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The Other War (Cover)

Chapter 52 - The Other War
Strana Mechty
Kerensky Cluster
June 8th, 3062

Loremaster of the Clans Kael Pershaw stalked through the halls of The INTELSTAR Building, home of the All Clan Watch (ACW), within the former Widowmaker Enclave of Katyusha City. Barrel chested Elementals of the Ebon Keshik followed him, grim faced and broken like himself.

Absent an ilKhan he was the unifying power of The Clans called upon to mediate disputes, run Katyusha City, the Kerensky’s Pride above it, and render justice on those imprisoned aboard the Prinz Eugen orbiting the scorched planetoids of the inner system. Presently three hundred souls sat in limbo awaiting his judgement aboard the prison ship mining metals for the Strana Mechty Shipyards. Their number consisted of the worst criminals, traitors, and thieves among the Clans. Most Eugenites’ fate would be airlocking to him they were hardly worth a bullet but given the mercy of a reasonably quick death after enduring so much suffering.

One of his staffers passed the group, like many of the ACW he an Aerospace phenotype, slightly built people with more robust nervous and circulatory systems whose reflexes were trained to a hair trigger and capable of precise action under duress. Many among the Mechwarrior centric Warrior leadership felt the phenotype had failed due to the Aerospace Corps many defeats during REVIVAL and sought to reduce their number. Kael publicly disagreed calling them out for their own failures to heed the Dragoon reports and on the ground. A rebuke unwelcomed to all but the Aerospace Warriors who flocked to the All Clan Watch when their reflexes started to fade.

Another walked up to him, “Loremaster, Brian Pryde wishes to speak with you about urgent events on Ironhold.”

Kael paused there was only one ongoing operation on Ironhold that his pupil, now Loremaster of Clan Jade Falcon, was supervising. “Now copy this down precisely. Tell him.

Act fast. He will not stay put long once he finds out we are onto him.”

Aff, Loremaster.”

Coyote Khan Sullivan Koga sat across the table from the dark-skinned Barbara Sennet, Khan of Clan Diamond Shark both women had said nothing to the other after arriving. Each were just staring into the other’s brown eyes divining intent, gazes fixed like lasers on another while they awaited the Loremaster of the Clans whose arrival was heralded by an Ebon Keshik Elemental entering and saying, “Safe, Sir. No throat tearing or hair pulling yet.”

Kael Pershaw entered behind the much larger man causing both Khans to stand out of respect for their different reasons. In the Clan Hierarchy, the Loremaster of The Clans and a Clan Khan were the same although the Loremaster was not given a vote in the Grand Council except as a tiebreaker.

The cyborg’s inhuman machine legs moving with the most efficient stride under his robes, his prosthetic left arm hidden under a half cloak, and the burned side of his face hidden under a mask with only the bright blue machine eye staring out from the cloth while the pale skin and steel of his natural side were revealed. “How very disappointing, I suppose there will be time for that later.”

He sat down with the assistance of his Ebon Keshik bodyguards whose towering forms were clad in matte black armor and whose helmet crests almost reached the ceiling. Each carried a large ballistic shield on their back and a ‘slick’ Mauser IIC rifle slung in front of them. The Mauser’s sword like bayonet carried on their belt. One of them plugged one of their power packs into the batteries of the Loremaster to sustain his cyberware. If he ran out of power, they were to carry him; into danger, die for him, and be proud to do it.

After Kael was settled the Khans did as well. Both waiting for the signal to give their opening statement, in person meetings were normally preceded by dozens of HPG messages and back channel talks with only the final duties left to the leadership. As such the Loremaster expected that the Coyotes and Sharks were only awaiting his final approval to satisfy their needs. “Khan Koga, you called this summit so you may proceed with your opening statement.”

“Loremaster, rather than having continued Trials of Grievance, only adding more blood to already muddied waters I want to know why the Sharks have deployed so many forces to defend such a small territory as Delios? And why even given irrefutable evidence that the Spirit in the Sky received illegal orders and was sabotaged by the late Silas Kufahl they continue their feud?

Clan Coyote will not accept these continued sanctions and I will not hesitate to call a session of the Grand Council to address it should it continue.”

Barbara Sennet leaned forward as if to engage in some thrashing herself, “Very well Khan Koga, in confidence.” She looked over to Pershaw who dropped the shade and activated the white noise generators. “Delios’ Enclaves have irregularities in their census that we uncovered while more Warriors were deployed there.

Irregularities that your Warriors threaten but whose spread at least goes to Babylon.

We are not talking tens of people either but hundreds of thousands missing throughout our territory. Your Warriors are threatening my Watch’s ability to complete this audit. I suggest you check your own populations to see who might be missing, where they might have vanished to, and what happened to the supplies allotted to care for them for however long this has been occurring.

Once we are done our audit Delios can be yours for the small price of repairing the Sea Fox and our feud can be tabled for now and all sanctions lifted.”

Sullivan thought this over, the Coyote Census population was slightly higher than 74 million, hundreds of thousands missing in reality was huge. Entire cities could be inflated and the conspiracy behind it siphoning off huge numbers of supplies for unknown purposes. This was a dire threat, but she understood why Sennet needed to keep it a secret. It was something that had snuck up on the Warrior Khans who had a long history of letting the civilian castes manage their own affairs. She would have to talk to Kavindra and Loremaster Kufahl about how to fix this problem.

“Bargained Well and Done. Tamaron will finance the repairs for damage done to the Sea Fox by The Spirit in the Sky.

Barbara looked at the sly Coyote with appreciation hoping she would agree to fix the whole hulk but, there was already a buyer in the wings.

“As agreed Delios can be yours once we are finished. I suggest you hurry and complete your own assessment we may have shown our hand to the conspirators over the past months.

By the way. The Blood Spirits will greatly appreciate their new Yardship.”

Kael and Sullivan both looked at Barbara in surprise, “You are giving the Blood Spirits a Yardship?”

The Shark stood to exit the chamber, quite pleased with herself, “Me, no. Sullivan is giving the Spirits their new Yardship. I have already prepared the press release.”

An Ebon Keshik Elemental opened the door for her, and she departed leaving the Coyote Khan speechless. The Blood Spirits had moved their aggressions for the Burrocks to Star Adder. A huge public transfer like a Newgrange changing hands would result in more pressure coming her way from Khan N’Buta who saw the Coyotes as the rival power he needed to defeat in order to cement his Snake Alliance’s dominance in the Homeworlds.

That she had been so easily tricked made her furious, the Blood Spirits would not come to her assistance when the Star Adders came for her Enclaves, because they knew the truth they could not be bargained into aiding her elsewhere, so concerned were they for their own safety. They would likely flee and leave the Coyotes constricted by the Star Adders, a fate that was unacceptable.

She stood up and stormed out toward her subordinates waiting outside. The Coyotes would die before they become anyone’s pets.

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