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Clover Spear - Chapter Cover Art

Chapter 25[]

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

Prologue, Book 2, The Hammer Falls

I remember thinking during that Grand Council meeting that the Khans were shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic, that what the Fedcom had done was really so far out of their experience or understanding that the meeting was a waste of time. What would I have said? Von Rundstedt’s advice to the German General Staff after the Normandy invasion seemed appropriate. But the Clans weren’t those kinds of animals, they were warriors, it’s all they knew. They really did flounder when they began to realize that they weren’t as good at war as they thought they were.”


Excerpt from the unpublished memoirs of Khan Phelan Kell-Ward, First saKhan and later 3rd Khan of the Wolf Dominion
Released by his estate in 3091

Clan Councel meeting to Remember[]

Wolf Clan Council Chambers
Tamar
Wolf Clan Occupation Zone
November 3rd, 3056


Phelan Kell warily stood for the invocation by the Loremaster at the beginning of the Clan Council meeting, this meeting was being held digitally, as the Khans were scattered all over the place, what with the confusion the FedCom offensive and the Jaguar strike into the Combine had caused. Wait till Natasha announces what we’re doing to this bunch. He sat without another word, preparing to take in what was probably going to be the liveliest Grand Council meeting he had attended in a long time.

“You are recognized, Asa Taney of Clan Ice Hellion. On what matter do you address this conclave?”

Taney rose at a stately pace, his ceremonial garb resplendent as he removed his mask, and placed it on the table in front of him, his white fur and leathers almost washing out his face on the screen. “I address our gathered Khans, Loremaster, on a day of import, a day where the Clans find themselves having lost their way towards the true light and goal of our invasion. Terra itself. Instead, we have allowed the corruption of the Inner Sphere, and their ways to taint our purity of thought, and our martial glory. Several Clans have shown themselves to be unworthy, too weak to carry on the mission of the Great Father.” As Taney finished, his gaze settled right onto Khan Elias Crichell of Clan Jade Falcon.

“I therefore, Loremaster, call for a vote to absorb Clan Jade Falcon.” Taney crossed his arms, a satisfied smirk crossing his lips. The uproar of dozens of shouts filled the chamber, Kael Pershaw frantically banging his gavel to restore order.

Crichell shot to his feet, not even waiting to be recognized. “And you and your pack of honorless surats would of course, join the bidding like the jackals they are?”

Taney laughed “Come now, Khan Crichell, the wings of the Falcon have well and truly been clipped. It must give way to younger, more vibrant clans ready to carry forward the true word of the Great Father.”

Crichell laughed. “Taney, you and your pack of fools couldn’t lead a sibko to the latrine. Let alone take us. Hold your vote, you will lose, and even if you do win, you will find our talons sharp and our eyes clear.”

Taney smiled, “I am sure the Federated Commonwealth is so very intimidated by your clan right now. Didn’t they take Chistu alive on Sudeten a few weeks ago? Paraded him in front of the holocams for the entertainment of the savashiri dogs.”

Crichell’s face turned red. “I will see you in a Circle of Equals and kill you, Taney.”

“You’ll try, old man.” Taney barked a contemptuous laugh.
“Sit down, both of you. I am the Loremaster here.” barked Kael Pershaw. His cyborg body creaked as he shifted position in front of the dais. “We have a motion in front of the council to absorb Clan Jade Falcon. What say you, my assembled Khans?”

“A question, for the Khan of Clan Jade Falcon, if I may?” the questioner was Ariel Suvarov, Khan of Clan Golaith Scorpion. “Your position of saKhan lies empty. You have lost at least a galaxy of frontline troops, as well as your occupation zone capital. What does the Falcon plan to do to bind its wounds and show its strength to all of us?” her voice was slightly contralto, which rang out clearly above the low level of murmured conversation amongst the assembled Khans.

“Order! I will have order, my Khans or I will censure you all!” Kael Pershaw was in a rare mood, and it was not improved by the fact that it was HIS clan that was the target of an absorption vote.

Crichell nodded and smiled at Suvarov. Well played, Suvarov. See where the smart money lies early. Phelan mused.

“Khan Golaith Scorpion, I appreciate your question, and I will answer it. The Clan is regrouping even now for a counterattack against worlds in the Commonwealth’s rear. We will force them to turn to deal with us, and then we will retake our worlds and beat them like the stravag dogs that they are. As for the issue of a saKhan, we are currently holding trials for the position, and I will be able to report a new candidate by tomorrow. As for our losses, we will make them good, once we have seen off the spheroids, and we will remind those-“ Looking at Taney as he said it “-that the Falcon soars over it’s foes on the winds of glory, not feeds like a carrion animal on the glory of others.”

