The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

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

Post by Deebles » 2013-06-01 11:05am

Two tiny medical nitpicks on this generally excellent and quite compelling narrative:

1) On tattoos: these tend to age; and a close medical examination should distinguish a fresh one from an old one. All four Makos having fresh tattoos might ring some alarms, if they were thoroughly autopsied.

2) On sperm: it can be frozen. And if you know testicular cancer runs in your family and maintaining your lineage is a matter of vital political necessity, you'd probably have a stash of your sperm somewhere very secure.

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-02 12:38am

Chapter Fourteen

Liz reached the top of the ridge and stopped, leaning against the tall pine to renew her wind. The vision of the Hell they had just left still played across her thoughts as she paused, and her stomach lurched again. Not next time, she swore. Next time, I won’t be weak; next time, I will show no mercy to those scum. She turned just in time to see Daniel clutch his chest and fall.

She flew down the slope like a gazelle, dodging the rugged pines, the thick vines threatening to trip her with every step and send her plunging down the hill. Thorns tore at her skin as she ignored their pricks and she slid to a stop next to the old man on her knees, sending fallen leaves and underbrush flowing away from her.

“Sergeant-Major, Daniel, talk to me, dammit, Kobrowski, TALK TO ME!”

Daniel groaned and his eyes fluttered open. The skin of his face was bone-white, clammy and cold to the touch. “Capt’n,” he whispered, his words slurred and half-mumbled.

“God damn it, Daniel, don’t scare me like that—where are you hit?”

“Not shot, Capt’n. My . . . my heart.”

Liz looked down at him, her eyes growing wide in dawning horror. She tore the ruck she wore from her back and began rummaging for the med-kit. Opening a pack of aspirin, she placed two under his tongue, and a slight bit of color came back as they dissolved into his blood, and eased the crushing pain. He looked up at her, his face calm, but sad.

“Don’t worry none, Capt’n, Lizabeth. It don’t have my meds.”

Liz cradled the old non-com’s head in her lap, her eyes filling with water. “I’ll get you back to the cache, Dan, just you hold on, please hold on.”

“It’s my time, Capt’n. Ran out of my heart meds a month ago. We don’t have any . . . any more. You need to go along, now lass. Go along now, before they come.”

“I won’t leave you, Dan, I won’t. Don’t you die on me, you damned old fool. Why didn’t you tell me you needed medicine?”

“Cause you would have gotten yourself killed, Capt’n. It’s my time, girl. I’ve seen ninety springs in my time, and it’s time to pass on.”

Liz began crying—not Daniel, not after everything else. Not after Tim, and the First Lord, and the Regiment.

“My time, Capt’n, not yours. Just do one last thing for me, girl.”

“What’s that, Dan?”

The old non-com looked her square in the eyes, and though his voice was weak, the will behind it was not. “Remember your oath, girl. You are the last. The last of the Regiment. Our honor . . . is . . . now your honor. Swear it to me, girl. NOW.”

Liz stroked his sweat-lined face, tears washing down her cheeks. “I swear it, Sergeant-Major Kobrowski. I will keep the honor of the Regiment, until the day I die.”

“May it be a long time yet, girl, may it be . . .” his voice trailed off and his body went limp in her arms.


September 2, 2768
Portland, Oregon Province
North America, Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


“Liz?”

The soft voice pulled Elizabeth Hazen from her vivid memory, and she snapped instantly awake, shuddering at the dream that had received through her subconscious.

“Go, Vince,” she whispered into the microphone.

“Target in sight, you are good to go anytime—he’s already ordered a hooker for the night and she’s due to arrive in fifteen.”

“Our honor . . . is . . . now your honor. Swear it to me, girl. NOW.”

Tears leaked from her eyes and Liz shook her head. “Negative, Vince—go with the alternate,” she forced herself to say, as she shrank back down on her hells and hugged her knees close against her chest.

For a moment, there was only silence, and then Vince asked, “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” she answered through gritted teeth. “Frank, take the shot.”

Three rooftops away, Frank Weatherby centered his crosshairs on the Rim Colonel walking up the steps to his second floor apartment. His scope zoomed in on the man’s face, and then he slowly squeezed the trigger.

BAM rang out the rifle shot in the early evening darkness. “Target down,” whispered Frank’s voice over Liz’s earpiece.

She nodded to herself. “Renedevous at gamma, people, move it.”

As Elizabeth Hazen, the last survivor of the Royal Black Watch Regiment stood and began to walk away, she saw her younger brother through the wetness of her tears. “I won’t become them, Timmy, I won’t. I will preserve our honor, bro; we will win this war with our soul intact.” And I won’t ever let you down again, Sergeant Major, she thought. Not again.

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-02 12:38am

September 4, 2768
Planetary Surveillance Command HQ, Fort Lewis
North America, Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


Saul did not look up from his desk at the sound of the knock on the door of his office. “Come!” he snarled, as he continued trying to compose yet the latest report to Internal Security on the progress being made against insurgents world-wide—and why the satellite system was proving relatively ineffective at locating them. He snorted in derision—as if the network had been built to track small bands of guerillas in the first place. They were damned lucky that they got half the information Planetary Surveillance sent their way; especially since more often than not they screwed up on their end.

Of course, Saul thought with a smile, part of that might be that he was skewing the data in a manner designed to bleed IntSec white.

“Major, sir,” he heard Zach’s voice, and Saul set down his pen and looked up. “I have finished analyzing those insurgent attack patterns you requested,” the young man said very deliberately.

Saul nodded, and drew in a deep breath. “Close the door, Senior Chief, and take a seat,” he said as he opened a desk drawer and removed a device, rapidly attaching leads to his phone, and then pressing two buttons. A green light appeared, blinked three times and began to steadily glow. A countdown timer appeared on a small display, starting at 3:00 and began to wind steadily down.

“All right Zack, all their bugs will hear now is that recording—what is the emergency?”

“I think you need to see this, sir,” the techno-geek said quietly. “My trojans and sleepers intercepted it this morning—and it ain’t good, sir.”

Zach passed a secure data-pad across the desk, one with the network function permanently disabled—removed as a matter of fact. Saul frowned and scanned the pad, his face going white with shock. He began to look at the information more closely, but then deliberately saved the data—Zach already had, but it never hurt to be extra-safe, not with this—and set down the pad. He leaned back in his chair and took a second to think.

Finally, he nodded as he made his decision. Before now, everything had been deniable, but once he passed this on he would be past the point of no return. So be it, he thought.

“Thank you, Zach. Signal Olds and Ghost—though the secure system you set up—that we all need to meet ASAP.” He glanced at the timer, and it was steadily counting down: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and then the green light went out.

“Well, it’s not what IntSec was hoping for, Senior Chief, but it’s better than nothing. At least we know they are not operating in any recognizable pattern. Good work, is there anything else?”

“No, sir.”

“Dismissed.”


September 5, 2768
The Red Light Brothel, Greenwood
North America, Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


Saul looked over the selection of scantily clad women—and several young men—with an approving eye as he and Zach stood in the center of the reception room of the whorehouse. You are here on business, he told himself sternly, and not this kind of monkey business—but he smiled as he thought that.

The madam approached the pair. “Welcome, gentlemen. How may we serve you, tonight?”

“I have an appointment with Danielle, ma’am. The name is Weiling.”

The madam nodded. “Of course, Mr. Weiling, everything is prepared. Is it his first time?” she asked nodding at Zach.

“Yes,” Saul smirked, actually enjoying Zach’s discomfiture. “I thought I would reward the Senior Chief for his hard work over the past few weeks—and I have heard that Danielle is perfect for teaching the young and inexperienced.”

“Oh, but she is, Mister Weiling. This way, if you please.”

The two Rim soldiers were lead through a bewildering labyrinth of hallways and doors, until they arrived before a stout wooden door. “She is inside, Mister Weiling—enjoy the bar in the suite, while Danielle takes care of your friend in one of the adjourning rooms.”

“My thanks,” Saul said as he pressed a handful of bills into the woman’s outstretched hand. He knocked on the door and carefully opened it, squeezing inside after it stopped half way, with Zach following behind him.

