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 Post subject: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-11 01:48am
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Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
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By the Horns

An Original Work of Fiction
By
Stephen T Bynum

All Rights Reserved


Prologue

TCS Samantha Calderon
Omega Anchorage, Hyades Cluster
September 27, 2596


“Jack, we need that drive back on-line,” pleaded Helena Vickers, the last remaining flag officer of the Taurian Concordat Navy . . . the last one qualified for a command in space, at any rate.

“Aye, Admiral, that we do,” the sandy-haired engineer answered with a sigh of his own as he ran his hands across the thinning crown. “But I’m an engineer, not a miracle worker. Saucy Sam here needs a full ship-yard, instead I’ve just got my own boys and girls down below decks.”

“And the engineers from the other ships in the Flotilla,” Helena added. Jack Fletcher held up a placating hand and he nodded.

“More trouble than they are worth, truth be told, Admiral, despite being there to turn to a wrench or lift a cable. I cannot change the laws of physics, ma’am,” he pleaded, “you have to give us the time to track down that fault in the drive core. And that means we cannot jump.”

Helena closed her eyes and she shook her head. “Jack, if we don’t jump before the Terries come out here to picket the Anchorage, we won’t ever get the chance to jump. We—and those other ships out there—we haven’t complied with Marantha’s surrender. In their minds, that means we are pirates and can be shot on sight. And if they realize how many of our people are escaping, and just how many ships of the Fleet remain intact as their escorts? Jack, they will spend the next hundred years tracking us down to destroy our children and the new homes we are supposed to be building out there past the borders.”

“I know,” Jack Fletcher said in a very quiet voice. “But right now, if we jump we die. That means, Admiral, that you are going to have to give the order for the Flotilla to proceed without us.”

Helena winced . . . but she nodded at the engineer. “Can they accommodate any more of our personnel?” she asked quietly—already knowing the answer.

“No, ma’am. But the good news is, if I can find the damned fault and repair it before Satan’s Legions of Damnable Fornicators gets out here, we might be able to catch up with the rest.” If the long-abused Kearny-Fuchida faster-than-light drive managed to hold together went unsaid.

The Taurian Admiral knew well that the odds of that were . . . remote, to say the least. But for the morale of her people, she nodded. “There are always possibilities, Jack,” she whispered, as she leaned back in her chair.

The War—the twenty-year long Reunification War—was finally over and done with. Well, most of it was over and done with. And it was a war that Taurus has finally lost. Not due to a lack of courage; no, the Taurians may well have lacked many things, but courage was never one of them. No, the Concordat simply had too many enemies; too many foes; and whether in space or on the surface of a contested world, the Star League and its member states had sent millions to fight and die. All in an effort to make the Taurian people accept membership in the Star League against their will.

Helena sighed and she looked out the armored plexi that covered one of her bulkheads; she gazed upon the thick, red, roiling clouds of gas and dust and micrometeoroids that comprised Flannagan’s Nebula. The thick armored hatch that covered the view-port was retracted at the moment and she gazed upon the clouds that—in all likelihood—she would never again see.

She stood, and she laid her hand upon the desk of the ship that she had served upon for the past two decades—the Flagship of the all-but-annihilated Taurian Concordat Navy. The first—and now last—battleship of the TCN. “She deserves better, Jack.”

“Aye, ma’am; that she does. She needs another half-a-year in the repair slips to set everything right—but we don’t have a half-a-year; nor even a quarter.”

“No. Jack,” she said with a sudden gleam in her eyes, “you know, the more I think about it, the better a chance the rest have at escape is if we take the fight to the Terries one last time. The K/F Core will not last forever; not without more spare parts than we have on-hand—if you can get me one more jump out of her, Jack, . . .,” and Helena’s voice trailed off.

“Aye, ma’am,” Jack Fletcher whispered. “We’ll do the Old Girl proud.”

Helena pressed the transmit key on the intraship comm and she waited until her bridge crew answered. “Order the Flotilla to proceed without us, Commander Stiles,” she instructed crisply. “Have Navigation compute an FTL jump to Gateway—when Commander Fletcher and his people get the Core back on-line, we are going back to kick ass and take names.”

“Understood, Admiral,” the voice of her XO replied. “She deserves a better ending than the scrap-yards, and we’ll take more than a few of the Terries to Hell alongside us.”

“Jack,” Helena began, but the engineer simply nodded.

“I’ll get us there, Admiral. Come Hell’s Heart or High Water, I’ll get us there,” and with a nod of his head, he turned and left the Admiral’s stateroom set on one of the Saucy Sam’s four grav decks.


TCS Samantha Calderon
Omega Anchorage, Hyades Cluster
October 1, 2596


“All hands, prepare for jump drive activation. Repeat, all hands, prepare for jump drive activation. Jump drive initialization is set for . . . one minute from my mark . . . MARK,” Helena tightened the restraining belts that held her in her command chair as the sober—somber—crew quietly attended to their duties.

“Admiral, all weapons are standing by,” Commander Daniel Stiles reported from his station. “Nuclear warheads are loaded in tubes Five through Twelve and are ready to armed upon your command.”

“Make it so, Mister Stiles,” Helena answered as the jump clock slowly ticked down.

“All hands, stand by for jump,” the petty officer at the master helm station announced, “in five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . JUMP!”

The massive drive core at the center of the ship began to receive the tremendous amounts of stored power hoarded by TCS Samantha Calderon over the past eight days . . . and with that power it tore open a hole in the fabric of the universe. Just as it did every single time the jump drive was activated, this very short-lived hole allowed mankind to traverse interstellar distances in . . ., well, no one had ever actually managed to measure elapsed time during a jump.

But any feat of engineering that allowed humanity to bypass Einstein’s speed limit had within itself the potential of doing far, far, far more than merely displacing the ship thirty or so light-years. And despite Jack Fletcher’s attempts, not all of the drive core damage suffered by Saucy Sam had been found—and repaired.

This jump, Helena realized with a start, seemed to last forever—and then the ship emerged into real-space once more; it emerged with a BANG and shudder and red emergency lights lit up the bridge as desperate voices clogged the comm channels.

“GUNS!” she snapped. “Target all SLDF vessels in range!”

But only shocked silence greeted her order.

“GUNS!”

“Ma’am,” the young officer finally answered, and he swallowed heavily. “Admiral, I am reading no WarShips within range—and Gateway Station is gone. Gone.”

“Impossible,” whispered Helena and then she looked down at her own consoles. Sure enough, the massive space station that had for so long guarded the path into Hell’s Heart was missing—but then she detected the transponders coming from within the asteroid fields that surrounded the jump-point. The troopers of the Special Asteroid Support Force—the SASF—were on the ball at least.

And then her eyes noticed a . . . discrepancy in the transponder data. She gasped; her eyes grew wide, and she barked out a hurried command. “SAFE ALL WEAPONS! NOW!” Helena unbuckled her straps and she flew across to the communications station and she hit the transmit keys.

“This is the Taurian Concordat Navy ship Samantha Calderon—hold your fire! We request a communications link to the Protector of the Taurian Concordat, over.”

For several seconds only static emerged from the radio, but then a voice—a very quiet and disturbed voice—came through. “Hold our fire? Lady, I hope to God you are holding your fire! I’ve sent a message to Taurus, but it’ll take a while to wake up Protector Thomas—who the hell are you again?”

“Thomas?” Helena asked; Marantha Calderon had been Protector until her suicide just days ago; no successor had yet to assume the throne. She picked up the microphone. “SASF, this is the TCS Samantha Calderon,” she paused and closed her eyes, “Admiral Helena Vickers, commanding. Confirm today’s date.”

A new voice, stronger and more in control came over speaker. “Admiral Vickers, this is Commodore Ethan Mendoza . . . today is the 17th day of November in the year 3025. I believe that we need to have a serious chat, you and I—until the Protector manages to get out here, at least.”

Utter silence fell upon the bridge, and Helena swallowed the lump in her throat. “Agreed, Commodore Mendoza. I will be expecting your shuttle.”

She sat back down and made her trembling hands stop shaking as she grasped the arms of her chair. “Intra-ship,” she ordered, and Daniel Stiles nodded after a moment.

