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Federated Suns Reborn (Chapter Cover)

The Federated Suns Reborn
- Chapter 235

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January 3072
Interlude: Protests

Governor's Palace
Ecol City, Thorin
Freedom Theater
Lyran Alliance

"Death to Tyrants!" Even through the cockpit of his Zeus, Hauptmann Joseph Wernz could hear the crowd roar from down the street. Jesus, but they were getting closer. Marching with their placards and banners, coming down the Cameron Avenue in their thousands. With a scowl he noticed a lot of those same placards and banners were pro-FedSuns or at least pro-Victor Davion. This just kept getting better. The local police had given up any attempt to divert them from their intended course of bringing their petition to the Governor's Palace to present to Duke Sakuma himself. Hell most of the local Ecol Police Department probably agreed with the rabble!

Zeus (by tplambert)

Zeus Assault 'Mech

"Hauptmann Wernz... There are a lot of them." Leutnant Ernst Bier of the small contingent of infantry which had been attached to his company of BattleMechs to "protect the palace".

"I am aware of that, Ernst!" He snarled back at the idiot for announcing the obvious over an open communication channel to the whole company and his own two platoons of infantry. "Hold your ground."

"With all due respect, Sir. How the hell do I "hold my ground" with just over sixty troopers against what looks like ten thousand protesters?!" Ernst Bier at least sent that over a private channel.

"You have the Ducal Guard to back you up!" Wernz barked back. "That's two full companies of infantry and a company of tanks in reserve! And I have my entire company of BattleMechs in over watch from the top of the steps, the protesters won't risk storming your positions while we're here... Grow a backbone man!"

Hauptmann Wernz could hear the panic in his subordinate's voice as he replied. "The Ducal Guard aren't worth the bullets to blow them away and half of them probably agree with the damn protesters... Hell the Duke himself might for all we know... As for your BattleMechs... Are you going to open fire on the crowd if they won't stop?!"

"I will do my duty. Now do yours or I'll have you before a court martial!" Wernz slapped a hand down cutting the line. The problem was that Ernst was right. While his twelve BattleMechs were a force that could wipe out the entire column of protesters in a few minutes, they weren't designed for crowd control. Hell neither was Ernst's two platoons. They were combat soldiers equipped to take on enemy infantry, tanks and even BattleMechs. They weren't police officers or even military police. They didn't have riot gear except for a handful of suits that the local police department had grudgingly handed over on their third request. The 16th Lyran Regulars weren't designed for crowd control, they were a combat unit! Plus they weren't a RCT with large infantry formations, they had only a single battalion of armor and two battalions of mechanized infantry to support their BattleMech regiment. Worse given the situation across Thorin the Colonel had been forced to disperse them in penny packets all over the damn place. Leaving each small group isolated and alone. Like his.

For a split second, Wernz indulged in cursing the damn 3rd Ceti Hussars RCT. Two of their combat commands were on planet and had more than enough infantry and armor formations to reinforce the Lyran Regulars, but instead they had opted to maintain order in the vicinity of their own base at Opal City. They claimed that they could not get involved in the domestic affairs of a Lyran world and that acting against the civilians of an allied state to maintain order was not part of their rules of engagement. To add insult to injury the mayor of Opal City had declared in favor of the protests and formally thanked the 3rd Ceti Hussars for their aid in maintaining order there!

As the protesters approached the line of barricades hastily erected near the foot of the large steps leading to the Governor's Palace Wernz keyed the loudspeakers on his BattleMech and spoke. "This is Hauptmann Wernz of the LAAF. This is an illegal protest. Disperse immedietly. You are ordered to comply."

A roar of anger and catcalls was the initial answer the crowd gave to his instructions, till one of their leaders lifted her own loudspeaker. "We are here to see the Duke! We will not be silenced! We demand to see the Duke! The Alliance is a nation of laws! We have a right! The Regent has no right to arrest Representative Johnson! We demand his release!"

"I am ordering you to disperse! Go home! Or you will be arrested!" He almost shouted into the speaker system, causing a backlash of static.

"You're going to arrest us?!" A burly man in the suit of a mildly prosperous tradesman or shopkeeper spoke up from beside the initial speaker. "You and what secret army of police?!"

The roar of mocking laughter from the head of the crowd at the man's words had Wernz gripping the joysticks of his BattleMech and fighting to remain calm. Almost subconsciously he shifted his Zeus, moving it to the edge of the steps and raising it's arms. "DISPERSE!"

"NO!" Shouted the woman taking the loudspeaker back. Her words echoed seconds later from thousands of throats as the crowd began moving forward again. Pushing up against the barriers of the handful of infantry and Ducal Guard he had deployed at the foot of the steps. Within seconds the Ducal Guard were abandoning their posts and streaming back up the steps, Leutnant Ernst Bier's men rapidly becoming isolated islands of uniforms before being forced to retreat as well.

Wernz roared over both his comm lines and the still activated speakers. "Hold! Hold your ground!"

With nobody listening to him and the crowd already half way up the steps Wernz hovered for a half second on giving the order for his company to open fire. Between them they had the firepower to level cities. What the twelve BattleMechs of his company would do to the crowd of protesters if he gave that order made him throttle back his rage. Instead he sat impotently at the controls of his BattleMech as the protesters rushed around and past him, heading into the palace he had been ordered to defend... Short of causing a massacre all he could do was stand and watch as they rushed by him, a few stopping to spray graffiti on the feet of his BattleMech with mocking salutes and laughs. Leaving him impotently grinding his teeth in his cockpit.

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