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Fate Can be Cruel (Book 2) - Chapter Cover

Fate Can Be Cruel
Chapter 22 - Year 3030


21st January, 3030
York (Clan Space)

Khan Philip Johns of Clan Blood Spirit, sat behind his new desk having defeated Khan Fara Church for the position only 2 weeks prior. He had found the office neat and well organized. But what impressed him the most was the way Khan Church had neatly laid out his thoughts and reasons for the things he had done. Five years ago, Khan Fara Church had traded a near useless Vincent-Class Corvette to Clan Snow Raven in exchange for everything needed to manufacture the Stormcrow Omnimech and 150 Hydaspes Aerospace fighters. Unlike the Kingfisher and Stooping Hawk OmniMechs, the Stormcrow was expensive to manufacture. No one could deny it's strength and Khan Church had worked out trade deals with Clan Nova Cat and Clan Snow Raven that allowed them to manufacture 24 Stormcrow per year with the Cats and Ravens supplying much needed raw resources that the Blood Spirits lacked.

With Clan Blood Spirits ground forces in excellent shape, Khan Philip Johns promised himself that he would do the same thing for the Aerospace arm of the Touman. Though Khan Church had begun steps to revamp the Touman's Aerospace forces, he wanted it to be more. He was an Aerospace pilot after all. He wanted to mirror what many of the other Clan's had done, integrate the Clan's Aerospace forces into the various Clusters instead of all concentrated in the Naval Reserve to be sent forth as needed. Coordination between the ground forces and Aerospace forces had never been very good. He wanted to change that. So he had issued his first order as Khan. Each Front Line Cluster was to have a full Trinary of Aerospace assigned to them. Each Second Line Cluster was to have a Aerospace Binary assigned. Khan Church's increase in the number of Aerospace pilots entering the sibkos was just now paying off as they began passing their Trials and entering the Touman as warriors.

He knew he would face resistance, but he was determined to see Clan Blood Spirit remain strong. Making these changes would only make the Touman stronger.

Sian (Capellan Confederation)

Chancellor Candace Liao had listened to the butchers bill from the Federated Suns invasion. Half the CCAF was destroyed. They had lost 107 systems to the Federated Suns along with over half their heavy industry. The defection by the Northwind Highlanders had hurt, even more with McCarron's Armored Cavalry having been savaged on Sarna and now barely a Regiment in strength. Her main goal now was to try and hold onto what they had left. There was no sugar coating it, the Capellan Confederation was in horrible shape. Hell, the Taurian Concordat could probably invade us and we would be hard pressed to beat them back right now, she thought.

She sat back and rubbed her growing belly. She had not found out she was pregnant until after Justin had left and she wished he would hurry up and return to her. She needed him, the Capellan Confederation needed him.

New Avalon (Federated Suns)

"First Prince Hanse Davion has contracted Snord's Irregulars to inspect Outreach for him. Good old Cranston will verify for us what is actually there while giving Hanse Davion a bogus report." Stanford Blake said.

"Good. I am much more concerned about that Lieutenant Cameron. Who is she exactly? How does she know the word Seyla? All the years we have been back, only those from Clan space ever use that word, and even then very sparingly." Colonel Jaime Wolf replied as they discussed the young Lieutenant onboard their Overlord-Class DropShip, the WDS Chieftain.

Overlord Class DropShip Queen of Argyll (Full Thrust by Chainsaw snuggler)

Overlord Class Mech Carrier DropShip

"We have scoured every data bank we can get into. She was born on Farnesworth as a Screaming Eagle brat. As far as we can tell, she is clean as a whistle. No connection to the Clans that we can find. We even have her elementary school records from Farnesworth. If she is any kind of plant, then the folks that planted her surpass our abilities by a long shot. Her cover history is excellent and I cannot find a single thing in them to even raise an eyebrow about. Except for the fact that a mere Lieutenant seems to have gotten the ear of the First Prince and his wife." Stanford Blake said

"Keep looking. Pull the records of everyone in that compound of theirs. Nobody if that good, there is a thread somewhere we can start pulling on and that will unravel everything. I hate not knowing things and this one worries me." Colonel Jaime Wolf replied

"I can arrange an accident or even snatch her up. Give me 24 hours and I can get all the information we need from her." Stanford Blake said

"No. Not yet anyway. As close as she seems to be with the First Prince and his wife, her absence would be noted quickly and we need Outreach to rebuild. We need to get our breeding program up and running. Getting factories established to build the weapons and Omnimechs Khan Ward gave us. That was 10 years ago, if you have forgotten. We thought the Combine would be our best hope, but now it looks like the Federated Suns or should I say Federated Commonwealth is our best hope. But first we need to get the word out, start collecting as many orphans from the war as we can. Age ten and above, that will give us a boost as they age and we train them up. Hopefully, by that time, we will have Outreach and we can rebuild." Colonel Jaime Wolf replied


3rd February, 3030
New Avalon (Federated Suns)

After being let into First Prince Hanse Davion's office, Lieutenant SG Anastasia Cameron nodded to Quintus Allard, who was already seated before taking a seat he gestured to. It was late in the afternoon, which is when most of their dealings occurred. She held a small folder in her lap, but remained quiet, while First Prince finished up whatever he was working on. After a few minutes, he closed the folder and set it aside. "Good afternoon Ana, I was surprised to get a note that you wanted to see me. So tell me, what can I do for you?"

"Highness...." She paused when he held up a hand.

"Please, Ana, when it is just us, please it is Hanse. Being formal just wastes words. Please continue." First Prince Hanse Davion said

"Yes sir, Hanse. I am going to assume that both of you know that I told Commanding General Mitchell about Colonel Wolf and the Dragoon's request for Outreach. If not, well, I told her. She forwarded me our survey of Outreach which was conducted in 2786." She handed the folder over, which Quintus intercepted . She then continued as he flipped it open. "Please note that the Hegemony removed the Aerospace production equipment listed on the report, but since Outreach supported the SLDF heavily. There is still some equipment left there. They cannot assemble a full Battlemech like a full assembly line, but by using the many repair bays which has the ability to hand build a Battlemech. There is production equipment for internal structure, armor and pretty much every part. Most of it was pretty heavily damaged. It is repairable but at the time deemed not worth the effort to recover or repair."

"So, Colonel Wolf knows that Outreach has this ability or shall we say, he assumes it does. Now the big question is, do we let him have it?" First Prince Hanse Davion asked

"Well, it is not like there is not a precedent. We let the Northwind Highlanders have Northwind back, while the planet itself remains Federated Suns property. Northwind still has the Cosara Weaponry factory on it. Though unable to manufacture complete Battlemechs, it does still operate making spare parts for the few Crabs still around. I am not sure about turning Outreach over to the Dragoons free and clear. I know you like Colonel Wolf and want to keep the Dragoons in our employ. If we let them have Outreach free and clear as their own, Outreach is smack in the middle of our corridor to the Lyrans. The Dragoons ever leave our employ and take a contract against us, what do we do then?" Quintus Allard said barely looking up from reading the file he had been handed.

"There is that to consider. Damn sure gives us something to think about." First Prince Hanse Davion said before turning his attention to back to Ana fully "Please relay my thanks for this information and also for the assistance on the memory core. I am told the specialists and their equipment have allowed the NAIS to decode information quicker than the Lyrans, even with our set back. It will still be several years before we can really make use of the recovered information, so I am told."

"I will relay the message for you High....Hanse." Anastasia replied

"On another note, Archon Katrina Steiner will be visiting New Avalon in November. I was wondering if Commanding General Mitchell be available to pay us another visit?" Hanse asked her

"I can relay your request." Lieutenant SG Anastasia Cameron replied. The rest of the visit was mostly small talk.


28th April, 3030
New Avalon (Federated Suns)

First Prince Hanse Davion held his first child, Victor Steiner Davion, in his arms. Where he would normally be filled with joy, the smile on his face ended at his eyes. Today, Snord's Irregulars had delivered their report on Outreach and it had not come close to matching the information given to him by Anastasia and the Hegemony. They had reported that they had located no industry at all, except for some local shops. Either Cranston Snord and his people were inept or they were lying to him. He might forgive the first, but the latter had never sat well with him and he was known to hold a grudge. But he did not know what to believe or who to believe. But he was going to find out.