Vince closed the door behind the pair, throwing the bolt closed, and Saul nodded at Liz and Malachi as he crossed the room to the bar and poured himself a tall glass of scotch.

“Well, Major, here we are,” said Liz as she sipped on a club soda. Malachi had an open beer is his—and Bernie, like his twin Vince, held nothing other than a sub-machine gun.

Saul sat down and pointed Zach to the last remaining free chair, where he sat as well. “Show them, Zach,” he said glumly.

The surveillance tech pulled two data chips from his pocket and passed them across to Liz and Malachi, who loaded them into their own data-pads. And Liz gaped in shock, while Malachi simply said, “Holy shit.”

Saul waited as they paged down, and down, and down, until finally both finished reading the documents and set their data-pads down, as if they were radioactive. And then he nodded.

“It is not the actual operations order, at least, but whoever summarized did a damn fine job of including the details of when and where the landing zones are. Plus the troop strength, plus their distraction and diversion attacks—the whole ball game is right there, people. Kerensky has designated it as Operation Ragnarok.”

“How the hell did you get this, Saul!” snapped Liz.

“Tell them Zach, and explain to them why you are leaving with Liz tonight,” Saul answered as he took another deep pull of the whiskey.

“Well, I forged an order for Internal Security to tap and download all computer, voice, and video communications and information at the Imperial Palace.”

“YOU WHAT!” shouted Malachi as he came out of his chair. “Are you insane, Zach?”

Liz just stared at the young man, who looked down at the floor.

“It was an internal order, eyes-only IntSec, and I made it look as if it was sent by von Strang. No one in IntSec is going to question that—and the order explicitly said that the Emperor had ordered a backup off-site storage of the data. But I put a back door into the server specified four months ago, so I could read any of the data without leaving a footprint.”

“And I routed my access through three different satellites and sixteen cities—I don’t think they could trace me, even if they found it.”

“You don’t think they could trace . . .” Malachi sat down his beer, and then he walked to be bar and came back with a bottle of vodka. He shook his head and chuckled—almost hysterically, in fact. “Mama wanted me to be a cook, well, she’s gonna see me in the kitchen before I die, because, boy, von Strang and fat-boy are gonna boil my ass in oil if they discover this!”

Liz held up her hand. “What’s done is done, Mal. I am more concerned about what this means for the SLDF. Amaris is pulling the majority of his troops home—and massing them in the landing zones. This will be a slaughter, even before the Regular Army exits its DropShips.”

“Yeah, they’ll lose a hundred percent of the first two or three waves—probably three-quarters of the follow-on, if they don’t abort early. Which will leave Kerensky in orbit, with no choice but to bombard, which means we are all royally screwed,” Mal said glumly. “I’ll probably freeze to death during the nuclear winter afterwards, unless my battalion is in the target zone of those battleships, in which case I’m human popcorn.”

“Not necessarily,” Saul said reluctantly. “We may have a way to get the information off Terra and to the General.”

Liz stared at Saul for several seconds. “I sense a but coming here,” she said.

And Saul nodded in agreement. “Last week, IntSec captured one of the last living Blackhearts still on Terra. He is being held at the penitentiary at Walla Walla until his execution, which is scheduled for the Friday—three days from now. If anyone has a way to get past Amaris security and get off-world, it is the Shadow.”

“You cannot be serious, Saul. You are talking about breaking the Shadow out of a maximum security IntSec facility—with less than seventy-two hours to plan the op. It can’t be done!”

“Yes it can, Captain Olds. Your orders are for you and your company to reinforce IntSec at Walla Walla, Mal; you and an attached company of light infantry under Liz. I had Zach print out another forgery with von Strang’s signature, so they shouldn’t be questioned—all of the papers are in order. Once there, you will eliminate the guards and get the Shadow clear, and find out if he does have any means of getting this information off the planet. Understand this, Mal, you are out in the cold after this—you and your troops both. You’ll have to ditch your ‘Mechs and extricate on foot with Liz.”

“Planetary Surveillance will be able to track us in minutes, Saul. It can’t be done,” Mal said again.

And nodded his head once more, finishing the tall glass. “Leave that to me. It’s time to go all in, and I haven’t come this far to back out now. Besides, I’ve always wanted to send my bosses and esteemed colleagues to hell—now is as good a time as any.”

Liz closed her eyes. “You know you can’t let yourself be taken, Saul.”

“I know, that’s why the belt has ten kilos of plastique in it, Liz. Trust me; Planetary Surveillance will not be a factor.”

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-02 12:41am

September 8, 2768
Internal Security Close Detention Facility 4, Walla Walla
North America, Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


“I have to clear this with Colonel Hertzog, ma’am—I wasn’t told to expect reinforcements.”

Liz nodded in agreement, keeping her face absolutely free from showing any emotions. “Quite right, trooper; I have new orders for Milo as well,” she finished as she tapped the side of a secured documents case.

“Wait here, ma’am,” he said politely as he returned to the kiosk next to the massive gate.

“Zach,” she whispered, “you did get that order uploaded to the facilities terminal, right?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he answered. “Seventeen minutes ago. I made it seem like von Strang really doesn’t want this Shadow breaking out before his execution.”

“Someday, you and I are going to have to have a little talk about what you can and cannot do on your own initiative, Zach.”

Liz stopped speaking as the guard came back, his face looking a little relieved. “Ma’am, Colonel Hertzog confirmed that he just received orders of your command’s arrival. I don’t think the ‘Mechs will fit through the gate, though,” he finished as he stared at the bulk of Mal’s massive Thunderbolt, and the fifteen other ‘Mechs arrayed behind it. The five two-and-a-half ton trucks lined up following Liz’s jeep were miniscule in comparison.

“Oh, the Dragoons are providing external security, trooper. They will be roaming the perimeter.”

“Just wanted to make certain, ma’am.” He guard waved his arm and the gate slowly opened. Bear placed the vehicle in gear and it accelerated up the ramp and into the courtyard beyond, trailed by five trucks.

As each vehicle came to a halt, several men and women—each wearing a Rim Worlds uniform—bailed out of the trucks and began unloading weapons and equipment. Liz stepped out the jeep and walked towards the doorway heading to the Warden’s office, when suddenly that door opened and Colonel Milos Hertzog began walking towards her.

“I understand you are carrying dispatches, Major?” he asked.

“Yes, sir. Right here, sir,” the guerilla commander answered as she drew his pistol and fired two shots into the Rim Worlder’s throat. The snap of her pistol sent the rest of her team into overdrive, and suddenly a fusillade of shots rang out throughout the compound. One of the guards on the prison walls lifted his rifle, but then a stream of blazing inferno gel splashed across him from one of Mal’s ‘Mechs outside. The power sub-station exploded as yet another ‘Mech fired a class 20 autocannon into it, and heavy machines-guns and flamers began to killing the rest of the on-duty guards in the towers.

“Five minutes, people!” Liz shouted into her radio microphone, as she crouched behind the fender of the jeep, and unloaded the rest of the pistol’s magazine into the first two guards to come running out from the barracks. She dropped the empty weapon as Bear slammed a fully loaded R-11 into her free hand.

“Full mag and one in the spout, Liz!” he yelled.

She lifted the weapon to her shoulder and the assault rifle barked as she began to service targets, two rounds at a time. Another explosion tore open one of the stone walls, and out of the corner of her eye, Liz saw Vince and Bernie rush into the cell block where the captured Blackheart was being held.


September 8, 2768
Planetary Surveillance Command HQ, Fort Lewis
North America, Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


“Sir, IntSec Detention Facility 4 up near Walla Walla has just gone off the air. Satellite surveillance is detecting a firefight within the facility walls and BattleMechs firing at the facility from outside,” one of the surveillance specialists barked out.

Saul Weiling stood and walked to the very center of the room. “Listen up people,” he sang out. “Put your heads between your knees and kiss your asses good-bye, you miserable sons-of-bitches!”

Even as the staff looked up at him, Saul closed his eyes and squeezed the button wired to the detonator in his explosive vest.

The resulting explosion gutted the primary facility for coordinating surveillance activities in North America, blinding the Amaris forces and buying the Ghosts of the Black Watch a little more time.


