The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

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

Post by Diverball » 2013-05-27 08:47am

Deebles wrote:As someone unfamiliar with the setting, how, and how well, do the Caspars distinguish between "friendly" and "hostile" warships? Are there ever any friendly fire incidents when the behaviour of a cargo ship or friendly war ship somehow gives them grounds for suspicion?
Probably the same way military units do it today. A unique encrypted IFF transponder in each vessel.
"Only a fool expects rational behaviour from their fellow humans. Why do you expect it from a machine that humans have designed?"

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

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-27 09:57am

Chapter Thirty-Three

July 28, 2768
Serenity Port, Tranquility
Continent Prosperity, Dante
Outworlds Alliance


“Colonel Barclay? Master Sergeant Franklin?”

Patrick Barclay, Colonel, Star League Defense Forces turned towards the sound of the voice asking his name on the tarmac of the space-port. If you could call it that, he thought. Nine square acres of landing tarmac, with one two-storey building housing Air Traffic Control and Customs & Immigration. No warehouses, no emergency vehicles—no vehicles of any kind had he seen since being dumped here from aboard the Mule class DropShip Ambassador Ross had provided for his transit.

“Barclay,” Ross had said at their one and only meeting five weeks ago, “I have just the post for you. You’ll love it, and it NEEDS an officer of your qualities.”

The sinking feeling had only gotten worse since that meeting. And now this. The speaker was some local hick, dressed like an indig; his pants made from black cloth, fastened with hooks and buttons, his shirt white and starched, creased only by the suspenders which held up those trousers. On his feet he wore thick heavy leather boots, and he wore a straw hat upon his head.

“Yes, I am Colonel Patrick Barclay, SLDF. Can I help you, sir?”

The local smiled. Beamed actually. “Well, Pat, we don’t stand too much on formality here on Dante; my name is Irwin.” He extended a mostly clean hand towards the new arrival, but a few traces of dirt still showed beneath the fingernails.

“You, sir, may address me as Colonel, or Sir. And if you do not mind, I am waiting for the SLDF liaison officer to Dante to transport both myself and the Master Sergeant to our new post.”

The local beamed once again. “My apologizes, right you are, Colonel, Sir. It might so happen, however, that I AM the SLDF liaison officer to Dante. GENERAL Irwin Harper, SLDF retired. General DeChevilier reactivated my commission for the duration, you see. Frees up younger and more able troopers to be on the front-lines.”

Barclay scowled, even as Franklin came to a hurried attention. “I must ask to see some ID, then, Sir. I cannot simply take you upon your word—after all you might be a local attempting to pull some shenanigans upon me.”

“Don’t normally care ID out here in the back of beyond, Pat, but Aaron did say that you were a mite prickly man. Here you go,” he said as he passed across the bio-metric electronic data card to Barclay. The SLDF Colonel scanned the card and—rather sourly—came to attention and saluted.

“Sir. Patrick Barclay, Colonel, SLDF, reporting as ordered, in command of a detail of two. All present and accounted for, sir.”

Irwin took his ID card back and placed it inside his shirt pocket. “Well, now that we have settled that, Colonel, our transportation is right over here. You two will have to carry your own bags though; the Omniss frown on having servants or anything that would present the appearance of servants, so no baggage-handlers.”

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

“THIS is our transportation?” Patrick Barclay exclaimed, as he finally got his throat working again.

“And just what is wrong with it, Colonel? Mankind has been using horse-drawn wagons for centuries?” Irwin asked as he patted the flank of one of the two horses attached to the wooden vehicle.

“You are a General, sir, and the Liaison officer to this world. You represent the Star League; this is a MOCKERY!”

“Technologically advanced vehicles require constant maintenance, Pat, and you have to have factories to build new ones. A mockery; no. It is a simple, low-tech solution to the problem of transportation. We can just breed more horses, son. Have you had any luck breeding a Bentley lately?”

“Still, even on a world like Dante, General, the SLDF liaison officer should have an official ground-vehicle or air-car.”

“Pat, how much do you know about the Omniss?”

“They are just a kooky fringe cult, General.”

Irwin started and his eyes turned cold as he stared—hard—into Barclays. “They are not a cult, Pat. I wouldn’t join a cult, I will have you know. The Omniss feel that technology has divorced man from his soul. They won’t have it on their world. So they left the Old Hegemony four hundred years ago and traveled out here—by starship, which is kind of ironic—in order to practice their faith. They allow us landing rights, but in return, the SLDF and the First Lord respect their cultural heritage. Except for the HPG at the landing field—which is used for emergency communication only—there is not any technology on this planet except what can be made by muscle-power, human or animal. Oh, and windmills and waterwheels and such forth. And you know what, Pat? In four centuries they haven’t had a war, they haven’t killed each other off, they haven’t even had a whole lot of crime. I suggest that you just think about that before you write these people and their faith off as a bunch of kooks.”

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

Four hours later, Irwin pulled in the reins as the wagon plodded into a small camp half-way across the wind-swept plains to a distant range of mountains. Several dozen people were working in the camp, a few of whom stood and nodded to the general. None nodded to him, Patrick noted.

“General Harper, whe . . .” he began.

“Pat, for the hundredth time, boy, call me Irwin, ‘kay? This is your new home, son. You and Clayton bring your bags in, and then we’ll have some supper and get you briefed in.”

As he and Franklin unloaded the wagon, Barclay noted the large pile of cut stones set to the side, along with hand tools. My God, he thought, they work GRANITE by hand? Are these people NUTS?

By the time they had brought in their bags, Irwin showed them to a pair of rooms, and their new clothes laid on out the beds. He had smiled. “Can’t have you wearing those synthetics, can we Pat? Let’s go have some supper, and in the morn I’ll show you boys what we have in mind for you.”

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

The next morning, Patrick Barclay and Clayton Franklin found themselves standing besides a six foot high, four foot wide stone structure, stretching back into the distance to the city of Tranquility. Irwin slapped his hand on the stones and beamed at the two again. “She’s a beaut, ain’t she, Pat?”

He swallowed, not sure of what he should say, and then stammered out, “It is a nice looking wall, Irwin.”

The old man laughed, with the locals joining in. “Wall? No, Pat, this is our new aqueduct; or rather the beginnings of it, at least. It runs from Tranquility back there to here. And when finished it will run to the mountains way over yonder, about forty miles or so across the plains. At least it will when you two finish building it.”

“Sir?” Patrick Barclay croaked, as Clayton Franklin’s eyes went wide and his jaw dropped.

“Why, yes, Sir, Colonel, Sir. That’s what brings you here to sunny Dante. You, and Master Sergeant Franklin, will finish building this aqueduct for the Omniss. We had a whole SLDF engineer regiment here working on this, but with the Coup, they are gone back home to fight the good fight. The First Lord and General DeChevilier—Ambassador Ross as well—felt that you two were the perfect men to finish it.”

Irwin walked around and proudly patted a few of twenty-kilo stones again. “Me and the local folks here will show you how to put it together, and supply you with the materials you need. We even got the land all surveyed and laid out ahead of you. Told the First Lord we’d help on putting together, but the man insisted otherwise, Pat. ‘We made a promise to the Omniss, General Harper, that we would build it, and by God, we will keep that promise.’ He told me that his own self, he did.”

“How much is left to build?” Pat whispered.

“Oh, not much,” Irwin said, smiling, “just another forty miles to where it meets the section coming down from mountain glaciers. And Aaron—General DeChevilier, that is—asked that I send to him a weekly report on your progress. We figure that between you two strapping and fit fine lads, you should be able to manage a mile every two weeks, once you get the hang of it. So how about we kooks show you what you and the Master Sergeant will be doing for the next twenty or so months?”

“I’ll resign my commission, first, damn your eyes! I am an officer in the Star League Defense Forces, not a common laborer!”

Irwin nodded sagely, “Figured you might say that. Sure I can’t change your mind?”

“No. This is beyond insult.”

The retired general drew in a deep breath and then exhaled. “Colonel Barclay, it is my duty to inform you that the First Lord has put in place a stop-loss order for the duration. Until this crisis has passed, no officer is being allowed to resign; that includes you. You can, however, refuse this order and I will have you arrested and held in confinement until you can be returned to Alpheratz for court-martial.”

Barclay swayed as the blood rushed from his head, and Irwin smiled at him, but the smile was no longer warm and friendly. No, it looked much like a shark’s grin just before he took a bite.

“The First Lord is rather protective of his friends and family, Colonel, and you managed to piss him the hell off in most masterful way. Did you really think you were just going to be reassigned and the matter forgotten?”

“The choice is yours; get to work on this—dawn to dusk six days a week for the next twenty odd months—or stand trial for disobeying the lawful order of one’s superior officers while in a state of war. I believe if convicted on that charge you would face twenty years in prison. And since we have no prisons anymore, the First Lord asked Coordinator Kurita if the Combine prison system would take you. He said yes. So, which will it be, Pat? Which will it be?”

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

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-27 10:04am

Chapter Thirty-Four

February 4, 2768
J.P. Stanley Warehouse #8, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


“Two weeks, two bloody damned frakking weeks!” The man snarled as he pounded the old wooden desk. The thud of his fist against the top not enough to take the edge of his mood, he picked up the lamp and flung it against the far wall, where it shattered next to a second man, leaning against that same wall.

“Was that really, necessary?”

The man at the desk looked up and opened his mouth, but was interrupted by a third man, sitting in front of the desk.

“Both of you let it be. Hollis, you know good and well that we could not execute this op even if we had landed two weeks ago. Yes, that new commander was an idiot and would have been a blessing, but really, how long do you think Kerensky and DeChevilier would have let him frak things up before they fixed it?”

The man at the desk shook his head. “It is just so damn frustrating, Hans. He was an absolute god-send from our point of view, AND WE MISSED THE OPPORTUNITY! Damn it.”

The second man walked up to the desk and took the empty chair. “The thing I hate the most is that those DEST teams are not going to go away. This ‘Black Watch’ is one thing; DEST is an entirely different ball-game, Boss.”

“No use crying over split milk, gentlemen. Now, having seen with our own eyes the security, let’s have it.”

Behind the desk, Hollis leaned back and exhaled. “Perimeter security on the estate is tight with a capital T, Hans.” He picked a folded map and spread it out over the desk. “One kilometer out, they have a ring of observation posts, manned by troopers from V Corps. Each road-way in is covered by two heavy bunkers. The observation posts are manned by a squad of men each, and are spaced every two hundred meters across the entire perimeter. You don’t have a pass issued by the office of the First Lord, you don’t get past the outer perimeter.”

“Thankfully, our patron obtained me a pass for my cover as a journalist, Boss,” the second man said. “Random patrols cover the wooded areas surrounding the estate, complete with dogs. A three meter wall surrounds Branson House itself, one hundred meters from the building. DEST and Black Watch patrol the inner perimeter, along with sensor emplacements. Behind the house are the gardens, but that is the only cover other than the fountain in front.”

“Inner security appears light, but those DEST guys don’t play around. They are teaching some serious no-shit tac-ops to this new Black Watch. Watch,” he finished as he set a notebook on the desk and hit a key.

On the screen, video began to play, and Hans and Hollis watched closely. They saw it at the same moment, and Hans lowered his head, closing his eyes. Hollis just whispered, “Frak me.”

“Yeah. It seems as though this First Lord has pulled out ALL the stops. That item there, gentlemen, is a Mark XXI Nighthawk special-operations powered armor suit. I don’t think LIC has acquired the full specs on it yet, but small arms are not going to take it out.”

“You are just full of glad tidings, today, Nelson,” Hans said. “Scratch plan A, then. We always knew we would probably have to; the official residence is just too tough a nut to crack. Any heads-up on when he is in transit?”

“Yes, Boss, but you are not going to like it,” said a fourth man walking into the dilapidated office.

“Liam, there is very little about this op that I have liked.”

“His transits are unscheduled; to the point where they almost seem random. So far, and we have only been on planet a week, understand, but so far, his travels seem limited to a lodge up in the Black Pines. There isn’t a town out there, and newsies aren’t exactly welcome. And when he goes, there is always at least a battalion of ‘Mechs and infantry camped out in the woods nearby. Plus his close-in detail.”

Liam joined the other three around the desk. “But, there is one pass that his aerial convoy has taken every time they have gone up there; right here, about 75 klicks short of the lodge. We could put a remote SAM launcher in place, except . . .” his voice trailed off.

“Yes, Liam?”

“Except that his family flies up there with him, every time he goes. And we have our orders on that score, Boss.”

Hans Trevane scowled at the map as he considered his orders once again. Personally briefed by Erik Kiplinger before he and his Loki team had boarded ship for Asta, the Lyran Intelligence head had stressed the fact that the Archon did not want the family injured. In fact, the Chief had gone out of his way to stress it TWICE. The wife and daughter were not to be harmed. And then Archon Robert had told him the exact same thing again.

“Well, at least we don’t have a time limit on this, gentlemen. Now that we have identified the problems involved, why don’t we earn our princely salaries and figure out a way to take Stephen Cameron out cleanly.”


February 7, 2768
Asta Defense Headquarters
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


Minoru Kurita sat in the office suite that had been provided for him in the SLDF facility. The fingers of one hand drummed upon the three sheets of paper before him as he considered the matter. Zabu, his oldest surviving son and heir, and the Internal Security Force had uncovered an Amaris agent in place in the DCMS; a high ranking officer, privy to many of the secrets of the Combine. Orders he sent back to Luthien were being copied and sent directly to Terra by the traitor. But his son, and his intelligence chief, had not arrested the criminal. No, they planned to USE him; albeit without his knowledge.

Already, General Kamarov had been ‘promoted’ to a new Joint Command Task Force his son had created. The fictional posting was removed from actual operations, but appeared to be receiving factual information about troop movements and operations plans. Concerned with coordinating the DCMS with the SLDF and Armed Forces of the Federated Suns, the Joint Command—and Kamarov—were engaged in an almost entirely illusory shell game. Oh, there was real, but mostly harmless, information being passed; enough at least to keep the Usurper’s spies content. But Zabu had hatched a plan worthy of Shiro Kurita himself.

At a general staff conference last week, his son had announced that Philip Marik had decided to come into the war on the side of Stephen Cameron. The Free Worlds League was preparing to commit its troops and its navy on the side of the Star League against Amaris. And that, in preparations for joint operations, the Free Worlds League Navy would be conducting exercises with the SLDF in an uninhabited system two jumps away from Oriente.

Oriente, the largest and most modern shipyard and naval base in the entire Free Worlds League, was one of the Crown Jewels of the Free Worlds. Responsible for the construction and support of almost forty percent of the FWLN, those shipyards were always heavily defended. But, in a month, they would not be. At least, that was what Zabu had told the Joint Command Task Force. And Kamarov.

If Amaris took the bait, Zabu’s letter explained, and he attacked Oriente, then Philip Marik would be furious at the ‘sneak attack’. And he would then commit his forces in the fight against Amaris. Masterful, Minoru thought. He had always feared for his younger son; Zabu had shown no interest in the military, but he possessed a keen mind, a subtle mind. Once Kamarov passed the information—and the confirmations were received—then the ISF would ‘discover’ the traitor and shut down the operation.

But, if his son was subtle, if his son was keen of intellect, he was not ruthless. Any force Amaris sent against Oriente would encounter the might of the FWLN defending the yards. And a victory against the rabble might not be enough to force Philip Marik enter the war. His fingers drummed as he considered. Stephen Cameron would not approve; nor would Lord Kerensky. And if Philip Marik ever found out, then he would become the target of the Free Worlds, not Amaris.

Still, he gauged the odds again in his head. Three chances in ten, he calculated, that they will discover the truth. And, if so, Philip would have to cross the entire Inner Sphere to make war on him. But if successful, then the Free Worlds would respond with a ferocity that rivaled his own DCMS and the SLDF. His fingers stopped, resting on the sheets of paper, as he nodded. He had always been a gambler. And this aspect of the plan he would reveal to no one, not even his son. Let others suspect what he set in motion; none would ever know the truth for certain.

Moving his hand to the intercom on his desk, he pressed a button.

“I need to speak with Captain Sogabe as soon as possible.”

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

“Do you understand your orders, Captain?”

“Hai, my Lord,” Takiro Sogabe replied as he prostrated himself on the floor.

“Good, Captain, very good. Stand please. You CAN NOT be found out, Captain. This must look like it is being done by the Rim Worlds. To that extent, your vessel will be equipped with three seperate nuclear demolitions charges—use them to avoid capture.”

“Of course, my Lord. We will not fail you, Sire, nor will we fail the Dragon.”

“Then go, Captain. Your family, and those of your crew, will be told that you are Heroes of the Combine, true samurai to the last. They will be cared for, as though they were my own.”

Takiro began to bow, but stopped with shock as the Coordinator extended his hand. Slowly he took it, and the Coordinator gripped it hard. “Good hunting, Captain Sogabe.” And the Coordinator and his Otomo left the room, leaving him alone with his thoughts. Such an audacious plan, he thought. The risks were high, but the possible rewards!

Take his ship—the Q-ship Black Rose—to Oriente, masquerading as a Lyran freighter. And when he arrived, he was to wait until the Rim Worlds attacked the system. Then, and only then, was he to launch his nuclear missiles at the Oriente shipyards—and the factory complexes on the planet itself. It was bold and ambitious, and Takiro Sogabe now longer gave any thought to his own death, only on how best to accomplish the will of the Dragon.

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

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-27 10:11am

Chapter Thirty-Five

February 7, 2768
Great Eastern Fens
Alpha Continent, Carver V
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


Major Paul Burkett, Armed Forces of the Federated Suns, swung the massive right arm autocannon of his Victor class BattleMech towards the Rim Worlds hovercraft pouring streams of inferno gel onto the Warhammer of his lance mate. As the targeting reticule in his neuro-helmet settled onto the bulky 35-ton vehicle, it changed color from light blue to a harsh red, and a tone sounded in his ears. Gotcha, you little bastard, he thought as he squeezed the trigger on the control stick in his right hand. The Pontiac autocannon bellowed and spat fire of its own as sixty high-velocity rounds exited the muzzle, the empty cases ejecting into the muck and mire of the swamp around him.

The hovercraft crumpled as the shells ripped apart the light armor frame covering the skirts, and then exploded in a fountain of blazing gel as the magazine feeding the flamer cut loose. Drops of the gel showered down on Burkett and his command lance, but they were MechWarriors, and it would take far more than a few drops of the napalm-like jelly to stop them. The Warhammer he had just saved pivoted it’s torso towards him, and the twin chest-mounted machine-guns barked out a long burst, the heavy slugs tearing into the jump infantry that he had somehow missed spotting a mere seventy meters away.

“Thanks for the assist, Six; that assault sled was beginning to vex me. Hope you don’t mind me returning the favor?”

“Negative, Four,” Burkett replied. He paused and took a moment to glance at his sensor display. Damn that old fool to Hell, he thought again. His battalion—or at least the 23 ‘Mechs left of it—were exactly where the entire 2nd Davion Guards Regiment should have been; exactly where General Montoya had ordered them to be, in order to close off the only possible route of escape for the Rim Worlds forces on Carver V. But Field Marshall Hallis, the Guards commanding officer, had countermanded those orders upon reaching the edge of the swampy fens. 1st and 3rd Battalion, plus Regimental HQ and the attached assault battalion from the Assault Guards were now ninety kilometers away, moving towards the only DRY land in the area. And he and his battalion were the only ones left to secure this sector.

“All Gremlin elements, this is Six Actual. Consolidate at grid coordinates 12-60 and report status,” he spoke into the throat mike tapped to his neck.

“Six Actual, Gremlin Echo One—we are at nine effectives and showing heavy opposition two klicks ahead.”

“Six Actual, Gremlin Fox Two, Fox One is down. Four ‘Mechs functional, but two are badly damaged, sir.”

“Six Actual, Gremlin Golf One—eight effectives, ETA to 12-60 two minutes.”

And of his own battalion command lance, just he and Sergeant Preston in the Warhammer were left. Swell. To his left he spotted the sunlight glittering from the ‘Mechs of Echo company as they trudged through the marsh. The heavy trees, so like the moss-shrouded cypress of Old Earth, to the south blocked his view of Fox, but his sensors showed the four survivors slowly making their way forward. Beyond Fox, the eight remaining ‘Mechs of Golf were just now coming onto his display.

Less than two companies left of his original command—and most were damaged. The Rimmers had pulled back, but they were regrouping for yet another attack in the distance, he was certain. After all they had already hit 2nd Battalion five times in an attempt to break past—why not a sixth?

“Argent Actual, this is Devil-Dog One, respond Argent Actual.”

