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Fate Can be Cruel - Chapter Cover

Fate Can Be Cruel - 2786[]

January[]

18 January 2786
Inglesmond (Terran Hegemony)

"Inglesmond control, this is Aratama Maru at Zenith Jump Point."

"Aratama Maru, Inglesmond control. Your running later than normal, have not seen you for a few months."

"We went down for some much needed maintenance. I have 6 Mammoth Dropships loaded with Germainum ore ready to detach and head for the surface. I transmitted my manifest and usual clearances on arrival. Or you want to waste your time and run a custom inspection?"

"I have your manifest in front of me. Got your normal Dropships and crew, no new members I see. Your cleared to detach and send them to the surface. I assume you will be jumping back out to grab your next set of Dropships like always?"

"You know it. Only way to make good money is to keep moving. By the time I get back, these Dropships will be unloaded and up here waiting on me. I copy clear to detach. Thank you Inglesmond control. You all have a nice evening and I will begin recharge operations." "Copy that sir, clear for recharge operations and good day sir." Inglesmond control replied watching on their radar screen as 6 Mammoth Dropships began detaching from the Aratama Maru, Star Lord Jumpship.

A tap on his shoulder brought the controller around to face the SLDF/HAF Major."What's the story on this guy?"

"Aratama Maru? He has been running Germainum into Inglesmond almost weekly for over 8 years. Customs did an inspection on him on his last visit here, here it is 27 October 2785. No contraband found, logs in order, everything matches declared manifest, great food. We have so many ships entering and leaving here that we have to focus on the independent, mostly unknown folks. This guy is as clean as they come."

"Well you already cleared him, but from now on, if it is not a Hegemony or Fed Suns ship, I want a full custom inspection done before they are cleared."

"Yes sir. That is going to slow down everything. Must be 60% of the Germanium into Inglesmond comes from Combine country."

"Cannot be helped. I have my orders also."

29 January 2786

The six Mammoth Dropships landed on the sprawling space port next to the even more massive Germanium processing factory. Once the skin temperature and hazardous fumes had reached safe levels, the large cargo doors opened and the ramps descended. But before the ground crews could begin the task of unloading the precious Germanium, Battlemechs in Draconis Combine colors began disembarking. Within 2 hours they had secured the space port and Germanium processing factory and were moving out from the space port.

Tai-sa Jaffar Suffury, Commander 2nd Arkab Legion, could not contain his glee. It had worked after all. He had sweated pints during the flight to Inglesmond, expecting to be challenged at any second, but it had been smooth sailing and now he had the 1st and 5th Arkab Legion, along with his 2nd Arkab Legion safely on the surface. All told, 3 Battlemech Regiments, 9 Armor Regiments and 9 Infantry Regiments.

Colonel Edith Gambrel, commander 114th Hussar Regiment, had gotten the alert from the space port and had already fired off a HPG message. Within 30 minutes of the alert, her 114th Hussar Regiment was on the move to engage the Combine forces while the reserve forces numbering 2 Armor Regiments and 3 Infantry Regiments were rushing to get assembled.

30 January 2786
Dieron (Terran Hegemony)

Vice Admiral Grant Baker, commander 66th Escort Squadron, had gotten the notification from Inglesmond and assembled his Squadron. Once every ship had signaled their readiness, he gave the order "Jump".

Inglesmond

The 66th Escort Squadron materialized at the Nadir Jump Point. Civilian Jumpships, from what seemed like every nation were making emergency jump after getting the WAR WARNING from Inglesmond control. Unknown to the 66th Escort Squadron, a Combine Jumpship had made their jump 3 minutes after the first warships began arriving. That Combine Jumpship leaped to Miyazaki, reporting to the Tai-Sho Nagano Osami, Commander Combine Strike Force. On their report, he gave the order for the combined 3rd and 4th Fleet's to make their jump for Inglesmond's Nadir Jump Point.

Vice Admiral Grant Baker had just given the order to burn for the planet's surface when the massive emergence signatures were detected. Quickly he ordered the ships of the 66th Escort Squadron to prepare to engage the inbounds. As the first Combine Warships began materializing, he knew that he had a major problem on his hands and sent an emergency message to the systems HPG to call for additional help. He then turned his attention to making the best of a bad situation."Signal all ships so equipped, ready Special Weapons."

30 January 2786
Inglesmond (Terran Hegemony)

The ships of the 66th Escort Squadron turned to engage the Combine warships. Vastly outnumbered, Vice Admiral Grant Baker ordered SLS Anchorage and SLS Fairbanks, Congress Frigate's to fire off their Nuclear tipped White Sharks at the incoming Combine warships. A total of 12 Nuclear White Sharks were fired. DCS Chokai, Aegis Cruiser was hit with 2 and vanished in a massive explosion, followed quickly by DCS Ōtsuki, DCS Hazuki, DCS Yamazuki, Essex I Destroyers and DCS Yukigumo and DCS Fuyugumo, Baron Destroyers. With all of his special weapons expended, Vice Admiral Grant Baker ordered the ships of the 66th Escort Squadron to turn and play for time against the Combine warships, time for help to arrive.

With the Combine's 4th Fleet suffering 6 losses in a matter of minutes, Tai-Sho Nagano Osami ordered the ships of his Combined Strike Group to not pursue the Hegemony warships. Instead, they focused on getting Marines aboard the massive shipyard complex's while keeping the Hegemony warships at bay.

Essex Class Destroyer (Underfire)

Essex I Class Destroyer underfire.

On the surface, Colonel Edith Gambrel and the 114th Hussar Regiment played a very dangerous game of hit and run defense against the Combine ground forces. The planet's Militia forces had engaged the Combine forces inside the capital city of Novas Brasilia where a vicious house to house fight was only getting more fierce by the hour.

Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Word had reached Terra quickly of the invasion of Inglesmond. Director-General Amanda Cameron had quickly ordered Jerome Blake to cut all HPG communications within the Draconis Combine. Commanding General Rita Mitchell and Fleet Admiral Joan Brandt scrambled to get additional assets to the border. The 15th Escort Squadron was ordered to leave their patrol stations and head for Dieron, it would take a week to arrive. The 14th Battlecruiser Squadron was ordered to make ready for action where yard crews quickly began preparing the ships for combat action at Graham IV. It would take 2 weeks for them to reach Dieron. At Dieron, they would find SLS Charlton, Carrack-Class Transport loaded with Nuclear White Sharks for the Carson-Class Destroyer's and Congress-Class Frigates of 15th Escort Squadron. Along with a Monolith carrying 9 Pocket Warship Mule-Class Dropships fully loaded with Nuclear White Sharks. Also hundreds of Alamo Nuclear Missiles to be carried by Aerospace Fighters.

Fearful of a deep strike, Commanding General Rita Mitchell ordered the Terran Squadron to remain at Terra. The 89th Cruiser Squadron would remain on the Marik border for now. They would have to hold the line with what they had, but she had no issues against using nuclear weapons against the Combine warships. She banned any nuclear fire against surface targets at all, but tactical orbital strikes were authorized against military targets as long as civilian casualties could be avoided.

31 January 2786
Luthien (Draconis Combine)

Coordinator Minoru Kurita threw his note pad against the far wall of his office when he learned that HPG communications were cut off by order of Director General Amanda Cameron. At first notification, he had ordered the 2nd Sword of Light to take control of Luthien's main HPG station, which they easily did, only to have the station explode, killing 132 soldiers and technicians completely destroying the HPG station.

The three other HPG's on planet quickly followed suit even though no attempt was made to capture them, but explosions still rocked the stations. The fire were still raging at all 3 stations. Luthien was completely cut off from everyone except via old school pony express couriers via Jumpship. To make matters worse, the Head of the Luthien HPG station had been seeking an audience as the 2nd Sword of Light stormed the HPG station. Only after it's destruction had the message he had been carrying been delivered to Coordinator Kurita. He read the message again, still fuming.

Coordinator Kurita,

You have invaded the Terran Hegemony. A state of war exists between out nations. I have ordered ALL HPG communcations shut down within the entire Combine until hostilities cease on favorable terms to the Terran Hegemony. Any attempt to sieze control of a HPG station will result in all stations on that planet being destroyed. Only the factories on Terra can repair or rebuild the HPG stations. Any attempt to invade Terra or strike Terra will result in the destruction of those factories. Do not think I will not order their destruction, for I will.

I have tried for months to get you to speak with me, each time you have ignored me. Know this, I have ordered the release of nuclear weapons for use against all shipping and orbital stations. Your nation started this war, and win or lose, the Hegemony will make sure that the Combine feels untold pain during this conflict. If you feel the need to contact me, you may travel to the Lyran Commonwealth or Federated Suns to use one of their HPG's.

Director-General Amanda Cameron

February[]

3 February 2786
Naikongzu (SLDF Staging Area)

Major General Colin McGregor, Commander Task Force Black Eye, had gotten the HPG message from General Heinrich Rommel that Operation Black Eye was now a go and he was authorized to launch on his own authorization. Not all of the forces were on station yet, but the 3 Independent Regiments were on site along with the 126th Mechanized Infantry Division. Each Independent Regiment was equipped with 5 LF equipped Star Lord Jumpships. Four transported the Regiments and the 5th carried supplies for an extended campaign. It also carried replacement Battlemechs to replace losses. After some deep thought, he issued orders for the Independent Regiments to kick off their missions. Though he had modified their objectives some what and the timing of their strikes.

The moment he had been given the mission, he had requested SLS Sneak, Bug-Eye-Class Surveillance to assist in the mission. This had been granted and she was currently on the edge of the Combine border at Antallos. He had also had a Company from the 3167th Special Forces Battalion land on Antallos far away from anything and anyone where they established a Mobile HPG to enable communications in an emergency.

He knew from relayed Intel reports that the Combine had Galedon as a Fleet base with their 1st and 2nd Fleet's based from there. They were 3 jumps from New Samarkand and that made him nervous. SLS Sneak was ordered to silently probe New Samarkand and gather up to date astrological information to enable them to use non standard jump points for the ground based mission there. They could not afford to use the standard jump points with a 22 day travel time. Each Division had been assigned a specific target to smash on New Samarkand.

New Samarkand target assignments

Osaka Heavy Metrics - 126th Mechanized Infantry Division
Wakazashi Enterprises - 173rd Mechanized Infantry Division
DeHuego & Freshet WarShip Design - 29th Mechanized Infantry Division (ground facilities)

He planned for a single week on the ground and then they cut and ran for orbit. They would then either exit Combine space or god willing drive deeper into the Combine. He really wanted to drive right for Luthien and cause as much damage as he could. He knew General Rommel would never allow it. But if he could drive deep and hit Chatham and/or Kagoshima, he knew that would shake the Combine to it's core. He fired off daily HPG messages to General Rommel trying to get permission for the deep raid. He had even planned for such an approval by packing each supply Dropship with as much supplies and spare parts as he could. Just in case.

Graham IV (Terran Hegemony)

Vice Admiral Vincent Zeibler hated that the Combine had invaded the Hegemony and here he was stuck along the Marik border. He had petitioned Commanding General Mitchell for permission to take just SLS Conroy and SLS Shield, Avatar-Class Heavy Cruisers on a jaunt into Combine space as retaliation, but so far it had been denied firmly. So he did his duty and aggressively patrolled the Marik border to make sure every Marik Jumpship reported back that the HAF/SLDF navy was nearby and ready for a fight.

Inglesmond (Terran Hegemony)

Colonel Edith Gambrel and the 114th Hussar Regiment looked over the smoking battlefield where they had ambushed a full Battalion from the 5th Arkab Legion and destroyed it in less than an hour of fighting. Now it was time to scoot and find cover for the night while her scouts watched for another opportunity to strike. So far the Militia was giving as good as they got in the capital city.

In orbit, Combine forces had managed to secure all the orbital yards and factories. Vice Admiral Grant Baker had broken both of his Essex II-Class Destroyers, SLS Diamond and SLS Gemstone, off and sent them to orbit. There they could prevent any Combine reinforcements but also provide fire support to the HAF ground forces.

Essex Class Destroyer (Matt Plog)

Essex II Class Destroyer

5 February 2786
Al Nair (Terran Hegemony)

The HPG blackout had delayed other elements of the Combine offensive from launching on time. But finally orders had arrived via Jumpship and the remaining Combine forces kicked off. Tai-Sho Sadao Araki, commander 1st Dieron Regulars, entered the Al Nair system at a pirate point 2 days from the planets surface. Detaching their Dropships, the 1st Dieron Regulars led their sister regiments, 3rd, 5th and 8th Dieron Regulars for the surface. Escorted by 2 Indepnedent Aerospace Wings, the combined 4 Battlemech Regiments, 9 Armor Regiments, 12 Infantry Regiment and 6 Artillery Regiments headed for the surface.

On the surface, Major General Terrance Carmichael, commander 184th Mechanized Infantry Division, scrambled his Aerospace Wing to intercept the incoming Combine Dropships. He then prepared to give the Combine forces a bloody nose the moment they made landfall.

Nashira (Terran Hegemony)

Tai-Sho Kitsuju Ayabe, commander 19th Dieron Regulars, was confident in victory as he led his invasion force to the planet 4 days away. He just wished he had his promised warship escorts from the 6th Fleet, but they had failed to arrive when his orders to make his assault arrived.

On the surface, Major General Sylvia"Silky" Akaei, commander 213th Battlemech Division, smiled grimly as she readied her Division for the coming fight. She held her Aerospace Wing in reserve. She wanted to beat on the Combine forces for awhile.

Murchison (Terran Hegemony)

Colonel Cliff Lengleman, commander of the Murchison Militia, knew he had a tough fight coming. With a single Battlemech Battalion and 2 Infantry Regiments, he could only hope to hold out for regular troops to arrive.

Tai-Sho Kuroda Kiyotaka, commander 10th Dieron Regulars, had his escorting Aerospace Wing out for the 4 day trip to the planet. He was sure his 10th and 14th Dieron Regulars could defeat the planet's garrison.

Lambrecht (Terran Hegemony)

Tai-Sho Hidemitsu Nakano, commander 18th Dieron Regulars, watched as the ships from 6th Fleet formed a solid escort around the Dropships carrying his 18th, but also the 20th and 33rd Dieron Regulars. All of his troops were eager to avenge the shame the 123rd Mechanized Infantry Division had forced upon the Combine by disarming their garrison on Lambrecht a year ago.

On the surface, Major General Camalita Sanchez, commander 123rd Mechanized Infantry Division, issued her orders to disperse by the Brigade to minimize targets for the incoming Combine warships. She had already fired off a HPG message requesting warship support.

7 February 2786
Dieron (Terran Hegemony)

Vice Admiral Connor Shick, commander 14th Battlecruiser Squadron, watched as shuttles brought over Alamo Nuclear missiles for his Squadron's Aerospace Fighters. Another group of shuttles were ferrying Nuclear armed White Shark missiles to the Aegis Cruiser and 2 Carson Destroyers from the 15th Escort Squadron. The rest of the Squadron was still inbound. He had word that another Carrack Transport was loading additional special weapons at Terra to be brought to Dieron. Word had already arrived about the additional invasions. But without LF Batteries, there was nothing he could do from Dieron, not quickly anyway. His primary task per his orders was Inglesmond.

Aegis Class Heavy Cruiser (by colourbrand)

Aegis-Class Heavy Cruiser

Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Director General Amanda Cameron, Commanding General Rita Mitchell and Fleet Admiral Joan Brandt had been spending many long hours discussing the limited options available to them. But today, a major turn of events would change the course of the war.

"The additional invasions have now forced our hand. We just do not have enough warships to properly respond to everything. We have confirmed Combine warships at Inglesmond and Lambrecht. Inglesmond is a huge priority, we cannot do without the shipyards there. The 14th Battlecruiser and 15th Escort Squadron need another week to get fully gathered at Dieron and recharged. The 359th Battlemech Division is almost to SLS Mighty Lift at the Zenith Jump Point here. The 295th Battlemech Division is almost to SLS Midnight Dancer. The 3rd Regimental Combat Team have reached their transports, all LF equipped Tramps.

Currently, the 359th Battlemech Division will move to Inglesmond once we have secured control, but I prefer to have them recharge at Dieron and enter Inglesmond at a non standard jump point, detach the 359th Battlemech and jump back out again to safety. The 295th Battlemech Division will move to Dieron and recharge. From there, they can move to where ever they are needed. The 3rd Regimental Combat Team will move to Saffel and await further orders or escorts.

I feel it is time to open the door a little wider. We are going to need to kick the legs out from under the DCMS soon. I want to transfer both Dart-Class Light Cruisers from the Terran Squadron to the 89th Cruiser Squadron along with 2 Carson Destroyers. That will free up both Avatar Cruisers and 2 Essex II Destroyers. All 4 ships are LF equipped. I want to turn Vice Admiral Zeibler loose in the Combines rear area. Rip up the Combines supply lines." General Mitchell said as Admiral Brandt nodded

Director General Amanda Cameron was silent as she listened, "Aunt Rita, your the expert here. You know I will not coungter you on military matters. But this could cause the war to spiral out of control. What exactly will Admiral Zeibler be doing?"

"The Combine started this war, we cannot allow everyone to only fight on our home turf. If we do that, we will never recover. We don't have the strength to properly counter invade, but we can sure as hell give the Combine a serious ulcer. Make them share the pain. I want Zeibler to slash them, destroy anything on orbit he finds that flies a Combine flag. Recharge stations, Jumpships, Dropships, orbital factories, mining stations. Anything that hurts the Combine." General Mitchell replied.

"Lot's of civilian casualties. Not sure I like that." Amanda Cameron said

"War is like that. Right now, it is OUR civilians getting hurt or killed. The Combine needs to share some of the pain and learn that we can hurt them just as bad." Admiral Brandt said

"Does not mean I have to like it. Approved, but let's try to keep the civilian casualties to the minimum." Amanda Cameron said.

"We will. But, I need to warn you, if Admiral Zeibler gets into orbit and can visually identify a valid military target, I am going to authorize him to blast it. I kinda wished we did not send SLS Borneo on convoy escort duty. We could sure use her LF batteries to support Zeibler for resupply." Admiral Brandt said

"Minimize civilian casualties, Admiral Brandt. Have Admiral Delvaney slap some LF Batteries on the Volga Transports we have left. I doubt Admiral Zeibler will need a serious resupply for at least 1-2 months of operations. Not sure I like them not having a HPG on board. Should have brought our Vincent's, at least they have HPG's on board them." Amanda Cameron said and then snapped her fingers and pushed a button on her desk "Get Mr Blake in here as soon as possible please."

General Mitchell looked at Amanda with a questioning look which she answered with a shucking motion. While awaiting Jerome Blake, they briefing continued covering the newest invasions and activity on the Hegemony's other borders.

8 February 2786
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

It took a full day for Jerome Blake to be located and returned to Director-General Amanda Cameron. Once he was led into her office, she said "Mr Blake, sorry to call for your immediate return, but I need your expertise."

"Always ready to serve, Director-General Cameron. How may I be of service today?" Jerome Blake said.

"I need a way to communicate without actually linking into a HPG grid. Covertly I should say. I remembered reading about such a device from my extensive reading about some of the advanced tech the Star League developed. Do you know of such a device?" Amanda asked.

"It was long before my time Director General, but I do remember learning of such a device. The program was cancelled and all devices destroyed." Jerome Blake replied.

"I did some heavy reading last night. It seems the Department of Communications did not destroy them all. They actually kept playing with them and even made improvements. The SLDF Special Forces Command was actually looking at the improvements made before the Coup for use by their troops. I can call up the relevant information to refresh your memory if you would like." Amanda said.

"No need, Director General Cameron. I know of what you speak. It was a black project. It ceased when the Coup happened and was never restarted, just too much other things to do. We have 6 of the improved devices in storage. The original version had a range of 100LY and a speed of 10LY per day. The new version can transmit 10 pages of text at a speed of 50LY per day and a range of 200LY. A substantial improvement over the original. But they are not secure by any description. all transmissions would have to be encoded before sending the message, which decreases the size of any message sent to about 2 pages of text. Using the best encryption routines we have in current use, only then can they be deemed secure. It would be a clumsy and time consuming method, our HPG's auto encrypt as you type in the message, these devices do not. Typing an encoded message would probably drive the person typing the gobbly goop crazy after a few messages. A single typo would render the message useless more than likely." Jerome Blake replied.

"I need those 6 devices and the operation instructions for them. This is time sensitive so I need them yesterday." Amanda said.

"I will have them located and brought to you without delay." Jerome Blakes said

Al Nair (Terran Hegemony)

Tai-Sho Sadao Araki, commander 1st Dieron Regulars, exited his Dropship and looked around for a few seconds. The HAF/SLDF Aerospace fighters had managed to bring down 4 Dropships before being forced back by his escorting Aerospace fighters. He knew he faced a full Division which was almost an even fight, Battlemech wise anyway. He vastly outnumbered them in conventional forces, but he also had to worry about garrisoning everything they captured, where the defenders did not. That would eat into his advantage quickly. He ordered the 8th Dieron Regulars to push out and find the defenders lines.

Major General Terrance Carmichael, commander 184th Mechanized Infantry Division, watched the map display change in his Mobile HP as his scouts reported the Combine movements. He watched and waited for the opportunity to strike. He had fought a long war to liberate his beloved Hegemony and now, years later, he was fighting to defend the Hegemony. Almost his entire career had been filled with war, from the Periphery Uprising as a Lance Commander to a Brigade Commander by the liberation of Terra. Now he commanded the Division he had served his entire career in, his former Division commander had departed with General Kerensky. He had elected to remain and joined Major General Lauren Hayes' force. When Director-General Amanda Cameron had returned, he had been elated. The flood of equipment once reserved only for the Royal commands into the regular units by order of General Mitchell had been a god send. Now he planned to put the advanced equipment, his own experience and the skills of his hardened veterans to use in making the Combine forces pay dearly for the mistake of invading the Hegemony. He just needed the opening.

Nashira (Terran Hegemony)

Major General Sylvia "Silky" Akaei, commander 213th Battlemech Division did not wait long for her opening, for no sooner had the Combine forces made their landing did she order an attack on the Combine landing zone. Six Regiments of Battlemechs advanced on the Combine landing zone forcing the Combine units to literally deploy directly from their Dropships into lines of battle. Even though taking losses from the grounded Dropships, the 213th Battlemech Division continued to push into the Combine landing zone. Not only were the Combine Regiments outnumbered, but they could not match the more experienced troops of the 213th Battlemech Division.

Individual lances from the Division would run up the ramps of grounded Dropships and fire their weapons into the lightly protected vitals of Dropships, sometimes to their own demise as the Dropships exploded. Swarms of DCMS Infantry would bring down HAF/SLDF Battlemechs and then be destroyed by a lance mate of the downed Battlemech. For 5 hours the Combine landing zone was a swirl of death and destruction, but by nightfall, some Combine Dropships had boosted for orbit, many were captured, destroyed or seriously damaged. The Hegemony held the landing zone and the Combine's supplies, but at least half the Combine invasion force had fled into the surrounding countryside. Major General Akaei had lost at least 2 Regiments of Battlemechs during the chaotic battle.

Murchison (Terran Hegemony)

Tai-Sho Kuroda Kiyotaka, commander 10th Dieron Regulars, had grounded his invasion force at the planet's space port and quickly seized control of the planet's capital city. The 14th Dieron Regulars was sweeping the surrounding area in an attempt to locate the planet's defending force.

Inglesmond (Terran Hegemony)

The arrival of SLS Diamond and SLS Gemstone, Essex II-Class Destroyers into orbit had allowed Colonel Edith Gambrel and the 114th Hussar Regiment to pound the over extended 5th Arkab Legion with almost precision orbital bombardment. While not completely destroying the Combine command, it had allowed the 114th Hussar Regiment some breathing room in addition to showing the Combine forces that the Hegemony would not go down without a fight.

In the capital city of Novas Brasilia, the planets militia had been fighting a brutal street by street battle with the more numerous Combine conventional forces. So far the Combine forces had only managed to take roughly 12% of the city and faced near constant counter attacks from the well equipped militia forces.

14 February 2786
Thazi (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

General Heinrich Rommel had expanded the training centers on getting the"war alert" from General Rita Mitchell. He had ordered establishment of additional Armor and Infantry Training Schools on False Dawn in the Traders Province and Alchnoly in the Onverwacht Province. Recruitment was increased to fill the new schools. The Brigade Combat Teams, formed from the former Outworlds Alliance commands had proven themselves as capable defensive units in almost constant wargames. It was his intention to form an additional 12 Brigade Combat Teams and station them along the Hegemony border with the Outworlds Alliance. This would allow him to free up the Divisions for possible offensive operations if called upon instead of frontline garrison duties. Once the new schools were fully operational, he planned to activate 2 additional Armor Divisions, the 324th and 325th, to assist in the advanced training of new graduates before frontline postings.

The Mechwarrior School was now on a steady pace to graduate 300 Mechwarriors per year, enough to field just over 8 Battalions. To meet the constant need of officers, he had instituted orders for veteran NCO's to rotate to a new Officer Training School. Joining them would be newly graduated recruits selected by their instructors for Officer training. He was personally going to teach at least one class per day at the Officer Training School.

The civilian Jumpship yards at Onverwacht were slowly coming online at a very slow production pace, which was to be expected since 90% of the workers were still technically learning their jobs. But progress was progress and he refused to rush the process. The HPG network was now at 90% restored with only several stations left to be completed. This had allowed him to release DoME Teams to boosting terraforming on the many systems that could not survive without outside shipping. He had authorized the 2.5M ton shipyard at Thazi to produce 3 more Builder Class Yardships. This was done to improve their overall recovery assets, but also to increase construction of much needed mining stations in the many asteroid belts but also to slowly increase construction on Recharge Stations.

