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Chapter 32[]

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

Prologue, Book 2, The Hammer Falls

Plans Behind Close Curtains[]

Private Office of the Primus of the Word of Blake
Harrisburg City, Gibson
Free Worlds League
January 18th, 3057

The Precentor Martial’s office was a spartan, but comfortable place, with a small stone fireplace a concession to Gibson’s brutal winters, and furnished simply, with furniture that screamed “generic office furniture.” The walls were decorated sparingly, with a half dozen holographic images that portrayed the highlights of William Blane, Primus of the Word of Blake’s career. Outside, the wind howled like a banshee, and snow swirled past the armorplast windows, which had recently been reinforced in the wake of an attempt on the life of the Primus. The official line was that it had been the act of some rebels left over from the rebellion of ’55, but quietly, both the Precentor Martial and Precentor ROM suspected that it was the work of the Federated Commonwealth. The office was furthermore in the only permanent building in the encampment that the planetary government had “given” the Blakists upon their arrival 2 years before. The building itself was a 2 story, non-descript, brick and mortar affair, that screamed “generic.”

But, as things went, it was the most secure building on the Blakist “campus”. Thus, it was felt best that the meeting be held in the Primus’s office, rather than the “temporary” briefing room that had been set up in a converted shipping container.

In attendance at the meeting was no less than Primus William Blane, Precentor Martial Trent Arian, and Precentor ROM Alexander Kernoff, as of now, they were watching a presentation on the state of the Capellan/Marik offensive against the FedCom, and their moods were…mixed.
“So, Mulvanney, how goes Operation CORONET DAWN?” inquired Blane.

Mulvanney exhaled deeply, she hadn’t been a big fan of CORONET DAWN in the first place, as it seemed to be a plan in search of a goal. It made sense on paper, humble the FedCom, restore a measure of the balance of power in the Inner Sphere, and create conditions that would make the Capellan Confederation to be more amenable to assisting in Operation ODYSSEUS that was due to kick off next year. Yes, I am so sure the Capellans are ready to thank us now. Mulvanney’s mind roared, we put them in the gunsights of a very vengeful Federated Commonwealth, of course, they could have said no to our offer? Fact was, one of her subordinates who was a poker player put it best. “We’re asking the Capellans to bet it all on a pair of 8s, and promising them we’ll back 1% of their bet? Who the hell is crazy to take those terms?”

As it turned out, the Capellans were. Or maybe it was simple desperation. Either way, Sun-Tzu jumped in with both feet when by all rights, he really should have known better. Oh well, we’re getting what we want either way.

“It goes reasonably well, Primus. We have managed to help the Capellans achieve their goals, and our raids and covert operations in the Sarna and Capellan Marches have assisted in making sure that this war will be long and bloody indeed. While Katherine Steiner-Davion talks a good game, most of the Marik and Capellan assets she has managed to assassinate are lower level individuals, whose usefulness has frankly, come to an end…”

Precentor ROM Kernoff shot to his feet, his aged features dark with rage at the suggestion just put forward. “Spoken like a member of the Militia, the loss of every one of those assets is a setback for ROM’s efforts here in the League. If we are to achieve SKYLARK on schedule, then we must have those agents in place- “

“Silence, Kernoff. This office isn’t secure enough to discuss SKYLARK, and you know that.”

Kernoff shrugged and sat back down. His features were still a picture of rage, but they had become crossed with a measure of embarrassment. For an intelligence professional, Kernoff is a bit of a hothead, and that is cause for..concern. I’d groom Arian’s aide for the job, but ROM would never accept her, as she came up through the Militia.

“Anyhow, our efforts, Mulvanney?” Blane intoned as he turned his gaze back to the aide making the presentation.

Mulvanney gestured to a holomap being projected in the center of the office. The map was a 3-D projection of the Capellan-FedCom border regions, with Capellan held planets being colored in green, FedCom in blue, and planets were fighting continued in red.

