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The Best of Enemies (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 3 – The Best of Enemies[]

“The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish ... the kind of war on which they are embarking.” -- Carl von Clausewitz, Vom Kriege (On War)​​


Part 1[]

Forbidden City, Sian, Capellan Confederation
16th November, 2796


Vomit stained the priceless lacquered teakwood of the table and spattered the holographic projector atop it.

The Chancellor of the Capellan Confederation stared with wide eyes in her pale face at the equally ghost-like faces of her advisors as the transmission ended.

Prefect Quinn was shaking his head with disbelief and disgust writ large on his face.

The Maskirovka Director, Mandrinn Jiàn, was stone faced but Ilsa could read the subtle signs of shock in his face.

Ilsa glanced over at her friend and cousin Wei Ying. The young woman was weeping uncontrollably.

Ilsa wiped her mouth clean, not caring how she soiled her silken robes in this moment. She took several deep breaths, trying desperately to master herself to prevent another outbreak of vomiting. Her voice was unsteady as she finally spoke. “This… footage… is confirmed then?”

Jiàn nodded shakily. “Facial analysis gives a 97% confidence identification that the officer… supervising those events is Coordinator Jinjiro Kurita. It also corresponds with the recent reports that our agents in the DCMS have filed. It also matches the psychological profile we have developed on Jinjiro Kurita’s… instability.”

Ilsa slammed her palm down in the puddle of her vomit on the table. Fury and horror filled her eyes as she stabbed her finger through the frozen hologram of the Kentares Children’s Hospital to point at the man who had ordered everyone inside to be put to the sword and for their heads to be stacked before him.

Some of the heads were very small….

“Instability!? I say this is insanity!!” Ilsa shouted in a shrill screech as her tear-filled burning eyes raked the room. “Kenyon Marik is a megalomaniac -- calling himself ‘The Eagle’ indeed! -- but Jinjiro Kurita is as much of a monster as his Rìběn gǒu ancestors were at Nanjing!! As much a monster as Amaris the Usurper was!!!” Her tone challenged those present to try to persuade her differently.

None spoke as her gaze flickered from face to face.

Finally Ying stirred. “Celestial Wisdom -- Ilsa -- what do we do?”

Ilsa glanced at Quinn with a question. Her general shook his head. “We don’t have any forces available, not with the bulk of our strength tied down fighting the League around Andurien and on Chamdai, Tsinghao, and Second Chance. We also must protect Tikonov if the DCMS makes a move in our direction. Once the forces on Kentares IV… finish… then the DCMS will have a powerful force including three of their Swords of Light within striking range of our borders there. Although it is more likely that they will take New Avalon once they iron out their supply difficulties and build up for the next push.”

Ilsa nodded tiredly. “Bring up the strategic map, please, Ying.” Once more the view shifted to the familiar green of the Confederation hemmed in by Marik purple, Kurita scarlet, and Davion gold on the star map. Ilsa sank into her chair, staring at the map as her thoughts chased each other around and around like dogs after their own tails.

Davion gold….

Ilsa’s head raised. “Quinn, you agree that as much of a threat the Federated Suns have been to us for centuries, they are not total barbarians even at their worst? Not like… that!” She waved a hand at the vomit-stained projector.

Quinn bit his lip and finally sighed with a sour look on his face. “No, not like that, Celestial Wisdom. If John Davion had given those orders his troops would have mutinied. My men would have mutinied if I commanded that against sick children and they would be right to do so!”

“Indeed.” Ilsa agreed, rubbing her temples. “I have two decisions that I must make. First, my grandmother gave the orders that the Ares Convention restricting nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons along with the use of orbital bombardment was to be suspended before she sent off Colonel Devlin to raze New Delos at the start of this war. That was… not well thought out.” She looked at her chief general and spymaster. “Effective immediately, I am reinstating the Ares Conventions among the Capellan Confederation Armed Forces. No first use of WMD, and any second strikes will only be allowed by the most sober and reliable officers who understand such is an absolute last resort in response to prior illegal use by our foes. Disobedience will result in an immediate capital court-martial.”

The two men shared a look. “But the deterrent effect---” Quinn began.

Ilsa shook her head. “Is useless. Atrocity has been piled upon atrocity in this war. Tell me truthfully, did what the League calls the ‘New Delos Massacre’ now break their morale or harden their resolve?”

Jiàn sighed. “Strengthened their desire to fight. Revenging New Delos is a core precept of their indoctrination of new soldiers now along with their domestic propaganda as Kenyon Marik consolidates all power under his hand.”

