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 Post subject: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-08 08:14pm
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Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
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Edward’s War

A Work of Alternative Fiction set within the BattleTech Universe
By Stephen T Bynum
All Rights Reserved



Prologue

Pendle’s Town, Charleston
Taurian Concordat
February 18, 3026


“Eddie, my boy! Damn good to see you again, son,” exclaimed the old man as he rose from his chair behind the desk in his office.

The subject of that exuberant greeting grinned as he leaned against the door frame, his arms crossed over his chest. At just 22 standard years, Edward Calderon had seen fewer than a quarter of the days of the speaker—not by much, but fewer. But while the old man may have been retired from the Defense Force, the undress jacket of the planetary guard that he wore was still taut across tightly corded muscles. And if his hair was thinner than in years past; well, did the quality of the brain beneath the skin and bone actually care about the number of hairs on the scalp above?

“So this is where they shipped you off to, you old coot,” Edward said as he unfolded his arms, stood, and then walked up to the old man with his hand extended.

“Old coot, my ass, you young whelp!” the man snapped; the words may have been harsh, but his tone held nothing but warmth. “And for your information, Eddie, no one shipped me out. I retired, if you will recall.”

“Actually, Brigadier, as I recall, it was a medical retirement; the docs wouldn’t recertify you for another tour playing mother hem at the Academy. I think they said you needed some rest to ease the strain on that old ticker of yours.”

“A baseless slander; I was always planning to settle down out here away from the snake-pit of Samantha City politics. Just maybe not quite so soon.”

Ignoring the outstretched hand, Ray Jessup embraced the younger man fiercely. And then he stepped back and examined Edward from head to toe with a critical eye. “Commandant, eh? And with the office of the Inspectorate no less. You know you’re moving down in the world.”

Edward answered that with a snort. “We also serve who inspect troops and push papers, Sir. Even if we trained for four years to pilot ‘Mechs—and less than six weeks for our current assignment,” he finished sourly.

“What did you expect, Eddie?” the former head of the École Militaire softly replied. “You’re the bloody heir for Christ’s sake; did you just think that graduating fourth in your class was going to earn you a command slot in one of the battalions on the Davion border? Or chasing pirates out on the Rim?”

“No, Sir,” the Captain answered as he shook his head, “but they could have left me in one of the battalions of the Guard Corps. Those units only seldom get rotated out anyway. Instead I’m piloting a bloody desk too many damn days a week. In the stygian depths of the General Headquarters on Taurus, no less. You won’t believe the strings I had to pull to grab this inspection tour and get of the Cluster.”

“So is that why you’re here, Commandant Calderon? To whine to an old man about how unfair the universe is?”

Edward grinned, and then his face cleared of outward signs of emotion, he snapped to attention with a click of his boot heel and saluted smartly, fixing his eyes on the wall behind Jessup. “Absolutely not, Brigadier, Sir! Edward Calderon, Commandant, Office of the Inspectorate, Administrative Command, Taurian Defense Forces; reporting as ordered! Sir!”

Ray snorted again. “Cut the cadet crap, Eddie, and then draw up a seat.”

As the commander of the Charleston Volunteers sat back down in his sturdy, no-frills, no-comforts wooden chair, Edward did as his former instructor and both past-and-present mentor instructed and sat down in one of the two chairs arrayed before the desk.

“So, Mr. IG Man,” Ray drawled, “where exactly do you propose to begin with your inspection of Charleston’s defenses?”

“Well knowing you like I do, I’m certain you probably have the armor battalion out on a FTX—along with at least half of the infantry. The infantry you don’t want some staff wienie from Taurus taking too close a look at.”

Ray nodded, a slight twitch in his mouth betraying his amusement. “And so the staff wienie will do what?”

“Despite our reputation—well-earned reputation, may I add—at the IG’s office for an adverse reaction to fresh air, mud, muck, and grease, I think I will change into my field kit and borrow one of your choppers to observe the FTX in question. Then, after we all return to base, I believe that a surprise inspection of the barracks and vehicle hangers is in order. After that, we can start plowing through your paperwork.”

“Thank you, Lord,” Ray spoke loudly towards the ceiling. “You have worked a miracle today, a blessed miracle.”

“You know that God is omnipresent, right? You don’t have to shout.”

“The hell I don’t, boy. God is older than I am—I imagine he’s a mite hard of hearing as well. But seriously, Eddie, it sounds like you learned a little more from me than how to operate a ‘Mech,” Ray finished with a smile.

“I asked myself what would the Old Man do? And then I thought back to all of your inspections. Of course, that means you know what to show me and what to hide, so I’ve got two weeks to ferret out all of your trooper’s dirty little secrets.”

“Well, as it just so happens,” Ray said as he stood, “there is a Field Training Exercise currently underway. And I have a whirly-bird waiting on the pad anytime you want to depart. I think that the Inspector General’s office will like what we have been doing out here to train up the local troopers and the Constabulary.”

Edward raised an eyebrow. “You have the Constabulary in the field? Not just the regulars?”

The old man snorted. “Only the armor battalion is regulars, boy. And there is only a single battalion of that; plus a division of air-breathing fast-movers —one singular division of four planes—for atmospheric defense and a grand total of fourteen VTOLs, eight of which are converted civilian jobs. All six battalions of Charleston’s infantry are local troops that have never been off planet in their entire lives. Yeah, they wear the TDF uniform and draw a paycheck, but the previous commander let them go to pot—said that infantry were worthless and treated the troopers like shit. And so he got shit results. Good riddance to the asshole.”

“I’ve got almost three thousand registered volunteers in the Constabulary, though. They may be as green as fresh-cut pine, but damn if they aren’t eager as all hell to show the regulars what they can do. Since I got here, we’ve started whipping the full-time infantry into shape and I’ve personally taken a hand in getting the Constabulary sorted out and geared up. We train ‘em for three days a month, rotating then over a four-week cycle so that someone is in the field every bloody weekend—and the line infantry and armor are there with them each and every damned time. And I’ll tell you this; some of those volunteers are down-right sneaky bastards on maneuvers. They’ve got all sorts of dirty tricks they are itching to try out on raiders or regulars alike.”

“Sounds like you’re having a wonderful time out here.”

“Wonderful? Wonderful?! I’ve got volunteers out there some of whom are totally clueless—and more than a few of the regulars as well. Some of them actually know enough to lace their own boots without their mother holding their hand. A few—a few, mind you—of them are pretty good, but wonderful?”

A peal of thunder resounded against the office window and both men looked towards the glass as the first heavy drops of an autumn storm began to fall.

Eddie shook his head. “And you arranged for the weather to go south as well?”

“Don’t forget, God and I are close personal friends. We partner up for bridge every Wednesday night down at the social center and pick up old broads willing to buy us a dinner on their pension checks.”

“Having the time of your life, the time of your life. Let guess, the FTX is in the middle of some god-forsaken miserable swamp filled to the brim with the local equivalent of alligators?”

“Don’t be silly, Eddie, my boy; there is no indigenous life-form on Charleston that even remotely resembles an alligator. I had to import the genuine thing all the way from Ishtar.”

******************************************************************************

Edward frowned as he considered the field boots his batman had packed into his kit back aboard the DropShip Vindictive. He frowned at the black glossy highly-polished finish that gleamed flawlessly on the leather surface to be precise. Didn’t Stanton know what field utilities were for? Removing another item from the case, he shook his again. Sure enough, the buckle on his belt was bright glistening silver embossed with the Bull emblem of the Concordat. At least the career Corporal had not been able to polish the trousers, blouse, and field jacket—although the snap buttons on the jacket’s front closure and all four pockets had been. Polished and buffed until the anti-glare coating had been scrapped clean and each silver-toned circle shone like a mirror.

The young man sighed. He had known going into the Defense Force that it was a schizophrenic organization at heart. The Armor Command and BattleMech Command were filled with professionals who trained hard, fought hard, and played hard—but professional soldiers regardless that were dedicated to defending the Taurian people. Infantry Command and Fortress Command vastly outnumbered those components, but except in the direst of circumstances those sections never left their homeworlds. While there were some good units in both of the two defensive divisions of the TDF, by and large they were filled with short-timers serving the mandatory two-year term of service required of all Concordat citizens. The Navy was different; it was a professional service as well, but then the Taurians hadn’t had a proper Navy since the end of the Reunification Wars: just JumpShips and DropShips for transport and a handful of Assault DropShips and Fighter Carriers for local defense. Still, that branch had retained their elán and high standards, even if they no longer had the WarShips to go with them. Medical Corps was just as solid, and it stood proudly apart from the rest as an organization that had trained nearly all of the doctors and nurses and paramedics serving the people of the Concordat. And then there was the Administrative Command and all of its glorious sub-departments—including the Officer of the Inspector General—the Inspectorate as many of the grognards called it. Good solid dependable line troopers and officers fought like hell to stay out of the bureaucracy, leaving only those who wanted to play the political game to serve in its ranks. Or those of us like me, Edward thought, who get stuck here because some bureaucrat doesn’t want to explain to Pop that I am just a soldier like any other in the TDF.

The REMFs (Rear Echelon Mother F'ers, Eddie enunciated inside his head with a smile) of Administration seldom had any field experience, and for the most part they didn’t want any. The exercises and war-games they played were in the political arena, not physical combat, and it showed in how the enlisted and non-commissioned staff performed their jobs. Appearance—not substance—was by and large the watchword in Admin. His batman had never even considered that Edward would go into the field and actually do the job he had been sent out here to perform; the thought had quite possibly never even crossed his mind when he had blithely ruined the effect of the field camouflage back aboard ship. Even his rank tabs had been sewn on in bright golden thread, for Christ’s sake! Full color rank tabs to boot. Well, at least his sidearm was clean and functional—even if that too had been polished mirror bright.

His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the thin wooden door of the small room he had been given at Charleston’s defense HQ.

“Come.”

The door opened and a local volunteer walked in, carrying a bundle wrapped in brown paper and bound up with twine. “Sir,” the trooper said, “with the Brigadiers’ complements. And he said to pass along the following: ‘Ain’t seen a staff wienie yet that knows jack about the field—or their batmen.’ His words, Sir, not mine.”

Edward chuckled and shook his head. Sure enough, he could see the outline of boot soles against the paper wrapping. “Brigadier Jessup saves the day; or at least saves me from being embarrassed in front of real soldiers. Thank you, Corporal, if you will just leave that bund-. . .”

The window glowed with a flash of light as a sudden massive explosion slammed into the building, shattered the glass in the window and hurling both Edward and the volunteer to the ground. The floor, walls, and ceiling flexed from the concussion wave causing flecks of paint and plaster to spray outwards like flakes of snow.

His ears ringing from the deafening clap, Edward shook his head and worked his jaw, trying to clear the canals and sooth his thundering eardrums. He staggered up to his hands and knees, shards of shattered glass carving tiny slices in his hands and scoring his undress uniform’s knee-pads and boots. That’ll piss Stanton off, was Edward’s first thought, even as he could faintly hear emergency sirens in the distance.

His second thought was brought about by the faint creaking of the walls and large cracks running jaggedly across their surface. “Let’s get out of here before the whole place . . .”

He stopped before he could finish the sentence, because the Corporal would never hear him or anyone else again. A fragment of the shattered window had sliced deep into the youth’s throat, spilling his life-blood out upon the floor in a growing pool of crimson. Edward swallowed as he felt the bile in his stomach rising up, his nose catching the first wisp of the smell of death. Unable to stop himself, he retched and heaved up the breakfast he had eaten just two hours before. For several long seconds, he spewed bile and half-digested biscuits and bacon atop the broken glass, plaster dust, and shattered tile; and then he sat back on his heels and wiped the slime from his chin on the sleeve of his blouse.

The stench of his own vomit, combined with that of the hot coppery blood and the pungent odor of urines and feces caused his stomach to lurch yet again; but this time he held it back and he staggered to his feet.

Grabbing the web belt with his holstered automatic pistol, Edward Calderon sprinted out of the door and into Hell.


Last edited by masterarminas on 2012-08-09 12:43am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-08 08:28pm
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Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
Posts: 1039
For the purists among you, my vision of the Taurian Concordat is slightly different from what has been provided in canon. I see the Taurian Concordat as a mixture of French, Spanish, and United States cultures, settled way in the very earliest days of the expansion of Mankind from Terra. And they are just as prideful and as stubborn and as hard-headed as those three cultural groups. Most of the changed part of the setting will become evident within the story itself, but one thing most purists will immediately notice is the ranks.

