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Clover Spear - Chapter Cover Art

Chapter 51[]


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

Prologue, Book 2, The Hammer Falls

Battle for Sian[]


Sian’s Agony, Part 2[]

“Minor spoiling attacks against the Davion spearheads have continued to little if any effect. We expect the final Davion assault on the Forbidden City will begin on or around the 10th of October.”
Excerpt from Strategos War Diary,
by Johan Vyborg
Coventry Press, September 26th, 3056


Surrender on a Highway[]


State Highway 9
35km East of Benin, Wuhan Continent
Sian
Capellan Confederation
September 24th, 3057


Dong Aslanov was tired. He’d been in a muddy morass of a stinking hole in the ground that had been charitably called a fighting position for ten days now. He was no soldier, he stood barely 1.5 meters tall, and weighed 59 kilos, soaking wet. He was picked last for team sports, and he was never without his inhaler for his ever-present asthma. His Adam’s apple was the most prominent feature on his almond skinned face, other than his soda bottle like glasses, with their thick lenses to make up for his awful eyesight. His light almond shaded skin was now almost white from the fear that was now ever-present in Dong’s life. Another batch of enemy shells landed some distance to his left, announcing their arrival with a loud CRUMP. Dong flinched, making sure his Sergeant didn’t see, and beat him with his bamboo cane again for “showing un-Capellan behavior.”

Yet someone had handed him 25 kilos worth of gear, a 4-kilo rifle, and topped it off with a helmet that was nearly a kilo that left him with near permanent neck pain. He’d sworn he’d lost a few centimeters in height just being weighed down with all the gear they’d handed him. It stunk from the smells of mildew, and the stale air of the warehouse it had been kept in. The two-kilometer road march alone to the charitably named “Sun-Tzu Line” had nearly killed him, and the one-armed Home Guardsman who was the appointed minder for his class had done little more than reinforce the bullying he’d already gotten from his classmates on a regular basis. “Davionist scum” and “weakling” were two of Sergeant Xu’s favorites.

He’d been paired with another boy, Yong Guo. He was even smaller than Dong, if it could be believed, and was a seventh-year student at the Wuhan Eastern District Intermediate School. He too was often bulled by his classmates, but he’d done better on the road march helping Dong through the worst of it. But that had been three days ago. Yong had gone to answer a call of nature one night, and he hadn’t returned. Dong had hoped he’d ran off. Someone needs to survive this. Someone needs to tell the story of this criminal waste of our young lives. I am only thirteen, and I don’t want to die, especially not here in some farmer’s field, where I’ll simply be shoved into some mass grave by the Davions and forgotten about.

Dong thought of his family. His father had been a tank commander with the 1st Ariana Grenadiers during the 4th Succession War, but he’d surrendered. Upon his repatriation to the Confederation, was made a servitor. His mother was a seamstress, who was also made a servitor, and the family barely made enough to survive in the slums of Benin. And now I’m being asked to die for a state that barely acknowledges my father’s sacrifice. If I say as much? I will be shot by that petty tyrant in the name of a Chancellor who has led us to ruin. he thought

Dong continued to watch his sector till he felt a hard WHACK to the rear of his helmet, the impact drove his helmet over his eyes and sent Dong sprawling into the front wall of his “position.” His rifle slipped from his hands and fell into the muck at his feet. Sergeant Xu, he’s come to torment me again.

Xu jumped jauntily into Don’s position, then turned Dong around roughly to face him. Xu was an ugly man, with a face like a pig even before it had been turned into a cobweb of scars and burns. Half of his teeth were gone, and the rest were stained with the brown residue of someone who was a habitual faisal root user. But his uniform, even in this muck and blood, was immaculate. As his father put it, Xu was the kind of sergeant the officers loved, and the men hated.