“So far, Primus, by the Blessed Blake, EAST SEA has gone about as well as projected for the Capellans, LATTIKIA’s supporting operations on the part of our Marik hosts has allowed the Capellans to complete EAST SEA on schedule, and the Capellans are digging in, but the Captain-General has expressed some concerns about her control over the armed forces of late. During our last meeting with her, she pointed out the unsanctioned assaults by the Sirian Lancers on their worlds currently under FedCom control.”

“Did we bring up how badly these assaults had turned out, and that all she had to do was withhold any support as a message to any other idiots who pull something like this?” Arian interjected, his tone betraying the exasperation he felt at the antics of their “hosts.”

“It was mentioned, Primus, but according to my people, it did not seem she was…reassured by that idea.” Mulvanney shrugged, her short brunette hair waving as she turned her head back to the holo map. “Currently, we are beginning to see signs the FedCom is recovering, and they have setup a new command post on Foot Fall to coordinate everything. We project the FedCom’s going to try to break out of the “pocket” they’re in with an assault on Sarna. On it’s face, it sounds foolish, slamming the wall against a dug-in McCarron’s Armored Cavalry, but, it does serve to pin them down and not cause mischief elsewhere.”

“And our sources in ROM suggest that this ACTIVE PANTHER we hear rumblings of will not be ready much before March or April?” Blane asked, turning to Kernoff.

Kernoff nodded. “The FedCom is rightly wrapping up matters with the Falcons, and our people amongst our former brethren feel that while the FedCom is detaching troops already for shipment to the Capellan front, those units won’t be ready to fight for some time, even close to half a year. A better revision of our estimates might be June or July, but again, that’s some conjecture, and it’s based on the current rate of the Falcon collapse, that could happen slower or faster, depending on circumstances we may not even be aware of.”

Blane exhaled. “So, the question remains, what do we do? Ultimately, we know there are those amongst our hosts who would like to be rid of us, and Corrine has bought time for other operations, but the fact is, I am not certain she will be the long-term future of the League. The circumstances of her assumption of the Captain-Generalcy has left a bad taste in the mouths of the body politic of the League, a bad taste that some might seek to expunge, violently. And if that happens…”

Trent finished the statement unbidden “..then we make very good targets.”

Blane nodded “Kernoff, how much trouble could your fanatics make to cover our escape if it came to that?”

Kernoff smiled evilly. “As operations in the FedCom illustrate, I have quite a few options amongst my 6th of June cells, as I did not commit the entire organization to the effort, but I do have some options with them, and the Blake’s Wrath people I have available. You know, we could reinstall the Master..he is the rightful heir..?”

“Whom the people of the League will literally die in job lots to oppose, due to the bionic prejudices, not to mention we’d have come to power in a manner very reminiscent of the whole ‘Scourge of Death’ business the Mariks back in the 27th Century, further playing into the whole ‘rampant paranoia mess’ bionics supposedly cause.” Blane sighed. “We are not going to play kingmaker here any more than we have to. We will prop up Corrine, but if she falls? We run, that simple. There are plenty of contingencies, and we have everything in place to execute any we wish. Is everyone clear on this?”

A series of nods and murmurs by all present let Blane know he had the support of those in the room. At least, I hope so. But I need someone to watch Kernoff and his 6th of June nutcases, Bad enough they talked me into DARK MIRROR, why the hell did I let him kill 6,000 people to decapitate the Federated Commonwealth, sure, it made military sense, but all our projections stated Katherine Steiner-Davion would not do what she is doing now! We can’t get near her to remove her from the playing field. The FedCom isn’t that dumb and her successor would probably authorize the AFFC to turn Gibson to radioactive glass in response. No, Kernoff has had his day, now its time for him to do his job.

