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 Post subject: The Broken Sword PostPosted: 2012-10-29 04:55pm
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The Broken Sword

A Work of Fiction, set in an Alternate BattleTech Universe
By
Stephen T Bynum
All Rights Reserved



Chapter One

Hall of the Congress of the Terran Hegemony
Geneva, Europe
Terra
November 1, 2780


“There is no smoking allowed in the Hall, General,” the aide informed Aaron as he walked into the parliamentary building that housed the elected representatives of the men and women of the Hegemony. Or rather the building that had once housed those representatives, before the chaos of the Amaris Coup and the twelve long years under his mad reign. The once-pristine polished marble walls and columns still showed the pock-marks of bullets and light shells, the scorching of fire, and chips where the fragile stone face had been shattered by missile strikes. Many of those who had once been elected were long gone—killed by Amaris and his followers. Those few who remained had worked with Amaris during the Occupation . . . and now only the presence of his soldiers kept the population from tearing them to shreds in retaliation.

It would be some time yet before new Congressmen and women could be chosen and the institution rebuild—but time was a resource that Aaron sorely lacked today. And his patience with the toadies who had consorted with Amaris was running thin.

“And exactly who is going to stop me from smoking?” he asked the Congressional aide as he took his cigar out of his mouth without slowing his pace. “You? Your masters within? The Hegemony police . . . who no longer exist since Amaris disbanded them in a fit of pique?”

He stopped suddenly, the soles of his boots making a loud SQUEAK against the polished floor and he pointed the glowing coal at the tip of the rolled tobacco leaves at the face of the aide. “Fight what battles you can win, boy—this ain’t one of them.”

“B-but there are rules here!”

“Fuck your rules, boy. I am in no mood to indulge these people’s sense of self-importance—not today.”

He began walking again, and his aides and the security detachment followed, pushing aside the civilian in their wake. “That wasn’t a good way to handle the politicians, General, sir,” whispered his aide-de-camp.

“I know, Ethan, I know,” Aaron answered with a sigh. “Civilian oversight of the military and all that is one of our strengths—it is also a luxury we cannot afford at this moment, however. Not with those five holier-than-thou idiots who are running the League into the ground at Unity City.”

Colonel Ethan Moreau nodded his agreement. “Damn it, if The General was still here, he’d make them listen,” he said wistfully.

Aaron swallowed heavily. The campaign to liberate the Terran Hegemony from occupation by the Rim Worlds had gutted the SLDF even before the final assault on Terra . . . but its gravest wound had been taken when a Casper drone had kamikazed the battleship McKenna’s Pride just three days out of orbit—and Aleksandyr Kerensky had been among those lost when the magazines aboard the WarShip lit off from the internal damage the drone vessel had caused.

That loss had galvanized the SLDF for the final assault—no quarter had been given or asked, not for Amaris, for his family, or for any who had worn his uniform during those two months of fighting to end the War once and for all time.

“I know, Ethan, I know. And damn, I wish he were still here—he would find another way . . . a better way.”

Aaron’s party arrived at a pair of double doors and the guards standing to either side—SLDF guards—snapped to attention and opened them at his approach. The General nodded and he dropped his cigar on the ground, crushing out the coal with his boot heel before he walked inside.

The chamber was magnificent in scale . . . but empty and desolate with only a handful of people filling its many rows of seats. Aaron did smile warmly at the one-armed man who stood from his seat at his entrance—David Callaghan, one of the few surviving Congressmen from before the Occupation. He had not been killed, but instead spent a dozen years in a dark, dank prison, being intermittently tortured for the amusement of Amaris’s Internal Security goons. Callaghan was one of the few that Aaron trusted—and he walked over and shook the man’s sole remaining hand warmly.

“Mister President,” he said.

“Commanding General DeChavilier,” the newly elected President of the Hegemony Congress answered, but Aaron shook his head.

“No . . . they refused to confirm me as Commanding General, Mister President. But since they also cannot agree on who to confirm, I have been ordered to remain Acting Commanding General of the SLDF for the immediate future.”

Callaghan shook his head. “Imbeciles . . . who do they think the Defense Force will follow now that Kerensky is dead? And call me David—there are too few of us here to get all formal.”