“Shipmates,” she started with as she began to inform the crew that their ship—HER SHIP—and all souls within her mighty hull, had been displaced more than four centuries into their own future.

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-11 01:56am
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TCS Samantha Calderon is described in detail on that link. For those who aren't familiar with this ship (not canon, created by yours truly) and that don't want to wait. Enjoy!

MA

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-11 10:46am
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TCS Samantha Calderon
The Gateway, Hyades Cluster
September 27, 3025


“My god . . . am I dreaming?” whispered Ethan Mendoza as he touched the solid bulkhead reverently once again.

“Here,” Helena answered as she handed him a crystal glass filled with liquor, keeping a second one for herself. “Dan?”

“One of us needs to stay sober, Skipper,” the XO answered with a grim chuckle. “If you are dreaming, Commodore, then for us it is a nightmare come to life,” his smile and chuckle faded away. “Just based on what you have said, the Star League was more vindictive than even we thought they could be . . . all of the yards are gone?” he asked in a shocked voice. “The graving docks over Samantha; the orbital foundries at Jamestown; the component and weapon factories on Taurus itself! According to your information, we have a single yard—in the entire Taurian Concordat!—one yard able to produce JumpShips! And no WarShips.”

“The Star League was rather . . . perturbed,” Ethan said with a shake of his head, “at our continued intransigence following the War, Commander Stiles,” and then his face clouded and red anger—a deep and broad anger that was clearly visible on his face and body—welled up from inside him. “The bastards didn’t want to ever have to fight us again; so they crippled as much of our industry as they could. Crippled and maimed us enough that when the Star League fell we lost about half of our worlds thanks to their policies that didn’t let us build vital components out here.”

Ethan shook his head and he swallowed half of his whiskey in one quick gulp—but the shock of the powerful liquor calmed him down . . . somewhat.

“They stole half of our worlds, and when we rebuilt, their death throes destroyed half of those we had left, Admiral, Commander. Which isn’t to mention the pirates and renegades that have plagued us non-stop since authority collapsed outside our core systems. Oh, we have had peace—for a given definition of peace,” he spat sourly, “but the incessant raids and attacks on our people, the need to relocate millions of civilians as power and water failed on a score of worlds; all of this and a series of unfortunate . . . accidents kept us from rebuilding. And when we finally managed to stop our slide we discovered that the nice people from the Star League who just wanted to help their backwards and primitive cousins had censored and edited all of our libraries. They didn’t just make an effort to remove blue-prints and plans, because that would be too easy to overcome,” and Ethan laughed grimly. “No, the bastards actually changed text in instructional manuals and textbooks; they deliberately removed the knowledge that we needed and so fucked up the basic learning materials that we haven’t been able to rebuild back to what we had in the Age of War even now, two centuries after it all fell apart.”

Helena exchanged a look with her executive officer, and he shrugged; she nodded in reply—and then she smiled. “Commodore,” she began in a quiet voice, “I do believe that you count on that part of history being over and done with. As I said earlier, we were part of an expedition that intended to preserve the best parts of the Concordat independent of Ian Cameron’s damned Star League. The rest of the Flotilla, if they survived,” she added, “are still out there somewhere—we just have to find them. And,” and here she grinned broadly, “my flagship carries aboard her a Data Core containing the accumulated knowledge of the Taurian Concordat, as of the year 2596. You still have printers? Because engineering textbooks, blue-prints, and schematics are NOT going to be a problem.”

Ethan blinked and he swallowed the second half of his whiskey before setting down the crystal tumbler. He nodded. “It is indicative of the sad state of affairs, Admiral Vickers, when I tell you without exaggeration, that the information you have offered is quite possibly more vital than the entire firepower of this WarShip.” And then he winced. “A WarShip . . . we have a fucking WarShip, a working WarShip. Hanse Davion and Maximillian Liao will go fucking ballistic.”

Helen sighed again. “Unfortunately, Commodore, we are working and functional only if you can discount the Kearny-Fuchida Drive Core. Commander Fletcher might be able to restore the drive . . . given a few months to make repairs; if, IF, that is, that you are able to retool factories to produce the components that we need.”

“Understood, ma’am,” Ethan answered, but then he grinned. “But your guns work, and so do those big-ass transit drives back there on your hind-quarters—you can fight and you can maneuver, and ma’am, no one has had a WarShip able to do that in more than a century.”

“Oh, yes, Commodore,” Helen laughed, “our guns work and I’ve got a full load of nuclear ordnance aboard. I would say that I pity anyone that tries to attack Taurus on my watch—but my pity reserves are just about depleted,” she finished in a cold, cold voice. “Someone jumps into this system on my watch, planning to strike the capital, their JumpShip and DropShips are going to be devoured in nuclear fire. Unless I am feeling like playing with them; in which case our Naval Lasers and PPCs will tear them apart a millimeter at a time.”

And Ethan drew himself up and swallowed heavily. He had read—in secondary school—about the heroic Helena Vickers and her twenty years of fighting against the League. She was a national hero, for all that the Star League bureaucrats had tried to extinguish all mention of her—but only now was he beginning to understand, to see, the unremorseful utter hatred that ran through her body at the merest thought of those from the Inner Sphere invading even this Concordat—a Concordat so very different from her own centuries past.

“There are different rules today, Admiral,” he whispered. “JumpShips—all JumpShips—are sacrosanct. They are not attacked, but can be captured.”

“Really?” asked Helena in an acrid voice. “Does that apply to this ship as well?”

Ethan blinked, but then the Admiral waved off his reply. “I’ll comply with your rules—your time, your universe . . . for now, Commodore. But if defending Taurus means blowing an Inner Sphere JumpShip and every living soul aboard her to Hell, then that is what I’m going to do,” and she took a sip of her own whiskey.

“Dan,” she continued, “while the good Commodore is still in a state of shock, perhaps you can inform him of what else we are carrying.”

“Aye, aye, Skipper,” the XO answered cheerfully. “Commodore Mendoza, as part of the Expedition of Exiles, we gave up two of our four docking collars to transport the Fourth Battalion of the Calderon Red Hand. Their Legionnaire-class DropShips carry two ‘Mech companies and two ASF lances apiece—so we’ve got a full strength Battalion of the some of the most fanatical defenders of the House of Calderon on hand,” he smirked. Dan Stiles actually smirked at the two higher ranking officers. “I am given to understand that units today are a hodge-podge of different ‘Mechs and vehicles; your logistics must be tangled to Hell’s Heart.”

Ethan frowned. Where was this popinjay going? And then the light bulb went off as Dan Stiles nodded.

“Aye, Commodore. In our day, we fielded entire battalions and regiments of the same BattleMech. The Red Hand is outfitted exclusively with Typhons, Commodore, supported by eight Skyhawk aerospace fighters.”

The Taurian Commodore coughed, his eyes going wide. “Both of those are extinct designs! The League did not allow us to retain them!”

“Fuck the League,” whispered Helena. “In addition to the Red Hand, we are carrying two Mirage-class Assault DropShips, four Orbitmaster heavy lift shuttles, a quartet of Defiance-class gunships, sixteen Banshee light ASF, and sixteen more Skyhawk medium ASF. All with combat veterans at the controls—just like the rest of this ship. And I’ve got more than two hundred colonists intended for the Exiles aboard in my passenger quarters,” and Helena smiled again. “Engineers, scientists, doctors, teachers . . . all of whom should be able to help you correct those errors that the League bureaucrats introduced.”

She paused, and then she sighed again. “But right now, at this minute, I need to know the current passage through the Asteroids—we are dreadfully vulnerable sitting here immobile at the Jump-Point, Commodore.”

Ethan winced. “Ma’am, until the Protector gets here, I cannot—literally cannot—give you the nav-details for an exit lane.”

“That isn’t a request, Commodore,” Helena snapped. “WarShips are most vulnerable to a surprise attack when they anchored at rest within weapons range of a Jump-Point. All it would take is one ship—ONE SHIP—that isn’t even armed to materialize just slightly off-target and vaporize half of this vessel in the process!” She paused and bit her tongue as she saw Dan slowly shaking his head. “Commodore Mendoza,” she began, “Ethan. I need to get this ship off this jump-point ASAP. You are a flag officer in the Taurian Concordat Navy, mister! Start acting like one and show some initiative!”

