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The Bull and the Genie
- Chapter 16 - Developments and Economic... Peacefare?

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Reviewing new Designs[]

Samantha, Taurian Concordat - Proving Grounds

I'm not certain if this is a good idea, Edward Calderon thought. Stabilizing the Reach was important, but after the bombing they had no actual skilled foreign policy people there, and were depending on the advice of a newly frocked brigadier.

Well, mostly not listening to her advice. The Concordat had been willing to accept the way that Espinoza came to power, since it gave them someone to talk to, but evidently he was having severe issues understanding that you needed to know when to stop shooting and start talking. Cheng's messages had shown increasing irritation at how the Espinoza regime was alienating the people and boosting support for the rebels.

At the moment they sent the RCT in, they'd be directly backing him—or more probably taking over directly.

It had the scent of desperation, and worse, Edward hadn't been with his father when Shraplen's faction had raised the possibility of the Federated Suns moving in if the region fell into disorder.

Edward was more concerned with the Capellans, but not his father. So the unit was moving in. No doubt, in the minds of some, to eventually simply absorb the Reach.


"Nothing," Edward said. "just some messages from home. Go on."

"Very well, Sir." The officer pulled out his com and said: "Drill is go!"

They were looking at a network of low buildings, narrow streets seperating them, with little sensor and laser emitters simulating dug in troops. And then, several hover craft came zooming up, bulky figures holding on to bars, before they jumped out, soaring through the sky before they came down. Some were using machine guns, while others were using grenade launchers, clearing buildings and in some cases, just going through them. The mobility was impressive.

"They're based on some of the designs from the core, but well, the camouflage systems are a bit beyond what we can do. Four hundred kilograms, with a modular fitting for a support weapon. We also have an engineering model with a special cargo pack." The officer gestured at the movements with pride. "They have better sensor than most infantry, can jump, and even better, have extensive protection from personal weapons and artillery fragments."


"More training, and they don't save you if you get hit by a mech weapon, not head on, but, positive side, sir, while I expect this will first be for elite strike units, give us the funding and we can eventually equip our entire infantry force with this, which will send casualties way down."

"And your other promises?"

"Yeah…' the officer deflated. "That was our engineers being optimistic. Medium and heavy armor runs into scaling problems. They're too big to just fit your arms and legs in the armors arms and legs, which causes problems, especially since it's easy to you know, shatter your arms and legs. The models they have can walk, and even jump… In a lab. With a test pilot. But between control difficulties and material issues I'm not confident. But they have another idea. If you'll come with me…"

A few minutes later, Edward was staring at a four-legged framework that was running around a track, a single pilot sitting in it.

"We already have Mule transporters, and one of our men was a logistics officer who used them. Now his point is pretty good—we want the bigger frames to carry support weapons, not get into knife-fights, so… Use a frame that can fit a, um, armor cockpit in it, and use that."

"Any drawbacks?"

"Less internal space, mainly. But it'll still be able to carry heavy weapons and keep up with the powered armors."

"And in a city they'll need that."

"Yes. Now, the engineers have a similar idea for humanoid support armor—make it big enough and you can fit a cramped cockpit in there, which eliminates the issue with shattered limbs, but it has its own issues."

Edward frowned, then nodded. "Can you do both?"


"If we have enough engineers with clearance, we can at least build to prototypes to test against each other."

"Yes, Sir. Pity this isn't going to be ready for Tortuga."

"We wouldn't use it even if it was." Edward said. "I'm not going to show this off until we can show it off as it was intended—not a few commando units, but a full company per infantry brigade, at least."

"Yes, sir."

I may not be as fearful of the Davions as my father, but I'm not stupid. To most house lords, it can be easier to take than it is to buy—so we have to make certain it's cheaper to deal honestly with us. Come to think of it, his other weapon should be getting deployed right about now…


The Coventry Metal Works boardroom could have been any room in Samantha, save for the vista of the snow-covered mountains beyond the city.

The board of directors were facing Jacob, all of them focusing on the Tuarian representative. "The license terms for your new water purification systems are unusual. Normally, payment would be in C-bills, for example."

"That's true, but it is our intent to invest heavily in partnerships with Lyran businesses. Payment in Kroner makes that easier." And means you don't have to worry about us casually moving money out of your economy. Not that anyone would be crass enough to bring that up.

"I have to admit, your engineers did a bang-up job." Samantha Burgess, head of their engineering department said. "A single unit, including water purification systems, and an integral power plant, simple, menu-driven maintenance systems… It may not be, on paper, as efficient as a stand alone system, but stand alone systems can't just be dropped off and started up in a few hours."

"The profits, especially from the more backward worlds, will be immense." Another man said. "Especially for those willing to think in the long-term. I note that you have included a clause that you cannot be directly consulted regarding trade with the Davions."

"The embargo makes it illegal for any Taurian corporation to trade directly with the Federated Suns. You'll note that the contract does not bind you in the same way."

"Yes, I think we can all agree with that. Now the second proposal, your MilitiaMech, there's some concern there. It seems…"

"Primitive? Like a toy?" Jacob asked. "Not a Battlemech?"

"Er, all of the above."

"Good. It's not intended to be one." He touched the holo controls and the small mech appeared. "The Guardian isn't designed to fight an army. It's designed for raiders. And we have a great deal of experience with Raiders."

Nobody gainsayed him.

"So why does it have a Fuel Cell? Why is it equipped with industrial armor? Why does it include rocket launchers? Because gentlemen and ladies, BattleMechs in a militia attract raiders. Maybe they can take one intact enough to use. At the very least, the spare parts, the armor, the tooling, can be used by a raider band. And yet…the Guardian has none of that. Its Fire Control system is incompatible with real BattleMechs. Its rockets are one shot. Its onboard weapons can be obtained elsewhere. Its fuel cell system cannot be used to replace the fusion plant in a Raider 'Mech. Any raider who gets into fights with this, will take damage—damage they cannot repair via scavenging."

"But can it provide enough of a barrier to a raider?"

"Four, 20 cell one-shot Rocket Launchers. At point blank range, those will make even a heavy 'Mech pay attention and can be quickly reloaded by an external crew. Four machine guns. A LRM 5 launcher, which can be teamed up with other units to provide long range fire support or smoke." Jacob paused. "Best of all, it uses no critical components and no components on the Lyran Trade Authority's Restricted Export List. Lastly…" He touched a button and the weapon racks fell away to show the skeleton, which was now mounting foam tanks and firefighting equipment. "The Guardian can be fitted out in a short period for any one of a number of duties. Unlike many current MilitiaMechs and vehicles, the Guardian, when there is no call to war, is not just left sitting useless in a garage somewhere. And when the call to war does come—even a poor planet could field companies of Guardians where the most inexpensive BattleMech would only come in Lances."

"Even if we don't sell many," one man said. "you could dump the total possible losses into the water purifier profits and not even notice."

"Mechs are a prestige item." another man, this one from marketing muttered. "We don't sell them as mechs—we well them as a common man's defender."

"But we don't completely ignore the linkage." a woman said. "After all, it may not be a mech, but it feels like a mech—oh, when we build the first prototypes, we should ship them around at the various planetary fairs! Let militia officers and their families take rides on them!"

Jacob leaned back. He knew this was going to happen, since the deal had been agreed to privately. But taking a deal because you needed it for something else, and taking a deal because you thought it was a good deal…

Edward was going to be very happy.

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