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The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye (Cover Art)

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Chapter 81 - The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye[]

It was irresistible...

...for the Invading Clans, at least. Damage to supply lines notwithstanding on the Lyran front, the fact was that Anastasius Focht offered them the kind of fight they really wanted.

So, the battle of Tukayyid began in May of 3052, a war run in heats like single-elimination tournament, but with real blood and real death.

Star Colonel Aidan Pryde watched it like everyone else-as a series of reports in the media brought out to the Inner Sphere on Comstar's express channels.

"We could have done it better." he commented. Nathan Roshak just nodded.

"Aff. What the hell were they thinking?"

1st Brigade, 171st Volunteers was 'in the house' in Hue after a cycle of collective training with 7th Crucis Lancers and 3rd FedCom RCTs. Duke Patrick Ngo brought six pallets of good beer and set up the barbecues to celebrate the completed cycle of playing OpFor for AFFC units heading for the Falcon or Wolf front lines.

The Traditions were a little different, the equipment was inferior to the gear they lost at Blackjack, and more than half the warriors were taking language classes so they can better mix with the natives...but it was not a horrible sentence.

Aside from being forced to, for the time being, sit out the war as a training command while freebirths born in the Inner Sphere were sent out to fight superior Trueborn warriors.

"Your Grace!" Nathan called out, bringing the Duke over to their table. "What do you think of the actions on Tukayyid?"

"I think if you guys weren't ours, you'd have probably won both objectives for the Falcons." Patrick stated it bluntly.

"So, why are we still on training duty?" Nathan asked.

"That's because we still haven't got first and second divisions up to operational status, and Their Majesties on Tharkad don't have a slot to slide the one-seven-one into." Patrick explained, adding, "I've gotten word we're getting some new hardware from Coventry Metal Works, and they want your guys to look it over and give it a test run."

"Why ours?" Aidan asked.

"The reason is you guys are familiar with the designs it's based off of. You can give the boffins decent feedback on what needs to fixed before it goes to national issue." Pat said, "I know, its not glorious, but necessary. You've seen General Clees anywhere nearby? I need to speak with her on a related matter."

"She is. If I recall correctly, over by the barbecue pits." Aidan commented.

"Good...real good. I got a message from Tharkad I want her to dope out for me. You guys carry on, this is supposed to be a party." Patrick smiled, and headed off.

"...diplomatic visit. I don't remember reading where your guys DO diplomacy." Patrick explained, "we've got a date for it and a time, what kind of trouble am I looking at?"

"Diplomacy is rare, Duke Ngo." Samantha Clees, General of Militia and commander of the 1st Brigade (which is to say, she retained her command of Delta Galaxy despite challengers) placed the offprint on the picnic table. "I am surprised that they did not include Blood Spirits, that Clan tried to do diplomacy extensively in the Golden Century, but having a Goliath Scorpion in charge of the delegation suggests the Wardens may be making a move to become more prominent in the wake of the defeats in the Comstar proxy battle...also that you should either pull out all your historical artifacts on display, or hide them. Nelson Elam was a well known artifact hunter or 'Seeker' among the Clans before becoming a Khan."

"Will your people be alright with this?" he asked.

"Discipline, will be maintained." she said firmly. "We have seven months to prepare according to this."

"Oh good...on a related note, how did my brother do in the exercise?"

"Henry is a talented warrior, with a clear head. He would be an asset to any Clan that claimed him." she tapped the offprint, "I would be cautious though-there will inevitably be some form of formal challenge issued-if for no other reason than to satisfy conservatives back in the Clan Homeworlds."

"Can you handle it?"

"I can, we can-at least, with the bidding process. Will your Sister be available?"

"I think so-that's what the message from Tharkad implied anyway. You think it will be naval."

"Aff, and they will want to test themselves against the commander who has beaten a Clan forces in a fleet action if it is."

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