“And if I don’t? I suppose you will make your way through the field like a bull in a china shop?”

“Guns blazing, Ethan. If you don’t give me a lane, then by God I will clear one,” Helena answered softly, and the younger man nodded.

“Damned if you won’t, will you?” he shook his head and grinned. “Very well, Admiral; you will have your lane and a parking assignment outside of the Jump-Point itself—but I will fire into you if you move so much as a meter from that parking orbit without authorization; is that clear, ma’am?”

“Crystal, Commodore Mendoza—and it is what I’d expect from a Taurian naval officer,” Helena answered with a grin.


Last edited by masterarminas on 2013-06-12 11:41pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-11 11:28am
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Castellan
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Joined: 2010-03-09 03:16pm
Posts: 5898
Location: Bound in a nutshell
"We have a WarShip" Not just any WarShip but a gods-damned battleship. With a complete Data Core on board. And a load of engineers. And the possibility of a whole flotilla of other exiles. Taurus just got a lot more powerful.

I get the feeling the Concordat is going to have the whip hand in a decade or so if they can keep this quite.



"I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams" - Hamlet

"Bones' remedies for problems seems to revolve around giving his patients a prescription of heavy drugs, booze, or taking them to strip clubs. He is either insane, a drug addict, or the best damn Doctor in Starfleet!" - SFDebris

SDN World 6: The Kingdom of Orion

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-11 03:19pm
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General Headquarters, Taurus Defense Force
Mount Santiago Defense Complex, Taurus
Taurian Concordat
October 1, 3025


What did you just say?” Thomas Calderon gasped for air; he felt as if a giant had taken a sledgehammer to his chest.

Brenda Calderon, a distant cousin and the youngest woman in the history of the Taurian Defense Force to earn the baton of a Marshal, shook her head. “Commodore Mendoza’s report made me wonder if he was drunk or stoned when he sent it, Tom,” she said softly, “but the sensor data isn’t lying. There is a bloody damned big Calderon-class Battleship sitting at Gateway Point—Ethan dispatched a courier to us immediately after he met with her commander . . . Helena Vickers.”

Dozens of throats suddenly inhaled, and Brenda nodded. “Yes, apparently it is that Helena Vickers, gentlemen and ladies. Our best guess at the moment is that this ship—the TCS Samantha Calderon,” and an unbelieving moan passed through the room, “suffered a misjump that sent her to the here and now.”

Thomas blinked and he just stared at his relative. “Pop,” a quiet voice spoke up, and Thomas shook himself out of the shock. The Protector turned his head to face his twenty-three year old son—and heir—Edward Calderon.

“Yes, Edward,” Thomas finally said. “How this happened no longer matters. We must concentrate our attention on what this means for the Concordat of today—for our people, today.”

“This is an opportunity, Tom,” a middle-aged man began to hurriedly speak. “The FedRats have nothing that can stop this ship—this is our opportunity to retake the Pleiades!”

Brenda winced—as did most of the serving military officers at the table, and more than few of the civilian advisors. But before she could answer, young Edward spoke up.

“This is one ship, Governor Shraplen,” he said firmly. “A single ship. A ship that Mendoza reports has obvious unrepaired damage—we don’t even know if she is capable of conducting offensive operations . . . and even if she were, one ship does not change the balance of our ground-based military capabilities.” Edward paused. “Hanse Davion has close to one hundred Regiments of ‘Mech at his disposal, including mercenaries—we have just twelve. Twelve, Governor.”

“Hanse Davion cannot afford to pull regiments away from the borders of the Combine or Confederation,” Grover snapped, “and he won’t dare attack our troops with a WarShip overhead!”

“The Fox will dare much,” Thomas intervened, holding up one hand. “If he deems it is in his interest. And make no mistake, the Fox will be extremely interested in this vessel and her crew. No, Grover,” he sighed, “it would folly for us to invade the Federated Suns—at this time,” his voice grew louder as his old friend began to turn red and draw in breath for another exclamation.

The Protector sighed and he closed his one remaining organic eye. And then he opened it. “However, all of that is moot if this vessel cannot leave Gateway and Taurus; I believe that you said their Kearny-Fuchida Drive is currently inoperative, Marshal Calderon?”

“I did, Protector,” Brenda answered.

“We already know how difficult it is to repair a capital WarShip, ladies and gentlemen—the New Vandenberg is a prime example of just how little we know,” and Thomas scowled. “When we should bloody well know considering that we built better ships than that boondoggle without Terran aid in the past.”

He frowned and while his cybernetic eye clicked and whirred, he sat motionless and then Thomas nodded again. “Commodore Perez,” he firmly said to the commander of the Taurian Aerospace Command, “I want that ship moved away from Gateway—can we clear all civilian traffic from Station Three?”

The grey haired former pilot—a gunship pilot—considered and then he nodded. While not a full yard, Station Three was tasked with supporting the DropShips and small craft of the TAC and the Taurian Concordat Navy; of course, with the limited numbers of DropShips and auxiliary craft at hand, it also had a decent amount of civilian traffic. And while Station Three in its orbit over Taurus lacked any ability to work on K/F Drive Cores, it did possess a number of very capable machinery and electronics shops.

“We can divert all traffic and have the civilians clear in twenty-four hours, Sire,” he answered after a moment.

“Good. Brenda, invite Admiral Vickers to dock her vessel at Station Three—get with Mendoza and Hamish here to find out what sort of supplies that they might need and get them up to the station at once. And do not lie to yourself, ladies and gentlemen, we are going to need to redeploy as much of the Fleet and air-defense assets as we can afford to. I want Station Three isolated—no unauthorized traffic is to close within any possible weapons range. Is that understood?”

One by one, the men and women at the table nodded their agreement.

Edward cleared his throat, and Thomas waved at his son to go ahead.

“Looking over this dispatch,” he said holding up sheet of paper that he had been reading, “I do believe that we need to take additional precautions with dealing with the information that is going to flowing off of that ship,” he shook his head in disbelief. “A complete, unaltered, Data Core from the Reunification War—Taurus at its height, Pop. This is . . . incredible. It has the potential to revive the Concordat,” and then his expression fell, “and everyone will want it.”

“MIIO, SAFE, ISF, LIC, the Maskirovka, MIM, heck, even the Outworlders will have teams here trying to pry out the secrets in months,” chimed in Henri Jouett, the head of the Taurian Concordat Office of Special Intelligence and Operations, “if they do not already have intelligence teams in place. Some of them do, ladies and gentlemen—and we do not know the identities of all of them.”

“Right,” snarled Thomas. “Henri, you and . . .,” he paused and then nodded at the young commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion of the Taurian Guards, “Brigadier Doru coordinate with the Constabulary—I want a full-court press on keeping the lid on this for as long as we can. Each and every one of those people—those Taurians—aboard that ship are now priceless and we will treat them accordingly.”

“Speaking of which,” the Exchequer of the Concordat said in a dry tone, “there is the small matter that we may well owe these people back-pay for four centuries.”

WHAT!” shouted Thomas.

“I am not saying that they will ask for such a sum, but,” and Semyon Cantrell set his jaw, “under one interpretation of our laws, they might well be entitled to exactly that. It will probably have to be decided by the Courts—but we are speaking of millions of Bulls—at the least.”

Thomas gritted his teeth, and then he sighed. “We’ll find the funds when we have to. We are already looking at breaking our current budget just in repair costs—if that white elephant New Vandenberg is anything to judge by.”

“And those funds will come from the Far Lookers?” sourly asked Aramis Hall, the leader of that group of explorers and colonization effort.

“Not completely, no,” Thomas answered with a chuckle. “These . . . Exiles,” he continued in a more somber voice. “If they are out there and they survived, I want them found. And to that, we need to increase your exploration efforts. We might not colonize as many new planets as you want, Aramis, but we are going to be looking out there in the Deep Black.”

Hall nodded his agreement—he wasn’t happy, but he agreed with the necessity.

“Good,” Thomas said again. “And now, ladies and gentlemen, just how the hell are we going to tell the people—our people—about all of this without creating a panic?”

And the table got very quiet once more.

