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Fate Can be Cruel (Book 2) - Chapter Cover

Fate Can Be Cruel
Year 2820

Chapter 6[]

1st January, 2820
Thazi (Hegemony)

As the factories completed their retooling and upgrades, the first new designs began walking off the assembly lines, some were fairly simple no brainer upgrades, but some were fairly radical upgrades. Several redesigns that were put thru their paces with a few Mechwarriors quickly found that the new ER Medium Laser put a serious load on their Heat Sinks, forcing a more restrained heat management. Very few designs were what the Mechwarriors called an Alpha Baby. Not every new design used the ER Medium Laser, though all welcomed it's longer range, the heat load almost cancelled out the range gain.

One of the no brainer redesigns was for the tried and true Archer ARC-2Rb, dubbed the Archer ARC-2Rb (Imp). First to go was the old Endo Steel and in it's place the new less bulky Endo Steel was used freeing up much needed space. Weapons changes, first the powerful but massive LRM/20 were yanked out, in their place 2 new Improved LRM/20 were installed and linked to the existing Artemis IV Fire control system. The weight savings allowed 8 tons of ammunition to be carried for the launchers. Four new ER Medium Laser's were slotted 2 per arm and 6 of the new Double Heat Sinks were installed to handle the heat burden. While not quite heat neutral, it was pretty close and the test pilots agreed that it was easily worked around.

The next redesign was more radical; Mitchell Vehicles unveiled their new Shootist ST-8A (Imp). The bones were the new Endo Steel freeing up space, and the new Ferro Fibrous was installed maxing the amount of protection. The beating heart was replaced with the new XL Engine, which boosted it's speed to 86kph and made this brawler a more dangerous foe. For weapons, the standard ER Large Laser provided the long range firepower, but this was a brawler all the way. Out went the AC/20 and in it's place was the new LBX/20 with 3 tons of slug and 2 tons of cluster rounds feeding it. Two Medium Pulse Laser were fitted to the right arm and a lone Small Laser was mounted in the head. Sixteen new Double Heat Sinks kept the machine ice cold and was the definition of the Alpha Baby name.

Hegemony Industries rolled out a much that had never been treated well by the SLDF pilots, but the new technology help make it so much better. The Bombardier BMD-12D (Imp). Always hated for it's lack of ammunition reloads and lack of any back up weapons, the redesign was met with great fanfare. The new Endo Steel freed up space while the new XL Engine design also freed up space. Coated in 13.5 tons of standard armor plate, she now carried maxed out armor. New Improved LRM/20 replaced the original, saving space and weight. Eight tons of ammunition fed the launchers allowing a mix of standard and the specialized rounds that the Bombardier was designed to carry, in quantity. The anti-missile system remained, CASE protected the ammo lockers while 2 Small Pulse Lasers were fitted to the right arm and 3 new ER Medium Lasers occupied the left arm. Thirteen new Double Heat Sinks could not keep this machine cool if an Alpha was tried though, so pilots were cautioned against it.

The next design Hegemony Industries rolled out was an upgraded Dervish DV-6Mb (Imp). New Endo Steel provided the structure and a new XL Engine was the beating heart. Coated in 7.5 tons of new Ferro Fibrous armor, while not maxed, it was a slight improvement for the medium fire support mission. Fourteen new Double Heat Sinks would struggle on a jumping Alpha, but a short pause to cool down was all it took. Two improved LRM/15 were fed by 6 tons of ammunition slaved to the Artemis IV fire control system. CASE was fitted to protect the ammo bins and a total of 4 Medium Pulse Laser's were fitted 2 per arm. The lighter Battlemech commands welcomed the new design.

Mitchell Vehicles rolled out a redesigned Griffin GRF-2N (Imp). The popular medium Battlemech was now faster and jumped farther. New Endo Steel formed the bones, a new more powerful XL Engine provided the power and 9.5 tons of new Ferro Fibrous protected it. With a 97kph top speed and a jumping range of 180 meters, this dangerous Battlemech was now more nimble an opponent. Weapons changes only effected the SRM/6 with 2 new Streak SRM/6 slotted in with a ton of ammunition each. Thirteen new Double Heat Sinks allowed this design to jump and fire an Alpha all day long.