Suvarov nodded and sat and reached for her noteputer.

Khan Malavai Fletcher pressed his call button and got the attention of the Loremaster. “Loremaster, I move that this be a roll call vote? Clan Jade Falcon is one of the two largest Clans amongst us. I do think whatever happens, that all Khans assembled here be ready to stand by their votes.”

Kael Pershaw nodded “The vote will be by roll call. I will call the name of each clan and the Khan of that clan will rise and announce their vote.”

Blood Spirit?”

Khan Karianaa Schimdt rose slowly, removed her mask and stated loudly “The Blood Spirits vote Neg to this ridiculous motion. The Falcon will teach all of her enemies the lesson of humility…and soon.”

Burrock

Khan Anton Hutchinson rose, and shouted “We vote Yay, the Falcons have made unclanlike fools of themselves in the Inner Sphere, and it would beehove us to give their resources to a clan more deserving!”

And so, the voting went. Clans Cloud Cobra, Coyote, Nova Cat, Snow Raven, and Ice Hellion voted for absorption. The Blood Spirits, Fire Mandrills, Goliath Scorpions, Hell’s Horses, Jade Falcons, Steel Vipers, Diamond Sharks, Ghost Bears, Star Adders, and Smoke Jaguars all voted against the motion.

When the Wolf turn came to vote, Natasha Kerensky rose and faced the screen, true to her nature, she had forgone formal council wear in favor for a pair of green coveralls, and a leather jacket. It was a direct slap at the council at a whole, but one they knew they could do little about. “Sorry boys and girls, we’re going to mind our own knitting on this one. Clan Wolf abstains.”

Pershaw banged his gavel. “The vote stands at 6 yays, 10 nays, and 1 abstention, the motion is defeated, unless, Khan Taney, you wish to demand a Trial of Refusal?” Pershaw smiled at Taney, his eyes were black coals, and his smile was colder than anything Taney had ever felt in his life.

“Neg, Loremaster, Clan Ice Hellion will not contest the results of the vote.” Asa told the Loremaster

Khan Lincoln Osis cracked his knuckles and rose "I would encourage any of those seeking to gain glory by absorbing an invading clan, not to look in the direction of Clan Smoke Jaguar. We have gained much glory in crushing the Dragon of the Draconis Combine in it's lair! I held Theodore Kurita's severed head in my own hands! Seyla, Trothkin!"

Natasha chuckled and punched a few notes into her noteputer, it appeared as an instant message on Phelan's with a soft chime. The screen read: [He left out the part that it took the entirety of Alpha, Beta, and Delta Galaxies' strength, massive orbital fire support in violation of every honor code that we have, and of the fourteen clusters that made planetfall. Only five are even remotely close to combat capable weeks later. At least he 'only' lost a third of his Warship strength that he brought with the nearest dockyard for the cripples all the way back over Lum in the talons of the Snow Ravens.]

[Oh, and that glorious prize of Luthien, oh, I mean DeChavilier, as the Singed Kitties have renamed it? That poisoned and radioactive chalice is riddled with resistance cells who are still killing the warriors who are occupying his 'great prize' as he sifts through the ashes. Great Father save us from 'victories' such as these!]

Phelan typed back: [Lincoln Osis was never a deep thinker, even by Elemental standards.]

“Any other business?” Pershaw then inquired of the rest of the body.

Two Khans rose with unseemly haste, one was Khan Amanda Carrol of Clan Fire Mandrill, and the other was Khan Lynn McKenna of Clan Snow Raven. They said in near unison “We move for the absorption of Clan Steel Viper!”

The hall descended into sheer chaos. It took Pershaw 15 minutes of furious gaveling to restore order in the hall. Perhaps we need a new loremaster, quiaff? Phelan mused.

“Another absorption vote? So be it, we might as well end this foolishness as well. The vote shall be by roll call.”

Phelan looked on half bored as the roll was taken once again.

This time, the vote was closer, with the Burrocks, Cloud Cobras, Fire Mandrills, Golaith Scorpions, Hells Horses, Nova Cats, Snow Ravens, Coyotes, and Ice Hellions all voting yes. The Blood Spirits, Jade Falcons, Steel Vipers, Star Adders, and Smoke Jaguars voted no, with the Sharks, Bears, and of course, the Wolves abstaining.