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-11 04:17pm
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DropShip Gayle Lowden
Outbound to Gateway Point, Taurus System
Taurian Concordat
October 3, 3025


Heinrich Shultz took a sip of the hot coffee and he sighed. It would be such a shame to give up Crewman Jonas when they arrived back at Victoria, but orders were orders. And despite his personal sense of loss over the only crewman who knew how to make a proper cup of mocha coffee, he wasn’t about to deny the newly promoted Adept the honor of his next assignment—tasked to the Explorer Corps, Jonas would see far more use of his ability to resolve sensor images than he would on one of ComStars covert operations vessels tooling around the Inner Sphere. Well, the Inner Sphere and near Periphery, Shultz thought as he considered their latest mission. Whatever the ROM team had been after, it had gone flawlessly. And now the ‘Gayle Lowden’, a Capellan-flag merchantman by all outward signs, was heading back to dock with the JumpShip and proceed to their next assignment.

He drank another sip and he looked on the old converted Union-class cargo carrier with pride. She wasn’t much—but she was his. For now, at least. Until he finally got promoted to command one of ComStars JumpShips, that was.

“Skipper,” the comm officer called out, “we are being hailed by a pair of ASF.”

Schultz frowned and he straightened up in his chair. “On speaker.”

Gayle Lowden, this is Obsidian Flight—you are entering restricted space. Alter vector to 237 mark 41 immediately,” and the message repeated.

“Obsidian Flight, Gayle Lowden,” Schultz replied. “We are on the course that Taurus Flight Control issued.”

Gayle Lowden, Obsidian Flight. That course has now been changed—alter vector immediately or you will be fired into.”

“This is damn peculiar,” Schultz said to no one in particular. “Jonas, give me a 360-degree passive scan—no actives. Maneuvering, alter vector to comply with their instructions.”

“Aye, aye, Sir,” the crew barked.

Jonas bent over his sensor hood and his voice emerged. “Taurian ASF are changing course, veering away . . . there’s something strange here, I can’t identify the fighters . . . I’ve got the cameras rolling, Skipper . . . okay, let’s look at our original course track . . . HOLY SHIT!” he screamed as he stood up, his hand toggling the control that sent the image from his station to the main viewer.

And Schultz spat hot coffee out of his nose as he stood. “Magnify!” The image zoomed in and a low moan sounded across the DropShip’s bridge. “Bring Jayne’s data-base on-line and confirm the class,” he ordered in a quiet voice.

For several moments there was no sound on the bridge of the DropShip, and then an Acolyte looked up from his station. “Jayne’s gives a 95% positive match for a Calderon-class Battleship, circa 2576-2596, Skipper. There aren’t supposed to be any surviving examples.”

“Schiesse,” Schultz muttered as the distant image slowly shrank into the distance. And then he shook his head. “Tell me we recorded that, Jonas?”

“On tape, and copying to the secure data-base, Skipper.”

“Okay, people. Game faces on—the Primus needs to see this as soon as possible. Maneuvering, don’t violate ANY Taurian regulation—we are officially in Injun Country, folks, until we get back to Victoria.” And then? And then, Shultz thought, it was likely that every man and woman aboard would be ordered directly to Terra in order to be debriefed by the Primus and ROM. Schiesse.

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-11 05:31pm
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So much for keeping it quiet then.



"I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams" - Hamlet

"Bones' remedies for problems seems to revolve around giving his patients a prescription of heavy drugs, booze, or taking them to strip clubs. He is either insane, a drug addict, or the best damn Doctor in Starfleet!" - SFDebris

SDN World 6: The Kingdom of Orion

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-11 07:29pm
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TCS Samantha Calderon
Station Three, Taurus System, Hyades Cluster
Taurian Concordat
October 5, 3025


Fearless souls who cross’d the sky; in search of home to live and die; men who swear we will live free; far away from your tyranny.”*

Thomas looked up in surprise as he crossed over the broad yellow line painted on the deck of the boat bay. The music was not being piped into the reception area; no, there was a line of drummers tapping out the beat, musicians blowing upon horns, and a chorus of singers—all dressed in the uniform of the Taurian Concordat Navy. But that was the lesser shock; this song had been detested by the Star League—not a single complete copy had survived their occupation.

Our lady that we follow; deep inside Hell’s Hearts Hollow; bound in clouds of reddish dust; our new home, to find we must.”

One lady, an old lady dressed in the uniform of a Taurian Admiral—equivalent in rank to a Marshal—strode forward and she saluted sharply; a salute that the Protector returned just as solemnly.

Taurus home, from now to end; a land that we shall ‘ere defend; with hoof and horn, blade and gun; we will fight until the day is won.”

“Protector Calderon,” the woman said, “I beg leave to report that TCS Samantha Calderon, bearing aboard her eleven hundred and twenty-four souls, has returned home.”

None today shall ever know; the pain we felt, as our children go; but for our pride in their brave; we vow t’send our foes their grave.”

“Welcome home, Admiral Vickers,” Thomas said warmly, and he extended her his hand. Helena took it and the two shook.


*Set to the tune of The Ballad of the Green Berets with my apologies to SSGT Sadler. You can rest assured that there are other verses, but for now that’s all I’ve got.


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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-11 08:11pm
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TCS Samantha Calderon
Station Three, Taurus System, Hyades Cluster
Taurian Concordat
October 5, 3025


“Our drive damage aside, Protector Thomas,” Helena briefed the Protector, his heir, and their staffs—along with the senior members of the TDF military, “our problem is that no one here has produced NAC shells or Capital Missiles in centuries. I’ve got twenty-seven Class 25 Naval Autocannon on the Samantha Calderon—with a total of one thousand, three hundred and fifty units of fire. Fifty salvoes, gentlemen. My missile magazines are even shallower—three hundred and sixty missiles, just thirty salvoes all told for my twelve launchers; forty of those missiles are nuclear tipped.”

She paused and then she nodded. “Of course, given our probable opponents and the decline of technology, that is sufficient to wipe out any invading force—provided that the attackers are considerate enough to come to Taurus since I can’t go after them. Now, I do have eighteen Naval Lasers—a mix of 45cm and 55cm—and a dozen Naval PPCs, neither of which require munitions, but compared to my main guns those are small fry. The flak-belt,” and she smiled slightly, “won’t do more than kiss a capital ship, but serves well against fighters, small craft, and DropShips. I’d imagine they’d do just as well as JumpShips . . . if you revoke that silly rule that Commodore Mendoza told me of, the one where Jumpers are out of bounds and safe from attack.”

She waited until she was certain that everyone present understood, and then Helena sighed. “But the single largest problem that we are facing is a simple one . . . my people are tired,” and as she spoke, Helena Vickers looked every day of her sixty-seven years. “We have—most of us—fought for the past two decades,” and she smiled slightly, “to us at least, in the most brutal war ever fought by humanity. We knew we were leaving our loved ones behind, but Protector, we are bone-weary and in serious need of some time to unwind our levels of stress.”

“And you will have it, Admiral Vickers,” Thomas answered her. “Despite what some of my advisors might think, I have no intention of starting a war—but your presence here cannot be concealed . . . and I fear that soon enough others may start one with us. A war that will come about because they fear us possessing your ship while they have none of their own.”

Thomas cocked his head, and he considered, and then he nodded. “But that is months down the road, and this vessel is going nowhere until her drive is repaired—if we can make those parts you so desperately need. They may have to be hand-made, until we can get a factory up and running, Admiral.”

And Helena winced at that. Thomas chuckled grimly. “Don’t worry, we will be inspecting every part with a micro-meter—you won’t get sub-standard parts from Taurus, Admiral. In the meantime, I think that you—and your crew—could use some rest. Marshals Grenadine and Calderon,” he continued, nodding at the two senior officers, “have advised me that just granting liberty to your people is a bad idea—something about being able to de-stress in a controlled environment before being released into civilian society.”

“They are right, Sire,’ Helena answered. “Some of my people are so wound up that they are ticking time bombs . . . they also need counseling, many of them.”

“They will receive it,” Thomas decreed. “As it just so happens, there is a medical delegation from the Canopians on Taurus—a psychological delegation. The Canopians have the finest healers—physical and mental—known, Admiral. They will make certain your people get taken care of,” and Thomas frowned, “and we have also taken measures to ensure that none of your folks are abducted and spirited off world.”

“Is that a credible threat?” Helena asked.

