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New Dawn in the Sun's - Chapter 5[]

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First Prince Debriefing[]

Fox's Den, Mt. Davion
New Avalon, Federated Suns
August 8th, 3015

"So, I trust you had a good trip?" Hanse teased his long-time friend and confident as Ardan dropped into one of the over stuffed armchairs across from the First Prince. "Your report was certainly enlightening. Though I was surprised that Harry was coming back with you."

"Harry has his own agenda," Ardan replied with a snort. "He's here to sell you new weapons, and not just what they got off the Taurians."

"Oh? None of that was mentioned in the dispatches you sent from Brockton…", Hanse trailed off meaningfully.

"It would have offended our hosts if we had." Ardan shrugged uncomfortably. "Ran thought, and I agree with him, that it was best not to aggravate them. They're doing us a service again, and if they want to keep what they found quiet we weren't going to offend them. Especially not with what we found on world."

"They don't trust Comstar's discretion?" Hanse frowned at that. He had his own questions about just how neutral the Terran based organization really was, but it sounded like the Brocktons had more solid evidence then the straws to the wind he had currently. "Or is it something else?"

"With them… something else. The Precentor assigned to the world is originally from Highspire, and the Brockton's organized both our biological and chemical response units. Needless to say, that assignment went over poorly with the public, and especially with the duke." Ardan said evenly. It was something of an open secret that the CCAF chemical weapons industry had been, and possibly still was, based on Highspire. There was a reason why the border world was the personal holding of Romano Liao, and had been held by main line Liao's throughout the succession wars. "It doesn't help that Duke Brockton is a firm believer in holding grudges and getting even… which is another problem I'm glad to be dumping on your plate."

"That doesn't sound good. Hit me with it," Hanse turned serious when Ardan mentioned a problem. He trusted the other man's good sense, even if he tended to be a bit too idealistic.

"Corean went above and beyond what Michael Davion authorized back in twenty-eight forty-seven. They didn't just take what they owned; they robbed the Brockton system blind. Between the lost tooling and intellectual properties… we're talking a theft that could total trillions of pounds." Ardan's voice was grim as he continued. "They haven't been satisfied with that either, they've launched at least one strike to prune back Trevlu, along with continuing political pressure and an ongoing effort to keep the Swordsman as reviled as it is. If I were you, I would be extremely grateful that Andrew Brockton has trouble keeping his temper. If he hadn't executed the Free Rangers company the way he did… It wouldn't surprise me if he hired a couple of regiments to repossess Corean New Avalon for his family, be damned what a First Prince said".

"They're holding a grudge over that decision?", asked Hanse

"That and the way their Tsamma holdings were ransacked by Corean hired mercenaries, with DMI and MIIO at the time willing to swear up and down that it was a pirate raid. That finding is why we couldn't do anything to him after he had the Rangers all shot, and Michael tried. Something that's still causing friction between the former UHC worlds and the Capellan March, not to mention the issues the entire affair has generated between us and mercenaries."

"How bad is it?"

"Let me put it this way, you know how the Swordsman is regarded? The Brockton Militia and the Trevlu security run Swordsmen instead of Icarus IIs. There are no Valkyries on world, and even mentioning the Centurion as anything other than a light AeroSpace Fighter seemed like an iffy idea. Harry Brockton, who I found to be a level headed and personable man, threw a fit when he found out that he was getting an Icarus II as part of the demonstration package he has for you." Ardan shook his head. "It's a planetary grudge that the family has invested time and money in keeping alive. They have a planetary holiday dedicated to cursing Corean, Families get together and burn effigies of the Corean board, past and present."

"Not the Whitworth though…" Hanse frowned as he thought about the problem. He had to admit this was a little beyond what he had thought, and he was going to need to think about it before he figured out how to turn it to his advantage.

"Take a look at the Whitworths that Corean, and Trevlu, make and compare them to the models from the Whitworth company."

"Ours have hands…" Hanse raised an eyebrow at where Ardan was going with this.

"Yes, they do, then compare one of our Whitworths arms to the arm of a Trevlu's Swordsman. While you're thinking on that, do the same thing with the legs. You know our Whitworths don't have the complaints that the Whitworth company made ones have."

"They did the redesign work didn't they?"

"Part of that stolen intellectual property I mentioned earlier. I know you can't really punish Corean for a theft that occurred almost two hundred years ago, but…" Ardan paused and grimaced. "This represents a fundamental break down in the feudal obligations your ancestors were sworn to uphold, those obligations are something the Brockton family holds tight. It's why so many of the tainted ended up on Brockton." Both men grimaced at the mention of yet another failure. The tainted were the survivors of various chemical and biological attacks who suffered under the stigma of being survivors while the worlds they were from had died. "While I doubt this was the only time those broke down… this time you really need to at least try and make things right. Especially since I would bet my Victor that the Brockton family has their hooks deep in the CrMM in the Minette area of operations. I visited with elements of the Broken Wheel CrMM and Anjin Muerto CrMM who were on world for refitting and they had a high opinion of the Brockton Family."

"That's going to be difficult." Hanse admitted, mentally he was shoving units around in his head, trying to figure out how to get a front-line regiment into that region of space. "I can't, not wont, but can not give the Brockton family what they deserve. Even if everything you brought back checks out on our end. I'm going to have to think long and hard about how to make things right, but I will at least try. Given the history there I don't think it's a good idea to start moving against the Brockton's even if they do have an inappropriately close relationship with the CrMM. My first instinct is to pull back the 1st Chrisholm Raiders to Colorado, give them time to rebuild and reconnect with their roots, but that's going to put a massive hole in the Draconis March so I don't think it's a viable idea. Perhaps moving the second to Brockton directly? Something to run past the cave. Do you have any good news?"