Commandant is not a canon Taurian rank.

Well, that is because whoever wrote the Taurian ranks was an idiot. In canon, they are Cornet (01), Subaltern (O2), Brigadier (O3), Colonel (O4), Comptroller (O5), and Marshal (O6). Seriously? A Colonel outranks a Brigadier? Comptroller as a military rank? Six levels of officers in the entire nation's military structure? Two of which are equal to 2nd and 1st Lieutenants!

Not my Taurian Defense Force. Here are my officer ranks: Cornet, Subaltern, Capitaine, Commandant, Lieutenant-Colonel, Colonel, Brigadier, General, and Marshal. Nine ranks, divided in junior officers (Cornet through Capitaine), field-grade officers (Commandant through Colonel), and senior (or flag) officers (Brigadier through Marshal). I have used some things from the French, from the Spanish, and stolen from the English militaries (not such much US in this area, although the enlisted and NCO ranks owe much to the Americans, and so does the Taurian Navy).

Anyway, bear in mind this is not meant to represent canon faithfully and 100%, but is only my take. And I hope you stay aboard for the full ride.

MA

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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-08 10:53pm
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Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
Posts: 1039
Chapter One

Port Sheridan, New Vallis
Taurian Concordat
May 24, 3026


Lieutenant-Colonel Sean Walker was riding the high produced by his adrenal glands as he rounded the final turn of his daily run. Passing between the concrete dividers that lined the traffic lanes heading in to and out from the Defense Force military reservation, he cast a casual salute with a sweat-soaked hand at the sentry on duty, all the while not breaking the rhythm of his exercise. Shaking his head, and trying not to grin (but failing!), the sentry waved the officer ahead. He continued to jog as he passed by row upon row of barracks and vehicle hangers, marching soldiers in field dress and raw recruits running in formation while a grizzled DI called cadence. First a right turn, and then a left, and another left, and he was past the sprawling circle of buildings that surrounded the military port of New Vallis.

Breathing steady and deeply, he slowed down and came to halt, checking his pulsing carotid with two fingers even as he gazed out over the collection of DropShips on the pads before him. Slowly, he sat down on the grass, and began to stretch; flexing muscles and tendons taut from the fourteen kilometers he had covered in the past seventy-two minutes. Finally, he stopped and sat upright, resting his elbows atop his knees. With a sigh that was almost a groan, Sean got to his feet and began to walk towards one of the near identical four-storey tall brick and masonry buildings.

Kirkland Hall was the name etched in the stone arch above the two doors, although the wooden sign that stood among the grass in front proclaimed something slightly different: Transient Mercenary Quarters #3. As Sean walked past the sign, he reached out with his right hand and lightly rapped his knuckles against a hanging plaque emblazoned with the silhouette of a Osprey-class BattleMech on a shield of red and white. One of his men had hung the plaque shortly after the unit arrived, proclaiming to the world at large that this structure was the temporary home of the Roughneck Cavalry.

A sentry stood at the door to the building, but this sentry was not wearing the field browns of the Taurians; instead he wore trousers and blouse of olive drab, along with a cloth garrison cap. A polished belt of rich brown leather circled the sentry’s waist, and a second belt crossed over his shoulder, holding a silver whistle on a chain of steel links. One his right side hung a holster filled with a heavy revolver, and the pommel of a short knife extended butt forward from a sheath on his left. A black armband with two letters in gold—MP—circled his right bicep.

“Good run, boss?” the sentry asked as he opened the door, releasing a blast of cold dry air into the humid spring morning of New Vallis.

“Not bad, Rabbit, not bad a’tal,” Sean replied with a smile. “You ought to get out and try it sometime, helps you keep your wind.”

Franklin ‘Rabbit’ Banner grinned at his lord and master. “Four or five hours of fun between the sheets with two or three of the local pretty young things works wonders on my wind, that and lifting weights—twelve ounces at a time.”

“You are incorrigible, Rabbit,” Sean said between chuckles. “One of these days the father is going to come looking for you with a shotgun.”

“Been there, done that, became a merc one step ahead of the marriage party,” the sentry replied. “And speaking of which, are we going to be lifting soon?”

“Tomorrow in fact; heading back to our old stomping grounds on Bell, but this time we’re working for Hasek.”

Rabbit grimaced. “The man’s a weasel, boss.”

“Yeah, but the pay is good and we need the job. And it seems that he wants us to do to Mad Max what the Chancellor paid us to do to him. Besides, think of it as a challenge; you’re gonna need extra silver on that tongue if the girl lost family in our raid.”

“On Bell? Don’t make me laugh, boss. All the young and stupid ones swoon for a well-dressed merc with money to burn and a belle to spend it on. Besides, after experiencing the short-comings of the Feddies and the Cappies those oh-so-sweet and not-so-innocent lasses will be lining up for real men—Taurian men.”

Shaking his head with a laugh, Sean went on in, and began to climb the stairs, taking three steps at a time as he pounded his way up to the third floor. Once he reached his quarters, he stripped, tossing his t-shirt and shorts into the laundry hamper and climbed into the shower. Even with dial marked hot turned to full, the water was icy, but Sean scrubbed the grit and grime from his body anyway. A quick and careful shave later, and the colonel got dressed in his own OD green fatigues, and then sat down in a wicker chair to lace up his boots.

The phone on his bed-side table rang, and Sean hit the speaker button and then went back to tying tight the nylon cords. “Walker.”

“Boss,” the alto voice of Elise ‘Castle’ Blenheim, his operations officer, emerged from the speaker. “Final pre-lift staff meeting in five.”

“Told you I’d be back in time, Castle.”

“That you did, but one of these days you’re going to sprain an ankle and come limping in an hour late. Until then, the pool just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

“The things you people bet on; next thing will be whether or not I have croissants and coffee or orange juice and eggs for breakfast.”

“Nope. That’s a sucker bet; you’ve had the same breakfast every single blasted day for the past six years outside of combat ops—pepper grits and . . .”

“. . .buttered toast, with four slices of bacon, two sausage patties, and half a grapefruit,” Sean finished.

“And don’t forget the tall glass of milk.”

“Have I ever?”

“Not in six straight years; damn it.”

Sean laughed. “I’ll be down in two,” he said as he made certain his trousers were bloused perfectly.

******************************************************************************

The conference room was full when Sean made his way through the door a few short minutes later. Almost a dozen men and women surrounded the table, their conversations abruptly ending as one of the crowd barked out, “Attention on deck!”

“As you were,” Sean said as the leaders of his combat and support units began to rise. He circled around the table until he came to the coffee cart, stopping to pour a cup of thick black java to which he added three heaping spoonfuls of sugar and a sizable portion of cream. Taking a sip of the hot drink, he sighed, and then he moved on to the single empty chair and sat down.

“Master Chief, where are we on fixing Hunter’s ‘Hammer?”

Master Chief Technician David Gregg, the senior tech of the Roughnecks, shook his head. “We’ve been over the machine three times now, boss. So far we have not been able to trace the fault in its right arm. The actuators look good; my teams have yanked them three times and ran diagnostics without a single blip on the screen, so the glitch has to be somewhere in the control runs.”

“And how long to run through all the runs?”

“It could take weeks.”

“Yank the whole bloody thing and get a replacement from base stores. I want Sergeant Kidd’s ‘Mech one hundred and ten percent by the time we go feet dry at Bell.”

Gregg shook his head sadly. “Already tried that, boss. Would you believe they have no complete sets of left arms for a WHM-6T on base? Three right arms, sure, but no lefts.”

“Vassily?”

“Da, Colonel. I shall find you and the intrepid Sergeant Julia one working right arm before we lift,” Captain Vassily Romankov, the Roughnecks quartermaster and logistics officer, replied.

“Good, I don’t care who or what we short, or how it gets done, but get the parts and get that machine in the green again. How are we on stores?”

“Vassily’s people have finished loading the general supplies on all the DropShips,” Captain Jason ‘Bullseye’ Hamilton, the battalion exec and commander of 2 Company chimed in. “Final load of munitions is scheduled to arrive at 1430 local today. Gregg’s techno-geeks have full stocks of spares and replacement armor, as well.”

“I still say that we could use more medical supplies,” interrupted Surgeon-Captain Valerie Piersdale. “We can never have enough pharma for every contingency.”

“Doc,” the XO shook his head, “no matter how much you have, you always want more. Do you sell the morphine on the streets?”

The brunette pursed her lips and turned to glare at Bullseye. Sean could feel the chill inside her green eyes. “No. Keep in mind, Captain, that the next time you’re injured and we run short, I might have to buy your meds there.”

“Are we that short on medical?” asked Castle.

The surgeon shook her head. “Not really short, Elise. It’s just that we can run through the drugs so fast if things go south.”

Sean rapped the table top with his knuckles. “Until we get our first checks from Hasek, folks, the financial cupboards a bit bare. We can’t afford to spend more of our budget on medical unless we absolutely have to; and you know it, Doc.”

She nodded glumly. “In that case, boss, medical is good to go.”

“Transport?”

Felicia Philips, commander of the DropShip Roughneck and the senior of his transport skippers smiled. “The eggs are fueled and ready to lift on your word, Major. Life support, water, and provisions have been fully stocked and secured; in fact, the entire battalion is combat loaded. Well, except for that ‘Hammer that Gregg’s boys are working on over on Open Range. Captain Hall says we will have full charge on the drive by the time we dock with Big Sky.”

“Any problems with the shooters I need to know about?” Sean asked.

“New folks a little green, boss,” Battalion Sergeant Major Miles ‘Bulldog’ Rutherford drawled in slow and lazy accent he had gained growing up on Jamestown. “This latest batch has potential, but damn it all; can’t the bean-counters let us keep what we train?”

“They do, Bulldog,” Sean answered with a chuckle, “or have you forgotten Rabbit? Or Hunter? Or Six-pack?”

The non-com frowned at Sean. “They leave us the screwballs and take the ones that we have just gotten up to speed. But, before you say it, Major, sir, we will make bricks without straw. I’ll have the new guys up to speed before we debark at Bell.”

“Good. All right, let’s get down to the nuts-and-bolts of what the battalion will be doing on . . .”

A sharp knock at the door caused Sean to stop in mid-sentence. He looked up as the NCOIC (non-commissioned officer in charge) of the day stuck his head in. “Your pardon, Roughneck,” he said to Sean, using the officers call-sign, “but General Derry insists on seeing you . . . and a Monsieur Jouett.”

Sean sat bolt upright in his chair, his face suddenly drained of all color. Jouett? Here on New Vallis? “Thank you, Thunder; please show them to my office and inform them I will be there shortly. You know the drill, people; I want to see asses and elbows from now until we lift. Dismissed.”

As his men and women filed out of the room, Sean leaned back in his chair and pursed his lips in thought. Jouett. Things are about to get interesting, he thought to himself. I hate interesting.

******************************************************************************

Even before he opened the door to his office, Sean could hear the two Taurians within arguing—in French, no less! He shook his head. Half of the Roughnecks had been raised either speaking the language as their native tongue, and the other half had all been taught it way back in primary school. Although the official language of the Concordat had long been the standard of Star League English, a necessity engendered during the centuries long occupation of the Concordat by that hated band of robber barons who had ruled the known galaxy from Old Earth, the men and women of the Concordat—the Hyades worlds especially—were infamous for the distance which they travelled to cling to their traditions. To call a Taurian stubborn would be akin to saying that space is black, or that an ocean is damp. And since Samantha Calderon hailed from Aix-la-Chapelle, was of Gallic descent, and had spoken fluent French during her life, then by God and all his holy saints so would the children of her followers! Even if she had lived more than seven centuries in the past and virtually no other group of people had bothered to retain the language. And because her husband had been a hidalgo, most spoke Spanish as well. A few even spoke a hybrid language called Creole, brought by their colonist from a small portion of North America on Terra. It’s tradition, the Taurians said; and in their minds that settled that.

And the outer worlds, those not shielded by the great clouds of gas and dust and asteroids of the Hyades, those not settled by Sam’s followers but who had joined the Concordat back in the dawn of time of their own free will and accord, those worlds had nearly universally embraced the idea as well. Sometimes, it seemed the outer systems wanted to out-Taurus the Hyades; to prove themselves every bit the equal of the Old Worlds of Hell’s Heart. And so it was that scores of differing cultural and ethnic groups had embraced and adopted the language and customs of three small and insignificant table-top sized provinces of ancient Terra. Language and customs that not even two centuries of occupation and concerted effort by the Star League could stamp out.

