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Nautilus Expedition

Chapter 27 - Aurigan Dreams (BattleTech CYOA)

Negotiations on conducting the Expedition[]

“Now that we don’t need to worry about offending Artru, I wish to raise the topic of Outpost Castle Nautilus again." says Lord Espinosa as we gather for a small meeting to discuss the SLDF sites we discovered aboard the Argo.

There are only four of us involved in this, Lord Espinosa, myself, Lord Arano and Kamea. Too much need to know to involve anyone who isn’t part of it.

“Of course, Santiago” agrees Lord Arano as he leans back into his chair, “What is the status of Outpost Castle Nautilus on Artru?”

“Still undiscovered, but the land was recently purchased by Elizabeth here." answers Lord Espinosa, “Which simplifies the matter from a legal perspective since no one from Artru or the local government can lay claim to the site for themselves. It also means that we must deal with Elizabeth when it comes to sorting who lays claim to Castle Nautilus and its contents.”

“I am willing to be reasonable about it though I want to claim my fair share for myself and the Rimward Sentinels." I say as the others turn their attention to me, “The exact details need to be discussed since this sort of expedition isn’t part of my contract with House Arano.”

“You are correct." agrees Lord Arano, “I can’t see a reasonable way to argue that this falls under your pirate hunting expedition. Perhaps if we were just using the Rimward Sentinels to secure Castle Nautilus and retrieve its contents, but no, you have legal ownership of the land and that changes things. Still this is a matter we should discuss later. First we must determine how we will secure Castle Nautilus and gain access to it.”

“I recommend treating it as if the defenses are still active." I say, thinking back to that particular lev-mission, that mission, “The SLDF made plentiful use of automated defenses and given the quality of Star League engineering, I certainly wouldn’t put it beyond the realm of possibility that Castle Nautilus still has some active automated defenses.”

Mainly because I know it still has turrets and combat drones to defend it.

“You raise a valid point." says Lord Arano, “The Argo was certainly still functional even centuries after crashing and suffering significant abuse between its crash and retrieval. It would be the height of foolishness to expect less from an untouched Outpost Castle.”

“That would mean we will need to send a meaningful military force along with the expedition." says Lord Espinosa, “Something strong enough to successfully overwhelm any lingering automated defenses.”

“Which means my Rimward Sentinels." I note.

“Indeed." agrees Lord Espinosa, “Even if my proposal passes and it shall, this situation wouldn’t qualify for an internal deployment by a Founding House and to use the ACM, we would need to get the approval of the Founding Council. That would mean telling them about Castle Nautilus and then they would all be clambering for a piece of that pie and it would almost certainly leak to foreign states like the Taurians. Which could be very bad for us.”

“Yeah, I understand we would want to keep this on a need to know basis." I reply, “I doubt the Bulls are happy about our latest expansion along their border and I am certain that they won’t be happy to hear about a ripe prize like Castle Nautilus existing on one of our newest additions.”

“No, they won’t be." says Lord Espinosa before turning to Lord Arano, “Elizabeth will need to lead a detachment of the Rimward Sentinel as part of the expedition we put together.”

“We’ll need to make it a side contract if I am going to deploy my forces." I say as it occurs to me that this sort of job isn’t really covered by my existing contract, “Just the protection of the expedition on the journey to Artru, at Castle Nautilus and then the journey back to Coromodir. And the goodies from Nautilus will need to be covered under a separate agreement.”

“Of course." says Lord Arano, “This hardly counts as pirate hunting. A Fortress and the forces it contains should be sufficient. We’ll send the Argo along with it to carry the experts and transport anything from Castle Nautilus back to here.”

“Has the Argo finished its repair work then?” I ask, curious about just what shape the ancient DropShip is currently in.

Argo DropShip (Departing Jumpship)

Dispatching the Argo

“Not completely, but the majority of the work has been done." answers Lord Arano, “We haven’t gotten the last medical bay online yet and most of the crew amenities haven’t been restored, but in terms of practical capabilities, the Argo is mostly functional. Certainly enough for a mission like this and given that the Argo still has its SLDF codes, we will be needing it for this expedition.”