Arian cleared his throat “Primus, forgive my interruption, but what of CORONET DAWN. The Capellans can only lose the war now, as it seems, they have done all they could and not driven the Davions to the negotiating table, and the FedCom rage will probably only be slaked when Sian itself is in flames. Their vengeance has already hit us and will increase only as time goes on. So, when will it be time to end our participation in Sun-Tzu’s war?”

Blane smiled, Excellent point, Precentor Martial. “I intend for us to back Sun-Tzu with supplies and advisors from now on. Our troops have been sufficiently blooded, and we now have enough experienced cadre to train our expanding militia. We will only intervene if the FedCom, or their St.Ives stooges actually land on Sian. And I want to just keep it close there. Let both sides bleed themselves white and let Sun-Tzu become more ‘dependent’ on our good graces to keep his sorry ass on the Celestial Throne. I think, lady and gentlemen, we have the beginnings of a very good new year.”

Talk between Princesses[]

Walk in a forest during the day and the sunshine
makes the trees seem like a friendly presence. You feel
happy. But walk in the forest at night and the trees remind
you of prison bars. Why? Because the sunlight is no longer
there to illuminate all that seems good in our experience.
We are left to face only the dark side of our own nature.
From Koans For a Modem Age, by Jennifer Katsuyori,

Gideon Press, 3000

Davion Palace, New Avalon
Federated Commonwealth
January 27th, 3057

Yvonne Steiner-Davion made her way through the familiar rabbit warren of the Palace corridors to the 'guest apartment' set aside for Omiko Kurita.

Idly humming a musical snippet from one of her father's favorite pre-Diaspora operas, she paused at the door, and nodded to the tough-looking tattooed Oriental man who was chatting with the Davion Guards Leftenant in charge of the door guards. "Is Omi inside?"

He nodded and spoke in Combine-accented English. "Hai. She is recording a message, if you do not mind waiting."

Yvonne nodded. "That's fine, I will just wait inside. I planned to ask her if she had any plans for tonight." She stepped into the foyer and pulled off her uniform boots, taking an offered set of house slippers, and raising a mental eyebrow at three other sets of shoes already present in the neat cubicle.

A muffled voice sounded from further inside, and Yvonne grinned and silently approached a door standing ajar. She pushed it open slightly to peek into the room beyond, and then froze.

Omi was dressed formally in an irisode kimono with five blood-red Kurita crests. She knelt gracefully in seiza on a tatami mat which had been dragged in and placed where the normal table and chairs for her sitting room would be. A pair of flowerpots filled with orange and red flowers flanked Omi, and Omi's attention was focused at the other end where Parvati and a pair of uniformed AFFC enlisted techs were concentrating on several holocameras filming her.

"...abandoned the Prince to die to the Dragon's enemies, and two of the three children of the Prince died honorable deaths in defense of the realm. That leaves the last true egg of the Dragon...and the Traitor Dove. My brother Minoru swore to me that no man may live under the same sky as the slayer of his kin when I gave him the sword of Shiro Kurita as Coordinator. Know that I will not stop until your line and your allies' lines are exterminated from the face of the stars and human memory!"

Yvonne bit her lip as the three-quarter profile of the Kurita royal twisted in rage and her eyes flashed furiously. She had seen that look before when she had visited Arthur and Tancred on Robinson after Arthur entered Robinson Battle Academy three years ago. She remembered how the face of long-dead Warlord Hugai Kurita in the two-century old holograph that had a pride of place in the Sandoval archives twisted in that same way as he spoke to the wounded Lyran officer who had fought a hopeless battle for seven years to resist the Arm of the Dragon.

"You and your men fought well, Colonel Hinders. I am minded to grant you a final gift before the end to honor your misguided valor. Come the morrow you will be allowed to confront the man who gave the Dragon the secrets of the Fourth Royal Guards. Guards, take him to a cell and call the physician to see that his wounds are not fatal...yet."

