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The Bull and the Genie
- Chapter 9
[]

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The Best Laid Plans (and meanwhile, back at Tortuga)[]


Anger in the Streets[]


Cordia City, Coromodir, Aurigan Reach


We have a force that can smash the rebels. Mary knew that. So did the rebels, which was why the rebels, or loyalists, or whatever the hell the term being used today in the briefings were, hadn’t obliged them by giving them a fight. They had a merc group, but they were engaged in hit and runs. Not even really trying to do damage, just showing that Lady Arano was back.

Mary had woken up yesterday to find a poster of her Arano’s on Baby. Which meant that now half their infantry were back guarding their mechs, because clearly Espinoza’s claims about the loyalty of his people were overstated.

Marauder (by blue)

Marauder Heavy 'Mech

Another bottle smashed on the cockpit. Mary didn’t move. Nor did the other three Marauders in the lance. She was in the front lines because it wasn’t as if there was a major fight. So now, they were providing security for a speech by…someone, at the Golden Treasure Big Box store.

“Ma’am, what do we do?”

“Sit pretty,” Mary replied. Not much we can do. The Marauder was a terrifying tool of war, that could slaughter troops with impunity. What it wasn’t was set up, at all, for crowd control. And the orders were clear, no firing unless anti-mech weaponry was used.

The orders I gave.

“Crowd’s getting restless, Ma’am.”

“I know, Jenks, but I don’t think shooting them would make things better.” The police lines were now bending in front of the crowd. “You know, who would have thought that telling people taxes were going to be doubled as an emergency measure wouldn’t go over well?”

“Ma’am, if the line breaks they’ll be right under us.”

“I know.” Where we will squash them if we move and they’ll be able to use anti-mech charges if anyone brought them. Granted, the most lethal thing the crowd had deployed so far were rocks but…

“This is Brigadier Cheng, what is the status on crowd control?”

“On its way.”

“Lovely.”

Mary waited, watching every indicator. The crowd was now throwing rocks and some molotovs at the police, who were forming a shield wall in front of the mechs. The big wig had vanished inside the store. Moments later, she heard sirens.

An armored car pulled up at one of the streets, riot police and order troops forming up from other units. They started pushing forward, shock sticks rising and falling.

Mary blinked. The crowd in front of them was backing up, which was pushing more people against her unit, and now there were screams of fear as people in the middle of the scrimmage fell and couldn’t get back up.

“This is Cheng, you need to open a path for the crowd to move to. We have civilians down.”

“Negative our orders are to seize the ringleaders.”

“Look I’m telling—“ Mary would have missed it if she hadn’t been looking in the right direction. One of the protestors, an older man, blood running down his face, raised his sign and started hitting one of the order troops. The soldier fell back, raising his big riot gun, and then, on purpose or by mistake, Mary would never know, fired. The flechettes sprayed out and the people directly in front of him were torn to shreds. Those around them shrieked and then there were scattered shots from the crowd.

“We’re taking fire!”

“Do not return fire, do not—“ Mary snapped her mouth shut as the malignant sound of support needlers ripped through the air, as CS gas grenades were lobbed into the crowd, sending them into a complete panic. <<“****** cease fire or I will blow that tinkertoy car to bits!”>> Mary snarled and brought her PPC’s around to bear on the car, just in case they didn’t get the hint. “General order, open up the barricades to all side streets and inform any local hospitals of a mass casualty event.”

The troop proximity alert started to wail, and Mary looked down. There were people clinging and climbing up Baby’s legs, not to fight, but to pull injured, young, and elderly out of the colossal rout of the demonstration.

<<“You can stay there,”>> She told them over the loudspeaker. <<“I won’t be moving.”>>

What a disaster.


