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New Dawn in the Suns (Chapter Cover)

New Dawn in the Sun's - Chapter 15[]

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Working out a Strategy[]

Ducal Residence
Brockton, Federated Suns
September 11th, 3016

Andrew hadn't been entirely pleased to be called back home before the installation on Basantapor had been completed, but needs must when the devil drives. Honestly, he had expected better from the local government, they usually handled things without needing his presence. Unfortunately, it looked like the brewing conflict between the Second Chisholm Raiders and local interests was something that would require him to mediate. Meaning that he had to put away his industrial concerns to once again don the little used mantle of duke of Brockton.

The issue was one of priorities, the pirates of the region were beginning to show signs of organization and the local government wanted the Second out doing anti-piracy patrols. The Second was more interested in getting themselves organized and back up to strength. Being a feeder unit for the First Chisholm Raiders, their 'Mechs were decidedly second-rate and from what Andrew had been reading they had transferred their best over before being dispatched to the Outback. With the Brockton planetary government not being in their chain of command the Raiders felt that they weren't required to bow to its wishes, leading the government to call him back as their biggest political gun.

"It's not going to work," Captain Henry Bauer said with certainty as he strode into the duke's office. A line officer by inclination he had been tapped to pull a staff tour this rotation, from the rumors he had picked up it was polish before he was promoted to major and took over as the XO. "Whatever inducements you think you can wave under my nose to get me and the boys hopping to your tune, we've seen it before."

"Well, that's one way to start a conversation," Andrew said mildly. "Not surprising given your service jacket, but less helpful than I had hoped."

"Look, I get that things are getting a dicey out here. It's part of the reason you had a front-line regiment moved to the outback, but our primary responsibility is to protect the industrial assets of Trevlu and the yards." Bauer hated his orders, but he would fulfill them faithfully. "You have a march militia; they're supposed to be the ones who keep piracy in check."

"They do, for the most part, but as you said things are getting dicey out here and they have the wrong equipment mix." Andrew countered. "It's not the 'Mechs. When they engage, they trounce whomever the pirates are, it's their transport assets."

"We aren't in any better shape." Henry sighed as he admitted that. "We have a count it one, Merchant class JumpShip assigned to us. We aren't in any better of a position to chase after pirates then the marchers are."

"You can meet them in space." Andrew argued back. "Look I get that your new to the region, and probably read up on the situation out here but…"

"No buts, I did. The Anjin Muerta and Broken Wheel marchers are actually better equipped than we are in terms of transport assets. They have a battalion mover, and the best we have are Unions!" Henry's frustration began to leak out. He knew that the duke he was badgering had retired as a major, but that had been a retirement rank he had actually topped out as a captain. He hadn't been responsible for space assets, or the logistics of a campaign, and that's what he was asking the second to do; fight a campaign against the pirates.

Union DropShip (Launching from a City - by Robert Smith)

Union Class DropShip

"It's a Dictator, most of the march militia ride around in Lions." Andrew cut the younger man off before he could continue. "We have lift yes, hell I could personally give you enough lift to supply your regiment on an invasion campaign out of my own resources. What we don't have is secure lift, or lift that can defend itself outside of atmosphere."

"Dictator… wasn't that the SLDF ship which was retired in favor of the Overlord?"

"Yes, just like the Lion was being phased out for the Union."

Union DropShip (Landing - MW5)

Union Class 'Mech-Carrier DropShip

"They're military ships, I'm not sure I'm seeing the problem…" Henry admitted slowly. "They have guns and armor, yes?"

"They were being phased out for the same reason the militia is having issues. Neither design was built for independent operations, they don't have fighters. When the militia needs to make a contested landing, or even contest the orbitals, they either need to bring along a carrier or have an established ground base." Andrew's frustration leaked into his voice. "Committing the militia to the sort of active campaign that needs to be fought against the pirates would be akin to standing them up against a wall and shooting them myself. Pirates aren't inherently stupid; they know what we have and when it matters, they can bring enough fighters to down our transports before the militia makes planetfall."

"You do know that we're about a battalion under strength, and all of our DropShip have chits for a yard overhaul?" Henry asked, understanding finally the issue.

"I do actually know that, no one's asking you to jump right into putting a lance on every world in the operations area," Andrew carefully ignored the 'could have fooled me' which Henry muttered under his breath. "What we want is for you to at least look at planning some independent deployments. Your Leopards are going to be out of the yard's hands in a couple of months, give us something… even if it's not more than a bare bones plan."

"I can give you a plan, but it's not going to be feasible," Henry shook his head. "I would rather be straight with all of you then blow smoke up your collective asses."

"What are your issues? Aside from the lack of 'Mechs, which I might be able to help you with."

"You already are, we have about a company and a half of salvage being looked over in the mech yard. Once your engineers and techs sort out what can be salvaged and what's junk, we will be a little closer to being up to strength, along with the 'Mechs that Trevlu is producing." Henry acknowledged that the noble was at least trying to be helpful, even if he did have his own agenda. "Look, even if we had a full-strength regiment, we don't have the jumpers to move around like we would need to. Most of the ones which were assigned to us were Capellan March Militia, and they stayed in their march. The others got pulled into a maintenance rotation, because this was supposed to be a defensive deployment."

