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Fate Can be Cruel - Chapter Cover

Fate Can Be Cruel - 2788[]

January[]

1 January 2788
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Fleet Admiral Joan Brandt had conducted an additional 4 tests using the "super jump" method. The crewed Tramp LF Jumpship had made the jump to Vonja without issue, which made her say a prayer of thanks. Two additional tests had arrived on target using unmanned ships. One test crewed Tramp LF Jumpship had tried for Thazi and had misjumped, winding up at Zalt, a jump of almost 1,000LY. No one had heard from the last test jump. This worried her, work was already underway to make sure every warship planned to make the journey was fitted with LF Batteries. She really did not want to lose people to this high risk plan. Now she also had to plan to escort a convoy thru Capellan space. General Mitchell had said a Destroyer Division, well damn that, she planned to make the escort as strong as she could get away with.

Down the hall, General Rita Mitchell and Director-General Amanda Cameron were hard at work "twisting" arms on several industrial leaders. Trying as hard as they could to persuade them to relocate to greener pastures before the crap hit the fan.

"I don't know how to make it any clearer for you folks. We have time for one maybe 2 more convoys out of the Hegemony. After that, I cannot guarantee anything. We have bought some time with the Capellan Confederation, but Mariks and the Lyrans are still breathing down our neck. The yards are hard pressed to repair the damage we have suffered, so that leaves us on the short stick. I can delay the convoy for a few months, so you have to choose right now." General Rita Mitchell said

"Your not giving us much time to make a informed decision, General Mitchell." Corbin McDaniel, CEO Newhart Industries, said

"Are you blind sir? Have you been living in a fantasy land?" General Rita Mitchell exclaimed

"I am well aware of what is going on. As they used to say "my business is war and business is good." Corbin McDaniel replied

"I am dealing with idiots. Fine, stay. I hope the almighty has mercy on your people, because I am afraid the Houses won't. Director-General, I can't reach them, so I am going to attend to more important matters." Rita said as she walked for the door.

"General Mitchell, wait. I would like my company to relocate. I don't like where this is heading at all." Jeff Ford III, CEO Ford Military Limited said

"Very well, Mr Ford. Begin work immediately breaking down everything and getting packed. You have 2 months. I will contact you soon with departure date." General Mitchell said and exited the room.

Zetang (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

Sean Livingston cackled with joy as he shook Wayne Okamansk hand "Damn it is good to see you after all these years Wayne. I see you brought some folks with you."

"Sure did." He said as he moved to the large window and looked at the massive asteroid, he then whistled "Damn Sean, could you pick a bigger rock? How deep you planning to go?"

"All the way, Wayne. I am going to hollow out this entire rock. My plan is for the outer shell to be 25Km thick, but it will be hollow and the largest naval base I ever heard of. At least the largest protected by some of the hardest damned rock I have ever encountered. Damn stuff is as hard as Ferro-Carbide armor." Sean said

"Well, I brought the damned lasers. They have not been used in decades you know. How soon you want to set them up for a test?" Wayne asked

"Test hell, I want them unpacked as quick as we can. We broke thru to the chewy center before we started moving the asteroid here. Got a nice stable La Grange point, so ships can jump right there and motor over to here. I want to get to work blasting the center area. Going to be lucky to blast a kilometer every 2 weeks. We are talking years of work to get it hollowed out. And many years more to get all the facilities installed." Sean replied

"You never did have any patience, Sean. Okay, let me get the people settled into quarters and we will start breaking out and setting up the lasers. One last hurrah." Wayne Okamansk said

"You know it. I want this to be my legacy. And by god it will be done right. Get the folks settled in, we break out the gear in a few days. Tomorrow, come see me and I will show you the plans I have for this big sucker." Sean Livingston said

11 January 2788
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

"It would seem that 800LY is about the maximum distance the super jump protocol can be used with any resemblance of accuracy. Any attempt at a jump beyond that ends in a misjump or the ships is just gone. Once the ship arrives, the Jump Core and LF Batteries are scrap. This is a one way event, until repairs are made, any ship using the super jump protocol is stranded in that system. No escape and no retreat. I have run 9 tests, 6 targeted at Vonja and all arrived, 3 targeted Thazi which resulted in 2 misjumps, one arrived at Zalt and another sent a message from Valois in the Federated Suns periphery border. One ship was lost along with 6 volunteers, we have no clue where they are." Fleet Admiral Joan Brandt said

"So, is it a viable solution to our current problem?" General Rita Mitchell asked, she was short tempered having just returned from the hospital where Patrick was being treated.