The voice from the speaker sounded cold and hard, even through the static, Burkett thought. What the hell, my career is finished anyway since I ignored the Field Marshall’s order to follow him. He thumbed his radio over to the regimental frequency.

“Devil-Dog One, this is Argent Gremlin Six Actual. Go ahead.”

There was a momentary pause. “Gremlin Six, stand by for One Actual.”

“Standing by, Devil-Dog One.”

“Gremlin Six, where the HELL is Argent Actual?”

“One Actual, Argent Actual is heading for grid sector 14 on account of difficulty in moving through the marsh.”

“Say again, Gremlin Six?”

“Argent Gremlin is the only unit in grid sector 12. Remainder of Argent is in transit to grid sector 14, One Actual.”

For several seconds, only static came from the speaker. And then a new voice came through. “Gremlin Six, this is Sword Actual, do you copy?”

Burkett sat up straighter in his cockpit—as much as the straps holding him to his ejection seat would allow. “Sir, I do copy.”

“Status report, Gremlin Six.”

“We have repulsed five attempts by Rim forces to breakthrough the perimeter—they are gathering strength for another push, Sword Actual. Gremlin is at 57% percent strength—including damaged units. Request urgent reinforcement.”

“Son, all Devil-Dog and Sword units are engaged EXCEPT Argent elements en route to sector 14. Can Gremlin hold?”

Burkett looked backed down at his display, and saw the first icons of another full regiment of hovercraft emerge from the distant tree-line. “Understood, Sword Actual. Request immediate air-support. Gremlin will hold.”

“Fast-movers are inbound your sector, Gremlin Six. Four minutes. Give them hell. Sword Actual out.”

The transmission ceased as the First Prince of the Federated Suns terminated the transmission. Burkett switched back to his battalion frequency. “All Gremlins, this is Six Actual. Angels are inbound with heavy ordnance, but we have to hold. If they evade past us and get out into the deep fens, these Rim bastards could escape off-world. They have killed too many of our friends and comrades for us to let that happen, brothers. Our failure here will shame our Prince and our homeland in the eyes of the Star League, brothers—so failure will not happen. We will hold the line. We will murder those bastards when they come into range; no one will withdraw, on the honor of the 2nd Davion Guards! Warriors, Knights, Brothers-in-Arms today we stand and shall not be moved! Give them the SWORD OF DAVION!”

An exhausted cheer roared across his speakers as the twenty-two men and women—MechWarriors all—of his command responded. As the Rim hovers closed the distance, nearly in his reach, he flicked a switch on his console. Through all the cockpits of the ‘Mechs of the 2nd Battalion, through the external loud-speakers, the ‘Ride of Valkyries’ began to play. Twisting the external volume to its maximum, he could FEEL the sound vibrating in his cockpit. And as the Rimmers entered range, he snarled, “For God and Davion, my Brothers, FIRE!”

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

Tamkoh Red Eagle glanced at the Rapier to his right as he rocketed across the sky. His wingman was right there, glued to his wingtip as if the two massive 85-ton aerospace fighters were one. Behind him, four more Rapiers of the 332nd Heavy Strike Squadron followed him at Mach Four. His fuel gauge was steadily decreasing at an alarming rate, but General Montoya had said soonest. And the 332nd had been the ones on call. The Davion tin-heads below were in serious trouble, apparently, so the SLDF’s finest would have to bail them out. A beep sounded in his helmet and Tamkoh glanced at his heads-up display. Thirty seconds out. With his left hand he switched frequency to that of the Davions below.

“Gremlin Six, this is Thunderbolt Lead, inbound to Sector 12. Understand you have some treads and toads you need assistance with.”

Static hissed into his ears. Red Eagle frowned and double-checked the frequency. No, it was the correct one.

“Thunderbolt Lead, this is Two. Got ‘em down below; Christ, they are all jumbled up down there; no clean target Lead, repeat no clean Target.”

He looked at his own display—sixteen Davion icons on the screen, surrounded by Rim hovertanks and jump infantry—scores of them. Flashes of coherent light and PPC blasts lit the open fen in the fast fading light. Two was right, there was no way to make a pass without hitting friendly troops. As he began to circle the battle below, he slowed his fighter to sub-sonic speeds and the fuel consumption dropped dramatically.

“Thunderbolt Lead, this is Gremlin Six—you’re late.”

“Sorry about that, Gremlin Six. We have a slight problem.”

“Yeah, they are,” the speaker crackled for a moment with the staccato thud of a heavy autocannon, and in the background Red Eagle could hear music of all things, then came back to life, “sorry, Thunderbolt, got a bit busy. What are you carrying?”

“Infernos and cluster frag, Gremlin. We can not, repeat, can not drop without hitting you.”

“Understood, Thunderbolt Lead. Request immediate fire-support support mission on grid coordinates 12-58, Inferno only, repeat inferno only.”

Red Eagle turned cold. “Gremlin, you are at coordinates 12-58, confirm request.”

“Confirmed, Thunderbolt. Our ‘Mechs can take the heat,” the voice did not seem as confident as the words themselves, “but those vehicles and infantry will die. Deliver the package, Thunderbolt, put it right on top of us.”

“The honor is yours, Gremlin Six. Delivery in fifteen seconds.” Switching back to his squadron frequency, Red Eagle swallowed hard. “Thunderbolt Lead to Thunderbolt Flight, arm Infernos only. Squadron drop pattern theta, target grid coordinate 12-58.”

For a moment there was only silence. “Lead, this is Two, infernos armed, drop-pattern theta, grid coordinate 12-58.”

One by one, the other four of his squadron answered in voices cold and clipped, without showing the strain each of them must be feeling. That he was feeling.

“Thunderbolt Flight, follow me in,” he replied as he banked the Rapier and slammed the throttle forward.

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

The massive Dictator class DropShip trembled as it shook in the turbulent atmosphere. What a cluster-frak, Major Diana Anderson thought as it struggled to get in a position to drop her battalion. The 501st Royal Pathfinder Battalion had been the first unit down on Carver V two weeks ago, cutting out a landing zone for the follow-on heavy forces. With the campaign almost complete its survivors had been trying to de-stress and accept the loss of their friends at the space-port when the call came in. Fifteen minutes ago, the call had come in. She shook her head. Twenty-nine Griffin II BattleMechs were all that remained of her battalion, but each had been repaired and patched and reloaded, and each had a MechWarrior in its cockpit. It had been a miracle that the old DropShip had been able to launch in such a short time, but apparently the Davions had screwed the pooch. And it was up to her and the 501st to save the day. Again. Some days, some days it does not pay to be the absolute best in the whole frakkin’ universe at what you do.

The crimson light on her cockpit console began flashing, and she pulled her restraining straps tighter. What the hell, we’ve always said we could do our job better drunk than anyone else can sober. Today we get to prove it.

The light turned green and the bay door snapped open, as the booster rockets attached to her ‘Mech fired, hurling her from the heavy assault ship. Her own jump jets fired in pulses as she watched the displays—not her altitude, but the one showing her command. Twenty-seven, twenty-eight, TWENTY-NINE, all her ‘Mechs, her people, were clear. Now she could look at the ground. And when she did, she blanched.

A huge circle of the fens was blackened and scorched, sections still blazing from the heat of the inferno gel dispersed from twenty-four bombs each massing a thousand kilos. Charred ‘Mech skeletons stood upright, or rested on one knee amid ashes and soot and blackened bone. Melted vehicles were barely recognizable, their structures twisted and warped by the intense heat. The ground approached quickly and she fired her jump-jets on continuous burn until her ‘Mech slammed down into the baked soil only now beginning to refill with water from the surrounding marsh. Steam hovered in the thick humid air, and she was thankful her cockpit was sealed. The stench must be incredible.

A blackened Victor missing its right arm and most of its armor twisted its battered head towards her, and she heard an exhausted numb voice over her intercom. “We held, my Prince. We held. For God and Davion we held.”

“Devil-Dog One,” she softly spoke into her microphone. “We are going to need immediate med-evac for the Davion units on the ground. 501st will secure the sector, but for the love of God, get those choppers in here fast.”

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

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-27 10:19am

Chapter Thirty-Six

February 9, 2768
Jamestown
Alpha Continent, Carver V
Terran Hegemony


John Davion took a sip of whiskey as he listened to the bagpipes outside his headquarters sing out ‘Danny Boy’. Of the 2nd Battalion, there were a mere five surviving personnel—and none of their ‘Mechs were fit for repair. But their sacrifice had sealed the Rim Worlds forces in, and the SLDF 501st Pathfinders had advanced straight through their lines and devastated the enemy headquarters. Twenty-seven hours ago, the senior surviving Rim officer—a Captain—had surrendered, and Carver V had been reclaimed for the Star League.

But it should not have happened. And it would not have happened if Field Marshall Hallis had not chosen to disregard his orders from General Montoya. Old Marshall Hanson had been right—the AFFS was not ready for this war. At least its leaders were not ready. John had sat right here last night and listened to the explanations Hallis had given for his actions: Montoya had come up through the ranks in Infantry—and Infantry do not give orders to MechWarriors. Modern warfare has no use for infantry or vehicles or aerospace fighters, Hallis had said, it is the knights of the battlefield, the MechWarriors who decide things. Infantry are, after all, good only for garrisoning after the battle and policing spent brass.

He had known of the ‘cult’ of the ‘Mech in his armed forces—had even secretly believed some of its more romantic trappings. The spurs he himself wore were a symbol of that. But now, in a real war, with real lives being lost, his troops were suffering because of idiots like Hallis. He had waved away Montoya’s concerns about this very issue, confident that his officers would follow his commands. But now? Now, he knew that he had been wrong. And the officers that led his troops into battle were not those that should. Many of the Regimental commanders were scions of planetary Dukes, some were themselves ennobled. He had asked David, his younger brother to quietly ask senior non-commissioned officers what they thought of the officer corps.

And today David had brought him the answers. Few long-service NCOs remained in the AFFS, as most could not stand the sheer lack of professionalism. Those who remained were resigned to obeying orders without even trying to advise the officers—because those officers thought themselves superior even to those who had been MechWarriors for twenty years or longer. After all, they held a commission, and the enlisted did not. And they were superior to the officers of the armored forces and infantry and artillery, because those units were not ‘Mechs; which is why when Hallis deployed he left his supporting artillery aboard his DropShips with orders to prepare a garrison compound for the Regiment.

Of the twelve regiments he had brought on this expedition, Montoya and the Star League Defense Force officers had found faults with all of them, except the 4th Guards under the command of his brother David. Not quite to the extent of Field Marshall Hallis, perhaps, but enough to ensure that NO ONE in the SLDF wanted to depend upon a Davion regiment or brigade. It shamed him; shamed him deeply.

The door to his office opened, and David Davion came in. “John, they are waiting for you.”

John Davion nodded and stood, throwing back the remainder of the whiskey. “David, thank you again, but if you do not . . .”

“I know that I am your youngest brother, Prince John. But I do believe I am past the age of adulthood. I agree with you, and it is time that something is done—past time.”

He slapped the younger man on his shoulder, and then pulled him tight in a hug. Stepping back, he asked, “When are you leaving for Robinson?”

“Tonight. Duke Sandoval will have a royal fit when he gets the news—but he will have to back down when he realizes that a Guards Regiment loyal to YOU is ready to break him and his whole family like a twig.”

“And the other two regiments you are taking?”

“The officers are in custody, replaced with MY men. Don’t you worry none, brother. Old Man Sandoval will be as quiet as a church mouse—or he will be as quiet as the grave, his choice.”

John nodded. “Take care of yourself out there, little brother.”

“I’m not the one planning on accompanying the AFFS in the war next year, my Prince. Watch your back, since you won’t have me here to do it for you.”

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

The rows of chairs in the auditorium were filled with rank upon rank of high-ranking Davion officers—almost all members of the nobility. Nine regimental commanders, three brigade commanders, two division commanders, and the Marshall of the AFFS, plus their assistants and staffs, all of whom came to attention as John Davion entered the room. The First Prince made his way to the podium, but did not release them from attention, and silence filled the room.

“Good evening, gentlemen. You may now be seated.” With a rustling of chairs the officers sat, and John could hear the muttered whisperings from among them. ‘Dictator’, said one. ‘Who does he think he is’ asked another. Yes, his officers were quite certain of their privileges. Too certain.

“I asked you here today, gentlemen to inform you of my extreme disappointment in your conduct in this operation. You have—both individually and collectively—shamed not only myself but the entire Federated Suns.”

A loud babble of sound arose as the officers began to stand and protest, but John steeled himself and slammed his clenched fist down on the podium.

“SILENCE!”

“We are at WAR, gentlemen. And I will not tolerate this type of behavior on the part of my officer corps. Have you forgotten the traditions of Rostov, of Prince Alexander? Have you become so political and social that you are more Lyran than Davion?”

“This will end now. All of you are dismissed from my service, effectively immediately. If I have to purge two-thirds of my officer corps to have an effective and professional armed forces than gentlemen I will, by God himself, do just that.”

One older officer, wearing the braids and ribbons of the Marshall of the AFFS rose to his feet. “Sire, you may be First Prince, but that title gives you no right to dictate to the officer corps. They answer to me, as Marshall of the Armed Forces of the Federated Suns. I must convey your orders to them, and this order I shall not convey.”

“Marshall Sandoval, your father might have convinced me to appoint you as Marshall, but you serve at my pleasure. I will allow you to retract those words and return to Robinson, but you must do so now, in the view of your officers.”

“I will not, Sir. You will not destroy this military because of what an Infantryman such as that peasant Montoya has said of us.”

John nodded. “Very well, Marshall.” Stepping out from behind the podium, he placed a hand inside his blouse and withdrew an automatic pistol. “Marshall Sandoval, you are guilty of treason against me and the Federated Suns. The sentence is death.” And with that last word John Davion fired a single shot into Jared Sandoval’s forehead, spraying red blood and grey brains across the officers arrayed behind him.

From the entrances to the auditorium, dozens of armed men burst into the room. “Arrest them all, loyal soldiers. Take them outside, stand them against the walls of this building and kill every last one of them for incompetence.”

One solider, face still covered with burn gel, turned to salute, and then began barking orders at the infantry. As the shocked officers were being led outside, John knelt down on the stage. “Major Burkett, a word if you could.”

Paul Burkett took two steps towards the Prince, his Prince, and stopped, standing at attention.

“No need for that, Major. Why did you hold?”

“You are my Prince, my Prince, and you commanded.”

“Why did you disobey Field Marshall Hallis?”

“Because he was wrong, Prince John. You instructed us all to conform to General Montoya’s orders, yet he couldn’t, simply because Montoya is not a ‘MechWarrior. He shamed us—the Guards, the AFFS, the entire Federated Suns, . . . and you, Sire. He was wrong and I could not let him just wreck the complete operation. I couldn’t.”

“Good. Paul, I need men like you. Right now,” he said as a crash of rifles came from the outside of the building, “I may well be facing a civil war. Those are powerful men I just had put to death. I need a man who does the right thing. I will ask you one question, Major Paul Burkett: can you put the Armed Forces of my House in order, give them back their honor and their morale and their ability to win, instead of playing a role in war-games?”

“I . . . I can, my Prince. If that is what you wish.”

“It is, Marshall Burkett. I am suspending the Martial Code of the AFFS for the immediate future—do whatever you must, but give me an army that I can lead that will no longer shame either of us.”

John Davion extended his hand, and Marshall Paul Burkett took it.

moglwi
Redshirt
Posts: 23
Joined: 2012-11-10 11:31am

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

Post by moglwi » 2013-05-27 03:30pm

Not knowing the backstory for these stories is not dimming my enjoyment one bit. I assume that Lord Davion did not purge his army like that? and it suffered for 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 » 2013-05-28 11:13am

Chapter Thirty-Seven

February 14, 2768
Branson House, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


“Northwind? Why in the name of Heaven are you going to that other cold, dreary place?” Marianne spat as she jerked the brush through her hair, her face all pinched and tight as Stephen broke the news.

“Love, Northwind is the only core world of the Old Hegemony that was not occupied, and they have supported me—us—unflinchingly. The Elders asked me to attend the Clan Gathering in two weeks, and I can’t say no. Unless you would rather I visit the troops on Carver V?”

She snorted. “There is no way in hell Gerald or Hiroyoshi will let you near a world with unaccounted for Amaris troops still on it. And you know that; so try again.”

Stephen sighed and sat down on the bed, leaning back against the stuffed pillows. “All right, how about this? You are not due for thirteen weeks yet, and Cassie is STILL not enrolled in regular school. How about we load up—just the three of us, and a couple of hundred body guards, and several hundred staff and tutors—and make the trip together.”

His wife quit brushing her hair and turned her head to glare at him over her shoulder. “That miserable planet is almost as depressing as Asta, Stephen. At least here they do not have the Highland tradition to live down to, so they know how to PROPERLY heat a domicile.”

“Sure you don’t want to go, Marianne? I’m taking the battlecruiser Richelieu—her skipper is Susan Collins.”

“Susie made it out?” she asked, turning around to look at him, her face widening in disbelief. “Susie is still ALIVE? The woman I went to prep school with, Cassie’s god-mother, that Susie?”

“The one and the same, my beloved and obedient wife,” he said with a grin. “She got posted to the ship just before the Coup and managed to cut her way out of the Solar System to escape. I found out this morning that she had made it out alive, and then had Hiroyoshi confirm it. Richelieu has been fully repaired—and low and behold, love—it turns out that Richard, spendthrift that he was, allocated almost three BILLION to outfit her passenger section as his own personal transport. Luxury accommodations for ten days there, five nights over Northwind, and ten days back; all of which you can spend with your best friend while I deal with the Elders and the Clan Conclave down in drafty old Tara.”

Marianne crossed the room and laid down on the bed, resting her head on Stephen’s chest. He bent down and kissed her on the crown of her head. “Well, if I get to spend some time with Susie, then I guess Cassie and I can go along; she will love to see her god-mother again, I think.” She sat up and shook a finger in his face, trying—and failing—to keep the smile from her lips. “But you, you are not to get roped into lifting a log and throwing it; or hurling rocks, or bull-wrestling, or what-ever-else those dim-witted Neanderthal impersonators might be doing to amuse themselves. Got it?”

“Yes, dear,” he whispered as she sank back down onto him, and he smiled. He wrapped one arm around her and with his other gently stroked her swollen belly. “You know, we really should be thinking about names for this child, love.”

“I have been, dearest, it is you that has been far too busy with your duties to assist me.”

“Ouch.”

“I was thinking of William David, if it is a boy.”

“My father would be pleased with that if he was still around.”

“Frak your father, Stephen, may he rest in peace, what do you think?”

“Oh, I like it,” the relaxed First Lord of the Star League muttered as he bent down and kissed her once again. “Dad really liked you, you know, even if he did think you were a mite too concerned with your social image for your own good.”

“Hah, he would have called it karmic retribution your ascension to First Lord for marrying me. More parties and formal, boring dinners—from your point of view—than you have ever attended in your whole life, even after meeting and marrying me. Without me to run those things for you, where would you be, now?”

“Treading water while wearing a hundred-kilo rucksack, probably. Of course, if you didn’t care for those events QUITE so much, love, I’d just have Hiroyoshi shoot some of the dilettantes. That would make his day, and mine as well. And what if our new little one is a girl?”

“How does Lindsey Joan grab you?”

Stephen throat tightened, as his wife whispered the name of his dead sister. “Sam will be pleased; I think it is a wonderful choice.”

“Of course you do, Stephen; it was my idea after all.”

For several moments both of them just lay there, saying nothing. Only the crackling of the logs in the fireplace broke the silence. “Have I told you today, just how much I love you, Marianne?”

“Not today, you haven’t.”

Kissing her again, he whispered, “Happy Valentines, love,” and she squeezed his arm.

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,” he began to softly sing in her ear. “You make me happy, when skies are grey. If you only knew, dear, how much I love you; please don’t take my sunshine away.”

“Stephen?”

“Yes, love?”

“Shut up and kiss me.”

“Yes, dear,” he answered, turning off the light on the bedside table.


February 15, 2768
Asta Defense Headquarters
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


Hiroyoshi Tanaka was admitted to the office of Minoru Kurita. Behind the Coordinator stood two of his Otomo, who—despite knowing well who he was—were watching him intently. He took two steps forward, and then knelt, first to one knee, and then to both. Placing his arms above his head, his palms facing down, he then prostrated himself upon the floor.

“So formal today, Tai-Sa Tanaka, clearly this meeting must concern a matter of great importance,” Minoru intoned from behind his desk. “Rise, honored samurai; stand before me and speak of that which has brought you to me.”