Ilsa gave a small tired grin. “Exactly! So if that for the League, how much more so for the Suns when they see what we have seen? We have fought them enough over the centuries to teach them one of the lessons of Master Sun. ‘When in death ground, fight!’ The Davions find themselves in death ground now against the Kuritas. With that understanding in mind, I see a possible way for the Confederation to profit from the Suns’ new understanding of where they stand….”


Part 2[]

Ipava, New Avalon Administrative Area, Coreward Combat Theater, Crucis March, Federated Suns
2nd December, 2796


“Urgent dispatches for the First Prince!” The call from the command bunker entrance cut through the hubbub of the staff officers packing the facility.

Leftenant General King waved a pair of sealed message forms at the white haired man at the head of the table in a Field Marshal’s uniform. Weary blue eyes in a lined face looked at the officer. “Out with it.” First Prince John Davion sighed as his shoulders slumped.

The first form passed hands. “It’s from Delevan.”

A groan rippled around the table.

The officers’ faces all said the same thing: Two weeks ago, the 33rd Avalon Hussars, 4th Deneb Light Cavalry, and 3rd Dragonlords had launched an all-out suicidal attack without orders straight at the tip of the Combine spear threatening New Avalon.

The seal broke and paper rustled.

Blue eyes widened in shock. “The Hussars and DLC report that two Drac Narukami-class destroyers were overwhelmed and killed by their airwing at the Zenith jump point thanks to a series of ramming attacks that gutted their engineering spaces. They have made planetfall and have the Drac forces on the ropes!” John Davion wept as he leaned over the map table as an angry scarlet world on the display began to flash orange showing it was disputed. “Thank God for loose cannons! Archie, get the Ninth Avalon Hussars and Fourth Davion Guards moving ASAP to escort a supply convoy to finish the job and push them off our soil!”

The despair lifted and was replaced by energy.

John broke the green dao and triangle seal of the second communication and began to read. He rubbed his eyes, reread it and then lifted his head. “Everyone, I have a communique from the Cappies here.”

“Fucking Crappies….” came an anonymous mutter in a New Syrtis accent.

“Chancellor Liao says to me and I quote:”


=========================================================================================================

‘First Prince Davion, I speak to you today not as Chancellor of the Capellan Confederation, not even as a Capellan citizen, but as a fellow civilized human being.

Our nations currently have our massive differences and our violent histories; I will not insult your intelligence by denying that. We have disagreed on much of importance; many in your realm or mine would say that we disagree in all things. But there is one thing any civilized person can agree upon. What has happened and continues to happen on Kentares is evil, and an unforgivable crime against humanity.

The monster who ordered it, those who obey him, and those in the Combine who are too cowed to speak against it even in their heart are the enemies of any civilized person. They are barbarians, and it is the duty of all civilized men and women to set aside their differences to stand against such evil.

To that end, I have ordered my soldiers to strictly obey the Ares Conventions. I swear never to perform a first strike with strategic weapons as long as I hold the Celestial Throne. This mad war threatens to consume us all and leave the survivors naught but ash and bone if we do not take a step back from the abyss.

Furthermore, I have also sent out ironclad orders to immediately halt any and all incursions and offensive actions in currently held Federated Suns space; if any of my officers or men disobey them, they are pirates and outlaws and shall be immediately delivered to your justice as you require it.

I shall maintain the right to strike the Combine troops occupying planets formerly yours under the Star League when such is required to keep my people and my realm safe.

Finally, I am ordering the CCAF garrisons fronting you in the Saint Ives, Sian, Sarna, and Capella Commonalities to be reduced to the bare minimum needed to protect my vital industries on planets proximate to your borders there. Sadly, Tikonov is threatened by the barbarians you fight now, so I cannot reduce garrisons there to a level that can free up your troops holding Chesterton.

All I shall ask as my price for this assistance to you is that you and yours bring the monster that calls itself Jinjiro Kurita and its minions to justice for his crimes against our common humanity.

With prayers for your victory over the foes of civilization and with sorrow for Kentares IV,

Ilsa Liao, Duchess of Sian, Chancellor of the Capellan Confederation’

=========================================================================================================


The bunker was dead silent.

John Davion looked around and then took a deep breath. “Countess Cunningham! Get me the most current brief on the CCAF’s dispositions on our border! If it’s true that she’s giving us breathing room rather than taking advantage of our situation….”

His eyes lowered to the map table where an enterprising staff officer had pulled up the list of available Capellan March garrisons and he gave a relieved smile.


Part 3[]

New Avalon Military Academy, Avalon City, New Avalon, Crucis March, Federated Suns
6th December, 2796


“Senior Cadet-Leftenant Davion, report to the Commandant’s office immediately!”

The younger of the two dark-haired teenagers jogging across campus to their next classes elbowed his older brother in the ribs at the announcement from the loudspeakers. “Busted, big bro!”

