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State of the Union (Chapter Cover)

Chapter 18[]

State of the Union - Book 2[]

Donegal Province, Federated Commonwealth
31st May, 3065

Daniel looked up as his father entered the little cubbyhole that served him as an office at Arc-Royal MechWorks. “Please tell me there’s not another problem.”

Barely taller than the desk, Clovis studied him and then shook his head. “I’m cutting you off from coffee. You need a full night of sleep and maybe a weekend off.”

“I’ll take some time off when we get the bugs out.” he muttered.

“There are always more bugs. They breed.” The little man climbed into the seat across the desk and reached under it for a control. A gas cylinder hissed and the seat rose a few more inches, not equalling their eye-lines but at least putting them a little closer. “You, on the other hand, are breakable. Men are more fragile than machines.”

Considering the throbbing behind his eyebrows, Daniel couldn’t entirely dismiss that advice. “Well, at least when I have the issue with the framework around the torso lasers done? We’re still not getting the tolerances right.”

“You’ll do a better job once you’re rested.” His father gave him a heavy look. “And more importantly, your mother and sister will stop bugging me about you. Close and save your files. We can talk shop while you wind down and then I’ll drive you home.”

“I…” Dan began answer

Clovis ahemed and buffed the name badge on his jacket, the one that bore his official title. “Which one of us manages this madhouse masquerading as a Mech factory?”

“Okay, okay.” Daniel started saving his work. “I just… the Mackies are kind of my project. My contribution. I want this to go right.”

“You’re doing fine. You’ll just be doing better when there aren’t bags the size of a kroner… a sovereign, I mean, under your eyes.”

“So what else is going on?” Daniel asked his father

“I’m glad you asked.” His father tossed a print-out onto the desk. “Take a look.”

With his working documents closed, Daniel triggered the back-up function and then examined the document while he waited for everything to be copied to multiple secure servers elsewhere in the complex. “Looks like a Loader King loadermech, with guns.”

“Correct.” Clovis took the document back and flipped it around. “I got this from a contact in the Intelligence Secretariat. Don’t ask me where they got hold of it, but my understanding is that the Prince of Regulus has been shopping around smaller parts and assembly plants in his province of the League, trying to get this into production.”

“Bolstering his forces in case things go south for the League? Regulus only has three actual ‘Mech regiments.” Daniel said

“They can influence several others, but yeah. Unlike the Marik Commonwealth and the Duchy of Oriente, Cameron-Jones doesn’t have any BattleMech production to fall back on. Without it, his forces could be depleted through simple attrition. But the Regulans do build a lot of the needed parts - Magna has a site there that makes lasers and reactors, for example.”

Daniel leant back in his chair. “How long has he been working on this. A conversion like the one we did during the war has it’s issues… as we found out. The Fifth Royals had more maintenance issues than any three other regiments. And we’re still trying to work out proper production lines to replace them.”

His father handed over a second printout. “He copied someone else’s homework, or at least that’s my conclusion.”

The diagrams and specifications here looked very similar to that which he’d just looked at. “Where did this come from?

“Achenar of New Avalon.” his father told him

Daniel blinked. “Really?”
“Yup. When the Clan Invasion blew up, they were looking at possible ways to expand production to offset the loss of factories in Lyran space One plan they had, which was pretty far advanced until the Truce of Tukkayid made it unnecessary, was to convert their own Loader King production line to build a BattleMech on the same chassis.”

“Sixty-five tons, fairly typical mobility for a heavy ‘Mech?”

“Yep. Armament isn’t great, but it’s a tough frame. Enough that they could fill out second line units with it, focus more advanced machines on the frontlines.”

“There are some differences but they have the same basic concept. Does anyone in Regulan space build the Loader King?” asked Daniel, mind working on the problem.

Clovis shook his head. “Not until now and they don’t appear to be worrying about a license.”


“I assume that Cameron-Jones doesn’t expect lawyers to get near him under the circumstances. He might be wrong, given the Star League or maybe not. Either way, Achernar are determined that if someone’s making money of their design work, they won’t be the only ones.”

Daniel frowned. “Another project?”

“I think we’re busy enough here, but I think it’s likely militia forces would be interested so I might contract to finish up their work and act as a middleman for some of the other companies who are finding Peter’s AFFC a harder buyer to deal with than they were hoping.”

There was a lot of rumbling about that in the military manufacturing sector. While it wasn’t hitting Arc-Royal much, the Archon-Prince’s preferences were causing some rethinking in what was being offered and to what buyers. It wasn’t hurting mercenary buyers and noble retinues, since firms that were behind the curve were sometimes finding themselves forced to sell off high performance machines for less than they thought after AFFC buyers declined to contract for them.

It wasn’t as if the AFFC wasn’t buying. Just that they were being selective. Wolfhounds, a staple of Arc-Royal MechWorks, were contracted several years in advance. And TharHes had relocated their production of the Wolfhound to a new and expanded site on Arcturus, with rumors that further expansion there would accommodate doubling production of the Bushwacker medium ‘Mech.

On the other hand… “Who are you thinking? Blackstone?”

“They were lucky to grab the SLDF contract” his father agreed. “and they may not get that next year. If something they can offer to every militia within two jumps of them?”

“Is it a good idea to alienate so many of the manufacturers, right when he’s trying to rebuild from the Civil War?”

Clovis cupped his hands behind his head. “I’m not sure. Since the Clans hit us, there’s a sense in which the industrial side of the equation have been able to dictate almost everything here, particularly after the secession when Katherina was buying support with favorable contracts. It wasn’t quite so bad in the other half of the Federated Commonwealth because Victor was so cash-strapped after ransoming Jumpships from his… well, we assumed she was his sister. They had to economies. So it’s possible that this is just the same thing here. God knows, he must be struggling to balance his budget.”

Daniel saw that the back-up was done and logged out of his terminal. “I hope you’re right.”

“My guess is that one of the reasons Blackstone didn’t get much lately is that they’re too close to the Jade Falcons.” his father added. “A lot of new investment - start-ups like Felix Industries - is well away from any hostile neighbors. Or at least far enough away from other factory worlds that another invasion won’t have too much impact.”

“I wouldn’t have his job for all the money in the world.” Daniel admitted sincerely. He pushed back his chair. “Okay, Dad, let’s go home.”

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