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Scars of Victoria (Cover Art)

Scars of Victoria[]

Chapter 11 - Field Trip[]

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Homing in on the Origin[]

The Victoria Institute of Technology - Victoria, Capellan Confederation - 10/19/3048


Minoru looked at his reflection in the gold faceplate then took a step back at the metal and carbon fiber bones of the partially flayed Hostile Environment Suit mounted on their armor stand in silence. Ryuun’s drill whirred as he removed the last of the machine guards from the PEX-A exoskeleton revealing sickly gray myomer bundles under the focused magnifying lights of their lab.

Dereck pulled up a series of pictures that looked like those of a medical examiners autopsy except that it was a machine on the table rather than a person. Both men zoomed in on the intact portions of the machine that survived the light cannons of the MMK and almost killed the Warlord of the New Samarkand Prefecture. Readings from the electron microscope confirmed that the myomer was the same triple-strength variant that was becoming more common in the exoskeleton market.

“I think that confirms it. William and Aria did a quick scan on its operating code, and we have the instrumental results to suggest that the Hachiman Aggressor suit has the same origin as the StarCorps Gorilla.”

Ryuun fondled his goatee, “The problem is which one came first? Was it the heavier one or this lighter one? And did StarCorps even design it or are they just manufacturing it?”

“Logically things should get heavier, Ryuun. This smacks of laziness however, logically the root code should differ between the designs. Could it be a commercialized version of an abandoned weapons project?”
“Maybe Dereck, To recoup the investment, it did after all fail to kill Isoroku-denka.”

“But it almost did!” Minoru interjected his silent malaise bursting forth in a fury. “He was only saved by luck. These things attacked Chandrasekar and I as well. I owe it to all of them to find out who ordered it.”

Dereck and Ryuun both recoiled from the outburst, “Whoa, hey Minoru. Calm down.”
“Yeah, we want to find out who ordered it too.”
“We must stay focused though. This is out of our hands. None of us are intelligence people.”
“We’re just intelligent and lucky apparently. There are no StarCorps factories in the Draconis Combine, we wouldn’t have known if we weren’t in the Capellan Confederation.”
“You’re right, we should talk to Ogawa-sama. I will call him right away. He will know what to do.”

They looked toward one another, “Sounds like a field trip.”


Working Furiously and getting an Invitation from a Lady[]


Later that day, Minoru and William sat alongside at V.I.T.A.L.’s supercomputer terminal their fingers blazing over the keyboards and interpreting outputs from the CAD software installed, <{“You look awful, Minoru, you need to take a break. I can do this by myself. Isn’t that right, Sydney?”}>
Sydney answered in a cheery, feminine mezzo-soprano from his watch. “Of course, you can do anything, Yoshimara-san.”
“See she believes in me.”
“It just does what it's told.”
“When you ask nicely. It is amazing how well some good manners can take you even with computerized women, I guess.”
William looked back and forth between the watch and his computer screen, “Anyhow, About this trip to Barns…”
“What about it?”
“I think you should invite Kuan-Yin; she has been unusually mopey lately. It’s really bringing my energy down. Some fun and fresh air might do us all some good, but I think it will do more if we include her.”
“We are just going to see Ogawa-sama, she will be bored.”
“The consulate is operating out of a ski resort outside Barns. So, I doubt it.”
“What? A Ski Resort? Since when?”
“Since the Hachiman Benkai started running chartered cargo for the Restoration Trust. You haven’t even looked at the address from the diplomatic pouches yet? It’s a space freighter, it’s not an office building. You can’t expect it to just sit around at the Starport when it could be doing something useful.”

William lightly slapped him on the shoulder, “Come on Minoru, you’re falling to pieces man, and we’ve only been on this world for four months. Besides we’ve got a whole new project to focus on thanks to you and Doctor Allard. Even if it’s maybe…easier.”

“I will consider it.”
“Get out of here and go and ask her already. I got this.”

William almost shoved Minoru out of the swivel chair toward the door and received a shove in return but held firm. As the door closed, he stretched his hands and leaned back into the chair, “After all even computer ladies like these fingers. Come on CPU, let’s see how hot I can get you.”