September 8, 2768
Internal Security Close Detention Facility 4, Walla Walla
North America, Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


Liz was on her fourth magazine when suddenly she heard Vince over the radio, “The package is clear!”

“All right, Ghosts!” she yelled. “Disengage by the numbers, and let’s get out of dodge!”

Ignoring the vehicles that they had arrived in, the guerillas fell back down the ramp, as two ‘Mechs tore the gates off their hinges. With the ‘Mechs giving covering fire, they kept going, even as a passenger bus suddenly pulled off the access road and its doors opened up. One by one, the Ghosts boarded the bus, until only Liz was left. “Break off, Mal,” she broadcast, as the doors scissored shut behind her.

“Roger that,” the former Rim Worlds MechWarrior broadcast over the hash of static. “Rendezvous at Gamma Three.”

“Gamma Three, and Godspeed,” Liz answered.

The bus pulled on the provincial highway and began to accelerate. Suddenly, it slowed and took a sharp turn, pulling into a rest area adjacent to the river. Lisa Buhallin was waiting there, along with an old riverboat that had seen better days. But it floated, and it worked.

Quickly, the Ghosts transferred to the boat, and set off downstream towards the Columbia River. Liz made certain they were not yet being followed, and then went below decks to join the rest of her team. They wouldn’t be on the boat for long—but it never hurt to keep an eye open.

As she descended the ladder, into the belly of the boat, she heard Bernie’s booming voice, “Oh captain, my captain, may I have the pleasure to introduce you to the . . . Shadow!”

Liz smiled and turned around to look at an older man, perhaps in his sixties, his hair mostly gone, and few strands left all grey. He worn a prison jumpsuit, but he smiled. “I hate that nickname, Captain who-ever-you-are. Antonius Zalman at your service,” he said as he bowed. “Late of the Star League Special Intelligence Section, and retired for the past ten years before Amaris made the mistake of invading my home.”

Liz shook her head, and turned to face Bernie. “This is the feared Shadow, the Blackheart that has von Strang all up in arms? Did you get the right prisoner?”

Zalman chuckled. “I’m retired, my dear, not dead. At least not yet, and oh I have been such a bad, bad boy since the Rim Worlder’s took over. Never underestimate one of us blackhearted scoundrels. And since you must have a reason for breaking me out of prison before my execution—good timing by the way—what can a reformed Blackheart do for you?”

Liz stared at the old man for several seconds and then finally nodded. “Ok, we need to get a message off-planet to General Kerensky. Can you help?”

Zalman grinned. “I never refuse a pretty ladies request, my dear.”

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

Post by MondoMage » 2013-06-02 01:21pm

Starting to sound like nobody's plans are going to go anything like they were originally designed... Of course, that is what happens to plans during wartime. Or any time, for that matter...

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-03 07:05pm

Chapter Fourteen

September 8, 2768
Aces and Eights, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


The casino was abuzz with light and sound, filled with patrons winning and losing—mostly losing—their hard-earned paychecks. Aces and Eights was one of the higher stakes casinos in the city of Hawkins, but one that dealt with a fairly exclusive clientele. Despite the non-descript entrance that opened unto an unmarked alley, this establishment catered to the rich, the famous, and the infamous of Asta’s capital city.

“Good evening, sir,” the doorman spoke, as he closed the thick behind the latest guest, “may I take your coat, Mister . . .?”

“Hart. Blake Hart,” the man answered as he handed over an overcoat.

“Of course, Mister. Hart. Are you familiar with the rules of this establishment, sir?”

“Quite. Would you tell Emerson that I have arrived?”

The doorman frowned. “Mister Emerson? I don’t . . .”

“Just tell him; I will be waiting for him on the floor.”

Hart descended onto the gaming floor and spying an empty seat at a blackjack table he took a seat, pulling out a thick wallet from his jacket pocket.

“Drink, sir?” the scantily clad waitress who immediately sidled up next to Hart asked.

“Glengarry Reserve, neat, with a twist.”

Hart played three hands of blackjack as he waited for the owner, sipping on the thick, heavy whiskey as he won each hand.

“Mister Hart?” the waitress asked.

The agent looked up and she nodded. “Mister Emerson will see you now. If you would follow me?”

She led him to the back of the casino and through a series of hallways until they arrived at a plush office; ushering him in, she turned and left.

The extravagantly appointed office was not empty, because Leon Emerson sat the feroak desk in the center, and no fewer than six bodyguards stood against the walls.

“You come here, to my place, after what you did, you bastard!” Emerson snarled. “My knee still aches every time the weather turns cold from where you shot me; do you know how many days that Asta is cold?”

“It is good to see you too, Emerson,” Hart answered with chuckle as he crossed the carpet and took a seat in one of the two leather chairs facing the desk.

“I thought that you and I were done, Hart.”

“We are. I am not here to collect on a debt, Emerson, I want to ask you a question.”

“A question. He comes to me to ask a question, oh Lord my God. Why don’t you just shoot me again?”

“If you think that it would help,” Hart answered with a smile.

“Ask.”

“Landgrave Gloria Lanning: what do you know about her?”

Emerson frowned and leaned back in his seat, one hand absently rubbing his bad knee. “You know the rules, Hart, I might not be in the game anymore, but even retired we don’t talk about our own.”

Hart cocked his head to one side. “Really? After they dumped you in the cold—literally—here on Asta for something that wasn’t your fault to begin with?”

“No,” Emerson growled, “it was not my fault, it was yours!”

“Do you really want me to apologize again for shooting you, Emerson? It did let you live instead of being tried as a traitor to the House of Steiner, didn’t it?”

The former LIC agent frowned, and then he nodded. “Yes, that is true. But the circumstances were different, and I do not believe that Loki served the House of Steiner—killing children to make a point to their parents is wrong.”

“Yes. Which is exactly why I am here. Gloria Lanning.”

“She is a very close friend of the Archon, part of his inner circle along with Eric Kiplinger and Heinrich Dieter. But where they actually care about the Commonwealth, she cares only about the number of Kroners in her accounts. And her own personal power base.”

“Is she connected to LIC?”

Emerson frowned. “No. She advises Archon Robert on economic matters and ramrods his dictates through the Estates-General; she has no connection with the Lyran Intelligence Corp.”

Hart nodded. “Is she capable of taking action against the wishes of the Archon?”

A snort was the answer. “She will spread her legs to earn a half-Kroner, Hart. She makes deals left and right with criminal elements and operates just this side of legal, but she isn’t really that smart. If she thought it would bring her economic or political power, she would do almost anything. Why do you ask?”

“She was the one who recommended Hans Gruber as an accredited journalist here on Asta. That is the same Hans Gruber that pumped six slugs into Marianne Cameron. Only his real identity was Hans Trevane, whose records in the Lyran Commonwealth abruptly end twelve years ago after his arrest on drug charges.”

Emerson leaned back, and rocked in his chair slightly. “That is . . . a different kettle of fish completely. Lanning doesn’t get involved in wetwork—not in the least. She is . . . squeamish about that side of things.”

“You do know that she has been selling arms—Lyran arms—to Amaris?”

“Of course, but that doesn’t get anyone killed directly. Gloria Lanning would never associate herself with any action that has the potential to bite her in the ass like that one. But I think I know someone who might.”

Hart smiled. “And who would that be?”

“Shall we talk price first, Hart?”

“And what is it that you want?”

“Your promise that I will never, ever, see you again.”

“Done.”

Emerson nodded. “I met Hans Trevane six years ago, Hart. Back when I was working on Kiplinger’s staff. He is—was—a Loki commander. And he answered only to Eric.”

“And Eric answers only to the Archon.”

Emerson smiled. “I wouldn’t be too sure about that; Kiplinger has depths to him. He plays the long game, and he plays it very, very well.”

“I guess that I will have to plumb those depths myself then.”

“Good luck with that,” Emerson chuckled. “Maybe karma will make sure that I never see you again, Hart. Eric Kiplinger is a very dangerous man.”

“So am I,” the blackheart said as he stood.

Emerson nodded in agreement. “So you are, old friend. I hope you find your answers.”

