The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

UF: Stories written by users, both fanfics and original.

Moderator: LadyTevar

Post Reply
masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-13 12:18am

My muse has departed for a while, aided no doubt by the long hours I have been working. But, looking back, I realize that I never shared with you folks THREE stories I finished a while ago. Years ago, actually. They are early works and there are many things I would do differently were I writing them today . . . but they are done. Well, here they are. I will be posting a few excerpts each day, so as not to overload you. As always, comments and critiques are welcome.

Enjoy.

Master Arminas
Last edited by masterarminas on 2013-05-14 09:42am, edited 2 times in total.

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-13 12:23am

KERENSKY AND KURITA

Book I of
The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

A fictional novel in three parts set in an alternate history of the Classic BattleTech Universe

by

Stephen T Bynum

All rights reserved, copyright 2008.
This is an original work of fiction.




Chapter One

February 7, 2767
Imperial Palace
Luthien
Draconis Combine


The oak floor boards of the temple creaked slightly beneath the steps of the weary man. In his late fifties, Minoru Kurita, Coordinator of the Draconis Combine, still retained the fitness expected of the samurai, though his hair had newly turned silver, and lines of worry marked his face. As he crossed the floor of the shrine, a priest rose from the mat upon which he sat.

"Welcome, Lord Kurita," he said, bowing deeply. "Long indeed has it been since you visited the ancestors."

Kurita did not speak, looking at the old priest, as wisps of incense rose around them.

"Troubled, you are. Sit, and tell me of what brings such feelings to the Dragon."

Kurita remained standing, and then turned about and began to walk away.

"Your ancestors know of your troubles, my Lord. Do not shoulder burdens that should not be yours alone."

Kurita stopped, and turned. "My troubles, priest? What do you know of my troubles?"

Crossing the floor, the priest stopped three paces from Kurita. "Know? Nothing. Other than you ARE troubled, else why would you come here? Now? After twenty-five years?"

Kurita looked down and his right hand trembled. "I have given my word, priest; the word of a Kurita. Yet, a wrong has been committed, against my family, against the Dragon, against the Combine. And because of my word, I cannot lift a finger to avenge this wrong."

The priest nodded. "Honor, Minoru, honor. Such is what keeps a samurai secure, even more so than his pair of swords. You feel you would be dishonored if you broached your sworn word?"

"Yes."

"Sworn to whom?"

"To my father—as he lay upon his death-bed, less than one week ago."

The priest began to pace. "A promise to the dying father; truly you are bound by much. And the wrong that has been committed?"

"I cannot speak of it to you."

"So be it. You are the Dragon, my lord. When your father died, you became the Dragon. What is the path that the Dragon should tread?"

"Crush my enemies before me, for this insult delivered to my House and to the Combine."

"And, yet, you cannot because of your given word?"

"No."

The priest turned back to the shrine and began lighting another stick of incense. Minutes passed, neither speaking. As the priest finished, he turned back towards Kurita. "You are still here? You know what you must do—you knew before you ever entered this place."

"Hai, but it is difficult."

"You are the Dragon. Nothing more needs be spoken."

And with that Kurita turned and walked out.


February 8, 2767
Imperial Palace
Luthien
Draconis Combine


Whispered conversation carried softly across the great hall. Scores of high officials of the Combine were present, from Jinjiro Kurita—the heir to the Dragon—to the five Warlords of the Combine, from the Admirals of the Draconis Fleet to officers of the Draconis Mustered Soldiery, from courtiers to nobles and their courtesans. None knew what to expect. Late last evening, Coordinator Kurita himself had sent the request that their presence was required, here, before the carved teak throne of the Coordinator, at this time, on this day. All knew that something was wrong; each searched his own actions to find if he was possibly at fault. After all, in the Kurita court, it was not unheard of for an action perceived as the Coordinator as wrong to be righted with sword here before the throne.

All fell silent as Minoru entered the chamber; dressed in his most formal uniform of mid-night black, devoid of all decoration, save for the red enameled disk bearing the Dragon crest upon the buckle of the jackets belt. Echoes of his polished boots striking the flagstones rang across the great hall, as he ascended the dais and the Otomo—the personal guard of the Coordinator—took to their stations around him. Minoru reached the throne, but did not sit; instead he turned to face his guests.

"Eight days ago, word arrived from Terra. Richard Cameron is dead, and his family with him. Stefan Amaris now rules the Terran Hegemony."

Muttered conversation broke out among the crowd. Jinjiro—stunned—looked at the Warlords and Admirals gathered around him. None could have imagined such a sudden and dramatic change in their lives.

"Be still," said Kurita. "Amaris has taken as hostage our cousin Drago, his wife, and their children. My father received a message from Amaris just before his stroke, commanding the Dragon to still his hand lest our blood pay the price. Takiro—my father—begged of me a promise—to negotiate and retrieve Drago and his family; to stay my hand and not make war upon this Usurper. I gave my father my word upon this as he lay dying that I would follow his wishes and his will."

Kurita stepped forward, his face as hard as stone.

"And now, I do this—for the Combine. My shame is my own; no one else shall share in it. My cousins and their children are dead to us. We will grieve for them and mourn their loss. However, no one—NO ONE—shall ever demand through force of hostages that the Dragon kneel before them. No one shall ever demand that the Dragon obey their dictates while holding our blood-kin against their will, as pawns in their petty political schemes. And because this insult to me, my House, and the Combine, I do hereby declare war upon Stefan Amaris and all who follow him."

Looking across the silent assembly from one end of the hall to the next, Kurita turned his gaze upon his son. "You will lead our forces. Assemble the regiments here upon Luthien, assemble the ships in orbit. When they have been gathered, you will strike."

Turning from the assembly, Kurita left the dais and exited the room, the Otomo trailing behind him.

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-13 12:25am

Chapter Two

February 10, 2767
Imperial Palace
Luthien
Draconis Combine


It was quiet in the drawing room set in the "public" wing of the Kurita Imperial Palace. Standing before a large painting of a map of 18th century Japan, Colonel Sam Anders of the Star League Defense Force waited patiently for an audience with his counterpart and a "high noble". That was all he had been told. As the SLDF liaison assigned to House Kurita, Sam was used to waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting still more. Patience, he had learned, was nearly as valuable a commodity as his status as a Gunslinger who had beaten all four of his Kurita opponents in single 'Mech combat.

Imperial City was all abuzz with rumors and whispers, and yet, neither he nor his staff knew what exactly had the Dragon so agitated. Troops were moving—more troops than Kurita should have had—but where? And, more importantly, why? Perhaps this meeting with his counterpart in the Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery would serve some useful purpose and actually let him do his job.

A slight creaking sound signaled the opening of a door. Anders turned and stopped dead cold. Instead of the expected Tai-sai Atsugabe, in through the doorway strode Coordinator Minoru Kurita himself, along with his son—and heir—Jinjiro! Recovering, Anders dropped to a knee—not the full prostration required of a Combine citizen, but still a gesture of respect.

"Rise, Colonel, we shall speak. Guards, you are dismissed," Kurita said—in English, his mind processed. It was nearly unheard of for the Coordinator to meet with a mere serving officer of any service—even his own—and speak personally with them. But to do so in the native language of that officer, instead of Japanese—the official language of the Combine—bordered on heresy here in this tradition-bound state. And without his personal bodyguards, no less! Anders quickly stood, facing the Coordinator and Heir, head inclined slightly towards the floor.

Kurita made a gesture towards Jinjiro, who took a deep breath and nodded at Anders. "My father, Lord Kurita, the Coordinator of the Draconis Combine, has commanded that I speak from henceforth on his behalf, Colonel Anders. He has appointed me as Gunji-no-kanrei to serve the Combine on his behalf."

Anders thoughts whirled. Gunji-no-kanrei—the post had not been held since Shiro Kurita first created it, then awarded it to his brother Urizen at the dawning of the Combine. Jinjiro Kurita was now the sole commander of the entirety of the Draconis military structure, answering only to the Coordinator. Any order he gave would be given with the full authority of the Coordinator. No Coordinator had given such sweeping authority to another individual since Shiro himself—for such authority could easily become a tool for Imperial ambitions.

"Sit, Colonel, the Imperial protocols are waived. Consider us fellow officers, and this the mess. As you say, there is no rank in the mess, no? For this discussion, you shall speak to me as Jinjiro and I shall speak to you as Sam."

No mention was made of the Coordinator, which Sam took to mean that Kurita stood outside the scope—here, but not here. Jinjiro gestured towards a chair, then sat in one himself as the Coordinator remained standing. "As you wish, si—Jinjiro."

Jinjiro smiled—a look that on his polished face could very easily become predatory and vicious. And petty, Anders thought; remember the stories about Jinjiro and the General. Be careful, very careful, these are deep waters in which you swim today.

"Good, then Sam. By the way, on behalf the Coordinator, I must congratulate you on your victories over our Ronin. Those actions were masterfully done."

For a gaijin was left unsaid; the cold false smile showed that this truly was offered by the Coordinator. Jinjiro would never have offered such honor to any who had defeated those who served him—even if he could not acknowledge their service, such as with the Ronin.

"Thank you, Jinjiro. The congratulations of the Coordinator are a gift beyond measure, and one that I will treasure forever."

The delighted twinkle in Jinjiro’s eyes faded, as digested the full meaning of that statement.

"I have some bad news for you, Sam. On December 27th of last year, First Lord Richard Cameron was assassinated by Stefan Amaris in the Court of the Star League on Terra."

Cold shock punched Sam Anders in the belly like a cannonball, as Jinjiro grinned. His vision wavered as he swayed slightly.

"My father has received messages from Amaris himself—he has boasted of having executed all living members of the Cameron family line and proclaimed himself Emperor Amaris I, as well as the First Lord of the Star League. Furthermore, our intelligence indicates that he has occupied the Hegemony—and Terra—with the vast majority of both his army and his navy, destroying all military opposition that remained there. He also states that he controls your Space Defense Systems and has insisted that my father—and the other House Lords—recognize his claim over the worlds of the Hegemony and his assumption of the title of First Lord by right of conquest."

Anders swallowed. This was madness! Amaris must know what the fury of the SLDF would be—even though heavily engaged against the Taurian separatists in the Periphery, it still dwarfed any other military in existence. But if Amaris had captured the SDS intact, then . . .

"Yes, Sam. The future is dimming and bloody, a great and terrible war such as man has never seen lies upon the horizon. And I have been given leave to take personal command of the forces of the Dragon during it, to take action against Amaris as soon as possible."

Anders head snapped up, his jaw dropping. Kurita was committing his forces against Amaris? He tried to force the question out of his mouth, but the dryness of his throat and tongue caused him only to stammer.

Minoru Kurita waved his hand at Jinjiro, and spoke, "He tasks me. Amaris has taken hostages of the Imperial family—my own cousin and his immediate family who had served my father on Terra. His ludicrous demands that the Combine acknowledge his ascendancy as First Lord, and bow before him have been an insult; not only to myself and to my ancestors, but to my samurai and my people, to the spirit of the Dragon itself. He tasks me and I shall have him. For this I have dishonored myself before my father's spirit, and when this war is finished it shall be seppuku to right the scales of balance."

Anders was beyond disbelief, he was now numb.

"Jinjiro is my Gunji-no-kanrei, my shogun, and shall lead our armies on this quest. But the Dragon, while stronger than you might think is not strong enough to take Terra alone. Because of this I have commanded my son to obey General Kerensky and conform to his plans for retaking Terra."

Kurita raised a hand, stopping Anders stuttering protest. "Yes, Kerensky does not know that Terra has fallen yet. There are no plans for such a circumstance. But there shall be. Yes, Kerensky may not be of the Dragon, but he is samurai. He has honor, and he will perform as the 47 did, long ago. And Kurita will stand beside him. My son WILL obey the General, he will coordinate with his plan of attack; such is my command. If not,” Minoru paused and shrugged his shoulders, “then I have other sons."

"You, Colonel Anders," Minoru continued, returning the meeting to a sense of formality, "should convey this information and our desire to cooperate with the SLDF to General Kerensky as soon as possible. Let him know that our forces will assemble at Luthien. One hundred and eighty regiments of 'Mechs, armor, and infantry, and four hundred ships of war are even now receiving orders to converge here. As of today, General Anders, you are my personal liaison, and you shall have immediate access to the Imperial Palace whenever you desire. Inform me of General Kerensky’s answer when you have it. And,” he paused, looking down, his voice deep with the pain of someone who has himself lost some very special, “please accept my personal condolences for the loss of your wife."

Kurita turned and without saying another word left the room, followed by his son. Jinjiro stopped in the threshold of the door, turned back to look at him, smiled again—a cold, cold smile—, and said, "A most marvelous, terrible war, indeed, General Anders. I cannot wait for it to begin in full."

As the door closed, Anders felt cold, all warmth drained from his body. It's like the light of the universe is dying out, and nothing will ever restore it. Reaching to his neck, he felt the cross his wife—Joan Cameron Anders—had given him, and knew without a hint of doubt that she was dead back on Terra. Later, he thought, I can grieve later. For now, there's work; and the Dragon does have one thing right, there will be vengeance upon this man Amaris.


May 27, 2767
SLDF Field Headquarters
Carson Plateau, New Vandenberg
Taurian Concordat


The flag of the Star League whipped in the brisk wind at half-staff outside the command center as Aaron DeChevilier took another drag on the cigar. Across the planet, a cease-fire had gone into effect; proposed by Protector Nicoletta Calderon herself for the separatists—strange, he thought, I still call them that, even though we all know it is only pretense, they are supported and supplied by entire Concord—and agreed to by him, on behalf the SLDF. She had arrived yesterday, and the two had spoken about the events on Terra. Kerensky was not available—had not been available for the ten days since the news arrived.

All of the Star League troops—even those from the member states, whose enlistments were short-term—were in a state of shock. Richard Cameron may have been a spoiled brat and a fool, but still! He was the First Lord, heir of James McKenna, the one person to whom all members of the SLDF officer corps were oath-sworn, and now he and all of his family lay murdered. By a man who had passed as his "friend". Stefan Amaris, the traitor who will go down in infamy, his name never forgotten, but forever hence associated with treachery, regicide, and madness.

Aaron knew that he was on the verge of a dark and deep funk—he chuckled, yes, that was the word, funk. But the troops can't afford that. Not now. Not with the General withdrawn and speaking with no one. Aaron shook his head, he blames himself. Not the spoiled brat-Prince, not Amaris, HIMSELF for failing Richard. If only Richard’s father Simon had not been killed in that damn accident fifteen years ago; but that was water past the dam. But the General, the General . . . we can't afford to have him withdraw. He is the Star League, a living avatar representing all that was good; as Amaris will forever more be the symbol of the bad. He smiled—a sad, crooked smile—yin and yang.

"General, Sir?"

DeChevilier turned to see one of the HQ duty staff, a young man who looked barely old enough to shave. God in heaven, he thought, was I ever that young? "Yes, son, spit it out."

"Sir, the General is in the command center and has asked for your presence."

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

"You wanted to see me, Sir?"

Aleksandyr Kerensky, commanding General of the Star League Defense Forces looked up from his desk. Christ, Aaron, thought, he has aged twenty years! Dark circles hung beneath both eyes, his face weary and lined with deep wrinkles; even what little hair he had remaining had lost its color. But, his eyes! His eyes are red, but full of fire. This is the man I have followed for thirty years; we have not lost this man, not yet.

"What is the status of the troops, Aaron?"

"We have a temporary cease-fire with the separatists—I agreed to it yesterday with Protector Calderon. Of course, you can revoke it. . . "

"No. The Taurian separatists are no longer our foe. You did well, preserving our forces until we reach the point of decision."

Kerensky stood and walked over to the huge wall-mounted map. He pointed at the very bottom. "Over half of our army is here, in the Taurian Concordat, the remainder scattered throughout the Inner Sphere and Periphery." He touched the map, his hand on the heart of the Hegemony in the very center. "We must presume that the few troops we had back home have now been destroyed. Now, comes the time to consider our options. But first, we must have a base of operations, a source of supply." His hand moved again, north to the upper rim of human settled space; to Apollo, capital of the Rim Worlds Republic. "Here."

"The Rim Worlds? If Amaris moved on the Hegemony in force, they can't have many troops left there. Why spend our time, effort, and blood there instead of liberating the core?"

"Our troops are in a state of shock, Aaron. I was myself, until only a short time ago. That shock will soon be replaced with rage. And against our defenses in the Hegemony, rage will only result in many, many more casualties. You are right; the Rim Worlds are only lightly defended at the moment. So, we will take them, and their munitions factories, and use that as a base of operations for retaking the Hegemony. Our troops will burn out their rage on the homeland of Amaris, and have only cold hate left in their souls when the time comes to face those defenses. Tragic, yes, that innocent people in the Rim must suffer, but I cannot and will not send our troops against the Hegemony defenses without a secure supply-line and in this mental state."

"The other Houses will aid. . . . "

"The other Houses will NOT move on this, Aaron. Trust me. As Regent, I have dealt with each of them in detail; they have no love for us—or for what we represent. Except, have you seen the transmission from Colonel Anders?"

Aaron frowned, "Sam Anders? The liaison officer attached to our embassy on Luthien?"

"That's the one."

"No, sir, I was not informed of any transmission."

Kerensky nodded and walked back to his chair, pointed at a second for DeChevilier, and sat. "It arrived early this morning, via HPG. It was encrypted Critic priority, addressed attention eyes-only Commanding General, SLDF."

"CRITIC? From LUTHIEN?” DeChevilier asked, snapping upright in his seat. Critic level message encoding was only to be used in case of war and was considered to be Ultra-secure.

"Yes. A very interesting message; please watch, General."

Kerensky punched a complicated code into his desk terminal and on the far wall, a holographic image formed. In the center stood a man in SLDF uniform—Colonel Anders—Aaron thought. Very spartan, the only decoration he wore was the crossed six-gun emblem of the Gunslingers and his rank insignia. Fit, his uniform perfectly tailored, and immaculate. Looks like the bureaucrats got one right for change; he would fit in perfectly among the Draconis people who nearly made a religion of fastidious behavior and spotless dress.

"General Kerensky, this message is Critic priority. I have been informed by the Coordinator of the Draconis Combine that the First Lord has been assassinated and Terra—as well as other systems, number unknown—within the Hegemony taken. The usurper is Stefan Amaris, and according to Lord Kurita he claims to have control of the SDS bases. By the time you receive this message, confirmation should be available through other channels. However, I judge the information I have received as factual."

"Sir, Coordinator Kurita has instructed me to present to you the following: First, both the Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery and the Draconis Combine Admiralty are fully mobilizing. Intelligence has really been behind the eight-ball here. The Combine has AT LEAST twice the troop strength we had based our contingency planning upon. I still have not been shown everything, but they have upwards of three hundred regiments—possibly as many as three hundred and fifty—and over four hundred and twenty WarShips."