Of course, the mercs who normally passed through New Vallis knew barely enough French (or Spanish or Creole) to get by; many hardly knew the difference between a beignet and a bidet! Only his Roughnecks weren’t the normal run-of-the-mill, down-on-their-luck, hard-scrabble mercenaries that Port Sheridan normally encountered. And neither was he. The Roughnecks were Taurians, one and all; many had served in the Defense Force before going over the fence to seek a mercs life among the stars. Sean had been one such himself in days long past.

He smiled to himself as he forced his thoughts back upon the matter at hand, and he opened the door.

The conversation within drifted to halt as Sean walked in and laid his data-pad on the center of his desk. The desk that half-hid the obese, balding man who wore the uniform of the Defense Force and gestured with the silver-chased marble baton that signified the rank of General in the Taurian Defense Force. Sean shoved the man’s booted feet from the blotter atop the desk as he snarled, “Get your fat lazy ass out of my chair, Francis.”

“Is it your chair, Sean Gerard Walker? This chair belongs to the Taurian Defense Force, it belongs to III Corps in whose sector the defense of New Vallis is entrusted, it belongs to the Port Sheridan Military Reservation; in short monsieur Lieutenant-Colonel, the damned chair belongs to me.”

“Belongs to you, yes, monsieur Général, your own porcine self, but currently leased to me and my Roughnecks at the ridiculous prices that you are charging for a poor—but honest—mercenary to rest and refit between contracts. So, once again, with all due respect you corpulent sedate bastard, remove yourself from my seat or I shall demand in the Courts that III Corps refund my command a sizable portion of those inflated charges which you have billed us.”

Général de corps d’armeé (in the French fashion) Francis Derry stood with a groan and adjusted his uniform jacket, and then he glared down through the bi-focal lenses of his eye glasses at the third man in the room. “I told you he would be useless, Monsieur Jouett,” the Corps commander rumbled. “Not only is he a traitor and a criminal, but he is an insolent one as well. The Protector would best be served letting a loyal unit of the Defense Force handle this; not some bottom-feeding band of ex-patriates led by an officer who was drummed out of the service in disgrace.”

“And where would the troops come from, monsieur Général? Your own III Corps, perhaps? With tensions rising daily between the Fox and the Bull, and the Liao just waiting for his own chance to sow mischief into the mix; you would voluntarily donate a battalion or three of your own men and ‘Mechs?” the third man answered with a shrug of his shoulders.

“Perhaps not from III Corps, but surely the Guard can spare the men. We do not need to rely on this band of scum.”

Sean bristled at the characterization of his men, as well as the complete disregard the two men had of his very presence in the room, even as he sat in the too-warm seat. While he had long ago made peace within himself over what ill thoughts his former fellow officers might yet still hold for him, the sheer levels of contempt and barely concealed hate in the voice of Francis Derry was beginning to kindle his own slow-burning rage towards ignition.

“My Roughnecks already have a contract, gentlemen, so if this is your idea of a business proposal then you can rest assured the answer is no. Since the battalion is lifting in less than eighteen hours and I have quite a bit of work left to do, I believe that you can find your own way out.”

The dapper civilian known as Jouett simply smiled and shook his head. “I took the liberty of messaging monsieur Hasek on your behalf via the HPG station here on New Vallis; your apologies were quite profuse, but you decided at the last moment to accept instead a contract offered by the Protector for duty here in the Concordat. Furthermore, you informed him that the fault lies entirely with you, and you have withdrawn all claims upon the monies deposited with ComStar for escrow.”

“YOU DID WHAT!” Sean exploded as he came to his feet, his anger no longer controlled.

“The Concordat needs you, Sean; Protector Thomas needs you,” Jouett said softly without moving from his chair.

“HAH!” sputtered the fat General. “Thomas might need troops, but he damned sure doesn’t need this man.”

“Henri,” Sean growled, struggling to control the blaze within his blood from erupting. “My people needed that contract; we don’t have your budgets to draw on if things slow down.”

The slight man nodded. “I understand, Sean; really I do. And rest assured, you and your people will be compensated appropriately; if you survive, that is. General Derry, rest assured that rumors to the contrary, Lieutenant-Colonel Walker and his men are not criminals—they work for me . . . and they have the personal trust of Protector Calderon.”

“It had best be worth it, Henri, whatever you have planned. Damn-it-all,” Sean spat as he down in another of the wood-and-leather chairs the reservation favored for mass purchases, “it took us four bloody years to get a contract on the Davion side of the Capellan March. You are just throwing that opportunity away? MIIO is not stupid, Henri, whatever some of our senior officials and officers think; they will eventually find out that the entire battalion works for you behind the scenes.”

Henri Jouett, the head of the Taurian Concordat Office of Special Intelligence and Operations (TOSIO) nodded gravely. “Forty-one days ago, raiders hit Charleston in battalion-strength. Over ten thousand civilians were killed and the capital was leveled.”

“Charleston? That’s a newly recovered colony from before the Collapse; there’s nothing on Charleston to warrant that size of a raiding force.”

“Oh, but there was, monsieur Colonel. Edward Calderon was on planet as part of the annual IG inspection tour,” Jouett paused and he looked Sean squarely in the eyes. “He was killed leading a group of Constabulary in defense of the planetary headquarters.”

Sean’s cheeks drained of all color and he froze; slowly, he lowered his head and closed his eyes. “Merde,” he whispered, as he sank back down into the chair; he shook his head and looked back up.

“Yes. And according to eye-witness accounts of the battle, it was a Federated Suns unit that carried out the massacre.”

“The Davions hit Charleston? That’s nearly sixty parsecs on our side of the border! Three full jumps from their space, just to get there! And no matter how much we may dislike the Fed-Rats, Henri, they don’t normally commit atrocities; not on this scale. We’ve learned that much from our operations in the Confederation these past few years.”

“The eyewitness survivors confirmed Davion ‘Mechs, painted in the colors and insignia of the 33rd Avalon Hussars,” Henri continued. “They were using ‘Mechs that match what our data-banks show the Hussars as fielding. The attack came as a complete surprise; the raiders hid their initial force aboard one of our supply ships, which we can only presume they jacked, and once it landed, they swarmed out to take the Port and hit the planetary HQ.”

“Did the Defense Force just sit on its hands and do nothing?” Sean asked through gritted teeth.

“Half of them died attempting to defend Pendle’s Town and the spaceport, Walker,” General Derry snapped. “Brigadier Jessup, yes, that Jessup,” he continued as saw the recognition in Sean’s eyes, “was mortally wounded when the HQ building collapsed on top of him. Commandant Calderon assumed command of the local defense and led the Constabulary into the fight with small arms and man-portable heavy weapons from the capital armory. He fought, and died, like a true Calderon,” the General said with a sad shake of his head. But then he looked up and continued.

“The Charleston Armor Battalion was forty kilometers outside the capital on an unscheduled FTX, along with three full battalions of infantry. The capital only had just one battalion of foot and the Constabulary to defend itself for the first half-hour. By the times the tanks and heavy infantry had returned, the raiders were preparing to lift for orbit; leaving Calderon dead and half of Pendle’s Town burning and broken.”

“They tried a hasty assault on the space port to disable the transport, but additional DropShips had landed—and no one told the tankers. We lost half the battalion of armor and two entire battalions of infantry trying to break in before the survivors decided to pull back into a defensive perimeter. The raiders let them go and they lifted under the coverage of aerospace assets—fighters and assault ships.”

Henri nodded in agreement. “They couldn’t have kept the raiders from wrecking the capital, even if they had been there the moment our supply ship grounded. And it wasn’t just Charleston that the raiders hit. Celentaro, Dicallus, Grossbach, and Organo were all struck at nearly the same exact time; but those worlds were hit with just company-level units. Still, the raiders deliberately engaged civilians; it seems they wanted the maximum numbers of dead and wounded.”

“Why? Why would Hanse Davion do this?” asked Sean, his voice trembling with shock and fury.

“I don’t think he did,” answered Henri.

Both Sean and Derry stared at the intelligence officer for several long seconds. And both—at the same time, in the same flat and dangerous voice—said one word: “Explain.”

The two men glared at each other, but then turned back to face Henri as he cleared his throat. “The Defense Force on Charleston managed to capture one raider alive; only one, even though they disabled or destroyed eleven BattleMechs. That prisoner has been interrogated, rather thoroughly, I may add, and what he said disturbs me. Davion wasn’t behind any of these raids; rather a pirate lord on Tortuga is orchestrating these attacks to provoke a war between Thomas and Hanse, if we are to believe him.”

Both Sean and Derry began to speak, to question what had just been said, but Henri held up one hand. “We aren’t the only target, gentlemen; the pirates are also hitting Davion worlds, but using ‘Mechs wearing our colors and insignia. TOSIO has confirmed that six Federated Suns worlds have been struck hard and that the Outback governors are screaming to New Avalon to defend them against the Taurian threat.”

“It could still be a false-flag operation, with our POW the sacrificial lamb who feeds us this cock-and-bull story to draw our attention away from the Davion border,” muttered Derry.

“Which is why the Guard is being redeployed to serve as rapid-reaction forces all along the Davion border; and why your III Corps is not being asked to give up a battalion or two or three for this operation, Francis.” Henri stood and turned to face Sean. “Thomas needs to see you, Roughneck; he needs to speak with you, and he needs you to give him his vengeance. More than that, he needs you to find the truth of those who will pay for the death of his eldest son. Your Protector is calling for your help; can you in good conscience say no?”

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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-08 11:46pm
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Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
Posts: 1039
Here is the full Table of Organization and Equipment for the Roughneck Armored Cavalry. Many of the 'Mechs I will post later on the story, or you can ask me. All equipment is 3025-era.

The Roughneck Cavalry
Table of Organization and Equipment
24 May, 3026


Firestorm Company (aka 1 Company)

Walker’s Lance
Lieutenant-Colonel Sean ‘Roughneck’ Walker; TDR-5T Thunderbolt
Sergeant Major Miles ‘Bulldog’ Rutherford; ARC-2T Archer
MechWarrior Helena ‘Mantis’ Madison; TPH-1N Typhon
MechWarrior Tabitha ‘Witch’ Vickers; TDR-5T Thunderbolt

Mitscher’s Lance
Lieutenant Natalie ‘Stalker’ Mitscher; CRD-3T Crusader
Sergeant Julia ‘Huntress’ Kidd; WHM-6T Warhammer
MechWarrior Jasper ‘Jumper’ Moreau; TDR-5T Thunderbolt
MechWarrior Virginia ‘Goose’ Rand; TPH-1N Typhon

Calderon’s Lance
Lieutenant Jennifer ‘Shadow’ Calderon; DRG-1G Dragon
Sergeant Victoria ‘Scotty’ Scott; TM-HWK-2A Tomahawk
MechWarrior Kristen ‘Midnight’ Becket; SCP-1T Scorpion
MechWarrior Franklin ‘Rabbit’ Banner; TM-HWK-1A Tomahawk

Braddock’s Air-Lance
Lieutenant Nicoletta ‘Book’ Braddock; Skyhawk
Aerospace Pilot Jasmine ‘Showboat’ Talbot; Skyhawk

Personnel: 28 officers and men (including techs)

Thunder Company (aka 2 Company)

Moreau’s Lance
Captain Olivia ‘Prancer’ Moreau; TDR-5T Thunderbolt
Sergeant Tobias ‘Gunman’ Nelson; CRD-3T Crusader
MechWarrior Ian ‘Reverend’ Moore; TND-1A Tornado
MechWarrior Thomas ‘Snowball’ Winters; WLD-1A Whirlwind

Cobb’s Lance
Lieutenant Dillon ‘Marshall’ Cobb; ARC-2T Archer
Sergeant Kay ‘Rogue’ Liana; TPH-1N Typhon
MechWarrior Jack ‘Blackjack’ Fletcher; WLD-1A Whirlwind
MechWarrior Fiona ‘Red’ O’Brian; TND-1A Tornado

