing refilling, and somehow, one Manticore threw a track.”
"So… the avalanche drop of the Marines worked?” I couldn’t help but sound pleased.
Ayup.” Kath walked up, grinning. “With us dropping around them, and sweeping the spaceport, while the Aerospace forces bombed them, they missed Armstrong’s boys dropping in, and once they got on the ground, it was all over.” Gry nodded, a pleased grin on his face.
Hanse blinked. “...very impressive. I hope the techs and engineers you’ve acquired, General,” He was speaking to me, as he shifted gears. “Finish the straight infantry version fast. This is a game changer. Removing their space maneuvering capabilities, should let you fit in some heavy weapons, and that will… ” He thinks. “Well. Ways and Means is going to hate you, the infantry are going to look at us mechwarriors like we’re juicy deer to their Piranha.” He grinned at that, then turned to look at Kath again. “And you say the Clans have bigger and better?”
Kath nodded. “They do. THey’d have loved this, the Elementals. I’m not even sure they’d have needed us mechwarriors, or lost a suit.”
"Fuck.” Hanse summarized Gry’s thoughts quite well. “Well. I understand there’s a plan for that, too, to get us close?”
I nodded. “Straight powered armor will do for Elementals, roughly in the same manner how infantry can wear down them. But that’s costly. We are working on that project, but… I don’t even think we’ll be at prototype testing in five years.”
Eh…” Kath shook her head. “Three, I’d say.”
Hanse shook his head. “Well, the majority of the militia are either in those forts that the rest are demonstrating outside of, or with the mercenaries. Should we see if they’ll surrender?” He was putting the problem of Clan infantry on the back burner, for here and now, and I followed suit.
Worth a try.” With that, Gry led us through the shot up and scarred building, proof of the viciousness of the fight.
The Ricos wouldn’t have helped if they burrowed into a mountain, but, with this?” Gry thought about it. “I’m sure that the Prince would agree, we’d have paid at least a battalion of mechs, even with the heavy air cover we have to normally take this place.”
If that low.” Hanse grinned. “Until the enemy adapts to the suits, we will romp well.” He sobered. “So, about six months, I figure.” He sighed. “Oh, well. It is the nature. But even with that adaptation, I do think more infantry and personnel will survive these assaults.”
I nodded strongly. “We believe so, yes.” We had arrived at the command center’s communication post, where Major Armstrong was waiting. His clanging salute, and loud statement, indicated how pleased he was.
"M’lady! First Prince! I present to you one Capellan Colonel and her staff!” He grinned. The Colonel was gagged, indicating she was very uncooperative, and the resigned fury in her eyes indicated why. “One question. We are keeping the Ricos, ma’am?”
I smiled. “Yes. Though we do want a complete after action report and what the troops feel can be improved.”
Of course!” Another clang. “I will get started on that right now!” He didn’t wait for permission, but led off.
Hanse shook his head. “Eager man. Now…” He looked, and saw one of my techs that had landed after the Marines secured the compound, at a communications setup. Waving his hand, he indicated, my show, I should finish it.
Nodding at the tech, I took a headset. She shifted the board to transmit on all frequencies the CCAF was using, and I transmitted. “This is General Onishi of the Heavy Cavalry, to all CCAF units still on planet. You are cut off, your dropships captured, and I am sitting on your main storage, and command post. Further resistance is futile, as you have no more aerospace to contest the air with, I have over three regiments of aerospace fighters, all with bombs. Please surrender, before you run out of food and filtration masks.”
About a minute later, a voice came through, on the frequency assigned to the Kerr’s Intruders battalion on planet, the vast majority of their mech forces. “General, this is Major Janice Shao. I’m afraid I can’t do that. And I don’t think you want to tangle with a battalion of assault mechs.” I raised an eyebrow, amused. “And the rest of the militia isn’t really thrilled. If nothing else we can tie you up until relief comes.” Tilting my head, I had to smile.
"Major, forgive me, but I have the entirety of the Heavy Guards, my command brigade, which has about four companies of assaults, my first brigade, about a battalion of assaults, my second, same amount. Exactly why would I be worried about forty assault mechs?” Smiling still, I added. “This isn’t counting the over two hundred aerospace fighters, nor tanks I have, nor the fact that the Thirty-Fourth and Thirty-Sixth Hussars will be arriving over the next few weeks, as well as the fact that there’s nearly a dozen assault dropships in orbit. If Maximilian sends relief, I’ll enjoy the salvage.”