The DEST commando stood, assuming a position of at-ease, his eyes staring at the far wall. He swallowed a sudden lump in his throat. “My Lord, I have come today to ask of you a gift.”

“And what might that gift be?”

“I have been asked by Major Moreau to formally accept a posting to the Black Watch Regiment as his executive officer, my Lord.”

“I see. And what was your answer?”

“I have not yet given him one, Sire. I am,” Hiroyoshi paused, his face twisting in a momentary grimace, “conflicted. If I am to accept, then I would be oath-bound to serve two masters, my Lord.”

“Yet, you serve in that post now, do you not?”

“Officially, sire, no. I—and the members of the DEST teams that you have assigned—are not technically part of the Star League Defense Forces. We are Combine forces, on loan to serve the First Lord of the Star League. But we remain, sire, bound to our service to you and to the Combine. As per your directions and instructions, we serve to keep Stephen Cameron and his family safe, but in the end we answer only to you, my Lord Kurita—and to your Heir.”

Minoru stood, his gaze locking with that of Hiroyoshi. “No one can long serve two masters, can they? What would you ask of me?”

“I, and many of the DEST assigned to me, would asked to be released from our oath of service to you and to the Combine, in order to take up arms officially as the Guardians of the First Lord.”

One of the Otomo twitched behind Minoru. The request was unheard of; an oath to the Dragon was until death. Even those who had long since retired were bound by their oath of service, subject to recall at the Dragon’s whim. Minoru, on the other hand, just nodded his head.

It took them long enough, he thought. They have managed to stretch out their service far longer than I first thought they would without making this request. But it was not unexpected. As he had told Hideki, Gregor, and Mitsuo aboard Mikasa six months earlier, the loyalty that Stephen Cameron could inspire was, well, breath-taking.

“Tai-Sa Tanaka, I have prepared for this day for almost half a year. I have written this order for dissemination among the Draconis military and civil government,” he said as he reached within his desk and withdrew a roll of parchment, bound with a red silk ribbon, and sealed in wax with the Coordinators seal of state. “This order will release you—and any of your men and women who volunteer to follow you—from my service, both now and forever. Provided, that is, that you swear allegiance to Stephen Cameron as your Lord and Master. You and your men will remain subjects of the Combine and will be granted the right to return home, at any time of your choosing. Your families will be allowed to freely depart the Combine to join you, if that is your wish—and theirs.”

“You and your people have served the Dragon with honor, and with skill, and with the true spirit of the samurai. I only ask of you that you serve the First Lord with the same honor that you have rendered to me.”

“My Lord is gracious; it shall be done as you request,” Hiroyoshi whispered.

The Coordinator turned to one of the two Otomo and whispered into his ear. The guard nodded and softly spoke into his radio. Three minutes passed as the four men stood without moving in the office, and then the door behind Hiroyoshi opened. And a third member of the Otomo entered, bearing in his arms two swords, the long and the short, in their lacquered sheaths. The guard knelt to one side of Minoru’s desk and raised the two swords high. Minoru took them and set them upon his desk.

Bowing to the blades, he then lifted the katana and held it out before him. “This is Soul of Winter, forged by the master Miatoyma in the city of Edo on Old Earth nine hundred and sixty-eight years ago.” Minoru set down the katana and lifted the wakizashi instead. “Crafted along side Soul of Winter, was this blade; Ice Blossom. A matched daisho, they have been heirlooms of the House of Kurita since the formation of the Draconis Combine. The have drunk deep in the blood of our enemies, first those of Japan on Old Earth, and then of the Combine.”

Setting the smaller blade down on the desk, Minoru bowed to the swords once more. Sliding his hands beneath both of the swords, he lifted them one more time. “Accept these ancient blades of my House, samurai, and wield them now and forever with honor and strength and integrity, as you have wielded all such weapons in the service of the Dragon. May the spirits of our ancestors that dwell within them guide you on the path you have chosen to walk.”

Hiroyoshi extended his hands, and Minoru laid the swords in them. “They—much as you—serve a new master now, Hiroyoshi Tanaka.” And the Coordinator bowed to his former subject, as did the three Otomo.

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

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-28 11:14am

Chapter Thirty-Eight

February 18, 2768
Star League Communications Center Complex, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


Administrator Thomas Reeves had just finished filing the information on a transmission request when he heard the ding of the service bell. Standing up from his desk in the front office of the building that housed Asta’s sole HPG—Hyper-Pulse Generator—he took a bite of his stale danish and then a swig of cold coffee to wash it down with. Swallowing, he walked up to the window at the counter.

“Yes, sir, may I help you?”

Outside, a Master Sergeant in the uniform of the Defense Forces stood, brushing off a few remaining specks of snow from his winter coat. “Yes, thank you. I was told that this was the place to send a message.”

“Well, it is not Western Union, Master Sergeant, but yes we can send a message. You do realize that transmission costs are pretty steep, right?”

The man shrugged, and grinned. “What else do I have to spend my lordly salary upon? I want to send a message to my mother on Skondia.”

Reeves shook his head and handed the trooper a message form. “It’s your dime, but you know that regular mail service could have a package there in just five weeks. Is it so important that you have to let her know tomorrow?”

The trooper beamed again. “Mama is pushing eighty, Sir. And she has been nagging me for the past twenty-three years about giving her some grand-children. Well, last year after I got here, I met the most incredible young widow—and her kids. Popped the question yesterday, and she said yes. Figure I should make Ma happy before anything happens to her.”

“Congratulations, trooper,” Reeves said, smiling. Many of the recent ‘priority’ messages he had sent had concerned just such unions—from SLDF, DCMS, and DCA personnel alike. “I have to inform you that since we are in a time of war, Master Sergeant, your message may be censored.”

“No problem, Sir. I made sure not to include any information the intelligence types might worry about—no mention of my unit or deployment, or about anything really, except my wedding date!”

“That should be fine,” he took the form and scanned it—no the censors would probably let this one go through without any difficulty. “We cannot offer any guaranty, however, that they will not censor this message—and the cost is $500 for overnight transmission to Skondia.”

The soldier winced, but pulled out his wallet, and counted out three hundreds and a handful of twenties. “Ouch,” he said.

“Told you it was going to be expensive; would you rather send it by normal routes?”

He shook his head. “No, how often do you get to tell your mother that you are getting married—and that she has three brand-new grand-kids to boot?”

“Like I said, it’s your dime.”

Reeves rang up the sell, and handed the solider his receipt. “There you go—and congratulations to you and the new family.”

The soldier lifted the hood of his parka up and waved his hand, clutching the receipt in his other, as he headed for the exit. “Thanks.”

As the trooper exited into a late winter snow-storm, he pulled the hood tighter about his head. His fellow agent on Skondia would forward the coded intelligence report to Terra, and soon Stefan Amaris would know that in two weeks Stephen Cameron and his heir would be arriving in the Northwind system.

“Taxi!” he cried into the howling wind.


February 18, 2768
McMurtree Space Port, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


Hans Trevane frowned as he watched the First Lord’s DropShip climb into the heavens. At least his absence will give us time to figure out a way to kill the son-of-a-bitch, he thought. Twenty-five days to find a way to do the deed, and maybe go home afterwards. Maybe. The last part was REALLY doubtful, especially since the entire planet would be infuriated after the man’s death. At least they had received word that the DEST teams would no longer be assigned to the First Lord’s use; they finally had enough real Black Watch that the DEST had been returned to Kurita service just two days before.

He backed away from the window of the warehouse as the glowing dot of the fusion drives disappeared among the overhanging cloud cover. The rest of his Loki team were in the office, even Nelson since the First Lord had declined to take along any reporters.

“Well, any of you come up with a bright idea?”

For several moments there was only silence, and then Hollis cleared his throat.

“We know that we are not going home after this one, Boss—the target is too well protected. The boys and I came up with one possible solution; but it would make it a one-way trip for all of us.”

“If that is what it takes to accomplish our mission,” Hans began and then stopped. “Hollis, Nelson, Liam, do you know how I came to Loki?”

Three heads shook no. “I do not normally tell many people this, but I think you need to know. Twelve years ago, I was an addict. More than that I was dying from my addiction, and would do anything for another fix. My ‘recruiter’ found me in a jail cell on Skye, awaiting sentence for something I did to get another high and made me an offer too good to turn down. They got me clean—saved my life—and honed my natural talent to the job at hand. I should have died twelve years ago; every day since I owe to Loki—and to Lord Steiner. My life is his, gentlemen.”

The three terrorists nodded their heads—each shared a similar story in common. Loki looked for men and women with nowhere else to go, men and women that had bottomed out, and made use of that. They gave them dignity, along with the fear that any Lyran citizen showed when you merely mentioned their name. That power—over life and death—was far more intoxicating than any mere chemical high. Far more addictive. But in the end, it was just as deadly.

“What is the plan, Hollis?”

“Our orders, Boss, are to take out the target—without collateral damage. Me and the boys, well, hell, sir, we figure screw the orders. Wait until Cameron gets back from Northwind, and set up on the pass, nail the frakking convoy as it passes and then go down and make sure the job is finished with small arms, knives if we have to.”

Nelson nodded his head. “It won’t matter if the Astans or his guards kill us, since we are dead men on our return home, but damn Boss, control got a little TOO sympathetic here. We are LOKI, not some surgical scalpel; and they knew that when they picked us for this job. Way I figure, some political hack got cold feet at the wife and kiddies; well, they can sleep well because they told us not to. In the meantime, we do the job, and do it right; we waste them all.”

Hans thought about the idea for a few moments—they were right in that it made the job doable. “What about the second part of the orders; about making this look like Rimmers?”

“Easiest thing ever, boss,” Liam said, with a beaming smile. “We become Makos.”

A similar grin overtook Hans. Marking your own secret police with a tattoo of a swirling shark, with an ID number on the interior no-less, had to be the stupidest idea he had ever heard of, but House Amaris had done so. The Special Security Forces of the Rim Worlds—the Makos, as they were called—were, technically, part of the Rim World military. Practically, they were to House Amaris what the Gestapo and SS had been to Nazi Germany, what the KGB had been to the Soviets; an arm of the government outside of the few laws that bound the military, answering only to the leader of the Rim, Stefan Amaris. And the armpit tattoo would mark them as Makos as sure as the sun rises.

“You do realize, gentlemen, that each Mako tattoo contains a micro-chip underneath the skin?”

“Boss, were we born yesterday?” Hollis asked with a sneer. “Rim-trash micro-chips; Liam here can forge us each one in a couple of days. And I wield a pretty mean tattoo needle. We get that part done this week, and it is healed and ready to go by the time Cameron returns. Then we quit shedding crocodile tears for the grieving widow and daughter and finish the job.”

Hans grinned at the three unrepentant killers before him. “I like it, let’s get it done.”

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

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-28 11:15am

Chapter Thirty-Nine

February 28, 2768
SLS Richelieu
Zenith Jump Point, Asta
Terran Hegemony


“Maneuvering, on my mark shut down the mains and hold station at the jump point,” Captain Susan Collins, SLDF, spoke into the dim lighting of the main bridge as she watched the distance to the Richelieu’s jump point steadily decreasing. “In three, two, one, MARK.”

“Mains are disengaged, Ma’am; all RCS thrusters are green; ship is holding station at your coordinates.”

The steady pressure of 1-g of thrust died away, and the gravity disappeared, leaving her and her crew—and their passengers—weightless in zero-G. She rotated the command chair until she faced her XO, who also served as the ship’s navigator. “Tom, I hope that you have a solution; the First Lord and his family are waiting, you know.”

The sandy-haired man looked at her in feigned shock. “I am wounded, O Captain, My Captain; cut to the quick, broken and distressed that you would even think such evil . . . “

“The jump solution, Tom?”

“Ahem. Both solutions have already been tripled check, Captain, and are uploaded to the KF control system.”

“Now why couldn’t you have just said that to begin with? Never mind,” she said with a laugh, as he began to answer. “I really, really do not want to know.”

Reaching down, she pressed a stud on the side of her chair, opening a comm-link to engineering. “Harry, we all set to go visit gloomy Northwind?”

“Captain, we are green across the board—KF core is charged and ready, LF batteries at 100%; Engineering is ready for a double transit—Asta-Saffel-Northwind. The core will require 60 seconds to reset between jumps. We are free and clear to jump on your command, Ma’am.”

Flicking another switch, she reached up and adjusted the boom mike alongside her cheek. “All hands, all hands, this is the Captain. Stand by for Jump 1 in thirty seconds. Jump 2 will take place one minute following our arrival in Saffel. Mister Grainger, start the clock.”

“Aye, aye, Captain. Jump clock is running, jump in 28 seconds, MARK.”

Susie leaned back in the comfortable leather seat the SLDF installed aboard all its ships for those officers granted the honor of commanding one. For the next minute and a half she had but one duty, and unless an emergency suddenly erupted, she would not be aborting the jump. Until it was completed, she was as much a passenger as Stephen Cameron and his family and entourage. She smiled at the thought of them again. It had been good to spend the past five days with Marianne and Cassie; seeing how much the little one had grown had shocked her. And while she had learned of Marianne’s pregnancy, she had not completely realized just how far along her friend had been—or how much her belly and breasts had expanded.

Not that her carrying a child had stopped Marianne from berating her for not coming down planet-side and letting her know that she—Susie—had still been breathing. Friend or no friend, Marianne had a sharp tongue—and knew just what buttons to push. It had nearly come down to shouting, until Stephen interrupted and told Marianne that not just any officer could come and visit whenever he or she wanted to. The guards would have never admitted her, and besides she had duties her aboard her ship. Upon seeing his wife’s darkening face, he had beamed an innocent smile at her, and said, “But I am after all the First Lord of the League. A veritable dictator as my brother-in-law reminded me. Which is why I have instructed Lieutenant Colonel Moreau and Major Tanaka to give Susie 24/7 access to Branson House in the future. And that they are to connect any calls she makes to you immediately and without asking her the nature of the call—I do you know two like to gossip.”

And he had smiled that crooked smile of his at them both, and then all three had broken down in a fit of laughter. She smiled again as the scene replayed itself in her head. It had been a good five days.

“. . . in five seconds, MARK,” the bridge engineer sang out, bringing her back to the present. “Four, three, two, one, JUMP!”

The deck vibrated under her as the KF Drive Core engaged and twisted both time and space. To an observer on the picket ships nearby, SLS Richelieu vanished as though it had never been, only to reappear at the Nadir point of the now lifeless Saffel system.

“Jump 1 is complete, Captain,” Tom called from Navigation. “Navi-comp confirms arrival at Saffel-Nadir at programmed coordinates.”

“STATUS CHANGE!” barked the Tactical officer from her station. “Multiple contacts, all vectors, velocity zero, range 1,000 kilometers. Ma’am, contacts are transmitting friendly IFF, confirmed as the escort ships 7th Fleet left behind.”

“Thank, Miss Assante. Tom?”

“Ma’am, engineering reports second coordinates are now uploaded and we may spin up the clock.”

Lieutenant Commander Julius Grainger, nodded at her from his station, confirming the report.

“Very well, Mister Grainger, at your discretion.”

“Aye, aye, Ma’am, from my mark, 30 seconds to Jump 2. MARK.”

She looked across her bridge. It was a good crew; Lord knows they proved that when they managed to fight their way clear of Titan Base during the coup. The 940,000 battle-cruiser Richelieu was one of two such ships designed as a prototype ‘fast wing’ for the SLDF battle-cruiser fleet. More of a balanced design than the Black Lion class with a mixed battery of naval autocannon, PPCs, lasers, and heavy naval gauss cannons, they were capable of greater thrust, and were the first ships specifically designed to carry a HPG for interstellar communications.

While the older ships were fitted with the top-secret ‘hyper-faxes’—and in point of fact so was Richelieu—those systems were inherently limited in the amount of information they could transmit. A HPG wasn’t. In fact, within roughly 45 light-years, people at two separate HPG facilities could have a real-time conversation, though the power consumption insured that happened only rarely. Far more often, the comm section would use the HPG to send a burst message and then receive a reply. But her ship paid for that capability. Not only was the HPG far heavier, it required almost two dozen communications specialists to operate and consumed vast amounts of power when in operation.

After commissioning, Richelieu had passed all of the tests and exercises evaluating her with flying colors. But despite her success, Richelieu—and her sister ship Jean Bart—were not what the Navy had wanted. Construction had been halted after the first two ships, while SLS Alaska and her sisters were laid down. Whereas all of the incomplete Alaskas were in the Rim World hands, both Richelieu and Jean Bart—the latter only 84% complete—had managed to escape. Jean Bart had been hurriedly completed by SLDF mobile shipyards and now served in 2nd Fleet, while Richelieu—her ship—was permanently assigned to the First Lord. She grimaced at the thought. This ship was a WARSHIP, not some VIP transport. Damn Richard for taking such an interest in her. The fact that he had shared the first four letters of his name with the ship had caught his imagination—and she had spent six months in a construction slip prior to the coup having her passenger facilities completely rebuilt.

First Lord Richard had not lived long enough to take even a single trip aboard, but now her battle-cruiser was assigned to Stephen Cameron. She supposed she should be grateful since with the First Lord aboard her ship and crew would unlikely to be involved in assaulting SDS defended worlds. But she did not feel gratitude; she felt guilt.

“. . . in three, two, one, JUMP.”

Once again the universe twisted and Richelieu arrived at the Northwind Zenith jump point.

“Tactical, confirm escort is in position,” she barked at Lieutenant Assante.

“IFF confirms escort is holding station, Ma’am, in a spherical shell pattern 1,000 kilometers out with a second shell at 2,000 meters.”

Ensign Eylem Zhu—her communications officer—swiveled her chair to face Susie. “Ma’am, Halsey is transmitting; the Admiral wishes to speak directly with you.”

“Put Admiral Schaeffer on line, Eylem.”

“Hot mike, Ma’am.”

“Halsey, this is Richelieu. Go ahead.”

“Welcome to Northwind, Captain Collins,” Vice Admiral Jake Schaeffer said. “Don’t you worry about a thing; 7th Fleet will let nothing get anywhere near the First Lord. Captain, transmit your course to my Flag and we will match vector and acceleration.”

“Aye, aye, Admiral,” she replied. “Eylem, Tom, transmit our course to Northwind orbit to the Flag. Maneuvering, bring us about to 033 Mark 171 and prepare to engage mains at 1-g of acceleration for zero-zero orbital insertion.”

“Coming to 033 Mark 171, Ma’am; mains are ready to light on your command.”

“Light ‘em up; Quincy, we’ve got a long ways to go and a short time to get there.”

As the main drives fired, gravity slowly returned until the ship and crew were accelerating at a steady 1-g, a mere 25% of the maximum the vessel could maintain. But while the ship could take 4-g’s of thrust, her crew and passengers would be long dead if she held that level of acceleration for more than a brief period of time. All around, according to her sensors, the 120 ships of 7th Fleet began to match her course and speed. She resisted an urge to giggle at the sheer absurdity of it all. General DeChevilier and Admiral Kirkpatrick had insisted upon dispatching the ENTIRE 7th Fleet—all 196 ships of war—to escort her vessel to Northwind. In one hour, the 76 that had been left in Saffel would jump into Northwind, tasked with guarding the Zenith point. The OTHER 120—including six McKenna class Battleships—would guard her perimeter against any possible threat. Frankly, she thought it was a little bit of overkill, but it was the First Lord they were defending.

“All hands, this is the Captain. We have arrived in the Northwind system and are on course for orbital insertion. We will maintain 1-g of thrust until arrival, with turnover for deceleration in 57 hours and 28 minutes. Arrival in orbit will occur in 114 hours and 56 minutes. Stand down to Condition 2. Off-duty watch is dismissed from stations.”

Switching off the intercom, she took the headset from her head. “Tom, you have the bridge.”

“Aye, aye, Ma’am.”
Last edited by masterarminas on 2013-05-28 11:31am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-28 11:16am

Chapter Forty

February 30, 2768
SLS Bunker Hill
En route to Northwind
Terran Hegemony


Lt. Commander Richard James Butler—RJ to his friends—listened as the various stations aboard the destroyer reported in at the mid-point of the third watch. 0200 hours, and all is well aboard the good ship Bunker Hill, he thought. RJ initialed the mid-watch report and filed it electronically into the ship’s log. Third watch seemed to drag on, but the mid-watch meant it was half complete. He would have laughed at the absurdity of it—he was a communications officer, for the love of Pete—but the Skipper had wanted him to get the experience of standing a watch as the officer in charge. In the SLDF, few officers outside of the tactical department were ever given the chance to take command, even temporarily. It just was not done. But the Skipper had a different view. She had taken him aside and explained that on HER ship, all bridge officers were expected to be able to take command—and that meant taking the command chair to discover just how much responsibility the job entailed.

