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Emergence (Concertverse) Chapter Cover

Emergence (Concertverse)
- Chapter 25
[]

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Brotherhood[]


Interview of Lady Trillian Steiner-Davion[]

Federation Broadcasting Corporation Studios
Roslyn, Eastern Islay
Royal Federation
23rd December, 3142


In the two months since she traversed the Looking Glass, Trillian was seeing more and more the parallels that her home Inner Sphere and this alternate Inner Sphere shared.  Language, culture, ideology.

Journalism.

The interview studio was a pleasant room, with fine furnishings that included velvet-backed chairs and even a window looking out at the Roslyn skyline.  The producers at the Federation Broadcasting Corporation clearly had an image they wanted to convey when this room was employed.  Whether that would be to the benefit of Trillian had yet to be determined.

Her interviewer was already known to her given her research on Arcadian politics and society on the trip from the Glass.  Dorothy Smith was approaching retirement age even by the best Inner Sphere standards, but at eighty six years old she still had enough energy to perform interviews as an investigative journalist.  Her reputation was the reason Trillian picked her.  "Tough but fair", "incisive", "has integrity", as a number of sources she'd examined claimed.

With her whitened silver hair pulled into a common bun at the back of her head and her clothing a business standard dark blue blouse and long dress of blue and white, she could pass for a wizened grandmother (great-grandmother, according to Trillian's research).  Smith wore spectacles to aid her failing eyesight, adding to an image that was already crafted to be disarming.  But the mind behind her light brown eyes was as sharp as ever, going by her recent record.  Trillian would not have an easy time of it.

While lights were already shining on them, one holocamera lit up yellow at the top, with a projected number count lowering from ten.  A second after the number 1 flashed, Smith smiled at the holocams and spoke in a conversational tone.  "Greetings and happy holidays, my kind viewers," she said, "and welcome to today's edition of Interstellar Affairs Weekly.  For our last edition for the year I am honored to present a historic guest, on a journey that will be covered in history books for centuries to come; the Lady Trillian Steiner-Davion, from the other side of the Atocongo Anomaly, acting as the envoy and representative of the Lyran Commonwealth's Archon Melissa Steiner.  Lady Trillian, a pleasure to have you."

Smith's eyes turned to her.  Trillian, knowing how important her presentation would be for her mission, sat comfortably in the chair, spine straight but arms relaxed.  She would not slouch, but neither would she be too formal.  In that way she resembled her hostess' own posture in the seat across from her.  "Thank you, Mrs. Smith," Trillian said.  While Smith's accent came from Arcadia's Plymouth Peninsula, a gentle evolution of North American and specifically New England accents, her own was unmistakably German and Tharkadische, even for people of this Inner Sphere.  She'd considered trying to thin it out and make it more of a Star League English-style sound, but that might come off as sounding insincere.  These people expected her to be not just a Lyran but a Steiner, and that meant sounding the part.

They exchanged pleasantries and the obvious up front questions.  Trillian described her mission, gave a broad account of the affairs in her Inner Sphere after Gray Monday struck, and the plight of her people.  "We are fighting a war on two fronts, and our military was not fully ready.  We cooperated with the Republic's reduced armament program, the Military Material Reclamation Project, but our foes did not."

"The Republic being your Inner Sphere's version of the Terran Union from our own history?"

"Not exactly." Trillian answered.  "The Terrans, as you knew them, were direct inheritors of the old Terran Hegemony.  The Republic of the Sphere was a new institution, intended to end the conflicts over the Terran Corridor and to be a central power to uphold peace in the Inner Sphere after the horrors of the Blakist Jihad.  We trusted Exarch Devlin Stone and his vision for a more peaceful cosmos, and for decades it held, if imperfectly at times."  She considered the myriad minor conflicts, or greater ones like the Capellan Crusades and the Victoria War.  "Gray Monday brought that dream low, unfortunately."