"Other than crippling our fleet for god knows how long, if we stay inside the 800LY limitation, I would have to say yes." Admiral Brandt replied

"Get the warships outfitted with LF Batteries. I have taken the liberty of putting together a list of ships to escort the convoy into Capellan space. I know that is your department, but I needed you focused on your testing. Plus, I had nothing better to do at the hospital." General Mitchell said passing over a list

"How is he doing?" Admiral Brandt asked as she glanced at the list handed to her, she is taking no chances at all, she thought.

Escorts for Capellan Convoy

SLS Gibson - Atreus Battleship
SLS Marik - Atreus Battleship
SLS Rampant - Aegis Heavy Cruiser
SLS Raptor - League II Destroyer
SLS Bighorn - League II Destroyer
SLS Porter - Carson Destroyer
SLS Selfridge - Carson Destroyer
SLS Mohawk - Lola I Destroyer
SLS Tartar - Lola I Destroyer
SLS Pomeroy - Carrack Transport
SLS Red Cloud - Carrack Transport
SLS Sacagawea - Carrack Transport

"He's stable. Pissed at the world. But he is alive, and for that I am grateful. Now, last bit, I want the Newgrange Yardships LF fitted. We will need them to help repair the damned fleet after we turn their cores to scrap. No way am I sending those valuable ships into Capellan space or anyone else's. I want every warship collar filled with Titan Dropships and Pentagon Dropships. I want enough Aerospace fighters to swarm anything that might oppose the convoy, full Alamo load out, strip the other ships if you have to of their special weapons. If the Capellan's oppose them, I want them to be loaded for bear." General Mitchell said

"How much time do I have to get everything ready?" Admiral Brandt asked

"Honestly, I have no idea. Empty the repair slips of the worst damaged and put those you deem as too badly damaged at Luyten 68-28 and Ross 248. At least there, the busted up Newgrange ships can work on them, we can't take those with us, so we might as well put them to more use. The convoy I want on their way no later than April." General Mitchell replied

15 January 2788 Azur (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

Trevor Nixon tossed his notepad across the room. Even with the full information on the prototype weapons, it could possibly be years before a functional design was built. The micro electronics needed were beyond the current ability of everyone in the Hegemony out here. Not that it could not be done, but it would take several years at least. Not to mention they still had not located some of the exotic materials that were needed. They could produce the upgraded focus lens for the lasers if they had the damned exotic material that coated them, but they didn't, not yet anyway.

Everyone was running into walls halting any major advances quickly. Cameron Falcry had gotten lucky and they had found a rich vein on Salvende of one of the exotic minerals, actually quite a bit of it as, with no known uses, it was usually just tossed aside. Work was now starting on recovering the tossed aside mineral. The search was still on for several others and more of the already found one. It was one step closer to an improved Endo-Steel at least. A small step, but a step forward.

Zetang (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

Assembly of the specialized lasers was proceeding quickly, it would still be another week before they were actually operational. The new arrival's, 11,237 DoME personnel were a huge boost to the operation. Their families were being house on one of the orbital housing unit's while another one was built. A second Corx machine had managed to break into the center chamber which was composed of a less dense and hard material, which everyone was thankful for. A test drill site had located an area where the outer shell was only 15km thick and several Corx machines were being moved to that area also. Sean Livingston had modified his plan's and if the thinner area was big enough, he could have a second point of entry and exit for ships based here.

He fidgeted quite a bit, he wanted to be down there working the equipment but he knew that he was just too old to keep up the pace with the youngsters. He stared at his drawings, which he did quite often. The main entrance to this cavern would be guarded by 32 Turrets each containing 4 HNPPC, he wanted to make sure that anyone dumb enough to attempt a forced entry met a swift death. The power requirements for the weapons bays would be extreme to say the least.

He was constantly fiddling with his plans, checking and rechecking his numbers, revising his calculations. His newest addition was a small, 5km by 5km cavern he wanted carved out. Inside this new cavern, he wanted to place 2 Olympic Stations, without the recharge batteries, but extra decking and even 2 additional grav decks. From these 2 stations, he figured the Hegemony could train personnel in Zero-G operations and EVA operations from a small safe area where recovery of "missing" trainee's would be much easier than in the depths of space. He wanted to place the stations dead center of the cavern which should provide plenty of room for any EVA operations.

Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Director-General Amanda Cameron and General Rita Mitchell continued their preparations for an emergency departure of the Hegemony. They had compiled a list of the brightest minds in the Hegemony specializing in every field that could be imagined. Over the next 2 months, they would try to extract as many of them as they could. While they continued their part, Lieutenant General Brian Calloway, Hegemony Security, continued what he considered his part of the preparations.