“The vote stands at 9 yays, 5 nays and 3 abstentions. The motion has carried. I will now entertain bids to decide who shall absorb Clan Steel Viper.” Pershaw announced

Khan Perigard Zalman rose at a start, throwing his chair back and tearing off his helmet and cape. His face was a mask of anger. “I demand a trial of refusal and I demand it NOW! I will face any one of you in a circle of equals. If you cannot defeat me, the life of my Clan, then you do not deserve to absorb us!”

Before the loremaster could speak, Khan Fletcher of the Horses spoke. “I shall dispose of this obstacle and prove we are worthy to absorb the Vipers. I shall make your death quick, Zalman.” Fletchers muscles bulged as he flexed them in anticipation of the fight to come. He was of Elemental stock, and savored chances to fight hand to hand, as he had a distinct advantage there.

Shit, this is going to get ugly. Phelan’s mind idly observed.

An orderly of Kael Pershaw’s drew a circle with a marker on the floor of the great hall. Kael Pershaw hobbled forward, “In this solemn trial, let no one interfere. The fight will either be to the death, or when one is forced from the circle! Seyla!”

The hall responded with Seyla!”

The two combatants removed their accoutrements and stepped into the circle half naked, both wearing only a pair of shorts. Zalman was at least a meter shorter than his opponent, and a ‘Mechwarrior. The look on his face suggested that he had not counted on this development. You really need to look before you leap, Zalman. Phelan grinned, no matter who lost today, the Wardens won, as a prominent Crusader was going to die. Nominally, the Steel Vipers say they are Wardens, but their actions suggest otherwise. Perhaps this will wake them up.

Fletcher swung first, Zalman moved out of the way easily, dodging under his fist and jabbing hard at Fletcher’s ribs. Fletcher smiled as Zalman’s punch connected and did little more than merit a swift kick to Zalman’s groin that sent him sprawling. Zalman however, got up quicker than Phelan had expected from an injury like that, put his fist inside his other and lept towards Fletcher, his elbow jutting out as he swung it for Fletcher’s face, Fletcher tried to get it out of the way, but the elbow connected with Fletcher’s jaw, which gave with an audible, sickening SNAP! Fletcher dropped like a sack of potatoes, Zalman following it up with a swift kick to Fletcher’s throat, which was rewarded with another snap, as Fletcher’s hands rose to his throat as he began to turn blue, and gasp for air, his legs and arms flailing as he willed himself to breathe. But air never came to Malavai Fletcher, and he expired painfully on the floor within minutes.

Zalman raised his hands “My Khans, the vote is invalidated and I have killed a Khan. Please let it be a lesson to the rest of you that our Clan is not ready, nor willing to be absorbed.”

He then left the Circle, flanked by his saKhan and his aides leaving a confused Grand Council in his wake.

Pershaw’s jaw had dropped. He didn’t seem to expect that Zalman had seriously thought about killing Fletcher, but he had. He had done so in honorable combat no less, but he had done so in the very hall of the Clans! “Ahem” he cleared his throat “Do we have any other business, my Khans?”

Natasha Kerensky rose again to face the screen, Phelan rose with her..Here it comes.

“Khan Crichell. I apologize for the unconventional nature of this batchall, but you’ve been busy. This saves time...” …Natasha produced a noteputer, and projected a map of the current Falcon OZ, then highlighted six worlds. “So, tell me, Khan Crichell, what do you bid for these worlds?”

The council collapsed into complete pandemonium.


Taking stock of state of affairs of the Clans[]

Star Adder Enclave
Strana Mechty
Clan Homeworlds
November 3rd, 3056


Dante, you observed the Grand Council meeting today, your impressions?”  Cassisu N’Buta, Khan of Clan Star Adder observed his saKhan. They were discussing as they often did, their impressions of the General Council meeting, as both men felt it improved communication and was useful to gather their wits. The small room they used once was the office of Clan Star Adder’s founder, Absalom Truscott, and had not been used by anyone in the Clan after his death, but N’Buta found it useful as a place where he and his saKhan, Dante Truscott, could talk without intra-Clan politics getting in the way. Many in my Clan wish to pick up where the Falcons left off in the Inner Sphere, they lack understanding or clarity as to what is going on. The spheroids have remembered, soldiers tend to beat warriors. And they are demonstrating it with an admirable sense of ruthlessness. N’Buta smiled at that last thought. I must meet the architect of this plan, it was simple, ruthless, and played well to all our weaknesses.