Liparius class mobile shipyard (by Matt Plogg 2016)

Builder Class Yardship

On Quines, civilian construction companies assisted by SLDF, he could not get used to the HAF designation, engineers had completed housing for 280,000 people with a goal of 1 million by years end. Though he did not know exactly what was inbound, he had a pretty good idea. For he and Rita had some very long discussions before she and Amanda had departed. She had clearly stated that she was going to do come"cherry" picking of potential industry leaders to move out here. Mitchell Vehicles had been first and foremost in her plans.

Hegemony Industries had reverse engineered the Helepolis Battlemech and then improved it. They added a Endo Steel chassis which allowed them to upgrade the engine to a GM 240 Fusion to increase it's speed. The added a single ton of Sniper ammo and removed the SRM6 and LRM10 from the Battlemech, instead they added an additional 2 medium lasers and maxed out the Battlemechs armor to use up the additional space. Now able to keep up with most of the Heavy Battlemech's in use by the Hegemony, the plan is to equip each Independent Regiment with a full Company consisting of 6 Helepolis Artillery 'Mechs, 2 Daedalus GTX2A forming the 2 firing lances with a Command Lance of bodyguard Battlemechs.

Helepolis HEP-3Hb (FCBC)

Heleposlis Artillery 'Mech

Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Rear Admiral Trishia Delvaney had spent a month pouring over reports detailing the status of every warship in HAF service. With an actual shooting war now underway, her task was made harder as she tried to prepare for repairing battle damage. During her extensive reading of reports on anything and everything that might be of use to her and her mission, she had discovered that Krester's Ship Construction over Mars had 3 complete Jump Core assemblies for Texas Class Battleshipsin storage. Two of these had been removed from ships that had departed with General Kerensky. Though they had many miles on them, however they were fully functional. With Krester's shipyards out of condition for several years, she had ordered Krester to make use of 3 of Blue Nose Clipperships yards. She had to do some arm twisting and even a few threats to make it happen, but construction had finally started on 3 Texas Class Battleships. She had detailed every functional factory to provide support to this effort. If they could hold out for a year, all 3 Texas Battleships should be completed.

The only changes she had ordered made to the original design was each |Texas Battleship would include LF Batteries and a Mobile HPG. Though mainly minor changes, they would greatly effect each ships potential, able to rapidly converge on a trouble spot. She had then pushed her luck further by convincing Director General Cameron and General Mitchell to get Mitchell Vehicles to delay breaking down their existing yards in order to put the Luxor-Class Heavy Cruiser back into production. With the destruction of most of Mitchell Vehicles supporting factories, mainly the Jump Core factories, she had pleaded and begged to get the fully functional Titan Yards to suspend standard Jump Core production in order to manufacturer the cores for Mitchell Vehicles. They would then be remote jumped to Graham IV for installation.

Texas (Delranes Fighting Ships 3061)

Remodeled, Texas Class Battleship

Mitchell Vehicles had deemed 6 of their Shipyards fully capable of production and had placed six Luxor-Class Heavy Cruisers into construction. In a year, the HAF would be able to field a very powerful force of modern warships capable of rapid reaction to any threat to the Hegemony.

New Avalon (Federated Suns)

The war between the Draconis Combine and Terran Hegemony had not gone unnoticed by First Prince John Davion and the Armed Forces of the Federated Suns. The Combine attack on the Terran Hegemony had caught the AFFS intel by surprise which had brought down the wrath of First Prince John Davion. He had wasted no time in ordering a massive review of every intel report coming from the Combine. He had then ordered the Department of the Line to shift half of the Rimward Fleet to the Combine border to bolster the Spinward Fleet along the Combine border. Every mothballed warship was now mobilized and in service, giving the AFFS 184 active warships. The cost of enormous, but it was a cost they had to bear.

The interdiction of HPG communications inside the Draconis Combine made for a very interesting development. Though it hampered the Federated Suns ability to gather intel easily, it also prevented the Combine from responding or coordinating an assault on the Federated Suns. This had brought a huge sigh of relief from the AFFS High Command. 24 February 2786
New Avalon (Federated Suns)

First Prince John Davion read the message from Director General Amanda Cameron with a small amount of surprise and disbelief. He had been tracking the large convoy as it advanced across Federated Suns space, even providing logistical support. But what he read, well, it was a surprise and a little disconcerting.

To: First Prince John Davion
From: Director-General Amanda Cameron

Forgive me for sending a normal HPG message, but have been a little busy. My convoy is fast approaching Kilborne, the planet selected to house Thompson Shipyards new complex. The rapid return of the Dropships would be greatly appreciated. I am also notifying you that to assist Thompson Shipyards in rebuilding, very soon, one of my Yardships will be arriving, along with a small warship escort. They are no threat, but I must protect my Yardship, they are precious items of late.

You have probably guessed the area my other convoy is heading. I will not divulge the actual location, but know that the Terran Hegemony will never be a threat to the Federated Suns. You have my word, that for all time, the Federated Suns will have a secure border in that region of space.

Best Wishes, You Friend

Amanda Cameron

He laid the message down on his desk. So, the Terran Hegemony has possible warships in their semi hidden holdings out in the Periphery, he thought to himself. But so far, Amanda Cameron was being very upfront with him on matters of mutual concern, so he would take her at her word. He then turned his attention back to reviewing troop movements to reinforce his borders.

He had accepted the Screaming Eagles departure to return to Hegemony service with a heavy heart. He had been forced to rush AFFS troops to take over garrison of the 5 systems the Screaming Eagles were leaving. He knew a flurry of HPG messages had been sent to Terra and been received by the Screaming Eagles. So he was not surprised when the Screaming Eagles asked for AFFS transport to link up with HAF/SLDF transports. But he had been surprised at their requested destination, Mara. He had expected them to head right for the front lines. He could not help but wonder why they were being sent to Mara. But he made the arrangements for AFFS transports dropping off the new AFFS garrison't to pick up the Screaming Eagles and take them to Mara.

As he looked over the map of the Federated Suns and the AFFS deployments, he made a snap decision, one that he hoped would not come back to bite him in the ass. He pulled out a message pad and wrote the message to be taken by courier for transmission. He placed a priority stamp on the sealed envelope and called for a courier.

Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Director-General Amanda Cameron watched as General Rita Mitchell read the message they had received from First Prince John Davion. She watched her Aunt Rita chew her lower lip as she read the message, it was a habit she had when she was mulling over a decision she did not really like.

To: Director-General Amanda Cameron
From: First Prince John Davion

Received your message about Kilborne. Thank you for being honest and upfront about arrival of warships. Even though that answers a very huge question I have had about that region of space since your return. I have made AFFS transports available to transport Screaming Eagles to Mara for link up with your transports. I also am notifying you that your convoy stopped at Colchester for resupply and soon after their departure we received transportation requests from the refugee's there. I have made as many transports as I can spare at current time for them. So far, our count of the 185 million Hegemony refugee's there, it looks as though over 60 million are requesting transport assistance to Bastrop region. You might want to get some transports ready for them. I am told that it will take a while and will be moving them in groups of 3 million.

I am going to infer that your have military forces, in numbers in excess than I expect, in the region. I take this from your promise of a secure border in that region in previous message. I have a request, that if your current fight with the Combine prevent, I understand, but I feel the need to ask. I would like to shift several of my commands to the Combine border from the region, I ask if you would be willing to set up a liason command with my AFFS and possibly assisting me with securing the region there. I am willing to provide ample supply and even transportation needs. The mission will be simply defensive in nature.

As I said, if you are unable to agree due to the conflict with the Combine I understand.

Your friend,

John Davion

Amanda Cameron almost screamed but held her control as she watched her Aunt Rita pull up a map of the Federated Suns and zero in on the Bastrop region of space. She pulled up the known AFFS garrison locations for the region and made some notes on a pad next to her. Finally, Amanda could not take it any longer.

"Aunt Rita, I swear if you do not tell me what your thinking I am going to have a damned hissy fit." Amanda said

"I am not sure I like the idea. But, John Davion is someone I would like to keep on friendly terms. I count roughly 8 AFFS commands that we could free up. I will issue orders for General Rommel to deploy 8 Conventional RCT's to assume garrison duties on the 8 AFFS systems. In addition, I will have him deploy 2 commands of his choosing to act as a response force. I won't have our troops out there unsupported. It might not be quite what First Prince John Davion expects, but it will be enough to do the job." General Rita Mitchell replied

"Thank you Aunt Rita. If this helps us keep at least one border completely secure, it is worth it." Amanda said.

"I just hate the fact that it reveals more than I want to the AFFS. This is a risky move on our part. I just pray that First Prince John Davion continues to be honorable and not try to take advantage of us." General Mitchell said.

"I think John Davion is the only House Lord we can trust Aunt Rita. When do we launch the counter attack?" Amanda said.

"Tomorrow. It is going to be bloody and I just hope it works. If it does, it might just rock the Combine back on it's heels, if it fails, well we might have to pack our bags." General Mitchell said.

28 February 2786
Inglesmond (Terran Hegemony)

Vice Admiral Grant Baker, commander of the 66th Escort Squadron, opened his eyes to find himself strapped in a medical bed aboard a ship not his own. He closed his eyes and commanded his pounding head to focus it's thoughts as he tried to recall what had happened. Slowly, he began to recall the terrible fight that had occured. Since the Combine invasion, he and his 66th Escort Squadron had played a very dangerous game with the much larger Combine fleet. Whent he Combine fleet had finally advanced on Inglesmond proper, he had been forced to abandon orbit to them. But not without a fight, losing SLS Diamond, Essex II Destroyer in exchange for DCS Aogumo, Baron Destroyer.

They had fled to a pirate point and jumped to the Nadir Jump Point on 23 February. There they had engaged the DCMS warships guarding the captured shipyard complex. During the 9 hour fight, they had managed to force the DCS Maya, Aegis Cruiser to surrender after inflicting severe damage on her and destroy the DCS Hanazuki and DCS Kiyotsuki, Essex I-Class Destroyer. They had then boarded the many facilities of the shipyard complex with every Marine they had. But the fight had not been without loss, his Flagship, SLS Anchorage, Congress Frigate had suffered crippling damage in the fight with the DCS Maya, Aegis-Class Cruiser. SLS Topaz and SLS Gemstone, Essex II-Class Destroyers had been destroyed.

On 25 February, the Combine had jumped to the Nadir Jump Point with almost every warship they had and his 66th Escort Squadron had once again played a deadly game of tag with the Combine fleet. But it was a losing game. That is until the 14th Battlecruiser Squadron and 15th Escort Squadron had jumped in from Dieron. Aboard the badly damaged SLS Anchorage, he had watched his ships plot try to keep track of the massive amount of Aerospace Fighters launching from both the SLDF/Hegemony Fleet and the Combine Fleet.

As both massive Fleet's began entering range of each other, from the SLDF/Hegemony Fleet, a massive volley of Nuclear equipped missiles had been launched, both from warships and 12 Mule Q-Ship DropShips with Nuclear missiles. Detonations across the Combine warships savaged their numbers, but not enough to prevent the Combine Fleet from merging with the 14th Battlecruiser Squadron and 15th Escort Squadron. Both Fleet's blasted away at each other at near point blank range. The two DCMS Monsoon-Class Battleshps wreaked havoc on the lighter SLDF/Hegemony warships. Destroying both Essex II Destroyers in a matter of minutes. But the 3 Riga Frigates pummeled the Battleship DCS Kongo, until it was powerless and adrift. But SLS Albany, Riga-Class Frigate was destroyed in the exchange. The remaining two Frigates were heavily damaged in the fight and just as Vice Admiral Connor Shick, commander 14th Battlecruiser Squadron was about to order his combined forces to pull back, incoming jump signatures were detected. He knew he had lost the battle.

Riga Class Frigate Mini - Painted by wackrabbit

Riga Class Frigate

Fleet Admiral Joan Brandt barely noticed the jump effects after all her years in space. Her eyes were focused on the ships plot as the sensors came online and began painting a picture of the siwrling battle barely 10,000 kilometers away. Once she was sure her bridge crew were alert, she gave the order"Helm full ahead and get us in the fight. Launch all Dropships and fighters. Sound General Quarters. Weps, aim us right for the Combine Monsoon and start pounding her the second she is in range. Comm, tell SLS Tirpitz our intentions and that I expect him to help us with the Battleship."

Vice Admiral Grant Baker had watched from SLS Anchorage as Fleet Admiral Joan Brandt aboard Monsoon Battleship, SLS Thunderer, had engaged the DCS Hiei, fellow Monsoon Battleship and DCS Atago, Riga Frigate at the same time. While hammering away at both Combine warships, SLS Thunderer had launched a almost constant stream of Nuclear White Shark into the Combine Fleet. In less than an hour, DCS Hiei was venting atmosphere from almost every facing, her armor paper thin in many places and a stream of SLDF shuttles delivering Marines aboard her. DCS Atago, Riga Frigate had been destroyed by SLS Tirpitz, Black Lion II Battlecruiser during the fight.

Monsoon Battleship (space background)

Monsoon Class Battleship

With Fleet Admiral Joan Brandt leading, the SLDF/Hegemony Fleet had turned back into the Combine Fleet's and over the course of 6 hours forced the survivors to flee for the Zenith Jump Point. But the fight had been brutal for both sides.

SLDF/Hegemony Forces

SLS Thunderer, Monsoon Battleship (Fleet Flagship) - Heavy Damage
SLS Tirpitz, Black Lion II Battlecruiser - Heavy Damage

66th Escort Squadron (Vice Admiral Grant Baker)

SLS Anchorage, Congress Frigate - Severe Damage SLS Fairbanks, Congress Frigate - Destroyed SLS Ivory, New Samarkand II Aerospace Carrier - Heavy Damage SLS Emerald, Essex II Destroyer - Severe Damage SLS Topaz, Essex II Destroyer - Destroyed SLS Hammerstrike, Essex II Destroyer - Severe Damage SLS Gemstone, Essex II Destroyer - Destroyed SLS Diamond, Essex II Destroyer - Destroyed

14th Battlecruiser Squadron (Vice Admiral Connor Shick)

SLS Yosemite, Riga Frigate - Heavy Damage
SLS Albany, Riga Frigate - Destroyed
SLS Yankee, Riga Frigate - Heavy Damage
SLS Wasp, New Samarkand II Aerospace Carrier - Moderate Damage
SLS Starlight, Essex II Destroyer - Destroyed
SLS Resilience, Vincent Corvette - Severe Damage
SLS Determination, Vincent Corvette - Severe Damage
SLS Audacious, Vincent Corvette - Severe Damage
SLS Porter, Vincent Corvette - Destroyed

15th Escort Squadron (Vice Admiral Lorraine Hofmann)

SLS Admiral Perry, Congress Frigate - Heavy Damage
SLS Rickover, Congress Frigate - Destroyed
SLS Patrick Henry, Aegis Cruiser - Severe Damage
SLS Phelps, Carson Destroyer - Destroyed
SLS Clark, Carson Destroyer - Severe Damage
SLS Moffett, Carson Destroyer - Severe Damage
SLS Balch, Carson Destroyer - Destroyed
SLS Carver, Vincent Corvette - Destroyed
SLS Blitz, Vincent Corvette - Destroyed

Combine Combined Forces

Third Fleet (Benjamin District)

DCS Hagiwawa, New Samarkand II Aerospace Carrier (Flagship) - Destroyed
DCS Akagi, New Samarkand II Aerospace Carrier - Severe Damage
DCS Hiei, Monsoon Battleship - Severe Damage (Captured)
DCS Haruna, Aegis Cruiser - Destroyed
DCS Myoko, Aegis Cruiser - Heavy Damage
DCS Atago, Riga Frigate - Destroyed
DCS Akizuki, Essex I Destroyer - Destroyed
DCS Teruzuki, Essex I Destroyer - Destroyed
DCS Suzutsuki, Essex I Destroyer - Heavy Damage
DCS Hatsuzuki, Essex I Destroyer - Heavy Damage
DCS Niizuki, Essex I Destroyer - Destroyed
DCS Wakatsuki, Essex I Destroyer - Destroyed
DCS Shimotsuki, Essex I Destroyer - Severe Damage (Captured)
DCS Fuyutsuki, Baron Destroyer - Heavy Damage
DCS Harutsuki, Baron Destroyer - Heavy Damage
DCS Yoizuki, Baron Destroyer - Severe Damage (Captured)
DCS Natsuzuki, Baron Destroyer - Destroyed
DCS Michitsuki, Baron Destroyer - Destroyed

Fourth Fleet (Benjamin District)

DCS Benjamin, New Samarkand II Aerospace Carrier (Flagship) - Heavy Damage (Captured)
DCS Taiho, New Samarkand II Aerospace Carrier - Destroyed
DCS Kongo, Monsoon Battleship - Severe Damage (Captured)
DCS Chokai, Aegis Cruiser - Destroyed
DCS Maya, Aegis Cruiser - Severe Damage (Captured)
DCS Hanazuki, Essex I Destroyer - Destroyed
DCS Kiyotsuki, Essex I Destroyer - Destroyed
DCS Ōtsuki, Essex I Destroyer - Destroyed
DCS Hazuki, Essex I Destroyer - Destroyed
DCS Yamazuki, Essex I Destroyer - Destroyed
DCS Urazuki, Baron Destroyer - Severe Damage (Captured)
DCS Aogumo, Baron Destroyer - Destroyed
DCS Benigumo, Baron Destroyer - Heavy Damage
DCS Harugumo, Baron Destroyer - Destroyed
DCS Amagumo, Baron Destroyer - Destroyed
DCS Yaegumo, Baron Destroyer - Heavy Damage
DCS Fuyugumo, Baron Destroyer - Destroyed
DCS Yukigumo, Baron Destroyer - Destroyed

He finally opened his eyes again when he heard a voice nearby, he focused on Fleet Admiral Joan Brandt, her arm in a sling. "Glad you arrived when you did Admiral, things were looking a little grim."
"Glad I got here when I did. Of course I will probably be court martialed when I get back to Terra. I was expressly ordered NOT to leave the Terran system. But i just had to rude to the sound of the guns one last time." Admiral Brandt replied

"What is out status right now?" Admiral Baker asked

"I have 2 Newgrange Yardships heading this way. The 359th Battlemech Division is in system and 3 days from Inglesmond. They will take care of the DCMS force on the surface. We are beat to hell, but captured several Combine warships. The shipyards took about 40% damage. The remaining Combine warships are still heading for the Zenith Jump Point and I have a few Titan Dropships and fighters keeping an eye on them. You ship is beat to a pulp and I had you and your wounded transfered to my Flagship while repair parties repair some of those gaping holes in your hull."

March[]

18 March 2786
Inglesmond (Terran Hegemony)

Major General Nathan Baxter, commander 359th Battlemech Division, having taken command from Major General Joshua Trudeau, had turned the 359th loose on the Combine invaders. By the end of the first days fighting, they had relieved the 114th Hussar Regiment, now down to just over a Battalion in strength, and pushed the Combine forces back, inflicting heavy losses in the process.

On 7 March, the 359th Battlemech Division would pushed into the Capital City forcing the DCMS conventional troops to retreat in chaos before being caught on a vast plain and surrounded by the 3592nd Brigade and 3593rd Brigade. There the now trapped DCMS conventional troops were subjected to aroudn the clock artillery bombardment until 10 March when the final push by the troops of the 359th Battlemech Division completed their destruction.

It took another week to finally pin down the DCMS Battlemech forces. With their backs to an almost impassible range of high cliffs, the DCMS Battlemechs could only stand and fight. They issued challenges which went unanswered by the 359th Battlemech Division. Major General Nathan Baxter tried only a single time to get the DCMS commander to surrender, and when this went unanswered, he gave the order for SLS Mighty Lift, Potemkin-Class Transport to begin orbital bombardment of the trapped DCMS forces. On 16 March, after 2 days of orbital bombardment, the Division pushed into the churned up ground covered with deep smoking craters looking for any survivors. They found very few and by 18 March, Major General Baxter declared organized fighting over on Inglesmond.

Potemkin-Class Troop Cruiser/Transport, Mighty Lift underway.

In orbit, Rear Admiral Trishia Delvaney, aboard SLS Salvation, Newgrange Yardship had led her repair task force into the Nadir Jump Point. Her Task Force would make needed repairs to allow the damaged warships to depart the system to safer locations for repairs. Already, survey teams were requesting damage estimates from the SLDF/Hegemony warships while survey crews boarded the captured DCMS warships to conduct their own assessments of the damage.

Repair Task Force

SLS Salvation, Newgrange Yardship
SLS Arctic, Newgrange Yardship
SLS John Glenn, Newgrange Yardship
SLS Detroit, Newgrange Yardship
SLS Mount Saint Helens, Volga Transport
SLS Mount Ranier, Volga Transport
SLS Watson, Carrack Transport
SLS Watkins, Carrack Transport
SLS Charlton, Carrack Transport

Luthien (Draconis Combine)

Coordinator Minoru Kurita had recieved word of the massive naval defeat at Inglesmond and wasted no time in ordering the execution of every surviving officer on every surviving warship. He then ordered the 2nd Fleet to move to reinforce the invasion of the Terran Hegemony. It would take a week for the order to even reach the 2nd Fleet. He cursed Director-General Amanda Cameron and her disabling of the HPG network in his nation. He then ordered for the Combine's nuclear arsenal to be released to tactical command. It was time to show the Terran Hegemony that the Combine could also play the nuclear card.

24 March 2786
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

General Rita Mitchell looked at Fleet Admiral Joan Brandt standing at attention across from her desk. As much as she wanted to tear her a new one, Rita just could not bring herself to do so."Sit down Admiral. You might deserve a good chewing out, if you had not gone on your little inspection tour, we would have lost the Inglesmond system. Instead, we butchered 2 DCMS Fleet's, captured much needed warships and secured the Inglesmond system."

Taking a seat, Fleet Admiral Joan Brandt resisted letting a sly grin play across her face, instead forcing herself to look chastised. She knew that she had taken quite a bit of liberty of the freedom both General Mitchell and Director General Amanda Cameron had given her. She was not about to rub any salt into any wounds she might have created. It would not do the Hegemony any good if she got relieved for cause, she had a Fleet to put back together after all.

"Not that we have that out of the way, how badly were we hurt?" Rita asked

"It could have been much worse. We lost 12 warships destroyed. While the other 16 warships will need some serious yard time to repair damage. I have estimates of 4 months to 12 months to get everything repaired. We destroyed 21 DCMS warships, damaged another 8 that escaped and captured 7. I brought both captured Monsoon Battleships back to Terra with me. They are currently in shipyards undergoing repairs along with Thunderer. I have ordered both to be upgraded to the same specifications as Thunderer, but not with HPG. I checked with Admiral Delvaney and she concurred that upgrading them would not impact their repair time by more than a month, they are pretty banged up and she gave them a 11 month repair estimate.

It all boils down to this, for the next 6 months, we have lost our offensive naval ability. Before I left Inglesmond, I ordered Admiral Delvaney to take command of the shipyard complex there and make use of their yards for repairs. Even if it meant they had to yank partially constructed Jumpships from their slips. With the added slips, she estimates that she can have at least 6 of the damaged ships fully operational in 6 months. We took dreadful losses to our Aerospace fighter force. We fielded 582 Aerospace Fighters, we had 386 destroyed, in addition of the 12 Titan Dropships we brought, 8 were destroyed. Granted the Aerospace losses can be chocked up to the early graduation of the pilots from flight school. The next graduation is in 4 months and those 1600 pilots will have gone thru their full training course.

We know the Combine has another Fleet active in Hegemony space and that really worries me. I think we need to pull the remaining ships of the 89th Cruiser Squadron to Terra. I cannot stop a strike at our current strength. It leaves us exposed on other fronts, but those are quiet right now. I also want to halt the Vincent Corvette construction. Those things are oversized death traps. I need the active slips for something else anyway." Admiral Joan Brandt replied

"No, we need everything we can get, worst case they patrol the quiet border. Contact Di Tron Heavy Industries, tell them to get ready for a construction order." Rita paused as she pawed thru her desk drawer, finding what she was looking for, she handed over a data stick "Have them begin production of this Vincent upgrade on a crash project. They have 10 operational slips at their Jupiter station. We modified the Vincent into a full Destroyer a few years ago, Admiral Delvaney gave them a 6 month construction time with what we had back home, we should be able to crank them out in 3-4 months here in the Hegemony proper." Rita said

"You been holding out on me? I am offended." Admiral Brandt said jokingly as she accepted the data stick "They're any good?"

"We have not had to use them in battle yet, but the crews love them. They are LF and HPG equipped for rapid response. The armor is better than a Essex II and the firepower had been increased four fold. All packed into a ship 200,000 tons less than a Essex or Lola III. They cost more at 10 Billion a ship, but much more survivable. On paper anyway." Rita explained

"I will take them. Home, you keep calling the Periphery area home. Is it really that way for you?" Admiral Brandt asked.

"To me, yes. We spent almost 20 years out there, all alone. We built quite a little nation. I would like to return there some day." Rita said

"I think when this is all over, and when you decide to take that trip, I would like to go with you and see this little paradise you created." Admiral Brandt said

"Your more than welcome to come along. I think you would like it." Rita said

"Well, us sitting here dreaming is not going to get us there. If there is nothing else, I am going to go shove this data stick down Di Tron's throat and tell them I expect the first batch in no more than 5 months so they better get busy." Admiral Brandt said standing.