“I trust your judgement." I tell him, “It is your ship after all. Hmm, if I remember correctly, the Argo has an experimental docking system that lets it carry a couple of Leopards right?”

“Two DropShips that weigh two thousand tons or less, but yes, that is correct." answers Lord Arano, “Yes, I see where you are going. Hmm, you have two Leopards, correct?”

“I do." I confirm, “Do you want to bring them along as well?”

“Just one." replies Lord Arano, “I want to bring a cargo-variant Leopard along to handle transporting cargo from Castle Nautilus up to the Argo since the Argo can’t enter an atmosphere without crashing.”

“Understood." I answer, “A Fortress and a Leopard. That would be a combined arms battalion along with a ‘Mech lance and an ASF flight.”

“The Argo can support another company of ‘Mechs and a squadron of ASFs." says Lord Arano, “Given my inability to deploy ACM assets, I would like to assign some Rimward Sentinels to the Argo for the duration of this expedition.”

“I can do that." I agree before pausing as something occurs to me, “But I am not sure how useful that second ‘Mech company will be if the Argo cannot deploy them.”

“The Argo has drop pod capability and one of the Leopards can handle ferrying them back to the Argo." answers Lord Arano, “Now if we have determined the military assets coming along, I would like to discuss the civilian side of the expedition.”

“I would like to come along, Tamati." says Lord Espinosa as he interjects himself into the conversation again, leaning forward as he does so, “This is significant enough that I would like to be personally involved.”

“As you wish, Santiago." agrees Lord Arano with ease, “I’ll also be asking Lord Karosas and Doctor Murad to come along. Lord Karosas is my chief technologist and easily the most experienced man in the Reach when it comes to advanced technology. His presence would be invaluable while Doctor Murad has familiarity with Star League systems from her work on Argo.”

Ah yes, House Karosas is renowned for its emphasis on knowledge and it doesn’t matter if that knowledge is engineering, scientific or medical. They sponsor academies to preserve knowledge and encourage learning and the technical college that I went to here on Coromodir was one of those academies sponsored by House Karosas.

Lord Simon Karosas himself is particularly a representative of his dynasty’s beliefs and embodies the values of House Karosas. I fully agree with Lord Arano that his presence would be welcome.

“I have no objection so long as they don’t interfere with the security side of things." I say.

“Bringing Simon means that he will expect a share of the prize for House Karosas." warns Lord Espinosa before looking apologetic, “Not that I oppose him joining the expedition as his expertise could very well be vital, but I feel that this is a fact that needs to be stated.”

“I don’t want to split up the loot even further, but Lord Karosas’ expertise will likely be important to getting that loot." I say, “If he can get us safely into Castle Nautilus, he’ll have earnt his share of its contents.”

“Then I will invite Simon to join the expedition." says Lord Arano, “I lack the authority to order him to come along, but I doubt he will say no.”

“Of course, he won’t." says Lord Espinosa wryly while Kamea lets out a laugh, “There is no chance of Simon passing up an opportunity like this.”

“No, he will not." agrees Lord Arano, “Now we just need to discuss the timeframe.”

“We will need to wait until the next meeting of the Founding Council." says Lord Espinosa before adding for my benefit, “That’s when we’ll be formally agreeing to Artru, Aea, Katinka and Qalzi joining the Coalition and voting on my proposal to the deployment authority of the ACM.”

“Both will pass." says Lord Arano, “The vote is just a formality at this point. A necessary formality to ensure legitimacy and legality, but the outcome is already determined. Artru has officially joined the Coalition, we can send our expedition without worrying about the backlash of interfering with their membership.”

“Is that when we start preparing or we set out?” I inquire, “Because those are two different things.”

“Preparations will begin as soon as possible." says Lord Arano, “The meeting will take place in the earlier half of September, depending on how long it takes for all of the Founding Council to get here. That gives us time to prepare and for me to speak with Simon.”

