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Rise and Break

Chapter 16 - Aurigan Dreams (BattleTech CYOA)

Proposing the next Project[]

Despite the unconventional nature of their recruitment, there hasn’t been much trouble with integrating Coranni’s Crew into the Rimward Sentinels. The informal nature of the organization combined with its make up meant that the absorbed mercenary unit has mostly remained intact under my command. With their own rides and a transport for them alongside the rest of my command structure already filled out, it makes sense and it is hardly a bad outcome.

Coranni and her Crew were capable as a tactical unit and it was only financially that they were doing badly. When I found and hired them, they had begun that downward spiral where a mercenary unit is unable to make enough C-Bills to keep itself going and keeps getting more and more desperate until it is either destroyed, absorbed into another force or turns pirate. With me footing the bill, they just need to accept being under my authority and I need to find them a fourth MechWarrior to round out their lance.

Their wiz of a financial administrator is another story. Angela Hawkins has found herself being directly integrated into my support staff and the Lyran lady has taken to it like a fish to water. Miss Hawkins knows what she is doing and with my financing, she is performing well without the threat of bankruptcy cutting into her work.

She is also the firstborn and heir to a minor Lyran CEO and trained as such. I might be trained in how to know the value of my services and how to avoid being blatantly screwed over, but from what I can pick up from Coranni’s Crew, Miss Hawkins knows how to turn the art of economics and business into an artform. How much of that is exaggeration I don't know, but Miss Hawkins is certainly a capable woman.

None of which explains why she hasn’t chartered a trip back to the Lyran Commonwealth. She certainly had the funds for it and while the Free Worlds League isn’t fond of Lyrans, the journey wouldn't be overly dangerous. So why was a capable young Lyran business woman choosing to stick around with a rundown mercenary outfit in the Periphery instead of returning to her CEO father and his thriving business?

A little more asking around got me the answer in the form of the story that Masaru Shira tried to go out with both Miss Hawkins and Coranni before they rejected him in favor of each other. So the two young ladies are dating each other, explaining why Angela chose to run about the Frontier instead of returning home. After over a year of serious dating, their future marriage is less a question of if, but when thanks to their newfound financial security.

“Miss Hawkins,” I say as I step into the other woman’s office, “May I have a moment of your time? I require your expertise as a businesswoman.

“Of course, Colonel,” replies the Lyran lady as she shoots me a grin, “You’re my boss after all.”

“Thanks,” I say before taking a seat, “I have a couple of things I want to speak with you about. The first is that there is some specific land on Artru that I wish to buy. Given my own lack of expertise and you’re a rising star in my financial team so I apologies if I am asking for something outside your skillset, but I was hoping you would be able to help.”

“It isn’t something I have much experience with, but I have some training in that area,” replies Miss Hawkins, “When your business is big enough or personal wealth is great enough, how to buy and sell land is something you have to know. May I ask is there any particular reason that you want to purchase this land?”

I hesitate at that. On the one hand, I have no particular reason to trust Miss Hawkins, but on the other hand, we are aboard the Durendal, which is secure enough, and things might go badly if Miss Hawkins doesn’t know what I really want.

“This land is the location of Outpost Castle Nautilus according to some SLDF files we found on Axylus,” I answer after a moment and Miss Hawkins’ eyes go wide at that, “With the ongoing negotiations between the Aurigan Coalition and Artru and the other systems associated with it, I cannot just go barging in with a raid. And if Artru joins the Aurigan Coalition as desired, I may have to share some of the spoils with the locals, something I would like to avoid if possible.”

“I can see why you want that land now.” says Miss Hawkins as she takes on a calculating look, “Hmm, do you know if anyone else knows about this, ah, Castle Nautilus?”

“Just myself, Lord Espinosa, High Lord Arano and his daughter,” I answer, “Nobody on Artru knows anything about it or any sort of SLDF presence on Artru and I would like to keep things that way. If folks on Artru find out about Nautilus-”

“-they won’t be willing to sell it.” concludes Miss Hawkins, “Not without massively raising the price or looting it themselves. Yes, I see the issue. Next question, how likely is anybody to find this Castle Nautilus?”

