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State of the Union (Chapter Cover)

Chapter 44[]

State of the Union - Book 2[]


Castle Davion, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Commonwealth
20th December, 3066


“How is Tamarind holding up without Jeremy Brett?” asked Peter as the briefing on the situation of what now looked increasingly like the former Free Worlds League began.

“Photon Brett-Marik has stepped into his father’s shoes as the military leader of their alliance.” Quintus reported. “That wouldn’t be my preferred way of mourning, but his credentials are excellent and no one can doubt his commitment to fighting the Marians.”

The Marshal of Tamarind had managed to save Kendall and its factories, swaying the world and its neighbors to join defensive pact that he and his wife had formed. However, war played no favorites and an air strike by Marian fighters had caught his command post on the move as his regiments pressed forwards towards the enemy landing zones. Arguably, his death had allowed the invaders to escape with less in the way of losses but it was still a bloody nose for House O’Reilly’s ambitions to take advantage of the Free Worlds League’s civil war.

Catherine folded her hands together on the table in front of her. “How are the rest of the Brett-Mariks?”

“The duchess is taking it hard.” Quintus consulted his notes. “She’s cut back her public appearances, with some of the more critical ones handled by her elder son Reginald.”

Peter rubbed his jaw. “Are we looking at any potential clashes between Reginald and Photon? Therese Marik seems to have been promoting her younger son’s career over his brother’s.”

“It seems unlikely. Reginald Marik may be the formal heir to the ducal title but he appears to prefer taking a background role. Our expectation is that he’ll stand aside when the time comes for his mother to hand over political power.”

“I suppose there’s precedent for elder brothers doing that.” George Hasek noted from his place at the table.

“Reginald and Photon are considerably older than my siblings.” Peter reminded him. “I suppose they know their minds at this point. Are either of them likely to take an adversarial stance towards us?”

Quintus shook his head. “They’re hardly our friends, but they’re both very much aware that they have a great deal to lose if they wind up at odds with the Federated Commonwealth. Even reinforcing garrisons along our shared border would put them in a difficult position unless they can build their forces up further.”

“If Bernstein’s raids move into that area we may not have a choice, but for now we have enough concerns.” The Archon-Prince sat back in his chair. “What other new developments are we seeing?”

“Thomas Halas has convened a parliament on Oriente, representing all the worlds that currently recognize him as Captain-General, along with a few that don’t.” Quintus’ smile was cynical. “We expect similar from Corinne Marik and Kirc Cameron-Jones, whether the latter will use Atreus or Regulus is unclear. Until now they’ve all held off in hopes of bringing together a full representation to sanction them as Captain-General but Halas seems to recognize that there’s no short-term likelihood of that. Or medium-term. We may be seeing the current divisions normalizing.”

“In principle I deplore civil wars.” muttered Peter, “But in practical terms, a divided League is almost entirely to our benefit.”

“The Mosiro worlds have elected to join the Duchy of Andurien.” continued the intelligence officer. “That frees them to push further towards worlds that haven’t picked a side so far. Both Emma Centralla and Sun-Tzu Liao have extended formal recognition of the Duchy’s independence but, at least so far, the Duchess is keeping a good chunk of her armed forces facing them.”

“The gift of Saiph keeps on giving?” inquired George, getting a nod of agreement from Duke Felsner, who was overseeing the delicate consideration of whether Peter should follow the lead of Centralla and Liao in opening relations with the breakaway duchy, and on what terms. The Duke of New Syrtis tugged on his cavalry mustache. “I didn’t think much of Isis Marik, but she’s the first person in a long time to tell Chancellor Liao no and make it stick.”

“I can’t exactly give her a medal, as much as the notion appeals.” Peter told him. “I can probably arrange something for Sabine Steiner though. Hohiro Kurita wasn’t delighted by her initiative but he knows damn well that it serves him better to have this reported as a successful SLDF operation than as House troops going rogue while on Star League service.” He took a deep breath. “Anything else urgent going on in the League quadrant?”

“Those are the major points, sire.” Quintus answered

He nodded. “Alright, let’s move onto the Capellans.”

“Chancellor Liao continues to deny any knowledge of the identity of the cruiser that was supporting his forces on Saiph. Allegedly they simply arrived with credentials that were accepted at face value.”

“I suppose we can take this to mean that he’d rather be taken for a fool than for an active conspirator.” muttered Hasek.

“That’s been his pattern of behavior since Outreach.” Quintus pointed out, apparently unconcerned that he was discussing his own first cousin.

Then again, it hadn’t been conclusively proven that Kathrina wasn’t Peter’s biological sister so who was he to complain about someone else’s family? “Does it seem likely he’ll be pressing further?”

“At this time he seems more inclined to consolidate. Six more worlds for the Confederation lets him paint it as a triumph and our sources suggest that he’s wary that our troop movements are preparations for an invasion.”

Hasek made a face. “If only he was right.”

Peter sighed. “There are only two things restraining me from going ahead with that, George. Firstly, there’s a very real chance that Clan Wolf will resume Operation Revival in May - and if they get any traction the Jade Falcons and Ghost Bears will likely join in just to keep Vladimir Ward from getting to Terra before them.”

“In name only.” mumbled Catherine.

“Pardon?” Duke Felsner looked baffled at the non-sequitur.

“Oh, sorry. I was thinking that since we have Clan Wolf-in-Exile already, the other half of the Clan should be called Clan Wolf-in-Name-Only.”

Several people in the room were obviously restraining themselves from laughing. Peter didn’t bother and once he’d broken ranks the meeting was interrupted by some much welcome amusement. Catherine didn’t seem offended, instead looking rather satisfied.

“I must tell Khan Kell that next time we talk.” mused Peter. “Where was I… oh yes, the Star League would probably complain if we invaded the Capellans on a grand scale. So as much as I’d like to re-enact Operation Rat, the most I can offer right now, George, is that if we get a decent excuse then I’ll authorize localized offensives - the sort of thing that James managed against the Combine a few years ago.”

“I’ll have plans ready.” The Duke of New Syrtis looked anticipatory. “After all, if you have the bulk of the AFFC facing the Clans, he may think he has an opportunity.”

“If that happens.” Peter told him, “You have first call on our strategic reserve, and you can draw on forces from the units in the Chaos March and Outworlds March as well. That’ll give you more or less equal numbers to the entire Capellan Confederation Armed Forces.”

Honestly, unless Sun-Tzu Liao stripped his borders with Andurien, Oriente and (now) the Silver Hawks Coalition, he’d be hard pressed to match the thirty-plus commands that would be remaining in the Capellan March, backed up by six warships.

“And if he is that foolish, then as soon as we have the Clans neutralized, I’ll send reserves back to reinforce you.” he continued. “I am quite done with Sun-Tzu Liao and it would be very satisfying to find out what part, if any, he had in Kathrina’s madness by tearing the secrets out of his own palace.”

“You’re planning on crushing them then?”

Peter nodded. “They’re occupying worlds of the Federated Commonwealth and the Jade Falcons have invaded us twice despite the Truce of Tukkayid. If Clan Wolf doesn’t start something by the time of the next Whitting Conference, I don’t see any reason that I shouldn’t deal with the Falcons at the minimum. Victor and I discussed this after their last attacks and we’re confident that they haven’t recovered yet from the losses that they took then. I’ve no intention of giving them the time to do so.” He paused and looked at George Hasek. “And with the Falcons neutered, I’ll have a much freer hand with Sun-Tzu Liao.”


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