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Scars of Victoria (Cover Art)

Scars of Victoria[]

Chapter 14 - Great Powers[]

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A case of the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.[]

Office Palatine, Castle Davion - New Avalon, Federated Suns - 12/01/3048


First Prince Ian Davion stormed into his office sitting in the chair so hard it rolled into the bookshelf opposite it, his formerly fiery red hair and handsome features seemed dulled by stress and age. Outside Castle Davion was the placid slumbering snow-covered landscape of the Peace Gardens. A Huron Huscarl closed the door behind him as he picked up a secure phone, “Why am I only hearing about this now, Ambassador!”

Ambassador Ludvig Halla was on the other line, just one of the many embassies in Avalon City with a direct line to the First Prince’s broad desk, presently cluttered with paperwork and tea-stained mugs. “It has only been slightly more than a week since the attack, Your Majesty.

The Combine had to conduct their own debriefing of the
Proserpina Hussars and investigation of the recovered ROMs. Plus, Rasalhague is on the opposite side of the Inner Sphere from New Avalon COMSTAR runs at their own schedule even if we pay them extra.”

“And we certainly do Ludvig. Although it comes out of the AFFS and LC FOREX swap I negotiated with the Archon.”

“Indeed, First Prince, If New Samarkand and Isoroku Kurita were able to directly talk to Robinson, even via Alpheratz, you might have been able to resolve this situation with him faster.”

Ian’s left hand went up to his forehead, “Duke Sandoval would never allow it. He already dislikes my cautiously optimistic stance toward the Draconis Combine. If it were up to him the AFFS would try to take the fight all the way to Isoroku on New Samarkand.

The heads of the perpetrators are out of the question. If there is any misconduct found it will be dealt with according to Federated Suns’ justice.

I must keep this quiet while MIIO conducts its own investigation into the Draconis Combine’s claims.”

“Do hurry, First Prince. I would rather not see another conflict break out between your empires. The last one almost broke both.”

“Maybe it did.

I will call you later after I speak with my advisors. To discuss what my decided course of action is.

So, you can send it to Luthien via Rasalhague.”

“I will eagerly await your call.”

Ian signaled that the secure call had concluded, two men in green AFFS dress uniforms and one in a suit entered through the door. They all saluted to the First Prince, who did the same, “Colonel, Major, Deputy Coordinator. Thank you for arriving so quickly.”
“All we needed to do was take the elevator Your Majesty.”


The First Prince returned to his seat and bid his associates to do the same, “I sometimes forget that we have a whole liaison department hidden in the basement.”

“We’d actually prefer it remain that way.”

“As would I.”

Each of them already had a translated copy of the TOP SECRET DCMS CMCO (Combine Military Coordination Office) investigation on their clipboard. “How did you get this straight from the CMCO on Luthien?”

“Indirectly.” They asked no more questions about the First Prince’s sources.

Colonel Whitehouse of the DMI (Department of Military Intelligence) M1 Command branch was the first to finish reading, “This cannot be true. Surely the DCMS is mistaken or lying. All orders to act against the Draconis Combine must come from your office.”

He shifted the clipboard down and stared over it at the First Prince. “The Fifth Deneb wouldn’t have launched this operation without your explicit authorization, Your Majesty.”

“I believe you are correct. That is why it is crucial that we verify if it was them. There have been a lot of false flags lately, but none of them have been this damaging.”

Major Smith of the AFFS DST (Department of Strategy and Tactics) finished next, “It was a perfectly executed raid. Almost two thousand tons of precious and strategic metals, gold, silver, uranium, rare earths, etc…

Something they would have trained for and against the Proserpina Hussars, their adversary training foe. It could certainly be them. Although we will have to wait for Draconis March Command on Robinson to verify.”

“Major Smith is there a PASP (Pre-Approved Strike Profile) for an attack on the Scylla’s Gate Foundry on Glenmora?”

“I haven’t heard of one, it could be in the pre-DST files however, when we were part of MI-Two. The DCMS has occupied Glenmora since the War of 3039 and it is two jumps from Robinson and one from Sakhara.”

“Deputy Director Evans, what is your impression?”