“It is a possibility,” replied Henri Jouett. “One that we cannot dismiss lightly. Admiral, you must understand that your knowledge of technological systems—your crew’s knowledge—is something that any of the Successor Lords would kill for. None of them are above abducting one or two of you and interrogating them for everything they know.”

“That is later, Henri,” Thomas said sadly. “For now, I would like to invite the Admiral and her senior officers to dinner this evening—at the Protector’s Palace. We have much, much more to discuss, Admiral Vickers.”

“Indeed we do, Sire. Starting with the issue of . . . pay,” and she smiled as Thomas winced. “Don’t worry, Sire. We aren’t going to clean out the Treasury, but my people deserve to be taken care of.”

“You have my word on that, Admiral,” Thomas snapped, and then he waved his hand in apology. “They are loyal Taurian citizens, and we take care of our own. Always.”

“Good enough for me, Sire. Now,” she said as she stood. “I believe that you and your staff wanted a full tour of Saucy Sam here.”

“Saucy Sam?” asked Thomas.

Helena laughed. “It is a long story, Sire, and rest assured. The boys and girls could have named her a LOT worse.”


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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-11 09:38pm
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Cháteau des Calderon
Samantha City, Taurus
Taurian Concordat
October 11, 3025


Thomas looked up from his desk as Edward was ushered into his private office. The doorman closed the thick wooden panel, leaving the Protector alone with his eldest son. The father smiled—a rare event for Thomas—and then he waved his son into a seat. Today, Edward was wearing his TDF uniform—complete with his rank as a Subaltern, what would be a Captain in most militaries.

“Official business Subaltern Calderon, or personal?” Thomas asked. Edward blushed slightly; he had made a habit of never approaching his father in uniform for a mere Subaltern shouldn’t be cavalier when it concerned the chain of command. In uniform, Edward, and here Thomas smiled again, insisted on being merely Subaltern Calderon and not Heir Apparent to the Protectorship.

“Personal, Pop,” he answered. “I have to report to duty shortly, and considering what I want to broach with you, I might not have time to change.”

“Oh?”

“Yes, Sir,” his son answered and then he paused, collecting his thoughts. Gathering his courage, Thomas thought—and he frowned. Edward was seldom so . . . cautious.

“Spit it out, boy,” Thomas growled.

“Have you looked over the précis on the contents of the Vickers Core?” Edward asked.

“I’ve skimmed it, son.”

“Pop, it is the holy grail. Engineering data, computer sciences data, mathematics; every single accomplishment of the Old Hyades before the Reunification Wars began are contained within it. All of our literature, arts, music, everything. This could change the Concordat forever.”

“What is your point, Edward?”

His son looked Thomas directly in the eyes and he nodded. “We have no right to hoard this; not from our own people. Pop, we’ve long had the finest institutions of learning among all of the nations of humanity—we’ve got the highest literacy rate of any House, Great or Minor. We need to organize a new university, a new institution whose sole purpose is to restore our knowledge.”

Thomas frowned, but he nodded. “That will cost money, Eddie. Right now, the coffers are pretty damn bare.”

“The expense has to be borne—we’ve got to get this information downloaded and distributed before something happens, some accident damages the Core and we lose information forever.”

Thomas inhaled sharply and he nodded again. Already, there had been one such ‘accident’, with a man whose identity Henri Jouett had been unable to discover. That man had come close to damaging the Core—but the guards had managed to stop him. How he had even known it was being transported was something that Henri was feverishly investigating—and how he come so close, with a vest of explosives no less, just as intently.

“I agree, Eddie, but I can’t conjure funds out of thin air.” And Thomas frowned at the look on his son’s face.

“Maybe we can,” Edward said quietly. “Hanse Davion would pay . . .,” but Edward was cut off by his father.

ARE YOU MAD!” Thomas bellowed as he stood. “I stood beside you Edward, against Grover, because you were right and Grover was wrong. Attacking the Federated Suns is a fool’s errand. But the Davions are our Enemy—they have always been our Enemy and they always shall be. And you want to share this, this, treasure trove with them?”

“Not share, Protector Calderon, sell. Between Mad Max Liao and the Fox, whom would you rather have as your enemy?”

“They are both our enemy, Edward!”

“Pop, the Davions haven’t crossed our border since the end of the Reunification Wars—four hundred years ago. Four centuries. They haven’t once attacked us since then; while the Capellans? They raid our border worlds sporadically. Just look at it. If we lift the embargo on our companies selling to the Federated Suns, look at how much more income we will have. And I am not advocating giving the Fox everything; hold back the information on WarShips and he will still pay an Emperor’s ransom for the rest.”

Edward paused and he stood and he placed his hand on his father’s arm. “You said yourself that Hanse Davion will desperately want this—he might well go to war for this information. For our WarShip. Let’s take that option out of the equation. Let’s stabilize our borders and with the funds we can wring from Hanse Davion we can build the Concordat into a force that it would take a Second Star League to conquer in as little as ten or fifteen years time.”

“I’ll think about it,” Thomas growled as he sat back down. “What would you want to name this new university?” And then the older man grinned. “The Taurian Institute of Technology and Science?”

Edward smiled. “I’ll let you be the one to tell Katherine you are opening TITS, Pop.”

Thomas barked out a laugh. “What would you suggest?”

“The Samantha Calderon Academy of Research and Sciences” Edward answered, and Thomas barked out a burst of laughter.

"SCARS, eh? I can live with that, Eddie."

Encouraged, his son pressed on, “It would be your legacy for all future generations of Taurians. We could break the ground this fall and be ready for classes by spring if you hammer out an agreement with the Fox.”

“I said, I’ll think about it, Edward Calderon,” Thomas growled again. And then he sighed. “Grover will have a stroke, if I even suggest it.”

“So? He’s a planetary governor; you are the Protector of the Taurian Concordat.”

“He’s a friend whose advice I value.”

“He’s a Liao-phile who is convinced that our future depends on allying with the Confederation. Sian is a snake-pit ten times worse than New Avalon—you don’t need me to tell you that.”

“No, I don’t,” Thomas said quietly and he tapped the top of his desk and stared off into space for several minutes.

“If I decide to take your advice, and make Davion this offer, Edward, it needs to stay absolutely black until the deal is inked and dried. That means no HPGs, no aides, no assistants, no Ambassadors.” Thomas nodded again. “Are you willing to take a sabbatical from that uniform to represent me on New Avalon—if I decide to do this, son?”

Edward drew in a deep breath and he nodded.

“Then I’ll think about it. I promise you this, Eddie,” Thomas said as he stood again, “I might say no, but I will give heavy thought to this.”

“That’s all I can ask, Sir. It is time we buried the past and moved on—past time.”

“And speaking of time, aren’t you running late, Subaltern Calderon?”

“Oh, damn,” Edward cursed as he looked at the clock. “Permission to be dismissed, Sir?”

“Granted. You better run if you are planning on making it to Mt. Santiago on time.”

But Edward was already sprinting from the office.


Last edited by masterarminas on 2013-06-12 11:08pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-11 10:42pm
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Jeez, you're throwing this up fast-don't want any feedback or what? You seem to do a lot of stuff with the Taurians. And I suspect that a deal with the Daivons could be limited strictly to horse-trading, or it might involve a bit more of a gamble...how about a referendum on membership on the worlds in question? :D

Though this does remind me of my fanatically anti-clan periphery world I've been playing around with the idea of. It's full of little oddities and peculiarities-a religion that venerates the league but vilifies the SLDF as the worst traitors in history.



ImageCommander of the MFS Darwinian Selection Method (sexual)

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-11 11:15pm
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First Circuit of ComStar
Hilton Head Island, North America
Terra
October 11, 3025


WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY!” bellowed Julian Tiepolo, and Nicolas Cassnew—Precentor ROM—felt beads of sweat trickle down his neck.

“The Taurians appear to have found and salvaged a WarShip, Primus,” he repeated very softly.

“Someone must pay for this,” Precentor Dieron spoke up in her acid voice. “Someone failed in their Holy duties to Blake!”

“Is this vessel operational?” asked the Primus as he glared at the commander of ROM.

“For a given definition of operational—yes,” Nicholas answered.

Several of the First Circuit snorted at the evasive answer, and the Primus shook his head. “Define operational for me, Nicholas,” Julian said very, very quietly.

