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Emergence (Concertverse) Chapter Cover

Emergence (Concertverse)
- Chapter 10
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DropShip Bec de Corbin
Timkovichi, Arc-Royal Theater
Zenith Point, Yeguas System
Jade Falcon Occupation Zone
8th September, 3142


The Falcon DropShip kept its position level with the White Aerie, preparing to begin its connection to the great Black Lion-class battlecruiser.  The old Star League relic had a long and honorable battle history under Falcon command.  For saKhan Beckett Malthus, though, there was little thought of glory.  He was a man holding a wolf by the ears; a dangerous place to be, but he didn't dare let go lest the wolf gore him.

Black Lion II Class Battlecruiser (Underway)

Blacklion Class Battlecruiser

On paper, he should be happy.  The Falcons were sweeping all before them. The Lyrans were finally broken.  They might even take Tharkad before the Wolves could drive up from their captured League worlds.  After nearly a century, the Crusader dream of crushed Great Houses and a reborn Star League, a true Star League under Kerensky's children and heirs, was in sight.

And in winning that victory, it would be well for Malvina Hazen to die. Suitably gloriously, of course; a dead hero he could control, a living Malvina Hazen was far less so. Be honest with yourself, Beckett, and he did have to, for seeing things as they truly were was the main thing that had kept him alive this long, where many of his peers, more martially skilled but less gifted in mind, had fallen along the honour road. The truth is that you are to blame for this far more than she is. The sword you forged of her has no hilt, and must be broken before she drags the Jade Falcons down beyond redemption, and bleeds them to death in so doing. In truth, it might have been better for him to have guided her into the glorious death in battle that she’d wanted after Aleksandr’s death on Skye, rather than into walking the Khan’s path; not in a personal sense, but better for the Clan, and the galaxy as a whole. Still, what was done was done, and it was to him, now, to try and repair what he could.

And yet, who to replace her with? None of the Mongol Faction were an option; all would be worse than Malvina, if only because they were far less skilled. Noritomo Helmer, perhaps? Beckett considered that thought for a moment, and then put it aside; Helmer was too unambitious, too needed where he was preventing Damien Redburn from ravaging the Falcon’s Reach any more than the Republic Remnant already were; and too unpopular with too many Mongol officers. And too many others with the skill, the Bloodname and the ambition had died, in the Rending and afterwards. It must be Stephanie Chistu, then; which meant finding a signal victory for Delta Galaxy once they were rebuilt. But, she was skilled - perhaps enough to slay Malvina in challenge, if it came to that - of an impeccable Bloodheritage and reputation, and easily guided into the appropriate decisions. Yes, she will suffice.

"My Khan." Star Captain Rutherford spoke from his crash couch, breaking Beckett’s train of thought.  "Emergence signature.  Looks like regular JumpShip mass."

Within a minute a flash of light filled the monitors in the Bec de Corbin’s control center.  The vessel was a plain JumpShip ferrying no DropShips with it. A messenger then.  Something important, perhaps, if they left their post.  "Identification?"

"Verdant Wing.

Assigned to Great X.  What could this be?  A message from our 'Chingis Khan'?  Perhaps Timkovichi did not go as planned.

The aerospace warrior at the comm station lifted her head.  "Verdant Wing is transmitting to us.  A message, and holo-recordings."

"Play them."  Beckett turned his attention to the holotank.

The incoming recordings played as they downloaded into his ship's databanks.  As he watched, the world twisted out of focus for Beckett.  Nothing made sense, and yet the proof…

He watched the fate of the Red Talon from its own perspective, in its final moments.  The DropShips planetside likewise transmitted their own footage of the large force that appeared from literal void, carrying with them several Clusters worth of 'Mechs and battle armor, and these forces came down and utterly wiped the Golden Ordun from the face of Timkovichi.  The final footage confirmed the DropShips themselves were being boarded, and the crews were resisting… and then nothing.

To his fury, Beckett felt his hand shake as he operated the controls, played them again.  They gave him a look at the enemy, a better look.  The light browns and reds of the  'Mechs with the three arrows emerging from the center of a ring.  Sky blue machines, including a few Mad Cats and other OmniMechs, all sporting hawk insignias.  Some, he could make sense of — more of the stravag Kell Hounds, dogging the Falcons’ steps as seemed their reason for being — but the others … what were Davion Guards doing here?