“Èr bǎi wǔ! Dong, you are a useless fool. Your mother shamed the state giving birth to someone as weak as you. Cào nǐ mā! Well, you might redeem yourself anyway, you scrawny little loser. We’re being asked to attack the Davions to relieve pressure on our brave ‘Mechwarriors to the south of there. All you have to do boy, is fix your bayonet, and listen for the whistle. Then, proceed towards the Davion lines as fast as you can manage, preferably not tripping over your own two feet, you oaf. Then, if you can manage it, see if you can kill a Davion before you die? The state’s asking each of you scrawny bastards kill five, but with you, Dong? I’ll be happy if you manage one.” Xu punctuated his last point by hocking up a glob of plant matter and mucous and spitting it on Dong’s boot. He shook his head. “Clean that up, and clean up your rifle, be glad I don’t beat you for dropping it. We jump off in thirty minutes, so I don’t have the time. But I expect you to remind me so I can administer the proper corrective action later, you fool.”

Xu shook his head again and lifted himself out of Dong’s hole, whistling the theme to a particularly odious bit of State entertainment programming on the Tri-Vid that had been popular a decade ago. Dong wanted to cry with frustration, or shoot Xu, he hadn’t decided. What’s the worst they do, hang me? At least I don’t get pulped beyond recognition by some Davion ‘Mech. He reached for the buttstock of his weapon and pulled out his cleaning kit, and began to clean his rifle as best as he could, with an oily rag, and a rusty pull through, the rifle itself coming apart a little too easily for Dong’s taste. He’d remembered the five rounds they’d all been allowed to fire before they’d left on their march to the front. He had barely managed to hit the 100-meter target, and every shot seemed to threaten to have the ancient rifle come apart in his hands. I suppose it was better than that poor kid they saddled with the Light Machine Gun, he had to break open his weapon to reload it with a damn hammer. Dong reflected to himself

The waiting was the worst part, worse than the food, which tasted lousy, and there was never enough of. Or the sludge they called coffee, which one had to choke down with some of the ration biscuits. Why bother to feed us well? We’re not going to live out the week anyhow? He heard the base roar of an artillery piece going off behind him some distance to the rear, then another, and finally, several more had picked up into a steady rhythm. A high-pitched whine drew his eyes upwards as he saw a quartet of Mechbuster fighters pass overhead, their wings laden with ovoid shaped bombs and inferno canisters. I haven’t seen any of our fighters since this all began…where the hell have they been? he wondered

Dong felt a small sliver of hope. If they were getting a modicum of air and artillery support for this attack, maybe, just maybe there was a chance he might walk away from this? Maybe this was the beginning of the counterattack that would save Sian!? Dong’s thoughts were interrupted by the shrill cry of Xu’s whistle, it was time. A roar erupted from the throats of Dong’s platoon, equal parts angry, and afraid as they left from their fighting positions, barely seconds after the artillery lifted.

Dong broke into a trot, his rifle held level with his waist, his bayonet gleaming off of the early morning sun, rising in the east, behind the attackers. Please let it blind a Davion machine gunner or two. The platoon of grey-green clad men and women shook out into a rough formation, their trot kicking up dust and clods of turf as they moved ever closer to the Davion outpost line, the ruined obstacles of tanglefoot barbed wire and cheval de frise resolving themselves ever clearer with every step Dong took. His breath became bits of steam in the early morning air, as he began to break into a run. Perhaps the Davions are all dead, perhaps-

Dong’s dreams of victory died on the lips of his mind as red fingers of death reached out from the Davion outpost line and speared the girl next to him in a gout of blood and viscera. She was literally torn apart by at least a dozen rounds. The ground around Dong exploded, and all became dust and smoke as he was literally thrown to the ground, his helmet gone flying. Jesus, we’ve walked into an enemy kill sack!

The Davion mortars were methodical, they worked the entire attack over from left to right. Anyone who bunched up immediately invited attack. Anyone who was still standing got attention from the machine guns, which sent the survivors spinning to the ground in sprays of blood and flesh. Screams and moans filled the air.

One boy, Kaganov, who had boasted how tough he was, well, he wasn’t so tough now, he was trying to hold his intestines in as he screamed for his mother. There was nothing that could be done for him. Sergeant Xu walked up to him, and ended his torment with a single pistol shot to the head, but put two more into his chest for good measure.