Minoru walked through the dimly lit Leeward Arcology and checked his watch ’18:21’ as he stood in front of Kuan-Yin’s dorm room. He coughed, “Its getting kind of late, I should have called her ahead of time.
I think she said something about a class Tuesday night. I will ask her tomorrow.”

Her door opened and she stepped out in yoga pants, sandals, and crop top with her hair up. Upon seeing Minoru outside, she tensed up and held her bag between them. “Minoru! What are you doing here?”
He looked slightly down, but furtively peeked up to look at her face, “What are you doing in that outfit? I thought you had class...and disliked being cold.”
“It’s Hot Vinyasa class.

You still haven’t answered me. What do you want?”

“I wanted to ask you if you’d like to come with us to Barns, next week. I have some personal business; but thought it might be…fun for you, of course.”

“Can I call you later, maybe tomorrow?” She hesitated and traveled a wide arc around him, “Sayonara, Minoru.”

“Yeah, that would be great, Kuan-Yin.” Minoru looked up as she jogged toward the studio. “Have fun with your, Vinyasa.
Sydney?”

His watch shone with the active beacon as Sydney’s accented voice came through, <{“Yes Minoru Kurita.”}?
<{“What is Vinyasa? and why do you sound cuter when Yoshimara-san talks to you?”}>
<{“He’s not always asking me questions.
However, to answer yours.
Vinyasa is…”
}>


Calming the Fury with a Silly Story[]

Dorm Roomsm, The Victoria Institute of Technology - Victoria, Capellan Confederation - 10/25/3048


Kuan-Yin Liao stood outside a dorm door reading the white board outside, “Aria ibnaf Hamza al-Din Azami al-Na’ir” (Aria, daughter of Hamza, of the Azami faithful, of Al’Na’ir). She caught the faint smell of incense sticks and spiced chai diffusing out into the hall. ‘Squiggly’ writing squirmed beneath the fine writing above followed by an illustration of stylized eye. “I can’t believe she managed to fit that all on the whiteboard, and in Arabic too.”

The door opened and Aria peered out, significantly less made up than she normally appeared although her hair was tucked neatly under her hijab. “How did you?”“I have sensitive ears despite the cloth around them and expected you. You texted me remember? Although I doubt it’s business like you claim. Come in.”

She walked through into a softly lit room with ornamental hangings, a half dozen blades of varying sizes and styles were stacked on a floor-stand, her floor was littered with pillows of varying sizes, a divan pressed against one wall with a computer folded up on it, and a short table with an electric kettle, incense smoke rose from a bronze censer next to the fine brass tea service and ikebana flowers on it.

They sat on the cushion across from one another, Kuan-Yin’s attention was drawn to the stand of blades, “This is nice.”
“Thank you.”
“Why do you have so many blades?”
“I appreciate the artisan’s skill in crafting them. Amusing that you notice them. None of the boys do, yet they complain about my pillows before moving them aside to sit on the bare floor. Tea?”

“Yes please.” Aria expertly poured a cup of the brew from the teapot, “Did you arrange these flowers?”
“William gave them to me although I don’t know where he got them from.”
“They look good.”
“Thank You, I’m still practicing. Not many flowers where I am from. What was St. Ives like?”
“Rocky, most of the plants were from the Age of Exodus and the soil is bad. Even my grandfather’s estate on Bristol was sparse. Texlos was a beautiful world but…”
“What happened?”
“Last time Riva and I stopped there after visiting SISI, it was full of refugees.”
“They will return stronger, eventually. I am certain of it. I apologize for dredging up unpleasant memories. What business did you wish to discuss?”
“Why Minoru asked me to come with him to Barns.”

Aria looked aside for a moment, “William and I have noticed that you have been… ‘low spirited’ of late. We thought you would like to be included in our trip, as a friend.”
“So, it was not his idea?”