If that were true he considered — for a moment — the merits of a descent on the planet housing the hated mercenaries and the dezgra Exiled Wolves they harbored.  But this footage made it impossible.  His creation, his bane, was gone.  By the Bloodnames of the Founders, Malvina was gone.  Dead, soon to be dead, a prisoner, it didn't matter!  She could no longer bring the Falcons on this dezgra course, and the Golden Ordun being destroyed meant she had few loyalists left in the Council.  Finally, the Falcons would be saved from his error.

But first things first.  He could not exploit Arc-Royal's possible weakness because the Falcons needed a new Khan.  We must gather the Clan Council somewhere fitting… Sudeten, yes.  We must elect a new Khan.  He considered his candidates for the position.

"My Khan, those holos.  How could such a force appear from nothing!?" asked Star Captain Rutherford.

He brought the playback to the last images from the Red Talon.  In the wake of that WarShip squadron that single-handedly destroyed Malvina Hazen's latest effort at dezgra tactics, the pale blue light of a jump field was obvious.  It did not fade in the chain of fireflies as it typically did.  It persisted.  Strange.  Some form of K-F jump error?  The scientists can tell us, right now I have other matters.

Aegis Heavy Cruiser (2750) (by mattplog)

Aegis Class Heavy Cruiser, Red Talon

"Send to White Aerie. We are no longer proceeding to the next target system," he said.  "We are returning to Sudeten."  He released his harness and floated from his crash couch.  "I must go see to the summons, Star Captain.  The Khan has fallen in battle.  Whether she is bondswoman or prisoner, it matters not.  The Clan needs a new Khan before we determine our course."

"I understand, my Khan." was the reply.

Beckett left him, returning to his own staterooms, and the noteputer where he would write the messages to head out.  Finally, this war would be fought as he wanted it to be.


Kell Estate
Old Connaught, Arc-Royal
Arc-Royal Theater
Lyran Commonwealth
15th September, 3142


It'd been some time since Trillian Steiner-Davion set foot on the homeworld of her distant cousins.  The DropShuttle deposited her on Martin's own personal landing pad in the rear grounds of his estate.  She emerged in formal business wear instead of court gown, looking more the part of a corporate executive than the personal agent of Archon Melissa.

I came here expecting to find the Falcons already descending on the world.  That would have been par for the course given the campaign.  Without HPGs the word was delayed whenever it got to her on the Archon's Fist, but it was always the same:  a world assaulted, then a world fallen, typically with a savagery that made even the long-extinct Smoke Jaguars seem like the lap kittens popular with court ladies on Tharkad.  The Commonwealth was being squeezed from two ends now, with the Wolves still nipping at them along the old Marik border, undoubtedly marshaling for a new blow whatever Vedet Brewer thought about the matter back on Tharkad.

Brewer.  Martin might not even know yet.  Although it won't be the same shock his news was to me…

Martin was waiting for her in Kell Hound uniform.  The intimidating presence of Patrik Fetladral towered over the both of them, his genetically-augmented muscular body seeming to press the limits of the gray leathered jumpsuits favored by the Clans.  "Lady Trillian."  Martin politely bowed his head.  "Looking busy as usual.  Melissa sent you out to check on the front with the Falcons and Horses, I gather?"

She nodded stiffly.  "We need to talk about that, in private."

The glint in his eye told her he got the message that something was wrong. "This way then."  He and Patrik led her into the palatial residence of the Kells.  Their destination proved to be an upper floor conference room or wardroom.  Large windows looked out at Old Connaught and the courtyard of the estate.

"Alright.  This is as private as things get around here, short of my stateroom or the Khan's personal quarters."  Martin took a seat, prompting Trillian and Patrik to do likewise.  "You get news from the other front?  Have the Wolves pushed on after all?"

"That's likely, but that's also not why I came."  Trillian folded her hands on the table.  The weight of the moment crushed her.  Martin deserves to know, and I need to tell him.  But the consequences if we overreact… "There's no easy way to say this, Martin.  Melissa's been deposed.  The LCAF General Staff removed her from her throne and made Vedet Brewer Archon."

The fury that formed on Martin's face was frightening in its intensity.  "I damn well knew something was up with that bunk about her being in recovery."

"Maurer is in control of the LCAF side. They're keeping Melissa's location a secret, but Vedet's already prying, trying to find a way to get to her to kill her.  He even tried to compel me to recognize him as Archon by threatening her life."

"And your answer?"  Martin asked the question with real venom in his voice, even as Patrik had an expression that spoke a thousand words about Spheroids and their power politics.