“It has structures above the surface, blatantly obvious ones.” I answer as I try to recall what I can even if it means thinking of that accursed game and all of the horrible implications that come with it, “Most likely with its automated defenses still functional.”

“So it is unlikely to already be owned and certainly not by anybody using the land.” muses Miss Hawkins, “We will want to avoid anyone going to inspect the land before it gets sold. Artru is that icy rock that nobody lives on apart from the miners?”

“That’s correct.” I confirm, “The vast majority of the population lives in orbit with only token shifts on the surface to keep the mining equipment operating.”

“I’ll look into it then,” says Miss Hawkins before hesitating, “I may need to present you as a nouveau riche who is buying this land without looking into it too much so they don’t look into it too closely in turn.”

“Acceptable so long as I get ownership of this land without anybody realizing what is there,” I tell her, “And speaking of spending my new found wealth. I’m interested in spending some money to get a source of income beyond mercenary work. The profitability of being a mercenary is unreliable as you know firsthand and I don’t want to leave the C-Bills I inherited just sitting around in a bank account until I spend them.”

“Ah, I can help you with that as well.” says Miss Hawkins with a very Lyran smile, “In fact, I already have a good idea of what to do. I already looked into the best investment options in the Magistracy and the Concordat as well independent worlds between the two nations. Thanks to our prior financial situation, I never got to act upon those plans, but I can certainly put them to use if you are willing.”

“I am.” I say, “All of the successful, big-name mercenaries end up getting secondary sources of income when they are able to afford it. I can afford it so I want backup sources of income.”

“I’ll get right on it.” says Miss Hawkin, a calculating look on her face to go with her grin, “Let me look up investment opportunities and I’ll provide you with some options to choose from.”

“Thank you, Miss-wait, there was something else,” I say, interrupting my goodbye as I remember the third thing I wanted to talk with her about, “There is some land on Detroit that I want to buy, the location of an old ruined factory. Nothing that is currently repairable right now, but I would like to try and get the land now if I can.”

“Does the same level of secrecy from the site on Artru apply to this one?” asks Miss Hawkins, causing me to take a moment to think.

“I would prefer it if we could, but at the same time, it isn’t as important,” I answer, “It is a nonfunctional Bug ‘Mech factory not an intact and undiscovered Outpost Castle. I would rather nobody know why I want the land, but it isn’t as critical as it is with Castle Nautilus.”

“I understand,” says Miss Hawkins.

Preparing for Nobility[]

Lord Arano doesn’t ennoble me right away, something I am thankful for. He needs to sort out the heraldry for me in addition to picking out an estate for my holdings. While the latter is on him, I need to play a part in the former and it is important that I take it seriously. Whatever I pick will be what represents House Nora for both my lifetime and future generations so I need to make sure it is something I am willing to bear proudly.

So far I am thinking of something simple. A shield as the background and something in the middle. I’m leaning towards a cog to indicate my background as an engineer and ‘Mech tech since I am still more of a technician at heart than a MechWarrior or a commander. Maybe something along the rim of the shield to keep it from looking too basic. Not to mention I will need to figure out the colors.

My new house motto has been easier to figure out. Things like honor, courage, loyalty and whatnot are all high-sounding virtues, but they aren’t virtues I especially embody or believe in. If I am going to pick a pithy quote to represent House Nora, I want it to be something that fits me in particular or at least things that mean something to me.

Protect Your Ideals, Integrity, and Liberty. Ideals are what you stand for and your integrity is your worth as a person. Liberty is something I value both for myself and my people and all of those things are something worth protecting, even if it means getting into a life or death fight. That is what I want to pass on down to my descendants.

Good Lord, I am too young to be thinking about kids and grandkids. I’m only twenty.

Nonetheless, family is on the mind as the driver that House Arano has provided me pulls up outside my home. At my request, it is a somewhat regular looking car rather than a limo as I don’t want to draw more attention than I have to when it comes to my family.