April[]

1 April 2786
New Avalon (Federated Suns)

First Prince John Davion had made up his mind on a subject that he and his High Command had been kicking around since the start of the Hegemony/Combine war. He would not listen to his High Command and invade the Draconis Combine, but he would help the Terran Hegemony. On his orders, 4 newly built Davion II Destroyers were on their way to Cartago. There they would join 4 Davion I Destroyers freshly reactivated. This new Squadron, led by a single Congress D Frigate, all crewed by volunteers would enter the Terran Hegemony and operate under Terran Hegemony command.

He had finally made his decision after learning of the massive defeat the Combine had suffered at Inglesmond, but at grievious pain to the Hegemony navy. It was his High Command's opinion that the Hegemony navy could not prevent the Combine from running amok and laying waste to the Hegemony until such time as they could repair the damage they had suffered.

He could not allow the Combine to gain control of the Hegemony's industrial might. But he also did not want to see the Hegemony fall. He really liked Director-General Amanda Cameron, she had been extremely fair in all of her dealings with him. Plus, anyone that kicked the Combine good and hard was a friend to the Federated Suns. He was having a hard time holding Barry Sandoval, Duke of Robinson and Minister of the Draconis March in check. For once the "Suns Volunteers" saw action against the DCMS, he was sure Coordinator Minoru Kurita would strike at the Federated Suns and he wanted to be ready. Better to let the Combine break a few more teeth in the Hegemony before they tried to take a bite of the Federated Suns.

He was monitoring the construction at Kilbourne and by reports, Thompson Shipyards was being ambitious. A total of 20 slips were being constructed along with a massive network of supporting facilities. He had even managed to ram thru a grant from the Federated Suns Government in the amount of 50 Billion dollars to help in the construction of the massive complex being built. In addition, not only was the Federated Suns assisting in moving people from the Terran Hegemony proper, but they were also moving large numbers of Hegemony refugee's towards the Bastrop region. He had pissed off his Intel people when he told them to end 90% of their operations in the region and shift to the Combine border. He would personally see to keeping Director General Amanda Cameron's "secret" in the Periphery, even though he was curious about exactly what was going on out there. He had bigger worries at the moment.

Quines (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

Tiffany Sample was glad to finally be on solid ground and out of the damn Dropship, no matter how"comfortable" it was. She was in charge of the first group of 540,000 Mitchell Vehicle people to land on their new home. She had no clue exactly where it was they were, but the planet so far seemed quite pleasant. She had been surprised to find housing already constructed and ready for them. Each was even furnished, though spartan compared to what they had lived in on Graham IV and Terra, it was a nice surprise.

They had been on the surface for just a week before she had been peppered with questions from the engineers on site as to exactly what they needed. Before she could answer, a Peter Sajak had introduced homself and informed her that they should probably get their Battlemech factory assembled. This caught her by surprise since that had not made the journey with them, it was still on Graham IV. When she asked what he meant, he pointed to the mass of Dropships at the space port that landed, unloaded and then took off again for another load non-stop. Inspecting the mass of carefully sealed and crated equipment, she had clapped her hands in glee. When Peter Sajak had handed her a envelope, she had pulled it out and read.

This former Battlemech Factory had once belonged to Krupp Stellar Technologies Inc, who had fully supported Amaris. By order of Director General Amanda Cameron, all assets are hereby forfeit and the assest are fully transfered to Mitchell Vehicles in recognition of their many years of faithful service to the Terran Hegemony.

She had wondered what she and her people would do until the manufacturing equipment made the trip from Graham IV, but now she had a purpose and she threw herself into it with all of her energy. Working with the engineers and construction people, they quickly laid out the foundations for the Battlemech Factory and all the supporting factories that would be required. She had been surprised again when she was informed that mineral surveys had already been completed and 90% of the raw material needed were all located on this continent and rail lines were already being laid to the small but growing mining operations back to this general area. She was in heaven.

Onverwacht (Terran Hegemony - Perihery)

Victor Stueban led the small group of engineers from Thompson Shipyards. A small portion of only 15,000 had made the further trip from Kilbourne. He had been surprised to find a fully functional shipyard operation under way when they arrived. He and his people had spent a week getting a feel for how the operation was currently operating before he made any changes. Though not the advanced shipyards he was used to before the Coup, they were actually running fairly well. He decided to take more time in watching their operation and have his people do some serious note taking. Changes would wait.

25 April 2786
Korramabad (Draconis Combine)

Colonel Wayne Johnson, commander 509th Battle Regiment, shook off the jump effects and quickly studied the sensor read outs being displayed. As the force commander, he quickly saw no immediate danger and ordered the Dropships kicked loose. A single Invader-Class Jumpship was located 27,000Km from his fleet and already showing signs of spinning up it's jump drive, good, let them go tell everyone that the Hegemony is here, he thought. They had a 7 day run to get to orbit of their target.

2 May 2786

He made no decoy run's but brought his 509th Battle Regiment right into the planets main space port not far from the planetary capital of Melgar. As the Regiment disembarked from their Dropships and began forming a perimeter, no one could miss the smoke billowing from the nearby air base that had been struck by the escorting Aerospace fighters. Those same Aerospace fighters reported DCMS Battlemechs leaving a mountain base roughly 120KM away and heading for them.

This being a simple smash job, Colonel Wayne Johnson decided that the incoming DCMS unit would do for a fine smash job. Leaving his attached 2 Infantry Battalions to secure his landing zone, he led the 509th Battle Regiment into the field. Passing thru the devastated air base, he counted 21 burning Aerospace fighters. The Battlemechs of the 509th did not try to avoid ground vehicles or anything in their path, they just stepped or kicked anything close by as they passed thru the area.

Just over 2 hours on the ground, the first DCMS Battlemechs were engaged, a company of Jenner JR7-D, rushed the 509th Battle Regiment. Five of the Jenner never got within firing range before being destroyed by the 509th. The other 7 proved to be agile and deadly, but after they managed to damage several Battlemechs of the 509th Battle, they were put down hard. A design they had never seen before, Colonel Wayne Johnson ordered several of them to be taken back to the Dropships for later study. He had just made a comment about the lack of skill by the DCMS pilots, when he got the report that they were from the 11th Sun Zhang Academy.

He formed the 509th Battle Regiment with 1st and 2nd Battalions in a line of battle and held his 3rd Battalion behind the line in reserve. Over the course of the 3 hours, the 509th decimated the 11th Sun Zhang Academy, steadily pushing them back until they had managed to breach the out defenses of their mountain base. Once the 11th had fled the field, he had his 3rd Battalion make sure they did not circle around as he brought up some of his recovery teams under escort to plunder the base for anything useful.

The 509th Battle Regiment had lost 7 Battlemechs destroyed and another 38 damaged enough to be reported. The 7 destroyed would be made good from the spares carried aboard the supply Dropships. Once they plundered the base, the 509th Battle would leave the planet.

May[]

3 May 2786
Pusht-i-rud (Draconis Combine)

Colonel Bradley Stockton, 238th Striker Regiment, watched as Vincent-Class Destroyer, SLS Trinity River, moved to destroy the Olympus Recharge Station at the Nadir Jump Point after ordering the personnel aboard to evacuate. SLS Trinity River had already destroyed 2 Merchant and 3 Invader Jumpships along with 11 Dropships after waiting for the crews to evacuate. They had neither the manpower nor orders to capture them intact, their orders were to destroy anything that would aid the Draconis Combine in their war against the Hegemony. The 5 LF Star Lord Jumpships in his Task Force still had a single charge ready to go in case of danger. He ordered his Dropships to detach and head for the planets orbit 12 days away. SLS Trinity River would recharge fully after her current assignment and then jump to the Zenith Jump Point to destroy the Recharge Station there before jumping back to the Nadir Jump Point.

5 May 2786
Land's End (Draconis Combine)

Colonel Parker Manchester, commander 19th Hussar Regiment, watched the ships plot as his Dropships headed for the surface. SLS Halthom, Vincent Destroyer had allowed a single Merchant Jumpship to flee but had ordered the crews of 3 Star Lord Jumpships to abandon ship. Two complied, but the 3rd tried to jump and was destroyed with all hands. She then moved to escort the Dropships carrying the 19th Hussar Regiment.

5 May 2786
Antallos (Periphery)

Major General Colin McGregor, commander 2nd Corps, sat at the Nadir Jump Point while his forces recharged their drives. They had established the hidden mobile HPG fully guarded by a Special Forces Battalion as a relay point. Several HPG equipped Scouts were strung out to relay orders and information back to Thazi. Basing his advance on information from SLS Sneak, the Bugeye, he had changed his plans to target Enif, which was garrisoned by the 5th Galedon Regulars. He had up to date system data and planned to come in at a non standard jump point. He would then let the 173rd and 29th Mechanized Infantry Divisions destroy them. He allowed for the 4 day approach to the planet, a week to destroy the defenders, 4 days to do some looting and then 4 days back to the jump point. The 126th Mechanized Infantry Division would remain in orbit as a reserve force. But he felt they would not be needed.

Thazi (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

General Heinrich Rommel had just seen off the last of the 8 Conventional RCT's heading for the Federated Suns. He was not keen on the idea but had his orders and carried them out. With a large portion of his available offensive commands on Operation Black Eye, he did not like the idea of sending one of his Divisions to the Federated Suns as a reaction force. Instead, he had reinforced the 201st Battle Regiment and 277th Dragoon Regiment massively. Both were now Demi-Brigades, operating under a new designation, the 1st and 2nd Demi-Brigade. Both fielded 2 Battlemech Regiments, 1 Infantry Regiment and 1 Aerospace Wing. The additional Battlemech Regiments were newly graduated from the Battlemech School, but very well trained, he just could not spare experienced pilots from the front line commands at this time.

Demi-Brigades

1st Demi-Brigade
201st Battle Regiment
202nd Battle Regiment
101st Infantry Regiment
12th Aerospace Wing

2nd Demi-Brigade
277th Dragoon Regiment
278th Striker Regiment
102nd Infantry Regiment
13th Aerospace Wing

If they worked out as he thought they would, he planned to build even more for situations that were too serious for a Independent Regiment but not serious enough for a full Division to handle. Each Demi-Brigade was equipped with 3 LF equipped Star Lord Jumpships, which he was slowly making standard for every Independent Regiment or rapid response command. He was constantly trying to come up with new formations to add flexibility to the Hegemony forces. To make this happen, he had authorized Linden to add another 6 shipyards dedicated to building the LF Star Lord Jumpship along with any other limited need Jumpship.

The arrival of the people from Thompson Shipyards at Onverwacht, along with the design plans for the new Monolith-Class Jumpship bouyed his spirits. Combined with the people from Mitchell Vehicles and the large Battlemech factory at Quines was even more of a lift. This Battlemech factory was pure Terran Hegemony technology, and from what Peter Sajak had said, put the factory at Blommestein to shame with it's production rates. Major General DeMars was already cooing over the fact that the single Battlemech chassis covered 4 basic designs which would make maintenance for them a breeze. He had thrown a hissy fit until he got extra construction people assigned to get the Battlemech factory rebuilt and operational.

With the massive expansion of the Hegemony, he had established a combined Armor and Infantry school on Onverwacht and Azur. These were in addition to the larger School on Boulsi. Each was capable of training an Armor Regiment and 3 Infantry Regiments every 3 months once fully staffed with recruits in the pipelines. The first classes would graduate in August and then every 3 months after. This would allow him to field Conventional RCT's at a rapid pace. Though not as experienced as those from Boulsi who would cycle thru the Armored Divisions for their 2 year advanced course. These he hoped to feed into the front line commands.

Vice Admiral Percy Seimens was being a pain in the butt, but in a good way. Constantly asking for Vincent Destroyers to be assigned to his command. But the moment he learned that people from Mitchell Vehicles had arrived he had changed his tune, now he wanted Luxor Heavy Cruisers and Esssex Destroyers. With Admiral Tanaka away, his direct superior was now General Rommel and he had to listen to his belly aching. He consoled himself with the knowledge that the next 6 Vincent Destroyers, due to be completed in October, would go to Vice Admiral Seimens which should shut him up. He just refused to tell him about his plans. Let him stew some more. Besides, he had already checked and none of the Mitchell Vehicle people worked on the warship program.

9 May 2786
Land's End (Draconis Combine)

Colonel Parker Manchester, commander 19th Hussar Regiment, began entering orbit after the escorting Aerospace fighters drove off the defending DCMS Aerospace fighters. During the multiple passes in orbit, sensors scanned the surface looking for any targets worthy of attention. Colonel Manchester had scoured all records for information on his target and had learned the 310th Dragoon Regiment had garrisoned the planet from a base 40km from the capital city of Nova Roales de Campos. This he made his primary target for his ground forces. Sensors identified grounded Dropships not far from the base, he targeted them for orbital bombardment from Vincent-Class Destroyer, SLS Halthom.

Once grounded 15km from the base, the destruction from the orbital bombardment was obvious to everyone as they disembarked. Before a perimeter could even be set, the DCMS garrison advanced on the grounded 19th Hussar Regiment. Instead of a more set piece fight, the fighting quickly devolved into close range. For 3 hours, the battle was fought amongst the grounded Dropships. Only the heavier Battlemechs of the 19th Hussar prevented more casualties than needed before the DCMS broke off and retreated for their base and it's defenses. They left 59 Battlemechs destroyed, 91 Tanks destroyed and several decimated Infantry Regiments behind. The 19th Hussar suffered 31 Battlemechs destroyed and another 57 damaged.

Colonel Manchester called off the assault on the former SLDF base. Instead, he ordered as much salvage as possible to be loaded back aboard the Dropships along with every downed SLDF/HAF Battlemech. He then ordered SLS Halthom to target the former SLDF base from orbit. For over an hour, as the technicians of the 19th Hussar Regiment hurried to load everything back onto the Dropships, SLS Halthom poured fire into the former SLDF base.

By nightfall, the 19th Hussar Regiment boosted for orbit having savaged the defending 5th Pesht Regulars.

15 May 2786
Pusht-i-rud (Draconis Combine)

Colonel Bradley Stockton, 238th Striker Regiment, led his Regiment in a fast paced but savage raid against several manufacturing plants, planetary space port and warehouses. Quickly over running the local militia Infantry garrison, they quickly ordered civilians from their targets and as soon as they were cleared they destroyed them. At the space port, they destroyed 4 Jumbo Dropships on the tarmac with concentrated fire.

Early morning of 16 May, they boosted for orbit after accomplishing their mission.

24 May 2786
Enif (Draconis Combine)

Major General Colin McGregor sat on the bridge of his Lee-Class Dropship as they headed for orbit 3 days away. He monitored the fight led by Vice Admiral Barbara Coltrain aboard SLS Rhodon, Luxor-Class Heavy Cruiser. While four Vincent-Class Destroyers had escorted the massive invasion force into the non standard jump point, Vice Admiral Coltrain had led the remaining warships into the Zenith and Nadir Jump Points.

Vice Admiral Coltrain and SLS Dragonfly, Riga-Class Frigate had quickly destroyed 4 Merchant Jumpships and the Olympus Recharge Station at the Zenith Jump Point, while Rear Admiral William Blyth, aboard SLS Hatchet, Kimagure Pursuit Cruiser along with SLS Dark Brawler, Dart-Class Light Cruiser and two Vincent-Class Destroyers destroyed 3 Star Lord Jumpships at the Nadir Jump Point. Everything had gone smoothly until a DCMS Squadron jumped into the Zenith Jump Point.

SLDF/Hegemony

SLS Rhodon, Luxor Heavy Cruiser
SLS Hatchet, Kimagure Pursuit Cruiser
SLS Dark Brawler, Dart Light Cruiser
SLS Dragonfly, Riga Frigate
SLS Sam Kingston, Vincent Destroyer
SLS Kathy Hamile, Vincent Destroyer

DCMS Squadron

DCS Kinugasa, Aegis Cruiser
DCS Yakaze, Lola I Destroyer
DCS Harukaze, Lola I Destroyer
DCS Kamikaze, Lola I Destroyer
DCS Sawakaze, Lola I Destroyer

Vice Admiral Coltrain had wasted no time and formed both her warships into a tight formation and targeted the largest threat, DCS Kinugasa, Aegis-Class Cruiser with both of her ships. She had to by time for the Nadir force to come to her aid. With her Aerospace fighters forming an advance guard, the moved to intercept the DCMS warships.

Cho-sho Shuji Hirata had been leading his Division on a patrol of the Combines Periphery border when they jumped into the Enif system for some rest. He had been surprised to find hostile warships in the system. He quickly ordered his Squadron to battle stations and moved to intercept the enemy warships.

Neither force deviated from their advance and while the Aerospace fighters danced their dance of death against each other, the warships hammered away at each other. DCS Kamikaze, Lola I-Class Destroyer lived up to it's name and attempted a high speed pass close to SLS Dragonfly, Riga-Class Frigate. Passing down her port side, she raked SLS Dragonfly with NAC/10 rounds scoring Dragonfly's armor, but was savaged by the return fire from the much heavier NAC's aboard the Riga Frigate with several shots burrowing deep into her hull causing massive secondary explosions.

SLS Rhodon, Luxor Heavy Cruiser hammered DCS Kinugasa, Aegis Cruiser with everything she had, blasting massive amounts of armor from the Aegis cruiser. Return fire slammed into SLS Rhodon ripping armor. As DCS Kinugasa rolled to present a fresh side to SLS Rhodon, she exposed her damaged side to SLS Dragonfly which hammered the Aegis Cruiser without mercy with her NAC's. As Rear Admiral Blythe's force began arriving at the Zenith Jump Point, the DCMS warships began attempting to knock their current foes from the battle. Several volleys from the SLDF/HAF warships left DCS Kinugasa powerless. The lighter Lola I Destroyers now faced two wounded but still powerful opponents at close range.

DCS Sawakaze and DCS Yakaze made valiant attempts at knocking SLS Dragonfly out of the fight, but neither could stand up to the horrible amount of firepower coming from the Riga Frigate backed up by SLS Rhodon. Their fate was sealed as SLS Sam Kingston and SLS Kathy Hamile, both Vincent Destroyers entered the fight after a 3g hard burn. Within minutes both DCMS warships were adrift. DCS Harukaze, Lola I Destroyer made an attempt to flee but could not escape the faster SLS Hatchet, Kimagure Pursuit Cruiser which punished her crew with a 4g burn in pursuit. After an hour, they managed to knock out the engines of the fleeing Lola I Destroyer. Boarding parties were sent aboard each DCMS warship.

Vice Admiral Coltrain ordered her warships to maintain a close watch on the DCMS ships while boarding parties secured them. She then sent a HPG message to her support group waiting in an uninhabited system a single jump away. Though the raiding forces did not have spare crew, she did have spare crews and Marines for prize crews. She had been praying that she would be able to capture a few extra warships during her planning phase of this operation.

28 May 2786

Under a cloud of Aerospace Fighters, the Dropships of the 173rd and 29th Mechanized Infantry Divisions made their landings on Enif. The defending 5th Galedon Regulars made a brave first stand against the 173rd Mechanized Infantry Division but could only hold their line for 3 hours before it cracked and a general retreat was sounded. Over the course of 2 days, the 5th Galedon Regulars attempted to halt the SLDF advance, but every time they stopped to reform a defense line, they found themselves being flanked by either SLDF/HAF Division. When Major General McGregor finally signaled for them to pull back and boost for orbit, the 5th Galedon Regulars could barely field a Combined Arms Regiment from the 1 Battlemech Regiment, Artillery Regiment, 5 Armor Regiments and 5 Infantry Regiments they had begun the battle with.

June[]

1 June 2786
Inglesmond (Terran Hegemony)

Rear Admiral Trishia Delvaney, aboard Newgrange Yardship, SLS Salvation, studied the updated repair estimates for all the damaged ships in system. Even with using the LTV Shipyards, it was a lot of work left to be done. She laid the damage estimate on her desk, located on one of the grav decks, and thought about how things were shaping up in this war. Nukes were sure to become a favorite weapon against warships, so serious thought needed to be given to upgrading every ships point defenses. No sense repairing ships only to see them blasted by nukes. She picked up a blank pad and began to make notes all while comparing her notes to the damage estimate.

Carriers

SLS Wasp, New Samarkand II Carrier Blk II - est RTS w/upgrade 12 July
SLS Ivory, New Samarkand Carrier Blk II - est RTS w/upgrade 22 Aug
SLS Benjamin, New Samarkand Carrier Blk II - est RTS w/upgrade 15 Sept

Frigates

SLS Yosemite, Riga Frigate - est RTS w/upgrade 10 Oct (move to Terra)
SLS Yankee, Riga Frigate - est RTS w/upgrade 20 Oct (move to Terra)
SLS Anchorage, Congress Frigate - est RTS 12 Oct (Move to Terra)
SLS Admiral Perry, Congress Frigate - est RTS 15 Aug (Move to Terra)

Destroyers

SLS Urazuki, Baron Destroyer - est RTS 25 July
SLS Yoizuki, Baron Destroyer - est RTS 20 July
SLS Clark, Carson Destroyer - est RTS 16 July
SLS Moffett, Carson Destroyer - est RTS 10 July
SLS Shimotsuki, Essex I Destroyer - Upgrade to Essex II, est RTS 22 Nov (Move to Terra)

Corvettes

SLS Audacious, Vincent Corvette - Upgrade to Vincent Destroyer est RTS 14 Sept
SLS Determination, Vincent Corvette - Upgrade to Vincent Destroyer est RTS 11 Sept
SLS Resilience, Vincent Corvette - Upgrade to Vincent Destroyer est RTS 6 Sept

She did not like keeping the ships here in Inglesmond, they were just too exposed here, but she did not have much choice as every available yard was in use either building new ships or bringing others back online. The Samarkand's were being upgraded to SLS Independence specs, the Riga's were being brought to SLS Dragonfly specifications. She could not afford the time to bring any other upgrades online. If she could just get everything back online, then she could begin to think about rotating ships in for point defense upgrades which should not take much time to complete.

10 June 2786
Multan (Draconis Combine)

Colonel Wayne Johnson, commander 509th Battle Regiment, arrived at the Zenith Jump Point to find the 238th Striker Regiment waiting, having arrived the day before. They had begun exchanging information when the 19th Hussar Regiment materialized. With an hour, all 3 Regiments detached and began heading for the surface escorted by SLS Halthom, Vincent Destroyer. It would take 20 days to reach orbit. Their mission was to raid the old base of the 272nd Mechanized Infantry Division where intel said several bunkers should still be hidden and secure.

Enif (Draconis Combine)

Vice Admiral Barbara Coltrain watched as her support group departed the system along with the captured former DCMS warships. She had focused her efforts on repairing her own warships and making the captured warships jump capable enough to make the journey back home for proper repairs. She looked at Major General Colin McGregor who nodded at her in return.

"Nav, signal all ships, make ready to jump to designated coordinates." Vice Admiral Coltrain ordered

Fifteen minutes later, the large fleet jumped from Enif on their way to New Samarkand, but first, they would hit Old Canton.

11 June 2786
Kurhah (Draconis Combine)

Sho-sho Edward Wakatonga, commander 25th Deiron Regulars, watched the war games being conducted by his command. Unlike many of the Deiron Regulars, his and the other former SLDF commands were not assigned multiple Regiments of supporting troops. Instead, besides his Battlemech Regiment, his command boasted a single Armor Regiment and single Infantry Regiment. All former SLDF, his 294th Hussar Regiment, which came over intact with the Armor and Infantry from various commands of those who did not join the rest of the SLDF on the Exodus. But what troubled him was the grumbling rumors he was hearing among the troops ever since Amanda Cameron had appeared and taken up as head of the Terran Hegemony. Now with the HPG blackout, with it's public notice announcement that it had been placed into effect because of the Combine's unprovoked attack upon the Hegemony had only made his troops angrier over the situation.

He was brought back to reality by an alarm sounding in his cockpit. He quickly selected the red communication channel "What is so important for battle over ride?" he said loudly.

"We have multiple emergence signatures at the La Grange point sir. Satellite monitoring at the La Grange reported firm contacts on 28 incoming Dropships before they were destroyed." The voice on the radio announced.

Sho-sho Edward Wakatonga closed his eyes for a second before responding "Start calling up the planetary militia on my order." He then switched to his command frequency"All command, this is Sho-sho Wakatonga. Cease all actions and report back to base asap. We have possible hostiles inbound and we need to get ready for them." As the responses came in he turned his Nightstar NSR-9J for his base and throttled up to full speed.

Aboard the Overlord-Class Dropship Eagle One, Lieutenant General Gary Hurling could not wait to get on the ground. Along with his Dropship, another 9 Overlords and 18 smaller Union Dropships carried the 5 Battlemech Regiments of the Screaming Eagles mercenary command, now reconstituted as the 250th Battlemech Division. Having been carried aboard AFFS Jumpships to link up with Hegemony Jumpships, they had been hand delivered a tasking assigning them a deep strike at Kurhah. Along with the mission, those Jumpships delivered 3 Infantry Regiments and a Aerospace Wing to augment his Battlemechs. They had 3 more days to orbit.

Lapida II (Draconis Combine)

Lieutenant General Ezra Bradley, commander 3rd Regimental Combat Team, led the flight from the non standard jump point. Having taken a circular route across the Hegemony, the short lived Eridani Light Horse mercenary command, having rejoined the Hegemony upon Amanda Cameron's return, had quickly undergone a equipment upgrade before the war with the Combine had started. Linking up with the former Screaming Eagle mercenary command, they had then been assigned their missions.