29th April, 3030

The car carrying First Prince Hanse Davion stopped briefly at the gate to the Hegemony compound on the NAIS complex. Once the guards had confirmed who he was, they waved him thru. He smiled as he saw Lieutenant Anastasia Cameron, dressed in SLDF fatigues, coming down the steps 2 at a time. The car stopped and First Prince Hanse Davion did not wait for the door to open, handling that himself. Exiting, he turned to his primary agent "Stay with the car, I will not be long." He turned back as Anastasia reached him and smiled "Ana, may we talk in private?"

"Of course your Highness. Follow me please." Anastasia replied and led him inside and to a secure office.

"I need some assistance. How fast can you get a message to Commanding General Mitchell?" First Prince Hanse Davion asked

"A week for the message to get there and a week for a response to return." Anastasia replied

"I am willing to pay for a priority message to speed things up." First Prince Hanse Davion said

"It is not that simple, Hanse. For security reasons, we have our methods. Those rules are hard and unbreakable." Anastasia replied. They had made sure every Black Box transmission was made from 1 mile from Comstars HPG transmitter. They would wait for it to fire a pulse, and sent their message within 5 minutes, Comstar's HPG pulse effect masked their own pulse even though it was much weaker.

"Very well. I would like some help finding out exactly what is on Outreach. The Hegemony was there centuries ago, so they know where things are. I would like some specialists to travel with some of my own to Outreach. Tell me exactly what is there." First Prince Hanse Davion said

"I will send the message out as soon as possible Highness." Anastasia replied

"Your not hooked directly into Comstar's HPG? I can arrange that you know." First Prince Hanse Davion said, Quintus thinks you have Black Box tech, more advanced than ours. Make a slip, Ana, a small one, he thought.

"No, sir. For security we hand deliver our messages. You already know we have Comstar penetrated, but we take no chances." Anastasia replied sticking to the cover story

Smart girl, he thought as a smile played across his lips. "I will not ask you to break security. Please let me know as soon as you hear anything. I will leave you to your duties."


25th May, 3030
New Avalon (Federated Suns)

First Prince Hanse Davion, in anticipation of Hegemony assistance, had kept a command circuit of Jumpships running from New Avalon to Outreach. Instead of getting word from Lieutenant Anastasia Cameron, he knew he was getting help when the Volga-Class Transport (SS), SLS Chilton, materialized without warning at a non-standard point barely a day from New Avalon itself. The Transport had actually been at Verasailles in support of DoME operations in constructing underground store houses. When the transport from the Hegemony arrived, it transferred an Lion-Class Dropship to SLS Chilton for transport to New Avalon. It would not be moving the personnel to Outreach, it was merely relaying the Dropship to New Avalon.

It took almost a full minute for New Avalon Port Control to realize a ship had even arrived, startling the technician on duty. "Sir, we have a ship that just came out of no where!!" His hand was already moving to the scramble button, but paused as the Port Master said "Easy. Get a firm identification."

Before he made the radio call, the mysterious ship called them. "New Avalon Port Control, this is SLS Chilton. By request of First Prince Hanse Davion, we are detaching our Dropship and will be departing as soon as it is clear. Please notify the First Prince of our arrival."

Port Master Kurly Velcor had been briefed after the first arrival of the mysterious ships that arrived without warning. This was the first time he had actually had one arrive during his shift though and it was a little unsettling. But he acknowledged the call and then placed another call. Word arrived quickly for the Lion Dropship to land at the NAIS space port.

26th May, 3030

Quintus Allard was at the NAIS space port instead of First Prince Hanse Davion to oversee the loading of the NAIS people and a few others from MIIO and the AFFS. He watched as Lieutenant Anastasia Cameron approached along with another man. When they reached him, Anastasia introduced the unknown man.

"Quintus Allard, this is Brian Coleman, DoME Team Two. He will be in overall command of the Hegemony personnel during this mission." Anastasia said

"Mr. Coleman, exactly what is DoME?" Quintus Allard asked, not recognizing the old Star League branch.

"Basically, Hegemony Engineering. I brought 4 Construction 'Mechs in case we need to move some debris to get what we want. I also have maps of the facilities as of 2786 and a full accounting of what was there at that time. I also have several specialists from Hegemony space to assist in the evaluation of what we find." Brian Coleman replied

"Very well, Mr Coleman, you will be taking a command circuit to Outreach from the Nadir Jump point. Too bad the ship you arrived on could not take the team to Outreach." Quintus Allard said, truthfully, he really wanted to get some people aboard one of those ships for a look see.

"Out of my control sir. But we are ready to boost as soon as your people are loaded." Brian Coleman replied and got a grunt in response.


7th June, 3030
Outreach (Federated Suns)

On the Remus continent, Brian Coleman, his team and the team from the Federated Suns had made quick work of the boulders that had been pushed to block the entrance to the underground complex. The Hegemony Construction Mechs lead the way down the long ramp, followed closely by the combined survey teams. As they entered a large cavern, their powerful flood lights illuminated the surrounding area. Battlemech bays lined the walls.

"There are 2 more caverns just like this, each cavern can hold 2 Regiments of Battlemechs. Give my guys about an hour and we will have one of the Mechs hooked into the power grid and maybe turn the lights on. The manufacturing stuff is on a lower level underneath us." Brian Coleman said as he directed a team to get some lights going. It took 45 minutes and long dormant lights started illuminating the vast cavern. "The Star League sure knew how to build stuff to last, looks like only 15% of the lights did not come on. Not bad for several centuries."

They would complete their inventory and survey on 10th.

21st June, 3030
New Avalon (Federated Suns)

The combined survey team had been assembled inside one of the NAIS's large conference rooms. They all stood when First Prince Hanse Davion entered carrying a red folder. He moved to the head of the table and waved everyone to their seats as he sat down.

"First, thank you all for the extremely detailed survey. Though I understand most of it, could you break it down for me in a little more layman terms?" First Prince Hanse Davion asked

"Highness, Oliver Manfried, NAIS. It was quite a find. The Battlemech bays alone are more advanced than anything I have seen before. Easily capable of hand assembling a Battlemech once fully serviced. There are a total of 720 of those bays. The production equipment is Star League Tech, though damaged, when we recover the right tech and restore it. The equipment will surpass anything any of the Major Manufacturing firms use. We also removed a small memory core we found. Mr Coleman and his people had it pulled in record time. We are already installing it here at NAIS for decoding."

For three hours First Prince Hanse Davion listened to more and more detailed breakdowns on what was found on Outreach. By the end, he had made up his mind on what to do. Though he was sure someone was trying to slip one past him, he really did not want to lose the Dragoons. He looked at Mr Coleman.

"Mr. Coleman, if I were to secure permission, how long and what would it take to remove what was found? Maybe replace the advanced stuff with lower grade equipment?" First Prince Hanse Davion asked

"Sir, if I had my full DoME team and the replacement equipment to install, I'd call it a month easy. The Battlemech bays are designed to be literally plug and play. Undo the large bolts that secure it to the floor, then extend the rollers and it's unplugging a few power hook ups and away it goes. Same for the production stuff. Which it breaks into sections for easy movement. Designed that way, I'd say the lathe section breaks. You unhook that section and move it to a repair area and insert a good lathe section and your back up and running." Brian Coleman replied

First Prince Hanse Davion did not take offense to him not saying Highness. "I will get what you need." He looked at Anastasia, sitting not far away. "Ana, we need to make another call please."

28th July, 3030
Outreach (Federated Suns)

Brian Coleman smiled at the progress being made. Word had returned in record time and Brian Coleman had his entire DoME team on Outreach by July 11th, all 1300 of them. WorkMechs pushed the Mech bays out of the underground complex where they were loaded aboard Mammoth Dropships. They then returned pushing in some of the oldest and most messed up Mech bays. Ripped from old Dropships centuries ago by the Hegemony for use as refit bays, the crews place these back into the underground complex for installation. Another group of WorkMechs pushed 2 assembly lines that when fully functional could produce Double Heat Sinks, and replaced them with beat up and worn out productions lines geared to produce Single Heat Sinks. Ammunition lines were replaced with bog standard, beat up equipment. A voice caused him to turn slightly.