Which was, at the moment, very little. The corner of his mouth twitched at the thought. Maybe the XO and TO—tactical officer—had wanted to get a bit more rack time. But still, he had to admit to himself as he stroked the leather arm of the captain’s chair, being in command—even if just for a short period of time—made him aware of all the little things he had missed in the comm section. RJ shook his head and stood, stretching as he looked over the bridge. Ratings and junior officers were at their post, tending to their control systems, and the holo-tank in the center of the compartment showed the same image it had projected for the past two days; 7th Fleet slowly moving towards Northwind orbit.

Bunker Hill was one of the far outriders of the Fleet, ten thousand klicks out from the second shell of warships covering the Richelieu with the First Lord and his family. The nimble little ship had ‘zigged’ out, away from the Fleet thirty minutes ago; in five more minutes, she would hit the way-point and ‘zag’ back in, her sensor array sweeping the area of space far out on the flanks of the formation.

“Coffee, sir?” a yeoman asked him, holding a sealed box containing bulbs of hot drinks.

“Thank you, Dietrich,” he answered as he took a bulb labeled ‘cream and sugar’. Twisting the dispenser cap, he let the hot steam bleed off as the liquid slowly cooled, and then took a sip. And almost spat it out his nose. On the far edge of the holo-tank, a red blip suddenly appeared—an unknown contact.

“Contact! Bogey bearing 042 Mark 002, range three thousand kilometers, closing at 15 kilometers per second,” his tactical officer sang out from his station.

The forgotten bulb of coffee hit the deck as RJ sat back down in the command chair and thumbed a button.

“CIC, Lieutenant Hampton,” the voice answered on the other end.

“CIC, Bridge. What do you have down there?”

“Sir, bogey is not, repeat not, radiating, and we are detecting no drive plume.”

RJ thought for a second, and then two, while the bogey steadily drew closer. No transponder signal could mean a malfunctioning civilian ship, but he had the First Lord behind him. He did not believe in coincidences. “Acknowledged, CIC,” he finally answered. “Get me an ID on them ASAP, Hampton.”

“Aye, aye, Sir,” the voice replied.

He turned to the Chief of the Watch, a grizzled senior chief petty officer with thirty years experience. “Chief of the Watch, set Condition Two throughout the ship,” he ordered as he throat went dry. Please, he prayed, let me be wrong, he thought. RJ watched the older man’s face for a sign—any sign—that he was doing the right thing. The CPO merely nodded, his face set hard and grim, and he lifted a handset from a rack on the bulkhead.

“All hands, set Condition Two throughout the ship—this is not a drill. All hands, set Condition Two throughout the ship—this is not a drill.” As he finished speaking, the CPO pressed a stud at his station and a klaxon sounded throughout the ship, three deep whoops, echoing through the mostly empty corridors. Across the destroyer, spacers poured from their sleeping berths into the access-ways, pulling uniforms onto their half-naked bodies as they ran to their assigned stations.

Beside RJ, a buzzer sounded on the arm of the captain’s chair. HIS chair, at the moment. Grimacing, he reached down and flicked the switch. “Bridge, Lt. Commander Butler speaking.”

“What have you got, RJ?” the soft contralto voice of the Skipper came over his headset.

“Ma’am, we have an unidentified bogey with no emissions, no transponder, approaching the Fleet from deep space at 15 kps, range is now down to 2,800 kilometers. I have sounded Condition Two throughout the ship, and,” he paused and looked over the status board to his right. “All stations and compartments are now manned, weapons are being warmed. The Plus Five birds are ready for launch, and the rest of the air group will be ready in ten.”

“I’m on my way, RJ. If the XO or Commander Phillips arrives first . . .”

“I will hand over command to them at once, Ma’am.”

“Good. I’ll be there in a few, in the meantime launch the ready flight and have them do a recon sweep . . . “

“STATUS CHANGE!” the ensign at tactical cried out. “Bogey is launching fighters, HUNDREDS OF FIGHTERS!”

RJ stood, as he stared at the holo-tank, now showing scores of crimson dots emerging from the unknown vessel. “Action stations! Clear all weapons, point-defense free!” he cried, even as he heard the skipper mutter ‘scheiss’ over his ear-piece, and the transmission cut off.

“Launch ready fighters—maneuvering sound acceleration warning. In thirty seconds begin evasive action. Comm, signal the Flag and append our sensor data to the transmission. Two hundred—possibly more—aerospace fighters approaching; give them our bearing and range, Sarah. Tell them Bunker Hill will engage when they enter our envelope.”

“Aye, aye, sir,” she whispered as the blood drained from her face. But she bent down to her console and did her job, transmitting the warning to the rest of the ships of the Fleet.

“Bridge, CIC,” called out Hampton from the intercom. “Identify Bogey One as a Sampson class bulk transport DropShip—70,000 tons displacement. Positive ID on fighter strike: Maket, Mako, Nautilus, and Vulcan—300 plus. At present rate of closure we will enter weapons range in thirty seconds.”

RJ swallowed hard. Those were Rim World aerospace fighters; and they could only be here for one reason.

“Weapons,” he said softly as he sat and buckled himself into the command chair, “you are free and clear to engage the enemy. Senior Chief,” he said with a chuckle, as the old spacer looked over at him. “I don’t think our ship would mind if we don’t wait for the white of their eyes, do you?”

“No, Sir, the old girl won’t mind one little bit,” he said as he pulled his own restraining straps tight. The maneuvering klaxon sounded one final time, and the Essex class destroyer accelerated forward at more than 2.5-g’s, randomly altering heading and pitch as she went. The ship bucked as the capital missile launchers began spitting Barracudas at the oncoming wave of fighters, followed moments later by the laser batteries and naval autocannon. “For what we are about to receive,” the Chief of the Watch began.

“May we truly be thankful,” RJ finished.


February 30, 2768
SLS Halsey
En route to Northwind
Terran Hegemony


“Bunker Hill reports Rim fighter strike inbound towards the Fleet, Admiral. There are at least 300 that we have spotted so far.”

“Fighters are short-ranged platforms, Captain,” Vice Admiral Jake Schaeffer replied. “Where are the carriers?”

“They also reported a Sampson class bulk transport, sir. The Rimmers must have refitted the cargo bays to carry the fighters. Sir,” his chief of staff paused, “Bunker Hill is too far out for any of us to get there in time. They should already be tangling with the leading edge of the strike.”

Jake swore under his breath. Bunker Hill had been a crack ship, with an exceptional captain who had a habit of turning average officers into excellent ones; a captain that also happened to be his niece. The pain tore into Jake for a moment before he forced it down. Too many of us are going to die in this war, he thought. Later, I can deal with this later. “That can’t be helped now, Brett. Scramble the CAP to intercept and have the outer screen execute Romeo.” Ops plan Romeo was based on just such a contingency—and would bring the combined fire of forty ships of the screen down on the incoming strike. The CAP would take any leakers.

“Shall we launch the reserve fighters, sir?”

“No. Hold them back, and look for another shoe to drop. Three hundred is a lot of fighters, but not enough to ensure them of a kill—not against the number of ships they could bet we would use to protect the First Lord. There is something else out there, Commodore, and I want us to be ready when it arrives.”

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

Post by MondoMage » 2013-05-28 03:45pm

masterarminas wrote:“Shall we launch the reserve fighters, sir?”

“No. Hold them back, and look for another shoe to drop. Three hundred is a lot of fighters, but not enough to ensure them of a kill—not against the number of ships they could bet we would use to protect the First Lord. There is something else out there, Commodore, and I want us to be ready when it arrives.”
Ah, the proverbial "other shoe." Nice to see that the people in charge are on the ball. Hopefully they'll be able to handle whatever that shoe turns out to be...

Unfortunately, it's unlikely they'll be able to trace the source of the leak that led to the attack - that many ships rendezvousing makes for a lot of opportunities for someone to compromise the operation. Unless the 7th Fleet was under communications silence the entire time.

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-28 05:29pm

Chapter Forty-One

February 30, 2768
7th Fleet
Northwind Deep Space
Terran Hegemony


In the outer escort shell, forty Star League warships (eight cruisers, eight frigates, and twenty-four destroyers) maneuvered into formation interposing themselves between the rest of the Fleet and the 281 surviving Rim fighters. Bunker Hill had fought valiantly against the swarming horde, but her defenses were sadly swamped by sheer numbers. None of the tactical officers knew exactly how many hits she had taken before the end, but they could all see the results. The shattered remains of her hull drifted inwards toward the star at the heart of the Northwind system, tumbling end over end amid the debris.

At the velocity the Rim fighters were travelling, they would pass through the weapons envelope of the SLDF vessels in a mere two minutes. Tracking systems strained aboard the ships of the Fleet as tactical officers sought firing solutions and readied weapons. At last the enemy entered range, and—for the first time in this war—the SLDF anti-fighter defensive doctrine was able to be used properly. Capital missiles roared out from launch tubes, their onboard seeker heads locking on the nimble birds of prey streaking towards the Fleet. Scores of missiles—each one the size of the fighters they were seeking to kill—began ripping holes in the tight formations of fighters and strike bombers. Batteries of capital lasers and particle cannons spat beams of coherent energy at the oncoming strike. Capable of only small adjustments in their bays, the energy guns were far less effective than the missile strike, but each beam that struck a target destroyed that same target. Twelve seconds after the first missiles launched and the energy beams tore into the enemy, the capital autocannon of the warships opened up in rapid-fire mode. Dozens—hundreds—of proximity fused shells began exploding in the depths of space, spewing fragments in all directions, tearing into the heart of the Rimmers.

It was another nineteen or so seconds before the Rim Worlders entered their own range, but the SLDF was not yet finished. Thirty-two Pentagon class escort DropShips, carried aboard the cruisers and frigates, entered the fray with their own fighter-scale guns. Each of the four thousand ton vessels carried as much firepower as four squadrons of strike fighters and assault bombers. The leading edge of the strike force was a holocaust of fire and flame and debris as the concentrated firepower of the Star League ships was felt. But the Rimmers did not die alone. Even as they withered under the unrelenting hail of fire, they replied with their own weapons, and this time they launched the external ordance carried by the Makets beneath their wings. Seventy-four Rim missiles streaked towards the cruisers and destroyers of the escort, each bearing a nuclear warhead. Point-defense did all that it could, but the flight time was short—mere seconds to recognize the threat, allocate fire, and hope (pray) that you disabled the missile—and the range even shorter.

Seventeen missiles broke through the last-ditch fire from the escorting DropShips and the point-defense batteries. Six lost their target in the confusion and self-destructed short of any foe. Another five had been damaged by the point-defense fire and failed to detonate as they slammed into the armored flanks of their target. Of the remaining six, two had selected the same ship—SLS Republic, one of the frigates. When the twin nuclear explosions subsided, nothing remained of the ship—not debris, not life-pods, no survivors at all. Four more ships each received a single missile, but only one, the cruiser Agamemnon, survived. Survived, but broken and battered by the nuclear fire unleashed against her and her crew.

112 Rim fighters broke past the escort, but the Combat Air Patrol was there waiting. Six hundred SLDF fighters swooped in and savaged the survivors in a swift exchange of fire. Only three managed to escape, their velocity carrying them into range of the ships of the inner shell. Those three became the targets of twenty-seven Barracuda missiles fired by the battleships and battlecruisers of the inner screen. None of the three survived the salvo.


February 30, 2768
SLS Halsey
Northwind Deep Space
Terran Hegemony


Jake Schaeffer arrived on the Flag bridge of SLS Halsey—a McKenna class battleship—just as the outer screen opened fire. Ignoring the holo-tank display, he walked across to Commodore Brett Telinov, patting him on the shoulder. “Brett, have the flankers launch recon sweeps with their onboard fighter contingents—all of them. I want the entire perimeter swept, but especially this area HERE,” he said, passing his hand across the space on the opposite side of the Fleet from where the Rim fighters had ambushed Bunker Hill.

“You think they had time to set up something that elaborate, Admiral?” his Chief of Staff asked.

Jake shrugged. “I don’t know, Brett, but it is what I would do if I was trying to hit the First Lord here. Rule Number 23; never think you are smarter than your opponent. He ALWAYS knows something that you don’t. Get those recon flights moving, Commodore.”

“Aye, aye, sir,” he replied, and then he moved off to begin issuing orders, leaving Jake staring at the holo-display.

“Where are you, you son-of-a-bitch? Where?” he muttered.


February 30, 2768
SLS Wendigo
Northwind Deep Space
Terran Hegemony


Ensign Monica ‘Showboat’ Potter grunted as the electro-magnetic catapult hurled her Swift recon fighter from the launch bay of SLS Wendigo. The pressure suit she wore kept her conscious, but the massive acceleration—25-g’s worth—pressed her body back into the ejection seat, hard. Clear of the ship, she engaged the fusion drive, and streaked away from the Naga class destroyer at a more leisurely 5.5-g’s. Banking the fighter, she could see the rest of the squadron as it launched from the old ship. Wendigo was the last Naga on active service, and if it had not been for the war, she would have already been sent to the boneyard. A pity, she thought, for the little ship LOOKED more like a warship should than many of the ‘modern’ Fleet designs. Sitting in dock, it seemed like she was moving at the speed of light, and the clean, sweeping lines of her design certainly had make the Nagas one of the sexiest ships in the Fleet.

A harsh, but somewhat amused voice crackled from the speaker inside her helmet. “Showboat, quit day-dreaming and form up on my wing.”

She cracked a smile and with two barrel rolls slid her Swift into formation with her wingman. “Reporting for duty, Reverend,” she quipped.

Lieutenant Dennis Sinclair snorted. An actual ordained Methodist minister, he had turned down the opportunity for a commission in the Corps of Chaplains in order to fly—his largest passion outside of the Church. Fighter Command tended to assign pilots call-signs with a reason, hence his own call-sign of ‘Reverend’. Monica had broken every rule at Brisbane Flight School with her acrobatics in the cockpit—and had nearly been tossed out on her ear for buzzing the tower—which had quickly earned her the name of ‘Showboat’. Of course, he—and every other pilot born—had the same want and need to push their craft to the very limits. Only he had kept his temptations under control; Monica was far less restrained.

“Weapons check,” he said.

“Lasers are hotter than my ass, Reverend,” she said, and he smiled. Less restrained—inhibited, rather—in more ways than one, and he shook his head.

“Showboat, one of these days, girl. Recon pod?”

“Cameras are rolling, sensors are green, and—before you ask—the tank is topped off, Papa.”

“Then let’s get this show on the road; Wendigo Flight Control, Recon Flight 3 headed out on first leg.”

“Roger, Reverend. Good hunting. Wendigo Flight Control over and out.”

The two Swifts turned onto their proper course heading and streaked away at 6.5-g’s in the empty black of deep space.

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

“Reverend, I’m picking up something hinky over here,” Showboat transmitted three minutes later. “Low-level EM emissions, and a possible radar return . . . HOLY SHIT!”

Reverend had just lowered his head to take a look at Showboats data-stream when every threat sensor aboard his Swift lit off. Without even thinking, Dennis slammed the throttle into the firewall and broke—hard—up and away. An eye-searing flash of light erupted across the empty vacuum where his fighter had been, but the capital laser missed. Dozens of ships appeared on his radar display as each quit trying to be a hole in space, firing their drives towards the Fleet.

“Wendigo, Recon 3. We have contact with enemy forces, range 15,000 meters out on 235 Mark 088. Count thirty-six, repeat THREE-SIX, Reprisal class destroyers, and twenty-two, repeat TWO-TWO Pinto class corvettes. We are buster for RTB.” Dennis, looked down and blanched. “Wendigo, confirm four Sampson class DS launching fighters. BLACK WASP DRONES, I say again, BLACK WASP DRONES.”

Swarming like the angry insects their names suggested, the drone fighters—bigger and far harder hitting, but also slower than his own Swift—tore forward on full overthrust in pursuit. Lacking the need for a living breathing pilot, those ships were not limited by the fragility of a human body, and could maintain high-g acceleration until their fuel ran out. Lovely, he thought. “Showboat, are you still with me?”

“Right on your wingtip, Reverend. Can we get out of here? I mean, I like partying and all that, but if we stick around, I think it will turn into rape really fracking quick.”

“Set your course back to the ship, Showboat, go buster until your drop-tanks are empty.”

The two recon fighters fled, as the drones and Rim WarShips followed in their wake.


February 30, 2768
SLS Halsey
Northwind Deep Space
Terran Hegemony


“Around six hundred Black Wasp drones, with another six hundred plus manned fighters and strike bombers, Admiral, plus the fifty-eight WarShips and ninety assault DropShips. What is their commander thinking; those Reprisals and Pintos are completely outclassed by our ships?”

Jake sighed. “Brett, quit thinking like an officer of the invincible Star League Defense Force Navy. I know they drill that crap into your head at War College, but we are far from invincible—the Periphery Uprising proved that clear enough. Think like a pirate. Sure, the Reprisal is small, undergunned, and has tissue paper for armor—and the Pinto is even worse—BUT, whoever is in command over there is very, very smart, and completely ruthless.”

The younger officer frowned. “How so?”

“Our six McKennas could probably deal with those WarShips with no problems; oh, we would take pretty heavy damage, but it can be done. And the escorts can take out the droppers without breaking a sweat, but it will take TIME, Brett. With those Black Wasps flying escort on the strike planes, our fighter reserves will have one Hell of a time stopping them getting through. And that means that this strike might well get in range of the Richelieu. The fighter strike is loaded for bear—the recon data shows that. But they could still out-thrust the WarShips, and the Black Wasps are even more capable of getting here first. They are not doing that, though. No, that commander is keeping everything together, in mutual support range. He has already condemned every last man over there to death, himself included, just to get a shot at the First Lord. And he might well get it this time.”

The chief of staff bit his lip. “Ok, sir. How do we deal with it?”

“That, my young apprentice, is the sixty-four thousand dollar question.”

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-28 05:29pm

Chapter Forty-One

February 30, 2768
7th Fleet
Northwind Deep Space
Terran Hegemony


In the outer escort shell, forty Star League warships (eight cruisers, eight frigates, and twenty-four destroyers) maneuvered into formation interposing themselves between the rest of the Fleet and the 281 surviving Rim fighters. Bunker Hill had fought valiantly against the swarming horde, but her defenses were sadly swamped by sheer numbers. None of the tactical officers knew exactly how many hits she had taken before the end, but they could all see the results. The shattered remains of her hull drifted inwards toward the star at the heart of the Northwind system, tumbling end over end amid the debris.

At the velocity the Rim fighters were travelling, they would pass through the weapons envelope of the SLDF vessels in a mere two minutes. Tracking systems strained aboard the ships of the Fleet as tactical officers sought firing solutions and readied weapons. At last the enemy entered range, and—for the first time in this war—the SLDF anti-fighter defensive doctrine was able to be used properly. Capital missiles roared out from launch tubes, their onboard seeker heads locking on the nimble birds of prey streaking towards the Fleet. Scores of missiles—each one the size of the fighters they were seeking to kill—began ripping holes in the tight formations of fighters and strike bombers. Batteries of capital lasers and particle cannons spat beams of coherent energy at the oncoming strike. Capable of only small adjustments in their bays, the energy guns were far less effective than the missile strike, but each beam that struck a target destroyed that same target. Twelve seconds after the first missiles launched and the energy beams tore into the enemy, the capital autocannon of the warships opened up in rapid-fire mode. Dozens—hundreds—of proximity fused shells began exploding in the depths of space, spewing fragments in all directions, tearing into the heart of the Rimmers.

It was another nineteen or so seconds before the Rim Worlders entered their own range, but the SLDF was not yet finished. Thirty-two Pentagon class escort DropShips, carried aboard the cruisers and frigates, entered the fray with their own fighter-scale guns. Each of the four thousand ton vessels carried as much firepower as four squadrons of strike fighters and assault bombers. The leading edge of the strike force was a holocaust of fire and flame and debris as the concentrated firepower of the Star League ships was felt. But the Rimmers did not die alone. Even as they withered under the unrelenting hail of fire, they replied with their own weapons, and this time they launched the external ordance carried by the Makets beneath their wings. Seventy-four Rim missiles streaked towards the cruisers and destroyers of the escort, each bearing a nuclear warhead. Point-defense did all that it could, but the flight time was short—mere seconds to recognize the threat, allocate fire, and hope (pray) that you disabled the missile—and the range even shorter.

