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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:26 pm 
Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer

Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2002 8:00 pm
Posts: 113
Location: Washington DC
[center]Clover Spear,
Book 1- A Time to Plan, A Time to Plot

August 7th, 3053
Offices of the First Prince Emeritus
Castle Davion
New Avalon
Federated Commonwealth

It was not easy to bore Hanse Davion, but his enforced retirement had finally accomplished it. Everyone else has something to do, I go and have one little heart attack and everybody starts coddling me like I am made of bone china! Hanse’s mind raged, retirement had been couched romantically. He would have more time for his hobbies and philanthropy, they said. He would be able to do as he pleased, they said.

They lied, he realized. May my thrice damned doctors be given their own enforced retirements..and the home care nurses? Why do I need a home care nurse? I can walk, talk, wipe my own posterior, just what the hell do I need a home care nurse for? I am a very spry 70 years old I will have them know! I know they all mean well, but really, I was a ‘Mechwarrior for Book’s sake!

The enforced inactivity was galling to Hanse. Hanse had lived his entire life as a man of action, a well-read, rakish man of action, but one nevertheless. The “gilded cage” his doctors had put him in was, to say the least, a sources of frustration. He knew his son was ready to rule. And, that Melissa was thinking of abdicating herself to spend all of her time with Hanse, and how Hanse was kind of dreading that, for Mel’s sake. She will go insane within the year. They don’t tell you retirement is not all it is cracked up to be.

That said, Hanse did enjoy some of his enforced retirement, he had managed to hack his way into the NAIS system, and was occasionally appearing in student wargames as a black-painted Battlemaster. It was fun to mop the floor with those kids. But then, you were one of those kids, Hanse. But if his doctors, or god forbid, his family found out, they’d kill him for sure..especially Melissa and Katherine. They say women are in our lives to civilize us..is it wrong I am bloody tired of being civilized?

The other hobby Hanse had cultivated of late was reading…and writing. Having been a soldier and ruler most of his adult life, he had become a prolific op-ed writer to the Brunswick Chronicle, under the name John Sanderson, a friend who had been killed during his time with the 3rd Davion Guards. Forgive me, old comrade, for the deception I must use. Hanse didn’t want to be printed just because he used to be the First Prince, hence the pen name. Nobody at the Chronicle knew, all they did know was that Sanderson used to be a “high ranking military officer with connections at the palace who commented from time to time on military and political matters”. It spared a lot of people a lot of headaches..and spared Hanse from having to write his memoirs like some blowhard. Plus it helps my introspection and intellectual honesty to write about myself in the third person.

But Hanse had a new obsession of late. Though age had slowed him down, the ravages of age had spared his mind. And it was as sharp, and obsessive as ever. Stacked around his moderately (and lushly furnished) sized office was piles of books on a very specific force in history: The Soviet military. This was interspersed with stacks of BattleROMs and intelligence reports on the Clans. Thank you my son for keeping my security clearances current, though he thinks I am writing a book like Doctor Banzai..if only he knew what I was really up to…he and his mother would be furious. But what the hell are they going to do about it, send me to bed without supper? Hanse chuckled at that last thought with not a little bit of genuine mirth.

He had been attacking the problem that had been on everyone’s mind lately, that of the Clans. He hadn’t thought much of the conventional wisdom, which the Inner Sphere was going to have to use the truce to close the technological gap to take on the clans some 15 years from now. We have let those damn Clanners dictate the fight from the beginning. And that is precisely the wrong way to approach this.

Hanse had cast about for examples in history to approach the Clan issue. He knew much of their success had come from three factors; One was surprise, they had had the unknown on their side, and that advantage had faded by the time Tukayyid had rolled around. The second, that had been their supposedly superior training, but as he had looked over the BattleROMs, he wasn’t so convinced. Sure, they were excellent individual mechwarriors, but their ability to coordinate at the operational and strategic levels stunk, for lack of a better word. Their offensive, should, by all rights, have collapsed from the logistical strain a year earlier than it did, and it damnned well did on Tukayyid, but the Clans took stoicism to a new art form. They simply shorted their lower classes, from all the intelligence he had been getting from the LIC reports coming out of the Clan OZ. The third was painfully obvious, their technology. But their logistical hangups, even with omnimech technology (which should have freed them to some degree from said logistical issues), suggested that their industrial base wherever they came from was to some degree, limited.

All of these things made them vulnerable. To Hanse, they resembled the German Wehrmacht after the first winter of invading the Soviet Union. They were powerful, and had survived, but they were still weaker than when they had begun. And that alone, to Hanse, provided an opening. One that could be exploited.

It had become rather interesting material to Hanse, and while logic, not to mention good sense had stated he should probably write a paper for NAMA about it, he knew that would get the damn thing stamped “Most Secret”, filed away, and a stern talking to by Melissa and Victor. No, if I cannot convince my visitor today, then the whole enterprise is for naught.

What Hanse had learned was interesting. Contrary to many of his instructors at NAIS, the Soviets were not a bumbling force that had relied solely on mass, but had developed a very refined form of Operational Art that fit the solution he was looking for with the Clans to a “T”. The Soviet concepts of massed fire, deep battle and seeking to force the enemy to fight a series of encirclement battles he was destined to lose was the solution versus the Clans. It would not matter the amount of technology he had, they would mass the numbers needed at the point of decision, and swamp the Clans. And the Federated Commonwealth would do it better than the Soviets did…the AFFC was an all-volunteer force that had a good standard of training. Hell the old American Military had a force that pretended to be the Soviets for many years…and did it better than they did…why can’t we?

All he had to do now was convince his oldest friend that it was possible.

A knock at the heavy oak door brought Hanse out of his reverie. His head perked up and he shouted “Enter” far more brusquely than he had intended. The door creaked like the bones of an old man, and it opened slowly to reveal the form of Ardan Sortek, Ardan was slightly bent with age, as he had just turned 60 last month, with his remaining hair thinning, and shot through with grey. He was dressed in his customary AFFS fatigues, even though the uniform of the day was undress greens, except during state occasions (which were often). Sortek had been the Prince’s Champion, and was still on the General Staff at Mount Davion, though he was handing over more of his responsibilities to his aides. His craggy face was cracked with a beaming smile. Hanse and Ardan didn’t get to see too much of each other due to Ardan’s remaining responsibilities, not to mention Ardan writing his memoirs.

“Looking good, Hanse, how is retirement?” Ardan inquired, still wearing his wry smile as he unceremoniously deposited himself in a plush couch across from Hanse’s lounge chair. .

“Ardan, I will spare you my answer, as you already know what it is” Hanse stated with a trace of exhausted mirth. “Retirement, is, to put it in simple words, boring.”

“So I hear, I come bearing a request from Mel and Katherine for you to please stop terrorizing the palace staff and the head of the military archives.” Sortek replied, spreading his hands in a non-committal gesture.

Hanse shook his head “Now Arden, would little old me do such a thing? I am under doctor’s orders to-“

Arden’s face creased with a wry smirk as he interrupted “Um, Hanse, we both know that is bull. You don’t follow a lick of the orders of your doctor since you agreed to abdicate, and your idea of retirement is just working an 8 hour day like the rest of us mortals. You will be happy to know it is a work ethic your son shares.”

Ah Victor, I guess he is finding out about how heavy the crown really is..not that he had any illusions about that. Hanse mused. “Arden, have a question for you, and before you answer it, I still have my security clearances, and this office is swept for bugs on a regular basis.”

Arden’s features went blank. His face said it all, He knows about some of my extra-curricular activities. “I know about the Brunswick Courier, Hanse. John Sanderson? Anybody who knows you knew about him. He got the Sunburst for what he did on Halstead Station, posthumously of course. You really ought to be more careful. MIIO had to pay the editor a visit when he got too curious about who John Sanderson was, and compared it to some of your speeches!”

“Does Victor or Mel know?”

“Not yet, Hanse, but they will find out shortly, because Quintus is going to have to tell them. And they are both going to lose it. I am here to head it off at the pass.” Arden leaned forward, with a look of concern in his eyes. “Hanse, you have a heart condition. Do what other parents do, harass your kids into making you grandparents.”

“Haven’t got time for that. “ Hanse waved off Ardan’s concern, dismissing it as trivial. “’Old friend, I have been doing a lot of reading, and thinking. I have time for plenty these days.”

Ardan had seen that look before, the look had been in Hanse’s eyes when he had first thought of Operation RAT, or the abortive invasion of the Combine. The old Hanse was back. But he wasn’t the same old spry Hanse Davion, or was he?

“I have been giving some thought about the Clan problem. Our enemies have some serious structural and doctrinal issue, ones we should be exploiting sooner, rather than later-“

“Hanse, we have thousands of staff officers here and on Tharkad, whose job it is to study the damn problem, and you think you, with a second rate holo map, and piles of old books-“ gesturing to the cluttered office “-suddenly have a solution to the problem?”

Hanse nodded.

Ardan exhaled “Ok old friend, well, if I am going to get in trouble with Melissa and Victor, we might as well make it worth our while, show me what you have…”


..To say that the planning for what eventually became Clover Spear was unorthodox is an understatement. Hanse Davion was always a sharp operational and strategic mind with a penchant for thinking outside the box. Operation RAT, the abortive ’39 conflict, all of these had used the enemy’s structural weakness against them in a brutal, yet elegant format. But the Clans had scared the Inner Sphere silly, to say the least. They had struck without warning, and had savaged half-a-hundred regiments and taken a hundred worlds. The few victories against them had been costly, and had cost Hanse Davion what was left of his health. He was the last person anyone would have thought to have come up with a plan to launch a counter offensive only six years after the invasion.

But sometimes, serendipity does find itself in the strangest of places.

Page 96, Ch 9, Marshal Reginald Herrigan, AFFC (ret) “Punch the Falcon and Stomp the Viper - My View of Clover Spear”

"So, Chief, you think the blood stains will come out of that command couch? I mean, that B-mer is preemo salvage!"

PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:28 pm 
Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer

Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2002 8:00 pm
Posts: 113
Location: Washington DC
Situation Room
Fox’s Den, Mount Davion
New Avalon
Federated Suns
February 20th, 3054

Dad, I really hope you are right about this. A furrow of genuine worry creased Victor Ian Steiner-Davion’s 24 year old face, making him, for a moment, look older than his father. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. Now I know why you had me read Shakespeare, Dad. It is good training to be a ruler in this nutty little Inner Sphere of ours.

The main situation room had been used for centuries for moments great and small in the history of the Federated Suns. It was dominated by a large, oval table made of New Avalon maple, with sturdy legs, and custom chairs that could bring up personal holographic displays to bring up information of interest to the user. The wall was also covered in flat screen holodisplays that could be used to display troop movements or situation reports.

Victor was right now listening to the First Prince Daily Brief or FPDB, being presented by a team from DMI’s MI2, MI7 and MIIOs Department of Information Gathering. Surrounding Victor was representatives of the FC General Staff, the Federated Suns State Command, the Privy Council, as well as Quintus Allard (who purportedly never missed one of these meetings since being named to the post of Minister of Intelligence in 3022).

It was why Victor was damn glad he had Katherine to his right, and Galen to his left. Katherine was very good at seeing the political implications of things, and she was going to make a good “executive officer” when Victor got kicked upstairs in the near future. Galen was good at seeing through the “bovine scatology” but had, over drinks, asked Victor “Victor, my friend, my comrade, whatever did I do to you to get posted to this godforsaken nuthouse?”

Victor smiled, and simply said “This is for hitting me on Trellwan.”

Right now, Victor was listening to the intelligence implications of new Marik agricultural and medical assistance to the Capellan Confederation. The analysts, who looked to a man like guys who did not enjoy much sunlight, or the company of the opposite sex, were to a man and woman, pasty white, and way, way too excited about their subject matter. Quintus, what the hell were you thinking letting this lot present today? This is something that could have been dealt with at the ministerial level…

“…the amount of civil and surprisingly, military traffic in these humanitarian shipments can only be characterized as alarming, and suggest that we have underestimated both the Free Worlds League’s medical and agricultural output by a factor of 1.5, and their jumpships by a factor of three, which, even with recent windfall profits from their arms sales to the rest of the Inner Sphere, are impossible in such a short amount of time.”

Katherine raised her hand. Victor blanched, Uh oh, guess I get another lesson by little sis in what I don’t know about politics and economics…

“Um, excuse me Dr. Felton, I hate to interrupt this very complete, and fascinating report, but did you say we have grossly underestimated both the civil productive capability as well as the jumpship capacity of a major enemy of the Federated Commonwealth?” Katherine queried, there was a look of concern on her face..one that suggested a slowly growing sense of alarm.