"Well…" Ardan let himself trail off to tease his old friend. "There's a lot more production capacity out that way then has been reported. Trevlu has kept it quiet but I think they rebuilt far more then MIIO or DMI caught wind of, at the very least they aren't just getting engines from the Outworlds like we thought. They've been using it to keep the local march militia units in excellent shape, which is why no one's been interested in reporting it to New Avalon. The units I saw had a lower percentage of Militia Mechs then usual, although their weight was on the lower end of the spectrum. Lots of forty-ton machines filling in for Enforcers, Centurions, and Dervishes. Just a straw to the wind, but the two command mechs I saw were Thunderbolts, Taurian built, so you might be able to use the Brocktons for further back-channel negotiations with the Concordat. It rubs me the wrong way. We should talk with them directly, but with the way Michael been acting? You might need those channels to keep the peace out there. You know about the MML system from my report…"

"Thanks. Thanks a bunch for reminding me that despite my efforts we're still behind the Free Worlds League and the Lyrans." Hanse glowered as he said that.

"What did the FWL come up with?" Ardan frowned as he asked that. He didn't have the same access to intelligence that Hanse did, but he was granted an unusual amount of access in his position of one of Hanses most trusted sounding boards. He hadn't heard anything about a new weapons system coming out of the League.

"A medium range missile system, basically from what DMI tells me it's a reloadable rocket pod, size ranging from a ten pack up to a maximum practical forty pack. SAFE, or probably more accurately the Andurien Intelligence Directorate, managed to hide it for long enough that our first hints about the development was when the newest Stalkers coming out of Shiro III were mounting what we thought were twenty packs of long range missiles, instead of the standard ten packs and six packs of short ranged missiles. At least we were luckier then the Capellans, the first they knew about it was when the 1st Defenders of Andurien took Palladaine with their brand-new Stalkers leading the way." Ardan could feel the frustration rolling off of Hanse as he described the new weapons system the League had deployed.

"Well, this will make you happier at least. Two new autocannon types which I would rate as deployable. A third which while it needs a bit of refinement before I would be comfortable deploying it, jamming issues, and a fourth that needs a redesign before I would be comfortable putting it on anything outside of a proving ground." Ardan smirked at the gob smacked look on Hanse's face. "That brightened your day up a bit, didn't it?"

"What? How?"

"Trevlu bases their R & D out of Brockton, or at least their covert R and D, and they had a married couple looking into reproducing the Code Red. They didn't manage that, but they came up with something interesting, a new alloy which allowed them to lighten the barrel of a lower caliber autocannon. I don't need to tell you how those effects the all up weight of the weapon?" Ardan's voice was mild but internally he was debating if he should ask his friend if he needed a bib. Reducing the weight of the barrel on an autocannon meant that you also reduced the weight of the support structures and the number of myomer fibers you needed for its tracking function. "Once they could consistently produce lighter weight cannons, they tried strapping them together in a rotary configuration to duplicate the damage pattern of an LBX… they aren't quiet there yet but at least the lighter model they put together is almost there. The heavier of the two? Not so much, one of their prototypes detonated its ammo in the middle of a demonstration. That was an interesting experience."

"Is that the only problem with the system? Why not use the new alloy for the larger systems?" Hanse asked, all business despite his obvious desire.

"From what I was told the alloy can't handle the pressure needed for larger systems, beyond the lighter calibers… the shells create too much pressure and it splits." Ardan leaned back miming an explosion with his hands. "The only other problem that was reported is that due to the light weight and rigidity of the alloy you can't attach as many control myomers to stabilize it as a traditional barrel so the range is reduced."

"What does the smaller rotary weigh in at?" Hanse asked, thinking hard. While the FedSuns might be closer to the League in terms of trade, their propensity for civil wars could be disruptive, as demonstrated by Anton's revolt. Due to that Marik family fight several critical orders from the league had been short stopped or were delayed, causing supply chain issues. Unfortunately, the Suns weren't as close to the Lyrans, but he thought he could see a way to turn that around.

"About the same as an GM Whirlwind, why?"

"I think I might just be able to hit a couple of birds with the stone you just handed me." Hanse grinned as he said that, not his trademark foxy grin but a thing full of teeth. "We've been having issues with our league side suppliers, and given we're about to steal a new commonwealth weapon… I didn't think I could find any relief there. But Defiance just discontinued the Sentinel due to the technological decline we've been in since the Star League fell. Their downgraded model wasn't making the grade, not enough fire power. If this RAC is good enough I'm thinking about allowing the Brocktons to export the design specs…"

"Making our acquisition of the MML into more of a trade rather than outright theft?"

"That and paying back the Brockton family for their loyalty or at least their ingenuity." Hanse paused. "It would be a good way to test the Archon as well. Is she someone we can do business with? Ian thought so, but I can see Michael's hand in that decision. Ian's stories about what went on during his time with the Hounds left me decidedly unimpressed."

"Surely not with the Hounds!"

"No, they were as good as their reputation made them out to be according to Ian. It's the other commands he dealt with which make me nervous. The Kells put together a mercenary unit out of the cream of the Lyran crop… I'm not sure how much talent is left in the LCAF if their best end up in the mercenary market, especially in the militias and regulars."

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