Seventeen missiles broke through the last-ditch fire from the escorting DropShips and the point-defense batteries. Six lost their target in the confusion and self-destructed short of any foe. Another five had been damaged by the point-defense fire and failed to detonate as they slammed into the armored flanks of their target. Of the remaining six, two had selected the same ship—SLS Republic, one of the frigates. When the twin nuclear explosions subsided, nothing remained of the ship—not debris, not life-pods, no survivors at all. Four more ships each received a single missile, but only one, the cruiser Agamemnon, survived. Survived, but broken and battered by the nuclear fire unleashed against her and her crew.

112 Rim fighters broke past the escort, but the Combat Air Patrol was there waiting. Six hundred SLDF fighters swooped in and savaged the survivors in a swift exchange of fire. Only three managed to escape, their velocity carrying them into range of the ships of the inner shell. Those three became the targets of twenty-seven Barracuda missiles fired by the battleships and battlecruisers of the inner screen. None of the three survived the salvo.


February 30, 2768
SLS Halsey
Northwind Deep Space
Terran Hegemony


Jake Schaeffer arrived on the Flag bridge of SLS Halsey—a McKenna class battleship—just as the outer screen opened fire. Ignoring the holo-tank display, he walked across to Commodore Brett Telinov, patting him on the shoulder. “Brett, have the flankers launch recon sweeps with their onboard fighter contingents—all of them. I want the entire perimeter swept, but especially this area HERE,” he said, passing his hand across the space on the opposite side of the Fleet from where the Rim fighters had ambushed Bunker Hill.

“You think they had time to set up something that elaborate, Admiral?” his Chief of Staff asked.

Jake shrugged. “I don’t know, Brett, but it is what I would do if I was trying to hit the First Lord here. Rule Number 23; never think you are smarter than your opponent. He ALWAYS knows something that you don’t. Get those recon flights moving, Commodore.”

“Aye, aye, sir,” he replied, and then he moved off to begin issuing orders, leaving Jake staring at the holo-display.

“Where are you, you son-of-a-bitch? Where?” he muttered.


February 30, 2768
SLS Wendigo
Northwind Deep Space
Terran Hegemony


Ensign Monica ‘Showboat’ Potter grunted as the electro-magnetic catapult hurled her Swift recon fighter from the launch bay of SLS Wendigo. The pressure suit she wore kept her conscious, but the massive acceleration—25-g’s worth—pressed her body back into the ejection seat, hard. Clear of the ship, she engaged the fusion drive, and streaked away from the Naga class destroyer at a more leisurely 5.5-g’s. Banking the fighter, she could see the rest of the squadron as it launched from the old ship. Wendigo was the last Naga on active service, and if it had not been for the war, she would have already been sent to the boneyard. A pity, she thought, for the little ship LOOKED more like a warship should than many of the ‘modern’ Fleet designs. Sitting in dock, it seemed like she was moving at the speed of light, and the clean, sweeping lines of her design certainly had make the Nagas one of the sexiest ships in the Fleet.

A harsh, but somewhat amused voice crackled from the speaker inside her helmet. “Showboat, quit day-dreaming and form up on my wing.”

She cracked a smile and with two barrel rolls slid her Swift into formation with her wingman. “Reporting for duty, Reverend,” she quipped.

Lieutenant Dennis Sinclair snorted. An actual ordained Methodist minister, he had turned down the opportunity for a commission in the Corps of Chaplains in order to fly—his largest passion outside of the Church. Fighter Command tended to assign pilots call-signs with a reason, hence his own call-sign of ‘Reverend’. Monica had broken every rule at Brisbane Flight School with her acrobatics in the cockpit—and had nearly been tossed out on her ear for buzzing the tower—which had quickly earned her the name of ‘Showboat’. Of course, he—and every other pilot born—had the same want and need to push their craft to the very limits. Only he had kept his temptations under control; Monica was far less restrained.

“Weapons check,” he said.

“Lasers are hotter than my ass, Reverend,” she said, and he smiled. Less restrained—inhibited, rather—in more ways than one, and he shook his head.

“Showboat, one of these days, girl. Recon pod?”

“Cameras are rolling, sensors are green, and—before you ask—the tank is topped off, Papa.”

“Then let’s get this show on the road; Wendigo Flight Control, Recon Flight 3 headed out on first leg.”

“Roger, Reverend. Good hunting. Wendigo Flight Control over and out.”

The two Swifts turned onto their proper course heading and streaked away at 6.5-g’s in the empty black of deep space.

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

“Reverend, I’m picking up something hinky over here,” Showboat transmitted three minutes later. “Low-level EM emissions, and a possible radar return . . . HOLY SHIT!”

Reverend had just lowered his head to take a look at Showboats data-stream when every threat sensor aboard his Swift lit off. Without even thinking, Dennis slammed the throttle into the firewall and broke—hard—up and away. An eye-searing flash of light erupted across the empty vacuum where his fighter had been, but the capital laser missed. Dozens of ships appeared on his radar display as each quit trying to be a hole in space, firing their drives towards the Fleet.

“Wendigo, Recon 3. We have contact with enemy forces, range 15,000 meters out on 235 Mark 088. Count thirty-six, repeat THREE-SIX, Reprisal class destroyers, and twenty-two, repeat TWO-TWO Pinto class corvettes. We are buster for RTB.” Dennis, looked down and blanched. “Wendigo, confirm four Sampson class DS launching fighters. BLACK WASP DRONES, I say again, BLACK WASP DRONES.”

Swarming like the angry insects their names suggested, the drone fighters—bigger and far harder hitting, but also slower than his own Swift—tore forward on full overthrust in pursuit. Lacking the need for a living breathing pilot, those ships were not limited by the fragility of a human body, and could maintain high-g acceleration until their fuel ran out. Lovely, he thought. “Showboat, are you still with me?”

“Right on your wingtip, Reverend. Can we get out of here? I mean, I like partying and all that, but if we stick around, I think it will turn into rape really fracking quick.”

“Set your course back to the ship, Showboat, go buster until your drop-tanks are empty.”

The two recon fighters fled, as the drones and Rim WarShips followed in their wake.


February 30, 2768
SLS Halsey
Northwind Deep Space
Terran Hegemony


“Around six hundred Black Wasp drones, with another six hundred plus manned fighters and strike bombers, Admiral, plus the fifty-eight WarShips and ninety assault DropShips. What is their commander thinking; those Reprisals and Pintos are completely outclassed by our ships?”

Jake sighed. “Brett, quit thinking like an officer of the invincible Star League Defense Force Navy. I know they drill that crap into your head at War College, but we are far from invincible—the Periphery Uprising proved that clear enough. Think like a pirate. Sure, the Reprisal is small, undergunned, and has tissue paper for armor—and the Pinto is even worse—BUT, whoever is in command over there is very, very smart, and completely ruthless.”

The younger officer frowned. “How so?”

“Our six McKennas could probably deal with those WarShips with no problems; oh, we would take pretty heavy damage, but it can be done. And the escorts can take out the droppers without breaking a sweat, but it will take TIME, Brett. With those Black Wasps flying escort on the strike planes, our fighter reserves will have one Hell of a time stopping them getting through. And that means that this strike might well get in range of the Richelieu. The fighter strike is loaded for bear—the recon data shows that. But they could still out-thrust the WarShips, and the Black Wasps are even more capable of getting here first. They are not doing that, though. No, that commander is keeping everything together, in mutual support range. He has already condemned every last man over there to death, himself included, just to get a shot at the First Lord. And he might well get it this time.”

The chief of staff bit his lip. “Ok, sir. How do we deal with it?”

“That, my young apprentice, is the sixty-four thousand dollar question.”

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

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-28 05:35pm

Chapter Forty-Two

February 30, 2768
SLS Halsey
Northwind Deep Space
Terran Hegemony


“It is not the numbers, or the point-defense, Brett, that is the real threat here. It is their ECM. Bunched together like that, those warships are providing an ECM blanket so thick that we can’t SEE, let alone target, individual fighter squadrons,” Jake Schaeffer continued as he frowned. “Contact Commodore Green aboard the Brazen, and order her to execute Horiatis.”

Brett blanched. “Sir, you can’t send her out there alone—those ships will swamp her and . . . “

“Damn it, Brett, don’t you think I know what will happen? Get it through your head, COMMODORE—we are all expendable. Even this flagship and our own august persons, if that means we keep that man aboard the Richelieu alive. Those ships will buy us two, maybe three, precious minutes to finish our own formation change. Order Green to get her command moving, and then position the rest of the Fleet for Roadblock. And Brett?” he said.

“Sir?”

“Comm Captain Collins. She is authorized to execute Shell Game on her own initiative. Inform all division and squadron commanders they are to comply if she does.”

“Aye, aye, Sir,” his Chief of Staff whispered as he bent to his duty.


February 30, 2768
7th Fleet
Northwind Deep Space
Terran Hegemony


As one, one hundred of the ships of 7th Fleet rolled 45 degrees away from the incoming strike and engaged their main drives at the highest level of power possible. Richelieu—and the lighter, faster ships of the Fleet—began to slowly pull away from the battleships, battlecruisers, and the older, slower vessels. From hundreds of launch bays, the reserve fighters began launching, using their high thrust to beat back towards the Rim ships and fighters. Sixteen hundred fighters in all launched—leaving the survivors of the CAP and a reserve of a mere four hundred left to cluster around Richelieu in the center of the formation.

Sixteen ships, however, turned TOWARDS the enemy on the orders of Admiral Schaeffer. Ten Brilliant class and six Crusader class destroyers, the newest and lightest escort ships of the Fleet, attached to his command for this specific purpose. Prototypes of the next generation of escort ships, these destroyers were lighter than any constructed since the Naga, but possessed more advanced armor, more efficient engines, and a far more deadly complement of weapons. Fewer than two score were in service, having been built for field trials before the uprising, but they had not yet been placed in general production. The Coup had put an end to that. But, as none had been captured in the shipyards, Amaris spacers should have little clue to what the diminutive ships were capable of.

As the range closed to 900 kilometers, the Brilliants began spitting capital missiles—sixteen Killer Whales each. The new technological improvements in their design allowed the ships to spin along their axis, and fire both broadsides nearly simultaneously in two waves. Although the SLDF was still very much limited in the numbers of nuclear warheads it possessed in its magazines, Jake had given every last one in 7th Fleet’s inventory to the ten Brilliant class ships. One hundred and sixty nuclear explosions ripped through the heart of the enemy, consuming ships and fighters in balls of fire. The heavy point defense of the old Reprisals and the assault droppers reduced their accuracy, however, and only one-quarter of the heavy missiles found targets—but for each one that did, that ship died.

The Rim ships returned fire with their own atomic weaponry, but this was a style of fighting the Brilliants had been built for. The little vessels lacked any weapon capable of hurting the enemy except their missile launchers—and remaining weapons volume was crammed full of anti-missile systems and ammunition. The volume of point-defense fire poured out by the ten vessels exceeded that of the remainder of all 7th Fleet’s ships combined, and only two Brilliants and one Crusader died. While the Brilliants concentrated on the enemy capital ships and droppers, the six Crusaders opened up with their energy mounts. Each broadside mounted twenty-four naval lasers, in banks of four, and these ships had a new trick up their sleeves for the enemy. The tracking systems aboard the Crusaders included newly developed software that allowed the capital guns to track enemy fighters accurately—and each of the laser batteries had been mounted on gimbaled mounts, giving them far more ability to quickly bear on swift moving targets. Ignoring the capital ships, the Crusaders toggled their guns to anti-fighter mode, and unleashed Hell on the enemy fighters—not the drones, but the manned fighters bearing the nuclear ordnance. Each bank of lasers—six each per ship—targeted a single squadron of fighters as accurately as any conventional scale weapon, but with far, far more damage capability. And unlike the conventional weapons normally used for anti-aerospace work, the capital lasers also reached out to a full 900 kilometers.

Strings of exploding fighters rippled like popcorn across the leading edge of the fighter strike, even as the Reprisals and Pintos reeled beneath the fires of nuclear fusion. But there were too many targets, too much point-defense, and the surviving Rim ships reached their range. Breaking off the missile attack, they poured naval autocannon, naval lasers, and naval PPCs into the forlorn hope of the escort destroyers, and then the fighters pounced. Scores of Black Wasps slammed into the flanks of the ships at maximum over-thrust, pouring weapons fire into the hulls as they dove. Each of these automated kamikazes impacted like a sledgehammer. Ninety seconds after the first missile had roared away, none of the sixteen ships remained.

But the Rimmers suffered badly themselves, with half of the assault ships and warships dead or crippled. Still, almost eight hundred fighters—half of them Black Wasps—remained operational. And then they ran straight into the teeth of the 7th Fleet’s battle-line. Six McKenna class Battleships, twelve Black Lion class and six Cameron class Battlecruisers, and three Aegis class, nine Avatar class, and six Luxor class Cruisers, along with the sixteen hundred SLDF aerospace fighters, and every surviving Pentagon class DropShip in the Fleet—116 in total.

Even though they lacked nuclear weapons for their missiles, the firepower that the core of 7th Fleet could generate was almost unimaginable. With every salvo, Rim warships and DropShips died. Lacking the flexible mounts and updated software of the Crusaders, the capital weapons could not target the enemy fighters so easily, but they had no need to. Their own fighters were there, along with the Pentagons. However, the Rimmers had not exhausted their own supply of warheads, and the battlewagons of the Fleet began to reel under the hammer-blows of nuclear fireballs. Each of the Black Wasp drones proved as effective as any three manned fighters—since it could, and did, maintain maximum thrust at all times, without pilot fatigue. Carrying just lasers and PPCs, the drones had no ammunition worries, and the double-sized fuel tanks meant they could outlast any other fighter craft in service. The drones took a fearsome toll on the defending fighters, even as they died, sacrificing themselves to cut a path through the Star League ships.

Still, in the two minutes it took to cross the envelope of the battle-line, only two Reprisals—both broken and battered—a handful of droppers, and less than two hundred fighters—including just sixty of the Black Wasps—managed to stagger through. Forty-one of the surviving fighters, however, were Makets; each of which still carried two nuclear-tipped missiles.


February 30, 2768
SLS Richelieu
Northwind Deep Space
Terran Hegemony


“Ma’am, Commodore Mountz acknowledges escorts will confirm to your movements,” Tom called out from his station.

“Very well, Tom, please inform the Commodore that I am tired of running. Have the escorts roll to present broadsides to the enemy, and he may engage at his convenience,” Susan replied, as she turned her chair to face the tactical station. “Miss Assante, keep your fire tight and on target—let’s have no blue-on-blue incidents, today, shall we?”

“Aye, aye, ma’am,” the young lieutenant at the tac station replied without looking up. Her fingers flew across the console as she allocated targets for the battlecruisers weapons.

Susan turned back towards the holo-tank and shook her head. They did not send enough, she thought. The surviving Rimmers would die like insects in a flame when they met the frigates, destroyers, and corvettes that still surrounded her ship—but all it would take was one. One Maket class strike bomber to evade her defensive fire and get in range to torpedo her ship with a nuke. The enemy strike was thirty seconds out, and closing fast—time to execute the distraction.

“Harry,” she said, depressing a switch on her command chair, “it was your idea, so give the order.”

The voice of her chief engineer came back over the headset. “Aye, aye, ma’am. Docking clamps, release Star League One. Comm, prepare to transmit—IN THE CLEAR—the message.”

With a massive CLUNK, Richelieu shuddered as a 9,700 ton Overlord class DropShip disengaged from the side of the ship, rotated, and accelerated away from the protecting Fleet at 2.5-g’s. At the comm station, Helen Zhu hit her transmission key and began playing her role.

“STAR LEAGUE ONE, STAR LEAGUE ONE. Return to ship immediately. Repeat, return to Richelieu immediately.” The young officer put just the right amount of panic in her voice.

“Negative, Richelieu, Star League One is inbound for Northwind at this time. Cover us.”

“Star League One, you are ORDERED to return at once!”

“Richelieu, I would love to comply, but you do not have the authority to issue that order.”

Susan smirked, and opened her own comm. “Star League One, this is Richelieu actual. Get your ass back here now!”

“Cannot comply, Richelieu. Star League One out.”

The escorts, already informed of the deception, added in their own transmissions—some in the clear, some coded. One of them broke across all of the others. “Star League One, this Commodore Kathy Mountz—get back in formation, damn you.”

“Commodore,” an all-to-familiar voice sang out from the intercom, “do your job and stop those ships. My family and I are going to Northwind. Star League One over and out.” And the transmission ceased.

Susan looked at the holo-tank and held her breath. And then it happened. Half of the incoming strike, veered away in pursuit of the lone Overlord, already out of point-defense range of the rest of the Fleet. They had taken the bait.

She heard Commodore cursing over the intercom, and he ordered half of the reserve fighter contingent sent to intercept the enemy chasing the decoy. An order the fighter reserve promptly ignored as it changed vector and tore into the Rim fighters still charging the Richelieu. Arriving at the same moment as Barracudas, White Sharks, and Killer Whales launched by the escort ships, the strike ripped apart the surviving Makets well short of her battlecruiser.

Meanwhile, on the display in the tank, she could see the fighters sent against the unmanned and automated Overlord open fire. The fake Star League One exploded under their hammering, and the fighters turned back towards the Fleet—and the real First Lord.

“My lord,” she said as she looked down at the image of Stephen Cameron on her display, “it would appear to have worked. They took the bait—had no choice really—and divided their forces. This should give us a good chance of defeating them in detail without taking any hits.”

“Excellent work, Susan. My compliments to your crew, and I think I will leave you to fight your ship now.”

“Thank you, Sir. That was a very convincing recording you made, by the way. Do you treat all your senior officers in that manner?”

Stephen chuckled. “Just the ones who annoy me, Captain Collins. Cameron out.”

“Miss Assante, I do believe we still have some clean-up work to do here. You may open fire on Strike Two at will.”

“Aye, aye, Ma’am.”

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

The last Maket died three hundred kilometers short of launching on the Richelieu. A mere handful of Black Wasps strafed the ship, but lacked the heavy weapons to penetrate her armor; two turned kamikaze and rammed, but the battlecruisers heavy plating held. Twenty-seven Star League ships and over nine hundred fighters were lost, but the Rim World forces failed in their goal to kill Stephen Cameron and his family. There were no survivors among the Rim vessels.

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

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-28 05:43pm

Chapter Forty-Three

March 22, 2768
Station Luthien Ichi
Luthien Orbit
Draconis Combine


Senior Administrator Shintaro Watanabe was a proud man. At the age of 42 standard years, he had been given the honor to command all civilian traffic in the Luthien system from aboard the first—and largest—of the five space stations that orbited the capital world. Now, at the age of 47, short and slight, his hair receding by the day, it sometimes seemed to him, he looked more like a librarian than the officer responsible for traffic control in the space lanes and orbital entry corridors. His subordinates—and more than a few civilians—bowed to him as he walked down the passageway that led to the Flight Control Center. He did not return their bows, but faced forward, and kept his eyes fixed on the armored hatch that sealed the FCC from the remainder of the station.

Luthien Ichi was not his to command; but the FCC was. And not even the commander of Luthien Ichi could enter without his express permission. The two guards on the hatch snapped to attention as he approached, and the senior bowed slightly, extending his hand for Watanabe’s identification. Even though he knew well who this man was, the guard obeyed his orders exactly, taking the card and confirming Watanabe’s identity before asking the guards within the FCC to unseal the hatch. It took two minutes for the armored hatch to open, as the meter-thick door swung wide.

Entering his domain, Watanabe looked over the compartment. Two hundred stations ringed the central platform, set in two concentric circles around a central platform. At each station sat a Senior Flight Controller and his Assistant, wearing wireless headsets and bent over screens showing all traffic—military and civilian, alike—within 200,000 kilometers of the planet Luthien. Atop the central platform, lay another ring of stations like an atoll around his own console and array of controls.

From this chamber, on this station, Watanabe could monitor all traffic to and from the capital—he determined what ship went where, and when it could land, how long it had to remain in a parking orbit, and if it was to be boarded for inspection. His secretary was already present, and had just set a steaming cup of tea down on the desk next to his command consoles. Watanabe bowed to the man, and sat down, placing the headset on his own head, and clipping the signal booster to his belt.

Taking the cup, he took a sip, and then precisely set it back down on the saucer, and pressed a button. A chime sounded in the FCC, and the senior administrator stood, and bowed towards another man standing three feet away.

“I relieve you, Administrator Donnelly,” he said formally to his second-in-command. The lanky officer bowed to his senior and replied, “I stand relieved, Senior Administrator.”

The change of command complete, Watanabe sat once more and pivoted his chair to face his second.

“Slow night, Shin,” Lester Donnelly whispered. “We have thirty transports in orbit waiting for berths aboard Ichi and the other stations, along with four military transports heading towards the ship-yards,” he pointed out the icons on Watanabe’s screen. “System Command has alerted us that we should expect a task group of warships in two standard hours—we have their transponder codes and are routing traffic around the requested lane. Seventy-two DropShips are currently inbound—nineteen for Ichi, twenty-three for the other stations, and thirty for the space-port on the surface.”