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-03 07:06pm

September 8, 2768
Hawkins General Hospital, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


“Captain Truscott, next time you need to try and not to get shot!” Cassie yelled out as she ran into the hospital room ahead of Stephen. The First Lord of the Star League shook his head in gesture of amusement as his daughter jumped up on the edge of the hospital bed and hugged the injured soldier.

Absalom blushed fiercely, and then he gravely looked at the little girl. “I’ll have to give that try, ma’am.”

“Good,” she said as she sternly fixed her face in a glare that reminded Stephen of the look that Marianne often got, “because I don’t want to keep visiting you in a hospital room!”

“The doctor’s tell me you are doing very well, Absalom,” Stephen spoke quickly, moving away from the reminder of his dead wife. “Regiment will probably get you back in a couple of days—and I think Colonel Moreau has a few choice words he would like to share with you; something about wrecking a ‘Mech that can’t be replaced and that he had to scrounge like Hell in order to steal in the first place!”

Truscott winced, but Stephen waved aside the apologies before they could be voiced. “It is a small price to pay for saving the life of General Steiner, trooper. Well done.”

“Thank you, Sir. How is Jennifer—ah, Margrave and General Steiner, I mean—doing?”

“She’s well,” Stephen answered with a chuckle. “In fact she is talking about giving you a real thank-you for pulling her out of that situation, once you have fully recovered. I did warn her, though, she had best not put you back in the hospital—she’s a feisty one.”

Absalom blushed again, and Stephen laughed. Cassie, even as bright as she was, missed the joke and simply looked puzzled at the two of them.

“Any word on what happened with her Zeus, Sir?”

The First Lord stopped smiling, and his face turned somber. “It was sabotage, Captain. The memory module that General Steiner recovered from her cockpit proved that beyond a doubt, and we have the tech who arranged this accident on video in the hanger the night before the exercise.”

“Good,” said Truscott. “Maybe we can make him talk and work back up his chain of . . .”

“We have the video, but the tech himself turned up the following morning dead in a Hawkins alley—his throat slit. Someone cleaned up after themselves very nicely.”

“What I don’t understand, Sir, is why did they take a shot at General Steiner? I mean, she’s not on the list of the Top Ten People Amaris Hates, is she? Seems like if it is a Rim World cell on planet, they should be taking shots at you, or Minoru, or General DeChevilier or Admiral Kirkpatrick or Lord Kerensky—not a Steiner general officer.”

Stephen slowly nodded. “Agreed, and we are looking into it. But for now, we know that some cell is still operating on Asta—and all security has been increased across the board. Unfortunately, I’d like to stay and chat some more, Captain, but Cassandra here has an appointment to get a flu shot. She did insist that we stop by to say hello on the way; and I think that she thought I would forget her appointment if we began to talk shop.”

Cassie sighed and looked down at the floor. “It was worth a try, wasn’t it?”

“That it was, Cassie, that it was. Come on, then; time to get stuck.”

Cassie sighed theatrically and turned back to Truscott. “And you,” she said, wagging a finger at the injured officer. “You stay out of trouble, right Daddy?”

“Right you are.”

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-03 07:07pm

September 9, 2768
Asta Defense Headquarters
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


“Well that was an interesting disaster,” Aaron DeChevilier said with a wry smile. “What happened in the simulation, Admiral?”

Jean Kirkpatrick frowned. “Actually, General, I think the simulation was realistic in showing what is going to happen when I take the Fleet against the Caspars.”

Stephen winced. “Admiral, you lost nearly every ship in your entire command in that scenario! Isn’t there another way to get past them?”

The Commanding Admiral of the Star League Defense Force Fleet shook her head sadly. “We made the damn Caspers just too powerful and their predictive software means they will respond faster than any manned ship possibly can. They can accelerate quicker and are more maneuverable than any other capital warship in our inventory, and while they might be only the size of a Lola III-class Fleet Destroyer, each carries as much firepower as a Cameron-class Battle Cruiser! They have more armor than an Aegis-class Heavy Cruiser, as well. The latest upgrade to the M-5 added a very sizable array of point-defense systems to the design as well, rendering our own missile salvoes less effective than they could be. And don’t forget, gentlemen, that while we may have lost nearly fifteen hundred capital warships in that simulation—a full quarter of the Fleet—we still managed to destroy all but fourteen of the Caspers and the entire Rim Worlds battle fleet, not to mention over ninety-eight percent of the total number of M-11 Voidseekers in system! And those numbers assume that somehow Amaris has managed to concentrate—to double the numbers in fact—every last one of his remaining WarShips in the Terran Solar System, which added nearly two hundred manned ships to the Op Force.”

Kerensky nodded slowly. “I concur with the Admiral. First Lord, the threat posed by the Caspar’s operating on their core programming cannot be over emphasized. Would we have proceeded with my original plan, it is very likely that after liberating Terra we would have barely a thousand operational WarShips left in the Fleet. Each M-5 operating in the Terran system has a far more effective command and control AI than other M-5’s guarding the remaining systems—and Terra has far more of them than any other individual system.”

The First Lord was still white with shock at the sheer numbers of dead that the simulation had produced—almost a million officers and men of the Defense Force. “But the nuclear warheads John and Minoru and Philip are making available . . .”

“Were instrumental in crippling the manned Rim Worlds ships before they could intervene, my Lord,” General Kerensky interrupted. “The M-5 Caspar Drones, on the other hand, simply have too much point-defense to count on any single salvo overwhelming them. It will take multiple salvoes of nuclear torpedoes, from several ships at once, to ensure that at least one detonates in range to cripple the drone. Admiral Kirkpatrick’s initial success with precisely those tactics against the Rim Worlds contingent and the first wave of drones caused the simulation to conclude that the M-5s would change their own tactics and single out our vessels with the heaviest concentration of missile launchers for immediate destruction. And the ramming attacks were not unforeseen; each drone sees itself as an expendable unit in the course of its programmed task, defending the system from invasion.”

“Unfortunately,” Admiral Kirkpatrick continued in a sad voice, “our ships that mount sufficient heavy missile launchers to consistently break through an M-5s point-defenses are all frigates and cruisers, and only the new Luxor-class Cruisers have the secondary armament and armor protection to sustain the attention of the drones—and even those powerful ships die within minutes when several Caspars concentrate on them.”

“One of my officers did suggest converting all of our surviving Texas-class battleships to missile vessels mounting an additional sixty-four Maelstrom AR-10 launchers, thirty-two per broadside. That refit would require at least eighteen months of yard-time—probably longer—to successfully complete. With forty-nine of these Texas-Ms, I could probably break even the M-5s with far fewer casualties, but we simply don’t have time for the conversion.”

The Admiral looked down at the floor for a moment, but then she raised her head, knowing it was her officers and men that would pay the butcher’s bill. “First Lord, if you order it, we can increase the ships available to my command—but I beg you to remember that you will still have the planetary SDS grid to deal with. Each of those installations is far more lethal than a mere Caspar. You will need every ship that you have left to get through the ground base defenses and silence those batteries before the troops go in.”

Only stark silence met the Admiral’s statement, and then the First Lord nodded in agreement. Lord Kerensky let out a breath that he had not remembered holding in, and also signified his approval.

“And if that is now settled,” continued the commander of the Star League Defense Forces, “next we have the problems that General Montoya continues to report from our Davion contingent.”

John Davion winced. “They are getting better, General DeChevilier.”

“Yes, and General Montoya makes the point that they are improving and their morale is high. But they are still woefully under our minimum standards for landing in the assault phase.”

“I know. I wish it were not so, but having to purge the officers from my ranks who simply would not adapt put a tremendous hole in our supply of competent higher-level commanders. For the moment, we have abandoned the traditional three-regiment brigade structure and instead are teaming up one regiment of ‘Mechs with two regiments of armor and one of mechanized infantry, plus a battalion of artillery. They aren’t as powerful in the offense as one of your SLDF Brigades that have three full regiments of ‘Mechs, but a majority of my surviving higher-ranking officers are from the infantry, armor, and artillery branches. Still, we feel that these Regimental Combat Teams will prove handy on the defensive against Amaris counterattacks, and once we work out the kinks, should make a formidable offensive force as well.”

