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Chapter 48[]

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

Prologue, Book 2, The Hammer Falls

Message to a Ruler[]

Private Quarters of the Archon-Prince
Castle Davion
New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Commonwealth
July 2nd, 3057

Victor Steiner-Davion gazed over the latest intelligence estimate from the Capellan front that was laid out on his coffee table. Such nice surroundings for news so grim. While most of the CCAF was in a pell-mell retreat for the 3055 border, or at least what parts of it were still in Capellan hands, the word from Sian was grim. Jesus, Sunny is giving daily exhortations to everyone on the planet between the age of twelve and fifty five to fight to the last, and 'take five Davions with them when they die'. One particularly grim example was a two-page ad in a popular Capellan women's magazine published on Sian, that gave detailed instructions on how to use an SRM launcher to stalk and kill a 'Mech. The advice here is criminally optimistic. Even if you do score a hit, it's not going to do much more than scratch the paint on most 'Mechs. But I guess Sunny and the Mask can't tell folks that, lest he face an outright revolution.

Summer was in full bloom on New Avalon, and with it, the heat, but Victor was dressed in a pair of his old physical training clothes from his days at the Nagelring. He'd left the windows open, mainly because today had a nice breeze going, but he had followed the instructions of the security people who had begged him not to throw open the Kevlar-lined shades, so the breeze was a bit...anemic. And between them and the doctors, they won't let me get a decent run in around New Avalon. Nope, gotta use the boring old palace track. I wonder if this is how Dad felt? Being trapped in a gilded cage.

And the advice Katherine was getting from the general staff at the Fox's Den was downright apocalyptic. Jackson's all but expecting the Capellans to use WMD the minute we land on Sian. He is probably resigned to the fact we'll have to respond to any Capellan first use in kind. Katherine is practically holding on by her fingernails at the prospect, and I cannot say I blame her. Jackson's slowed down the rate of advance till we've cut the planet off from the rest of the Confederation, probably a good move overall, but we need to finish this, not that I think it will be quick, or cheap by any means.

Victor glanced again at the latest order of battle estimates for the Capellan defenses of Sian. He'd practically memorized the telling passage that made his heart sink every time he read it "...CCAF defenses are expected to be heavy, and in-depth. We expect extensive use of fortified belts, both pre-existing, and newly created, and we have seen massive projects to construct all kinds of anti-mobility obstacles. We have identified, in addition to at least three divisions of the Sian Home Guard, elements of the Red Heart Guards brigade, both battalions of Warrior House Immarra, the 4th Tau Ceti Rangers, two divisions of the Word of Blake Militia (unit designations unknown), as well as a provisional CCAF 'Mech regiment made up of convalescents and comb outs from various government ministries of anyone with any Battlemech experience. We also estimate upwards of 100-150 "Victory Battalions." Assets in place have also identified the arrival of several company sized units that we think are survivors of various units that have been destroyed during Active Panther..."

"Shit." Victor cursed softly. He knew the AFFC could take Sian, 8-10 RCTs along with an additional 8 Artillery Brigades should be enough, though getting them there is proving to be difficult. He was glad Omi was off with Pavvrati and Yvvone, she didn't like it much when he was grouchy, and the fact was, the military situation, while a winning one, was enough to make one very, very grouchy indeed.

There was a knock at the door, and his servant opened it, placing himself between Victor and whomever was at the door on the off chance it was an assassin. Not that I am too worried. The other two servants in the room are with the Guards, and there's a Rapid Fox reaction force on thirty second standby downstairs. Yeah, the Blakists would have to work hard....but they got lucky already, didn't they?

The servant conversed softly with whomever was at the door, and then closed it, he walked over to Victor in three steps, and stopped 5 feet in front of his sovereign, saluting palm out and stating "Sir, we have received diplomatic traffic from our embassy in Orestes. It's a verigraphed ROM from Natasha Kerensky of the Wolves."

Victor's jaw dropped. "Are they sure about it's authenticity?"

The servant nodded, and handed the disk to Victor, who inserted it carefully into a nearby reader set into the wall, that broadcast it into a nearby screen usually meant for entertainment purposes. Rather not go to my office for this.

The screen came to life, and after ten seconds of the insignia of a snarling wolf, the insignia of the Wolf Clan, the image resolved into none other than Natasha Kerensky. Her face was drawn, and her eyes were red. She sat at a plain metal desk in an non-descript office. She was dressed simply, a pair of green overalls with the Clan Wolf insignia over the left breast. But the fire in her eyes had not changed. Is this to be a batchall for the survival of your Clan, Natasha. Please God, please don't be.

"Greetings Victor Steiner-Davion. I may not have been able to do so before, but I wanted to extend my sympathies on the deaths of your Mother and Father. They were great rulers and good people. They always did right by the Dragoons, which is something not a lot of the Inner Sphere can say." Natasha exhaled and smiled weakly "You must be wondering why I have sent you this verigraphed ROM. Well, simply put, you've won. You've won a far bigger victory over the Clans than you have realized. Attached to this disk is the video of the last hours of Ilkhan Ulric Kerensky's life. He was murdered on the 24th of last month by the saKhan of the Jade Falcons. His murder has touched off a spate of violence back in the Clan Homeworlds that is reminiscent of some of the earlier aspects of our history, and yours."

"Needless to say, I am now responsible for the lives and future of Clan Wolf. Ulric bequeathed me that responsibility, and some assets that will help our Clan in the days, months, and years to come. But I send you this message to bargain not for the terms of a war between us. If your war has demonstrated anything, is that our way, including the way of Zellbrigen must change. No, I come to bargain for the terms of a peace between us. A lasting one that gives both our nations a shot at a future worth having. I am prepared to do much to achieve it, including the discussion of the return of Tamar to the Federated Commonwealth, as well as negotiating a permanent border between our two nations..."

Victor's mouth hung open, he paused the playback, hardly believing what he had just seen and heard. He motioned over his servant. "Niles, get the bottle of Glengarry Special Reserve, and pour you and I a glass. I think I just saw the end of the Clan War."

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