“No, were we mistaken?”
“No, I have a lot on my mind.”
“As do we all. So, are you coming?”
“I don’t know if I should. I don’t have the right kinds of outfits.”
“That is a pitiful excuse unworthy of your blood.”
She reached over and opened the noteputer on her lap. “How much do you need?”
“How much of what?”
“Yuan or C-Bills?”
“That’s a very generous offer, but I can’t take your money.”
“Its not mine, it’s Minoru’s and you certainly can. He doesn’t even look at the monthly statements I give him. I’ll just mark it as ‘incidental expenses.’”
“Why do you have access to his money?”
“Because he has no interest in managing our project’s money or his own. So, I manage our budget, the boys are savvy in many fields but only William and I know how to manage cash flow and investments. So how much do you want?”

‘Ummm…’ Aria turned the screen toward her to show the pending transfer in her COMSTAR banking app, “Four thousand c-bills it is then, to start. I’ll need your banking details for the wire transfer unless you want to run it on our credit line.”
“But I don’t have anyone to shop with?”
“Why don’t you ask your sister, Cassandra?”


Kuan-Yin turned to look at the blades with the click-clack of her sister during their last encounter in her mind. “We used to be close, but not anymore.”
“Then I volunteer myself. I am known as quite the fashionista after-all.”

She stood up and stared hard down at Aria. “Why are you all being so nice to me!?”
“Should we treat you poorly, on principle then?”
“No, it’s just that…I can’t…”
Kuan-Yin turned to walk toward the door.

“Don’t leave yet, Kuan-Yin.”
“Why not?” She said without looking back.

“Because I don’t want you to leave in an ill mod. It would be inhospitable of me. Would you care to listen to a silly story?”
“What kind of story?”
“One that ends happily. You might even get a laugh out of it.”

Her fists balled up then released as Kuan-Yin turned to sit on the pillow once more as Aria put the computer away.

“A long time ago on Al’Na’ir there were a group of Shepherdesses tending their flocks and spindles. A low whine carried across the desert toward them, and they all rushed to usher their flocks to the pens. Four hoverbikes or ‘zoomers’ as we call them screamed across the pasture toward them scattering the sheep in their wake.”

“What a bunch of jerks.”
“Indeed, these men reveled in the chaos their actions caused the suffering Shepherdesses who often had to gather the missing and scattered sheep long into the evening to arrive to a cold supper at their father’s tents.
Today was different though one of the women had braided a sling and slung it toward the leader with unerring accuracy despite the machine’s swiftness. Its rider tumbled in the grass and was recovered by his companions before the young men of this village arrived to thrash him leaving his zoomer behind.”
“Serves him right.”

“The leader returned the following day battered and bruised with a band of armed warriors demanding to know which girl it was that struck him the previous day. Fingers were pointed toward the girl who defiantly stood her ground as he approached her father’s tent even as her parents stood behind her. He asked her if she was indeed the girl in question and she confessed to the deed and swore she would do it again if necessary.”

“How did the man take that?”

“He gave her parents a large chest of precious metals and stones in exchange for her hand in marriage.”
“What!”
“Yes, for he said that having a timid wife would be a bore, that his sons would be wimps, and his daughters not find good husbands for lack of her opinion in the matter.”
“Did she accept?”
“She had one condition, that he apologize.”
“For his behavior?”
“Yes, so he proceeded to do so, but she didn’t mean to her.”
“Who then?”
“The village flocks.”

Kuan-Yin giggled at the thought of such a thing, “Did he do it?”
“Yes, my father stood on the tailgate of my uncle’s truck and proclaimed that he was sorry to a flock of sheep in front of everyone. They got married the next day and I am the youngest of seven.”

They both smiled broadly, “Thank you for that.”
“Ashkuruk, Kuan-Yin. Tomorrow then?”
“But not before four. I have a test.”
“Of course.”


Preparation for a Trip[]

Leeward Starport - Victoria, Capellan Confederation - 11/01/3048


The clean lines and bright interior of the Leeward Starport put Minoru at ease. His black kimono, top knot, tabi boots, red obi and tasseled jitte drew looks from passers-by as he waited for his companions to arrive. Kuan-Yin arrived first with a duffel bag over her shoulder, she settled down beside him with her bag in her lap. “Minoru, are you so eager to visit Barns that you got here first.”

“I wanted to make sure everything went smoothly.” He looked over the broad-sleeved white sweater, a scarf that looked like autumn leaves, and embroidered brown dress she was wearing, “Are those new?”

