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The Bull and the Genie[]

Chapter 5 - Book III - The Clan Invasion[]

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Making Plans and Playing chess[]


Urgency to take action[]

Davion Palace - New Avalon, Federated Suns


(("Hanse, I don't want to be the one to say this, but we need to take the offense.")) Melissa said via HPG Real-Time Connection.

Her image was diamond sharp, and Hanse didn't want to think about how much money this was costing, but there was no way Melissa could withdraw from Tharkad.

And not just because of the Clans.

"The nobility?"

(("Not just them. The way the Clans seem to be moving at will, attacking at will, has demoralized vast swathes of our people—as has the fact that they are the descendants of the SLDF."))

"How bad is it?"

(("Bad. I had a delegation of nobles and citizens here wanting me to initiate what they were calling operation Victorious Hammer."))

And?"

(("A full scale landing on the worlds currently taken by the Clans. They argued that they were mostly only occupying the capitals and spaceports and so good Lyran Assault 'Mechs could push them off."))

"And the warships?"

(("If the Bulls could kill a Potemkin, our new fleet can kill some Star League relics or so I'm told by these delegations."))

Hanse stared at his wife, and didn't say anything. The wordless communication was clear.

Can you ignore them?

No.

"Their BattleMechs and pilots are like something out of a nightmare." The First Prince said. "We'd have to ensure at least a two to one advantage in landings."

(("I know."))

And dedicate nearly all of our battery equipped JumpShips. Even now, they were a rarity, but conventional JumpShips could not just float around. Not in a universe where the enemy had Warships.

But they weren't the only ones who had Warships…

"Melissa, I think it's time we spoke with Comstar. They're talking about wanting peace, and the Clans aren't exactly being peaceful…"


Clan Rasalhague[]

Black Lion Class Battlecruiser, Implacable


"They've been using their advanced JumpShips to pull back," Frederick (Ghost Bear) muttered. Jumpships, popping into pirate points, getting DropShips and popping back out, their LF batteries letting them escape most patrols.

Even in the Draconis Combine, and he was certain they would have rushed to the front.

Was this my mistake? Making our space superiority clear from the start? No. The Snow Ravens never would have supported a plan that left them sidelined for too long. If only I was IlKhan…

Frederick chuckled and shook his head. Why not wish for a hundred more galaxies while he was at it?

But that didn't change this. Someone over there was not panicking, someone was preserving their forces. That was not good. Some advances were already at the forward edge of the logistics support, with the modular space stations and factories having to be moved up. And worst of all, some components had to come from the Homeworlds.

Supplies were not bad, not yet, but even so… The daisy chain of charging stations and single purpose JumpShips were doing their job, with the one way trip taking only a single month, dropships transferring to JumpShips but…

Hanging by a thread is not a saying to live by.

"It is said by some that you live here, Frederick."

Frederick scrambled to his feet. "Khan Kerensky, I am sorry, I did not notice you."

"Aff. I was being quiet. I had just finished speaking to the IlKhan. You looked to be thinking. Is it about the Nova Cats?"

"Neg. We can use them. Opening up a second front against the Lyrans, and putting striking forces in range of the Magistracy, will hopefully divert forces." Frederick shrugged. "Even if we choose not to use the front, they cannot know that."

"Aff." Ulric sat down besides Frederick and gestured him to it, before pulling out a small board. "Do you play chess?"

"Aff." Frederick chuckled. "It is fairly popular among the Ghost Bear Elementals."

Ulric raised his eyebrows.

"Not all ships have adequate work out spaces, at least for combat, and electronic sims are not always available." Frederick shrugged. "It is a contest. I recall one mission where an entire series of circles of equals were decided by timed chess matches in the barracks."

"Some consider this preparation for large-scale war."

"Neg."

"Neg?" Ulric finished laying out his pieces. "Why?"

Frederick held up his white knight. "The knight can jump over other pieces, quiaff?"

"Aff."

"But in history, many knights that tried to jump over obstacles failed. Their horse broke a leg. Or a messenger failed to reach them and they never knew they were supposed to attack." Frederick shook his head. "There is no random chance on the chessboard, and that makes it utterly unlike combat."

"Ah. Your move, Elemental."

Frederick nodded, and opened with a conventional center board move. Ulric moved his own pieces and Frederick responded.

"The IlKhan is… dissatisfied, as are many of my warriors. This is the culmination of the mission of the Clans, and yet they hear rumors that the only ones to gain honor will be the Snow Ravens and other ship crews. That the warriors will be left to clean up the battlefield."

"There will be honor enough for all." Frederick said. He moved his bishop out.

"But will it be soon enough? We are not kind to those who age."

Frederick paused. "That is not what the IlKhan is concerned with, is it? Clan Wolf and Clan Jade Falcon have been moving faster."

"Fewer of our warriors have chosen to… exceed their instructions. That was why I was here. I was speaking to the IlKhan about an opportunity, one that I feel you should know of."

"That is?"

"What would you say to Clan Rasalhague?"

Frederick paused. "What?"

"They are a small state, surrounded by larger ones, and even in the Great Father's time, the Draconis Combine was not… kind to its citizens." Ulric took the opportunity to remove one of Frederick's bishops from the board. "A few of our bondsmen have spoken of this and I have opened some communications."

"And the response?"

"Very noncommittal."

"They may be playing for time, Quiaff?"

"Aff, but if we continue to win victories… What would the outcome be?"

"An immense improvement of our logistical situation, presuming the factories were made available. Militarily…" Fredericks shook his head. "What sort of Clan would they be?"

"That remains to be seen. The Ilkhan is doubtful of the idea."

As well he should be. The Wolves if they could bring in an entire nation, would gain immense prestige. Still… "Being able to do that would make future surrenders far more likely. I take it they would have flexibility in how soon and to what degree to adopt the Clan way?"

"It is yet early, but I would hope that the other Khans would understand we cannot simply transplant our ways in a day."

"Perhaps not." Frederick took a rook. "But you have a wish of me, Quiaff?"

"Aff. During negotiations, it was asked that fewer attacks be launched."

"That can be done. Most raids into that region of space were simple spoiler raids. I am hoping for something bigger."

"What?"

"The Spheroids are withdrawing. There are two possibilities. The first is that they are writing off many of the worlds, understanding that we do not have sufficient forces to occupy them."

"The second?"

"They are preparing for a major offensive. That is my hope. I have a plan to be presented to the Clan Council that may need your assistance."

"Why?"

"Because it starts with us losing."

"That seems a poor strategy."

"I wish the spheroids to think they are succeeding, to think that they have our ground troops in a trap. I want them to send their best units, their most elite units…"

"And then?"

"We cut them off. Not just in space, on the ground. And then we smash them with our second line and garrison units."

Ulric paused, reaching for a pawn. "Our warriors will not like that. Why?"

"Because if the Council agrees, our front line units, and our major fleet groups will be waiting for this offensive, and go somewhere else…" Frederick touched a stud and two systems blazed.

Tharkad.

And Luthien.

"We cannot beat them on the field of battle until we have beaten them in their minds. We will destroy their best units with our second units and then take two of the most fortified capitals in the Inner Sphere. To make them fear future defeats badly enough that they surrender."

"And if the horse trips?"

"Then we will have to land on our feet, my Khan."


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