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The Bull and the Genie
- Chapter 24 - Set...

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Eve of Deployment[]

Samantha, Taurian Concordat, late 3024

Mary pasted a smile on her face as she stood by Protector Calderon, announcing the deployment of the 1st RCT(M). She shook hands with the Lyran ambassador (who was also celebrating moving into a larger embassy fitting the largest (by value) trade partner of the Concordat), saluted the Protector…and tried not to fall over.

The last month had sort of merged into her mind, and Mary had nightmares that she'd wake up and find out that she was in some kind of timeloop, repeating this month again and again, with little demons flying around her and poking her with pitchforks labeled "readiness reports". Fortunately she had some help. The older man in the Colonel's uniform for one. Colin Roosevelt had started out as a hotel manager, gotten bored, and gone into the military… and as her logistics officer, he'd joked that he used more of his hotel experience than his military experience, but he kept everything running as her XO and Mary had spent as much time listening as giving orders.

The good news is that we shouldn't be running into any full scale combats. The 1st wouldn't be set up on one world, which gave her regimental commanders a lot more responsibility, and stuck Mary with handling the high level stuff. She'd barely managed to get enough hours to stay qualified with her 'mech.

Not that she was comfortable with the assumption they wouldn't face a full scale planetary campaign. The airy comments of the diplomatic corps to that effect gave her bad Arugian flashbacks.

However, Thomas seemed to have forgiven her, and she escaped with no attempted throttling. Edward was back on Brannis, and now with a last flurry of families waving as the troops embarked onto their transports, it was time to go.

But secrecy or not, Mary really wished they could have arranged to have some of their power armor fall off the loading dock.

The first problem was simple. To get to Lyran Space, they would have to go through Davion space. Fortunately, the Davion and Concordat were technically at war, even when they weren't actively shooting at each other.

The Lyran legal office had solved that problem and immortalized themselves in the Book of Inner Sphere Records with one single move.

The 1st RCT would technically be the biggest diplomatic pouch in history. The Federated Suns had evidently nodded and agreed that paper could be very bulky, and in a casual move showing just how immense the economy of the Lyran Commonwealth was, they would actually be switching ships as they went through—Jumpships chartered by the Commonwealth. The move through the Federated Suns would take about a month, God and KF physics willing, and then they'd jump through Terra and continue on their way to Tharkad, before Mary would establish her HQ on Somerset in cooperation with the Academy there.

Which meant that Mary and her forces would be spaceborne until they got to Lyran space.

Mary was not normally religious, but she'd seriously considered converting when that piece of news had come by. Some flunky in the diplomatic core had wanted her unit to have some "cultural interactions" with the Davions until he'd been overridden.

Nope, seriously considering converting to whatever religion claimed responsibility for that miracle.

They would also have a Lyran Ambassador. Timmis Davidson-Steiner was supposedly related to the Archon by about 20 degrees, but in any case, he'd airily told Mary that it was another way of ensuring no local lords would attempt to disgrace Hanse Davion.

When they were all embarked on the dropships, Mary waited until they started boosting for the jump point, where the big cargo pods had already preceded them. No sense in forcing soldiers who were puking their guts out in zero G to listen to her.

//"Men and women of the First,"\\ Mary said. //"I hope you said your good byes, because we are going to be gone for some time. Unless you were sleeping during your briefing, this deployment is expected to last, at the very least, until 3027. For those of you who did read your briefing, and used this opportunity to skip out on gambling debts, remember you will have to come home sooner or later."\\ Then Mary's voice turned serious. //"We are engaging in the first example of a long-term, long-distance anti-piracy operation by the Concordat. The fact that it is with the Lyran Commonwealth is a sign of our growing cultural and economic ties. We are not, contrary to rumor, joining them to go to war against the Draconis Combine. Our regimental combat team will be going to war against pirates, as our fellows have done in Tortuga. We will be dealing with the enemies of civilization and remember that Lyrans, no less than Taurians, have felt the pirate's scourge. We will teach—but also learn. And we will not dishonor our nation by word or deed. It is true that many in the Inner Sphere see us as barbarians. Hundreds of years of propaganda leave a mark. Equally, many are eager to meet us, and it will be our privilege to meet them and show them the benefits in learning about each other. Now, get some sleep, catch a movie, or if you've antagonized your NCO, find a mop, because we have about eight days to go before we reach our JumpShips."\\

"I hate speeches," Mary muttered when they cut the feed. "I always feel stupid."

"Not the worst." Colin said. "My first boss liked to start speeches with fishing anecdotes."

"And that was bad?"

"When the anecdote took six hours to tell?", he asked her

"Yeah, bad." Mary paused. "Did you look at the map package?"

"I did, and our intelligence people are deep in envy."

Mary nodded. The Lyrans spent more money on their mapping than the TDF did on its BattleMechs. Every world was mapped down to the square meter, and those maps were updated, if not in real time, frequently enough that it might as well be. Not only that, they had detailed notations from Lyran units about past combats, and where pirates had landed.

Mary could think of about five worlds in the Concordat that were so efficiently mapped. The more time she'd spent with her briefing materials, the more she'd realized just what an economic titan the Lyrans were—even with their current boom, the Concordat was a small fish compared to some of their individual provinces, never mind the Commonwealth as a whole.

And yet their military performance is… Mary wouldn't want to say sub par, but it seemed oddly rigid.

On the other hand, of all the Inner Sphere Powers, the Lyrans seemed to be the ones most willing to talk, rather than shoot, maybe that was an artifact of it.

But most importantly, they were a power that had managed to casually convince Hanse Davion to let a TDF RCT through his territory with a fig leaf that wouldn't be out of place on a comedy show.

Please, do not let me blot my copybook on this.

With that encouraging thought, Mary headed to the mess. They'd be having their "First off world" dinner, a tradition dating back to the beginning of the TDF and it was bad luck if the CO didn't show up.

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