“I haven’t the slightest clue as to what they are thinking, David—they have ordered me to returned the SLDF to its peace-time stations and end our relief efforts here on Terra and Hegemony worlds . . . but beyond that, they have no orders for us.”

“End the relief efforts?” David asked in a wild voice. “Haven’t they any clue?”

“They assure me that ‘loyal’ forces from the Member States will take over our mission here . . . I am certain it is but a cover to loot what technological secrets from our worlds they can, though.”

“Aaron, you cannot send the SLDF away—right now, we need every man we can making certain that Hegemony citizens don’t starve to death or die from disease . . . and we need to keep a lid on the desire for vengeance against those who worked for Amaris, willingly or otherwise. If we start killing off our own because Amaris forced them to work for him, we might as well put a bullet in the brains of the Hegemony and be done with it.”

“I agree—which is why I am disobeying the orders of the High Council. I have issued orders for all combat and non-combat elements of the SLDF to immediately report to the Hegemony, where we will garrison these worlds and engage in relief efforts. And maintain the peace purchased with so much blood.”

Callaghan blinked and he nodded. “They will crucify you, you know that.”

“Let them try, David. Let them try. I have a full briefing for you and your staff on our current state . . . and then we need to discuss how to move forward in light of the High Council’s bickering.”

“I’ve given that some thought—how does Director-General sound to you, Aaron?”

Aaron winced. “Are you seriously suggesting that I stand for election? I’m a soldier, not a politician.”

“Aye, and you were the right-hand man for General Kerensky when he freed those Hegemony worlds—and you are the man who defeated Stefan Amaris and killed him. The Hegemony will vote you into office—and there is nothing that the Lords of the Member States can do to stop that—if you run.”

“What about you?” Aaron asked. “You know how to run a government—better than I do.”

“They don’t know who I am—they know you. And from where I am sitting, this is the only way we are going to preserve the Hegemony, because I’m certain those Lords in Unity are planning on dividing us up like a Christmas goose, Aaron. And you know they are.”

“Aye,” Aaron whispered. “Let me think about it, okay?”

“Sure . . . I’ll give you until the end of today—because that is when I am announcing by HPG that the Congress is authorizing an election of a Director-General . . . and announcing your candidacy for it.”

Aaron shook his head and he felt his stomach contract. “You are going to just make me a candidate? Were you planning on asking me or telling me?”

“As you yourself know, we don’t have time for pleasantries, Acting Commanding General. The sooner we have a Director-General, the sooner you can get in that High Council chamber on an equal basis with those vultures and start fighting for the Hegemony! It is your duty, Director-General Aaron DeChavilier—and duty is something you have never ignored.”

Silence hung over the chamber and then David Callaghan smiled, the scar tissue on the right side of his face making it lop-sided. “And now I believe that you have a briefing report for us?” he asked as he indicated a table with a several chairs behind it—facing the very small rump of the Congress. Aaron took his seat and he adjusted the microphone.

“Mister President, distinguished Representatives of the Hegemony Congress, the Star League Defense Force has been gravely wounded, but it is still willing and able to perform the duties entrusted to it . . .”

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 Post subject: Re: The Broken Sword PostPosted: 2012-10-29 05:12pm
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This is something I have been working on for quite a while. Any suggestions you folks care to make would be appreciated; while I do have an outline of where I want to take this, it is still very rough in places. I will be posting at least one a day on this (if not more), and working it up to a full-scale book.

The basic premise is a what-if: what if Aleksandyr Kerensky died during the Liberation of Terra in 2799? The Exodus was his idea after all, and we have some indication in canon of DeChaviliers own feelings on how to deal with the House Lords who seemed hell-bent on destroying the Star League. So, in this alternate universe, there will be no Exodus . . . how radically does this change things? That is what I plan on exploring.

As always, your comments and critiques are welcome and I will mull over any suggestions that you might have. So buckle up, the ride is just starting.

MA

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 Post subject: Re: The Broken Sword PostPosted: 2012-10-29 11:57pm
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Executive Offices, Hall of the Congress of the Terran Hegemony
Geneva, Europe
Terra
November 1, 2780


David Callaghan swallowed the whiskey in one gulp and he sat down the crystal glass on a serving table. “I had no idea your casualties have been so high. Two thirds of the Defense Force . . . gone. My god.”

