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State of the Union (Chapter Cover).jpg

Chapter 37[]

State of the Union - Book 3[]

Part Seven - Sudeten

There is a city that this darkness can't hide.
There are the embers of a fire that's gone out,
But I can still feel the heat on my skin.
This mess we're in, well you and I,
Maybe you and I,
We can light up the night.

-Light Up The Night - Protomen, Act II


New Starburg, Rodigo
Clan Wolf Occupation Zone, Federated Commonwealth
March 16th, 3068


Dropship

New Starburg was an entirely adequate drop-port for the typical activity a world on the fringes of the Inner Sphere saw, but Rodigo’s self-proclaimed ‘Gateway to the Stars’ (according to a sign) was badly overloaded at the moments, with dozens of military dropships setting down. Colonel Alys Rousset-Marik’s dropship had necessarily had to land outside the port, using land Clan Wolf had cleared for eventual expansion, but never got around to.

“How was St John?” she asked Reinhardt Steiner when the latter brought three coffee mugs to the table they’d laid claim to in a coffee shop, not far outside of the port proper. There was a thin dusting of soldiers from three different militaries in the shop but most of those seeking to use their off-duty hours went a little further, to streets accommodating to businesses that would likely empty their pockets in entertaining fashions.

The blond Skye Rangers officer pushed one mug towards Alys and seated himself. “The garrison wasn’t a huge problem. A few of them went to ground rather than fight or surrender, but we had a trickle of them coming back to lay down arms until the Ghost Bears arrived.”

Alys nodded, glad that Reinhardt seemed to have recovered from the black mood their correspondence had been colored by ever since the news of his grandmother passing away. “About what I found for myself - and that turned into a flood when we announced our departure.”

Clan Ghost Bear had sent a JumpShip in a week or so after the Krushers had taken Alleghe off the tiny Wolf garrison, politely queried what was going on and then left without any contest of the occupation. About a month later, instructions had come in to withdraw: negotiations on Orestes had been concluded with an agreement that worlds beyond the old Star League-era Lyran-Draconian border would be handed over to the Rasalhague Dominion. And thus, the SLDF had withdrawn from Alleghe, St John, and Bruben after little more than skirmishing and some counter-guerilla work.

“I bet they did.” Reinhardt shook his head. “Most of the garrison were from old FedCom worlds, they wouldn’t have had a lot of local sympathy among the population for a guerilla war. Perhaps enough to put up a fight against ‘outsiders’ but against Bears claiming to be acting as the righteous warriors of a restored Rasalhague?”

Alys lifted her mug and sipped the black-blood-of-the-earth within. Ah, that was the stuff. “I wouldn’t have given them a week. What will your people do with them?”

“Detention camps and civics lessons." the Steiner informed her. “Getting done with the classes should be almost as motivational as the prospect of getting to stop making large rocks into small rocks. They’re young and healthy, for the most part. After that… Well, the Wolves may accept some of them back, or the AFFC can find room for those willing to take the oath… Tickets to Solaris VII, Galatea or Outreach don’t cost much on a government scale. And for the really intransigent, a nice little colony on some outlying world with enough resources to set up a self-sustaining low tech community well away from any neighbors and we’ll check again in a generation.”

“Does that happen often?” she asked.

Sabine Steiner slipped into the third seat and picked up the mug of coffee waiting for her. “For the first half of the Succession Wars, the DCMS wasn’t big on prisoner-exchanges. The Suns and the Commonwealth both had to come up with solutions for that. Solutions other than mass-murder, that is.” She took a gulp from the mug. “Ah, you remembered how I like it, Reinhardt.”

“I asked for the most snobby blend they had." he told his cousin with a shrug.

“Ha! Is that how you handle your father’s coffee?”

Alys shook her head at the pair and decided to change the subject. “I can’t help but feel that we came a long way for nothing. I mean, a month or two later and your Twentieth Avalon Hussars could have done what our troops ended up doing, Sabine.”

The general shook her head. “But when you did it, my RCT was scattered across two worlds. We didn’t have the supplies or shipping to get here. Deploying you here saved us the most valuable resource we have: time.”

“For worlds you wound up giving to someone else.”

Reinhardt nodded, but not in agreement. “Worlds that we could choose to give up, having established that doing so wouldn’t cause us problems down the road. I don’t know exactly what was being looked for - and if I did, I probably wouldn’t be allowed to tell you - but the LIC teams we got sent in with did their job.”

“It was about the sibkos, right?” Alys asked.

Sabine arched an eyebrow. “Sibkos?”

“We were told to prioritize recovering them." her cousin told her.

“Hmm. I don’t recall that being an issue when we were hitting the Falcons." Sabine muttered.

The three exchanged looks in silence and Alys was the first to give up. “Alright, I guess I won’t get a straight answer. I’m not going to waste our time trying to dig it out of you.”

