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State of the Union (Chapter Cover)

Chapter 39[]

State of the Union - Book 2[]


Hyppo, Augustine
Silver Hawks Coalition, Free Worlds League
19th August, 3066


Reinhart had gotten used to Alys Marik visiting his headquarters for one reason or the other. Not only were they both commanding military forces on the same world (and her regiment had been fighting for their life against his nation only a few years before), but Alys was also the ruler of the world.

However, those visits were usually scheduled in advance so he was surprised when his aide interrupted a meeting with his cousin Sabine to advise that Colonel Marik was outside.

“Are you making friends with her?” Sabine was visiting in her role as the senior officer among the peacekeepers stationed in the Silver Hawks Coalition - outranking Tai-sa Nelson of the Second Genyosha; Colonel Nichole of the Wolf's Dragoons’ Epsilon Regiment; and, of course, Reinhart himself. It was an added responsibility on top of her already being absurdly young to command a Regimental Combat Team - and she was rising to the challenge in ways that made him envious… and occasionally outright jealous. He wasn’t proud of those moments, but pretending he didn’t have them wouldn’t make it so.

With a shrug he nodded to the aide to admit the commander of the Krushers. “We’re on better terms than I feared given her last XO apparently decided to wage a one-man war against the Commonwealth.”

Sabine’s grey eyes narrowed. “Bernstein?”

“Yes.”

Alys Marik hadn’t been with the Krushers when they were all but shattered on Arcadia, but she still had an edge of distrust in her dealings with Reinhart. As far as he knew, the other AFFC officers. It was their brother officers that had fought and killed Kristen Marik and her two elder children. On the field of battle, as far as anyone knew, not that it probably mattered. The Krushers had been under contract to the Lyran Alliance and had fought faithfully under that contract until a particularly bigoted officer had decided the fact a Marik led them and had dared protest his orders to bombard Coventry Military Academy made the Krushers his enemy.

It hadn’t worked out well for Colonel Walker, but the Krushers had paid a much heavier price.

That edge was gone though as she entered his office. “Brigadier General Steiner.” She paused on seeing Sabine. “General Steiner.”

“Colonel Marik.” Reinhart rose to his feet and they exchanged salutes.

“May I inquire if you’ve been keeping up on the Capellan invasion?”

“It’s of some interest,” he admitted. “please take a seat. Has there been a new development? It’s possible some news hasn’t reached us yet.”

She accepted the seat. “The attack on Ohrenson wasn’t a diversion but it did draw our attention from a second wave of troops moving in. Zion Province has been hit hard and the Tenth Marik Militia is withdrawing rather than get trapped behind a blockade backed by one or more Capellan warships.”

Sabine muttered something in German. Reinhart hoped that Alys didn’t understand it, because she might take it as a criticism of the FWLM when he was fairly sure his cousin meant Chancellor Liao. “Is your cousin safe?” he asked, hoping that Alys would focus on him.

“She made the decision that Zion Province wouldn’t hold.” Alys told them. “So after visiting Berenson, she chose to go right to the final planned visit Saiph.”

The two AFFC officers exchanged looks. “Has Saiph been attacked yet?”

“So far as I know, no. Probably it will take a few weeks for the Capellans to consolidate and bring in garrison forces to secure their gains. But once they do, Sun-Tzu has momentum on his side. He’ll be looking at moving either against us, or Saiph, or both.”

“Saiph has the Dismal Disinherited under contract,” volunteered Sabine. “three regiments of mercs - good mercs. They won’t lose easily.”

Reinhart nodded. “If Sun-Tzu repeats the tactics he used against the Sarna Supremacy and it would be consistent with how he’s handled Ohrenson and Zion. Then he can use his warship advantage to blockade planets and pin forces down, then hit each in turn with overwhelming forces. How many additional regiments does he have from the attack on Zion?”

“Three additional ‘Mech regiments.” Alys shook her head. “Two of McCarron’s and a mercenary regiment - Lockhardt’s Ironsides. That brings him up to seven regiments to spearhead his attack. Even if Isis added the Thirteenth and the Tenth to the defense, those aren’t good odds.”

“The Tenth Marik Militia? I thought that they favored Corinne, wouldn’t they pull back into the League if they can’t hold out?”

“I would have thought so, but with Oriente guarding their border and our own relations… poor. Isis claimed she had information that they intended to swing through the Chaos March and negotiate passage across the Coalition once they were clear of the Capellans. Saiph is a logical place for them to go.”<br

Sabine groaned. “You’re telling me that the Coalition’s foreign minister, who is also Sun-Tzu’s former fiancee, is now right in the path of his advance and the forces available to defend those worlds are mostly mercs and local militias, plus her bodyguards and a regiment that’s already been mauled and likely sees Isis as a traitor?”

