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

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Chapter 9 - An American Tanker in Prince Davion's Court[]

After Action Reports[]

New Avalon Institute of Science
College of Engineering
April 26th, 3028

Every so often, General Hodges conducts meetings with his senior staff in order to assess the pace of development in the projects he’s working on for Hanse Davion. On April 26th, 3028, one of these meetings is in progress in Hodges’ office when, suddenly, Quintus Allard shows up.

General Hodges responds “Good afternoon, Minister. I am glad to see you, as I have some good news for the First Prince. I can see by the look on your face that’s something’s going on…”

“Indeed, General. I am here at the express direction of the First Prince to tell you that House Davion’s share of the material from Operation Kelly is on its way to New Avalon as we speak. Per your previous request, one of the Awesome-IIC Battlemechs has been reserved for you, as has one of the suits of Nighthawk Power Armor and two Mauser-960s. The materiel should be here in about two weeks.”

“Please convey my thanks to the First Prince. Is there any other information?”

“There is, actually. In my capacity as Director of MIIO, information was passed to House Kurita that Duke Hassid Ricol had become aware of the Helm Cache and was making preparations to seize the material as his own. My agents in place on Luthien related to me that Takashi Kurita was so incensed at Ricol’s treachery that he didn’t allow the Duke to use the garden to make up for it. Instead, Ricol was handed over for some attention to the ISF; one week later, the Coordinator personally beheaded him.”

“Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say. What of the New Dallas memory core?”

“It was duplicated, with a half-dozen copies each being forwarded to the Draconis Combine, the Capellan Confederation and the Free Worlds League by various means. As a matter of course, the First Prince ordered that the New Dallas core be scrubbed of any and all information relating to weapons of mass destruction.”

“That was a smart move. The United States and other countries had all kinds of problems with that crap in the 20th and 21st centuries; I presume that the copies of the core coming to House Davion and House Steiner are fully complete”

“They are, General.”

“What of security preparations for the Helm cache? As good as you think they are, word will eventually leak out.”

“I anticipated that fact. As it so happens, there are a number of low-level agents of Kurita’s Internal Security Force implanted in the ranks of the Davion Heavy Guards; these agents have been flipped. Through them, information was passed to House Kurita that the Battlemechs, vehicles, ammunition, equipment and other supplies was retrieved; but that the depot’s memory core was lost when Helm’s self-destruct mechanism was activated.”

“I see. My reference information had no mention on the specifics of the self-destruct system; just what was it?”

“The Helm depot was powered by a large fusion reactor, which had been specifically designed so that it could overload, and explode when so ordered. The resulting detonation was equal to a 50-megaton thermonuclear blast.”

“Ouch; I’ll bet that left a mark…”

“It certainly did; a smoking crater a couple of miles wide.”

“Whatever else happens, that will certainly keep the other Great houses and those toga-wearing toaster-worshipping ****** in Comstar off our backs for a while; However, I’ll wager that none of them will be pleased to hear that House Davion and House Steiner now have a large number of Cameron-grade battlemechs and Royal-grade vehicles in their possession. Speaking of which, I hope someone had the good sense to keep those mobile HPG systems under tight wraps; if word got out that we and House Steiner have them, Comstar wouldn’t react at all well…”

“I issued orders to that effect. Now, with the business at hand out of the say, you said you had some good news for the First Prince?”

“Indeed, I did. I am pleased to report that development and testing of the weapon stabilization system and the multi-spectral rangefinder has been successfully completed, and that both items are ready to go into production.”

“Excellent; I will so inform the First Prince. As a further mark of His Highness esteem for what you have done, he has issued an invitation for you to come to the royal palace, and have dinner with him on the 28th at 6:00 pm sharp.”

“I’ll be please to accept the invitation. Might I invite Countess Sorensen to come with me as my guest?”

“The First Prince has no objection to this.”

“Very well, sir, I’ll be there.”

Dinning with the Davions[]

Royal Palace
Avalon City
April 28th, 3028

5:45 PM Local Time

Just as General Hodges is putting the finishing touches on his dress blue uniform, there is a knock on the door. He opens it and sees Kym Sorenson standing there wearing a formal evening gown with a scoop neck and a floor-length hem.

“Good evening, Countess. Thank you for accepting my invitation.”

“You’re welcome, General. I was pleased to hear that the First Prince was going to recognize you for your efforts on behalf of the Federated Commonwealth; when I received your invitation to attend dinner at the palace, I could do nothing else but accept.”