"Brian, how much longer you figure?" Oliver Manfried, NAIS, asked

"We do not have enough bays to replace all of these. So we are removing the most advanced ones, all of them. We have 382 of the older ones. That speeds things up some. Figure another week, maybe 10 days. Not sure why your Prince Davion is even doing this. If I thought someone was pulling a fast one, I would remove everything and leave them a huge hole in the ground. Unless I had the time to fill that hole with ferrocrete." Brian Coleman replied

"Not my place to second guess the First Prince. Even with what we are leaving them, they still will have quite a decent setup. Better than just about any other mercenary command." Oliver Manfried said

"Still think it sends the wrong message. Either way, it is going to cost a bundle of money and some serious time to get all this stuff into tip top shape again. My folks are being gentle with the good stuff, but not so much with the old stuff." Brian Coleman replied

"I am surprised all this stuff was even here." Oliver Manfried said

"Outreach was the SLDF's little playground. They would need all this stuff to supply and maintain everyone when they came to play. I just wish we had time to dismantle the Recharge Space Stations at both jump points. We don't have orders to do that anyway, nor the equipment. Guess they will have one leg up on everyone." Brian Coleman replied


14th August, 3030
New Avalon (Federated Suns)

"Colonel Wolf, so good to see you again. You asked for Outreach, you knew there are several underground facilities there don't you?" First Prince Hanse Davion asked

This caught Colonel Jaime Wolf off guard, Snord was supposed to report there was nothing there. "I figured there would be, Outreach used to host the Star League Martial Olympiads. I am sure they are in very bad shape and hardly usable."

"They are in very bad shape, so my people tell me. You did not think I would just hand over a world without a detailed investigation did you?" First Prince Hanse Davion asked

How much does he know?, Jaime Wolf thought. "I was pretty sure you would send someone to look around."

I bet you did, and your buddy Cranston Snord reported nothing of value, First Prince Hanse Davion thought. "These facilities, even in poor shape are quite valuable. I am willing to make you Duke of Outreach, but only if Outreach remains in the Federated Suns. Your Dragoons have to sign a long term contract with the Federated Suns, lets say 150 years. That is less than what the Screaming Eagles did before they got Farnesworth. You may hire out 1 Regiment and your smaller commands, but not to anyone in conflict with the Federated Suns or Lyran Commonwealth. Your Dragoons will be primarily responsible for the security of the Terran Corridor, unless your needed somewhere else. To make this easier on you, I will even underwrite the cost of repairs of the facilities to the tune of 50%."

"Make it 50 years and I will agree to your terms. Anything beyond that and we will be no better than McCarron's Armored Cavalry, basically a House command." Colonel Jaime Wolf replied, even though he was not happy about this turn of events, but he had to salvage something.

"Okay, Colonel Wolf. A 50 year contract, but for the reduced length, all of your Dragoons are under contract to the Federated Suns. No hiring them out to anyone else. Other than those conditions we have agreed to, same pay as your previous contract with us. Retainer with combat bonus, double pay for offensive operations beyond the borders of the Federated Suns." First Prince Hanse Davion said with a smile.

"It will be some time before my Dragoon's are fully ready to take to the field." Colonel Jaime Wolf replied

"Fully understood. Even as beat up as your Dragoons are right now, your mere presence in the Terran Corridor will give anyone with hostile intent pause. Are we fully agreed, Colonel Wolf?" First Prince Hanse Davion asked

"I agree to your terms. I will begin moving my people to Outreach. I will be contracting Blackwell Heavy Industries to assist in getting what we find there back into operation." Colonel Jaime Wolf replied

"I have no problems with that, Colonel Wolf. Your Dragoons have had quite a close relationship with Blackwell, so it does not raise any issues." First Prince Hanse Davion said with a broad smile.


9th September, 3030
Outreach (Federated Suns)

Colonel Jaime Wolf, the commanding officer of the Wolf's Dragoons, stood inside the cavernous underground facility. He watched his technicians working on what seemed like every item he could see. What the hell happened, no way Cranston screwed that report up so bad, he thought. He walked over to the nearest Mech bay and looked it over, he wrinkled his nose at the sight, the Mech bays aboard their Dropships were better. He moved out of the way as a recovery vehicle slowly entered the ramp carrying a battered Thunderbolt, missing an arm and both legs. It would be deposited in front of an empty Mech bay where all the other Battlemechs lay waiting for their bays to be repaired. At this rate, it will be years before we are ready for any sort of action, he thought.

"Colonel Wolf?" A voice pulled him away from the depressing sight and he focused on the man who had spoke. He was wearing a Blackwell Heavy Industries coverall

"Yes. And you are?" Colonel Jaime Wolf replied

"Harry Sloan, Sir. I was sent over to evaluate the site for Blackwell." Harry Sloan said

"And what have you decided, Mr. Sloan?" Colonel Jaime Wolf asked

"It's going to be a hell of a lot of work, sir. We can get the smaller part assembly lines repaired fairly quickly, let's say 6 months for full repairs. The ammunition lines will probably take a year at least. Half of these Mech bays are ready for the scrap heap in my opinion. They are going to take several years to bring them all up to even today's standards. Honestly, it would be cheaper to move from New Valencia to here and just install our equipment here. Probably be quicker also." Harry Sloan replied

"Very well, Mr. Sloan. Please carry on and keep me informed." Colonel Jaime Wolf said. He watched Harry Sloan return to making notes on his pad as he examined just about everything.

Harry Sloan had worked for Blackwell Heavy Industries for 11 years and had attained Lead Engineer for Special Projects. His specialty was as a trouble shooter, but he had another title that he considered even more important, that of Hegemony Security. After getting the plans and specs for the Bandit and Badger tanks that were built exclusively for the Dragoons to the Hegemony, he had kept his head down. Spending many months studying after work to learn as much as he could. The last 2 years had finally seen him accepted by the Dragoons to work on their projects. Those he had spent on the Marauder II production line. But it still did not get him access to a section of this vast complex which was guarded by serious looking Dragoons. He had watched very carefully, as seemingly endless number of sealed shipping containers move into that section which had the only working blast door. His orders had always been to stay low and take no chances.

20th September, 3030
Kervil (Draconis Combine)

Primus Myndo Waterly greeted Gunji-no-Kanrei Theodore Kurita as he entered the small office that had been set aside for this meeting. "Thank you for coming Gunji-no-Kanrei Kurita. I asked for this meeting so that we might discuss a few things."

"Primus Waterly, my time is valuable. I assume you wish to speak to me about supporting this Free Rasalhague Republic idea of yours. My father has already said no." Kanrei Theodore Kurita replied as he sat down.

"He dismissed the idea before I could even finish. If you support this, I will see to the transfer of 6 Regiments of Battlemechs from our storehouses on Terra. In addition, you will receive ROM intelligence on enemy troop movements, preferential rates on interstellar HPG transmissions, the transfer of the contracts of several mercenary units and finally the posting of ComGuard forces within Combine borders." Primus Waterly said

"I want the Battlemechs before I put my head on the line supporting this idea. I know Comstar has Star League era equipment stored, I want those Battlemechs fully equipped and make it 8 Regiments." Kanrei Theodore Kurita replied firmly.

"I am not sure we have that much Star League equipped Battlemechs." Primus Waterly replied, but she had not said no.

"You know you do. I want 8 Regiments of Battlemechs fully equipped. You can throw in 12 Star Lord-Class Jumpships also. I would agree while you can Primus, the cost is just going to keep going up." Kanrei Theodore Kurita said with a smile.

"Agreed then. In return for your support I will release 8 Regiments of SLDF Battlemechs and deliver them to you." Primus Waterly said

"Do not forget about the 12 Star Lord Jumpships, Primus. I want the Battlemechs first. I am willing to accept a Regiment every 3 months, with the first arriving in January of 3031. When I have them all, I will throw my full support behind your Rasalhague idea." Kanrei Theodore Kurita said, driving hard for the finish line.

"Then we are in agreement Kanrei Kurita. Without further issues, I must return to Terra now, no one knows I am away." Primus Waterly said


28th October, 3030
Thazi (Hegemony)

"You have got to be kidding me, another one? Who the hell did Davion invade this time?" Director-General Mark Cameron said after being awakened once again by a Priority message.
"Sorry sir, but the procedures for this are set in stone. Don't shoot the messenger."

"Give me the message. Might as well wake General Mitchell and have her head over here. Tell the cooks to get the coffee going." Cameron said accepting the message.

"I have already taken the liberty of doing all of those things, sir."

Grunting, Director General Mark Cameron opened the sealed message and extracted the slip of paper.

To: Director General Alpha Priority
From: T000001001

Primus Myndo Waterly has secured First Circuit to approve transfer of Star League vintage Battlemechs to the Draconis Combine. Comstar will also provide Intel to Combine on enemy moves.