“It’s appreciated." Reinhardt told her. “Besides, you’re going to be able to rebuild your lost battalion with the salvage you were granted, so it’s not like you’re coming off badly for a couple of months of light action.”

“...yes, I was going to ask. Why the generosity? I mean, I appreciate our losses were indemnified, but between my Krushers, the Thirteenth and Nelson’s Genyosha, the Archon-Prince is giving up a hundred Clan Omnimechs in repairable condition. That’s a huge concession. I appreciate he doesn’t want to make it look like he’s taking advantage of his position as First Lord, but that’s…”

Reinhardt sipped on his coffee. “It’s not as generous as you think.”

“Really? Alright, what’s the catch? Or are you not allowed to tell me, again?”, Alys asked

Sabine chuckled. “It’s all about logistics: Remember, the ‘Mechs don’t just need to be repaired, they’ll also need to be maintained. The ComGuards are getting designs dating back towards the original SLDF because they still operate a lot of ‘Mechs of the same models - along with parts and equipment. But Clan technology is still in limited production in the Inner Sphere and their OmniMechs don’t generally accept hardware built here. It’s not that the AFFC doesn’t want it, but how many of the ‘Mechs you’re getting are Mad Dogs, Hellbringers, Summoners, or Timber Wolves - the most common heavy ‘Mechs among the Wolves and Jade Falcons?”

“Uh…” Alys frowned. “None, now that you mention it.”

“Figures. I guess you got Linebackers and Night Gyrs?”

“Which are less common and presumably harder to get the parts for." she realized. “Dammit.”

“It’s still better than having none - and you’ll have a less diverse selection, making it easier to support them.” Reinhardt opened a capsule of cream and poured it into his mug. “It’ll be the same for the other weight brackets - the Wolves and the AFFC are holding onto the most common designs for their own use, and providing their allies with chassis that they have in smaller numbers.”

“Actually the Wolves get a higher proportion of OmniMechs." added Sabine. “They have more techs trained to handle Clantech, and should find it easier to keep the reserves of Clan weapons to arm them with. The bulk of salvage claimed by the AFFC will be going into units stationed near factories that can support them. It’s a logistical struggle.”

“I had a Warhawk when I was with the Tenth Lyran Guards." Reinhard reminisced. “It was a beast of a machine, and easy for the techs to work on… as long as they could get the parts. And that was in the Revenants, who had a very high priority for parts suitable for advanced machines. There’s a reason I traded it for my Black Python when I joined the Skye Rangers. It was harder for the ‘techs but at least they had less variation of parts to work with. And fortunately most of the armament is a little easier to get now.”

Alys nodded, thinking of the expensive Clan ER PPCs fitted to her Perseus. “Ah yes, with Sudeten added to Twycross, I’m guessing there are going to be more Clan weapons available to you.”

“It shouldn’t hurt." Sabine agreed sweetly.

She chuckled. “Alright, you’ve allayed my suspicions, at the expense of taking some of the shine off the First Lord’s gifts. I know Sabine’s staying around here so she’ll be near those factories - are you allowed to tell me if you’ll have the same good fortune, Reinhardt?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know where exactly, but I’m probably headed to a garrison somewhere in Skye - we’ve been away for a while. A lot of the brigade-sized commands are being prioritized to be moved back to other stations since we’ll need less shipping.”

“Makes sense.” She finished her coffee. “And if it means keeping a lot of RCTs in place - just in case the Ghost Bears want more worlds than they’ve been ceded so far - that’s probably something that Peter Steiner-Davion is happy with.”

“It doesn’t hurt.” Sabine drained her mug. “My turn for refills?”

“I’m alright." Reinhardt told his cousin, but Alys handed her own mug over.

She waited until the tall blonde was out of sight and then confided: “Between you and me, I’m glad not to be staying here. If Rasalhague pushes, it’ll be two Star League members going at each other, and we’ve got enough problems on our borders at home, without bleeding out over local greed.”

“But not when it comes to fighting the Wolves?” asked the man.

“They picked that fight, and they weren’t part of the Star League. Different situation. Sun-Tzu would have kept us here, just to force us to take his side. It’s what he did with St. Ives.”

Reinhardt nodded. “That’s why Peter isn’t doing it. He’s got a lot of prestige out of this war and being elected as First Lord. I’m sure he has ways to spend it, but making himself look like he’s just trying to wring what he can out of the Star League won’t be one of them.”

“So what does he want?” Alys asked. “He’s a politician. He must be after something.”

“I said he wasn’t just trying to wring what he could out of it, not that he wasn’t trying at all.” The blond smirked slightly. “The FedCom still needs allies, and we’re still making up grounds for all the damage Katherine did to us by betraying everyone as if she was filling out a bingo card.”

The scion of House Marik thought of her alleged uncle: “Do you think she’s really dead?”

Reinhardt’s smirk died. “I really hope so. If I was Peter, I’d have buried the fake we captured at Summer with a stake through her heart just to be sure.”


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