His portable computer never left his side, on it was every operation being conducted by Hegemony Security along with planned operations. Since returning to Terra in 2784 and the formation of Hegemony Security in 2785, he had recruited over 13,000 field operatives, many former SLIC operatives. The moment he had learned Comstar was being formed and they would control the massive HPG Network, he had worked tirelessly to make sure Comstar was penetrated deeply by Hegemony Security. This had enabled Hegemony Security to insert multiple programs into the HPG codes that could do various things, when the right codes were entered. He had toyed with inserting operatives into the unit's that possibly would be remaining behind, but had cancelled those idea's since they would be too cut off from support, at least the remote programs dwelling inside the HPG programming would always be there, when and if the Hegemony needed it.

Now, with the manufacturing of HPG equipment possibly being turned over to Comstar in the event of an evacuation, he made sure that the main data cores that transferred the sensitive coding to the HPG's before they shipped had duplicates of all the programs already inserted into the HPG Network. This way, they would never lose the ability to enter the HPG Network at anytime or their programs. The HPG's always had their primary programming done at the factory. Even the most detailed examination of the code would not be able to distinguish from newly inserted code from the coding that had been inserted since inception of the HPG.

February[]

1 February 2788
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Lieutenant General Brian Calloway, Hegemony Security, looked up when his aide announced "Sir, we found her. She was in Berlin all this time under a alias. I have her being brought over so that you can speak to her. Should be here in 2-3 hours."

He slapped his desk in triumph. The person they had been searching for was Professor Catherine Glimp, former researcher of Nirasaki Computers Collective. During their intensive records searches, they had discovered several researchers and programmers from Nirasaki Computers Collective. Amaris and his goons had rounded up everyone they could find and brought them to Terra. Most were executed, they even found the lists of names kept by Amaris' people. But there had also been rewards offered for 38 researchers and programmers that had somehow escaped. They had found 18 of those that escaped certain death with 12 of those already in the Periphery Hegemony. The remaining 4 were so scarred by their experience that they were confined to mental hospitals for their own safety. The other 2 now worked for Hegemony Security.

Just over 2 hours later, Lieutenant General Calloway greeted the now 75 year old Professor Catherine Glimp and helped her to a comfortable chair "Professor Glimp, I am Lieutenant General Brian Calloway, Hegemony Security. We have been searching for you for quite a long time. You can relax, your not under arrest or even being detained. I just want to hear your memories of everything and ask a few questions. When we are done, you will be returned home safely if you wish."

Professor Catherine Glimp relaxed just a little but her guard was still up some "I have heard that before General. Amaris said the same thing before he started having my fellow's executed. So forgive me if I am somewhat skeptical."

"Your skepticism is understandable. I have 2 of your fellow's working for me in this very building. I can have them up here in a few minutes if it would make you feel better." Lieutenant General Calloway said

"I know them both, we still communicate covertly. Where should I begin?" Professor Glimp asked

"Where ever you would feel comfortable, ma'am. Take your time." Lieutenant General Calloway replied

For 2 hours, Professor Catherine Glimp detailed everything all the way up to her being approached by Hegemony Security hours ago. It was quite a story and Lieutenant General Calloway made sure that the recorders were running the entire time. It filled in so many gaps people had found, but also matched the stories his 2 employee's had told.

"If no one ever told you, the briefcase you hid was key to the SLDF's actions during the Liberation. You saved many thousands of lives doing so. We have complete copies of the Jammers the SLDF developed to counter the drones. We have recovered from several wrecked Caspar Drones their complete computer cores along with their networks but we have failed in all of our attempts replicating it." Lieutenant General Calloway said

"That is because it was designed to NOT be easily replicated. There is hidden code buried deep in their computer systems that can only be accessed if you know how to reveal the hidden code. It was placed in there to prevent anyone from being able to upload or tamper with their code. Only a few of us knew how to actually reveal the hidden code." Professor Glimp replied

"You said us. Do you mean that you know how to reveal the hidden code?" Lieutenant General Calloway asked

"Yes. I was one of the lead programmers updating the Drones systems. But, if you think you can build enough drones to prevent the Hegemony's fall, your mistaken. It would take several years just to rebuild the capability to build the computer systems, not to mention the ships themselves." Professor Glimp said

"The thought crossed our minds, but Fleet Admiral Joan Brandt said the exact same thing you just did. Actually, we would like to offer you a way out of here. To safety. Maybe teach the next generation of computer experts. Your knowledge is vast and would be a waste by you staying in hiding." Lieutenant General Calloway replied

"Head for the same place that my other friends went to? I am an old woman, General Calloway. Plus I was never fond of Jumpship travel. I suffer severely from TDS. I get violently ill." Professor Glimp said

"The very place. You would be with your friends, able to openly gather and enjoy each others company. I think we can find away around your TDS, ma'am. Or at least minimize it greatly." Lieutenant General Calloway said

"I need some time to think about it, General Calloway. This is a huge decision." Professor Glimp replied

"Take your time, but not too much time. I am afraid the end is coming quicker than anyone expects." Lieutenant General Calloway said

20 February 2788
Terran Hegemony

Coordinator Minuro Kurita launched the DCMS at the Terran Hegemony. Using the exact tactics that worked so well against the Federated Suns, the DCMS launched a full Fleet into the Terran Hegemony from former Federated Suns space. Moving swiftly, they entered Elbar, Mara, Mallory's World, New Rhodes, New Florence and Ronel, destroying any shipping they found and if they could not capture any orbital stations quickly, they were destroyed. Following the advance of the warships were 30 Battlemech Regiments and 100 Conventional Regiments.