Hastings’s Lance
Lieutenant Amanda ‘Vixen’ Hastings; TM-HWK-2A Tomahawk
Sergeant Rachael ‘Snake’ Anders; TM-HWK-1A Tomahawk
MechWarrior Shelly ‘Cocktail’ Rayborn; FSL-1A Fusilier
MechWarrior Nina ‘Blade’ Wells; TM-HWK-1A Tomahawk

Carmichael’s Air-Lance
Lieutenant Andrew ‘Ghost’ Carmichael; Skyhawk
Aerospace Pilot Quincy ‘Lynx’ Daniels; Skyhawk

Personnel: 28 officers and men (including techs)

Lightning Company (aka 3 Company)

Hamilton’s Lance
Captain Jason ‘Bullseye’ Hamilton; TDR-5TJ Thunderbolt
Sergeant Charles ‘Red-light’ Kell; TND-2A Tornado
MechWarrior Nancy ‘Barracuda’ Kerr; OSP-1T Osprey
MechWarrior Andrea ‘Pirate’ Phelps; VND-1R Vindicator

Tanaka’s Lance
Lieutenant Akira ‘Dragon’ Tanaka; TND-2A Tornado
Sergeant Monica ‘Typhoon’ Emerson; TND-2A Tornado
MechWarrior Lauren ‘Wildcat’ Chandler; VND-1R Vindicator
MechWarrior Grant ‘Thunder’ Halloway; PNT-9R Panther

Gearing’s Lance
Lieutenant Terri ‘Pointer’ Gearing; GRF-1T Griffin
Sergeant Paul ‘Iceman’ Burke; SHD-2T Shadow Hawk
MechWarrior Elizabeth ‘Shark’ Rohm; CLNT-4-3T Clint
MechWarrior Gordan ‘Six-pack’ Monroe; VLK-QT Valkyrie

Kincaid’s Air-Lance
Lieutenant Alexis ‘Raven’ Kincaid; Skyhawk
Aerospace Pilot Tina ‘Princess’ Holt; Skyhawk

Personnel: 28 officers and men (including techs)

Whirlwind Company (aka 4 Company)

Jackson’s Lance
Captain Adrian ‘Boxer’ Jackson; PHX-1 Phoenix Hawk
Sergeant Anna ‘Rocket’ von Braun; BDT-1A Bandit
MechWarrior Denise ‘Zephyr’ Bronson; BDT-1A Bandit
MechWarrior Desmond ‘Gambler’ N’Buta; MSQ-1T Mosquito

Patrick’s Lance
Lieutenant Ronald ‘Wolfman’ Patrick; PHX-1 Phoenix Hawk
Sergeant Deborah ‘Spirit’ Lieberman; BDT-1A Bandit
MechWarrior Lindsey ‘Boomer’ Blake; BDT-1A Bandit
MechWarrior Annabelle ‘Beagle’ Long; MSQ-1T Mosquito

Green’s Lance
Lieutenant Yvonne ‘Falcon’ Green; PTR-1A Patriot
Sergeant James ‘Marksman’ Pierce; PTR-2A Patriot
MechWarrior Miriam ‘Angel’ Deveraux; PTR-1A Patriot
MechWarrior Katherine ‘Spitfire’ Harris; PTR-1A Patriot

Rawlings’s Air-Lance
Lieutenant Shelton ‘Lightning’ Rawlings; Skyhawk
Aerospace Pilot Ernest ‘Tempest’ Hayes; Skyhawk

Personnel: 28 officers and men (including techs)

Service & Support Squadron
Combat Operations Section (24 officers and men)
Logistics Section (24 officers and men)
Medical Section (12 officers and men, including 2 surgeons)

Personnel: 60 officers and men

Combat Support Detachment

Mason’s Rifle Security Company (3 rifle platoons of 30 men each)
Harrington’s Cavalry Section (6 Rattlesnake Armored Cavalry Armored Vehicles, 6 Shrike VTOLs)

Personnel: 120 officers and men

Transport Section

Overlord-class DropShip Roughneck (43 officers and men)
Fortress-class DropShip Ramrod (42 officers and men)
Mule-class DropShip Open Range (20 officers and men)
Tramp-class JumpShip Big Sky (22 officers and men)

Personnel: 127 officers and men

Total Personnel: 419 officers and men with 48 BattleMechs; 8 Aerospace Fighters; 6 ACAVs; and 6 VTOLs

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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-09 03:39pm
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Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
Posts: 1039
Cháteau des Calderon
Samantha City, Taurus
Taurian Concordat
June 2, 3026


Sean waited beside the door as the Jesuit finished his whispered conversation with Thomas, and the two men hugged each other, and then knelt in prayer, the cheeks of the Protector moist with new tears. He glanced around the spacious, yet spartanly furnished private office; the bay windows on the western side of the traditional home of the Protector facing out over the bright blue waters of Lake Taurens. The towering snow-capped mountains and thick forests on the far shore stood defiantly pristine and primeval, as if ignoring that on this side of the glacially fed waters stood the most populous city in the entire Concordat could make that city vanish. Named after Samantha Calderon, Samantha City was clean, with wide streets and breath-taking architecture—and while, as with any major inhabitation of humanity across the endless depths of space and time, there were slums and neighborhoods less picturesque, those were far from this place where the Protector could gaze out over the still waters and calm his mind.

Sean’s mouth twitched. To think that the Inner Sphere call our people barbarians—if one of these Great Lords of the Inner Sphere could see our capital, our Core Worlds, they would faint from shock. And he snorted softly. Unlike their capital worlds, Taurus had never been touched by combat—not directly. No pirates or raiders or invaders had ever landed here with guns and cannons and lasers and missiles blazing. Not even during the Reunification Wars, although the Star League had occupied Taurus for twenty long years afterwards.

And the colony had the benefit of fusion power from the first day of their landings until today, leaving the planet far less polluted than many younger settlements of mankind. From January 23 of 2253 until today: seventy hundred and seventy-three years all told. Most of it, by far most of that time, the people of Taurus and her daughter worlds had been under the rule of the children and grand-children and great-grandchildren to the nth degree of Samantha Calderon.

The Concordat was old, the people of the Inner Sphere tended to forget that little fact; the government of today had begun life as the Taurian Concord in 2270, and expanded into the Concord of the Taurian Homeworlds, and finally the Taurian Concordat when colonies were founded outside of the walls of Hell’s Heart—the vast nebula that sheltered the core of the Concordat from danger. The Taurian government, essentially unchanged from that day in October of 2270, when Timothy Calderon was anointed as the Second Protector of Taurus, continued to rule over the Taurian people. And always, since that day, except for the dark hours in the aftermath of the Reunification War, a Calderon had led them.

The Concordat was older than the Free Worlds League, founded in 2271. It was older than the Terran Hegemony, founded in 2315, or the Federated Suns, founded in 2317. It was older than the Draconis Combine (2319), the Lyran Commonwealth (2340), and the Capellan Confederation (2367).

No, the people of the Concordat were no barbarians of the Periphery, although they lived out their lives surrounded by many who could reasonably be called such. Even today, not one of the Great Houses can match our literacy rates, our education, our arts—and our freedoms. But then, they did not need to, for quantity had a quality all its own—and they outnumbered the Taurians hopelessly.

Sean quit his wool-gathering as he heard the scrape of shoes on the polished hardwood floor, and he turned to see the priest and the Protector rising to their feet. He stood at parade rest and gave General Morton Grenadine, the commander of the Taurian Guards Corps, a nod, which the man—who was fully aware of Sean’s true status—returned warmly. Four armed specialists from the Guards elite Secret Service stood around the room in uniform—and Sean smiled slightly as he considered the gaggle of civilians. At least four of them were probably SS in mufti, as well. But the smile faded when he met the sour gaze of Grover Shraplen—a close friend of the Protector. Sean had never cared for the man, with his Liaophilia and rabid Davionphobia.

The Jesuit said his goodbyes to Thomas and Thomas’ second wife Katherine—Edward’s step-mother. Emily Calderon, God rest her soul, had died in a skiing accident on the slopes of those mountains in the bay windows, overlooking the lake and her home below. She had died when Edward was just three, back in 3007, and for years Thomas swore he would never remarry—but then he met Katherine, Edward’s nanny and she made some of his pain disappear. They married in 3018 with Edward’s blessing, and Katherine had given Thomas a little girl—Janice—who was almost seven years old, and three more sons—Ian (5), Felix (3), and little Jeffrey, born just two months ago.

Then the Jesuit turned and made his way to the door—but he stopped and smiled at Sean. Then he shook his head. “News travels far and fast, does it not, Monsieur Walker?”

“That it does, Father Oliver—how is he? The truth.”

“Not well, Sean, not well at all. He is angry and he is looking to lash out—be on your guard.”

Father Oliver patted Sean on the bicep and then he exited the room, and the mercenary née intelligence officer squeezed the hand of his former Chaplin.

Thomas’ cybernetic left eye—the legacy of a pheasant hunting accident ten years ago, when Grover Shraplen's inexpertly aimed pellets had grazed across the cornea and destroyed his vision—whirred and clicked and he smiled sadly at Sean, his roommate at the École Militaire so many seasons ago.

But before he could walk across to Thomas, another man stepped forward, his white robes out of place with the somber dress of the men and women in this room. A ComStar demi-precentor? Here? Sean wondered.

“The Peace of Blake be with you, Protector Calderon,” Demi-Precentor Taurus said with a face that simply oozed too much compassion to be sincere. “Primus Tiepolo sends his condolences at this. . . tragedy which has fallen upon your family.”

“We thank the Primus for his words,” Thomas answered curtly. “And we ask why there was no warning—if ComStar wishes to be our friend, they could have passed information regarding this attack before it came about.”

“Alas, the assault took us by surprise as well—but the Primus knows well your justified anger at those who are responsible for the destruction leveled against your worlds. He is concerned that Hanse Davion seeks to upset the balance of power—and restart the Succession Wars all over again.”

“Your Succession Wars are your concern—not that of Taurus. But whoever was behind this deed—they will pay for their crimes, Demi-Precentor!” Thomas thundered. "Regardless of who they are or the power at their disposal."

And the ComStar official bowed his head. “Indeed . . . and if I could have a few moments of your time this week, the Primus has given me certain . . . latitudes in arranging for your forces to increase their strength. So that you may secure your vengeance and in doing so preserve the status quo of the Inner Sphere and the Taurian Concordat, Protector Calderon.”

The private secretary to Thomas Calderon frowned—appointments to meet privately with the Protector were arranged through him, but the Demi-Precentor had just managed to circumvent him.

And Thomas gazed hungrily at the official. “How? ComStar has no army, no weapons.”

“But we know those who do, Protector Calderon . . . and we can arrange a transfer of arms to provide you the means of achieving your vengeance. That discussion can wait, of course, until you have finished mourning your loss; I remain at your disposal.”

“Information is ammunition,” Henri Jouett whispered to Sean as he moved into the room. “And one wonders just how much ammunition ComStar has at their fingertips?”

“I am shocked, shocked! That you would suggest ComStar might actually read everyone’s confidential mail,” Sean whispered back, and Henri chuckled.

“Just so. I know that neither I nor my predecessors have ever been able to penetrate their organization—their counter-intelligence operatives are fiendishly effective at ferreting out spies from their ranks. I wonder what they are hiding that they put such an effort behind it?”

Sean started to reply, but Thomas thanked the ComStar official once again, and called out his name. He walked over to the Protector and without a word he put his arms around the man and held him tight. “I am so sorry for the pain you must feel right now, old friend,” he whispered.

And then he stepped back and gave the Protector a full appraisal. “Katherine hasn’t been feeding you,” he said with a frown. “You’ve lost too much weight, my Lord. And you haven’t been sleeping, have you?”

Thomas shrugged and he walked over to the windows, Thomas trailing behind him. “I cannot sleep, old friend. Why? Why my son of all things?” he croaked. “Edward was safe—he wasn’t on the front lines of combat—why was his life just thrown away for nothing?”

Sean jerked and he stared at the Protector of the Taurian Concordat for a moment, and he cleared his throat, and Thomas turned to face him . . . and Sean’s open hand slapped the leader of the Taurian Concordat hard on the cheek.

The CRACK of the slap echoed across the room and the guards began to surge forward . . . but they stopped as General Grenadine held up one hand and resumed their station.

Thomas simply stared—and the civilians were looking at the two men in absolute horror, Grover Shraplen looking as if he were about to have a stroke.

