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An American Tanker in Prince Davion's Court (Chapter Cover Art)

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Chapter 7 - An American Tanker in Prince Davion's Court[]

New Avalon Institute of Science
College of Engineering
February 22nd, 3028

0900 hours

With the preparations for the strikes against Helm and New Dallas well under way, General Hodges reports to NAIS’ College of Engineering to begin his new assignment for the AFFS, By Hanse Davion’s personal order, Hodges has been given the services of one of the College’s laboratories for use in his work. Upon his arrival, he is met by Dr. Riva Allard and greetings are exchanged.

“Good morning, Doctor. I am pleased to meet you.”

“Good morning, General; the pleasure is all mine. I have been wanting to meet you ever since the Transference Event.”

“Ahh; so the communications ‘experiment’ which brought me to this reality was your baby. I trust that you received the order from the First Prince that no further experiments of that type are to be conducted…”

“I did. I also agree with your reasoning in that matter. Matters in the Inner Sphere are complicated enough, without the appearance of those beings and entities that you mentioned. Now, if you will please follow me, I’ll introduce you to your staff.”

“At your convenience, Doctor.”

A short time later, the two arrive in a spacious and well-equipped laboratory, with all manner of machine tools and other equipment standing ready to hand. Among this array are 6-axis CNC milling machines, wire EDM cutters, laser cutters and other fabrication devices.

There are a number of people present, and Dr. Allard makes the introductions. First to speak is Dr. Benjamin Banzai, who says “General Hodges, when I heard of the circumstances of your arrival, I just had to meet you. Dr. Allard told me of your purpose in coming to the College of Engineering; if you are amenable, I’d like to offer you the services of Professor Douglas Running Elk; he’s one of my best scholars and research scientists.”

“I’d be delighted to have him on the team, Dr. Banzai.”

The two men shake hands on this, and Hodges thinks to himself ‘this guy really does look like Jeff Goldblum. Note to self; invite him to the house for a showing of Independence Day, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai and Jurassic Park. I wonder what he and others would make of Pacific Rim.... ’

To the other assembled staff, General Hodges says “Ladies and gentlemen. Good morning. You all know who I am and how I came to be here. The First Prince has commissioned me to help improve the tank technology employed by the AFFS, and to create new tactics and doctrine so that the new technology can be employed properly. The first two projects we’ll be working on will be weapon stabilization and a new type of tank gun. After that, new tank armor and tougher tank chassis will be our goals.”

One of the staff raises his hand and says “Excuse me, sir. What is weapon stabilization, as you call it?”

“Weapon stabilization is a system whereby a tank gun’s point of aim can be kept on target, no matter how fast the tank is moving or how rough the ground is. It also counteracts how fast the target is moving. Such a system ensures that a tank can accurately fire on its opponents at greater ranges. In the 20th and 21st centuries, it was considered ‘holy writ’ in the United States Army that if you can hit a target, you can kill it; it was true then and it is certainly true now.”

“How about the tank gun that you’re talking about? We’re all familiar with the autocannons that BattleMechs and armored vehicles use; these come in a large number of types, with calibers that range between 30-mm and 203-mm. How will your gun be any different?”

Hodges replies “Since my arrival, I have familiarize myself with cannon technology as it exists in the Inner Sphere; guns firing fixed ammunition with metallic cases. My gun will employ caseless ammunition (thus allowing more ammunition by weight and volume); the propellant charges with be ignited electrothermally. An electrothermal gun uses a powerful electric charge to vaporize the propellant and turn it into plasma; the creation of this plasma can be very precisely controlled, thus allowing for a softer launch (less recoil), while giving the gun greater range and more damage potential than one using primer-ignited propellant.”

A pause, then ”The effectiveness of the new tank gun will be enhanced by other technologies that we’ll be developing, such as a multi-spectral rangefinder and an improved targeting computer.

Professor Douglas Running Elk speaks up next and says “What are your instructions, sir?”

“As of now, I’m dividing you into separate working groups. One of these groups will be working on weapon stabilization, one will be working on the gun and another on the ammunition; still others will be assigned to work on the rangefinder and the targeting computer. Professor, you’ll be working with me as my second-on-command; we’ll head the weapon-stabilization group. To the rest of you, my office door will always be open; if you have an idea on how research can be speed up, or how some particular process can be improved, don’t hesitate to come to me at any time. For now, let’s get to work.”

Operation: Kelly
February 25th, 3028
New Avalon and elsewhere

Over the previous two weeks, messages were exchanged via fax machine between the offices of the First Prince and the Archon, and also between the highest levels of the AFFS and the LCAF regarding how to proceed with Operation: Kelly (this was done to keep Comstar in the dark about what was happening). In view of the upcoming alliance between the Federated Suns and the Lyran Commonwealth, it was a joint decision between Hanse Davion and Katrina Steiner that the raids on Helm and New Dallas should be conducted as near to simultaneously as possible. As for the two halves of the operation, the AFFS contingent is comprised of Marshal Ran Felsner as the CO and Colonel Ardan Sortek as the XO. Opertional assets are the Davion Heavy Guards RCT, the 11th Lyran Guards, the Kell Hounds (representing the interests of Archon Katrina Steiner) and a technical support team from NAIS. Aside from the transport capacity for the AFFS elements, a total of 3 Monolith-class jumpships, 16 Mammoth-class dropships and 8 Mule-class dropships have been assigned the material from the cache on Helm.

In regards to New Dallas, the LCAF elements are three regiments from the 1st Lyran Guards Division (the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Lyran Guards); the commanding officer is General Edward Regis and the XO is Ryan Steiner. As for transport, given that the New Dallas cache is much smaller than the one on Helm, one Monolith-class jumpship, 2 Mammoth-class dropships and 8 Mule-class dropships have been assigned.

By agreement between the First Prince and the Archon, the proceeds from the Helm Cache are to be divided equally between House Davion and House Steiner; the Helm data core will be duplicated, with copies going to the Federated Suns and the Lyran Commonwealth. The New Dallas core will be duplicated, with copies going to the Draconis Combine, the Capellan Confederation and the Free Worlds League. To muddy things up with the Draconis Combine, information will be developed and planted that Duke Hassid Ricol gained knowledge of the Helm Cache and intended to seize it for himself (without sharing any of the material with House Kurita.

The first phase of the operation began when a unit of troops from the DMI were sent ‘sub rosa’ to the world of Stewart in the Free Worlds League to retrieve a certain computer chip held by Earl Hector Stewart. The importance of this chip was that it was the deed of gift when Helm had been granted to one of the previous Earls of Stewart; additionally, the chip contains a command sequence hidden in the software that, when plugged into the gate access computer for the Helm facility, will grant the user authorized access and shut down the security systems.

Second, while the operation was underway, other units of the AFFS conducted diversionary raids in other parts of the Free Worlds League in order to distract the attention of Captain-General Janos Marik and deceive him as to what was going on.

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