I could hear the grinding of teeth on the radio, and a smile from Hanse.
See you in the fields, then, we’ll see about your boasts.” Looking at the tech, she pointed at a screen, which showed a location for the transmission, and I raised my eyebrow. The tech grinned.
Looking at the display, the last reported positions of all the units, I nodded. “A bit convient, but it looks that the militia armor and infantry are near your brigade, I would…” He nodded.
With your permission?” I nodded. Turning to the tech again, I had her contact Seig, who was running the combat space assets. “Sieg? Relaying the location of a ‘Mech battalion backed up by about an infantry battalion and armor battalion, can you make them go away?” They were close, less than five kilometers from my second brigade, which was trying to reduce one of the forts without taking damage. This meant mostly artillery and long ranged fire, and not much being done. I had wondered why that fort hadn’t surrendered, like the fort that the Guards took, or the one that Gry’s Brigade was at.
M’lady, consider it done. Ten minutes.”
Those were a long ten minutes, as several techs had managed to link Camelot and Xanadu’s C3 systems to the fort’s, and within six minutes, the Intruder’s first battalion had covered half the distance to the artillery park that was supporting the attack on the fort. Sieg had however, overestimated how long his birds would take, and before the Cappelians could reach firing range of the suddenly packing up vehicles, over a thousand bombs shocked them, stunning them into immobility, as the assault dropships came in for strafing runs.
Shortly, it was all over, and while I knew my people had taken damage, I saw no indications that I had any wounded, less dead.
Well… that worked well.” I finally said.
Hanse nodded. “It’s very rare to have as much aerospace power on the field as you do, so I believe they didn’t believe you. At most, we commit maybe two regiments, and most of those aren’t that heavy, in real terms. Twelve assault dropships?” He shook his head. “Last time we had more than three at once was an assault on Tikonov in … 2943, I believe. Again, this was an unique situation.”
I sighed. “And it won’t be easy after this.” Hanse shrugged.
"No, not once they adapt to what you do, and that won’t take very long. It doesn’t hurt them that the usual type of combat performed is risk averse, with low amounts of advanced warfighting equipment. And the objective is to preserve that as much as possible.”
"I understand that… but we’ve changed that.” I smiled grimly. “We can now practice true shock tactics, which is what Battlemechs are meant for.”
Hanse shook his head. “Not yet. Not fully. But yes, soon. Very soon. And right now, on a limited basis.” He then grinned. “And if you can come up with some more toys…”
I simply smiled. “That’s the idea we have, yes.”
End Chapter 9
Operation Whirlwind was successful, very probably more successful than Captain General Marik believed possible. The death of his son Gerald, among other considerations, has decisively ended their civil war, and the recapture of Sirius and six other worlds, must make the Captain General feel somewhat vindicated against Liao. It helps that the trial of Anton Marik will begin January 2nd, 3017, thanks to the AFFS offensive capturing him alive.
The Free Worlds Military has paid a steep price for their victories, Archon. Effectively, they have expended all the hardware they had brought from Federated Suns source under the deal the Captain General and First Prince arranged. Normally, we feel that they would be restrained from further adventures, or at the least, choose to focus them on the already weakened Liaos. However, see below:
The Dragoons are under contract with them starting April 2nd, so that may indicate that Lord Marik plans some activity on our border. With the serious reverses the Cappelians have undergone, as well as the growing strength of the AFFS (see appendix two and three), the temptation for Marik to strike at us must be severe. However, his recent inquiry into a cease fire agreement with us may indicate that he plans to continue operations against the Confederation; as information indicates that the agreement between the Free Worlds League and the Federated Suns will continue for at least another two years
What price is being paid for this pact remains unknown. Hanse’s recent inquiry to extend our agreement, indicates that as projected, his production is above his budgetary ability, and he seeks ways to place equipment in the enemy of his enemy’s hands.