“Essentially, yes.”

Reinhart rubbed his own forehead. “I take it our deployments may need to be shuffled if Marshal van Creveld is moving more regiments to that border.” The Silver Hawk’s main focus so far had been interior industrial worlds and coverage of the border with the Federated Commonwealth. The five Star League units were the bulk of the forces facing Corrine Marik’s positions and the little corner of the Coalition facing Halas’ Protectorate allies and the Capellans had been distant third in priorities so far. “Particularly if Count Balatine agrees to a treaty with the Coalition.”

“At the moment there aren’t going to be any further deployments.” Alys’ face was tight. “The Eagle Regiment is already moved out to Bernardo to rebuild and the Marshal has refused to send any further forces into the region unless the Capellans strike at our current defensive perimeter.”

“Excluding Saiph?” he asked

She nodded grimly. “If they sign up, she’s only willing to station the Lucky Thirteenth there. I can’t even take the Krushers there - even if I had permission, my dropships and jumpships have been yanked ‘temporarily’.”

Reinhart’s cousin tilted her head. “Trust issues after how you went after Marik.”

“I didn’t go rogue in that operation, it was fully authorized.” The young Colonel looked aggrieved at the suggestion. “But if Sun-Tzu manages to capture Isis, he’d have considerable leverage. He might even be able to use her as a figurehead for a campaign to seize the Captain-Generalcy. That would tear the Coalition apart internally and I wouldn’t be surprised if Thomas Halas felt he had to invade us preemptively, while Corinne and Kirc Cameron-Jones are still fighting each other.”

The Regulans had secured Atreus and their Prince had issued further declarations that he was the rightful Captain-General. Surprising no one, the effect on his rivals had been negligible, forcing him to commit his forces further. His next target after Atreus had been the nearby system of Ionus, one of the League’s major shipyards, and it had proven to be a much tougher nut to crack. Rather than throw her forces piecemeal into the battle for Atreus, it appeared that Corinne Marik had predicted this attack and concentrated her reserves there. The result was a meat-grinder that showed every sign of tying up the Regulan Hussars’ main mobile elements for the foreseeable future - unless Cameron-Jones gave up and withdrew.

Reinhart wouldn’t have bet a single kroner on the Prince of Regulus backing down after all, a kroner was still a valid coin for the next few years. This is despite the speed with which the Archon-Prince’s new currency was being rolled out. “Are you asking us to send forces to support Saiph?” he asked. “That’s considerably beyond our remit.”

“It’s kind of a grey area.” Sabine sounded less opposed. “We’re assigned as peacekeepers for the Silver Hawks Coalition. If the Saiph Triumvirate were to join the Coalition, then our responsibilities would extend to them.”

She wasn’t wrong, but: “If they do, yes. But that requires both Count Balatine’s agreement and - what sort of validation does the Silver Hawks Coalition have for new members?” Reinhart hadn’t actually looked into that.

“Previously it was a unanimous vote of all the members,” Alys told him. “but that’s not really workable with the way it’s been expanded. Until a new provision is agreed, the Foreign Minister can sign treaties with plenipotentiary authority. So as soon as Isis gets him to the negotiating table…”

“Yes.” The AFFC general confirmed. “Unless he decides he’s better off making a deal with Sun-Tzu. But setting that aside, the other issue is the Capellan’s warships. Whatever Corinne Marik might think, I don’t have an Avalon-class cruiser in my hip pocket. Unless you can scare up one or more warships, sending reinforcements into the Triumvirate could be opening them up to being slaughtered before they can even reach the surface of a planet.”

Alys nodded. “So, if the Triumvirate joins the Coalition and if we can provide warship support, you’d be prepared to commit forces to a relief force?”

“In that case, I’d be willing to lead one myself.” Sabine agreed.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

Reinhart sighed inwardly. On the one hand, he could understand Sabine’s eagerness to see action - particularly against the Capellans after how they’d handled the Sarna March and then St Ives. But if the AFFC and and CCAF started shooting at each other, it could spark an actual war. “We’d better at least warn the Archon-Prince and the Commanding-General about this.” he cautioned the two women.

They both adopted innocent looks. “Of course.” agreed Alys.

“Naturally,” Sabine told him. “perhaps they can even rein the Chancellor in diplomatically.”

I’d have better luck betting on Cameron-Jones pulling his troops off Ionus, he thought.


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