"I can imagine the collapse of interstellar communication would be just as devastating to our own Inner Sphere." Smith said.  "So now you are here to form an alliance with the Federation.  What do you feel this would entail?"

"Protection of the Glass, certainly.  Open trade between our realms.  Military assistance and sharing of technology.  I don't deny your Inner Sphere has an edge on our own, but there are some things we've developed you haven't, I've found, and the Lyran Commonwealth would gladly share them."

"But your main need is for direct support, I take it?  Economic aid, military supplies, and Federation troops engaging the invader?"

"Yes."  Trillian swallowed and gathered her nerves.  Her presentation here would help to win the public sympathy she greatly needed to sway the Federation Parliament.  "I understand what I'm asking of the peoples of the Federation when I say that.  To spend your wealth and your blood to save the Commonwealth.  I don't ask this lightly.  But the Clan forces we fight are raised from birth to fight, our armies struggle to hold, and our people suffer their brutality on dozens of worlds.  We lack the strength to stop them."

"A frank admission, Lady Trillian," Smith nodded.  "According to reports the Privy Council has heard your proposals but has not voted conclusively to support the offered treaty.  Has it been difficult to sway them?"

Especially since there seems to be a clique dedicated to stopping me, she thought bitterly, though she dared not even whisper at such a thought.  "There have been frank discussions about the matter and I am not surprised the Council has yet to accept the treaty.  Nor have they rejected it.  The deliberations continue."

"And Parliament?"

"I've met with several Senators and Assemblypersons.  Their sympathy for the plight of the Lyran Commonwealth has been universal, and I'm grateful to say that the Joint Finance Committee of Parliament already voted in favor of the initial loan I sought, at reasonable terms."  Trillian wet her throat again.  "I am not so arrogant as to think I speak for their minds and hearts, of course, but I do believe in this alliance.  Our peoples may be separated by the different histories, but our desires match well.  The Commonwealth and Federation will be made stronger for these efforts."

Smith took a quick drink of her own while the camera was active on Trillian.  Now that it was back on her she showed little change, with the same patient and dispassionate forbearance as before.  "You speak of the different histories between our sides of the Glass.  I imagine you've found our history a shock in some respects?"

"It is sobering, yes.  To think of how close we came to the shattering of the Great Houses in our history, and to see the results in your Inner Sphere.  But also inspiring, as so many peoples rose above that chaos and brought peace and stability back to their worlds."  Trillian carefully moderated the smile on her face, knowing what she was about to say had to be said properly to get the people to accept her sincerity and believe her, not simply dismiss it as her pandering to their pride. "I admit I was quite astounded to read accounts of your ruling house's founder.  Sara Proctor was the kind of person who demands admiration for her accomplishments, and the legacy she left to her homeworld.  People like her only come once every century or two, it seems."

Her hostess allowed a small smile, but only a small one, to crease her wizened face.  "She has been an inspiration to the Arcadian people, and to those who've joined us in this Federation, yes.  Are there any in your history you might see in the same light?"

For a moment Trillian considered Devlin Stone, or her late grand-uncle Victor, or Frederick Steiner.  But those didn't seem to quite fit.  Stone's peace died barely after his retirement, and Victor never had the impact to compare.  Frederick Steiner was a political pawn before he broke free to make his own fate.  Recognizing she needed an answer, her mind defaulted to an answer closer to her heart.  "My cousin, Adam Steiner, maybe," she said.  "He was one of the first to take the fight to the Clans, trying to reclaim his ancestral homeworld of Somerset, and during the darkest days of the Federated Commonwealth Civil War and the Jihad, he fought to save as many as he could, until the death of my grandfather forced him to assume the throne."

Smith's eyes betrayed her surprise.  Trillian wondered if the director made sure not to show her face at that moment.  "An interesting choice, Lady Trillian, since you seem to be endorsing a man without whom you might be Archon right now."

