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State of the Union (Chapter Cover)

Chapter 8[]

State of the Union - Book 3[]


Old Connaught, Arc-Royal
Donegal Province, Federated Commonwealth
July 10th, 3067


“Alright. Three Clans might be a problem.” Peter Steiner-Davion had been worried more than once over the weeks since the first reports had come in of the Clans attacking again, but one of the matters keeping him up late at night had been whether his decision not to request assistance from the SLDF was his pride overcoming his good sense.

“We don’t know how heavily the Hell's Horses are committing at this point.” conceded Victor. “Only Twycross has reported them as present so far.”

The younger Steiner-Davion brother - not youngest, just… younger - shook his head. “Losing Twycross would be unfortunate, but it’s also not that far from the worlds our counter-attacks are about to hit. If there’s a possibility of them jumping in with - or even without - the permission of the Wolves to repel those attacks, then it’s time to swallow my pride and request assistance from the rest of the Star League.”

Victor reached over - and up a little - and patted Peter’s shoulder. “Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have believed we’d be in this position, but I agree. And I believe you’re making the right decision, Peter.”

“Ten years ago I’d probably still be thinking more about glory than duty. I was such a fool back then.” He shook his head, dismissing his brother’s sympathetic look. “My staff have drafts ready for a formal request so I’ll send it to Orestes and Dieron before the day is out. Better to leave it to the First Lord to forward to the other Council Lords, but General Kurita should be told directly.”

Victor stepped back and turned to the glass that separated them from the noise of the main command center. While Peter continued to make public appearances and express his confidence that the war wasn’t being lost, the Field Marshal had been practically living down here. “I know Hohiro has some contingencies laid out. At a minimum, he should be able to cut loose the Twenty-Fourth Lyran Guards and the Twenty-Fifth Skye Rangers. Freeing up the other units there that are on loan to the SLDF would only require permission from his father and the First Lord, since it’s basically the Second Genyosha and their supporting elements.”

“Hopefully Isis Marik won’t see that as being abandoned.”

“There’s still an SLDF presence there with the expansion going on.” Victor looked down at the map visible in the center of the command center. “I’d suggest hiring the Northwind Highlanders and Wolf's Dragoons but they’re already committed to supporting the SLDF’s line RCTs.” He rested one hand on the glass. “Actually, with her borders looking secure, it’s possible that Isis might be able to persuade the Marshal of the Silver Hawks to commit at least a few troops as well. The question of the Free Worlds League’s seat on the Star League Council is going to come up in November and barring a miracle, there isn’t going to be a Captain-General to fill it so joining a Star League-backed military operation would make political sense.”

“Who are you?” Peter asked, a little more sarcastically than he had intended. “And where is my brother, who knows nothing of politics?”

“I dislike politics.” Victor corrected him. “That doesn’t mean I ignore them entirely.”

“I suppose it’s up to Isis. I certainly wouldn’t object if she can send some reinforcements my way.” Peter considered the distances involved. “Or even the loan of some Jumpships. We’re going to have to shift those if it comes to moving Star League troops up to back us.”

The door from the command center opened and admitted Terias Sortek. “Your highness. Field Marshal.”

Victor shook his head. “Are you this formal with Peter all the time, Terias?”

“Not all of the time, Sir. Just when he’s acting in the military chain of command.” she told Victor

“Ouch.”

Peter sighed at his brother’s antics. “Am I late for…” he checked the clock. “Right, I was going to go get some much needed exercise. Healthy body, healthy mind.”

“Just remember to have those messages sent.” Victor half-asked, half-insisted as he went back to his desk.

Terias arched an eyebrow, but held the door for Peter. They walked around the edge of the dimly lit room and out the main entrance, heading for the small apartments that provided accommodations for the staff that Victor had brought with him.

Peter let her into the room he was using - while he could easily have had more space to himself, he actually found it a comforting callback to his time at St. Marinus - while he sent instructions to his staff, who were mostly housed elsewhere around the city. By the time he emerged from the small bathroom in his exercise gear, there had been a reply confirming they’d have messages drawn up and ready for him to review within the hour - well before ComStar’s regular daily transmission schedule in the appropriate direction.

“Do you think the Star League can send any forces in time to affect matters?” she asked him, the door still closed.

“The Twelfth ComGuard's army is only a few jumps away.” Peter reminded her. “Dow has been sitting on them - it might be paranoid, but I think he could be hoping that I’ll ask directly and let him ask me for concessions in exchange. But otherwise it’s not going to change the situation now. That’s not the point really. We’re holding our own at the moment - some worlds are doing better than others and we’re taking losses but once we start hitting their worlds then they won’t hold the initiative any more. It’s how they react to that which bothers me. Will they pull back, or hit harder? Do they have reserves that they can throw in at our attack or is what we’re seeing right now everything that they can field?”