Xu looked around, other than a bit of mud and dust on his uniform, he was unfazed. He screamed “Get up and follow me if you’re still alive. The Chancellor, and I expect this attack to succeed as long as one of you live!”

Surprisingly, Dong didn’t even think about it. He shook himself, grabbed his rifle, and got up with the rest of the screaming throng, shouting an incoherent guttural roar that was probably supposed to sound patriotic, but really betrayed the fact everyone was probably just screaming it to feel less afraid then they probably were.

The Davion mortar fire had ceased, but the machine guns and now rifle fire was picking more and more of the Capellan attack, thinning their numbers ever more as they closed the distance. Dong was somehow, still alive. Nine hells, I may live through this! I may- It was then the slight ground tremor was felt, and the ominous, rhythmic thumping was heard. It could only mean one thing. Battlemech. Oh no, it’s coming from the Davion line! It’s one of- The ground crashed as a jet of flame appeared some 100 meters to Dong’s front and a humanoid mech, whose arms ended in brass nozzles landed in a semi-crouch. The ‘Mech was in a woodland camo scheme, but the unit insignia was unmistakable, that of the Davion Light Guards, and worse, it was a Firestarter.

Several men and women in Dong’s platoon broke and ran just seeing their worst nightmare, no sane person wanting to be burned alive. Xu shot the nearest one with his pistol screaming “You won’t get far, traitors! The Mask’s got Special Loyalty Battalions waiting for you!” But Xu had drawn attention to himself, and the Firestarter soon loped over to a spot some 40 meters away from him, and fired one of it’s Flamers. Xu disappeared in a torrent of superheated flame, being cooked to dust in a near instant, but not before his horrified scream was cut short.

This broke the resolve of the remaining Capellans, who promptly fled towards their own lines, tossing away rifles, web gear, helmets, anything that slowed them down. There was now a lance of Davion ‘Mechs now, firing machine guns and flamers into any Capellan that stopped running. Dong took off for his own lines in a dead run, his helmet and rifle left behind as just things that would slow him down, when he heard a cry to his left.

It was a young woman, Cassandra Lu. She had been Dong’s lab partner in school, back when that had mattered. She was a lithe, short girl, with jet black hair, and glasses that took up a good chunk of her face. She was as Dong put it “nerd beautiful.” But now, her left leg had been traumatically amputated below the knee, shards of bone were protruding from the wound, and crimson ichor pumped like a hose, as she whimpered and cried in what could only be serious amounts of pain. Dong stopped, and ran over to Cassandra. He smiled at her, “Hi Cassie, need a lift?”

“Yes,” she said through gritted teeth “Please get me out of here, I don’t want to burn!”

Dong nodded and grabbed the front of Cassie’s tunic in an attempt to try a fireman’s carry. But he suddenly noticed the footfalls of the ‘Mechs getting louder. And then, a metallic sounding voice echoed throughout the plain:

<<“HANDS UP CAPPIE, OR I AM GOING TO BURN YOU!”>> Firestarter speakers announced

Dong turned, he saw the Firestarter was now at the apex of a triangular formation, with a pair of Wasps to his left, and a Javelin to his right. Dong put his hands up slowly.

He turned to Cassie. “Cassandra, don’t do anything stupid. We’re going to survive this, if we’re smart.” Cassandra nodded, and whimpered in pain.

The Davion mech spoke again:

<<“YOU A MEDIC? WHERE’S YOUR ARMBAND?”>> Firestarter's MechWarrior asked

“No, sir.” Dong said, gulping as he said so. He’d never been so damn scared in his life. He was here, unarmed, facing down four Davion ‘Mechs that had annihilated most of his platoon in little under a few minutes. “I wish to surrender. Both of us do.”