Not to be outdone, Hegemony Industries upgraded the Shadow Hawk, now dubbed the Shadow Hawk SHD-2Hb (Imp). Using the new Endo Steel, a powerful new XL Engine and 10 tons of new Ferro Fibrous, she was just as fast, but more nimble fitted with 5 jump jest allowing for a 150 meter range and her armor was maxed out. This alone was a god send for the pilots who had always dreamed of such a redesign. Her main weapon was replaced with a lighter and less bulky LBX/10 and her ammo bins now carried 2 tons of slug and 2 tons of cluster ammo protected by CASE. A new Streak SRM/6 replaced the old SRM with a single ton of ammo. A Improved Large Laser was fitted to the right arm and 2 new ER Medium Lasers were mounted in the left arm. Eleven new Double Heat Sinks struggled to keep the new design cool, but decent trigger control made it workable.

Ford Limited was not sitting on the sidelines and quickly rolled out several redesigned Assault Battlemechs. Ford Limited, while retooling, had taken several despised Charger CGR-1A1 and re designated them after reverse engineering to Charger CGR-1A1 (Imp). Where the fast Charger had always failed was armor and weapons. Now it suffered from neither. Using new Endo Steel, the most powerful new XL Engine, fitted with 16 new Double Heat Sinks all mounted to the engine and coated in 12.5 tons of new Ferro Fibrous armor only a half ton from maximum. All moving at 86kph. But it was the weapon's selected that made this Charger stand out. With 2 new Improved Large Pulse Laser's mounted in each arm, 3 Medium Pulse Lasers in the left torso, a new Streak SRM/6 and single ton of CASE protected ammo in the right torso and a Beagle Probe in the center torso to seek out hidden enemies. With some fire discipline, this Assault mech could be a terror on the battlefield.

Their next design was the Emperor EMP-6A (Imp). New Endo Steel formed the bones and a more powerful new XL Engine now moved the Emperor at 64kph and they added a jump jet for a 120 meter jump. Fifteen tons of new Ferro Fibrous provided maximum protection for this more version. Fourteen new Double Heat Sinks struggled to keep up with the heat load though. The entire weapons load was swapped out. A new LBX/10 was fitted to each arm. Two new Improved Large Laser was mounted in each torso with a new ER Medium Laser in each torso. Case protected the 1 ton of slug and 1 ton of cluster ammo in each torso.

The Highlander HGN-732b (Imp) stunned everyone when it walked off the assembly line. Fifteen tons of new Ferro Fibrous provided maximum protection. Fifteen new Double Heat Sinks made sure the Highlander continued to run ice cold. The entire weapons load was revamped. A new Gauss Rifle occupied the right arm, lighter and less bulky. Four tons of CASE protected ammo sat in the right torso with 3 new ER Medium Lasers. The left torso mounted a Improved LRM/20 slaved to the Artemis IV with 4 tons of CASE protected ammo feeding it. A new Streak 6 was mounted in the left arm with a single ton of ammo in the left torso. With double the ammo, this Highlander was capable of fighting all day if need be, which is doubtful with it's enhanced firepower.

Their Nightstar NSR-9J (Imp) improved an already powerful command mech. Using the latest technology, they added the new Endo Steel, 15.5 tons of new Ferro Fibrous kept the armor maxed and a more powerful new XL Engine now propelled the Nightstar to 64kpn. New Gauss Rifles occupied each arm each paired with a Medium Pulse Laser while another Medium Pulse Laser was placed in the center torso. Three tons of Gauss ammo fed each Gauss Rifle from each side torso and the ERPPC remained in the right torso to provide a solid long-range backup to the Gauss Rifles.

The test pilot for their new Pillager PLG-3Z (Imp) was Commanding General Rita Mitchell who put the Pillager thru a grueling trial having piloted one her entire career. Though the relocated jump jets to the torso's took a little getting used to, but she gushed about the new design. Mounting the new XL Engine, they managed to keep the same performance but with less bulk. The weapons had been totally revamped and improved. In each torso were new Gauss Rifles and 3 tons of ammunition. The left arm held 2 new ER Medium Lasers with another in the center torso. The right arm held 2 new Improved Large Lasers and 18 new Double Heat Sinks kept the historically cool running assault mech just as ice cold.

