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Chapter 19[]

Clover Spear - The Story of the '56 War[]

Prologue, Book 2, The Hammer Falls

Capellan Offensive Begins[]

War Room
Forbidden City
Sian, Capellan Confederation
October 11th, 3056

The dark of the war room was only broken by the cerulean lights of the various displays denoting troop positions along the Capellan border with the Federated Suns. Many of them were flashing green, denoting that they were ready to begin combat operations, all they needed was the codeword to do so. Sun-Tzu smiled thinly, I am pleased, so far, the Davions seem to suspect nothing, our OPSEC has been better than I expected, and the raids we have launched have convinced them that we will be content to sit out their little pummeling of the Clans. Let them think that, right until the stroke of my sword to their neck.

He glanced at his assembled generals. “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are on the cusp of avenging the insults the Davions have subjected us to for the past 600 years. We stand ready to deliver the vengeance of the Capellan people, and liberate those who have toiled under the yoke of the so-called “freedom” of the Federated Commonwealth for so long. We shall show the Fox and his spawn why it is best to respect us, and why we have long memories. Execute EAST SEA on schedule. We will cross the border in three days, a fitting gift for their ‘Grain Rebellion’ Day.”

One clap broke the silence of the room, it soon became two, and soon the clapping became a flood, and Sun-Tzu extended his arms in triumph. He turned towards Alexa, standing against a corner of the room, her arms folded as she looked on. She was not clapping, and her eyes said Careful, my liege, we bet much on the uncertainties of this operation, and there is no guarantee this will even come close to success.

Sun-Tzu knew this all too well, he did not expect to survive this war, but if a solid enough blow could be struck, then perhaps a tired Federated Commonwealth could be brought to the negotiating table, and what gains that were taken through force of arms…could be solidified by politics, or, at least, that was the hope. My life is but a small cost to strengthen our nation.

But, he could not get the thought out of his mind of the ancient example of Imperial Japan, and its attack on Pearl Harbor. While it was wildly successful at first, it’s war leader, Yamamoto’s prediction about “six months of victory” seemed ever present in Sun-Tzu’s mind. We must drive the Davions to the table. It’s the only way this will work. But there are too many “ifs”? Will the Mariks help us? Will the guerillas we have in place launch the General Uprisings as planned? Will the Word of Blake honor their agreements? It’s a lot to bet on a “pair of 8s” as Archie McCarron once said, but I will be happy if we retake Sarna, and destabilize St. Ives enough to allow us to move in as “peacekeepers”. And, if the Mariks retake some of the Sirian worlds and wreak a little havoc along the Steiner frontier? All the better. It will split the FC response.

He turned to the war room again, his smile wide this time, reflected in the lights of the various displays, and shouted.

“Wǒ men jiāng yòng dà wèi ēn de xiān xuè lái xǐ dí wǒ men de cháng máo!” – We will wash our spears in Davion blood.

The room erupted in joyous cheers, and cries of “Xin Sheng!”

  • I didn’t know if Sun-Tzu at that moment had lost his mind, there were many moments during the coming days, especially as things began to fall apart on Sian that I came close to doing what he asked me to do, before that fateful, awful day. But the day that Sun-Tzu gave the go order? That day was electric, Capellan pride thumped in our chest like jackhammers. I screamed “Xin Sheng!” along with the rest of the assembled generals and their staffs. It was almost a shame that reality set in as harshly as it did.

    "My Years with the Chancellor", Alexa Shang, Colonel, CCAF (Ret), Loyalty Press, Sian, 3075

Assault on Luthuen[]

5000m AGL above the Unity Palace
Imperial City
Luthien, Draconis Combine
October 12th, 3056

The whooshing sound of the atmosphere rushing by the skin of the Elemental Suit of Star Captain Lucas Perez of the 6th Jaguar Dragoons matched the exhilaration of his own heart. Two of the three frontline galaxies and a garrison galaxy had dropped on Luthien, most right onto the Kado-Guchi Valley. But a trinary of Elementals, all volunteers from the 6th Jaguar Dragoons, had been dropped directly onto the Unity Palace, the very beating heart of the Draconis Combine, home to the ruling family house of Kurita, and the Combine’s literal center of gravity.

There had been no batchall this time, and the Jaguar force had arrived at a pirate point only 4 days out from the planet, the warships first turning their guns onto the orbital infrastructure, then any Combine forces not on the Hokkaido continent. The bombardment went on for three days, but it had not been a one-sided affair, as Combine missile carrying submarines hiding in the Copper Sea had fired nuclear tipped ballistic missiles at the warships, and had shot down the Korat, a Liberator Class Cruiser, and the flagship of Delta Galaxy.

