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State of the Union (Chapter Cover)

Chapter 39[]

State of the Union - Book 3[]


Castle Davion, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Commonwealth
March 20th, 3068


It was a gloriously sunny spring morning on the Isle of Avalon. Looking down from Castle Davion, Yvonne Sandoval-Steiner-Davion could see sunlight glittering off the rivers that flanked Avalon City. There was no comparison to the weather on Tharkad - as she sat on the balcony outside the office suite that Catherine had used when she served as regent, the youngest Steiner-Davion considered requesting that she switch positions with her sister on a more permanent basis.

On the other hand, it would mean being further from Donegal, she reminded herself.

Yvonne had rather enjoyed her time on her grandfather’s homeworld. The prospect of spending more time there, with Tancred and perhaps someday soon with children, was appealing to her. While it was warmer than New Avalon, the larger oceans moderated the impact of that in some way that she was sure had been covered in her high school classes - only for that theory to be filed away as something she’d never need to know once she passed her exams. It was also wetter, but overall she was happy with that.

“Do you think I could serve as Regent from Donegal?” she asked her husband as she opened the message from Victor. “Just… go to Tharkad two or three times a year for formal occasions and spend the rest of my time on Donegal.”

“Only if ‘two or three times a year’ means months each time." Tancred Sandoval advised thoughtfully. “But you could probably pick a three month block of time away from Tharkad if you pick the right time - not the Royal Court season for example.”

Yvonne made a face. “That would be the perfect time." she mused. Royal court traditionally started in September and ran for a couple of months - and now one year in three on Tharkad it would stretch into the Star League Council. “We’ll also need to arrange time on Robinson.”

“If we get back to a regular schedule, you can probably get a year or more away from Tharkad while Peter is there.”, her husband said to her.

“True.” She scanned the opening of the letter. “Well, Victor’s guardedly optimistic about Catherine’s condition.”

“That seems rather out of line with Peter’s opinion when we left." her husband noted cautiously.

Yvonne shook her head. “Not in the sense of thinking she’s ready to resume her office; but she’s managed a couple of low pressure public appearances. He’s considering whether or not to suggest to Peter that Cat go to Odessa IV for the relaunching of the Lucien Davion at the end of the year.” The Avalon-class cruiser wasn’t all that damaged by its forceful capture from Katherine’s confederates in the Word of Blake. It had certainly been in good enough condition to make it to the shipyard at Odessa, but it was being gone over with a fine-tooth comb there. Partly to check for any hidden systems or traps left by her fanatics, partly to give the yard some experience working on the class. Once it was recommissioned as the FCS Arthur Steiner-Davion, the Gabriel yards would be starting work on constructing an entirely new ship of the same class. They’d already begun laying down the first new warship to be built at Odessa - FCS Curtana would be a variant on the Durandal-class, with larger engines as an experiment.

Tancred stretched slightly. “Victor wants to send Catherine to the same system as Clan Wolf’s new enclave? I think I can hear Peter’s shouted objections from here.”

She paused and looked at him, then smiled. “I can almost hear them myself.” She scrolled down. “Particularly as it seems negotiations are still ongoing with them. Victor’s getting caught in the middle, I think.”

“I’d say that no one forced him to involve himself in the discussions, but just mentioning them near him was probably enough…”

“You know him so well." Yvonne agreed. “And he is a useful buffer. It seems that the Diamond Sharks have approached Marcos Hall and offered to trade him ‘Mechs on favorable terms if he’d help them begin discussions to join the Martial Alliance.”

“What are they selling?” asked Tancred, the Mechwarrior sounding genuinely interested.

“Uh… Mad Cat II and Mad Cat III.” She frowned. “I thought that Mad Cat was just a nickname for the Timber Wolf.”