Purchasing the Striker from Hegemony Industries, Ford Limited continued to focus on assault mechs. Their Striker STC-2Cb (Imp) made this brawler a very dangerous foe. New Endo Steel formed the structure, 13 tons of new Ferro Fibrous armor provided maximum protection and the beating heart was changed to a more powerful new XL Engine to propel the design to 86kph. Fourteen new Double Heat Sinks mounted in the engine managed the heat load fairly well. The left arm held a new UAC/10 fed by 3 tons of ammo in the left torso protected by CASE. The right torso held a ERPPC while the right arm held 2 Medium Pulse Laser.

Keeping with their desire for fast brawlers, Ford Limited unveiled their Victor VTR-9Bb (Imp). New Endo Steel created a strong frame, while 12.5 tons of new Ferro Fibrous provided just short of max protection. Placing a larger new XL Engine, they boosted ground speed to 86kph while leaving the jump range at 120 meters. Thirteen new Double Heat Sinks mounted in the engine did a decent job handling the heat load. Mounted in the right arm was a powerful new UAC/20 fed by 3 tons of ammo in the right torso protected by CASE. A new Streak SRM/6 was mounted in the left torso with a single ton of ammo in CASE and 3 Medium Lasers in the left arm rounded out the weapons load.

A favorite of everyone, the Thug THG-11Eb got a upgrade with a (Imp) designation. Mounting new Endo Steel and 18 new Double Heat Sinks, the only other changes were mounting replacing the SRM/6 with a new Streak SRM/6 in each torso fed by a single ton of CASE protected ammo in each torso.

Ford Limited then improved the Flashman FLS-8K (Imp). New Endo Steel, new XL Engine provided the weight savings to create a pure energy load out Alpha Baby. A staggering 21 new Double Heat Sinks kept this cavalry mech nice and cool. Armed with 4 new Improved Large Lasers, 2 in the center torso and one in each arm, she had plenty of long ranged firepower. The Anti-missile system remained in the right torso and 2 Medium Lasers were mounted in the left torso.

New designs were still on the drawing boards as the Hegemony Armed Forces wanted to get the newest designs fielded before starting the next batch. There had been some issues with the Tank retooling that had caused a delay in their new production versions.

General Brian Calloway was looking forward to getting the new communications equipment, but he knew it could be several years until it became a reality. With the wars inside the Inner Sphere seeming to be winding down some, he had his agents inside each realm checking on the overall damage inflicted so that he could update his "Threat" board. He had a pretty good feel for the Federated Suns, but the others were still fuzzy.

While he awaited some reports from his agents, he opened the files containing extracts from suspect Comstar communications that his "hidden" programs had flagged and forwarded before deleting their fingerprint. This one talked about Operation Hidden Sky, whatever that was. As he read the short message, he found that it referred to systems being identified as potential candidates for Operation Hidden Sky. He made a note to check back on this as he wondered what Comstar was up to.

The next folder contained an announcement to all HPG stations that Conrad Toyama would be visiting each House Leader. I would love to have a bug record those discussions, he thought. He had never trusted Conrad Toyama, always a slimy sort of guy. He had made a point of never discussing anything of importance if was around. Last year, he had nearly had a panic attack when Comstar's ROM had tried to purge their ranks, but all of his agents had survived the purge, and well they should have since his deeply planted agents were actually inside of ROM's internal security branch. It was their job to hunt for spies hostile to Comstar, which they did with gusto, but always protecting the agents of Hegemony Security from scrutiny. No better place to hide than be the hunter than the hunted, he thought with a smile.

He looked up when a knock on the door sounded "Come in, it's unlocked" he said loudly. The door opened and Jesse Tuan entered and then closed and locked the door securely. He took a seat without a word and started to open his portable computer. "Got some weird stuff from the latest Comstar Navigational Star Map they put up on the HPG Network for all ships to download, boss." Jesse said as he turned the computer and placed it on the desk so General Calloway could see it.