Liberator Class Cruiser (Delranes Fighting Ships 3061)

Liberation Class Cruiser. Korat

Star Captain Perez's mission was simple. Seize Unity Palace and capture alive any members of the Kurita line they could, it was expected that this would most likely not be possible, but their bodies would do nicely if not, then hold the palace until relief came. Star Captain Perez didn’t intend to take any Combine bondsmen. Why sully the Clan with their honorless ways? We should have just sterilized the planet. They did cooperate with the Usurper, did they not?

A buzzing alarm drew Perez’s attention, letting him know that he was at optimal altitude to begin his de-acceleration burn for his final decent. He stomped both pedals in his suit, triggering the jump jets built into the pack on his back, he held them down as his velocity indicator began to spin downwards, descending from 800 meters per second to 100 meters per second within moments. His point was doing likewise, and the smoke from the exhaust began to billow up and obscure his vision.

“Go Thermal” he bellowed, and the world became a kaleidoscope of blues, reds, and oranges, the colors depending on the heat given off by various objects in the proposed landing zone, a small clearing within the walls of the palace. He saw various man-sized objects scurrying around the various parts of the palace, the resolution of the imager didn’t allow for him to be able to tell if they were armed or not, and as far as Perez was concerned, it did not matter. It is nice for the Combine to provide me with so many targets for me and my men. I will have to thank them.

Perez’s Elemental suit hit the surface of Luthien with a bone jarring crash that was felt all the way up Perez’s spine. He swiveled the head of his suit to his left slowly, eventually completing a 360-degree circuit. His command point was loaded out with .50 caliber machine guns in the primary slot, and an automatic shotgun in the AP weapon slot. One star was packing lasers, and the last was packing flamers, in short, the trinary was ready to face any threat that they might run into in the palace, but Perez wasn’t sure this was going to be much more than a slaughter of freebirth.

He keyed his radio with his mouth and barked “Alpha Star, report!”

Point One, reports ready.” That was Kieran, a crusty old Star Commander who somehow managed to win trial after trial for his leadership position in the Trinary Command Star. He had so far, not lost. He acted as Perez’s bodyguard.

“Point Two, reports ready.” chimed in a high-pitched voice, that belonged to Dara. Her voice did not match her physique, and those who teased her about it...did so once, because she often would demand satisfaction in a Circle of Equals. She had a solid point, who would follow her anywhere.

“Point Three, reports ready.” a voice robotically replied. That was Varius. He was something of a loner, and didn’t have much of a life outside being a Smoke Jaguar. He followed orders robotically, and really wasn’t much of a deep thinker. His point was solid, but due to it’s unimaginative commander, tended to have a high casualty rate.

“Point Four, I crashed through the stravag roof. I estimate it will take me 30 seconds or so to work my way free, Star Captain!” This was Arden. He was new, fresh from the sibko, but he had shown much progress in various actions against the guerillas. Perez had no doubt he would do well. His symbol on the map repeater screen showed he had drifted 1000 meters away to the northwest, coming down in a building the watch labeled as “servants quarters”. The rest of his point was scattered to hell and gone from the looks of it.

“Trinary Command acknowledges your situation Point Four, meet us at the RV.  We will work our way to you. Strength and Honor, Arden.”

“Bravo and Charlie Stars, report!” Perez barked again.

“Bravo Point 1 reports, we lost Point 2’s lead on the drop. Matthew was rammed by a Combine fighter.”

Perez smiled. Matthew had a good death to cap an otherwise average career. Shame, I was thinking of recommending him for the next Perez bloodright trial.

Perez heard nothing from Charlie..which was strange. “Anyone from Charlie Star, report!”

“Alpha Command, Bravo Point 4. I heard Charlie’s dropship go off the air on the net. They reported coming under heavy attack by fighters just before they stopped transmitting.”

“Freebirth” Perez muttered. 49 Elementals against who knew how many stravag Kuritans. No, I need to push on, the Clan would expect no less.

“Trinary Delta, we will push on with our original mission regardless of casualties. Bravo Star, seize and clear the palace armory before pushing on to the Coordinator’s private quarters. We shall continue our mission to the throne room. Strength and Honor, Delta Trinary!”

“Strength and Honor, OvKhan!”

Perez began to push his way towards the RV, a point in the northwest corner of the clearing. He noticed the entire clearing was surrounded with plants and trees of all kinds, and he might have considered it beautiful, had Perez cared about such things, such frivolity was the acumen of the Wolves, or the Ghost Bears, and that is why they are weak.