“How dare you dismiss his service so flippantly, Sire? How dare you dishonor the memory of your son? Edward swore his oath to Concordat—an oath freely given because of his love for our homeland and our people, a people he wanted to serve. Your son’s life was not wasted, it was not thrown away, he died doing his absolute best to defend your people, Sire! It is tragic, and his loss should be mourned, but it must never be trivialized in such a manner again. Loss is something that the House of Calderon knows well—it comes hand in hand with serving the Concordat. Edward died as he lived his life—for his people; do not besmirch that service, Thomas Calderon, Protector of Taurus, of the Taurian Homeworlds, and the Taurian Concordat! Remember him as the man that he was, remember the joy that he gave you, and shame not his memory by making his last stand into something less heroic, less inspiring, less courageous than it was. He saved lives on Charleston, Sir. He organized the defense and he led the civilian volunteer Constabulary into the fire to give time for thousands to get to shelter or make their escape! Mourn him, grieve for him—we all will join you in that, my friend. But do not make the sacrifice he made in vain.”

Thomas sobbed and he sank down into a chair and he began to cry. Sean turned to glare at General Grenadine, but the old soldier was already barking orders. “This audience is ended—all will leave NOW!”

But the SS Guards allowed Sean to stay, and he knelt next to Thomas and wrapped the man, his friend, his liege in his arms and held him tight, as Thomas released all of the emotions he had bottled so tight within him, and he cried on the shoulder of his friend.


Last edited by masterarminas on 2012-08-10 02:01pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-09 09:49pm
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White Mage
White Mage
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Joined: 2003-02-12 11:59pm
Posts: 17633
Location: Tahalshia Manor
Quote:
MechWarrior Kristen ‘Midnight’ Becket; SCP-1T Scorpion

Scorpion? SCORPION?!?! Are you fuckin' shitting me? You put him in a 4-leg? Yeah, its' a Medium, but lose two legs and you're a corpse.
At least it's not a Goliath, where one damaged leg leaves you fucked, but STILL!!! The only good thing about either one is they are damned good as mobile gun platforms.

And WTF is a Mosquito? The only one I can recall is a Recon Plane. A Bandit is another Mech I can't find. Are they home-built?

But, on the GOOD Side, you have one of my favorite Lance Combos: ShadowHawk, Griffin, Clint, Valkyrie. :-D



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Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.

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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-09 11:07pm
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Jedi Master

Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
Posts: 1039
Here is the Skyhawk for this story: a 65-ton medium ASF that is fast for the period. Produced by Taurus Territorial Industries and is the workhorse fighter of the Concordat, but is always in short supply. Named after the A-4 Skyhawk, a great plane that I wish we still flew. Excellent maneuverability, decent armor for the period, good weapons array, decent heat dissipation (for the era). Can fire the PPC and 2 mediums w/o overheating, or the nose medium/small lasers and one wing medium/small lasers wtihout overheating (4 medium; 4 small) AND it has a really good aft sting against faster, lighter tailgaters.

Code:
                    AeroTech 2 Vessel Technical Readout
                                  VALIDATED

Class/Model/Name:  Skyhawk
Tech:              Inner Sphere / 3000
Vessel Type:       Aerospace Fighter
Rules:             Level 1, Custom design
Rules Set:         AeroTech2

Mass:              65 tons
Length:            18 meters
Power Plant:       325 Fusion
Safe Thrust:       7
Maximum Thrust:    11
Armor Type:        Standard
Armament:         
    1 PPC
    8 Medium Laser
    6 Small Laser
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Class/Model/Name:  Skyhawk
Mass:              65 tons

Equipment:                                                              Mass
Power Plant:  325 Fusion                                                23.50
Thrust:  Safe Thrust: 7
      Maximum Thrust: 11
Structural Integrity: 7                                                   .00
Total Heat Sinks:    16 Single                                           6.00
Fuel:                                                                    5.00
Cockpit & Attitude Thrusters:                                            3.00
Armor Type:  Standard  (152 total armor pts)                             9.50
                           Standard Scale Armor Pts
   Location:                            L / R
   Nose:                                 42
   Left/Right Wings:                  42/42
   Aft:                                  26

Weapons and Equipment      Loc        SRV    MRV    LRV    ERV  Heat    Mass
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 PPC                      Nose        10     10     --     --   10      7.00
2 Medium Laser             Nose         5     --     --     --    6      2.00
2 Small Laser              Nose         3     --     --     --    2      1.00
2 Medium Laser             RW           5     --     --     --    6      2.00
2 Medium Laser             LW           5     --     --     --    6      2.00
2 Small Laser              RW           3     --     --     --    2      1.00
2 Small Laser              LW           3     --     --     --    2      1.00
2 Medium Laser             Aft         --     --     --     --    6      2.00
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TOTALS:                                                    Heat: 40     65.00
Tons Left:                                                                .00

Calculated Factors:
Total Cost:        3,815,315 C-Bills
Battle Value:      1,091
Cost per BV:       3,497.08
Weapon Value:      1,913 (Ratio = 1.75)
Damage Factors:    SRV = 25;  MRV = 3;  LRV = 0;  ERV = 0
BattleForce2:      MP: 7,  Armor/Structure: 4 / 0
                   Damage PB/M/L: 3/1/-,  Overheat: 3
                   Class: FM;  Point Value: 11


Last edited by masterarminas on 2012-08-09 11:24pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-09 11:07pm
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And here is the link to all of the unique Taurian 'Mechs used by the Roughnecks here. The PHX-1 Phoenix Hawk, VND-1R Vindicator, and PNT-9R Panther are stock models, not altered from their normal configurations.

The Mosquito is 25-tonner moving 6/9/6 with a medium laser, two MGs (100 shots), and an SRM-2 (25 shots).
The Bandit is a 30-tonner moving 6/9/6 with a medium laser, two MGs (100 shots), and either an SRM-4 (25 shots) in the -1A or an LRM-5 (24 shots) in the -2A.

These two 'Mechs are being used to replace Stingers and Wasps in the Taurian Defense Force.

The other 'Mechs that are not canon (all except those three above) can all be found on the CBT forums via that link.

MA

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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-09 11:11pm
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And here are the vehicles mentioned. Both the Shrike VTOL and the Rattlesnake ACAV can carry a 5-man squad of Taurian infantry, so they can transport the entire Rifle Security Company if required. Normally, the TDF would assign infantry directly to these vehicles, but the Roughnecks are mercs and another 90 paychecks, pensions, medical, and provisions? They simply can't. And for those folks asking where the last two ASF are carried? The Fortress-class DropShip Ramrod can no longer lift heavy vehicles, only light ones, and it adds two ASF bays and more space for the infantry, as well as a bit of cargo and a MASH unit.

Starting with the Shrike:

Code:
Shrike

Mass: 25 tons
Tech Base: Inner Sphere
Motive Type: VTOL
Rules Level: Tournament Legal
Era: Succession Wars
Tech Rating/Era Availability: D/X-E-D
Production Year: 3000
Cost: 968,556 C-Bills
Battle Value: 423

Power Plant:  160 Fusion Engine
Cruise Speed: 129.6 km/h
Flanking Speed: 194.4 km/h
Armor:  Standard Armor
Armament:
    2  LRM-5s
    3  Machine Guns
    1  Infantry Bay (1.0 tons)
Manufacturer:
    Primary Factory:
Communications System:
Targeting and Tracking System:

================================================================================
Equipment           Type                         Rating                   Mass 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Internal Structure: Standard                      15 points                2.50
Engine:             Fusion Engine                160                       9.00
    Cruise MP:  12
    Flank MP:   18
Heat Sinks:         Single Heat Sink             10                        0.00
Control Equipment:                                                         1.50
Lift Equipment:                                                            2.50
Armor:              Standard Armor               AV -  24                  1.50

                                                      Armor     
                                                      Factor     
                                               Front     8         
                                          Left/Right    5/5         
                                                Rear     4         
                                               Rotor     2         

================================================================================
Equipment                                 Location    Heat     Spaces     Mass 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2 LRM-5s                                     FR        4         2         4.00
Machine Gun                                  LS        0         1         0.50
(R) Machine Gun                              RR        0         1         0.50
Machine Gun                                  RS        0         1         0.50
Infantry Bay (1.0 tons)                      BD        0         1         1.00
@LRM-5 (24)                                  BD        -         0         1.00
@MG (1/2) (100)                              BD        -         0         0.50

BattleForce Statistics
MV      S (+0)  M (+2)  L (+4)  E (+6)   Wt.   Ov   Armor:      1    Points: 4
12         1       1       1       0      1     0   Structure:  1
Special Abilities: IF 1


And the Rattlesnake:

Code:
Rattlesnake

Mass: 40 tons
Tech Base: Inner Sphere
Motive Type: Tracked
Rules Level: Tournament Legal
Era: Age of War/Star League
Tech Rating/Era Availability: D/C-E-D
Production Year: 2750
Cost: 1,309,167 C-Bills
Battle Value: 755

Power Plant:  200 Fusion Engine
Cruise Speed: 54.0 km/h
Flanking Speed: 86.4 km/h
Armor:  Standard Armor
Armament:
    1  PPC
    1  LRM-5
    1  Machine Gun
    1  Infantry Compartment (1.0 tons)
Manufacturer:
    Primary Factory:
Communications System:
Targeting and Tracking System:

================================================================================
Equipment           Type                         Rating                   Mass 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Internal Structure: Standard                      20 points                4.00
Engine:             Fusion Engine                200                      13.00
    Cruise MP:  5
    Flank MP:   8
Heat Sinks:         Single Heat Sink             10                        0.00
Control Equipment:                                                         2.00
Lift Equipment:                                                            0.00
Turret:                                                                    1.00
Armor:              Standard Armor               AV - 128                  8.00

                                                      Armor     
                                                      Factor     
                                               Front     30       
                                          Left/Right   25/25       
                                              Turret     30       
                                                Rear     18       

================================================================================
Equipment                                 Location    Heat     Spaces     Mass 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PPC                                          T         10        1         7.00
LRM-5                                        T         2         1         2.00
Machine Gun                                  T         0         1         0.50
Infantry Compartment (1.0 tons)              BD        0         1         1.00
@LRM-5 (24)                                  BD        -         0         1.00
@MG (1/2) (100)                              BD        -         0         0.50

BattleForce Statistics
MV      S (+0)  M (+2)  L (+4)  E (+6)   Wt.   Ov   Armor:      4    Points: 8
5          2       2       2       0      2     0   Structure:  2
Special Abilities:

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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-09 11:33pm
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Ok, Problem:

You have the Patriot as a 30ton mech in your list. It's not. The 3075 Tech Book lists the Patriot as a Heavy in use by the Free Worlds League.



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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-09 11:44pm
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That's also the best part of fifty years down the road from this. If I had to guess, I'd bet on this being another Periphery Special design that flies below the radar of the rest of the Sphere.



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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-10 12:48pm
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Yep.

MA

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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-10 07:16pm
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General Headquarters, Taurus Defense Force
Mount Santiago Defense Complex, Taurus
Taurian Concordat
June 3, 3026


Sean shook his head and frowned. “Sure, the Roughnecks are a heavy battalion—built for combat, by God—but the force difference here is adverse in the extreme, Henri. A full battalion—three combat companies, plus a command lance—landed on Charleston. They were then reinforced by a second battalion, with a second battalion command lance. And these raiders hit four more of our worlds at the same time, with around a company each. They deployed eleven companies—that is a full-strength FedRat ‘Mech Regiment . . . with which my four must contend.”

“But wait! It just gets worse—because these raiders also hit Hanse Davion’s worlds with nearly the same strength simultaneously.” Sean shook his head again. “My people are good, Henri, but we are not good enough to deal with a minimum of two ‘Mech Regiments by ourselves. That is odds of five and a half to my one.”

The head of TOSIO smiled and he shrugged. “Perhaps you can catch them separated and defeat them in detail, Monsieur Walker.”

“No,” the stern voice of Janice O’Conner, the Marshal of the Taurian Defense Force said flatly. “We would potentially be throwing away an asset in exchange for very little gain. If we send Lieutenant-Colonel Walker’s Roughnecks out there, we must also send other units with him.”

And General Grenadine nodded his agreement. “At the very least, two more battalions will be needed—although I have no idea where we can scrounge them from; not with our current deployments on the border worlds to stop additional attacks.”

“Well,” Henri said with a slight smile, “there are mercenaries available. The TDF should be able to hire one or two additional outfits for a . . . recon-in-force, under the overall command of Lieutenant-Colonel Walker.”