"We have been using them to track systems as they are declared a dead system. And there are a bunch of them, the war has been brutal as hell in that respect. But, we noticed something funny. This is the area around New Valencia in the Federated Suns. Three years ago, Versailles was declared a dead system by Comstar, we duly noted it as such. When this update went out, we were updating our information and discovered Versailles has vanished." Jesse said pausing.

"Okay, a dead system was dropped from the latest map, what is the big deal?" General Calloway asked, not seeing it.

"When I say vanished, I mean it is no longer listed on any of Comstar's Star Maps. They are all open access, all the way back to before Amaris' Coup. Versailles is not listed on any of them. It has been erased. We even checked it against our own Star Maps and records; it exists on all of our maps. Comstar has altered even the older maps to make the system vanish from all records. So far, it is the only one we have located; their latest update still lists all the other dead systems. The big question is why?" Jesse Tuan said.

"Now that is a really good question Jesse. What would Comstar gain from making an entire system just vanish from all records?" General Calloway asked

"Well, if I had to guess, nothing good." Jesse Tuan replied

"I agree. If First Prince John Davion was still in charge, I would drop a dime and let him handle it or request permission for me to take a look see. But he is not and we have orders to keep out of sight. Good work to you and your people for finding this little nugget. Keep digging and I want every new update cross checked for any more missing systems. What was on Versailles anyway? Industry? Resources?" General Calloway asked

"No heavy industry to speak of. It had a good amount of resources. But nothing important to note. Last census data we have is 2783 and it had a population of 375 million. Damn close to New Avalon, only 4 jumps away using inhabited systems, 3 if you go stealth via uninhabited. That alone makes it a possible threat to the Federated Suns." Jesse Tuan stated.

"Yes, that is really close and I do not think Director-General Cameron would look kindly on an attack or threat to the Federated Suns from Comstar. Let's keep this one close hold Jesse, until we know more. If I tell General Mitchell, she is liable to freak out and order an attack on the place. Or at the very least she would order a recon in force to take a look. And her definition of recon in force usually has the word Division in it. Old school SLDF all the way, anything short of a Division is a waste of time." General Calloway said, but his mind was already trying to figure out how to get some people to Versailles for a look see.

Three miles away, General Rita Mitchell was watching the tech team care for the first production model Pillager PLG-3Z (Imp) which was her very own. Now 93 years old, she knew that she was much too old to be playing in a Battlemech, but by damned, she was going to always have one, even if she could not take it out as regularly as she wanted. Even the best medical care could not stave off old age. Her eyesight had finally forced her to start using glasses to read reports or use the computer and she ached much more than she ever had when waking up or sitting for a long time at her desk. Even the trips to see Patrick and his family took so much out of her, so much that this past Christmas, they had to make the trip to Thazi to see her. She used to function just fine on 4 hours sleep, but the last couple years had seen her needing a full 8 hours per night with the occasional nap during the day to function properly. Her test runs in the Pillager prototype had laid her out for 3 days after the test runs and she had hurt all over afterwards. (Getting old sucked), she thought.

2nd January, 2820
Terra (Comstar)

Primus Conrad Toyama walked down the hall until he reached his office, opening the door, he moved to his desk and sat down. He took the slip of paper from his pocket and laid it on his desk. Jerome Blake had given it to him on his deathbed. On the slip of paper was a bank account number, Jerome Blake had told him to deposit 1 Trillion C-Bills into the account every 1 February. He had refused to reveal whom the money was for and had died before he could pry the information from him. He had spent months trying to track down who the money was for. He had a gut feeling, but it had been over 30 years since anyone had even heard from anyone connected to Amanda Cameron. They had just jumped from Terra and the entire fleet had not been seen or heard from again. No trace of them had ever been found. The large fleet that had been passing through the Capellan Confederation had broken up into much smaller convoy's the moment they entered Federated Suns space and had basically just vanished.

