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Scars of Victoria (Cover Art)

Scars of Victoria[]

Chapter 3 - Change in Command[]

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Capella, Capellan Confederation - 04/14/3048

Crowds of citizens cheered from bleachers as Tormano made his second appearance on his planet since his exile. The air filled with music from gleaming brass trumpets and pounding drums as Chancellor Tormano Liao, Mandrinn of Capella, finished his speech exhorting the diplomatically cautious tone about future peace and prosperity between the Draconis Combine and Capellan Confederation.

To his left Tai-I Hohiro and Gunsho Minoru Kurita, Princes of the Draconis Combine, stood at attention in the DCMS’ Dress Whites with 1st Edo Company, 11th Legion of Vega and the 217th Advisory and Military Police (AMP) Company of the Combine Support and Engineering Corps behind them. Four fiery red Kyabaria Battlemechs stood at the far side next to the dark gray Union DropShip they were based upon each emblazoned with the same symbol that dominated the blood red flag flying above them.

Opposite them stood Sang-Wei Talon Zahn and 3rd Battalion, 1st Capellan Dragoons aka 'Talon’s Terrors' dressed in the formal Black and jade green uniform of the CCAF. Four black and green painted Cataphracts Battlemechs stood behind them.

Cataphract Mech (Green-Red Livery on hills MechWarrior 5 version)

Catapract Heavy 'Mech

Both Commanders stepped forward followed by a special selection from their unit stopping a respectable distance from the trio of flag posts. One flew the planetary pennant of Capella, closest to Hohiro was the Imperial flag of the Draconis Combine, and the one closest to Talon was empty.

Talon’s Dragoons unfurled the jade green, gold triangle, and black Dao flag of the Capellan Confederation to applause. The DCMS and their Battlemechs issued forth one last salute as the Dragon lowered while the band played 'Itsutsu no yōso no kyōdo.' (Strength of Five Elements)

Hohiro accepted the folded flag, issued a salute to Sang-Wei Zahn, turned sharply before joining his company as they marched back onto their dropships. As the Capellan Confederation’s anthem 'Yī wàn xīng bǎozuò' (Throne of Ten Thousand Stars) played as the flag climbed to the sky raising the Jade Dao above Capella’s planetary pennant saluted by the Chancellor, Dragoons, and common citizens.

The Dragoons marched past the 217th AMP to take control of Capella City’s Starport and official control of Capella itself from the Draconis Combine to applause, swelling music, and chants of “Zǒnglǐ wànsuì.” (Long live the Chancellor)

Minoru Kurita waited for the furor to die down and everyone to depart before sending forth a salute to the dropships as they prepared to depart once the civilians were bused away, and the bleachers cleared. “Gokentō o oinori itashimasu. Ni-San. (I wish you good luck, Big Brother)
I hope your fighting prowess continues to exceed your poetics but keep working on both.”

After looking away he saw a black Avanti AV-8000 SUV with tinted bulletproof windows idling nearby identical to the four that were in Tormano’s motorcade. The passenger door opened to reveal a fresh faced blonde man in a black suit. He swapped out the St Ives Republic blues flying from the hood to the Capellan Confederation’s green. His accent was noticeably from the Skye region or at least an approximation based on the contraband gangster movies he’d seen about Solaris on Hachiman. Franklin dismissed them as hogwash, "Its way worse than that kid. They just can't put it on video."

“I know that you are a Prince, but daylight’s fading Minoru, and the Chancellor gets grumpy in the car even with Hanya keeping him company.
So, hurry up.
Quindi sbrigati!”

“The Chancellor is here, in a single car?”
“Well of course. Did you think he was going to bring his whole motorcade to your shop?”
“I didn’t actually give it any thought.”

The man waited at the ready to open the door, “You will have plenty of time to think about it in the car.”

One last deep breath and look toward the DropShips was all he had before walking toward the opened door. “Grazie Signore.”