DeChevilier whistled, as the hologram continued.

"Second, Lord Kurita wishes you to know that the Combine will not engage SLDF forces, within its borders or outside of them. Instead," a pause, as the holographic Colonel Anders shook his head, "instead, Sir, Lord Kurita has declared war upon Amaris."

At this a bolt of lightning flashed through DeChevilier. His mind flashed through the possibilities; the Combine produced what were quite possibly the best ‘MechWarriors in the entirety of the Star League. This offer was beyond priceless. Turning his head, he looked at Kerensky, who solemnly nodded in agreement.

"Third, I don't know what you know of the Draconis culture, Sir. But, Lord Kurita has broken a promise—an oath—to his father in order to prosecute this war. Amaris has taken members of the Kurita family hostage, and the old Coordinator wanted to retrieve them diplomatically instead of militarily. He made Lord Kurita swear an oath to that purpose, but Lord Kurita has chosen to set that oath aside for several reasons. In doing so, he has forsaken his honor, and shamed both himself and his father. Lord Kurita has declared that following the conclusion of the campaign to bring Amaris to justice, he will commit seppuku—ritual suicide—to restore his honor."

"Fourth, he has appointed Jinjiro Kurita as Gunji-no-kanrei—equivalent to our rank of Commanding General—and has ordered him and all DCMS and DCA personnel to subordinate themselves to your command—if you accept their proposal."

"Fifth, he has ordered all state armament factories and military production centers to triple their output. The war material will be made available to the SLDF at cost, as will food and medical supplies. He has offered worlds in the Combine as bases for combined Combine/SLDF forces and asked for no compensation."

"In return for all of this, sir, he asks that for the final assault on Terra, that DCMS troops are to be included in at least the first wave, and that he will command them, personally. And that he is to be present whenever the Usurper is tried, convicted, and his sentence carried out."

"Sir, the Coordinator has also included a personal message for your attention. It will play following the conclusion of my report. Samuel T. Anders, Colonel, Star League Defense Forces, signing off."

Kerensky paused the message and stared at Aaron. Thoughts racing wildly, Aaron played through several scenarios, and then began to smile. Combine MechWarrior on the side of the angels. Who would have ever thought it? "This is a whole new ball game, Sir."

"Indeed," said Kerensky as he resumed the message.

Minoru Kurita appeared in the hologram. "General Kerensky. You have heard my proposal. Your difficulties with my son in the past are in the past, and shall remain there. He will obey you. Or he will die. Use him and his troops as you see fit. If you do not accept the proposal, then I will make war on Amaris myself, though I would prefer to coordinate with your forces. My word upon this matter, General, Amaris shall pay for his many crimes, against both you and I. Your Colonel Anders has been most helpful these past few days; I would suggest promoting him to General so that he may remain my personal liaison to the Defense Force. I await your answer on Luthien, and hope that you will join me and my staff for a strategy meeting here as soon as you are able. Farewell, General Kerensky, and good hunting."

The light from the hologram faded and silence reigned in the office for over a minute.

"A new ball game, indeed, Aaron. Indeed," and Kerensky smiled.

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-13 12:27am

Chapter Three

May 30, 2767
Imperial Palace
Luthien
Draconis Combine


"General DeChevilier will command the assault on Apollo with the Fourth and Seventh Armies. With this move, General Kerensky will deprive Amaris of his source of manpower, equipment, and supply. Please note, however, the Usurper will certainly make use of Star League facilities within the Hegemony—even if he has to use forced labor. This is merely the preliminary operation, and it will be mid August before sufficient SLDF forces are within striking range to carry off the attack." Anders paused and turned from the holographic display filled with troop formations, maps, and bold arrows; such a clean, antiseptic, way to hide the horrors of war, he thought. "Questions?"

Minoru Kurita nodded his head towards the uniformed officers of the DCMS and DCA assembled here in the Draconis War Room—known by local wags as the Dragon's Lair.

"General Anders," began Admiral Matasuke, "you have told us of the SLDF plans for what you call Phase I of the Liberation. Understandably, the other phases are still being discussed and operation plans drawn up. However, you have not discussed what Draconis forces will be doing during this time frame. Are we expected to remain here, in camp, waiting on the SLDF like an anxious virgin on her wedding night?"

Chuckles arose from the room, even Minoru Kurita smiled slightly. Anders grinned broadly. "No, sir. It was my intention to brief you on what the SLDF forces will be doing—and our overall strategic plan of operation. Now having done that—if there are no further questions about what General Kerensky is doing? No? Then, Admiral, Generals, Coordinator, its time to have a look at what we will be doing."

Punching a code into his hand-held remote, Anders blanked the hologram, and then a stellar map of the Hegemony/Combine border appeared. Most of the Hegemony worlds blazed a solid lurid red—but one rapidly blinked. "Asta. Two jumps in from the Combine border. Considered by many to be a backwater world, but more importantly it is a Hegemony world that is not fortified. The planet was scheduled to receive an SDS system nearly ten years ago, but work has been slow and behind schedule. As per my last intelligence report, the system is still incomplete and off-line. As we have had no communication with Asta we can presume that Rim Worlds forces have taken the planet. It will be your job to retake it."

The officers gathered began to whisper among themselves as they as mulled the proposed operation. Finally, one of them stood.

"Yes, General Samasov?"

"General Anders, what reports do we have of the enemy strength?"

"None, General."

"Can Amaris's techs have completed the SDS over the past four months—or before the operation can be mounted?" asked another officer.

Anders shook his head. "Not according to my staff. There is just too much specialized work remaining to be done—especially on the automated fire control procedures—for a full-bore SDS system to be finished in the time frame allocated. My technical experts are not sure the SLDF could finish the project in this short a period. Certainly Amaris cannot. However, elements of the system might be on-line under manual control. Not the automated Caspers, but the ground bases certainly could. And we will not know whether or not this has been done until the operation is under way."

He waited for more questions, but the patient officers asked nothing further. Anders then continued his briefing.

"Asta is a fairly rural world, population of roughly 4.2 million, mostly concentrated here in the northern continent—known locally as North Continent, rather imaginatively.” Chuckles broke out across the room; they all knew just how parochial rural planetary populations could be. “Hawkins is the capital, with a population of only 270,000. There is only local industry; no heavy factories. Before the war, Asta was primarily a farming world, mainly in this belt here, along the southern coast of North Continent. Farther north there is an extensive game management industry—Astan Ridgebacks are big, nasty, and have very valuable furs. Other prominent animals are also hunted and trapped by the local population.”

“There is also some controlled logging in unpopulated areas. Astan Feroak is very highly valued among the people who can afford the exorbitant price. There is some tourism—primarily to about half-a-dozen resorts located at the hot springs in Amber’s Vale, but also some adventurous people who want to brag about hunting Ridgeback. The two smaller continents have very small populations—fewer than 100,000 each—and no significant industries. Roughly 70% of the world's surface is water, and the climate is much cooler than Old Earth—ranging from the equivalent of Southern France and Central Italy here at the equator to extremely cold at the poles. There are no permanent settlements north of 45 degrees in the northern hemisphere. This region—a band about 10 degrees in latitude is very similar to the Taiga regions of Siberia and Northern Canada.”

“Before the war, Asta did not have an SLDF base, either ground-side or in orbit—other than the SDS facilities undergoing construction. Since these facilities were not yet operational, no troops had been assigned to them. The only troops on the planet were local militia. However, Asta—despite its fairly small population—has the largest per capita percentage of its population that are either current or former SLDF members of any Hegemony world. There are several old armories left over from the days before the Star League—when the Hegemony did have a presence on the world and three military bases. These armories might still contain usable weapons or munitions for indigenous guerilla activities against the occupation forces. And they are probably being used, gentlemen, even as we speak. Asta is not a world whose people who can’t decide what to do in a crisis.”

"Taking Asta will provide us with a base of operations inside Amaris's defensive perimeter, one just a single jump away from Terra. Because of that, Gunji-no-kanrei Kurita has determined that we will make the assault on August 1."

A stir went through the room as Anders stepped to one side. Jinjiro Kurita stepped up onto the stage. "This is the first offensive act of this war by the Dragon. Everyone—in every realm—is watching. We will do this perfectly. General Fujita, your DEST teams will go in two weeks before the main assault to conduct reconnaissance and sabotage. I have been informed that the SLDF is making a dozen ‘Bugs-eye’ class corvettes available for their insertion. General Samasov, your command has the honor of the primary assault wave. I will arrive with the secondary planetary assault wave and the reserve—which will include all five of our Sword of Light regiments. Admiral Matasuke, the Fleet will provide covering fire from orbit—should any of the SDS ground bases become active. It will be your job to ensure the Rim Worlds navy does not prevent our landings."

Officers nodded in the dim room as the holographic projection clicked off. "And now, let us begin with the operations plan in detail," Jinjiro said, smiling.


July 18, 2767
North-west of Granger’s Ford
North Continent, Asta
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


The cold rain continued to drizzle down, threatening with each passing moment to become a slushy sleet this late afternoon. Heavy gray clouds hung low, filling the valley. A perfect autumn day for a walk, thought Stephen, perfect for Asta, anyway. Temperatures hovered just above 40, though when the warm front passed, they could expect it to drop below freezing. A light snow cover, just now beginning to turn to mush, still covered most of the forest floor beneath the twenty-meter evergreens. Icy, wet branches drooped overhead, an occasional hazard anytime of the year in the Black Pine forest preserve, but a real threat during the rainy season, when the weight of ice would break branches, sending them plummeting downwards like giant spears.

There were no trails here this deep in the Black Pine, other than what the game made. Not a trace of human civilization, just the rare lodge. An accomplished—and avid—hunter, Stephen tried to spend a few weeks here every year, at least since his discharge from the service. But never before had he gone quite so deep into the primitive taiga of his favorite world. And, he thought, sighing, never with Marianne and Cassie along.

He could hear Marianne whining twenty feet behind him. Cassie at least was still in high spirits, thank God! But then, when you’re six, it’s hard to keep you down for long, and Cassie always did have more of an adventurous streak than her mother. He had even taught her how to shoot just before they came out here for Christmas—and didn’t Marianne pitch a fit and a half about that! “Stephen, Cassie doesn’t need to know that stuff. That’s what your grunts are for!” Once again, he winced, remembering how Marianne had spoken about the detail, in front of the detail, no less. Sometimes, he could not remember why he had ever married the woman—at least not until he looked at Cassie and her smile.

“Damn it, Stephen, will you stop!”

Sighing, he turned back towards Marianne again. “What is it THIS time?”

“My boot is coming loose, and I have water—cold water—running down my ankle. I am tired and hungry, there are blisters on my feet, I have pulled muscles that I could SWEAR I never even had, and I really, really have to piss,” she said as she began laughing, and Stephen remembered why yet again. Oh, yeah, brother, when she’s up, she’s UP. It’s just the rest of the damn time. “It’s not like I don’t know what a bind we are in, dearest, but can’t you just have your people with guns shoot the damn Rimmers and we go back to a nice, warm, hotel room.”

Stephen walked over to where Marianne was leaning against a tree, trying to balance on one foot, while relacing the boot worn on her other. Leaning over, he brushed her forehead with his lips, “You know we can’t. I’ve got only six men left, with just handguns, and two hunting rifles. Last word we got from Hawkins was they had landed twelve regiments of Rim World regulars, and two mercenary ‘Mech units. For now, at least, we’ve got no choice. We have to keep pushing away from the central valley, away from the population centers. You know as well as I do what they will do with us—and Cassie—if they catch us.”

His wife looked up, her face drawn and haggard—she really wasn’t eating enough. But then, neither were the rest of them. Her eyes were red and her mouth pursed in a look of pure worry, “I know. I know, and it’s not your fault. As much as I hate this back-water planet and your hunting trips, this time it’s the only thing that saved our lives—otherwise, we would have been back in Unity City when. . . . “.

“Shhhh, hon, shhhh. We will make it. I promise you.”

Brush rustled ahead of them, and one of their security detail shifted his weapon slightly as he watched. Ferns parted, shedding wet, half melted snow, and a little girl, trailed by her very own bodyguard—carrying one of their two heavy rifles—, ran towards Stephen.

“Daddy!”

“Baby, just where the dickens have you been,” Stephen said in mock outrage as he scooped her up.

Cassie looked adoringly up at him, “We’ve been scouting, just like you showed us. Heather and I crept up to that ridge over yonder . . . ,”

“God, she’s talking like a local,” muttered Marianne.

“. . . over THERE, MOTHER, and we saw a small lake with some houses up under the trees.”

Stephen looked at Heather Schell and the guard responsible for his daughter’s safety nodded. “About two kilometers away, and there are five buildings tucked beneath the trees on the lakeshore. The overhead is too thick to be spotted from the air; we got lucky to see it at just the right angle across the lake. I think it’s worth a shot, at least, Sir.”

Looking at his watch, Stephen noted the time—1652 local—, just two hours ‘til twilight. And it’s going to get really cold tonight. Cassie was still in good spirits, but even she looked tired, and could use a hot meal. God, they all could. “Gerald, you and Thom go a’callin on the locals. The rest of us will follow at a safe distance. If it looks like a trap, I will try to give you some covering fire from ab. . . .”

“No, sir. If it’s a trap then you and the family will run like hell. It’s my job to trip any traps intended for you and yours. That’s why I wear the uniform, that’s why I get paid my magnificent salary. Josh, Heather, Chuck, Laura—if it is a trap, get the family the hell out, and that’s an order.”

Heather Schell nodded, “Gotcha, Top. We hear gunfire, its bugout time.”

Stepping close to the short, stocky man, Stephen whispered, “Top, I’m the best shot you got left. Let me cover you.”

“No, and that is final, even if you do outrank me. Have them court-martial me later, L.T.,” Gerald Howe, First Sergeant, SLDF whispered back. “Don’t make me sucker punch you.”

“Again, Top? It wouldn’t be first time, would it?”

“No, sir. It wouldn’t.”

“Ok,” Stephen said. “See if the people there will take in nine strays for the night; maybe give us some food and supplies. When you give the all-clear, the rest of us will come in.”

Howe stepped back one pace and saluted, “Yes, sir,” turning to Thom Pappas, “come on you devil-dog; what, you want to live forever?”

As Gerald Howe and Thom Pappas walked off into the dense undergrowth, Stephen and Cassie Cameron—last surviving members of the ruling family—watched, and Stephen said a quiet prayer as Marianne squeezed his hand.


July 18, 2767
Harrison Lodge
North Continent, Asta
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


"I can't thank you enough, Mr. Harrison," Stephen said as the last of his party stepped inside the entrance of the lodge.

"The name is Emil, my Lord, and you don't need to thank me for helping people in distress. It's what we do here in the North Country," the old man said with a smile. "Let's get you and yours in and warm, and maybe Helen, here, can fix something hot for supper, eh, Helen?"

"Supper's simmering in the kitchen, folks. Our kids and grand-kids are mostly out checking the trap-lines, or working in the hot-house, but Molly and I will get y'all fixed right up," Helen said as she knelt down, a grimace on her face as some pain caught her, and looked right at Cassie. "I got some cocoa ready to be warmed up, if you want some, sweetie."

Cassie looked up at Stephen and Marianne, her eyes suddenly big, and Stephen nodded. "Its ok, why don't you run on ahead and see what Miss Helen can fix you?"

"I'll even go with you, honey," said Marianne.

"Okey-dokey, Daddy, Mommy!" Grabbing Helen's hand, Cassie started to lead the way, then realized she didn't know where to go. Helen chuckled and took Cassie and Marianne through one of the doors on the back wall, Heather trailing along behind the little girl, as always.

Emil turned to a sideboard set deep on one wall, and opened the glass door, extracting a bottle and glasses. "Drinks, boys and girls?"

Stephen smiled, while Gerald openly grinned. "We haven't seen whiskey in the better part of four weeks, Mr. Har—Emil," said Gerald. "That would do nicely, if you don't mind."

As Emil poured the whiskey into seven glasses, neat, and passed them around, Stephen looked around the interior of the lodge. Constructed from the heavy feroak Asta was famous for, the dark polished walls contained the heat from three separate fireplaces. Beams of the same material criss-crossed overhead, and two stairs climbed up to the second floor. Towards the back of the room, another stairway descended into the ground. Granite flagstone tiles formed the floor, covered with thick rugs. Chairs and couches were scattered across the room, and as Emil sat in a well-worn recliner, everyone else found a seat—gingerly, since no one wanted to get too much dirt and mud on the Harrison's furniture. Set on the mantle over one of the fireplaces was a display case, holding a worn patch with a golden lion rampant, and a couple of dozen-odd medals—including the Medal of Valor. Two separate racks near the door held a dozen firearms, with empty spaces for a score more.

"You served, Emil, with the Lion-hearted Division?"

"Yes, my Lord, 328th Royals, I was a T-bolt jock back in the day. Retired thirty years back, and came home to Asta. Had enough separation pay and inheritance, that I was able to buy a thousand hectares and build this lodge. Been here ever since, me and my family, trapping and selling the meat and furs. We have a hot-house out back, where we raise our fruits and vegetables."

Taking a pull from his drink, Stephen's face grew still, "And have you had any news from Hawkins?"

Emil grimaced, "Yeah. Still get some radio transmissions from the capital, though the satellite video channels are down. The Rimmers are hunting you; seems they want you and that little girl of yours pretty badly, my Lord."

"I was afraid of that when they began the landings in force. We've been on the run ever since, moving from lodge to lodge."

"Figured as much, smart of you to stay low. The Rimmers have begun taking and executing hostages, until you folks are turned over to them. Not even offering a reward, just 'do it or die' type of talk."

Stephen winced at the thought of Astans being killed just to flush him out of hiding.

"It's not your fault, son. You didn't make 'em do this, and you sure as hell can't turn yourself in. You are the First Lord now, my Lord, and that little girl in the kitchen is your Heir."

"I know, Emil, I know."

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

Later, after having eaten, and met the other members of the Harrison clan, Stephen sat upstairs in an overstuffed chair in a small drawing room just off the bedroom Emil had offered him and Marianne. He could hear water running from the bath as Marianne scrubbed dirt, fear, and anxiety from her skin. His hair still wet from his own cleansing—and God had he needed that—, Stephen struggled trying to adjust his leg.

"How is the leg, L.T.?" asked Gerald Howe from the open door.

"You tell me, Top," said Stephen, disgusted as he tossed the prosthetic to his bodyguard and friend.

Gerald ran a diagnostic, "Hmmmm, power levels down to about 12%. Other than that, we got green lights. The Harrison's should be able to spare a little juice and we will top the batteries off." He looked up and grinned, "You know, they got a thermal tap about four klicks away at some hot springs?"