By the first week of March, the DCMS warships had moved to their next targets deeper into the Terran Hegemony. Hein, Deneb Kaitos, Ankaa and Addicks were the next to feel the wrath of the DCMS. But now it was not quite so easy. At Deneb Kaitos, the DCMS lost a Destroyer and had several lightly damaged when they were opposed by 2 Vincent-Class Destroyers which were destroyed.

Though the response to the invasion was slow, the Hegemony was reacting. Hegemony warship patrols along the Combine border began redeploying to meet the invading DCMS forces. This stretched the Hegemony navy to the breaking point with 1/2 their ships down for repairs and LF Battery refits.

March[]

12 March 2788
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

The sudden invasion by the DCMS caught the Hegemony off guard slightly. Everyone had hoped that they had their teeth sunk into the Federated Suns too deeply to risk another front. They were wrong and General Rita Mitchell admitted as much to anyone who would listen.

"I was wrong. I had the intel reports of the DCMS massing at Cartago but when they plunged deeper into the Suns, I ignored the remaining troops there. I thought they were using Cartago as a marshaling point. The fall of the Hegemony is my fault. Admiral Brandt, get the Capellan convoy on the move right now. They are 80% loaded, we cannot wait any longer. Get them out of Hegemony space asap."

28 March 2788
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Director-General Amanda Cameron hated the idea of abandoning her people and fleeing, but she also knew that to fight tooth and nail to keep the Hegemony together would inflict untold casualties on those very people she swore to protect. Protests against yet another war were escalating on many worlds. She was being kept up to date by Aunt Rita on the details of the evacuation plans. Even still, she wandered down to Aunt Rita's office to check on things. As she entered the office, she could clearly hear arguing.

"Listen Iris, you have got to get your people out of there. It is coming down to the wire." General Rita Mitchell said on a live HPG hookup

"Not going to happen Rita. I have polled my people and they all have voted to stay here. Pack up and save everyone else. But the 280th Mechanized Infantry Division is staying here on New Dallas. If anyone wants this planet, by god we will give them a fight that will go down in the history books. It had been a pleasure and an honor serving under your command Rita. No one can fault you or Director-General Amanda Cameron for leaving. The Houses are like a pack of dog's and they can smell our weakness. You know as well as I do, we could fight them off, but we would have to resort to using nukes to do it. On our own worlds, and you are not Kerensky, you give a damn about the people and ordering that would destroy who you on the inside." Major General Iris Carman said

"Nothing I say will change your mind will it, Iris?" General Rita Mitchell asked

"No Rita, my mind is made up and my people agree. We pulled up stakes and ran a long time ago and could not help the people here when they needed us. We will not make that mistake twice in our lives. Remember years ago when I said you restored our honor, I meant that, don't ask me to sully our honor again by leaving these people to the whims of some House." Major General Iris Carman replied

"Okay Iris, I will stop trying to change your mind. Pass along to your troops that I am proud of each and every one of them." She paused as she choked up some "Jesus, the thought of abandoning you and your troops sickens me." General Rita Mitchell said

"Well stop, you have to focus on the bigger responsibilities. Your saving the Hegemony, a large part of it. So you take Director-General Amanda Cameron, all the other troops and every person you can cram into the ships and get gone from here. Save them from what may come. Rebuild and someday, maybe you can return and reclaim what we lost here. Promise me Rita, save what you can, rebuild the Hegemony into something better than it was." Major General Iris Carman said

"I promise, Iris. But you promise me this, if you find a way to break out, you will take it and come home." Rita replied "If I can figure a way out, I promise to take it and bring as many of our people home as I can." Major General Iris Carman said knowing it was a lie, she would not leave New Dallas alive.

"Then we have said all there is to say I guess. You take care Iris and give them hell." General Rita Mitchell said

"You know I will, Rita. The 280th Mechanized Infantry Division signing off." Major General Iris Carman replied and the screen went blank.

"Jesus Aunt Rita, they expect us to just pack up and leave them like that?" Director-General Amanda Cameron asked.