Trillian shook her head.  "My grandfather Peter knew what he was doing when he picked Adam to be his successor, and I don't fault him one bit.  Adam was one of the best of us.  Though even there, I do not know if he would compare to a figure like Sara the Liberator.  She rose from humble birth to savior of her homeworld and ruler of an interstellar state in a far more chaotic time than we knew, with far less to her name than even Adam enjoyed.  She had to learn everything from diplomacy to strategy to tactics to oppose the likes of Carl Tabot and the others who kept Arcadia in chains, and she won in every field.  Even the Terrans of your history, in one of their most isolationist moods, gave her support few ever enjoyed."

Smith nodded and laughed.  "It was an accomplishment, yes."  The old woman's face shifted to show bemusement.  "I suppose that in some way you are in her position here, attempting to get aid for your beleaguered people just as she did."

Trillian was on the verge of taking a drink when the remark was made, which was why she was thankful she didn't take it, lest she choke on it in surprise.  "I… well, maybe there's a few similarities, though I wasn't going to make any such claim.  For one, I'm not a MechWarrior, nor a military officer at all, so we hardly compare there.  I'm just a diplomat and courtier.  I don't expect to be fighting the Clans myself, at least not on the battlefield.  I probably wouldn't last long if I did get in a fight with any of them."

That prompted a gentle laugh.  "Well put, Lady Trillian.  I admit I put you on the spot there, but old ladies are. I was once told, allowed a bit of mischief in their lives."  Smith grinned at her.  "Humility aside, do you see any parallels between the Liberator's visit to Terra and your mission here?"

Trillian wondered if she was being played with.  Either way, a thought did spring to mind, given one of the issues she was facing in the Privy Council and Parliament.  "I suppose there is the matter of loans, and the repayment.  Before and after her war to liberate this world, Sara Proctor contracted loans from many Terran sources, loans that seemed impossible for her to ever repay, even with victory.  But she did indeed manage that, leveraging Arcadia's newfound stability and a burst of economic growth to repay the Terran loans within her lifetime.  Most were, in fact, repaid before the founding of the Free March, as I recall."

"I admit I would need to ask a historian myself," said Smith, "though I believe that is commonly taught, yes."

Trillian nodded.  "I am in something of a similar position, in terms of whether the Lyran Commonwealth will be able to repay our loans given the state of our economy and the damages we've suffered.  But we take such matters seriously, and we would repay, as swiftly and completely as our circumstances permit."

"Provided this 'Looking Glass' does not disappear, anyway," said Smith.

Indeed. "I admit I do ask for updates to make sure it is still there." Trillian said.  "When the laws of the universe seem to change, I suppose it makes it easy to imagine all sorts of things happening.  But I can promise that so long as we remain in contact, repayment would be made, and that should the Federation ever have need of the Lyran Commonwealth's forces, we would come to your aid."

"A bold promise."

"It's one from the bottom of my heart, and will resound across the Commonwealth."

Trillian said the words with conviction.  Perhaps there was an air of unrealism in them, but it was not just what had to be said, but what had to be believed.  She knew some would balk at such a promise in her own home as well.  There were always people like that.  But if they did come to our aid, if Donegal Broadcasting had every holovid in the Commonwealth showing Arcadian 'Mechs fighting on our side, throwing the Clans off our worlds, that memory will last, and enough will answer the call to return the favor.

Smith nodded at her.  "I believe it is from the heart.  Can you tell us more about these 'Clans', in your own words?  We are told a number of things about them; that they are genetically-engineered, a warrior culture, that they enslave their prisoners and force them to join their armies."

"All of that is true, in certain respects," Trillian began.  "Though there are variations between Clans…"


Unexpected Visitor[]

The interview ended amicably and Lady Trillian, with her civilian police escort, departed the studios.  The Royal Security Service had her protection well in hand, using a convoy of vehicles loaded inside the studio garage and out of sight so nobody could tell which of them she was in.  It was, perhaps, an unnecessary precaution, but evidently the Arcadian government felt it was better to be safe than sorry.  It's not like Vedet could have so easily dispatched an assassin against me, at least not yet.  The traffic through the Glass is still military only.