"No kidding? I kinda wondered where they were getting their power from—any side-scatter from the transmission lines?"

"Nope, all of the lines are buried, with no leakage. L.T., they could look for us for months and fail to find this place. The Harrison's say they are willing to put us up for as long as you are willing to stay, but that's your call, sir."

Stephen sighed, "Top, I wish we could. But we can't just put these folks in danger. If the Rimmers even suspect they are helping us, it will go very badly for them."

"Teach your grandfather to suck eggs, boy. I know that. But," and Gerald paused, "it might not make any difference in the long run."

Stephen experienced a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. "What's happened now?"

"Radio broadcast out of Hawkins. The Rimmers are tired of sending troops into the bush—seems the Astans have taken to hunting them, instead of ridgebacks. Instead, the populace has until midnight, August 1st to turn us in."

"Or?"

"Or they are gonna saturation nuke the entire North Continent."

"Shit."
Last edited by masterarminas on 2013-05-13 12:46am, edited 1 time in total.

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-13 12:28am

That is it for tonight . . . I will have more tomorrow until all three books of the series are complete here. Happy reading!

MA

User avatar
Eternal_Freedom
Castellan
Posts: 9757
Joined: 2010-03-09 02:16pm
Location: Bound in a nutshell

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2013-05-13 10:45am

Three complete BT stories...covering the fall of the Star League...and regular updates.

MA, I could kiss you!
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-13 10:09pm

Chapter Four

July 18, 2767
SLS Beagle
Jump Point KV107 (Uninhabited)
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


Sho-sa Hiroyoshi Tanaka had tried meditation, sleep, counting sheep, rechecking his equipment, but still he could not calm his nerves. The DEST commando was not a novice at combat; he was disgusted with himself over his anxiety. His training, however, had never prepared him for this. Sealed inside a two-meter diameter sphere; completely cut off from the outside world except for a single comm and life support line connecting him to the ship. And that annoying little imp in the back of his mind that kept repeating—over and over, like a mantra—what the old SLDF non-com had said last week. "Have I ever done it? Do I look suicidal, boy?"

The drop-pod was a SLDF design, and Hiroyoshi had never before used one—even in training. And this drop would not be a training exercise. No, once the jump was complete, he and his entire DEST team—and the eleven other DEST teams aboard the rest of the SLDF ships—and 2,592 decoy pods would burn for the surface of Asta. Nearly 2,900 hundred pods, just to try and get the 288 commando's safely to the surface. The Mark V individual landing pod (stealth) was a marvel of SLDF engineering. Radar was barely able to make out the pod, even at point-blank range. The outer surface was thermal-neutral, and once separated from the ship, zero-emissions. In fact, he had been assured that once the rocket thrusters burnt out, it would be virtually impossible to detect, let alone intercept, the pods.

If so, he thought wryly, why do we need the decoys? In point of fact, the system had never been used by anyone, even the SLDF, in actual combat conditions. And to add to his worries, once the thrusters fired, he would have no—none—zero control over the pod. It would fly a pure ballistic course, designed to hit the atmosphere and burn in. And burn was the operative word, indeed. In fact, the outer fifty centimeters of the pod were ablative surfaces designed to shear off and burn up, allowing the pod's cargo—himself—to continue his descent. Once past the upper atmosphere, four parachutes would fire in sequence, slowing his fall to a speed that MIGHT be survivable. At 5,000 meters, explosive charges will rip the pod apart, leaving him free-falling in open air. At that point, it would be just another HALO (high-altitude, low-opening) jump, and he had done dozens of those.

But, it all depended on the ship and crew getting the pod to the right place at the right time. A second too early or too late, and his pod could go screaming past Asta, soaring away into deep space until his air supply ran out. Or a Rim ship or a satellite could happen to be in his way, and he would never know until the collision. Or—and this was his deepest fear—the SDS system would be operational, and high-energy lasers and particle beams would simply devour he and his men before they ever knew they had failed.

"All personnel," the sudden voice in his ear startled Hiroyoshi, "stand by for jump, in ten seconds from mark. Mark. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six."

Steeling himself, Hiroyoshi closed his eyes and began reciting a prayer to his ancestors.


July 18, 2767
SLS Beagle
L-2 Pirate Point
Asta
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


"Jump complete, all systems are . . . "

"Status change! Multiple hostile ships; range—200 kilometers!"

Commander Ginger Kincaid looked at the crowded display—at least a dozen Rim Worlds warships, at point blank range. "Fire the pods, get them off now, damn you! Weaps, target the closest hostile and open fire."

Turning her command chair to her engineer, he shook his head. "It will take four minutes to recycle the KF drive, even with the L/F battery. Sorry, skipper."

"Can't be helped, we were just unlucky enough to pick the wrong jump point. Maneuvering, full power on the drives; set your course 172 Mark 017."

"Ma’am, course 172, Mark 017 . . . ma'am, navicomp projects that course will result in a collision."

"You have your orders, maneuvering; go to maximum thrust on that course!"

"Aye, aye, skipper."

As the corvettes engines began to fire, accelerating the ship at 4.5 g's, the mission specialist barked out "Pods away, all pods are away!"

Well, one part of this mission is successful, Ginger thought.

"Missile launch! Multiple inbound missiles, tracking makes it 14 plus barracuda and white shark from the formation at 214 Mark 084!"

"Point-defense free! Engage as you bear!"

A series of explosions rocked the Beagle as Rim Worlds ships began firing naval autocannons, lasers, PPCs, and capital missiles. The drive system faltered momentarily then came back on-line. As the Beagle slammed into the cruiser RWS Takedo Amaris amidships, her abused engines detonated, completing the destruction of the Beagle, and gutting the heavy Rim World ship.


July 19, 2767
Mid-atmosphere
North Continent, Asta
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


Hiroyoshi struggled to keep his lunch down as the pod spun around and around. With a sudden BANG, the explosive charges fired, flinging pieces of the disintegrating pod away from his body. Automatically, he extended his body to form an aero-surface, stabilizing his fall. In the light of Asta's two moons, he could see the Coldgleam River to his left and Ridgeback Peak to his right. Ok, Hiroyoshi, he thought, that means your assigned drop zone is. . . . there. As he continued to free-fall, he watched his airspeed and altitude on the heads-up device contained in his helmet. Reaching 500 meters, he pulled the ripcord, and a massive shock slammed throughout his body as the para-sail deployed. Thirty seconds later, the DEST commando reached the ground, landing as lightly as a feather. Moving quickly, he disassembled the para-sail and buried it. Four hours until sunrise. He would have to move quickly to make it to the rendezvous point with his team on time. As Hiroyoshi began to move across the darkened forest, it occurred to him that if he survived the Asta campaign, then he would have to climb back into another pod for the next target. Frak me, he thought.

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-13 10:13pm

Chapter Five

July 31, 2767
Rim Worlds Planetary Headquarters, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


Hiroyoshi paused in his creep towards the two Rimmers guarding the entrance to the planetary headquarters. How thoughtful of the Rim Worlders to put spotlights here at the entrance. Though the powerful lights could identify anyone their beams swept across, they also rendered the guards night-blind. The darkness became even darker to their vision, as the spots played across the front of the compound. It had taken Hiroyoshi two hours to crawl across the one hundred and fifty meter swath of clear land surrounding the complex. Two hours of moving one inch at a time—silent and invisible.

Now he paused, just twenty feet from the closer of the two guards. They were alert—probably worried about the ongoing insurrection being waged by the Astans. The corner of Hiroyoshi's mouth twitched in a slight smile—never again would he accuse the Terrans of being pacifists and peace-mongers. No, for the past two weeks, the Astans had relentlessly sniped and bombed, stabbed and garroted isolated Rimmer units. General Brakel—the senior Rim Worlds commander—had responded by rounding up thousands of hostages, and executing them by firing squad by the hundreds every time one his troops was killed. And the resistance had—if anything—grown.

Despite fourteen regiments—two of 'Mechs—on this world, the Rimmers couldn't put down the insurrection. At least not yet, he thought. According to the radio broadcasts, if this . . . this last Cameron did not surrender himself by midnight tomorrow, then the Rim Worlds would pull out—and nuke the entire continent. But, he knew something the Rimmers did not. If everything had gone according to plan—as rare as that might be—then in one hour Admiral Matasuke's Invasion Force would jump insystem. And at that point, the Rimmers were in serious trouble.

And so, here he was, lying in the damp, cold grass just outside the planetary headquarters, waiting for his shot at the head of the Rims Worlds defense.

Click—click, the sudden sound echoed through his earpiece. Without even being aware of it, Hiroyoshi was on his feet, charging the door. To his left and right, the guards fell, two poisoned darts embedded in each of their throats, courtesy of the four members of his team providing cover. Two more team members charged in behind him. Past the main door lay a long corridor, well-lit, but empty. Dozens of identical doors lined it to the left and the right, but Hiroyoshi and his team knew exactly where they were heading.

Reaching an unmarked door two-thirds of the way down the hall on the left, they opened it and began ascending a stairway. At the third—and final—landing, the team paused and Shonani pushed a long, thin sensor probe through the slight crack in the door jamb. Turning the probe around and around, he then pulled it back. "Clear," he said, the first word spoken by any member of the DEST team in almost four hours.

Fraser pulled the door open, and Hiroyoshi went through. The three commandoes moved purposely, deliberately, as they rounded the corner. Two Rimmers stood on guard here, dead-men barely beginning to react as the silenced pistol rounds slammed into their throats. With a snap kick, Hiroyoshi forced the door open and he spun to his right, drawing his katana and slicing the Rims World Colonel from hip to shoulder in a shower of blood and gore.

Shonani and Fraser watched the corridor outside, but no alarm had been raised. Stopping before the desk, Hiroyoshi bowed to the General sitting there, his thumb frantically pushing a button, but still no alarm sounded.

"Your pardon, General Brakel, but the direct land-line for that emergency signal has been severed," he said, pointing to the shuriken he had thrown with his offhand as he entered the room. "And, as for your wireless back-up, the Coordinator has given us the best jamming devices available to the Dragon."

"You won't live to make it outside this building, and your precious Coordinator's cousin will die a painful death."

Hiroyoshi nodded. "Perhaps, but you General, will not see either event happen." And with that, his bloodied sword flashed once more, and a head fell unto the plush carpet.

Twenty minutes later, a series of explosions rocked the headquarters building, leaving it a burning shell, just after a massive explosion rocked the city from near the bay. Hiroyoshi looked up at the flames leaping into the sky from that direction. Still more explosions then occurred at the space-port, the power station, the telephone exchange, the radio broadcast stations, the broadcast media stations, and the HPG station; all had explosions erupt around them—or within them for more than a few. He shook his head; it seems one of the teams had been slightly early on the charges. So much for perfection, he thought. He smiled; their job was complete; now it all depended on Admiral Matasuke and the Invasion Force.


July 31, 2767
Industrial District, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


"Ok, Top, looks good, get them set for the ambush," Stephen spoke softly into the radio.

Two-clicks on the radio gave him his answer as shadows began to move on the street below. Two weeks before, he had been at the Harrison lodge, where he and his detail had learned of the Rim Worlders plans to saturation bomb the continent. In order to kill him, his wife, and his daughter, the Rim Worlders would also kill nearly four million innocent men, women, and children. People that it was now his job to protect.

He and Marianne had had a major fight that night when he told her he was returning to Hawkins, with Gerald and Thom. Emil’s sons and grandsons had volunteered to go as well—a sizable resistance force was sparring with the invaders in and around Hawkins. After having lost nearly six hundred men in the outlying areas, the Rim Worlders seemed content to remain in the capital and the few other large cities on Asta. Though his lodge was isolated, Emil had stayed in touch with his rather distant neighbors, and nearly three dozen men had shown up from this district alone to accompany Stephen back to Hawkins. All of the outlying lodges were contributing men and weapons—hunting weapons mainly, but Astan Ridgebacks took a lot of killing, and the weapons were powerful. Emil had wanted to go, but at 70 years of age, he knew that he was far past his prime for this type of fight. Marianne had bit her tongue when they had the meeting down in that huge kitchen, but lord above all had she lost it when they went upstairs. The fight lasted two hours, both of them knowing that neither would change the others mind, and they had tried to keep the noise down, neither of them wanting to upset Cassie. In the end, Marianne had broken down into tears, and then she had surprised him, making love to him with more passion than any since his wedding night—maybe for the last time ever.

The next morning, she and Cassie, the remainder of his security detail, and the Harrison clan members that would not be going with Stephen, had boarded three air-trucks, and headed out to the Windward Isles; four hundred miles off the coast of North Continent. A fishing town was out there, and thanks to the storm that had blown up during the night, it was likely they would make the trip without the Rimmers detecting them. The prevailing winds should keep the worst of the radiation away from his family. The Harrison clan and Gerald—all of his security people—had wanted him to go to. Marianne and Cassie had wanted him to go. Hell, he had WANTED to go, too. But no, this was his duty, and by God a Cameron did his duty! Even if it cost him his life while doing it.

So, here Stephen was, in the second story of an abandoned warehouse, half a kilometer from the main Rim Worlds airbase. The same airbase the resistance was going to try and knock out before it could launch the bombers that would destroy this world tomorrow night. It probably won't matter in the end, Stephen thought, they are bound to have warships in orbit. And they can kill the planet as easily as the bombers, if not quite as fast. And I can't stop them. All I can do is hurt them before they kill me and my people. But when this is over they will know that we did not just roll over and take it. No, sir, live or die this night, the Rim Worlders and the rest of humanity would know just how much courage and spirit the PEOPLE of the Hegemony had.

"Castle, castle, we are go for launch," a broken voice came over the radio. Stephen picked up his mike, "Phoenix, this is castle. Execute."

Eight kilometers away, a resistance team leader replied, "Roger. God bless sir, and good hunting." Then he pushed the button and ran like hell.

Sixteen pods of multiple-launch rockets—liberated from an old Hegemony armory the Rimmers had not located—began to fire in a closely-timed ripple. Three hundred and twenty rockets, each carrying a fifty-kilo warhead screamed over the city of Hawkins on a ballistic course towards the airfield. Their targets were carefully chosen—all four guard towers, the troop barracks, the main gate, the air control tower, and the security command center—and the most important target, the four hangers containing the Maket class assault bombers the Rim Worlders landed the previous night. Despite the care of their aiming, over fifty of the rockets went wild, impacting across the airfield, their thermobaric warheads cratering runways and detonating fuel and ammo stores. One completely overshot the airfield and devastated a (thankfully) abandoned building on the far side. The remaining two hundred and seventy, however, slammed into their assigned targets.

"Castle, this is Pointer! Looks like solid hits on all targets, the hangers are gone, sir. There’s just a handful of burning craters there now.”

"Roger, Pointer. Top, get them ready, the Rimmers will be here very quickly."

Click—click, went the receiver.

Flashes of light lit up the sky over Hawkins, as yet more explosions erupted throughout the city. "What the hell?" asked Stephen.

Toby Harrison—Emil’s youngest grandson, all of sixteen years old—stood up, "They're nuking us! We're gonna die, we're all gon-"

"Simmer down, son, those aren't nukes." Stephen considered, as smoke and flames from over twenty other explosions rippled through the city. "Top, something hinky's going on. Pull your troops out; the ambush is scrubbed, repeat scrubbed."

Click—click, went the receiver.

"All units, this is Castle, abort mission and return to your staging areas. Await further instructions via normal channels." The men and women assigned as Stephen's detail began grabbing gear and getting ready to move, Thom Pappas stolidly watching their every move. "Ok, Thom, let's move it."

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-13 10:17pm

Chapter Six

July 31, 2767
DCS Mikasa
Jump Point KV107 (Uninhabited)
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


Admiral Matasuke sat in the leather-lined command chair of the Flagship of the Draconis Fleet. His staff and crew were quietly working on their assigned tasks, while the Fleet readied itself for this last jump. Collected and calm, Matasuke kept his eyes trained on the bright spot of green to one side of the bridge. Last summer, his eldest grand-child had given him that bonsai tree. A gift, trimmed by the little girl herself, and intended for the Mikasa. "Just because it's a ship of war doesn't mean it can't be pretty," she had said. And the year before, it was the cherry tree cutting, now growing in its container on the other side of the deck. And the year before that, the chrysanthemum, set forward just before the main 3-d holographic projection tank.

He was proud of his ship, named after Togo's flagship at Tsushima Straits, when he crushed the Russian Navy and secured the prominence of Japan in the eyes of the West. She was neither the newest nor the largest vessel in the Draconis Combine Admiralty, but was still the pride of the Fleet, with the best crew and officers that he could assemble. Behind him, he could feel the eyes of Minoru Kurita gazing across the bridge, and his mouth twitched as it tried to betray him with a smile. General Anders floated beside the Coordinator in zero-g, and while his mouth was set, his face lit with amusement.

"General, you wonder why I allow these plants upon the bridge of our flagship," he asked.

The Coordinator looked over, he had not wanted to voice that question, it seemed. So be it, the Admiral thought, I serve the Dragon by answering the gaijin—no, this one is not a barbarian, he has been nothing but respectful of our customs. And he has been committed to this operation, working as hard—if not harder—as my own staff. Jinjiro may smile and insult the man with honeyed false words, but for me to do so would be a failure of my own honor. Bushido demands that he be treated as I would treat our own samurai, and so I shall.

"Actually, Admiral, I was wondering why the ASSORTED plants upon the bridge of this exceptional ship?"

Rotating his command chair, Matasuke looked directly at Anders. "My grand-child made gifts of them for the ship and her crew. And because, when I am about to enter battle, I look to the cherry blossoms, the chrysanthemum blooms, the bonsai, and remember for what I am fighting."

The Coordinator slowly nodded, a dawning look of comprehension coming across his face.

"It brings me and my bridge crew peace, General Anders; an inner stillness that hushes the fear and the confusion, and allows us to fight clear-headed and with purpose."

Anders smiled. "Then by all means, Admiral, let us pray the Rim Worlds ships have left their house-plants at home."

Minoru actually chuckled at that, as did Matasuke. "My Lord," he said, addressing the Coordinator, "would you do us the honor of assuming command of the Fleet?"

"It is your ship, Admiral Matasuke. It is your fleet. Command it, and command it well."

Matasuke inserted his feet into the straps specifically placed on his command chair for this very purpose, then stood, his body straight, and he deeply bowed, holding for the bow for many seconds. Straightening, he sat, and then rotated the chair to face forward once more.

"Captain Abe, send the following signal to the Fleet—Hoist the Z Flag!"

Saluting, Captain Abe, turned back to his console, and began transmitting the order. And the fleet jumped as the bridge clock changed to 12.01 a.m., August 1, 2767.


August 1, 2767
DCS Mikasa
L-2 Pirate Point, Asta
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


"Jump complete, Admiral. Enemy ships are within engagement range."