The stabbing pain in her palms as her nails dug into them brought her back to herself from the memories of past atrocities She knew what that tone of voice in the past had portended. Colonel Hinders had been forced to battle his brother to the death for Hugai's entertainment. As the dying Lyran officer realized too late what he had done, Hugai ordered his execution as the last member of the Pride of the Commonwealth...and the images of his final hours were sent to the Archon in an attempt to break Archon Claudius Steiner.

As Omi finished her rant into the camera, Yvonne looked at her with new eyes. Was Omiko really the girl who she and Katherine had seen enjoying shopping for the first time...or this murderous grieving stranger?

But who could she talk to? Victor was clueless about women and head over heels for Omi. Arthur and Tancred Sandoval were the other extreme, prepared to see Omi in a negative light no matter what. Katherine was busy managing the FedCom and judging from what Yvonne had noticed in her conversations, Katherine favored the similarly orphaned girl. Peter was tied down herding cats on Tharkad and dealing with the mess in Skye. No, there was only one person who could get the truth as to whether or not Omiko Kurita was a viper in their midst.

Yvonne stepped back behind the door to hide as Parvati and the techs passed her. She then took a deep breath, mentally reciting to herself her father's family motto. "Bravery, Audacity, Destiny." With that she nodded and squared her shoulders as she slipped inside, closing the door behind her. She soundlessly approached the back of the other woman, as Omi plucked aimlessly at one of the flower displays and then placed a hand on her right shoulder as she mentally rehearsed what she was going to say to get Omi to open up.

As her hand grabbed Omi's shoulder, the Kurita royal moved, stepping forward with her left foot and half turning. Omi's right arm came up to knock Yvonne's hand away as her left hand grabbed Yvonne's wrist to yank her forward and off balance for a counterattack.

Steel blue eyes suddenly widened in recognition and Omi hurriedly let Yvonne go. "Moushiwake gozaimasen deshita, Yvonne-sama!" she stammered a horrified apology with a deep bow.

Yvonne grinned in triumph mentally as she gave a matching bow to accept the apology. "No permanent harm done, Omi, but," Yvonne schooled her face to the closest approximation she had of her mother's icy commanding stare upon hearing of a royal theft of double chocolate chip cookies from the Triad kitchens before a never-to-be-forgotten seventh birthday party, "We need to talk. Now." She pointed at the door to the enclosed garden for the apartment.

Omi gulped nervously and followed Yvonne into the rose garden. Yvonne smirked a little at the statue grouping dominating the center of it of a young man with a handlebar mustache and a dagger-pointed beard kneeling and offering three roses carved from white marble to a clearly touched young woman. Alexander Davion and Cynthia Varnay. Fitting. I wonder if Omi knows the history about the children of mortal enemies uniting in marriage to lead the Suns? She then pointed to the bench placed to let the occupants look out through the armored glass to survey the view from Mount Davion before sitting facing Omi.

Omi sat, one hand subtly worrying at her obi sash as the silence lingered and Yvonne calmly stared her in the face. Finally, Omi spoke. "What...what is the matter, Yvonne?"

Yvonne leaned forward. "Simply this. I came in to see you swearing eternal bloody vengeance upon someone for crimes committed against your family. We both know that Victor is head over heels for you, would deny you nothing at all, and would be inclined to... overlook... that kind of activity, especially if you were discreet about 'dealing with' your enemies at first. That means that I have to act to insure that you don't turn his reign into the second coming of Claudius the Cruel and turn Victor Steiner-Davion into a name to blacken the pages of our history alongside our worst tyrants."

Omi's hand flew to her mouth and her eyes widened in horrified shock. "I would never! I would sooner die than hurt Victor-chan so! have to believe me!"

Yvonne winced mentally at the anguished look Omi was giving her. "Convince me. For starters, what was your little rant about?"

Omi took a deep breath and visibly gathered herself before meeting Yvonne's gaze. "MIIO gives you briefings, do they not?"