Of concern, is the temporary staging of the Heavy Cavalry’s Command Brigade on Helm, (see attachment 4 and 5). The recent news from New Avalon, combined with the Command Brigade’s location, would indicate that Baroness Winterfall has found another location, we suspect on Helm, and given some troubling recent analysis, possibly in our hinterlands. Time will tell us, and it may be possible to intercept it, though the Command Brigade is a powerful formation.
LIC Report to Archon Katrina, Dec 21st, 3016.
Born out of the recovery of the all important computers, from Baroness Winterfell’s inheritance, General Kikyo Onishi of the Onishi Heavy Cavalry at the time, Davion production by the start of 3016 had doubled the amount of Mechs and ASF flowing into the AFFS. Prince Hanse decided to use this windfall, and expected replacements to push the CCAF to the breaking point. We now know that Hanse Davion had also counted on the second of the major lostech discoveries by the then-Baroness, and decided to use them.
Converting the Heavy Guard into an almost completely lostech formation with late-era SLDF and Royal ‘Mechs, he had a sledgehammer to dedicate. Baroness Winterfell’s mercenary command wasn’t far behind in the level of technology she could dedicate to her people, and that gave him a second hammer. However Prince Davion wasn’t eager to wreck these hammers for limited gains, so he sketched out a two pronged operation.
The rimward prong, Operation Knife, was intended as an invasion of Ares to capture the industrial world and one of House Liao's few BattleMech factories, further increasing the disparity in the two states' forces. The invasion force was planned around three different formations: the Davion Assault Guards RCT to break up what were (correctly) assessed as strong defensive fortifications and the Fifth Syrtis Fusiliers RCT as the main operational force, while the four regiments of the Illician Lancers made up the main mobile element.
Operation Knife proved a testament to the ancient axiom that no plan lasts longer than contact with the enemy, or in this case, one's supposed ally, since the first problem to arise was the absence of the Fifth Fusiliers from the landing, having diverted the unit almost before AFFS High command could adjust plans, to join the Sixth Fusiliers RCT in the invasion of Texlos, added by the Duke to the Operation at almost the last moment before the Sixth went into Texlos. Marshal Stephen Davion, led to believe by via subtly misleading communications from the Duke that this was fully cleared by Prince Davion and that another RCT would arrive very shortly, pressed on with the landings only to find the defenders not only fully alerted but in fact reinforced - far from having a window of opportunity before regular Capellan 'Mech battalions could arrive, much of the famed Northwind Highlanders were already on world.
All that saved the situation from turning into an extremely costly debacle was the sudden arrival of the Seventeenth Avalon Hussars RCT, concurrent with the remainder of the Northwind Highlanders and the diversion of further Capellan reinforcements to Texlos (as much as Maximilian Liao would have loved to avenge his ancestor Dainmar's humiliation by eradicating the Crushers, the other world under attack was a major source of aerospace fighters). As aerospace fighters duelled over Ares, Ardan Sortek dropped his regiment behind the Highlanders and brought the AFFS a vital respite to regroup and deal with the situation.
What had been envisaged as a relatively quick coup de main now degenerated into two slugging matches that lasted months and wore down the 'Mech regiments on both sides. Adjusting to the new situation, Hanse Davion elected to 'play the ball from where it lay' and poured supplies into the Ares campaign, running through well over a regiment in replacement 'Mechs, while coldly informing his brother-in-law that he'd got the Fusiliers into this mess and the Duke would be held accountable for salvaging them - leading to the arrival of the Eighth Syrtis Fusiliers to help their brother commands.
While the Big MAC still had a numerical advantage in 'Mechs, the advantage of RCT organisation paid off with Capellan conventional regiments gutted at a shocking rate and unsupported McCarron units frequently taking disproportionate losses. After four months, the Chancellor was forced to make the tough decision: he could afford to commit no further forces and the supply stockpiles from St Ives would allow only one campaign to continue. With great regret, in August he pulled the Capellan forces off Texlos, with McCarron's regiments fighting a rearguard retreat as as much hardware and personnel as possible were extracted (holdouts and Maskirovka would make the pacification a painful one, but this was something that the AFFS was long practised at).
