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Rise and Break

Chapter 18 - Aurigan Dreams (BattleTech CYOA)

Interrupted Negotiations[]

It is the end of June that High Lord Arano finishes organizing my ascension to the nobility, just long enough for Kamea to give me enough of a basic crash course that I won’t completely embarrass myself by accident. I’m being made a Lady, which is effectively a knighthood, but a bit more prestigious. Something to do with a landhold to my name and calling myself Lady Nora rather than Dame Elizabeth.

It doesn’t help that thanks to the very feudal nature of the Aurigan Coalition, the nobility hierarchy is a bit of a mess. Okay, maybe more than a bit. In the end, the key parts are that I am now low-ranking nobility, I have a nice little landhold and I am officially a vassal of High Lord Arano, directly under him.

In the end, the matter is more bureaucracy than ceremony. The only ceremony that takes place is me swearing a vow of fealty to High Lord Arano with Lord Espinosa and another couple of local nobles as witnesses. After that, it is just a matter of sorting out the paperwork, which just means reading a few documents and then signing on my end of things.

My new land is pretty good, about a half hour drive away from Cordia City and located further inland. I’m told that it is ‘only’ about ten kilometres squared, but for both lives that I can remember, that is a very impressive amount of land to call my own. While some of the land is covered by woods, the majority of it is farmland. A mixture of animals, staple crops and luxury crops, I am now drawing in a substantial amount of revenue in taxes.

Taxes. I never thought I would have people paying taxes to me.

I still have to pay taxes myself with about a fifth of my revenue being paid to a mixture of the Aurigan government and House Arano, but I am still making a massive amount of money. Or I would be if I didn’t need to invest it back into my land holding. Part of it is maintaining the local infrastructure and the other duties that House Arano was previously tending to, but the majority of it will be constructing my new home and hiring staff and then once those are complete, paying for their upkeep.

All in all, I’ll be making about eight thousand to nine thousand C-Bills a month in terms of personal spending. Which is a lot for someone of my background, but after worrying about the finances of the Rimward Sentinels, it doesn’t feel like much.

Leading my own mercenary regiment has really messed up my perspective on finances.

“Congratulations, Lady Nora,” says High Lord Tamati as I privately meet with him at the Arano Palace for contract negotiations.

My contract with House Arano was only for three months, from the start of April to the end of June.

“Thank you, Lord Arano,” I reply, “I appreciate the quality of the land that I receive though I’ll admit that I am a bit overwhelmed on managing it. I’m afraid that it is something I have no experience or training for and to be blunt, I don’t have the time to learn another major thing right now. Just not enough hours in the day.”

“You do have a plenty on your plate already.” agrees Lord Arano, “Fortunately, you can delegate the running of your land to a trusted and capable individual. It is necessary whenever a noble leaves for war or another purpose or sometimes they are unable to rule themselves for whatever reason, such as being too young.”

“As useful as that sounds, I don’t have an individual like that,” I say, “Well, I might have some within my ranks, but they all signed up to be mercenaries not stewards. Wait, is steward the right term?”

“It is an apt term for the job.” says Lord Arano, “I can find someone who can manage the land for you. While I recommend learning the basics when you have the time for it, your job as a mercenary means that you will be depending on a steward a fair bit since you will need to leave your holdings in the care of someone else.”

“That makes sense,” I agree, “Now, I believe that we are here to discuss a new contract for the Rimward Sentinels with House Arano?”

“Straight to business then,” says Lord Arano. “I could give you another garrison contract, but I was hoping that you would be up for a pirate hunting contract this time around so we could hammer piracy in the region. Axylus was a good start even if the main goal was retrieving the Argo. The loss of two lances of ‘Mechs, a company of vehicles and a Leopard is a decent blow to the pirates of the Frontier and additional strikes would only lessen the threat that piracy poses.”

“I would rather wait a bit, but we’ve got enough experienced personnel that I would be willing to accept that contract,” I answer, “A few of our newer recruits could do with more training, especially myself and our freshly trained ASFs pilots. Frankly speaking, I would like a few more months of training for our newest aerospace pilots as while they are trained enough to not crash, I don’t trust them in a combat situation. Much like myself except the consequences for poor handling of an ASF is far worse than it is for a ‘Mech.”

“I can add the clause that for the first three months, you won’t be asked to attack any targets who are suspected to have ASFs in their arsenal,” says Lord Arano, “Is that acceptable?”

“It is,” I reply, “Speaking of months, how long are you planning to make this contract?”

“Six months seems like a reasonable length for an anti-piracy contract,” answers Lord Arano, “Any objections to that?”

“Six months is acceptable though I would prefer shorter given that I am likely to expand my forces,” I tell him, having discussed what is in my best interests with Raju and Leona prior to this meeting in addition to my own studying, “Between the expected salvage from defeating the pirates and any loot claimed from the SLDF sites, I expect to be able to expand my forces, which will push up against our agreed upon payment. Henceforth, a short contract is preferable to me, especially if things go well for the Rimward Sentinels.”