"You heard her, she is dead set on staying. But she is right, we have to focus on the bigger picture. We have 1.7 million people on the convoy heading thru the Capellan Confederation. I am going to unload as much equipment from our units leaving with us as I can and leave it here on Terra. We will pack the ships with as many people as we can, standing room only. One jump, so we do not even need much overall supplies. If we get lucky, maybe we can save an additional 10 million or so. Not nearly as many as I would like, but it is the best we can do right now. I don't know what else to do." General Rita Mitchell said

April[]

5 April 2788
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

Director-General Amanda Cameron, General Rita Mitchell and Fleet Admiral Joan Brandt were going over the multitude of tasks that needed to be accomplished before the departure. Lieutenant General Calloway would normally be here, but he was currently occupied with his own preparations.

"How bad is this super jump thing going to hurt us, Admiral Brandt?" Amanda asked

"It is going to hurt us bad. Estimates put a time frame of 3 to 5 years to completely replace all the jump cores were are going to blow all to hell. I think the estimates are off and it will take longer, but that is my opinion. This is still a very very long shot. The only data I have to go off of is the tests that I conducted. We had a 100% arrival rate targeting Vonja. Anything past there and it becomes a crap shoot. We are going to have a bunch of busted ships at Vonja for a long time." Admiral Brandt replied.

"We have no choice. Folks might lose track of the civilian ships once they enter Suns space if we break the convoy up but everyone will try and track the warships. We cannot risk that level of detection. Where are they right now?" Rita asked.

"They just jumped for Slocum in the Capellan Confederation. Four more jumps and they will enter Suns space at Beten Kaitos. Hopefully is will still be in Suns hands, but if it isn't, then the Federated Suns is lost. Besides our warship escort, the convoy consists of 88 Merchant Jumpships, 51 Invader Jumpships, 65 Star Lord Jumpships and 12 Monolith Jumpships. Every collar is taken up with every Dropship type you can think of. Carrying 1,724,740 civilians, several hundred thousand tons of food and supplies, research equipment, personal belongings etc. The really good stuff we super jump. Those will be carried by the 76 Tramp Jumpships that are being fitted with LF Batteries. We are using every slip available to us for the refits. All warships have been fitted with LF Batteries, those going with us anyway." Admiral Brandt said

"Well, I have spoken with Major General Hayes and she is firm on staying and so are the troops that originally stayed with her. Except the 79th and 123rd Mechanized Infantry Divisions. They want to head out with us. I want SLS Mighty Lift loaded with the 250th Battlemech Division. Combat load them, they will be taking their equipment with them, Battlemechs only extra collars carry Mammoth Dropships being loaded right now. We will be heading for New Avalon when the Fleet jumps for home. It will just take me a bit longer to arrive." Rita said

"What do you mean you, what of the 250th Battlemech Division?" Admiral Brandt asked

"I have already spoken with Major General Hurling. The 250th Battlemech Division wants to return to mercenary service. I have approved their request. I am just delivering them to their new employer. First Prince Davion just does not know about it yet. I will let him know right before we arrive. Intel still reports the Federated Suns navy has 3 Newgrange-Class Yardships left and one of them is at New Avalon. We will have them repair SLS Mighty Lift. I am sure I can convince the First Prince to make this happen." Rita explained

"Well, that is all well and good, but I am more concerned with the Combine. If their warships get here before we are ready, it is going to be ugly as hell." Amanda said

"Pray they don't. We cannot afford to halt our preparations now to deploy the fleet. I have ordered a few ships to not load civilians aboard them, just in case we have to fight to leave." Admiral Brandt replied

“Very well. I have also made arrangements to have ships waiting at Vonja to carry the civilians to other worlds on your arrival. Along with supplies for those that will have to wait a bit on the surface." Rita said

May[]

6 May 2788
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

When a Combine fleet jumped into Deiron, it announced the emergency everyone had feared. Fleet Admiral Brandt was aboard SLS Thunderer, Monsoon Battleship when word reached her. She never hesitated and ordered her single squadron to jump for Deiron to meet the threat. She was leading the squadron.

Deiron (Terran Hegemony)

Fleet Admiral Joan Brandt blinked away the jump effects and gave the order to bring the squadron up to battle speed before the sensors had even come back online. As the sensors started coming back online, she counted her squadron and smiled grimly, the Combine had her outnumbered, but by god they were going to know they had been kissed by death itself.