Fully aware of Maximilian Liao's reasoning, Hanse Davion had been moving a second wave of forces into the area as fast as the supply lines could allow and he just barely managed this feat in time. Nonetheless, the situation was very nearly a disaster for the AFFS for a second time as the Big MAC's arrival on Ares was also the cover for dropping a full company of Death Commandos behind Davion lines. On 23rd September, the Commandos circumvented field security, seized four AFFS BattleMechs and turned them against Marshal Davion's headquarters during a meeting of the invasion force's senior officers.
Quite literally the only officer above the rank of Major not killed or seriously wounded was Colonel Sortek, who suffered only a broken rib when the mortally wounded Marshal fell on top of him. Piloting his Victor one-handed, the Colonel rallied the Assault Guards and his Hussars to hold off the Highlander's follow-up attack, causing such severe losses that the newly arrived McCarron had to commit his last intact regiment to extricate the humbled Northwind forces.
The arrival of the Thirty-Fourth Avalon Hussars and the two mercenary regiments of the Crater Cobras proved the end of Liao's calculations. Now even Ares was clearly lost and the only question was how high he could make the price. While the answer was steep, the hope that the strained mercenaries could buy time to evacuate tooling from the Bergan factory proved futile and cost them another battalion of 'Mechs along with Colonels Archibald McCarron and Marcus Baxter, who were killed trying to hold the last defensive gate (ironically, due to miscommunication, the Armored Cavalry's command company didn't receive the order to retreat until it was far too late - some have suggested that the Liao command staff delayed the message intentionally to punish the mercenaries). By the end of October, the Capellan forces were boosting for their jumpships and the AFFS could begin securing their conquest.
Despite the defeats, Liao expressed confidence that the cost had been pyrrhic: the Maskirovka had a fairly accurate grasp of losses (directly from Duke Hasek-Davion's desk, as it turned out). Over a hundred BattleMechs had been lost on Texlos and an astounding five hundred on Ares, with more than two hundred factory-fresh 'Mechs shipped in but far from making up the losses. Hundreds of aerospace fighters and thousands of combat vehicles would need to be replaced and a horrifying eighteen dropships had been lost, mostly a wing of FSN Avengers that had paid a heavy cost in atmospheric attack runs against Capellan fortresses.
Capellan losses were also hideous, almost equal in aerospace fighters and approximately two thirds as high in 'Mechs, combat vehicles and dropships. Nonetheless, Liao took the awarding of the Medal Excalibur to the heroic Colonel Sortek as face-saving and - convinced that the AFFS would be years recovering - felt safe to turn his attention to the other border where resources were badly needed - sensing weakness, Janos Marik had granted supplies and consent to Duke Halas and Duchess Humphreys, meaning that several previously contested worlds were now under pressure from the Oriente Fusiliers and Defenders of Andurien. 3016 would prove to be a poor year for the Capellan Confederation as despite this redirection of forces, four worlds would fall to the League, added to the two conquests of the Federated Suns.
And then there was the coreward part of Hanse Davion's plan...
Operation Wolf, the coreward aspect of the grand operation, was predicated off Hanse having three hammers: his Heavy Guards, which he would personally lead, the new Onishi Heavy Cavalry, and the Wolf’s Dragoons. Reinforcing these mighty hammers, were the Crater Cobras, a collection of four mercenary battalions to act as mobile forces, the Federated Armored Cavalry and the Thirty-Fourth and Thirty-Sixth Avalon Hussars.
The campaign started well, with the famed Wolf Dragoons striking at New Hessan, working through all three Hessen units, plus a scattering of other units sent to keep the important world from falling. Wolf had inflicted nearly a regiment of battlemech losses by the time the second prong of Hanse’s attack landed on Ronel two weeks later. In their baptism of fire, the Onishi Heavy Cavalry quickly routed the mercenary battalion on the planet, and unknown to anyone but the Heavy Guards the first combat deployment of the combat powered armor known now as the Rico Space Marine Suit played a key role in capturing the Capellan headquarters. Once the task force had fully gathered on Ronel, and Jaime Wolf departed Hessen to restore the Dragoon’s modest losses and wait in reserve, the other units assigned to Operation Wolf hit three worlds, a more ambitious plan than originally projected but a plan that the First Prince could be sure hadn’t leaked. Hanse Davion felt the Free Worlds League’s active invasion of the Confederation and Colonel Wolf’s actions had made the risk acceptable.