Marshal O’Conner shook her head and gave the Intelligence Minister a bitter smile. “We have our orders from the Protector—who believes that your interrogation of the surviving attacker was disinformation designed to draw away our attention from the real threat. The TDF is moving heaven and earth to shore up our border defenses,” and O’Conner sighed. “And then to launch an assault into Davion space in reprisal if these attacks continue. What you, Henri have planned is a TOSIOI,” which the Marshal pronounced as To-see-we, “operation. Therefore, I think it is right and proper for your budget to the one which takes a hit.”

Henri winced. But then he nodded, and Sean looked around the room in alarm. “Just wait a damn minute! I know this penny-pinching bastard, Marshal, General. He will cut corners and give me a horde of cheap independent companies! Most with trash ‘Mechs fit only for salvage!”

And even as the Intelligence Minister began to protest, Sean locked his eyes on him. “And speaking of which—you still haven’t given me the details of how much you intend to compensate my people?”

“Your people are doing their Taurian duty, mon Colonél Walker; I will of course agree to pay them at the normal rate of their effective rank in the TDF . . . where are you going?”

Sean stopped en route to the door and he turned around. “Not for something like this, Henri. My people will get what they could have gotten from a legitimate contract—much like the one that Gordan’s Armored Cavalry has with the TDF.”

Henri snorted. “Gordan took the good Marshal to the cleaners—his unit is not worth so many Bulls.”

Sean shook his head. “Henri Jouett, you are a master at intelligence work—but in the real world, good people get paid more. Gordan’s battalions are damn good—just as good as mine.”

“He’s right, Henri,” O’Conner chuckled. “You are going to need to spend some of that money you hoard so well.”

The suave and debonair man looked absolutely furious, but he finally nodded. “Fine! And if you are so concerned about the quality of the mercenaries in question—then you hire them.”

“Agreed. How long do I have before we need to be underway?” and the pit of his stomach sank as Henri looked up at him in glee.

“Seven days, then transit time to Charleston and to the Badlands Cluster beyond; which is where our captive insists that our attackers are coming from.”

“I hope you have an accurate star-chart of the region?” Sean asked as he sat back down at the table.

“Oui, mon Colonél.” And Henri slid a thick folder across the desk. “Here are the mercenary commands which are available and can make rendezvous with you before you depart the Concordat space.”

“You planned this,” Sean stated flatly.

And Henri Jouett smiled. “Moi? Let us simply say that you know more of what you need in this matter than I—and leave it at that. The bottom sheet shows your total budget, mon Lieutenant-Colonel. What you and your Roughnecks do not spend shall be your pay; that is enough, oui?”

Sean pulled out the bottom and made some rough calculations—and it was . . . adequate. Not great, but more than he really expected Henri to part with. “I can work with this.”

Marshal O’Conner nodded and she stood, followed by everyone else at the table. “Good. Then go with God, Lieutenant-Colonel Walker—and discover the truth of who was behind this, of who is trying to goad the Protector into a war with the House of Davion.”

“I will do my best, Ma’am,” Sean said as the others filed out of the room. At which point he sat back down and opened the file folder and began to read.

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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-11 09:12pm
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Chapter Two

The Palace of the First Prince
Avalon City, New Avalon
Federated Suns
June 4, 3026


“Quintus, what the hell is Thomas Calderon playing at here?” Hanse Davion looked up from his desk as the Intelligence Minister entered his office. “Michael Hasek-Davion is complaining his ass off and for once I cannot disregard those complaints as blatant whining! Attacks on Warren, Lothair, Anaheim, Weippe, Caldwell, Pierce, Montour, Verdigreis, and Cohagen; nine worlds hit by either a company or a full-battalion, thousands of civilians dead and injured, millions of C-Bills in damaged infrastructure. What is going on out there?”

“According to my sources, First Prince, the Taurians are claiming that we hit them on several of their border worlds—and killed Edward Calderon, Thomas’s heir, on Charleston with the 33rd Avalon Hussars.”

The Fox stared at Quintus for a moment and then he looked at the map on the wall. “We did not carry out those attacks, did we Quintus?”

“No, Sire—the 33rd’s transports are undergoing an overhaul at Panpour. They could not have carried out this attack.”

Hanse nodded and he measured the distances between the Lothair and the Capellan border with a protractor and shook his head. “We both know Max is capable of making such a deep strike—but why? What would he gain?”

“I checked our records as soon as I received the information from Duke Michael—to the best of our knowledge, the Capellan units are in their normal deployment areas. They would need at least six battalions to carry out all of the reported attacks—each with transport . . . and I cannot find six missing Capellan battalions, Sire.”

Hanse nodded and he moved his thumb to the next most likely suspect. “Michael?” The Duke of New Syrtis was actively conspiring with Maximillian Liao—the MIIO had discovered that.

“All of his units are accounted for except for one battalion of mercenaries who cancelled his contract for a raiding assignment based on Bell.”

The First Prince nodded again and he walked away from the map and put his hands together behind his back. “It is too far for either Marik or Kurita—and the Outworlds Alliance would not dare. Which leaves us with an unknown enemy, operating on both sides of the FedSuns-Taurian border, trying to provoke a war?”

“Or it could be Thomas Calderon seeing how fiercely you will respond—every last one of our worlds hit was a world your ancestors took from the Taurians in the Reunification War.”

“No,” The Fox said with a shake of his head. “Thomas hates me and he hates my family—he hates every man and woman who serves me . . . but he can count. He will not start a war, not unless someone pushes him to the point where he has no choice but to lash out.”

Hanse turned back to face Quintus. “Which means, there is another player in the game,” he said as he shook his head. “The timing worries me. Justin has just agreed to play this role you want him to play—have we had a leak?”

“No, Sire. That is something I can assure you of.”

“For now, we need to make sure cooler heads prevails out on the Taurian Rim. What we do not need are more House troops to escalate the situation . . .” Hanse paused and then he nodded. “Pull the 33rd Hussars back from the border . . . and replace them with the Eridani Light Horse—all three regiments. Give General Armstrong command of the border in the Crucis March; Michael will not relinquish control of his own Capellan March units.”

Hanse looked into the golden-red sunlight as the star which New Avalon orbited slowly set. “And make certain you send some of the Rabid Foxes, Quintus. Let’s stop this before it can escalate into something that derails RAT.”

“At once, Sire,” Quintus said as he gathered his briefing materials and left the office behind him; the First Prince still standing at the window and watching the sun set.


Last edited by masterarminas on 2012-09-26 05:10pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-11 11:45pm
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Quote:
discover the truth of who was behind this, of who is trying to goad the Protector into a war with the House of Davion.

I suspect ComStar.



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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-12 06:51pm
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LadyTevar wrote:
Quote:
discover the truth of who was behind this, of who is trying to goad the Protector into a war with the House of Davion.

I suspect ComStar.


Unlikely. 3026 is during the reign of Primus Julian Tiepolo, who actively facilitated the establishment of the Federated Commonwealth (and engineered the Concord of Kapteyn to counterbalance it). Provoking wars wasn't his style - it was more the sort of thing that his sucessor, Myndo Waterley, was into.

It doesn't seem likely that the Federated Suns is the target of this plan. The Suns could handily crush the Taurian Concordat without using a significant fraction of its military strength, and the Concordat really doesn't have any allies who might intervene on its behalf. It would seem more likely that this is aimed at destroying, or at least weakening, the Concordat. Comstar has no interest in the fate of such a minor player.



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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-13 01:50pm
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Capellan March Command Center
Saso, New Syrtis
Federated Suns
June 5, 3026


“So, the First Prince is sending us his mercenaries to deal with this problem,” Michael Hasek-Davion, the Duke of New Syrtis, Field Marshal of the Capellan March, mused, as he read the dispatch from New Avalon. “Mercenaries stationed in the Crucis March, and not to protect my worlds which suffered at these Taurian interlopers.”

Damien Johnson, the Duke’s minister-without-a-profile, his trouble-shooter, simply shrugged. “Since when has New Avalon concerned itself with the welfare of the Capellan March, my Lord? Hanse Davion does not live so close to the Taurian threat; he does not read the reports on their insane hatred of the Federated Suns, nor does he seem to care that their agents incite rebellion on your worlds. He hopes that you fail . . . so that he will have an excuse to remove you from office.”

Michael snorted. “As if my Fusiliers would permit such a thing—there are limits on his authority, Damien.”

“Ah, but my Lord, you have the faithful and loyal Fusiliers—he has the bulk of the Avalon Hussars and the Ceti Hussars and the Crucis Lancers, not to mention the Brigade of Guards. Were it to come to a show of force, we would lose.”

“Perhaps . . . perhaps not, Damien. What do you think of Kristen Marik?”

“My Lord?” the agent asked, cocking his head at the non-sequitur.

“Janos Marik’s daughter, Kristen . . . the Marik and I had an . . . interesting talk last month. A talk that centered on his concerns over the ambitions of Maximillian Liao and Hanse Davion both . . . and of the possibility of the formation of a new state, a Hasek-Marik state, to replace the Capellan menace.”

“Ah,” mumbled Damien. “Two weddings are better than one, your Grace—but there is the small matter that you are already married . . . to the sister of Hanse Davion.”

“Marie? She is growing . . . tiresome, Damien. And it would be just the thing to provoke my brother-in-law to do what is right, to assign to my command sufficient force to crush the Taurian threat . . . should she meet her demise at the hands of an agent of Thomas Calderon. Perhaps in retribution for the death of Calderon’s son and heir? Not even Hanse could ignore such a provocation—he would have to respond.”

Damien smiled his appreciation at Michael’s audacity. “And then, once you have mourned poor little lost Marie, Kristen Marik will heal your wounds and unite you and Janos—perhaps with the bulk of the former Capellan Confederation being made a gift to his new son-in-law, securing his border and uniting a large swath of space under an Alliance between the Free Worlds League and Federation of New Syrtis. With the Taurian ‘Mech factories under your control as well?”

Michael frowned. “That fool Thomas will fight to the last—he will burn them to the ground before he hands them over. But why conqueror a realm when you manipulate them into fighting your enemy? The Concordat cannot invade us—not without suffering massive casualties they can ill-afford. But my esteemed brother-in-law can certainly lead his armies onto their worlds—and the Taurians will fight for every single square inch of their soil. Calderon will bleed him white, and the Taurian armies will be broken . . . and then? And then Damien, the time will come for the House of Hasek to rise and eliminate the threat posed by our so-called ally Maximillian Liao. And to then rise to our proper place at the head of a Successor State with a single united realm of my Capellan March, the former Capellan Confederation, and what remains of the Taurian Rim. We will give rise to the Hasek-Marik Empire—and our brother-in-law on New Avalon will not see this coming.”

Michael looked down on the agent who still smiled. “Set it motion, my friend. The hour of our opportunity draws nigh.”

“By your command, my Lord.”

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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-13 05:58pm
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Michael Hasek-Davion. Yeah, he'd start a war just for shits & giggles. Ryan Steiner is the other



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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-08-15 10:00pm
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I am going to put this one back on the shelf for a while, gentlemen. Right now, I think I have just done too much BattleTech too quickly, and I need to collect myself here before I go on. However, I will have a surprise for you guys either tonight or tomorrow.

MA

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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-09-24 06:48pm
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The Burning Brand
Samantha Calderon Memorial Spaceport, Taurus
Taurian Concordat
June 5, 3026


Sean stood and he extended his to the mercenary who sat across from him. Major Donal Faulkner stood up and he smiled broadly. “You will have no regrets for signing us on, Colonel. None.”

“Understand me on this Major Faulkner—I am hiring you to follow my orders. If I have any regrets, your Wild Geese will find themselves stuffed and roasted for Christmas dinner.”

The red-haired Irishman chuckled, the grin never leaving his face. “I’ve never yet reneged on a contract, Colonel Walker—honor of the Regiment and all,” he laughed, but then his smile faded. “Out here in the Periphery, Colonel . . . we are only as good as our given word—I’ve given you mine, and that should be good enough for you and any other man.”

Sean held out both hands in a placating manner. “No offense, Donal. I just want to be clear—once we lift, my orders go.”

“Aye, Colonel. Can I buy you a spot of whiskey to seal the deal?”

The commander of the Roughnecks laughed. “I have too much paperwork, Major Faulkner, but I will take a rain-check.”