Director-General Mark Cameron swung his legs out of bed, slipping on his slippers and tossing on a robe. He headed for his office his mind slowly coming up to speed. He arrived to find Commanding General Michelle Mitchell not dressed much more than himself pouring both some coffee.

"What is it this time, Mark." Michelle told him.

"That dirty bitch Waterly is really taking sides now. Here I will finish the coffee's you read the message." Mark replied handing over the message.

Reading the message, Michelle grunted "She sure is. No indication of how much equipment she is transferring, but we know what a single Regiment of advanced Battlemechs can do to current tech on Sarna. This could tip the balance of power quite a bit. What do you want to do?"

"You're heading for New Avalon soon right?" Mark asked her

"Leave on the 15th of November. Why?" Michelle carefully asked

"Take the message to First Prince Hanse Davion, let him know what Comstar and the Combine have going on. This is not meant as a go ahead to start another damned war. However, we are going to see if we can tilt the power balance back the other way some. I will not provide them with direct weapons of war. That said, I am willing to assist them in regaining the ability to manufacture their own. We can provide the specifications on their lostech, specialists to help restore their factories, production equipment. He's going to puff up, so dangle the big carrot in his face. We know where a certain group of warships just happen to be located. I am willing to assist the FedCom in recovering them and even restoring them and their other warships. Those alone will help make Davion and Steiner feel a little more secure." he told her.

"Very well. But the bigger question still lingering, what do we do about Comstar?" Michelle asked him.

"We are not invading Terra, not now. I want to send them to get a nice strong message. I do not want to reveal ourselves, not yet. So, what I want to do is this done on June 1st, 3031, I want every HPG to go down. During that time, I want every HPG station within the Lyran Commonwealth and Federated Suns returned to our control, fully. Whatever it takes. Tell Davion and Steiner that we will run their HPGs for them and even expand their coverage on worlds lacking a station. Same rates as Comstar charges. But as far as anyone else is concerned, their nations control them." Director-General Mark Cameron said firmly

"That is liable to get a military response from Comstar, a big one." Commanding General Michelle Mitchell cautioned.

"Then use.....what is the plan to bust their warships called?" he asked

"War Plan Alpha, option delta. But I would prefer option alpha." Michelle replied

"Refresh my memory on that one." Mark asked her

"Option Alpha means we take the entire fleet. We have enough compromised that we are 90% sure we can remove their warships from play without blowing their cores. Take 2 weeks for the people there to get the word and get ready. We jump the Drone Fleet to their anchorages, they can engage any ships we do not gain control of. Shortly after that, transports arrive with full crews and support people. Their fleet just vanishes. Hell, we can even give some of them to the Lyrans and Davions. That will make them feel even more comfortable until their industry recovers the ability to manufacture recovered tech." Michelle replied

"Even better, I would prefer that Comstar have no clue what the hell happened to those ships. Make it happen, hell promise whatever it takes to get Davion and Steiner on board." Director-General Mark Cameron said, it was time to send a nice strong message to Comstar that they better correct their current course, he thought.


21st November, 3030
New Avalon (Federated Suns)

LCS Steiner Ferry, Princess Passenger Dropship, was a day from entering the atmosphere. On the bridge, Kaptain Johann Seimens was in his command couch, it prided himself on carrying the Archon safely and today would be no different. Everything was routine, they had clearance from New Avalon Port Control and a security bubble of 1,000km enforced by a squadron of AFFS fighters around them. One second space around them was clear and in the next instant their radar picked up a large vessel only 1400km directly ahead of them.

Princess Class DropShip (Underway - Deep Space Transit)

Princess Class Passenger Dropship

"Mein Gott, helm adjust course. Begin braking harder in case we need to reverse course and get the hell out of the area. Where the hell did that ship come from?" Kaptain Seimens said aloud

"No warning at all, Kaptain. The damned thing just appeared from no where. No warning, no incoming jump wave, nothing at all. It has an active IFF, computer says it is using original SLDF encoding, SLS Nebraska II, massing 1.5 million tons, war book is identifying it as a Texas Class Battleship. We are being hailed by New Avalon Port Control Kaptain."

"LCS Steiner Ferry, New Avalon Port Control. Apologize for the sudden surprise. First Prince Davion sends his apologies. SLS Nebraska II is friendly, you may resume course and clearance for the NAIS space port. Please remain 1,000km from the Nebraska II and be advised that she will be detaching Dropships."

"New Avalon Port Control, we copy. But dammit, I have the Archon on board. You vectored us right into the path of their arrival and we had no warning at all." Kaptain Seimens replied

"Sorry, join the club. They just sort of arrive. We get a vague arrival date and that is all." Port Control replied and he could hear the same frustration in his voice.

"Roger New Avalon Port Control. Resuming course and landing clearance." Kaptain Seimens responded

22th November, 3030
NAIS Space Port (New Avalon)

First Prince Hanse Davion and Melissa Steiner Davion, holding Victor Steiner Davion in her arms, greeted Archon Katrina Steiner the moment she reached the tarmac. After a few quick hugs, Archon Katrina Steiner eyed First Prince Hanse Davion coldly, "You have been holding out on me, Hanse. When did you get your hands on a Texas Battleship?"

First Prince Hanse Davion held up his hands in surrender "It's not mine, Katrina. I wish it was, but it's not." He pointed to where 6 Dropships had grounded a few kilometers away. "Belongs to the woman over there we are going to meet in a bit. Commanding General Michelle Mitchell, Hegemony Armed Forces."

Archon Katrina Steiner frowned some "Really, Hanse? You can do no better than that? Where is the Fox? I have no knowledge of any Hegemony except the Marian Hegemony, and if you expect me to believe they have a Texas Battleship, your really slipping." Melissa Steiner Davion just giggled slightly before adding "Mother, Hanse is telling you the truth."

"The Terran Hegemony, they are still alive Katrina. If I did not have records and such from centuries ago as proof, I would not believe it either. You will see for yourself in a few minutes." He waved his hand and several Hover Limos slid to a halt near the small party. "Please, after you ladies. Let's not keep our other guests arriving."

Less than 10 minutes later, the Hover Limo's halted near where Lieutenant SG Anastasia Cameron was speaking to another, older woman. First Prince Hanse Davion led the ladies from the limo. He did not recognize the massive Dropship closest to them. He did recognize the other Dropships, 5 Overlord-Class Dropships. He looked around slightly, for he knew Ardan Sortek was lurking somewhere close with the Davion Heavy Guards and 1st Davion Guards. When Commanding General Michelle Mitchell announced her arrival with gifts, everyone had gotten nervous.

His keen eye's spotted movement inside the unknown Dropship and he suddenly felt very exposed, but his immediate concern was for Melissa, Victor and Archon Katrina Steiner.

Commanding General Michelle Mitchell noticed the tense nature of the nearing party led by First Prince Hanse Davion and decided to put them at ease if she could. She straightened her uniform blouse as she walked to meet them. "First Prince Davion, so nice to see you again. Thank you for the invitation." She turned her gaze slightly "Archon Katrina Steiner, nice to finally meet you. I am Commanding General Michelle Mitchell, Hegemony Armed Forces. I am sorry for startling you on our arrival, I monitored your captains conversation with Port Control. Our arrival can be a bit of a surprise, but I have actually brought something to remedy that with me this trip. If First Prince Davion agrees to let us deploy it and install the proper equipment." she told them.

"Prince Davion, you can rest assured I come in peace. Nothing will leave the Dropships without your permission but, we have some serious discussions to have concerning information we recently received. If we could go somewhere secure to talk, I assure you, neither you nor Archon Steiner will be disappointed."

"General Mitchell, if you and Ana will join us, we will head for a secure location. You have again peaked my curiosity." First Prince Hanse Davion said gesturing to the waiting Hover Limos.

Shortly Later

Inside a secure conference room underneath the Davion Palace, First Prince Hanse Davion, Archon Katrina Steiner, Commanding General Michelle Mitchell, Lieutenant SG Anastasia Cameron, Melissa Steiner Davion and Quintus Allard were all seated around the conference table. After refreshments ahd been placed on the table the stewards exited the conference room and the door was secured. Everyone was looking at Mitchell, so she started off.

"Since this time we have everyone here that I am willing to actually be open with I will give a quick over view. The Terran Hegemony did not die, we just departed Terra for another home. Since then, we have both survived and thrived. We retain all the knowledge of the Star League at it's height. Only the people in this room know of our existence, outside of our own people. Though I was invited for possibly other reasons, I am here today for a totally different purpose. Our Intel people have confirmed that Comstar's First Circuit has approved releasing 8 Regiments of Star League vintage Battlemechs to the Draconis Combine, fully equipped. They have also promised to provide Intel on troop movements to the Combine."