“According to my source, the Kearny-Fuchida drive is not functional.”

“But the rest?”

Nicholas withered. “Yes, Primus.”

“Where is this ship at the moment?”

Precentor ROM looked up at the man who had appointed him and he shivered. “In orbit of Taurus itself. Docked at one of their military stations and heavily defended, Primus.”

“But that isn’t the worst of the news, now is it?” asked Myndo Waterly as Precentor Dieron lowered her hood.

Damn that witch! Nicholas thought. But he merely nodded. “It has not been confirmed, but Demi-Precentor Taurus believes that the vessel contained a,” and Nicholas swallowed, “a Reunification War era Taurian Data Core.”

Utter silence hung over the First Circuit.

“ROM on station decided to risk an attack on what the Taurians believe was a data-core,” Nicholas continued.

“And was this attack successful, Nicholas?” asked the Primus.

“No, Primus, it was not.”

“I see,” Julian said quietly. “What do you suggest we do next, Precentor ROM?”

“I-I,” Nicholas stuttered and then he hung his head. “Primus, we must arrange for this ship and the core to be destroyed.”

“And how? Without revealing our hands?”

“We leak information on the ship and core to Maximillian Liao. He is desperate enough—and mad enough—to risk an assault on Taurus. We give him our astrographic charts as well, showing him the undefended path into the Hyades—the one the Taurians call Back Door.”

“And if Max Liao doesn’t take the bait, Precentor ROM?”

“Then we arrange for . . . unknown raiders and pirates to attack in their place. Our own Com Guard and Militia disguised as raiders and pirates.”

“Too little, too late,” Myndo spat. “My sources indicate that the Liao, Janos Marik, Katrina Steiner, Takashi Kurita, and Hanse Davion have already been informed—or shortly will be so informed—of the existence of this ship. “We must act now to stop this travesty from going any further.”

“How, Precentor Dieron?” asked the Primus.

“Send our WarShips out there to destroy this relic—and the Data Core.”

“You are speaking of an attack upon a populated world, Precentor!” another member of the First Circuit shouted.

“Better that Taurus dies in fire than the House Lords resurrect their technology, Precentor Sian,” Myndo spat. “And I believe that Precentor ROM owes us a great deal of pain before his death.”

“Control yourself, Myndo,” the Primus said. “Precentor ROM, you have several teams close by Taurus, do you not?”

“I do, Primus.”

“Very well. You and I shall have a long conversation in private about your failings in this matter, Nicholas, but perhaps we can salvage something from this . . . disaster.” The Primus paused. “Precentor Hawke?”

“Yes, Primus,” the commander of ComStars small WarShip fleet answered.

“Prepare your ships—we may have need of them on the Taurian Rim—if all other options fail.”

“At once, Primus.”

“You are too lenient,” Myndo pushed from her podium. “This one has failed—and you give him another opportunity. He must be replaced.”

“Are you volunteering for the job, Myndo Waterly?” the Primus asked.

“You would have me give up my seat on the First Circuit? Be demoted?”

“That would be a no, then,” the Primus answered himself. “We shall meet again in six hours time,” and the Primus glared at each member of the First Circuit. “At that time, I want ALL of the information we have on this ship and any communications passed to the various Lords of the Houses. I also expect to have a plan of action,” he finished as he glared down on Nicholas again. “Until then, we are in recess. Precentor ROM—not you,” and his voice was as cold as ice.

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-11 11:17pm
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Vehrec wrote:
Jeez, you're throwing this up fast-don't want any feedback or what? You seem to do a lot of stuff with the Taurians. And I suspect that a deal with the Daivons could be limited strictly to horse-trading, or it might involve a bit more of a gamble...how about a referendum on membership on the worlds in question? :D

Though this does remind me of my fanatically anti-clan periphery world I've been playing around with the idea of. It's full of little oddities and peculiarities-a religion that venerates the league but vilifies the SLDF as the worst traitors in history.


I love feedback. Just sometimes, I get the muse and I WRITE. Today is one of those days; I started composing this story late last night; it has flown.

MA

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-12 01:05pm
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Celestial Palace
Forbidden City, Sian
Capellan Confederation
October 11, 3025


Maximillian Liao stroked his long mustache as he listened to the panicked voices of his advisors—of his younger daughter. Even Pavel Ridzik, the Senior Colonel who commanded the Capellan Confederation Armed Forces in Maximillian’s name, even Pavel had succumbed to his fright. The Chancellor frowned—perhaps I need to rethink certain assignments; perhaps it is time for dear Pavel to retire. Permanently, he thought with a smile.

However, there was one present who was not chattering inanely; one who showed no signs of panic; one whose studied face was deeply in thought—and the Liao smiled.

“Silence,” he hissed. And at his command, the chaos faded away, with all eyes upon the high Throne upon which the Liao sat. Max stroked his mustache again and he frowned upon his court. “So the Taurians have managed to locate and salvage a long-dead WarShip—and upon this news, my Court, my Advisors, my finest Military Professionals scamper like mice fraught with despair at the coming of a cat.”

No one spoke, but several looked down, ashamed. That number did not include his daughter Romano, whose fear disappeared, replaced by anger. Good. “You should all be shamed by this—we are LIAO. And if the Taurians now have a WarShip, it matters but little. Candace, your thoughts?” he asked, and he smiled as Romano jerked in fury.

“Celestial Wisdom, the report from our merchant vessel indicates that this ship is at least partially active. It jumped into the Taurus system and proceeded under its own power to orbit. Now, whether the Taurians have the manpower to crew, and fight, such a leviathan—trained personnel who can learn to operate and maintain such ancient systems—that is another story.”

“Indeed. And having consulted Our archives, this particular class of ship relies quite heavily upon munitions—munitions that are no longer produced anywhere in the Inner Sphere. Or the Periphery States. It is a threat, true, but not an existential threat to either the Confederation or the House of Liao.”

Max leaned back against his throne and he closed his eyes. “The additional information from our agent, that this ship carried with it a complete Data Core,” and Maximillian smiled, “ah, but that is the more important of the two.”

“A Taurian Core,” muttered one of the Advisors. “Periphery trash, nothing more.”

“So you believe, Colonel Sedgewick?” Max asked. “Need I remind you that during the Age of War, the Taurians were a power with which to be reckoned—it required twenty years for the full might of the Star League to defeat. They had, at that time, a Navy second only to that of the Terran Hegemony. Consider what might be contained within that Core—and how the Confederation can make use of it.”

“Attack Taurus?” snapped Pavel. “Celestial Wisdom, such an undertaking . . . ,”

“Where one can not attack directly and openly, Colonel Ridzik, it may indeed be possible to attack indirectly . . . and covertly,” interrupted the Chancellor. “Major Riese?”

The commanding officer of the Death Commandoes smiled. “At your command, Celestial Wisdom.”

“You will coordinate with Maskirovka assets—but you shall be in command. You will infiltrate Taurus and you will secure for Us Our property which Thomas believes is his alone. The resources of the Confederation are yours for this—use them wisely, Major Riese.”

“Understood, Celestial Wisdom,” the officer replied with a deep bow. “If it proves impossible to recover Your Core, Sire?”

“If I cannot have that technology, then neither shall Thomas Calderon, Major Riese. If you cannot obtain it for me, then destroy it.”

“And their vessel?”

Maximillian smiled. “A secondary priority—concentrate on the Core, but if the opportunity presents itself, such a technological treasure trove would be more fitting in Sian orbit than cloistered within the distant Hyades. Understand me, Major,” the Chancellor said firmly as he cast his gaze down on the officer, “the ship is nothing more than a toy—a sideshow. Your first priority is the Data Core—that vessel is only a consolation prize in the grand scheme.”

“Understood. If we have the opportunity to take or destroy it, however, . . .,” Riese began and the Liao smiled grimly once more.

“Yes. If the opportunity arises and if you have acquired or destroyed the Core, then the WarShip itself you may retrieve—or render useless. To that end, I shall grant you one of our special weapons. Make certain it is put to good use, Major.”

Gasps arose from the Court—even Candace was shocked by the ease at which the Chancellor had just given permission to the Death Commando to utilize a nuclear weapon. Maximillian Liao leaned back against his throne, and closing his eyes, he smiled as he slowly stroked his long and elegant mustache.