<<“ROGER THAT, DON’T DO ANYTHING DUMB CAPPIE, STAY RIGHT THERE AND THE INFANTRY WILL COME COLLECT YOU. YOU NEED ANY HELP WITH THAT WOUNDED GIRL?”>>

Dong nodded, and after a few seconds, the hatch on one of the Wasps popped open and a rope ladder appeared. With the warrior shimmying down it with practiced ease, she ran over at a dead run with a medical kit bouncing against her scantily clad hip. She was short, barely one and a half meters tall, without an inch of fat, and from what he could tell peeking out of her neurohelmet, the reddest hair he’d ever seen. She was to Dong and Lu in an instant. She grimaced as she saw Lu’s wound.

“Corporal Danielle Finch, Able’s Pursuit Lance, Foxtrot Company, Jenner’s Battalion, Davion Light Guards. I’ll save the ‘you are my prisoner speech?’ Let’s focus on saving your friend. Lucky for you? I was a 3rd year med student. Damn well wish ,Doc. You could see me now.”



--- “…Operations are expected to resume within the next week or so as we reconstitute units in the leading formations. We’ve taken especially heavy casualties in infantry formations, and the Capellans have mostly proven to be fanatical, with little quarter asked or given. But, per your instructions, I have told the front-line units to try…”

Excerpt from letter from Marshal Linda Archer to Acting Archon-Princess Katherine Steiner-Davion, dated October 1, 3056


Death Throes, Part 2[]

“..As the fighting on Sian began it’s final, blood-soaked orchestra of death, the rest of the Confederation dealt with the final stages of the collapse of central authority.While the Word of Blake did manage to keep the HPG network going, often right up till the very last moments, many civil servants and government or military officials fled one step ahead of enemy troops or starving mobs. Many vanished overnight as August led into September, reappearing in as far-flung places such as Alpheratz or Cormadir.”

“Some however, were too slow, the brutal slaughter of the entire ruling family of Prix by a hungry mob numbering 60,000 triggered a wholesale flight of all those who had anything to do with the government and who had the means to flee. Anyone who stayed wound up sharing the fates of the Prixian royal family, who had their beaten and broken bodies left dangling from lamp posts…”

“pp. 191, Collapse of the Capellan Nation State,

Andrew Ling, Outworlds Press, 3065”


Apartment 335
Gardens Apartments
Pawhuska City
Decatur, Capellan Confederation
September 9th, 3057


Xu Chi hurriedly packed his bag as he kept one eye on the holovid, the official news hadn’t been on in three days. What was on…was something out of a nightmare. They’d broadcast the show trial and execution of the entire planetary ruling family. Just hung them from lampposts, with the Refractor cheering them on! Probably trying to avoid his own turn at the gallows, the swine!, he throught

Chi was a minor official for the Ministry of Trade and Exchange. His job was to write information security policy for the Capellan Commodities Exchange. That hadn’t meant a damn thing since the Davions had taken Capella. The orders from Sian had become increasingly meaningless as the Capellan economy went into free-fall. It wasn’t long before Chi’s boss locked himself in his office one day and shot himself with his old service pistol. That had been a week ago, and it had been Chi’s last day at work. It wasn’t popular to admit you were a government official, of any government. Mobs of former Home Guardsmen, angry servitors, and basic trainees from the Duchy RTC were roaming the streets, wearing orange armbands and hard looks.

Anyone associated with the Capellan State, workers, officials, and their families were being hauled up, given the barest pretense of a trial by an angry mob, and shot. The killing had gone on for at least four days, since the palace had been stormed by a mob numbering in the thousands. They’d captured the ruling family, and slaughtered the guards, the ones that had survived long enough to surrender. But what had motivated the riot and orgy of violence? It was a simple protest. It was the ordinary people demanding their rights to food and medicine, as guarantees under the Capellan constitution. They were only asking for what was due. But the problem was? The government didn’t have any food or medical care to give. Everything of that nature that was left, was going to the military and security services. Whole worlds like Decatur, which was mostly water, and overpopulated for the available landmass, were facing a slow die off from the lack of available food, or medical supplies. And anyone associated with the Capellan government was getting the blame. Who could blame them, Sun-Tsu had promised them victory, he’d delivered them death, defeat, and deprivation?

