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State of the Union (Chapter Cover)

Chapter 29[]

Part Five - Marik

I know I can't hold the hate inside my mind
'Cause what consumes your thoughts controls your life
So I'll just ask a question
A lonely simple question
I'll just ask one question

State of the Union - Book 2[]

Kirin River, Irian
Silver Hawks Coalition, Free Worlds League
29th January, 3066

Without Isis being present, her palace felt different. While military basing was being opened up for the SLDF, their first priority was for housing troops and they were currently overflowing into the officer quarters of the available housing. Isis had left permission to use her palace, save for her personal apartments, so Galen had brought the SLDF headquarters echelon there.

While the rooms had been busy before while she was using it to arrange her neutrality pact, the involvement of soldiers had changed it somehow in Galen’s eyes. It felt almost intrusive.

“I don’t claim to know why, but we’ve had raids on Savannah, Miaplacidus, and Alphard.” General Mountash admitted, indicating the worlds on the holo-map in what had been Isis’ command centre previously. “Savannah, I could understand if they’d gone for the Technicron factories, but they were targeted at infrastructure. With damaged bridges and water ports that’ll cost millions to repair and impair civilian trade and shipping more than anything else.”

“The same on the other two worlds?” asked Colonel Elizabeth Nichole. The Wolf's Dragoons wouldn’t be on Irian long, they’d been penned in to move up to join the protection of the original Silver Hawks provinces between Stewart and the Federated Commonwealth, but Irian was a convenient staging area so Epsilon regiment was basing there until shipping was available for the next leg of their journey.”

Mountash nodded in annoyance. “Our best guess is that they’re intended to affect public support, trying to undermine the new Coalition by suggesting that we can’t protect our civilians from Corinne Marik’s forces.”

“Are you sure she’s behind it?” Galen inquired. He really hadn’t thought that she’d pick a fight on this border when she was barely holding onto a sliver of Atreus and other worlds around the League capital were under threat.

“It’s the Eleventh Atrean Dragoons,” the general confirmed flatly. “Not just their colors, we could match their specific ‘Mechs to our last information on their composition. And all three of the targets so far are within a jump of Marik, which is where they’re based.”

Nichole grunted unhappily. “We can divert to reinforce the garrisons of those worlds,” she warned. “but our contract with the SLDF is specific: I can’t lead my regiment in offensive actions against the claimants to the Captain-Generalcy.”

“I don’t expect you to.” Alys Rousset-Marik spoke up firmly. “You’re doing more than enough, and Lord Kurita’s decision to send the Second Genyosha will help us secure those worlds. That doesn’t mean I’ll let the Eleventh target our civilian population, even with low casualty strikes like this.”

“What are you planning?” Kelian Brackey looked unhappy. This was a sister regiment of his own, after all - even if the Twelfth Atrean Dragoons were temporarily serving as the White Saber regiment of the Silver Hawk Irregulars.

Alys stabbed a finger at the highlighted marker for Marik. “The Eleventh won’t have forces to spare for raiding us if they’re forced to defend Marik. I’ll take my Krushers and the Eagle Regiment across and make it look as if we’re trying to take the world. Put them on the defensive.”

“The best defense is a strong offense?” Galen tilted his head. “Don’t go too far, though.”

“Don’t worry. I won’t actually try to conquer it. And if it falls by accident I’ll happily return it to Corinne for assurances that these raids never happen again.”

The Eagle Regiment, normally the Thirty-Seventh Marik Militia had only been reformed in the last two years after being disbanded during the Succession Wars. The troops were inexperienced when it came to working together, and they still weren’t at full strength but pairing them with the similarly depleted but much more hardened Krushers made sense. Between them they’d have the numerical advantage against the Eleventh Atrean Dragoons, who weren’t exactly the League’s elite.

The other benefit would be that it wouldn’t be so overwhelming that it might crush the Dragoons and have too much success. If it looked as if the SLDF was providing a defensive base for Alys to launch an active campaign to take control of the Marik Commonwealth then the result would be a firestorm.

“You’ll have to be very clear that you’re operating with limited objectives,” he warned. “the propaganda war could break you.”

Alys nodded and touched her uniform, which mirrored that of the FWLM except for the replacement of the traditional purple eagle of House Marik with a silver hawk. “I’ll be very clear that this is to punish the Dragoons and we’ll only go after them.” she promised. “We’re not there to target the civilian population and I’ll withdraw immediately we get any sort of agreement for them.”

Galen saw that other officers wearing the Silver Hawks’ uniform were giving him sharp looks. “I don’t mean to interfere in your chain of command,” he added in a conciliatory manner. “but given the SLDF are deployed on very specific grounds…”

The young woman laughed. “Don’t worry. I think Isis has the right idea about not wanting to claim the Captain-Generalcy. If all three claimants dropped dead right now, I’d nominate Photon, not myself. Just running Augustine and the Krushers is more than enough for me.”

“You might find yourself called for more.” warned General Mountash. “We’re assembling our command structure and there’s going to be need for more senior officers to handle different fronts. Consider this mission your first crack at task force command.”

“When can we expect more SLDF presence?” asked Brackey, changing the subject as Alys digested that warning.

Stirling’s Fusiliers have already moved into the Sirian Concord to free up regiments there.” Galen replied. “It’ll take a little longer for the Genyosha and the two units loaned by the AFFC to catch up, but they should cross the border in the next week.”

“The Twenty-Fourth Lyran Guards and the Twenty-Fifth Skye Rangers?” the colonel queried. “I don’t think I’ve heard of the latter before.”

Mountash cocked her head to one side. “Weren’t they a casualty of the Succession Wars?”
,' “Recently revived.” Galen offered, hoping this would draw more attention than the Twenty-Fourth Guards who had a long history some it recently involving the Free Worlds League. They’d beaten off the Wolf's Dragoons’ assault on Hesperus II in 3019 for example, which had been on behalf of Janos Marik.

Alsy smirked. “Both commanded by Steiners?”

“My understanding is that the Archon-Prince wanted reliable commanders in the Terran Corridor and having recently deployed to the area, the two units still had transport assets available.” Galen paused. “Colonel Marik.”

“Touche,” Bracket noted before Alys could take offense. “it would be best not to deploy them facing the Commonwealth though, border worlds have long memories.”

“I believe the intention is for them to deploy along the border with Chaos March and the Border Protectorate. Nowhere that they’ll look like they have a plausible chance of annexing in the name of House Steiner-Davion.”

“Probably for the best. Are they both RCTs?” asked General Mountash thoughtfully.

Galen shook his head. “The Twenty-Fourth is, but the Skye Rangers are operating as combined arms brigades, similar to your own Legionnaires.”

“Should we ask for royalties?”

“I thought you copied the Defenders of Andurien?” he asked lightly and saw the general’s face fall into a scowl.

“No using the A-word,” Alys told him. “none of the news from there is good right now.”

Galen blinked. “Sorry?”

She pulled him aside. “We just got word that the First and Fifth Free Worlds Legionnaires have declared themselves the Andurien Rangers.”

Which meant that the Duchy of Andurien was pushing closer to outright rebellion, he realized. General Mountash must feel the defections a painful parallel to her own decision to offer her loyalty to the Silver Hawks. Her Seventh Legionnaires had even temporarily adopted the designation of the Steadfast regiment, to follow the naming practices of the Silver Hawk Irregulars.

“Ouch.” he mouthed and bowed apologetically to General Mountash.

“I’d like the Skye Rangers sent to Augustine,” she declared, changing the subject. “Duchess Marik’s homeworld is of political importance and pulling the Krushers off it will leave it only lightly guarded…”

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