“It is worse than that, Mister President. Technically I have almost one hundred and forty divisions left . . . but not a single unit has an effective strength of more than sixty percent. Not one. And that is after I issued the order to disband twenty-five divisions this morning that were reporting only twenty percent or less effectives and allowed for the distribution of their personnel and equipment among the rest.”

Aaron sipped his own dark amber lager and shook his head. “The Fleet is in tatters. Every ship needs repair and refit time—we have pushed them hard these past twelve years. And even including what my people say we can salvage from the wrecks in system, we are looking at around forty hundred and fifty WarShips total. Isn’t that correct, Admiral?”

“It is, General DeChavilier,” the red-haired, clean-shaven man in the dress uniform of a Star League Admiral answered.

“And you still haven’t introduced this officer to me . . . forgive me for not knowing your name already, but I have been out of communication for a rather long while,” David continued.

Aaron snorted. “This young, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed officer is why I want you to change that broadcast you making tonight, Mister President. May I introduce to you, Admiral Stephen McKenna of the Star League Defense Force.”

“Ah,” David said as he sat back in his chair. “Now I see the resemblance—and I know of you, Admiral. It is my understanding that Aleksandyr thought highly of you as well.”

“Thank you, Mister President,” Stephen answered softly. “I like to think that he did.”

“So,” the President of the Hegemony Congress said to Aaron, “you think he is up for a job you don’t want?”

“David . . . I’ve got my hands full keeping the SLDF in one piece. A good number of our people are tired and just want to go home—and there have been offers made to several units to defect to the Member States.” Aaron held up one hand as the politician sat up suddenly. “No one has taken them up yet, but I have to discharge those people whose service is up and let these volunteers go home; we cannot simply keep them in chains. And if I stand for election, then I must resign my commission . . . and God only knows what will happen to the SLDF and the Hegemony worlds whent he Council appoints my replacement.”

He paused and took another sip of the thick beer, smacking his lips appreciatively at the taste. “Now, Stephen here knows politics—military politics, at the least—and he plays that game far better than me. And he has the connotations associated with his name, plus my public endorsement . . . as a private citizen, of course, not the Commanding General of the SLDF. And he is loyal to the core, David. He knows what the stakes are and he is willing to put aside his career to fill this slot.”

“You people, you are talking about becoming the ruler of the entire Hegemony! And you make it sound like a prison sentence!”

“Because it is, Mister President,” Stephen McKenna answered. “I agree with you and the Commanding General that we have to have a strong Hegemony in order to stop the Great Houses from seizing and raping your—our—worlds. But frankly, I’d rather be on a flag bridge blowing the hell out of their Fleets. I don’t want the job anymore than General DeChavilier does—but I realize that someone has to do it in order to have a chance of preserving the League.”

David smiled and he poured a bit more whiskey in his glass. “The Council Lords will go ape when they find out what we have planned, gentlemen. And by the letter of the law, THEY are in charge of the SLDF without a First Lord. Hell, they don’t even have to seat a Director-General on the Council—that seat was promised to a Cameron in perpetuity.”

Aaron grinned. “If they try to issue orders, they will discover that there is technical authority and real authority; the difference between the two in real life being quite substantial. The vast majority of the SLDF will obey my orders over that of a political appointee from one of the member states.”

“I hope you are right,” David said as he took another sip. “How do you plan on getting the boys in green back to full-strength? The treasury is bare, none of the member states are paying their SLDF dues, every one of our worlds is having to pick the pieces of the Occupation . . . all of our factories are off-line and will take time to restore. If, that is, we can find the funds.”

The Acting Commanding General of the SLDF sighed and he sat forward. “Starting tomorrow, we are beginning a consolidation of units. My staff and I have selected seventy divisional HQs and nearly fifty independent regiments. Over the next year, every other unit still in existence as of today will case their colors and have their personnel and equipment reassigned to one of those new core formations. By this time next year, we may only have those seventy divisions and fifty regiments—that is after we discharge soldiers who want to go home, by the way—but each one of those formations will be at or above full strength. In both personnel and equipment. That will give us a three-to-on advantage over either Kurita or Davion; hell, we would boast equal numbers to Kurita, Davion, Marik, and Steiner.”

