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The Federated Suns Reborn
- Chapter 36

August 3064
Steele's Hard Truths!

"This is David Steele and welcome to Steele's Hard Truths, New Avalon's premier Military and Foreign Affairs talk show! As ever I am your host and tonight I have with me retired Leftenant General Abraham Zibler, late of the Avalon Hussars and author of the new best selling book "Warrior Prince" and Professor Linda Cartwright of the School of the Written Arts at Gogh-Bukowski and author of the latest release from that famed universities press "Archon Katherine, Sold into Slavery"... Good evening to both of you, I'm glad to have you both back on the show..." The handsome and charismatic host of the show named for him flashed his two guests a warm and by all appearances genuine welcoming smile. Steele was officially 52 but could easily pass for a decade younger than that and many thought he might be a good decade older than his so called birthday and clad in the height of fashion on New Avalon and had a voice that could command a room. Or a holo-vid audience. Having welcomed his guests to the show he turned towards the cameras and the live audience and flashed them another trade mark smile. "Tonight we will be discussing the renewed might of the AFFS and not only the reasons for this but also the implications this might have..."

"I'll tell you what the implications are David, the current warmongering regime installed within Mount Davion is placing the safety of all the peoples of the Federated Sun's at risk!" The 43 year old tenured professor at the famed liberal Gogh-Bukowski University had always considered her own voice to be "strident" but there was a hint of shrillness to it as she snapped out. "The First Prince and his pet generals and admirals are pouring a seemingly never ending stream of our hard earned D-Bills into the military industrial complex so that they can play at war! I have said it before and I will say it again, our present First Prince has a Napoleon Complex and is trying to make himself feel important and taller by playing with his toy soldiers!"

A harsh barking laugh burst from the retired Zibler. Clad in a formal suit that was last in fashion in the day's of First Prince Hanse Davion and with a cropped head of white-grey hair that looked like it had been done by a military barber he looked every inch the stern old warhorse as he leaned forward as though guiding a mech into battle. "You honestly think a man that stood down the IlKhan of the Clans, a former Smoke Jaguar Elemental I might add, and killed him in hand to hand combat with a blade has to worry about people thinking less of him because of his height? What are you lot smoking over there are Gogh-Bukowski?"

"Now now General, as you know yourself all our guests are screened for alcohol and other stimulants after the never to be forgotten events of the '59 Christmas Special!" Steele interjected before Cartwright could lose her temper and go off on one of her famous rants. 2 minutes into the show was a little early for that. As the crowd chuckled as they recalled the still famous drunken guests from the '59 show he turned the full force of his magnetic personality on the retired General. "Still Linda does make a good point... A lot of money IS going to the military industrial complex... Do you have a position on that?"

"Of course i do. And what I have to say is: About bloody time!" Zibler nodded firmly. "I have nothing but respect for Hanse Davion, hell I charged into enough hell holes under his commands so I know what I'm saying, but it's about bloody time that we had a First Prince who prioritised our own industrial productions. Our reliance on foreign arms companies for the last few centuries has been a national disgrace! The Old Fox relied on the Lyran's too much in my opinion... Understandable I suppose, he was married to one, but still... We all saw what a clusterfu... disaster... it was when the Lyran's bugged out and left us in the lurch during Operation Guerrero... How many good boys and girls didn't make it home when their mech or tank suddenly broke down when the supply of spare parts dried up because the factory was now in the Lyran Alliance? One would be too many!"

"The General makes a good point Linda!" Steele swivelled his chair to face the professor before Zibler got into full on lecture. "Surely the jobs and increased supply independence are worth a little spending?"

"A little! Now who's smoking something! The First Prince is pouring out BILLIONS to play his little war games! Do you know we have no fewer than 13 warships building! Those are multi-billion D-Bill items EACH!" Professor Cartwright snapped as Steele and Zibler exchanged a glance. They both know the number was actually 15, but the rabidly anti-military Cartwright just didn't have the sources to know about the slips in Panpour even though by now it was an almost open secret. "Plus I have it from a reliable source that these military expansions are actually weakening our military!"

"That seems a little strange Linda, can you explain that... And perhaps give us your source?" Steele leaned forward in his chair scenting blood in the water. This was the money shot he could tell, this would be what tonight's show would be remembered for... The next 5 minutes...

The veteran of a hundred academic battles smirked slightly at the question. She might not have any of those little tin stars that the soldiers so dearly loved but that didn't make her a fool! She made a point of smiling to the camera and audience with her best warm smile before flashing a wink at the host. "Now David, you know I can't reveal my sources... However I can assure you he is a highly ranked military officer who is horrified to see so many new formations joining the AFFS, diluting our fine troops with unreliable mercenary scum and conscripted canon fodder who are little use on the modern day battlefield... Our experienced troops and officers are being stretched far to thin with this rapid and frankly overpriced expansion!"

"Well there is the risk of overextending ourselves General Zibler, after all that was what happened to the AFFS in the run up to the 1st Succession War... Do you have a rebuttal?" Steele knew to give the final word to the former AFFS general... After all this was the FedSun's and the military was almost a religion here...

"You bet I do... But before I address her so called expert I'm going to take deep exception to her description of the fine men and women who have joined or in many cases rejoined the AFFS from the various mercenary commands that Prince Victor has invited to serve... Those men and women are almost all of them FedSun's born, bred and trained. Many of them have served in prestigious military commands before turning to mercenary service and even those that haven't have served on the front lines to protect and serve the people of the Federated Suns with honour and dedication! I'd have been honoured to fight alongside any of them! Hell I probably HAVE!" Zibler's tone was genuinely angry before beginning to drip with derision as he continued. "As for her so called expert, who I either think is a cashiered officer or an incompetent passed over for promotion due to his obvious mental ******... He's just simply wrong. For one thing we don't have any conscripts in the ranks. For another when First Prince Davion returned from Strana Mechty the AFFS had roughly 86 regiments and 2 battalions worth of battlemech forces. Of those formations exactly 9 were listed as Elite and 17 Veteran. As of the current expansions the AFFS has 115 regiments and reinforced regiments and 15 battalions... Of those current formations, many of them admittedly under strength, 19 are listed as Elite and 30 Veterans according to my own sources! Now I'm no mathematician, I left that sort of stuff to my staff, but even I can figure out that our forces have expanded by almost 50% but our Elite units have doubled and the Veterans nearly the same! It's hard to say that's a sign our troops are turning into a paper tiger David... First Prince Victor hasn't just expanded the AFFS he's increased not only the quality of equipment but also the quality of the troops! A real Warrior Prince!"

"And with that rather shameless plug of your new book General I think we're out of time... I've been David Steele and you've been watching Steele's Hard Truths! We'll be back next week with a hard hitting review of the recent St Ives conflict! From myself and my guests, good night!" Steele smiled warmly as the lights faded... As soon as the camera's stopped rolling his two guests started to shout and insult each other off camera... To the delight of the still watching live audience... As he tried to keep them from throttling each other he chuckled to himself and made a note to make sure they were both invited on at the same time in the future... They were holo-vid gold together!

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