Vander Evans of MIIO IGS (Information Gathering Services) didn’t look away from the report, his reputation for seeing between the lines meant he was slow to formulate but fast to understand. “My impression is that my colleagues are correct. This is a trademark LightCav raid, there are LF-equipped Tramps presently stationed in the Draconis March, it is in fact the largest deployment in the Federated Suns.

One of which is always on station around New Rhodes and the other is typically around Robinson, very close to Glenmora. It would be easy to re-task one for a special raid, particularly if it was already in the DLC’s PASP deck if one had or could forge the proper authorization codes.

However, there are three pieces of missing data that need to be answered before we can proceed.”

The tension grew between the four men as Vander wiped and adjusted his glasses, before Ian interrupted, “I am the only one allowed to be dramatic in this office, Director Evans. Spit it out!”

“We need to determine the current location of each battalion of the Fifth Deneb, if one is missing, they need to be found.

Furthermore, the Admiralty better be able to account for each of LF-equipped Jumpships in that region.

Finally, I suppose these are two questions.

We should inquire as to why the Draconis Combine had two thousand tons of precious metals stored on Glenmora. Our standard protocol on Outback worlds is to limit the stockpiling of bullion to reduce the risk of piracy. Marshals regularly escort precious cargo on regular ships. Surely the Draconis Combine would think the same way, two thousand tons is perhaps five maybe six months of production.

Is the Draconis Combine so strapped for star-lift that they would leave that much precious cargo in one place?

Also why is there only a reinforced Battalion to protect such a strategic world?

Particularly one in such bad condition as the Fourth claims it was. They are on the leading edge of the occupied worlds. Our planning always assumed that there would be at least one Forward ARC and perhaps an additional Mech Regiment with more units rotated in for regular training.

The DCA should have a whole squadron of fast attack ships on standby around that world with gunship and fighter support. This combat report is a damning account of a decaying DCMS and DCA or internal strife within the Draconis Combine itself.”

Colonel Whitehouse leaned forward, “Speculation Director. We have ongoing reports of pirate activity in the Draconis Drift from the OAI. It is possible the DCA has been tasked with handling them and escorting vessels through the Pesht Military District while rooting out their hideouts.

We have exercised extreme caution with Glenmora, Royal, and the other worlds occupied since the Thirty-Nine War. It is possible their vigilance slipped after almost a decade. I expect they will not make the same mistake again.”

Major Smith responded, “However, our colleague is correct, there are too many unanswered questions currently. The Draconis Combine has been on an ebb, none of us doubt this, but that doesn’t mean they are helpless.

Strengthening relations with Capella and Rasalhague and their newfound willingness to employ mercenaries from Oberon and Galatea have freed up DCMS assets that can be redeployed to the Galedon Military District on our borders or even massed for a sneak attack against the Capellan March or Marlette Operation Area.

Your Majesty, I humbly suggest you put every March Militia ON TEMPO for possible retaliatory strikes, approved or otherwise. The DCMS is not known for its restraint, particularly when it comes to matters of honor. They believe we have attacked them. The truth, whatever it is, doesn’t matter.”

Ian smashed his fist onto the table, “It matters to me dammit!

The AFFS is the most professional military in the Inner Sphere. We cannot tolerate rogue elements within it or command problems that might point to greater internal issues.

This is no place for cowboys, we have a Federation Marshal service for that.”

Ian and the others stood, “Major Smith find me that PASP in the MI-Two archives.

Director Evans, I want the best report on the general state of the Draconis Combine MI-Seven can deliver in two days. If there is any suspicion of an internal problem, I want to know about it.

Colonel, talk to the Admiralty. Find out where our fast movers (LF-Jumpships) are, then send someone out to locate every DLC battalion in the Draconis March. If one is missing they need to be found immediately and they better not have a dropship full of precious metal when we do find them.

You are dismissed.”


Special Desire and Bad News[]

Peace Gardens, Castle Davion - New Avalon, Federated Suns - 12/04/3048

First Prince Ian Davion hugged Princess Sophia tight to his chest as he walked hand in hand with his wife Corrine. The hedges rose high above them, and New Avalon’s suns sparkled through icicles hanging from the arches raised above them. “I’m glad it snowed this year, Ian. We’ll have a white Christmas for sure.”