“The Fleet,” added Stephen McKenna, “will be putting the ships most fit for duty into newly formed task groups, while the rest get their much-needed overhauls and repairs. We should be able to keep one hundred and twenty—maybe one fifty—WarShips in service for the next twelve months, and that will only grow as the ships exit the repair berths and return to active service. Within four years—perhaps five—we will be able to deploy all four hundred and fifty-four . . . and with that force, I can guarantee NONE of the House Lords will challenge the SLDF. That number might shrink, because some of those salvaged ships are very old vessels from the reserve—Monsoons, Barons, Carsons, and Nagas among others.” And Stephen paused for a moment, looking at the floor before he raised his head defiantly. “And I think we need to start planning ahead to restore the HAF.”

“The Hegemony Armed Forces? The Council Lords will go utterly ballistic!” the President yelped, and even Aaron winced.

Stephen nodded. “True. But what happened with Amaris was in large part because the SLDF has become a force for the Star League as a whole; they weren't here to keep the people of the Hegemony safe while the SLDF went about carrying out the orders of the First Lord—when we rebuild the Hegemony, we must also reestablish the Hegemony Armed Forces to be on the same ground as the other Member States. And to prevent such a tragedy from ever occuring again.”

“That will be neither cheap nor quick, Admiral McKenna,” the President answered, and then he cocked an eyebrow. “Unless the Commanding General were willing to release the Royals, that is?”

“He is NOT so willing,” Aaron said acidly. “And with the shortages in equipment and personnel, a lot of the Royal formations are not so Royal anymore. Still . . .,” he stopped and thought for a moment, “we might be able to persuade some of our retiring folks to rejoin a new HAF . . . and the Rim Worlds forces left plenty of salvage on the Hegemony worlds and Terra for you to pick through. At least until the factories get up and running again. There might even be some old planetary militia armories that haven’t been touched—I will order a general survey to see what equipment still exists; it won’t be the newest or the best, but I’ll make certain it works.”

“Good,” answered David. “Very well, then. Admiral McKenna, I hereby officially ask if you are willing to make yourself a candidate for the office of Director-General of the Terran Hegemony?”

“I am,” answered Stephen. “And, as such, I hereby offer my resignation to General DeChavilier.”

“Accepted,” Aaron growled. “But regretfully. And thankfully at the same time, considering it could have been me,” he finished with a grin. “And just think, gentlemen, by this time tomorrow, Kenyon Marik and Minoru Kurita might just have had a stroke!”

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 Post subject: Re: The Broken Sword PostPosted: 2012-10-30 03:25pm
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This big of a change is going to be very interesting. Please, continue. :)



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 Post subject: Re: The Broken Sword PostPosted: 2012-10-31 01:27pm
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Embassy of the Lyran Commonwealth
Unity City, North America
Terra
November 4, 2780


“And what makes you think I would support this initiative you have engineered, General DeChavilier?” Robert Steiner asked softly as he swirled his brandy slowly and cast his gaze upon the officer sitting in his private office.

“Have you not considered that this course of action is the best interests of the Star League, Archon Steiner? If the Star League is to continue, the Hegemony must, once again, stand strong.” Aaron answered bluntly and then he shook his head. Control yourself, Aaron, he thought. You need this man’s vote. “That is beside the point, however. You expressed a desire early in the Coup to ‘alleviate’ the burden upon the Defense Force by occupying certain systems of the Rim Worlds Republic—the General,” and Aaron allowed no emotion to show in his voice as he mentioned Kerensky, “the General did not condone those actions and you withdrew. Upon reflection, I believe that this may have been . . . premature,” he finished even as he swallowed the bile rising into his throat.

Robert raised one eyebrow and he smiled. “My offer was only to help the Star League and allow the Regular Army to concentrate its efforts against Amaris . . . and yet, I was treated by Aleksandyr Kerensky as some bandit—chastised by him, no less!”

The Commanding General sternly forced down his anger and he nodded in agreement. “In hindsight, that was . . . unfortunate, Archon Steiner. In light of the chaos reigning throughout the former worlds of the Rim, it is time for us to . . . reexamine that policy.”