Aaron snorted. “That is the problem, First Prince Davion—we have less than six weeks to work out those kinks!”

“Aaron, since the Davion contingent is already scheduled for Wave Three, I think we can overlook their problems with conducting assault landings, at least for now,” Stephen, cutting off John Davion before he could blurt out something truly disastrous.

Aaron looked sheepish for a moment, and then nodded. “I meant no disrespect towards your contribution, Lord John.”

“None taken,” the First Prince replied through a clenched jaw.

“And certainly your forces are not the only ones who are not performing up to SLDF standard: General Steiner, your command is tilted heavily towards the higher tonnages. You don’t have nearly enough recon and scout capability for your units.”

“Ja, General. But we will make do.”

“Nein, Margrave and General. I am splitting up the Steiner forces in brigade levels attached to SLDF divisions, where they will serve as the mailed fist to stop Amaris counter-attacks. Our forces will provide you with the scouting data, and your heavy brigades will then operate according to the direction of the SLDF divisional commanders.”

At this, Kerensky interjected again. “A wise precaution, General Steiner, since your heavy forces will augment the attack without nearly as much risk to your House’s military as they would suffer from operating independently; and I do believe that your own personal division has proven itself sufficiently well-trained and equipped to continue to operate as a discrete unit.”

The cold-eyed blonde young woman glared at Aaron for several moments, and then she too nodded her assent.

Stephen chuckled to break the tension in the room. “Aaron, is there any formation that you feel is up to your august standards?”

“I am still concerned that the Assault Corp doesn’t have enough heavy and assault units, but even I have to admit that their élan and tenacity make up for that. And I suppose that your Royal Black Watch is exceeding most of my expectations, my Lord.”

Soft laughter rose from the conference table. Stephen shook his head. “Well, I am not planning on landing in the First Wave, so I don’t think we should include them, Aaron. What about logistics?”

Aaron winced. “Tight, my Lord. We have adequate supplies and munitions for all of the units participating, but losing Luthien Armor Works—and the diversion of troops to the rescue and recovery efforts in the Combine, the Federated Suns, and the League—means our stockpile is less than what I would really like. Still, we should have enough beans and bullets.”

Kerensky coughed. “And by that, First Lord, the commanding General means that the logistics stockpile has a thirty-five percent reserve above our worst case expenditure rates for a campaign lasting a full year.”

“In that case, gentlemen, I think we can consider the plan locked and concentrate on fine-tuning the last of the training between now and embarkation. Meeting is adjourned.”
Last edited by masterarminas on 2013-06-03 07:12pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-03 07:08pm

Chapter Fifteen

September 11, 2768
Little Khacess Lake
North America, Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


“Are you sure you know where you are going?” Liz asked acidly as the small fishing boat pounded across the waves amid the drizzling rain. Between that rain and the ice-cold spray, her clothes, Vince and Bernie’s clothes, and Zalman’s clothes alike were all soaked.

The old man leered at her with a grin. “Probably to Hell, madame, but not today unless we get really unlucky.” He pressed the throttles forward to the stops, and now the boat Liz winced as she felt the hull smash into each of the three-foot rollers.

She had left the rests of the Ghosts to make their way to a so far untouched cache on the northern slopes of Mt. Rainer two days ago, while she and her two watchful bodyguards had accompanied the Shadow here to the Little Khacess Lake. The weather was promising to turn against them—again—but Zalman had insisted that they could make it to the hidden location where he could send the message from. A location that he insisted was only accessible by boat.

“Cut the engines back!” she yelled over their roar and the wind.

But the maniac apparently didn’t hear her, he just adjusted the wheel slightly and nodded to himself—Liz could see him counting to himself, his lips barely moving. And then he did cut the engines out completely, as he stood up from the wheel, grabbed the heavy anchor and threw it over the side.

She looked around as the small boat rocked. The nearest shore was at least a mile away.

“Zalman, I am tired, I am wet, and I getting sick of these . . .” she began.

“Antonius, my dear. Call me Antonius,” the old man interrupted as he began to strip off his clothes.

Bernie shook his head. “What are you doing?”

“You don’t expect me to take a swim fully clothed, do you?”

“A swim?”

Zalman sighed. “Yes. We are directly over the facility that I told you about. It is one hundred and twenty feet below the water. So I am going to take a little swim.”

Vince’s eyes bulged out. “You never said anything about us having to swim!”

“Didn’t I? Oh, dear. It must have slipped my mind. Would you open that compartment and pass me the rebreather?”

“And how many rebreathers do you have, Antonius?” asked Liz through grated teeth.

“Just the two, my dear. Your muscular companions will have to wait for us up here it appears.”

“We just sit here, doing nothing, while any Amaris patrol wonders why two grown men are out on the lake on a day like today?” blurted Bernie.

“Hardly. I brought a pair of fishing rods as well. You might try your hand at that while the lady and I are gone.”

He beamed a smile at the three of them as he dropped the last of his clothing, leaving only a pair of swim trunks on his body—trunks he had worn instead of underwear.

Liz sighed, and pulled at her jacket zipper. “Let’s get this over with, then.”

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

The water was icy cold, but Liz followed Zalman as he dove towards the bottom. She had to swallow a couple of times to adjust the pressure on her ears, but she managed to keep pace with the old man fairly well before the two of them reached a rocky shelf that protruded up from the bottom of the lake. Zalman swam around the promontory until he located a narrow crevice and then he pulled himself inside, Liz trailing behind. The crevice turned into a cramped cavern that snaked around through several bends and final opened into large chamber—with a sealed blast door embedded in one of the rocky walls.

The agent pressed a complex combination into the keypad and the door slowly swung open; he gestured towards the opening and then he and Liz swam in. Lights came on as they entered and then he pulled the door closed and pressed a green button in the wall. The water began to drain from the airlock, and she spat the mouthpiece of rebreather out of her mouth.

“Welcome to Blackheart Central, my dear,” Zalman said as he opened the interior door. Within the next compartment was a series of rooms branching off from a corridor, all made from the same military-grade construction materials that had been used for the Black Watch caches.

“You people hid it under a lake?” she asked.

“Tsk, tsk, my dear. The Royal Black Watch was not alone in its paranoia. My organization likes its privacy. Let’s see, now . . .” he continued as he walked down the corridor, finally stopping at one of the unmarked doors. “Here we are. Penny? Love? Would you let me in?”

From one of the speakers, an alto voice emerged. “Good to see you are still, Antonius. I understand that Amaris is very upset you escaped ahead of your execution. Who’s the bimbo?”

“PENNY!” the Blackheart boomed. “Jealously does not flatter you, my dear—and green is such an unflattering color on you. May I introduce Captain Elizabeth Hazen of the Royal Black Watch. Captain Hazen, this is Penny.”

“Hmph,” the voice said. “You know the rules—I can’t admit anyone not on the list, Antonius.”

Liz’s jaw had already dropped, but she shook her head. “This place is manned?”

“Ah, not actually, my dear,” Zalman began, but then he was interrupted.

“This place is womaned, Captain Hazen. I am Penny, designation PNY-374/d, the Artificial Intelligence assigned to the Star League Special Intelligence Services Command.”

Zalman smiled as Liz stood there looked stunned. “And a wonderful AI you are indeed, Penny my love. Would you believe that the Fleet didn’t feel she met their standards for integrating into the Casper program—something about anomalous personality traits—and decided to junk her? SIS decided instead to use the system—which was already paid for—to coordinate our operations. She is very good at her job.”

“Yes, I am.”

“So be a dear, Penny, and let us in.”

“Can’t, won’t, not on your life.”

Zalman sighed. “Penny, are their any ranking Blackhearts on planet, other than myself?”

“Not to my knowledge.”

“And is the Star League in a state of occupation by a hostile power?”

“Yes. Amaris is a pig may he roast in Hell.”

“In that case, as the senior SIS operative on Terra, and titular head of the organization, I hereby instruct you to list Captain Elizabeth Hazen as authorized: authentication code Zulu Zulu Delta Four Seven Nine Eight Three Alpha November Two Two Seven Bravo.”