The Crater Cobras joined Hanse Davion and his Heavy Guards in assaulting Small World, while the Thirty-Fourth Hussars and smaller mercenary units assaulted Epsilon Indi. The Federated Suns Armoured Cavalry and General Onishi’s Heavy Cav would share the honor of Tybalt.
Unfortunately for the attacking force, Tybalt had been set as a staging area for the counterattack...
From “The Federated Suns vs. the Capellan Confederation, Volume 4, Late Third Succession War Campaigns.” NAIS Press, 3107
The year of 3016 was quite exciting on the Federated Suns and Combine front. With the Coordinator having inside information on the main campaigns, he decided to probe the Draconis march to see where a campaign after their successful but costly retaking of Tancredi IV would be successful.
He severely miscalculated, not realizing that while yes, Sandoval had taken losses well above what was normal, he had ended the year at least two battalions stronger in mechs than he had started the year, while the Combine had barely added a pair of companies to their roster. Nor did the Combine’s famed ISF properly appreciate the growth of the AFFS due to increased production.
Sandoval, knew that he’d be slightly shorted this year on extra equipment, and on jumpships. The additions of the Heavy Cavalry fleet, as well as the Dragoon’s, and the discoveries of a small supply of jumpships, at Castle Watchtower significantly reduced that issue. He still did not have enough to significantly counterattack. The pattern of raiding and counter raiding over the year, flashed up and down the border, with Quentin, Breed, Marduk, Kessel and Niles all significantly raided, while Hoff and Ozawa felt the Sword of Light’s touch at least once during this year. The Combine did not see the weakness they hoped for, as counter raids at Galatia III, Mara, Delecruz and Tripoli convinced the DCMS that while their front might be secondary to the Davions, it wasn’t as secondary as the DCMS hoped. While losing roughly two thirds of their new production for the year in these raids, they inflicted nearly nine battalion equivalent losses on the Davions and their sell swords, so the Combine felt vindicated.
Unfortunately for the Combine, Sandoval was not only ahead of where they expected him to be, he was gaining strength by nearly two companies of mechs a month with even larger gains in armor and aerospace combatants. By mid year, the Combine had realized this, when Proserpina itself was subject to a two RCT raid, and then towards the end of the year, Mara was retaken by forces of the AFFS. In the end, both sides ended up more or less status quo as of the start of 3015, with Mara retaken, though the addition of a full battalion to the DCMS’s numbers on the Davion front was more than counterbalanced by the addition of three battalions to the Draconis March’s order of battle.
One must wonder if the ISF had accurately portrayed at the start of the year, the Davion’s military and industrial position, what would Takashi have done? In the end, those aware, realized this would be the weakest the Davions would be on that front for years to come.
From “Cattle Raiding. A History of Combine Activities in the 3rd Succession War.” Sandoval Press, 3078
This recently formed mercenary unit, currently boasts a command brigade of two mech battalions, a mech company and command lance, an armor unit of the same size, and a regiment of frontline infantry, one battalion space marine capable as well as an aerospace regiment. Their Home Guard brigade is the same, though lighter in weight, and they maintain currently two full strength brigades, each with a regiment of infantry, armor, aerospace and Mech, with the same extensive support as above.
After their campaigns in the Confederation, they have enough salvage and assets to begin forming a third brigade, as well as repairing and refitting the other units involved in the campaign.
They have extensive support arms, and are well equipped with dropships, jumpships and assault dropships to cover their landings, as well as a scattering of lostech. They have full technical support, as well as heavy medical and engineering support units, so this command is well suited for most missions you can hire them for.
At this time, with their recent victories, we here at the Review board consider the unit Veteran, and Reliable, with the caveat that while her first actions were successful, General Onishi’s skill is still to be fully determined as a commander. If you wish a more detailed overview of the unit, please contact your local MRB office.
Onishi’s Heavy Cavalry Brigade, an Overview for prospective clients.
Primus’s Office, Hilton’s Head, Terra, Dec 29th, 3016
Ah, Tojo!” Julian greeted him, shaking his hand, and personally seating him. “I was just about to call you.” As the Primus settled in his chair, he steepled his hands, and looked at Tojo.
The head of ROM didn't fidget, though this year had not been a good one for him or his people, as several operations had failed.