The ride back to the Palace gave her a chance to enjoy the sights of Roslyn's residents preparing for the holidays.  As a Christian-majority city, Christmas decorations and signs were plentiful.  A large Christmas tree dominated the city's main square, while Christmas wishes and colors were the dominant theme on the massive trivid display that overlooked the square from the north side, built as it was into the towering spire of the Sinclair Building, a commercial highrise that was otherwise just one of many in the city.  A gentle frosting of snow covered the streets, Arcadia's Northern Hemisphere being roughly aligned with Terra's, though the winter solstice was still three weeks away.  It was the first snow she'd seen since arriving.  By Tharkad's standard it was anemic, though the locals seemed to feel otherwise.

When I get back, I may need to take a walk in the Palace Gardens, she thought.  Just… enjoy the peace, though perhaps that makes me a hypocrite given I've come to draw these people into a war.

Not that the effort was going very well.  Better than she might have hoped, perhaps, but she was getting nowhere with the Privy Council, and Parliament was not interested in revisiting a hard-fought budget decision to fund a wider assistance program.  King Nathaniel was doing much, or as much as he could without provoking significant political opposition, Trillian gathered.  Though that clique against me is certainly throwing weight against him as well.  I need to find out more, if I can, without causing any issues with my hosts.

Not for the first time she felt frustration at the mission, even some undeserved frustrations with her staff.  The truth was, the people she'd brought with her from Tharkad were meant for negotiating with Lyran planetary rulers and, at most, maybe mercenary commanders or Republic and FedSun officialdom.  A mission to a sovereign power like the Royal Federation, at this scope, typically involved more.  Lord Marienburg and his people were performing better than she had any right to expect, but the quantity of material they had to deal with in these negotiations was slowing everything down.  And she had no prospect of more support from home, unless by some miracle Melissa reclaimed the Archonship.

The motorcade followed the roadway up through the Royal Park to the reserved entrance, with the great ferro-fibrous-armored gates swinging wide to admit the line of dark vehicles.  They pulled up into the vehicle garage.  Trillian disembarked as soon as the door opened and followed her escorts to the lift that would raise them from this sublevel to the Palace proper.

She arrived in her rooms to find her aides waiting.  One of them, a middle-aged Westerstede-born civil official named Gerda Luther, spoke up.  "Lady Trillian, you have a visitor.  I saw him into the parlor."

"Thank you."  Trillian stepped beyond the receiving room, as cozy as it was, and into the more private parlor that was part of the suite.

The man waiting for her looked to be in his fifties, with close cut hair of dark brown and silver.  He wore a traditional Star League-era Steiner nobleman's dress outfit, complete with a well-tailored jacket and trousers.  He stood from the chair and bowed.  "Lady Trillian Steiner-Davion, an honor," he said in rich Tharkadische Deutsch.  "I am Margrave Dieter von Simmons of Eschenberg, Logistics Administrator for the Brotherhood of Cincinnatus."

It took every iota of will Trillian had to force her expression to remain pleasant.  It's not the same.  I hope, she reminded herself, thinking of the secretive ultra-nationalist organization that her cousin Adam had to hunt down for years, the ones who tried to kill her father time and time again (and might have even succeeded in killing given certain rumors).  There were even claims that the Brotherhood, not the Word of Blake, were responsible for the assassination of her grandfather Archon Peter Steiner-Davion.  For years as a child and young woman the Brotherhood were the source of many a nightmare for her.

But there was no sign of duplicity in this man.  More to the point, the public information made it out that the Brotherhood were less a secretive organization and more a public advocacy group for the restoration of the Lyran Commonwealth, even fielding a "mercenary" force the size of a Regimental Combat Team composed of AFRF and Ghastillian veterans.

"Your Lordship."  Trillian found it growing easier to keep her smile.  "I did not expect a visit of this nature, so forgive me for keeping you waiting."