“Ah . . . and what has your reexamination revealed unto you, General DeChavilier?”

Aaron closed his eyes and shook his head. I am sorry, Aleksandyr, he thought. This isn’t what you wanted, but to save the League, it is what I must do. He opened them again and nodded as the Archon waited for him to answer. “Archon Steiner, it is my opinion that the Rim Worlds Republic—as currently organized—is simply too sprawling and far-flung. It is the opinion of the Defense Force of the Star League that should the Lyran Commonwealth annex the Erdvynn, Finmark, and Timbuktu Provinces—in their entirety—it will remove the access to resources and manpower which allowed the Usurper to carry out this heinous attempt to overthrow the Star League. What remains of the Rim Worlds—the Apollo Province—is sufficient to exist as an independent Territorial State . . . but the rest must be placed under a . . . sane and benevolent government which can ensure that they remain loyal. As you border all three of those Provinces—and the Lyran Commonwealth does not share that border with any other Member State—in my opinion, it is only right and just,” he swallowed the bile again, “that the Lyran Commonwealth officially and irrevocably annex those systems, adding them to your own State.”

Archon Robert smiled broadly—he grinned!—and he sat forward in his chair. “We could have already had our forces in place, but for the stubbornness of Kerensky in refusing to see what must be done, General DeChavilier. Of course, the Lyran Commonwealth supports the ideals of the Star League . . . and we will certainly back you and the President of the Hegemony Congress in the next session of the High Council,” and with that Robert sat back in chair and he sighed. “I remain concerned, however, that the lack of a central government in Apollo Province will fester and cause an increase in banditry and lawlessness there . . . which might well spill over into my Commonwealth.”

“You need not worry on that point, Archon . . . the SLDF will retain seven Divisions in Apollo Province to ensure that the Rim Worlds stays docile,” Aaron answered, his eyes, tone, and body language quite clearly telling the Archon don’t get greedy. And Robert nodded.

“Then my concerns are addressed, General DeChavilier. Well, except for a small matter.”

“And that small matter being?”

“Hesperus II. That system is outside—far outside—the territory of the Terran Hegemony . . . and yet it remains a Star League possession where my own jurisdiction does not run, even though this system is clearly within the territorial boundaries of the Lyran Commonwealth. I believe that perhaps the time has come for the Hegemony engineers present on Hesperus II to return home to the Hegemony—to rebuild those worlds and repair the damage caused by Stefan Amaris. Of course, I will make the output of the factory complexes there available to the SLDF in the coming years . . . say on a 60-40 proportional split?”

Aaron winced, and Robert smiled again at the man’s obvious discomfort. “Sixty for whom, Archon Steiner?”

“Oh, Aaron. Please, of course the SLDF will get sixty percent of the output . . . at market price.”

Fighting to tamp down the anger welling up inside of him, Aaron nodded. “We can agree, in principle, to handing over the Hesperus II complex . . . were the Lyran Commonwealth to agree in return to provide the SLDF with BattleMechs—sixty percent of total production—at cost for the next ten years, and then afterwards we would, of course, be willing to pay a fair market price.”

Robert laughed and he nodded. “Done. I will have my legal specialists draw up a document that conforms with your proposal—once it has been signed by the Hegemony President and yourself, and ratified by the rump of the Hegemony Congress you have remaining, General DeChavilier, I see no further obstruction to my support for your initiative. Will you join me for dinner this evening?”

Aaron stood, and the Archon did so as well. “I fear that the press of my duties will prevent that, Archon Steiner. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.”

“Oh, I always have time for the Acting Commanding General of the Star League Defense Force, General DeChavilier. It is a pity that your Aleksandyr was too short-sighted to see that a decade ago. My man will show you out,” Robert finished as he walked Aaron to the door of the office and shook his hand.

Aaron bowed his head and he left, escorted to the entry hall of the Embassy. He shivered slightly . . . I need a shower after that meeting, he thought to himself. Unfortunately, it is not my skin that has been soiled today, but my soul. Still, with Steiner's vote added to Liao's and Davion's, it should be enough to buy us time to rebuild. He prayed it would be enough as he walked down the cobblestoned lane to his waiting car.