Kuan-Yin stood and twirled about sending the long skirt, her braids, and scarf spinning, “Do you like it? Aria and I went shopping for new outfits. She said it really brings out my eyes.” Her eyes did indeed look like a brighter topaz under the lights, “I’m happy that you two are getting along so well together. You seem much happier, Kuan-Yin.”

She hummed slightly as she settled back onto the bench nudging closer to him with her fluffy sweater, “Of course. Accounting classwork can be stressful. I haven’t had a vacation trip in…” Her fingers and eyebrows moved, “I don’t actually remember when I last had a vacation. Riva just takes me on academic trips, and we can’t do anything together during those.”
Something seemed off about her inflection, but he dismissed it. He had no right to pry. “I suppose you had a lot of business to talk about with Aria.”
“Yes, it was great to have some girl-time…and bubble tea. Do you think they have actual chocolate at this resort? I haven’t…” she stood sharply as the other four members of their team arrived together with a luggage cart, “Hey! Here comes everyone else.”

Dereck and William looked at their watches, as Minoru stood up in anticipation of their immediate boarding, “Did you give us the wrong time on purpose?”
“What! No, I got here early.”
“And so did she. How long have you both been here?”
“Two minutes.”
“If you say so, Miss Liao.”

“I do. Are you guys piloting this time?”
Kuan-Yin crossed her broad-sleeves into one another which caused the toggles to jangle slightly with the motion, “Cause I don’t know about this trip if you are.”
“No, we can only pilot the Jamila in space with our licenses. Neither Ryuun or I have enough hours to permit reentry,” William looked over to the larger man, “although we could do so in an emergency.” Ryuun nodded at the statement, “A DCPA crew from the consulate is piloting for us, so we’ll just have to get real cozy at the meal table…”

Ryuun cut him off, “Unless you want a private room. You’ll have to strap yourselves to the bed though…for safety reasons.”
Minoru saw Kuan-Yin blush fiercely as she looked aside to him, “That’s inappropriate, Sugawara.”
His head bowed until it was even with Minoru’s, “Please accept my apologies Watashi no Oji. I shall temper my tongue.”
“See that you do.”

A trio of men in gray space suits bearing the legacy black and white flag of Galdeon V on their shoulders, soft helmets still on their heads and hard ones in the crook of their elbows. One of them stepped ahead of the others. “I am Warrant Officer Kenyo, I will be your pilot today. Miss Aria, you really do have a beautiful shuttle. It is a joy to fly.”
“Ashkuruk.”

“And it is our privilege to transport Prince Minoru and his companions. Whenever you are ready, please begin boarding. We must handle the departure paperwork but shall return shortly.”
Minoru and his companions bowed slightly while the pilots did so deeper. “Arigato Jun’I Kenyo.”

The flying wing Astrolux DCPA Jamila rested quietly on the dozen wheels of its tandem landing gear in the shuttle bay the Arkab star of the Azami emblazoned in white on either side of the bee-like yellow and black fuselage. Kuan-Yin tentatively touched the black heat-resistant tiles feeling the chill of the active cooling from the cryogenic fuel beneath them, “You own this, Aria?”

Aria kicked the asphalt then looked sheepishly up with arms crossed, “It was a hand-me-down. My sister Niesha has a Unity DropShip all her own now. It’s not fair being the youngest. Minoru didn’t get any hand-me-downs.”

Lancelot Heavy Mech (On Highway by Philbobagginszzz)

Lancelot Heavy 'Mech

“I did so, and I had to deal with Omiko-chan too. She was a nuisance.”
“See this is why I like you, Minoru, you understand me.”

William put his hand on her shoulder and massaged it slightly until she untensed her arms, “Your sister is running cargo to the Free Rasalhague Republic. You complained that this shuttle was a nuisance until Ogawa-sama offered to lease it.”

“You always take her side.” She looked away from them,
“You have no empathy for me.”
“Because you are being ridiculous mahbub. Let’s get going.”

Goryo3039

Hatamato-Chi Assault 'Mech

Kuan-Yin lingered as they boarded and packed the luggage away, “I wish I got an Astrolux as a hand-me-down.” Minoru appeared at the top of the ramp as the DCPA crew returned.