“An understandable position given your circumstances,” says Lord Arano, “Would you be willing to accept a six month contract in exchange for higher than average payment?”

“As a start.” I reply, “Speaking of pay, I would like to point out that my unit is now fully filled out as a combined arms regiment and has more tonnage than any of the House Guard units in ACM. In fact, with the exception of the House Espinosa Guard, the Rimward Sentinels have more than twice the tonnage of any ‘Mech battalion in the ACM and even Lord Epsinosa’s troops don’t come close to matching the Rimward Sentinels.”

“I suppose it was too much to hope that you wouldn’t notice that.” sighs Lord Arano.

“Sir Raju pointed it out to me when he was helping me prepare for this meeting.” I say helpfully.

“Of course, Raju wouldn’t miss that.” says Lord Arano, “As you wish, Lady Nora. Two million C-Bills a month?”

“Two and a half along with lower overhead,” I suggest.

“Two and a half million C-Bills a month with only covering fifty percent of the overhead instead of eighty percent.” says Lord Arano.

“Agreed,” I say and Lord Arano sighs.

“That is going to put something of a dent in my coffers, you know.” says Lord Arano with a wry smile, “Though I cannot deny that you are bringing sufficient forces to the table to be worth it.”

“Is the Aurigan Coalition really that badly hurting for cash?” I ask, feeling a bit worried about just what shape the economy is in.

“The Aurigan Coalition?” replies Lord Arano, “No. House Arano? I’m afraid that despite our close ties to the Coalition, we don’t make that much directly from the Coalition. The Coalition’s budget could take your costs easily, but the legal situation means that I have to pay you with only my House’s coffers if I wish to make use of your freedom to act. It won’t beggar me by any means, but I might take up Santiago on his offer to cover some of the costs.”

“Speaking of costs, you won’t need to cover any transportation costs in the contract.” I say, “I am happy to continue accepting full straight support in lieu of any battle compensation. I understand how much the Coalition would struggle to replace any losses that I take.”

“An unfortunate fact-” starts Lord Arano before pausing as his noteputer begins to rapidly and loudly beeps, “Sorry, Lady Nora, but I’m afraid that I need to take this immediately.”

“Of course,” I say and Lord Arano gives me a nod of acknowledgement as he brings up something on his noteputer.

I watch my liege lord clenches his jaw as his grip on his noteputer tightens as he reads whatever urgently needs his attention. And if this is how Lord Arano is reacting to the news, then I have no doubts that it is urgent. It takes a few seconds before he is finished, but Lord Arano does put his noteputer to one side to focus his attention back to me.

“I’m afraid that we’ll have to cut this meeting short, Lady Nora,” says Lord Arano, his voice tight with emotion, “It seems that we are being invaded.”

“Oh.” I say as despite the severity of the situation, nothing else comes to mind.

“An Invader-class JumpShip just jumped in from Itrom,” continues Lord Arano, “It was carrying three DropShips, an Overlord, a Dictator, and a Mule, and now all three DropShips are heading for this world at a one point five gee burn. They apparently belong to two different mercenary units with Overlord and the Invader claiming to belong to the same mercenary outfit while the Dictator and the Mule claiming to belong to another set of mercenaries.”

“That does sound concerning, but how do we know it is an invasion?” I ask, “Have they sent any messages implying that they are invading us?”

“As a matter of fact, they have,” replies Lord Arano, “A man claiming to be Basil Herman has sent a message from the Overlord, saying that he wishes to claim your hardware, calling it his rightful inheritance and you, amongst plenty of other things, a thief.”

I feel myself getting angry at that, clenching my fists before I remember myself and take a deep breath. Getting angry might be justified, but it never helps, especially since nobody here has earnt my ire. Come on, Elizabeth, approach this problem like a technical fault in your Altas.

“One of my half-brothers,” I say, my voice clipped despite my efforts to calm myself, “I never met him in person, but I heard from my nieces and nephew that he was very opposed to me claiming my inheritance back on Bromhead. He was vocal and public enough about it that he got himself banned from the Herman Ducal Palace before I even arrived on Bromhead. I can ask Vance and Vanessa to speak with you if you wish. They have more experience with him and I doubt there will be any love lost between them with him trying to steal their ‘Mechs.”

“I may take you up on that offer,” says Lord Arano, “I’m afraid that I must cut this meeting short. Unfortunately, this turn of events means that I need to go and deal with it. I expect you will need to do the same with your own people.”

“Yeah, I will,” I agree.'

Author's Chapter Notes[]

Word from the Author
Apologies for not going into too much detail over the ennoblement and the land holding. Elizabeth is only being made the only rank of nobility so a big ceremony isn’t needed while the land holding isn’t something she will have direct participation in the foreseeable future. Now the contract negotiations on the other hand, there is a bigger deal and something that Elizabeth will be directly involved in.

Also the enemy mercenaries have finally shown up, just in time to interrupt negotiations.

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