"Launch the fighter screen, Captain, and by all means target the enemy and engage them."

Anders watched in fascination as his first naval battle began. The Coordinator beside him—and the Otomo—sat still and silent. Probably their first naval battle too, Anders thought. Quite different from the 'Mech fights he had participated in. The Draconis crew moved quietly from station to station, nothing was shouted—in this compartment at least—but orders passed with a casual ease that belied the capital beams and shells even now slamming into the armored hull of the Mikasa.

"Gunnery officer, there are three Pinto class corvettes trying to flank us. Make them go away," Matasuke said, with a casual sangfroid that seemed unnatural to Sam. The young officer at the gunner station nodded, and softly spoke a few words into his boom microphone. Sam could feel the ship rolling onto its portside, and in the holo-tank, the three red Rim Worlds vessels began to maneuver erratically, trying desperately to make the Mikasa miss. Twenty-four naval PPC's—particle projection cannons weighing almost two thousand tons apiece—spat coherent energy at a range of less than 600 kilometers, and where once there had been three corvettes massing one-hundred and sixty thousand tons apiece, now there was only rapidly expanding clouds of gas and debris.

"Well, done, gunnery officer. Captain Abe, where are my fighters?"

"Akagi and Kaga are launching now, Admiral. Hiryu and Soryu will launch momentarily."

A tremendous flash erupted on the holo-tank; when it died away, one of the icons representing a Combine battleship had vanished as well.

"Admiral, the Musashi was hit with a nuclear weapon. She’s . . . she's gone, sir."

"Captain Abe, order the Fleet to initiate nuclear protocols."

As Abe turned to give the order, Anders thought about what that meant. To keep a single nuclear weapon from damaging more than one ship, Matasuke was spreading the fleet out. But, this also reduced their defensive fire coordination, leaving the defensive systems of each ship on her own. The plans for such an occurrence had been made months earlier, but no one had used nuclear weapons in nearly 200 years.

"Signal Kongo and Hei, Captain Abe. Release of nuclear weapons is authorized."

"Sir."

The battle cruisers Kongo and Hei turned to present broadsides to the Rim Worlds ships—fifteen cruisers, destroyers, and corvettes. As each settled on her new bearing, three Killer Whale capital missiles, tipped with nuclear warheads were launched by each ship, then three more, all aimed at different targets. The missile streaked across the hologram, crossing paths with three Rim Worlds missiles, then fifteen nuclear detonations lit the tank, and the bridge. Twelve Rim vessels vanished in the glare of nuclear fire, as did three more Combine ships—the battle cruiser Haruna, the carrier Shokaku, and the cruiser Tone.

More fire raked the Mikasa, coming from the sole surviving Rim Worlds Cruiser. As the cruiser began to accelerate towards Mikasa to bring her heavy guns into range, squadrons—groups—wings—of fighters appeared on the display. Slayers, Shilones, and Sholagars swept in over the wounded cruiser, and some exploded, hit by weapons designed to kill ships hundreds—thousands—times their size. The survivors, however, poured their own fire into the cruiser and it too died in an eye-searing glare.


August 1, 2767
DCS Mikasa
High Orbit, Asta
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


"My Lord," Admiral Matasuke said, "I beg to report that there has been no fire from the surface, the SDS is still inoperable. We are ready to proceed."

Coordinator Minoru Kurita took a deep look at the holo-tank, the blue-green world with swirling white clouds floating in the center. "Hai, Admiral. Land the landing force."

User avatar
Eternal_Freedom
Castellan
Posts: 9757
Joined: 2010-03-09 02:16pm
Location: Bound in a nutshell

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2013-05-14 09:12am

Jesus...a battleship, a battlecruiser, a carrier and a cruiser in a single engagement. Ouch. Then again, I'm used to reading your Clans stories where such losses are crippling rather than just heavy.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-14 09:17am

Chapter Seven

August 1, 2767
Industrial District, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


A line of bullets ricocheted across the rubble where Stephen had been standing a moment before. Cold muddy water splashed and splattered as he dove into the crater of what had once been a major roadway in the city of Hawkins. Now, it was a war zone. Smoke and dust rose from all around him as the Rim Worlds infantry continued their assault. Lifting himself on his elbows, he took a quick glance around; yes, the insurgents were shooting back. For green troops, these guys were solid, he thought, his old 42nd CAAN (Combined Armor, Aerospace, and Naval) Marine Regiment couldn’t have done much better in this situation.

“Sir,” a voice shouted from his side, though the sound was strangely muted. He remembered how combat did strange things to one’s hearing; the constant abuse by gunfire and explosions, the screams of the wounded, some poor kid sobbing, terrified by his own lack of courage more than the enemy; all of these things numbed the brain that processed them. He shook his head to clear it and lifted a thumb at Thom. Gathering himself, he pushed himself up and into a crouch, and once again began running towards the redoubt he had designated as the last stand.

More bullets whipped through the air around them, and then a grenade landed twenty feet away. The explosion tried to knock him over, but his will kept his legs pumping, and then he and Thom dove through the open door and against the concrete wall.

Gerald Howe crawled over on his elbows, his face a mixed study in terror and rage. “You imbecile! For the love of God, L.T., at this moment you are the one man who we can NOT lose. Christ in heaven, you are frakkin’ First Lord himself. First Lords do NOT walk the frakkin’ perimeter like some butterbar fresh out of the Academy! Sure as HELL not when we got a couple of hundred Rim World pukes out there gunning for us like we were two-dollar whores and they just been released from serving five-to-ten.”

Stephen couldn’t help it, he began to laugh, and in a moment, after Gerald Howe’s face turned red, then purple, then a color he could not even describe, he started laughing too. Stephen reached up and put his hand on Gerald’s shoulder, still laughing. “You still think we are going to get of here, Top. That’s good, the troops need to think that too,” he whispered, too soft for any except Gerald and Thom to hear. “But we know the truth, there are too many of them, and they are gunning for us with a vengeance. Sure, we are going to drive this one off, and maybe the next, and if we get a miracle the next. But after that? After that Top, they bring in ‘Mechs and smash us straight into the concrete. You know it; I know it; Thom knows it. So quit worrying about me eating a bullet and let me do my frakkin’ job, Top Sergeant. I was a hell of platoon leader once, you know.”

Gerald leaned back and rubbed the bandage covering the shrapnel wound on his right thigh. “You were, Sir, I remember. After all, I was there.” Pausing he looked around, the gunfire had diminished sharply and the insurgents of the resistance were cheering, as the Rimmers began to pull back. “At least you were after I taught you few things about combat, anyway, L.T. Damn-fool idiots back at O.C.S. and the Academy; they teach everything except the things that’ll keep you alive when the shit hits the fan. About the only good thing to come about from this stinking mess is that all those politically correct REMF’s are probably dead by now.”

Stephen levered himself up, but stayed below the level of the window. Some redoubt, he thought. An old steel-reinforced concrete building that had seen many better days. At least the rubble would stop a few rounds and give the insurgents some cover against the next attack. Extending his hand, he grabbed Gerald’s wrist pulling the wounded man to his feet. “Let’s find out who we lost this time, Top. Thom, it’s time to pull all the troops back to here. We getting stretched too thin to hold the entire perimeter,” he glanced at Gerald as he continued, “would you pass the word to fall back?”

“Yes, sir,” he said as crouched and headed back outside.

Stephen and Gerald scuttled across the wrecked building—staying low to avoid giving a sniper a good shot—to a recessed stairwell descending through the floor. They went down the stairs and through a door. Inside, hand-held battery torches provided a dim illumination as the few physicians they had tried to save the lives of the wounded. Already, a dozen dead were lined against one wall, their chests and heads covered with some old burlap that had been found upstairs. Twice that many were wounded, and only three doctors—none of them trauma specialists—were to be had.

“How are we on ammo, Top?”

“Not bad, about half the troops are using weapons the Rimmers don’t exactly need any more. Including some squad heavy weapons. Between that and the men down here who can’t shoot, we got enough. Enough for what’s coming, at least.”

“And the docs?”

“If I thought the Rimmers would accept a flag of truce to extract our wounded, L.T., I would give it a try. But they won’t, and you know it. We ran out of pain killers and morphine half an hour ago, so they’re making do with an old case of hootch we found stashed down here. Piss-poor stuff, but strong.”

Stephen stopped, and leaned against the wall for moment rubbing his artificial leg. Damn how it always itches. He stopped—his face white as a sheet as shock hit his system.

“L.T.?” Gerald was suddenly there, worry written across his face at Stephen’s sudden reaction. “Let me take a look. Whoa, boyo. Good thing, you had already lost that leg, L.T., cause that’s one big nasty looking hole right there.”

“Top, I never even felt it hit.”

“Count your blessings, L.T. Count your blessings.”

Both men swiveled their heads as Thom came pounding down the stairway. “Sir, we need you up top. Now.”

Stephen and Gerald broke into a run, as gunfire began to erupt once more in the distance.

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

Senior Sergeant Rashal tal-Midon, spat brown tobacco juice out the open hatch cover of his Flea class BattleMech. He didn’t like the Rim Worlders, but a job was a job, and with his resume—his record, one might say—The Chain Gang was one of the few independent regiments that would hire him. So now, here he was, working for Amaris on this crappy little world, in the crappy little Hegemony. And the crappy little Rim Worlds troops couldn’t seem to get the job done this night. So, the Colonel had awakened Rashal out of a drugged stupor and sent him out here to support these PBI’s—Poor Bloody Infantry—along with the other three ‘Mechs in his lance.

Three blocks away, he could see the concrete structure this insurgent group was holed up in. Damn guerillas blew the air-field, the power-station, and the Rimmers own Headquarters earlier tonight, plus a dozen other targets. It was just pure blind luck that this group had been found. The Rim Worlds patrol that drove into them—literally—had been on the wrong side of the District they were patrolling. Well, they paid for that with their lives, but ever since, more and more troops had come here to take some payback. Only, the payback was going the wrong way.

What was wrong with these yokels? Sending farm-boys armed with hunting rifles chasing after trained infantry and ‘Mechs? Didn’t they know when they were beaten? At least the Colonel thought they had finally caught this imposter Cameron; the one who really killed Richard and his family, Emperor Amaris arriving just too late to stop the assassin from fleeing to Asta. An unguarded comm transmission earlier in the night indicated that he was leading this particular group.

“Blazer Three, let’s finish this mess. Get in there and flush them out.” And, then we get to go to one of the other three-score hot-spots that had erupted spontaneously during the night. Joy, just what he wanted to spend the day doing; getting shot at by the local-yokels for something other than bedding their women. And he really needed his next fix; he was starting to get antsy.

“Roger, that, Blazer Lead.”

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

Stephen sighed. This was it, the end. Four BattleMechs stood four hundred meters away, behind a burned out row of warehouses. Two Fleas, a Stinger, and a Wasp; all four were twenty-ton Scout ‘Mechs. Might as well be an assault battalion for all that we can do to stop them. He knelt down next to the militia-man who had the only man-portable Short-Range-Missile launcher in their group. And their last two SRM rockets.

“You make the call; then take the shot, Paul. When you fire, I’ll give the order to open up with everything we’ve got.”

“Yes, Sir, Lord Stephen, don’t you worry none about me. I can thread a sewing needle with this baby at 300 yards.”

“Just make sure your sewing needle is on one of those ‘Mechs, trooper.”

The militia-man just smiled and hefted the launcher to one shoulder.

The Wasp began to move, and flame erupted from its back. Stephen stopped. That wasn’t jump-jet exhaust, it was. . . “Everyone down, NOW!” he shouted as he dropped prone, pulling his arms up to cover his head.

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

The concussion was tremendous as the Wasp simply exploded where it stood. Thirty meters away, the Stinger staggered around as most of its armor—and some of its internal workings—were stripped away by the force of the blast, and slammed into a nearby building, and then fell as the upper two stories collapsed down atop it. Both Fleas stumbled then righted themselves, saved from outright destruction simply by virtue of being farther away. The Rim Worlds infantry were not quite so lucky. Those not killed outright by the explosion were buried alive under collapsing buildings.

Rashal struggled to keep his ‘Mech upright as dust from the crumbled buildings and black, oily smoke from the Wasp swirled around outside his cockpit. Martyr’s blood, he thought, Hassan’s SRM’s had detonated! But, there had been no weapons fire, nothing on his scanners, nothing at all that could have done THAT.

Two more explosions ripped into the Flea less than sixty meters away from him. These explosions were around the knees of the twenty-ton ‘Mech, and he watched with horror as the blocky main chassis of Carmine’s ‘Mech simply dropped, then hit the ground—hard—and rolled twice before stopping in front of her still upright lower legs! Shaped charges. HAND PLACED SHAPED CHARGES. That means anti-‘Mech infantry; time to get the HELL out of. . . .

“Hello. Thank you for leaving this hatch open. It made my job so much easier. If you wish to die now, I promise it will be quick and relatively painless—otherwise shut this machine down and climb out here.”

As Rashal looked up, he saw a gun barrel pointed right at his head. Behind the gun—holding the gun—was a soldier. His helmet and visor completely covered his head, dressed in black camouflage body armor, and . . . and wearing a sword across his back?!?

”Now, now, I know you must understand League Standard English,” the voice was guttural—electronically altered, so that any who heard it would not know whether a man or woman spoke, and could not recognize the voice later. “If you do not, well then as we say in all those old movies, ‘So Sorry.’”

Rashal’s hands shot up into the air, “I surrender. I surrender, don’t shoot.”

“So hard to find good help these days, is it not, Merc? Climb out. Now, please.”

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

Stephen, Gerald, Thom and the nineteen insurgents still able to fight watched the amazing events unfold in front of them. First the Wasp’s ammo blew and the resulting explosion collapsed the nearby buildings. What Rimmers were left alive had been buried beneath all that rubble. The Stinger took the brunt of the explosion erupting from the back of the Wasp; its pilot likely dead, and only its right arm stood above the mangled heap of concrete and steel. THEN, two sharp new explosions, and the upper half of one of the Flea’s just FELL, leaving two lonely legs standing in the middle of a cloud of dust and smoke.

What the hell, Stephen thought, peering over the barrier of rubble that his team had built in front of the old building. Turning his head, he looked at Gerald, who seemed as stunned as he was.

“Lord Cameron?” The voice came from a loudspeaker two blocks away. “I wish to approach under a flag of truce; I will be alone, but certainly not unarmed. Please, sir, do not shoot, for I wish to speak with you.”

Gerald spoke up, “Just cover the street, boys. Let’s see what these people want. Hold your fire, until I fire.”

Stephen nodded, and Thom yelled out, “Come on then. But come slowly—and only one.”

“Agreed.”

From one of the surviving buildings near where the Rim Worlds forces had been assembling, a man dressed in black camouflage armor walked out into the street, the fires providing only flickering light in the early morning hours. He was wearing a sword across his back, a pistol in a shoulder holster, and a sub-machine gun strapped across his chest, barrel pointed at the ground before him. In his right arm, he held a helmet, the visor made from one-way armor plexi. His left hand, though, he kept carefully away from any of his weapons, held out to one side, fingers spread wide. Crossing the rubble quickly and efficiently, he made his way toward Stephen’s redoubt, and stopped five meters away.

“Lord Cameron, I am Sho-sa Hiroyoshi Tanaka, commanding officer Draconis Elite Strike Team Six, in service to my Lord Minoru Kurita, and the Draconis Combine.” The tall, young officer bowed slowly, and then straightened once more. “You have my sincerest apologizes for our late arrival, my Lord, it was necessary that the enemy ‘Mechs be committed before our presence could be revealed.”

“Sho-sa Tanaka? Of the COMBINE?”

“Yes, my Lord. Oh, the Rim Worlders have not passed along the news it would seem. My Lord Kurita has declared war upon the Usurper who now sits upon the Throne of Terra. The reasons for this are many, and not subject to discussion at this time; but my Lord Cameron, he has pledged himself and his forces to your General Kerensky and is coordinating with him.”

Stephen felt a tremendous weight lift from his shoulders, and his knees buckled as Thom caught him and kept him upright.

“My team is part of a pre-invasion reconnaissance and sabotage force that landed two weeks ago, Lord Cameron. In fact, I have spoken with Admiral Matasuke not an hour ago. He and his forces are in orbit, and the first wave has already begun its landing to commence the liberation of Asta.”

“My Lord Kurita has requested that I find you, this ‘last Cameron’. And that I bring you before him,” he said, bowing once more.

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-14 09:27am

Chapter Eight

August 1, 2767
Industrial District, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


Gerald bristled off to one side of Stephen, and spoke, “Bring him before the Coordinator? Just like that, huh, Sho-sa? Lord Cameron is going nowhere without his security detail.”

Muttering among the insurgents began, as the men considered the position they were in—and the many possibilities of treachery in Sho-sa Tanaka’s bald statement.

The tall, young officer raised his hand—his empty hand—and bowed again slightly. “Perhaps I used the wrong words; if so I beg of you your pardon.” Turning his head back towards Stephen, Hiroyoshi continued, “My Lord Kurita spoke with me a short time ago, my Lord Cameron. He spoke personally to me, and instructed me in this matter HIMSELF. I am to treat you as I would treat HIM, and I am to protect you and your person from all threats as though I were charged with protecting the Dragon himself. This request—and it is a request, my Lord Cameron—comes from my Lord Kurita wishing to meet the man who may well be the next First Lord of the Star League.”

“And, of course, your security detail may accompany you. In whatever numbers you wish,” he said, turning his head back to Gerald.

As Stephen, Gerald, and Hiroyoshi continued to speak, Toby—Tobias—Harrison looked around the wasteland that this industrial park had become during the night. Even now, dawn was breaking over the bay to the east. Smoke rose from a hundred fires burning within Hawkins, and it depressed him to see this happen to his world. I shamed Gramps last night, he thought, reacting as he had when those other explosions began. And then again, in the fighting during the night and the early morning hours; he had frozen at first, until Lord Stephen had come over and said a few quiet words in his ear. He couldn’t even remember the words—the night had seemed to go on forever.

Funny, it hadn’t been like Gramp’s stories at all. There hadn’t been any glory anywhere to be found, just pain and death, and pure, raw ugliness. And he had done things; things that would be with him forever. Done those things over and over again, because he had to, to stay alive. When that Rimmer had jumped into his firing pit, and he began struggling over the knife, and he stabbed him, again and again and again AND AGAIN! He shuddered, and asked God how was he ever supposed to FORGET?

