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The Adjudicator Chapter (Cover Art)

Chapter 50 - The Adjudicator[]

LCS Beagle
Exploration vessel
New Syrtis System
Federated Suns
July, 3160

"Your government is practicing an interesting form of imperium."  General Erik Sandoval-Groell commented, "Damn, I thought it would be...bigger inside."

Sharon anchored her feet to a bulkhead and opened a cabinet, "It is, General. However, the grav-deck is for specific lab spaces.  I..I mean we designed her as a science and exploration ship, not a cruise liner."

"Your aborted alien-hunting expedition, I recall reading about that." commented Erik

"We were narrowing on the possible locations when I got the recall back to the Inner Sphere." Sharon said, "There are some wonders out there, General, I really want to get back to it before the NIOPS expedition beats me to it."

"It?" asked Erik surprisedly. "First contact with an alien, non-human civilization, General.  I think we were close to proving mankind isn't alone out here."  she passed him a warm 'bubble' bottle of something dark red.  "Also, I had to give up the chase because someone thought we needed another war."

"Why did she call you back?" he asked

"Refinements to War Plan Gray, planning work, and chasing down the shadow fleet." she said.  "Emily was doing fine without me. Trillian didn't need me to do much of anything, but there were political considerations.  It's why I got to create Special Operations, don't you know? I wasn't needed to run the war because my officers and follow ons were and are competent." said Sharon

"Yeah, about did you do that?"

"Seventy years of having to function like a real navy but, without real resources helps." she told him.  "The Quarantine built our doctrine and methods. So we studied the impacts and figured out things. We built the core of experience needed to replace the idiots that had infested the LCN branch."

She gave a raising gesture.  He joined the silent toast, and sipped cautiously.

"Good god it's...spicy!" explained Erik

"Ijero Wine. High in vitamins and minerals and antioxidants. High calcium and potassium counts too." she said, "Its also tasty...but yeah, it does have a little back-bite.  it's the capsacin analogues in the fruit's juices...which is good for circulation."

"Everything is broken down to some function with your people, isn't it?" he asked.

"Oh, let's try keeping a crew of seventy five people sane for six months in less space than your average cricket or football team's locker room, in the middle of a dangerous hostile environment?  To keep them healthy when the conditions are bad for bone density, muscle tone, and general health.  You learn a few things doing that, too.  Food has to have taste because it's one of the means for keeping your people sane...but you also have to keep them healthy or they can't do their jobs.  Yeah, it's all about pragmatic concerns."

She sipped her drink and added, "We even have regulations concerning limits on practical jokes."

He made a face, but took another drink.  "As I was saying, your Archon is playing an interesting game of Imperium.  The Ghost Bears have given in."

"Nice, beat my projection by two years." Sharon said, "I guess my analysis of their economy was off by an order of magnitude and they weren't as self-sufficient as I thought."

"Your entire plan was to hold them hostage for almost a decade?" He scoffed.

"We maintained the quarantine for seventy five years.  I assumed it would take longer with a larger state." she answered, "I either underestimated their dependence on internal trade or underestimated the efficiency of the naval squadrons sent to put the boot on their necks.  The biggest part of where the plan could have gone wrong, would have been a hit on civilian targets.  the whole war plan was about paralyzing their military capability without inflaming the population to a 'war mood'."

"How's that supposed to work?" Her asked.

"Warfare is a contest of will, General, as you know." she said, "Anastasius Focht was right. The fighters can win all the battles and lose the war if the population refuses the outcome.  Battles might be concluded by soldiers, but it's the man and woman in the street who decides who won the war.  War Plan Gray was all about denying the Ghost Bears a victory, by denying them a fight they could win, but it was also about playing a headgame.  Cut off their internal economy, fill the void with public aid and visible charity.  it creates the impression of being defeated before the fighting's even properly started...but it only works on Clanner mentality.  If you tried it with the Dracs, you'd have a hundred uncontrolled incidents to inflame the people over-night.  same with the Capellans."

"How are they different though?" he asked.

"That's because MIMIR won't run false-flag ops against their own people." she said contentedly, "They'll catch anyone trying to set one up-they're better than Republic Intelligence, at least, in some ways, while the Clanners themselves are Kerenskyists.  You might as well ask a New Avalon priest to drop a bowel movement in the sacramental wafers before a service as ask them to run an op on their civilians."

"You used their...virtues against them." he commented

"Yup." Sharon said, "War Plan Gray was all about exploiting all the parts we Lyrans like about the Dominion.  I hated designing it, but if I didn't, someone else would-and a lot more innocent people would've died."  she took another sip, "War is about winning, if you can win the war and bring most of your ammo home, that's what you're obligated to were with Caleb on Palmyra."

"I was...and on Palmyra after for a while before being rescued." Erik told her.

"How did 'maximum force' work out for him?" she asked, "You had a Warship and supporting asset, the Dracs shouldn't have been able to take the Lucien Davion out of play like that, except they knew their opponent."
Erik frowned, "Yeah."

"They knew themselves, and their opponent, and Caleb knew neither his own forces, nor his opponent's mind." she said.  "If he had, he wouldn't have parked his warship in low orbit or concentrated twenty percent of the Federated Suns military in a system that could be breached that easily.  You're doing a better job for Julian, right?"

"Julian isn't a stubborn idiot." Erik said savagely, "He listens."

"Cool...okay, here is how we're doing this. I'm taking the Beagle into that system up there, Taussen. We'll keep a channel open, and we'll be broadcasting a 'don't shoot me' loud and clear.  My lads and ladies have orders to administer a hot lead enema if they shoot my science vessel up instead of talking.  Are yours ready to back our play?"

"Seems kind of unwise." he said.

"It is incredibly unwise, General sir." she said, "I don't know a damned thing about them, except that they shot the hell out of my Niece and her crew in May. She's may never wake up again from what they did to her. On the flip side is, if they don't open fire.  It's a lot easier to start a fight, than it is to hold back. The play here is to hold back if possible.  I know my folks will, can I count on yours?"

He smiled, "Yes. Yes you can."
"Excellent. I think that concludes our negotiation phase." she said, "Skol?"

"Skol!" cheerfully Erik replied

They downed their drinks.

"Good Luck, Admiral."

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