“Customs inspections?”

“All foreign vessels have been boarded either by us, or the crews at the jump points. Domestic traffic have been randomly searched for contraband,” Donnelly smiled. “The Yarabushi Maru was not too happy when our inspectors found her stash of illegal pharmacologicals.”

Watanabe returned the grin. Traffic in the Luthien system had increased by a factor of ten since the war began—and the lack of trained inspectors was beginning to give smugglers and drug-runners more of an opportunity than he liked. But with the Combine on a war-footing, not every ship could be boarded and searched; not, at least, without tangling traffic to the Christian Hell and back. Still, any vessel that appeared the least bit out of ordinary was ordered to heave to and prepare for customs inspection.

The ‘light’ traffic today was still far higher than pre-war norms, and his queue showed scores of expected arrivals for later in the day. If he had the manpower—and if the massive factories on the surface below were not running non-stop—he would have used the light traffic flow to stop everyone and board for inspection. But, the demands of Luthien Armor Works—not to mention the Kure Naval Yards—precluded him from doing so. They NEEDED the raw materials and components being brought in from factories across the Combine to complete the ‘Mechs, fighters, and ships the Dragon needed to fight—and win—this war.

“Very well, Les. Go hit the rack after kissing Marlene for me. I will see you tomorrow,” Watanabe said. Donnelly tossed him a crooked salute, and began removing the headset and other gear, and then rolled down his sleeves and pulled his jacket back on. Like all Draconis officials, the Flight Controllers—and their administrators—prized perfection in appearance in public, but here, in the heart of the system, Watanabe allowed a more informal appearance. The stress of the job was enough, without having to endure the heavy wool jacket and tightly button collar for the ten hour shift.

In two hours, half of the controllers on-duty would be relieved, the other half in five more. But Administrators came on shift two hours before their watch changed hands. The policy let the bosses get up to speed, with a shift crew familiar with the current situation, and reduced the chaos. Turning to his console, Watanabe began monitoring his controllers, as he picked up the cup and took another sip of tea.

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

Forty minutes later, Watanabe stood as a red light began blinking on his console. One of his Flight Controllers was standing and staring up at him.

Keying the headset, he whispered, “Mitsu, what do you have?”

The controller shook his head. “Kobayshi Maru is declaring an emergency, sir. They are in deorbit corridor three, inbound for Luthien Ground, and have just entered the troposphere. The vessel is reporting failure on three thrusters.”

Snapping his fingers, Watanabe got the attention of the senior controllers. “Contact the space-port and inform them of the emergency—you, get me a direct link to the Kobayshi. Mitsu, clear the airspace and find out if that ship has enough reserve thrust to pull back to orbit.”

“Kobayshi Maru, Luthien Flight Control; Kobayshi Maru, Luthien Flight Control. Respond Kobayshi Maru,” Watanabe spoke into his boom mike as dozens of controllers leapt into action.

“Luthien Flight, this is Kobayshi Maru,” a voice crackled from the overhead speakers.

“Status report, Kobayshi.”

“Thrusters 2, 3, and 6 have failed completely. 4 and 7 are ‘iffy’. I am dropping like a rock and cannot generate enough thrust to make orbit.”

Watanabe turned to another controller, and flicked the switch cutting the transmission. “What are they carrying?”

“Inbound for Imperial Space-port with twenty thousand tons of cargo for LAW. Machinery and components, including two dozen fusion engines.”

“Kobayshi, Flight. Are auxiliary thrusters responding?”

“Only the attitude controls, Flight. Negative response on all auxiliary systems.”

“Divert to heading 213 and conduct descent to 20,000 feet, Kobayshi. Prepare to evacuate crew and abandon ship.”

“Flight, that course will take us out over open water; and the owners will KILL me if I crash this ship!”

“Kobayshi, that is not a recommendation—that is the order of the Senior Flight Controller for the Luthien System. Comply at once.”

“Damn you, Flight. Changing vector to heading 213.”

Watanabe let out a sigh. He hated losing a ship—and the valuable cargo for LAW—but the new course would take the vessel far out over the Brazen Sea, and away from the densely packed metropolis of Imperial City.

Then his eyes caught the screen.

“Kobayshi Maru, Luthien Flight. Alter your course heading at once.”

“Flight, we have altered our heading.”

“Negative Kobayshi, you are still on course for Imperial Space-port. You must comply NOW.”

“Flight, our instruments say we are on 213.”

“Negative Kobayshi, come hard right.”

No response came from the speaker.

“Sir,” another controller called out from his station in the Pit, as the Controllers called their stations. “We have visual on the Kobayshi—sir, all seven of their thrusters are operating, and they are in a nose-dive into the atmosphere.”

Watanabe froze for a moment, and then lifted a clear plexi-glass shield on his console and pressed the red button below. Klaxons sounded throughout the complex, and his headset automatically patched in System Command, Imperial City Air Defense, and the Naval Headquarters.

“Luthien Flight Control declaring a system-emergency. DropShip Kobayshi Maru, inbound for Imperial Space-port, is not responding to instructions. Vessel may, repeat MAY, be making a suicide run on the city.”

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

Two Sabre class aerospace fighters went to maximum over-thrust and climbed towards the incoming fireball surrounding the Kobayshi Maru. Ripping through the atmosphere at Mach 4.7, the two fighters banked and assumed formation where they could see the bridge.

Chu-i Erik Teller could not make out any movement through the view ports, and he thumbed his transmitter. “Kobayshi Maru, this is Imperial City Air Defense. Immediately alter heading to course 213 true or you will be fired upon. Respond Kobayshi.”

For a second there was no response, and then two bay doors snapped opened, and the snouts of heavy autocannon extended. Teller yanked his fighter hard to the side, but his wingman was not as fast. The salvo of shells tore the light fighter apart.

“Imperial City, target is hostile. Raptor Two is down, I am engaging.”

He swung his fighter behind the massive DropShip and fired his three medium lasers into the engines. One thruster died, and the ship shuddered. He fired again, and plating exploded into the air, and then six cargo bay doors opened, and the Kobayshi dumped thousands of tons of cargo directly into his flight path. Teller yanked back on the stick, but the debris tore into his fighter, ripping off a wing.

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

“Almighty spirits,” Watanabe whispered, “can’t the Navy engage?”

“Senior Administrator, we are moving a ship into position now—but it can’t get there before it will impact. How much damage will that ship do to Imperial City?”

“At that speed, and with that amount of mass, Admiral, it will be like a nuclear weapon going off.”

“Then it is up to the city’s air defense network.”

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

In the Imperial Palace, fifty miles from Imperial City, the Otomo burst into Zabu’s chambers. The Heir to the Dragon still lay in his bed, alongside his favored concubine, for it was not quite three in the morning here. Ignoring his startled cries, the guards grabbed both of the naked people and rushed him towards the elevator that descended to the emergency bunker five hundred meters below.

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

As the glowing heat stressed metal of the nose of the Kobayshi Maru passed ten thousand feet, the speakers crackled to life once more. “Citizens of the Combine. You have made unlawful war upon my Master and your Emperor. Experience now his wrath, and know that this is merely the beginning until you beg Him for forgiveness and repent of your actions in supporting the Traitor Cameron. Hail Amaris!”

At five thousand feet, just as the air defenses opened fire, the detonator on the fifty-megaton nuclear warhead smuggled aboard clicked into place.

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

Watanabe and all of his controllers went white as the nuclear fireball consumed the core of Imperial City. It grew, reaching into the stratosphere, and the hurricane of fire, heat, light, and radiation rolled outwards, devouring Luthien Armor Works, and the Imperial Palace.

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

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-28 05:52pm

Chapter Forty-Four

March 23, 2768
Mount Royal Palace
New Avalon
Federated Suns


“Have you seen him, Mandy? That new guard, Captain Keller? He is GORGEOUS,” Ashley Winton sighed as she smoothed out her skirts around her legs with one hand, and twirled the flower she held in the other.

“And he is MARRIED, Ashley, and OLD. He is almost THIRTY,” Amanda Davion, Princess-and-heir of the Federated Suns replied from where she sat on the grass in the private garden of the Palace.

Ashley, older by a year, and far more mature—at all of twelve—shook her head. “He is not old! Your father is old, and so is Uncle David.”

“Poppa is, well, POPPA, Ashley. And Uncle David is sweet—he gave me Muffin, didn’t Muffin? Yes he did,” she squealed as she scratched the belly of the half-grown St. Bernard laying next to her. Muffin rolled his head back on the grass, and held his paws in the air as she played with him, his tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth.

“They are relatives, Mandy, so they don’t count—Captain Keller, though,” she paused and plucked a few petals from the flower. “He is dreamy.” She sighed again.

“Ashley and Keller sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G . . . “ Amanda began to sing.

Ashley gasped, and turned beet red. “MANDY!”

“Well, you keep on talking about him like he was a horse put out for stud.”

“MANDY!!”

Lance Corporal Denise Walton turned away from the two girls and grinned as she thumbed the transmitter on her shoulder. “Central, this is Shadow 4-2, reporting in. We are still in the gardens.”

“Roger, 4-2. Let us know when you begin moving—the Princess has an appointment with her tutors in one hour and twelve minutes and she is liable to ‘forget’ about it. Latin, you understand.”

“Copy, Central. I certainly would forget about it myself. 4-2 out.”


March 23, 2768
Reynard Davion Interstellar Space-Port
New Avalon
Federated Suns


Overhead, the metal hull of the twenty-four thousand ton cargo ship let out a loud pop, as the plating covering the vessel cooled. Steam rose from around the five cargo legs, while heat shimmered from the naked exhaust ports of the nine primary thrusters. From one side of the spherical ship, a ramp was slowly descending, and dozens of cargo bay doors and hatches were opening, letting fresh air and light into the interior.

Customs Agent Charles Ventor checked the manifest before him once again. SS Marigold Dreams, registered out of Numenor, carrying chemicals for Corean Enterprises, along with two dozen crop-dusters, bound for the farmlands that surrounded the capital. This ship was a frequent visitor to New Avalon, and Charles knew her skipper well. This inspection should not take TOO long to finish. He turned around, as the ramp lowered to the ground, and waved at his boarding team. Turning back, he started to ascend, when a greenish gas belched out of the open hatch.

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

“That’s odd,” murmured Devon Franklin from the space-port control tower, as he lowered his binoculars.

“What is odd, Devon?” asked the Chief Traffic Controller from his side.

“Marigold Dreams, she popped the lower cargo bay doors, but is also opening her small craft doors.”

The Chief frowned. “Maybe she is purging her atmospheric systems,” he said as he lifted his own binoculars.

“Maybe, Chief,” Devon replied. Placing the glasses back over his own eyes, he could see the boarding and inspection team at the base of the ramp—and then the sudden eruption of a cloud of greenish vapor from within.

“CHRIST,” he shouted as the Chief dropped the expensive and powerful spotting glasses and slapped a large red button, thumbing the transmitter he wore at his waist. “HAZMAT SPILL ON PAD C-23! HAZMAT SPILL ON PAD C-23!”

Devon watched in horror as the inspectors—Chuck and his team—dropped twitching onto the tarmac of the field. And then, from the upper levels of the DropShip, conventional aircraft launched in all directions, each spewing still more gas from beneath their wings.

One passed directly over the tower, and he caught a strange smell. And then there was only blackness.


March 23, 2768
Avalon City
New Avalon
Federated Suns


The twenty-four crop-dusters tore across the most densely populated areas of New Avalon, even as the Marigold Dreams continued to pump the wargas into the air of the spaceport itself. Each of the aeroplanes trailed a wide churning fog of yellow-green gas, that spread with the winds, and drifted down towards the ground. Dozens—scores—hundreds of people collapsed into the streets, their bodies spasming as the nerve agent destroyed their nervous system, just as if the human population of New Avalon’s capital were vermin that preyed on the wheat crops of the surrounding countryside.


March 23, 2768
Mount Royal Palace
New Avalon
Federated Suns


“Have you ever KISSED a man, Ashley?” Amanda asked her best friend.

“Well, NO, dummy. With the leash Mother and Father keep me on? When would I have TIME to kiss a man?”

“Do you want to?” she pestered.

Ashely squirmed, and then the two girls and the dog turned towards the sound of heavy autocannon fire coming from the perimeter wall. Muffin leaped to his feet and barked, as Amanda saw a crop-duster spin the sky, spewing clouds of black and . . . GREEN? And then it dropped like a stone onto the palace grounds, erupting in flames and dense smoke. Smoke that was drifting towards the two girls and their dog.

A pair of hands grabbed Amanda from behind as Denise Walton seized the girl, through her over her shoulder and began to run for the safety of the palace. Amanda twisted around, and looked back as the wind-blown cloud came towards her. It passed her dog and her best friend, and both of them collapsed to the ground, twitching and jerking as their muscles responded to the random commands of their nervous systems.

“POPPA!!” She screamed as a gust of wind engulfed her and the guard ten feet shy of the door to safety.

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

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-28 06:05pm

Chapter Forty-Five

March 23, 2768
Branson House, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


“For the love of God, Marianne . . .”

“DON’T START! He used US; he used CASSIE, as nothing more than BAIT!” she snapped, her emotions starting to get out of hand, yet again.

Stephen Cameron lowered his head and shook it as he tried hard to keep his own anger bottled up. Marianne was still furious over the Rim attack on Richelieu three weeks before. Oh, she had held it all in until the formalities on Northwind were done; had even stayed courteous to Susan Collins and her officers, but after getting home; that was a different story.

Arriving home late last night, Marianne had blasted General DeChevilier on the tarmac at the space-port, calling him a myrmidon pimp, among other things. Aleksandyr had also suffered from her wrath, and the other officers she had just ignored, hurrying to the waiting air-car with Cassie to head home. And today she had not cooled off any.

Suddenly, his wife began to twitch over by the window. “Marianne?” he asked as he stood.

She collapsed into the chair, and Stephen was there, kneeling next to her on the floor. She was crying and sobbing, and he grabbed her and pulled her close against him. “Shhhh… It’ll be all right, love. It’ll be all right.”

“I can’t do this, Stephen,” she wailed. “I can not take this waiting and having people WE HAVE NEVER EVEN MET want us dead.” She stopped and Stephen wiped her face.

“Ok, Northwind was a bust. So how about we go up to the Harrison lodge. Today, Marianne. Let’s just drop everything and go up north and you and Helen and Molly and all the other female members of that clan drink some hot chocolate and talk about the baby. Cassie will love it, dear, and so will I.”

Marianne looked up at him, tears still welling up in the corners of her eyes. “But we just got back; I know they have piles of work for you . . .”

“GERALD!” Stephen yelled.

The door to the bedroom opened, and Sergeant Major Gerald Howe stepped into the room. “You bellowed, My Lord?”

“Gerald, ready the air-car. We are going up to the Harrison Lodge—comm Emil and make sure it is all right with him first, please. If he says yes, we are going up there and will damned well stay as long as my wife wants us to. If the bureaucrats don’t like it—then shoot ‘em.”

He looked back his shoulder and grinned at Gerald, who nodded and shook his head. “I’ll take care of everything, L.T.” Still shaking his head, the old non-com walked out of the room and quietly closed the door behind him.

Stephen turned back to Marianne and cupped her chin in his hand and lifted her head. “I am still Stephen Cameron, love, still the man you married. And I will be—for you, and for Cassie, and for the munchkin we are waiting to arrive—until the day I die. I WILL NOT let this duty change me—or us—into someone or something else.”

She hugged him hard, and kept crying on his shoulder. “I love you, Stephen; I do, I do, I do.”

That is the dirty little secret of this job, he thought. So many people wanted it, desired it, for the power and the authority that went with it. But it has never been a ‘safe’ job. Most especially for those you love. A man would have to be insane to want this kind of life—but it was his duty. And, God help her, one day it would become Cassie’s.

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

Hiroyoshi finished triple-checking the detail that would accompany him and the family up north to the Harrison Lodge. Lt. Colonel Moreau had left him as the officer in charge of the close protective detail, while Moreau ran the Regiment itself. Gerald—as the RSM—was technically not a part of the detail, but in practice ramroded the whole operation. If the Regiment needed him, he had told Moreau, well he wore a comm-unit. Until then, Irene McCormick could handle the paperwork. The corners of his mouth twitched—paperwork was the one thing the SLDF seemed to believe in more than firepower. In the past month, he had filled out more forms than in his previous decade and a half in the DCMS. Perhaps he should have a chat with the First Lord about changing that aspect of the Defense Force.

As he finished the troop inspection, he took particular note of the last officer in line—Lieutenant Absalom Truscott. “Lieutenant, I thought that you were a MechWarrior. Why are you here and why are you wearing that Nighthawk suit?”

“Sir,” the young man replied with a salute, “Maj—Lt. Colonel Moreau instructed me to cross-train with the infantry; in order to get an appreciation of what they have to deal with. Since my last billet was in the divisional MP pool, he thought I should have a more well-rounded profile.”

“I see, Lieutenant. And are you in command of this platoon—the heavy weapons platoon that is providing back-up for the close-in detail?”

“No, sir. I am here as an observer.”

“Who is in command, then, Lieutenant?”

“Sergeant McCrimmon, Sir. Lt. Colonel Moreau instructed me to listen to the Sergeant and follow his direction.”

Hiroyoshi turned his head to look at the slight figure of Wilbur McCrimmon, and then closed his eyes, picturing the files he had poured over again and again. Force Recon with a Marine CAAN unit, then selected for training with the Hegemony SAS. Finally transferred to Special Operations Command—the Blackhearts—two years ago. He opened his eyes and nodded.

“Lieutenant, you are an officer in the Defense Forces. You are in command; correct, Sergeant?”

“Yes, sir.”

“HOWEVER, I want you to consider what Lt. Colonel Moreau said, and what I am saying. Listen to him, and think hard about what he tells you—McCrimmon has served for almost fifteen years, Lieutenant, and he has probably forgotten more about infantry warfare than you have ever learned. Trust him, but trust yourself as well. Listen to him, but listen also to your instincts, your guts. Your platoon looks good, Lieutenant—board the carriers.”

“Yes, sir,” Truscott said, as he began to salute again, but Hiroyoshi caught his arm. Under full power, the Nighthawk would have not even been slowed, but at the moment, the suits were dialed down to little more than the users natural strength. “One last thing, Lieutenant—in the field, we DO NOT salute.”

“Yes, sir,” the young officer replied. “Third Platoon, load up!”

As the heavy suits of powered armor boarded their four personnel carriers, Hiroyoshi turned to walk back towards the air-cars taking the family and the close-in detail, and their staff.

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

Cassie skipped down the steps towards the vehicles, Heather in her wake as always. Behind them, Stephen helped Marianne waddle down the same stone steps, while Hiroyoshi held the air-car door open at the base. He bent down and picked up Cassie and set her inside the vehicle, where her second guard—Patrice—buckled the little girl in. Heather climbed in across from her.

Just as Stephen and Marianne reached the car, one of the household staff came tearing down the steps, carrying a phone. Thom reached him before he reached the First Lord, however. The man whispered to Thom, who went white, his eyes flickering at Hiroyoshi and Jarl. His mouth slightly agape, he lowered his head, nodded, and took the phone.

“My Lord,” he whispered, “Lord Kerensky for you—it is quite urgent, My Lord.”

Stephen frowned and took the phone. “Yes, Aleksandyr?”

As Stephen listened, he too grew white and pale, and his eyes widened. “I . . . I understand. I will be there within the hour.”

He shut down the phone and handed it back to Thom.

“Marianne, Hiroyoshi, . . . oh Hell.” He braced one hand on Hiroyoshi’s shoulder and climbed up on the hood of the vehicle. “EVERYONE. I want you to take my wife and daughter up to Harrison Lodge. We have just received word from Luthien that a civilian cargo vessel was used to commit an attack on the capital of the Draconis Combine. Imperial City has been devastated. At this time, that is all I know. Pray for the people of Imperial City, and pray for Lord Minoru, since his son Zabu is currently missing.”

Gerald helped Stephen climb down, and he turned back to Marianne. She shook her head. “Go, Stephen. He needs you there; I know that. I also know you don’t want to go, but we will be ok, right Cassie?”

“Right, Mother. Besides, that is more hot cocoa for us, right?” The little girl said, with a sad smile on her face. She might not like it, but she had grown-up enough to accept it over the past few months.