He had wanted to come—had begged his Dad and Gramps to let him. It seemed like such an adventure, joining the First Lord himself on a quest to regain his throne! Now, he knew they were right, when they had urged him not to. But they let him. They let him come with Lord Stephen, and now he was . . . what? Toby didn’t know other than he wasn’t exactly Toby anymore. Might not ever be Toby again either. He remembered his Gramps words to him, just before they left two weeks ago. “Toby,” he had said, “just remember this. There are lot of things out there with a Y chromosome—but that don’t make ‘em no man. A man takes responsibility for what he does, son. Good, bad, everything in between. He shoulders his burdens and he takes what he has coming. You just keep your head on—and you remember that. And that I am proud of you, my boy. And come what may, you got a place to come back to, ya hear? A place you can get your head back on straight. That might not mean anything now, but one day it will. Now, go on, before you make an old man cry.”

Cry, Toby thought. He had done that last night. He looked down at his hands, the dirty, bloody, hands and shook. Will I ever be clean again?

A flash of light caught the corner of his eye and Toby didn’t hesitate—one night can sometimes be a lifetime, and last night had taught him much. “Sniper!” he yelled as he dove at Lord Stephen.

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

“Sho-sa Tanaka, thank you for clearing that up, my detail is—understandably—on a bit of a short fuse at the moment,” Stephen said, smiling, as he glanced at Gerald, who still did not look happy.

“At the moment, however, we have a number of wounded, and not anywhere nearly enough medical supplies . . .”

“Of, course, my Lord Cameron, if you will allow my men to render assistance, I have several that are trained in field medical care?”

Stephen nodded, and Hiroyoshi quietly spoke into the small microphone along his right cheek. Six men in the same type of camouflage armor as Hiroyoshi ran past them into the building, then down the stairs. Others began spreading out throughout the rubble, looking for Rim Words survivors. When they found one, they did not pull out their medical kits nor did they waste ammunition—a sword worked just as well for treating THOSE particular wounded as a gun would have.

“Have you had any word since your invasion force landed, Sho-sa?”

“Yes, my Lord Cameron. Fifteen regiments commanded by General Samasov—six of them ‘Mech units—landed in three drop zones, surrounding the capital. He was hoping to draw the Rims Worlds forces out to spare your civilians any additional casualties, but with the entire city rising up last night,” Hiroyoshi shrugged, “that course of action may no longer be possible. As of thirty minutes ago, he was pushing his advance forces into the city itself to engage the Rim Worlders as fast as he can. If the schedule he gave me still holds, your SLDF 3rd Regimental Combat Team will be landing within the next hour, along with the remainder of General Samasov’s assault wave.”

“I knew that some Rim forces were being pulled away, but how many civilians rose up last night?”

“One of the other resistance groups let slip your name on radio traffic after you got pinned down. After that, the people of Hawkins just poured into the streets. I would estimate nearly fifteen thousand of your citizens here have taken up arms and are fighting the Rim troops across the city.”

Gerald whistled.

“Yes, they saved your life when they did that, my Lord Cameron, by diverting the Rim leaders from sending enough troops to finish you off. And that also let ME know where to find you.” Hiroyoshi’s face broke into a smile. “Which saved your life, yet again, my Lord. You really should avoid placing yourself in such a bad position as this.”

Gerald grimaced. “We’re working on that, Sho-sa. Working on it hard.”

Stephen grinned. “Now, Top, I wasn’t that bad last night, was . . . “

“Sniper!” was shouted by someone, and Stephen’s world went black as he was slammed hard in the chest and hurled to the ground.

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

The shot came at nearly the same moment as the shout. Pandemonium ensued. The DEST commandos and the insurgents both began pouring fire into the building where the muzzle flash came from.

Gerald and Hiroyoshi reached Stephen at the same time. Toby had slammed him into the ground hard—he was unconscious and covered with blood. “Christ,” whispered Gerald as the two began trying to find the wound. There was none. They looked at each other, and then at Toby, lying a few inches away. He was sputtering and trying to speak, as his blood welled up from the cavity the bullet left as it entered his back and exited his chest.

“Medic, we need a medic!” yelled Hiroyoshi, as Gerald made certain Stephen was not wounded. Hiroyoshi placed his hands over the wound, trying to stem the flow of blood, as Toby gasped for air.

Paul Geeler—electrician and part-time militia-man trained his SRM launcher on the building. Snipe at my First Lord, will you, Rim-scum. Well take this, he thought as he pulled the trigger once, then again. Two SRM rockets sped out towards the building, trailing smoke and flame as they went. Both rounds flew through the window where the shot had come, then the building exploded; shattering what glass that remained in the windows, and the entire building collapsed in cloud of concrete dust.

Hiroyoshi pressed one hand down—hard—on the wound on Toby’s chest, and with the other touched Toby’s face, an expression of sorrow on his own. One of the DEST medics arrived and placed an injector against Toby’s neck; with a hiss morphine entered his blood stream.

Stephen shook his head, “Top? What freight train hit me?”

“You’ll live, L.T., thank God.” He stopped and looked away, “I don’t think Toby will though. He took the bullet meant for you.”

Stephen crawled over to the young man, his head still spinning from hitting the rubble.

“Toby, son, what . . . “

Toby, was still gasping, but his pain was slowly receding, as he looked up at Stephen. “I saw. Sunlight. On his. Scope. Can’t. Let these. People.” He groaned. “Shoot you. Sir.”

The DEST medic was working frantically trying to stem the bleeding, but shaking his head.

“Tell. Tell Gramps.” Toby swallowed hard. “I. I did. My best. Tried. Make him. Proud.”

“I will, son, and he is proud. So am I.” Stephen said, as tears filled his eyes. “Your whole family is proud, Toby; you did good tonight, boy. Real good.”

“Sir. I’m. Scared. Sir.” Toby was beginning to breathe more raggedly, hyper-ventilating, even as the narcotics began to smooth more of the pain away.

“Do you know the 23rd Psalms, son?” Toby nodded his head as his body shook and he kept trying to swallow. “Then let’s recite together.”

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me besides still waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his names sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Toby gasped for breath, and groaned as pain returned for moment, and then he raggedly continued, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,” Toby’s voice trailed off and his chest stopped moving, and Stephen softly finished, “and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Stephen stopped and sat up, tears running down his face, as Hiroyoshi took his hands away from the boy. The medic checked for a pulse and shook his head, then closed the boy’s eyes and placed a bloody, torn jacket over Toby’s face.

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

“He saved two lives, this morning, my Lord Cameron, that young man did,” Hiroyoshi said softly a few minutes later after they had moved the body into the basement with the others—to lie beside a brother, a cousin, and an uncle.

“How so, Hiroyoshi?”

“Yours, of course, and mine as well. I owe that young man a dept of honor, one that will be called upon as needed by his family and mine shall answer.”

Stephen looked up. He had forgotten that those who protected the Coordinator would often give their own lives if they failed in their duty to protect him. Hiroyoshi nodded, “I would have brought shame upon my family for failing in the charge given me. Such things can only be cleansed one way, my Lord Cameron.”

“When this is over, Hiroyoshi, I will introduce you to his family. What’s left of them, at least.”

“The fault is not yours, my Lord. I have spoken with others in your gallant little band, including the three relatives of ‘Toby’ that survived. He chose to come with you; and we would be mourning much more if he had not.”

“I will have Gerald and Thom as my detail, Hiroyoshi. The rest of the resistance fighters should return to their families. Let’s go meet your Coordinator.”

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-14 09:40am

Chapter Nine

August 4, 2767
DCS Mikasa
High Orbit, Asta
Terran Hegemony


The low-gravity environment of the grav deck was a pure pleasure to many of the older officers waiting in the company of Minoru Kurita and his son, Jinjiro. Older men,—none save Jinjiro was younger than 49—the reduced pressure on their joints was heavenly for men who had abused them through their decades of service. Of all his senior officers, only General Samasov was absent, as he rapidly concluded his campaign against the Rim World forces below. The surviving Rim Worlders had scattered—and that decision would be fatal. Tens of thousands of Astan’s were hungry for revenge, and took to the woods after those fleeing troopers. Few, if any, would survive between the hunters and the native wildlife. Their ‘Mech forces had been decisively crushed; for all intents and purposes Asta was now freed of the Usurper’s grip. General Samasov’s casualties had been light, and his second landing had nothing more to do than pitch in to aid the civilians—there had been no remaining organized Rim Worlders to shoot at. Though Jinjiro was pleased with the light casualties among the first wave, he had been frustrated when he arrived yesterday with the second assault wave and the reserve; indignant that his command had not been needed. Needed as warriors at least, for Minoru had ordered them to aid in the assistance of the civilians below; an order that did not sit well with many of his own more hide-bound officers—including his own son.

Seven-point-seven percent, Minoru thought. Seven-point-seven percent of the entire planetary population were casualties. Three hundred and twenty-three thousand, four hundred Astan civilians had been either wounded or killed over the past eight months of the occupation—at least that was the initial numbers his intelligence briefing had quoted; it would certainly climb as they searched the planet and found the bodies of the missing. Hawkins, Powell, Sebastian, Farmington—all of Asta’s major cities were mere burnout shells where the Rim Worlders had made their last stands before breaking and running; using human shields to try and avert his soldiers’ wrath. Are these atrocities what we will find on ALL the occupied Hegemony worlds as we conduct this war? He had changed his mind, Amaris’s troops were not mad, they were a disease; a cancer eating away at the soul of mankind. And Minoru knew, without a doubt, that were his troops to go through year after year after year of liberating such violations of the human soul, their own might begin to wither. It takes only a single atrocity to scar a man—or a nation—he thought. Father, he asked, if your spirit still answers me, strengthen my will to see this through.

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

It had taken three days to arrange the meeting, and the first face Stephen saw after they were taken to this small compartment to prepare was a familiar one. A very familiar one.

“My god, Stephen, it really is you,” General Sam Anders had grabbed Stephen’s upper arms, his face gone bone-white. Thom started forward—and Gerald waved him back to where they stood in the small conference room above the DCS Mikasa.

“Hello, Sam. Yeah, it really is me.”

Sam’s face worked for moment, then he averted his eyes. “Joan?”

“I asked her if she wanted to come with us, Sam, I did. She wanted to stay in Unity for the holiday get-together with all of the family. I am so sorry, my friend.”

Sam nodded, the pain threatening to rip its way up from where he had buried it months ago. Steeling himself, he pushed it down again, into a yawning, black abyss that threatened sometimes in the dead of night to consume him.

“I know you are Stephen, and hell, I was married to Joan—you were just her brother,” he said, smiling to take the sting out of that bald statement. “So, yeah, I know that she would never have gone to Asta with you over the holiday season, not when she could be at the Court of the Star League. Marianne and Cassie?”

“They came with me—thank God. They are in good company downside, some good people who took us in and gave us shelter.”

Sam nodded and collected himself, wiping a few drops from his eyes with a silk handkerchief.

“Are there any rules here that I should observe, Sam?” Stephen asked, trying to bring his brother-in-law back into the present.

“More than you have time to remember. But you are the First Lord of the Star League, brother. Or rather you will be when the Council Lords meet and confirm you in that position. Until then—act like you are. The Dracs respect strength and will—though do NOT piss off Minoru, not if you ever want to be confirmed as First Lord. First there will be some small talk; polite conversation and the like. Mainly to let the senior officers of the Combine see you and get to know you somewhat. Be distant; they will see you as a superior as long as you act like a superior. Act like a hillbilly from the backwoods and you will lose their respect fast.”

“Next, Minoru will probably speak with you—alone. No guards for either of you. He will probably not speak in front of his officers. It is not how they do things. You should speak—but keep the words short, simple, and to the point. They don’t like leaders who blather wildly. In private with Minoru, he will—most likely—have a relatively normal conversation. Be careful. He is very sharp, and one hell of a strategist and risk-taker. If he offers you something, look at it three times carefully, then again a fourth—there is almost certainly an angle you haven’t considered and that he has.”

“After the private meeting, there will be a state dinner—you’ve attended those before. Act like Simon, not Richard. Then the DropShip will take you back down.”

Stephen nodded. This meeting would determine how his relations with Kurita would continue. Hell, he had never wanted this—for the love of God, he had been 73rd in line of succession! But, it’s your duty, boyo, he thought.

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

As the door to the lounge on the grav deck opened, conversation inside stilled. Stephen, Sam, Hiroyoshi, Gerald, and Thom entered the room. A sea of formal black uniforms, lined with red, filled this large room, but not quite to overflowing. A dozen guards stood back against one of the bulkheads—the Otomo, Stephen thought. To one side of the room, a series of buffet tables had been placed; appetizers and drinks residing upon them. Behind the tables, youthful officers press-ganged into service as servers stood respectfully still, not moving until a senior officer indicated that he wanted service. Four windows, slightly curved in parallel with the decks above and below them, graced the forward bulkhead. The stars therein lazily spun in a course around and around as the grav deck rotated about the central core of the Mikasa.

None save the Otomo—and his own detail—were armed, not even with the two swords that these men were entitled to wear. Stephen—just like Minoru—was weaponless this evening also.

Stephen suppressed the urge to sigh, and smiled instead, as he entered the compartment.

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

The reception had been underway for nearly an hour, and Stephen was fairly happy with his performance. So far, he had managed not to commit a major gaffe, and he had met the majority of the men in this room. Introduced by Hiroyoshi in order of seniority from the least upwards, he was nearing the end of this reception. Afterwards . . . afterwards would come the important part, when he met Minoru in private. As Stephen and his detail continued to meet and greet the officers, they finally approached where Minoru, Jinjiro, and Admiral Matasuke were standing. Turning to Matasuke, Jinjiro whispered sotto voice in Japanese, “Behold the gaijin who feels he should be our master. Three days ago he was pissing his pants before our troops had to rescue him.”

Conversation drifted to a halt. Many of the Combine officers looked away, as Jinjiro smiled and lifted a glass filled with sparkling liquid in Stephen’s direction. Admiral Matasuke grew more rigid, and though he tried hard to repress it, a look of disgust spread across his face. Minoru said nothing. Sam winced—he knew Stephen, and knew that Stephen spoke excellent Japanese. Stephen took a deep breath, trying to control his temper, and considered how to react, when all his options were taken from him.

Hiroyoshi took two steps forward, placing himself between Jinjiro and Stephen, and bowed deeply—but did hold the bow, a subtle insult. Rising quickly, he spoke, “My Lord Jinjiro, that insult was not worthy of any Son of the Dragon, let alone the Heir. I must demand your apology to my Lord Cameron. Now.”

Jinjiro’s face flushed with anger. “You demand?!? Peasant! How dare you speak to me in such a fashion!”

“How dare you, my Lord, speak so towards an ally? One who has led men in battle—successfully, I may add, my Lord Jinjiro.”

The room stilled for just a moment; for a second it seemed time had frozen. Shock registered on the faces of all present—save that of Minoru and Hiroyoshi—as the true insult struck home, for Jinjiro had yet to lead on the field of battle.

“Guards! Arrest this man.” Jinjiro yelled, taking a step forward. “You have just signed your own death warrant, you peasant bastard.”

As two of the Otomo left their positions against the wall, Minoru lifted one hand; and the guards halted in place. With a slight motion, he gestured for them to return to their station. They hurriedly did so.

“Father? What . . . .”

“Your pardon, my Lord Jinjiro,” Hiroyoshi interrupted. “My Lord Kurita himself instructed me—with his own VOICE—to protect and serve my Lord Cameron as though he were the Dragon. And as I would not abide such an insult directed at the Dragon, so I shall not abide such directed at my Lord Cameron. You, my Lord Jinjiro, shall—with your own tongue and your own voice—render an apology. NOW, my Lord, or you shall answer to this insult with my steel against your own.”

Hiroyoshi’s eyes blazed, his every muscle quivering—and everyone in the room knew that a meter of razor-sharp steel lay upon his back. Including Jinjiro.

Jinjiro’s jaw clenched, his fists opened and closed tightly, his neck and face flushed. He was a master swordsman, but Hiroyoshi was a DEST commando. He knew he was outclassed in this arena. So, he forced himself to smile.

“Of course, a misunderstanding, Lord Cameron,” he spoke smoothly, though the tension and stress remained audible in his words. “I have had, perhaps, too much to drink this evening, and I should not have said what I did. I must ask for your acceptance of this—misstatement on my part.”

In fluent Japanese, Stephen flatly replied, in a cold, hard, dangerous voice, “I have not yet heard an apology, Lord Jinjiro.”

His face turned white, Jinjiro’s eyes bulged and a vein began throbbing along his forehead. “In that case, then, I render to you my apologies for the words spoken tonight. Is that satisfactory?”

“Quite. Sho-sa Tanaka, attend me.”

“Hai, my Lord Cameron,” Hiroyoshi said as he straightened to attention, and resumed his post behind Stephen.

Jinjiro turned to his father, “I have lost my appetite for dining this evening, Father. I shall retire, with your permission, of course.”

Minoru made a slight motion with one hand, and Jinjiro stalked—indeed nearly stormed—from the compartment, followed by half-a-dozen of the lower-ranking senior officers.

User avatar
Eternal_Freedom
Castellan
Posts: 9757
Joined: 2010-03-09 02:16pm
Location: Bound in a nutshell

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2013-05-14 09:56am

Ah, Lesson One of diplomacy. If you're going to insult someone in another language, make damn sure they don't speak it first.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-14 02:21pm

Chapter Ten

August 7, 2767
Branson House, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


The sun was setting, casting long shadows across the ruins of the city of Hawkins. Stephen stood on the balcony, watching the rays of light pass through breaks in the clouds. To the east—over the sea—, the sky was a deep, rich blend of shades of red and purple, as the golden light reflected from the tips of waves. At least the fires are out, he thought. These fires. Below him, soldiers from the 3rd Regimental Combat Team (the Eridani Light Horse)—detailed to him by Colonel Bradley, their commander—patrolled the grounds, near fanatical in their devotion to keep him from harm. The news that a Cameron—a Cameron of the ruling family in line of succession to the throne—still lived had stunned the troops; their officers as well. Colonel Bradley had detailed the better part of a full regiment—comprised of officers and men from all four regiments under his command—just to protect him. Lord Minoru had further surprised him—he had gifted Stephen with DEST Six; the survivors at least; and given him Hiroyoshi as his Draconis liaison. Gerald Howe—a mere non-commissioned officer—had wanted to shrink back into the background, but Stephen refused. He point-blank told Colonel Bradley that GERALD was the chief of his detail. If Bradley did not like that, then Bradley could go to hell. Ezra Bradley had not pushed the point; Stephen had been in a serious mood that evening after returning from the Mikasa in orbit.