The 3rd Regimental Combat Team's mission was to destroy or render the Nimakachi Fusion Products Limited factory on Lapida II non operational. To aid in this task, temporarily assigned to his command was the 3391st Special Forces Battalion. While the 3rd RCT made life difficult for the planetary defenders, the 3391st SF Battalion would strike the underground factory.

Al Nair (Terran Hegemony)

Major General Terrance Carmichael, commander 184th Mechanized Infantry Division, had spent the last 5 months fighting the Draconis Combine forces to a stand still. Only the arrival of several DCMS warships had forced his command from their defensive fortifications. His supplies were starting to run low and his 184th MID was down to just over 60% strength. Though they had lost control of the planetary HPG, he still had a mobile HPG to maintain contact off world. So he was not surprised when the DCMS forces on the surface began pulling back when they got word of incoming Hegemony forces.

Major General Jenna Romanov, commander 295th Battlemech Division, felt the thump as her Overlord Dropship detached from SLS Saipan, Potemkin Transport. Her own SLS Ulithi was in the shipyards at Terra undergoing a major refit to correct the massive amount of problems afflicting the ship. She watched the ships plot as SLS Cape Bon, Essex II Destroyer and SLS Protecteur, Lola III Destroyer formed on the mass of Dropships as escort.

Aboard the SLS Conroy, Avatar Heavy Cruiser, Rear Admiral Vincent Zeibler shook off the jump effects which barely effected him after all these years. His target was the destruction of the two DCMS warships in the planets orbit. With him were SLS Shield, Avatar Heavy Cruiser, SLS Solomon and SLS Cartagena, Essex II Destroyers. It would take another day to bring them to heel.

12 June 2786
Al Nair (Terran Hegemony)

Rear Admiral Vincent Zeibler watched the plot and could not believe what he was seeing on it. Instead of fleeing and running for a jump point, both DCMS Destroyers were coming right at his force. Both had been identified as obsolete Essex I-Class Destroyers. Completely ouclassed and outgunned in every respect. He decided to let his Aerospace fighters draw first blood and watched as the 60 Aerospace fighters from his warships joined with the 72 Aerospace fighters from the 4 Titan Dropships. He listened to the radio chatter as the CAG assigned their targets.

The 60 Aerospace fighters from the warships were assigned to attack DCS Jarret, Essex I Destroyer while the 72 Aerospace fighters from the Titan Dropships would attack DCS Sawyer, Essex I Destroyer. But first they had to deal with the 24 DCMS Aerospace fighters moving to intercept the SLDF/HAF Aerospace fighters. As both sides merged, the DCMS fighters found themselves at a severe disadvantage and quickly their numbers started falling rapidly.

Both DCMS Destroyers bent on full speed and they quickly reached 2.5g's. Naval laser fire reached out from the DCMS Destroyers and several SLDF/HAF fighters blinked and vanished from the screen. When the heavy fire reached out after the distant Titan Dropships, Rear Admiral Zeibler gave the order for both Avatar Heavy Cruiser's to fire on the offending DCMS Destroyer. It took only seconds for 12 NL/55 and 8 HNPPC to lash out at DCS Jarret. The effects were immediate and devestating as 9 NL/55 and 6 HNPPC ripped into the Essex I Destroyer removing the armor from the Nose and RFS sections and burrowing deep into the oncoming Destroyer.

A quick check of the plot and any further fire was ceased as the Aerospace fighters began their attack runs. Alamo nuclear missiles began launching from the swarm of Aerospace fighters. Though small, they were being used in numbers and the small Essex I Destroyers really stood no chance. Aboard DCS Jarret, escape pods began launching ahead of the impacts. Several Alamo's lashed deep into the Destroyer from the already shredded Nose and RFS sections and detonated deep within the Essex I. The effects of the detonations were unholy as the Essex I Destroyer seemed to glow for a brief second before disintegrating.

DCS Sawyer, Essex I-Class Destroyer took the impact of 10 Alamo missiles better, but her armor was savaged by the small nuclear warheads. The second volley of Alamo missiles began impacting with several detonating within the warship. One breached the armored hull and entered the engineering spaces before detonating, another found the Left Broadside's ammo magazine and detonated, while a third actually hit the bridge before detonating. With all attitude control removed, the Destroyer entered a wild gyration at 2.5g's forward movement and the stress placed on the damaged internal structure was immense. The SLDF/HAF warships easily dodged the widly gyrating Essex I as it flashed past out of control. Every now and then escape pods launched.

With the way clear, Rear Admiral Ziebler ordered SAR operations and signaled his force to prepare to enter orbit in support of the 184th Mechanized Infantry Division on the ground and for the 295th Battlemech Divisions landings.

14 June 2786

Major General Jenna Romanov, commander 295th Battlemech Division brought her Dropships down into the perimeter of the 184th Mechanized Infantry Division. Quickly both agreed on area's of operation and by mid day, both Divisions pushed out from the perimeter to begin the task of retaking the planet from the DCMS forces. With friendly warships providing orbital fire on demand, by nightfall, they had expanded their perimeter 80km in all directions.

Kurhah (Draconis Combine)

Lieutenant General Gary Hurling, commander 250th Battlemech Division (Screaming Eagles), did not mess around and brought his command into the main space port. Quickly they disembarked and secured the space port and immediate surrounding area. Resistance was light, with only the local militia being engaged at the space port. As darkness fell, Lieutenant General Hurling ordered his forces to hold for the night.

15 June 2786

At dawn, the advance began again with any resistance from the local militia being quickly destroyed. First contact with the primary garrison force, the 25th Deiron Regulars, came around mid day with a skirmish between each unit's recon elements. As the 250th Battlemech began massing on the contact point, the 25th Deiron Regulars began engaging the advancing 250th at long range. But the Regulars did not have the troop strength and quickly found themselves being flanked and under threat of being surrounded by the much more numerous 250th Battlemech Division.

After 2 hours of fighting, the radio crackled over an open channel in the 250th Battlemech Divisions Mobile HQ. "This is Sho-sho Edward Wakatonga, commander 25th Deiron Regulars, calling the commander of the Hegemony forces. I request surrender terms."

"Lieutenant General Gary Hurling, 250th Battlemech Division. I hear you Sho-sho Wakatonga. The terms are simple, complete and unconditional surrender of your forces. All will be treated as prisoners under the rules of war. I await your decision."

"I surrender my forces to you General Hurling. I warn you that the local militia forces will not surrender. I had to put up enough of a fight to satisfy my own honor and that of my people. But I see no need in dying for a worthless cause. The Combine should never have attacked the Hegemony unprovoked. I will order my people to power down and exit their Battlemechs." Sho-sho Wakatonga said. "I have already issued a cease fire order to my command. Assemble you commanders and I will have you brought to my headquarters."

Just after dark, the door to Lieutenant General Hurling's temporary headquarters opened and Sho-sho Wakatonga and his Battalion commanders were shown into the room. Introductions were exchanged and everyone took a seat. Sho-sho Wakatonga told the tale of the 294th Hussar Regiment and how they came to be in the DCMS. On a whim, Lieutenant General Hurling went with his gut instincts.

"How would you folks like to fold into the 250th Battlemech Division? Your all former SLDF, so integrating you into my command should not be too difficult. It seems none of you are happy with the attack on the Hegemony. So, here is the only opportunity I am going to give you. Decide against it, and you get to explain to the Coordinator how all of you survived and all of your equipment was captured. I am sure all of you know how he is going to respond to that."

"It will be off with our heads and you know it. We accept the offer and will proudly serve the Hegemony in the 250th Battlemech Division." Sho-sho Wakatonga said as he tore the rank tabs off his uniform, followed by the smiling officers with him.

"Welcome to the 250th Battlemech Division. Let's go let the new troops have thier vote now and see how this ends. My mission was to destroy the garrison here and anything else of value to the Combine. Since your surrender, well that removes the garrison and we are free to move on to our next mission." Lieutenant General Hurling said

Lapida II (Draconis Combine)

The 21st Deiron Regulars put up a stiff fight against the 3rd RCT from the moment the landings had begun during the early morning hours. Though outnumbered 3 to 1 by the 3rd RCT, the Regulars fought with tenacity. While the 3rd RCT battled the 21st Deiron Regulars, the troops of the 3391st SF Battalion dropped from their modified Confederate and Union Dropships directly on top of Nimakachi Fusion Products Limited's underground factory complex and quickly over ran the security at the entrance. Forcing the doors proved difficult but not impossible. Once they made the breach, the Nighthawk equipped SF troops poured into the underground factory complex. Once the main doors were opened from the inside, they were joined by a company of their Battlemechs which would aid in the destruction of the factory complex.

By nightfall, massive explosions wracked the underground factory complex as demolition charges destroyed vital production equipment. With flames shooting out from the now open doors, the troops of the 3391st SF Battalion boarded their Dropships for the trip back to orbit. During the early morning hours of 16th, the 3rd RCT boarded their Dropships and also boosted for orbit, having inflicted about 20% losses on the 21st Deiron Regulars.

21 June 2786
Atreus (Free Worlds League)

Captain-General Kenyon Marik read the report from his spies in the Terran Hegemony. He laid the report down and picked up the report on the losses being reported from Inglesmond suffered by the Draconis Combine and Terran Hegemony. He tossed the report down onto his desk with a snort. So, Coordinator Kurita has suffered a much bigger defeat than he had, good he thought.

His spies had combed many open sources of information to try and get a firm picture of what was truth in the Terran Hegemony. He had spies on Free World jumpships plying the space lanes gathering up to date intel on current Terran Hegemony troop displacements and warship locations. He had not forgotten nor forgiven how that upstart Amanda Cameron had "forced" him to back down.

Only this time, he was going to show her that her Terran Hegemony was a mere shadow of it's former self. He had spent the time wisely and everything was almost in place and ready. He just needed the right time to strike. He picked up the thick folder on his desk that outlined the coming storm.

Operation Swift Justice

Van Diemen IV - 2nd Marik Militia
Talitha - 2nd Atrean Dragoons
Tyrfing - 23rd Marik Militia
Castor - 5th Atrean Dragoons
New Dallas - 3rd Atrean Dragoons
Callison - 23rd Marik Militia
Marcus - Iron Guard
Denebola - 34th Marik Militia
Connaught - 1st, 5th and 6th FW Guards

Warship Support

3rd Fleet - 4 Atreus Battleship, 1 Aegis Cruiser, 6 League II Destroyers
4th Fleet - 4 Atreus Battleship, 1 Aegis Cruiser, 6 League II Destroyers
5th Fleet - 4 Atreus Battleship, 1 Aegis Cruiser, 6 League II Destroyers

Additional Forces For Garrison
28 Armor Regiments
60 Infantry Regiments

He closed the folder, now I just need the perfect moment to strike, he thought with a sly smile.

Terra (Terran Hegemony)

General Rita Mitchell was worried, even though the counter attacks into the Combine were going well, the intel reports from the Free Worlds border were not casting a good forecast. She was not sure she could stave off an attack by 2 Houses at the same time. And if 2 Houses jumped on the Hegemony, she was sure the Lyran and Capellan's would not stay out of the Hegemony. She was sure the Federated Suns would stay true though, and that was the one bright spot.

But her biggest concern came from several systems of the Hegemony that had more or less sided with Amaris during the Coup or who still held a grudge against the SLDF for not being liberated fast enough. Those systems had already approached several Houses about leaving the Hegemony. She honestly did not know what to do about these systems. She studied the star map, Terra Firma (Capellan Confederation), Thorin (Lyran), Zollikofen (Lyran), Epsilon Indi (Capellan) and Brownsville (Capellan). She knew Amanda had dispatched negotiators to each of the systems in question to discuss their issues, but talks had gotten no where.

Recruitment for local Conventional RCT's had failed on each of those systems in question, which had forced her to deploy garrison's from other systems. Those garrisons had been greeted with open hostility, but so far no violence had been directed towards the garrisons. On the bright side, the militia on New Dallas had rebuilt to a full Division in size once again. That was one system she did not have to worry about at least.

Old Canton (Draconis Combine)

Vice Admiral Barbara Coltrain led the fleet of warships and transports into the Old Canton system. On their arrival, Combine Jumpships made emergency jumps from the system, but she had issued orders for any ships to be allowed to leave. She ordered the evacuation of the recharge station at the Zenith Jump Point, and once it was empty she ordered it destroyed. Major General Colin McGregor ordered the 29th Mechanized Infantry Division to make their landings and spend 2 days maximum targeting any garrison and industry that would help the Combine.

Multan (Draconis Combine)

The combined raiding force had made their landing on Multan and quickly dispersed the small conventional militia force. Moving to the given location of the hidden supply caches, they discovered that each one had been emptied. No forced entry had been detected so they could only assume that General Kerensky had ordered them emptied. With the local population not hostile at all, all 3 commanders agreed that they would not destroy anything on this Combine planet and boarded their Dropships for the trip back to the Jump Point.

25 June 2786
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Allison Tallonsin, Free Worlds Ambassador to the Terran Hegemony, was admitted to the large office of Director General Amanda Cameron, she still refused to have the Throne Room unsealed. She bowed her head at Director General Cameron "How may I be of service, Director-General Cameron?"

"Ambassador Tallonsin, I need you to make sure a message get's to Captain General Marik. It seems he refuses to take my call's." Amanda said

"Certainly, Director-General Cameron. What message would you like for me to deliver to the Captain General?" Ambassador Tallonsin asked.

Amanda handed over a envelope containing the message she wanted delivered, once it was accepted she said "You may read it Ambassador, your going to be transmitting it anyway."

Ambassador Tallonsin extracted the single page inside and read.

Captain General Marik,

You have avoided my many attempts to communicate with you. I send this message via your own communication methods to make sure it arrives in your hands. I find your current troop build up near the borders of the Hegemony threatening. I want to very clear with no misunderstanding between us. If the Free Worlds League launches an attack on the Terran Hegemony, your nation will face the same fate as currently faced by the Draconis Combine. I will order a complete shut down of ALL HPG stations inside the Free Worlds League with orders to destroy any station threatened or any attempt to sieze the station.

The Terran Hegemony will, if attacked, defend itself with all the fury and might that we can muster. Know that I will not allow the fighting to be contained within the borders of the Hegemony but will bring the fight into the Free Worlds League. I would tell you to contact Coordinator Kurita and ask how the war is fairing for him, but it might take a long time for the message to arrive via jumpship. Your forces have once before committed an act of war against the Hegemony not long ago and I thought we had a very clear understanding between us, but your troop build up tells me otherwise.

I would hope to avoid hostilities between our nations. I hope that you rethink your current plans and communicate with me. I am always available to speak.

Director-General Amanda Cameron

Ambassador Tallonsin replaced the page into the envelope and looked at Director-General Amanda Cameron "The Captain-General will not look kindly at threats to the Free Worlds League."

"What threat did I make, Ambassador? I merely explained what would occur should your Captain General decided to wage war on the Hegemony. Now, this message is of the utmost importance, so I suggest you hurry along and deliver it before Kenyon Marik makes a mistake that could cost your nation dearly." Amanda said dismissing the Ambassador.

At the Krester's Ship Construction yards, Admiral Joan Brandt stared at the three Texas-Class Battleships rapidly taking shape. With the recovered jump cores already constructed, construction time was cut almost in half and estimates placed their readiness at May 2787. She pressed the shipyard workers to hurry construction as quick as possible. She really needed the firepower these Battleships could deliver. In her hand she held a message from Mitchell Vehicles at Graham IV informing her that all six Luxor Heavy Cruisers would be completed 2 months earlier than expected which put their delivery around December 2786.

The influx of warships from Inglesmond had threatened to overload the resources of the Hegemony, but it amazed her how the engineers and workers from the varied manufacturers pooled their resources to overcome every obstacle they faced to effect the needed repairs. SLS Thunderer, her Monsoon-Class Battleship had completed repairs and was once again battle ready of needed. Both captured Combine Monsoon Battleships would need another 3 months of work before they were battle ready. Only a month was needed to repair the battle damage, but another 2 months was needed for the upgrades to both vessels to mirror SLS Thunderer.

July[]

1 July 2786
Luthien (Draconis Combine)

Coordinator Minoru Kurita had finally received word of the attacks along his Periphery border which had sent him into a furious rant. He had finally begun to get his temper under control when word of the counter attack at Al Nair and then the attack on Lapida II and Kurhah arrived. The almost 2 week lag in getting any word from the front lines was hampering any rapid response. Not to mention the massive numbers of Jumpships being removed from their normal operations just to maintain that communication link with the front lines.

When he was handed a communication from Sho-sho Edward Wakatonga, commander of the 25th Deiron Regulars, he read the message. The messenger felt the fear rise inside of him as he watched the Coordinator's face redden in anger. He forced his eyes back to the floor from risk of being caught watching and flinched at the sound of crumpled paper. When the Coordinator said "Leave me." the messenger nearly broke his own neck in his haste to leave.

Coordinator Minora Kurita struggled to contain his anger, he could not believe the nerve of this Wakatonga. He forced himself to close his eyes and took a deep breathe.

Coordinator Kurita,

I am writing the letter to inform you that myself and my command, the 25th Deiron Regulars, have made the decision to leave Combine employ. This decision was not as hard as the one we made when we left the SLDF to enter Combine employ. Where before we were war weary, this time your actions in launching an unprovoked attack on the Terran Hegemony coupled with the careless way in which you have endangered Combine civilians with the HPG interdiction made our decision much easier.

We do want to thank you for the fine equipment upgrades and transport assets. We promise that they will be put to good use and will not be wasted. I offer you some free advice, end this war soon before the Combine suffers possibly unrecoverable damage.

Former Sho-sho, now Lieutenant General
Edward Wakatonga

When he opened his eyes, he was much calmer. But a question nagged the back of his brain, have I made a serious miscalculation.

4 July 2786
New Samarkand (Draconis Combine)

As the former capital of the Draconis Combine, New Samarkand saw massive amounts of interstellar traffic. Coupled with the DeHuego & Freshet WarShip Design shipyard complex, both Jump Points were almost always crowded. Though dwarfed by much larger shipyards, DeHuego & Freshet's complex built two Narukami II-Class Destroyers per year and one Samarkand II-Class Aerospace Carrier per year. This was dwarfed by the much larger complex located at Midway. But still a vital part of the DCMS's warship construction efforts. These 3 warships would be completed in 2 months and would form a permanent presence in New Samarkand.

On the surface, while most major industrial concerns had left New Samarkand after it lost the title of Capital, Wakazashi Enterprises still maintained a fairly sizable factory producing PNT-8Z and PNT-9R models of the Panther Battlemech at a rate of 240 per year and Luthien Armor Works had refurbished it's long dormant factory in conjunction with Diplan Mechyards to produce the hugely successful Jenner Battlemech on it's refurbished and reconfigured Gladiator lines at a rate of 360 per year. This had been given a top priority after Diplan Mechyards factory on Ozawa had been forbidden to sell it's products to the Draconis Combine.

Thazi (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

General Heinrich Rommel was glad to finally have the recovery fleet from the Rim Worlds Outpost back home. The recovered both the Riga-Class Frigate and their Vincent-Class Corvette were currently awaiting a slip to undergo a refit and upgrade. A new group of 165,000 people from Mitchell Vehicles had arrived and he had been informed that every one of them came from their Warship and Dropship Divisions. He had them sent direct to Linden, the Periphery Hegemony's primary warship construction location.

He had word that several captured Combine warships were on their way back for major repairs and that Operation Black Eye was proceeding as planned. Along with the ever present request from Major General Colin McGregor to take his forces to assist General Rita Mitchell via direct path through the Combine raising hell all the way. He sent his usual response to the request, "Complete Operation Black Eye first."

5 July 2786
Luthien (Draconis Combine)

Coordinator Minoru Kurita sat with his son Jinjiro Kurita going over planning for both the war against the Terran Hegemony but also the upcoming war against the hated Federated Suns. Things were not going to plan, not by a long shot.

"How is the buildup coming?" Minoru Kurita asked

"Thing are going well, father. The huge losses we have suffered against the Terran Hegemony worries me. Now you have ordered the 2nd Fleet to move to the Terran Hegemony and that threatens our planning. Now we have reports of Hegemony forces raiding our periphery borders complete with warship support. Where they came from, we have not determined, but they are very worrying.

So far, I have managed to mass 50 Battlemech Regiments and roughly 150 Regiments each of Armor, Infantry and Aerospace along the Federated Suns border. My plan call for overwhelming the Federated Suns border with massive warship support. The losses to 3rd and 4th Fleet's remove them from my equations. I had 5 Fleet's detailed to support the coming offensive. We could combine the surviving 3rd and 4th Fleet's ships into a single Fleet. But I will need 7th and 8th Fleet's to move to the border nowt to replace the Fleet's lost. 6th Fleet is still engaged in the Hegemony, but has suffered very few losses, mainly because we paused offensive actions after the defeat at Inglesmond.

I have a contingency drawn up, and if you approve, I think it might help break the stalemate in the Hegemony. I propose that instead of 2 massive forces advancing into the Federated Suns, that we form 3. We will combine the 3rd advance with the strike force heading for Cartago. Once there, the 3rd advance will break off and sweep towards Ozawa, skirting the Hegemony border and plunging into their rear. Intel suggests that the Hegemony has extremely light defenses along the border with the Federated Suns. But, the only way this can realistically be accomplished, will require something that I am not sure you will agree to." Jinjiro Kurita explained

"And what is this huge stumbling block to our success?" Minuro Kurita asked

"Sue for peace with the Hegemony. We need our HPG's back in operation. Agree to this HPG neutrality thing that Jerome Blake has been pandering on about. I have read it and it clearly states that only violating the Neutrality of HPG stations can bring about a blackout. Agreeing to this agreement removes Director General Cameron's ability to order this Comstar to issue a HPG Blackout. She holds that power only because, as of now, the Lyran Commonwealth is the only one to agree to it. Be the second, others will fall in and then we remove one of Director-General Cameron's most powerful weapons against us." Jinjiro Kurita said.

"You are sure of this? She seems to hold much sway over this Comstar?" Minuro Kurita asked.

"The HPG Neutrality Agreement is very plainly written. Once everyone signs it, Comstar then becomes the sole controller of the HPG stations across the entire Inner Sphere. Director General Cameron will have her hands tied. If Comstar issues a Blackout, by her order, then everyone will see it is a sham and nothing from her or Comstar will ever be trusted again. Besides, according to our intel, she might soon have her hands full. Seems Marik is steadily building up forces on her border. If Marik smells blood in the water, he will strike, and that makes our task much easier overall." Jinjuro Kurita replied

Minuro Kurita took a deep breath before answering "If you say this is the only way. I will immediately send a message asking for safe passage to Terra to sign a peace treaty with Director-General Cameron. I will return the 2nd Fleet to your control. Combine the surviving ships of 3rd and 4th Fleet's and assign them to the Hegemony border, but I want them heavily armed. Once there, I will issue a broadcast that I am signing the HPG Neutrality Agreement and ask that everyone join me in signing it. It is time we pull some teeth from this young girl."

"I promise you father, it is the only way this can succeed. I need the HPG's to assure our victory. Soon, you will be on New Avalon." Jinjuro Kurita promised.

7 July 2786
New Samarkand (Draconis Combine)

Vice Admiral Barbara Coltrain brought most of her warships in at the Nadir Jump Point along with 2 full Marine Battalions to secure the shipyard complex and recharge station. SLS Dragonfly, Riga Frigate, SLS Kathy Hamile and SLS Sam Kingston, Vincent Destroyers escorted the invasion force which arrived at a stable point 3 days from the planet itself. She did not concern herself with the Zenith Jump Point, not at this time any way, because in another 2 days, the commands that hit Multan would be arriving there after executing a double jump to arrive. They were currently in the Soul system recharging.

The panic her Task Force caused on arrival was almost comical to behold. Only the Zenith traffic was left alone, she broadcast surrender calls at the Nadir Jump Point. Of the 15 Jumpships located at the Nadir Jump Point, only 1 Invader was destroyed when it activated it's jump drive. Another Merchant Jumpship was badly damaged when a Mammoth Dropship, in it's panic, missed it's docking and bounced off the Jumpships hull. The biggest surprise was the lack of any DCMS warships in system. This made her a litle nervous, but she continued on with the mission, escorting the main Marine Dropships to the shipyard complex and recharge stations while shuttles ferried Marines to the gaggle of Jumpships and Dropships that had surrendered.

10 July 2786

Major General Colin McGregor led his invasion force down to the planets surface. The DCMS Aerospace forces were swept aside by the escorting SLDF/HAF Aerospace fighters. This was the ultimate target for Operation Black Eye and as such, he planned to make the most of it. That was why he had Admiral Coltrain capture the Jumpships and Dropships instead of destroying them. He planned to rip the factories apart and haul everything he could back home.

He felt the thump as his Lee Dropship made contact with the Ferrocrete located at the Luthien Armor Works factory. As he piloted his Battlemaster BLR-1Gb down the ramp, he could clearly see Infantry carriers racing across the Ferrocrete and into the factory complex. Battlemechs of the 126th Mechanized Infantry Division were pushing out and forming a secure perimeter around the massive factory complex. He had changed the main targets some, the 173rd Mechanized Infantry Division was landing atop the Wakazashi Enterprises complex and would also take the Osaka Heavy Metrics complex which was not far away. The mission of the 29th Mechanized Infantry Division was to take the DeHuego & Freshet WarShip Design ground facilities. The conventional forces were tasked with securing and looting the complex's while the Battlemech Brigades of each Division moved to take out the planet's garrison forces. The 3 Regiments that formed the raiding parties would act as a reserve force.