“Right, Cassie,” her mother said. “Well, Heather; it is just us girls today. Shall we?” she asked as she climbed into the rear seat next to Cassie. Stephen closed the door, and stood back with Gerald and Hiroyoshi, Thom and Jarl as the vehicle carrying his wife and daughter, the three more with their close-in detail and staff, and the four armor personnel carriers lifted into the air and flew away.

“Gerald, get me a car,” Stephen whispered as he watched them fly off.

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

Aleksandyr and Minoru sat in the conference room as Stephen walked briskly in, trailed by Gerald and Hiroyoshi. “What do we know?” he asked.

“It was a complete surprise—they smuggled in a high-megaton range weapon aboard a civilian ship that people loyal to Amaris must have taken over. It went in at Mach 4, and detonated 1,500 meters above Togo Square. Eighty percent of the city is gone, along with Luthien Armor Works. The Imperial Palace was heavily damaged. We think—THINK—Zabu made it to the shelter beneath the palace, but if so he is trapped at the moment,” Aleksandyr said.

“It was only the first strike, Lord Stephen,” Minoru whispered. “We have received word of similar attacks—ATROCITIES—on Benjamin, Galedon, New Samarkand, and Rasalhague. The ones who did this warned of more yet to come—as a penalty for waging war against Amaris.”

Stephen goggled at the two men as his mind raced. Was the man utterly MAD? Thank God, Minoru had released Hiroyoshi from service last month. His family was en route to Asta—they had lived less than two kilometers from ground zero. “What—if anything—can we do to help you, Lord Minoru?”

“Get me a clear shot at Stefan Amaris,” the Coordinator replied coldly. “Otherwise, there is little enough for you to do. We will rebuild—that is what we must do.”

Stephen thought for a moment. “Aleksandyr, does the SLDF still carry those disaster pods aboard our capital ships?”

“Yes, First Lord, we do.”

“Good. Have every pod in the system collected and loaded aboard cargo transports bound for Luthien, Benjamin, Galedon, New Samarkand, and Rasalhague. And—if the Coordinator will accept the assistance—send some of our NBC decontamination teams and engineers trained in search and rescue in urban environments.”

“Thank you, First Lord. I could not ask, you understand.”

“Lord Minoru, we are brothers now, you and I. You did not ask, I offered freely—one brother to another.”

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

Cassie loved flying. She like seeing the trees pass beneath as they soared above the rocky pass beneath the level of the overhanging clouds. All that, she thought, I walked across all of that; and she smiled. Her smile went away, as she remembered the other things that had happened, but she nodded to herself. I am a big girl, now, she thought. Seven, and next year eight. Bet no other kid has walked as far as I have. A flash of light and puff of smoke—several puffs—down below caught her eye.

“SAMS!” the driver yelled, as he banked the air-card—HARD—and pressed the button that began ejecting flares from beneath the armored vehicle. Cassie cried out as she slid from her seat across the vehicle—she had loosened her seat belt to watch the trees go by. Just before she hit the armor-glass window, she felt Heather slide beneath her, and slammed into her own guard’s chest. And then a deafening BOOM erupted underneath the car.

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

Eight targets for twelve missiles, Hans thought, as the weapons streaked away. The sudden, unexpected attack MUST have caught the drivers of the four civilian vehicles by surprise . . . but they all reacted instantly undertaking evasive maneuvers and firing countermeasures. It wasn't enough and while four missiles lost lock, the remainder slammed home. All four of the escorting APCs crashed into the forest as well, trailing smoke and flames. Setting down the hand-held remote, he drew his SMG and cocked back the bolt, chambering a round. “I believe we have a job to finish, my friends.”

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

Post by Chris OFarrell » 2013-05-28 07:57pm

moglwi wrote:Not knowing the backstory for these stories is not dimming my enjoyment one bit. I assume that Lord Davion did not purge his army like that? and it suffered for it.
As I recall, the AFFS at the time the Star League fell were not exactly the same level of crack troops of the 'future' Battletech time when Hanse Davion was running around.

More or less the exact opposite in fact. The DC was all but walking through them on the way to New Avalon, got within a jump of the place in fact, when some sniper killed the Coordinator on a little planet called Kentares. Which resulted in an order to wipe out the entire population of the world in revenge. Which pressed the AFFS's 'Beserk' Button as it were.
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masterarminas
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Posts: 1039
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Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-29 11:25am

Chapter Forty-Six

March 23, 2768
Black Pine Forest Preserve
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


The little girl shook her head as her eyes fluttered open. The damaged air-car—armored though it may have been—had gone down hard, ripping through the old growth forest, shattering tree limbs and branches, and half burying itself into the deep rich soil beneath the snow. She hurt, the little girl did, all over, but the side of her head throbbed the worst, and tears leaked from her eyes as she sat up. Her hand slid across a slick and wet surface, and she opened her eyes wide to look.

It was red, her hand; red with slowly cooling human blood. And Cassandra Sarah Cameron screamed as she saw the reason blood was pooling in the bottom of the air-car.

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

Making their way down the slope of the ridge, Hans Trevane clearly heard the wail of a child. Someone survived, he thought. And there could only be one child along on this trip. Nodded at Hollis, his team continued moving towards the source of the sounds, weapons at the ready.

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

The crash had been brutal, Absalom Truscott thought as he shook his head. The ringing in his ears would not stop, and his right side felt as though it was on fire, along with his left arm. Reaching out with his right arm, he grabbed a support strut, and hauled himself up and onto his feet. The missile that had struck the APC had impacted just beneath the infantry bay, and it turned the armored hull into deadly shrapnel. Of the seven troopers that shared the bay with him, he was the only survivor. He grimaced with pain as he lifted his left arm and winced as he saw the wound—from the elbow to about half-way down the forearm, everything was fine. But then, the forearm bent 30-degrees. The armor composite had remained intact, but it was warped, and he could feel the rough edges of the broken bones sliding around inside. He could not move his left hand at all. Reaching down with his right hand, he felt his side, and found the jagged shard that had penetrated the armor and lay lodged inside the muscle and skin.

Half of his armor systems were dead, but the fuel cells were live, and the exoskeletal muscles still functioned. Jump jets dead, sensors dead, radio dead; but the pharmacopia was intact. Entering a command code into the shielded keypad on his left forearm—which, by a miracle still worked—he breathed a sigh of relief as pain-killers and coagulants and stimulants flooded into his blood stream. The oxygen feed system was damaged as well, he noted, as the pain receded, so he reached up and unsealed the near useless helmet, tearing it from his head.

And then he heard the scream of a little girl. Absalom Truscott forgot the pain, forgot his wounds. Magnetically locking his left arm to his chest, he pulled an intact rifle from the small arms rack with his right, and staggered out into the forest, following the distant cries.

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

“Cassie?’ a weak voice mumbled from behind her; her mother’s voice.

“Momma?” she cried as she turned around and half-ran, half-crawled across the body of her very own bodyguard—the body that had absorbed the shrapnel that would have killed her if it had not been in the way.

Her momma looked bad—cut and bruised and battered, in the dim light that leaked past the tall trees. A twisted piece of armor pressed hard against her swollen stomach, and Cassie could see more red, more blood, leaking out onto the seat behind her. “Momma, I’m scared,” she gasped as she began to hyper-ventilate, “I want to go home, momma, please take me home.” she finished as still more tears came down her cheeks.

“Baby,” her momma gasped as she reached out with one hand and stroked her daughter’s hair, her other hand pinned to her side by the debris. “Cassie, listen to me. Are you hurt?”

“I don’t think so, momma, but Heather is . . . ,” her voice trailed off as she closed her eyes and lifted her hands to her face, “Heather is hurt pretty bad, Momma.”

“Oh, baby, I know she is, and Patrice is too,” Marianne whispered as tears washed blood away from her own cheeks She could see Heather’s headless body lying on the floor—and Patrice, speared through the heart by another long shard. “Cassie, I know it is hard, but you have to do something for me.”

Cassie nodded, and Marianne smiled. “Go over to Heather, and get her gun, Cassie. And bring it here to me.”

Cassie looked at the ruined, broken body of her guard, her friend lying on the floor of the car, snow already beginning to settle on blood turning to ice. And Cassie shook her head as she whimpered.

“Baby, you have to, baby,” Marianne pleaded.

“Momma, can’t you?”

“I can’t move my legs, Cassie,” she said in a very calm voice, “I can’t feel my legs. Bring me her gun, baby. Bring it to momma.”

Cassie slowly moved across the car, and closing her eyes, she reached beneath Heather’s jacket until she felt the thick, cold grip of the heavy pistol. She pulled it loose and ran back to Marianne, not wanting to look at the red stain that now covered her arm to her elbow, and she placed the pistol on the seat beside Marianne.

“That’s good, baby girl,” Marianne whispered as she stroked her daughter’s hair. “You did very well, Cassie. Now, you are going to have to be a brave girl,” she stopped and swallowed back some bile that threatened to force its way up her throat. “Be a brave girl, and go into the woods. Go into the woods and hide, Cassie, just like Daddy and Heather and Gerald showed you to.”

“Momma,” Cassie cried, more tears coming down. “Don’t make me go away, momma. I want to stay with you.”

“Baby, you can’t. You can’t. Go, go now, before they come,” her mother said, the tears pouring from her eyes. “Go, Cassie, and promise me you won’t look back. Promise me.”

“MOMMA,” Cassie cried.

“Cassandra Sarah Cameron, listen to me. You have to go hide, baby. Take Patrice’s gun with you—Daddy showed you how to shoot. If you see anyone you don’t know, baby girl, shoot them. Now GO CASSIE,” Marianne said as she winced with the pain coming from deep inside her, from the baby that was dying inside her belly. “Go, and don’t you look back. I love you baby, I will always love you, my little girl.”

Cassie shook her head, but stood, and pulled out Patrice’s pistol; it was so big in her hands. And Marianne nodded. “Now go, go and hide, Daddy’s people will come and find you, baby. Quickly now, go.”

From close by, they both heard a branch break. Marianne reached down, and lifted the pistol—the hated pistol her husband had once taught her to shoot. “Go,” she hissed, “and don’t you look back, baby, don’t you ever look back.”

Cassie ran from the wreck into the thick, snowy undergrowth, barely able to see through the curtain of water covering her eyes.

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

Hans could see the wreck as he pushed aside the last of the undergrowth. The car had torn its way through the branches and limbs above, but lost most of its roof in the process. The pilot compartment was crushed, and ragged holes were ripped across the sides and bottom. One of the doors was open, hanging crookedly and swaying slightly in the lightly falling snow—and footprints, small footprints, led into the woods. He smiled again as he spotted a smear of blood on some of the underbrush, just about the right height for a girl of seven or eight.

Keeping his feet planted, he half-turned to Liam and Nelson, and pointed down at the single set of tracks leading away from the crash. Both men nodded and began following them into the dark woods. Turning back to the air-car, he nodded to Hollis and the two men slowly made their way down to where they could look within.

The smell of death was strong in the air; bright coppery smells from the blood, the stench of bowels and bladders that had released their contents; the sharp tang of scorched and burnt metal and sparking electronics, the stink of melted plastics. They were all smells he had tasted before, and he smiled as he looked down into the interior of the vehicle.

Two women he did not know, probably guards, or maybe staff, were both dead. Losing ones head tended to insure that, and with the size of the splinter protruding from the others chest, it was almost a sure bet as well. The third woman, however, he recognized. Pinned in place by metal and armor and plastics, she did not look too good, but her cheeks shivered, and her eyes burned red with tears—and hate.

“Lady Cameron, I would say it is a pleasure, but I doubt that you would believe me,” he said to her.

The badly wounded woman coughed, and blood erupted onto her chin. Hans smiled and shook his head; she didn’t have long, even if they left her alone.

“I take it your husband was in another car?” he asked as he realized just who was missing from the scene, his smile fading.

“My husband, you jackass? You did this to get a shot at my husband?” She began laughing, which turned into a coughing spasm that produced more blood.

“Where is he?”

“Back in Hawkins, you ass. He got called away because of what you bastards did to Luthien and those other worlds in the Combine. YOU. MISSED. HIM. Jackass.”

Hans Trevane forced himself to laugh, though his belly went cold. “Well, then, I guess we should tell ole Stefan that at least we got the bitch wife and his unborn kid. And I have men following your daughter’s tracks right now, Lady Cameron. I might even let them break her in before we finish the job. It’s not often men in our line of work get a chance at royalty.”

Anger flashed across Marianne’s face as she lifted her good arm, the heavy coat falling back to reveal the pistol, Heather’s pistol. She fired; once, twice, and then the weapon—battered by the crash and covered with ice formed from the blood of her daughters very own bodyguard jammed.

Two shots tore past Hans into the woods, but he remained still. The woman—the wife of the man he had been sent to kill—was still pulling the trigger, but the slide was jammed opened. Her hand shook, due to the cold, her shock and blood loss, and the lack of practice. Finally she quit trying and dropped the useless weapon, a look of utter despair on her face.

“Goodbye, Lady Cameron,” Hans Trevane said as he raised the SMG and fired a precise three-round burst into her chest, and then a second one into her head.

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-29 11:33am

Chapter Forty-Seven

March 23, 2768
Black Pine Forest Preserve
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


Cassie ran as fast as she could through the undergrowth and the thick blanket of snow on the ground. The densely packed drift caught and tugged at her boots, and the ground beneath was hard, slick with ice. Running blindly through the dense undergrowth, she did not see the tree root barely sticking up from the white blanket. The iron-hard feroak root caught her just below the knee, and she slammed down—hard—onto the ground.

She lay there for a moment as she caught her breath, and her shoulders shook as she cried, the tears already beginning to freeze upon her cheeks. Shivering with the cold beginning to seep deep into her bones, she sat up and looked around—and the little girl froze.

Ahead of her, barely ten meters away, lay a thicket of tangled brush, held up by running vines descending from a gnarled old tree. But, in front of the thicket, just before the thorny brambles, the earth had been rooted out, forming a ramp descending into the forest floor. She knew what she saw, for her Daddy had shown her one almost just like it before: it was a ridgeback den. The big animals did not really hibernate, not like bears, anyway. But they did like having a safe place surrounded by earth and plants; a place which locked in their body heat and where they could sleep without being disturbed; a place where they could birth their litters in peace. Holding her breath, she listened as her Daddy had taught her, and she could hear the thick, guttural snoring of a sleeping ridgeback within.

Cassie swallowed, and slowly stood up. She began backing away from the den trying to be as quiet as she could. Daddy said there nothing on Asta as dangerous as a ridgeback defending its den; while she had her doubts after the events of this day, she did not want to be the one who was there if she was wrong.

“Well, well, well,” she heard a voice call out from behind her, and Cassie froze again, gasping. “What have we got here, Nelson?”

A second voice, low and rumbling and scary, answered the first. “A little lost Princess, it looks like, Liam. You, GIRL!” he shouted. “Come here now, before I have to chase you any more.”

Cassie froze, keeping her wide eyes on the brambles before her. The ridgeback had not woken up, but if they kept yelling . . . she closed her eyes and then sprinted forward.

“HEY!” The shout came from behind, but she ignored it, and ignored the thicket as well—she aimed for the tree. That sprawling great gnarly tree with a winding trunk and thick branches. She crossed the snow and her boot scraped across the bark, and then her hands—frozen and blue though they were—were pulling at the vines and branches as she climbed as fast and hard as she could.

BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM! She stopped and spun around at the sound, her jaw dropping as one of the two men raised his sub-machine gun into the air and opened fire. “Girl, you are not running any more; so it’s here, or back there, either way you are . . .”

A furious snort emerged from underground as the sleeping ridgeback woke. A massive bellow erupted from the icy, muddy slide, and then the beast charged forward. Genetically descended from Terran hogs, the Astan ridgebacks were far larger, and much more aggressive. At 8.5 meters from snout to rump, the adult male that emerged from the den was not quite fully grown. Nonetheless, he massed over 750 kilos of gristle, bone, and muscle, covered in a muddy, tangled, snow-frosted black fur that looked far out of place upon a giant pig. Once removed, and cleaned, that fur would be as luxurious as sable, and was one of the reasons the animal was hunted.

But Liam and Nelson were not thinking about the fur of the creature as it charged. It was faster than they could have imagined and left the den like a rocket—a rocket tipped with four razor-sharp thirty-inch long ivory tusks, two in the upper jaw pointing down and back, and two more in the lower that curved up and forward. Head lowered, the great beast charged forward, snorting and squealing and bellowing its fury at having been awoken.

Both of the Loki terrorists lowered their sub-machine guns and opened fire on the animal. But, as Cassie’s Daddy had once told her, ridgebacks took a lot of killing. The massive skull was packed with bone—hardened by the minerals ingested when the animals ate the young feroak saplings. Only a heavy rifle could penetrate that bone shield—and the two men had just pistol-caliber weapons.

The ridgeback struck Liam at waist height, the lower tusks ripping through his belly and out the back, and it reared and thrashed its head from side to side. The four tusks tore through his mid-section, and Liam’s legs went one direction, his torso the other, in a shower of blood and gore. Scenting the blood, the enormous hog bellowed again, and wheeled towards Nelson.

Nelson had knelt, and while the animal was occupied with Liam, he waited until it had turned his flank towards him. And he emptied the weapon into the side of the ridgeback. Snarling with rage, and pain, its flank bleeding from two dozen wounds, the ridgeback wheeled towards Nelson and charged. The impact hurled the man into the trunk of a tree, and then the beast was there, ripping and slashing with the long tusks; biting and pulling with its other teeth. Slowly Nelson stopped screaming, and the blood ceased to flow. But the ridgeback was not yet finished. An omnivore, he was not one to let either meal go to waste. Keeping one eye on the little intruder high up in his tree, he began to consume the two men, his jaws snapping bones like sticks of cinnamon.

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

Clinging to the side of the tree trunk, Cassie turned her face away from the gory sight below, and tried to scramble higher. She grunted with the effort to climb, and then heard sniffing from beneath her. The child slowly looked down into the red eyes of the pig-like creature below. It grunted and squealed and bellowed, and then rose up on its hind limbs and kicked at the tree, making it shake. Cassie yelped and almost fell, but she wrapped her arms around the branch, hanging on as tight as she could.

The ridgeback bellowed its fury, and Cassie could feel the warm stink of its breath just beneath her legs. Then it tusks began slashing at the trunk, striking sparks against the feroak. She scrambled higher, pulling her legs up out of range and clung to the tree, tears streaming down her face as she wailed in horror.

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

Despite the pain-killers, Truscott’s side was aflame as he ran through the forest. Then he heard gun-shots nearby, followed by a low-rumbling bellow, and then more automatic weapons fire. And the scream of a little girl. She’s alive, he thought to himself. Absalom, if you ever get out of this mess and you are issued any more screwy orders, just take a personal day and go the hell home.

He spit the blood that was welling up into his throat onto the ground and crouched down low, in spite of the sudden pain from his side. Some-one had shot—and none of the detail had any weapons that made a sound like that. He began making his way slowly and carefully towards the cry, watching the surrounding forest as he went.


March 23, 2768
Royal Black Watch HQ, Fort Tobias Harrison
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


Lt. Colonel Ethan Moreau was just finishing the required form—in triplicate—explaining yet again why his command needed the Nighthawk suits, when the telephone on his desk buzzed.

“Moreau. THEY WHAT?” he yelled as he bounced to his feet. Dropping the phone, he slammed his hand down on a button on his desk, and alarms began to sound across the entire compound. He charged into the entry-hall of the HQ building just as his senior NCOs and a few officers came into the area. All of them were belting on weapons.

“Launch the rescue birds for Farthington Pass, McCormick—have McMurtree ground all other flights immediately. Inform them, the Navy will shoot down any one flying except us. Mike, get on the phone in my office, get the full scoop, and inform Major Tanaka and Sergeant Major Howe at Defense HQ. Everyone else, get to your ship and get in the air. The Family is down—there were concealed SAMs at Farthington—and I want every man out there now.”

“SAMS!?” exclaimed one of his battalion commanders.

“SAMs,” replied Moreau. “I don’t know, and at the moment I don’t care. Lady Marianne and her daughter—the BLOODY HEIR—went down when their car was hit. The entire reaction platoon was taken out as well.”

“Sir,” one of his armor company commanders interrupted as they ran down the steps of the building. From other structures all around, men were pouring into trucks racing towards the space-port half-a-klick away. “There isn’t anywhere in Farthington Pass the Droppers can set down to off-load our vehicles.”

“I know, son. Your spam-in-a-can are gonna get kicked out from a thousand meters—they have all passed parachute training, right?”

“Most of them.”

“Well, let’s hope the rest are quick studies.”