Once the doors and passengers were secured the DCPA Jamila lurched forward jumping high into Victoria’s stratosphere. Through their viewscreens the passengers could see the world beneath them, an endless ocean of purple, white, and gray. As the shuttle descended toward the capital, they could see the skeletal blooms of Varangian station far above them. The lights of Barns illuminated a series of rusty red painted structures connected by stringy viaducts beneath which was the main transport and utility infrastructure of the capital. Minoru and his companions disembarked into the waiting arms and white Nissan SUVs of the embassy's security team.

Kuan-Yin sat beside Minoru and across from William and Aria, Dereck and Ryuun were in another vehicle. “I didn’t know that the Draconis Combine had an external VIP protection force. I thought there was just the DCMS.”
“The TSF is actually part of our Mint, but they protect other valuable cargo too and apparently foreign embassies. I am the first Prince to go abroad without trying to claim new lands commanding the DCMS. I’m sure they are just as confused, but hey we even have BattleMech protection look at them go.”

Two gray and red Hermes IIIs ran on either side of the convoy as it worked its way through the woods scanning for hostiles at each turn of the road while panning their lasers. Their feet crunching the frozen soil beneath them and leaving large footprints in the freshly fallen snow. The convoy drove through the legs of a Hatamoto-Chi straddling the gravel path toward an alpine resort. A Lancelot and Quickdraw also stood at the ready a healthy distance from the C-shaped building’s courtyard. Snowmobile patrols circled the fenced perimeter with a machine gunner back to back with the driver.


Submitting Evidence[]

Free Rasalhague Republic Embassy - Victoria, Capellan Confederation


“Do you ever get used to this?”

Kuan-Yin whispered as she walked beside Minoru flanked by the embassy staff who had showed up for ‘inspection’ upon hearing about his arrival.

“I haven’t yet.”, he said as he and the others approached the Charge’de’affairs Ogawa Hideji, a pot-bellied, mildly balding man, with a proud bearing and distinguished history of service in the DCMS prior to becoming a deputy governor. An angry red scar ran down his arm from his final conflict in The Ronin War as a member of the White Tigers. His much younger Rasalhague wife, Ogawa Phila, stood beside him looking as ethereal as the snowy forest around them in her long fur lined coat.

Hideji made a grand sweeping bow followed in unison by his staff, “Welcome, Prince Minoru.”

“Thank you for the august hospitality, Ogawa-sama.”
Minoru looked around at the fine woodwork of the ornate chateau which stood out in extreme compared to the gray gravel and purple lichen covered exteriors that dominated Victoria. Dwarf pines with needles so deep green as to be almost black dominated a hillside covered in snow and dirt. “This is a fine location; unlike any I’ve seen on Victoria thus far.”

“The finest that we could acquire, and at a steep discount no less.”
“A consummate professional as always Ogawa-sama.” Minoru looked over toward his friends, “While I can endure the chill, my companions require respite.”

“Certainly,” Hideji motioned toward the opened door, “My staff will have your rooms ready shortly. Please follow me.”

Dereck peered closely at the decorative woodwork and broken up with tapestry and other décor that adorned the chateau, “You have a curious mix of décor that somehow manages to find harmony."

Phila paused to show off the intricate scrollwork along one wall, “Thank you, Hatomuchi-san, since this consulate is only ‘temporary’ I wanted to preserve its original design.” “You are very talented madam.”
“You are very observant young man.”
“I come from a long line of woodworkers and machinists, so I understand the value of craftsmanship.”
“So, few people these days do.”

The group entered a great lodge which with the Rasalhagheti sitting at its tables could have been mistaken for a Viking mead hall from a lost time if one ignored the assault rifles and armored vests stored in metal lockers along the walls. A unique sugary smell wafted through the hall, Aria and Kuan-Yin both looked toward the table where a set of cups waited beside a jar of shaved chocolate, stirrer, and milk on a hot plate. “Is that real hot chocolate!?”

“Sure is, imported from Menke. Help yourself.”
“You bet we will!”