Elemental Battle Armor x2 (Farseer Animation)

Elemental Battle Armor deployed

Several short bursts of heavy machine gun fire interrupted his thoughts. Point 3 was engaging an unseen target, and Perez swept the wall with his thermal sensors, he saw a pair of figures cowering behind a wall, and several other cooling bodies that Varius had already killed. Perez put his crosshairs onto one of the cowering figures, and let the caret pulse red to signify it had locked onto the target. He triggered his primary weapon, and the machine gun roared with a deep CHUNK-CHUNK-CHUNK as the .50 caliber shells tore apart the flimsy wooden structure, as splinters and dust flew away, and the shells tore apart the cowering figure. The target soon fell, with a smaller chunk falling away in a different direction, and the body beginning to rapidly cool. He then moved his cursor slightly to the left, and noticed the other figure was already down. Varius is ever efficient.

Perez again keyed his radio “Alpha Star, we push on now to the Throne Room. The Combine defenders are confused and surprised. This will not last. We must take advantage. Arden, assemble as best you can, and guard our rear as we advance. This will be quite the fight.”

“I am free, OvKhan, engaged and neutralized three defenders, two women, and one child. I have three members of my point to hand. Am proceeding as instructed.”

“Well done, Arden.” Perez commented

“Gain us entry, Point 2.” Perez instructed.

An Elemental sat on his haunches, and fired both SRM-2s into the building onto either side of a shattered window. Both warheads exploded, sending wood splinters flying high into the air and a large dust cloud into the sky. Fire had begun in several parts of the palace as the sky became thick with smoke.

As the first Elemental began to move through the breach, the smoke and flash of a quartet of LAW rockets reached out from a building overlooking the southern edge of the clearing and scored a series of hits onto the backpack of the Elemental, one or more detonating the SRMs in a loud ROAR and a bright orange flash. Once the flash had cleared, all that was left of the elemental was a pair of smoking boots. The rest of the palace soon came alive with muzzle flashes of all calibers, and Perez began to hear the wasp-like buzz of rounds passing his suit, or the ping of a spent bullet hitting home. “Stravag, they know we are here.”

The THUD-THUD-THUD of a Heavy Machine Gun roared out from the breach, the tracers pinning another Elemental like a butterfly, and tearing large chunks from it, harjel pouring forth like black ooze.

Perez heard the screams of pain and frustration of the Elemental. It was one of Dara’s lot, was Jerus his name? He wasn’t sure. He was new from the sibko on Huntress, and now, he was paying for his inexperience.

Perez stepped up to the jagged hole to the left of the window, and fired a pair of SRMs down the hall overlooking the breach, then followed it up with a long burst from his machine gun. He was rewarded with a silence broken only by a series of low moans. He raised his suit’s claw arm, and waved them forward. Nothing more needed to be said. The hall itself was burnt and pockmarked, and the padding that lined the teak floor was scorched and torn, but it must have been beautiful once, he came to the site of the heavy machine gun, it was an ugly black monster mounted on a tripod, Perez instantly recognized it as a Sperry-Browning .50 caliber model meant to be mounted in a Battlemech or Combat Vehicle. The crew was splayed around the weapon..which was rent by fragments from the SRMs Perez had fired, all of them had gaping wounds and were clad in the uniform of the Otomo. He heard low moans from one of the crew, a petite, toned woman of mixed Asian and African descent. He turned towards her and bend down, grabbing her by her breastplate with his suits claw and lifting her effortlessly.

She looked no older than 30, her features were pleasing, once, but she had multiple cuts and abrasions across her face, and she was bleeding profusely from a wound in her abdomen that leaked ichor from under her breastplate, she was coughing up blood occasionally. He locked eyes with the Combine freebirth. Her helmet was gone, lost in the miscellaneous items of the ruined machinegun position, which allowed her long, silky hair to spill out across her shoulders.

She let out a slow moan, she croaked out the word “shinjimae” before she spat blood onto Perez’s suit in a sign of contempt, then grinned at Perez with blood-soaked teeth. Perez saw red, and raised his machine gun arm, and put a single round into her head at close range, taking her head off in a spray of blood and brains, he then tossed her broken body into a corner like so much rubbish.

“Clear this place, leave no survivors.” Perez muttered dangerously.