Blood in the Streets[]


“The thwarted attempt to assassinate the vice minister for taxation resulted in the deaths of nearly 100 civilians at the hand of the Arano insurgency’s illegal weapons. Four hundred more were injured seriously enough to require hospitalization. Four order troops were slightly injured during rescue attempts. A number of paid agitators were arrested along with caches of anti-mech weaponry. We’re going to be hearing about the enhanced security measures that will be put in place for your safety…”

Mary stared at the reporter on the big screen. “Does anyone believe that?” she muttered.

“Remember, we’re “no comment” and we provided our black boxes to the proper authorities.”

“I know,” Mary said, stabbing a fork into her spaghetti. The food here had an interesting spicy-sweet taste, unlike Brannis or Samantha’s offerings. At another time, she’d be interested. Now, she just stabbed it, imagining the face of that idiot order trooper. “Should have let them torch the store.”

“Really?” Thomas asked. He’d been guarding a power plant, lucky fellow.

“If they couldn’t find enough normal cops? Yes. Burning down the place would have been fifth page news, instead of… this.”

“Think it’s going to be—Down!” Thomas grabbed Mary and pulled her down, her food landing on her head. Mary didn’t even squawk at that. Thomas had seen—

BAM!

The explosion was small but loud, and there were screams from the street. A little scooter roared past, two people on it, a girl raising her hand, fist clenched.

“VENGEANCE FOR THE 100 MARTYRS!” she screamed. “FREEDOM FROM THE SLAVERS OF TAURUS!” then they were lost down the crowded street as Mary and Thomas vaulted the low barrier. A few people were injured, including one of the privates from the Taurian infantry units. Mary clamped down on his arm, staunching the wound, while one of the waiters ran up with a first aid kit. There were police now, impressively late.

And were they just not here, and if so, did someone tell our friend with the bomb? Or did they arrange to not be here?

“If your question was: Think it’s going to be a problem? Yes, Thomas. I think this is going to be a huge problem.”

“Yeah. You know, I never thought I’d feel any sympathy at all for Kerensky…”


Thunder on the Horizon[]

Future History Book: Tortuga Pirates

The rules of Tortuga didn’t realize anything was wrong. Not when the first Jumpship appeared and detached its DropShips. Tortuga didn’t have a long-range skywatch, and the sensors that could detect an engress merely told them that something had appeared… and after a weeks charge, left.

The three dropships boosted on carefully calculated trajectories and then went dark, deploying probes that even a successor state would have had issues detecting.

They were not there to attack.

They were there to listen. For three months, the ships listened to every communication coming to and from the world, watched as JumpShips appeared and disappeared, built up a database of what ships were owned by the Tortugans, what ships were owned by individual pirates and what ships had been listed as being taken by their owners.

Pirates did not tend to keep large numbers of aerospace fighters for one simple reason: They were both expensive and when disabled, did not tend to return in any condition to be repaired. The number of fighters was important—the Concordat did not intend to land until the defenders had been suppressed from the air, and the first step for that was to establish air supremacy.

Other sources, including suborned pirates and Taurian agents, were present on the ground. They did not behave any differently from any group of pirates or traders, and expressed no sympathy for the enslaved.

Nor did they talk about the microcameras hidden in their clothing and the concealed sensors in their ships. Regions around the capitol of Raider’s Roost were mapped out, and a number of Taurian bases had prefab structures erected so that troops could practice in a similar setting to what they expected. Meanwhile, classified briefings were held for those who would be given the responsibility for establishing the occupational government. First Raiders Roost, then Tortuga III and eventually the entire cluster would not simply be reduced, but rendered permanently useless for pirate raiders.

Punitive raids were the cost of doing business, but Tortuga always survived, one of the most enduring and powerful pirate factions in the Periphery. Not a single Taurian world, outside of the core worlds had escaped raids, and the Tortugan pirates were notorious for their brutality. They assumed that their reputation for brutality and the threats to the slave population, would protect them.

The Concordat intended to so the pirates of Tortuga that they were in error.

From Freedom and Slavery: Piracy in the Periphery, 3000-3075.
Samantha Educational Press.


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