Hegemony Forces

SLS Thunderer - Monsoon LF Battleship
SLS Kongo - Monsoon LF Battleship
SLS Hiei - Monsoon LF Battleship
SLS Shark Tooth - Dart LF Light Cruiser
SLS Shark Strike - Dart LF Light Cruiser

Combine Seventh Fleet

DCS Kagoshima, Samarkand Carrier Blk I (Flagship)
DCS Mogami, Black Lion I Battlecruiser
DCS Mikuma, Black Lion I Battlecruiser
DCS Suzuya, Riga Frigate
DCS Kumano, Riga Frigate
DCS Shiratsuyu, Narukami Blk II Destroyer
DCS Shigure, Narukami Blk II Destroyer
DCS Murasame, Narukami Blk II Destroyer
DCS Yūdachi, Narukami Blk II Destroyer
DCS Harusame, Narukami Blk II Destroyer
DCS Samidare, Narukami Blk II Destroyer
DCS Umikaze, Narukami Blk II Destroyer
DCS Suzukaze, Narukami Blk II Destroyer

"This is Admiral Brandt speaking, nuclear release is authorized. We cannot allow the threat to Terra. They have more ships than us, but by god we will not leave them combat effective. We hit them and pass thru, recharge your drives while we head for the Zenith Jump Point. From there, we initiate super jump protocals for Vonja. God speed everyone. Launch the fighters and let's have at them."

The arrival of the Hegemony fleet was not unexpected by the Combine admiral, he ordered his warships to reverse course and engage the Hegemony ships that had already destroyed the transports waiting at the jump point. The Dropships would just have to fend for themselves.

7 May 2788

It took almost 10 hours for the fleet's to engage each other. The first volley of nuclear White Sharks took DCS Mogami, Black Lion Battlecruiser with 5 detonations destroying her utterly. Half of the Hegemony Aerospace fighters, loaded with Alamo nuclear missiles made it striek range while the rest of the Aerospace fighters shielded them from the Combine fighters. Their launches managed to destroy DCS Harusame, DCS Shigure and DCS Suzukaze. But at a fearful cost with only 31 Aerospace fighters returning to reload.

Admiral Brandt boarded her ships right into the oncoming Combine fleet. At such close range, weapons fire savaged both sides. DCS Suzuya, Riga Frigate was savaged by fire from SLS Thunderer and SLS Kongo, Monsoon LF Battleships. Return fire from DCS Suzuya pelted the reinforced armor plating of both ships. DCS Shiratsuyu got off several good shots on SLS Hiei, Monsoon LF Battleship before return fire and several nuclear White Sharks removed her from existence. DCS Kumano, Riga Frigate punished SLS Shark Tooth, Dart LF Light Cruiser with several shots pentrating armor destroying her LF Battery.

DCS Kagoshima, Samarkand Carrier watched from behind the leading Combine warships as the opposing sides traded fire. When SLS Thunderer broke thru the Combine ships, Admiral Curtis Neoshi zoomed in his view screen and shook his head at the battered Battleship rapidly approaching his Flagship. DCS Kagoshima fired a single MNPPC shot at the onrushing Monsoon Battleship and it struck true. Hitting the bridge, though it did not penetrate, it did managed to inflict spawl damage on the interior. Part of a sensor console broke loose and at tremendous speed it impacted Admiral Joan Brandt, breaking her neck and killing her instantly.

Only SLS Thunderer, SLS Kongo and SLS Shark Strike managed to reach the Zenith Jump Point and initiate their super jump on the 13th of May. But only the SLS Thunderer and SLS Kongo arrived at Vonja. No one knew what happened to SLS Shark Strike.

As for SLS Hiei and SLS Shark Tooth, they had taken hits that prevented their escape, but they remained and punsihed the Combine forces until their final destruction.

10 May 2788
Terra (Terran Hegemony)

General Rita Mitchell finished noting the troops leaving with her along with the troops and ships staying behind. Every single command being left behind pained her, even though it was purely voluntary. It left Major General Lauren Hayes with enough troops to defend Terra itself.

Major General Lauren Hayes - Forces

151st Royal Battlemech Division
213th Battlemech Division
287th Battlemech Division
326th Battlemech Division
184th Mechanized Infantry Division
197th Mechanized Infantry Division
280th Mechanized Infantry Division (New Dallas)
13th Royal Infantry Division
43rd Infantry Division
68th Infantry Division
3rd Striker Regiment
321st Hussar Regiment
89th Dragoon Regiment
231st Striker Regiment

Luyten 68-28

SLS Lady Shandra, Cameron Battlecruiser (heavy damage)
SLS Anchorage, Congress Frigate (moderate damage)
SLS Fairbanks, Congress Frigate (moderate damage)
SLS Nelson, Black Lion Battlecruiser (moderate damage)
SLS Venus Eye, Sovetskii Soyuz Cruiser (heavy damage)
SLS Remarkable, Aegis Cruiser (heavy damage)
SLS Kryton, Lola III Destroyer (heavy damage)
SLS Belfast, Lola III Destroyer
SLS Ranger, Lola III Destroyer
SLS Geary, Lola III Destroyer
SLS Protecteur, Lola III Destroyer
SLS Domination, Essex II Destroyer (heavy damage)
SLS Archangel, Essex II Destroyer (heavy damage)
SLS Montford Point, Newgrange Yardship (Immobile Keel damage)