New Avalon[]

Personal Quarters of the Archon-Prince
Royal Palace
New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Commonwealth
October 14th, 3056

Victor Ian Steiner-Davion was many things, among them an accomplished soldier, and so far, a decent if not perfect monarch. But what he wasn’t was an expert on bow ties for a tuxedo. Why do I need to wear a tux when a dress uniform will do? Oh yes, Mom insisted I do so at the Daughters of the Federated Suns Grain Rebellion Gala. Shows my civilian side. Ok, ok, but the damn bow ties…ugh!

His sister Katherine shook her head and laughed. “Big bro, do you want me to do that for you?”

“No sis, If ruling the Fedcom means I learn to do my own bow ties, then so be it.”

“Stubborn as always, big brother, stubborn as always. I know you wish I was the one going.” Katherine giggled

“You are the media darling of the Fedcom?” Victor half-pleaded, sounding a bit needier than he had intended.

“Victor, it’s an act. A persona I put on to hide the real me, the broken me.” Katherine’s illness wasn’t well known outside royal circles. Publicly, her absences from public were sold to the press as “exhaustion”, which riled Katherine, even if she understood the reason. I don’t think the people would react well if they knew the regent for the Lyran half of the Fedcom suffered from major depressive disorder. I wish I could tell Mom and Dad I really hate all the prevaricating, and the face I must put on with those not “in the know”.

Victor threw his hands up in disgust. “I am going with a clip-on; Mom’s sartorial demands can be…modified.” Victor stated diplomatically, but with a frustrated edge in his voice. “Hey, sis, be glad you aren’t going to this thing. It’s the same old speeches, with the same old rubber chicken and fake smiles and same old old biddie nobles who seem to live to attend court and throw self-congratulatory parties. Thank god there’s less of them in the Suns!”

Katherine shook her head “Amen to that, I think I’ve exceeded my plastic smile quota for the month. But, brother, I do have some real-world stuff to discuss.”

Victor studied his sister. She was wearing a NAIS alumni sweatshirt and jeans combo she saved for casual days around the palace. Her hair was up in a bun and she had bags under her eyes. She’s been putting in long nights with the Ministry of the Exchequer again. Bad news I presume.

“Hit me, Sis.” Victor said, a tone that suggested he was bracing for the worst.

“It’s not that bad Victor,” Katherine smiled, “shortages are at the levels we expected, mostly luxury items, our reinstating the Luxury Lotteries have helped a lot on that score. My main concern, with ammunition and spare parts expenditures twice what your folks at T & R suggested, I am going to have to rejigger the jumpship figures to get the supplies to the front. Believe me, that operational pause was a good idea, no matter how much you do not like it.”

It was a rare family argument between all of us on that one. Katherine had sided with the generals, as had dad. Mom and I wanted to finish matters while we had the Clanners on the damn run! But, honestly, we really had fired off a lot more ammo than we had expected, especially on the artillery side. And we’d tripled estimates even before Clover Spear kicked off! Oh well, no plan ever survives…

Victor’s thought was interrupted by a knock at the door. “Your highness, your mother is becoming rather insistent you ‘get your royal arse’ on the road. Her words, not mine, your highness.”

Victor chuckled. “Hold down the fort, Katherine. I suspect you will have more fun than Mom, Dad, and I will. What do you have planned anyhow?”

“Misha Auburn and I are having a girl’s night. She managed to get a copy of the Orient Express remake that came out last month? I am thinking popcorn and movie night, perhaps some wine and gossip too, it will be nice to take a break.”

Victor shook his head. “Sounds better than my evening. My speech is just recycled from one Dad gave 20 years ago. I doubt most of them will notice.”

Katherine shook her head again, this time disapprovingly “Victor, as much as I acknowledge you see yourself as a humble mechjock who would rather hang out with the boys, you’re in the ruling family, and with that, comes responsibilities. I know it sucks..”

“..but I was born first. I get it, Katherine. But dammit, I don’t have to like it.” Victor grumbled “Especially on nights like this.”

“Nights like this are precisely why you are needed. People need to see, as much as there is a war on, and they can’t get coffee or nylons in the stores, and rationing is rife, that their leaders are doing business as usual. They’ll figure, ‘if they aren’t panicking, then why should I?’.”

“Point taken, Sister. But you get to be the designated survivor tonight. Lucky you.” Victor quipped.

“I don’t see it that way Victor. Think about what I am staying behind as a hedge against?”

Yeah, let’s hope this is a quiet night for everyone on that score..Victor mused.

<<<<CHAOS 2211>>>>>'

Transcript from Avalon City Emergency Services radio dispatch frequency, timestamp 2214, 14 October, 3056 (released to the public 7 September, 3057)'

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