While his companions were entertaining themselves in the lodge Minoru and Ogawa-sama politely excused themselves to meet in his office. The contrast between Ogawa’s swords, the light wood and padded door, and Draconis Combine flag behind him were disconcerting. Made more so by a thick double pane of bulletproof glass separated by transparent layers of anechoic gel, and white noise generators giving a mild buzz only audible to the keen eared.

“You mentioned something that you wished to discuss with me.”
“We have discovered…”

A tall blonde man entered the room standing beside Hideji, “I thought this was a private meeting Ogawa-sama?” He bowed to Minoru. “Apologies, Minoru, we haven’t met yet. I am Oskar Olafsson. FRR Mimir. I was already on-world while you were on Capella.”
“Mimir? Where is the ISF chief?”

Ogawa-sama started to say something, “If you don’t mind, Ogawa-sama, I can field this question.”
“Go ahead, Mister Olafsson.”

Oskar filled with his fingers before clearing his throat, “I used to be ISF pre-liberation, and can get whatever pertinent information you have to Luthien through my own channels.

The ISF is not here because the Coordinator has decided to put the knives at his back in front of him.”

Minoru sat in the high-backed leather chair for a long moment, “Is that why I’m here!”

Hideji turned to the side and looked outside at the snow falling from Victoria’s gray skies, “In part, also why you had to undertake self-defense training and why I was selected as Victoria’s Charge’de’affairs.”

“Your Rasalhague connections?”
“And loyalty to Isoroku-denka, my former commander, and close friend.”

Prince Minoru shook his head, “So my father wanted Hohiro and I out of the line of fire so he could handle the ISF?”

Both older men turned a looked toward one another, “Yes, both Princes needed to be far enough away that the ISF couldn’t reach them for the Coordinator to act freely. Your brother is hunting pirates that don’t exist on the Rim and you have your own assignment in a secure lab.”
“Right next to one of the largest CCAF garrisons outside of Capella. Already cleared of infiltration by Quintus Allard’s StIMI, prior to his dismissal.”

“So, this wasn’t just a confidence building exercise, like Doctor Allard said?”
“It could be both. The Chancellor is counting on your research, so stay focused and let us handle everything else. A mine resistant exoskeleton could save many lives throughout the Inner Sphere.

Doctor Allard has been in this game long enough to understand the players well. Chancellor Liao has been fully briefed and provided assistance to the Coordinator, with luck it will be enough to swiftly get past the shooting phase of this conflict.”

“Unfortunately, the hardest part comes after that. From personal experienced I know the ISF is burrowed deep into many major institutions, it will be a challenge to dig them all out. Mimir needed the LIC’s help to do so, and we still find agents. The Combine will likely need Sian’s SSB to do so within theirs.”

“How can I stay focused when I know that my parents and sister are in danger?”

“Your parents and sister have always been in danger, Minoru-kun. That is the nature of their work and they have received training and equipment to do so with acceptable risk. You too are in danger, but we are here to help. How you handle that, you will have to decide.

Now tell us what you have discovered. We will get it to those that need to know.”

Minoru collected himself and pulled out his computer tablet, “We have data from a StarCorps exoskeleton that matches those that attacked Isoroku-denka on Hachiman a few years ago, but there are no StarCorps facilities in Combine space,
and this model of exoskeleton hadn’t been released to the public until last year.”

“Perhaps a prototype then.”
“However, the metallurgy of the frame, myomer chemistry, and source code match.
These weren’t prototypes, or they were very advanced ones.”

“StarCorps has at least a dozen major facilities and countless sub-contractors in every Successor State except ours. It would be impossible to trace.”

Oskar peered at the data, “Unfortunately that makes them a perfect cover. I will pass this up the chain, Minoru.
Keep us informed if you discover anything else.
Otherwise try to enjoy your weekend with friends.”


Interlude – OP: WHITE RABBIT[]

Dieron - 06/18/3044


The snow covered peak of Mount Shanyu towered over the flattened badlands of the Atacama Desert to its south but just on the other side wildflowers bloomed above the cracked soil taking root in the smallest of crevices. Immense Space Defense System's guns and missile silos, every type of sensor, and communications array pointed upward as DropShips and shuttles landed along an elevated runway leading deep into the mountain, into Fortress Dieron.