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

At McMurtree Space Port, Captain Isaiah Wheeler listened to the short staccato sentences emerge from the loud-speaker, and cursed. “All right, you damned fools. You heard Regiment—we are responding, and the landing zone may be HOT. Lock and load, troopers.”

Throughout the infantry bays of the Intruder class DropShip Andersonville, soldiers of the Black Watch Regiment checked their Nighthawk armor and gave their weapons a final inspection. Since the Regiment had officially reformed and resumed their duties, Moreau and Tanaka had ordered that a full company of infantry—combat loaded—sit here at the space-port ready for launch two minutes after the order was given. From here, they could reach any point of the planet in less than twenty minutes—if the ship were allowed to thrust at full. His command—Echo Company, 2nd Battalion—was the lucky one that had the duty today.

Sitting down, he pulled the restraining straps tight, and took a deep breath. The engines of the DropShip fired beneath him, and suddenly he was riding a rocket to heaven.

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

“Andersonville, I don’t care what your orders are! There is incoming traffic in your flight path!” the controller screamed over the transmitter.

“McMurtree Flight, you had better clear our air-space, or I will shoot the SOBs out of my way! We have declared an emergency—A BLACK WATCH EMERGENCY—so clear me a flight-path or so help me God I will do it for you!”

The controller went to respond, his face flushed and angry—Flight Controllers were God on Earth, and no one—NO ONE—spoke to them in such a manner. But his supervisor was there, and he took the transmitter away. “Copy that, Andersonville. Good hunting. Flight out.”

His subordinate stared at him in disbelief, and the supervisor shook his head. “Go clear your head Bill. Black Watch Emergency means we clear everything—even if we have to ditch incoming traffic in a field.”

His subordinate finally relaxed, and then his head shot up, his face pale with shock. “But that means . . .”

“Yeah. That is exactly what it means. Listen up, people. Everything, EVERYTHING—planet-wide—hits tarmac. NOW. Make it happen.”

The men and women of McMurtree Flight Control hustled to work, keeping their minds off what the emergency declaration might mean for each of them—and for Asta, and the Star League.

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

“I want all of our sensors dialed into that area, from every ship in orbit, and I want it yesterday, people. If a mosquito takes a piss, I want to see it,” Lauren McNeil calmly said from the bridge of SLS McKenna. “Commander Abrams, send the ship to Action Stations and clear our starboard battery.”

She looked at the holo-tank as it zoomed in on Farthington Pass. NOTHING could have gotten past the Fleet to land—nothing big, at least. But if the Black Watch needed orbital fire support, then she and the Flagship would be the one to give it. And if the First Lord’s family were dead, then she would ensure that NONE of those responsible would escape, even if it meant annihilating every living creature in an area a hundred kilometers in diameter.

“Weapons are manned and hot; all stations report manned and standing by,” her executive officer called out.

“Send our sensor data directly to the Black Watch command DropShip, Commander. Make sure they can see everything we can.”

“Aye, aye, ma’am,” he replied, and bent over to carry out the task. Now all we have to do is wait, she thought. And pray.


March 23, 2768
Black Pine Forest Preserve
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


Truscott could hear the ridgeback ahead of him quite clearly now. And Cassie was whimpering from somewhere above. Good girl, he thought. Get high to get away from the animal. But where were the others that had been doing the shooting? Something, some instinct told him he was being watched, and Absalom dropped to the ground. Three slugs ripped through the over-growth, and then three more hit his armor, followed by another three—once again on the armor. He rolled over onto his back and raised the heavy Mauser, squeezing the trigger as he did, even as six more bullets flattened themselves on his chest. He screamed as his own weight drove the metal splinter deeper into his side, but the burst of coherent energy ripped apart a man holding a sub-machine gun climbing up towards his head.

Not too far away, he heard the ridgeback bellow, and the ground began to shake as it ran towards the sound of popping gunfire; towards him. Oh great, he thought, as he thumbed the selector switch to grenade.

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

Hans stayed perfectly still as he heard the SMG fire from Hollis, and the scream of the dying man that had just been shot. The ridgeback in the clearing ahead wheeled and charged towards his team-mate. Good-bye, Hollis, the Loki team leader thought. Say hi to Liam and Nelson in Valhalla for me. He stayed on the ground as the massive hog passed by, fixated on the sound that had hurt it earlier. And slowly he began to creep forward, trying to get a clear field of fire on the daughter of the First Lord.

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

The creature tore through the forest like an armored tank, and Absalom raised rifle one-handed as he watched it come. The ridgeback spotted the movement and charged, and he squeezed the trigger. A heavy THUD sounded and the grenade spat away, hitting the ground between the front two paws. It exploded, and the ridgeback squealed with pain as fragments ripped apart its fore-legs and soft underbelly. The grenade ripped apart the beasts throat as well, and the corpse hit the forest floor. But one does not so easily stop 750 kilos moving at close to 30 kilometers per hour. Absalom dropped the rifle and covered his head as the beast skidded into him, one of its tusks ripping through his leg armor and into the flesh beneath.

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

Hans heard the grenade and knew his time was up. Hollis had no grenades—none of them did. He stood and charged forward, taking aim at the girl—but she was gone! The little bitch had dropped out of the tree and taken off into the woods again. He looked at the ground, but the ridgeback had torn up the snow and earth; then he saw the tracks; to the east, leading off towards Hillman’s Bluff. And he began to run after his quarry.

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

Cassie was exhausted, cold, and dehydrated, but she ran as if the devil himself were after her. Given what the day had brought, who knew? He might well be. Tearing through the underbrush, she broke into an open clearing and threw herself backwards, landing on her butt. Ahead of her, there was perhaps five meters, maybe six of snow, and then the cliff dropped twenty meters to the treetops below. She crawled to the edge, but it was sheer, and the rocks were icy, and she just sat there, breathing heavy.

Behind her, she heard something crash through the forest, but it did not shake the ground like the ridgeback had. And a man emerged; a man holding a gun much like the one the other two bad men had held. She put her hand in the pocket of her jacket, but it was torn, and the pistol was gone; it lay somewhere on the forest floor behind her.

“That was quite a chase you have given me, little one,” he said, as he stood up and began to slow his own breathing down. “You are an intriguing young lady.”

“Where’s Momma?” Cassie whispered as she stared at the tall man.

“Oh, somewhere safe, little one. Somewhere there is no hurt and no pain. And you will get to go see her,” he said, as he passed his left arm through the fiber strap to steady the weapon.

“Don’t cry, liebchin, this will not hurt one bit. I promise you that,” he said as he began to lower the gun.

Absalom Truscott charged from the woods into the clearing behind Trevane, and using the full power of his suits myomer muscles, he swung the feroak branch he had ripped from the tree back at the ridgebacks den. “Yeah, but this will hurt like Hell, I can promise YOU that,” he said as the heavy wood club slammed into Han’s right shoulder, shattering the joint, and making him drop the weapon. Hans grabbed for it with his left hand, but the club swung down on that shoulder as well. A third swing hit behind his knees and the Loki agent collapsed to the ground. Absalom limped around, and Hans saw him fully for the first time. His armor was ruined, with a shard of metal dripping blood protruding from his right side, and a broken off ridgeback tusk in his left leg, the ivory extending out from both sides where it had penetrated the armor plating, as well as the flesh, bone, and blood beneath. His helmet was missing, and spalls of lead covered his back and chest from Hollis’s SMG. And his arm was; well, it was bent at an unnatural angle.

Absalom reached down and grabbed Hans by the jaw with the armored glove that covered his good arm. “And I hope this will hurt even more you son-of-a-bitch.”

Letting go, he punched down with all of his strength, augmented by the myomer muscles of the suit, and Hans’s skull shattered beneath the pile-driver blow. The armored gauntlet tore through the skull and face, and the assassin limply collapsed onto the ground. Absalom shook the brains and blood from his fist and turned towards Cassie, took one step, and then dropped to his knees—throwing up on the no-longer pristine snow.

“Who are you?” she whispered.

“I’m one of the good guys, Lady Cassandra. I’m one of the good guys, and I am here to take you home.”
Last edited by masterarminas on 2013-05-29 11:45am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2013-05-29 11:43am

I believe the technical term at this point is "This shit just got real."
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
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Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-29 11:49am

Chapter Forty-Seven

March 26, 2768
Asta Defense Headquarters
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


Aaron took a sip from the triple shot of whiskey that Colonel Hall had poured him as he looked over the hologram of the Inner Sphere. Five of the dots representing worlds—Luthien, Rasalhague, Benjamin, Galedon, and New Samarkand—had all been struck with nuclear weapons in sneak attacks. Five more—New Avalon, Robinson, New Syrtis, Wernke, and Kathil—had suffered chemical weapon attacks. Imperial Palace on Luthien was simply gone—the teak construction had ignited in a conflagration that had consumed everything. Seventeen million people—on eight worlds—were dead, with tens of millions more injured or poisoned, either by chemicals or radiation. The weapon used on Luthien had been especially deadly, with a cobalt jacket that would poison the air, soil, and water for centuries for come. At this very moment, rescue crews were working to cut a path to the shafts to the emergency bunker beneath the ruins. Minoru’s heir—Zabu—had managed to get into the bunker, but the detonation had cracked the bedrock. Water had been slowly seeping in from deep underground, and still the exit shafts were blocked. There had been no communication with the bunker for six hours, now.

Vincent Kurita—the father of Drago, dead at the hands of Amaris on Terra, and cousin to Minoru—had been recalled to Luthien to assume command of the rescue operations; and quite possibly to be announced as Heir, if the worst happened. Sixty-two years old, Vincent was a moderating voice in the House of Kurita, but there was no sign of moderation now. The Dracs were angry—furious—with Amaris and those who followed him. Sure, there had been anger before, but this was something new. Aaron feared that none of the DCMS would give quarter, certainly they would ask for none. And the AFFS seemed ready to follow their lead. On New Avalon, Amanda Davion had died in the gassing of the capital. Even though she was not the heir to the throne of the Federated Suns, she had been her father’s favorite—his only daughter. Her brother—Joshua—had been safely off-world, having just been posted to his first command in the 11th Avalon Hussars. Yet, Amanda had been beloved by the Army rank-and-file. And the message Amaris sent had rung through to them; the Dracs were powerful enough and feared enough to be nuked; the AFFS was seen as vermin to be exterminated with poison gas.

He took another sip, and then sighed as he sat down in the chair across from Aleksandyr Kerensky and Thomas Marik. His own SLDF was in a fine state of mind as well, today. Despite everything they had done, all that they had accomplished, STILL they had missed the traitors that attempted to kill the First Lord. One of his division commanders had told him earlier today he doubted if the troops were willing anymore to take prisioners. Not with the wife of the First Lord and her unborn child dead at the hands of Rim Worlds Makos.

“At least they did not get Cassie,” he whispered, as he lifted the glass and took another long pull.

Aleksandyr snorted. “Thank God for small favors, Aaron. It they had managed to get her as well . . .”

The commander of the SLDF winced at the thought. The First Lord was taking it badly already, if his daughter not survived, he would have shut down completely. Stephen Cameron was a fine man—a man he was proud to serve—but there was an element within him that could turn into a monster if it ever broke free. If she had died, the consequences would have been horrific.

“What happens how?” Thomas Marik asked, holding his own glass of untouched liquor.

“A good question, General Marik,” Aleksandyr said. “We have finished the plans for Ragnarok, and the date of the assault has been set for November 6th. However, we still have to bring the Army, Corps, and Division commanders in, and begin training. The AFFS and DCMS must be integrated into our command structure—there is much left to do in the next eight months before we can initiate the operation. But if we have missed any Rim agents in the units or on this world, we risk letting him know our plans before the operation begins.”

“I always thought him a buffoon,” Aaron said. “How the HELL did he manage to pull all of this off?”

“That is what he wanted all of us to think, Aaron,” Aleksandyr said sadly. “Do not underestimate Stefan Amaris or his family. Of all the Great Houses, the House of Amaris has always been the most Machiavellian. He was weaned on intrigue and deception—and he is a very charismatic man when he chooses to be. I do not doubt that there are many in the Old Hegemony that willingly followed him instead of Richard.”

“But can’t they see he is as mad as a hatter?” Thomas asked.

“Perhaps, but does it matter? His troops will follow him—they have no other choice now. Will Davion or Kurita accept their surrender? Will WE? His troops will fight, because to do otherwise means they will die. Some will flee—into the depths of the Periphery, or perhaps to the Free Worlds or the Commonwealth or the Confederation, seeking asylum and sanctuary. And those quislings who have supported him on the Hegemony worlds, they will fight because if he falls so do they. I fear, gentlemen, we are on the precipice of the abyss.”


March 26, 2768
Branson House
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


Hiroyoshi lowered his head as he stopped in front of the door to Stephen’s suite. It had not been his fault—he knew that—but still he felt responsible. His duty lay to the man within, and he could only be in one place at a single time. He knew that, and yet, he still felt guilt at having failed his Lord and Master. And still more guilt at the joy he felt knowing that his family was safe, while so many millions lay dead back on Luthien. He shook his head and rapped on the door.

Gerald opened it from the inside, and nodded at him in greeting. Across the sitting room, by the bay windows Marianne had so loved, Stephen sat in a rocking chair, cradling his sleeping daughter in his arms. He stared out the window, and slowly rocked as he sang a lullaby to her.

Hiroyoshi swallowed and entered the room, stopping three steps from the First Lord of the Star League, and bowed deeply.

“Yes, Hiroyoshi?”

“My Lord, Coordinator Kurita requests a moment of your time.”

Stephen nodded, and looked down at his daughter, sleeping in his arms. He gently stood, and carried her into her bedroom, laying her down on the bed, and wrapping a blanket around her. He left her there, and closed the doors, and returned to the sitting room, taking a seat.

“Show him in, Hiroyoshi.”

The Dragon had seen better days, Stephen thought, as the man he called a friend entered. But haven’t we all? Minoru was wan, and he looked so tired—exhausted—that Stephen knew he was running solely on adrenalin, just as he was himself.

“Lord Kurita, what brings you here today?”

“I have summoned my cousin Vincent to Asta, Lord Stephen. You must meet with him, for he shall be the one to succeed me as Coordinator.”

Stephen closed his eyes and shook his head. “They found your son?”

“Hai. The rescue team—led by your own engineers—cleared the shaft an hour ago. The bunker had flooded completely, and my son—all of those within—had drowned.”

Stephen wiped tears from his eyes and stood. He crossed the room to Minoru and threw his arms around him in a tight hug. “I can only promise that your House will have vengeance upon him, my brother,” he whispered. “I cannot promise you will survive.”

Minoru’s voice cracked as he answered. “I have no sons left to carry on my name, Lord Stephen. Revenge is all that I have remaining to me.”

Stephen stepped back, his hands on Minoru’s biceps. “And revenge is what we WILL have, Lord Minoru. I swear it, upon our sacred dead. NONE that bear the name Amaris will live; NONE that carry his blood in their veins will survive; and those who call him Lord will regret the day they bent knee to him. I swear this to you, may my own soul be forfeit if I fail.”


March 30, 2768
SLDF Occupation Headquarters
New Athens, Apollo
Rim Worlds Protectorate


General Andrea Bates, commanding officer of the Star League Defense Force 8th Army, and acting Governor-General of the Rim, stood on a small wooden stage as her troops brought forth the prisoners. Two hundred and seventy-four in all were lined up against the stone walls of the old fortress she had taken as her headquarters upon this world. She held her hand out, and her aide laid the old-fashioned parchment scroll down on it.

Taking the scroll, she opened it, and began to read.

“By order of the First Lord of the Star League, you have been found guilty of crimes against Humanity. The actions taken by the leader of your House has stained your lineage for all time to come, and today that lineage will end. All those bearing the Blood of the House of Amaris are hereby sentenced to death; all those who willingly serve the House of Amaris are likewise sentenced to death. Sentence is to be carried out immediately.”

She set down the parchment and nodded to the Captain commanding the firing squad. “Ready,” he yelled as he raised his saber. “Aim!”

The civilians in the courtyard below looked at the SLDF troopers in horror as the firing squad raised their weapons. Some of the women covered the faces of their children. A few defiantly looked at the soldiers. Most wept and pleaded.

“Fire!” Forty lasers opened up in staccato bursts of light that cut through the men, women, and children like a scythe through wheat. The SLDF troopers fired until the power packs were exhausted, and then the Captain made his way through the smoking bodies. Here and there, his pistol fired precise bursts into any still living.

“General,” her aide interrupted Andrea as she watched. “What do you want done with the bodies?”

“Burn them and scattered the ashes. The First Lord wants no memorials or monuments left to any Amaris. Have the engineers exhume his family cemetery and add those bodies to the pile. Then they can plow that ground under as well.”

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

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2013-05-29 11:57am

I do believe the Star League just leapt off the preipice.
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.

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

Post by MondoMage » 2013-05-29 01:24pm

All I can say is that the Lyrans better pray that no one ever figures out the true allegiance of that strike team. Fortunately for the Steiners, Truscott blew his chance to take one of them alive. Of course, in that sort of situation bodyguards tend to be more interested in keeping their charges alive, rather than their attackers.

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-05-29 11:19pm

Chapter Forty-Eight

April 10, 2768
SS McQuiston’s Prize (DCS Black Rose)
Oriente Local Space
Free Worlds League


Takiro Sogabe watched as the main yards of the Oriente system slid into view across the limb of the planet in his holographic projector. His vessel—disguised as a Lyran freighter, supposedly waiting to rendezvous with a vessel from Shiro III to transcript—had entered the system four days ago, and was just now settling into orbit around the planet.

The news media had been all abuzz with the events taking place back home, and Takiro’s crew grieved for the death of young Zabu. But the carnage upon their worlds did not take away from their mission. If anything, it gave them an opportunity to carry it out. Even now, the shuttle bearing the Free World League customs inspectors was on its way towards the main docking bay—every ship entering the system was to be searched.

He leaned back in his command chair, and his right hand stroked the keypad that would order the scuttling charges to detonate. It was not exactly what his Lord had intended, but with the sneak attacks upon Kurita and Davion space, it would be enough. It should be enough.

“Is everything prepared, Mister Aso?”

“Hai, Captain—all stations are manned and we are ready to execute the Will of the Dragon.”

Takiro took a deep breath, and then crisply nodded. “Gunnery Officer, load all launch tubes with nuclear ordnance. Attack pattern Zeta-Two. Prepare to jettison the outer panels on my mark.”

“Aye, aye, Captain. All tubes are hot, and Zeta-Two is loaded into the master fire control system.”

“Jettison panels.”

Black Rose bucked as two dozen hull plates, each almost ten meters square, were separated from the ship by explosive charges. The radio began to squawk as the inspection team detected the debris floating away. Takiro waited until his Gunnery Officer spoke again.

“Flight path clear, Captain.”

“Rapid-fire on all tubes, EXECUTE!” he barked.

Twenty-four Killer Whale missile launchers flung their thirty-ton projectiles into space. Once free of the ship, each fired their own thrusters and began accelerating—half towards the Naval Yards, the others towards the surface of the planet below. Thirty seconds after the first launch came a second, and thirty seconds after that a third.

“We are being ranged upon by the FWLN vessels in orbit—multiple LIDAR hits!” the sensor officer called out from his post.

“Continue engagement of the yards and the planet—ignore the enemy vessels,” Takiro responded.

His first wave of missiles arrived at the massive orbiting yards—scores of free-floating structures that included repair slips, building docks, and massive foundries. Of the first twelve, ten broke through the point-defense fire and impacted amongst them. Each erupted in a nuclear detonation, tearing the structures apart. Just seven of the second wave remained, as the defensive fire intensified, but those seven destroyed the dry-docks—currently housing three Atreus class battleships and a half-dozen cruisers and less vessels. Before the third wave could hit, Black Rose shuddered, as a dozens of ships poured fire into her flanks.

Alarms began to ring across the bridge, and the lights flickered—but the holotank stayed operational. “We’ve lost the starboard battery!” the Gunnery Officer yelled.

“Roll ship on her axis, and continue to engage the yards with the port battery,” Takiro coldly responded.

“Massive damage to engineering, KF Drive Core off-line,” the executive officer called out from his station. “All power conduits to the starboard battery are inoperative.”

Takiro did not respond as another salvo slammed into his ship. He watched as the thirty-six missiles from the port battery began to enter attack range of the surface. One by one, mushroom clouds expanded in the planets atmosphere as weapons factories, armor foundries, electronics manufacturers, and other vital plants for building naval vessels burned.

He nodded to himself. It is done, he thought. Even as his crew scrambled, launching yet more missiles at the burning yards orbiting the savaged planet, he reached out with his right hand and punched a four-digit code into the keypad. The screen flashed twice, and the four 1-megaton nuclear demolition charges detonated.

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