"This is taking sides, they have already strayed too far from what they were created for. So we are going to be taking action. I am not asking for any sort of permission, I am informing you that we will be taking action against Comstar. We need no assistance in accomplishing our mission except for your forces to stay out of our way. I do not want any friendly fire incidents. On June 1st, we will be taking down the HPG grid completely. During that time, every HPG station inside the borders of the Lyran Commonwealth and Federated Suns will be seized. Before you panic, the Hegemony will restore service quickly, but Hegemony personnel will man those stations and maintain the stations. We will even expand your current coverage within your nations. As far as I am concerned, the same deal Comstar originally setup with everyone. Same transmission rates. I will be posting guards at every station, but they will be on a limited basis, probably no more than a platoon unless we deem the station in any sort of dangerous location. Again, not asking, but informing." Mitchell told them.

"I know those Battlemechs being shipped to the Combine will heavily tilt the balance of power. It took me some time, but I convinced the Director-General to allow me to transfer 2 Regiments of Star League Battlemechs to you. Those are on those Dropships at the space port. In addition, any Comstar Battlemechs we take out during out mission, I am willing to turn over to both of you. We have no need for them." She paused as Archon Katrina Steiner looked like she was ready to speak. "Please, Archon Steiner, allow me to finish, then you can ask all the questions you like." At her nod, she continued. "In addition, the Hegemony is going to speed up the recovery of what you call Lostech. Other than what I said before, the Hegemony will not provide weapons. But what we are going to do is assist you in refurbishing your factories, help provide the equipment to manufacture what you need, technical assistance in training your people to manufacture what you need. Our estimate is in 10 years, both of your nations will be able to begin upgrading your military to Star League levels. It will take that long to get all the factories upgraded and people trained up."

"Now what neither of you do not know, and here is where some risk is involved. Comstar maintains a warship fleet which we left with them when we departed and it is fully functional. We will be taking them out of play at the same time as we take down the HPG grid. We should be able to take them all quickly, but again, there is some risk involved. If any escape, well I will let you imagine what could happen. To help offset this risk, not that it will help in the short term, because again, I am not asking, I am informing, the Hegemony will reveal the location of a group of missing Lyran warships. The Hegemony will also assist you in recovering them along with the few ships each of you maintain in mothballs. Yes, we know about them, we track those pretty closely. Even if we strip the cores and bring the hulks back to you, our estimates are 15-20 years before you recover the ability to place them back into service. The Hegemony can speed that process up, but it will come at a cost to both of your nations. That is up to you. Now, we can move to questions I am sure you both have." she finished

There was several minutes of silence as everything she had said slowly sank into everyone's head. Archon Katrina Steiner spoke first "How do you intend to prevent Comstar from placing us under an interdiction?"

"Kind of hard to enforce an interdiction if you do not control the HPG grids inside the nation being interdicted. We have the ability to repair anything we damage or destroy and even provide temporary communication until any damage is repaired." Commanding General Michelle Mitchell replied

"How exactly do you plan to make all of this happen so quickly, on so many worlds?" First Prince Hanse Davion asked

"That is our concern, not yours Prince Davion. But you will have Hegemony troops, until mission complete, on yours and Archon Steiners worlds. Let me say again, I am not aksing for permission, I am informing you both of what we are going to do. This is happening with or without your consent, the aid I spoke of is our way of saying sorry in advance but also for allowing Comstar to deviate so far that they are becoming an actual threat. The moment our mission is complete, beside the guard details I spoke of before, all Hegemony troops will be pulled out." Commanding General Michelle Mitchell stated

"You spoke of a cost if we wanted the warships completed faster. Exactly what would that cost be?" Archon Katrina Steiner asked

"Before we discuss that, let me say this bluntly. The Hegemony will not stand by and watch ANYONE use warships against a inhabited planet on civilian targets. Nor are we going to stand by and watch, especially if we render the aid. Those warships be used to prosecute a war of aggression just because you have them. We will take those warships out of play and we have the ability to do it, do not doubt that. We cannot prevent the transfer of equipment from Comstar to the Combine, not without revealing ourselves completely and that is something we are not ready to do. Sarna is an example of what advanced equipment can do to your forces. That was a single Hegemony Regiment equipped with advanced equipment. Those warships, which the Hegemony would assist you on will remain hidden, you may train on them, you own them, BUT, they can only be deployed with Hegemony permission." she told them sternly

Now to the original question. There will come a day when the Hegemony will return home to Terra. When that day comes, the Hegemony will demand the return of all systems within 30LY of Terra. I would want this in writing, video taped all with the knowledge that failure to uphold this agreement will result in unfortunate events. Events I hope to avoid completely." Commanding General Mitchell told them.

"Why do I feel like that warning about the warships was directed at me?" First Prince Hanse Davion said

"You started a war on your wedding day, Prince Davion. Then you went with him, Archon Steiner. I would be a fool to not warn you that there are consequences to accepting our assistance." Commanding General Michelle Mitchell replied, but holding her gaze on First Prince Hanse Davion

"I am not sure I like the idea of having to ask the Hegemony for permission to deploy my own warships General." Archon Katrina Steiner said

"Then we will assist you in recovering them and you can repair them yourselves. Once we return them to your control, where ever we place them, they are your problem from there on. The Hegemony will not render aid in any way beyond returning those ships to your space and control. No parts, no technical assistance, they become your problem." Commanding General Michelle Mitchell replied coldly

For several hours, the meeting lasted before it was called for the night and everyone departed to get some rest. They would meet again tomorrow.

23th November, 3030
New Avalon (Federated Suns)

The small group were once again gathered in the secure conference room. Everyone was sipping coffee while they all prepared for the days discussions. Commanding General Michelle Mitchell knew she had laid down some hard demands, today would be the counter offers. She was going to bargain hard and stick to her guns, they would realize that they needed the Hegemony a lot more than the Hegemony needed them. Besides, she had a secret weapon and she hoped that when the time came, it would work out the way she hoped. She took a sip and cleared her throat.

"Now that we have all had a good night's sleep, or should I say I did. Forgive me Prince Davion, but you look like you have not slept at all." Commanding General Michelle Mitchell said, opening the dance

"It was restless. You gave me a lot of information to absorb and work out in my head." First Prince Hanse Davion replied

"For that I apologize. Shall I assume that you and Archon Steiner have some counter offers for me to consider?" Commanding General Michelle Mitchell asked, on the dance floor now, she thought.

"Concerning the Warships. Myself and Archon Steiner think that a 20 year limit on the Hegemony's control over our warships. During that 20 years, they do not move without Hegemony agreement, nor will we construct our own Warships." First Prince replied while the Archon nodded in agreement.

"I think that would be agreeable. We will assist you in recovering and repairing those ships. But we will need secure facilities for this to work. We have noticed that the Federated Suns is looking for a buyer for Challenge Systems, a company seized by the Federated Suns over debt and mismanagement. We will need a front company to work from. I think this would be the perfect cover. Upgrading your many factories is going to be expensive, but if Challenge Systems and their existing facilities were to be allowed to pass to Hegemony control, that would more than satisfy the coming expenses or at least heavily offset them." Mitchell replied

Everyone looked at Quintus Allard when he set his coffee cup down rather heavily with a cough. "You have something to say, Quintus?" First Prince Hanse Davion asked

Quintus Allard fixed Commanding General Michelle Mitchell with a stare "How deeply do you have people buried, General Mitchell?"

Commanding General Michelle Mitchell smiled but maintained her gaze in return "Mr. Allard, the Hegemony has been operating since before our departure from Terra. Every House took in former SLDF troops and former Hegemony troops. Let's just say that many of them remained loyal to the Hegemony while also being loyal to the various Houses that took them in. Feel free to spend the next century running down family tree's trying to figure out who is or is not one of ours. Add to that little item, we have the ability to read your messages, all of them. Your Black Boxes? We have them too, much more advanced. Let's just say that the Federated Suns has always been considered an ally of the Hegemony. Many years ago Comstar started killing many leading scientists in every realm, it was the Hegemony that stopped many of the killings. That is how the Federated Suns is not nearly as bad off as other realms. Many have lost the ability to purify water in the amounts needed, but not your nation. While many realms suffered for a massive lack of Jumpships, well the Federated Suns had a very large shipyard complex that for 200 years has maintained a fairly good production rate, how do you suppose that happened? The Federated Suns just recently managed to bring the Capellan Confederation to it's knee's by using an agent. Shall I continue?"