Battlemechs and armored vehicles primed white were arrayed in orderly rows while Adepts in Exoskeletons or on lifts conducted the last checks on them prior to handing them over to DCMS Procurement at Fort Kinnol. Everything was painfully white or light gray with the only variation being the grain within the granite held up by stout steel pillars.

ComGuards rode atop flattened open top electric cars patrolling the endless passageways and weaving between the forklifts and interior trams within the facility.

Five figures jogged with purpose, the white hoods and loose folds of their robes concealing their features till they were but formless ghosts. They paused as a group of young, bright-eyed Acolytes passed them under the supervision of a young man with hands folded in their sleeves and heads down. “Blakes’ Blessing Sisters.”

A muffled female voice responded from beneath the cloth, “Upon you as well, Brother Adept Eta. Would you mind telling us where Tau class is meeting this day?”
The man gestured toward his right, “There is a ramp toward the right, third room on the left. Demi-Precentor Tau Piotr is lecturing this afternoon. No one knows, the early Star League better than he.”
“Thank you for your enlightened guidance, Brother. We will hold you no longer.”

The acolytes departed as the figures continued up the ramp toward the specified door, a knock brought the Adept TA to the door and the lesson to a stop. Demi-Precentor Piotr stood in front of the holo-projected image of some scene during the Star League within the lecture hall.

Upon seeing the Rho medallion sewn into the woman’s robes the man blanched. “We must speak with one of your pupils, Minoru Kurita.”
“On what business?”
“Internal.”
“On whose authority?”
“The Precentor’s.”
“Understood. Acolyte Minoru come forward.”

Minoru Kurita stood up and collected his things before descending to stand before the Adept who gestured toward the figures on the other side of the door. He was much shorter than the other man due to being the youngest in his cohort. “Where are we going?”
“Nowhere in particular, please follow us.”

They set off at a brisk walk despite Minoru’s pleas to slow down, “Did I do something wrong?”
“No, you are just being transferred.”
“Where?”
“Elsewhere.”
A ComGuardsman noticed the party but said nothing, “Keep up.”
“But my stuff.”
“Will follow you.”

“Hey! You! Wait a second! I need to see some ID.”

A flurry of shuriken dug into him followed by a quick punch to the throat. He collapsed onto the wall, blood staining his tan body armor. All five women whipped their robes off to reveal armored sneak suits, long black hair poking through white balaclava, resting on small straight swords slung across their backs. Before Minoru could say anything an auto injector was jabbed into his neck and he went limp cradled gently in the arms of one of the women. “Good thing he’s a lightweight sister.”

Machine pistols were drawn, and suppressors slotted in, “We almost made it too. Let’s speed it up.” ComGuardsmen rushed the intruders as they fell back toward the hanger bay throwing small bombs and shuriken while laying down suppressive fire. The group jumped into a waiting shuttle and hit full thrust as the hanger doors were descending.

Sharilar Mori, COMSTAR’s Precentor Dieron, watched it unfold within the armored cocoon of her command capsule. A plot showed the shuttle burning hot, it managed to thread the needle, evading the CAP returning after morning maneuvers with empty tanks.

Fortress Dieron’s cannons and RADARs tracked it as it streaked into orbital space and beyond their reach. Demi-Precentor Mu Kyle loomed over his keyboard, “Shall I give the order to fire Precentor Mori?”

“And kill Minoru Kurita in the process?!
No.
I will attempt to explain what happened to him to Primus Waterly and Kanrei Kurita.”


  • Note from Author
    Fortress Dieron is 100% COMSTAR, it is also a conventional place to make sure the repaired mechs from Terrain see in decent shape.
    Minoru was collateral for longer than that however only shortly after 3039, when the Combine was really desperate for aid and Allies.
    O5P got the mission because Mori is a pillar agent and ensures 'fortuitous coincidences' for the team. Theodore made the unilateral decision and forced Takashi to accept it just like the Ghost regiments. COMSTAR actually was the ones that 'suggested' the DCMS backfill CCAF positions as Romanos grasp on power faded in the closing days of the Capellan Civil War
    .

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