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State of the Union (Chapter Cover)

Chapter 29[]

State of the Union[]

New Avalon Institute of Science, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Commonwealth
19 July 3063

It had been years since his cadet days but falling asleep exhausted in a student dorm still felt very familiar to Peter.

So did being dragged awake long before he felt he was fully rested.

"They're attacking again?" he asked, rubbing his eyes as he shook off the hand on his shoulder and pushed the blanket aside. He'd taken off his boots but otherwise he was still in sweat-stained Mechwarrior shorts and an almost equally sweaty jumpsuit. He'd intended to use the small shower but the siren call of sleep had dragged him to the bunk before he made it that far.

"Not yet." Daniel Holstein didn't try to pretend it wasn't just a matter of time though. What was left of the Third Robinson Rangers had spearheaded a counterattack the previous evening and ground themselves almost to the point of destruction pushing the Fifth Royals and the Heavy Guards back out of the Avalon City limits, but they'd had enough back-up to achieve their goal.

Peter sat up and rubbed his jaw. His Mackie had limped back into the NAIS hangars missing one arm and with his autocannon hanging by little more than myomer and a frozen shoulder joint. The latter could be fixed but the former would need a replacement and there wasn't really time to fabricate one. Possibly one could be salvaged from a more damaged Mackie. He twisted and threw his legs off the side, groping around for his boots. "So?"

"Good news." The young engineer looked as if there was a great weight off his shoulders. "We have reinforcements!"

"That's great." he said, trying to muster enthusiasm. "More defectors?" Lucy Davion had crossed the lines under cover of the earlier attack, bringing half a battalion of disaffected Remagen tanks with her.

"No, in orbit." Dan told him.

Peter found his boots by kicking them over. Grabbing them he shoved his feet into them. "Orbit? Now that is good news! Who?"

"The Assault Guards and the First NAIS Cadre."

Closing the boots clasps, Peter dashed for the door. The cold morning air prickled his skin as he and Daniel ran across the divide between the dorm and the classroom block being used as the command center for the Heavy Guards.

Jon Davion and Bishop Sortek were there already or more probably still. Both clutched mugs of coffee in their free hands. "Why isn't the Lucien Davion moving to intercept?" the former was asking as Peter entered.

"Your guess is as good as mine," Sortek told him. "maybe it took more damage than we thought. The commander may not be confident of winning in a second round against the Hanse Davion."

"If it can't fight our Warship then it may as well not be there." Jon looked up and saw Peter. "Your highness, Bishop's cousin has arrived late to the party."

"Not too late, I think." Peter joined them. "I thought he'd be pinned down holding the Addicks supply base down for other operations. I guess I was wrong."

Bishop shook his head. "We've only got fragmentary communications so far. Katrina's forces are using satellites under their control to jam transmissions wherever they can, but he must have left only a few weeks after you did, and taken a more direct route."

"I'm not complaining." Peter looked at the map laid out of their situation on the ground. He didn't see anything about the situation up in orbit. "Are any other orbital assets moving to block them? And when are they expected?"

"Not yet, that we can tell. And late today. They had to use a transient point further out than the one you did." The Field Marshal lifted his coffee and took a deep gulp. "Which means the Archon has most of a day to..."

"Sir, our pickets are reporting incoming metal - lots of it!"

Peter nodded and rubbed his eyes. "Yeah, means she's got to try to crush us before the Crushers get here. I'll..." Damn, his 'Mech... "Daniel is my 'Mech...?"

The younger Holstein shook his head. "We yanked both shoulders for repair. You'd be going into battle with just one laser. The armor isn't even patched yet."

"Damn." He thought a moment. "What about Cat's?" She'd sat out yesterday's attack under protest, so her Mackie shouldn't have been damaged.

As if on cue, his sister's voice came over one of the command channels. "Hindquarters... sorry, headquarters. This is Alpha-Four, Fifth Royals. I've got a lance together from the repair bays and we're ready to move out."

"I guess she's showing initiative," Jon noted drily. "do you want to rein her in, Peter?"

He stared at his cousin and started to agree, then paused. Was this a trap? Was it a question of trust...? he thought.

After a moment, he shook his head. "No, tell her... actually, I'll do it."

Crossing to the comms section he took a microphone and switched to the proper channel. "Baker Actual, this is Alpha Actual. You have first battalion right now. Alpha Four is bringing every 'Mech she can scrape together to join you."

"Confirmed, Alpha Actual." Searcy sounded obscenely well rested. "We'll keep an eye on her for you."

"Try to keep it professional," Peter said, what he meant as being half a joke coming out as more of a snarl.

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