Dr. Felton, who was a pudgy, bespectacled individual, who struck Victor as a bit of an eccentric, swallowed loudly, glanced at Quintus Allard, who simply nodded his approval. “Yes, mam, that is exactly what we are saying.”

Victor’s stomach bottomed out. “How in the hell did we miss this?”

Dr. Felton chuckled nervously..”Uh…well..your Highness, we only just began applying a new method of traffic analysis to the problem. Whomever was doing this, they knew our old methods…and that’s not easy, or public, sir. And that should scare this even more.”

Marshal Jackson Davion leaned forward, his face being bathed in hololight as he didn’t bother to turn his personal display off. “Any idea who is backing them?”

“Sir, we are running some financial forensics, with the cooperation of the Ministry of Justice, and the early indicators..mind you, sir, they are preliminary..but it might be the Word Of Blake, they are-“

Victor cut him off with a wave “We all know who the Word of Blake are, but, Dr. Felton, but do they really have the financial wherewithal to pull this off?”

Dr. Felton simply stated “We have no reason to believe otherwise.”

Victor shook his head in disgust, Damn you Sun-Tsu. Well, you are a crafty little slimeball. I really need to commend all involved here. This was a damn good catch. I would have missed this easily, but not Katherine. I guess NAIS Poli Sci IS a good department.

“Ok, here is what is going to happen.” Victor intoned softly, but with an air of command in his voice. An unofficial rule of the Fox’s Den is that there was to be no raised voices in the Situation Room. No member of the Davion family had ever broken that rule.

“Katherine, form a team to study this. You saw it before the rest of us did, figure out the implications of this, with attention to the Word of Blake, and present me a personal report within 10 days, Dr. Felton, consider yourself on this team. By the way, this thing just became a codeword access level project. If the Blakists are involved, I don’t want a damn word of this going out via HPG, couriers or FAX only.”

Everyone nodded. “And Doctor Felton? Use small words, will you. I know you guys worked very damn hard on this thing, but honestly, ‘COMINT meta data analysis? You are making this ‘Mechjock’s eyes glaze over.” Everyone, including Dr. Felton, had a chuckle at that.

“I apologize, your Highness. We in the Traffic Analysis section of IDG get really, really excited when somebody calls us to the Fox’s Den. Not a lot of people get what we do.”

Everyone had another chuckle, Victor raised his hand again and spoke “Dr. Felton, if this bears out, you have discovered a major threat to the Commonwealth, and at the right time. Be proud of that. My sister and her staff can help you polish this thing. But it is solid, it must be if Katherine and Quintus are that concerned. Thank you Dr. Felton.”

With that, Dr. Felton’s team grabbed their papers and made for the exit, as there was one more presentation to be made. And in the light of this new information, it made that decision more difficult to make.

Hanse Davion strode into the Situation room like he had never left. His posture, though stooped by age, was still fairly erect. His now grey hair shone like stars in the sky, and he proudly wore the uniform of his beloved 3rd Guards, and it gleamed, gleamed so brightly that a NAMA drill instructor would have wept. And his eyes…Hanse’s eyes burned with a cyan fire that Victor had not seen in them since he was a boy. Putting on quite the show, Dad. Now, can you deliver the goods?

Hanse flashed his winning smile at the room, it was genuine, he was glad to be back in his element, planning a massive military operation that, again, could change the very face of the Inner Sphere, whether it succeeded, or failed.

“Hello everyone, I will admit it is good to be back, haven’t seen this place in a while. I will spare all of us the wool gathering of an old man, and get right to it: We have let the Clans dictate the nature, and tempo of this conflict for far, far, too long.”

The room filled with murmurs and the assembled generals and ministers looked at each other incredulously.

Katherine was the first to speak “Father, how in the world do you expect to change that, they have brought low some of our best regiments, and taken hundreds of worlds, I am not trying to sound defeatist, but-“

Hanse held up his hands in a gesture of supplication.

“Katherine, I will get to that, but first, a minor, and hopefully, brief history lesson.”

Hanse produced a remote for the main holoprojector from his pocket and clicked a button, a slide appeared that
read simply: “Clan Advantages” in black text against a soft blue background.

“When the Clans arrived in the Inner Sphere, they had, as far as conventional military wisdom is concerned, three main advantages, we are going to examine them, and address why, well, those advantages are either overstated, or in some cases, non-existent at this point.”

Hanse then clicked a button on his remote and text appeared on the slide that read simply, “1. Surprise”.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this was one of the major Clan allies in their whirlwind conquest of their occupation zones. Surprise. They had it in spades. We knew little to anything about them. Hell, you all remember the rumors. We thought they were damned aliens, until Jamie Wolf had his little meeting with us.”

Victor winced uncontrollably at the memories of the pain some of the training inflicted. Yeah, that was fun, but in some ways…a waste. Sure it encouraged some unity among us, but Sun-Tsu Liao..it did nothing for him…The very mention of Sun-Tsu had caused Victor’s right fist to curl in anger. Careful, Victor, he is something of your blind spot, focus on the Clans. They are more of a threat then that madman will ever be.

“As the old saying goes, ladies and gentlemen, ‘the best way to know someone, is to fight them’. I would say we know the Clans pretty well now. Well enough for me to present our other two points, with a fair degree of confidence.”

“We know the rules behind their warrior culture, we know how it functions, and more importantly, we know why. We know if functions on artificial rules, and a monopoly of violence that is even more pronounced than anything found in the Inner Sphere, even in the Capellan Confederation. And even the Capellans, ladies and gentlemen, do not radically shortchange their own citizenry to the degree the Clans do to keep their warrior class going. Just look at the Clan logistical collapse on Tukkayyid. What many of you don’t know is that for the first time in hundreds of years, there were food riots on Tamar? Tamar, a breadbasket world..had no food? Why, because the Clans collectivized the farms under their Merchant caste. This is but one example. Their logistical system is a shoestring, and it will collapse under another major strain. One this plan intends to provide.”

Hanse then clicked the button again, and another point appeared on the slide “2. Training”.

“We have all been hearing how the Clan warrior is the epitome of warfare. They are unstoppable paragons, and we just got lucky. Nonsense!”

The room, for the first time in hundreds of years, exploded in an uproar.

Hanse put up his hands again..”Quiet please, ladies and gentlemen, QUIET!” Hanse’s command voice came out, and all, even his own children obeyed, and sat meekly down. Sure, Hanse wasn’t First Prince anymore, but he still could engender the loyalty and respect of one with a simple voice or gesture.

“I know I have not faced them across a battlefield, ladies and gentlemen. I understand that. But everything I have read, and seen. The Clans produce men and women whom are very good individual warriors. But ask yourselves? Those of you who have faced them, what kind of real operational or strategic ability have they shown? Their bidding system is a unique way to guarantee economy of force, for example, but it doesn’t encourage mass at all, and their dueling system while a morally satisfying means of warfare, only works when the opponent is willing to reciprocate, and is inferior technologically, if the Clans had the same technological standard we had, they would lose.”

“Our doctrine, our way of making war, it is based on thousands of years of refinement and development. Everyone from Sun-Tsu, to Clauswitz, to Kerensky. The Clans are of the opinion that if it did not come from Kerensky, it must be rubbish. I am willing to go out on a limb and state that I do not think the father would have approved of what the son created. The Clans, when it comes to the doctrinal underpinnings of war, or the strategic and operational principles of said same, know nothing, and are happy to remain ignorant, mainly because their technology is so dominant.”

Hanse then pushed the button on his clicker again, and a third point appeared “3. Technology”.

Hanse exhaled, and took an offered glass of water, of which he drained greedily. “The Clan technological advantage is steep, but history is filled with nations who were technologically advanced, but still lost wars because they refused to pay more than lip service to the other Principles of War. Nazi Germany is one that comes to mind. The Clans, in fact, are making the same mistake. They are counting on own ‘decadence’ to do their work for them. They had counted on being greeted as liberators, while enslaving entire populations and calling it a lofty name like “bondsman”. Their logistical system is so bad, that they are living off the land like the Mongols, or an ancient army, certainly not an army of the 31st Century. It is why they failed at Tukkayyid and to a lesser extent, Luthien. To continue the Nazi Germany analogy, right now, the Clans have fallen short of their goal, Terra. They have survived the winter, but now, their entire enterprise lacks any strategic direction. It is a military endeavor without a goal, really. They claim they are going to Terra, but ComStar has barred that door. They have yielded the strategic initiative, we must, for the future of the Inner Sphere, pick up the baton..and ram it down the throat of the Clans.”

Hanse then clicked his remote once more, and a map of the Jade Falcon Occupation Zone soon materialized, then one by one, colored arrows appeared, denoting proposed movements of forces against target worlds. The plan was focused, ambitious, but it was a sledgehammer. The proposed force ratios were brutal, as much as anywhere from 4 to 6 to one against the Jade Falcons or Vipers. It was the opposite of the Clan way of war. It was not meant to take worlds back so much, as it was to destroy the ability of the Jade Falcons and Vipers to make war, probably for all time.

Victor whistled softly… “Dad, keep going…you have our attention.”

Hanse Adrian Davion smiled. But it was not a mirthful smile. It was one that promised terrible, awful things to come for those who had dared to hurt, and enslave his people. I dedicated my life to defending the people of the Federated Suns, and later the Commonwealth, as first a soldier, then a ruler. The Kuritans, the Capellans, I understood, but even they, they are not what the Clans are. They are a threat to our very humanity. No..this time, we finish this. What no one knew is that Hanse had seen footage taken by MIIO, LIC and DMI operatives of the Jade Falcons engaging in “thamzing”. Hanse had launched a war once on a moral point..there had also been practical ones..but he had never forgiven the Liaos, or their brood, not for what they had done to his double. But now, this, this was a cancer, that needed to be cut out.

And cut out it would be.

I remember the temperature dropped ten degrees after Hanse began to smile. I hadn’t seen that smile on his face since the first wave of Operation RAT. I knew that the Jade Falcons and Steel Vipers were about to have a very bad day. The average age of the Clan warrior class was 25, and learning from their past did not seem to be their strong suit...Clan Loremasters and their "Remembrance" not withstanding...They say the best teacher is the enemy. I got the feeling we were about to teach what we had learned to the Falcons, in spades.

Hanse had picked one hell of a hobby for his retirement.

Ardan Sortek, “Reflections of a Soldier”, New Avalon Press, 3071

"So, Chief, you think the blood stains will come out of that command couch? I mean, that B-mer is preemo salvage!"

PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:29 pm 
Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer

Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2002 8:00 pm
Posts: 113
Location: Washington DC
June 18th, 3054
Offices of the First Prince Emeritus
Castle Davion
New Avalon
Federated Commonwealth

Spring had finally come to New Avalon, and the day had been nothing short of gorgeous. Hanse had asked the palace staff to leave the windows open while he was awake, as the breeze had simply been refreshing, reminiscent of such breezes from his youth when New Avalon entered spring.Who knew how many springs I still have? Hell, after I drop this little bomb on my guest, his answer may save or doom us, but we need him..dammit. But I hate putting the potential future of the Commonwealth in the hands of someone like him.

The wargames to test the plan had begun in earnest, and there had been a few flaws found in the plan. The main one was one that Hanse had expected would be found- transportation. There just wasn’t enough transport assets to move the forces required, let alone keep them supplied for when everything kicked off. But there wasn’t any source to get Jumpships from…or at least there was..until an offer came from left field..one Hanse had certainly not been expecting.

Quintus had been approached by someone purporting to be a personal representative of the Precentor Martial himself. Hanse did not know what to make of it, but figured why not meet with the Precentor, the worst he could say was no. Yeah, I know, Victor SHOULD be doing this, but my unique position allows him to disavow me as a “crazy old man”. If things go wrong..

There was a sharp rap at the door, it was a series of staccato bangs, like rifle fire. I guess the sound is appropriate. “Enter!” Hanse bellowed.

The door opened to reveal a withered figure cloaked in a white robe marked with the golden sigil of ComStar. His bespectacled eyes burned with a warrior’s fire, and his visage was unmistakable as the victor of Tukayyid. “Victor of the Clans”, Anastasius Focht.

Hanse smiled a seemingly genuine smile, one he knew was not going to fool his guest, but certain social graces had to be maintained. “Precentor Martial, I am sorry for the short time allowed to answer my request for a visit, but circumstances did not allow for more warning.”

“Spare me your pleasantries, Hanse Davion. Did you know there is a saying in the Capellan Confederation? ‘Beware of smiling Davions.’ So, Prince Davion, it seems you have a little plan to take the war to the Clans, one that is at the least, quite ambitious." Focht's tone and smile betrayed more mirth than the statement suggested.

