Chapter 1 - The Federated Suns Reborn
Grand Avalon Mountain Range, New Avalon
New Avalon Combat Region, Coreward Combat Theatre (Markessan Operation's Area)
Crucis March, Federated Sun's Command
22nd December 3060
Katherine Morgan Steiner-Davion, who considered herself Katrina Steiner-(Davion) had just finished announcing to the various Field Marshals, Marshals and General's of the AFFC that she had taken over from her younger sister Yvonne Steiner-Davion as Regent for her brother Victor Ian Steiner-Davion and sat back with a carefully crafted facade of reluctant acceptance of her duties. It was all a lie of course and everyone in the room knew that she was more than happy to take the reigns of the Federated Commonwealth from her younger siblings hands, but the forms had to be kept if she was to ensure the hidebound officers of the Federated Sun's complied with her takeover. Although if any of them thought she was going to be content to remain "Regent" until her fool brother Victor came home from his little crusade then they were frankly too stupid to hold the ranks they did. Ideally Victor would do the decent thing and get himself killed off in Clan Space, but if he did have the bad taste to survive and return then there wasn't a chance in hell she was going to let him return to New Avalon. With the credit of vanquishing the Clans and wiping out the entire Smoke Jaguar clan he would be in an insurmountable position here in the Federated Suns and might even be able to start challenging her within her own Lyran Alliance. To avoid such a future most of the men and women in this room would have to go, but for now she would play the dutiful daughter of Hanse Davion to win their compliance with her usurpation of power...
"No." A single word rang like a gunshot in the silence that had followed her speech.
hocked Katherine stared at the man who had spoken up in almost confusion. All her intelligence reports and advisers, including her key political adviser Tormano Liao, had assured her that as long as she maintained a facade of legality to her takeover he wouldn't speak against her. It took her precious seconds to rally her thoughts and respond. "What did you say, Marshal Davion?"
"I said: No, Princess Katherine. As in the opposite of yes. As in I will not allow this to happen and it is Marshal of the Armies Davion." The grim faced Jackson Kennard Davion spoke almost softly. "I and the officers present will not allow you to usurp your brother's throne while he is off fighting to protect the entire reborn Star League from the Clan threat. While our brothers and sister's in arms may very well at this very moment be bleeding and dying under his command to protect us all. Nor will I or they betray our oaths and stand aside to allow a coup to take place in direct contradiction of the inheritance laws of the Federated Commonwealth and the Federated Suns."
Although the words were delivered softly there was an iron within them that spoke volumes of the likelihood that she would be able to win the Marshal of Armies over to her cause. Looking around the table she could see that his stand had placed steel into the spines of the other officers. Even those who had been subtly felt out by her agents about their willingness to go along with a change in regime were suddenly sitting a little taller and staring at her with hostility, their previous assumed compliance now a thing of the past. Even the Crucis March's Director of Logistic's XO Marshal Simon Gallagher was avoiding her eye and he had sworn her his loyalty secretly and was a Lyran by birth! While that smug bastard Ardan Sortek was grinning at her with undisguised satisfaction at her failure!
Rallying she nodded curtly. "Very well. If you wish to ignore the legality of my sister's abdication of the Regency in my favour then you leave me no other options but to leave you to your wretched little war games and return to Tharkad! I just hope that the people of the Federated Commonwealth will remember who attempted to help them in their hour of peril and who the cabal of officers were that refused that help!"
As she stood up and prepared to storm from the room she was stopped in her tracks again, this time by Prince's Champion Ardan Sortek's voice. "I think not..."
Stopping she wheeled on her father's oldest friend in a rage but felt her fury wither and die in the face of his cold pitiless stare as the old man stood up slowly. "Princess Katherine Morgan Steiner-Davion in my role as Prince's Champion I hereby place you under arrest for High Treason against your brother the Rightful Archon-Prince of the Federated Commonwealth. You will be held here on New Avalon in a secure location until such time as your brother returns and you will then stand trial... For that and perhaps other crimes, Katherine..."
The last sentence and the sheer hate that the old man allowed to colour his voice tore the last shreds of anger from Katherine. He could only mean one thing. He knew. She had long suspected that her brother had known about her involvement with their mothers death and he had clearly confided that information in Ardan Sortek before he left for Huntress... She almost stammered out a reply. "I have no idea what you are talking about... But my bodyguards will not stand for this! I brought a combined-arms regiment of the 1st Royal Guards from Tharkad with me! They will not allow their Archon to be taken into custody!"
The derision on the faces of the assembled Federated Commonwealth officers spoke volumes as to how seriously they took that threat. Marshal Bishop Sortek of the 1st Davion Guards RCT spoke for all of them when he snorted contemptuously. "My own 1st Davion Guard could handle a combat command from your parade ground toy soldier RCT with one hand tied behind their back's... Even without the assistance of the Davion Heavy Guards, New Avalon CrMM and the 1st New Avalon Cavaliers... Even the New Avalon CrMM could take them on their own frankly!"
"Enough of this. Prince's Champion Sortek please take your prisoner into custody. Her few infantry bodyguards outside will have already been seized by the resident 1st Davion Royal Guards infantry... Marshal Sortek, Marshal Adelmana and Leftenant General Payne... If you could please co-ordinate the seizure of the detachment from the 1st Royals RCT, if at all possible without needless bloodshed but if the choice is between one of ours and one of theirs you know what to do... Please co-ordinate with the New Avalon Cavaliers, have them secure the NAIS and Albion compounds. Also deploy additional infantry and forces as you see fit to support your commands in maintaining law and order for the time being."
As Ardan Sortek advanced on her and motioned to two guards to assist him Katherine stared in horror as the three other officers mentioned nodded and quickly strode from the room. She was particularly wounded by the total lack of opposition to the order from the Duke of Augusta, Leftenant General Payne who she had counted on to be one of her supporters after she had seized power! Yet clearly the ambitious officer with long years at court had sensed which way the wind was blowing and had no intention to stand in support of a women who was facing treason charges!
Perhaps out of some residual fondness for the child he remembered or respect for her late parent's the Prince's Champion did not insist on marching her from the room in cuffs but as she passed by security post's who's soldiers had suddenly changed from ceremonial uniforms to full combat gear the Archon of the Lyran Alliance was in no doubt's as to the fact she was under arrest... This had not gone at all to plan!