"I'm going to have to rattle some cages, but I might be able to get you at least a collar or two on the regular liners in this region." Andrew pursed his lips. He doubted that he would be able to get a JumpShip freed up, but places on one of the regular routes? That he might be able to swing.

"Which doesn't help because we need to be mobile in order to respond to threats. It does you no good if we're stuck thirty light years from the point of contact…"

"DMI and MIIO aren't completely useless."

"And what's their success rate?"

"Fifteen percent," Andrew admitted with a wince.

"That's actually not bad, especially for predicting pirates." Henry was impressed by the number. Most pirates were so random that you would have better luck throwing a dart at the map of your OA then trying to make an accurate prediction of what targets they would hit. "If you can find us the lift we might be able to break out a few lances to cover likely targets… which brings us to the next problem, fighters."

"How badly are you under-strength?"

"The only class we actually match our TOE is in interceptors, our dog fighters are criminally under strength and we don't have a single attack bird. I know you said we could actually fight pirates in the air but… unless something changes, we aren't going to be able to do more than prune back their fighters."

"That's a problem…" Andrew cocked his head to the side. He could see a solution but it wouldn't work without the colonels okay. "How do you feel about field testing something?"

"I'd need to talk it over with the colonel, but we might be open to it. Why?"

"I have connections to Ajeet Aerospace."

"I told you, we have interceptors. More Centurions aren't going to do us much good."

Vulcan Heavy Aerospace Fighter (underattack by meltdonw14)

Vulcan Heavy AeroSpace Fighter

"I know, how about Vulcans?"

"It's out of testing?" Henry asked his eyes narrowing. He had heard about Ajeet Aerospace's attempt to put the Vulcan back into production, but beyond the initial announcement he hadn't heard anything about it. Certainly not that it was being deployed operationally.

"The five en model was recently certified, the fire support bird is still in limbo though." Andrew frowned as he thought about the favors he would need to call in to get the first squadron off the production lines. It might be possible, but it might very well not be. The old UCH nobility would have their own call on the bird, and he wasn't sure just how many of them would use their influence. The Rim reputation might keep a few of them back, but given the dearth of attack fighters in the region even that wouldn't hold people back for long.

"Tricky," Henry found himself drumming his fingers along his thigh. "I might be able to convince the colonel… but I might not. We aren't the sort of unit which has the technical support you would need to really run a trial like that, so any endorsement we gave the bird wouldn't be worth the paper it was printed on. Assuming we could keep them flying that is, our techs have never worked on the bird so there might be issues. You wouldn't know where to find a couple of Stukas would you?"

"I have contacts but they aren't infinite." Andrew replied with a bitter laugh. "Vulcans would be the best I could do, and even that's not certain."

"I'll talk it over with the colonel and the head air tech," Henry shrugged slightly. It didn't cost him anything to offer that, especially since he was sure that the offer would be turned down. Besides being an almost completely new air frame to the AFFS, the Vulcan still had a reputation. Links to the Rim Worlds Republic and Stefan Amaris weren't something that any right-thinking person wanted to have, even if it was in the form of badly needed equipment. Although they might just end up using the dukes' connections to replace their Sabres Light AeroSpace Fighters. The Centurion was the hardier bird, and they weren't first on New Avalon's priority lists for supplies. Otherwise they would be getting Sparrowhawks instead of the decidedly inferior Sabres as replacements.

"Do what you can, please." It cost Andrew a bit to add that last word, but he did it anyway. His wife had managed to pound it into his head that while politeness cost you nothing, the rewards were worth the minuscule extra effort.

"Alright. I'll try and get the colonel to release a few lances as well, but that's not going to happen until we've finished out the refit cycle. A lot of our 'Mechs were worn down."

"I read the reports," Andrew grimaced as he said that. Those had been grim reading, too many of the machines had broken parts or missing systems. The Raiders had been operational for far too long in his opinion without a real refit. "At least your Shadow Hawks should be coming back to you better than new. You're getting refit kits straight from the factory here."

"Anyways, I could convince you to switch up production and get us Whitworths rather than the Swordsman we've been assigned?" Henry asked, slightly uncomfortable. He knew that the Swordsman was the Duke's pet project, but between the regiments need for fire support designs rather than direct engagement 'Mechs and the Swordsman's retention of the lingering stench of the Rostovs it wasn't a design that he particularly wanted. Just the arguments alone between mechjocks about who had to take the Swordsman would be a headache, one he didn't need.

"That I can't do, your orders came down from New Avalon. Since they're the ones paying…" Andrew shrugged lightly. "Besides we're on contract to get as many of them out the door as possible. We've had to send a buying commission to the Outworlds and the Taurian's for engine kits, all on the First Princes dime. Not to mention he cleared out the brigade of guard's stockpile of one sixties to send our way. When the first prince wants something this badly…"

"Forget I asked." Henry apologized, internally his mind was working overtime. This was the first he had heard about the First Prince getting behind the Swordsman and pushing, perhaps things had changed? A couple of barracks room rumors would need to be started, if only to make his life easier.

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