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State of the Union (Chapter Cover)

Chapter 47[]

State of the Union[]

The Triad, Tharkad
Donegal Province, Lyran Alliance
31st October, 3064

For the third time in six years, Tharkad was playing host to representatives of every major state - and most of the minor ones - in the Inner Sphere. Only a few were formal members of the Star League but observers had been invited and thus dignitaries had been arriving for days, almost all of them needing to have some sort of meeting with the host of the Third Whitting Conference.

Some of those greetings had gone better than others.. Sun-Tzu's had been cursory, Christian Mansdottir's had over-run by more than an hour as Peter had discussed both the military security of the tiny remnant of the Free Rasalhague Republic and the political implications of one of the attendees.

At least, Peter thought as a pair of glossy black ground cars arrived at the formal entrance, I can deal with these two as a single matter.

The military escorts peeled away as the limousines came to rest outside the Royal Palace. The door of the leading car opened fractionally ahead of the others' but the first out was Thomas Marik, who had diplomatically agreed his car would follow the sitting First Lord's in the cavalcade escorting the two House Lords from the dropport to the Triad.

The scar-faced man in FWLM uniform paused and allowed Theodore Kurita to exit the first ground-car, an act of respect he then had to prolong as the Coordinator gravely assisted both of his companions in exiting the vehicle. The rituals of court would probably have never allowed such doting on Luthien, but here on Tharkad it would play well, Peter thought.

Omiko Kurita looked a little older than she had on Solaris VII, all those years ago, but no less beautiful. And the child with her... If Peter hadn't been forewarned then he might have been caught off-guard by the Steiner-blue eyes looking out from the face of someone who so closely resembled a younger Hohiro Kurita.

"Peter," the Coordinator's daughter greeted him with a formal bow. "I have looked forward to seeing you once more."

"Indeed. I hope to have time for an introduction I promised you," he replied and then looked down at the child. "perhaps I can then ask one of your young companion?"

The boy clutched at Omiko's kimono and buried his face against it. He was perhaps three years old, Peter thought.

"Of course." She gave him a radiant smile. "Is your brother well?"

"Our last news was yes," Peter assured her. "fighting on Mogyorod has delayed him, but he should arrive before the conference concludes." Turning to Omiko's father, he bowed slightly. "First Lord."

Theodore's face was apparently serene, but Peter suspected he was also disappointed that Victor wasn't here to smooth matters between their two Houses. The eldest Steiner-Davion had been a guest on Luthien for months, whereas Peter was at least notionally responsible for Catherine's sharp bargaining over the conclusion of James Sandoval's invasion of the Combine.

"Archon-Prince," the head of House Kurita greeted him. "your newschannels were full of your joint council's deliberations as we made our way to the surface. Will you be continuing that experiment?"

"A question I have also been wondering," added Thomas Marik. "I have always thought your father to hold our Parliament in contempt but you seem to feel differently."

"Some sort of representative body seems reasonable, although a lot of details remain to be worked out." Peter gave the Captain-General an amused look. "How is your own Parliament treating you, Lord... Marik? I understand that Prince Kirc Cameron-Jones has been quite vocal in questioning your right to the name."

Thomas' eyes narrowed. "The Regulans have always been... difficult."

"Ah. Well there's no question of your competence. A booming economy and two victorious wars are a record any leader should be proud of."

The Marik accepted the compliment gracefully enough, although Theodore seemed less pleased. He'd managed to more or less come out on top against the Ghost Bears, but the personal cost of the victory had been as heavy as the political cost of ceding Marduk in order to make peace with the Sandovals.

"Anyway, we were speaking of introductions," Peter offered, ushering the two of them up the steps into the Palace. "there's someone you should meet before the Conference begins."

"My daughter?" asked Thomas.

Peter gave him a bland look. The Captain-General wasn't Isis Marik's real father and by now everyone important in the Inner Sphere knew that. Isis was on Tharkad, Peter had loaned her Resaurius Keep (his own preferred residence) for the duration of the conference since he would have to remain in the Triad;but she had expressed no interest in meeting the man who had taken on the identity of her true father. "This is a political matter, I wouldn't wish it thought that I was springing an ambush on you."

"If I may be excused from that meeting?" Omiko murmured.