Tormano and Hanya Liao sat opposite him closest to the driver’s compartment. Both had shed their ceremonial costumes to an understated black Zhongshan suit and a bright floral patterned Cheongsam looking every bit the part of a middle-aged couple going for a walk in the park. “Apologies, Chancellor Tormano and Lady Hanya, if I had known we would meet so quickly after the ceremony I would have brought gifts.”

“There will be plenty of time for that young man. I look forward to seeing what your people have come up with.”

I look forward to seeing if they are properly dressed.' Minoru thought to himself as Tormano tapped the glass behind him.

An Visit by VIP[]

Giant cracked cable spools adorned the yard just outside the open garage door stacked with a haphazard arrangement of cables stuffed into networking servers and workbenches filled with diagnostic equipment and tools. Silverback’s vest was strapped to a transport gurney welded together from scrap iron illuminated by the extra bright lightbars of a duallie truck while its mirrored visor reflected onto Ryuun engaged in shadow boxing against a wall.

Aria leaned on a raggedy couch atop finely woven Dabih blankets, a steaming china cup of perfumed chai beside her. “Ryuun why don’t you ever put on a shirt?”
“I don’t want to cover this up. I spent the past months training hard for this physique. I’ve never been more cut, and even little Minoru can do this now.” Ryuun’s muscles rippled as he flipped the cable spool into the air. It landed with a bone crunching crack, “Why don’t you do some work, Aria?”

“My program is compiling. Who are you showing off for anyway?
The robot?”

“No, its hot outside, Aria. Not that you would notice. Despite all your clothes.”
“My hijab is as important to my religion as my swords. They aren’t just props for dancing.” She patted the ornate Jambiya scabbard tucked into her belt, “each is razor sharp and made of the finest Rukbat Damascus. The grips are made from rhino ivory and the scabbard it’s leather.

Besides William’s and my code is compiling. So, all we must do is wait for it to finish and wait for them to return with dinner. Meanwhile you must send our
Silverback to a body shop to take out the dents.”

“This is engineering sometimes you test something to the breaking point to figure out what that is. How did you get into computers anyway? The more time I spend with you the more I find it odd.”

“That a women would be into computers?
You really must spend more time outside your bubble aleamid. Women were the first computer coders. My great ancestors preserved advanced mathematics for centuries while the rest of the world tore itself apart with one fallen empire or another.
Unfortunately, we had our turn too at the worse possible moment, but we never forgot.

Besides, my father owns the largest chip foundry in the Combine in private hands. If there is something the Azami have an excess of, it is sand. So, it was only natural for me to be tutored in maths.”

A black SUV with official plates pulled into the alleyway between Capella City Starport’s industrial warehouses splashing through puddles made from the recent drizzle. Ryuun edged toward the truck and Aria walked over to him as well. “Tinted windows? You didn’t anger someone on Hachiman that might have it out for you Ryuun?”

“What NO! Aria, you’re the one that almost spaced a DCA Officer last month. How do you know it’s not for you?”

The SUV stopped a short distance away only for a young blonde man in a black suit right out of a Solaris crime serial stepped out. He watched them behind dark sunglasses as he opened the door for Minoru Kurita to step out in his slightly crumpled Dress Whites. Minoru let out a sigh, “Ryuun can you please put a shirt on for the Chancellor and his wife?”

Ryuun eyes cycled through shock and shame at the mention of the Chancellor, “Right away, Gunsho.”

Minoru stepped forward as Ryuun disappeared, his eyes looking at the nearby tea service set on the upcycled. “You wouldn’t happen to have enough to share, would you? It smells delightful.”

