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

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Chapter 97 - The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye[]


Heat Two...


Having failed the standard ground battle, and lost against the Kowloonese Militia, the Goliath Scorpions bowed out to the Snow Ravens for the second Heat.

"As you pointed out, the prize on our side, is space-based. that our portion of the Liberation Corridor happens to also be the closest really ought to have meant my Clan had first run and first call in the bidding...however, we did lose the honor of first blood to Khan Elam. Is your 'Coast Guard' up to the task?"

The small man whom had, for the most part, been very quiet was now facing Patrick.

"Star...colonel Cooper?" Pat inquired.

"SaKhan, though up until now it has been somewhat irrelevant while I got the measure of the situation. Your people's power is Naval, so is my Clan's. A ground battle would hardly be a proper test for either of us. I want to fight your Lola, and I am willing to wait for appropriate assets instead of risking a McKenna class against what is undoubtedly a nuclear-armed destroyer that can out maneuver and out-range it."

"Just a moment..." Patrick held up a finger and whispered to his aide, who left. "If you want to do this, then I'm going to want a naval expert to handle the details of your bidding process. Is that acceptable?"

"Imminently."

The aide returned, a whispered exchange in Viet, and then, "We'll need to wait a couple hours, saKhan Cooper, Commodore Li is on her way."

"You do not keep your senior staff close?"

"Not when there's work to be done-I trust my people to handle their jobs-sometimes this means they're hours to weeks away. I'm going to need Li and...and Elizabeth, for the legal aspects since we'll be holding this...exercise...in her territory."

"Wisely done." Cooper noted. "Keep in mind, I would LOVE to watch another Battlemech fight like yesterday's, but I have to play to my strengths."

"I get it...while we're waiting, let's talk ROE."

"Rules of Engagement? Aff, we should at least have some basic agreement there."

"civilians are off-limits." Pat said, "Period. if a civilian smack wanders in you check fire. We'll do the same."

"Honorable...I can agree to that. After all, territory is nowhere as important as expertise in space, and your spacer population would constitute some of the most skilled labor in existence-such a resource can not be squandered."

"Search and Rescue teams will not be interfered with." Pat stated, "this is more my people's hangup than yours, but the fastest way to provoke an all-or-nothing nuke fight, is to go after SAR birds, so don't do it. Once a ship is down, the first duty on both sides, is to recover survivors and rescue the injured. Your people will be returned to you in the best condition we can after the fighting. There's actually lots of history behind that policy..."

"I know." Cooper agreed. "USS Indianapolis versus the example of the KMS Bismarck in ancient history..."

"Also the examples of the fleet actions in the Succession Wars, when House Fleets ignored that lesson." Patrick stated, "I don't know YOUR history, but ours is full of examples of what not-to-do, and since we both have an interest in maintaining the Armistice, I want to make sure both sides don't do things that we shouldn't be doing because at least MY people know better."

Cooper chuckled in agreement as he nodded. "Aff! under other circumstances we might be allies."

"There's always tomorrow." Patrick reminded the Snow Raven officer. "We don't have to be enemies forever. It's a big galaxy out there, and mankind knows damned little about it."

"You're a romantic? Fascinating."

"NO, that's my Sister. she wanted to grow up to be an Explorer, a 'Pathfinder'. To seek out new life and possibly new civilizations, you know? boldly going where nobody has gone before? This war really put the screws to that."

"but you supported her desire, quiaff?"

"Yes." Patrick stated, "Even if she wasn't dying, I would, because on a deeper level, we've all seen what you get with mankind fighting over the same used up territory constantly. Liz wanted to go out where nobody's been, and she's stuck here in the Inner Sphere for what looks to be the rest of her life, because we can't seem to get along long enough for her to go. If I can make a change on that, then I will-there's nothing but prosperity for people who can build instead of take, once they're left alone to do it."

Cooper chuckled a little, "A Pathfinder huh? So Your 'Rockjacks' uphold more than a few of the old ways."

"Our grandmother was a Rockjack, SaKhan Cooper, My ancestral line goes back to the navigator who brought our ancestors here from the Terran Alliance, I have a Great Aunt who's a Shipper out past the Outworlds Alliance somewhere-with The Folk, I don't even know which Line of The Folk, only that Great Auntie Mai left Kowloon years before I was born and never came back."


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