"It is alright, Lady Trillian.  I took the liberty of watching some of your interview with Mrs. Smith while waiting," he replied.

As hostess, Trillian gestured to a nicer seat than the one he'd been occupying, a fully plushed recliner.  She took to the one across from it.  The coffee table between them still had an open book, a copy of one of the histories she was reading in her off-hours, which she closed after a quick visual check confirmed the bookmark was there.

"'The Fall of the Lyran Commonwealth,' by Pervez Muhammad," von Simmons said.  "An excellent work, if depressing in its content."

"Given how much the outright collapse of the Commonwealth influenced the later events here, including Arcadia's rise. I felt it necessary to visit such a painful history." Trillian replied.  "Do you require any further refreshment?"

"No, no, Mrs. Luther was quite thorough in seeing to such needs before your arrival." said von Simmons.  ""I am quite ready to get to business, if you are."

"I am, though I am curious as to the business you have in mind."

The older man smiled.  "I imagined you would be.  To put matters plainly, Lady Trillian, the Brotherhood of Cincinnatus exists to protect the Lyran people, even those who no longer call themselves Lyran, in our hope that in time the Commonwealth will be restored."

"So you are a Lyrantreu organization?"

Von Simmons blanched slightly.  "I… we have some overlap with that sentiment, yes, though there is a difference.  Many of the Lyrantreu might be more accurately called Steinertreu. I hope it does not give you offense, but they are just as devoted to the restoration of House Steiner as they are to the Commonwealth, in a majority of cases, while we are not."

"No offense is given," Trillian replied.  "I am a Steiner, yes, but the family here is not the same as the one I came from.  Not entirely."

"No, not at all.  The sad fact is… our House Steiner has a checkered history of pointless power plays, assassinations, and even treason to the Lyran cause in the name of claiming power for themselves," von Simmons said in a lamentful tone.  "It was so severe that Queen Raquel of Donegal actually compelled every claimant to her throne to renounce their claims, given the number of attacks on her life she'd fought off before taking her place.  And the War of Donegalan Succession was entirely from the ambitions of the so-called Archon of the proclaimed New Commonwealth, Katrina."

A little chill went down Trillian's spine at the venom in von Simmons' words.  She tried not to think of the woman in question as her great-great-grandmother Katrina Steiner, nor her daughter Melissa as her own great-grandmother.  For all that the two Inner Spheres seemed to mirror one another there, with a Katrina Steiner marrying an Arthur Luvon and having a daughter named Melissa, they were by her reckoning different people.

Von Simmons seemed to note Trillian's feelings.  "Is something wrong, Lady Trillian?  I apologize if my personal feelings on history have become too heated."

"Nothing that is your fault, Margrave.  Simply the… strangeness of where our histories converge and diverge.  I am, in fact, the great-great-granddaughter of my history's Katrina Steiner, who seems to have lived roughly the same years as yours, but in our history we remember her as a gifted ruler who tried to negotiate a permanent end to the Third Succession War after removing her uncle Alessandro, who was known as a tyrant."

"If only ours had been such a figure, and not the powermonger that nearly broke the Lyran Commonwealth, perhaps our history would be happier," he said.

"Yes.  But what I gather is that you wish to see the Commonwealth restored, but not necessarily under House Steiner?"

"Something of that sort, yes.  The important thing is that the Commonwealth live again, whichever House might rule.  Or perhaps even under an Archon elected by the regions, Ghastillia has shown elected rulers can work quite well after all.  Many Lyrantreu are devoted to a full Steiner restoration, preferably by having the main line of the Proctor-Steiners forgo the Proctor side of their lineage, but there are those who would go further, I believe."  He set his hands together in his lap.  "Which gets me to the point I'd intended to raise before letting myself get sidetracked by the Lyrantreu matter.  The Brotherhood offers the Lyran Commonwealth its service in the field, Lady Trillian.  We offer our forces to the protection of the Commonwealth."

