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Davion Heir (BattleTech CYOA)

Chapter 8

Meeting in Solaris City[]

Solaris City, Solaris VII
Federation of Skye, Lyran Commonwealth
7th May, 3014

“So this is Solaris,” says Tahmina as the APC takes her, Victoria and the platoon of Davion Guardsmen bodyguarding the First Prince to the hotel that will be their home for the duration of their stay on Solaris.

“Looking to get in a game?” asks Victoria with a smirk.

“Watching one or two, maybe.” replies Tahmina as the smaller woman shrugs, “I don’t think it would be professional of me to do so. I’m not special when it comes to being a MechWarrior and my ride belongs to AFFS. It would be one thing if my Shadow Hawk was my personal property, but I couldn’t justify damaging government property for a personal reason.”

“I could sign off on it you know, but I get your point,” says Victoria, “I wonder how long these talks will take. Olivia says that preliminary talks have been going well, but there is a lot of bad blood between the Lyrans and Leaguers.”

“Don’t worry, Vic.” says Tahmina as she throws an arm around her prince, “If anyone can get them to sit down and listen to reason, it will be you. Morgan said that Katrina was extremely receptive.”

“The Archon was open to allying with us back in thirty-ten,” replies Victoria thoughtfully, “I guess there is no point in worrying about it now. I’ll see where Janos and Katrina stand when I meet them.”

A lot has changed since Victoria became the First Prince back at the start of March. It has been a couple of months now and if nothing else, her actions so far have ensured her place in history. The New Avalon Institute of Science is coming along nicely even if it is a couple of years away from completion while the newly formed Team Banzai is an unexpected boon. Not only is the team of geniuses very helpful to the work on understanding the Halstead Station library cache, but the regiment’s worth of elite MechWarriors and ASFs pilots will be advantageous when it comes to New Avalon’s defense, allowing Victoria to free up another unit from the capital’s garrison.

And then her warning to Janos allowed the Captain-General to preemptively deal with his brother. Anton Marik and his closest supporters were arrested, his newly and secretly raised Ducal Guard were crushed on New Delos before the ball could get going whilst other units were purged of disloyal personnel. It wasn’t perfect or completely painless, but it was certainly significantly better for the Free Worlds League than if Anton had been able to begin his revolt.

The downside is that the lack of a civil war meant that Katrina wasn’t able to generously not raid the League to show her good intentions. Hopefully Janos will be suitably grateful for averting a costly civil war that would have weakened the League and undermined his reign. Especially since Anton would have had the Wolf’s Dragoons fighting for him thanks to his dealings with Maximilian Liao.

At least Katrina is downright supportive of Victoria’s push for peace. The First Prince wasn’t expecting the Archon to be so positive about her proposal, but she will take her victories where she can get them, especially since this will be an uphill battle.

The journey through the Black Hills region of Solaris City doesn’t take long to reach the hotel that has been rented out for Victoria and her delegation. The entire building has been hired by the Federated Suns for increased security, allowing her guards to go about their business without interfering with other guests and to ensure that no unknown individuals are able to get close to her in the guise of being fellow patrons of the hotel.

Olivia Fenlon is waiting for her, the Minister of Foreign Relations having arrived on Solaris almost a fortnight before the First Prince and about a week before the Archon and the Captain-General arrived. Since then, Olivia has been busy at work, using her diplomatic genius and ministerial position to start laying the groundwork. There have been no concrete deals without Victoria there to agree to them, but Olivia has been sounding out opinions and feeling out the willingness or lack of for certain things.

From the reports that Olivia has been forwarding to Victoria, her work has been going quite well. Beyond Katrina Steiner’s odd optimism regarding the peace talks, Janos seems to be at least willing to humor the two of you, if only to keep the Lyrans off his back long enough to get some revenge against the Liaos.

That’ll be the key to success, getting it signed so the Lyran Commonwealth can focus on the Draconis Combine and the Free Worlds League can focus on the Capellan Confederation. Then it will just be a matter of hoping that the ceasefire lasts long enough for it to become accepted.

Still a longshot, but one that Victoria is becoming more and more confident in.

“My Prince, it is good to finally have you here.” says Olivia as Victoria and Tahmina get out of the APC, “I’ve been doing what I can, but something of this magnitude needs you personally speaking for the Federated Suns. There is only so much that a mere minister can promise.”