“I’m glad that you did. By the way, you look stunning in that outfit. As for me, I haven’t worn this uniform since I attended the 2019 State of the Union address..”

“Indeed. My car is standing by outside to take us to the palace.”

“Countess, if you don’t mind, I’d like to do the driving.”

“Alright; please call me Kym.”

General Hodges steps out the front door and returns a minute or two later at the wheel of one of the vehicles in his collection. He pulls up in front of the house, gestures theatrically and says “Your chariot awaits, My lady.”

A look of great interest crosses Sorensen‘s face as she replies “I’ve never seen anything like this car outside of old video footage. What kind of vehicle is it?”

“This is a 1935 Duesenberg SJ LaGrande Dual-Cowl Phaeton. During the first third of the 20th century, the Duesenberg marquee was the absolute last word in luxury transportation. Only 36 SJs were ever built and of those 36, this example is the only one fitted with a Curtiss Conqueror V-1570 liquid-cooled aircraft engine. Compared to the standard SJ engine, the V-1570 produced 50% more power.”

“A truly magnificent machine, to be sure.”

Kym Sorensen takes her place in the front seat next to General Hodges and the two drive off towards the Royal Palace.

6:00 PM

Hodges and Sorensen arrive at the palace just 15 minutes later. He pulls up under the entrance vestibule, helps Sorensen out of the car, then pauses to belt on his dress sword. With the countess on his right arm, General Hodges comes up to the front entrance and is greeted by none other than Field Marshal Yvonne Davion.

Salutes are exchanged, and General Hodges says “Good evening, Ma’am. I didn’t expect to see you here tonight.”

“General, I and a number of high-ranking officers and government functionaries are here at the First Prince’s invitation to recognize what you have done for the Federated Suns. If you will please follow me, I’ll take you to the dining room.”

“At your convenience.”

Field Marshal Davion escorts the two through the palace and to the formal dining room, where Hanse Davion is waiting to receive them. As soon as Hodges and Sorenson enter the room, they are greeted with a standing ovation led by the First Prince.

Hanse Davion comes over, shakes hands with General Hodges and says “I’m glad to see you again, General. The raids on Helm and New Dallas were eminently successful, and this dinner is part of the recognition that is rightfully yours.”

“Thank you, your highness; the pleasure is all mine.”

“That’s quite a weapon you have there. Where did you get it?”

“Your highness, as it so happens, this weapon is a Model 1913 U.S cavalry saber; the Model 1913 happens to be that last such weapon ever issued to the U.S Army. This particular example belonged to my great grandfather Lt. General Courtney Hodges; he commanded X Corps and the 10th Army during the build-up to the invasion of Europe. In 1943, he turned over command to General George Patton and reported for reassignment. General Patton had enormous personal respect for my great grandfather, to the point where he gave him this sword. Patton carried this very weapon during the 1916 Pancho Villa Expedition and later on during the First World War, where he commanded the AEF tank school in Ourroy, France.”

“Fascinating. Now, let’s take our seats; the palace staff have laid on a good spread for tonight.”

The evening passes and a good time is had by all. Towards the end of the dinner, the First Prince taps on his champagne glass to get everyone’s attention.

“Ladies, gentlemen and fellow officers. In view of General Hodges’ outstanding service to the Federated Suns, and by my authority as First Prince, I hereby grant him the system of Bristol, to have and hold in perpetuity from this day forth. Additionally, you are also granted a finder’s fee equal to 5% of the total value of the Helm Cache.” The First Prince’s pronouncement causes all those present to break out in another standing ovation, one even more enthusiastic than before; for his part, General Hodges is momentarily stunned.

“Your highness, fellow officers, ladies and gentlemen; I am honored by the trust and confidence that has been shown to me here tonight…” As General Hodges speaks, he catches a glimpse of Kym Sorenson raising her glass to him (with a rather appraising look in her eye).

“…know that I will do my very best to prove worthy of it.”

A third round of applause breaks out; once the clapping fades away, the chamber orchestra (which, heretofore, had been playing light tunes for the entertainment of all) begins playing a series of tunes chosen by Hanse Davion to especially-appeal to General Hodges’ sense of history. The first three are ‘Boogie Woogie’, ‘In The Mood’ and ‘Moonlight Serenade’ by Glenn Miller; when the third tune starts. Hodges stands up, turns to Kym Sorensen and says “may I have this dance?”

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