“It’s just too bad our daughter seems to be too tired to enjoy it more today.”

“It’s not like it is just going to melt away this evening. She had a busy morning, its naptime now, and she found a comfortable spot.”

Corrine stroked the stray locks of two year old’s auburn hair that poked out of her hood. “Frankly I’m jealous.”

“You’ll get your chance darling. You’ll always be closest to my heart.”

She pulled him down to kiss him without disturbing their daughter, “How do you always know just what to say?”

Ian smiled, “I have the best speech writers in the Federated Suns.”

They both chuckled before clearing the next corner to see a man with the insignia MIIO’s BII (Bureau of Internal Investigations) waiting for them. Their jovial mood turned dark as Corrine carefully took Sophia to the empty fountain square. “Special Agent Thurnsgrove, BII. I have something personal that Major Smith uncovered in the archives. Liaison department passed it to us.”

“So, the Glenmora attack was already distributed as a PASP as they figured. Why give it to BII?”

“Please give this a look, Sir.”

Thurnsgrove opened the file redacted in the printout except for the header,


======================================================================================================

‘OP: LODESTONE,
PASP-DM-FB-L-4008521,
Special Raid on Scylla’s Gate Foundry, Glenmora
Authored by: Tancred Sandoval, MI-2, Fort Ballycastle, Lexington’
======================================================================================================


Looting in the Confederation[]

Pojos, Capellan Confederation - 12/05/3048


Catapult LRM Mech (Blender Version)

Catapult Heavy 'Mech

Gray and green Battlemechs and armored vehicles of the 15th Dracon engaged a dozen green and black Battlemechs bearing the Crest of the Fallen House Espinosa in the woods outside the capital. In the lead of the Espinosa forces was an upgraded CPLT-C5A Catapult. Explosive salvoes toppled a Grasshopper seeking to engage it in close combat. The fallen Battlemech was rapidly disabled under the tracks and guns of heavy mechanized infantry as they continued the onslaught.

The Catapult juked incoming fire as Victoria Espinosa’s pirates returned fire against the Dracons which had withdrawn from the capital city to prevent casualties. Four Battlemechs of the sixteen Dracons had fallen under her guns as the pirates halted their advance while her infantry took the MechWarriors hostage, holding them at gunpoint as their fellows watched. Fallen mechs were lifted by her own and onto the heavy 14 wheeled logging trucks looted from local industry.

Firestarter (Firing flamer)

Firestarter Light 'Mech

Victoria stood at the fore her own mech being unable to aid the looting, “Emmanuel, if you want your pilots back and fewer civilian casualties you will allow us to withdraw with whatever we want.”

A Firestarter stepped up beside her, the sparking blue starters for its flamethrowers cast harsh light on its iridescent black paint job, “Otherwise we will just start with them.”

Blender Battletech - OSR-2C Ostroc

Ostroc Heavy 'Mech in combat

Captain Emmanuel Padre’s hands were still on the triggers of his family’s Ostroc which had survived through the Civil War although it could not save his father at the controls. “I know who you are and what you did during the Reformation. You will be defeated again, Victoria. They will find you.”

“Well, I’m here right now, Padre.” Her pirates dropped the Battlemechs as the recovery vehicles set back toward their dropship as they stepped up to the line of battle, “If you want to try.

There’s no better time than the present.”


Father and Son talk over family and fueds[]

NASDF (New Avalon Self-Defense Force) Cape Horn - New Avalon, Federated Suns - 12/12/3048


A stiff breeze rustled endless fields of amber grain and green grass as an AFFS ST-46 escorted by a pair of NASDF Starfire fighters came in for landing. Rubber smoked from the sleek flying wing aircraft’s landing gear as their thrusters roared in reverse to slow them down. The shuttle passed under an arch of water pumped up by the chartreuse fire apparatus and silvered firefighters of NASDF Cape Horn, the largest NASDF base in New Avalon’s southern hemisphere and second in importance to their command center, NASDF Breaker Bay beneath the Avalon Ocean near the New Hebrides. Its escorting fighters returned to the hardway to refuel and prepare for another practice sortie in the clear skies above New Avalon’s glittering Eastern Sea.