Trillian's voice matched his venom with heat.  "I told him to go to Hell."  Because that was when Maurer brought word of the Falcon and Horse invasion, but no need to mention that. "After we received the first word of Malvina's invasion, the LCAF left Vedet no choice but to release me so I could get to work.  And before you ask, last I've heard Melissa's alive.  The General Staff are using her to keep Duke Vedet under control.  Unless he finds a way to turn the tide back his way again, I doubt that will change."

Martin accepted the unspoken rebuke quietly, at least.  Given her situation, the idea she might give Vedet what she wanted wasn't too surprising.  The thought crossed her mind, I almost did, if I'm being honest with myself. He spoke in a calmer voice this time.  "Well, this is just… with Malvina out, the Falcons are going to back off.  The Horses lost a whole Galaxy so they'll have to as well.  Once Vedet learns of that he's going to take credit with the public."

"So we need to prevent that," Trillian said.  "First, let's edit this material for public consumption.  Get every holovid viewer in the Commonwealth playing that footage of the Arcadians landing on Timkovichi.  I want the jump in, I want their fleet, I want it all.  Make it abundantly clear to everyone that this isn't some secret force that Vedet brought in to win the war."

"Hell, I'm all for that."

Patrik nodded.  "Aff. That is the important first step, but what of the next?  The Falcons will spend time gathering to vote a new Khan.  We will have an opportunity to go to Tharkad and restore the Archon to her rightful place.  However foolish she may have been, she is a better choice than that backstabbing dezgra son of a Blakist Brewer." He straightened to his full height. “I can have Alpha Galaxy ready to lift within the hour.”

"No."  Trillian almost hissed the word, it came out so quickly.  "That’s exactly what we can’t do, even though I agree Vedet deserves it. All we’d accomplish trying to free Melissa by force would be starting a civil war — and if either of you think that’s impossible with the Crusader Wolves at the gates, you’ve both read less of our history than I thought — and even if we beat Vedet, the Commonwealth won't be in any shape to fight on either front." She sighed. “Not least because we’d have to fight probably half the Margraves as well; they haven’t been happy with Melissa’s rule — for good reason — and wouldn’t stand for putting her back in charge by force. Especially since we’d have to admit she’d been deposed in the first place. We’d be stuck putting down rebellions for a decade.”

"True, wouldn’t exactly be unreasonable of them," Martin agreed. “But the longer we let this go on, the more chance that shiftless idiot does something even more stupid, and the harder it’s gonna be to get his ass off the throne.”

“Aff,” Patrik nodded. “I agree, Lady Trillian, that force is not a very good option, but unless you have a political solution that will work fast, it may be the only one we have.”

"That's the other reason why I want every world in the Commonwealth to know who and what the Arcadians are.  I want the LCAF to know too.  Because we're going to need them."

Martin leveled a questioning look her way.  "Just to be clear, Lady Trillian, you're not talking about asking them to put Melissa back on the throne, because that'd be even worse.  So what do you have in mind?"

"Something we need anyway, but if I do it right, it gives us the leverage we need with the General Staff to turn against Duke Vedet," Trillian explained.  "We make it impossible for them to reject Melissa as Archon."

"Well, I'm all ears," Martin said.  "Go on.  What do you want from the Arcadians?"

"An alliance," she replied.  "Between the Arcadian Federation and the Lyran Commonwealth, signed in Melissa's name and on her authority.  The LCAF will have to restore her or have the treaty become void."

"Well, now that… that might just work," Martin allowed.

“Ha!” Patrik laughed suddenly. “I see the way of it; this would give us what we want — the contest for the throne over and stable leadership — and the High Command what they secretly wish — a way to reject Vedet with honor — publicly, so they cannot deny or refuse it without destroying their internal unity. Wrongly were you named, Lady Trillian,” he smiled in a manner eerily reminiscent of his Clan’s totem, “‘Ulrika’ would have been a wiser choice, for that is a gambit worthy of the Old Wolf himself. The question we must answer, though, is surely if the Arcadians will agree to such an alliance?”

Trillian allowed herself a brief smile for the comparison to Ulric Kerensky, more out of diplomacy than anything else.  She was too focused on her intent to consider the scope of the compliment.  "If not, I'll need to get them interested, and that means I need to address their ruler.  Directly."

The emphasis on that final word was clear enough.  "You're meaning to go through to the other side of the portal," said Martin.  "Meet this High King Nathaniel in person."

He didn't need to hear the answer.  She knew it was clear by the light in her eyes.


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