Paul Davion rubbed his side and gave his kid brother an annoyed look as they changed direction to jog toward the administration offices. “Peter! Unlike you, I have a perfect record here!”

Peter smirked. “Yeah, because they don’t know how you stay up after lights-out reading your Clausewitz, Napoleon, Guderian, Rommel, Sun Tzu, Kerensky, and Thucydides under the covers with a flashlight in bed! Or the extra access you scrounged up to use the battle computers to run sims!”

Paul gave Peter a flat stare. “How’d you know?”

“I know you, Bro.” Peter replied and shrugged. “You’re fascinated by warfare and rulership.”

Paul paused, then sighed. “A bit, I guess. But the big thing is that I have to prepare to be First Prince once Grandpa retires like he’s grumbled about wanting to do and then Dad leaves it to me. It’s the biggest exam of my life and if I blow it… well you saw what happened when Grandpa picked the wrong enemy to prepare against.”

Peter sobered and muttered with a scowl. “Yeah. I saw the video. Fucking Snakes!”

“Fucking Snakes all right!” Paul agreed with bone-deep hatred in his voice. “I can’t wait to get into the fight against them. Grandpa said that if I keep my grades up, I’ll get into the Guards as a Leftenant.”

“My big bro the bookworm.” Peter said as they reached the administration building. “Listen, if you need a fast escape from Stumpy’s office, give me the high sign and I’ll pull the fire alarm.”

Paul just shook his head as he marched up the stairs. He paused to clear the security checkpoint, and then strode down the hall to his destination.

He rapped his knuckles on the door and barked out in his best command voice. “Senior Cadet-Leftenant Davion reporting as ordered!”

“Enter!”

He stepped inside, snapped to attention, and rendered a parade ground salute to the middle aged officer waiting for him. Leftenant-General Markham returned the salute with his one good arm. The Commandant then nodded to the Major standing next to the school chaplain.

Paul’s eyes widened at the sight of his older cousin Major Thomas Halder-Davion in his Davion Brigade of Guards field uniform. Thomas whispered, “I’m sorry to have to be the one, my Prince.”

The words hit Paul like an autocannon salvo. He swayed and nearly fell. “H-how?” He gulped and gave his cousin a disbelieving look. “Dad?”

Thomas shook his head. “It was an assassin with a laser pistol. He infiltrated the forward HQ on Ipava and killed your father and grandfather while they were up late working on some troop movements.”

He then hurried over to hug the crying young man. Markham stood with a hiss of pain and placed his hand on Paul’s heaving shoulder while the chaplain prayed for healing for the newly-orphaned young man.

Paul looked up and shook his head. “No… not... it can’t be….” He choked out desperately while tears trickled down his pale cheeks.

Thomas sighed deeply. “But it is, Paul. I swore my loyalty to your grandfather when I became an officer, but now I am and shall be your man unto death and damnation, But you must now lead us as the senior Davion of the blood.”

Paul closed his eyes and his shoulders slumped. He swallowed several times, and opened them as he whispered.
“Dad... Grandpa. I’ll make you proud of me, I promise.”

Then Paul’s face firmed up and his spine straightened in his cadet uniform. “What do I need to do, Tom?” He said with determined courage despite the tears still trickling from his eyes.

The chaplain picked up an AFFS-issue Bible from the commandant’s desk and extended it. “Place your left hand on the Bible and raise your right hand. General Markham, and Major Halder-Davion will witness the oath of office.”


“I, Paul George Davion, eldest son of Joshua Galahad Davion, and senior grandson of First Prince John Davion do solemnly swear to defend to the death the Peoples and Liberties of the Federated Suns. I swear to cause Law and Justice in Mercy to be executed in all my judgements. All these things that I have before promised I swear that I shall keep as I enter the office of the First Prince of the Federated Suns. So help me God!”


Author's Note[]

Author’s Note
For the non-grognards among us, there is a second change in the timeline here that is partially caused by the Ilsa-butterfly.
IOTL, Paul Davion took the throne on December 6th 2797 after the death of his father and grandfather as seen here. Here in this AU, it happens exactly a year earlier during the news of the Massacre, resulting in Paul Davion II taking the throne at eighteen instead of nineteen.
Also, I aged up Peter Davion (the future OTL Prime Marshal of the AFFS for his older brother Paul II and then nephew Michael Davion) slightly, enough to get him into NAMA as a first year cadet underage. The man had an incredible career later as the Yvonne Davion/Ardan Sortek to his brother’s Hanse Davion (or if you prefer, he was Belisarius to Paul’s Justinian the Great) so this is justified by his canonical later history as one of the greatest non-First Prince Davion generals.

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