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New Dawn in the Suns (Chapter Cover)

New Dawn in the Sun's - Chapter 19[]

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Negotiating with Sandoval[]

Planetary Capital City of Jojoken
Andurien, Free Worlds League
February 3rd, 3017

Mildred Humphreys was an unhappy camper as she navigated the almost deserted library looking for their, in her mind unwanted, guests. Harry Brockton seemed to have started living in this library almost as soon as he had set foot on world. Though why he would want to was something of a mystery, one she had ignored in favor of fighting to keep her position. A minor mystery of why a Federated Suns noble would be interested in the cultural archives of the Capellan Confederation was much less important to Mildred than regaining her position as the CO of the 6th Defenders.

Vengeance DropShip (Far orbit from a planet)

Vengeance Class Fighter Carrier DropShip

Laurence had thrown her under the hover bus in his negotiations with the Captain-General, meaning that while she retained the rank of Colonel she was without a command. Mildred's best efforts hadn't been able to reverse that yet, though she had hope. Especially as the Falcons Nest battle group came closer to being operational. The Vengeance class Fighter Carrier DropShip and her supporting ships had started life as a federal unit until they had defected to Anton during his ill-conceived attempt at the big chair. Even under the repletion doctrine, there was no way those ships were going to remain under Andurien command, no matter who they had surrendered to. Delaying her career as a sop to Janos was a pointless gesture, although her mother seemed to think that being without a command she could be shopped around on the marriage market.

The entire situation was infuriating, she had proven again and again that she had been correct to hold her battle group back on Calloway. Not even Sir Coker could disagree with her there, and he had gamed it out extensively rather than taking her word for it, the Orient loyal regiments had staked her command out for the wolves counting on the Defenders to gut the famous mercenaries in defeat making it possible for the three orient regiments to sweep in and destroy the damaged Anton loyalist commands. The blatantly political nature of their deployment should have been obvious to anyone with eyes to see, unfortunately for her, Janos didn't agree with her. He held her personally responsible for the damage that the Second Fusiliers had taken, probably the results of intense lobbying by the young Christopher Halas on behalf of his father, and had seemingly taken great pleasure in trying to destroy her career.

Pushing that thought aside she sited her prey and paused to straighten her cream-colored uniform. Harry Brockton was bent over a book of occupation-era poetry, an unusual choice and she wondered if he could even read it. Before Ursula Liao's reforms, Terrence Liao had mandated that the Andurien people use Capellan mandarin transliterated into Cyrillic characters as a means to deny Anduriens the dubious benefits of Capellan citizenship.

"Finding anything interesting?" Mildred inquired mildly, surprisingly enough Harry didn't start in surprise. She had known he was a 'Mech jock, but this was the first sign of it she had seen so far in her interactions with him. He was clearly used to processing information gleaned from the corners of his eyes, a valuable skill when one read the three-hundred-and-sixty-degree compressed panoramic display of a BattleMech.

"Confusing is more like it Colonel," Harry answered not looking up from his book. "Trying to read this is an exercise in frustration, and I'm fluent in Mandarin. Why anyone felt the need to transliterate Mandarin into Cyrillic is beyond me. As it stands I can barely make my way through this, and I'm left wondering just what about this was culturally valuable enough for it to be presented to the lords of the star league as an example of the civilizing effects of Capellan culture."

"It's dreck isn't it?" Mildred felt the corners of her mouth curve up into a slight grin. "Have you tried the resistance poetry?"

"While I'm fluent in several languages, Italian isn't one of them." Harry admitted freely, finally looking up from his book. "Are they any good? The Taurian genre with the same name is only slightly better than what I've been wading through."

"Not appreciably, Anduriens tend to be more hands-on. The Castra Nostra saw its greatest period of growth under the occupation, an issue that we're still dealing with to this day." Mildred shrugged as she said that. "Any particular reason you're torturing yourself with this merda?"

"Trying to understand what was going on with the Confederation in the time period. Terrence I understand, Ursula? She confuses me a bit. Her actions make little sense in the context of the time, and she was the one who promoted this…" Harry's hands made a throwing away gesture.

"She was a Liao," Mildred replied bluntly, expressing all of her care for that family.

"She was half-Terran," Harry corrected gently. "Considering just what the other Terran family which ended up on a national throne got up to… probably a good thing she didn't procreate."

"If only the rest of her benighted family would follow her sterling example," Mildred was lost for a second in that fantasy. It was pleasant but reminded her once again why she had tracked down Harry. "My mother would be pleased to extend an invitation for you to visit the dark tower at the end of the week...privately."

"I suppose that explains why she's having you run around as an errand girl," Harry nodded his understanding. "If I can ask, your thoughts on our offer?"

"It's fare, but I don't think you're going to be getting what you want. The Dame guards those specifications closer than she does her own children." Mildred couldn't help but let at least a little bitterness leach into her voice. Her mother had a tendency to use her children like chess pieces, to their detriment, a fate she had been successfully avoiding before her career had foundered on the rocks of Jano's spite. "It would certainly be helpful to us to produce the Excalibur again."