Dammit, how in the hell did he know that? I see ROM has its usual impeccable sources...time to go on the offensive I suppose.

“Precentor Marital, I will not deny there is the planning for such an operation. Where you found out, has me at a loss. I suppose ROM is as good as ever." Hanse smiled.

Focht straightened his robes. "Prince Davion, I know you know who I really am, and I appreciate your family's discretion. You do understand this is exactly the kind of thing that is going to make the truce a dead letter?"

Hanse Davion looked Focht in the eye. "Do you trust all the Clans to keep the truce forever?"

Focht shrugged. "If it were simply up to Ulric Kerensky, yes. But it isn't. Somebody on the Clan side will break the truce sooner rather than later, and you are correct to hit first. As much as it pains me to say it."

Hanse knew that all this had done was put Focht on the defensive. But he was a warrior, and if Hanse did not act quickly, he would act to retake the initiative in this argument. Best to end this quickly. Hanse reached into a non-descript AFFS mapcase, it had been his own for many, many years during his time with the 3rd Guards. He deftly produced two blue manila folders. One had the words “Clover Spear- Target List” stamped on it and the other had “Clover Spear- Transport Requirements” stamped on it. Both were also stamped “Most Secret” with a sticker reminding everyone what the penalties for revealing the contents to anyone not cleared to know them were.

Focht took one folder and read through it, then the other...he grunted as he read, and smiled at parts of what he read, lines of mirth creasing his craggy face. He then put down the folder and smiled "Hanse Davion, if you ever want to get the hell out of this gilded cage, I have a job offer waiting."

"I would...except my wife would track me down...and put me in a real cage...and we both know it."

Both men shared a laugh that lasted until Hanse had a minor coughing fit.

Hanse Davion began “I require the use of ComStar’s transportation network for a year, as much of it as you can spare, without shorting your other obligations..or more correctly, the Federated Commonwealth does.”

“And why am I not meeting with Victor, why instead do I meet with you? Are you telling me you don’t trust your own son and heir?”

“On the contrary, I do. But he plays by the new rules, I don’t, and neither did you. I wanted to get the measure of you, Frederick Steiner, have you turned over a new leaf? Are you a new man?” Hanse asked, with a cocked eyebrow.

Focht shook his head, “None has called me by that name in 25 years. I hope you know I no longer covet the throne. I had that burned out of me on Dromini VI, Your mother in law left me to die. I assured her I wasn’t coming back, I was not going to be a party to craven murder. But as it was, I was fortunate that I got off as lucky as I did. I vowed never to get into politics again. As you can see, it almost killed me. But I see even though I leave politics, it does not leave me. You will get my cooperation, and the Primus’s, for your jumpships. I just hope it is enough. All I ask are two things.”

“They are?” Hanse queried

“First, you allow me to send limited numbers of ComStar personnel with the invasion forces to get the HPGs up and running again. I promise, no ROM, and no ‘Mechs. Second, you finish the damn job.” Focht said with an edge.

Hanse smiled a dangerous smile “Agreed to the first point, as for the second, we must win, Precentor Martial, or we are all done for, all of us, for the Clans do not strike me as a merciful people, Precentor Martial. And with that,” as Hanse rose and motioned towards the door “have a nice trip back to Terra. May I suggest you try Kepperings while on New Avalon before you go? They have an excellent surf and turf meal.”

Focht made as to leave, but turned and looked at Hanse Davion, his eyes bored into him “You are going to die like you lived, Hanse Davion. Your death will be as the result of politics. It would be a shame for you to end up like that..but retirement, she doesn't suit you. Ask Victor to give you a damn job, you old fool!”

“No, Focht, no, I cannot do that and you know why. I made a promise to Melissa. Whatever happens after this, I hang up the spurs.” Hanse said evenly.

Focht shook his head angrily. “Hanse Adrian Davion. Your one true destiny is that of a soldier. Your son is one as well. Politics only suits you insofar as you had to use it. I look forward to your humbling of the Jade Falcons.”

Focht left with a twirl of his robes and a martial stomp in his step. He still stomps off like Frederick did..hasn’t changed a damn bit.

Hanse sat down on the couch in his office with a thump. That little exchange had been pleasant, but tiring. But it was necessary. He was not going to leave the Clans to be his son’s problem. I am sure Victor could handle it, of that I have no doubt, he has matured a lot since becoming First Prince, but he has a blind spot when it comes to the Capellans, filial piety will be my son’s undoing.

His reverie was interrupted by another knock at the door “Your highness, you daughter Katherine is here, she isn’t on the calendar, but-“

“My daughter needs to be on some calendar? Are you mad, let her in.”

Sometimes, I wonder about my staff, I think they edit my visitation requests so as not to ‘upset’ me. Hanse exhaled in mild frustration. At this rate, it was probably likely they would give him a heart attack through the sheer minor frustrations they were putting him through.

“Let her in, for god’s sake she is my daughter! And never bar family members again!”

“Yes, your highness!”

Katherine entered Hanse’s office with a quizzical look on her porcelain face. She took after he mother, with fine, Germanic features topped with long blond hair she kept medium length, though, unlike her mother and father, her hair was curly, She may get that from her uncle Ian. Hanse mused. She had the blond eyes of both the Davions and the Steiners, but unlike most of them, hers had pronounced gold flecks. Her red, white and blue sundress, inspired by the colors of the Davion Guards, whom she had just returned from visiting (and had turned down more than a few ribald marriage proposals from), billowed in the evening breeze.

“Father, I amost got run down by Anastasius Focht and his entourage, and he looked like Aunt Yvonne when she has a plan on her mind, are we going to be interdicted again?”

Hanse laughed, “No Katherine, my dear, it seems the Precentor Martial and I had a meeting and came to understand a great many things…all of them good.”

Katherine shook her head “Dad, your heart, you can’t keep acting like you’re First Prince, or a ‘Mechwarrior anymore. I worry about you, and this may sound selfish, but I need my dad to give me away at my wedding.” Katherine stated with mock forcefulness, she wasn’t really angry at her father, as she had always been a bit of a “daddy’s girl”.

It had been her father that had noticed the early signs of Dombrowski A in his daughter, and the road had been hard, and long, with many long hours of treatment at NAIS, but it had left Katherine a bit shy and unable to relate to people easily. She was now coming out of her shell, but it was a painful process. Her “time” in the AFFC was working in a PIO shop here on New Avalon, and she had done well, even giving a few briefings, where a beaming Hanse had proclaimed “that’s my girl” to a crowd of slightly bemused members of the media. Hanse loved all of his children fiercely, but he was closest to his two oldest.

“Dammit Katherine, this is a guilded cage, I know it’s well meant, but now that I have something to do, it feels wonderful.”

“If it doesn’t kill you? And incidentally, shouldn’t you have left this to Victor? You did give him the keys to the kingdom a while ago?” Katherine intoned, her tone expressing not a little bit of concern.

Hanse chuckled “I hear you, and obey, my daughter, but I had my reasons, now, what is this I hear about walking you down the aisle and marriage? Is there a young man I need to have DMI scare the hell out of? Not like I can do that sort of thing anymore.”

Katherine groaned “Um, dad, that dance at NAIS, it was real fun you making a show of showing my date your Battlemaster…and what it did to unarmored infantrymen…”

“Noone breaks my little girl’s heart…whatever happened to him, anyhow? I liked him.”

“He enlisted, we broke up, he’s on the Clan front somewhere as an Aerospace pilot.”

“So…back to the question, my daughter..Who has got you talking to me in hypotheticals about your nuptials?…It isn’t like your dear brother is in a hurry.” Hanse shook his head at that last thought, Victor must marry once I do pass on, and the Commonwealth cannot be without a secure future, not for a moment!

“Well, I noticed him…not sure he notices me…his initials are…G and C.” Katherine’s smile was electric, and could melt hearts at 100 meters. The trouble was, the after effects of the treatment had left her not smiling very often. Hence the small talk. Hanse had made it a point to always get Katherine to loosen up around him, and everyone else. Formality may have its uses, but social lubricant is not one of them.

“Katherine, first, sit down, you make me nervous when you stand and talk to me, and any minute now, I think you’re going to begin to pace again.”

Katherine sat down in a very precise and lady-like manner. She smiled at her father and took his hand in hers as they sat across from her, him on the couch, and her in an overstuffed setee, “Dad, you know I’m probably going to get married before Victor ever will. First, he is married to his job…and second? He is pining after the one girl he can’t have. “

Omi Kurita…Jesus, can it ever be more of a cosmic joke that my firstborn son falls in love with the daughter of the mortal enemy of the Commonwealth…though with the Clans, the Combine has taken more than a few steps back in that department..Still…

“Dare I ask, but have you tried fixing your brother up?”

Katherine rolled her eyes “Mom has, I have, Galen has, Kai has..It’s been a bit of a fiasco. And now, now with that plan of yours, he has been putting 10-12 hour days because he wants to validate the plan.”

Hanse smiled a thin smile of pride warring with concern. “Katherine, sadly, he gets that from me. I agree with the idea, but do me a favor? Make sure he eats and takes care of himself. That kind of thing is what had my ticker give out.”

“Received and understood, Dad, I have got half the palace working for me keeping Victor human…or human-ish... Dad, not to switch the subject, but you know we still haven’t found a way around the jumpship issue? The troop movements across the Commonwealth and supporting logistics are well, ruinous to the economy with the Jumpship numbers. We’ll be in a full-blown depression inside of a year.”

Hanse produced a device from his pocket, and smiled as he thumbed it on, and placed it on a nearby coffee table. “Katherine, what I am about to tell you must be kept close at hand, you can tell Victor, but OPSEC is a factor here. It has to do with my meeting with the Precentor Martial, and why I met with him instead of Victor. And why I need you to tell your brother.”

Katherine looked on quizzically. “Um, Dad, does this have anything to do with the Precentor Martial storming out of here like an Atlas on fire?”

Hanse nodded “It does, we have secured the use of some of ComStar’s Jumpship fleet for a year. Focht is probably in a hurry to cut the appropriate orders at the New Avalon HPG.”

Katherine’s face lit up. “Dad, they will be just enough to keep the economy running, but why am I the one to tell Victor?”

Hanse tapped Katherine’s knee, “Because sweetheart, Victor never really knew firsthand what it was like to deal with the old ComStar. I did. Yes, what I did can be seen as undercutting his authority. It will not occur again. I just wanted to make sure I got the measure of the man- “

“-and make sure he didn’t take big brother for a ride.” Katherine finished.

“Precisely, I am sure of Focht now, and I think he and Mori will turn ComStar around. Will certain parties give him the time? I doubt it. But you need to do something. You know my favorite mapcase?”

Katherine nodded.

“There is a folder there with a list of our remaining intelligence assets in the Free Worlds League, if things begin to go south for ComStar, I want Victor to have a list of those assets at his fingertips and not have to ask the Intelligence Secretariat to pull the information. It will take valuable time he will not have. I am sure Victor will know what orders to give..but I want you to hold on to that folder. Just in case.”

Katherine smiled “Just in case we have to start potting Blakists from rooftops?”

Hanse nodded.

“Consider it done, Daddy. He always protected me when we were younger, even when I did not deserve it…especially when I didn’t. I can have his back for this."

Hanse’s heart broke at that last statement, Katherine, my beloved daughter. You always deserved better. The illness, it was not your fault. You paid a high price for your mental health. The occasional crying fits that surface today, the insomnia, the two years of seizures. And above all, the painful shyness. Oh my daughter, I do hope the cure was worth it. Now, now I start another war to make sure you have a future better than the one I had. Maybe a peaceful one, dare I hope.

..Whatever my differences between my brother and I, I always loved him for being that big brother who protected me growing up, and was there during the worst of the Dombrowski A treatment. I remember after one bad day at NAIS when I had passed out during the electroshock, my mother was screaming at dad, and Dad sat and took it..they both loved me, and both were angry, in their own way at what fate had thrown at their eldest daughter. Mom, Mom lost her temper, in one of the few times I have ever seen her do it..Dad, dad, was stoic, and was a statue when Mom began to pound him with her fists…and that’s when I heard Victor come into the room, and say to both of them “Stop it, Katherine can hear, and she needs us.” I was never more proud of my big brother.

So, when Dad and I had that talk that fateful day of June, 3054, I realized I had to be the little sister he deserved. I had to be strong…

It’s Not All Fairy Tales – The Life and Times of a Cracked Princess, by Katherine Cox-Steiner Davion, Tharkad Press, Tharkad, 3084

"So, Chief, you think the blood stains will come out of that command couch? I mean, that B-mer is preemo salvage!"

PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:31 pm 
Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer

Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2002 8:00 pm
Posts: 113
Location: Washington DC
October 8th, 3054
Celestial Palace
Forbidden City
Capellan Confederation

Sun-Tsu Liao was not in the best of moods, Getting anyone to do a damn thing around here without screwing it up is becoming difficult. And I am not my mother, so shooting them in job lots is out.

He re-read the reports recently presented by an official of the Ministry of Development. He had delivered his report with a nervous hilt in his voice, constantly tensing every time Sun-Tsu moved. My mother has done a lot of damage here, it seems “hopeless battle syndrome” can be found in the civilian bureaucracy as well. Even with the increased aid from his father in law’s “mysterious” benefactors,..whom I know to be the Word of Blake. SAFE’s attempts to cover this up was clumsy, and as usual, the report’s findings were grim. Malnutrition and disease were stalking the worlds near the Periphery like the Christian angels of death. Millions had died on New Roland, Gunthar, and Ward. And it was only going to get worse.

The root casue of the humanitarian disaster was that the Capellan Confederation had been beaten badly in the 4th War. Losing most of Tikonov and Sarna had not just impacted the military production base, which had just now begun to recover, but the civilian economy, which was absolutely smashed flat with the loss of so much of the Confederation’s prosperity. The worlds on the Periphery border, always a little close to the margin, were pushed over, and in at least one case, on Hurik, the government had collapsed last year, necessitating Sun-Tsu to send in the Nightrider Regiment from McCarron’s Armored Cavalry to restore order.

It had been a bloody business, the Maskirovka “processed” some 30,000 “former citizens” for rebellion. Who knew how many servitors were among that number. Nobody bothered counting them. That was too reminiscent of my mother. Perhaps I made a mistake putting Kali in charge of that. Who knew she was a 21 year old sociopath? She is yet another problem I will have to deal with. He made sure to mentally note that idea, it was best it be done at a time where he needed a casus belli. He would order the Death Commandos to perform the deed, and make sure Davion got the blame. Regrettably, that is a part of the family tree that needs to be pruned, before it hurts the state any more than it already has.

A gong interrupted Sun-Tsu’s reverie, much to his minor annoyance. A junior courtier walked deliberately to the center of the throne room, and bowed deeply on one knee. “Celestial Wisdom, the briefers from the Ministry of Defense and the Maskirovka request permission to enter the throne room and inform your Excellency as to our efforts to defend the state and confound the Davion dogs!”

Sun-Tsu simply grunted his ascent. A few more briefings, and then I can get to what really needs getting to, as well as find my problematic wife…and convince her that it is our duty to produce a few heirs for the continuance of the Liao line! What was I thinking marrying a Marik? That had caused a bit of an issue on Pella II. Happily, the Maskirovka took care of that lot more quietly, only a half-dozen dead. Not to mention the dozens of nobles that have caused me nothing but grief about her. She is another branch that might need some pruning.

The usual teams of briefers entered the throne room, which was immediately cleared of all of the courtiers and hangers on, and the double doors sealed, with the air filling with an electronic hum of a white noise generator. The briefers were relatively junior level, and had at least one or more war wounds. This was tradition, and it was meant to be two-fold. The first aspect was to remind the sitting Chancellor of the price of war…and more importantly, the price of getting it wrong. The tradition was only interfered with in my grandfather’s day. By my grandfather himself. I know it is poor form to speak ill of the dead, but the state has prospered since my Grandfather’s “suicide”. A suicide he knew his mother had everything to do with.

And that lead to the second tradition. Many Capellan Chancellors had had taken “shooting the messenger” to an art form. If the Chancellor decided to eliminate the current briefing team…they could be easily replaced. His mother had been one of the worst offenders. I am still writing pardon scrolls to clean up some of her messes…some of the men and women she condemned to Brazen Heart were doing nothing more than their duty to the state. I must therefore, make it up to the survivors.

Sun-Tsu was beginning to remind himself of a commercial he had seen from his youth. It was for a kitchen mop that was supposedly made from the same material as moisture absorption systems from Battlemech Heat Sinks. The pitch man was loud, and obnoxious, and had he been a Capellan citizen, would have been executed by his mother for starting one of her “migranes”. As it was, he was a Canopean citizen and the commercial was broadcasting on Capellan entertainment networks announcing the arrival of the product in Capellan markets. But he was the Sham-Now, and there was just so much blood to clean up…and only one mop to do it.

And the laughter of my mother in my head does not help. Sun-Tsu mused.

The briefing had been droning on with internal rebellions being crushed here, an occasional pirate raid there, the briefers always saved the most distressing news for last. It increased their potential life expectancy. Sun-Tsu braced himself for the worst, he had been getting some private reports from Marcus Baxter, CO of McCarron’s Armored Cavalry, as well as from Yaquinto Yadi, House Master of House Immara, and by default, leader of the Capellan Warrior House Order. Both had many unofficial links throughout the Inner Sphere, and those links had proven useful to Sun-Tsu for a variety of intelligence data that the Maskirovka had either ignored, or missed. Why the Director of my own intelligence agency chooses to overlook these things intrigues me. It also perturbs me, but it intrigues me.

It was at that moment, that a statement by one of the military briefers mentioned, a young female Captain. She was tall, with features that suggested a mixed Chinese/Russian ancestry. She had a fire of intelligence and bravery in equal measure in her one good eye, and if not for the facial scarring, would have been considered pretty. There was no questioning her bravery, she proudly wore the Grand Cordon of Merit proudly on the breast of her uniform. “Celestial Wisdom, the most important part of the briefing is the movement of some 10 RCTs and another 5 unaffiliated regiments have moved from their base worlds in the Federated Suns State Command to unknown destinations, we suspect movements towards Lyran space.”

Sun-Tsu’s face hardened. “How have you come by the information? Captain? Could this be another Davion trick to precede them finishing what their Operation RAT began?”

“No, your Celestial Wisdom. Sources and Methods have confirmed the jump paths from the base worlds. We are not 100% sure where they are headed, but the signatures suggest directions towards Lyran space.”

Could be anything from reports from allied flag merchants, to Mask agents in place, to some Zhuang-de-Guang guerilla with a telescope, and a means to get the information out. Still, the quality of the information is maddening. “And what, Captain, if I were to ask you to stake your life on this information? Would you?”

“I have done so for the Confederation before, Celestial Wisdom. What would one more time be?”

Sun-Tsu smiled. “I like you, Major. You are smart and brave in equal measure. And I admire that. It is a pity more Citizens of the Capellan State lack your moral courage.” He then in one fluid motion drew a small automatic pistol and shot the head of the Maskirovka briefing team in the head. The report startled the palace guards, and reverberated across the walls for moments afterwards. The team leader’s almond colored head snapped back, a rooster tail of blood streaming from the exit wound in the back of his skull as he collapsed to the floor like a puppet with his strings cut. The body slammed into the floor with a THUD. The smell of gunpowder was heavy, and fragrant as a wisp of smoke curled from the short barrel of the small pistol in the Chancellor’s hand.

Sun-Tsu surveyed the room, noting fear in the eyes in all but one, the newly minted Major. I like her. She is Capellan In thought, in deed, and in spirit.

“The failure you see before you is an example of the failure of the Chancellors that came before me. This man was promoted far beyond his station..or his competence.” Sun-Tsu hissed, acid dripping from his words “He was a favorite of my mother, and her consort. I play no such favorites. You must earn my favor, or you will end up like that refuse on the floor. I will reward competence, character, loyalty to the state, cunning, bravery, and above all, honesty. Respectful disagreement will be encouraged. Lack of respect, or worse, incompetence and acting like a fawning sycophant, will not.”

“Major, what is your name, and your former regiment?”

“I was a member of the Sung’s Cuirassiers, Celestial Wisdom. My company was shattered by a Davion battalion during a raid, but we made them pay for our lives! I got four of the dogs before I was shot out of my Cataphract and was badly injured during my ejection. I was brought into staff work at the Ministry after being discharged from the hospital here on Sian. My superior at the Ministry noticed I had a knack for intelligence analysis.”

Sun-Tsu smiled again, “You do, inform your superior you are now attached to the palace staff as a personal advisor, and about your promotion. Also inform him he is to be promoted as well. I will let the Ministry work out the details. Were there any survivors of your company, Major?”

“Regrettably, no, Celestial Wisdom. They all died in service to the state,” the Major seemed regretful at that last question. She struck Sun-Tsu as the type of commander who had cared for her people, and their deaths, and her own disability was a measure of shame for her.

Sun-Tsu stepped down off the throne, and strode over to the Major, placing one of his long, carbon-fibre reinforced nails gently under her chin, lifting it until her eye met his. “Major, I allow you a special privilege, as my advisor, I order you, except when rendering courtesies, to always look me in the eye. Because I need a clear-eyed teller of the truth to navigate the Capellan State. You see what I have to work with here…What is your name, Major?” as he swept his hand across the remains of the shocked Mask team.

“Shang, Alexa Shang, Celestial Wisdom.”

“Very well, Major Shang. I look forward to our time together. I believe it will be more than productive.” Sun-Tsu then snapped his fingers and a palace Servitor appeared as if by magic. “Move Major Shang into the guest quarters, and ensure that her office is ready by tomorrow. She will be treated well, and ensure that her background check is expedited by the Maskirovka. And summon my Senior Colonels, I think we need to reevaluate what can be done with this information.”

The servitor meekly replied “Yes, Celestial Wisdom”.

Sun-Tsu Liao returned to his throne as the briefing teams bowed and made to leave. He waved them onward. Major Shang stood off to one side, her face wan, as she took it all in with grace.

“So tell me, Major. Do you think with our new alliance with the Mariks, that we are strong enough to deal Victor Davion the blow he deserves?”

“No, Celestial Wisdom. The AFFC is strong enough to hold us off, but not strong enough to invade us. We would be bogged down in a conflict that would soon come to resemble the 3rd Succession War. But, I think these recent troop movements give us an opportunity, as you said. But I think it will depend on whether or not we can enlist the aid of the Captain General.”

Sun-Tsu nodded. “You are correct. We must find a way to ensure that he has no choice but to participate. Were we to strike, Major, where would you do so?”

“It would depend upon the goal of the offensive, Celestial Wisdom, but I think it would be best to keep our own objectives limited, and doable. Overreach could be our destruction.” Shang said flatly.

“I concur, Major. This is why I want you when I speak with my Senior Colonels. Some, like Zahn and Rush, are wise men, skilled in the ways of war. Some, well, it is best to say that their zeal to serve the Capellan state outweighs their good sense.”


Sun-Tsu Liao was unlike most of the Chancellors in our then-recent history. He was mercurial, to be sure, but he was wise, and sane, unlike his mother, and grandfather before him. The policy reforms in Capellan life that he has instituted since the war are sure to make him revered in the same breath as IIse Liao. It is not a comparison I make lightly. He has been a fresh air for the Capellan people. The fact that OPERATION EAST SEA almost worked was a testament to his cunning, patience, and intelligence. As it was, we taught the Davion to fear us again. It was a heady feeling, to get our respect back.

I wish I could say the same for our allies…or even for some of the Chancellor’s closest advisers.

“My Years with the Chancellor”, Alexa Shang, Colonel, CCAF (Ret), Loyalty Press, Sian, 3075

"So, Chief, you think the blood stains will come out of that command couch? I mean, that B-mer is preemo salvage!"

PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:32 pm 
Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer

Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2002 8:00 pm
Posts: 113
Location: Washington DC
Taken from "Falcon and Viper meet the Anvil: An Anatomy of the ’56 War” (Victory Press, Robinson, 3081) by Prof. Richard Kingman (Kommandant, AFFC Ret.)

“..Contrary to popular belief at the time, Hanse Davion did understand his enemy far better than anyone had given him credit. Many who knew him knew two things about him. One, that he was a man who studied his enemies thoroughly, and the Clans were no exception, and two, he was a man who knew how to take a calculated risk and push it to the limit.

But what made the Clans so vulnerable, was something they had done to themselves, they had become hidebound in the name of ideological purity. Even the “Warden” political faction was to a measure, hidebound in its military doctrine and as such, was unable to cope with what the AFFC had brought to bear, especially as the AFFC invested a lot of money and time over the intervening two years to train multiple RCTs along the Clan front in a variety of firepower intensive doctrines, especially those utilizing artillery on a scale not seen before in the Inner Sphere.