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-12 04:09pm
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Man, I cannot get over how much the Liaos are a bunch of yellow menace caricatures. Maybe they should loose the Mandate of Heaven at some point, a new dynasty might be more interesting.

Also, it is starting to look like the Taurens should hire some Regime Protection mercenaries-there have to be mercs for sale who will be willing to march up an down streets in parade uniforms instead of slogging through battlezones, even if it is for reduced pay. :D



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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-12 06:05pm
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Have I mentioned how much I hate ComStar?
Especially when they got turned into Tech-hoarding, Quasi-Religious, Power-Hungry FuckNuts?



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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-12 11:08pm
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You've definitely got a good point Tev-might some of the local acolytes from within a 1-2 jump radius be flocking to Taurus to pay their respects, to get out and touch the Warship even if through a spacesuit, or to harass the crew or do other annoying but well-meaning things? Might some such not get in the way of the actual spies and sabatours?

Might not a Lyran 'merchant' show up, puffed up and grandiose and ask to buy a copy of the Core on credit if rumors are reaching far and wide now? After all, the Commonwealth can afford to throw money at a problem, and so to can many of it's private citizens. And lots of money is ever so much more civilized a way to get something than hackers, crackers or thieves. Just...pay through the nose.



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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-13 12:52am
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The Palace of the First Prince
Avalon City, New Avalon
Federated Suns
October 12, 3025


“Christ,” whispered Hanse Davion as he stared at the image, “that is a Taurian Concordat Navy Calderon-class Battleship.” He looked up at the two men seated before his desk and he gave them a wry grin. “Please, tell me that this is archival footage; that this is some sick joke.”

“Unfortunately, Sire, it is neither. A free trader who is rather . . . indebted to my agency,” Quintus Allard said with a grim chuckle, “managed to record that as he was leaving the Taurus system. She’s real and she’s mobile—real-space, at least,” the Intelligence Minister cautioned, “but as she was on course from Gateway Point—the sole known jump-point into the interior of the Hyades, by the way—to Taurus orbit, it is a good bet she has a working K/F Core as well.”

“Never figured you for a historian, Hanse,” the third man said with a smile. “But you recognized that ship quick enough—it took some digging before the two of us were able to identify it.”

“Ardan, that is because neither of you built the models of the Ships of the Reunification War that I did as a child. I had them all, but I most especially loved the battleships—the Terran Hegemony Monsoon and Farragut, the Federated Suns Golden Lion, the Marik Atreus, the Kurita Mikasa, and the Taurian Concordat Samantha Calderon. Truth be told, as much as my inner Davion denies it, the Taurians made a damn fine ship in those old battle-wagons—more aesthetically pleasing as well.”

The Prince’s Champion—Ardan Sortek—laughed, and even Quintus broached a smile, but then First Prince leaned back in his chair and he rocked as the smile on his face faded into a frown.

“First, that free trader is no longer indebted—his remaining sins are now forgiven, Quintus,” Hanse said bluntly, and Quintus nodded, making a note on his pad. “Second, where the hell did they find that? The histories that I read,” Hanse pointed out, “said that the Taurians scuttled every surviving Calderon at the end of the War—specifically to keep them out of the hands of my fore-fathers and the Star League.”

Quintus sighed. “There have been rumors for four hundred years that the Taurians faked that scuttling, Sire. An entire mythos has arisen about a hidden pirate point deep within the Nebula where the Last Taurian Fleet sleeps, waiting for a just ruler to find them. No one has ever found anything, though, so pretty much we dismissed those rumors as wishful thinking. Now?” Quintus shrugged. “The rumors may have been right—even if exaggerated.”

“I hope that they were exaggerated,” whispered Ardan. “Because according to the story I read this morning, there are supposed to be four of those battleships in that cache, along with a baker's dozen of lighter vessels.”

Hanse held up one hand. “We’ll panic if another ship suddenly arrives over Taurus—I presume that you have already arranged for near constant surveillance of Gateway?”

Quintus just smiled and Hanse nodded. “If they salvaged her, that means they need a crew—trained JumpShip engineers and technicians, as well as specialists for weapons that no one has used in a century and a half. She’s damaged,” Hanse pointed out as he replayed the tape again, “see those pockmarks on her port armor—that is the impact point of shells from a NAC-35,” and he smiled again, “if my memory serves me correct. And she’s got hull burns from Naval Lasers and PPCs. Odds are, she is going to take a lot of work to make serviceable—and I seem to recall that the Calderons are very dependent on munitions. No one manufactures that type of munitions these days.”

“All true,” answered the Champion. “But even so, this is a game-changer.”

“Is it?” asked Hanse. “She is one ship, probably lacking ammo for her guns, that can be in one place at one time—and gentlemen, we all learned during the First Succession War that enough fighters armed with nuclear weapons can kill ANY unsupported WarShip.”

“She’s a morale boost, Hanse,” Ardan pressed on, shaking his head. “With her in his possession, Thomas might just get more aggressive than he has any right to be.”

“Thomas Calderon is many things, Ardan,” answered Quintus, “but a fool is not one of them. Hanse is right—the ship alone doesn’t change the balance of power on the Taurian Rim. But this might.” And with that the Intelligence Minister handed across a document folder stamped TOP SECRET—SPECIAL ACCESS.

Hanse took the folder and he began to read. “My God,” he said a few moments later, and he looked up at Quintus. “Is this confirmed?”

“Yes, Sire. We have an agent on Taurus and he managed to get us this précis on what they are calling the Vickers Memory Core.”

“Who?”

Quintus winced. “Sire, it endangers the life of these agents with every single person who is aware of their identity—even you. One slip is all that it takes, and this man is dead.”

“Who, Quintus?”

“Three years ago, we were contacted by a middle-level TDF officer, Sire,” Quintus answered, shaking his head. “Since then he has been a regular conduit for information on their government—not their military. Information that has helped defuse tensions on a number of occasions.”

“Who, Quintus?” Hanse snapped.

“The personal bodyguard and military advisor to Edward Calderon—heir of Thomas Calderon. Subaltern Jon Kincaide.”

“Bloody hell,” muttered Ardan, and Hanse slowly nodded.

“And you think that Kincaide is a middle-man for Edward—that Thomas’ heir is actively passing us information?”

“Edward Calderon is advocating—by all accounts—for a . . . normalization of relations between Taurus and New Avalon. He has pushed for an end on the embargo against the sale of Taurian goods to our consumers—and for a free trade agreement between the Concordat and the Suns. Sire, we do not know for certain if Edward Calderon is funneling us information—but if he is, then . . .,” and Hanse cut off Quintus.

“Yes. And now I see exactly how sensitive this is. If Thomas finds out, he will disown Edward; his paranoia will amplify if such a betrayal—and that is exactly how he will see it, gentlemen, a personal betrayal—comes to light. Damn,” Hanse whispered as he shook his head.

The antique clock on the mantle slowly ticked and tocked as the two men waited on their Prince. Hanse stood up and he nodded. “We need to try and get a look at that Core, gentlemen—but I am not authorizing the invasion of Taurus to do so.”

“Thank God,” whispered Ardan.

Hanse glared at his Champion for a moment and then he chuckled. “Don’t worry—I’m not going to feed the Heavy Guards into the nuclear maw of the Taurians at Gateway. Quintus, can you and DMI get an MI4 team on the ground?”

“Already done,” Quintus said as he laughed. “I’ve got MI4 teams on most capital worlds, Sire.” MI4, the Covert Operations Division of the Department of Military Intelligence, was tasked with gathering what was once called ‘hum-int’; intelligence garnered from the real live traitors that every state had waiting in the wings, Quintus thought with a smile. You just had to find them first.

“Good. They may need some backup though—can you sneak in a team of the Rabid Foxes?”

Quintus winced. MI6—Special Intelligence Operations—was known as the Rabid Foxes for a reason. An elite commando force—one on par with Kurita’s DEST or Liao’s Death Commandos—the troopers of MI6 were renowned for accomplishing their mission . . . but the body counts they often left behind were considerable. And Quintus much preferred . . . quieter means of gathering information.

“I do not advise that, Sire,” he answered quietly.