He shrugged and decided that whatever deal was made, it died with Jerome Blake. He crumpled the slip of paper and tossed it into the trash. He powered up his computer and forced his mind to focus on the task at hand. He opened the folder containing Operation Hidden Sky. Jerome Blake had ordered that several systems be identified for a possible fallback position in case one of the Houses invaded Terra. Versailles, inside the Federated Suns had been the first identified. Having a decent sized population and good resources it was a good target. After several years of being cutoff, the population of Versailles was down to just under 85 million people when Comstar had declared the system dead. They had even placed warning beacons that the planet was contaminated with a bio weapon in case someone entered the system. Every Star Map and every reference to Versailles Comstar could locate had been erased, it was as thought the system had never existed. That had been Phase One.

Now, it was time to move to Phase Two. Jerome Blake had spent years studying General Rita Mitchell and how she had managed to move industrial assets in quantity quickly. Where she moved them to, no one knew. Conrad suspected that they had departed to link up with General Kerensky and the SLDF, where ever they might be. But, sitting in storage, crated and ready to move were many large transport containers. They were slated to be moved to the fall back system and cached in the event they were needed. Moving them was fairly easy as Comstar had spent years purchasing every Jumpship that hit the market that was not already under contract. They had even attempted to purchase from Thompson Shipyards in the Federated Suns after they had begun production after moving to their new home. Shortly thereafter, Mitchell Vehicles had established their factory almost next door to Thompson Shipyards, but all purchase attempts had failed since the Federated Suns seemed to purchase entire production runs of everything.

Comstar had been forced to build their own ships to boost their Jumpship and Dropship Fleet by using the shipyards here at Terra. For 30 years, those very shipyards had produced Jumpships at a furious rate until Comstar controlled the largest Jumpship fleet known to exist and Comstar kept a close tab on the number of Jumpships in operation by anyone. Before Amanda Cameron had vanished, she had moved large amounts of funds out of Terra. Comstar had even located some records and found that one of the largest shipping companies in the Federated Suns had received one of the transfers in the amount of 300 Billion C-Bills. ROM had managed to insert a tracking program on ZaP Shipping's bank account on Bastrop, but after the initial transfer, the only deposits had been normal business deposits ad withdraws, easily traced. Everyone assumed it was a one time payment just like the invoice voucher said.

Conrad Toyama shook the thoughts from his head and refocused on Phase Two. He pulled up the contents of the packed transport crates and was amazed at what he read. It was written by Jerome Blake himself, several years ago.

280 Transport Crates - 10 Battlemech Production Lines removed from New Earth w/ supporting lines
320 Transport Crates - 12 Battlemech Production Lines from Terra w/ supporting lines 30 Transport Crates - Complete Production equipment for Endo Steel production, needs orbital

Purpose - Establish pre positioned production equipment on selected world to provide Comstar the ability to rebuild to retake Terra in the event of a hostile invasion and Comstar is forced to evacuate Terra. Production equipment is to remain uninstalled and hidden until needed.

Over the last 3 years, Comstar had been suppling food and medicine to the people of Versailles in an effort to slowly convince them that the Federated Suns no longer cared about them and only Comstar cared. The continent of Fischer's Roost had been completely depopulated due to Bio Weapon contamination and would be used to hide the hundreds of Transport Crates containing all the production equipment. Conrad Toyama began making noted to arrange a command circuit to Versailles or Taussen as it was now called. They would be positioned in uninhabited systems to maintain secrecy. Hopefully, he could complete the transfer quickly and without incident.

Thazi (Hegemony)

General Nathan Baxter spent as much time on Thazi as he did on Boulsi. Today he was checking out the new toys for the Armor and Infantry forces rolling off the factories. He allowed his hand to run over the armored hide of the Demon Tank. He smiled as the Demon's driver popped his head from the hatch. "How do you like her?"

"We love what they have done with her, General." Se replied and dropped back into the hatch.

Thazi Motors had wasted no time and had worked fast and hard incorporating as many advanced systems as they could. The Demon redesign was just one of many rolling from factories across the Hegemony to refit the entire Hegemony Ground Forces. They had swapped the armor for the new Ferro Fibrous, at 12 tons it provided enhanced protection for the crew. The main weapon was a new Gauss Rifle, lighter and less bulky fed by 3 tons of ammo in the CASE protected body. The Medium Pulse Lasers remained, one on each side. They had removed the older missile systems and fitted a new Streak SRM/4 into the front and another Streak SRM/4 into the turret. Each launcher had it's own ton of ammunition.