First Prince Ian Davion stepped out first returning the salutes of the AFFS flight and NASDF ground crew that waited for him at the bottom of the stair-truck. Princesses Corrine and Sophia followed shortly behind, the little girl swinging down in her mother’s arms before being scooped up by her grandmother before she could reach the ground. Corrine gave her a hard look, “You just couldn’t wait, could you, Dana?”

Dana Davion tapped the little girl’s nose gently eliciting an adoring squeak. “Can you blame me? She is just too cute, Corrine, and I haven’t seen her in months.”

She hugged her close and made kissy sounds as Sophia giggled while they walked toward a waiting convoy of dusty green GM SUVs, “Grandma has so many presents for you, sweetheart.”

Hanse Davion was waiting at the base with a salute; Ian returned it before reaching out to shake his hand. “You don’t have to do that, Dad.”

“You’re the First Prince, Son, it is my privilege.” The flight and ground crew dispersed to attend to their duties leaving behind the dark brown suit and black sunglasses wearing agents of the Federation Marshals’ service. “I didn’t expect you to come down here, or so early.”

“Unfortunately, I’m not in Rostock for Christmas break,” he looked over to his wife and mother playing with his daughter, “but don’t tell them that.”

His father whispered, “A fishing trip by wandering creek then?”

“A fishing trip by Wandering Creek, that sounds fantastic. Good old father son bonding time, just like the old days.”
Ian hugged his father as they walked side-by-side toward the waiting trucks.


The next day, Hanse and Ian Davion dressed down and set out in a beaten-up farm truck past the D’Avon cattle station on the outskirts of Rostock’s southern drylands, a station that encompassed tens of thousands of square kilometers of grazing land while raising sheep, cattle, and horses and employing a staff of hundreds. “It’s been a long while since I’ve been down here.”

“Well, the good thing about that is, it hasn’t really changed. This land is what made our family all those centuries ago and I intend to be a good steward of it.”

Stockmen rode past them on horses and ATVs to feed and water the herds and check fences that kept out dingoes and other predators that might prey upon the Rostock Charbray cattle that clustered under the Acacia shade trees.

Ian looked over to see his father, tanned from the sun with plenty of wiry muscles and good complexion, for being 65 he seemed to have returned to the prime, “You look good, Dad.”

“Plenty of fresh air, good food, and exercise. All my numbers are normal now. I intend to be here for a long time.

You on the other hand don’t look like you’ve slept well in weeks.”

“I actually don’t think I have. Certainly not in the past two.”
Ian rubbed his temples, as the gravel road disappeared, and a bumpy livestock path replaced it heading down into a creek. “Corrine tells me as much.”

“I’ve been there before.”
“That’s the thing.”
The truck stopped near an oxbow lake beside Wandering Creek, “I think you literally have. I have a Michael Hasek-Davion level situation right now.”

They collected the fishing tackle and poles wading through the water to put them behind a log facing the creek, “That bad huh?”
“Almost the exact same kind of situation.”

“How so?”

Ian pried open the stuck metal lid of their tackle box, “Because I think Tancred or James might have launched an unauthorized attack on the Draconis Combine. One that caused a lot of damage.”
“What evidence do you have?”

They sat on the log tying the hooks and lures onto their lines. “I have the full report from the DMCO on Luthien and a Battalion of the Fifth Deneb and one of our Fast Protected Jumpships AWOL.”
“Well Hell, that is a pickle. Have you talked to him or Yvonne yet?”

Hanse and Ian both cast out into the slow-moving waters, “No, I only just confirmed that the Deneb Battalion and FSS Shatter are missing.”
“They didn’t return to FedSuns space after completing their mission?”

“No, at least not back to their duty station on Crossing. I don’t know where they disappeared to, and it’s been almost a month. They could be in Outworlds’ space by now.