She nodded. “Although they’re hitting us hard already. If we lose Coventry…”

Peter had been about to reach for the door to open it but he stopped. “If Coventry looks like falling, Adam is authorized to evacuate. This isn’t going to be decided by who holds the ground, it’ll be whose troops can keep fighting longer. I can rebuild the factories, or the academies - although I hope I don’t need to. But as long as the Falcons and the Wolves pay heavily for it, we’ll win in the long run. I won’t insult your intelligence by promising you that Conner will be safe there…”

“He is a soldier, after all.” she agreed quietly.

“Yes. But he’s a good officer and a good Mechwarrior. I wouldn’t have approved his transfer to the Deneb Light Cavalry if he wasn’t up for it. And with our warships due there any day, we should at least be able to contest the orbitals for an evacuation if that becomes necessary.” he told Terias

Terias reached past him and opened the door. “Thank you, Sir. The waiting to hear something…”

“It never gets much easier.” Peter had heard that from his parents, but feeling it for himself left him frustrated with how helpless he felt at times. It must be far worse for those who actually had little to no way to influence the course of the war. “Are you going to keep calling me, Sir? Even in the gym?”

The infantry officer looked embarrassed. “I tend to… default to formality. Product of growing up at court. And there were always people willing to snipe at Dad, suggesting we were taking advantage of our father’s friendship with yours.”

“Yeah, I suppose that there were.” He thought back. “But it meant as much to Mom - and to Dad, I think - as all your parents’ military service that your family were also willing to spend that time with us. We didn’t get out that much and with Victor on Tharkad there wasn’t much of a circle of children our age except for the old New Avalon dynasties… you know, the ones where the parents were all angling to do exactly what you were getting accused of.”

“Now you’ll make me blush, s… Peter.” she corrected herself as he directed finger-guns at her.

“Do I get points for that?”, he asked

He hoped that she’d blush, but Terias just snorted and stepped ahead to get the door to the gym.

The room was bustling - there was no shortage of people wanting to work off nervous energy at the moment - but Peter didn’t have too much trouble finding a punching bag he could start taking his frustrations out on. Terias had gone her own way, but he watched her out of the corner of his eye as he built up a rhythm of blows against the heavy bag.

Grey blocked that line of sight and he faltered slightly, side-stepping to avoid being left off balance. Peter widened his focus and realized that Phelan was standing next to him.

“Can I - help you?” he asked, between punches at the bag.

The Khan, a year or two his elder, shrugged. “Honestly, with how your troops are fighting alongside mine, I do not think I can ask for more support, Peter.”

“Well - if I think of something…”

Clan Wolf-in-Name-Only - which Peter still thought of them as, even if he didn’t voice it to Phelan - had taken most of their early objectives and struck deeper. Koniz was still holding out, but that was a rare bright spot. The AFFC had more or less got the measure of the Jade Falcons, but to an extent it seemed as if they’d taken it as a given that those tactics would work against other Clans… which didn’t seem to be the case.

“I understand that you have requested support from the Star League.”, Phelan commented

Peter paused and caught the bag. “With the Hell's Horses, it seemed better to do so now.”

The Kell raised his hands defensively. “I have no quarrel with it. But I suggest sending a message to Irece as well.”

“Irece?” That was where Clan Nova Cat had settled within the Draconis Combine. When they chose to side with the Second Star League against the other Clans, they had been driven from the Clan Homeworlds and resettled on Combine worlds that they had once occupied. A complex deal of trading worlds back had left them with a fairly compact domain within the Combine, technically self-governing but pledged to the House Kurita as well. “You think they’d want to get involved directly, rather than on behalf of the Star League?”

Aff.” Phelan lowered his voice. “They’ve got a new crop of young warriors who’ve come up since their Abjuration by the Clans. Some of them were blooded fighting the Ghost Bears, but others will still be young and hungry for battle. I think Santin West would be delighted at the opportunity to ‘contract’ forces to you, even if the Star League doesn’t vote to send support.”

The idea had it’s appeal, but… “That seems like the sort of practice that the Clans would deem as too mercenary.

“Not quite.” Phelan paused. “They’d not take orders as such, but they’d coordinate with your forces and follow any plans that are agreed on. In exchange they’d expect some share of the spoils.”

“Worlds?” Because that wasn’t happening unless he was deeply desperate.

The older man shook his head. “If you wanted to, yes. But they might be more interested in bondsmen and in captured equipment. After all, they’re still limited in their ability to produce clan technology on their new homeworlds.”

The equipment could work, Peter thought. I’d like to keep it all for myself, but we aren’t dependent on it. Giving captured Wolf and Jade Falcon warriors to them… how would even work under the Clan customs? Would it be legal under the Commonwealth’s own laws for handling prisoners of war?

“I’ll have to think about it.” he said slowly. “And we’d have to talk about how to make the offer. I get the impression that it would be too easy to wind up insulting them somehow.”

Phelan nodded. “Let me know when you want to talk.”


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