“MI4 will need backup on this, Quintus. This is like . . . Takashi trying to sneak someone into the NAIS and make off with our data. The Stealthy Foxes aren’t going to be able to do it alone.”

The Intelligence Minister sighed and then he nodded. “I can get them in—getting them out might be a problem.”

“Volunteers only, Quintus,” Hanse ordered in a very somber voice. “And make it clear to them, they cannot be taken alive.”

Ardan winced, but he nodded, and Quintus said, very quietly, “Yes, Sire. They will understand.”

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-13 02:11am
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Humphreys Manor
River City, Andurien, Duchy of Andurien
Free Worlds League
October 13, 3025


“So,” Dame Catherine Humphreys, Duchess of Andurien, said simply to the woman who knelt in her presence. “Did Kyalla send you?”

“The Magestrix grants this one leave to serve her without needing to approve my every action, Your Grace,” the woman replied. “Much like your own Andurien Intelligence Agency benefited from our training in this regard—they are far more capable than your average SAFE agent.”

“Indeed they are,” mused Catherine. “This information from Taurus—a trick? A trap?”

“Unknown. But it would behoove both our nations,” and the nameless woman smiled, “if we were to have access to this Core.”

“And the ship?”

“We cannot smuggle in the manpower to either steal it or destroy it—but why should we worry? The Davions and Liaos will fight over it and wind up breaking the toy between them—each blaming the other. So typically male.”

“Possibly—but they will be after the Core as well.”

“Yes. But their best agents are men—men who while capable tend to still favor brawn over brains. Our agents will take a different tack. After all, Dame Catherine, we need only a few minutes of access to the Core in order to make a copy—perhaps a quarter, maybe one half an hour at most. And knowing Taurus,” the woman smiled, “the vast majority of their guards will be male. And therefore quite vulnerable to . . . shall we say, penetration? By my agents. Our agents.”

“Then let it be done.”

“And Janos?”

“He has SAFE, does he not? In a decade or two they might realize there something worth pursuing on Taurus—until then, why bother the old man?”

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-13 08:46am
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You know, I have an all-female security and bodyguard regiment just lying around for hire if you want it. :D They even take credit, if they think it's a good chance they'll get the interest.



ImageCommander of the MFS Darwinian Selection Method (sexual)

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-13 12:46pm
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Vehrec wrote:
You know, I have an all-female security and bodyguard regiment just lying around for hire if you want it. :D They even take credit, if they think it's a good chance they'll get the interest.


:D

MA

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-13 12:46pm
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Sanctum of the Primus
Hilton Head Island, North America
Terra
October 13, 3025


“Tell me, Demi-Precentor,” Julian said as he sipped his tea, “what would keep the Taurians from seeing this weapon coming at them?”

The young Omega Division researcher lowered his head and then he looked the Primus directly in the eyes—even as Nicholas Cassnew felt fresh beads of sweat forming. The six hour break had devolved into over two days, but maybe this was the solution that the Primus would favor, thought Precentor ROM. Certainly, it might be enough to save his own neck.

Demi-Precentor Walter Manson sighed, “I cannot guarantee that they won’t detect it, Primus,” he said bluntly. “However, they cannot watch ALL of their surrounding space. The drive package that our engineers will attach to the asteroid will create a visible plume for a very short time as it accelerates—that is our window of vulnerability. Afterwards, our chosen approach vector comes along a corridor where few asteroids originate. I might add, this method will be completely deniable.”

“And will they NOT detect the drive plume?” Julian asked as he sat down the cut of tea and rubbed his jaw.

“They will . . . but there are so many small craft and mining vessels in the Taurus system that the odds of them zeroing in on this single plume—far from any of the known jump points AND identifying the asteroid upon which the drive section will be installed is very remote.”

Julian nodded and he continued to rub his jaw. It was audacious; Manson had proposed selecting a nickel-iron asteroid some two hundred meters in diameter—and accelerating that piece of rock on a collision course for the Taurian WarShip. It was elegant and brutal . . . and it might well work.

“This will take time, Demi-Precentor—what if the Taurians move the ship?”

“Unlikely, Primus. For the next few months, their techs and engineers will be swarming over the vessel examining in a vain attempt to rediscover the secrets of that lost technology. They will training crews, mapping out the ships systems and wiring, taking weapons apart to learn how to construct them. And yes, it will take time—but so to will deploying our forces from here on Terra to Taurus in a raid that cannot be denied.”

“And if the asteroid misses?”

Manson and Nicholas exchanged a look, and then the Demi-Precentor shrugged. “If we aim the Sledgehammer correctly, it will not—but there is a . . . possibility that Taurus itself will hit by fragments afterwards—fragments that will impact with the force of a fusion warhead.”

Julian waved off that concern. “No one can make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, Demi-Precentor Mason. And the Core, Nicholas? What do you propose about that?”

Precentor ROM swallowed heavily. “I have alerted all available ROM teams within a hundred light-years of Taurus. We will find the Core—and destroy it.”

“Before they unlock it?”

“That is . . . unlikely, Primus,” Nicholas answered. “Taurian Cores of this era were designed with great paranoia—if the wrong access codes are entered, the entire Core will wipe itself clean. Destroying all data. They have to search their . . . incomplete,” Nicholas said with a smile, “archives to find the correct codes for the specific core that they have—or the overrides; information which the Star League mostly destroyed. It is possible that even possessing the Core, the Taurians may never be able to access it.” And Nicholas held up a hand as the Primus began to interject. “And it is possible, Primus, that they might—which means we must destroy it ourselves. I believe that we have a good chance of success on both fronts with this plan.”

Julian frowned and he leaned back, lifted his cup and saucer and took another sip. It was a complete plan of action—and far less risky to ComStar than attempting to use the Fleet. But would it be enough? He nodded his head. All things were risk—he knew that well after climbing the ladder of ambition in these treacherous ranks. The First Circuit would approve it—and Julian smirked, although Myndo would insist on using multiple rocks, probably to scour all life from the planetary surface. She was that blood-thirsty; even so, she still had her uses.

“Very well, and I intend to turn up the heat on Protector Thomas myself. Perhaps we can scare him into surrendering that vessel with the mere suggestion of an Interdiction.”

Nicholas winced. “Thomas will not give up the ship, Primus. He can’t, not even under that threat.”

“In that case, he will learn anew the lessons in a War where his enemies can communicate swiftly and his forces cannot.” Julian nodded, a crooked smile on his face. “Nicholas, I’m impressed—frankly, I thought you were a dead man two days ago. Now, I see there might be some small benefit to salvaging you and your career.”

“Thank you, Primus,” Precentor ROM whispered.

“Don’t thank me yet—you still have to brief the First Circuit, including Precentor Dieron. And she wants your head mounted on her wall—literally, Nicholas.”

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-13 01:17pm
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You know, if you threaten to take away somebody's means of communications, you had better take them away and not just sit on them and go NUH UH. Because uhhh. They can actually nationalize things like that you know. Armies and shit. Comguard is fine and all, but it's not actually going to stop a state military at this stage of the game. The best they can manage is a spoiler force.

Oh sure, they might have it rigged to blow. But that's not a normal thing you do, not if there's a chance they could accidentally go off and destroy the facility in normal operations. Wiping hard drives? Takes time to do it right. Or an axe.



ImageCommander of the MFS Darwinian Selection Method (sexual)

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-13 01:25pm
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Castellan
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Interesting...everyone knows the Taurians have the warship and the Core...but no one seems to know about the crew. I suspect that will throw a spanner in their plans.



"I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams" - Hamlet

"Bones' remedies for problems seems to revolve around giving his patients a prescription of heavy drugs, booze, or taking them to strip clubs. He is either insane, a drug addict, or the best damn Doctor in Starfleet!" - SFDebris

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 Post subject: Re: By the Horns (A BattleTech Alternate Universe) PostPosted: 2013-06-13 02:32pm
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Joined: 2012-11-10 12:31pm
Posts: 19
The only probleam I have with this story is the speed people have in finding out and making plans to attack it. I would have expected a lot of disbelif and rechecking first. Mind you the Taurians are going to have fun watching all the varius SF/intiligance teams killing each other trying to access the core. The gurds will be bribed & shagged senselise by the Oppistion :)

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