Marianne and Cassie had rejoined him the day before yesterday—and he had spoken with Emil and Helen Harrison and their son Roland—Toby’s father—and Roland’s wife Patrice. Today had been the funeral. For Toby and the other Harrison’s, as well as the other fourteen men and women who had died under his command that fateful night. He attended the service—in the open fields of the Asta Memorial Cemetery—where the dead who had served Terra and her lords for nearly five hundred years lay at rest. Some of his new guards—and Colonel Bradley—were concerned about assassination attempts from the surviving Rim Worlders who had not yet been found, but they had not tried to stop him. Smart of them, he thought. I would have ripped Ezra a new one if he had. Colonel Bradley had posthumously enlisted Toby—Tobias—Harrison in the rolls of the Royal Black Watch by having his grandfather swear the oath on his behalf. Then the young man, and the others, had been laid to rest with full honors. Down to the lone bugle playing that simple, ancient, lonesome, and moving song; the song that had been written during another Civil War, nine HUNDRED years earlier.

Tomorrow . . . tomorrow he would be at the Planetary Capital to be coroneted, crowned, staked out like a goat for the tiger, he thought, with a wince. And then he would have to make a speech, in front of the people of Asta and the journalists that had accompanied Kurita’s invasion force; then send a message to General Kerensky. Before the end of the year, the speech he would give tomorrow would be played on every world inhabited by mankind in a 1,500 light-year sphere. But something about tomorrow just was not right, he knew it wasn’t, but he couldn’t make out what exactly. So instead of finishing the damn speech, he stood here; on this balcony of the home of Amelia Branson, heroic fighter pilot of the Reunification War and native of Asta. Amelia had been wealthy, but she had enlisted anyway—and been selected for flight school. Before the end of the War, she had accounted for fifty-seven confirmed kills—and over two hundred assists. Then she returned home and spent the rest of her life in Asta’s politics. When she died childless, her will left her home to the government of Asta, and they had chosen to preserve it ever since as the residence of the family of the First Lord whenever they visited this beautiful, cold, primeval world. The Rim Worlders hadn’t known of its history, so they hadn’t bothered to destroy it, though one of the regimental commanders had commandeered it as his headquarters. Somehow, the fighting had spared it and now—thoroughly cleaned—it once more housed a First Lord, or someone who was almost a First Lord.

“Stephen?”

The soprano voice from behind him belonged to Marianne. It was filled with worry; oh, she was certainly used to his sulks by now, but this wasn’t really one of them. It was worse.

“Lovely evening isn’t it, Marianne. There should be some frost by morning.”

He heard her heels clicking on the brick-work as she walked over beside him, and leaned against the rail—looking at him, not the sky nor the city, not the sea nor the gardens, at HIM. And she leaned over and kissed him.


August 7, 2767
DCS Mikasa
High Orbit, Asta
Terran Hegemony


Minoru Kurita sat in his private stateroom with Hideki Matasuke, Gregor Samasov, and Mitsuo Fujita. Jinjiro had been scheduled to attend, but sent his apologies; urgent matters with the DCMS required his attention. The three men—the Draconis Combine’s three most senior commanders and his oldest surviving friends—set easily in the presence of their Lord and Commander. They were alone—not even a single member of the Otomo stood watch over them; though they did stand post outside these quarters, and each of the three had been thoroughly searched before being allowed to enter.

“He is no Richard,” Minoru said, as he sat down the cup of hot tea he had been sipping from.

Matasuke smiled, “No. And he is what no Cameron has been for nearly a century—a warrior, perhaps even at heart a samurai.”

“I did not see his performance aboard ship, my Lord, but when I met him . . .,” Samasov paused, attempting to put the perfect words to voice his thoughts, “. . . I was startled by his intensity.”

“Hai,” Fujita spoke. He HAD been at the eventful meeting three short days ago. “His behavior was . . . almost Draconis.”

Minoru nodded. “I will cast my ballot to confirm him. I knew the moment I met him he had the will and strength to govern; that he could instill such loyalty in a young officer like your Tanaka merely confirmed it.”

Fujita sipped from his cup, and looked up, “It is for the best, perhaps, that you assigned Tanaka to Lord Cameron, my Lord. I have heard whispers from some of our more . . . impetuous officers that they intend to avenge this insult to your son.”

“My son deserved what face he lost. He has not impressed me over the past week. Though . . .,” Minoru paused and took a sip, “though he did plan this campaign most thoroughly and in great detail.”

“My Lord,” Matasuke began, “the qualities of a staff officer, who makes plans and looks to the details to ensure their success are quite different from a commanding officer. So far, at least, the Gunji-no-kanrei has had no chance to demonstrate his level of competence in that arena.”

“Hai.”

Nodding, Samasov pitched in, “This operation he has planned for Saffel. He is proposing to lead and command the first wave, my Lord. Now, like Asta, Saffel has not been fortified, but we have no idea what they will be walking into. And he has moved the timetable forward—to late September! We are still trying to organize our logistics—never in our history have we moved so many troops and ships so quickly. Asta will have to be garrisoned against counter-attack, my Lord, on the ground and in orbit—and at all the jump points. So, at best he would have half the forces committed here, perhaps two-thirds if you pulled in the reserves from Benjamin.”

Minoru raised his hand—and the three generals fell silent. “He is Gunji-no-kanrei. He commands this force, unless and until I deem otherwise. Perhaps we should see what he can do without me there to distract him. I shall remain here, where I may hold discussions with Lord Cameron and await the Council meeting in November. Jinjiro may launch his assault upon Saffel; perhaps we may liberate two worlds of the Hegemony before the coming of the new year.”

There were no responses—none were needed, as Minoru once more raised the cup to his lips.


August 7, 2767
Branson House, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


“Why are you so . . . tense, love?” Marianne asked after they came back in, the last vestiges of daylight fading outside.

She sat in one of the overstuffed chairs, and picked up her drink—a tall crystal glass set in a silver holder—and sipped at the hot liquid. Stephen could smell the cinnamon and vanilla rising in the cocoa’s steam.

He smiled, and she laughed. “Yes, it is hot chocolate. Helen is downstairs and made some for Cassie—and me.” She looked away. “She says she needs to keep busy; you know they are going home tomorrow after the speech.”

Stephen’s mood plunged. “I know.”

“Don’t do this to yourself, Stephen.”

“Do what?”

“Shut down your emotions; lock up your feelings and bury them like you don’t have a heart.”

“I can’t just show what I feel, Marianne! I have to keep up . . .”

“Bullshit.”

Stephen stopped. Marianne was always so proper. Seldom, if ever, cursed.

She sighed. “Stephen, you were the best man I had ever met.” She looked up at him, and her eyes twinkled, “I knew from the day I was introduced to you that one day I would be Ms. Stephen Cameron, and that no matter what you did with your life, I would be there. I KNOW you. This is not you, you are trying to be Simon, and Ian, and James-frakking-McKenna. Be Stephen Cameron, love. Be the man I married and with whom we made the best thing that ever happened to either of our lives.”

“Marianne, I am . . . “

“I am not finished. You are so busy trying to act like the First Lord, you are losing yourself. Forget about all those people outside who need you to do something. Be YOU, Stephen. Be who you are; and if that isn’t good enough for the Kurita’s and the Kerensky’s and the Steiner’s and every other person in the whole damned Inner Sphere; well, then frak them.

“Be the MAN that I married, not the politician that wrote this . . . garbage,” she said as she picked up the draft of the speech he had written for tomorrow, handed it to him, and walked out of the room.

As the door closed, Stephen placed his head in his hands, and the tension inside began to die down. Could it really be so simple? Could that be why he knew tomorrow was all WRONG? She’s right, I’m trying to be other people; and I can’t. She’s right; he thought looking up, as an idea began to take shape in his head. Tossing the draft of his speech into the roaring fireplace, he opened the door and followed his wife downstairs—to spend his evening with his family, and the Harrison’s.

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-14 02:29pm

Chapter Eleven

August 8, 2767
Industrial District, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


The well groomed man stood in front of the piles of rubble, stained in places with clumps of reddish brown. He was dressed casually, but his khaki field jacket had never come from a government warehouse; his combat boots alone would have cost most soldier’s a months pay. His crew were assembled before him, making certain the lighting was correct; when they nodded, he spoke, “OK, then, let’s do this.”

The powerful lights on the camera turned on and the man picked up the slender microphone in his manicured hand.

“This is Brian Hopkins, reporting for Interstellar News Network, broadcasting from the planet Asta in the Terran Hegemony. Over seven months ago, all of us learned that Stefan Amaris had assassinated the First Lord of the Star League and laid claim to the worlds of Terran Hegemony. His troops—in a brilliant and ruthless stroke of planning and foresight—were positioned throughout the Hegemony worlds. They quickly overpowered what little defenses the SLDF Army had left behind as it fought the uprising in the Periphery states. Asta was one of those worlds. And it remained under the heel of Amaris and his brutal followers until one week ago today. Coordinator Minoru Kurita—leader of the Draconis Combine—led a combined strike force of his troops and Star League soldiers of the Regular Army and retook this world in less than two days of campaigning.”

“The people of Asta greatly suffered under the cruel tyrant; official estimates—and estimates are all we may ever have—are that nearly 400,000 citizens of this jewel of the Hegemony were killed or wounded during the occupation. I learned—soon after I landed with the MechWarrior’s of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Galedon Regulars taking part in the first assault wave—that the Astan’s had fought the Usurper with a guerilla-style insurgency. And that this; in part; accounted for the terrible losses they suffered. But only today have I learned the reason behind their uprising against the troops and the ‘Mechs and the other war machines of their occupiers. The reason that Amaris sent over a dozen regiments of his best troops to this pristine, undeveloped world.”

“A Cameron of the ruling line was alive and well on this planet following the Coup.” Hopkins paused and nodded. “Stephen James Cameron, 73rd in line of succession to First Lord Richard Cameron—a distant cousin of our slain First Lord—had chosen to spend that fateful holiday season alone with his wife and daughter, here on Asta. He escaped the murder that Amaris committed against all other living members of his family on Terra, and eluded the assassins sent after him by the Rim Worlds forces for over eight months. A true Cameron, he then led insurgents on attacks against the occupation forces, preventing the Rim World forces from carrying out their threat to saturation bomb the entire planet with nuclear weapons. When the Star League and Combine forces arrived to liberate this world, Stephen Cameron was engaged in a fire-fight, right here, on this spot, with Rim Worlds forces.”

“Today, here, in this war-torn district of Hawkins—the capital city of Asta—Stephen James Cameron will take upon himself his inheritance, and the duties of the First Lord. He will then address the people of Asta; indeed, all people throughout the Inner Sphere immediately following the ceremony. INN will cover the coronation and address, in its entirety. This is Brian Hopkins, reporting, from liberated Asta, in the Terran Hegemony.”

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

“But, it hasn’t been done in over two hundred years, my Lord!” Alistair Fairbanks whined at Stephen, as Marianne adjusted his hastily-tailored suit. Stephen repressed a sigh—he had been doing THAT a lot, recently—and considered his answer. Fairbanks was the newly sworn Governor of Asta—the old Governor, his deputy, and most of the Assembly had been shot in the first week after the Amaris troops took the planet. Fairbanks had survived, and with Asta liberated, the former Assembly whip had popped up from hiding to become its newest governor. That would hold until the next election only; already Astan’s who knew the man were talking about a recall. He had only held the office for four hours now! And the man had been whining to Stephen for the past two and a half of that.

“Governor Fairbanks, I know that no one since Ian Cameron has done this. I even know why they have not. But I will. Since it seems to bother you so much, feel free not to attend.”

As Fairbanks began to sputter and gasp, Stephen continued, “In fact, Governor, why don’t you just go on home. Now.”

Thom stepped up to one side of the man and touched his arm, “Sir, if you would follow me.” He motioned towards the door, leading the man out before he could recover enough breath to argue still more.

Marianne jerked his ascot slightly and smiled at him as she smoothed it out. “I thought you would do that two hours ago, love. You must be mellowing in your old age.”

“I tuned him out, quite some time ago, dearest. I was thinking about you last night—you know you are still as beautiful to me as the day I married you?”

“Bet you say that to all the girls, soldier-boy. They love you long time?”

“Only you, Marianne, only you. ‘Til death do us part, remember?”

She placed her arms around his neck and kissed him—deeply and longingly. “Knock their socks off, lover,” she said, stepping back and nodding at him in approval. She and Cassie would be sitting in the hastily erected VIP stands—Heather and her detail providing cover. He had wanted her to stand with him on the stage; but she said no. This was his moment, now that he had his bearings; this was his time.

Hiroyoshi cleared his throat, “Two minutes, my Lord Cameron, my Lady Cameron.”

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

As Stephen stepped out onto the stage built this morning, he could FEEL the thunder of applause from the nearly one hundred thousand Astan’s who had assembled here from across the planet. Here at this little section of asphalt and concrete where he had nearly died seven days earlier; where Toby had given his life so that Stephen might live. He thought it fitting—to Toby, to the seventeen others who gave their lives at this spot, to the tens of thousands who had fought—to hold the ceremony on this hallowed ground. It had been originally scheduled for the Planetary Capital—all clean and sparkling. But last night he had changed the venue; over the objections of everyone but Marianne. No, this felt RIGHT.

As he walked to the podium, he could see Justice Morrow waiting, in his formal black magisterial robes, holding in his hands a Bible. The eighty-four year old Morrow was one of seven Justices who sat on the Star League’s Supreme Court—and the holiday break in their deliberations had found him returned home, here to Asta. Whether any of the other Justices were alive or dead, Stephen had no clue. He stepped up to the Justice and took a deep breath, then reached out and accepted the hand that was offered him, and shook it.

“God bless, son. And good luck,” the old man whispered.

Stephen nodded, trying to swallow, as the crowd—interspaced with soldiers, Terran and Combine both—continued to applaud.

Morrow turned to the podium and held up his hands; slowly the crowd quieted. Then, he turned to Stephen.

“Raise you right hand and place your left upon the book you have chosen.”

Stephen stepped up and did so.

“Repeat after me . . . I,”

“I, Stephen James Cameron, do solemnly swear, upon the book of faith in which I have trust, before God and Man, witnesses both near and far, that I will execute the office of Director-General of the Terran Hegemony. That without reservation or evasion, I take upon myself, the Duty, to the best of my ability, to preserve, protect, and defend the Grand Charter of the Hegemony and the People who are its greatest treasure. So help me God,” Stephen finished, as the crowd erupted once more, the cameras of a dozen news agencies catching everything on disk.

“So help you God,” said Morrow. He leaned over close to Stephen and whispered, “I will pray for you, boy. I will.”

Then Morrow shook his hand again and made his way off the stage.

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

It took fifteen minutes for the thunderous applause to die away. Fifteen minutes, standing in the light, watching his people cheer. Cheering not for him, precisely; rather for the ideals that the Grand Charter stood, the ideals that had founded the Star League—and since faded to nearly nothing. You are only mortal, he thought. Flesh and blood, and he looked across the crowd, finally spotting the only two faces who really mattered. And then, as it grew silent once more, he began.

“No Cameron in two centuries has taken the Oath I swore today. Not since Ian Cameron presided over the founding of the Star League and my family decided that was to be our legacy. But, we began centuries before that, when James McKenna wrote the Grand Charter and became our first Director-General. Since then, we have changed much, but this has always been true; without the people of the Hegemony, the Hegemony does not exist. Without the Hegemony there can be no League. And without the League, there would only be war, unending war, relentless and total war.”

“Now, in the darkest hour of our time, I once again take the title of Director-General. I have sworn the same oath that James McKenna himself penned before he solemnly swore it. And I give you this promise—that when the Hegemony has been liberated, and Stefan Amaris brought to justice for the crimes he has committed, I will stand to a vote, as the Grand Charter intended. The people of the Hegemony, the people of Asta and Terra and New Earth and Dieron and Caph and Northwind and one hundred and twenty-six other worlds will determine if I am to remain as their leader in a free and fair election.”

“I assume the mantle of First Lord, given to the Cameron line at the signing of the League Accords nearly two hundred years ago. In that time, my family has done many great things—and many poor things. We—and the leaders of all the Great Houses—wrote the documents that guide us. And we promptly ignored that which we had written. We created the situation where Amaris could achieve what he has done by failing to do our duty to the laws we had made. We placed tax burdens upon our brothers and sisters in the Periphery that the people of Asta would never willingly pay, and yet do not give them a voice in Council.”

“After all, they are only Territorial States. Not full Member Nations. We had to conquer them, and it cost us twenty years and nearly one hundred million lives to do so. And ever since, we demand more and more from them, until they are being crushed beneath the weight of us. For what reason did we do this? Greed.”

“GREED! We wanted more, we wanted their prosperity, their ingenuity; we wanted their souls. And we sucked them dry. Amaris can not, and WILL NOT, excuse his actions because of our bad dealings. But neither does it make those dealings right. It may be too late to change our course, but my tenure as First Lord will make the attempt. I intend to offer full Member Nation status to the Territorial States of the Outworlds Alliance, the Magistracy of Canopus, and the Taurian Concordat. They will pay the same taxes as we do. They will have the same VOICE that WE do. And I intend to grant them full voting privileges in Council.”

“This will be a long, bloody war to retake our worlds, and rescue our brothers and sisters, our fathers and mothers, our human family that resides on occupied ground. But we will not falter in this. Already, General Kerensky is reducing Amaris’s homeland, stopping the flow of supplies, manpower, and equipment to the Usurper sitting upon the Throne of Terra, in the Court of the Star League. Volunteers have already stepped forward to serve. More arrive daily. Men and material are flowing in numbers never before seen as throughout the Inner Sphere, people—OUR PEOPLE—choose to gallantly risk their own lives to save others whom they have never even met.”

“But what of the leaders of the Five Great Houses? What of them?”

“Minoru Kurita has stood beside me. Four days ago, we shook hands aboard the flagship of the Combine Fleet in orbit; he is committed for the duration. His nation is committed, and for that we are eternally grateful. We will remember always the debt we owe to Minoru Kurita and his heirs. The Dragon has come to our defense, and he shall be honored for his deeds.”

“The others wait. Some have had difficulties in the past with my family; others with General Kerensky; some with our policies. But they wait, and while they wait people are dying. The Star League itself is dying.”

“Fifty years from now, when your grand-children ask you this—Where were you, when the League fell?—what will your answer be? When war and rumor of war are constant and your people suffer in anguish—what will your answer be?”

“John Davion, in your grand palace on New Avalon. Where were YOU, when the League fell? Where were YOU, when the Pope was tortured and made a martyr of YOUR faith, by faithless men in service to Amaris? When your people cried out to rescue their brothers and sisters held in bondage. John Davion, WHERE WERE YOU?”

“Robert Steiner, in your cold halls of Tharkad. Where were YOU, when the League fell? Where were YOU, when Summer was taken, and Victoria Steiner, that grand old dame of film, your own cousin, was forced to make pornography for the wretched villains who eagerly follow Amaris. Robert Steiner, WHERE WERE YOU?”

“Kenyon Marik, in your mountain fortress of Atreus. Where were YOU, when the League fell? Where were YOU, when your people demanded their Captain-General lead? Where were YOU when the people of the Hegemony begged for your help? Kenyon Marik, WHERE WERE YOU?”