“My Khan, I cannot believe I am saying this, but the behavior in the Hall today was at times, very unclanlike. And furthermore? I worry that politics is weakening us unnecessarily.“

“You are correct, Dante, and a very astute observation. It was an easy one to make, but astute nonetheless. Dante, what if I were to tell you that I think that Clan society is headed for a fall, and that soon. Institutions like the Council will be as useless as a horse and buggy?”

Truscott turned white. “My Khan, such thoughts are contrary to the path of the Honor Road!”

N’Buta waved away his concerns. “The Honor Road, while an admirable pursuit, Truscott, is leading us down a destructive path. We have always been a clan of pragmatists. And we need to be one now. Clan Jade Falcon's and Steel Viper's times are at an end. But the council will protect them both because the current structure of the council cannot imagine life without either of those Clans, or admitting that the Inner Sphere might beat us, quiaff?”

Truscott replied Aff, my Khan. But what are we to do, and remain a Clan? I mean, if we adopt these new methods the Federated Commonwealth has demonstrated on the battlefield, we lose ourselves. They win anyway.”

“Aff, Truscott, they do. So, we must adapt in our own way, and we must do it quickly. And we must be prepared to act with, or without those fools on the Grand Council approving of what we do.”

Seeking Sanctuary[]


Nadir Recharge Station
Exeter, Draconis March
November 14th, 3056


There is always something to upset the most careful of human calculations.

  • Ihara Saikahu, 1642-1693 AD

Hagiwawa. Kitalpha. Junction. Homam. Proserpina.

The systems and jumps passed by in a blur as Omi traveled onward. One planet was the same as another to the grieving princess as she fled the ruin of her family. Her days were filled with little but the attempt to deal with the ghosts of her dead father, uncle, and brothers. Nights...the nights were worse.

More than once Omi woke up from fitful sleep in tears or a cold sweat. The memory of the men she had killed blurred with Hohiro and Minoru's faces in her dreams. Sometimes in her dreams, she was the one to stab her brother in the back and feel his blood splash against her robes and hear his dying rattle of breath.

Those nights, sleep totally abandoned her.

It was on Proserpina when Omi left the Yukikaze as one of the flotsam flung free by the explosion engulfing the Combine. Walking down the ramp to the port like a ghost, her heart numb and her tears having ceased only when she had no more to give from her burning eyes in the weeks since her brother's final words, news reached Omi. The recording of her brother's defiant death as all was lost for him had spread from Benjamin on the wings of dropship traffic and HPG transmissions. Like a rock thrown into a lake, the ripples were spreading throughout the Combine.

Warlord Benjamin was dead in the second day of rioting that had engulfed his capital, blamed for the treason that had claimed her brother. Warlord Galedon had pledged his support to her half-brother Franklin Sakamoto, who was forming a government on her ancestral homeworld. Warlord Pesht was incommunicado, although unconfirmed reports spoke of fighting that mirrored the worst of the First Succession War on worlds bordering the Smoke Jaguars . Meanwhile her cousin Miyako called for loyal samurai to flock to her banner raised on Dieron to take revenge for her father's death by treachery.

Omi roused herself to act then through her will to perform one last duty to the Combine as Keeper of the House Honor. As Shin Yodama made the final arrangements to cross the border, she visited the Proserpina HPG and the Pillarine temple. Orders were sent; the same orders as those of Jamila Benhashemi when the Von Rohrs took over. "Go underground, preserve the Combine, aid the true Kuritas, not the usurper Sakamoto." A brief message of commiseration to Miyako for their shared loss and a promise of support for her now-orphaned cousin on Dieron. Finally, Omi stared at the screen and then slowly typed a line of poetry that she had memorized.

"Les sanglots longs/Des violons/De l’automne/Blessent mon coeur/D’une langueur/Monotone."

Next came the address of a trading concern on Robinson, and she then slid her new identification card made out to Aihara Tokiko to send it priority to the location which the diplomatic courier from New Avalon had specified int he message that she received last year.

With that, she exited the HPG compound and headed down the street past the flapping Combine banners with a heavy, leaden tread to her rendezvous with Shin Yodama. She knew in her heart that she would likely never return to her homeland; no chance that she could visit the graves of her brothers, father, and ancestors to pray for their spirits. Her last sight of the Combine was the poison-filled clouds of Proserpina, poisoned by the centuries of war between her family and Victor's as her shuttle broke ground enroute to the Wanakaze.