There was an expansion in the number of gun tubes in the average RCT, with those along the frontier being converted to a artillery brigade of two gun regiments each, along with a battalion of Arrow IV equipped ‘Mechs. More of these Brigades were created as independent units designed to support collections of Free Regiments, as well as mercenary units. These Artillery Brigades worked hand in hand with the scouting elements of the RCT, be it LRRPs, Light ‘Mechs, or reconnisance vehicle elements. In short, the light elements, along with an increased use of RPVs were there to find targets, for these new concentrations of guns.

Moreover, a new family of semi-automatic mortars were installed the battalion level in platoon strength (4 tubes) in Armored and Mechanized Infantry units, There was some talk of installing them in ‘Mech units as well, but it was felt the mortars could neither a) keep up with the ‘Mechs in the unit, and b) the maintenance and logistical concerns of having vehicles and ‘Mechs in the same battalion, however, it was decided to have a battery of the weapons installed at the Regimental Level in all arms, and ‘Mech unit commanders began to value having the “hip pocket artillery”, especially for the way it could speedily lay down the new thermal smoke rounds that were promised to even interfere with the vaunted Clan-tech thermal imaging systems.

New doctrinal changes came about, where AFFC commanders were encouraged to use recon assets aggressively to find enemy unit boundaries, or weakly held parts of the enemy line in any kind of terrain. The idea was to smash these parts of the Clan line with sheer numbers, and then encircle the Clan units, and forcing them to fight an attritional battle of annihilation. AFFC units were told to expect fierce Clan counterattacks at every level, as it was expected that the Falcons and Vipers, once they realized they had been sucked into just such a fight, would seek to either a) break out to resume the kind of long range mobile battle that suited them, or b) would throw themselves at the obviously numerically superior FC forces in an “death ride” to achieve as honorable a death as possible. Furthermore, AFFC units were trained to use night, and close terrain to their advantage, so as to seek a close-range assault that would negate the Clan range advantage.

Taking and holding the initiative was paramount, and the AFFC pounded the idea into their commanders, one that had been stressed in the AFFC for a long time- “Get the initiative and never let go of it.” Airmobile tactics were stressed as well, as it was thought that due to the low speed of Elementals, putting infantry units with heavy weapons into the Clan rear in battalion strength was a means to disrupt the ability of the Clans to form a coherent defense. (This last idea, as we will see, was more miss than hit during the ’56 War, and it needed massive refinement, but it did become a coherent part of AFFC tactical and operational doctrine that survives today).”

From “Deception Operations in the Capellan and Sarna Marches during the Buildup to Clover Spear” – written by Hauptmann-General Arnold Haugen, for the Military Intelligence Review, Fall ’71 issue, Published by the AFFC Department of Information, New Avalon)

“..I was a young Kommandant when we briefed the plan to move a number of RCTs and Free Regiments from the Capellan and Sarna ‘Marches in early ’54. Memory doesn’t serve the exact time and date, but I know it was still winter on Monhegan where the meeting took place. We knew the deception would not last forever, especially with the Maskirovka keeping pretty close tabs along the border, but we had to get those troops to the Clan front.
Simply put, we were going to take a page from RAT, and make the deployments sound like routine rotations to the Clan front. MIIO and DMI had put together some really great deception packages for the media, and we banned the press from covering most of the troop movements, but not all. We knew things would get especially dicey when the dependents for most of the units were asking why they had not rotated to the Lyran Commonwealth along with their families, telling them the Clan front was no place for families was one way we got around that, but again, it only worked until mid-’55. We had our hands full making it look like less units had left than actually had.

We had small radio-technical units ranging the border with the Capellans and Mariks imitating the units that, had in fact, departed. We found out later, we did fool SAFE, but not the Maskriovka, at least, not forever. We don’t know how the leak happened, but by late 3054, sources inside MIIO had stated that the Capellans knew we had moved at least part of the forces slated for Clover Spear into the Lyran State Command. We could only pray the Dragoons could keep up their end of the deception, making the Capellans think that three of their regiments were still on Outreach, instead of all of them heading for the border of the Jade Falcon OZ.

Naturally, when the Capellans found out the truth? All hell broke loose.”

The Private Memoirs of Shao Lao-Tse, Senior Colonel, CCAF (Ret)

“..EAST SEA was to be fair to the Chancellor, a tricky endeavor from the start. The Davion presence along the border had always been strong, and even with the Clans, they had covered our lost territories very well indeed. Thus, East Sea has remained firmly a contingency plan, with the barest of effort put into it, not to mention, we at the Ministry of Defense realized. The CCAF hadn’t launched a sustained offensive against anyone since 2412. To say there was no institutional memory on how to do such a thing..was…an understatement.”

“Most of our offensive plans at the time consisted of us going into the rebel province [the then official Capellan name of the St. Ives Compact] in case their government collapsed, or the AFFC pulled out, but neither was seen as very likely, we had several variants of plans for that, all under the name of LONG MARCH. So, it was rather shocking when I was at the weekly meeting with the sovereign during the usual weekly state of the CCAF briefing, that the Chancellor asked the now, well known question:

“Ruhe Zhumbei Shi Wo De Mao?” – How ready are my spears?

We were all struck dumb. Even with Marik help, we didn’t think we had a ghost of a chance to pull anything like EAST SEA off. But then, those sorcerers at the Military Intelligence section had gotten to the Chancellor..we all thought they had talked him into an ill-advised war…and there were some, I am sure, who were worried we had another Maximillian on our hands..but then, that Shang woman of his. I never liked her..she was too ambitious for her own good. But she had good information this time…it seems Wolf’s Dragoons had left Outreach.
I never forgot the terrible smile of that Shang woman, it didn’t last. Not after Sarna.”

“Blood of a Partisan- The Story of a Partisan against the Clans” (Franks, John, Albermale Press, Koniz, 3077)

"..I will never forget when the first Rabid Foxes showed up on Blackjack. We had had a lonely war, and it was getting harder to bring people over to our side. We’d had a couple of raids go bad, and that traitor: That so-called “Star Colonel” Mark..he was making weekly statements on the Planetary medianet, telling us to accept the “New Tomorrow”, like he had. Bastard.

We did our best to kill him…twice, and missed both times. We did get his sister. Hey, it sent a message, right?

The trouble was, the ones the Falcons sent was worse. They wiped out a small mining town in the mountains by the name of Happy Days..killed everyone, even the kids. They called it “the price of resisting our betters.” You can imagine what we thought of that. Two weeks later, we put a LAW rocket into one of the “Falcon Freindship Centers” in downtown Lott’s Revenge, and killed half a dozen of the tanker bastards…especially when we paid the fire department a visit, and told them in no uncertain terms…not to show up.

But that didn’t deter the Falcons, no, they murdered one hundred hostages..and did it in full view of the cameras. We felt low by then. There was maybe a half dozen of us left, we had little food, little ammunition, and no real hope. The last time we had seen the FedCom was when a ‘Merc outfit had tried to raid one of the outlying Falcon detachments…and walked into an ambush. Many of us were ready to fade back into the woodwork, and make the best of it..when fate intervened.

We had heard a dropship pass over our camp, low, from east to west, and were wondering what it was all about. We were worried that the Falcons had found us, and were hot dropping Toads on us to finish us off, but when we looked up, we saw tiny black parachutes against the inky twilight sky. We realized one thing, Toads didn’t use parachutes.

The old man quickly established a marching order, and we briefed a quick hasty ambush at a site we knew well, one we had ambushed some of the collabo (collaborationist) militia a couple times before, before the Falcons disbanded them due to their (I think in some cases, deliberate) incompetence.

We set out for the ambush site at a near run. We had learned to move quietly, like holes in the oncoming night, One thing the Falcons did admit about us, and it spooked the hell out of them..We were not usually seen unless we wanted to be seen. And that night, we definitely were not seen.

It took us about half an hour for us to reach the ambush site, and for us to set up, I remember quietly chambering a round into my cone rifle, and praying the click of the selector lever being moved to FIRE didn’t give me away. As it was, we needn’t have bothered.

I will say one thing about the Rabid Foxes, they are some really sneaky bastards. Before I knew it, I had been tased, disarmed, and trussed up like many a deer I had taken from these hills. And what were these Davions doing…Grinning. That’s right..not even a peep of laughter. Not a speck of light..We could tell their grins. They were the whitest thing around.

They dragged the Old Man into a nearby tent, and they had him for a while. He told us later that they knew everything about him, and had grilled him hard to make sure he was whom he said he was. Meanwhile, they kept us tied up for what seemed like an hour.

They were wiry men and women, you could tell that even under all the gear and uniform. Their eyes, though, the eyes were like sharks. Everything they looked at was a look of “How do I destroy this?” Once they were satisfied we were who we said we were, they untied us, but kept us disarmed. They sent out a man who spoke pretty flawless Steiner German. I will never forget what he said:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, playtime is over, It is time for Falcon and Viper season.”

I will be damned if before long, we all weren’t aping their grins. Their quiet confidence was pretty infectious, and they were right..the next year was very, very interesting indeed.”

"So, Chief, you think the blood stains will come out of that command couch? I mean, that B-mer is preemo salvage!"

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 1:11 am 
Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer

Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2002 8:00 pm
Posts: 113
Location: Washington DC
January 1st, 3055
Royal Palace
The Triad
Federated Commonwealth

Victor Ian Steiner-Davion looked out at a festive Tharkad, which was choosing all sorts of ways to ring in the New Year. Mother Nature was cooperative in bringing in an exceptionally mild bit of weather that had allowed a multitude of outdoor revelries. Some of them I am sure are going to keep the local constabulary busy, but what the hell, it is New Year’s.

Tharkad’s City's extensive skyline lit up in a riot of color as the annual fireworks display began, precisely at 0002 hours. The odd starting time was tradition, when the first colonists on Tharkad celebrated New Year’s, the display had begun two minutes late for reasons that were lost to history. Theories abounded. Victor himself liked the theory that they had just started late because they wanted to be different. Why not, they wanted a new start, and new traditions are a way to break from the old? So, is that what the Clans really amount to?

That particular thought had Victor shaking his head. He drew his issue AFFC greatcoat closer as he stood out on the Grand Balcony, the main square was empty, as the Royal Family, also by tradition, after the sitting Archon made the traditional speech, sent their younger members of the Royal Family out into the city incognito to join the revelers. It was a tradition that gave the various heads of security responsible for the Archon and their family headaches. Not to mention occasionally leading to some embarrassing social faux pas that arrived around oh, say September of the New Year.

Victor smiled at that last thought, while he had been no lothario at the ‘Ring, he had his share of liaisons with in some cases, overly willing young ladies. It had gotten so bad, he had found himself engaging in a bit of “noble fiction” and pretending to be a commoner who had gotten admittance to the ‘Ring on scholarship. It had improved the quality of the female company markedly.

Victor shook his head at the last thought. Mom and Dad really, really want me to get married. But how in the hell do you tell them you, like Romeo, have fallen for a girl who just happens to be the daughter of an ancient enemy? I wonder if they happen to know. Who am I kidding? Of course they know. If nothing, the Intelligence Secretariat or my sister has mentioned it to them.

Victor shook his head again, the two sifters of Glengarry ’12 he’d had with the officers of the Royal Guard during the ball that had just departed was getting to his head. I never held my booze well. Thank god I wasn’t much of a drinker during my cadet days…

The real reason Victor was here was twofold. He had arrived in the Lyran half of the Commonwealth to begin what was publically billed as a “goodwill tour” through the Tamar March, to show the people of that part of the Commonwealth. The trip, was of course, cover for an inspection tour of the units in place defending the border, as well as the units moving into place…not all of whom had been announced…and some of who were pretending to be units they really weren’t. Galen was with him, and keeping up a lively correspondence with Katherine. Those two are headed somewhere serious. Good for them in my opinion. Galen would make a great brother in law. But, as it was, he was also here to conduct a series of wargames beginning in January using the Nagelring’s powerful simulators to test Clover Spear’s viability.

Dad once said Operation RAT bet the future of the Federated Suns on a “Pair of Fours”. Victor wasn’t so sure of that, but he had to admit, the plan was audacious, to say the least. Victor’s big worry was that the Clans, as abysmal of an intelligence gathering system as they had, would somehow get wind of what was about to happen. We’ve taken every damned precaution, but as someone once said, “it cannot be helped when an angel pees in the touchhole.”

His other worry was the Capellans and Mariks. Even SAFE, who by Clan standards, was dangerously competent as an intelligence agency, was not going to miss the movements of troops through the Sarna March. What he really hoped is the Capellans did not get wind that all of the Dragoon regiments had left Outreach. That happens, we’re sunk. Projections are we will lose a good 1/5th of the Sarna March, and maybe of the Capellan March before we can stop the bastards. I can’t even imagine what the damn Mariks will achieve.