“Such an optimistic man, he is,” the merc answered with his smile returning. “Here he is a-thinking that we be coming back from this mission!”

With a final handshake, the commander of the Wild Geese moved out, to let his boys and girls know that the contract had been signed—and that he had their advance pay ready for them.

Sean sat back down at the table and he sighed. The Wild Geese were a combined arms unit, with five lances of light and medium-weight ‘Mechs (organized in two short companies and a command lance, led by an ancient Ostsol, their sole heavy-weight BattleMech), two companies of tanks (one of light hovers and the second tracked medium-weight models), and a company of infantry. Just four aerospace fighters, though. Sean shrugged; mercs took what they could get—and Faulkner’s ‘Mechs and vehicles and fighters and DropShips were well-maintained . . . his people had inspected them before the serious negotiations had begun. And they had a reputation for getting the job done—regardless of what it took.

That was why they were out here in the first place. Their last job in the Inner Sphere had put Faulkner and his people up against a full Regiment of Capellans . . . after they had been told they were facing just a few companies of militia. So, with their contract hanging in the balance, Faulkner’s infantry had infiltrated the Capellan barracks and gassed two full battalions of sleeping ‘MechWarriors in their bunks. They got their objective and withdrew after a short, sharp fight with the final battalion.

But their employer had balked at their methods—and he hung them out to dry. Declared bandits and war criminals by the Confederation, the League, and the Federated Suns, the Wild Geese had fled to the Concordat . . . after making a combat drop directly on the estate of the man who had hired them and extracted their pay from his body.

The Taurian shrugged again. He had been lucky that the Wild Geese were here on Taurus and that they needed a contract; by far the majority of the commands on Henri’s little list were outfits that were shaky at best—downright bandits and pirates at worst. Most had ‘Mechs held together with spit, baling wire, and prayer to boot. Their past atrocities aside, the Wild Geese were about the best that he could expect, along with the Red Scorpions Battalion of Major Claudia Dreyfus he had signed the contracts with earlier.

Like his own Roughnecks, the Scorpions were a full-strength battalion of four companies of BattleMechs—forty-eight ‘Mechs and eight Aerospace fighters. No armor or infantry assets, but all of the MechWarriors in Dreyfus’ command were TDF veterans trying to augment their retirement as soldiers of fortune. Much like the Wild Geese (and the vast majority of state and mercenary commands in existence today), the Scorpions had a hodge-podge assortment of light and medium ‘Mechs, lacking any heavies and assaults. But they were fast-moving and highly capable, despite their lack of firepower. A good complement to his own Roughnecks, whereas the Wild Geese would bring to the game their reputation for innovation and inventiveness. Sean sighed and he sat back in his chair. Yes, with these two units, he was done. The rest weren’t fighters—they wanted to show up and draw a paycheck, but they weren’t willing to risk their machines and ‘Mechs, a good portion of which weren’t even operational, to earn that paycheck.

He closed the folder and signaled the waitress . . . one beer wouldn’t hurt before he returned to base, after all. That was when a shadow fell across his table.

Sean looked up at the man who stood there blocking what little light was available in the tavern.

“Señor Coronel Walker?” he asked as he took a seat, taking off one heavy leather gauntlet, then the other seating them both on the table before him.

“Si, Señor . . . ?”

“Don Raphael Francisco Alejandro Diego de Montoya y Navarro, at your service," he answered with a slight incline of his mustachioed head.

Sean blinked; he was certainly used to the hidalgo portion of the Concordat citizenry, but few modern families retained the epic naming practices of their distant ancestors of Earth. But then he smiled. “And what may I assist you with today, Don Raphael?”

“You may address, if you wish, Señor Coronel, by my familiar name or by my rank of Capitan-Padre.”

“Father-Captain? You are a priest?” Sean asked.

“Instructed at the Jesuit Seminary on Celentaro, and ordained by the Cardinal of Taurus . . . but I am a simple man who follows in the ways of St. Samuel.”

“St. Samuel?”

“Si. God may have made Men, Senõr Coronel, but it was Samuel Colt who made them equal.”

Sean smiled and he chuckled softly as the waitress came to the table. “A honey mead, my dear—and for my guest?”

“Alas,” Raphael said with down-cast expression, “I have taken strict vows to give up the consumption of all alcohol but the blessed wine of the sacrament. Perhaps a latte, if you would be so kind, Señorita?”

Sean nodded and she moved away; the Capitan-Padre sighed at her swaying hips. “God has put much temptation in my path tonight, Señor Coronel. But, to business! I understand that you are seeking out soldiers to deal with those who have attacked our fair Concordat—and slain young Edward Calderon, Prince and Heir to the Protector.”

“I am,” Sean answered simply.

Raphael smiled and he sat back. “Excellent. You shall have the use of my brothers and sisters in this task—I shall lead them and together we shall wipe the stain of these vermin from the universe itself.”

“Pardon me, Don Raphael, but you are saying that you command a mercenary unit?” Sean asked in disbelief.

“Heaven forbid such a thing! Mercenaries? Bah!” the amused hidalgo answered. “We are servants of God, and we serve him and the Concordat well—have you not heard of the Order of the Holy Knights of the Temple of the Hyades, Señor Coronel? The Black Templars of Navarro, as we are sometimes called?”

Sean jerked upright in his chair. “You are that Navarro?”

“Indeed,” the warrior-priest replied with a grin as the waitress returned with a mug of ale and a small cup filled with a rich, creamy coffee. Raphael placed his hand on her buttock, and she smiled, but slapped him all the same.

And then he frowned. “Such blatant disrespect for the authority of the Church, Señorita!” he admonished as he unwrapped the scarf to reveal his clerical collar. “But I forgive you of the sin in the name of God—shall we discuss what other sins he will forgive us both this night?”

She giggled and leaned down, whispering in the warrior-priest’s ear and then she sashayed away.

Raphael sighed again. “It is amazing what temptations the Good Lord seeks to place in my path—luckily, he knows well that I am only human and fallible and will request his forgiveness once my time in her loving arms is finished.” He stopped and stared at Sean’s eyes. “Have you a use for my company of Warriors of God, Señor Coronel? The Church has agreed to pay for our services as they have always done.”

Sean blinked. Not once, but twice, for the Black Templars were indeed well known to him—by reputation, not personally. Warrior-Monks knighted to serve the Concordat by the Church and the Protector alike, they seldom left Taurus, and only in the direst of circumstances. And they piloted only assault-weight BattleMechs; they could provide him with a hammer that that the expedition lacked.

He cleared his throat and took a deep sip of the mead. “Of course, Capitan-Padre Navarro—certainly we could make use of you and your Warriors.”

“Good! Now, before I leave with that young woman for a night of debauchery before I offer my confession to God—have you need to offer unto me your own litany of sins for forgiveness?”

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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-09-24 10:33pm
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White Mage
User avatar

Joined: 2003-02-12 11:59pm
Posts: 17633
Location: Tahalshia Manor
ITs Back!

And I am liking the Padre. :)



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Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.

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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-09-25 01:10pm
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Jedi Master

Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
Posts: 1039
General Headquarters, Taurus Defense Force
Mount Santiago Defense Complex, Taurus
Taurian Concordat
June 6, 3026


“Can you not just hire these JumpShips?” Henri asked in a plaintive tone. “I have already given you your budget!”

Sean shook his head. “We are heading into the Badlands, Henri—no commercial skipper is going to risk their JumpShip in that area, not any with a sense of self-preservation. And none of the merc units I have hired have their own JumpShips. I need at least three vessels, with a minimum of six collars that I can trust will remain on station—and that means I need ships from the Fleet. I would prefer nine collars to tell you the truth, but we can get by with six.”

Morton Grenadine and Janice O’Connor nodded their agreement. “Nine collars would allow for you to lose one ship to a helium seal failure without stranding any of your troops—plus the redundant collars can be used by cargo ships for any possible salvage,” Commodore Erik Flannagan stated flatly.

“Salvage? Of what possible use is salvage?” Henri asked.

“Salvage, Henri,” confirmed Marshal O’Connor. “There is always some salvage to be gathered if there is a large fight and this promises—if our informant is correct—to be a very large fight.” She smiled, “Depending upon how much Walker and his people recover, it could go a long way in repairing any holes in your budget, and provide the Defense Force with a stockpile of spare parts and supplies.”

Sean smiled. “Indeed it would—but you forget that Henri granted my Roughnecks, and the other mercenaries units involved, first rights to 50% of the salvage in this expedition.”

O’Connor winced and Henri blushed, then his face hardened. “But as you do not have the transport capability, perhaps we can renegotiate that section of the contract.”

The commander of the Roughnecks shook his head and grinned. “The contract is already signed, notarized, and filed with the Concordat Courts; no Henri, we will not be giving up the salvage rights.”

“Ah, but you need transport—that is a separate contract, is it not, Monsieur Walker?”

“You can argue that before the Courts, Henri . . . I think they might be able to squeeze in a hearing in a month’s time.”

“Both of you stop,” growled Janice O’Connor. “The expedition cannot be delayed—Commodore Flannagan, can the Fleet spare a few JumpShips for this mission?”

He nodded. “I’ll have the orders cut this afternoon. Abraham Hall’s Flotilla is at the zenith point, with an Invader, a Tramp, a Merchant, and a Quetzalcoatl. That gives you eight collars, Colonel Walker—and the Quetzalcoatl’s fighter complement will make certain I get my ships back in one piece.”

“Works for me, Commodore,” Sean answered with a grin. “She’s flying Skyhawks?”

“Hall has a division each of Sabers and Skyhawks aboard the ship, plus four of the Super Tigress gunboats; they should do the job.”

Sean whistled. “I’d say so, Commodore. Well,” he continued as he stood. “I think we have everything we need, gentlemen, madame. Marshall O’Connor, the expedition can depart as soon as the JumpShips are ready—our commands are prepared to lift upon your orders.”

“The order is given, Colonel Walker—good hunting.”

Sean gave the uniformed commander of the Taurian Defense Force a crisp salute, and then he spun on his heel and exited the briefing room.

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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-09-25 02:05pm
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Jedi Master

Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
Posts: 1039
And here is the Super Tigress from my story Edward's War. Enjoy!

MA

TIG-17A2 Super Tigress

Overview
Based on the old TIG-15 Tigress gunboat, the TIG-17A2 Super Tigress is an
entirely new craft that only bears an outward resemblence to its famous
ancestor.

When the TDF realized that it had stagnated during the Succession Wars and
implemented programs to restore its military might in the late 2900s, the need
for a new and improved gunboat was seen as a high priority. Thirty tons
heavier than the old Tigress, the Super Tigress is able to match the
acceleration and manevuerability of the older vessel, but carries far heavier
firepower and armor protection. Concentrated in the Taurian Fleet assigned to
protect the Hyades and other high-value targets such as New Vandenberg, only a
handful of these gunboats have been encountered by forces hostile to the
Concordat.

In these few skirmishes, however, the heavy firepower and armor protection of
the Super Tigress has proven itself as a worthy successor to the original
design.

Capabilities:
The Super Tigress is 30-tons heavier than its renowned ancestor, tipping the
scales at 180 tons. Despite that weight increase, it retains the 2-g safe
acceleration and 3-g emergency thrust of the original design and has proven to
be just as maneuverable in space.

The design team retained the nose-mounted PPC and wing-mounted twin Medium
Lasers. However, they replaced the nose LRM-15 launcher and ammunition with a
heavier LRM-20, increasing the size of the missile magazine to five tons (30
salvoes). A fifth Medium Laser was added to the nose, and two more serve as
rear-firing tail guns. This increase in armament required the addition of a
fifth crewman who operates the stern weapon systems.

Like the Tigress before it, the Super Tigress has a fifteen-ton fuel tank and
has provisions and life support for 40 days of patrol operations. Cargo space
on the Super Tigress has been cut by five tons, however, leaving just two tons
for spare parts and equipment.

Armor protection has dramatically increased, however, with the Super Tigress
carrying 24.5 tons of armor compared to the 14 tons of the Tigress. The Super
Tigress is immune to thresholding by PPCs and AC-10s on the nose and both
wings, while the stern is proof versus Large Laser fire. Crews assigned to
the Super Tigress appreciate the added protection, especially against Davion
Stuka-class heavy aerospace fighters.