“Authorization provisionally accepted.”

The door slid open, revealing a command center with spotless terminals and workstations lining the walls.

“Excellent, my love. After you, Captain Hazen,” he said with a flourish.

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

“Message has been formatted and is transmitting now,” Penny’s voice said over the intercom. “I have encoded it as CRITIC PRIORITY, for the attention of the Commanding General alone. I have also appended all pertinent data gathered from all other SIS eaves-dropping software regarding Rim Worlds troop dispositions, equipment, and status. Stupid protocols prevented me from sending them without human authorization.”

Liz shook her head and swallowed. “Thank you Penny.”

“My, my, my,” the AI answered. “She is polite at least. I must warn you, however, that Antonius will try to get into your pants . . . or he would if you were wearing any.”

“PENNY!”

“He is quite incorrigible, isn’t he,” Liz answered with a giggle.

“Yes he is.”

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-03 07:09pm

September 11, 2768
Military Emergency Communications Center #7 (Automated)
Antarctica, Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


The data-stream burst from Penny routed itself through the planetary comm net, erasing all evidence of its passage behind it until it finally arrived at its destination. Unknown to the Rim Worlds occupiers, MECC-7 was an isolated, automated HPG station built by the Star League nearly a century beforehand in the wastes of the lonely winter desolations of the South Pole. The computer system in charge of the facility recognized the codes and fired up the fusion generator buried in the rock far below. The systems slowly moved the delicate antenna until it was properly aligned at Asta, and then fired its transmission before shutting down once again.


September 11, 2768
Asta Defense Headquarters
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


DING.

The comm-tech on duty looked at the HPG screen and blinked twice. He reached out and pressed a stud on his terminal and within minutes the Colonel commanding the communications hub had arrived.

“What have you got, Parsons?”

“Sir, we have incoming message traffic from Terra,” the sergeant answered in a puzzled voice. “The header address is to the Commanding General—eyes only—but everything else is just gibberish. My system is making no sense of it? Could the transmission have been scrambled?”

The Colonel frowned and looked intently at the screen, and then he drew in a sharp intake of air.

“No, download the entire transmission onto a data-pad,” he said as he lifted the phone attached to the terminal. “Ops? Pearson in MilCom. We have a CRITIC priority transmission with SIS encryption codes—wake up General DeChevilier.”

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-04 09:22am

September 11, 2768
Asta Defense Headquarters
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


Stephen walked in the conference room with a scowl on his face. The call ‘requesting’ his presence at an emergency meeting had woken him at 3.14 in the morning, and it promised to make the day ahead a very long one. But he bit back what he was about to say when he saw the somber looks on the faces of both Aleksandyr and Aaron.

“What has happened now?” he asked instead.

The Commanding General of the SLDF stood and nodded gravely in the First Lord’s direction. “I also woke Lord Minoru and Prince Hiroyoshi, my Lord. They entered the complex just after . . .,” he broke off as the two entered the room. “And here they are. Gentlemen,” he continued towards the Black Watch and Otomo guards. “I must ask that all of you leave.”

Stephen and Minoru exchanged a glance, and they both subtly nodded. “You heard the man—out.”

After the guards exited the room, Aaron sealed both the outer and inner doors, and then activated the ‘bug-stomper’, a device that rendered electronic listening systems useless. Stephen felt his stomach sinking—this room was in the very heart of the command center, buried a kilometer below the surface, and shielded from transmissions to boot. Whatever was coming couldn’t be good.

The three men took their seats and Aaron walked back over to his and sat down.

“First Lord, Coordinator, Hiroyoshi, gentlemen, we are fucked.”

Aleksandyr patted Aaron on the arm as the General pulled out one of his cigars and lit it.

“Two hours and forty-two minutes ago,” Aleksandyr began, “we received an HPG transmission from an emergency substation located on the southern polar continent of Terra. It was encrypted with Special Intelligence Service codes, and Aaron called on me to assist him in decrypting them. Somehow, the only Blackheart within sixty light-years of Asta has vanished; he hasn’t been seen in more than a week and other than him, I am the only man on planet with any experience at SIS encryption.”

Hiroyoshi nodded. “He is pursuing an important assignment, Lord Kerensky. One that I think has priority.”

“I do not doubt your sincerity on that, Prince Kurita. But SIS encryptions are very tricky things. Aaron needed my assistance to decode the message without causing it overwrite and erase itself. I would still like Agent Hart to double check our efforts, because the message itself was devastating. According to the SIS agent in place on Terra, Amaris has a nearly complete copy of Ragnarok, and he is moving to heavily reinforce our planned landing zones.”

Stephen started, and even Minoru looked stunned. “How . . . what . . . oh my God.”

“Like I said,” Aaron chimed in as he released a puff of smoke, “we’re so fucked that I doubt a brothel would employ us.”

“I believe that none of us in this room are the source of the leak. But gentlemen,” Aleksandyr continued in a wintery cold voice, “we have a problem.”

Stephen’s mind raced and finally he nodded. “Ok, only the division commanders and above have been briefed so far. That’s how many, Aleksandyr?”

“Too many. Including the Fleet and our briefings for the Free Worlds, Lyran, Fed Suns, and Combine contingents, there are more than a thousand command and staff officers who have seen the plans.”

Minoru nodded and then he spoke up. “You said a nearly complete copy, Lord Kerensky. How complete was it?”

“It was specific down to the landing zones and the complete roster of the first two assault waves, our timetable, diversionary efforts, and plans to engage the Caspars.”

The samurai lord of the Draconis Combine nodded again slowly. “Then we can rule out a divisional commander leaking the information—each has so far received only the information on his specific objective, nothing beyond a sketch of the overall operation. Hai?”

Lord Kerensky leaned back in his chair and considered for a moment. “True. Only around a hundred or so individuals have access to all of the information in the transmission.”

“How did we miss that,” muttered Aaron.

Stephen gave a grim chuckle. “I rather imagine both of you were mad enough that you ground ten years life off your molars.”

“And as much as my government may deny it, the Draconis Combine has had many high level traitors over the years. And plotters.”

“So,” mused Stephen, “what do we do now?”

Aleksandyr shook his head sadly. “There are only so many options, First Lord. We could cancel Ragnarok and liberate the Hegemony worlds which are now only lightly defended—but many of them have Caspar defenses and SDS systems of their own, lighter perhaps, but just as deadly. We would take casualties, and delay our return to Terra by at least a year. We can continue forward with Ragnarok and accept that our own casualties will be much higher than anticipated.”

And then Stephen looked up. “Or we adapt to what Amaris knows. Aleksandyr, our initial landing plans are . . . Aaron can you pull up that holographic map for me?”

DeChevilier nodded as Stephen stood and began to pace. As the map formed over the table, he lifted the pointer and highlight the primary landing zone. “Ragnarok calls for our main landings to be here, two hundred kilometers south-west of Moscow on the Eurasian plains. You selected the site because of the limited overlapping coverage of the SDS grid and because we both felt that Amaris would initially have his best troops defending North America. I agreed, because we need a beachhead, and this was one of the better choices.”

“After defeating the Amaris forces in Europe and Asia, the SLDF would cross the Bering Sea, while a second landing operation occurs in central Mexico, catching the Rim Worlds troops between two Army Groups and then advancing on Unity City.”

He snapped the pointer closed. “But now Amaris knows this is our plan. And he is concentrating his troops there, yes?”

Aaron nodded. “According to the transmission, he has in place or is moving nearly one hundred and twenty divisions to Eurasia to contest the landings, leaving him ninety-five for the rest of the planet—forty-four concentrated in Mexico.”

“He means to bleed us out in the Russian steppes and the central Asian plateau. Gentlemen, we change the plan and make our landing here,” he finished as he stabbed the laser pointer at the south-eastern portion of North America.

Aleksandyr drew in a breath, but Stephen rushed ahead. “This area is protected by more overlapping SDS emplacements than Russia, Aleksandyr, but it will prevent the troops he has in Europe, Asia, or Mexico from hitting our landings immediately.”

“At first, First Lord,” Aleksandyr responded from his wheelchair. “Amaris will redeploy to meet this attack—at least with the divisions he has massed in the Mexican highlands.”