It was then that Victor heard the crunch of gravel underneath feet. With memories of Free Skye assassins having once penetrated the palace, not to mention Nekekami during the ’39 war, Victor spun on his heel, a hand thrust into the pocket of his great coat, clutching the 10mm Mauser & Gray holdout pistol. Six rounds isn’t much, but it will do till help arrives.

As Victor turned, the dark shape resolved itself into a face he was well-familiar with. It was the face of the first woman he had ever met; his Mother, Archon-Princess Melissa Steiner-Davion.

She wore her 49 years well, her posture not stooped by age as she glided over to the banister where Victor stood. Her hair was mostly blond, but had some whisps of gray, that Melissa refused to dye, no matter what the court beauticians begged her to do. He face was still soft, but with pronounced crow’s feet around the eyes, and the Tharkad Fox fur jacket, framed with a pair of jeans and high leather black boots made for a stylish picture that would give even Natasha Kerensky a run for her money. At least in the fashion department, Mom still hasn’t done better than fair-to-middling with Grandma’s old Warhammer.

Victor smiled and embraced his mother in a hug, then released her as he went back to his place by the bannister.

“Victor, dear, why in the hell are you standing out here like a hermit and not taking Yvonne out on the town? She has been pestering me where he big brother is. I don’t want to tell her he is being an ass and woolgathering out on the Great Balcony.”

“Mom…this plan of Dad’s, how sure of it are we?”

“So that’s what is bothering you? I thought it was you being alone on New Year’s and your heart being on Luthien in the possession of a certain young Kurita royal.”

Victor shrugged. “There is that too, but it’s been 4 years, Mom. I can’t keep pining away like this, especially since I haven’t gotten any word from her at all since Teniente.”

Melissa smiled a knowing smile. “Well then, Victor, today is your lucky day.” She produced a sealed envelope, with Victor’s name in both Kanji and English. “This arrived by diplomatic pouch from Luthien. The veriagraph has been confirmed..it’s from her. And no, other than that, nobody read it. I told them if anyone did, I’d post them to Great X or CMO 26.”

Victor chuckled. “Late Christmas, eh?” as he deftly took the letter from his mother, and pocketed it. I’ll read it later, hope it’s not ‘Victor, I am being forced for reasons of state to marry another..” I will get in my ‘Mech and lead the 10th Lyran Guards to Luthien to bust up the wedding! No..no you won’t. You’ll meekly send flowers and cry in your beer for a few hours, and wish her all happiness

Melissa then exhaled, “Victor, this plan of his. I know your father, when he was planning for the 4th War or 3039, he was in his element. One of the reasons I love your father is a simple one: He has moral courage in spades, and a work ethic to match. He is also very, very brave. He is a soldier, and a reluctant statesman. But a soldier first and foremost. His work is the destruction of the enemies of the realm. And right now, your father is painting his masterpiece. I know it will work, Victor.”

I know as well, Mom, but I am already First Prince, and will be Archon-Prince soon. Hopefully, not too soon, but soon. I will not preside over the death of the Commonwealth…Thus, we really have no choice, Clover Spear has to work. But the margin for error is damn thinner than I would like it to be.

“Mom, ok, I trust you, look, just nerves really, whatever happens, this is going to be Dad’s last time in the saddle.” Victor exhaled

Melissa nodded “Victor, I read the plan, I know your father, I know the people we have in place to run this thing. It will work. Maybe not the way we intend, things will go wrong. They always do in war. This will be no exception. We will be ready. There is something else you must know, come 3056, there will be a new Archon. I am abdicating, like your father. I am tired, Victor, and frankly. I want to spend time with your father. Whatever time he has left. Our marriage wasn’t just a political one.”

Victor’s mouth dropped open in shock “Mom, I thought this, well, could happen, but, really, this soon? At least stay on until after Clover Spear?”

Melissa nodded. “I intend to, but I will not be Archon as of New Year’s 3057, Victor. It’s time, your father may only have a decade at most, left. And I am jealous of that time, Victor. I love him, and we have both given ourselves to our nations. I think we have earned some time for ourselves.”

Victor nodded slowly “I cannot fault your logic. Wow, I didn’t expect this, this soon.”

Melissa put her hand on Victor’s shoulder “Son, I know you can do it. So does your father, and your brothers and sisters. You will do fine.”

Victor nodded. “Hmm, enough woolgathering, look, I am going to take a few minutes to change into a suitable disguise and take Yvonne out for a night she will not soon forget. She’s 16 now, so there’s all kinds of tr-I mean fun we can have.”

Melissa smiled, then her face grew serious “Victor, my son, under pain of death, do not take her to Sharkey’s! She may be 16, but there are too many handsy ‘Ring cadets there right now.”

Sharkey’s was notorious or famous, depending on your point of view. It had been founded right outside the gates of the Nagelring in 2610, the bar was THE ‘Mechwarrior bar on Tharkad and very popular with a lot of the rowdier ‘Ring cadets. Basically, if you were any kind of Mechwarrior, Sharkey’s was the place to go drink and blow off steam, including getting into fights…like that little time in 3047…thank god Renny got me out of there in one piece. But yeah, Mom has a point, Yvonne isn’t going to be a ‘Mechwarrior, and I won’t be taking her to that place.

Victor nodded vociferously, “Don’t worry Mom, I was thinking some of the student bars by Tharkad U, like Freidmann’s or The Drunken Historian.

Melissa smiled “The Drunken Historian is still there? My god, I used to sneak out to that place..your grandmother was less than pleased when she found out..I was 14, I stole my first kiss there if I recall, cute Microbiology undergrad if I recall?”

“Mom, don’t want to know that, ok?” Victor cringed.

Melissa Steiner-Davion chucked, and her laughter pealed like church bells.

Maybe 3055 will be a good year after all? Victor wondered
Dear Victor-San,
Father has allowed me to write you, so long as it not done though the HPG. I do not think he wants the Black Dragon Society to get wind of the fact we are corresponding. I would say my Father is beginning to “mellow” as you would put it in his old age. It does not matter, however, as I more want to write about us.

First, since Outreach, there has been no other, nor will there be. I am yours, Victor-sama. Yours alone. My father will simply have to accept that, though, for now, I have not chosen to tell him. He is concerned with other things, like the ever-present threat of the Clans.

As you know, Grandfather passed on last year, the circumstances are a bit personal, and the enmity between your father and he was legendary, but it is my hope that that enmity died with him.

My brother asks that I pass on his salutations and greetings in this message. He has come to see you as someone who he would trust with his life, and I did ask him hypothetically how he would feel about you. His response was “You could do a lot worse, Omi-chan.”

Sadly, I know this will not be possible. Our giri to our nations trumps our feelings. But I cannot deny my feelings, and we are both smart people, with many who wish us well. Perhaps a way can be found if we do what is expected of us for now, and remain in contact.

That said, as you know, I receive briefings from the O5P, and I must warn you. Victor, there is reason to believe that the Capellans know about your troop movements. I do not know to what extent they know, but they know. Father was torn on whether or not to warn you, but after your own father’s example during Luthien, he could not fail to warn you. Please share this letter with your parents. Inform them that we will try to get more information to them, but this is all we know for now.

There is another matter. Father is making contingency plans in case Luthien were to fall to a subsequent Clan assault. While most of the family is prepared to fight and die on Luthien to the last. Father has made arrangements for some of us to flee to various other places within the realm, but he wishes to ask your father if he would be willing to make a place for me if it becomes necessary to flee the Combine. I am willing to accept whatever conditions your father seeks to impose, and I do hope it does not become necessary.

I must go, for now, as giri demands I attend to another matter, but know this, Victor-sama, your heart does not beat alone, or unnoticed.

Your Love,

"So, Chief, you think the blood stains will come out of that command couch? I mean, that B-mer is preemo salvage!"

PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 5:22 pm 
Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer

Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2002 8:00 pm
Posts: 113
Location: Washington DC
February 6th, 3055
Clan Jade Falcon Watch Office
Jade Falcon Occupation Zone

Star Captain Horatio gripped his stylus tightly in frustration as he read yet another report put together by a stravag technician who had been hastily trained in the art of intelligence analysis by a mixture of unwilling Federated Commonwealth bondsmen and available manuals. Neither had done much, in Horatio’s opinion, to make their reports anything approaching coherent.

Or even worth reading, it was all jumping at shadows, maybes, could be, possibly, how does anyone make a decision based on this information? Freebirth! Horatio’s mind raged.

The trouble was that the information gathering flow was, as one bondsman put it, “like trying to drink water from a firehose.” Horatio winced at such a wasteful concept, but it was an apt analogy, he had to concede. Our ability to collect all kinds of signals intelligence is incredible, and a testament to the watchfulness of the Clan. But, our ability to analyze the information…as well as to make use of it, is doubtful.

The Jade Falcon Watch was like most Clan intelligence agencies, their human intelligence skills were abysmal, but their SIGINT collection was very, very good. But none of it mattered if the ability to analyze the information was as bad as it was, and the fact was, the Watch simply did not have the tools, nor the skills to build a competent intelligence picture for the Clan Council, let along the Khan and saKhan.

Take the current tasking, Horatio had been charged by the Khan himself to find out what had spurred the current uptick in guerilla activities throughout the Occupation Zone, and why now, even the most trustworthy of bondsmen had been found in sympathy with the guerillas

One egregious example was a Inner Sphere bondsman acting as a technician placing a bomb right in the ejection seat of a trinary commander in the 124th Striker Cluster on Malibu…the explosion, while small, was enough to blow the aforementioned Star Captain to small pieces.)

The Clan only found out the bondsman had done it after walking into the technician quarters, and killing his Clan-born factor with his bare hands, then hanging himself. Chemical interrogation of his friends and comrades had yielded little, if any useful information. Few subjects had survived the sessions and Horatio suspected that the Elemental who headed up the counter-intelligence section of the Clan Watch was little more than a sadist.

The usual Clan Jade Falcon means of defeating an insurgency was to conduct a number of indoctrination sweeps with ‘Mechs and Elementals and grab hostages to be held against the good behavior of the planet in question, but it appeared just about every world in the Occupation Zone had some sort of guerilla activity. It was forcing the clan to scatter units across the Occupation Zone in an effort to keep the guerilla problem under control. And it was not working.

Horatio read the dry account of the latest freebirth bandit act, several unidentified individuals in a non-descript black (some witnesses said green) ground car had performed a “drive by” with what appeared to be a belt-fed machine gun fired from the rear of said moving car. They had driven quickly by the outdoor seating area of a restaurant where a Star Commander of the 2nd Falcon Jagers was celebrating his selection for the upcoming Bloodname contest in the Malthus bloodhouse. The machinegun had, according to the report, cut down and killed three members of the Star, as well as 8 other local citizens whom had seen the wisdom of cooperating with the Clan. 18 more, including the aforementioned Star Commander, had been wounded. The car had disappeared, found two hours later having been set aflame with a nearby wall spraypainted “Sic Semper Tyrannus –Thus Ever to Tyrants”.

It seemed every act of punishment by the Clan’s warriors had done little more than enrage the locals and encourage more resistance. And now, now it was worse than ever. There had been assassination attempts on at least two Star Colonels on Sudeten, one was an aide to the Khan himself.

What made it all a lot more ominous was the movement of FedCom troops all across the ersatz Star League creation known as the Federated Commonwealth. It seemed that the FedCom has been busy moving troops around, to the border of the occupation zone, as well as other conflicting reports of other troop movements along the Combine, Capellan, and Marik borders. All of it was simply a massive tidal wave of information that did little but overtax Horatio’s staff of ill-trained analysts and barely loyal bondsmen whom he did not trust

Stravag, the pain. His head was pounding again. It was a souvenir of Tukkayid, when his Summoner had had a massive freak ammunition explosion that produced a tidal wave of neurofeedback. According to one of the doctors back in the Cluster aid station, he had been lucky to live through it, but the damage was such that he would never pilot a ‘Mech again and he was soon forced out in a Trial of Position…reduced to an ordinary Warrior, who would soon be relegated to solahma status. Horatio downed a couple of pain pills, and then held the desk like a life preserver. The room has not begun moving yet, thank the Founder.

But Kael Pershaw needed someone who could “think outside the box”, and of all the likely candidates, Horatio seemed to fit the bill the best. After an unagumented Trial of Position for the job, it was his…and here he had stayed for the last three years. Barely considered a warrior, let alone an officer of the Clan, there had been whispers of Horatio being little more than the Loremaster’s pet, and were Pershaw not around, it would not be long before someone used the cover of a trial to remove a “stain on the Clan’s honor”.