Aria paused for a moment. To make tea for any head of state was a big deal and as she was the representative of her people to the discerning Chancellor of the Capellan Confederation it was even more. Her normal confident voice shattered almost to a stutter. “I can...make more.”
“min fadlik afealha washukran ya sadiqi.” (Please do and thank you friend)

Hanya paused to exchange pleasantries and compliment Aria on her technique lingering behind with their bodyguards to a lengthy discussion of desert super-blooms and ecology. Tormano’s polished wingtip shoes kicked away splinters from the cable spools as he walked toward Silverback taking a moment to adjust his graying hair in its visor. “There hardly looks to be a scratch on it. Are you certain it is being fully tested and your team isn’t just goofing off while you are training so hard, Minoru?”

Ryuun returned with a shirt at the end of the statement, “Chancellor, I can assure you that Dereck and I are giving it through trials for user safety and work efficacy to the best of our ability.”

“Greetings Sugawara Ryuun, I have heard much about you. The yang to Minoru’s yin and so on, much like Hohiro and Yodama Shin. The Coordinator has wisely taken you all out of your comfort zone. A wise decision on his part. My father always tried to keep us close, controllable, to his great tragedy and that of our realm.
Anyhow why does this suit have an armored vest on? It is intended for hazardous duty. Does it not have its own protection?”;;

“It helps us in its transport. There are no anchor points built in to secure it.
A small oversight but important to widespread usage.
By putting a vest over it we can strap it onto a gurney.”

Tormano stroked his chin as he investigated the suit from many angles, taking full advantage of the light to take in as much as he could about its construction. “Yes, as I thought, built like a tiny mech, myomer work at this scale is very difficult, only a few firms would dare to attempt it. Riva Allard is the only one that I personally know that could manage it. There is a fine balance between useful strength and strength that will break the user.”

Project Silverback (Scars of Victoria Tele-Operated Robot Power Armor)

Silverback Tele-Operated Robot

Minoru held out Silverback’s arm rotating it to show its still limited range of motion. “It took Crosby weeks to hand-built our latest prototypes. Initially it took us months even on Luthien with HTI’s help. We are ultimately headed to Victoria because of Riva. If we can get it down to days, they can start being made economically anywhere that can make the normal hydraulic systems. Most of the rough coding is done for the platform thanks to Aria, William, and our collaborators.”

“That is very interesting. I look forward to hearing about your team’s progress. Perhaps I will meet them another time. Hanya and I must be going, however, parties to attend. After a cup of tea of course. I am quite parched.”

Aria brought out additional cups for the Liaos and her team while the bodyguards politely declined her hospitality. Tormano savored the spicy taste, smiled, and spoke in unaccented Arabic. “shukran lak ealaa shabat aldiyafati.” (Thank you for your hospitality, young lady.)

“How do you…”
Minoru would you mind walking me back to the car?”

“Of course not, Chancellor.”
Minoru and Tormano paused at the open door held by his bodyguard. “I am not certain I will see you again before you depart so I wanted to give you some advice while I am here.
While you are on Victoria watch out for my nephew Kai. He’s an impulsive young man unlike you, a bit of a showboater like his late old man, but he has a wicked left hook. If he challenges you, accept it or he will find new ways to keep insisting.”

“I don’t intend to fight anyone on Victoria. I’m here for the science.”

“You are a Prince. Always be ready for a fight as people will seek you out that don’t care about your science. Sometimes you must beat them, sometimes losing gracefully is the better move, it all depends on the person. Great enemies can become the most steadfast of allies in a single encounter and the inverse is also true.

Your father and I have a chance to build something great. I want you to know that you should always be building something of your own because there is always something out there to undermine it. The faster and stronger you build it the less chance they might ruin it.
So, keep up the good work kid.”

Tormano joined his wife on the bespoke leather seats, “Keep me updated on your progress.
I don’t want to have to read about it in the papers first.
And good luck out there young man. Many people are counting on you.”

The SUV drove away as a white kei van pulled up and parked next to Minoru. Dereck and William rolled down the windows. The smell of curry drifted from the cups on William’s lap. “Minoru, sorry man we didn’t get anything for you. Why didn’t you call? And was that an Avanti Eight Thousand?
Who’s driving one of those on Capella?”

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