Quintus did not reply, but he raised his coffee cup in a silent salute to the Hegemony. Michelle just nodded her head slightly in return. But inside, he was really concerned at how deeply the Hegemony seemed to be embedded.

"I am not keen on the idea of any surprise expenses. I will agree to an out right purchase of Challenge Systems by the Hegemony or their proposed agent. The Federated Suns will pay the bills as they are presented and I am sure the Lyran Commonwealth would like that better also." Hanse Davion said

"That would be fine. I believe the current asking price is 275 Billion C-Bills. Now that we have agreed, we will assist Challenge Systems in setting up a covert complex, both inside the Federated Suns and Lyran Commonwealth. For the Suns, since I spent some time studying some star maps before making the trip out here, we will use the uninhabited Dol system. Our survey's say it meets all our needs in resources and both belts are rich in Germanium. For the Lyran Commonwealth, well, I am going to come clean here, we already have a base established. In the Odessa system. Both sites will be guarded heavily by the Hegemony, and we will use force to prevent their capture. I hope everyone understands that." Commanding General Mitchell replied

"How? For how long?" Katrina questioned her

"Former SLDF base. We reactivated it only recently but it more than meets our needs Archon Steiner." Commanding General Michelle Mitchell replied

"On the worlds around Terra. Many of those worlds have been controlled by the Federated Suns or Lyran Commonwealth for over 200 years. Surely you cannot just tell all those people that they now belong to the Hegemony?" Katrina asked Hegemony General

"Sure we can. It happens all the time. Your nation took over 50 systems during the recent war. The Federated Suns took over 100 systems. One day they were Capellan or Combine, the next Lyran or Suns." Commanding General Michelle Mitchell replied

"I think you are over simplifying reality of the various situations General Mitchell. It will take decades to fully bring those systems into our nations." First Prince said

"Yes, it will and the resources your realms will have to pour into those systems will be vast. Is that the stumbling block? The systems we are speaking of were devastated during the various Succession Wars. Many have only just begun any sort of recovery." Michelle told her audience, she could see that she had struck a nerve and hoped her secret weapon would arrive before disaster struck. She was not disappointed.

"Might I interject?" Lieutenant SG Anastasia Cameron asked from the end of the table.

"Please, Ana. We could use a fresh view on things." Melissa Steiner Davion said

"The Hegemony has always proposed membership to any system and the people themselves vote on the measure. We should not deviate from that tradition. When the time comes, the people themselves will decide the issue. But since this will have a large amount of unknown the boundary should be extended to 100LY from Terra." Lieutenant SG Anastasia Cameron said

"A hundred light years? Young lady, that is out of the question. Hanse, who is this?" Archon Katrina Steiner said

Before he could answer, she spoke for herself. "My name is Anastasia Cameron, heir to the Director-Generalship, true heir to the Terran Hegemony."

"I see. Do you plan to retake all the long lost worlds of the Terran Hegemony?" Archon Katrina Steiner asked

"No. That I can promise and make it stick. The Hegemony will not use force to retake our former systems. But, neither will the Hegemony deny application for membership by any system formerly controlled by the Terran Hegemony." Anastasia told the Archon

With only a short working lunch as any sort of break, talks continued until evening.

24th November, 3030
New Avalon (Federated Suns)

Today, the talks were not scheduled until after lunch. Commanding General Michelle Mitchell took the opportunity to take First Prince Hanse Davion into her Lee-Class Dropship. She led him into the massive Dropship, halting before a Battlemaster. Together, they rode a lift up to the cockpit and she allowed the First Prince to enter the cockpit first. She gave him a quick run down on this particular Battlemaster.

"I picked this to present to you personally, Prince Davion. Your known to be an excellent Battlemaster pilot. This particular Battlemaster, the BLR-1Gdb, was built using a Davion design by the Hegemony in a short production run many years ago. It is equipped with 16 Double Heat Sinks. The skeleton is Endo Steel and the armor protection has been maxed out using the saved weight. The PPC has been swapped out for an Extended Range model with no minimum range. We slotted CASE protection into the left torso to protect your SRM ammunition. All your normal forward Medium Lasers are Medium Pulse Laser for enhanced close range combat. To provide you with the best information you have a Beagle Active Probe installed in the center torso. Any questions?" Michelle asked

"Can we take her out for a spin?" First Prince Hanse Davion asked

"I also am giving you a SLDF cooling suit and Neurohelmet. Take about an hour to tune the Neurohelmet to your brain waves and transfer them into the Battlemaster. Even though you could use the default pilot setup, I think it would be better to take the hour so the Mech is tuned to you properly. So, if you will follow me, I will have my people get you all tuned in." Michelle told him.

Inside a small ready room, a senior technician fitted the Neurohelmet to Hanse Davion. He was seated in a cockpit mockup, he had been thru this before, but it usually took much longer than an hour to dial in a Battlemech and Helmet. Over the course of 45 minutes he put the simulated Battlemech thru the paces so that the Neurohelmet could map his brain waves as he performed various actions. After 54 minutes the senior Tech announced that they were fully synched and his Battlemaster had accepted the profile. "Fully synched and uploaded. Once you complete this run, we can fine tune the Battlemaster to you a little better, sir."

Once fitted for his SLDF cooling suit, with Neurohelmet under his arm, First Prince Hanse Davion emerged from the ready room. "Care to join me General Mitchell?"

"Not today, Prince Davion. I am much too old to be riding in a jumpseat. I will monitor you and be on channel two if you have any questions though." Michelle replied

"It's Hanse when we are not in a group, General Mitchell. I think you have earned that right." he said with a smile as he followed a tech for the ride to his cockpit.

"And you may call me Michelle, Hanse. Enjoy yourself." Michelle to him as he left.

Inside the cockpit, Hanse got comfortable in his command couch. He began the power up sequence and watched the various screens come alive. He saw that the 'Mech was fully loaded and reporting combat ready in all respects. He gave a thumbs up to the tech on the floor of the Mech bay, who saluted. Hanse felt the clamps holding the Battlemaster into the Mech bay release. He slowly added power and the great machine moved for the Dropship door smoothly. Curious he pulled up this particular Battlemaster's information and saw that it was manufactured in 2791. Yet it almost had a brand new smell to it. He wondered if it was just well maintained or had undergone a massive refit before being handed over, he suspected the latter.

Once outside the Dropship, he called NAIS range control and asked for clearance onto the range. While not scheduled, when the First Prince asked for something, you said yes sir. He throttled up to full speed and smiled as the Battlemaster responded smoothly. He exceeded the established speed but figured he could afford to pay any fine they levied. He flipped to channel two.

"You there, Michelle?"

"Right here. Everything running smoothly?" she asked

"Smooth as the finest silk. Hope my people can figure out how to take care of this baby quickly."

"I will be leaving a detail of technicians under Ana's command. They will help oversee the equipment I am leaving you until your own people can handle it." She made sure the channel was secure before continuing "I am hoping you agree to everything, Hanse. The Hegemony wants nothing more than to see the new Federated Commonwealth prosper."

"Michelle, there are a few area's that give me and Katrina some pause, but we talked last night and we agree that so far. There is nothing we can not live with. The Terran Corridor does give us some pause though. You can understand that I hope."

"I figured that would be the area that would caused the most problems. We will save that for later, your approaching the range now so I will quit distracting you."

Hanse flipped his weapons to fully active and saw that his right arm ERPPC powered up quickly and smoothly. He placed his targeting reticle over a target and was surprised when it confirmed a lock. The target was a good 150 meters beyond the range of a normal PPC. He fired and not an ounce of heat gain was felt inside the cockpit. He glanced at the heat scale and saw that the Mechs heat sinks had handled the shot without any strain at all on them. He closed on a close in target and decided to see what a full Alpha Strike would do. Letting loose with the SRM6, followed by the 4 Medium Pulse Lasers and the ERPPC, he felt the heat increase this time, but it was not what he had expected and when he glanced at the heat monitor, he saw that the cooling system was rapidly venting the massive heat he had just generated. Which had only slightly exceeded the cooling system.

For the next hour, he ran around the firing range, having the time of his life. After exiting the range, he called Michelle on channel two. "Michelle, Thank you so much for this. I should be drenched in sweat but to be honest. I might not even have to take a shower, the cooling system is amazing."

