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Can you tell me where we can start again (cover art) Chapter Art

Chapter 67[]

Can you tell me where can we start over?[]

Hue City Airfield
Kowloon, Lyran Alliance
3066


"Augmented or unaugmented?" Nathan asked, "Keep in mind, a poor choice here could put a normal sized person in hand to hand combat with an Elemental."

"I'd prefer to pick terrain." she noted.

"Well, let us discuss options.  What kind of terrain?"

She sighed, "Aquatic."

"Littoral aquatic, or open sea??" Nathan asked

"Open ocean." Liz said

"I think you  might want to reconsider that, open ocean opens the possibility of an augmented trial between whatever boats you are using, and a Nightlord class Battlecruiser."

She winced. "Yikes."

"Yeah...so how about we do not 'do' that, quiaff?"

"Right...okay, so..." Liz began to ponder

"Your 'mechwarriors, aside from your brother, are not particularly skilled." he noted.

"You noticed."

"It is hard to miss...well, hard for me to miss, easy for them." He cracked.  This actually elicited a smile from Elizabeth.

"Per the briefings tanks would be out too." She said, "Your Clan views them as less than honorable."

"We do, we really do." Nathan noted, "You lack Battle Armor."

"We've been working on that, but it's hard to find trainers, hard to source parts, hard to get licenses for designs-I can manufacture the tooling when I get specifications, but going from a production line to a user-interface is...well, proving to be tricky as hell."

"Even with experience with the Nighthawks, it took the Clans decades to develop a reasonably effective armor type, you have had maybe...what, five years?"

"Eight-we helped Gray Death Technologies set up their factories, but there's a difference between setting up a factory for armor. Their also setting up a training and development program for armor users-the second one is taking a while."

"You are already developing Warships, new models of tank, and production of Battlemechs, plus trying to get forces trained to a reasonable level on your existing hardware from a standing start, Duchess...that might be overextending."

"Yeah...I know. Time Limits." commented Elizabeth

"I give you this, you are ambitious." He mused.

"I'd suggest naval, but...size." she said with a wince.

"Size is important, but it is not everything. Skill counts as well." He told her, and she blushed.

Gathering self control, Elizabeth met his eyes, "You've got size and skill?" In a tone that sent blood to HIS face.
"I'm experienced, it comes with being older." he shot back.

Elizabeth was visibly flustered, which to Nathan Roshak, was something of an attractive look.

"Oh god, we're flirting." she said, trying to shake the mood.

"Well, I mean, you are attractive." He told her.

She met his eyes, "Nobody ever calls me that."

Nathan straightened up, "I admit to refined tastes." he said.  "Intelligence is always attractive, as is resourcefulness. For example; Getting a Clan Warship in orbit while you have deployed most of your forces on offensive action during a Civil War to deter your enemies, under conditions that make it dishonorable to simply invade? Brilliant."

"How did you guess?" she asked.

"The game of count the privies. No bodyguard detail, minimal guard force with a foreign military official, and the very convenient route from the Jump Point to orbit. We saw two of your Landmark destroyers and only four of your cutters."

"We could be hiding them." suggested Elizabeth

"Why would you?  You clearly are not planning a betrayal, and You have admitted to a large brigade that is largely not in evidence." Nathan smiled, "If we were Smoke Jaguars, we would have invaded you already.  But We are Clan Jade Falcon, and pride ourselves on honor unstained."

"Poker." she said,  "The city is Henry's inheritance, I can't field a decent force of anything you would be willing to fight, and it would take too long teaching your people how to run a surface ship.  Boxing's out because I could spazz in the middle of the bout, plus I'm out of practice...but I can get a couple people and you can bring someone, we can deal the cards, and play poker."

"Not 'Empires Aflame'?" he asked.

"Henry told you?" questioned Liz

"He did."

"We can play that instead, but more people would watch a poker game, or chess."

He hesitated, then they both said, "No, that wouldn't work".

Liz frowned, "This shit gets complex."

"It does." Nathan agreed.  "The line between a Novacat flipping a coin and a massive battle, contains many variations.  The victory must be absolutely uncontestable, and you have a significant disadvantage of a temporary sort, as you can recall forces, but it will take days to weeks to get them marshalled here...and without your best forces, the victory can be seen as tainted.  at the same motion, I can bid down to...say...poker, but it will not be seen as a clear victory either."

"How are you guys set on light infantry?" she asked.

"I have enough to wage a small trial for minor resources." he told her.

"Sheliak." she said

"What?" Nathan answered confused

"Clan Ghost Bear 'conquered' the planet of Sheliak with a game gridiron football." she clarified, "We don't play that here, but we do have a nice Rugby league...and I do know how to  play."  She favored him with a look, "or I can watch...but screw appearances, this is not a trial for a whole planet, you want an enclave, and my brother, one of your officers, has a legitimate legal claim to the one you are asking for.  We'll play a three-game rugby tournament, it'll be televised, you don't use up ammo or fuel, nobody gets their house blown up..."

"Fair.  I will bid away my Elemental infantry to keep it competitive!"

"I'll let you pick the team you're up against." Elizabeth said

"The best team you have." said Nathan

"Fair...so we have a deal?"

'Where?" he asked.

She walked to a railing, "See that soccer field down there? it's wired for holovision and press, and seats several thousand spectators. Makes it easy to seat your fans, I expect your lot are good at yelling."

"I like it." he said with a nod.

"We've got a place, and a method, do we agree on a time?"

"Two days?" he asked.

"That's fair.  Two days from now, Clan Jade Falcon's Omicron Galaxy will be playing brush league Rugby against the New Provo Frontiers, in the Civic Stadium in Hue." Elizabeth announced

"Bargained well and done!" He smiled.

"You have time to hit a place for dinner?" she asked, "or is that too forward?"

"Perfect." he said, "The answer is 'yes'."


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