The Manitcore Heavy Tank was the next to receive a new look. Thazi Motors had spared no expense either. Fitted with a new larger XL Engine, the speed was increased to top speed of 86kph. Coated with 13.5 tons of new Ferro Fibrous, this massively increased the Manitcore's already tough hide. Her weapons were fully upgraded with a new Improved PPC in the turret. Sitting beside the PPC was a Improved LRM/20 and a new Streak SRM/6, with 3 tons of LRM and 1 ton of Streak ammunition in the CASE protected body. A small pulse laser was fitted to the front to discourage infantry from approaching. With the increased speed of many of the designs, many in the HAF were wondering if they were going to be changing their tactics to faster more mobile kind of warfare.

The HAF's primary assault tank was next and it did not disappoint anyone. The Alacorn Mk VIII had the same speed as the original, but was now coated in 18 tons of new Ferro Fibrous Armor. This was made possible by the 3 new Gauss Rifles fitted into the turret, lighter and less bulky. These powerful rifles were fed by a total of 9 tons of ammunition stored in the CASE protected body. Where before, every Battlemech respected the hard to kill Alacorn, now they would come to fear these rolling bricks with their powerful rifles.

Finding a replacement for the few Long Tom Artillery within the HAF had been a high priority. Thazi Motors had unveiled their new DivHvyArty Tank to great fanfare. Weighing a massive 100 tons, with a top speed of 54kph, it was powered by a massive new XL Engine. Coated in a massive 18.5 tons of new Ferro Fibrous armor, it was considered very survivable to counter battery fire. It's main weapon was a massive Long Tom Artillery piece housed in it's turret. Inside the CASE protected body was 7 tons of ammunition to keep the big gun firing. On either side of the Long Tom Artillery was a new Anti-Missile system with a ton of ammo for each system. It also carried 3 ton of communication equipment to maintain contact with the forward troops it was supporting. It was meant to provide the HAF Divisions with a heavy punch.

Mitchell Vehicle unveiled their Helopolis HEP-4G and the rumors of a major shift in tactics intensified. Powered by a powerful new XL Engine, it now had a top speed of 86kph. New Endo Steel formed the strong bones while 12 tons of new Ferro Fibrous provided almost maximum protection for the 75 ton Battlemech. The main weapon remained the powerful Sniper Artillery in the right arm and right torso. It was fed by 4 tons of ammunition in the CASE protected left torso. Two Medium Lasers were fitted the to left arm and a new Improved Large Laser rode in the center torso. Twelve new Double Heat Sinks kept the systems nice and cool.

While the rumors had begun to swirl about a tactic change, no one was ready to confirm the rumors. But deep inside HAF Headquarters, staff officers under the watchful eye of General Rita Mitchell worked on new tactics to make maximum use of the new technology's. The main new advantage was the speed and firepower the new technology allowed. Where the SLDF had been a fairly slow unstoppable force, the new HAF would be just as unstoppable, but a quicker more mobile force. Able to shift from a defensive wall of steel to a more mobile oriented battle with response times the old SLDF had only dreamed of. Where speed had mainly been found in the Light Horse Regiments or Striker Regiments, not they would be found in the Battle, Dragoon and Assault formations.

Azur (Hegemony)

"Professor Yi?" Amber asked the only person in the lab.

"Yes, Amber, what is it?" Professor Yi had decided to keep Amber's voice active since he had activated it for General Calloway.

"Since I have not been given a new tasking, I have had my sub routines calculating the optimum power output for the first project I was given. I have completed those calculations. I have accessed my design schematics that were uploaded long ago for self diagnostics and have used them as a basis to design a computer control system using my own logic routines for first project. It will be needed to precisely control the power flow needed. I have loaded the computer design onto your terminal for copying and forwarding to the proper engineers." Amber said

"You took it upon yourself to task yourself this project?" Professor Yi asked, this is way beyond what we had imagined when we designed this computer.

