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The Bull and the Genie[]

Chapter 43 - Book II - The Ninety-five Theses[]


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The Ghost Bears' Weapon[]

Arcadia, Pentagon Worlds (Clan Space - Deep Periphery)


Frederick had never expected to end up here. He'd been born an Elemental, and he had… enjoyed puzzles. There had been many jokes about that in his sibko.

But he had never gained a Bloodname, and now he was too old for the front. A Solahma at best. But that was not his fate.

"Frederick," the Khan had told him. "I have a new duty for you."

"Yes, My Khan?" he said to Nornian Tseng, Khan of his Clan.

"We will be launching Operation Revival. You know why, and what stain may yet rest on our honor."

Frederick nodded. There was a reason why every Ghost Bear Unit would include scientists to test for Wolverine DNA.

"But the Inner Sphere and Scavenger Lords remain a mystery to us." Nornian said. "The expedition has failed, or at least is not talking to us, and we must know before we go forth. We are not Smoke Jaguars."

"I do not…"

"You enjoyed puzzles. You enjoy books, even the ones that were not appropriate for your station. I remember the expression when your illegal comic books were burned."

Frederick took a breath. The trial had preserved him from any consequences, but the memory… some of those books had predated spaceflight.

But one did not say that to a Khan.

"What does my Clan desire of me?"

"I have many aging warriors eager to die. That was never your problem. You thought. Too much. But now I have need of a warrior who thinks, and there is a new caste, one that I doubt the Great Father thought we would need now."

"That is?"

"Historian."

"We have the Remembrance!"

"But we do not think about it, or analyze it." Khan Tseng said. "You did. Too much. So now, instead of hiding, I give you the order to use that. You will be working with others, that I and… other allied Khans have chosen. Merchants, Scientists, Laborers. You must provide for us a road map, because the Jaguars speak of winning battles. But what if the Scavenger Lords do not surrender? Winning a battle is one thing, but we require understanding." Then his old sibko mate smiled. "And I have a bribe. I remember you wondering why some things were locked away… But now, I can bribe you with access to the same records I have."

Frederick's thick fingers twitched. But even so… "The Inner Sphere is vast. How much time will we have?"

"A few years yet, the logistics network has yet to be established." Frederick nodded. A network of charging stations and JumpShips, stretching from the homeworlds to the Inner Sphere, stockpiles of pre-positioned goods, manufacturing sites… The greatest effort in the Clan's history.

"I will serve my Clan." he said.

"I know you shall." Khan Tseng replied.


"..And here we have a new, MK II, smart washing machine…" Frederick stared at the ad video. "Explain it to me," he said to the merchant.

"A new washing machine, for every house," the Merchant said. "In the Clans, neighborhoods share such tools."

"Efficient."

"No, a sign of limited resources." The merchant wasn't used to Frederick, and so she looked nervous, before she glanced at the sign the Elemental had put in their office.

No questions are forbidden in the service of the Clan.

"But from our intercepts, this means that the Inner Sphere is increasing their economy—and the laborers and merchants busy selling goods to individuals can be moved into factories to produce weapons."

"You do not think we can win, Quiaff?" Frederick asked.

The merchant winced. "Neg, I think we can win, but it must be done quickly. No Inner Sphere force can match our warriors… but numbers have a strength all their own. We cannot allow them to have the time to match our quality with their numbers."

Frederick sighed. More work. The Khan Council wanted to see him and he wasn't used to that, especially the common barbs from the Smoke Jaguar Khan that evidently Elementals were now used as merchants. It had only been just last month that the Council had finally agreed with their findings that using warships for fire support, save against purely military targets would do far more to stiffen Inner Sphere resistance than it would break it. The Snow Raven Khan had been infuriated by their videos taken from the Sphere as to how most WarShip admirals were portrayed…

Access to all the secrets… Frederick shook his head. His Khan believed that, but Frederick had loved puzzles, for all the problems Elemental fingers had with the pieces.

And even in the unredacted records he couldn't help but feel that some pieces were…

Missing.

But he had to get back to work. There was a request from the Council about how to supplant religions in conquered regions with the Clan Way.

I had never believed as an elemental that I would have to learn how to be diplomatic.

Because the Khan council might be the leaders of their people, but in the last year, Frederick had learned one thing: It was best to be very diplomatic when explaining to them just how bad certain ideas were…


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