“Barbara Liao, in your rich estates on Sian. Where were YOU, when the League fell? Where were YOU, when barbarism rose up and swallowed Terra? When the brothers and sisters of your own Highland Regiments were slaughtered as they tried to defend their First Lord; and the Black Watch fell. Barbara Liao, WHERE WERE YOU?”

“And you, each of you out there. Where were you, this day? And what answer will you give—fifty years hence, to the little boy or girl asking that question?”

“Some have tried to call me heroic, for what I did here, at this place we stand today. I am not. I had no choice—my hand was forced, for if I did not fight, I would have died, and my family with me. You have a choice. Each of you has a choice. And I am asking—begging—for your help. I can not do it alone. Not even with Kerensky and Kurita. This is something that must be done by us all, so that in the end we can keep our souls—and be the men and women that we want to be. That we can be. THAT WE SHOULD BE.”

“Right there, right next to those cameras, a stain lies upon the rubble. That stain was left by the blood of a sixteen year old boy—Tobias Harrison—who gave his life taking a bullet meant for me. He leapt between me and the sniper, and he died in my arms—on that very spot. If you want a hero, there’s your hero. YOU CAN BE THAT HERO.”

“As we get ready to go forth, we have much work to do. Blood will be spilled and tears will be shed. Families across the length and breadth of the Inner Sphere will mourn. But we have always rolled up our sleeves and gone to work when we had to. And now, we have to. So I ask you, WILL YOU STAND WITH ME? Or will you wait, until the play is done, and the curtain falls on civilization? Finally, in the words of that ancient Terran philosopher—it’s time, and past time, LET'S GIT 'ER DONE!”

And Stephen left the stage to a thunderous ovation.

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-14 02:39pm

Chapter Twelve

August 12, 2767
Sea World, San Diego
North America, Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


General Luis Kraal nervously made his way across the metal platforms arrayed over the tops of the holding tanks. He hated the ocean—and the creatures that dwelled in it. But his Emperor had commanded, so here he was. Ahead of him, Emperor Stefan stood on an elevated platform with his son, five-year old Khalid, feeding the sea-life that graced the symbol of his nation. The Emperor had been delighted when he first saw these beasts, years before—Apollo had nothing like them, and films and computer files did not do them justice. Now, as Emperor, he had access to this facility whenever he desired, and today was an educational lesson for the son and heir.

His aide, Major Walter Chou, assisted Kraal as he climbed the last series of ladders to the platform. Amaris’s personal guard watched both men closely as they climbed, though they knew both well. A third man stood with the Emperor and his son—Colonel Gunthar von Strang, the Emperor’s preferred hatchetman and trouble-shooter, the commander of the 18th Amaris Chasseurs, the Death’s Head Regiment. Kraal shuddered; he was not a man who spooked easily, but Gunthar von Strang frightened him. Von Strang had no conscience—no soul, some said—he could just as easily celebrate with the guests at a party as he would kill everyone there on orders from his Imperial master.

At the edge of the platform, Kraal and his aide waited as Amaris—on one knee—spoke softly to his son, telling him all about the sharks swimming below. As Kraal watched, the boy lifted a ladle from a bucket—a dripping, red-coated ladle filled with offal—and tossed its contents into the water. When the chum hit, the sharks began to grow more and more agitated. Stefan smiled and whispered something to the boy, who smiled back. Then he noticed Kraal, and the smile vanished.

“Your Majesty!” Kraal said, coming to attention and saluting; all moisture having fled his mouth, his heart pounding.

Amaris stood and walked over to him.

“General Kraal, my right arm, my trusted right arm, why have you failed me?”

“I . . . I, failed you, my Master?” Kraal was freely sweating now.

“Did I not say that this last Cameron and his family must die, General? Gunthar, I thought that I said that, eight months ago!” His voice rose, until Amaris fairly screamed at Kraal.

“You did, your Majesty.” von Strang smiled as he spoke, his face boyish and quite handsome; and Kraal began shaking more as Gunthar von Strang looked at him like one of those fish below would look upon their next meal.

Amaris stepped back. “So, General, why then is this IMPOSTER still living? Why did our forces on Asta fail to prevent that bastard Kurita from taking the planet? WHY? Explain this to me.”

“Sire,” Kraal paused and tried to collect himself. “Sire, General Brakel was given the assignment, not I. I have been here at your side, Sire. Brakel failed you, your Majesty, and had he lived, he would have deserved your fury. I . . .,” he took a deep breath and knelt, “I have a plan to eliminate this Cameron—and Minoru Kurita, most blessed and divine Majesty.”

Amaris stopped and smiled. “A plan, Luis, my old friend? Please, by all means, let us hear of it.”

“Your agent in the SLDF 3rd Regimental Combat Team has contacted us, Sire. He has passed along information about the next operation Kurita is conducting. Jinjiro Kurita—Minoru’s son and heir—will personally lead an assault on Saffel to take place on September 25th. He is drawing his invasion force from those Draconis and Star League troops on Asta—so neither will be as strong as the invasion that destroyed Brakel’s forces.”

“Saffel? Interesting. Gunthar?”

“It is not fortified, my Master, there is no SDS in that system. We have a single ‘Mech regiment and eight of conventional forces based upon the world.” Turning to Kraal, he asked, “What strength will Jinjiro have?”

“According to his Imperial Majesty’s agent, forty-five regiments—nine of them ‘Mech, including two of the four SLDF regiments of the 3rd RCT, with half of their fleet to provide escort and transport. This is half the number that took Asta—the rest will remain at Asta where Minoru and the last Cameron are waiting for a meeting of the Council.”

“Guard, get me Commodore Daragou on your sat-comm,” Amaris said.

One of Amaris’s guards set down the heavy back-pack satellite communications device he had been wearing, and began to place the call.

Amaris began pacing up and down the platform, smiling when he saw his son still pitching ladles of chum into the tank.

“Major Chou, is this information accurate?”

Kraal nearly panicked; Amaris asked his AIDE, not him? His shaking increased.

“Yes, your Majesty.”

“Good. Then you, General Chou will take and command fifteen regiments of ‘Mechs from the reserve here on Terra to Saffel; Gunthar will assign them to you. Bring me Jinjiro Kurita’s head, General Chou.”

Walter Chou came to attention and saluted, then turned and left, leaving Kraal alone, with Amaris and his son, his guards, and Gunthar von Strang.

“My Lord, Commodore Daragou,” the guard said.

“Commodore,” Amaris spoke, taking the microphone. “Are our newest ships ready for an excursion?”

Static filled the channel for a second, and then cleared. “Yes, your Majesty. The ships and crews are ready.”

“Excellent, Commodore, most excellent. Prepare a briefing for me for a counter-offensive against Asta, on or about the 25th of September, if you please, then Commodore.”

“What ground troops should I include in the operations plan, Sire?”

“Why, NONE, Commodore. They will not be needed. I simply want you to turn Asta into a charred piece of rock, with nothing living upon its surface.”

“Of course, Sire. Then with your leave, may I begin planning the operation, your Majesty?”

“Yes, Commodore, you most certainly may.”

Amaris turned back to Kraal and smiled again. Then he looked down at his son. “Khalid, what should an Emperor do with those who fail him?”

The boy looked up. “Hurt them, father. They fail you because they don’t love you enough. And if they don’t love you enough, then they hate you.”

“Most correct, Khalid. Such a darling boy, wouldn’t you say, Luis, my old friend?”

Kraal turned to run, but Gunthar von Strang was there, and a sudden shove thrust him into the open air over the tank. Kraal felt a shock when he hit as the icy water enveloped him.

Stefan Amaris and his son Khalid, along with Colonel von Strang, stood watching as the hungry sharks ripped Luis Kraal to pieces; his screams echoing through the complex, as the water quickly turned to a frothy red.

User avatar
LadyTevar
White Mage
White Mage
Posts: 19928
Joined: 2003-02-12 10:59pm

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by LadyTevar » 2013-05-14 05:16pm

Wow. These might be early efforts, but they still pack a punch.
Image
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.
"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" -- Leonard Nimoy, last Tweet

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-14 06:49pm

Chapter Thirteen

August 18, 2767
The White Palace, Avalon City
Continent Alpha, New Avalon
Federated Suns


John Davion stood leaning against the sill of the window in office, looking out over the bright morning sunshine. Across the Square, the spires of St. Mark’s Cathedral rose into the air, as its bells tolled on this Sunday morning. People moved about, enjoying the fine morning air, as they traveled on their business, unaware the First Prince of the Federated Suns watched. His people, who owed him their fealty, but what did he owe them? Questions, he had only questions, ever since that damned broadcast yesterday. And too few answers were to be had.

The intercom on his desk buzzed. Taking two steps he pressed the receive key, “Yes?”

“Your Highness, your Council is assembled in the conference room and waiting for you.”

“Thank you, Abigail, tell them I will be there momentarily.”

As he finished, he looked around his office once more—the same office where Lucien and Reynard and Alexander had in their time sat—the ‘Great Princes’ of the Davion line. What would they do, he wondered? Am I worthy to be in their company? And then he strode from the office, his head inclined to the floor in thought.

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

The Privy Council was assembled as it waited for the arrival of the First Prince. The ministers—six men and four women—sat making small talk as they waited. Finally, the door opened, and John Davion—First Prince of the Federated Suns—entered the room. Saying a few pleasant greetings, he took his seat at the head of the table, and rapped the gavel twice—which automatically started the recording devices concealed within the massive table itself.

Then he spoke.

“This emergency meeting of the Privy Council of the Federated Suns is hereby called to order. The first—and only—piece of business for today is yesterday’s broadcast from Asta. I open the table to comments.”

He looked at Finance, and she answered. “The economy is going strong; what with the stimulus packages you put in play after the Coup, Sire. Entering this conflict will affect that. I can’t say for certain, but it could have a negative impact on our economy. My advice is to stay clear.”

Science and Education was next. “My Ministry has no bearing on this, but as a FedSuns citizen, Sire, we should avoid going to war.”

“Why?” asked John Davion.

“Sire, this is NOT our war. It is an internal affair between Cameron and Amaris and Kerensky. Even Kurita should not have been involved. Simply put, your Highness, it is not our fight.”

“Agreed,” said the Minster of the Draconis Marches. His bailiwick placed him continually at odds with House Kurita, and the people he represented were concerned with the Dragon. “Besides, letting Cameron and Kurita go it alone will go a long way in reducing the Combine’s military strength, right Marshall?”

The Marshall of the Armed Forces of the Federated Suns—the AFFS—looked up, “Yes. Besides, Sire, we aren’t ready. We should wait, and watch, and if we see an opportunity, then take it.”

“You should consider your Highness that until the High Council meets and confirms either Amaris or Cameron as First Lord; the request he made in that broadcast yesterday has no LEGAL basis. In point-of-fact, Stephen Cameron is NOT Director-General of the Hegemony; the argument could be made that he assumed that post in a fashion as illegal as Amaris’s Coup was,” Justice pointed out in her own serene, convoluted way.

“And for what purpose would be do that, Karen?” asked John Davion.

She smiled, “We all know that you were going to be Regent for Richard before Kerensky was pushed into accepting it. We have the closest relationship of any of the Great Houses with the Cameron family. If Stephen Cameron is found to have acted outside the scope of the law, then you, your Highness would become next in line to be First Lord.”

“I am not certain that the other Great Lords would agree,” said Foreign Affairs, “but we could certainly make the case that Cassandra—his daughter—be given to John to raise as her Regent while Stephen either went into exile or served time.”

The Minister of the Capellan March then spoke up, “It would be better to assume the Regency; many of our people would see superseding a living Cameron as presumptuous.”

“And we need to gather more information, Sire. It appears that Kurita and Amaris have both greatly exceeded the agreed upon limits of their House forces. My people are gathering that information now, but before we act at all, we need facts, not supposition,” Intelligence said.

John Davion held up a hand, and silence descended across the room. He stood and began to pace. “Didn’t any of you WATCH the damn broadcast yesterday?”

Administration spoke, “Yes, your Highness. We all watched it. But our first—and only concern—should be with the Federated Suns. As should yours, Sire.”

“Stephen Cameron is just a beggar prince at the moment; of no political consequence, Prince John. He is a passing moment in the footnotes of history,” voiced the Minister of the Crucis March.

“John, I served your father, and I have served you now for over a decade and a half. The smart thing to do, my Lord, is to wait and watch. Now, we will certainly give our aid to General Kerensky, you’ve already directed us to begin doing that both clandestinely and openly. Star League ships and divisions have access to our bases and supplies, and Howard here has been giving them looks at our intel reports, right Howard?”

“Right, Marshall,” replied Intelligence.

“So, before we commit our troops—our citizens—to a long and bloody conflict, it just makes sense to determine all of the relevant facts. That’s all we are saying, your Highness,” the Marshall concluded.

John Davion looked at the men and women of his Privy Council. Men and women he had personally appointed to their posts. He could see it written on their faces. “I remember a Davion prince who was once nothing more than a beggar,” he whispered. “He is now remembered as our greatest leader in history.”

Justice scornfully said, “You can’t possible compare Stephen Cameron to Alexander Davion in any way, your Highness!”

John looked down at his hands and sat, heavily, in the chair which Lucien, Reynard, and Alexander had sat so many years before. “I call the vote. Shall the Federated Suns mobilize for war on behalf of the House of Cameron and the Star League?”

One by one, the ten men and women at the table voiced their vote—NO. John nodded his head, “Ten nays—and one aye—the ayes are carried.”

He lifted his head, and fire glinted in his eyes are he looked at his Ministers; his friends; his family. “I will expect your resignations on my desk by this time tomorrow.”

Chaos erupted as each Minister began speaking, and John slammed his open palm down on the table—hard. A sharp CRACK sounded through the room, and the sound died away, as it grew quiet.

“I watched that address yesterday. I LISTENED TO IT YESTERDAY. You are all correct; the SMART thing for the Federated Suns is to wait. BUT THAT IS NOT THE RIGHT THING!” John stopped and sat back, a weary look on his face.

“This morning, I rose from sleep, and dressed and made my way to the breakfast nook. I was behind schedule and late; my night had been troubled with dreams. And when I entered the room, Amanda—MY DAUGHTER—asked, without knowing she echoed Stephen Cameron, ‘Daddy, where were you? I’ve been waiting!’”

“Where were you, John Davion, where were you? I could see her daughter or grand-daughter—fifty years from now—asking me that question. It hit me then, just what Stephen Cameron was trying to say. Don’t you people SEE THAT? I can not, I will not, be the source of disappointment for daughter, my grand-daughter, my great-grand-daughter, or ANY of my people. I will not dishonor those Davion’s who came before me by taking the easy course, instead of the right course. And I will not dishonor myself, based upon your advice.”

John Davion stood and looked at the men and women in the room. “I will have your resignations by tomorrow or I will publicly cashier each and every one of you. We go to war, to support Cameron and Kerensky, and you either stand with me or you stand against me in this. Now get the hell of out of my palace.”

Stunned, the former Ministers of State left the room, leaving John Davion alone, with the unseen spirits of his three great ancestors nodding their approval.

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-14 06:54pm

Chapter Fourteen

August 22, 2767
SLS James McKenna
High Orbit, Apollo
Rim Worlds Republic


Aleksandyr Kerensky sat alone in his spacious office aboard the flagship of the Star League Defense Forces. He had been going through the reports from his subordinate commanders—all was proceeding according to plan and ahead of schedule here in the Rim Worlds. Resistance had been extremely light—it was almost as if the Rim people KNEW their lord had crossed a line that should have never been dared. The few remaining Rim Worlds units had laid down their arms almost to a man. Those who wanted to die fighting for their homelands did so—targeted by full battalions of Star League ‘Mechs. The rest? They simply surrendered; gave up their arms and went home. Everyone that is except for the troops holed up in these last twenty fortifications; the Star League’s own Periphery Castles. Damn you, Richard, for ordering me to turn them over to Amaris years ago—and damn me for not disobeying you and having them destroyed at the time, he thought.

Each of the forts was modeled on the ultra-modern Castles Brian the SLDF had constructed in the Hegemony; and though he had stripped the forts of their computers and weapons, they were still powerful defensive emplacements. Each held the most fanatical of Amaris’s defenders here in the Rim Worlds—they would not surrender, so he would have to dig them out. So be it, he thought. At least the boys will learn how to assault a Castle Brian—this will serve as a learning exercise for all of us before we tackle the Hegemony; but the casualties will be heavy. Six of the mighty forts lay here on Apollo; two more each on seven other worlds of the Rim. He nodded and leaned over his desk. DeChevilier’s assault plans—twenty separate forts, twenty separate methods of attack, twenty separate operations plans—were in the electronic document storage of his desk-unit. Reaching out with his thumb, he placed it on the touch-screen; the device reading the thumb-print and scanning his surface DNA—as well as determining whether or not the thumb was still attached to a living person. A moment later, a green light came on, and Kerensky entered a short code. In bright red letters, the bold word APPROVED appeared on each page of the plan, as Kerensky sent the document and then leaned back, reclined his chair, and wearily closed his eyes.

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

Captain Lauren McNeil woke from a sound sleep as the buzz of the comm-unit snarled at her from beside her bunk. No alarm klaxons where shrieking, so it could not be that urgent, was her first thought. Without turning on the lights—or the video transmitter—she hit the receive button. The face of one of her junior watch officers—Lieutenant Evan Manson, assistant tactical officer—appeared brightly on the comm-screen in the darkened cabin.

“Report,” she snarled, as she noted the time—0247—she had been asleep for less than ninety minutes!

“Sorry to disturb you, Captain, but a Combine ship has just jumped in-system at the L-3 point with urgent dispatches for the Commanding General. They won’t talk to me, and I didn’t want to wake HIM, so . . .”

“So you woke ME instead, Lieutenant? Never mind. Tell the Dracs to give me fifteen minutes and I will be on the bridge—but go ahead and confirm their identity.”

“Already have, Skipper. It’s the corvette Leyland, one of their Alshain class light patrol ships. According to CIC, ma’am, the Leyland is stationed as part of the command circuit Lord Kurita built linking us, Benjamin, and their fleet base at KV106.”

McNeil sat bolt upright and hit the lights and video transmitter. “The Leyland? Wake the XO and have the first watch up and reporting to stations, then inform the General’s headquarters staff to get their people alert. NOW, Lieutenant!” she said as she stripped off her pajamas and began pulling on a uniform.

“Aye, aye, Ma’am!”

As the comm-unit switched off, her mind raced. According to the operations plans, the Leyland was ONLY supposed to jump here if it had vital information and news about the Asta campaign. Lord Kurita had assembled a command circuit—forty-two ships spaced one jump apart, reducing the time lag from months to mere days—in order to quickly pass needed information between Kerensky’s HQ and his forces. She sealed her tunic, and pressed her heel down into her boot, seating it firmly. Then she stepped across her compartment in one of the ship’s four grav decks and exited, heading for the bridge.

