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Emergence (Concertverse)
Book 2 - Chapter 7

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Wolves at the Door[]

Allies Spotted[]

Beta Galaxy Command Ship, CWS Blood Fang
Zenith Jump Point
Tharkad, Donegal Province
Lyran Commonwealth
Transglass Inner Sphere
10th June, 3143

The technician and warriors in the Blood Fang command center continued their work while Alaric studied the display on his holotank. The Lyran recharge stations hung tantalizingly close, useful objectives that the Wolves had intended to issue immediate batchalls for the moment they'd completed their jumps. But there was no mistaking the near kilometer-long shape now positioned amongst them, central to a force of other vessels guarding a fleet of JumpShips still recharging off the station's collectors and reactors. We would have an advantage, he thought, considering the Dire Wolf and its accompanying Liberator-class WarShips. Only one enemy WarShip was larger than any of theirs, and only marginally so. Two more looked to be about the size of a large frigate or small cruiser, one of which lacked any visible capital-grade weapon mounts, and the last two were essentially oversized "Pocket" WarShips with K-F drives.

Liberator Class Cruiser (Delranes Fighting Ships 3061)

Liberator Class Cruiser

Another nearby screen showed the images of his fellow commanders and Khan Ward. Galaxy Commander Cooper's eyes blazed. "They do not have the battleship that devastated the Falcons, we are their superior in space. We can set upon them and eliminate them!"

"If we are willing to risk not being granted safcon, certainly," Alaric said. "I am not a naval warrior, but while we have an edge, it is not a significant one. They have multiple DropShips of some size that would be a match, or more, for our Isegrims. Carriers as well."

Galaxy Commander Ward nodded. "Aff, the Sea Foxes' data states their largest carrier has space for two trinaries worth of aerospace fighters. We have identified one of them among the fleet. The same is held by their WarShip-sized transport-carrier. Two more of the carriers contain trinaries of their own. If we Trial for their station and JumpShips we will need to bid all of our aerospace support to ensure victory."

And that would ruin the invasion long before we get there, Alaric thought. He had no doubt the Lyrans would refuse safcon. "Let us leave our WarShips and the bulk of our heaviest DropShips behind to threaten the recharge stations. We can keep them out of engagement range and force the Arcadians and Lyrans to hold those ships here to protect the stations, leaving us free to burn to Tharkad and invade with sufficient aerospace forces should we be denied safcon. When Epsilon Galaxy arrives we can then press a naval engagement with a greater margin, if we so choose."

"A fine idea, Galaxy Commander Alaric," Khan Ward said through nearly-clenched teeth. "I will leave instructions with Star Admiral Nguyen to that effect."

Cooper snarled. "And what if these Arcadians strike at our JumpShips?!"

"They are far from their home bases, with only Gibbs capable of repairing their battle damage, and they know it is under threat as well," Alaric stated. "They will not strike at us if we remain alert and can cause them harm in the effort."

This time Khan Ward was in no hurry to complement Alaric again. "My orders are given, the matter is settled. Wolves, complete your separations from your JumpShips. We burn for Tharkad!"

The sensation of gravity told Anastasia Kerensky that the Blood Fang was on the way to Tharkad. It felt good to finally have something like real gravity again, even if it was just the result of the constant gee of thrust generated by the DropShip's massive fusion engines.

Anastasia Kerensky (Close Up - Dave School MW)

Anastasia Kerensky (in a mech)

Regardless, she still the duties Alaric had assigned her to complete. Every day, the same check to ensure every autocannon firing pin, every laser focusing lens, was still there, much as it had been the prior day. So she went about this task, now walking instead of floating in zero-gee, moving from container stack to container stack to verify the contents by visual inspection. Shit work, but it will not have the effect he wants. I will not let it, she vowed. I'll do this like a good little sibko brat being subjected to technician work as a test. It'd been one of a number of chores that the Pack Minders back on Arc-Royal used to not only make warriors remember the importance of logistics but to serve as inspiration to test into the warrior caste. "You don't want to spend the rest of your life doing this, do you?" being the obvious prod and it did not work for them, either.

I know my worth, Alaric. 'Be a good bondswoman and remain loyal to me or this is the rest of your life'; that is your game, then. I'll play it all you want. But you cannot take away what I know about myself. I am a warrior, and sooner or later, you will acknowledge it, willingly or not.

And then, Anastasia allowed herself a smile. A wolf’s smile, predatory and cold. Then, there will be a reckoning.

13th June, 3143

There were no windows on most DropShips, and especially not on Clan-built ones. It was a point of practicality that often struck Katherine Steiner-Davion as lacking a certain gravitas one might enjoy from watching the world, such as it was, pass by. Her viewing of the distant orb of her former capital, one of her homeworlds, was relegated to the impersonal view from a flatscreen imager she'd mounted on the wall of her quarters.

Katrina Steiner-Davion (MechCommander 2)

Katherine Steiner-Davion, young image.