Yvonne nodded. "Not as much as Kathy or Peter get as the Regent and Heir or the spare to the throne, but I get the basics in case the Mask launches another successful attack on the dynasty and I have to step into their shoes. That way I can hit the ground running if the worst happens."

"They told you about Luthien and Benjamin then?"

"Not much more than the basics. The Jaguars overran Luthien and your father, mother and older brother perished in the fighting there. Then shortly afterward your younger brother was killed in a coup attempt on Benjamin. That sparked the current factional fighting within the Combine as nobles and generals rally around either your half-brother or your cousin to fight each other and the Clans."

Omi shook her head. "So ka. I was on Luthien when the Jaguars jumped into the system in overwhelming force. Father ordered me to... perform my duty." Omi's eyes glimmered with tears but her voice held an iron pride. "As the Keeper of House Honor I was to take the sword of Kurita Shiro-heike to my younger brother Minoru at Benjamin to anoint him Coordinator if what happened happened. So I departed the system under orders with the sword, and a few other family treasures while Father and Hohiro bought me the time to make my escape with their lives."

Yvonne reached over and gently squeezed Omi's hand as the Kurita's tears began to fall. "Sumimasen, Yvonne-chan. Father also stated that considering the circumstances, I was to journey to New Avalon after my other duties to House Kurita were discharged since my safety in the Combine could not be assured. As well as for..." Omi blushed shyly, "other more personal reasons."

Yvonne cracked a reminiscent grin. "Yes, I heard all about that arrangement from Victor's end back on Tharkad after he got your message. He was dying to tell someone that there was a way that you two would be together. But that is not the topic of discussion, alas. Spill."

Omi nodded sadly. "I...met Minoru on the recharge station at Benjamin, along with Uncle Isoroku. I informed them of what I had witnessed from Luthien, of Father and Hohiro's deaths in battle." Yvonne squeezed her hand sympathetically as her own eyes teared up, remembering the moment when she got the news that her parents had been assassinated. "I then offered him the sword of Shiro Kurita to lead our armies to avenge Father's death. He accepted, and for a moment I dared to hope when I sensed the seeds of greatness in him."

Omi's face darkened. "But I hoped too soon. One of the leaders of the Black Dragon Society, Duke Hassid Ricol, was also on the station, and found out about events. He and the traitor Warlord Benjamin had gathered their forces for a coup and attacked us on board the station. it was only by the grace of the kami and the efforts of Yodama-san that I was able to fight my way to the ship that the Order had chartered to take us to the border."

Omi trembled, her tears flowed, and her grip on Yvonne's hand became a desperate grasp. "I was never their primary target though. Minoru was. I was on board the dropship trying to warn Minoru of the treachery and let him know that I was safe when..." Her voice broke and cracked. "I saw him for the last time. Somehow, he and Uncle Isoroku had fought their way to a communications station. They overrode the planetary network and Minoru, dying and outnumbered, performed his duty for the Combine. He denounced the traitors and called on those loyal to the Dragon to resist and keep the true dynasty alive in their hearts. Then he committed seppuku with Uncle Isoroku standing as second with the Sword to insure that none could be taken alive."

Omi swallowed. "And I... I watched him die. I was weak and failed him, because in that hour, all I wanted was my little Minoru-chan back. But his honor and my honor dictated otherwise. Karma."

Yvonne leaned forward into Omi, gathering the other girl in a hug as tears soaked the shoulder of her uniform and Omi choked out in a bare whisper, "Sometimes at night I remember the man I killed with the sword in my sitting room. On the... bad nights... that man has my brother's face as I have to strike him down."

Yvonne finally released Omi from the hug once the tears stopped and handed her a handkerchief to allow Omi to make herself presentable. "So your 'message' is for the Black Dragons then?"

Omi nodded. "Hai. For Duke Ricol and as many of the others as I can track down. Katherine-chan was kind enough to provide some technical assistance in delivering it."