“Alright." I say, “Now should we discuss how we will divide whatever loot we find?”

“First I would like the contract to provide security for this expedition to be under House Espinosa." says Lord Espinosa, “There is no need for House Arano to foot all of the bills in regard to the Rimward Sentinels. We might not be as wealthy, but House Espinosa has its own fair share of wealth.”

“I have no objections, Santiago." replies Lord Arano as he gives me an inquiring look.

“Neither do I, Lord Espinosa." I tell them, “So long as we get a fair contract and are paid on time and in full.”

“You have no need to worry about that from my House, Elizabeth." replies Lord Espinosa.

“Then I believe now is the time to discuss who gets what share of the spoils." says Lord Arano before glancing over at Lord Espinosa, “Santiago, did the Argo’s records contain any information on what we can expect to find at Castle Nautilus?”

“I’m afraid not, Tamati." answers Lord Espinosa, looking apologetic, “It has the location and a warning that the area is a no-fly zone and off-limits to civilians, but other than that, it is a mystery. It might even be empty for all we know.”

“I doubt that." I say, drawing the attention of everybody in the room and leaving me scrambling to explain that without revealing the truth, “Well, that is, what I mean is the SLDF is unlikely to have completely stripped it and since no one else has found it before us, there is going to be something for us to find. Even if it is just some infantry kit and high quality electronics.”

“Elizabeth has a point." says Kamea, making her first contribution to the meeting.

“Indeed, we shall go with the assumption that Castle Nautilus will have something for us to find." says Lord Arano, “I believe the first place to start is the ‘Mechs, ASFs, tanks and other complete war machines.”

“We should also consider the LosTech that we may find." I say, “If we find ‘Mechs that use Endo-Steel and Ferro-Fibrous Armour, we will need to figure out how to divide up any supplies required to keep them active and functional.”

“Are you saying that we should divide up the supplies required to keep a ‘Mech in working shape alongside the ‘Mech?” inquires Lord Espinosa.

“That and for everything else from tanks to LosTech weapons and equipment." I clarify, “For each piece of LosTech you get, you get a proportionate amount of the supplies required to maintain and repair it.”

“That sounds reasonable enough." agrees Lord Arano, “I’m thinking of splitting the contents into various categories so we don’t get a situation where someone tries to claim all of the ‘Mechs with their share.”

“That is acceptable to me." I say, “Any ideas on how to split it up?”
“Since it is your land, I would like to see what you think is reasonable." replies Lord Arano.

“Umm." I say, not sure how to answer that so I turn to my personal assistant, “Kamea?”

“So the land is yours and while you need help accessing it, that entitles you to a lion’s share of the claim." says Kamea, “Splitting it between four different parties…I would have to say either fifty or sixty percent. No, wait, take forty percent and get first choice on your share. That gives you twice as much as anyone else and you get to claim the most desirable finds.”

“I will go with Kamea’s recommendation." I say, “Forty percent with the first pick for my share and the rest of you get twenty percent each. Or however else you wish to divide up the remaining contents of Castle Nautilus.”

“I am willing to accept that." agrees Lord Arano, “Santiago?”

“I am also willing to accept that arrangement." says Lord Espinosa, “It is an equitable division of the finds given the circumstances.”

“Then I’ll write up a formal agreement." says Lord Arano, “Elizabeth, Santiago, is now a good time to sort out your contract for the Rimward Sentinels to provide security for the expedition?”

“We might as well." replies Lord Espinosa, “We are all here and have already decided on half of the details.”

And like that, the first steps to uncovering the secrets of Outpost Castle Nautilus have begun.

Author's Chapter Notes[]

Word from the Author
And here we have the start of the sixth arc where Elizabeth and the Aurigans finally get around to Outpost Castle Nautilus and its goodies. Not too much to say here except the planning behind the expedition is taking place and the next update will be arriving at Artru and Castle Nautilus.

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