Stephen smiled. “I took your advice, Aleksandyr and I read that book that you gave me. And I think you are wrong. Amaris will do exactly what Hitler did during D-Day. He has our plans, he knows where we are going to attack. And he will treat our landings in Georgia and Alabama provinces as a diversion to make him move. He won’t believe it. Not until we have enough troops on the ground to make him believe it.”

Aleksandyr shook his head. “That, First Lord, is wishful thinking. We cannot predict what he will or will not do; we must instead reappraise the situation and start our planning over. Ragnarok cannot be risked on such a hasty assault. Our troops have trained for months for their specific targets, there will be confusion and chaos on the ground if those targets are suddenly shifted without telling them. And we can’t tell them without first discovering our mole.”

“Right. And we aren’t going to tell them. We are going to continue to train for the targets in Ragnarok and shift on the fly as we burn in-system.”

Aaron’s eyes boggled for a moment, and he actually dropped his cigar. “You can’t be serious!”

“I am.”

Stephen sighed. “Aleksandyr, Aaron; your SLDF, the officers that you picked and that you trained—they can do this. We can do this.”

Minoru shook his head, “It is too bold, First Lord. Too audacious, though I admire that audacity you have displayed.”

“Desperate affairs require desperate remedies, my brother.”

“Don’t start quoting Nelson, First Lord,” rumbled Aleksandyr as he gazed at the holographic map again. The old man lean forward and placed one elbow on the table, and cupped his chin in his hand as he considered. “No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy,” he whispered. And then his eyes narrowed and his voice grew firmer, louder, and more confident. “And no colonel in the SLDF can do very wrong by taking the fight into the teeth of Amaris,” he suddenly finished. “All right, First Lord, gentlemen, let us do something which the universe may talk of hereafter.”

Minoru suddenly smiled. “I was hoping you would say that, Lord Kerensky.”

“Aaron, we play this very close to the vest—you and I and Prince Hiroyoshi will have to handle the frag orders, the planning, the assignment of drop-zones. We can afford no further leaks. It was only by the grace of God that this warning got clear—we cannot count on another,” Aleksandyr finished resolutely.

“And in the meantime, gentlemen,” Stephen said in a voice colder than an Astan winter, “Lord Minoru and I have a traitor to find.”

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-04 09:32am

September 14, 2768
Embassy of the Lyran Commonwealth, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


“And so this is the gallant Hauptmann Truscott of whom I have heard so much!” Robert Steiner announced to his guests. “The daring solider who saved Our own Cousin from certain death, I have much for which to thank you, young man.”

Absalom blushed as he accepted the Archon’s outstretched hand and shook it firmly, even as camera flashbulbs erupted around the two. Jennifer Steiner, clapped along with the remainder of the Archon’s guests as a liveried servant approached, bearing a small box on a satin pillow. Robert opened the box and removed from the interior a heavy cross hanging from a ribbon of blue and silver. The edges of the cross were brilliant silver, and the interior was polished black onyx. Robert looked at the cross for a moment, and then he turned back to Absalom.

“Kneel, brave soldier,” he commanded. Jennifer helped him slowly descend to one knee and then she stepped back.

“For your bravery, for your valor, and for your service to the House of Steiner, I name you, Absalom Truscott, a Knight of the Order of Tharkad. And to you I present, that none may ever after question your deeds, the Knight’s Cross of that Order.”

As Robert finished with the traditional wording he placed the ribbon around Absalom’s neck, and then took an ancient broadsword that another servant held ready. He raised the blade in both hands to point at directly above him. “Before the witnesses gathered here tonight, and before the sight of God Almighty, I now name thee,” Robert intoned as he slowly lowered the weapon and tapped Absalom lightly on first the left shoulder and then the right, “Sir Absalom. Rise, and bask in the glory of the station that you have earned.”

Once again, Absalom blushed as the crowd erupted with applause, but with the help of Jennifer he managed to get back on his feet. Before he could speak with her, however, the Archon was there once again, clapping him soundly on his shoulder—which made Absalom slightly wince in pain.

“The title also comes with a small estate on Tharkad, Hauptmann Truscott. Around three hundred acres of so, and you are entitled to the revenue that the estate produces. As a recipient of the Knight’s Cross, you are not subject to taxation as one of my subjects, either. I am in your debt, Sir Absalom,” he finished as another servant—this one not in livery came rushing up and whispered in the Archon’s ear.

“Jennifer, my dear, I trust that you will see to the comfort of our guest? A matter has arisen with which I must deal.”

“Certainly, Archon,” she replied with a curtsey.

“Then good evening to you both,” Robert said before he turned and hurried from the embassy’s ballroom.

Ascending two flights of stairs, the Archon moved through a security checkpoint and stormed down the a hallway, his smile of but moments before evaporated from his face. Rounding another corner, he saw the object of his displeasure and came to a sudden halt.

“Erik,” he growled. “I summoned you nine days ago. Where have you been?”

“Forgive me, Archon, I was otherwise detained on your business; perhaps we could speak in my private office?”

“Yes. Yes, perhaps that would be for the best.”

Neither man said another word as they continued past a second checkpoint and then approached the a guarded door. The two Royal Guards standing there snapped to attention briskly, but Erik ignored them and entered the sound-proofed room beyond, after he used an ornate key to open the two locks. The Archon frowned and returned the salute with a casual nod, but then he too entered the office; one of the guards pulled the door shut behind the two men, and the click of the latch seating was thunderous in the silence.

“Don’t you ever question me again, Robert!” Erik snarled after he activated an anti-eavesdropping device on his desk. “You live only through my forbearance—and only as long as you do my master’s bidding!”

Robert’s face grew red and he took a step forward. “I am still the Archon of the Lyran Commonwealth, you . . . you . . . miserable imp! How dare you not answer my summons—my public summons!”

“I was cleaning up some loose ends, Archon. Unless you would rather have Kerensky and Cameron discover the truth of the matter?”

Robert forced down his anger and walked over the liquor cabinet. He drew out a bottle of Scotch and poured himself three shots into a crystal tumbler. Lifting the glass, he took a deep swallow, and felt the warmth of the whiskey spreading through his body.

“I never authorized you to try and kill her, Erik. And you failed in your attempt!”

“She is a threat to you, Robert, and through you to me and my own master. Yes, she still lives, but not for long.”

“What do you mean?”

“I have already made other . . . arrangements for dear sweet Jenny, my Archon. And her savior as well. But, that matter is now out of your hands. For now, I bear greetings from His Imperial Majesty. Stefan is quite pleased with your work on his behalf, my Archon. Enough that he sent you a thank-you note in his own hand. You should feel honored.”

“I am not doing this for his gratitude—and you and he can both go to Hell,” the Archon said as he took another sip of the drink.

“No, you are doing this because I am blackmailing you. And if you raise your voice to me again, Robert, I will disappear—but Stephen Cameron will find a little disk, a copy of your orders to Trevane to murder his family. Do not forget who holds the cards in our little arrangement, Archon. And do not question my actions ever again.”

Robert sat down. “We don’t have to kill her, Erik—I mean she’s family. I am not . . . damn it, I told him Stephen Cameron only . . . I don’t kill women, children, or my own family!”

“You would rather have her discover the truth? With the Lyrans Guards standing shoulder-to-shoulder behind her rather than you when they find this out? Eventually, it will leak. And she is your only adult heir, Robert—the rest can be persuaded in more gentle ways, but she will never come around, now will she?”

The Archon did not answer as he finished the whiskey.

“No, you don’t have to say a word, my Archon. Your hands will be clean, I will handle the dirty work as always.”

Without another word, Robert rose and walked to the door. “She won’t suffer?” he asked softly.

“My word upon it, Archon. She will simply go to sleep one night and never awake.”

Robert simply stood at the door for one heartbeat, and then two, but finally he lowered his head and without saying another word, he opened the door and left.

Erik smiled and shook his head. He looked at the stack of paperwork on his desk, but at that moment his stomach rumbled, reminding him of the meals he had already skipped this day. He turned off the bug-stomper and then he too exited the office, shutting off the lights behind him, and relocking the door securely.