Yvonne showed teeth in a smile that would be perfectly in place on a fox leaving a chicken coop with a mouthful of bloody feathers. "Good. 'If you shoot at the Prince, you best not miss'. Father taught the Liaos that during the Fourth Succession War. Too bad that the lesson didn't stick; they can be slow learners. I suspect that Katherine will make it stick this time."

Omi gave a matching nasty smile. "It is to be hoped for that feud to be brought to a swift and permanent settlement in her favor, neh?"

Yvonne chuckled evilly, "Oh I don't mind if Candace's brood survive since they are reasonable people and know their place in the Sphere. Sun-Tzu, though... If I had already graduated, I would be pulling every string that I could to be part of the assault drop on his palace. Law School can wait, no one does that to us and gets away with it. Not for long, and we repay them in full for our injuries."

She then sobered and looked at Omi. "That said. You do not want to threaten people uninvolved in a conspiracy. Kill Ricol and the other Black Dragons. I'll help piss on their graves on general principles involving rebellions, assassins, and traitors. Just don't go after innocents like wives and kids if they had no idea what Dad was up to. That's the kind of shit some of your ancestors pulled that makes the Sandovals get support when they scream about Kentares. Far better to take a page from Grandfather Andrew's book and roll out the Brigade of Guards to surgically crush the Warrior's Cabals. One of the major differences between the FedCom and the Combine culturally is that we believe in individual guilt in the Judeo-Christian mold while your culture is much more collective with guilt assigned to family units."

Omi nodded thoughtfully. "Hai... although... how do you handle it? I mean..." The Kurita royal frowned, clearly grasping for a concept, "The power? Part of me did... does enjoy the feeling of knowing that the man who killed my brother will die horribly at my hands as my plans come to fruit. But I also know from experience and training that once you get a taste for blood, for that power to order men onward, to crush your enemies and have them vanished... how do you stop from going too far?" Omi looked haunted as she continued, "From only finding out that you have gone too far when the ghosts of a million widows and orphans appear and the ocean of blood that you spill is too great for one Coordinator to drink it all? I know that you do not have a Keeper of House Honor to whisper in your ear to try to pull you back from the brink."

Yvonne shook her head. "It is a good question. Some of my ancestors were monsters, I admit. I grew up hearing scary bedtime stories of Claudius the Cruel and then Great-uncle Alessandro if I did not eat my vegetables as a little girl. I guess for the Steiners, and the Davions too come to think of it, the secret is remembering that loyalty goes not just up to the apex like us, but also down and that if we are disloyal to those under our care, they have a moral duty to act to limit the damage we can cause."

She pointed at the statue. "Alexander Davion. Our greatest First Prince, he fought a civil war against his tyrannical aunts and unified the nation to take us into the Star League. Not because he was born to the throne, but because it was the right and necessary thing to do. He is kind of a bad example, I suppose, because that while I learned of him in school and from Dad's side of the family for me the personal example of what I owe my people is Jeana. When we go to Tharkad, remind me, and I'll take you to see her and tell her story, that will explain it better."

Omi smiled, "Something to look forward to then, Yvonne-chan."

Yvonne nodded. "Yes, indeed. As for the test, I'm sorry that I had to be so rough, just... there will be many people who will object to your relationship with Victor. I'll stand by you and support you and him, but I didn't want to see my nation torn apart with purges or civil war thanks to you being a second Jinjiro. Not that you are, but I suspect that the Sandovals will call you that until you prove yourself to them."

  • Chapter section by Yellowhammer

Rumbling among the Star Adders[]

Star Adder Clan Council Hall
Sheridan, Kerensky Cluster, Clan Space
February 1st, 3057

“Warriors, trothkin, we must have order! We are not confused surats, we are the bloodnamed warriors of Clan Star Adder!” roared Dagmar Lahiri, loremaster of Clan Star Adder. His ebon features were furrowed with a mixture of exasperation and rage as he banged his gavel again fruitlessly, trying to regain control of the chaotic mess the Clan Council had descended into after Star Captain Sarah Guidice, head of the Star Adder Watch, had made her report on the true state of Clan Smoke Jaguar after the second battle of Luthien.