Reports began coming in of contact with the planet's garrison forces, identified as the 11th Galedon Regulars and 5th Sun Zhang Academy Cadre from the 173rd Mechanized Infantry Division. Checking the enemy location on his onboard map, he order the 29th MID and 126th MID to detail 2 Battlemech Regiments each to move on the enemy commands, if everything worked out right, maybe they could cut them off and destroy both DCMS commands quickly, which would make the removal of anything of value that much easier.

In orbit, the Marines had secured the Nadir Recharge Station and had secured 3/4 of the shipyard complex. Fighting was still ongoing aboard the 3 incomplete DCMS warships that had been in the slips. Additional Marines from the Recharge Station were being shuttled to the shipyard complex to aid in it's capture. Once secured, Admiral Coltrain would allow the 30 engineers that specialized in ship construction and repair that she had brought to board the complex and get a firm read on everything. Though she wanted to strip down the shipyards, she was not sure they had time.

11 July 2786

The conventional forces from the 173rd MID had secured their objectives after a few hours of fighting. The Battlemechs of the 173rd MID had blunted the 1st attack from the 11th Galedon Regulars with moderate losses during the meeting engagement. The Battlemech's from the 29th MID had slammed into the right flank of the 11th Galedon Regulars while they were regrouping for their next attack throwing them into chaos, combined, the 5 Battlemech Regiments from the 173rd and 29th MID pushed the 11th Galedon Regulars away from the factory complex.

The Battlemechs from the 126th MID never reached the 173rd MID having slammed into the 5th Sun Zhang Academy Cadre. Though the 5th Sun Zhang Academy Cadre fought hard, they were no where as skilled as the pilots of the 126th MID and by nightfall, they had been beaten back with heavy losses.

12 July 2786

By midday, the shipyard complex and warships were secured. The experts had boarded the complex and begun the task of evaluating both the shipyards and captured warships. A Dropship was detailed to transport the captured DCMS personnel and shipyard workers to the planet's surface.

On the ground, the 11th Galedon Regulars had been beaten back from the factory complex's by the combined Battlemechs of the 173rd and 29th MID's. Equipped with mainly medium Battlemechs, the 11th Galedon Regulars just did not have the staying power of the SLDF/HAF. Their conventional forces finally made their appearance, but were quickly beaten back by Artillery and Aerospace attacks, but it was the attached Battlemech Battalions of the Infantry Brigades that made the largest impact on pushing the conventional forces back.

Work had already begun by the commands Engineer's on removing as much of the equipment as possible from the factory complex's. But estimates put the time needed to completely strip the complex's at 2 months time. Major General Colin McGregor did not think he had that much time, but really wanted as much as he could get.

16 July 2786
New Samarkand (Draconis Combine)

Vice Admiral Barbara Coltrain read the report from the experts aboard the shipyard complex. It was better than she hoped. Much better actually. She pulled up her roster of extra personnel to find out what she had available. Doing a mental count and estimate, she figured she had just enough for the job.

Shipyard Evaluation Report

On boarding, we conducted a complex wide computer damage estimate. Of the shipyard facilities, light damage was inflicted to several systems, but estimate we can repair said damage within the week with onboard spares. Actual shipyards are of an older type from 2350, far from our current standard at Linden. Estimated cargo space needed for complete dismantling of complex and all supporting orbital factories is 530,000 tons and estimated time to dismantle and load as cargo is 6 months.

Narukami Block II Destroyer #1
Light damage during the capture. Damage easily repaired but does not affect operations. 1/2 the weapons are installed, ship is jump capable. Transit drive has not been activated nor have the onboard reactors. Estimated time to complete full activation as is, is 3 weeks.
Narukami Block II Destroyer #2
No damage inflicted except some scorching of hull plates. 3/4 of weapons have been installed, ship is jump capable. Transit drive is complete, but not activated or fueled. Ship's reactors have not been activated. Estimate to complete full activation as is, is 2 weeks.
Samarkand II Class Aerospace Carrier
Light damage inflicted during capture. Easily repaired and does not affect operations. 100% of weapons installed, but fire control is not complete. Ship is jump capable but neither tranist drive nor reactors have been activated. No onboard fighters. Estimate to full activation as is, is 2 weeks.

As much as she would like to strip the shipyard complex and haul it off, she knew she had neither the time nor the cargo space to do so. Of greater importance was the factory complex's on the surface and they had first dibs on every inch of cargo space. She barely had enough spare spacers to provide prize crews for the captured warships and just enough people to man the captured Jumpships and Dropships. She figured she would have to grab some extra crew from the ground forces transports to make this work. Or she would have to press gang the crews and operate them under Marine guard.

Captured Shipping

Narukami Block II Destroyer
Narukami Block II Destroyer
Samarkand Block II Carrier
4 Merchant Jumpships
6 Invader Jumpships
2 Tramp Jumpships
3 Star Lord Jumpships
18 Mammoth Dropships
12 Mule Dropships
20 Jumbo Dropships

On the ground, Major General Colin McGregor looked over the estimated times to dismantle the factories and get them loaded up. There just would not be time to fully dismantle and load everything. Even though they had managed to disperse the remaining DCMS garrison forces and aggressive patrolling kept them at bay since their initial fighting, it was only a matter of time before the DCMS got word and came a calling.

Of the Wakazashi Enterprises factory, the engineers estimated it would take 3 months to fully dismantle the complex and get it loaded. It would take 480,000 tons of cargo space to fully load the complex. The Luthien Armor Works complex was larger, estimates placed a 4 month time frame to dismantle and load. It owuld take an estimated 628,000 tons to fully load the complex.

After a few hours studying the problem, he made a choice. He ordered the engineers from the 29th MID to be brought to the Luthien Armor Works complex to join the engineers from the 126th MID. He would also use the Infantry Brigades of the 173rd and 126th MID to assist the engineers. He then ordered the raiding commands to the surface. They would also assist in ripping the factories apart. The 29th MID would destroy the DeHuego & Freshet WarShip Design ground facilities and Osaka Heavy Metrics complex along with as much supporting heavy industry on the planet as they could reach. Anything not loaded by mid September would be destroyed in place.

Terra (Terran Hegemony)

"What do you make of this, Aunt Rita?" Director General Amanda Cameron asked handing over the message that had been relayed from a Combine jumpship via the HPG on Oyevaina in the Lyran Commonwealth.

Taking the message, General Rita Mitchell read the message. With a smile, she looked up "I think it means Coordinator Kurita has finally gotten it thru his head that he bit off more than he could chew."

To: Director General Amanda Cameron, Terran Hegemony
From: Coordinator Minuro Kurita, Draconis Combine

Would like to ask for safe passage to Terra to discuss terms of ending this conflict in person. Have command circuit in place and could enter Hegemony space via Lambrecht. Jumpship awaiting at Oyevaina to relay answer.
"You think he really means it?" Amanda asked

"For now he does. Pretty sure the HPG blackout caught him by surprise. He will be looking to restore the HPG network to operation. Figure he is hoping to buy 2-3 years before he tries anything again. His navy took a horrific beating. He will need that time to rebuild and every year we gain, we only get stronger. But damned if I am going to let him enter Terra aboard a DCMS warship. He wants to come here, he can ride aboard a Dropship that is attached to one of our transports, after it has been inspected completely." Rita said

"You don't trust him do you?" Amanda replied

"About as far as I can throw him. Not going to give him the chance to bring a load of nukes into the Terra system and blast us. Oh, I can imagine he would love to try it, but I bet money he expects just this kind of reply and demand from us. Bet you dinner that he does not even balk at our demand, that means either we have hurt him much worse than we think or he has something up his sleeve for further down the road." Rita said

"That is a bet. I think he is going to scream so loud about this demand that we will not need a HPG to hear it." Amanda said with a giggle.

To: Coordinator Minuro Kurita, Draconis Combine
From: Director General Amanda Cameron, Terran Hegemony

Request is granted. But, only you and a escort will be allowed to enter Hegemony space aboard a single Dropship which will be carried on a HAF transport after a detailed inspection. Await your response.

August[]

5 August 2786
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

All eyes watched the Princess-Class Luxury Dropship bearing Draconis Combine colors as it settled onto the tarmac. It had been almost 5 years since Coordinator Minuro Kurita had been on Terra. Of all the previous visits, this was the first time he actually dreaded. It took all his will power to not throw up at the thought of actually surrendering or admitting fault. As he disembarked, he noticed there was no one to greet him. Instead he found a line of ground cars awaiting his arrival with instructions that he could use his old compound on Terra and that the official meeting would be tomorrow. He willed his anger at the slight to stay deep down and silently vowed that they would pay dearly for this insult, not now, but soon.

6 August 2786

He walked outside to find 2 ground cars waiting. The HAF/SLDF drivers explained that only he and 12 aides or bodyguards could attend the meetings. He never did learn what the HAF/SLDF troops actually called themselves, so he had to ask on the drive to the meeting. His driver explained that they answered to either since they had so many former SLDF in their ranks. Officially they were the Hegemony Armed Forces, but most just called themselves the SLDF.

Once they arrived, he was led up the steps and down several winding hallways until they reached a large set of doors with guards dressed in Royal Black Watch colors standing guard. A uniformed aide opened the doors to admit him and his small party of aides, his bodyguards were pointed to seats by the Royal Black Watch. It took a single look from Coordinator Kurita for them to obey as he walked thru the doors. Inside were only 3 people, Director-General Amanda Cameron, General Rita Mitchell and Jerome Blake. Without a word, he and his party were pointed to chairs opposite themselves. Once again he felt his anger begin to boil as he took the offered seat.

"Coordinator Kurita, it is good to finally meet you in person. I wish it was under more favorable conditions. I hope your compound was to your liking, I have made sure that all the House compounds were maintained in case of visitors to Terra." Director-General Amanda Cameron said.

"They were suitable and familiar. Shall we get down to business and not the idle chit chat." Coordinator Minuro Kurita replied

"Of course. I understand that the Draconis Combine wishes to sue for peace and end the fighting. That can be easily accomplished. All Combine forces withdraw from every Hegemony world they invaded. But only the personnel, all equipment will be left behind as partial payment for the unprovoked attack upon the Hegemony. The Draconis Combine is responsible for paying for the rebuilding of all damaged and destroyed HPG stations within their borders. In addition, a sum of 200 Billion dollars per year for the next 10 years will be paid to the Hegemony as reparations to repair the damage caused by the Combine and to imdemnify the families of those killed or injured by the Combines unprovoked attack on the Hegemony. Captured warships we will keep." Director General Amanda Cameron paused as Coordinator Minuro Kurita's face seemed to turn an evil red.

"Girl, are you out of your mind? Do you really expect me to agree to these terms? You have got to be kidding." Coordinator Kurita nearly yelled.

Unflustered, Director-General Cameron replied "Then this meeting is a waste of time and you may depart Terra immediately. Your safe passage lasts until you reach Lambrecht, once there, your on your own. There is the door."

But Coordinator Minuro Kurita did not move to get up, he took several deep breaths before speaking again "The Combine will pay no more than 50 Billion per year in reparations for the next 5 years. But I want my equipment back along with my units. Along with safe passage for my transports to collect them."

"I can agree to those terms, Coordinator Kurita. I am not unreasonable. Since it will take time for both yourself and us to inform all of our commands of the Cease Fire and soon to be signed Peace Treaty, I propose 1 November as the date that official hostilities end." Director General Amanda Cameron said.

"Yes, that would be agreeable. I assume the delay is to get word to your troops raiding my periphery border?" Coordinator Kurita replied.

"Yes, it will take some time to relay the news to them. I assume they will be granted safe passage from Combine space? They have quite a journey since Midway and Chatham are deep in Combine space." Director-General Cameron said watching closely.

Again Coordinator Minuro Kurita's face turned a dark red, and he sucked in a lung full of air "They can not be that deep without our knowledge."

"I assure you, Coordinator, they can be. It is amazing what total war looks like with no HPG network to sound the alarm." Director-General Cameron said.

"I request you issue your recall to them immediately. If either Midway or Chatham are attacked before we sign the papers, this deal is off and the war continues." Coordinator Kurita demanded.

Director-General Amanda Cameron looked at Jerome Blake who made a big deal of picking up the phone and issung immediate recall orders for the strike forces. "There, neither Midway nor Chatham will be struck, orders should reach them in a week and I believe they are 2 weeks away from either system. I will have the documents drawn up. I believe I have been informed that it will take 2 weeks to reactivate the HPG network inside the Combine, but that is AFTER the 1 November date."

"I demand the HPG network be turned on immediately!!" Coordinator Kurita said loudly.

"Demand all you want, Coordinator Kurita, but the HPG network will only be turned on AFTER 1 November. I am not the fool you take me for. The proper documents will be ready for signatures and witnessing on the 10th. You may return to your compound. Your not restricted to it, but any trip outside your compound will be under armed escort. I assume if the tables were reversed, those would be the restrictions I would be placed under." Director General Cameron said

Coordinator Minuro Kurita did not respond, he just nodded his head, stood and headed for the door. (No child, I would have your head on a platter.) he thought silently.

Once Coordinator Kurita and his party had exited the building, Director-General Amanda Cameron looked at her still silent Aunt Rita, who had said nothing the entire meeting. "How did I do, Aunt Rita?"

"Pretty good, I think you should have held out for 125 Billion in reparations. With him on Terra, he will not know that New Samarkand has been hit and we are stripping as much as we can from it. I will make sure Barbara and Colin are aware that they need to be gone by 1 November. Once he finds out, he will pull out all the stops to catch them. Nor am I sure about letting have all his equipment back for his ground troops, but it buys us some time." General Rita Mitchell replied

"How do you think he will react when he finds out who the witness' will be?" Amanda asked.

"Probably have a damned heart attack, heck I thought he was going to have one right here." Rita responded

"Serves him right. I owe you a steak dinner, Aunt Rita, I think he is up to no good. He caved too easily on the terms." Amanda said and only got a grunt in reply.

7 August 2786
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Coordinator Minuro Kurita walked along a winding path on the small estate "owned" by the Draconis Combine here on Terra. He had spent a few hours catching up on news from around the Inner Sphere, but now he just needed to clear his head. Time to think, alone, or as alone as he could be. He allowed his mind to wander over the previous days meeting. Why did she settle in such a low amount when she started so high? Is the Hegemony hurting that bad for cash? Or are they much weaker than they appear to be? Where and how did they get their forces all the way to my periphery border so quickly? Were they based at Antallos? It soon became clear that he had way more questions than answers. He stopped at a small bench and sat down, staring our across the lush lawn. He began to take them one at a time.

It was possible that the Hegemony was low on cash, they had suffered a tremendous amount of damage during Amaris rule and the SLDF liberation. But everything he had seen was that they were bouncing back very quickly. Plus they got a massive amount of cash from the HPG network, which only they could maintain.

If they were weak, then they were sure making excellent use of their resources. They had stopped the DCMS cold and even done what he thought could not be done and that was invade the Combine and emerge victorious. They had inflicted lop sided losses on his forces. Plundered and destroyed industries, savaged every command they faced. If they are weak, I do not want them strong.

They had appeared on his periphery border and struck 4 worlds and then vanished. They had savaged the units garrisoning those 4 worlds. They had to come from Antallos, but how had they remained hidden. The DCMS and intel services ran frequent missions to keep tabs on the system. Once he was done here, he would order the DCMS to take care of this issue once and for all.

I think they are stalling for time. Time to rebuild. Well, they will not get that time. Come May 2787, I am going to make you pay for everything, Director-General Amanda Cameron. I might even move the capital of the Draconis Combine to Terra when it is all over. It is such a pleasant place after all.

At a restricted space port on the other side of Unity City, Director-General Amanda Cameron stood watching the Dropship settle onto the Ferrocrete. She watched a man she had never personally met, yet had spoken to many times approach. "First Prince John Davion, it is a pleasure to meet you in person at last. Welcome to Terra, though I suspect your much more familiar with it than I am."

"Director-General Amanda Cameron, your as beautiful as your mother was. It is my pleasure to be here. Though I expect Coordinator Minuro Kurita will not be pleased at my being here. So he really did it? He actually sued for peace?"

"Yes, he agreed rather quickly too. But the main thing is for the fighting to end, for the dying to end." Amanda said

"Make sure you stand way back when he signs the document, he might try to plant that pen in your back." John Davion replied

Amanda patted her hip and brushed back the short jacket she wore revealing a small laser pistol "Let him try, if I don't get him, Aunt Rita will."

First Prince John Davion let out a small laugh "Then I will make sure I am not in the line of fire. Shall we go have a look at the old Federated Suns compound together, or are we awaiting others?" He asked counting the number of waiting cars.

"Others are arriving. Chancellor Barbara Liao, Archon Jennifer Steiner and even Captain General Kenyon Marik will be here soon. Most were invited awhile back by Jerome Blake to discuss the HPG network. I have had people tracking every Jumpship they could so as to form command circuits like the one that brought you. Cost quite a bit to make it work, but we managed to make it happen." Amanda Cameron said

"Your not planning on trying to reform the Star League are you? Because even though the Federated Suns would say yes, maybe Chancellor Liao. But the others? No way, they will not do that again." John Davion replied

"No. I feel no one is ready for that again, not at this time. Not even me." Amanda Cameron said "But, I am here to greet you. The others are being met by others. Let's go see how well kept your compound is."

8 August 2786
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

General Rita Mitchell, Commanding General Hegemony Armed Forces, had appointed herself to meet Captain General Kenyon Marik of the Free Worlds League. Jerome Blake had met Archon Jennifer Steiner the previous evening, explaining that Director-General Amanda Cameron was unfortunately detained by working on the proper wording of the Peace Accords with the Draconis Combine. This was accepted at face value by Archon Jennifer Steiner, much to the surprise of Jerome Blake.

Chancellor Barbara Liao would be arriving tomorrow, but she was going to be met by Director- General Amanda Cameron on the advice of First Prince John Davion. This had surprised everyone when it was announced, but First Prince John Davion had explained that, though the Capellan Confederation was a historic enemy of the Federated Suns, they had, unlike the other Houses except the Federated Suns, provided the most financial aid to the Terran Hegemony while continuing to help fund the repair and maintenance of the HPG network.

General Rita Mitchell watched Captain-General Kenyon Marik disembark from his Dropship and walked to greet him. She had made sure that his Dropship would have an unobstructed view of the Monsoon-Class Battleship, SLS Thunderer, and several other warships on his flight. She hoped that would give him pause in his obvious thirst for Hegemony worlds, but she doubted it. She drew to a halt and allowed him to close the remaining distance. Drawing herself to attention, she saluted Captain-General Kenyon Marik.

"Captain-General Marik, General Rita Mitchell. It is a pleasure to welcome you to Terra, I hope the flight was comfortable." Rita said

He did not return the salute but looked around before answering "The flight was what I am accustomed to. So, Director-General Cameron sends her pit bull to greet me? I had expected better manners from her, but I guess her upbringing was lacking."

A wave of anger flared within General Rita Mitchell, but she fought back the urge to just shoot him on the spot."No sir, I nominated myself the task of greeting you Captain-General. With the Government of the Terran Hegemony still in some cases a shambles, the Director-General is extremely busy. Besides, I was hoping we could discuss the continued troop buildup on our borders. I find them troubling and I would hope to avoid an accident." Not only that, but it is a good way to get a good feel for a potential enemy, she thought silently.

"Just harmless maneuvers General Mitchell. As you know, I am here mainly for the conference for this HPG Neutrality that Jerome Blake has been pandering. I have read the articles he has put forward in detail and think it might be worth while to hear more about it. It has been a long trip and if you will excuse me, I would like to see my former estate and relax some." Captain General Kenyon Marik said

"As you wish sir, the vehicles will take you where ever you desire, sir." General Rita Mitchell replied

9 August 2786Monsoon Battleship

Chancellor Barbara Liao met Director-General Amanda Cameron for the first time after disembarking from her Dropship. She allowed herself a moment to appraise the very young ruler of the Terran Hegemony, her skilled eyes quickly took note that she was quite obviously her deceased mothers child. The resemblence was sort of uncanny, but it was her bright eyes that told all who looked into them that she was extremely intelligent and alert.

"Director-General Cameron, it is a pleasure to finally meet you in person." Chancellor Barbara Liao said

"The pleasure is all mine, Chancellor. Welcome to Terra. I would like to thank you and your nation for the continued assistance during these trying times. The damage done by Amaris is extensive and your aid has allowed us to see to the needs of my people while we rebuild all that was lost." Amanda said

"It is the right thing to do. I regret not seeing the traitor Amaris for the threat he was." Chancellor Liao replied while silently thinking, if the Hegemony falls, hopefully all the money and aid will sway worlds to the Capellan Confederation.

"I am told he was very skilled at manipulation and deception. He fooled everyone, so you bear no blame for what happened." Amanda said her eyes sparkling brightly

"That is kind of you to say my dear. Though my visit was to hear more about this HPG Neutrality, your invite said that I would be attending something else of interest, may I ask what that is?" Chancellor Liao asked

"Tomorrow, the Draconis Combine and Terran Hegemony will be signing a Peace Accord ending the fighting between us. I need witness' and could think of no better witness' than the leaders of every Great House." Amanda said

Chancellor Barbara Liao's eyes flared at this revelation "Coordinator Minuro Kurita is actually admitting defeat? This must be a very bitter pill for him to swallow."

"I am sure it is, but he has seen the folly in this war. I only hope that it lasts and the Hegemony will not see war ever again." Amanda said but deep inside of her, she knew that her statement was false hope and that war was already looming on the horizon.

While Director-General Amanda Cameron was greeting Chancellor Barbara Liao, General Rita Mitchell was having a private talk with Jerome Blake in her office. She wanted to make sure that he understood exactly what he was supposed to do.

"I want this conference to last as long as you can drag it out, Mr Blake. Even if every one of the House rulers stand on their chairs and say YES to everything on day one. Drag this out for as long as you can. I have read the proposal and though I have some serious reservations about some aspects of it, Director-General Cameron authorized it, so I will stand behind her decision." Rita said

"May I ask why I am to drag this out?" Jerome Blake asked.

"It is simple, there are Hegemony forces in a dangerous position and I need time to get them to safety before we reactivate the Combine HPG grid. Plus I would prefer that during that time, Coordinator Kurita be here on Terra and basically out of communication as long as possible. In addition, we need the time to redeploy our forces to meet the possible threat from the Free Worlds League. Marik is not foolish enough to start anything while he is within the borders of the Hegemony itself." Rita explainedseious

I see. I can possbly drag it out for a week or two. Not sure I can drag it much further." Jerome Blake said

"Sure you can. I have seen your reports on the HPG networks within every realm. They are monsterous, spend a few days reviewing those with the House Lords. Planned expansions, upgrades, new construction, proposed costs, additional funding needed, review each nations contributions to maintaining the HPG netowrk etc. You don't need to kick Kurita too hard, but I am sure that Marik will get all pissy when you point out that his realm is contributing 30% less than every other realm to maintain his portion of the HPG grid. Especially if you point out that upgrades and such in other realms are delayed due to funding issues since extra money must be diverted to make up the shortfall from Marik to maintain the HPG grid. That should be good for several days of the House Lords beating on Marik while you sit back and watch." Rita explained further.

"The Free Worlds League is actually closer to 40% less than everyone else. I would prefer to not put the Accords into danger of failing, but I will help buy time to get Hegemony force to safety." Jerome Blake promised

"Excellent, Mr Blake. I knew I could count on you." Rita said, looking forward to reading the transcripts of the conference.

Boulsi (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

General Heinrich Rommel watched as the extremely heavily guarded convoy entered the mountain base carved out by the SLDF. Aboard this convoy were exact duplicate data cores from Terra. They would be carefully installed within the mountain base. A full Brigade of Infantry was assigned to guard this base at all times. The damage caused during the taking years ago had long been repaired and the base had actually been expanded in size and depth. Weapons emplacements had been installed and even ground based Capitol Weapons were emplaced to make orbital bombardment a dangerous tactic to attempt. Additional reactors had been installed to provide the massive amounts of power these emplacements required.

The mountain itself was solid granite. The data cores were being taken to the lowest level for installation, nearly a mile of solid granite would help shield these precious items from damage. Massive shock absorbers had been installed in the massive cavern to shield them from any sort of shock damage. It was the safest place they had available to them.

10 August 2786
Linden (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

Admiral Tanisha Tanaka was nearly drooling as she listened to the engineers from Mitchell Vehicles as they spoke of putting the Luxor Heavy Cruiser into production as soon as possible at Linden. Even though the shipyards here were not the hyper advanced yards located at Graham IV, she was assured that they would be able to do the job, but instead of a 1 year construction time, it would take 18 months to build each ship. At least until some of the shipyards from Graham IV arrived along with the more advanced supporting facilities. It was when they started talking about adding the Essex II Destroyer that they started to lose her.

"Look, we have the Vincent-Class Destroyer. It is better armored and in my opinion better armed than the Essex II-Class Destroyer. Not to mention it is faster and more maneuverable. If I have any say in the matter, and I have all the say on this issue, which is to what ships my Fleet will be equipped with, it will be the Vincent Destroyer. Not unless you can design an upgrade for the Essex II Destroyer that matches or exceeds what the Vincent Destroyer can do." Admiral Tanaka said.

Several of the Mitchell Vehicle engineers shared some looks before Cynthia Howell, lead engineer present, replied "We can sure make an attempt at it. We have nothing else to do right now anyway. We do not have official word that we have control over these shipyards yet, nor a firm order to place anything into production yet. We were sent out here to get a feel for what was actually available and what would be needed to actually resume production. It will be a design only and until we have one to work with, we will not know the feasibility of whether an existing can be upgraded easily or will it require a complete new build."