I have people looking into it. Since I can’t find them, I cannot determine who sent them, but Tancred wrote the PASP and ever since James became Minister of the Draconis March in the summer he has been itching for a fight.” Ian reeled in a small fish but carefully released it back into the stream, “and the Dracs haven’t bitten. They seem preoccupied but I don’t know with what.

Could they really be so weak as to not launch immediate reprisals?”

“Either that or they are exercising caution at what might be perceived as an overreaction that might precipitate another War, one they might lose. They may want to see what you will do.

I’ll talk to Lady Jessica about it. She might be more subtle with her brother and nephew without arousing to much suspicion on you. This could get ugly fast.

What are you going to do about Espinosa’s massacre on Pojos?”

“Tormano hasn’t requested aid from New Syrtis according to Morgan. With Andrew down there, I am a little concerned.”

“You and me both, but Safe Port has thus far remained so. Would you rather recall him?”

“He would refuse, he’s down there to prove himself by protecting the refugees. I know how that works, but that doesn’t mean I don’t worry. Aerospace pilots don’t get as many chances to screw it up as I received.”

“Well hopefully he learned something from his older brother then.”
Hanse rested his hand on Ian’s shoulder, “I know I did.”


Dragon lurking in Shadows[]

Chariot Motodrome - Detroit, Fronc Reaches - 12/08/3048
Prince Hohiro Kurita looked up at the board as he reloaded shells from his bandolier into a lever action 0.410 shotgun atop a rail guided but motorcycle driven chariot. The flag at the starting line showed the next type of obstacles, overhead passing shots to the rear. He increased the throttle reveling in the machine’s guttural roar, his shotgun’s blast, the saucer sized cays shattering, and cheers from the audience seated below watching the live feed from the spider camera crawling above.

With the last clay shattered he turned around hands raised as if in an ancient triumph parade to the adoring crowd as the scores, a mix of speed and accuracy were tabulated. The billboard lit up with fireworks showing the leaderboard changing, now First Prince Ian Davion had been supplanted by Prince Hohiro Kurita removing him from the top 5. He stopped and dismounted heading toward a collection of Chariot Motor's representatives in suits and a beautiful Canopian woman leaning against a red and black racing motorcycle in a backless dress. Hohiro bowed politely while the others awkwardly reached for handshakes before doing the same. They presented him a small charioteer trophy and the microphone.

“It has been my great pleasure to share your unique sporting event. I look forward to trying it again, perhaps even in my homeland. Until then know that I remember and appreciated your generosity and creativity during my short stay here.

Domo Arigatogozaimasu.”

He handed the microphone back and examined the new motorcycle, the woman was still there and very close, “I can open up the hood for you, if you’d like.”

“Apologies Miss, I am already betrothed.”


She slinked away only looking back once to dramatically throw her cascade of brown curls aside and gave an inquiring lean. Shin Yodama passed her along the way and looked back as she disappeared backstage. The switched to Japanese at least forcing any listeners to translate it back.

“I’d hit that.”, Shin commented
“Well, you’re not a Prince and she is definitely MIM.”

“That just makes it exciting.”

“You mentioned something about a situation earlier, Yodama-san.”

“Pirates attacked Pojos, killed sixteen
Dracon Merc MechWarriors and set three towns and many hectares of forest on fire. A fire they are still fighting.”

“Pojos is close to Victoria, yes?”

“Its almost one jump actually.”

“Then we need to leave, MIM is already looking to compromise us.”


Hunting Rogue Nobility[]

Jump Point - Frazer, Federated Suns - 12/15/3048


Prince Andrew ‘ADD’ (Hilariously his initials and callsign) Davion wore the insignia of the 9th Illician Air Guard as he looked out the Lounge’s viewscreen toward Frazer’s K0-primary obscured behind the delicate rigging of the OAS Rimward Frontier’s jumpsail. Beyond the silvery hue was a field of black with only the faintest motes of light from distant suns and the outer planets of this world shared between his Federated Suns and the Capellan Confederation. Although claimed by the former it was still mostly inhabited by displaced persons slowly being returned to their homelands.

