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The Bull and the Genie
- Chapter 14 - Interlude: Wolf's Eye View
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Potential Problem[]

Outreach, Federated Suns


“I’ve looked at the equipment.” Stanford Blake said. “And… we may have a potential problem.”

“What problem?” Jaime asked.

“Right, well, nothing here shouts out anything more than what we’ve seen in the past. They have advanced mech alloys, it’s true, but everyone knew it was a matter of when, not if someone recovered those.”

Jaime Wolf nodded. It would be one thing to build a factory that could produce endosteel—but to build a factory that could produce extra light fusion engines and support the mechanics and techs that would be needed to keep them operating in the field? No. It would be a long time before anyone could do that.

“And the problem?”

“The other things. The superconductor compound, plastesteel, the new DropShip designs. What SLDF depot would have all of that, and have all of that in condition to be so quickly adopted?”

“Allies?”

“Maybe. Or at the very least, far, far more than a few manuals that they dug up.” He paused. “Another thing. One of our agents just got back to us from Brannis. It’s a new world, success story, rebuilt, and supposedly the source of these leavings.” He projected images in the air. Maps, pictures of rapidly rising cities, a space station in orbit. “So far, so good. But…”

Now a scratchy voice sounded. “Hey Jake, can you get me some information? DM.34A5ish, I think.”

“Jesus, Tim, you wanna get us both put on latrine duty? No unsecured coms.”

“Right, right, the evil Davions are listening in on your house phone. I feel sorry for them. You have teenaged daughters.”

“And I’d like to leave them something in the bank account. TMI are being absolute pricks about this. I’ll talk in the office.”

“Okay,” Jaime said. “explain it to me.”

“That was a standard library code as established in 2700 as part of an attempt to establish a new library code system to replace the old ones. That was just a short version—long codes could be over 24 symbols in length, but it had only been partially adopted by the Amaris Coup. Only for governmental data cores, and most libraries were sticking with the old versions or only in the process of adopting it.” He paused. “And most of those are either on Terra, or left with the Great Father.”

“You think they have a core?”, question Jaime

“I’m not certain. I do know they’re expanding their military and there are a lot more research programs going on than would be explained by a single, small depot library.”

“And yet, you’d think they would be adding more technology to their forces.” Wolf frowned.

“They may be building up, but they’re still nowhere near the economic size of any of the House Lords.” Blake shrugged. Periphery’s used to doing more with less. Maybe they just can’t afford it?”

“Maybe.” Wolf said. “And other states?”

“Well, the Davion’s are split. The Sarna March, mainly Hasek-Davion, seems to be chafing at the fact that Hanse has said hands off the Bulls. That’s because the Lyrans are very, very interested in them.”

“The business deals.”, said Wolf

“The business deals. The Lyrans are going to town on some of those deals, and there’s a lot of pressure to keep the Taurians happy. Comstar is… curious, but we’ve never had the in with them to give us more info. Just that Precentor Taurus looks like he’s been doing a lot of forensic accounting.”

Beyond that, the Lyrans aren’t the only ones thinking of money. The Taurians had also signed business deals with the Kuritans and Free Worlds League, and were negotiating with the Capellans. It made sense. One of the dirty secrets of modern technology was that many things that went into a BattleMech weren’t that useful for civilian applications. But things like the equipment the Taurians were exporting, that could be used everywhere and made the civil sector more productive, also put more money into the state’s coffer’s for military production.

Still only a tiny amount, a few tenths of a percent… Jaime thought, staring at the information.

But take a few tenths of a percent and multiply it by the Inner Sphere’s economy…

“Now I wouldn’t be worried, even with all of this, but our agent got one other thing when he left Brannis.”

“They let him leave? Sloppy.”

“Brannis is, officially, a associate world of the Concordat, and they have the right of free movement. According to scuttlebutt, it’s going to formally ask for annexation pretty soon, which is just formalizing the real state of affairs. But yes, you can come and go, and our man managed to get a data link to the DropShip’s sensors on the way out and we got this…”

The image, even with the best enhancement, was vague. A ship in orbit, the doors of the pressurized facility open, giving a look at it. The scale showed that it was a dropship of some kind but even so…

“The hell? That’s bigger than an Overlord.”

“If our analysis is right, nearly four times.” Blake called up a wireframe enhancement. “Can’t tell for certain, not with the two or three shots we got. This was really lucky—I expect someone didn’t realize that they’d have the doors open just as a dropper was heading into orbit.”

“I’m hearing luck a bit too much here.” Jaime said.

“Well, the phone wasn’t luck, that was stupidity, which is easier to come by, but we came to the conclusion that the engines are based on their big Cargo design, The Bull Mammoth.” Blake shrugged. “Pretty smart, and I bet that saved them time and money. Heavy armor, what looks like a small craft or fighter bay and… this, which is a little confusing to our analysts.” Another image, even more degraded appeared.

“Guns?”, Wolf asked

“Yes, but too big to be conventional guns, too small to be capital ship weapons. These ports here might be capital ship missile launchers, can’t be certain.”

“They couldn’t build a WarShip, so they’re building the next best thing.”

Blake nodded. ''“And the Bulls used to have the second largest fleet in known space and did a damned good job of bloodying the nose of the largest fleet in human space.”

On the one hand, potentially dangerous. On the other hand… Jaime didn’t know what was going on in the Homeworlds right now, but he did know they had more than enough WarShips to steamroll the entire Inner Sphere—if they decided to go that route. Something like this might help.

“We can’t take up service with them.” Jaime murmured. The Taurians were too prickly and the Dragoons taking service with them would raise far too many questions. “Keep watch on them, but work to keep any of this from getting out.”

“Understood.”

Because this may be dangerous, but if worst comes to worst, I can’t think of a better place to put advanced factories than on the other side of the Inner Sphere than the Homeworlds., Jamie thought.



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