In another lifetime, she could have demanded far more personal space aboard the finest DropShips the Inner Sphere produced. After three-quarters of a century of living as a member of Clan Wolf Katherine was used to the laconic lifestyle of the Wolf warrior. She'd been forced into it on behalf of the one soul in all her life who seemed to understand her, to "love" her as much as a Clan warrior like Vlad Ward could feel that emotion. She'd reciprocated. Sometimes she didn't understand why given her disdain for warriors, for soldiers, for those who turned to brute force when a whispered word or a wide smile could do so much more in the right place. But there'd been an animal magnetism to the man, something that elevated him beyond the stultifying discipline of her brothers and other soldiers she'd endured. Vlad, and now Alaric, were so much more than them, and it made them worthy of her in a way she'd never imagined accepting such men or their power.

She reached a withered finger forward to press a key. With half the journey over Tharkad yet remained nothing but a brilliant blue pearl across the ink-black void of space. Eighty years. Nearly ninety years had passed since those first heady days when she'd made the people here bow and adore her greatness. Those first years had not always been easy, but compared to her suffering and ignominy since her brother's victory they had been a golden age that no hardening among the Wolves could erase her yearning for… or her hunger for the revenge that was her due.

Now my revenge is at hand. The Lyran people had acclaimed her once, but then they had failed her. Failed to crush her brothers, to crush the Kells, to crush all those who dared stand against her rightful rule. They would suffer for that failure when the Wolves took their world. Her son, her blade, would be their ruler, and would destroy the Lyran nation that had harmed and insulted her all those decades ago. Alaric will be Khan. He will rule the empire I should have enjoyed, and erase the memory, the achievements, of my enemies. That I live to see it… A satisfied smile crossed her wrinkled lips. She could imagine the licking flames consuming the official portraits of Victor, Peter, and Adam. The Wolves, under Alaric's direction, would erase her enemies from the consciousness and adoration of the people. I will enjoy every moment.

A treacherous voice whispered in her ear. The flames are not lit yet. The battle must still be won, and your enemies are stronger for their new allies. The Arcadians may yet snatch your victory away. A furious snarl crossed her face at that thought. No. No, it can't end like that. I have waited too long. They are a weak people, led by a naive fool. They have not faced the full might of a proper Clan before. Alaric will triumph. He will. Her fist clenched. He must.

With the Blood Fang again under gravity, a great many activities were made easier for Alaric and his warriors. One of the oldest and most preferred means of finding enjoyment before battle was one of them.

The climate control kept his personal quarters comfortable for his state of undress. The heat of Verena's body, pressed as it was against his own, would have been enough to draw the sweat from his pores that now covered him. Though it was not that but their ferocious coupling that had been the instigator for the thin film of sweat still clinging to them.

Verena shifted, her muscles pressing against his in the process. Her eyes glistened with satisfaction that mirrored his own. "My future Khan," she murmured. "Are you actually going to let Anastasia test into the warrior caste?"

"In due time, possibly. When I feel it due."

"And when you are Khan."

"Yes." Alaric closed his eyes for a moment. The fire of his lust was sated for the moment, but that other fire would not die down so quickly. He felt the burn, the need to achieve the pinnacle of existence for a Clan warrior, rage within. "You would prefer she remain a bondswoman."

"I would prefer she was dead, my future Khan," Verena purred. "But I take satisfaction that I am the warrior and she bears the bondcord."

Alaric grinned. "Yes. I knew you would. But I will need strong warriors, now more than ever. Tharkad is just the start. We will need everything we have to take Terra when the Republic's walls come down."

"You feel they will?"

"In time, yes. They will shut them down to strike at their neighbors, or whatever means they use to maintain them will fail. Or perhaps they will destroy themselves by dissension. Whatever happens, we must be ready. I must be ready, if I am to become ilKhan."

"Seth Ward will kill you if he can." Verena reminded him. "He will never let you claim a Bloodname."

"I will kill him first," Alaric predicted. "He is a cunning warrior but he is not invincible, and his political machinations are easily handled. Though he cannot be allowed to return to Gienah and the Clan Council as conqueror of Tharkad." Alaric's expression hardened. "No. I think my Khan must die on Tharkad. By the enemy's hand."

"Not by yours?"

He grinned. "Not officially. Though I may put the blade in if the opportunity strikes and the Lyrans or Arcadians may be blamed." A chuckle rumbled from his throat. "Perhaps it is his Bloodright I will claim. It is a worthy one. It was my genemother's." My other father, he corrected mentally. Vlad Ward's DNA had been applied to the ova used to create Alaric, Katherine's way of ensuring he could one day claim the Ward Bloodname. "But whatever happens, Tharkad must fall. The Commonwealth must be disintegrated, or we will be too busy resisting the Lyrans and their new allies to descend upon Terra when the time comes."

"I will give it my all." Verena pledged.

"You will." Alaric grinned. "And if any claim the Arcadians' lord's life or bond, it will be me."

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