Deployment
The majority of all Super Tigeress gunboats in service serve in the Hyades
Defense Fleet, with a handful assigned to New Vandenberg. Production is
steady, but slow, and a trickle of these craft have made their appearance on
other stations. The TDF plans to eventually replace all existing Tigress
class gunboats in service with the Super Tigress, although this is projected
to take decades to carry out.

Code:
                    AeroTech 2 Vessel Technical Readout
                                  VALIDATED

Class/Model/Name:  TIG-17A2 Super Tigress
Tech:              Inner Sphere / 3000
Vessel Type:       Aerodyne Small Craft
Rules:             Level 1, Standard design
Rules Set:         AeroTech2

Mass:              180 tons
Length:            29 meters
Power Plant:       Standard
Safe Thrust:       4
Maximum Thrust:    6
Armor Type:        Standard
Armament:         
    1 PPC
    1 LRM 20
    7 Medium Laser
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Class/Model/Name:  TIG-17A2 Super Tigress
Mass:              180 tons

Equipment:                                                              Mass
Power Plant, Drive & Control:                                           47.00
Thrust:  Safe Thrust: 4
      Maximum Thrust: 6
Structural Integrity: 6                                                  5.50
Total Heat Sinks:    16 Single                                          16.00
Fuel & Fuel Pumps:                                                      15.50
Bridge, Controls, Radar, Computer & Attitude Thrusters:                  1.50
Fire Control Computers:                                                   .00
Food & Water:  (40 days supply)                                          1.00
Armor Type:  Standard  (416 total armor pts)                            24.50
                           Standard Scale Armor Pts
   Location:                            L / R
   Fore:                                122
   Left/Right Wings:                 106/106
   Aft:                                  82


Crew and Passengers:
      1 Officers (0 minimum)                                            10.00
      2 Crew (2 minimum)                                                14.00
      2 Gunners (2 minimum)                                             14.00
Weapons and Equipment      Loc        SRV    MRV    LRV    ERV  Heat    Mass
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 PPC                      Nose        10     10     --     --   10      7.00
1 LRM 20                   Nose        12     12     12     --    6     10.00
  Ammo (LRM 20) 30         ---                                           5.00
1 Medium Laser             Nose         5     --     --     --    3      1.00
2 Medium Laser             RW           5     --     --     --    6      2.00
2 Medium Laser             LW           5     --     --     --    6      2.00
2 Medium Laser             Aft          5     --     --     --    6      2.00
1 Lot Spare Parts (1.11%)                                                2.00
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TOTALS:                                                    Heat: 37    180.00
Tons Left:                                                                .00

Calculated Factors:
Total Cost:        11,432,196 C-Bills
Battle Value:      1,196
Cost per BV:       9,558.69
Weapon Value:      2,952 (Ratio = 2.47)
Damage Factors:    SRV = 23;  MRV = 7;  LRV = 1;  ERV = 0
Maintenance:       Maintenance Point Value (MPV) = 1,913
                   (589 Structure, 720 Life Support, 604 Weapons)
                   Support Points (SP) = 6,077  (318% of MPV)
BattleForce2:      MP: 4,  Armor/Structure: 10 / 0
                   Damage PB/M/L: 3/1/1,  Overheat: 2
                   Class: DS;  Point Value: 12
                   Specials: if

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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-09-26 03:58pm
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Jedi Master

Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
Posts: 1039
Shraplen Estate
Samantha City, Taurus
Taurian Concordat
June 10, 3026


“He is wasting this crisis and turning his attention away from the perfidious Davion family,” Grover Shraplen whined. “He knows that only the Federated Suns would have the gall to launch such a series of attacks on the Concordat, but he listens to those cowards who advise caution—we should be striking at New Syrtis now! To teach the FedRats that they cannot attack us with impunity!”

Adrian Lorenzo, Demi-Precentor Taurus, smiled from his seat across from the Duke of MacLeod’s Land. “He is being cautious . . . that is not something with which I can disagree, Your Grace. But, I must admit, the evidence does appear overwhelming that it was the AFFS that laid waste to your worlds and killed your people.”

Cautious? Thomas is consumed with his grief and he is not thinking clearly—who else could have done such a deed than Hanse Davion? Who?”

“Who else indeed,” mused the Demi-Precentor. “It is good that you are here on Taurus in the Protector’s time of need, Your Grace; your advice may yet propel him upon the right course of action—what I fear is the only course of action he can take to protect the Taurian state.”

“Bah! Hanse Davion must keep troops on the Capellan and Draconis fronts; what little he has left cannot compare to the full might of the Defense Force.”

“Sixteen Regiments of ‘Mechs, Your Grace, now that the TDF has finished its reorganization into two-battalion regiments. That is a mere thirty-two battalions, plus another seven of reliable mercenaries.”

“You forget that our battalions are stronger than those of Hanse Davion!”

“By one-quarter, aye, Your Grace. I have not forgotten, that gives you a total of forty-seven battalions, less than sixteen of Davion’s three-battalion Regiments, with which to face off against him. But can he spare sixteen, or more, Regiments? And would he ignore your advancing formations to strike at the undefended Hyades and core worlds of the Concordat behind them? He is not called the Fox for nothing, you must understand.”

“Let him try—the Armor, Infantry, and Fortress Commands remain to defend our worlds, along with the Constabulary and Noble Regiments . . . I alone have six battalions raised on MacLeod’s Land in service to me. One outfitted with ‘Mechs.”

“Impressive,” the Comstar official said. “And it is true that you could make great inroads in the Federated Suns should you invade—their 39th Avalon Hussars is too wide-spread, and too ill-experienced . . . although apparently skilled enough to slaughter innocent Taurians in cold blood. The 5th Syrtis Fusiliers garrison the Capellan March, but the bulk of Michael Hasek’s forces are concentrated along the Capellan border—mostly from St. Ives to Terra.”

Grover took a deep pull of his black beer and he frowned. “He does not see that we are the ones who hold the advantage here—Hanse Davion does not expect us to respond to his provocations, and he will push harder and harder until he rules all of our worlds, not just the ones his ancestors stole.”

“Alas, I fear that you are correct, Your Grace. Why just today, I received word that he has given orders to deploy the Eridani Light Horse along the Federated Suns-Concordat border. Those three former regiments of the Star League will represent a major shift in power—and they might be merely the advance guard of an even larger invasion force.”

The Duke of MacLeod’s Land cursed, and then he frowned. “Is he moving other units?”

Demi-Precentor Taurus smiled. “You know that ComStar takes our neutrality very seriously, Your Grace. However,” and here Adrian shrugged, “I must admit that I frown upon bullies of state taking advantage of their smaller neighbors. So far no other units have received orders to move—but ComStar has seen copies of warning orders for something called ‘Operation Galahad’ sent to over two dozen Regimental Combat Teams; their destinations in the Crucis and Capellan Marches—not so very far from the Concordat as such things are considered, in fact. It is quite provocative of him in these troubled times to be moving so many troops.”

“I knew it,” Shraplen growled. “All this is nothing more than Davion ploy to gauge our strength before he invades our worlds.” He looked up at the Demi-Precentor and then he sighed. “But I am only a lone voice in the wilderness—and Thomas is not listening to me these days.”

“Make him listen, Your Grace,” Adrian said quietly. “Remind him of your friendship and that, like Thomas, you too have only the best interests of the Concordat at heart. Take these,” and the Comstar official handed across copies of the transmissions. “These will show Hanse Davion’s true intentions towards you realm. Of course, if Thomas’s grief is too intense for him to protect the Concordat, than perhaps a Regent is called for instead. A Regent who will do what must be done.”

Grover inhaled sharply and he began to reply, but then he paused, and whispered, “With Edward’s death, he has no adult heir, now does he?”

“Why, no, Your Grace, Thomas does not have such an heir at this moment; this most . . . pivotal . . . moment in the history of your Concordat.”

Grover sat back in his chair and he smiled. “I will take no action against him—unless he threatens the safety and security of the Concordat, of course. But with this information, perhaps I do not have to . . . he might be persuaded of the truth of the matter.” Grover took another long pull and he sat down the flagon. “You mentioned arms for the armies of the Concordat last week, Demi-Precentor . . . is ComStar still willing to offer them? And how many would they willing to broker?”

Adrian smiled. “We have made arrangements with several end-users that will allow us to provide the Concordat with enough ‘Mechs, fighters, and spare parts to outfit at least three more Regiments in the Taurian-style. That is six of your over-strength battalions, Your Grace, eight of normal organization. Such an unknown force might indeed give pause to Hanse Davion when he encounters it for the first time. But alas, I have not yet heard a response from Thomas on the issue.”

Grover snorted. “You will. I shall convince him that we need this material. And your proof of Davion’s plotting will ensure that.”

“Excellent,” purred Adrian as he stood. “If ComStar can be of any further assistance, Your Grace, feel free to call upon me. Blake’s blessing be upon you, Grover Shraplen.”

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 Post subject: Re: Edward's War PostPosted: 2012-09-26 10:53pm
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Jedi Master

Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
Posts: 1039
Celestial Palace
Forbidden City, Sian
Capellan Confederation
June 10, 3026


Maximillian Liao smiled as he sat on his throne of jade and rare exotic woods. He held his hands before him and lightly tapped the tips of his fingers together with their opposites, and his gaze swept over the highest advisors of his court. “Clever, whoever is behind these deeds. They are very clever indeed.”

Pavel Ridzik, the Senior Colonel of the Capellan Confederation Armed Forces inclined his head. “How so, Celestial Wisdom? The Taurians have not the numbers of ‘Mechs to fight off the Davions should they be provoked, after all. They do not have the numbers of ‘Mechs to fight off us were we able to devote our full attention to them!”

The Chancellor sighed and his smile turned into a frown. “Candace, would you care to explain to my idiot Strategic Military Director why that would be a horribly bad idea?”

“Certainly, Father,” the Duchess of St. Ives answered with a slight bow. “Director Ridzik, the Taurian Defense Force is weak in BattleMech Regiments, to be sure—they field less than a third the strength of our own CCAF and barely one-sixth that of the AFFS. But each of their most valued worlds is also home to large numbers of armored formations, artillery, and infantry regiments. Not since the Reunification Wars when the entire might of the Star League itself and all of her member states was brought to bear against them has so much a single Taurian world fallen into the hands of some other power. Consider that amid the scores of worlds which have changed hands here in the Inner Sphere over that same time.”

Ridzik frowned and he shook his head. “That is because they possess nothing of value, Duchess Liao.”

“With all respect due your rank and title, Director Ridzik, that statement is false. On just two worlds of the Taurian Concordat—New Vandenberg and Taurus—they produce half the number of BattleMechs manufactured each year on all of the worlds of the Confederation combined. If their government wanted to, they could double the size of their ‘Mech force within four years time—but they make too much money selling those ‘Mechs to mercenaries,” Candace answered quickly. And she smiled. “Three-fifths of the ‘Mechs on the market each year for mercenaries come from the foundries of Taurus and New Vandenberg. Does the Strategic Military Director consider that to be nothing of value?”

“Periphery trash—our ‘Mechs are more advanced, have greater quality.”

Max sighed again. “Pavel be silent.” He leaned back in his throne and he nodded to his eldest daughter. Then he turned his gaze to his younger. “And what would Romano suggest that the Celestial Throne do about this situation upon our borders?”

Romano licked her lips and she glanced envious eyes at her sister. “Celestial Wisdom, we watch as two of our ancestral enemies tear themselves apart.”

The Chancellor raised one eyebrow. “Observe only, dear daughter?”

She blushed. “W-we . . . we use the Maskirovka agents in place upon worlds of the Concordat and Federated Suns alike to feed the tensions. A few random bombings on strategic worlds by our agents, with claims of responsibility made to appear as Calderon or Davion, will goad them even further . . . and push them into actual conflict.”

Max smiled again. “Just so, dearest daughter. Just so. Pavel . . . place our forces upon alert—but do not let them cross the border in raids. We do not need to divert Hanse Davion’s attention at this moment. And . . .” Maximillian paused and he stroked his long, thin beard for a moment. “Review our contingency plans. If the Fox pushes the Taurians hard enough, they may well collapse—they may not. If they do, I want New Vandenberg and Taurus to belong to the Confederation and not the Suns. But we start nothing without my explicit orders . . . is that understood by everyone?”

And all present bowed low answering, “Yes, Celestial Wisdom.”

Maximillian Liao sat back against his throne once more and he smiled again, stroking his beard with one hand.

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