The report had been more than a little illuminating, to say the least. Through a series of agents-in-place, and other sources and methods that Guidice refused to name, even under threat of a Trial of Refusal, the Smoke Jaguars, if the report was accurate, had underreported their casualties on Luthien by at least 20%. And more damning, they had left out the bit that they had been the instigators of the shameful use of orbital bombardment on Luthien. Cassisus N’Buta thought as he watched the chaos unfold, his face expressionless, his arms folded. Keep your cards closely held, Cassisus, until it is time to play them.

Cassius nodded to his saKhan, Dante Truscott, and rose, his arms outstretched and his smile wide. “Peace, trothkin! I promise you war and glory soon enough, but for now, peace while we warriors of the Adder digest this news.” The hall slowly quieted as the murmurs of the assembled warriors died down, and then ceased. Truscott paused for a few pregnant moments, then continued.

“My Warriors. We have never been a friend of the Jaguar. Though they be great warriors, they are also a warrior too close to their namesake. They are all about the hunt, and the kill. And that, my warriors, is the problem. The Smoke Jaguars are bloodthirsty fanatics who use the memory of the Kerenskys to justify their slaughter of those who cannot defend themselves. We told them and the rest of the invading clans what it would take to subdue the Inner Sphere. We told them, and they chose not to listen, and now, their adventurism has led the Clans to the precipice, and has led to the invading Clans becoming so desperate, that one would submit false information to the Grand Council itself!”

“We could move to absorb the Falcons, and the Vipers. They would be more suited to our ways in some respects, but why bother? The bidding will be fierce for both clans and would lead down a road of madness that could sunder the Clans themselves. No, my trothkin, we will not act as our enemies expect us to, this is folly. We know what we must do. And you know it as well.”

The chant began in the back of the hall, but it wasn’t long before it filled the hall “Jaguars”, “Jaguars”, JAGUARS!” It could be felt in the fiber of everyone present.

“You have spoken, my trothkin. I think we can dispense with a formal vote! Can we Loremaster?”

The loremaster nodded sheepishly, but then one warrior stated, “My Khan, what of the rest of the Grand Council, surely they will try to stop us from absorbing the Jaguars?”

N’Buta threw back his head and laughed. “Ah yes, the same Grand Council that took the bold-faced lies of murdering surats as gospel? Oh yes, I am sure we will stop to ask them for permission. No, my trothkin, better we ask for forgiveness after the deed is done. It is not as if they will be in any position to stop us, as they will all be tripping all over themselves to bid on the carcasses of the Vipers and Falcons.”

Wolves on the Border[]

Cantonment of the 341st Assault Cluster
Asab, Ramsau
Clan Wolf Occupation Zone
February 19th, 3057

The Warrior’s Club for the 341st was a small affair, and spartan, with cheap pressed wood furniture and barstools, and a holoviewer in the corner. The alcohol stock being limited to mostly captured Inner Sphere brands of rail quality, but it did what most bars did, it aided socialization and camaraderie, and right now, the officers of the saKhan’s Silver Keshik and the 341st were “debriefing” their recent exercise.

Star Colonel Sender, I was impressed the way you led your warriors in the recent exercise. I am having discussions with the Khan this month, and we will be figuring out which units will be garrisoning our new holdings in what used to be the Jade Falcon Occupation Zone. Your men are fine warriors, and good ambassadors of the Clan Way as well.” Phelan Kell smiled as he praised Star Colonel Sender and his staff.

Point 5 of our Command Supernova has done well to assist in our efforts to keep things peaceful on Ramsau. They have revitalized lacrosse here on Ramsau with their organization of the youth league, but we realized early on, to play with Clan rules was a bit hard on Spheroid youth. But we have decided the best way to get the loyalty of these people is to give them a future to aspire to, ovKhan.” Sender replied with a sense of pride in his voice.