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

“I understand, Commander. But General Kerensky is not available now, and I am the commander of his flagship. If you will just . . . “

The Combine officer shook his head. “My Lord Minoru himself gave taped instructions that this message packet be PLACED in the hand of General Kerensky, himself. My shuttle will be ready to depart for rendezvous with the McKenna in ten minutes time. Please ensure that General Kerensky is available to receive it.”

Captain McNeil was at a loss. Commander Fuchida would not budge on this, so, that meant she would have to wake HIM. "It will take time, Commander Fuchida . . .," she began, but a sudden deep voice interrupted her.

“No need, Captain McNeil. My staff awoke me when they were informed of your arrival, Commander,” Commanding General Aleksandyr Kerensky spoke as pulled himself floating onto the bridge in the zero-g environment.

Fuchida came to rigid attention and then bowed deeply—how the HELL do the Dracs do that in zero-g, McNeil thought. “I can not transmit the message, General. It has been transferred from ship to ship in the communications circuit—physically. The message is encrypted on a secure data-net platform—and only your bio-code will unlock it; or in the event of your death, General DeChevilier’s.”

Kerensky nodded. “Then we will expect your arrival, Commander.”

Kerensky turned to McNeil as the communications screen blanked, “Interesting times, eh, Captain McNeil? Would you happen to have a spare bulb of hot tea, by the way?”

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

The transfer took less than an hour. Forty minutes after that, a flurry of signals erupted from the McKenna, directed to every senior SLDF officer in the entire Apollo system.

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

“A member of the Royal family survived?” DeChevilier asked; his face as white as a ghost. The images of the other senior SLDF commanders floating in the holotank looked equally shaken.

“Yes, Aaron. Incredible is it not?” Kerensky perused his notes. “Stephen James Cameron, age 30, married, one . . . “

“Sir,” a voice broke in.

Kerensky looked up, and took off his reading glasses. “Yes, Commandant Fulton?”

General Bernard Fulton, Commandant of the Star League Marines, asked, “Did you say Stephen James Cameron, Sir?”

“I did, Commandant.”

Fulton smiled. “He’s a firebreather, sir, a real risk-taker and heart-breaker. It was a shame he lost his leg on Jasmine during that anti-terrorism campaign a few years back.”

“I take it that you knew him, Commandant?”

“I wouldn’t say that exactly, sir. But my nephew was his company commander on Jasmine, and I have heard all about him ever since. Seems he earned those medals, unlike some others of the Cameron line. In fact, it was because of Lieutenant Cameron that the 42nd Marines were disbanded three years ago. I know, because I was at Court when it happened.”

Kerensky leaned back. He had learned long ago that men are not just what is written in their records and service jackets. And he needed to understand this new First Lord. “Go on.”

“It was Christmas, three and a half years ago, sir. I was posted to Terra at the time, and Lord Richard wanted me at his celebration in full ceremonial uniform, complete with medals and cutlass. I suppose I was just another ornament in his eyes—something glittering to be shown to his guests. Anyway, the party had begun, and all the Cameron’s were there, just like every year. I knew Stephen Cameron would be there, so I made certain to memorize his face from the photograph in his file—that was one marine whose hand I wanted to shake. I met him, and his wife, and their toddler—lovely little girl, be about six or seven now, I think. And then Richard came in—with Stefan Amaris all but clinging to his side.”

“The party was for the Cameron’s only—and a few select guests. All of Richard’s family stayed away from Amaris—ignored him, pretty much—, and Richard grew moody. No one was paying him or his guest any attention. Well, then Amaris caught a glimpse of me and made a crack about the Star League Marines—a joke to Richard, who laughed loudly and praised Amaris for his humor. My blood boiled, but I did nothing. Hell, he was my First Lord, and Amaris his guest. But Stephen, he handed his daughter to his wife, and walked right over across the Court to where Richard and Amaris were standing. And he read Richard the riot act—tore that boy a brand new strip; better than a twenty-year’s service drill instructor, I swear—while telling him about the heroism and history of the Marines. THEN, he told the First Lord that no REAL Cameron appreciated an ill-mannered guest who would make jokes about the men and women who shed their blood and gave their lives on behalf of the League. That if Richard had ever bothered to serve, then he would have understood that bone-deep, and been a man instead of a dilettante.”

“Amaris was mad as blazes, I remember it well. And Richard; well Richard was furious at Stephen, for embarrassing and humiliating him in public. Richard called his guards into the room, and threatened Stephen with arrest. And that young marine walked right up to Richard—stood nose to nose with him, and told him that he had been shot at by people trying to kill him, just for wearing the uniform. He had shed blood for the uniform, and the League, and even for Richard himself no less! That he would not be frightened by the threats of anyone who had never worn a uniform in his life—except as a costume. And if Richard wanted to arrest him for telling him the truth, then he could damn well try.”

“Richard backed down. I guess Stephen intimidated him; so he backed down and walked out of the party with Amaris. But that next week, he exercised his right as First Lord and ordered Stephen’s old unit—the 42nd Royal CAAN Marines—disbanded and their colors cased. It was his petty way of exacting revenge for what Stephen did to him at that party.”

“But, I tell you this, that boy was one HELL of a Marine, and one HELL of a Cameron. Stephen, I mean, Sir.”

Kerensky smiled. “That’s who I thought you meant. And it confirms a lot of what was in Lord Kurita’s message, and the messages from General Anders and Colonel Bradley and from this Stephen Cameron himself.”

Kerensky looked across the room at the map and frowned. “And now he is on Asta, where Amaris has suffered his first defeat of this war; just one jump from Terra and the bulk of Amaris’s troops.” He paused and considered, then nodded. “Aaron, you will assume command here.”

“Yes, sir; are you going somewhere?” asked DeChevilier.

“To Asta, ladies and gentleman. To Asta.”

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-14 07:04pm

Chapter Fifteen

August 23, 2767
SDS Base Asta-01
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


“Out of the question, my Lord!” thundered Colonel Ezra Bradley at Stephen.

Stephen looked up, his face flushed, his mouth tight. “It is not your decision, Colonel. It is MINE, as commander-in-chief of the Star League Defense Forces. This, all of this,” and he swept his arm across the central control room of the command facility for the jury-rigged Space Defense System, “is just machines. Just technology, Colonel—defensive technology. My family made a PROMISE, to the leaders of the other Houses, when we developed these systems—a promise we haven’t kept. I WILL keep that promise, Colonel.”

The forty or so technicians in the chamber desperately looked as though they wanted to be someplace—anyplace—else. None of them were the highly-trained specialists who normally worked on the SDS facilities; Stephen had asked them to try to get the systems operational, regardless. The Rim Worlders had attempted to do so themselves, and the unholy mess they had left behind nearly convinced Stephen to halt the project. Until an eighty-four year old Astan named Nick Chalmers had come forward and told Stephen’s people he had worked on SDS systems during his time in the service nearly forty years ago. And so, while Chalmers supervised and advised them, skilled Astan electricians and mechanics, Star League Defense Force technicians, and Combine engineers had just completed the activation of this base—under manual fire control. They wouldn’t be able to initialize the automated fire-control systems, however; they lacked the extremely specialized equipment and knowledge set that required. The base was functional though, even if half the systems were a jury-rigged hodge-podge of components never designed for the control systems of an SDS planetary-based facility. Still, this one facility had the firepower of four McKenna class battleships—the most powerful ever constructed. And this was only one of a dozen identical such facilities on North Continent.

He jabbed his hand angrily at Bradley, “The point is moot, Colonel. We could not have finished activating this base—or be able to complete the work on the other eleven—without Combine help. My mind is decided on this, the final base complement will consist of Astans and SLDF personnel in equal numbers to personnel from the DCMS and DCA. And you WILL provide Coordinator Kurita, or his liaison officer, General Anders, if you prefer, with the COMPLETE specs for the ground-based systems. That, Colonel, is a direct order. Or I will have you arrested and held for court-martial. Understood?”

“Sir,” Ezra Bradley stopped and tried to compose himself. “Sir, this is vital HEGEMONY technology. We can’t just . . .”

“First Lord Jonathon Cameron gave his word, Colonel, nearly fifty years ago, that when the system had been tested and found reliable we would share the technology. WE HAVEN’T. That makes me a liar, and I really hate being a liar, Colonel. Are you trying to make me a liar?”

“No, Sir. I just . . . “

“Good, Colonel. Because then you have your orders. Carry them out, or I will find someone who will. Dismissed.”

Bradley came to attention and saluted, then left the control room.


August 23, 2767
McMurtree Space Port, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


“Damn it, Sam! Talk to the man. He will listen to you,” Ezra Bradley urgently whispered to General Anders amid the thundering exhaust plumes of plasma from dozens of DropShips lifting off. Combine DropShips primarily, but two of his own regiments rode heavenwards on pillars of fire—bound for the Combine transports and WarShips that would take Jinjiro’s Strike Force to Saffel.

“Ezra, it would not do any good. Besides, do you think—really think—the Combine has not thoroughly gone over those systems in the month they have been here? You have less than two thousand SLDF troopers—to guard the First Lord, and twelve SDS bases, and contribute forces to Operation Brody. You’ve seen Kurita’s DEST teams; if they want that information, then they have that information, Ezra.”

“Not the complete specs, Sam. They might be able to piece together a manually operated ground base, but he wants us to give them the complete specs!”

“So? What are you going to do, Ezra, mutiny?”

Ezra Bradley jerked as he physically recoiled from the thought.

“He’s NO Richard, Ezra. And he has served, and worn the uniform—the same damn one you and I wear today! Get your mind straight, Colonel, he IS the First Lord. And this is his decision, not yours, not mine, not even the General’s. HIS. Now, do you have a packet for me to give Lord Minoru, or should I ask you to place yourself in the stockade?”

Bradley’s shoulders dropped, and he laid a secure data-module in Sam’s outstretched hand. “I should report back to HQ, General Anders. This will be in my report to the General, however.”

“Never thought otherwise, Ezra. Never thought otherwise.”

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-14 07:11pm

Chapter Sixteen

August 23, 2767
SLS Black Lion
Zenith Jump Point, Skye
Lyran Commonwealth


General Basil Christophos was a thoroughly frustrated individual. His command, the 11th Royal BattleMech Division had been serving in the Periphery since 2765, and been heavily engaged with the separatists. Then word arrived of the Coup, and the Periphery fight seemed to be just a gentle love-tap between intimate friends. He had served in an SDS base—he knew the odds they were going to be facing. But that didn’t matter—it had to be done, and Basil planned to be there doing, as long as he had blood in his veins and a ‘Mech to pilot.

Then, just as the Army was preparing to move to the Rim Worlds, one of his transport ships—that were also carrying what was left of the 65th Royal Mechanized Infantry—suffered a K-F drive failure! For three bloody damn months they had sat in the frakkin’ Periphery and waited while repair ships struggled to restore the drives. Finally, though they were on the move. And would probably arrive too late. Even with their advanced lithium fusion batteries, his transport ships could only move 30 light years every three and half days. And he still had almost 500 light-years until he reached Apollo. It was very frustrating. At least they would get the latest news of the war here at Skye during this 84-hour layover.

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

“Is this some sort of joke, Commodore?” Basil asked.

Shaking, Commodore Alicia Hall held out the message form again. “No, sir. This arrived over the black box forty minutes ago. It seems to be on an auto-broadcast, because we received the exact transmission again ten minutes ago. It was encoded with our latest code, and the transmission indicated it began on Asta and has been automatically retransmitted by each black box relay station between here and there.”

The black boxes were highly-classified technology. Not as versatile as the Hyper-Pulse Generators that allowed interstellar communication, they were much more limited—text only in fact. And a limited amount of text at that. But they were small. And the Hegemony had seeded scores—hundreds—of unmanned relay stations with the things. Because once built, they were simple to operate—even by automation—unlike the extremely massive and cantankerous HPG’s.

Basil looked down at his own shaking hands and read the blocky, primitive looking lettering once more.

ASTA LIBERATED BY FORCES OF DCMS AND DCA 1 AUGUST 2767. SURIVIVING CAMERON IN LINE OF SUCCESSION FOUND ALIVE ON ASTA. STEPHEN CAMERON ASSUMED TITLE OF FIRST LORD 4 AUGUST 2767. ANY SLDF FORCES IN RANGE OF TRANSMISSION PLEASE RESPOND SOONEST. ANTICIPATE AMARIS COUNTERATTACK AT ANY TIME. URGENTLY REQUEST ALL AVAILABLE SLDF FORCES DIVERT TO ASTA. SAMUEL T ANDERS GENERAL SLDF.

Basil’s thoughts raced. He had two divisions of Royal troops—the best equipped men and women the League could offer. Every person in both his divisions—for the 65th had lost their commander during the uprising and been placed under his command—was a native of the Hegemony. Hall’s 247th Armed Transport Flotilla had twelve WarShips—a Black Lion class battle-cruiser, a Potemkin class troop cruiser, two Sovetskii Soyuz class cruisers, two Congress class frigates, and six Essex and Lola III class destroyers—and twenty transports. But everyone knew the fate of Admiral Braso.

“Encoded with the latest codes, Commodore?”

“Yes, sir, the codes we adopted after the Coup.”

Basil sat for a moment, thinking, then raised his head. “The hell with it, Commodore. If it’s a trap, then that’s why we’ve got the L/F batteries. Make your course for Asta, at your best speed.”

“Aye, aye, Sir!” she barked as she snapped to attention, saluted, and then left the compartment.

Maybe, Basil thought, just maybe this is for real. And if not, then at least I’ll get to kill someone for sending it.

masterarminas
Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-14 07:12pm

Chapter Seventeen

August 23, 2767
DCMS Mikasa
High Orbit, Asta
Terran Hegemony


Jinjiro Kurita fairly strutted down the corridor of the ship to his father’s stateroom on Grav Deck One. Today, TODAY, he would depart and show them all what his qualities were. He still fumed over the insult the DEST commando—and the Cameron—had given him nearly three weeks before. They had humiliated him—in public, no less!—and forced him to apologize for his actions. And his own father . . . father, how could you aid them in this loss of face for me? But, those men would pay, at some later day. For today, TODAY, he would lead the army of the Dragon—HIS ARMY—to battle. Today, none of the old men his father surrounded himself with would interfere or rob him of his rightful glory. No. And soon enough, when Amaris lay dead, he would be Coordinator. Oh, he would mourn and grieve for his father, but the old bastard had forsaken his honor. He should have gone ahead and cut his belly the morning he declared war. Then he, Jinjiro, would have been Coordinator for this war. And NO ONE could rob him of his glory, then. Not a jumped up peasant, not this gaijin Cameron, not the oh-so-great Kerensky, no one.

As he reached his father’s stateroom, the Otomo standing outside the hatch waved a sensor wand across Jinjiro’s body. The corner of his mouth twitched—how dare these low-born insinuate he would do harm to the Coordinator? Of course—and he smiled as he thought that lovely, lovely, thought yet again—it is good they take their job so seriously. After all, soon they will be protecting ME. The Otomo nodded and pressed the admittance key set beside the hatch.

Jinjiro stepped into the darkened compartment. To one side, his father sat, on a simple mat, back as straight as a ruler, as candles provided the only light. From discrete speakers set in the bulkheads, the soft music of bamboo flutes and plucked strings echoed stirringly. Jinjiro bristled as two of the Otomo followed him inside, and the hatch slid closed. Ignoring the dishonor, he forced himself to concentrate on his father, dressed in a silk robe, the grey hair on his chest visible in the dim, flickering candle light. He father lifted a long straw, a glowing ember on the end, and lit a stick of incense. Then he sat the straw down, tamping the flame.

Without looking up, Minoru asked, “What is this order you have issued, Jinjiro?”

“Which order, Father?”

“The order you intended be carried back to Luthien aboard the Fuso when she returns for repairs. The order you gave for over a thousand of our Internal Security Forces and ten thousand of our Peace Enforcers to board ship for this world, and Saffel as well?”

Jinjiro swallowed. “We took this world, Father. And we will take Saffel. The Dragon keeps what he kills; I believe I learned that lesson from you.”

Minoru looked up for the first time. “You are a fool, my son. Kerensky will NEVER let you keep a world of the Hegemony. Cameron will NEVER allow you to keep a world of the Hegemony.”

“We earned this right by the blood we shed, Father!”

“This war is not to expand our borders, Jinjiro. It is a war of honor. Nothing more. Nothing less.”

“Honor? Don’t try to fool me with that, Father. It is a war of OPPORTUNITY. We take a few worlds, and garrison them—so Kerensky does not have to. And when Amaris is defeated, he will so weaken the SLDF that they can’t throw us off.”

“Honor, Jinjiro. It is about honor. This man Cameron is a man of honor. You convinced me on Luthien that we could acquire the SDS secrets here, so we came here. Perhaps the ancestors guided our decision on that, for we found this Cameron here. He has—today—given me the complete specifications on their planetary-based Space Defense Systems. Enough information my engineers assure me that we can duplicate this on Luthien and New Samarkand and Benjamin and Pesht within the next five years. I did not ask him for this—by doing this, he has sent the message that his family has chosen to deal with us falsely; and that he will not, so long as he is First Lord.”

Minoru stopped and stood. “And so, I will not deal falsely with him. Your orders are countermanded, they will not be transmitted. And I have transmitted instructions to Luthien that you are NOT to issue orders to any outside the Mustered Soldiery or the Admiralty.”

Jinjiro gaped, his face white and pale, and he began to speak, but was cut off.

“Silence! I do not yet relieve you of your post as Gunji-no-kanrei, Jinjiro. Go, before I change my mind on this matter. Go and retrieve your honor. And maybe you will remain my heir.”

White hot lightning flashed through Jinjiro and he wanted—oh, he wanted—to step forward and strike the tired old man before him; then he remembered the Otomo standing behind him. And stood still where he was.

“Go. And return the son I once thought I had raised. Or return not at all.”
Last edited by masterarminas on 2013-05-14 07:14pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Eternal_Freedom
Castellan
Posts: 9757
Joined: 2010-03-09 02:16pm
Location: Bound in a nutshell

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2013-05-14 07:12pm

Most interesting.

See, since most of my knowledge of BT comes from reading your stories (and a few others) I thought the Draconis Combine, Federated Suns and other IS states formed after the Fall of the Star League. Ah well, not that it rellay matters.

Excellent writing as usual MA.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

User avatar
LadyTevar
White Mage
White Mage
Posts: 19928
Joined: 2003-02-12 10:59pm

Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by LadyTevar » 2013-05-15 03:58am

Forgive me for hoping Jinjiro returns on his shield.
Image
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.
"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" -- Leonard Nimoy, last Tweet

Post Reply