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Chapter 4 - The Broken Commonwealth[]

Duchess's Receiving Room
Kowloon System
Coventry Providence, Lyran Commonwealth
March, 3145

"...we don't have the long range communications, General, but I'm fairly certain that given the Militia Act of 3089 and the Republic Treaties, Kowloon has already met the national requirements-with the sum total result that Forty three thousand of my people are dead on Free Worlds League soil or in stupid interventions along the Republic border, or as disposable bodies thrown under the treads of the Jade Falcon war machine.  That means I've met the nation's legal requirement on both Ban and Arrieire Ban contributions, with nothing to show for it besides filled graveyards and empty caskets."

General Ivan LaRue was taken aback.  "Duchess, the realm is in danger!"

"No shit.  We're no longer 'in danger', the Realm has been broken, defeated. It's in collapse you imbecile. I'm not going to throw more of my people into the furnace unprepared because someone from Tharkad can't figure out what the ****** they're doing.  Ask Tommy Hogarth for forces, I have none to spare."  She tapped her walking stick on the floor, emphasizing her points.  "In the middle of a Clan invasion, Brewer and Melissa decided now was the time for a coup and a civil war.  I don't really know Trillian, I'm not my mother spending all her time on Tharkad eating fetes and selling off everything we had while pretending we weren't being constantly raided by Pirates across the entire Periphery of the Commonwealth!"

"Your grandmother-" the General droned

"Don't you bring her up, your family had a lot to do with un-doing what Elizabeth Ngo did for Kowloon and the Commonwealth!  If Tamari ****** LaRue had been loyal we would have forces to spare! She wasn't, and your archons and your Estates General forced us to disarm because of that bitch's perfidy and rebellion.  Mass punishment for our people, because you proper nobles couldn't keep an eye on your own!!"

"That talk is perilously close to rebellion." he said.

"So call your Archon." she sneered, "Meanwhile, I have work to do here, because blind obedience got us into this mess.  When you call her, tell her 'not today, but maybe in six months'.  I have a military industrial complex to rebuild and no help doing it and I need every one of my veterans to stay here in order to train the replacements her predecessor threw in the ****** furnace!"

He stiffened.  "That's not 'no' I hear."

"It's 'not today'." she restated.  "I have to manage what Grandma Elizabeth did, with less time, less support, and less funding, but be certain-not today does not mean not at all.  If there is still a Commonwealth in six months, I may have something to contribute again, but when I do, I will not accept placing my men and women under the command of a general whose medals are for shiny shoes and neat paperwork, dancing competitions, or Solaris championships!"

"We need the forces." he said, "Desperately."

"Should have thought of that before your government outlawed mine, then." she glared.  "I'm breaking the law but it won't be ready before six months time."

"What happens in six months, why is that the magic number?" he pressed.

"Because that's how long it will take to get them through training." she told him coldly, "It's a fixed mechanical limit. I could use MORE time, but that's the time we need, assuming we don't get attacked before then. In six months I can give the Nation a green regiment, lightly equipped, barely trained, but functional.  I need two to four years before I can raise the kind of force Grandmother started with, and the kind of forces my mother surrendered? will take a damned decade."

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