"Xhosa VII. Clovis. Exeter."

"Purpose of entry?"

Omi controlled an involuntary wince as her healing shoulder took the opportunity to remind her of how close to death she had come. She was fortunate to have only suffered a punctured lung and a clean fracture of her collarbone in the escape from Benjamin.

"Trade in ivories." She responded coolly, taking the opportunity to open the teak box to show the customs clerk the exquisitely carved Kitsune no Yomieri set of figurines that she had brought with her across the Combine. The katana was hidden underneath the velvet holding the other ivories, of course. Omi refused to part with the sword, even if she still had nightmares about the man she had killed with it.

"Identification?" The clerk adjusted his half-moon glasses to look at her as she handed over her identity card.

He swiped it in the reader, and the computer beeped twice, relaying a message generated automatically.

"Miss Aihara, there is a security hold on your party. Take a seat there until a supervisor can arrive to process you." He pointed to a waiting area guarded by a pair of soldiers in AFFC green undress uniforms under the Fist and Sunburst.

Omi nodded and waved Shin over to sit next to her under the eyes of the guards. The ex-Yakuza raised an eyebrow and leaned his head toward the pale-faced girl with bags under her eyes dressed in the utilitarian coveralls prevalent Sphere-wide for ship crew. "Problems?"

Omi shook her head. "I sent a code before we left that should have flagged this identity for special processing. The Fox relayed it to allow me to contact authorities of sufficient rank to process me and provide swift transportation to safety." She inclined her head to the nearer guard, who was staring at the two Combine refugees with naked suspicion tempered by hatred. "Old feuds run deep in this part of the Inner Sphere."

"Hai." Shin replied laconically before leaning back in his chair to read a magazine from the waiting room table showing a stunning young blonde woman in a sundress clearly patterned after the Lyran Royal Guards' colors.

Half a hour later, Omi focused her attention on a short, finely featured brunette woman in uniform with striking hazel eyes and a dark chocolate skin tone entering the waiting area with an obvious aide in tow. The guards saluted her, which she returned as she zeroed in on Omi. "Miss Aihara?" she questioned in a slightly musical voice. "Hauptmann Indira Parvati of Panpour. I just need you to verify your identity." With that she waved her aide to open his briefcase to extract a portable DNA scanner.

Omi nodded and placed her finger in the indicated sample tube. there was a brief prick of pain as the machine took the blood sample, then a beep and a flashing green light. Parvati gave a brilliant smile. "There! You are who we have been expecting. If you will follow me, we have a car."

Hover Limo

Hoverlimo

Omi stood wearily and walked with the Feddies through the building to where a green-painted hoverlimo waited in a parking spot marked OFFICIAL BUSINESS ONLY with a burly sergeant standing guard next to it. Parvati opened the rear door for them, and then followed as her aide took a seat up front behind the armored partition.

As the limo began to move, Parvati rubbed her temples then gave Omi an inquisitive look as she spoke in accented Combine Japanese. "I don't know who you are or what's going on, but I received FLASH orders to assist a young lady showing up with your name and that DNA profile two weeks ago. As did every other MIIO and DMI office in the March. So, if you don't mind me being blunt, what in the world is going on and how can DMI assist you?"

Omi gave a wan smile, then glanced at Shin. Her companion gave a small nod and a reassuring squeeze of the hand. "My name is Omiko Kurita, daughter of Theodore Kurita, and I wish to ask for asylum on New Avalon as quickly as I can be transported there. I fear that I am the last survivor of my family."

Across from her, the DMI officer opened and closed her mouth like a fish on dry land, forcing Omi to stiffle a highly inappropriate case of the giggles.

"Arey, Kya?!?" Parvati swore, the tone of the expression showing her shock despite Omi not knowing a word of Hindi. She then punched the intercom button. "Driver! Get us to the Duke's residence and step on it. Call McLauren from MIIO and tell him to meet us there too. This promises to be an all-nighter." Parvati then shook her head and focused on Omi.

"Well on behalf of the FedCom welcome to Exeter, Kurita Omiko-sama. We will get you the rest of the way to New Avalon, although I have to warn you, it's a kicked over anthill for us as well these days."

  • Chapter Section by Yellowhammer

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