Ross 248

SLS Irrefutable, Black Lion Battlecruiser
SLS Bamborough, Aegis Heavy Cruiser
SLS Diamondhead, Aegis Heavy Cruiser
SLS Surveillante, Lola III Destroyer
SLS Alacrity, Vincent Corvette
SLS Camry, Vincent Corvette
SLS Extreme, Vincent Corvette
SLS Hammerstrike, Essex II Destroyer (Moderate Damage)
SLS Emerald, Essex II Destroyer
SLS Copenhagen, Essex II Destroyer
SLS Fury, Essex I Destroyer
SLS Moffett, Carson Destroyer (Severe Damage)
SLS Connaught II, League I Destroyer
SLS Carver V, League I Destroyer
SLS Nexus, League I Destroyer

SLS Bridge, Newgrange Yardship (Immobile Keel damage)

Departing Hegemony

359th Battlemech Division (equipped)
295th Battlemech Division (troops only)
368th Battlemech Division (troops only)
250th Battlemech Division (equipped)
79th Mechanized Infantry Division (troops only)
123rd Mechanized Infantry Division (troops only)
181st Royal Mechanized Infantry Division (equipped)
48th Infantry Division (troops only)
52nd Infantry Division (troops only)
Royal Black Watch (equipped)
349th Dragoon Regiment (equipped)
5th Hussar Regiment (equipped)
306th Husaar Regiment (equipped)
288th Hussar Regiment (equipped)

SLS Nebraska II - Texas LF&HPG Battleship (Flagship)
SLS Phoenix - Texas LF&HPG Battleship
SLS Sandy Hardee - Texas LF&HPG Battleship
SLS Inglesmond - Vincent LF&HPG Destroyer
SLS Connaught - Vincent LF&HPG Destroyer
SLS M. Langley - Vincent LF&HPG Destroyer
SLS Carl Sommers - Luxor Heavy Cruiser
SLS Terrance LaMont - Luxor Heavy Cruiser
SLS Hector Zapata - Luxor Heavy Cruiser
SLS George Wellington - Vincent LF Destroyer
SLS Janet McFadden - Vincent LF Destroyer
SLS De Ruyter - Sovetskii Soyuz LF Heavy Cruiser
SLS Vance Brown - Luxor LF Heavy Cruiser
SLS Tammy Handyline - Luxor LF Heavy Cruiser
SLS Common Good - Luxor LF Heavy Cruiser
SLS Buccaneer - Essex II LF Destroyer
SLS Ruby- Essex II LF Destroyer
SLS Shimotsuki - Essex II LF Destroyer
SLS Independence - Samarkand II LF Carrier
SLS Benjamin - Samarkand II LF Carrier
SLS Black Templar - Aegis LF Heavy Cruiser
SLS Patrick Henry - Aegis LF Heavy Cruiser
SLS E. Presley - Aegis LF Heavy Cruiser
SLS Lightning - Vincent LF&HPG Destroyer
SLS Lookout - Vincent LF&HPG Destroyer
SLS Loyal - Vincent LF&HPG Destroyer
SLS Laforey - Vincent LF&HPG Destroyer
SLS Never End - Vincent LF&HPG Destroyer
SLS Never Quit - Vincent LF&HPG Destroyer
SLS Always Ready - Vincent LF&HPG Destroyer
SLS Nerissa - Vincent LF&HPG Destroyer
SLS Nizam - Vincent LF&HPG Destroyer
SLS Black Widow - Vincent LF&HPG Destroyer
SLS Tarantula - Vincent LF&HPG Destroyer
SLS Tarawa - Potemkin LF Transport
SLS Iwo Jima - Potemkin LF Transport
SLS Guam - Potemkin LF Transport
SLS Ulithi - Potemkin LF Transport
SLS Mighty Lift - Potemkin LF Transport
SLS Midnight Dancer - Potemkin LF Transport
SLS Devon Pulman - Potemkin LF Transport
SLS Saipan - Potemkin LF Transport
SLS Salvation - Newgrange LF Yardship
SLS John Glenn - Newgrange LF Yardship
SLS Detroit - Newgrange LF Yardship
SLS Arctic - Newgrange LF Yardship
SLS Manila - Farragut LF Battleship
SLS Impetuous - Aegis LF Cruiser
SLS Liao Pride - Aegis LF Heavy Cruiser
SLS Maya - Aegis LF Heavy Cruiser
SLS Solstice - Soyal LF Heavy Cruiser
SLS Jagged Tooth - Riga LF Frigate
SLS Oslo - Essex II LF Destroyer
SLS Midway - Riga II Destroyer
76 Tramp LF Jumpships
440 Dropships
Ford Military Limited Factory Complex
8,371,927 civilians (1,505,295 were experts in every field imaginable)

She had informed Major General Lauren Hayes that she was leaving her enough ships to keep Terra safe. Just enough crew had voted to stay to deploy maybe half of them, so she would have to work hard to get new crew spun up for the rest. Though she needed every collar she could get her hands on, she had decided to take all the Vincent Destroyers with her and only leave ships that Hayes would have a chance to repair and support. Lieutenant General Calloway had already seen to purging every computer that Hegemony Security could lay their hands on of any designs beyond SLDF original.

