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New Dawn in the Sun's - Chapter 4[]

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Talk of the Past and Present[]

Ducal Palace
Brockton, Federated Suns
May 3rd, 3015

"I trust that your visit has been to your liking?" Duke Andrew Brockton asked. Ardan Sortek had to restrain himself from saying something biting and sarcastic back. The duke and his staff had done a hell of a job distracting Ran Felsner and himself, they had a full itinerary from the moment they had stepped off the dropship until now. Admittedly what they were doing was important, but they were soldiers not show dogs to be trotted out to be shown off. It was perhaps the kindest most useful dodge that Ardan had ever seen, but given the lack of access to the duke it clearly had been a dodge.

"It was certainly informative," Ran replied mildly. "I was surprised by the attitude towards the star league I found on world. It seemed to be contrary to what most of Inner Sphere feels."

"I blame Louis," Andrew took a sip of his truly excellent wine before continuing. "He might not have been the heir but he was a duke's son and that gave him access to a rather large pile of resources. Given his experience in the periphery he spent pretty much all of it on a personal crusade to blacken the name of the star league. You saw some of his work when you visited the Pitcairn Museum."

"That was interesting," Ran admitted, not letting his true feelings show. Ardan barely contained a shudder as he remembered what had been contained inside. Full color triVids of SLDF massacres, Blood bowls, and other war crimes, along with testimonials from survivors. It had been a chilling experience, although he could appreciate the emphasis placed on the role that Pitcairn and his legion had played in attempting to restrain the SLDF, they had at least acted like true knights.

"I was surprised to see Gladiators as part of the collection?" Ran continued. "The Talos made sense, as did the battered remains of the Toro, but Gladiators? I had thought that they were a native Lyran design, expressly for the militia market." The Toro had been particularly disturbing, it was a shattered wreck having been physically beaten into that condition, at least to Ardan's experienced eye. The small plaque which memorialized the Mechwarrior who had been trapped in it when that had happened had been particularly chilling.

"They started life as a Drac design, then the dracs screwed up a battle and rather than blaming the commander they naturally blamed the equipment, so they went about rewriting history with their typical brutality. Merriweather Industries in the hegemony, back when it was a going concern, bought the design documents to make a stab at independently developing a modern mech which the HAF turned down after ordering. By the time of the reunification war, they were known as a mercenary ride, so Pitcairn had little trouble getting enough of them to obfuscate the origins of the Legion." Andrew paused and wet his lips yet again. "That plan went out the window when he got a look at what Furlough was actually up to in the Outworlds… But Louis kept his throughout the war."

"And the family didn't keep it operational?" Ardan's confusion was evident in his question. Not keeping a working mech going was unthinkable in this time.

"No access to spare parts." Andre replied with a shrug. "The DV-3R was an inferior Dervish, and the 4R could be replaced by a Wolverine easily enough. Better for the family to get machines which were still in production with parts available then to try and keep obsolete mechs running. Especially as we would have needed to machine up bespoke parts."

"You could have done it though," Ran jumped on the opportunity to bring up the reason they were out here on the edge of suns space.

"Sure, if we wanted to waste money." Brenda Brockton nee DeBrinion spoke up. She was substantially younger than her husband, and Ardan had thought her to be more a trophy wife than anything else. She seemed to know what she was talking about so he would need to amend his opinion yet again. The entire Brockton family seemed to be like that, more then what they appeared to be. "Better to use them as museum pieces and put the money we would have spent to use. Besides at that time our planetary industry was focused on the life sciences, most of our heavy industry was being shutdown as uneconomical in the face of Terran competition."

"You revived your industry though?" Ran said before popping a truly divine piece of mutton into his mouth. This curry was one of the best he had ever had outside of the former United Hindu Collective space, probably a subtle demonstration of the Brockton's political connections. He didn't have the time for that sort of political game and so ignored it in favor of the truly excellent food.

"Much later, and even then, it was only through subsidies we kept it going before the League fell." Brenda shrugged as she said that. "Without Takiro's fraud scaring us about our access to Terran exports we would never have spent the money."

"That's not quite accurate," Harry put in from where he had been demolishing his own meal with the steady workmanship of a career soldier. "We did keep up the funding for proper maintenance while it was mothballed back then. Otherwise, we never would have been able to pull it out of storage and start using it again."

"We didn't do it on our own," Andrew admitted with a grin. "Say what you will about the fat man, but he had an eye for dissatisfaction and knew exactly what buttons to push to get people hopping to his tune."

"I do wonder why your family was so open to collaborating with such a… character." Ardan's voice was filled with disgust. Collaborating with the man responsible for the fall of the Star League was in his mind beyond a family working with Satan.

"Because from our perspective the League wasn't delivering on its promises." Andrew's response was swift, his words a warning that even Ardan could understand. "We were promised economic prosperity, and that there would be funds available to upgrade our industry. It's why the family was initially so in favor of joining. Unfortunately, those benefits failed to materialize, and we were steadily marginalized and pushed out of what industries we retained in favor of Terran firms. Louis's tantrums didn't help matters, but we were hardly the only planet who didn't benefit. Several of our contemporaries experienced the same thing, and they didn't have nobles who were actively trying to assassinate hegemony 'heroes'. It didn't help that all of the veterans who returned from the Reunification War backed up Louis's version of events, which were rather different from what we got from the official news services. By the time of Takiro's fraud we were more than ready to have done with the whole thing."