“I understand,” replies Victoria as the three of them and Victoria’s Davion Guard escort enter the hotel, “Give me a run down of what to expect.”

“As you are already aware, Katrina is surprisingly supportive of these peace talks and as far as I can tell, she wants them to succeed as much as you do,” Olivia tells her, “From what I can gleam from her, she desires to gain some respite from the Succession Wars for her people and support against our mutual foe, the Draconis Combine. More cynically, the Lyran Commonwealth is running out of stamina after so many decades of war and the Archon wants to buy some space so it can catch its breath. Everyone is these days, but her predecessors had the LCAF running at full tilt for too long without any rest.”

“So you are saying that Katrina wants to buy some time and breathing room for the LCAF to regroup and rearm?” inquires Victoria.

“It is certainly part of her motive though it would be wrong to claim that is all she wants,” answers Olivia, “Another cynical part of her motivation is that the Lyran Commonwealth has the best economy in the Inner Sphere or any part of the Periphery. Getting a truce or even just a ceasefire benefits the Lyran Commonwealth as peace gives them the chance to leverage their superior economy. Or at least the Archon certainly thinks so from what I can gleam. She has enough faith in her people to believe that they can economically outcompete anyone else. My assessment of Katrina Steiner is that she wants an alliance with us against the Combine and she sees getting a ceasefire with the League as a way for her to secure one of her borders so that she can reassign forces to strengthen her other border.”

“That fits with what I remember of her from when I visited Tharkad.” says Victoria with a thoughtful look, “I’m glad to hear that she hasn’t changed in the years since then.”

“While Katrina has proven to be an unexpected source of help, there are concerns from the Lyran side of things,” continues Olivia, “Her cousin Frederick Steiner holds ambitions for the throne like Anton Marik or Michael Hasek-Davion to the point that his political puppeteer had to restrain him from marching on Tharkad back when Katrina became Archon. He hasn’t been speaking up against the peace talks yet, but if Frederick took an antagonistic stance, he would become a rallying point for those opposed to any alliance with us or agreement with the League.”

“How likely is he do to that?” asks Tahmina.

“Could we talk him down from that?” adds Victoria.

“Given his apparently genuine desire to serve the Commonwealth and his service record against the Dracs, I believe he would be supportive of the alliance for the military benefits it would bring,” answers Olivia, “Unfortunately, the concern is Aldo Lestrade, Duke of Summer and the unofficial leader of the growing Free Skye movement. While your plans would be to the benefit of the Federation of Skye and Free Skye’s professed goals, I have been warned by reliable sources that Duke Lestrade doesn’t truly care about Skye and only worries about his personal power. If he thinks that this will get in the way of his personal ambitions, he’ll oppose it even if it supports his publicly proclaimed goals.”

“Anything we can do to neutralize the threat?” asks Victoria, already suspecting what the answer will be as they reach Victoria’s suite of rooms.

“Short of directly courting Frederick Steiner or discrediting Aldo Lestrade, there isn't much that we can do.” replies Olivia with a slight shake of her head as the trio begins to get comfortable in Victoria’s living room, “The former will be quite difficult as the man is currently stationed several jumps away along the Lyran-Draconis border. As for Lestrade, if he was so easily dealt with, the Archon would have already taken care of him. That isn’t to say we can’t do anything to fight his influence, but I believe that like the Archon, we are going to find Aldo Lestrade to be a persistent thorn in our side.”

“Unfortunate, but at least we have the Archon on our side.” says Victoria.

“We also have the official leader of the Federation of Skye in our camp,” says Olivia, “It may be possible to get him to exert his official authority to shut down some of Lestrade’s actions. In other news, Janos Marik has proven more receptive than I feared he would be. Not as supportive as Katrina is, but he is honouring the ceasefire and he is at least willing to give the peace talks a chance if nothing else.”

“What can I expect from him and the League?” asks Victoria.

“Janos is going to be cynical and pragmatic when it comes to the peace talks,” answers the Minister of Foreign Relations with a grim look on her face, “Whatever idealism he once had has been slowly burnt away since he became Captain-General and the betrayal from his brother got rid of whatever had still remained at that point. If you hadn’t dropped all of this into his lap, I strongly suspect that Janos would have withdrawn into a shell, at least for a time.”