"That would be excellent. It will need to be equipped with LF Batteries but not a HPG. I want point defense systems installed and anti fighter weaponry. This will be used to escort the main battle line squadrons, not independent operations. I would prefer it to be as ammunition independent as possible, but it must have enough cargo space and fuel for extended operations away from it's Home Port. Let's see what you can work up. If it is good enough, I will begin fighting for a production contract." Admiral Tanaka said

Now with a "mission" Cynthia Howell told her engineers to pull all the information they had on the Essex II Destroyer and to begin work on coming up with a suitable replacement that fit with the specifications set forth by Admiral Tanaka.

Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Coordinator Minuro Kurita was not surprised when he was led into the large room where the Peace Accords would be signed, for his few spies on Terra had alerted him to the arrival of the other House Lords. Though it angered him that his "peers" would witness the Draconis Combine sue for peace with the Terran Hegemony, he forced himself to play the part, for soon he would have his vengeance for this outrage. As he walked towards the raised dias, he nodded at the other House Lords, noticing that First Prince John Davion was talking with General Rita Mitchell, while Director General Amanda Cameron was talking with Chancellor Barbara Liao. Captain General Kenyon Marik was seated but not talking to anyone and Archon Jennifer Steiner was talking with Jerome Blake.

Once he took his seat, the various conversations halted and everyone took their seats. Throughout the small speech given by Director-General Amanda Cameron, Coordinator Minuro Kurita forced himself to remain impassive outwardly, even though inside, his blood was boiling as she detailed to all present the terms of the Peace Accord. The Terran Hegemony was giving up nothing while the Draconis Combine was being forced to give up much, it was obvious that the Combine had been the losers.

When the Peace Accords were placed in front of him, he quickly read them and then picked up the ornate pen. With barely contained rage, he quickly signed his name and affixed his personal seal where an aide to Director General Cameron indicated. Just as quickly, Director General Amanda Cameron signed the document and then all the other House Lords as witness. He was not in the mood for any small talk, so once everything was over, he marched straight for the door and was whisked back to his compound. Though he wanted to leave for Luthien immediately, he had to complete the final part of his son's plan and sit thru the HPG Neutrality Conference scheduled to start on the 15th. He prayed that it would be over quickly.

Back in the conference room, General Rita Mitchell spoke to Jerome Blake. "Mr Blake, you may begin to bring on the HPG Netowrk inside the Draconis Combine. On this data disc if the order in which they are to be turned on and the dates they are to be acitvated. You are not to deviate from this list or time schedule. Understood?"

"Yes General Mitchell, I understand." Jerome Blake said as he accepted the data disc from General Mitchell.

Junior (Federated Suns)

At the Nadir Jump Point, 10 Monolith Jumpships and 12 Star Lord Jumpships sat recharging. Not far away, their escorts were also recharging their drives. SLS Borneo, Volga-Class Transport and SLS Contraband, League II-Class Destroyer. They were returning to the Terran Hegemony, but not empty. Loaded aboard the many modified Passenger Mammoth's were the troops of the 52nd Infantry Division, their equipment stored aboard the SLS Borneo.

Thazi (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

General Heinrich Rommel watched the activation ceremony with some pride, another former shattered SLDF command was once again on active duty and at full strength, the 428th Battlemech Division. It had several years to get the needed Mechwarriors trained and then he let Major General Ingrid Sherman have a full year to drill them into a combat ready command before full activation.

The full year of battle drills had allowed the 428th Battlemech Division activate with a decent readiness level. He rated the command at Regular experience level instead of Green. This time, he could not afford to shift large numbers of Veterans into the new command.

18 August 2786
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Coordinator Minuro Kurita was seriously contemplating seppuku if he had to sit thru much more of this techno babble from Jerome Blake and his never ending briefings and speeches. He had sat thru boring briefings and meetings before but this one took the prize as the worst. For 3 days now, he and the other House Lords had sat and listened to the planned expansion of the HPG network if the HPG Neutrality was signed, about how the expansion would be funded, that each HOuse would be allowed to designate certain worlds for immediate upgrade, limited to 10 every 20 years for each House. To break the boring routine, when today's monologue had started, he had asked about Luthien and the restoration of the Combine's HPG Network. It had been an embarrassing mistake.

"Before you get on your roll, Mr Blake, how soon will my HPG Network is fully operational?" Coordinator Kurita had asked

"We have already begun work on making the HPG's operational again. It is fairly easy to shut them down, but getting them operational again and perfectly tuned is a time consuming process. Then there is the stations that were destroyed or badly damaged when your forces attempted to take the stations. Rebuilding them will take even more time, plus it is fully dependent on funding from your government. Take Luthien as an example, it was a fully upgraded HPG station, equal to all of the other Houses stations on their capital's and here on Terra. To rebuild the Luthien station will take 3 years and cost 80 Billion Dollars. We have already begun purchasing the needed equipment and construction is estimated to take just over a year, then 6 months to transport and another year to assemble on site, with several months of testing before fully operational." Jerome Blake stated

"Why not quicker? Luthien should be of the highest priority!!" Coordinator Kurita exploded.

"Systems within the Hegemony come before all others Coordinator. The Hegemony controls the HPG production plants. And I am sorry to remind you, but it was the actions of your forces that resulted in the destruction of the Luthien HPG station. Those systems ahead of you have already paid for their equipment in full. The Combine has yet to send a single dollar to purchase the needed equipment to replace that which your forces caused to be destroyed. I took the liberty of inserting your order into the production waiting list for you, but construction of that equipment will not begin until payment has been received in full." Jerome Blake replied

"This is an outrage, there has to be another way to speed this up. Luthien must regain it's ability to communicate again." Coordinator Kurita said angrily.

"Well, since you asked, I know that Graham IV, which is currently having it's equipment finalized for delivery in the next 2 months, could probably be persuaded to move to your current production slot, but it will be expensive. They need the cash for rebuilding efforts more than a fully upgraded HPG." Jerome Blake replied

"How much will this cost?" Coordinator Kurita asked, though he seriously needed the HPG, he smelled a rat.

"The full cost of their purchase, which is 45 Billion Dollars, plus an additional 45 Billion dollars for the 2 year delay on arrival of their already purchased HPG equipment. That would guarantee their acceptance of the deal, I am sure of it. Plus you would need to pay the 80 Billion Dollars, for the rebuilding of the Luthien station, before delivery is arranged to Luthien." Jerome Blake stated flatly.

"You have lost your mind, Blake. The Combine will not be held hostage like this." Coordinator Kurita said.

"Then your production slot will remain where it is. But I remind you, production will not commence until your payment is made. In full, sir." Jerome Blake replied

From the corner of his eye, Coordinator Minuro Kurita could see First Prince John Davion watching the exchange with a barely hidden grin on his face. Across the table, Director General Amanda Cameron had continued jotting notes on her pad while drawing circles with her pen." Director-General Cameron, surely something can be done to overcome this impasse."

She stopped her doodling and looked Coordinator Kurita in the eye "You should have heeded my warning Coordinator Kurita. But, your right, Luthien, as the capital of the Draconis Combine should not remain in the dark. I will make all the arrangements, but I will need the 45 Billion for Graham IV plus your 80 Billion before I authorize shipping. I also believe that an additional 17 stations were destroyed or heavily damaged and that the cost for those are an additional 470 Billion Dollars to being them to fully operational status. How would you like to pay for those?"

The amount hit Coordinator Minuro Kurita like a sledgehammer, over half a TRILLION Dollars would be needed to bring his nations HPG Network back to full operation. He forced himself to remain stone faced as he answered "Luthien will be first, I will have the funds transferred the moment I am back on Luthien. The others I will need to examine their importance for repair or replacement."

"Perfectly understandable, Coordinator Kurita. Now, shall we continue with Mr Blake's presentations? He has worked a long time on them after all." Director-General Amanda Cameron said.

19 August 2786
New Samarkand (Draconis Combine)

Vice Admiral Barbara Coltrain was tired, as were all of her crews. They had been on a heightened alert status for too long. But being in Cobine space did not allow them any downtime at all. Almost every couple of days a Combine Jumpship entered the system only to be captured by her warships. As much as she wanted to keep them all, she did not have near enough crews for them. She had impounded the independently owned Jumpships until they departed the system with their crews transported to the surface. Ships belonging to the DCMS Admiralty she had other plans for them. So far, they had taken control of 7 Invader, 3 Star Lord and a brand new Monolith -Class Jumpship from the DCMS Admiralty.

She wished Major General Colin McGregor could speed up his looting of the factory complexes, but she knew that was beyond his control. It took time. She consoled herself with having all 3 captured DCMS warships out of their slips and ready to leave with her Fleet. After consulting the specialists they had brought, they had confirmed that they could breakdown the actual shipyard slips in the time they had left and could possibly strip down several of the supporting orbital factories. She had given the go ahead a week ago and they had already begun dismantling the slip configured to build the Samarkand Carrier.

She was about to turn in for the night when alarms sounded throughout the ship and she made her way back to the bridge. Probably another random Jumpship inbound, she thought as the bridge hatch cycled open. "Report, what have we got?"

"Incoming emergence waves, multiple ships. Unless the Combine has gone to convoy's, I would bet money we have incoming warships." Her XO reported
"Order General Quarters, set condition 3. Warm up the weapons and get the pilots to their birds. Comm, send to the surface, inbound hostiles to make sure they are ready for anything." Vice Admiral Coltrain ordered

Cho-sho Ikuya Seki, commander 1st Fleet Supply Division, shook off the effects from the jump into New Samarkand. He was delivering the final crews for the 3 new warships but also resupply Cho-sho Shuji Hirata and his Division during their patrol of the periphery border. As the ships sensors came back online, he noted that all of the ships in his Division had made the jump. He gave the order to fire up the engines and head for the shipyard complex to transfer the new crew members to their ships and to begin transfer of material for the shipyards and taking on additional spares.

An aide brought a cup of tea over and he had taken his first sip from the Zero G cup when the ships plot suddenly changed. Heading towards his Division at a 2g rate of advance and barely at the edge of his ships radar range were 6 blips. As he studied the incoming plots, he verified that his ships were broadcasting their IFF and then as the oncoming ships closed, the ships plot blinked as it started picking up their IFF signals. He cursed as his eyes focused on a blip now labeled SLS Rhodon, Luxor Heavy Cruiser."Battle stations, get the weapons warmed up."

Vice Admiral Barbara Coltrain smiled as her ships rushed the Combine warships that just materialized. It would not be a fair fight at all and they could not flee. Two Vincent Corvettes and 4 Carrack Transports would make a very nice addition to their growing Fleet. She checked the closure rate and saw that they had another 30 minutes to maximum range. She crossed her legs and adjusted herself as much as her straps would allow to maximize her comfort during the 2g rate of advance.

Cho-sho Ikuya Seki knew this would be a very lop sided fight as he gave the order for his few Aerospace fighters to launch. His ships sensor's kept a count of the swarm of inbound hostile Aerospace fighters. Not a ship in his command really stood a chance against the oncoming warships. His Carracks had carried 6 Jumbo Dropships and 2 Aqueduct Dropships for their resupply mission. He had already ordered the nearly defenseless Dropships to flee in the opposite direction while the warships tried to fight off the incoming enemy. "Emergence signatures detected!!!" Cho-sho Ikuya Seki could clearly see the incoming signatures being plotted on his display, his sensors detected what looked like a single ship on each of his flanks with another pair directly behind, effectively surrounding his force.

SLS Midnight Dancer, LF Star Lord Jumpship materialized 37,500km in front of the fleeing Dropships and detached the 3 Titan Dropships she was carrying, which in turn began launching their Aerospace Fighters. She was followed by SLS Yangtze River, Vincent-Class Destroyer which began heading for the gaggle of Dropships slightly behind the flock of Aerospace Fighters. On each flank of the Combine warhsip squadron, SLS Trinity River, Vincent Destroyer appeared on their port flank while SLS Halthom, Vincent Destroyer materialized on their starboard flank. Both began moving to intercept the Combine warships and prevent any escape.

Vice Admiral Barbara Coltrain watched the range closure and gave her final orders before allowing the individual ships captains to direct the fight "Weapons free, target as enemy ships bear. I would prefer to capture as many as possible but if they force our hand destroy them. I want non stop surrender calls even during the fighting, hopefully, after the intial volley's they will see the wisdom of surrender. Under no circumstances do we allow any ship to break thru and threaten our transports or shipyards."

A flurry of acknowledgements came over the communications network as SLS Rhodon's weapons officer selected the lead Vincent Corvette as the primary target, she advised her captain of a slight course adjustment which would bring another facing into play for maximum effect. The course was altered slightly and as the lead Vincent entered max range, SLS Rhodon opened fire. Three NL/55, 6 Medium NPPC and 2 Medium Naval Gauss headed for the lead Vincent Corvette. Cho-sho Seki thought his Vincent Corvette had stopped dead in it's tracks as the massive volley struck home. A quick glance at the damage display caused a flash of fear to go down his spine. The nose of his Vincent Corvette literally did not exist any longer, several shots had gone internal and his Jump Core showed enough damage that he doubted he could flee even if he wanted to. Another volley like that and we die.

DCS Gilded Dragon, Vincent Corvette was not nearly as lucky. She was struck by 3 Heavy NPPC and 4 Medium NPPC fired by SLS Hatchet, Kimagure-Class Pursuit Cruiser. All the nose armor was blasted away along with most of the Forward Right armor. A single Heavy NPPC shot went internal and detonated the Barracuda missile stored there. The resulting explosion ripped the forward section of the Vincent Corvette apart.

The DCS Horned Toad, Carrack Transport was swarmed with Aerospace Fighters, who had barely even slowed to engage the few DCMS Aerospace fighters. Though her anti fighter weapons proved to be a threat, it was the Vincent rapidly closing that was her greatest threat. She focused all she could on the lightly armored Vincent and was shocked as sensor reads reported barely any damage when she should have lost over 1/2 her armor where her weapons struck home. Aboard SLS Kathy Hamile, Vincent Destroyer, Commodore Oscar Lorenzo smiled at what he was about to do to the Carrack Transport that had scratched his paint. "Weps, please let that Carrack know that we do not appreciate the greeting we just got."

With a smile, the weapons officer gave the order to fire. Two NAC/10 were fired in return and both removed the nose armor allowing one of the NAC/10 rounds to go internal. "Sir, I cannot fire anything else, everything we have will blow that Carrack apart. We need to pass by to bring our AFT weapons into play, the Naval Lasers are all we have. The NAC/20's will possibly destroy the Carrack."

"Understood Weps, Helm, accelerate and get our AFT weapons into the fight if you would please."

So the battle continued but within 30 minutes, the fighting was over. The SLDF/HAF forces had lost 5 Aerospace Fighters and some armor damage to warships. The Combine had lost 12 Aerospace Fighters, and a single Jumbo Dropships destroyed. SAR missions were launched as Marine details conducted boarding operations. Within 6 hours of the Combine arrival, the SLDF/HAF was victorious.

Captured Combine Shipping

DCS Storm Rising, Vincent Corvette - Heavy Damage (Captured)
DCS Gilded Dragon, Vincent Corvette - Heavy Damage (Captured)
DCS Horned Toad, Carrack Transport - Heavy Damage (Captured)
DCS Hōfuku Maru, Crrack Transport - Moderate Damage (Captured)
DCS Tatsuta Maru, Carrack Transport - Light Damage (Captured)
DCS Kyokusei Maru, Carrack Transport - Light Damage (Captured)
5 Jumbo Dropships Captured
2 Aqueduct Dropships Captured

19 August 2786 Thazi (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

Martin Zuni, CEO ZaP Shipping, was reorganizing his shipping allocations. With the expansion of the Hegemony territory in the Periphery, he had been forced to expand his operations quicker than he had ever planned. So far, he was the sole player in the interstellar shipping market, but he was also smart enough to make sure he did not over charge for anything. If anything, he kept prices below market value. He had a good thing going and there was no sense in making waves or getting complaints that might cause General Mitchell to regret allowing him a monopoly on shipping traffic.

Years ago, he had arranged to purchase the captured pirate Liberty Jumpships for a song and dance bargain price. This had allowed him to easily expand into the newer controlled territory to provide the needed services. Now that Thompson Shipyards was operating the civilian Jumpship construction market, he had been forced to do some serious negotiations to secure a good contract price per ship. Luckily, he had dealt with the first folks to arrive and not the head hunters from their main office still in the Hegemony. But it was still a very lucrative deal for both sides, they got a 20% discount on all shipping needs and he got a 20% discount on ship purchases and a 25% discount on maintenance costs. This was mainly agreed to because beside the SLDF/HAF military, he was the only Jumpship buyer out here.

He had put off this reorganization for too long and he knew it, but it was time. Sooner or later he knew someone else was going to move into the area and begin some competition. He was not worried about a single ship independent, he was worried about one of the heavy hitters from either the original Hegemony or one of the Houses deciding it was time for an expansion. He studied the large monitor on the wall, where his current work was displayed. His eyes flicked down to his written notes and then back to the monitor looking for any errors.

ZaP Shipping Operational Chart

Home System - Thazi (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

Thazi Division
Star Lord Jumpship - 3
Liberty Jumpship - 8
Merchant Jumpship - 4
Mammoth Dropship (Cargo) - 10 (4 on order)
Mammoth Dropship (Passenger) - 4 (3 on order)
Jumbo Dropship (Cargo) - 32 (4 on order)
Jumbo Dropship (Passenger) - 4 (3 on order)
Buccaneer Dropship - 6

Mitz Division

Star Lord Jumpship - 4
Tramp Jumpship - 4
Invader Jumpship - 16 (6 on order)
Merchant Jumpship - 12 (8 on order)
Mammoth Dropship (Cargo) - 30 (12 on order)
Mammoth Dropship (Passenger) - 12 (4 on order)
Jumbo Dropship (Cargo) - 24 (6 on order)
Jumbo Dropship (Passenger) - 14
Buccaneer Dropship - 7
Mule Dropship - 24 (12 on order)

Bastrop Division (Federated Suns)

Monolith Jumpship - 2 (4 on order)
Star Lord Jumpship - 2
Invader Jumpship - 16
Merchant Jumpship - 8
Mammoth Dropship (Cargo) - 40
Mammoth Dropship (Passenger) - 6
Jumbo Dropship (Passenger) - 12
Mule Dropship - 30
Monarch Dropship - 8

Transit Division (Bastrop to Vonja)

Star Lord Jumpship - 4
Mammoth Dropship (Passenger) - 16

He had shifted more assets to support Martha Pruitts Bastrop operations. He had purchased new Dropships off the open market within the Federated Suns while extra Jumpships moved from the Hegemony to the Federated Suns. But what had both shocked him and scared him some was the fleet of Jumpships owned by Mitchell Vehicles that had arrived carrying their personnel and equipment. He had learned that Mitchell Vehicles was purchasing as many Jumpships and Dropships as he could to move everyone that wanted to make the move. Martin feared that once the move was complete, Mitchell would turn that Jumpship fleet into a shipping company, so he wanted to make sure he was ready.

He had been forced to place 4 Star Lord Jumpships and 16 Mammoth Dropship (Passenger) on a command circuit from Bastrop to Vonja due to the increased and almost non stop Hegemony refugee's arriving at Bastrop carried aboard Federated Suns transports. Currently the circuit was moving 96,000 passengers every other week and had been for the last 3 months. He did not complain, as the circuit was making 230 million per month for the trip from Bastrop to Vonja. Refugee's paid 300 per jump for the 4 jump trip to Vonja, from there, the Hegemony paid a heavily discounted 150 per jump to move the refugee's to different worlds within the Hegemony border depending on a systems needs and refugee skills. Reports from Bastrop said that even with the command circuit, the number of refugee's was growing faster than they could transport them. Current rates had the Federated Suns delivering 380,000 refugee's per month. He was fighting a losing battle with the flood.

19 August 2786
Linden (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

Admiral Tanisha Tanaka had looked over the massive transport needs of the SLDF/HAF ground forces and it was not a pretty picture. The Star Lord Jumpship was the primary transport for the SLDF/HAF. Though Thompson Shipyards had brought the design for the Monolith Jumpship with them, it was expected to take at least 2 years before it was in production. Not only that, but any offensive or even defensive action would require the transports to be escorted with warships, and these were always in short supply. The workhorse Star Lord Jumpship, of which the SLDF/HAF had 83 of, was a good transport, but defenseless. Each Mechanized Infantry Division consumed a massive minimum of 50 Dropship collars to transport. It used to not be that bad, but with the expanded TOE of each Division while under General Rita Mitchell, the collar problem had exploded. It was fine for purely defensive operations, but it caused massive problems during offensive operations with Operation Black Eye consuming almost 35% of their available Star Lord's. Another 15 had gone to Terra with General Mitchell and had yet to return. That was almost half of their true available transports gone.

She had thought long and hard over some kind of solution to their problem. How to provide the needed transport in a package that could protect itself from a warship threat for either offensive or defensive operations? That was the largest problem, they did not possess enough warships to both guard their borders, escort missions and fight an offensive campaign at the same time. She looked up as her guest arrived, Cynthia Howell from Mitchell Vehicles.

"Please have a seat Mrs Howell. I need some input, suggestions, idea's. I need it all. Let me explain." Admiral Tanaka said and for the next 30 minutes she laid out all the problems and then asked for possible solutions.

Over several minutes Cynthia Howell sat in her chair and looked at the notes she had taken. She had spent a lot of time looking over the designs of both Warships and Dropships that the SLDF/HAF was using. Though they were excellent designs, they were limited in their carry capacity and chewed up collars, which was a huge issue in itself. She doodled on her pad for a few minutes until she finally looked up. "What if, Mitchell Vehicles could redesign the Colossus Dropship? I think we could modify it so that 2 of them could carry a full Battlemech Regiment with ample onboard supplies to keep the Regiment in battle for almost 2 weeks just on onboard supplies. That would chop the current 11 Dropships needed by a Mechanized Infantry Division down to roughly 6. We could also probably modify another variant to carry a full Armor Regiment. That would free another 8 collars up. Your still going to need the 10 Lion (Infantry) Dropships, which is a sweet little design, if expensive as hell. I think it might be possible to get the overall collar total down to maybe 35 to 40. But judging by the oversized Divisions your running overall, I just don't see a way to get below that. Your still going to need at least a Regiment of Battlemechs mounted in either Lee or Overlord Dropships to secure a landing zone for the Colossus Dropships to come in at safely.

Even at that collar count, your looking at 2 Potemkin Transports per Division or 8 Star Lords. That new Monolith would drop the number to 5 needed. But the conventional Jumpships, though much cheaper, would need escorts at all times."

"Well, you know my problems. So feel free to work on some design's and bring them to me. If you can make them feasible, I will fight like hell to get them approved for deployment. It would be a big contract, so keep the costs down as much as you can." Admiral Tanaka said"How are you and your people finding it out here?"

"Much to my surprise, it has been extremely pleasant. The local's are as nice as ever and eager beavers. The housing, while not what we left, is comfortable and functional. My biggest surprise was from Vice Admiral Percy Siemens. He has been extremely open to any suggestions we have made. I am used to getting gruff from SLDF officers when I make a suggestion." Cynthia Howell said.

Admiral Tanaka pinched the bridge of her nose slightly between to fingers before she responded "Vice Admiral Siemens can be a burden at times. He means well, and I cannot fault his administration ability, but he can also get under a person's skin quickly."

"Well, before coming over, I had just explained to him that with the current size of the fleet out here, he should really upgrade the existing shipyards to construct or handle ships of 1 Million tons. He only has 2 yards that size but has 6 yards that can handle 500 thousand tons or less. All those Vigilant Corvettes he runs can be maintained inside of a Olympus Recharge Station. But your lacking enough yards to keep your true warships in shape or build new ones. Those are the recommendations I will be making to Mr Mitchell when he arrives and we officially assume control of the shipyards here. My thinking is the faster we start some upgrades, the quicker we can fully upgrade the shipyard systems to the more advanced yards like at Graham IV. Plus I would love to increase the number of supporting complexes, I am a firm believer of you can never have enough of those." Cynthia Howell replied

"Great" Admiral Tanaka said quietly before saying louder "How is your Destroyer design coming along?"
"We have several in the works. They seem pretty good, but until we either build one for trials or get our hands on one to strip down and upgrade, they are just computer designs and rough ones at that. We don't have the more advanced computers that we had at Graham IV. Once those arrive, we will be able to not only design a ship, but do most of the combat testing within the computer itself before we even lay the keel." Cynthia Howell said.

For over an hour, they made small talk about how all the new arrivals were settling in and such.

Thazi (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

General Heinrich Rommel was going over the almost non stop flow of refugee's arriving at Vonja and then being dispersed all over the Hegemony worlds depending on their skill sets. With almost a quarter million people arriving each month, the housing situation was rearing it's evil head. You just could not build towns and cities with all their infrastructure fast enough. Feijo Modular Construction had again not only expanded so that they now built 200 modular housing units per day, but were licensing their designs to other systems for construction for 10% royalty. Not only did this provide good paying jobs, but it also helped provide good quality housing for almost every world in the Hegmeony. They had even designed several new modular additions that can expand an existing structure in size and to make them more"custom". Currently the Hegemony and each planet was footing the bill for the initial structure for incoming refugee's, but any of the new "custom" models would have to be purchased on the refugee's dime.

Currently he was focusing on getting the refugee's onto worlds that needed a population boost and had the needed resources to support them. Planets that needed no terraforming were a top priority. Like, Ype-Jhu, Kent, Santa-Ana since they were so close to Vonja than other systems. Those with high tech manufacturing skills were being taken to worlds where they were needed. Systems with a low population but ample natural resources were given top priority for new settlers.