"You expected the Star League to fall?" Ardan's voice was horrified.

"No, we expected that the Terrans would be distracted enough by the periphery that we could benefit the way Panpour had. The thinking was that we were in a perfect position to snag an SLN transport command contract, which would come with modern upgrades for our refit yard, possibly all the way up to a production facility. Being in safe space about halfway between the two perspective battle grounds? That seemed like a sure bet to the family back then. Of course, we were wrong but…" Andrew shrugged his shoulders. "No one thought that Amaris was that crazy. Still, you work with who you can, not who you want too."

"Like the heir to the Taurian Concordat?" Ran's question was mild but Ardan could almost feel the tension ratchet up around the room.

"I presume that's what brought you all the way out here from New Avalon?" Brenda kept up a facade of normalcy but then tension around her eyes was obvious.

"As you say."

"That's why you asked me to resign and head home?" Harry's voice was mild, but there was anger lurking in it.

"No, I asked you to do that long before Thomas showed up unexpectedly." Andrew reassured his son. "Collin had a breakthrough before his untimely passing and I needed someone I could trust to get it in front of the First Prince. Given how many of our confidential communications have ended up on New Syrtis instead of New Avalon, I wanted it to be done in person by someone who both sides could trust. Given your position in the Heavy Guards that put you in the hot seat."

"It's gotten that bad?" Harry asked, his anger forgotten as concern filled his frame.

"Trevlu has been getting a lot of unofficial pressure from New Syrtis, so much so that Prakash Azad had to suspend operations in the Capellan March." Andrew's casual name drop of the CEO of Trevlu Mechworks was enough to make both Ran and Ardan sit up just a little bit straighter. "Ajeet isn't nearly as affected but that's because they are newer and less well known. I know that Kirsh Singh, Roger Garg, and several of the other dukes in the former Collective Worlds have been monopolizing Basantapur's production for the past year or so. Given they are closer to the situation then I am I'm not inclined to second guess their instincts."

"Given Max recently announced that the Home Guard would be getting a new militia mech, it's no surprise that Michael is beefing up his march. Especially with Candace Liao announcing the Firebee will be back in production shortly," Ran put delicately, he clearly didn't believe Candace's announcement any more than his listeners, but he was aware enough of the strategic situation to know it was an outside possibility that the Liaos had gotten access to the Kuritas seemingly endless stockpile of machine tools.

"After a century and a half, the Liaos finally are going to admit that Ilsa's display of brilliance wasn't enough on its own." Andrew's response was derisive. "Everyone's known for more then fifty years that the CCAF needed to either up production of the Vindicator or start acquiring Militia Mechs. The only reason they haven't before now was that it was politically impossible for the Liao family to admit that their propaganda about how the CCAF and Home Guards had proper mechs as opposed to the FWLM and AFFS due to the impressive foresight of Ilsa Liao was so much shit."

"Dad…" Harry tried to interrupt his father, but the older man was on a roll.

"We could have done that, the Swordsman is a better all rounder then the Vindicator, but between the history and the fucking Corean marketing department paying to keep the 'mech in disrepute, the AFFS and March Militias have been hamstrung by politics."

"If the Swordsman is so easy to produce why isn't the Icarus more common?"

"Corean again, they pretend to hold that license almost exclusively and the last time we tried to expand production away from Brockton… let's just say that the legal fees were daunting."

"Not to mention the battalion of mercs who showed up on Tsamma after it started looking like Corean's claims were going to be laughed out of court as they should have been to begin with," Brenda reminded her husband.

"Those were pirates dear, ask anyone." Andrew's voice was filled with sarcasm. "Despite the targeted nature of the raid, taking out only the refit yard and associated industry, along with the standard mercenary transmission DMI and MIIO both agreed that it was a pirate action. Not that the finding stopped complaints when we hung the bastards."

"That was because you hired them on a garrison contract and then captured and executed them years after they had performed their raid on Tsamma." Brenda's voice was filled with disapproval. "That was a mistake."

"It got the message across to the rest of the mercenary community.", Andrew stated

"Because not being able to hire mercenaries is a good thing." Brenda rolled her eyes. "Prakash and the rest of the board are still pissed with you for that stunt. The only reason the backlash was as mild as it was is that they had been reduced in size to a company."

"As interesting as this history is, perhaps we can bring the conversation back around to what the Heir to the Taurian Concordat was doing here?" Ardan asked in exasperation, interrupting what was looking to be a massive family fight that he did not want to have front row seats to.

"Oh, that…" Brenda settled down a bit before continuing. "VMI got a new weapon out of Coventry due to an engineering snafu on their Commando lines which required Coventry to transmit some additional data. Coventry screwed up and put too much into the transmission, giving the Taurians a first look at the new model Commando set to be released next year. Thomas was hoping we could sell him the machine tooling he needed to put it into production."

"Seeing as he needed to let us see the blue prints in order to get him the needed machine tools I was inclined to agree." Andrew grinned as he said that. "We put it into full production a month after he left for home and have been playing with refits since he told us what he wanted. Combined with Collins breakthrough… I think we might finally have a Swordsman the AFFS will accept."

"What sort of system is it?" Ardan found himself leaning forward with interest. "The one Thomas wanted you to duplicate I mean."

"It's a production model of the old multi-missile launcher idea," Andrew said with a grin. "We have a demonstration set up tomorrow for you both to look at everything we have… I think you'll like it."

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