“Hence your joint patrols with the civilian law enforcement and militia?” Phelan asked.

Aff, we feel Elementals with no suits, immaculately turned out, and with sidearms only has had a better result in joint patrols with the local law enforcement officers than anything else. So much so, we only must dedicate one or two binaries depending on the time of year. We have even had the local government ask us for extra help with crowd control during the local festivals. That’s mostly dealing with local drunks and the occasional fight or medical emergency.” Sender stated.

“Your methods will I think, do more to prevent the kind of insurgencies we saw cripple the Vipers and Falcons. We must win, as the ancient Americans put it, ‘their hearts and minds’ through persuasion and decency, as we will never win it by force.” Phelan winked conspiratorially

“Aff, I have even punished some warriors for egregious behavior with regards to the locals. It has met with surprising acclaim amongst my warriors. I would have thought it would have had me the recipient of a Trial of Refusal?” Sender intoned, a bit of surprise in his voice. “My men and women have embraced the people of this world. As have I.”

“Are the rumors true about you and a local girl, Sender?” Phelan smiled.

Sender nodded. “Aff, she is the daughter of a prominent businessman, I was recently invited to her parents for dinner. Khan Phelan, a question about this? Why is she so nervous about this? She’s already given me three different instructions on how to behave and what to wear? I will admit, this is all so much more complicated than our way, but yet, I was never interested in such things..till I met Veronica.”

Phelan laughed and shook his head “You’re meeting her parents, and it’s part of a freeborn ritual where the lady in the relationship gets the seal of approval from her parents about her choice of mate.”

“And if her family approves, my Khan?” asks the curious Star Colonel

“Then you, Star Colonel, are probably going to get hints about getting married.”

Ramon Sender blanched. “Me, a married Clan Warrior? Why what would the rest of the Clan think?”

Phelan laughed. “Star Colonel, I would hold you and your wife up as symbols of the new future we must embrace and embrace it we will. So, you take a holo with this girl?”

It was then that Phelan heard the clearing of a throat behind him. It was one of his young unblooded aides, and he had a look on his face that he had news he’d rather have died than delivered. He was short for a warrior, barely 1.5 meters tall, lanky, with a large adams apple that seemed to sway every time the boy spoke.

“Yes, Tanis, what is it?” Phelan asked the boy

“My Khan, we have gotten word of a massive Fedcom assault on Tamar. Estimates are 8 plus regiments have dropped on the world. Khan Kerensky has organized a defense with the Golden Keshik and the 4th Guards…but casualties have been heavy.”

“What is en-route to relive Tamar?” he asked more seriously.

“So far, the 24th Wolf Rangers, the Doberung and Choyer Garrison Clusters, and the 352nd Assault Cluster. They have also requested our Keshik as well.”

“Aff, we will board ship within the hour. Let’s cut this party short. If you will excuse me, Star Colonel?”

“Khan Phelan, I can send a Supernova of my warriors if you require it?” Ramon asked

Neg, Star Colonel, last thing we need to do is give any of our neighbors ideas. By the way, Tanis? What of the rest of the frontier, anything?”

“Neg, my Khan. The rest of the frontier has been quiet. One significant thing, or at least the Watch thought so when they informed us, initial BattleROM analysis suggests the units facing us on Tamar are from the Fedcom’s Skye Ranger brigade, and several hired mercenary outfits.”

And immediately, the answer presents itself. “Tanis, send a message to Khan Kerensky, she has probably figured this out already, but in case she has not..tell her that I do not think this was an act by the Federated Commonwealth at large, but by Skye..and those loyal to her.”

“My Khan?” Tanis blanched.

“Send the message, Tanis, then get everyone boarded. We need to be on our way within the hour.” he ordered

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