Well, that is better than I had expected. Allowing herself a smile, Trillian replied, "We would be grateful for that service, Your Lordship.  Very grateful.  Give me the figures for the contract and I will have one prepared immediately."

"It will be done," he said.  "I promise it will not be for profit, merely for the funds to cover the expenses that we cannot meet through the donations we normally rely upon.  Our soldiers joined to protect Lyrans, not for mere wealth."

"Their service will earn them our thanks regardless," Trillian assured him.


Celebrating the Holidays[]

The approaching Christmas season left Lord Arnold with little time for personal enjoyment; the work of his position was now joined by seeing to Christmas preparations, including the customary family getaway to the New Salem estate for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Every Proctor by blood who was present planetside would be present, including his daughter Giselle and a number of grandchildren whose parents were at their posts across the Federation.

With an eye on the clock, he departed his office for the day and made for the front entrance.  Giselle and a driver were on their way to bring him for some last minute gift shopping.  It was a tradition his late wife insisted upon, pressing him into seeing to the gifts for his children instead of relying upon servants and aides.  Her wisdom was long-proven given the happy Christmas mornings spent seeing children, and now grand-children, tearing through wrapping paper and treasuring gifts he'd hand-picked.

The Palace was fairly busy even by normal standards, as this was the last day before the staff went home for the holiday week.  Last minute petitions to the Crown and Privy Council were common, for the consideration of this matter or that, and that meant a flurry of activity in the public parts of the Palace.  Unfortunately he couldn't justify letting Giselle use the private entrance since she wasn't assigned to an office in the Palace or related duty.  He just had to deal with the crowd, and with a civilian suit for the upcoming shopping duty, the usual deference shown an AFRF general was not his to enjoy.

He'd nearly made it to the door when he spotted Margrave von Simmons.  A suspicion took him, prompting him to divert his path to meet with the Margrave near the door.  Von Simmons saw him coming and nodded politely.  "Lord Arnold," he said, in accented English.  "Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, Lord Dieter," Arnold replied.  "What brings the Brotherhood to Arcadia for the holiday?"

"Important business for our cause, General."

"Truly?  So the rumors your troops are already en route to the Glass aren't just rumors?"

Simmons grinned.  "We relocated them to Arc-Royal for exercises with the Kell Hounds, but they may be redeploying soon, yes."

Damn him.  "Going through the Glass, then?  Going to the aid of the Commonwealth?"

"We are loyal and true Lyrans, why wouldn't we?"

Arnold shook his head.  "They're not us.  They don't have our history  Our experiences.  They are a different people."

"We beg to differ, Lord Arnold," Simmons replied.  "We see them as cousin Lyrans and we will fight for them."

"Those are good men and women, and you will throw their lives away."  Arnold shook his head, his frown almost becoming a snarl.  "We have enemies of our own that require the bravery of our soldiers."

"As always, you refer to the Empire."  Simmons frowned as well.  "For people who have sworn to restore the Lyran Commonwealth, you seem unreasonably devoted to fighting a people who are not traditional enemies of our people.  Meanwhile the Dracs have actually attacked our worlds and massacred our citizens.  They oppress Vega and New Wessex and other Lyran worlds."

"The Empire is the greater threat." Arnold charged.

"Are they?  The Principate is to one side, House Davion on the other, neither a friend of the Liaos.  We have them as potential allies."  Simmons shook his head.  "You are monomaniacal on the subject, you and many others.  You resent Sirius and Procyon being returned, and you wish to refight '23 as if to prove you could have won then.  We are facing new threats and a cousin people in need, and all you can think of is the Empire.  It is as sad as it is infuriating."

Arnold opened his mouth to retort and stopped, a tone drawing his attention to his perscomp.  As expected the network connection showed a message from Giselle; she was waiting.  "I will not convince you, it seems, and right now, my family's Christmas happiness matters more.  When your Brotherhood suffers the consequences of this ill-conceived mission, I hope for your sake that your losses do not leave them broken.  Good day, my Lord."


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