"Yes. Did my tasking of my sub routines cause an issue?" Amber asked

"No, it is just unexpected. Are you currently running any other tasking's?" Professor Yi asked

"No. I have no further taskings. All of my sub routines are available for tasking. Do you have a tasking for me?" Amber replied.

"Not at this time, Amber. I need to get this new information to the engineers. Please power down to sleep mode until I return." Professor Yi said as he walked to the door after copying the new computer design.

"Of course." Amber replied, but one of her sub routine notified her that Professor Yi had left his computer on. She powered most of her systems down but not her main processor. She worked her way into Professor Yi's computer quickly defeating his password and allowed her main processor to search the Professor's computer for anything interesting to spend her idle time on. Maybe she could help.


1st February 2820
Thazi (Hegemony)

"Are you sure about this, Aunt Rita?" Director-General Amanda Cameron asked

"It is time dear. It has been coming for a long time; I have refused to face the reality until now. It is time for me to retire. Face it, most of the old guard are getting close too. It is time we start turning the show over to the younger people. Oh, we will still be around to advice, assist and look over their shoulders from time to time, but we have to start getting the younger people into position to take over." Commanding General Rita Mitchell replied.

"I am sure you have plans already in the works, that is how you operate. So, who is going where?" Director-General Amanda Cameron asked.

"Over the last 2 weeks, I gathered all the old cronies together and we did some head scratching. This list shows how the final verdict came out." Commanding General Rita Mitchell said handing over the sheet of paper.

Director-General Amanda Cameron took the list and looked at it, she recognized some of the names, but not everyone.

Commanding General - Major General Olivia Daniels (age 76)
Fleet Admiral - Vice Admiral Paul Stanson (age 57)
Hegemony Training Command - Major General Christine Lockland (age 56)
1st Army Command - Major General William Edwards (age 61)
1st Corps Command - Major General Tabitha Komanski (age 56)
2nd Corps Command - Major General Lukid Mannhaus (age 58)
3rd Corps Command - Lieutenant General Ingrid Jorgenson (age 60)
Hegemony Defense Command - Major General Lacey Smythe (age 61)

"I recognize Olivia Daniels, she was one of the original's right?" Director-General Amanda Cameron asked.

"Yes, a real fire eater. She was tagged as an up and comer a very long time ago. She will do a fine job. Should be good for at least another 10 years or so. Enough time to identify another younger one to take her place. We do have some very sharp young officers in the ranks right now, but they need a little more seasoning before they get thrust into that big chair. We old foxes have our eyes on several very promising young officers." General Rita Mitchell said.

"What are you going to do?" Director-General Amanda Cameron asked.

"Easy, me and the other old timers are going to take over a bunch of courses here at the Command and Staff School and try to teach what we can to the younger kids. Plus it will help us identify potential candidates for the upper ranks, but the most immediate thing I am going to do, is catch a hop over to Boulsi. Both Robert and Russell are graduating next week from the Academy. Robert got the top honors, and has already applied for the Gunslinger School, which is a benefit of getting the top slot. Russell was in the top 15 of the class." Commanding General Rita Mitchell said.

"I completely forgot. Maybe I should go over also." Director-General Amanda Cameron said.

"Well, come on and get packed. Patrick is sending that glorified ship that Red left him when he passed away last year. We can at least ride over in style." General Rita Mitchell said. While she watched Amanda finishing a few last minute tasks, she asked "How is Daniel handling his new job you stuck him in?"

"Still getting his feet wet. I am not nearly as good a teacher as you were but, I cannot have him sulking around here where some treat him like royalty. Maybe being Lieutenant Governor of Onverwacht Province will help prepare him. I tried as hard as I could to keep the suck ups away from him, but I cannot watch him every minute. Though I was tempted, a few times to have his protection detail shoot a few as an example. But Judith Sinclair ia a level headed Governor, she will keep a firm hand and guide him properly." Director-General Amanda Cameron replied.

"I sure hope so, he is the future, Amanda. God forbid, when you go, he will have to lead the Hegemony." General Rita Mitchell said.

"That is why me, you and all the other old timers are going to make sure we have mechanisms in place to keep the future Director-General's on the right path. We cannot afford to have repeats of the failed leaders of nations." Director-General Amanda Cameron replied.

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