"The Defenders are one of the most vehicle-heavy formations on the FWLM's order of battle," Harry agreed, pointedly ignoring the bitter note in Mildred's voice. "You're almost as bad as us Feddies about bringing along vehicles."

"Don't use them like you do though," Mildred pointed out, she was beginning to enjoy this conversation. "We fence with ours, though that might be the composition of what we get. Most of our heavies are Ontos, and they aren't that common."

"You do seem to favor speedier vehicles, though why in the world you keep buying Harassers armed with SRMs instead of throwing a decent LRM system on them I have no idea," Harry's voice was filled with disdain at that choice.

"We have LTV-4s as a long-range option, and there's value to swinging up behind a heavier Lyran formation with SRM spam," Mildred defended her nation's vehicle choice with the ease of long practice. "With the Capellans it's all dirty tricks in back alleys, very little upfront fighting. Even when you are fighting them straight up it's usually home guards and all they have are Vendettas and Scorpions tanks backed up by the occasional Brutus. The Harasser works really well turning them into bunkers if we don't go with the flambe option."

"Wouldn't work against the Dracs, they tend to come at you with the heavier end of the hover spectrum." Harry shrugged. "That's a nightmare to face."

"I imagine so, you saw a lot of action while you were in?"

"I was with the prince at Halstead Station," Harry's voice took a far-off tone as he said that, his eyes unfocusing as if lost in his memory. "The regulars and hussars weren't too bad. 9th Dieron was annoying, way too many cavalry heavies. 2nd Proserpina Hussars were a treat though, for all their airs they had way too many lights filling in the ranks. Getting into a fight with them was a great way to run up your kill count. Then you have the Steel Dragon, they were a nightmare. Well-trained, and as heavy as you would want. We struggled against them, though we covered the Prince in the end. Yorinaga Kurita wanted a second Davion scalp badly, bastard pushed hard."

"Can't say my enemies have had quite that pedigree," Mildred admitted lightly, watching closely for signs that Harry had soldiers shock. He seemed to snap back to himself easily enough, so she doubted it, but with veterans, it was always a worry. "Wolf's Dragoons weren't fun, but that was more political than a real fight on my end."

"Oriente tried to screw you, from what I heard at least," Harry's voice was sympathetic.

"Not that surprising, despite all my lobbying the Dame has kept the 6th Defenders at home. We don't have the reputation that the 5th has, so we looked like an easy target to score some cheap points off of." Mildred admitted grumpily. "Hell, we didn't even get in on Palladaine."

"I wouldn't worry too much about your time on the bench, Dame Catherine isn't going to be able to afford to keep you there no matter what Janos wants," Harry commented as he began to pile up the books he had been reading. "What do you think she's going to offer me instead of what I want?"

"Money, lots of it," Mildred was intrigued by the certainty in Harry's voice, she had to wonder just what he knew that she didn't.

"She can't afford it, not if she's smart. I've yet to see any indications that she isn't so I'm going to keep with my assumption that she's buying mercenary contracts like it's going out of style, meaning her cash reserves are low." Harry's tone was absolutely confident on that point.

"What makes you so certain that there's going to be a war here?" Mildred asked with narrowed eyes. She hadn't seen any indication that Harry was correct, despite being in semi disgrace she was still in high command and hadn't heard anything about the dutchy hiring new mercenaries. Beyond the usual small unit churn that was.

"Janos temper and the way the Liaos operate." Harry turned to face her squarely. "You heard Candice's announcement that they're bringing back the FireBee?"

"Yes, I looked up the specs on that and then had a laugh. Our Hermes II's will eat them for lunch at range." Mildred hadn't been worried about that announcement the thirty-five tonner was hardly a threat. It could be dangerous under the right circumstances, especially to vehicles, but with a bit of tactical knowledge, its threat was severely diminished.

"Heard anything about a hero project to produce the tooling?"

"No…" Mildred frowned at that. Her mind turning over the implications. "We assumed that they had restored some of their older sets of tooling."

"I wouldn't the Capellans have been struggling in terms of production for a long time. They prettied it up, but there's a reason why they didn't adopt MilitiaMechs like everyone else did. Their production numbers have been dropping worse then ours have, and we're one of the weaker states in terms of industrial capacity."

"But they did announce it, officially that is," Mildred felt her eyes narrow. The Capellans, much as she looked down on them, were good at fulfilling the promise of announced programs. They would fuck up in terms of production numbers, often well below the targets set on Sian, but when they said they were producing something it was getting produced even if they had to hand-build one a year.

"Exactly. The Celestial Throne said they were going to be doing that, so it will get done. It's not like the various infrastructure programs that the planetary governments slap the hero project label on." Harry almost sneered as he said that. The Capellans were notorious for blowing up their own industry if it was threatened rather than letting it fall into enemy hands. Then they would half-ass at best the rebuild, leaving the planetary government in charge only for the Liaos to sweep in and take the credit if the rebuild was successful.

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