With a large part of the SLDF/HAF now deployed outside of their borders, he had ordered that the Battlemech pilot training program now extend training to 6 years before graduation to increase the overall skill level of the graduates before they entered line commands. He also suspended temporarily the reactivation of new command outside and focused on allowing some of the long term SLDF troops an option to retire to the world of their choosing with a modest pension. It was time, some of these troops had been in service for 20 years already. He would need the replacements for replacing the retiree's. Many would be offered training/instructor slots if they wanted them.

He knew several Division Commanders that were getting long in the tooth. He had spoken to several of them and offered them a chance to start up an official Officer Training Academy plus Advanced Course for Senior Officers.

20 August 2786
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Even Director General Amanda Cameron could not take anymore of Jerome Blakes technical heavy briefings. Before today's meeting she had cornered him and told him it was time to bring the matter to a vote and let their chips fall where they may. As everyone filed into the briefing room, she could tell not a single House Lord was looking forward to another grueling 6 hour day of techno babble. She watched casually as Jerome Blake took the podium again and cracked a slight smile as even First Prince John Davion moaned quietly.

"My Lords, I want to express my gratitude for attending this conference. I think I have covered everything in enough detail that everyone fully understands the HPG Neutrality Accord and the HPG rates and what they will fund. I feel it is time to ask, who would like to be the first to sign the HPG Neutrality Accord?" Jerome Blake asked

Everyone was startled as Coordinator Minuro Kurita nearly shouted "Let the Draconis Combine be the first to sign the HPG Accord."

In due order, every House Lord of the Inner Shpere agreed to sign the HPG Neutrality Accord. Within an hour, the massive document was brought in and every House Lord affixed their signature to it. Comstar was now officially an independent organization in charge of all HPG stations and their operation. BUT, the Terran Hegemony still controlled the actual production of replacement parts for the HPG Network, those factories being on Terra after all. Once the conference broke up, Jerome Blake looked up as Director-General Amanda Cameron walked up to him.

"How may I be of service, Director-General Cameron?" Jerome Blake asked standing up quickly "Just wanted to wish you good luck. Your technically not answerable to me any longer, Mr Blake. But I want to remind you that I still control the HPG factories. I will not ask you to compromise your neutrality, BUT, I caution you to remember I still hold the key's to the kingdom and you are registered as a Terran Hegemony entity which will have to pay your taxes on time to the Terran Hegemony Government." Director General Amanda Cameron said

"I understand the issues quite well, ma'am. I am always at your service and I will still abide by the reactivation schedule given to me by General Mitchell. I can see why the list is the way it is. Obviously the Hegemony had an operation that needs protection before the Peace Treaty takes full effect on 1 November. Not a single HPG activating before 1 November is within 50LY of another activated HPG." Jerome Blake replied.

"Just wanted to make sure everything was clear, Mr Blake. I will leave you to your duties." Director-General Amanda Cameron said as she turned and exited the room.

Terran Hegemony (Inner Sphere)

Across contested worlds, video messages from Coordinator Minuro Kurita were hand carried under a flag of truce to the Combine commanders. They watched the video messages in disbelief, but none could deny that it was really Coordinator Kurita delivering the message. Though official hostilities would not end until November 1, commanders across the contested systems agreed to seperate their forces. Everyone wanted the fighting to end, especially the DCMS commands that were currently on the losing end of the fighting.

New Samarkand (Draconis Combine)

Vice Admiral Barbara Coltrain had damage estimates from the newly captured DCMS warships. Neither Vincent Corvette was jump capable and would require complete jump core replacements for them to be. She had ordered both Corvette's destroyed completely. All 4 Carrack Transports were jump capable but would require some repairs to make a long journey. She had them being cycled into the 2 active slips for emergency repairs.

On the surface, Major General Colin McGregor watched as the ongoing removal of the Battlemech production lines made steady progress. Though they had a ways to go, the work was going faster each day as the engineers got more familiar with their tasks. He had even sent troops over to "liberate" Kiso Construction Mechs to make the task of dismantling as much as they could go faster. A few skirmishes had been fought with the remains of the Combine garrison but they were quickly beaten off and chased far away from the Battlemech factories.

Kilbourne (Federated Suns)

Andrew Matheson, Thompson Shipyards, could not complain as he watched the HAF Yardship slowly maneuver away from the Germanium Processing Factory that it had just completed. It was the 2nd one it had built, after first building a 15,000 person Orbital Habitat to house workers at the large complex slowly but steadily takng shape. Dropships carried thousands of tons of steel frames from the planet's surface for the massive shipyard frames almost non stop. Thompson's Shipyards had taken 28 Billion of the Federated Suns grant money and managed to purchase a fully upgraded modern shipyard from Mitchell Vehicles from their Graham IV location. It would be transported to Kilbourne once it's current production was completed in a few months. He could then duplicate the upgrading process to the other shipyard slips. He estimated they could begin actual production mid 2788 or early 2789.

Quinnes (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

Tiffany Sample, Mitchell Vehicles, watched the finishing touches being put on the massive Mitchell Vehicles Corporate Headquarters. Encompassing 360,000 square feet, it was an enormous complex. Though it was still smaller than the one they were leaving on Graham IV, their operation here was smaller also, but they had room to expand as needed. She turned and looked across the expanse to where the much larger Battlemech Factory complex was still under construction. Things were progressing quickly, but she guessed it would take at least another year before the first test Battlemech emerged from the Factory complex.

September[]

1 September 2786
New Samarkand (Draconis Combine)

Major General Colin McGregor smiled as he watched an entire Battalion of Kiso Construction Mechs piloted by mechwarriors of the 29th Mechanized Infantry Division completed the disassembly of the Luthien Armor Works factory complex. He still kicked himself for not commandeering the construction Mechs sooner. But once he had finally done so, it had sped up the work tremendously. A non stop flow of heavy tractor trailers moved the dismantled factory to awaiting dropships for the trip to orbit. Tomorrow, this Battalion would move to the Wakazashi Enterprises factory to help dismantle that complex. If everything went ot plan, they should be fully boosting for orbit in 2 weeks. The SLS Sneak, Bugeye-Class Surveillance had already scouted and plotted a route from Combine space via uninhabited systems.

Though he still wished to join General Mitchell in the Terran Hegemony proper, he had his orders, directly from her, via HPG relay to get back home with their prizes.

Terra (Terran Hegemony)

General Rita Mitchell looked at the stack of folders on her desk. Though she held out hope that they could survive here, she continued with her movement of select industrial concerns to the Periphery. If for some reason they had to depart Terra for the Periphery, at least this time they would be extremely well equipped to survive. Though the primary factory producing the Nighthawk Armor suits had been destroyed, they had managed to salvage enough production equipemnt to assemble at least 1 assembly line back home for them. They would have to manufacture additional lines from scratch.

Here on Terra, Mitchell Vehicles had finished dismantling their factory complex and had it fully loaded for shipment. The biggest success had been when Ostmann Industries had made the decision to uproot and join Mitchell Vehicles in moving. In another 3 months, their factory complex would be fully disassembled and loaded for shipment. They would all marshal with several other companies and make their move in a massive convoy slated to to depart in February 2787.

At Caph, General Systems had also made the decision to move. They would also be joining the massive convoy planned for February 2787. Though they were moving, they had decided to keep a single line producing on Caph which would rotate production runs of the various models of Exterminator Battlemech on a as needed basis. The other 2 functional production lines would move to a new home, to be determined.

On Graham IV, Mitchell Vehicles had completed dismantling their massive ground based factory complex. Their CEO, Delbert Mitchell had been spending money at a furious rate purchasing Dropships and Jumpships. When the invasion of Inglesmond had disrupted Monolith production, he had resorted to purchasing anything that could carry Dropships, from anyone that could provide them, even ships destined for the scrap heap and considered obsolete by everyone. That was how he had come to own 12 old but serviceable Leviathan Jumpships that had been stored awaiting their turn at the scrappers ax. These were fully loaded with the Dropships carrying his Graham IV Battlemech factory and Aerospace Factory. But he was not waiting on the February convoy, and had ordered the ships to leave and head for Bastrop on the far edge of the Federated Suns. Joining the 12 Leviathan Jumpships were 6 Merchant, 8 Invader, 11 Liberty Jumpships carrying 291,000 employee's and their families.

On Pollux, Allied Aerospace was in the process of dismantling their factory complex. General Mitchell herself had made convincing their CEO of the need to move. As the producer of the Phoenix Hawk LAM, she wanted them safe. It had taken a promise of a 20 year production contract and 10 years tax free to secure the agreement, along with complete coverage of the transportation costs. They would also join the February 2787 convoy.

Though it was not everyone she had hoped to secure, it was enough to make her feel more secure for the safety of "Home". Combined with the already safely stored data cores containing everything from terraforming techniques to the most advanced weapons designs and research from the Star League, she felt she had completed her task of protecting the Hegemony for the future.

5 September 2786
Boulsi (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

Peter Sajak sat inside a secure room searching the now functional data cores brought from Terra. Even though he wanted to go right for the weapons designs and such, his now primary job was to look after the entire Hegemony out here. Instead, he was currently reading about constructing a Model T Ford automobile. The Data Core contained complete blue prints of every part, it also linked to another section in how the manufacturer, Ford Motor Company, had shown how they had laid out their assembly plant, complete with specifications of those assembly lines. Another link sent him to a breakdown of the ancient internal combustion engine, complete with it's specifications and design diagrams.

Another section held what seemed like every important book ever written. Another section contained medical information from simple surgery to cutting edge genetics. Diagnostics, the medical machinery, their complete design specifications. How to build CAT Scans, MRI's, X-Ray Machines, all the way down to a simple needle syringe. He figured he could spend the rest of his life down here and not read or see it all. He had already selected and printed off information for steel factories, metal ore processing, mining techniques, Endo Steel manufacturing, farming applications, weather control. A team was already going over a section he had printed off on advanced alloys, their manufacture, the base needs, applications for them. They would compile a list of the needs and dispatch specialists to seek out these minerals and ores.

Another team, composed of Doctor's were going over sections of the medical information which would be used to raise the overall medical care of everyone in the Hegemony. The first hospital being built would rival those on Terra herself in the advanced medical care it would provide over on Thazi. A large 1,000 bed hospital which would be equipped with the very best medical equipment and techniques they could provide. Already doctors were being culled from the non stop refugee's arriving and were sent to Thazi. Azur would not be far behind, already having a very advanced medical center and even a medical school.

A message had already been sent to Terra for a stockpile of seed grain to be sent out here. It should have arrived by now. This would be put to use in the ever growing need of food. The goal is to make the Hegemony as independent as they could from the need to import anything. Machinery was already being built to allow them to manufacture in quantity advanced hydroponics for growing food on planets that would take decades to reach the ability of actual crop growing. Another item being built was a large fission reactor complex that would power not only the Capital of Boulsi, but it contained multiple reactor, called breeder's. Though it would power the city, the SLDF/HAF would actually run the complex. He had already done some research and knew why, for the construction of nuclear weapons. He knew another complex was being built on Boulsi to manufacture the warheads for the Navy's missile systems. He did not really like these facts, but he knew it was better to have them and not need them, than to need them and not have them.

The very first search he had done was on Battlemech production techniques. He had been shocked to find the Data Core held the actual information to turn Blommestein's Battlemech complex into one that would rival anything ever seen in production and efficiency. That had gone out the second he had found it. Specialized machinery was already being manufactured to produce the extremely high tech manufacturing lines needed and the computer control systems. He had then located the same information for vehicle production, Dropship, Jumpship Production and everything else he could locate. Specialized equipment was already being designed to manufacture the advanced assembly equipment needed.

The wealth of information was almost limit less. There was information in the Data Cores that he did not even begin to understand. He did not even try to hide the fact that he had no clue what some said. He knew they would need experts in almost every field that had existed to get the full benefit from the Data Cores.

Arcadia (Pentagon Worlds)

The first colonists from the Exodus Fleet had finally set down on the planet they had named Arcadia. Pre-fabricated buildings were being unloaded from Dropships and set up. Everyone was clamoring to get off the stinking and foul ships they had just spent 2 years aboard. Already several other worlds had been located extremely close by and were being studied by science teams. Livestock, transported at great expense from the Hegemony were on their way to the surface where they would actually have firm ground under them for the first time in 2 years. Survey teams were already searching the planet itself for mineral resources. The planet already held ample construction material for more permanent buildings.

11 September 2786 Inglesmond (Terran Hegemony)

Rear Admiral Trishia Delvaney was aboard SLS Salvation, Newgrange-Class Yardship, she watched as her last repair assignment finally was pulled from her repair slip. She had already sent her other Yardships back to Terra to assist in upgrades to the Hegemony fleet. SLS Benjamin, Samarkand Carrier Blk II was now completely repaired and upgraded to SLS Independence standards. The LTV Aerospace complex still held SLS Audacious, SLS Determination, and SLS Resilience Vincent-Class Corvettes undergoing extensive refits to the Vincent Destroyer standard. Their completion had been delayed another week due to a major fault detected in their LF Batteries which caused them to be removed and new ones installed.

With the Peace Accords signed, most of the remaining SLDF/HAF warships had jumped back to Deiron and Terra for repairs. They needed to get their refits and upgrades completed as soon as possible, because intel reports indicated that the Marik border will probably be the next conflict zone. She was just waiting for the 3 Vincent Destroyers to be completed before she also returned to Terra to oversee the upgrades.

She watched as SLS Benjamin, Samarkand II Aerospace Carrier, began to move under her own power as awaiting Aerospace Fighters began landing aboard her. She breathed a silent sigh of relief as she watched SLS Benjamin become a fully functional Carrier, able to provide her own defense and defend SLS Salvation. Soon, she would begin her recharge operations so that she was ready to depart when the Destroyers were completed. For now, it was time for some well earned sleep.

Her eyes snapped open the moment the alarm sounded throughout the ship. In an instant, she was up and moving for the bridge as the loud speakers announced "General Quarters, inbound jump signatures." As she sped into the bridge she said "Report."

"Inbound jump signatures, Admiral. They are coming in close to the LTV yards."

"Alert SLS Benjamin to cut her sail loose, we can recover it. Signal the yards to kick the Vincents out." Rear Admiral Delvaney ordered

Aboard the LTV Shipyards, all 3 Vincent Destroyers were scrambling to cut loose, get their power plants to full activation and weapons warmed up. But they would not have time to complete a single action. Everyone watched in horror as DCS Nagara and DCS Natori, Cruiser Class Cruisers materialized 12,000km from the massive shipyard complex and began burning directly towards it. Before anyone could intercept either warship, they had reached firing range and multiple missiles launched from each Cruiser. Volley after volley was fired at the shipyard complex and supporting factories.

Aboard all 3 Vincent Destroyers, newly powered up sensors quickly detected the incoming missiles and the distinctive signature of all being nuclear armed. Orders became more frantic but to no avail. Nuclear detonations began ripping the massive shipyard complex apart. All 3 Vincent Destroyers vanished in nuclear detonations, their point defense systems never got the power they needed to even fire a single shop, having remained powered down fully with safeties installed per regulations when in a shipyard slip.

With the LTV Aerospace shipyard complex fully destroyed and their nuclear missiles exhausted, but Cruiser's moved at maximum thrust towards the Zenith Jump Point while using their reactors to charge their jump drives in an attempt to escape, having completed their long ordered mission.

19 September 2786
Inglesmond (Terran Hegemony)

Both DCMS warships had made it to the Zenith Jump Point and must have had their jump cores and coordinates ready to go, for they both jumped within minutes of entering the Zenith Jump Point. It was a perfectly executed hit and run operation. Though the SLDF/HAF commanders were pissed, they had to admire the perfect timing and ease of escape of both raiders.

The LTV Aerospace complex was a complete loss. Of the 73,800 workers aboard the many shipyard slips and supporting factories, only 3,839 had managed to get aboard escape pods. It was a massive hit in which it's final cost could not be currently calculated. But everyone knew that the future impact could be devestating.

Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Notified of the loss of the LTV Aerospace complex, General Rita Mitchell ordered the 6 Luxor Heavy Cruisers almost completed at Graham IV kicked out of their yards and to be brought to Terra where they could be better protected. Mitchell Vehicles CEO, Delbert Mitchell wasted no time in ordering them made ready and for the disassembly of his remaining shipyards and factories to commence. He was ready to complete the move to his new headquarters in the Periphery.

General Rita Mitchell summoned Commanding Admiral Joan Brandt for consultations. Once she arrived and gotten comfortable, the major discussions began.

"What happened, Joan? How did we let this happen?" General Mitchell asked

"It was the perfect storm. All 3 Destroyers would have been completed except for the LF Battery issue, which we tracked to an impurity that somehow got passed the inspection routine. I have already ordered a pair of Destroyers to be on close patrol at every remaining shipyard complex. It hurts us short term on deployable warships, but it has to be done. They have orders to destroy ANY ship that does not respond immediately to hails or is not of a scheduled arrival." Admiral Brandt replied

"So we close the door after the horse bolts. Better late than never I guess. Does not ease the pain already inflicted on us. I am afraid I am about to inflict a little more pain on you. I looked over the next graduating class of Aerospace pilots, we have a class of 1,200 graduating next month. I am sending these 500 to our other half of the Hegemony. I also want you to comb the Flight Schools and find me enough instructors and equipment to also head for the other half and establish a fully functional Flight School out there. They head out with the February 2787 convoy. So you have a few months to get them ready." General Mitchell said handing over a folder containing the names of the graduates leaving, all were single and most had no surviving families, being mostly orphans from the Amaris Coup.

Taking the folder, Admiral Brandt flipped thru the pages, which contained even the graduates scores, they were some of the best graduates since before the Coup. "This hurts some, but I still get the rest of the pilots and next years class hopefully will be larger. It only makes sense to establish some schools out there properly. Long way to send replacements."

"Glad you agree. Now the next sandbag I am throwing at you and this one will hurt the most. I want the February convoy heavily escorted. This convoy is massively important and must arrive intact. So get started working up a escort force, they will not be returning any time soon and will be placed under Admiral Tanaka's command out there. So choose wisely and think it over." General Mitchell said

"Boy, your full of good news and cheer today. But I am also a little ahead of you. I just hoped to get those ships back in a year, now I learn that I am going to lose them for good possibly." Admiral Brandt said pulling out her ever present list of ship availability. She then started making some notes on a small legal pad she always carried, flipping to a page that contained the current list of ships slated for the February convoy. They spent just over an hour working on the planned escort. When they finished, General Mitchell looked at the wall monitor where she had been keeping track of the ships planned for the February convoy.

February 2787 Convoy

SLS Borneo - Volga Transport
SLS Mount Saint Helens - Volga Transport
SLS Mount Ranier - Volga Transport
SLS Sisler - Carrack Transport
SLS Soderman - Carrack Transport
SLS Watkins - Carrack Transport
SLS Watson - Carrack Transport
SLS Yosemite - Riga LF Frigate
SLS Yankee - Riga LF Frigate
SLS Ivory - Samarkand II LF Carrier
SLS Wasp - Samarkand II LF Carrier
SLS Contraband - League II Destroyer
SLS Lively - Baron Destroyer
SLS Yoizuki - Baron Destroyer
SLS Legion - Baron Destroyer
SLS Urazuki - Baron Destroyer
18 Monolith Jumpships
26 Star Lord Jumpships
16 Invader Jumpships
9 Tramp Jumpshipsv 11 Merchant Jumpships

The Dropship counts and types were not yet confirmed. But the number of available collars was astounding at 449. The biggest bright spot was they did not lack for Aerospace fighters. Having just taken a massive delivery of brand new Corsairs, both standard and Royal versions. Both Samarkand Carriers would be fully outfitted with 144 of them. 180 Sabre's would make up the bulk of the remaining Aerospace Fighters. The only Dropships they knew for a fact would be making the trip were 12 Pentagon, 10 Titan and 8 Elephant Tug's. Though the convoy would travel thru Federated Suns space, a friendly nation, the convoy would be carrying an enormous amount of precious manufacturing equipment and this alone made it a very tempting target. Neither could confirm if Mitchell Vehicles would have their shipyards ready to go when the convoy departed, but they planned as if it was and with 6 of the most advanced shipyards and their supporting factories in the convoy, that made the convoy that much more of a target.

"I think we can call the convoy as well protected as we can make it unless you want me to add even more firepower to it. But I would advise against it, we are surrounded by potential threats and we know Marik is still playing games on our border. He has a bunch of very powerful ships, with no less than 6 Atreus Battleships confirmed in the region." Admiral Brandt said

"No, I think your right. We are keeping our most powerful and newest ships here with us. I must admit, I expected a bigger fight out of you." General Mitchell replied

"It crossed my mind, but I can see what your trying to do. It is not easy protecting 2 Hegemony's. Not when they are so far apart. Besides, it is hard for me to fathom having the Hegemony out there protected by mainly Vigilant Corvettes. That just will not due, not at all." Admiral Brandt replied.

28 September 2786
New Samarkand (Draconis Combine)

Major General Colin McGregor smiled at the thunderous explosion destroyed the last remains of the Wakazashi Enterprises factory complex. They had already demolished the Luthien Armor Works complex 2 days ago. He turned and walked towards the grounded Dropship that would carry him and his Command Company to orbit where they would join the rest of his forces for the trip home. They were a week behind schedule, but he wanted it all. They had stripped both factories to the bare concrete and then blasted the ruins. If the Combine wanted to rebuild, they would have to start completely new. He knew Admiral Coltrain had stripped and loaded the guts of all 3 shipyards and as much of the orbital factories as she could. They would destroy the empty shells and frameworks before they jumped from the system and made the long voyage home.

It had been a long mission and he was looking forward to some time at home. He knew his people felt the same way. Though he had more than his fair share of new people, those that had not served in the SLDF during the dark years, he still had over 45% veteran of those dark years. Everyone was getting a little long in the tooth for these long deployments. He really expected to lose possibly half of his veterans on their return home. Retiring completely or even transfering to the reserve forces where they would get to go home most nights, raise families properly and mainly enjoy a much less stressful life. He could not fault them, nor would he even try, they had all, to a person earned it. But as a commander, he would miss the confidence those veterans had when embarking on any mission. Not that the Training Command was not turnng out first rate replacements, for they were some of the best trained, ranking almost as good as the old SLDF turned out. It was just that they lacked the combat experience of the veterans and the only way to really get that confidence was in actual combat. A time honored but deadly way to learn the harsh realities of war. No amount of training could simulate the absolute terror of actual combat.

He boarded his Dropship with a last look at the distant smoke and watched the racing Turhan's carrying the engineers towards their Dropship while Battlemechs of the 29th Mechanized Infantry Division paced them towards their own Dropship. Overhead, the Aerospace fighters of all 3 Divisions made sure no one hampered their withdraw. He tossed the cigar he had been smoking on the ground, last one for a few months, he thought silently, damned spacers threw a hissy fit if anyone smoked while in space, like changing the air filters and air scrubbers more than usual would kill them.

Zetang (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

Admiral Tanisha Tanaka watched as Sean Livingston studied the massive asteroid located in the P9Y2 Belt. She wanted to speak but let the man do his job. At 68, he was getting a little too old for this stuff, but he was also the most experienced among the DoME personnel at this sort of job. She had studied the records of all the DoME personnel seeking just this sort of experience. She said a prayer of thanks every night before bed that she had found one.

Finally, Sean Livingston turned from looking at the massive rock. "She is a huge rock, Admiral Tanaka. Twice the size of the one at Odessa and 3 times the size of the Mercator-Campion Shipyards over Jupiter. But it is going to take at least 10 years to complete the job."

"But it can be done? And how many slips will it be able to handle?" Admiral Tanaka asked.

"Sure, anything can be done, if you want to invest the time, resources and money in a venture. As for what it could hold, Odessa had slips for a full Squadron, 18 ships, this big old rock could easily hold twice that many and all the supporting personnel, storage and even the support factories for non critical repairs. But I am not sure you want this planned base of yours inside this Belt, too dangerous for ships making the transit. I think it would be better if we relocate the thing over to the gas giant Liu. We can place it into a stable non degrading orbit around it. Just like the Mercator-Campion Shipyards over Jupiter. I helped build the base at Odessa, was my first assignment when I joined DoME, built quite a few more during my years." Sean Livingston replied

"Excellent, your the expert Sean. If you think it would be better at Liu, that is your decision. And that is exactly why I picked you for this job. What will you need to make this a reality?" Admiral Tanaka asked

"A bunch of hard rock miners from the various space mining operations. Couple of orbital habitats for everyone to live in during construction. But the most important thing we need, we lack. Elephant Tugs, it's what we used to move these massive rocks where we want them. This big assed rock will take maybe 20 of them to move to where we want it and we don't have but 2 out here with us now." Sean Livingston replied

"Well, I will just have to see about changing that for you. But you can start work where it is now, right?" Admiral Tanaka asked

"Of course, we can always move the damned thing into it's final place. I just need the Tug's for the move, stabilizing it's orbit and putting a spin on the thing to provide some limited gravity for the health of the folks stationed there. Once we get the sucker hollowed out, we will need support manufacturing all the stuff this place will need to make it functional. You know it is much easier to just build a couple shipyards to maintain the fleet?" Sean Livingston said

"And they are vulnerable to attack too and easier to locate. I want some bases that will be hard to find and also hard to attack. Not only that, but there may come a day when we might have to mothball some ships and I want a place to park them. A place where they can be stored and maintained for immediate reactivation, if the need for them should arise. I have seen some of the SLDF's parking lot's for ships, I don't want that for any of my ships or future Hegemony Admiral's. I want to leave a safe place for the Hegemony to park their spares, in case of emergency." Admiral Tanaka said.