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 Post subject: Re: The Broken Sword PostPosted: 2012-10-31 09:30pm
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Politics is holding your nose while you attempt to turn shit into gold.



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 Post subject: Re: The Broken Sword PostPosted: 2012-11-01 02:13pm
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Boris Yeltsin Housing Complex #7
Moscow, Europe
Terra
November 6, 2780


Aaron lifted one hand to the buzzer beside the door, and then he paused. He looked at the somber-faced SLDF troopers standing guard in the narrow hall, and he imagined that all of the occupants were looking out their peepholes wondering why he was here and what he wanted with Katyusha Timoshenko . . . these people had all too much experience with soldiers descending upon them in the depth of night to take away their neighbors never to be seen again.

He gathered himself and he raised his hand again, but the door opened. “I am Katyusha Timoshenko—what is that you want?” the woman said defiantly. She was dressed for the weather, with trousers and a thick sweater, even here in the small apartment, for the heaters in this old complex were not functioning efficiently.

“Madam Kerensky,” Aaron said softly, “I am Aaron DeChavilier—Aleksandr confided in me about you and his children.”

Her stern face melted into . . . relief, terror, grief? Aaron wasn’t quite sure. “May I come inside?”

She nodded and opened the door fully stepping back. Aaron walked into the snug apartment—one common room, with a stove and refrigerator built into the walls, two bedrooms beyond, and a small bath. Nothing more, but what few belongings she possessed were well-cared for and clean. Two young men stood as the General entered their home.

“Do they know?” he asked.

“Da,” she answered. “They know that their father is dead.”

Aaron nodded. “I am Aaron DeChavilier . . . you must be Nicholas,” he said to the taller of the two, “and this is Andery. I knew your father well—and I promised him that if necessary, I would see to his family’s well-being, were he not here to do so.”

“Poppa promised to come home—he lied to us,” the younger man said bitterly. And the mother of the boys leaked a tear from the corner of her eye.

“He tried, desperately to come home, Andery. He did all that he could to make certain that you and your brother and your mother—that all the people of the Star League would be safe from Stefan Amaris. Pack your things . . . I will see to it that you are cared for in the manner that the General would have wanted.”

“We are leaving?” asked Nicholas with a start. “We cannot leave . . . I will finish my final year in the spring! And I have already applied for a position among the Frunze cadets.”

“The Frunze Academy will remain open to you—if that is your goal. But I will not permit the General’s family to remain here in poverty, I swore that I would care for you as my own and I shall. Further,” Aaron said with a wince, “there are those who would use you because of who your father was. I will not let them. Madam, surely you see this.”

“I do,” whispered Katyusha. “Where are we going?”

“The city of Tacoma, in Washington Province, North America. The Mount Baker Castle Brian was never hit by nuclear strikes—it was too close to Unity City and contained information the Rim Worlds considered too valuable for the Usurper to risk using those weapons upon it. It is now the headquarters of the SLDF since it has been retaken. You, and your family, will be safe there.” As safe as any location on this shell-shocked planet, he thought.

“Nicholas, Andery,” Katyusha commanded as she nodded. “Pack your things.”

Both the boys rushed off and Aaron nodded. “You should gather what you need as well, Madam.”

She nodded again and motioned towards a stuffed chair sitting in the center of the cramped common room. “Would you like some tea, while you wait, General DeChavilier?”

“Aaron. My name is Aaron, ma’am.”

“Aaron,” she answered. “Some tea?”

“Thank you, but no.”

“Then I will gather my belongings,” she answered as she entered the smaller of the two bedrooms and closed the door behind her. And Aaron swallowed as he heard the quiet sobs coming from inside.

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 Post subject: Re: The Broken Sword PostPosted: 2012-11-02 05:30pm
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There may be no updates until next week . . . I am going to be busy helping to set up the local polls in my community, and getting ready for the Election. Not to mention that November 6th is my 44th birthday as well as Election Day. Needless to say, this weekend is going to be hectic and so will the first part of next week. I may have another snippet up before next Friday . . . but right now that doesn't seem likely. So my apologies, and I will see you in a week.

MA

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