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By the Horns (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 95 - By the Horns[]

Taurian Concordat Class B HPG Station
Port Sheridan, New Vallis
Taurian Concordat
April 17th, 3026

The communications hub of the HPG was filled to capacity, Edward noted as he was escorted to his seat at one of the four tables moved into the chamber for the Taurian delegation to sit at. He did not sit, however, but he waited, standing, just as the rest of the government and military officials did. In the center of the room, the holo-projector whined slightly as ComStar technicians made some last minutes adjustments, and then one looked up and he nodded.

One of the Protector's personal security quietly spoke into his comm unit and then Thomas Calderon, followed by Henri Jouett and Marshal of the Armies Brenda Calderon entered the chamber, standing behind the final three empty seats.

On the other side of the chamber, a dozen ComStar officials also stood—including one wearing the robes of a full Precentor and Edward watched as each bowed their heads and the lights slowly dimmed.

The holo-projector snapped on, and the image of the Primus of ComStar appeared, standing as well.

"I am Primus Vesar Kristofur" the image said, "and I greet you in the name of the Blessed Blake. May his Peace and his Wisdom guide us here today."

"I am Thomas Calderon, Protector of the Taurian Concordat." said Thomas in turn. "We welcome the opening of these negotiations and greet you in the name of the Taurian people."

At that, both the Primus and Thomas sat, followed by everyone else in the room.

Then Vesar smiled. "I am pleased that you have reached out to us, Protector Calderon." he said. "It is with great regret that our meeting has to be under these circumstances. Before we begin, however, I have a few things to say—a few items that must be clarified." and he paused until Thomas nodded in assent.

"First, ComStar offers its most sincere apologies to you and the people of the Taurian Concordat—what Primus Tiepolo attempted to do was not condoned by the First Circuit, nor was it in accordance with the Will of Blake. There was a—schism—on Terra between factions within ComStar, one of which was led by Tiepolo and Precentor Waterly. These two, for reasons we cannot begin to fathom, tried to manipulate and deceive you and your people, and for that we are most truly apologetic and remorseful. The attack on our HPG station on Jansen's Hold was their concept after it became known that you had salvaged that WarShip you now possess."

Vesar paused and he sighed. "They were concerned that with such a powerful weapon at your disposal that war—ruinous and terrible war such as those waged in the First and Second Succession Wars—would once again erupt throughout the Inner Sphere. So rather than trust you to do the right thing, Protector Calderon, they attempted to deceive you and manipulate you and implicate you in this attack. They were wrong to do so, and they have both—and their followers—paid for their actions with their lives."

Thomas nodded as the Primus paused.

"That being said, Protector Calderon, I realize that you are not going to start such a wide-spread war. Your ship—and it is your ship—will not be what destabilizes what little peace we have among us. Although, I certainly could not blame you for your anger at the Capellan Confederation for their attacks upon you. As well as those of Michael Hasek." and the Primus deliberately left off the '-Davion' so favored by that once great March Lord of the Federated Suns. "The two of them, in combination, attempted to take advantage of the Interdiction which my predecessor put in place against your Concordat; for that I am truly sorry."

"Therefore, I have given the order that the Interdiction is to be lifted immediately—regardless of the outcome of these proceedings. I only ask, Protector Calderon, that you give those of us within ComStar who opposed Tiepolo and Waterly a second chance to prove ourselves. We serve all of Humanity—something Julian Tiepolo and Myndo Waterly forgot in their quest for power."

Thomas sat there for a moment and then he nodded. "I accept your apology, Primus Kristofur." he finally said. "And I welcome the lifting of the Interdiction, but as you are aware, the Concordat has certain conditions which it—which I—insist on being met before we hand you control of the HPG stations within the Concordat."

Vesar nodded. "Yes. I have been briefed on those conditions and we shall agree in full. The Concordat may post an observer in every HPG Station in the Taurian Concordat to ensure that your government communications are not tampered with. Furthermore, any member of our Order who chooses to leave us for service in the Taurian Concordat—as is the case with a number of Acolytes captured when you seized the HPGs will be allowed to do so. Or, if they wish, they may return to the arms of ComStar. We will not arm our personnel within the Taurian Concordat and rely on our neutrality and the strength of the Taurian Defense Force to protect our Stations and our people."

"But ComStar as well has a condition, Protector Calderon." Vesar added.

"And that condition is, Primus?"

"Our ability to handle the communications of all people—all governments—within the Inner Sphere and Periphery depends on us being seen as neutral actors in the great drama of our lives. We would ask, therefore, that you and your government announce that the . . . conflict . . . between ComStar and the Concordat was the result of a misunderstanding and the actions of a few corrupt individuals that did not—and do not—represent either ComStar or the Concordat as a whole."

"We ask that you help us to preserve face, Protector Calderon. And if this one condition is met, then we shall stand by you once more. We shall maintain the HPG Stations and abide by all of the other conditions upon which you have insisted. If not, then we shall still lift the Interdiction—in a show of goodwill and good faith—and allow you to operate those stations yourself, without interference or assistance."

For a moment there was silence, but Edward nodded to himself slightly. It was a bit more than either his father or Henri Jouett had expected—but not by that much. And if Vesar was lying, well. What difference did that make when they would lose the HPGs within the next six months to a year anyway?

And from the corner of his eye, Edward could see his father nodding as he came to the same conclusion.

"Your condition is acceptable to the Taurian Concordat, Primus Kristofur." he said.

"Excellent. Precentor Philip Dane, please stand." he said and the highest ranking member of the ComStar delegation stood. "Protector Calderon, Philip Dane is my personal choice to serve as the new Precentor Taurus—if he is acceptable to you, that is?"

"And the old Precentor Taurus? You want him back?" Thomas asked harshly.

"He was part of Tiepolo's cabal, Protector Thomas. Do with him what you will. Is Precentor Dane acceptable to you to serve as my voice in the Concordat?"

It took several moments, but Thomas finally nodded. "He is."

"Excellent." replied Vesar with another smile. "In that case, he is empowered to speak on my behalf. However, if you ever require to speak with me directly, you will be able to do so within a matter of hours. That order has already been passed to my people who will be returning with you to Taurus to man our HPG Station there."

Vesar stood, and so did Thomas and everyone else in the communications hub. "May the Peace of Blake be with you and your people, Protector Thomas. The Interdiction is hereby lifted."

With that, the hologram flickered and then died as the lights grew in strength once again.

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