Invader Jumpship (The Battletech animation series version)

Invader Class JumpShip

Two smaller jumpships, both Nebulas (Invaders) could also be seen from the glint of their jumpsails. The Canal class space station Waypoint Java, so named for how much rice it handled was only visible as an icon on the computer display.

He felt and hand on his shoulder, “Have you ever been outside the Federated Suns, flight officer?”

“I haven’t, Major. The Wars were over before I graduated from Armstrong.” Andrew turned to see the newly minted Major Travis 'Tao' Watson, a lean and wiry man in his early 30s whose first combat missions were during the hellish 3039 campaign against the DCA.

“Well, that will change in a few hours. The Outworlders have begun to reel the jump sails back in.

I managed to convince the Cappie Starboss that you were another Andrew Davion and not the Prince. Although we both might have hell to pay for it later.”

“Ian will understand. Victoria Espinosa needs to face justice, or death.”

“Well, you are right on the latter, here’s hopes you are right on the former.”


Unexpected Guests[]

Jump Point - Renown, Capellan Confederation - 01/08/3049


Talon Zahn warmed his left hand on the inside of his Armstrong Flight Academy emblazoned ‘bomber’ jacket above his lightweight space suit. His right hand and one foot held him in place staring out from his Overlord’s viewport at the latest intelligence regarding Victoria Espinosa’s raids against planets within two jumps of this area. With so many crucial worlds within range the Strategios were understandably concerned. Just beyond the screen the radiator ‘wings’ of Top of the Well, a Lighthouse class space station ‘moored’ by light sails to Renown’s Zenith Jump Point, glittered in the dim light of its red M-II primary.

A klaxon rang within the confines of his Overlord signaling Battle Stations. His hand reached out toward the nearby handset. An announcement came over the intercom calling all-ready pilots and crews to their aerospace fighters. “Captain, what is the matter?”
“We are detecting two unknown jump signatures.”
“At the same time?”
“Aye.”
“I will do what I can to assist. Getting out in my
Vindicator if I must.”
“We have plenty of guns of our own.”

Gunnery crews rushed to their battle stations manning the triple turrets of autocannons and lasers that protected the Command Overlord Class DropShip, the CCS Falcon’s Grasp (Liè yīng de zhǎngwò). Engineering and cargo decks were sealed up and depressurized, damage control crews buckled up in their folding seats their ECLSS packs securely fitted into the folding skeleton seats and helmets back against the padded walls. The command deck was sealed as he entered, four Espatier guards manned their stations on the other side of the now locked door.

As he sat down at the auxiliary command console all of the Dropship’s teams checked in and confirmed that they were ready for action. Captain Xie Wan sat behind and above the helmsmen both staring into the projected RADAR globe of nearby space. Four fighters had been deployed from the nearby station and their own ship. The Kuan Ti patrol craft DropShip, CCS Sandman launched its a pair of Gunships and was vectoring toward the opposite bogey.

Scout Class JumpShip

Scout Class JumpShip

The bogeys turned green as the Swift (Scout) DCA Nagato and Nebula (Merchant) Class JumpShips OAS Ferris Wheel’s IFF codes checked out. Both vessel's icons transformed into the crests of House Davion and Kurita as the royal check-codes of both empires were confirmed. Falcon’s Grasp INTERCOM blared, “Crew this is the Captain speaking. All clear. All clear.

False Alarm due to Rogue Princes.”

He checked his watch, “Almost set a ship record time for prep to launch, so good job.

Since they are already out the pilots have maneuvers. Everyone else report to your Section Leaders and prepare for dinner in your suits, we might still need them. Drinks on me tonight if everything goes well.”

The Dropship’s fuselage rang with the knocking of armored gauntlets on its bulkheads. Captain Xie Wan tossed a set of keys his way. Three dropships launched from the foreign jumpships carefully escorted in by the CCAF Fleet Arm. “Take the Mowang, Talon, and get these Princes out of here.”

Talon fingered the brilliant orange tagged keys, “Captain, can I put it on the ship’s tab?”

Xie took his helmet off and tapped on the chair's arms. “If it avoids a war between the Draconis Combine and Federated Suns. I think the Chancellery would approve and I'll put you in for a medal.”


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