Her husband walked over and looked at the letter over her shoulder. “The Mad Cat II is an assault ‘Mech loosely based on the Timber Wolf." he told her. “The Diamond Sharks have sold a few in the Inner Sphere before - there’s some suggestion that they picked the name to fit that market. It’s not an OmniMech, but it’s pretty good. I don’t know what a Mad Cat III is, but I’d guess something broadly similar - the Sharks might be trying to get a longer-term trade arrangement in place.”

Yvonne nodded in understanding. “Shall I ask him for details about it?”

“I’m sure that the Ministry of Information will have a report making its way here." Tancred assured her. “I’ll put a request in.”

She scrolled down the letter and then shook her head. “Oh dear. They really don’t grasp Peter’s priorities, do they?”

“Ah… apparently not.”

Khan Hall had offered to share this supply of new Clan ‘Mechs with the AFFC in exchange for easing some of the more contentious points being negotiated over the exact judicial boundaries between Federated Commonwealth law and the customs of Clan Wolf. He didn’t seem to understand that Peter wasn’t enthused about buying ‘superior Clan technology’ that he’d be dependent on outside sources to maintain.

“I see where Peter’s coming from," Yvonne continued, “but he’s pushing the Wolves rather hard on that. They are our allies, we’re going to have to make some compromises or they might decide that enclaves in the Federated Commonwealth aren’t worth it.”

Her husband went back to his own desk and his own work. While it had mostly been to justify his return to New Avalon without his Regimental Combat Team (neither the politics nor the logistics would have supported bringing the Fourteenth Federated Commonwealth RCT with them right now), he wasn’t holding a merely honorary role. Marshal Alistair Venger had finally retired, formally handing the leadership of the entire corps to Tancred, and to mark this transition, orders had gone out to begin forming the Fifteenth Federated Commonwealth RCT in turn - now that supplies were no longer pouring through the Terran Corridor to supply the fighting.

At the moment, Tancred’s new command was a skeletal staff and a bare two regiments of infantry that had been reassigned to New Avalon as a starting point, but he was engaged in the bureaucratic battles necessary to obtain the additional personnel and equipment that would eventually bring it up to full strength.

“I suspect he’s thinking of Outreach and Northwind." he told her. “Your father made some rather hasty decisions in granting them to the Dragoons and the Highlanders during the Fourth Succession War. Certainly the right decisions at the time, but rushed through such haste that Victor wound up tripping over some dangerous grey areas once he took over. It’s understandable that Peter doesn’t want to pass that legacy onwards.”

Yvonne paused. It was hard to think wrong of her father. Hanse Davion was the charismatic genius who had half-destroyed the Capellan Confederation during the Fourth Succession War, the dynamic leader of the Federated Commonwealth. She knew intellectually that it was her maternal grandmother who had laid the groundwork for the alliance and led her half of the war with equal brilliance against a far more formidable opponent… but Katrina Steiner had died when her youngest grandchild was only a baby while Hanse loomed large in her childhood.

“Perhaps you’re right." she allowed at last. “It would explain why he wants them to have enclaves that don’t extend to an entire world - this way they’re forced to co-exist with us.”

“He may be pushing too hard though. Why not take a look at what’s being proposed and send some suggestions of where he might be able to offer concessions." Tancred proposed gently. “We’re too far away for him to decide that you’re volunteering to join the negotiations directly, but you have been his Regent on Tharkad. You may have a better idea of what will be politically palatable there than he does.”

“Ah, more work." Yvonne said with a sigh, but she made a note to herself. Giving the right of appeal to Clan Wolf’s civilian castes made sense in general, but she had a feeling that anyone who did so would be better leaving the enclaves if they did. The Wolves were a proud folk - perhaps just giving them the right to seek asylum would suffice. It would encourage more people to enter the enclaves and try life among the Clans if they also knew that they couldn’t be forced to stay if it wasn’t for them. The numbers willing to remain in the proposed enclaves were surprisingly high, but those willing to relocate in order to stay within the Clan’s governance were just as low as projections stated.