Chi had gotten a line on a small freighter leaving the Decatur system for Canopus by way of Rollis. He’d already destroyed everything having to do with the office and his former life, having burned it last night in the parking garage. He’d hoped no one had seen him do it, his neighbors were desperate for the food reward one got for turning in government officials and their families. It didn’t help the land lady was an evil go-se. He’d sold pretty much all of the family valuables to afford the exorbitantly expensive seats on the dropship. Chi checked his chrono.Two hours till departure, ought to be enough time, the drop port is only ten blocks from here. Nice brisk walk, and the weather’s decent. Now just make sure nobody who knows me is out and about.

Chi made for the door, and took a long look at the apartment, he was leaving a life behind. His moderately expensive entertainment center, a decently (for the time and place) stocked refrigerator, and a decent set of furniture. How will I survive being a refugee? He didn’t know, but he gripped the small, hard object in his jeans pocket. My father’s old backup pistol from his days as a ‘Mechwarrior. Glad I kept it. Even if I could have gotten in a lot of trouble for having it. Chi grabbed a non-descript black ball cap with the logo of a local sports team on the front. He shook his head, and slung his bag over his shoulder, and stepped through the door without a second thought.

Chi made his way into the hall and glanced both ways. The hall was dimly lit, only one of the four ceiling light panels was working, and there was trash all over the hall, discarded liquor bottles, propaganda broadsheets from the “provisional government” proclaiming a “New Dawn” for Decatur, and to be “on the lookout for traitors from the old regime.” Chi gingerly walked, trying not to make a sound. He’d left the holovid going, as he figured someone would come looking for him sooner or later. Let them think I am still there, I can be well and truly gone before they realize I am not. He gingerly made his way through the debris strewn hall, and to the stairwell, then crept down the stairs and into the lobby.

The lobby itself was a riot of ruined furniture, more debris, and a sleeping Home Guardsman face down on the couch, his rifle propped up against the couch, his orange armband prominently displaying his loyalty to Decatur’s new masters, whomever they were. That changed with the dawn of each new day as the “revolution” ate its children with alarming regularity. Chi crept by, each step sounding twenty times louder than it probably was. But the Guardsman did not stir. Chi got a better look at him. His almond features were barely old enough to shave. He was unkept, his uniform had stains of blood, and mud, and his boots had a dried brown-grey paste on the soles. There was a smell of vomit, and an empty bottle of a brand of cheap rice wine was askew on the floor next to the couch. Good fortune, this young man is drunk off his ass. His friends aren’t here. Chi took two loping steps for the doors and used his shoulder to open them as he dashed through to the street.

The sights assailed his senses. To his left, several cars were on fire, one was in the middle of the street, a pair of piles of rags covered in blood lay on either side of the vehicle. I don’t think those are piles of rags, Chi thought. To his right, a man swung slowly from a nearby lamp post. A plastic placard was hung around his neck, and it said in Chinese, “Mask informer and parasite of the people.” The dead man’s face had turned black, and his face was twisted in a rictus of pain and fear. Chi gasped, I cannot waste time, and I have to make my way to the dropport.

Chi walked calmly in the direction of the dropport, broken glass and gravel crunching under his feet. The smell of smoke and the sounds of gunfire and screams filled the air. Around him, however, the streets were eerily empty, except for the sounds of flames licking at burning cars, or the occasional building. Bodies lay everywhere like puppets with their strings cut. The smell of burning flesh assailed Chi’s nostrils as he continued to walk. He tried not to linger on the sights too long, less his outrage revealed him to some unseen observer.

Chi’s footsteps echoed the empty streets, as his feet broke into a run, his fear carrying him to the drop port. But, the sight of the entry signs to the drop port stopped him short. The sight instead of easing his fear, gripped his heart firmly and gave him a start. The gate was filled with orange arm banded militiamen. They were in various stages of inebriation, no doubt assisted by the Jade Plum brand rice wine, of which there was copious bottles of in the street. Six or seven bodies lay strewn around the entrance to the dropport, their lifeblood staining the ground from multiple gunshot wounds. Their clothes suggested all of the victims were male, and civilian, or at least dressed in civilian clothes.