"Of course. I believe Lady Isis Marik has expressed a wish to see you when you're settled." Peter assured her. "In the meantime, my other guest is through here." He gestured towards some double doors and the two guards waiting there opened them sharply.

Both men recognized Christian Mansdottir immediately, of course. It was the Ghost Bear officer standing with them who came as a shock. Unless you counted Phelan Kell, no Clanner had ever attended the Star League Council before.

"You will know the Regent of the Free Rasalhague Republic, of course." Peter nodded to the general first. "But it must be some years since the two of you met the Elected Prince on Outreach."

Ragnar Magnusson - or simply Star Colonel Ragnar, as the Clans would have it - drew himself up. "First Lord Kurita, Captain-General," he greeted them.

Peter had hoped for more of a reaction from the two older rulers but both men took the introduction in stride - possibly they were less surprised than Peter had hoped. It would be naive to think that they had no spies. "I'll let you get re-acquainted." he told them and took Omi's arm, guiding her away from the meeting.

The boy on the other side gave him a defensive look, which Omi noticed. "It's alright, Kitsune," she assured him. "Lord Peter met many years ago and he isn't taking liberties."

That still didn't seem much reassurance to the boy and Peter wondered how - or if - he might win his nephew over. He hadn't been around children much since he was one himself. "Kitsune... is that a common name in the Combine? I don't think I've come across it before."

"Not so very common," she said with a slight smile. "it means fox, in Japanese."

Peter couldn't help but smile at that. "Does it really?" His father, Hanse, had been nicknamed 'The Fox' by his enemies - a reference to his wiliness, his red hair and to the personal heraldry of House Davion.

Kitsune asked his mother a question in Japanese and she paused, letting go of Peter to pick him up. "In german, Kit', we're on Tharkad now."

"What does his name mean?" the boy asked.

Omi paused, apparently not sure.

"Rock." Peter mumured under his breath as they reached the entrance to the apartments reserved for House Kurita's visit.

She repeated the definition for Kitsune, who was apparently satisfied and toddled into the apartments to explore his new residence.

"I wasn't sure." she admitted. "It's an old christian name, isn't it?"

Peter nodded. "Christ's first follower was called Simon, but the messiah named him Peter; the rock on which he built his church."

"Ah." Omi tilted her head. "I believe you have grown into the name then."

"How so?"

"You were not easily moved from Zaniah," she told him. "but when you were set into motion, you... what is the saying? "A rolling stone gathers no moss."

Peter nodded. He supposed it was true. Not even two years now since Catherine had been found in the desert and that meeting had hurled him across space from one side of the Federated Commonwealth to another. "I think I'm back at rest now."

"Yes, your enemies have for the most part been crushed beneath you." Omi nodded. "Not easily moved," she repeated. "but when you do move, it is with great force and power. These are good traits in a ruler, Peter."

"I've learned something of restraint, I hope." he agreed, thinking back to his younger days. "I should let you get settled in though."

He felt a rueful smile cross his face as he left that wing and headed back towards the core of the Tharkad. When he was younger he'd coveted the throne, but today - as so often - he walked directly past the throneroom and made directly for the office where his grandmother's old wooden desk - hand-crafted for her by his grandfather and the Kells - had been restored to its proper place.

"I just hope this Stone doesn't wind up buried beneath the paperwork." he mused as he checked his in-tray. More folders and data-chips had arrived in his absence, sorted by the sizeable secretarial staff.

One chip had the code for Catherine and he plugged it into the computer on the desk. It wasn't a personal message, instead an update on negotiations with the Marquess of Filtvelt. Trempeleau's support for the Federated Commonwealth had come at a price for increased support of the Outback worlds along the Periphery border.

Catherine drew his attention to the reports on the status of Victory Industries, on Marduk. The 'Mechworks had been retooled to construct OmniMechs for the DCMS but it still had much of the older equipment not needed for them. She recommended subsidizing the creation of a new factory for the company, located in the Outback where it could supply Griffins and Wolverines to units along the border.

The plan seemed solid, if expensive, but it could be worked into the reconstruction budget. I wonder what tooling our other manufacturers have lying idle, Peter wondered and scribbled a note to find out. It would still be simpler than expanding production of newer machines and it would take years to make good the losses the Civil War had inflicted.

I'll gather no moss while my sisters are around me to keep me moving, he thought lightly and moved on to the next bit of business.

Book I is Finished, the story continues in Book II

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