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Chapter 20 - The Advisor[]

New Syrtis Shipyard
New Syrtis Star System
Federated Suns

[In one of the yard's conference rooms....]

"...bad doctrine but, you at least have a doctrine." Lieutenant Commander Anne McCoy, Lyran Commonwealth Navy. She stood in front of a lecture hall without showing a bit of anxiety.   Her strawberry-blonde hair framing a two-tone face, the base of which was as pink as most of her audience. Her stained darker red around her eyes, cheekbones, ears, mouth, and throat-the marks of the Quarantine Zone, Arluna's legacy printed to skin like a botched cosmetic tattoo.

The slight woman's LCN Skinsuit covered by a loose overgarment that was more of an limitation of a uniform, held tight to her form by a glossy white leatherette harness.  She gestured easily with the platinum-plated crowbar, as she discussed topics that already had several of Julian's most senior Naval Officers turning red with affront.

"Having a doctrine is a start."  Her French was measured, careful, precise.  Each word weighted firmly with conviction.  "The test of every doctrine of course, is combat-but it is better to begin with flawed doctrine...than no doctrine at all. That's because any doctrine, no matter how perfected ... must be able to adjust to the changes of environment."

Behind her, the image of the FSS Antrim's final charge appeared.  "In the last major war, the navies of the Federated Suns and most of the rest of humanity, fought in a certain way."

Another image, another legendary ramming attack.  "This was driven by conditions. The first, being that nobody had fought a full-scale naval engagement since the Second Succession War."

The image of the last battle of the LAS Invincible over Hesperus in the Second Succession War.

"Thus, while the ability to build ships had been restored..."  the image of the original RX-78 Fox class prototype under construction replaced the prior images.  "...the understanding of how to fight a ship had been lost."

Fox Class Corvette (in orbit from MW3 art revamped)

Fox-Class Corvette

The screens behind he went blank.  "It is arguable that this has not yet been rediscovered. That the Lyran success against Clan Jade Falcon was a fluke. That they were unready. That we were too ruthless and we relied on mobbing our foes."

Behind her, the first three battles of the reconquest war against the Falcons appeared.

"I would argue that some of those criticisms are valid.  We took heavy losses for every success...on the ground." she paused.  Julian watched her studying her audience.  "Let me repeat that- we took heavy losses on the ground.  In space, during the preparation for each operation? We took fairly light losses-certainly lighter than we expected or anticipated, because Clan Jade Falcon was completely unready for us... in space."

She waved a hand, and an image familiar to every man in the room lit up.  The FSS Lucien Davion, over Palmyra, seconds before that ship was destroyed.

"Your navy was unready for the Draconis Combine, in the same way." she said, "You were unready, because you had no doctrine of readiness."

She slapped her palm with the crowbar, "This, you have begun to correct.  Learning from the errors of others is wisdom."

A few of his officers, well, looked confused now, instead of angry. There were a few who still looked like they'd like to throttle the thirty-year old woman standing on the stage but, Julian was pleased to note that some of the branch officers attending the lecture were still listening.

"When I volunteered for this activity, it was with great...reluctance." she said.  Julian didn't miss that small deception. The true conditions had been reported by MIIO almost before the Kentares left the Duran shipyard.

It was a tactful deception.

"My reluctance can be illustrated thusly..."  behind her, the images of naval glory and tragedy were replaced by the image of a bighorn sheep.

"This is a male sheep.  Male sheep, in English, are called 'Rams'."  On the screens behind her, the image of the Antrim appeared next to the image of the sheep.

"It is a crude pun. One that is quite commonly referenced in LCN circles when discussing the Federated Suns Admiralty." she tapped the podium with her crowbar, the way an instructor would with a swagger stick.

"Former LCN chief of staff Sharon Ngo put it rather crudely once."  she said, "As a redneck, I must admit a certain...Schadenfreud but, some of you have no doubt heard the slur."

Julian had been at that reception. He'd over-heard Sharon Ngo saying it.  Sheep ******.

"I trust every man and woman in this room, is deeply & thoroughly, and completely offended at the slur. If you know it.  If you do not, ask someone who's very angry in this room. Right now, because you should be offended."  her tone was icy and hard.  "The crew of the FSS Kentares were, and they knew about it before I had to explain it to them!" on the third screen, a crude, and not-at-all-safe-for-children cartoon appeared, the caption reading 'order of the lonely shepherd'.

"THIS is a thing you do not deserve...until you do." the grotesque cartoon vanished, along with the image of a bighorn sheep.  "Your people are better than that, and you will have to be better than that. If you wish to reclaim your realm from the Kuritans...the good news, is that you can be."

A selection of images appeared on the screen behind her.

"The Kentares Class escort carrier.  The name 'ram' is silly and does not fit the profile.  The Fox-class multipurpose corvette, these you already have in production..."

Fox Class Corvette (Delranes Fighting Ships 3061)

Kentares Class

Then a row of a half-dozen images appeared.  "To supplement them, you have a fine selection of vessels to evaluate, the Talus class, from Dynamico Limited of Delevan, the Black Swan class, from Interconnectedness Unlimited, a vessel somewhat nicer than the cutter I served aboard during the war, while being only slightly heavier.  The CEC DP-99 class, the Naugatuck from June Hyperspace systems, the Sackville class, and the Bludgeon Class.  These are all terrific ships, you have a wealth of creative designers and innovators, and your First Prince has the good sense to use them."