“You did raise the matter, sweetheart." he reminded her. “Worst case, the Wolves will be looking for sanctuary with another of the Star League members. They don’t have a lot of options there - Sun-Tzu Liao is no friend of theirs, Theodore Kurita already has one Clan to accommodate and finding little joy there, the Taurians and Canopians would be a poor fit...”

Yvonne cringed. “They’d head into the Free Worlds League, wouldn’t they?”

Tancred smiled. “There’s a certain appeal to the notion of them having to deal with a Clan Invasion after all these years of charging us for the weapons we needed to keep the Clans from their door.”

“I’m not sure Peter would appreciate the possibility of having a hostile Clan - and the Wolves would be very much hostile if they’re aggrieved enough to depart - on two of our long borders. No, three since we can now count the Falcons as being on the periphery side of the old Lyran worlds.” She closed the letter. “I’ll read the rest later and then put together a proper reply. One that isn’t wall-to-wall complaining about Peter making me worry about both halves of the Federated Commonwealth.”

“To his mind, that may well be one of your strengths." her husband said fondly. “That you - like Catherine - can see the whole as one thing, all our traits combined, and less as so many warring factions.”

“‘We are all fighting together’, as she puts it." Yvonne agreed. “Now if we could just all fight on the same side…?”

She gave the sun-drenched landscape of Avalon City a look, tempted to play hooky and carry out a sudden visit to its shops - donning some disguise and pretending to be just a simple civilian out shopping. But it would be cruel to her security to do that without giving them ample warning.

When Yvonne lifted her noteputer again, she had a new message at the top of her queue, marked as priority. Opening it, she scanned the contents and frowned. “Tancred?”

“Yes?”

“What the Taurians call a Corps, it’s three ‘Mech regiments, right?”

“It used to be. These days more like two reinforced regiments and maybe another of mercenaries… More because they’re spread thin with their new colonies and supporting Liao’s ambitions than because of losses.”

Yvonne shook her head. “According to agents inside the Concordat, Protector Shraplen is calling up jumpships sufficient for four Corps and moving them towards the border with us. There’s apparently been talk about how we should respect traditional Taurian borders the way we do those of Rasalhague. And he’s been making noises about how they ‘need not fear the Davion warships’.”

“I would assume he’d mean nuclear weapons.” Tancred shrugged. “It’s always been Taurian policy that if they even thought that we might send warships across the border that they’d start issuing tactical warheads to frontline commands. But why draw attention to it until…” He paused. “They couldn’t have hidden a warship of their own?!”

“Salvage?” suggested Yvonne. “The Word of Blake helped the Free Worlds League recover several ships, they might have done the same with the Taurians. Wasn’t there some cruiser or battleship that the Taurians almost managed to salvage sixty or seventy years ago?”

“The Tripitz." he remembered. “Yes. Is George the one reporting this?”

“He passed it on as a priority, but it didn't come from him originally." she admitted. George Hasek had a squadron of six warships at his disposal, but that was about enough to keep the Capellans honest. He might need more if the Taurians were planning something. Gathering warships like that could signify an invasion. “Do you think Shraplen would really be that stupid?”

“He was a close friend of Thomas Calderon, and we know he was paranoid. I don’t know how close Grover’s triggers are." her husband admitted.

Yvonne nodded decisively. “I’ll instruct the Fox’s Den to issue orders to FCS Kilbourne and FCS June to carry out an unscheduled patrol that’ll take them out to the border." she decided. “The entire Outer March is bare right now when it comes to that level of cover - and they may have the Snow Ravens to worry about soon if the reports about their contacts with the Outworlds Alliance are right. And we’ll need more troops. Who should I ask for?”

“Second and Third Davion Guards." Tancred responded promptly. “They’re a little nearer than some of the other RCTs in Sudeten Province right now, they’re crack troops and if he does do something, the two of them combined would tear any Taurian Corps I can think of apart.”


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