A report on Project Marshall?” Tojo asked.
Of course!” Julian simply smiled. “And with a bit of luck, perhaps Project Weasel?”
Tojo smiled. The latter project was named for egging Micheal Hasek-Davion into revolt, like Anton had towards his brother. Blake’s vision would be proven right.
As for project Marshall, the division set of equipment has been hidden, and is just awaiting to be found by the two nations.” Comstar had hidden three regiments each of battlemechs, armor and aerospace in the Confederation and Combine for the two nations to ‘discover’. “As well as contact being made to help with the Wells Technology issue, and to help restore some of the Confederation’s industry.” He smiled a bit. “In the Confederation, at least, all doors are being thrown open, and I suspect that while Maxmilan knows our agent is Comstar, he cannot question the aid at this time.”
Julian smiled slightly. “And once we break the Federated Suns’ industry, or have Micheal do it for us, we will know the exact state, and how to sabotage the Confederation's, as he is letting us in."
As you say.” Tojo nodded. “It is a bit slower in the Combine, but hints are arising that the ISF has, at the least, recognized the danger that the new and repaired industry of the Federated Suns presents. As well as Katrina’s recent acquisitions.”
"No one ever said a dragon moved fast, at least.” Julian nodded. “Though with Subash’s reports, I suspect our wheels will be greased there, I hope?”
We expect so. Marik at the least has wasted what Hanse Davion sold him.” He sighed. “We are unsure of the exact losses to his lostech, but we think they’re at least not trivial. Using the Cavalry and the Heavy Guards to concentrate the lostech provided a potent hammer, but it did mean they bore the brunt of the fighting, and from all indications, Tybalt wasn’t easy for the young actress.”
Julian sighed. “And so far, she’s possessing the Devil’s own luck, I do think. When will another attempt be made?”
At this time, there’s some debate on which method would be best, as Hanse Davion’s MIIO did not buy Micheal’s involvement. We are sure they have no proof it’s us, and without anything else?” Tojo smiled. “It would not surprise me if he believed Maskirovka or ISF did so, as they have caught agents attempting to suborn her subcommanders.”
Julian snickered. “She’s at least somewhat aware of that risk, since she was generous to her people.” He thought. “Ah, well. Keep trying. And how about infiltrating the industrial complexes?”
Remarkably difficult, though we think we have had some success.” Tojo sighed. “No one in the shipyards, now that Hanse Davion’s discovered the sabotage and other issues we set up, and even in the other factories, we only have a few inserted, and they’ll have to work themselves into position.”
"Excellent!” Julian beamed. “Well done.” He saw Tojo’s eyebrow rise. “I didn’t expect it to be fast, Tojo. But you’ve done better than I thought.”
Thank you, Primus. I do need to report that Bauer’s Rapier plant is once again producing Rapiers, it appears that Katrina found what Bauer’s staff were doing.”
Julian shrugged. “I honestly didn’t think that’d last as long as it did. However, if at all possible?”
Tojo nodded. “We will work on it, sir.” He paused. “Perhaps we can sow distrust with the Federated Suns and the Lyrans?”
Julian’s eyebrow rose. “Oh?”
Recent information has leaked to us that General Onishi and Colonel Steiner are planning a trip. To somewhere in Lyran space, we believe.”
Ah, leak it to Katrina?” He thought. “And when she tries to intercept, have the orders written in such a manner… That will do quite nicely, Tojo. Given Hanse’s plans…”
Tojo nodded. “I thought so myself, but, given recent…”
"You thought correctly. It is authorized. Do please attempt to corral your people this time, the first time we went off half cocked over this young lady.” Julian looked at Tojo.
Agreed. It will be done right.” Tojo stood. “With your permission?”
Given… and have a happy New Year’s.” Julian paused. “Oh, for your short vacation, supposedly some people have reopened the original StarBucks shop in Seattle, you may want to go see it.” Julian smiled.
I did not have that information, thank you, sir.” Tojo bowed slightly, and with a slight rustle, departed.
Julian stared at the door. “Damn that girl. She’s ruining all my plans. At this rate, Blake’s vision won’t be done for another one hundred years. And that just won’t do.” He turned to a thought. “Perhaps Maxiliman’s suggestion of replacing people…”
End Chapter 9