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Dead Man's Hand - Family Values (Chapter Cover Art) 1

Chapter 17[]

Dead Man's Hand: Family Values[]

Kell Hall
Old Connaught, Arc-Royal
Bucklands Province
Lyran Commonwealth
15th March, 3058

"Well, she's Natasha's daughter, certainly." Morgan Kell re-read the message for the umpteenth time, then dropped it onto his desk, "Why doesn't she ask for the First Lord's throne while she's at it? Or the lost fortune of the Camerons? Those, at least, might be possible!"

"It is a deliberate act on her part." his son stood, staring into the roaring fire set in the mantle that took up most of one wall, "She asks for something she knows we can not give."

"I think you're both missing the Big Picture here." Daniel Allard sat in an overstuffed armchair, a tumbler of Glengarry Special Reserve in one hand, watching the single ice cube slowly melt, "She could have asked for anything; money, weapons, enough OmniMechs to outfit an entire company, a new DropShip, hell, even a JumpShip...but instead she asks for something far more precious, and far more noble."

"I do not understand." Star Colonel Ranna Wolf spoke up from her spot on a couch, where she sat with her ceremonial Wolf mask on her lap.

"Admitting that is said to be the first step on the path to true wisdom, or so Kai tells me." Allard smiled, "What you, Aunt, and that's technically who she is to thou, has asked for is not for herself, but for her friend. And her LIC seems to imply that she doesn't have many of those."
"Duchess Ngo." Phelan Kell spat, "She is behind this!"

"Elizabeth Ngo would die a hundred times over before asking you, or any of the Clans for that matter, for help." His father shook his head, "I don't know how much you know about the history of Kowloon and the Ngo family, but they were once under the yoke of the Rim Worlds Republic. Back when they were still valued allies of House Cameron and the Star League. It was SLDF forces that helped put down the rebellion of 2729, an SLDF warship that destroyed Dinh Diep, the original planetary capital, all be it by accident. And, when they rose up against House Amaris during the Star League Civil War, it was that same SLDF that swore to ensure their independence going forward... and then left the Inner Sphere. Leaving Kowloon behind, Son, when she calls you a traitor, it's not just because she thinks you betrayed the Commonwealth, but because she thinks General Kerensky betrayed her entire world."

His words got him death flairs from the two Clan officers, but he ignored them.

"The truth is, Elizabeth Ngo would never make an offer like this. Hell, I can only imagine what kind of stink she's raising over Joker making it." the older Kell continued, "No, this is from Joker, and I think she's deadly serious."

"So, all I need do to preserve a unique genetic legacy for my Clan is do the impossible." the Khan snorted, "What makes her think it is even potentially possible?"

"I don't think she does. I think she's desperate, and playing the only card she has." Allard pointed out, "Stop thinking like a leader and start thinking like someone who's lost friends, and imagine what you'd do to get them back?"

"There is nothing I would not do, if I were in her place." Phelan Kell admitted after a moment, "But that does not change the fact that she is asking the impossible."
"We once believed that faster than light travel was impossible, and yet here we are, hundreds of light years from Terra. Nothing is impossible, just mathematically improbable." the Grand Duke countered, "We need to think outside the box, take a step back and look at the big picture: people have been trying to cure Cholmann's for over a thousand years..."

"Trying, and failing." his son countered back.

"Then think of the glory when your Clan succeeds where so many others have failed!" the old mercenary lent forward on his desk, "Or, if that's not motivation enough, think of this. Liz Ngo's consort is a former Jade Falcon, who very likely has a back-channel to his former Clan. How long do you think it will take before he tells them the prize that awaits the first person to cure one of the fabled incurables?"
"Stravag!" Ranna bolted to her feet, he mask falling, forgotten, to the ground, "She would not... would she?"

"I don't think we can put anything past Joker." Allard warned, "You're too fixated on who her mother is, and you keep forgetting that her father was one of the most ruthless individuals who ever lived."
"We need to move quickly!" Morgan Kell punched his desk, hard, "Phelan, I don't care what it takes, but get your people working on this. I'll do what I can to reach out to Jamie Wolf and Cranston Snord, see if they've uncovered anything. Dan, see if you can shake anything loose from New Avalon." he looked around at his three companions, who were all staring at him with a mixture of shock, confusion of disbelief, "Oh, I'm sorry: did I make that sound like a suggestion?"

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