Oh no, what do I do? Brazen it out? Run? Walk away? Chi lingered a second two long. One or two of the milling militiamen noticed him, and shouted for him to come over, their faces contorted into drunken, angry scowls. One pulled a pistol and pointed it at Chi, who promptly dropped his bag and took off at a dead run. Several puffs of disturbed dirt and concrete erupted around him to mark missed bullets, as Chi screamed incoherently. He then felt a blow from behind, toppling over and sent sprawling. A pain spread from his back and suddenly, he felt so tired. No, I am so close, so close. His vision began to blur, and he heard the crunch of gravel and a smattering of cruel laughter. A metallic sound soon echoed through his fading hearing. There was a flash, and then Chi saw or felt nothing at all, ever again.


Invasion of Sian - Continued[]

The Battle for the Forbidden City[]


Sian, Part 2 (September)

Attacking Forces: 6th Syrtis Fusiliers RCT, 1st Davion Guards RCT, 4th Davion Guards RCT, 3rd Crucis Lancers RCT, 6th Crucis Lancers RCT, 7th Crucis Lancers RCT, 1st Ceti Hussars RCT, 3rd Royal Guards RCT, Davion Light Guards RCT, 10th Deneb Light Cavalry RCT, 1st Federated Suns Armored Cavalry, 1st Kell Hounds, Jade Phoenix Cluster, 10 Artillery brigades

Defending Forces: House Immarra, Red Lancers, 4th Tau Ceti Rangers (battalion), WOBM 2nd Division, WOBM 3rd Division, 1st People’s Loyalty Regiment (Regular/Fanatical regiment made up of comb outs and convalescents with battlemech experience, leavened with instructors from the Sian Center for Martial Disciplines, as well as survivors of several units destroyed during Active Panther). 1 battalion of Death Commandos. 3 combined arms divisions of the Sian Home Guard, and 150 “Victory Battalions” (75 of which are on Wuhan).

Results: Operations began to slow in tempo as September rolled on, as casualties in Fedcom reconnaissance and infantry units began to climb. The Capellans fought for every acre, but it did little but delay the inevitable. By September the 20th, Benin was surrounded, and elements of the 3rd Royal Guards had begun to fight their way through to the city center through an estimated 10 Victory Battalions that had been left behind to defend the city.

In other actions, the various ‘Mech regiments spent most of the first half of September jockeying for position for the inevitable FedCom push towards Sian. The FedCom commanders were content to await the arrival of the 4th Donegal Guards RCT and the 5th FedCom RCT to ease their rear area situation before beginning the final push on the Forbidden City itself, there was some debate, however, to a proposal brought forward by none other than Kai Allard-Liao himself, of executing a coup de main on the Chancellor’s palace using his Jade Phoenix Battalion and the 1st Ceti Hussars.

Marshal Archer was somewhat skeptical of the plan, as it was still some 80 kilometers to the Forbidden City, and the terrain between them and the FedCom lines was of an increasingly tropical nature, and it would be a defender’s dream to fight in that, thus slowing down the FedCom advance. One staff officer said “Is Kai cribbing notes from Arnhem?”

But Kai had another concern, he knew he was all that was left approaching a tomorrow for the Confederation, but what kind of tomorrow would be left if Sian was burnt to a husk. It was time to end the fight now. Marshal Archer was given to bold action, and she liked the idea, if not necessarily the execution of the plan.

She made Kai revise it, and she told him “You drop on the palace, and everybody goes in at once. No multiple drops. And you will get all the air support you need.” After a final review, she signed off on Operation Shattered Dao on the night of the 28th of September.

More ominously for the Capellans, during a conference with Sun-Tzu, his newly formed "defense council" which had replaced the now-disfavored Strategos had informed him that there was perhaps enough ammunition, POL, and fuel to defend Sian for another month, and that surrender would at that point be a given, lest the Chancellor insist they fight 'Mechs with sticks. The Chancellor smiled, and said "What of our special weapons?" While the council managed to again talk Sun-Tzu out of their use yet again, it became clear that the Chancellor was losing touch with reality.


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