Perhaps I should learn to drive a car at some point, even if I am rich enough and well-connected enough now that I rely on someone else to do it for me.

Everyone should be home right now, even Moana as my half-sister is visiting from the local army base. Having gotten assigned to the Royal Guard garrison in Cordia City, Moana will be close enough to visit home on the regular. While she is appreciative of getting her preferred assignment, I think I’ll refrain from letting her know that I asked for her request to get approved as a favour from Lord Arano.

As it is late afternoon, I’m the last to arrive though I haven’t missed too much and conversation quickly changes to what I’ve been up to. Malia and Melika are both eager for stories of real ‘Mech combat while Dad is encouraging, but uncertain about it. He clearly wants to support me and while I don’t hold it against him, it is also clear that he isn’t sure how to and isn’t particularly fond of the idea of encouraging me to risk my life. Mum, on the other hand, is much more encouraging and it is clear that she has seen similar action to what I experienced. Not surprising from what little I’ve been able to piece together of her life before she met Dad.

The odd one out is Moana. She isn’t being rude exactly, but my sister is doing her best to stay out of the general discussion and Moana is oddly stand-offish whenever I try to engage her in conversation. I don’t know why, but I suspect it has something to do with my recent change in career paths.

Maybe it is because I went mercenary instead of joining the ACM like she did and I intended to. Perhaps it is to do with the fact I have chosen to become a MechWarrior while she is proud of being jump infantry. Whatever it is, I should probably deal with it before it grows into a rift between us.

As the afternoon becomes evening, I take the opportunity to take Mum to one side for a chat as Dad herds the younger two of my half-sisters and Moana remains standoffish.

“Lord Arano is planning to make me a noble,” I tell her quietly, “Just a Lady, but nobility nonetheless.”

“I see,” replies Mum in an equally quiet voice, “What do you think of that, Liz?”

“The cynical part of me views it as an attempt to bind me and my forces to the Coalition,” I admit, “but it is more than just that. Lord Arano was too enthusiastic about it and too happy with what I had accomplished for it not to be a genuine attempt at rewarding my services. Not to mention I have made my desire to protect and strengthen the Coalition clear and I figured this would be coming sooner rather than later.”

“Are you happy with this?” inquires Mum as she pulls me into a gentle hug.

“I don’t know,” I answer, “I-well, I’m happy to be rewarded, but I don’t know enough about nobility to know if it is something I want.”

“It will give you prestige that you previously lacked and open doors that would otherwise be barred to you.” says Mum, “There are people who will respect someone with a title, even a minor one. It is a shallow thing, but there are plenty of nobles that consider being part of their circle to be a big deal. Possibly the biggest deal.”

“I can believe that.” I answer, thinking back to a couple of MechWarriors that Mastiff had assigned to Chevalier Company because they had that precise attitude.

“Try to embrace the good side of this.” says Mum as she releases me, “Gaining a noble title and a land holding is a step up in society and if you continue to be a rising star, you can expect to advance further.”

“Thank you, Mum,” I tell her as I give her another hug.

“It’s what I am here for, Liz,” says Mum, “A mother is there for their children and gives them what advice she can. Now if you don’t mind indulging my curiosity, how far along is this?”

“Lord Arano is still sorting out my new holding and I have yet to decide upon my heraldry,” I answer, “But I have decided upon the motto of my…new House.”

“Let’s hear them, Liz,” says Mum.

“Protect Your Ideals, Integrity, and Liberty.” I quote before blushing in slight embarrassment, “A bit corny, but those things have meaning for me and I think they are worth fighting for, a sentiment that I would like to pass onto my descendants.”

“You have nothing to be ashamed of,” Mum tells me as she gives me a third hug, “Those are words worth living by.”

Author's Chapter Notes[]

Word from the Author
Elizabeth finally gets around to investing some of her millions. I’m not going into the specifics of what she is investing in, but she has a competent individual handling it so they’ll be decent to good. Beyond that, she is trying to get Castle Nautilus by buying the land and the story will have some family time for Elizbeth for her personal character arc before the next bout of action or politics.

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