The concealed bunkers here on Terra were bursting at the seams with equipment being left behind. They may be leaving but she would leave Terra in the best condition to fight back as she could. It was still a bitter pill, but she had made her promise to Delbert Mitchell and she planned to keep it.

12 May 2788

With little fanfare, a small crowd watched the car carrying Amanda Cameron roll up the ramp of her Titan-Class Dropship and the ramp closed. The engines roared to life and the short reign of Director-General Amanda Cameron came to an end.

20 May 2788

The massive Fleet assembled at both jump points began leaving the system. It took over 4 hours for all of the ships to depart Terra's jump points. Carefully timed to give ships at the other end time to clear the immediate area.

Vonja (Terran Hegemony - Periphery)

Admiral Tanisha Tanaka was in stunned silence as she watched the ships materialize at both jump points. Everyone had a complete roster of the ships inbound and careful notes were being kept and cross checked at both jump points. When the last ship materialized and made the announcement that the operation was complete. They quickly compared notes and found that SLS Solstice, Soyal LF Heavy Cruiser, SLS Never End, Vincent LF&HPG Destroyer, SLS Jagged Tooth, Riga LF Frigate and 3 Tramp LF Jumpships had not arrived. It would be another couple days before word arrived that all were accounted for having arrived in Federated Suns systems but were stranded.

New Avalon (Federated Suns)

First Prince John Davion watched his naval commanders throw a fit when the massive emergence wave had announced the biggest inbound the sensors had ever seen with a smile. He had gotten a message a week ago to expect this and even though he had warned them, his commanders still panicked. When SLS Mighty Lift, Potemkin Transport arrived, he patted his Admiral on the shoulder and boarded the shuttle for the quick trip over.

When he exited, he saw General Rita Mitchell and Major General Hurling waiting for him. After a quick greeting, they moved to one of the grav decks reserved for this meeting.

"I am not sure how you got here, General Mitchell, but your arrival caused quite a panic. It was amusing." First Prince John Davion said

"It's a one-shot jump. Blew out the jump core and burned up the LF Battery aboard the old girl. What is it going to cost me to get the use of your Newgrange Yardship to make me a new jump core and battery?" General Rita Mitchell asked

"Depends, what have you got to trade?" First Prince John Davion asked

"Well, Major General Hurling here and the 250th Battlemech Division have reformed the Screaming Eagles mercenary command. I figured to help negotiate a contract for them. Plus I happen to have 6 Regiments of Battlemechs without pilots loaded aboard this ship along with enough replacement parts to keep them in action for a long time." General Rita Mitchell replied

"Sounds about what I would ask for. Same contract I gave Baldwin's Cobra's sound about right?" First Prince John Davion asked

"Sounds fair, except for the home base. And this one is going to sting some, but that sting will not be felt for a long time. Still game, Prince Davion?" General Rita Mitchell replied

"Not sure, you have a tendency to go for the throat." First Prince John Davion said, but with a twinkle in his eye

"This contract will be a retainer contract. They get based on Farnsworth, each contract will be in ten year increments. Two hundred Twenty years from now, the Federated Suns will cede Farnsworth to the Screaming Eagles for services rendered to the Federated Suns. Escape clause in effect, same conditions apply. I want this agreement to be video taped and authenticated by you, sir. This is a very long term agreement and all of us will be gone by the time it is time for the exchange. Agree and the warships I have transferred to you will not cost you a single C-Bill. How about it?" General Rita Mitchell said

There was several minutes of silence from First Prince John Davion, but finally he spoke "You drive a hard bargain Rita, I can call you Rita now that you have had your way with me I assume. But I agree to your terms. This is a long ways down the road for payment to be due. It is a deal."

"As long as I can call you John, sir. If you will follow me, I have the video equipment setup in a private office and the documents ready to be signed." General Rita Mitchell said with a small laugh.

Once a copy of the video and documents were given to each party present, Major General Hurling saluted General Rita Mitchell and then boarded First Prince John Davion's shuttle. The Dropships carrying the 6 Battlemech Regiments of the Screaming Eagles along with 4 Mammoth Dropships detached and headed for New Avalon. General Rita Mitchell retired to her quarters and waited for her ship to be repaired.


Part 1 / Book 1 – Concludes

The Story continues in Fate Can Be Cruel - Book Two, see it's Chapter One

Book Index

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