A hand went up, "Which one would you suggest? With your experience?"  an Admiral asked.

Anh shook her head, "Wrong question." she said, "My experiences are based on a completely different situation than your own people. What worked for us, might not work for you.  For clarity's sake, we were fighting degenerated clan forces, you are facing a very much revitalized Draconis Combine. One whose leadership is not...'branch blind', and whose choices have been...remarkably sensible from a military perspective.  The Kaga class carriers are very intelligently laid out and designed. They are crewed by professionals that are trained to think in naval terms, as opposed to being, as your late First Prince Caleb Davion put it, 'glorified bus-drivers for ground units'.  Our war and your war are going to be very different wars."

"Do you think war is inevitable then?"  another officer asked.

"I think it is. How you enter and how well prepared you are when you do, will decide whether you win or lose-but inevitably. If not today, then tomorrow, you will again be at war with one of your neighbors. When you go, it will be with the Navy you have at the time, not the navy you wish you had." she paused for effect, "Of course, the longer you take, the better prepared you can be."

"What would your first step be, Lieutenant Commander?" Julian asked from the back of the room.

"Build up your supply of able crew." Anh stated, "Build your arsenal of capable vessels, but more important is to build up your crewing and black-water training.  On my journey here, I was stunned to find out that your navigation officers were not trained to make use of potential jump-windows shorter than ten hours duration.  Every day a ship spends moving from a point, to another locale is time wasted. Fuel used merely for the act of transit.  In the Coast Guard, I had to qualify on a six-minute jump window-that is, a nonstandard KF transition point available for only six minutes before the neutral gravity point was depleted.  This is a training issue, I grew up on a dirt farm and learned how to do those observations and calculations manually.  It is a teachable skill, and you have people with the natural talent in abundance."

"How did those help?" another Admiral, this time a silver haired man whom had looked positively ill with rage when she explained the slur, asked.

"Reconnaissance, operational duration, operational range." Anh stated, "On my last command, an older Sampan-class cutter we clocked three to nine month duration cruises with fifty people. A crew crammed into a tiny hull of only fifty one thousand tons, Most of which was fuel, ammunition, sensors, and mission equipment.  We had to hot-bunk and share a single head for the majority of that time. However, we were able to scout out and prepare the target systems for the counter-invasion forces undisturbed. By being where the enemy had no reason to believe we were-no early warning system made by man can monitor an entire star system. They rely on being able to monitor select points that are stable and long-duration, because it is impossible to track every possible entry or exit point, and even if it WERE possible, the problem is the problem of universal surveillance-eventually what breaks down, is the operator."

"What sort of preparations?" the Admiral asked.
"Placing and activating kinetic impactors. Locating and neutralizing patrol dropships, suppression of enemy aerospace control, and coordination, establishing links to resistance cells. We had dropped pathfinders in to plan and establish landing zones..." she paused, "Neutralizing minefields-the Falcons laid out one hell of a net of mines over Sudeten, lovely things, but limited, gravel slung at relativistic speeds served to clear invasion routes for the main fleet."


"In space, debris can be a weapon." she said, "There is an old saying; throw a relativistic rock, and you can shatter a planet, teach someone else how, and they can shatter a great many planets.  The Jade Falcons at Sudeten retreated into a Brian fort. We killed the fortress instead of trying to capture it, using thirty meter long tungsten rods fired from a point midway across the solar system. Timed to intersect the planet at the fortress's location as the planet's orbit and rotation presented it.  The rods were fifty tons each, and moving fast enough that the brief atmospheric interphase presented little in the way of resistance.  We cratered the mountain on top of them, then drilled through the crust underneath-there's a 'shield' volcano where their final redoubt once stood, and the hardest part was getting that much tungsten moved into the system unseen.  the remnant forces on-world surrendered the following day, but that was an extreme situation, and the plan would have failed if they had an inkling it was even possible."

She just lied there. Julian realized.

"We started the rods falling toward the planet nearly a month prior. They were under chemical rocket thrust to begin with. Then reverted to pre-jumpflight 'ion' propulsion to keep them accelerating for the fall toward the planet...but that was, as I said, an extreme case of preparation on our part. They could have killed the whole thing simply by not hiding in a bomb-proofed bunker."

She's telling the truth again. he mused.

"Why did it succeed then?"  another officer asked.

"Because we bothered get to know our enemies before launching the offensive.  We knew what they would do, so we had a plan to deal with it.  When the Clans get backed to a wall, they fall back on SLDF methods. The old SLDF loved their bunkers as fallbacks-to the point that their choices in the Periphery Rebellion often led to concentrating forces in places where one nuclear weapon could annihilate them...which happened frequently in Taurian and Outworlds fronts of that conflict. The Falcons, like most Clanners, don't disperse under pressure, they gathered to present more firepower to their foes."

Behind her, imagery and illustrations cycled underlining what the LCN did to the Falcons at Sudeten.

"The Dracs won't act like Clanners." she repeated, "You can't expect what worked for us, to work against them-they're competent. Not merely on an individual, warrior-to-warrior level but, as tacticians and strategists. The greatest mistake you can make when you launch your war is to underestimate them. Because they will do what we did-and feed it to you sideways with an elbow-chaser."

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