As the throbbing began to slowly subside, it was still muddy inside Horatio’s mind, he could barely think through the implications of the fact that the AFFC had formed 8 new regiments in the last 2 years. Or, at least that is what it seemed like. The pain was rather bad this time..perhaps it was time to call an early end to the work day.

Horatio levered himself upward gingerly, the protuberances of his uniform catching on the battered old desk in the small office, which had been converted from a broom closet in the old City Hall. The Watch had not even been granted offices in the Clan Headquarters, as the Clan Council wanted the stench of “Inner Sphere methods” far from the center of Clan Jade Falcon.

As he made his way to his quarters, little more than ten steps away and through a small door, he thought about when he would get an honorable release from the purgatory he now found himself in. The medication was now taking an effect, slowly luring him into the soporific paradise of sleep on his Clan issue cot, dreams of past glories dancing through his head.

Within minutes, he was dead to the world, and the door slowly opened, a bondsman by the name of Abagail made her way into the Star Captain’s office, she wore a dark green jumpsuit, with no adornment as bondsmen were not allowed to wear the sigil of the clan. Her stringy blond hair framed her hollow, sunken hazel eyes that were devoid of any real life. Abagail tidied up and swept a little, being sure to keep the noise down, her failure to do so had once earned her a savage beating from the Star Captain. She always kept her eyes down, and never looked up, in short, she was the perfect bondsman, unnoticed, like part of the furniture, only to be noticed when a task was to be done.

But Star Captain Horatio was a poor spymaster, and in the Inner Sphere, would never have been given the job of head of the analysis section for such an organization. It was his mixture of distaste for his job, shame over his current predicament, and contempt for his bondsmen that made what happened next possible.

Star Captain Horatio had left his passcode for his desk terminal written down on a piece of Clan Watch stationary on his desk for all to see. Before long, it was in Abagail’s pocket as she wiped down the desk. She also managed to photograph the monthly SOI pad, as well as three reports from the Watch analysts on how they were tracking the FC buildup along the border, as well as dealing with the increasingly effective insurgency throughout the Occupation Zone.

Leftenant Abagail Hearns, LIC smiled. God, the Clanners make this so damned easy. The elementals at the door don’t even search me, except for weapons or explosives, and this idiot of a Star Captain is too busy being drugged out of his mind. I could lead a dozen Loki into this place and kill everyone here and be gone before the dumb bastards knew we were here..with just about every scrap of intelligence in the building. They don’t even have a burn bag for god’s sake.

Hearns had been inserted two years ago to replace a previous agent-in-place who had died when he had inadvertently blown his cover. Sadly, while their ability to gather, analyze, and compile intelligence for decision makers was decidedly suspect, as well as their ability to secure such data from other intelligence agencies, there was nothing wrong with Clan interrogation methods. The Clan systems of torture and mechanical interrogation worked all too well, as her predecessor had found out. LIC lost 4 good people when Haputmann Frederich was made to talk. Hearns intended to not get sloppy.

Hearns quickly packed up her cleaning supplies, and returned them to the labor caste storage area that had formerly been an old office, the local Factor, a preening-Clan born individual by the name of Rudnik, with greasy hands and wild hair, was only too happy to lord over the 4 bondsmen that had been assigned to him from the general populace. Abagail’s cover was that of a former infantryman from the Sudeten Militia, now POW with no technical skills, and thus, relegated to the laborer caste. It suited Hearns just fine.

It was at that moment Rudnik looked on in her direction. “Abagail, a moment?”

Abagail froze. Could Rudnik have seen her toss Horatio’s office? She hoped not, but so far, he had proven rather oblivious to a lot of things. He simply seemed interested in getting into Abagail’s jumpsuit, his hot, rancid breath having made sure Abagail remembered if she did give in to his “charms”, that it would simply be for the job, and little else. Not that I think I ever would. Best to lead him around by his little Clanner beak….

“Abagail, you have not been efficient in your cleaning tasks. You linger too long in the Star Captain’s office, and I cannot have that. Your lack of efficiency has been noticed and if it continues, I will refer you to the Star Captain for discipline-“ Rudnk stepped forward, invading Hearn’s personal space. –“-unless you are willing to provide me with a personal bit of surkai?”

Ugh, the good thing about Clan criminal justice, is that, were an unfortunate accident to befall him, the tankers would not care very much. Abagail’s mind fumed. She tensed her fists, preparing to fight him if she had to, she already have a cover story prepared, where she would say he attempted to force her to couple and she fought him off. The warriors would have a good laugh, and then beat him for losing to a bondsman.

But I do not want it to get to that point…”What did you have in mind, Rudnik?” Hearns said coyly, making sure to keep the tone inviting, but tired, letting him know she might not be up to giving him a good time in any case.

“Use your imagination, bondsman. You are property of the Clan, and as a member of the Clan, I do as I like!” He then grabbed a fistful of her jumpsuit and kissed her forcefully, his technique was sloppy, and stomach churning. Hearns wasn’t in the mood for this. Time to dissuade him.

Hearns stamped down hard on his left foot with her heavy workboots, catching him in the instep. His boots, unlike hers, were steel-toed, but were cheaply made, and did not have the instep protection most warrior issue boots did. Hearns was rewarded with a shriek, as a small bone in his foot snapped like a tree branch. Rudnik collapsed and Hearns grabbed one fist into another, reared back with her right elbow, and drove it with all of her force into Rudnik’s right eye socket. Rudnik went down screaming, and grabbed his bruised eye. Hearns then followed up with a vicious kick to the back of the head, but as she was prepared to deliver a finishing blow, she was picked effortlessly off the battered wooden floor by an unseen force, her feet being 10 centimeters off the ground by the time it was all said and done.

Hearns turned her head to see whom had lifted her off the floor, it was one of the security Elementals, a woman by the name of Azrel. She was a decent sort for a Clanner, having a kind face for a muscular woman who was almost three meters in height. She had warned Hearns her first day about Rudnik, and his proclivities.

“Ahem-“ Azrel cleared her throat for emphasis “What do I have here? A Bondsman giving a laborer factor, her superior a beating. Some would consider this a punishable offense, Bondsman? What is your story?”

“Warrior Azrel, I seek surkai for having beaten the factor, but he attempted to couple with me without my consent. Perhaps this does not have weight in Clan society, but in the Inner Sphere, it is a grave crime.” Hearns said, with just the right amount of supplication in her voice.

Azrel turned to Rudnik, “is this true, Rudnik. Do not attempt to lie. You know I can and will have you interrogated to discern the truth. Bondsmen have been taken in honorable battle. You cannot even make that claim.”

Rudnik moaned “She is correct, Warrior Azrel, I did as she described. I beg for surkai.”

Azrel smled cruelly at Rudnik, and gingerly released Hearns. “And surkai you will perform. And I will speak with the senior Labor caste factor. I will have you sent back to the homeworlds in disgrace afterwards.”

Rudnik simply moaned in acceptance of his fate.

Azrel turned to Hearns. “Some advice, the Clan can well survive the loss of this factor. If he accosts you again, kill him. I will speak to the Star Captain when he awakens about cutting the prowess strand of your bondcord. You have impressed me today.”

Azrel then turned and lumbered from the room.

Hearns leaned over and whispered into Rudnik’s ear. “I own you now, Rudnik. Cross me again, and you die, get it? Fail to do as I tell you, and I will kill you, and no one will stop me.”

Rudnik sat up slowly, his eye purple and black with rapidly forming bruises, and unable to open as it swelled shut. “What do you require?” he said through gritted teeth.

“I will be in touch Rudnik, I will be in touch.”

"So, Chief, you think the blood stains will come out of that command couch? I mean, that B-mer is preemo salvage!"

PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:49 am 
Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer

Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2002 8:00 pm
Posts: 113
Location: Washington DC
Something I wrote in response to a comment about the story on the CBT boards, call it Chapter 7.5:

Let’s take Malibu, it has a reputation of being a world that was well, very placid under Falcon rule. The local planetary administrator surrendered after the militia was routed within 5 minutes. In short, the world caved pretty quickly to the Falcons. It used to be a world from the old RWR, and remained loyal to the Aramis family during the RRA uprising, so the Falcons were probably pretty tough on the populace early on.

So, how do you get these folks to foment a revolt?

By early 3054, Malibu had largely settled into a cozy, if not comfortable relationship with the Jade Falcons. The world had a reputation of being an easy posting among the Falcon Tourman, and acts of resistance were rare.

In fact, the Planetary Administrator (the same one who had surrendered the planet in the first place) had been allowed to form a police force and militia (under warrior supervision). It was expected that this militia would take over much of the occupation duties, allowing the 124th to not have to deal with such “un-Clanlike matters”.

This all changed June 19th, 3054. On that date, 3 Loki and 3 MI-6 Teams were inserted onto Malibu with orders to start a resistance movement where there was none…and where none had really existed. Reports from the LIC agents in place were not promising, but each team was given an area of responsibility, and told to cause enough mayhem to encourage a Jade Falcon overreaction against the populace.

The FC SF teams started small, they ambushed small militia patrols, in some cases, making it look like trigger happy Clan warriors looking for something to kill (The fact that Jade Falcon warriors did not tend to this sort of behavior was lost once a few of these ambushes occurred). Next, the various SF units, along with a few trusted local confederates planted IEDs all over the planet. Many of them, sadly, did little but kill civilians, but even that began to get a reaction of the Jade Falcons, who, were by now, angry the militia they had created, could not find these “guerillas”.

As time went on, the attacks of the “Ghosts of the Rim Worlds” (A name that fully enraged the commander of the 124th, along with the shark graffiti, also done by MI-6 and Loki) began to kill Clan warriors at a low rate. But it was the steady drip of casualties to snipers, rockets, and IEDs that eventually forced a reaction.

On September 18, 3054, a Clan Elemental Star under the command of a Star Commander Beck had run into a particularly nasty set of IEDs south of the small fishing community of Teller’s Bay. After triggering a half-dozen of the devices, and losing 3 men and women to the infernal things, Star Commander Beck decided that since Teller’s Bay had said nothing about the IEDs, then they were in league with the guerillas. The fact that they were not mattered not to Beck.

By the time the Falcons were done, 528 men, women, and, children lay dead at the hands of the Clan, and the massacre was broadcast across the planet by the Falcons in an attempt to cow the populace.

The attempt failed. Police and militia deserted into the night with their weapons, ordinary people grabbed long-buried firearms and began to snipe (and worse) isolated Falcon patrols. One bondsman planted a bomb in the ‘Mech of his bondholder, a Star Captain. He died in the escape, screaming “Long Live the Commonwealth!” as he died. Soon, there were a dozen known resistance groups on planet, some loyal to the Commonwealth, some seeking to reinstate the Rim Worlds Republic, and one, inexplicably, hewing to an ancient idea known as “Euro-Communism”.

The SF teams soon reverted to their training and leadership roles, gently nudging their proteges against targets that would be useful in the event of an FC invasion. The attacks grew more brazen, a bombing of the drop port fuel pipeline, (where the fire department had been told not to show up), a rocket attack on a “Clan-Spheroid Friendship Center”, and a campaign against the power lines and fiber optic communications net. It all drove the commander of the 124th to utter distraction. Reprisal and counter-reprisal became commonplace.

The crowning achievement was on January 6th, 3055, when the “Ghosts of the Rim Worlds” kidnapped the Planetary Administrator (the same one who had surrendered the planet and was now a stooge of the Jade Falcons) and bundled him off world to face a trial in the Commonwealth for high treason. He was found guilty and executed in early 3056.

At that point, the commander of the 124th assumed direct control of the planet, and disbanded what was left of the militia and police. Soon, he managed to get the violence under control, but his units were scattered across the planet, chasing small bands of guerillas. The 124th was often out of contact with her subunits, as the planetary comnet was often the target of guerilla attacks, both physical, and cyber.

By the beginning of 3056, Malibu had gone from docile, to a full blown rebellion.

"So, Chief, you think the blood stains will come out of that command couch? I mean, that B-mer is preemo salvage!"

PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 11:22 am 
Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer

Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2002 8:00 pm
Posts: 113
Location: Washington DC
“…the AFFC recovered quickly from the blows of the Clan Invasion over the 4 years between it’s end, and the beginning of Clover Spear. What was most remarkable was the ability of the Federated Commonwealth to marshal it’s industrial capacity in such a way that the economic capacity of the Commonwealth was not even close to being tapped once the War of ’56 began.
What really surprised observers was the formation of 8 new ‘Mech regiments, 4 of them being RCTs,, many of these units were formed to carry on the linage of destroyed units, but some were units that had not seen a battlefield since the 2nd Succession War. Almost all of these units were posted to the Sarna and Capellan Marches to cover the departure of other units for Clover Spear.
8 so called “free” regiments were formed, From the Lyran State Command, the 8th Arcturan Guards, the 10th and 12th Donegal Guards and the 4th Royal Guards. From the Federated Suns State Command, the 5th, 9th, 33rd and 41st Avalon Hussars. All, with the exception of the 4th Royal (which was formed from some of the best Mechwarriors in the Commonwealth) were still fairly green when war came. That said, some of them gave a good account of themselves when the Capellans and the Mariks came. Many of these units had bought the time the Commonwealth needed with their lives…”
“A Bloody Standard” The Federated Commonwealth’s preparations for the War of ’56 (Precentor Alex Carrigan, ComGuard (Ret), Castemate Press, Terra, New York, 3069)
March 9th, 3055
Private Offices of the Captain-General
Atreus City
Atreus, Free Worlds League

Captain-General Thomas Marik was not a happy man. It was a cool spring night on Atreus, but not even a comfortable fire or a tumbler of Glengarry Reserve could improve his mood. He’s my son-in-law for a few months, and already, he thinks he can call the damned shots? I should have kept going after Andurien..rid the Inner Sphere of the entire foul Liao brood. Thomas shook his head violently, expelling such thoughts. They were allies now, as much as Thomas had to control himself from spitting every time he had to say it.

But this plan is the height of insanity. Almost 2/3 of the CCAF and a third of the FWLM, not to mention some twenty regiments of mercenaries, to be hired with Marik money no less, and “gifted” to the Capellans (Parliament would love that) was to cut the two halves of the Commonwealth off, take Sarna and Kathil, and force the Commonwealth to the peace table under favorable terms. If we get as far as Styk and Oliver, we should fall down on our knees and thank god.

The plans, codenamed EAST SEA, were ambitious, but they had been scaled down from the original plans they had been, or at least the LCCC thought so. Thomas took another sip from his brandy, there were quite a few issues. First, logistical. It seemed the CCAF was going to depend on the League to come up with the supplies to make this work, And if I say no, what the hell might that idiot son in law of mine do then? What does my daughter see in that Capellan anyhow?

The other issue was political. First, while the Mask was a very good intelligence agency, it was not infallible. The Davions had foxed it before, and the constant reports of troop movements into the Lyran state could mean anything? Perhaps he is rotating forces, perhaps it is an exercise, perhaps, perhaps…

And then there is the not so small issue of how many provinces are going to vote with their feet on this war. Home Defense Act be damned.

SAFE for various reasons, did not completely trust the Capellan analysis, and their view was that the Capellans had probably missed more than a few regiments along the border, or were being taken in by some Davion shell game designed to precipitate a border incident. It is an assessment I am coming to agree with.

Thomas reached over, and tapped a key to turn on his noteputer. Thomas reached over to the keyboard, and quickly typed up the following message:


From : C-G Marik
To: Director, SAFE

I have a plan the Capellans delivered via diplomatic courier yesterday for an offensive into the FC’s Sarna March. Needless to say, I do not trust my Son-In-Law further than I can throw him, especially now that he has married my daughter. I want you to put your best people on the project of double checking the Capellan information. Davion has fooled them before.

Furthermore, and I only want this handed to the most trustworthy people you have, I want a blackmail file begun on my dear son-in-law. I hear he has a new female adviser. Find out how close they are, and if it is exploitable. It would be nice to be able to dissolve this marriage, as I fear it will get us into a bigger mess than the nation can handle right now.

Consider both of these matters to be of the highest priority,



Thomas gave the message a once over, then tapped a few keys to move the message into the classified message traffic buffer and then tapped the SEND key to send the message on it’s way.

After I have Wilson tell me whether it is on the level or not, I will have Garabaldi and Blake take a look at this thing, and tell me if we can actually pull it off..not to mention meet with the Ministry of Finance and see if we can actually come up with the money…

Thomas leaned back and took another sip of his whiskey. Either way, the League is going to come out of this mess a winner.

Finally, there was a personal reason on why not: Joshua. He was still on New Avalon, and for now, was responding to treatment. Is Victor Davion any bit his father? Would he refuse my son treatment? Or worse, would he find out the truth about me?

An unseasonable chill soon filled Thomas Marik’s bones. Disquiet pervaded the rest of his evening, as thoughts of his children and their well-being came unbidden.

March 19th, 3055
Fort Defiance
Crucis March
Federated Commonwealth

Colonel Hans Strucker, 54th Artillery Brigade (Commanding) looked on through his field glasses with a mixture of pride and satisfaction as he stood with Marshal Stephan Cooper observing the 54th execute a brigade rolling barrage on one of Fort Defiance’s many ranges. The various techs and umpires took measurements through their own equipment, and typed notations into their noteputers for later comment during the After Action Report.

The rolling ground shook and heaved as the guns, a mile to the rear, continuously fired without letup, the concentrated outgoing fire sending vibrations through the earth that could be felt, and heard even a mile away.

The view through Strucker’s Zeiss field glasses was magnificent, with round after round landing within the area proscribed for the live shoot. So far, there were no reports of any injuries, or technical issues with the guns..as the gouts of earth and dust vomited skyward with the encouragement of tons of high explosives. The small hill that made up the impact range was beginning to be obscured in the smoke and dust, and even with the Zeiss glasses, it was beginning to become harder to see the target, a series of hulked battlemechs and vehicles.

Marshal Cooper smiled tightly, and tapped Colonel Strucker on the shoulder, and waited for the Colnel to lower his field glasses.

“Colonel, you have a hell of a brigade, they get into position quickly, they handle the new Fire Direction Equipment with skill, and your FOs are top notch. You engaged that hill within a minute and had three rounds off from two of your three gun battalions before the first round hit the ground. I am impressed.”

Colonel Strucker bowed slightly, in the Steiner noble tradition when getting praise from a superior officer. He did spare the Davion Marshal the clicking of his heels. It seemed that most Davion officers found the practice silly, and more than a bit showy. “Thank you, Herr Marshal, we drill to a high standard, and the new fire direction equipment makes coordinating artillery fire an easy thing to accomplish. In short, we are ready, Herr Marshalm, my men and women want to teach the Clans to respect our guns and rockets…or we will teach them that respect.”

I do believe that Marshal Cooper mused. The fact was, until recent events, Artillery had been a maligned thing in the Inner Sphere. But, with the rediscovery of an ancient Fire Control System called “TacFire” and it’s retrofitting to work with Star League technology (including most importantly, TAG), as well as the advent of faster loading systems for the Long Tom and Thumper class artillery pieces, artillery soon became a pretty nasty thing again..And then, if that wasn’t enough, there is Project Bumblebee, but that is something even Strucker isn’t supposed to know about…yet. If we can make those rounds work…the Falcons are well, and truly done for.

“When are we to deploy to the front, Herr Marshal?”

“Soon, yours was one of the last brigades that needed to complete pre-deployment readiness evaluation, and anyhow, I wanted to get to know you and your brigade…you’re going to be in direct support to my RCT.”

Stucker’s heart soared. This will be a thing to tell my men and women. This is going to make all the loading drills, the live fires, the road marches and everything else worth it. So many of my men and women are from the Tamar March, and so many of them want vengeance. As do I.

Stucker has lost his family on Twycross to the Jade Falcons when he had been commander of the TMM’s artillery battalion. He’d barely gotten out with a battery of guns when it was all over, but they had fired every round they had at the Falcons, but it hadn’t been enough.

But not this time..this time, we teach those arrogant bastards who the real King of the Battlefield is. And what Kings do to usurpers…

April 6th, 3055
The Triad
Federated Commonwealth

“Your Highness, as you can see, most of the units intended for Clover Spear have already moved into position, with a few more expected to close up by the end of July. After that, we intend to do a little creative re-badging to keep the Clans guessing.” Nondi Steiner stated, her strong voice echoing off of the Palace War Room as she illustrated a magnified map of the Clan frontier in the holotank. Friendly worlds blazed gold, and Clan held ones glowed green, or grey, depending on which Clan currently held possession.

The holotank hovered over one side of the room, with the other dominated by a long table surrounding the holotank, each seat with its own sound system to magnify any speech in the room.

Victor Steiner-Davion smiled, So far dad, so good. Now the question remains, do the Capellans know we have stolen a march on them, or are we still doing well enough to convince everyone we are just rotating units from the frontier?

Victor raised his hand and all discussion stopped. He turned to face the head of LIC, General Karl Halberg, who was a large, bullet-headed man who wore his graying hair closely cropped, and his uniform immaculate. His eyes betrayed sadness, the sadness of a man who held too many secrets, and had done things to keep them that didn’t bear close thought.

“General Halberg? Do the Capellans know what we’re about to do?”

“Your highness, it is our estimation and that of MIIO that the Maskriovka has probably guessed we are about to do something, the good news is, we have managed to clog up the rumor mill so badly for them, they are going to be spending a bit of time figuring out what is about to happen, until it does. I know you got that letter at the beginning of the year, your highness, but there has been no Capellan or League troop movements or other unusual activity to suggest that they in fact, know what we are about to do. ISF or O5P might just be playing games with us, and they told your friend because they know we would give her information more weight.”

“Suggestions, General?”

“Keep doing what we are doing, we are too far along anyhow, General Savinson has a lot of Loki assets deployed and ready to execute, and a lot of my Norns are going to be breaking cover to support them and the Longherin strikes on identified POW camps. In short, this goes wrong, the intelligence netwoek in Clan space is going to be gutted. So we have no choice, go. After that, your highness, my only advice is this: Beat the Clan bastards as quick as we can.”

Victor nodded, General Karlberg was right. Time was becoming a factor, as there was only 17 months left until the operation commenced. And, with interstellar distances and communications involved, armies and states did not turn on a dime.

“So, General Steiner, any concerns, or changes?” Victor asked.

“No, your highness, we should be briefing regimental and RCT commanders within the next three months as to their roles and targets. The help we have gotten from General Karlberg and his people on current conditions, as well as the enemy ORBAT has been outstanding.” General Steiner responded, a tone of professional satisfaction In her voice.

“Any concerns, anyone, please, now is a good time to mention them?” Victor stated, a bit more pleading in his voice than he had intended.

“I do have one concern of my own. Our inclusion of nuclear weapons. As much as I think the Jade Falcons are a threat to our very way of life, what are their possible response if we begin to nuke their warships?” Victor asked.

General Karlberg stated without hesitation “Your Highness, they will probably retaliate with something akin to Turtle Bay, but the fact remains, and this is with all due respect to our navy colleagues, but the fact remains. Our own warship programs are woefully inadequate. And asking ComStar..”

Victor finished the statement “..would pose a host of political problems. Alright gentlemen, you have your conditional nuclear release. But, if the bastards go after civilians, then all gloves are off, verstehen? Now, as for the rest of the plan, is this as good as we can make it?”

No one said a word, except for a tow headed officer, whose uniform was a bit rumpled, with a number of coffee cups emptied in front of him. Victor knew him only by reputation, Marshal Renier Poulin. Poulin was a hard charging Lyran officer of the old school who had definitely not come up through the Social General system, but had been languishing in a post on CMO 26 before a Colonel Katrina Steiner had noticed the young Hauptmann. The rest, as they said…was history.

“Your Highness-“ Poulin’s gravelly voice filled the room with all the lyricism of a cement mixer, “We should go, hell, we must go. The Clans are as blind, intel wise, as an opponent I have ever faced. We have a lot of citizens on those worlds, and things are not like “Wait until the next war” out there. No, Your Highness, these Tankers, to quote one of my favorite movies, think they are on a mission from God, and with luck, and a little firepower and preparation? We can more than disabuse them of that notion. Also, sir? Let me say this..I hate anybody who goes around saying that they are the master race.”

A response came unbidden from the Davion side of the war room, “Wait, you mean you Steiners aren’t?” It was a new version of an old joke about Germans…and now, Lyrans.

The entire room had a good laugh at that, even Victor chuckled before he held up his hands to get things back under control “I can’t take you people anywhere, can I?” Victor stated, as he flashed a winning grin around the room.

“Ok, so, what everyone is telling me, is we should go?”

There was a loud consensus of fists banging on tables and shouted “Yeses”.

“I see we have consensus. Alright, I know my mother has already approved. Gentlemen, we go.. But one thing. I hear the Clans have their biggest holiday on the 24th of August. I know we had chosen the 6th..but why in the world should they be the only ones celebrating?”

Nondi Steiner smiled a feral smile at the idea. “Your Highness, we can make this happen, can we General Karlberg?”

General Karlberg nodded.

And thus, the die was cast.

"So, Chief, you think the blood stains will come out of that command couch? I mean, that B-mer is preemo salvage!"

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