"Well, this big old rock will do it for you. Should be able to handle 24 ships easily, even McKenna's will easily fit inside, I might even get it to hold 30, but will not know that until we start the actual excavation." Sean Livingston replied turning back to stare at the rock which might be his final project, yeah, she will do just fine, he thought silently.

Linden (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

Cynthia Howell, Mitchell Vehicles Warship Engineering Team, looked over the design she planned to ask Admiral Tanaka to approve for a single ship test build. The computer mock ups said that they should be able to upgrade existing Essex Destroyers to this version, though the refit would be a fairly extensive one and almost be easier to just pull the Jump Core from an existing Essex and scrap it.

It was equipped with LF Batteries for rapid response. They had completely revamped the ships coolant system with 3,000 Double Heat sinks. It would mount 740 tons of Ferro-Carbide, a massive increase in armor protection. To provide the ship with excellent combat endurance, every weapon was ripped out and replaced with an all energy load. Mounted in the Nose were 2 Heavy NPPC backed by Pulse bay of 6 LPL and 6 MPL and another bay of 6 SPL for point defense. Each Forward and Aft Arcs held 4 Medium NPPC backed by 4 NL/55, for anti fighter defense a bay with 4 LPL and 4 MPL and an additional bay of 4 SPL for point defense. Broadsides held a bay with 6 Medium NPPC, 4 LPL and 4 MPL and a point defense of 6 SPL. Covering the Aft Arc were 5 NL/55, 4 LPL and 4 MPL and a 4 SPL point defense.

Two Squadrons of Aerospace Fighters and 4 Small Craft and 53,361 ton of cargo gave the ship a good endurance on patrols. This was aided by an increased fuel load of 5,000 tons and the engines were enlarged to provide 2g of safe thrust and 3g of max thrust. It was able to keep up max thrust for 42 days with onboard fuel. Though capable of independent operations, it was meant to serve as a primary escort for other warships. To keep costs down, they did not attempt to fit it with a mobile HPG, this would be provided by the major ships it was escorting. It cost 9.5 Billion per ship.

She had studied the massive upgrade of the Vincent Corvette which had turned it into a Destroyer and had to admit it was a great design. But it was also a Billion dollars more expensive. She planned to pitch her design as the Hegemony's main Destroyer using it's cost effectiveness and all energy load out as a counter to the Vincent-Class Destroyer.

October[]

14 October 2786 Luthien (Draconis Combine)

Coordinator Minuro Kurita was happy to be back on Luthien. He was not happy about the injustice's he had been forced to suffer on Terra, but at least it was finally over and he had managed to temporarily terminate the war against the Hegemony without major loss of the Combine's industrial base. HPG's were slowly coming back online but no actual network was connected yet, but at least they were upholding their end of the bargain by reactivating the HPG network.

He had just finished breakfast when his son Jinjiro Kurita entered and bowed. "Sit son, have you eaten?"

Kneeling before his father, Jinjiro Kurita made sure to remain out of easy reach as he passed the message just delivered via Command Circuit from Galedon. Coordinator Minuro Kurita accepted the message and as he opened it he asked "What is this and why are you so quiet?"

Not waiting for an answer, Coordinator Minuro Kurita read the message, his face reddening in anger as he read the message.

We have received word that the Hegemony has struck New Samarkand in force escorted by warships. This message was carried by Jumpship taken over by DCMS personnel to deliver the message. The DeHuego & Freshet WarShip Design shipyard was looted and then destroyed before the Hegemony forces left. Also looted and totally destroyed were the Luthien Armor Works and Wakazashi Enterprises Battlemech factories. The DeHuego & Freshet WarShip Design ground facilities were also looted and destroyed.

Hegemony forces captured multiple Warships, Jumpships and Dropships. The 11th Galedon Regulars and 5th Sun Zhang Academy Cadre were savaged in the fighting reporting less than 20% effectiveness in either command. First Fleet's Supply Squadron was completely destroyed or captured at New Samarkand and one of First Fleet's Squadrons has not been heard from in months, they were patrolling the periphery border during this time frame in the area of New Samarkand. Reports also say the Hegemony made off with 2 Narukami Blk II Destroyer and a Samarkand Carrier before destroying the shipyard complex.

Coordinator Minuro Kurita crumpled the message in his hand, his anger was a boiling volcano ready to explode. He stared at Jinjiro Kurita for a long time before finally speaking. "This is why they allowed such a long delay in ceasing the fighting, they wanted to complete their theft as undetected as they could."

"It is my fault, father. The Galedon District is my District. I have failed you and the Combine." Jinjiro Kurita said, his head bowed.

"No, it is my fault, son. I tasked you with planning the coming offensive against the Federated Suns, it took up too much of your time. And I failed to take into account that the Hegemony might cut off HPG communications which hampered any ability to coordinate our forces or defenses. This is why the Hegemony has not lodged any sort of protest on our strike against Inglesmond. Technically, the war is still ongoing until 1 November. We will get our revenge soon. It will remove the stain on both of our honors." Coordinator Kurita said.

Zetang (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

Sean Livingston had been forced to re-evaluate his estimates after the first drilling reports came in from the massive asteroid. He had snagged some miners working the P9Y1 Belt and they had drilled into the asteroid for 25km. Core samples revealed a iron based outer shell extending almost 15km before hitting softer material, though the soft definition was not saying much, it was still rock. But the out layer was some of the hardest material he had ever encountered. He had a few other test sites already selected for test drilling.

Depending on what they actually found once they really began excavating the thing, with a rough diameter of 310 kilometers, this asteroid might be able to hold the entire Hegemony Fleet inside it. That was still to be determined. His current plan, once the test drilling was completed, was to carve out a hole 10km by 10km to serve as the main entry point. He already had word that a Builder Yardship was on the way to begin construction of 2 orbital habitats for the workers on this project.

November[]

10 November 2786
Zetang (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

Sean Livingston read the additional survey reports from the other test holes. The samples had been analyzed and the reports were staggering. This rock held an enormous amount of material that would be excavated. He now had just over 100 miners on site, 60 of them were on the test drilling project. The remaining 40 were working on the site where he had decided the primary entrance would be. He had already requested 10 Corx Tunnel Miners and knew he would be asking for many more as this project moved forward. He had then pushed his luck a little further and asked for some very specialized high powered lasers from the primary DoME warehouse on Terra. If they still existed, they were the very same laser's used on the Odessa project to carve out the huge cavern there.

Zetang was primarily a planet devoted to mining it's resources and processing both those mined from the surface and from it's 2 asteroid belts. But looking at the numbers he had been presented with, they might want to think about a massive expansion of the facilities here. The material they would extract from this rock could feed the growing industries of the Hegemony out here for decades if not centuries. He had already notified Admiral Tanaka that his estimates for completion were way off, by at least 20 years. This project could take 30 years to complete, maybe even longer than that. It will all depend on what the actual core of this rock is like. The surface was proving extremely hard to carve into, chewing up the bits at a hideous rate since it was so embedded with iron.

But iron was not all it contained, not by a long shot. This rock not only held iron, but aluminum, nickel, cobalt, magnesium silicate, gold, platinum and iron silicate. And it held them in vast quantities. This was looking to be his final project and he really wanted to see it completed before his time came to leave this life.

Chisholm (Terran Hegemony)

Commodore Phillip Yang, commander SLS John Glenn, Newgrange Yardship, closely monitored the capture of the derelict SLS Oslo, Essex II-Class Destroyer. Careful records searches had revealed several easily recoverable wrecks within the Hegemony borders and the orders had gone out to find them, recover them and get them jump capable. It had taken a week after getting to Chisholm to locate the Oslo in it's long eliptical orbit. Survey crews estimated 2 months to get her jump capable.

Epsilon Indi (Terran Hegemony)

Commodore Randall Grubrowski, commander SLS Arctic, Newgrange Yardship, watched the Elephant Tug bring the SLS E. Presley, Aegis Cruiser to the repair bay of his Yardship. Survey crews estimated 3 months to get her jump capable.

Castor (Terran Hegemony)

Commodore Erik Wagner, commander SLS Detroit, Newgrange Yardship, watched the recovery of the SLS Nelson, Black Lion II Battlecruiser. Survey crews estimated 4 months to get her jump capable.
Keid (Terran Hegemony)

Rear Admiral Trishia Delvaney, SLS Salvation, Newgrange Yardship, was giddy as she watched SLS Manila, Farragut Battleship slowly enter her repair bay. Damage survey's of the badly wounded ship revealed she would need at least 5 months of work to get her jump capable. But it was one more heavy hitter for the Hegemony fleet. She kept in close contact with her other Yardships, for they knew the locations of 6 more warships that needed recovery. It had taken search crews almost 2 months to locate her in her crazy orbit.

Portland (Taurian Concordat)

Admiral Jeffery Cantu, formerly of the Rim World Navy, watched the Dropships returning from the raid on the surface for supplies. He commanded the Aegis-Class Cruiser, RWS Tigershark. He had fled the Hegemony as the SLDF had come crashing in on them. For several years, they had raided systems for supplies and stayed in the Periphery. A year ago, they had managed to link up with RWS Tadeo Amaris, Aegis-Cruiser along with RWS Mutiny, Essex I-Class Destroyer. Between them, they made a pwerful force and nothing in the Periphery could hurt them. They had even managed to gather the remains of the 38th Amari Fusiliers, now Cameron's Curse pirate band and the 141st Amaris Dragoons now the Blood Rain pirate group. This gave them almost 2 Regiments of ground troops for raiding. Though both groups had been a little hesitant in linking up with him, the knowledge that he could destroy them at will made their decision a little easier to stomach.

December[]

9 December 2786
Zetang (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

Sean Livingston was not known for standing still. Over the last month, he had sent a flurry of messages requesting special equipment from Terra, he just hoped it was all still there and intact. He had sketched out a rough idea on how he wanted the interior to look once it was hollowed out. He was going to hollow the entire area all at once. First, he was going to cut the main entrance which would measure 10km X 10km, this would allow multitple ships to enter or leave without risk of a collision. After consulting a few Physicist within the DoME teams out here, they had run the numbers and advised him to leave the outer walls of the asteroid a minimum of 50km thick until the asteroid was in it's final location. Since he was only working on a single side at this time, they assured him that the asteroid would be able to handle the move without incident.

His current plan after cutting the main entrance, was to keep the entry channel it's 10km by 10km for a minimum of 50km before he started widening the central chamber to a width of 40km wide by 60km high and 60km long. Once that was completed, he wanted to station a massive gear system to the inner wall of the chamber. Here a massive shaft would keep the planned station and docking berths ina stationary position. This was important because he wanted to increase the spin of the asteroid to provide at least a .75 to 1g of gravity. A giant grav deck. This would only effect the supporting housing, warehouses and facilities that would be built into the walls of the chamber. The central docking berths, by using the giant gears, should remain at Zero G unaffected by the gravity on the outer walls.

If his math was right, the central berthing spar would run for 20km, with a planned 1km between each ship's berth. This would allow each ship the maximum of room to manuever when entering and exiting it's berth. This would allow for the docking of up to 40 ships. The main spar that the docking berths were attached to would be 4km wide. He wanted to run several sealed and pressurized rail lines down it to speed up ship resupply and the movement of personnel. But he would need some special help designing that setup.

To defend the massive naval base, he planned to build hangers for at least 10 complete wings, these could be from independent air wings or those from the berthed warships. The entrance and channel would be guarded by multiple defense sites lining the walls of the channel. A month of operation and the best they had managed was 80 meters a day, he hoped the Corx Tunnel Miners would at least double that rate, which meant almost a year just to break thru the outer shell which averaged 15km thick. He already had confirmation that 8 were on the way and another 8 would arrive in 2 months. Maybe with them, he could get the main entrance completed in the first year. He also had word that Hegemony Aerospace was building 12 Elephant Tugs for his use and that they would arrive sometime around August 2787.

His Physicist folks had calculated it would take almost a year to move the asteroid to Liu with the Elephant Tugs using maximum thrust. They were going to burn fuel like never before. Once they arrived, work would have to cease for safety reasons until the asteroid was in it's final location.

Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Director-General Amanda Cameron had made the trip to christen the 3 Texas Battleships, SLS Nebraska II (in honor of the original Nebraska destroyed during the Periphery Uprising), SLS Phoenix, SLS Sandy Hardee (in honor of Commodore Sandy Hardee, killed at Inglesmond when she placed her SLS Porter, Vincent Corvette between her commanders ship and DCS Hiei, Monsoon Battleship).

Vice Admiral Vincent Zeibler was given command of the new 1st Battle Squadron, and chose SLS Nebraska II, Texas Battleship as his flagship. He was given a free hand by Fleet Admiral Joan Brandt to outfit his Squadron. This he took full advantage of.

1st Battle Squadron

11th Line Division

SLS Nebraska II - Texas Battleship
SLS Phoenix - Texas Battleship
SLS Sandy Hardee - Texas Battleship
SLS Inglesmond - Vincent Destroyer
v SLS Connaught - Vincent Destroyer
SLS M. Langley - Vincent Destroyer

12th Cruiser Division

SLS Carl Sommers - Luxor Heavy Cruiser
SLS Terrance LaMont - Luxor Heavy Cruiser
SLS Hector Zapata - Luxor Heavy Cruiser
SLS Thomas Danklin - Vincent Destroyer
SLS George Wellington - Vincent Destroyer
SLS Janet McFadden - Vincent Destroyer

13th Destroyer Division

SLS De Ruyter - Sovetskii Soyuz Heavy Cruiser
SLS Surveillante - Lola III Destroyer
SLS Leander - Lola III Destroyer
SLS Belfast - Lola III Destroyer
SLS Ranger - Lola III Destroyer
SLS Geary - Lola III Destroyer

Admiral Joan Brandt had already announced a major reorganization of the Hegemony Fleet, now that most of the ships were repaired and returned to service. She was still working out the new structure. Though the Hegemony had a very powerful navy, it was a shell of what the Hegemony once fielded.

10 December 2786
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Vice Admiral Vincent Zeibler walked the corridors of his new command, thankful to have her under 1g of thrust and the gravity it provided. The Texas was already a powerful ship, but not having to pay for Jump Core's had allowed them to upgrade and splurge some. They had been equipped with LF Batteries and Mobile HPG. Their fuel bunkers had been enlarged to carry 6,000 tons. Their thick hide of Ferro-Lamellor Armor had been thickened even more with the maximum coating of 2,652 tons. But it was the weapons upgrades that made him smile broadly.

The Nose had gotten 10 NL/55, 4 HNPPC and 6 SPL for point defense. The Forward Arc's got 4 HNPPC, 4 Killer Whale Launchers with 20 rounds per launcher, 2 NAC/40 with 40 rounds per gun, 4 LPL and 6 SPL for point defense. Each Broadside had 10 NL/55, 2 NAC/40 with 40 rounds per gun, 2 AR10 with 40 Barracuda, 40 Killer Whale and 40 White Shark, 6 SPL for point defense. Aft Arc's had 4 HNPPC, 10 NL/55, 2 AR10 with 40 Barracuda, 40 Killer Whale and 40 White Shark and 4 SPL for point defense. Her AFT was protected with 10 NL/55, 4 AR10 with 80 Barracuda, 80 Killer Whale and 80 White Shark and 6 SPL for point defense.

Not only did she have fearsome firepower at range, but any ship that got into close range would face her enhanced NAC/40 mounts. To handle the increased heat load, they had been fitted with 6,500 Double Heat Sinks. Though reduced, she still carried just over 170,000 tons of cargo enabling her to maintain long patrols and sustain herself on long campaigns during a time of war. To protect against boarding, 112 Marines provided defense and a offensive capability if needed.

 He had seen the price tag if built from scratch and it was an eye watering 31 Billion dollars per ship. He could think of very few warships that a single one of his Texas Battleships could not handle one on one. Much less anything that had to face all 3 Texas at once.

"So I take it you approve of the new design?" Fleet Admiral Joan Brandt asked walking beside him.

"Yes sir, she is a grand ship. The upgrades have taken a fearsome warship and made it an unholy terror. I would not want to face one in combat." Admiral Zeibler replied

"Dang, I was sort of hoping you would complain about something so I could snag one for myself. But I did promise you a free hand in picking the ships for your Squadron. I was surprised by your selection for your 3rd Division, I expected you to snag the other 3 Luxor Cruiser's." Admiral Brandt said

"I thought long about it, but finally decided they could be better used somewhere else. Problem is, we have a bunch of heavy hitters, but we are lacking in escorts. I still feel sort of dirty taking as many Destroyers as I did." Admiral Zeibler replied

"Well, as the main striking force, it is only right that you get whatever you need or want. These are some expensive ships in your Squadron and if another bout of fighting breaks out, your Squadron will find itself in the thick of it." Admiral Brandt said

"We will be ready, I have some experienced crew from ships that were destroyed at Inglesmond, but a bunch of green kids. I plan to train them hard and long. I hope we have the funds for some serious training, because I plan to use a good chunk of it." Admiral Zeibler replied

"Training is what keeps you alive. Cheaper to spend the money training than to replace the warships." Admiral Brandt replied

On the Dropship heading back to Terra proper, Director-General Amanda Cameron and General Rita Mitchell looked over many messages and reports from around the Hegemony. Director General Amanda Cameron handed a message across to General Rita Mitchell "What do you make of this, Aunt Rita?"

Taking the message, Rita noted that it was from Admiral Tanisha Tanaka via General Heinrich Rommel, she then read the message.

Hope this message finds thing well. Glad the fighting is officially over. Black Eye is on the way back and it was a success. I have a request from Admiral Tanaka, it is for some special equipment from the main DoME site on Terra. She wants it as fast as we can get it. Attached is a file containing the list of equipment she gave me. She has a project going that she is hot to trot over. But it will take a long time to see the fruits of it. I pray it is not a waste of time and money.

Things here are running smoothly. Progress is good on all new assets. Be good to see you again.

Heinrich

"Well, until we get back and I see exactly what this equipment is, I have no clue what she is up to. The file attachment list is a Alpha Numeric code, like packing numbers. Not a clue what it means but you can bet I will corner one of the DoME folks for answers." Rita said

"We can trust her. I don't see Admiral Tanaka wasting time or money. Speaking of money, I have a breakdown on exactly what the HPG network paid for the 5 months we had control of it and charged for every message. Guess how much that was?" Amanda said with a sparkle in her eye

"Not a clue, high finance is your playground. I am a soldier, we spend money and break things which cost money to replace." Rita said

"Your no fun, Aunt Rita, old age is making you grouchy. Before Comstar officially took over, the Hegemony controlled HPG network brought in an average of 37 Billion dollars per day in message traffic fee's. That brought in 5.4 Trillion dollars and some change over 147 days." Amanda said

"Sweet mother of Pearl and we gave that much to Jerome Blake and Comstar?" Rita said

"Yep, of course Comstar is being taxed 15%, payable monthly, plus they have to buy everything from us for the HPG equipment. Since September when Comstar officially took over the HPG network, they have paid the Hegemony 535 Billion in taxes on their revenue, plus we, the Hegemony no longer have to pay all those folks who work on and in the HPG's scattered across the Inner Sphere, that gains us an additional 8 Billion and some change per month we don't have to spend. Of course most of that money is being plowed back to rebuild what was destroyed during the Liberation." Amanda replied

"As long as the military gets enough to defend the Hegemony. I don't trust Kurita or Marik as far as I could throw either, and I got a hinky feeling about Steiner. Intel says the Combine is continuing their buildup along the Suns border and we got Marik still conducting his "wargames" on our border." Rita said.

"You know I have never said no to you, Aunt Rita. The protection of our people is first and foremost in my mind at all times." Amanda replied

"I know, Amanda, it was not meant that way." Rita said.

14 December 2786
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

General Rita Mitchell stood looking at the massive warehouse run by the Department of Meta Engineering. It was only one of many, but this one was where they stored special equipment meant to support the SLDF. It had been placed deep inside it's mountain storage site, way back in the back. She watched as a team from DoME moved among the massive storage containers until they located all the designated containers and marked them. Massive overhead cranes were activated and moved to lift the containers and move them to a loading area. Finally, she turned to Wayne Okamanski, head of DoME.

"Mr Okamanski, exactly what the hell is in all these containers?" General Rita Mitchell asked.

"These containers hold the equipment that DoME used to create the SLDF naval bases inside asteroids. Extremely powerful lasers that literally melt rock. But do not have any military application, unless your target is literally on top of you. Each laser is actually made up of hundreds of laser's ganged together in an assembly roughly 100 meters wide by 100 meters high. We have 10 of them here, all that were ever built. Range on them is only about 200 meters and are self propelled, to an extent, environment sealed and powered by 4 LTV 400 fusion engines. Only 1 is used to actually power the unit itself, the other 3 power the lasers. They work, but they are not fast at their work. Each one can create a 100m wide x 100m high x 100m deep per day. They have been in storage since the war began, the Amaris war that is. But that speed is for rock and a small amount of metal. The amount it can clear drops dramatically as the metal content increases." Okamanski explained.

"I see. Any other use for these things?" General Rita Mitchell asked

"Not that I know of, I could probably think of a few uses for them. But they were specially designed and built for creating the naval bases. They are just quicker than mining the damned thing out. Problem is, you render most of any mineral or resource contained in the rubble or slag unusable. A complete waste of untold amounts of ores. It was one reason we and the SLDF targeted pure rock asteroids with little to no mineral value." Okamanski said

"Interesting, thank you for the explanation, Mr Okamanski. Please see that these containers are loaded without delay for transport. They have a long trip ahead of them." General Rita Mitchell said

"Anytime General Mitchell. Might I make a request?" Okamanski asked

"Sure, no promises that I will agree, but what is your request?" General Rita Mitchell replied

"Well, I know Sean Livingston, we actually joined DoME about the same time. Only I went more into management and he stayed in the field. I, like Sean, specialized in supporting the SLDF. Most of the work DoME is doing here is trying to correct the horrendous damage done during the Amaris War. That is not my specialty, not by a long shot. I want to make the trip and help Sean. One last mega project. I don't know exactly where we would be going, but I know where Sean was stationed before everything went to hell, so I can make an educated guess. I also know several major contractors are packing up and leaving, not that I blame them one bit. We have been hurt bad. My department of DoME is mostly idle and supporting the other DoME specialists as best we can. If Sean is doing what I think he is doing, well, I bet my entire department would jump at the chance to go help." Okamanski said

"And what exactly do you think Mr Livingston is doing?" General Rita Mitchell asked

"I am no fool, General Mitchell. Sean Livingston would only order these pieces of equipment if he was burrowing into a asteroid with no care in the world for the waste of minerals. Sean is building a asteroid based naval base obviously. I got just over 10,000 people in my department. Specialists every last one of them but we have no mission. The navy has not asked us to build any bases for them and personally, I am tired of playing hand maiden to the others." Okamanski said

"It's a long trip. I have to warn you upfront. But if you and your people want a mission, I will let you go help, Mr Livingston. Better get packing, you will be leaving in February. Purely voluntary, no ordering folks to go." General Rita Mitchell said

Two hours later, General Rita Mitchell was in her office when Fleet Admiral Joan Brandt stcuk her head in "You wanted to see me, Rita?"

"Yes, please come in and shut the door. Get comfortable, you might be here for awhile." Rita said

Once Admiral Brandt had gotten seated and comfortable, Rita asked "Joan, you know we are recovering every derelict we know of that we can reach safely, but what do you know about any locations that might be a little riskier to get at?" "Odessa. Odessa IV to be exact. About 3 months travel from here in the Lyran Commonwealth. I know we had quite a few ships taken there for repairs during the Liberation. But I have no clue if they are still there, General Kerensky could have taken them with him. Could be a long trip for nothing and maybe piss off the Lyran's with our stomping in thru their space willy nilly. God forbid if they find out what we are doing, we could wind up in a shooting war." Joan said

"Any idea what WAS there before Kerensky packed up and bailed on everyone?" Rita asked

"It was a long time ago, Rita. Hell, for all I know those ships got repaired and rejoined the fight. Could be nothing there at all." Joan said

"Come on Joan, dig into that memeory of yours and take a shot. You have seen the intel reports, we got a huge ass war brewing and odds say we will be fighting on 2 maybe even 3 fronts this time. We need everything we can lay our hands on." Rita said

"I know we sent several Aegis Cruisers there, couple of Essex Destroyers. Don't remember the exact numbers. I have to say it again Rita, this could be a huge risk for nothing. Could get us into a shooting war." Joan replied

"Then help me put together some way to avoid a shooting war, but also a way that we can find out what is there and if we do find something, that we can recover." Rita said

"Okay Rita, I will help. Just wanted to make sure you understood the risks involved. You would need crews for any vessel found, then you need the experts to make any repairs needed to get any ships found in working order. I advise against sending any warship escort, that will just make the Lyran's anxious and curious. That we do not need. So, we send them in on standard Jumpships. I recommend LF equipped Star Lords, they can make the trip in just over a month that way. Come in WAY outside any normal jump point and they slowly make the trip in system to the base. Maybe send in a couple shuttles when they get closer for a little look see before risking the Dropships. No sense risking several thousand priceless people on a fools errand. Call it 3 LF Star Lords, 2 of those Passenger Mammoth carrying the crews and workers, maybe a single Titan as escort with 6 Mammoth loaded with as much supplies as we can pack them with." Joan said

"Okay, sounds good so far. What else?" Rita asked

For the next 3 hours, a plan was put together. A plan that could make or break the Hegemony in the coming storm.


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