"While it is good, Hanse, I would prefer that you take a shower. I think everyone would. If you will come on back to the Dropship, I will have the Techs do their thing."

"On my way, Michelle. See you in a few minutes."

25th November, 3030
New Avalon (Federated Suns)

Commanding General Michelle Mitchell woke early and headed for the compounds communications room. Once inside the locked and guarded room, she was surprised when the communication officer handed her a fax, several pages long. She sat on the edge of a desk and read the cover sheet.

<<To: Commanding General Michelle Mitchell>>
<<From: Rebecca Ebon>>

<<Did not know if you had a chance to read the medical report. Since your there, they discovered something that could be used as a leverage. I enclosed a brief summary of the report. The medical folks are fairly hyped up over it.>>

<<She put the cover sheet aside and read the summary from the Hegemony medical people who had performed the analysis of the blood samples. While First Prince Hanse Davion and Melissa Steiner-Davion had checked out clean, when they checked Archon Katrina Steiner's blood, they had detected cancer markers. She looked at the small chart, what she saw did not look good.>>

<<Subject KS>>

<<Protein marker LG3BP test positive, possible Lung Cancer>>
<<Protein marker CA 15.3 test positive, possible Breast Cancer>>
<<Protein alfa-fetoprotein detected, possible Liver Cancer>>
<<Protein marker CA 72.4 test positive, possible Stomach Cancer>>

<<This many markers indicate that subject was exposed to high levels of radiation in the past. To determine accuracy and treatment requires in person examination.>>

She had several pages of graphs and numbers detailing test results and levels found, but they were just numbers to her. Thank god for Rebecca, always on the point, she thought to herself. She had actually come in to request this exact summary. Plus she was expecting a report on the troop movements in preparations for June 1st, 3031 strikes. It had not arrived yet, so she folded the papers she had and left the communication room.

25th November, 3030
New Avalon (Federated Suns)

Inside the Davion Palace, First Prince Hanse Davion took a drink from his glass, seated across from him in comfortable sitting chairs were Archon Katrina Steiner and Commanding General Michelle Mitchell. This was a completely informal meeting, both Commanding General Michelle Mitchell and Archon Katrina Steiner would be departing within the next few days. Commanding General Michelle Mitchell had requested this particular meeting and he was curious what would come of it.

"So Michelle, what is on the agenda this afternoon?" First Prince Hanse Davion asked

"It actually concerns Archon Steiner Hanse. During your wedding ceremony on Terra, the Hegemony secured blood samples of all the attending people. Before you get upset, your own intel services do the exact same thing. We ran tests on those samples and I would like to ask the Archon to accompany me to a Hegemony hospital for further testing." Commanding General Michelle Mitchell replied

"Why a Hegemony hospital and what did you discover?" Archon Katrina Steiner asked

"Cancer markers, Archon. Quite a few of them. It seems you possibly were exposed to high radiation in the past. Though both Lyran and Suns hospitals are good, outside of Terra itself, the Hegemony has the best medical facilities known to exist. It is possible that we have detected things early enough that we can treat you. We have had great success treating cancer and other diseases over the years." Commanding General Michelle Mitchell replied

"And what would this treatment cost me or my nation?" Archon Katrina Steiner asked

"This is free of charge, Archon. I firmly believe that you are a beacon of light in the Inner Sphere and I would like to see you live a long life." Michelle replied

"Nothing in this universe is free Michelle." Katrina to her

"This is. I offer this without any attached conditions. Your own doctor and medical team that arrived with you are welcome to join us and observe and consult. I am told the tests and examination will require about a week and if treatment is needed, which we believe it is, we can develop a course of action. You will be aboard my own ship, we will link up with your own Jumpship after the examination. Though my medical people inform me that you will need to be sedated for the trip, our method of travel is much different than your own and they have some concerns about how you might react during the trip. Your medical people are free to monitor you in my ships medical bay." Commanding General Michelle Mitchell replied

"I am not sure I want chemo therapy. I watched what it did to Arthur and that does not appeal to me in the least." Archon Katrina Steiner replied

"The Hegemony does not use chemo therapy any longer, so I am told. Not my area of expertise, so any other medical questions will have to be directed to my medical people. I will give you an example I do know, the average life expectancy in the Inner Sphere is just over 90, the Periphery is just over 70. In the Hegemony, our average life span is over 150. The decision is yours to make, and I will respect your decision on the matter." Michelle Mitchell told her

"What do you think, Hanse?" Katrina asked

"What will it hurt to just get checked out? I think you should make the trip, at the very least, your own doctors will know to start work on you if you decline the help being offered." Hanse replied

"Okay Michelle, I think like Hanse, we are beyond formalities. I will accompany you for the examination, but no promises on agreeing to treatment though. I will have to consult with my own medical folks on that one." Katrina said

"We will be ready to depart when you are Katrina. On another note, all of the Battlemechs I delivered have been turned over to your troops. I will be promoting Anastasia to brevet Major, as she will be commanding the techs I am leaving behind. Just over 150 senior technicians will begin training your own techs how to maintain the advanced equipment. Plus, I need permission to send the Dropships back to my ship, I have about 30,000 tons of spare parts, ammunition and armor to being down to the surface, that should help out until you can get your own production started." Michelle said

"Permission granted, Michelle. I think you mentioned you brought a method to eliminate the surprise arrivals of your ships when you arrived?" Hanse asked

"I did. It is simply a series of satellites, they are equipped with special sensors that will give you 4 hours notice of our arrival so that you can be ready." Michelle told him

"I guess 4 hours is better than your ships just materializing. I think you have shaved a few years of the Port Master's life lately." First Hanse Davion replied with smile

"Best we can do, Hanse. Please tell Mr. Allard that attempting to tamper with one of those satellites will result in quite a large explosion. It's not worth the risk. I am only leaving them as a courtesy and would hate to have my trust abused." Commanding General Michelle Mitchell said


8th December, 3030
Versailles (Hegemony)

Taking a round about route, with a travel time of 5 days, SLS Nebraska II, Texas-Class Battleship (SS) had arrived in system on 6th of December. Archon Katrina Steiner had been awakened by her personal medical team when Commanding General Michelle Mitchell had given them the all clear. Once she had recovered from her drug induced sleep, they had boarded her Monarch-Class Dropship for the 1 day run to the surface. They had spent a full day allowing her to relax before starting any sort of medical testing. Archon Katrina Steiner had slept off and on an entire day.

"Exactly how long was I out, Dr Skillner?" Archon Katrina Steiner asked while she finished getting ready for her tests.

"The trip lasted 5 days. I must admit, it was a very curious sensation during the trip." Dr Shillner replied

"Five days, we could be anywhere. I hope Kaptain Seimens got some good sensor reads." Archon Katrina Steiner said

"Archon, he did not get any reads at all. After you were out, General Mitchell brought aboard some marines and crew, they made sure the Dropships sensors were off and remained off for the duration. But you will have to speak to him for the specifics." Dr Shillner replied

"That woman does not miss a thing. She waited for me to be knocked out because she knew I would have a fit. Have you seen their medical facility?" The Archon asked, shelving the sensor blackout for another time.

"Yes, Archon Steiner. It is not far from here. It seems they brought in some specialists, I assume they just arrived, only because they had guides to the various area's where the tests will be conducted. Their medical technology is amazing. I have seen the Star League facilities on Terra and they surpass those by a wide margin. They can actually grow replacement organs from a person's own samples, which removes the threat of rejection completely. Though I was skeptical of their boast of such a life span, they showed me birth records and death records. I even got to speak to several patients who I was allowed to pick at total random, their birth dates they gave me would seem to confirm they are telling us the truth." Dr Shillner replied

"So they managed to impress you." the Archon commented

"Very much so. To have this sort of medical technology at my disposal, it would be a dream come true. The good we could accomplish for our people." Dr Shillner replied

"Hmmph, I will bring it up and see how General Mitchell reacts. I am ready, let's go get this over with." Archon Katrina Steiner said

12th December, 3030

"Tests are all positive. Though the cancer's are in the early stages, they are confirmed. If we do not handle this quickly, I would be surprised if she makes it another 10 years." Dr Vonda Wise said, a Hegemony Oncology Specialist said

"I concur with the diagnosis. I was told you no longer use chemo therapy, so what treatment course would you suggest?" Dr Shillner asked

"Surgery to remove the detected clusters, though I am concerned with the left Lung that one has 4 clusters. Its probably best to regrow a new Lung from clean cells. A fairly aggressive genetic therapy to try and remove any other cancer cells we can find to make sure it never comes back." Dr Wise said.