“That unfortunately fits with what Loretta has been sharing with me over the years.” says Victoria with an equally grim look, “Alright, Olivia, what do I have to work with when it comes to persuading the Captain-General to agree to my plans?”

“The threat of a strong Lyran Commonwealth and a desire to get revenge on the Capellan Confederation,” Olivia tells her, “Between Katrina undoing her uncle’s ‘concentrated weakness’ and Maximilian Liao’s support for Anton Marik, Janos’ agreement to the ceasefire and talks has become accepted as a move to keep the newly empowered Lyran threat at bay while the active Capellan threat is pushed back. Parliament has been spooked by how close the Liaos came to igniting a civil war within the League, something which would have devastated it whilst the Lyrans have recovered enough to be in a position to prey upon the League. It isn’t universal, but there is a majority support for using the peace talks to stem the Commonwealth from attacking the League whilst the FWLM puts the Liaos in their place.”

“So focus on convincing them by presenting peace with the Lyrans as means to attack the Cappies in peace,” says Victoria, “Anything else?”

“You might want to emphasize that an alliance between the Lyran Commonwealth and Federated Suns is going to happen,” replies Olivia, “I know it isn’t set in stone, but I don’t see you and Katrina not coming to an agreement. If you present that as happening to Janos and present it as a choice of being part of that or having to face it as a threat, then that should encourage him to play nice out of pragmatism.”

“So tell Janos he has a choice of being inside the tent and pissing out or being outside the tent and being pissed on.” muses Victoria and Olivia winces.

“I don’t think you quite got that metaphor right and please don’t be so vulgar.” pleads Olivia, “There is a certain amount of decorum expected when it comes to negotiations with fellow heads of state.”

“I know how to play nice,” Victoria reassures her, “I accompanied Ian on his visit to Tharkad, remember?”

“So you mentioned,” says Olivia, “So to recap, the Lyran side of things is effectively a done deal when it comes to military cooperation against the Draconis Combine and not attacking the League. Anything further with the League from the Lyran perspective will be more difficult. For the League, play up the chance to avoid getting attacked by the Commonwealth whilst they go after Capellans. Point out how even if they hate the Lyrans, they are better off being part of the alliance than being left out of it. Also remember that you need to play to parliament as much as you do Janos. Janos is very eager to make the Chancellor pay for turning his brother and son against him, but the provinces of the League are less personally invested in it.”

“Those are some good starting points,” says Victoria, “Better than what I hoped for mere months ago.”

“Things are certainly looking more positive than they once were,” agrees Olivia with a smile, “Even if it doesn’t end the Succession Wars, some measure of peace within the Inner Sphere is worth struggling for. I’m certainly pleased that the Archon has proven wise enough to see the benefits of competing through matters of trade rather than the violence of war. There is one last thing that you should be aware of. Two things to be precise.”

“What are they?” asks Victoria.

“Both the Archon and the Captain-General have requested prior meetings with you later today,” says Olivia, “My understanding is that they wish to personally feel you out before the formal talks begin tomorrow though exactly what they wish to speak with you about is unknown to me.”

“Do you think I should go?” asks Victoria after a moment of silent thinking, “That it won’t look suspicious to have private meetings prior to the talks themselves?”

“Only if you agree to a private meeting with one and not the other,” replies Olivia, “Go to both or go to neither and I would personally recommend meeting with them. You will find out what they want to discuss with you and you don’t need to worry about them potentially feeling snubbed if you decline their request.”

“Alright then, I’ll go and speak with them.” decides Victoria.

Author's Chapter Notes[]

Word from the Author
And here is the start of the second arc as we start off with a tentative truce and pending peace talks are in place. I choose Solaris over Terra as neutral ground because it offers more potential for trouble than the latter as the OOC (Out of Character) reason and the IC (In Character) reason is that using Terra would be too antagonistic to Janos due to the raw wounds from Anton and Max cutting their deal on Terra.

This update is mostly setting up the post-timeskip circumstances with the upcoming chapters covering the negotiations between the Lyrans, Leaguers, and Feddies. I won’t be covering every minute detail, but the basics and other important stuff will be shown on-screen provided it doesn’t cut too much into the word count.

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