"What is your honest estimate of success?" Dr Shillner asked

"100% on the Lung transplant. We have not had a rejection in over 80 years of any organ we have regrown. The key is to locate pure cells not contaminated. For the Genetic therapy, not my main area, that would be Dr Gerald Grissom. You met him the other day, I am sure he is looking at the samples right now coming up with a plan of attack. So, how about we wander that way and see what he thinks." Dr Wise said

Thirty minutes later, in another wing of the large hospital complex, they found Dr Grissum typing away on his portable computer. He looked up as they knocked on the door and he waved them inside. "Come in and have a seat, be with you in just a second." It took five long minutes. "I just finished up my report on Archon Steiner. The various cancer locations are pretty localized and not overly wide spread. Roughly 28% of her cells show cancer markers, but this is almost on par with those who have spent many years doing Zero G mining exposed to solar radiation. I am pretty sure we can get the Archon cleaned up using the same treatment course. Though due to her age, which is young by Hegemony standards, she has not been exposed to Hegemony health care, so I have to factor that into my treatment plan."

"Dr Shillner is not quite up to speed on our methods, might want to try and break it down for him. He has to sell this to the Archon and explain it to her." Dr Wise replied

"Of course, my apologies, Doctor Shillner. We have drugs tailored to identify various cancer genes. Normally we would schedule a course of 12 injections given over the course of 2 years. The drugs, once injected would seek out the cancer cells and eliminate them. But I would recommend lengthening the injection schedule to 4 years due to the Archon's age. Plus I assume Dr Wise will want to surgically remove the detected clusters, so I have to factor in recovery time. Our problem is that during treatment, the Archon cannot travel. The drugs will weaken her immune system enough that any space travel would have adverse effects. In my report, I recommended that we setup a medical facility on Tharkad, from there I can monitor her progress completely." Dr Grissum explained

"How weak will her immune system go? Chemo therapy levels?" Dr Shillner asked

"No where close to that low. For about a week after each injection. She will be in a very weakened state, so care will have to be taken. We learned the hard way about space travel during treatment. It causes the cancer to return with a vengeance. We lost quite a few people until we figured it out and placed that restriction. Since then we have a 98% success rate as long as the patient complies with everything. We caught this pretty early, so I have confidence that we will be successful." Dr Grissum said

19th December, 3030
Versailles (Hegemony)

Archon Katrina Steiner took the news with as much courage as she could muster. Even though the thought of an invisible killer within her own body, one that she could not fight herself, terrified her. She had asked many questions of Dr Shillner and Dr Wise. Both had laid out convincing plans on how they would battle this enemy for her, if she gave her consent. She sat silently absorbing the information, finally she looked at Commanding General Michelle Mitchell. "Will the Hegemony approve setting up a medical facility on Tharkad?"

"They will. It is actually something that has been debated quite a bit, since medical technology can be used for civilian purposes. I have actually argued against it, the time is not right for wide spread distribution. Too many questions will be asked and we are not ready to drop our cloak of invisibility completely." Mitchell told her.

"The Lyran Commonwealth will pay the Hegemony for this medical facility. We will also pay for the training of Lyran medical personnel to properly use the technology." Katrina said to her.

"I will only back a medical facility on Tharkad and New Avalon. I think we can use the NAIS as a cover for the medical technology. Maybe say it is from a Star League Data Core having been recovered. If word got out, I would prefer the actual medical technology be a secret, for now anyway." Michelle said to Katrina

"I can live with that. It will take many years to retrain as many medical personnel as would be needed for widespread use of it anyway." Archon Katrina said

"We have studied the issue quite a bit, Archon Steiner. It actually would not take as long as everyone thinks. Two years tops for experienced medical personnel, adds about a year to the training of rookies." answered Michelle

"Then the next question; If you have studied the situation so much, if you please. How long would it take to fully deploy or upgrade current medical facilities for widespread use?" Archon asked

"Current planning and study has only considered the Federated Suns. I hope you understand, the Hegemony has a long history with them. Even if the Federated Suns really did not know about it, but our studies and planning calculate it would take us 10 years to fully upgrade every medical facility within the Federated Suns current borders. This is using only Hegemony manufacturers. If we were to widely distribute the technology, using manufacturers within the various nations. I would hazard a guess that every medical facility in known space could be fully upgraded within 15-20 years. If the nations devoted enough resources to make it happen." Michelle told Katrina

"You realize that if this ever got out and became public, the Hegemony with holding medical technology like this would cause a fire storm." the Archon said
"We are very aware of this. The meetings over this and some other issues are extremely vocal, bordering on fist fights at times. We might use this as a test case and see how things play out. But right now, you are needed healthy. Though Melissa is quite capable, merging two nations will require a known and steady hand. If something were to happen to you or Prince Davion too soon, I fear this merger will be doomed and the results of a break up could rival the First Succession War for both halves." the General told Katrina

Archon Katrina Steiner nodded at her response. "Yes, both myself and Hanse have discussed this very issue. I think we have stayed long enough, it is bad enough I will miss Christmas, but it is a long trip back to Tharkad. Even with a Command Circuit waiting at Summer."

"If you would like Archon Steiner, we can have you on Tharkad by 23 December and on the ground by the 24th." Commanding General Michelle Mitchell replied

"Really? How fast do your ships actually travel?" a surprised Katrina asked

"Speed of advance is 280LY per day Archon." Commanding General Michelle Mitchell replied with a smile. Let your physic people chew on those numbers. They will figure we are out in the periphery somewhere, not right next door to New Avalon, she thought.

23rd December, 3030

Tharkad (Lyran Commonwealth)

Texas (Delranes Fighting Ships 3061)

Texas Class Battleship, SLS Nebraska II

The Texas Class Battleship, SLS Nebraska II, materialized less than a day from Tharkad. Archon Katrina Steiner's Dropship detached and began moving for the surface. People on the ground had not even begun to scramble defense's when the large blip on their sensors vanished, leaving only LCS Steiner Ferry, Princess-Class Luxury Passenger Dropship on their screens and people scratching their heads and ordering a full inspection of their equipment.

25th December, 3030
Odessa (Odessa Naval Base)

Needing to recharge, SLS Nebraska II, proceeded to jump to Odessa from Tharkad. Safely in a berth inside the naval base, she was recharging off her reactors while the crew enjoyed a Christmas with only light watches being manned. The Hegemony was also using the naval base as a staging base for the planned strikes on the HPG stations across this portion of Lyran space. Commanding General Michelle Mitchell ate Christmas dinner with her troops in several mess facilities and toured the massive naval base.

To accomplish the massive number of HPG stations to be taken, she was deploying a vast amount of troops. Comstar's A stations were the most heavily guarded, all having what Comstar called a Level III assigned to them. Lucky for the Hegemony, the A stations were also the most infiltrated by Hegemony Security. Comstar B stations usually had 6 Battlemechs and an Infantry Company assigned, while their C stations only had an Infantry Company. She wanted to make the take overs as bloodless as possible so great effort was being taken to delivering powerful knock out gases which would be released into the sleeping quarters of the assigned Com Guard troops. However, they would still have to deal with those troops on duty, to make sure of success. She had authorized the use of Hegemony equipment. Ferret Power Armor and Hegemony Battlemechs would be used broadly and then withdrawn as quickly and quietly as possible. Still, the number of stations needing to be taken was daunting.

Ferret Power Armor (Standard)

Standard version of the Ferret Power Armor, during space boarding.

Here at the Odessa Naval Base, the Hegemony had been stockpiling equipment to repair any HPG damaged during the take downs. The same thing was happening on Farnesworth and Versailles in the Federated Suns. Factories manufacturing the equipment were running around the clock to make sure they could have the HPG's back up and running quickly.

During the trip to Tharkad, Michelle had given Archon Katrina Steiner a full list of the various ships carrying her troops and their destinations. Katrina Steiner had promised that they would be allowed to bypass any custom inspection on her personal orders and that planetary defense forces would be ordered to not interfere with the coming operation. It was a risk, but she trusted the Archon to keep her word. First Prince Hanse Davion had likewise been delivered a list of ships and destinations for his realm by Anastasia Cameron. She had gotten word that he also would make sure her forces were not interfered with.

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