Several minutes passed in the quiet and empty office, but then the door to Erik’s private lavatory opened and Blake Hart stepped into the room from his hiding place.

“It seems that you are most certainly playing the Great Game, Erik, and so is the Archon,” he whispered to himself. Making certain everything was just the way that Erik had left it, he stepped up on the desk, moved a ceiling tile to one side and pulled himself back up into the air shafts overhead. Taking one final look below to make absolutely certain that nothing was out of order, he finally nodded and put the panel back in its proper place. Now, I’ve just got to get out in one piece, he thought to himself as he began to slowly and quietly crawl through the duct work.

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-04 09:34am

Chapter Sixteen

September 17, 2768
Chamber of the High Council of the Star League
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


“My fellow Lords, we are assembled today in session to conduct the business of the Star League,” Stephen began. “This session of the High Council is now convened. Guards of the Black Watch, seal the doors, and let pass no one, save only those whom the Council summons forth.”

Moving briskly, two of the guards sealed the doors to the Chamber. And the First Lord pressed the key again, sounding the chimes once more. “The session has begun. Let no one disturb these proceedings.”

“Lord Avellar,” he continued. “You requested this session. The floor is yours.”

Allyce Avellar nodded and leaned forward. “Lords of the Council, I have received a transmission from Stefan Amaris, which was then relayed to me here on Asta. It is a most disturbing transmission, for it shows that he was not responsible for the atrocity conducted upon Oriente in the Free Worlds League.”

Philip Marik started, his head snapping fully towards the leader of the Outworlds Alliance. “The pig lies, Lord Avellar. His actions against the Houses of Kurita and Davion, not to mention against the Star League as a whole have revealed his true nature.”

“Is it possible, Lord Marik,” the young lady continued, “that he did not? The proofs that he has presented in the transmission show clear evidence that the vessel which attacked Oriente was not a Rim Worlds ship, but rather a vessel dispatched by the First Lord to create an atrocity for which Amaris would later be blamed! Lords Calderon, Centrella, and Steiner have confirmed that the Rim Fleet had no vessel matching the known specifications of the ship that used weapons of mass destruction against Oriente—but was in fact a common freighter used extensively by the SLDF as an auxiliary transport ship. We cannot dismiss his claim out of hand simply because of his prior bad acts, my fellow Lords.”

“Prior bad acts!” yelled John Davion. “He used nerve gas against New Avalon, New Syrtis, and Robinson! He killed millions of my people, including my daughter and my brother. He . . . he . . .” the First Prince of the Federated Suns shook his head as he struggled to control his fury . . . and his grief. “That man is capable of anything, Lord Avellar.”

“The Defense Force of the Star League would never obey such an order, Lord Avellar, even if it had been issued—which did not happen,” interjected Aleksandyr Kerensky.

Allyce frowned. “And yet, your ships are even now loading nuclear munitions as you prepare to invade the Terran system. And in the past, such terror tactics by the SLDF were condoned by the First Lord and this Council! I do not need to remind you, Lord Kerensky, of the actions of the SLDF during the Reunification Wars.”

“This is pure supposition, and any information provided by Amaris must be viewed with caution,” said Robert Steiner. “However, I too wonder at why Amaris would attack the Free Worlds League—which at the time was a neutral entity. It makes little sense that he would seek to increase the number of foes which he has to fight; the only one who profits from such an attack is the First Lord.”

“Perhaps I can shed some light on that, Lord Steiner,” spoke Minoru Kurita. “Last year, we discovered a Rim Worlds agent that had penetrated the highest levels of the DCMS on Luthien. Rather than immediately arresting him, I directed that he be used to pass disinformation to Amaris. As part of that disinformation campaign, the spy learned that the Captain General had decided to join into the effort to dislodge Amaris from the Terran Hegemony—and that the Free Worlds Fleet covering Oriente would be leaving that world unprotected for a short time in order to conduct training maneuvers with elements of the SLDF in preparation.”

Minoru shook his head sadly. “I had hoped to provoke Amaris into committing a large portion of his remaining Fleet against Oriente—where the Free Worlds Fleet would respond to any such attack in short order. I did not anticipate that Amaris would resort to such terror tactics as he employed against my realm, against the Federated Suns, and against the Free Worlds League.”

Philip Marik’s eyes boggled and the blood drained from his face. “You engineered this?”

“I meant to provoke a confrontation between you and Amaris, Philip. Such horrendous casualties on the planet itself were never my intention. But be that as it may, Amaris had ample motive, based upon the information he had at the time, to launch this attack.”

For several moments, silence hung over the chamber.

“Lord Avellar, Lord Marik; I did not ever order any unit to attack Oriente. I would not have issued such an order, even if I was losing this war,” Stephen said softly. “I was unaware of the information that Lord Kurita leaked to Amaris, and if I had known ahead of time, I would have attempted to stop him.”

“Which is why you were never informed, First Lord,” answered Minoru.

Philip glared across the Chamber at Minoru, but then he slowly nodded. His eyes, however, promised that the matter was not yet settled. “I do not believe that the First Lord would have done this, and I agree with Lord Kerensky that the SLDF would have been extremely loath to conduct such an attack.”

“But, don’t you see,” protested Allyce. “We have an opportunity here to settle matters without more killing. He has started to reach out to us; we should take this window to begin a negotiated settlement before anyone else has to die!”

Nicoletta Calderon winced and then she patted the young woman’s hand softly. “The only settlement upon which this Council could agree Allyce would be the unconditional surrender of Amaris—and he won’t agree to that.”

“We could set terms, promise him that he won’t be executed for his crimes! I would offer to lead the diplomatic team in person, once we declare a cease-fire.”

“And leave him in possession of the Hegemony worlds during these negotiations? Give him additional time to add to his defenses and truly turn our next campaign into a blood-bath? No,” the First Lord said, and both John and Minoru nodded in full agreement.

“I too do not believe that any such discussions will provide any advantage for us—and they would allow Amaris to continue to build his defense,” Philip Marik answered. “And he must pay for his crimes in blood—that is non-negotiable, Lord Avellar.”

Barbara Liao smiled then. “And I do not think we even need to put it to a vote, for I as well agree with the First Lord and Lords Calderon, Davion, Kurita, Marik, and I believe Kerensky.”

“War is never the answer, my Lords!” the young lady wailed. “Think of the young men and women you are sending to their deaths! Think of their families!”

“Think of the countless dead whose spirits would never rest fully at peace unless this monster is at last brought to justice, Lord Avellar,” replied Stephen. “I call the vote: shall the High Council of the Star League offer terms of negotiation to Stefan Amaris or proceed forward with Operation Ragnarok?”

By a margin of nine-to-one, the Council agreed to end the ambitions of Amaris once and for all.


September 17, 2768
Branson House, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


“We should have confronted Robert with his crimes then and there,” Stephen snarled as he paced in his private office.

Minoru shook his head. “We have no definitive proof, Stephen. The Council will not remove one of its members based solely on the word of one of your operatives. Of course, we don’t have to wait for the Council to act.”

Now Stephen stopped and stared at Minoru for several moments, before he too shook his head. “No. We will do this the right way. I won’t have Robert Steiner assassinated.”

“Hai. And in that case, First Lord, we must resign ourselves to have patience. Robert is on the verge of breaking under the strain, if your man’s account was accurate—we have but to wait just a little longer and he may deliver himself into our hands. I trust that your Colonel Moreau is keeping a watchful eye on General Steiner and her Black Watch lover?”

“Hai,” answered Stephen with a grin. “I would wager almost anything that Absalom never thought he would be the target of a protective detail.”

“Nor did Hiroyoshi. But my newest heir is adapting rather well to his change in station.”

“Indeed. Will you stay for dinner?”

“Alas, but no, First Lord. General Stirling and I have plans for an unscheduled training exercise for our Corps this evening.”

“Am I doing the right thing here, Minoru?” Stephen quietly asked as he stared out the window. “We are risking everything on a single roll of the die?”

“I could respond with platitudes, such as nothing ventured, nothing gained. But that does little to assuage your feelings. And does not address the real question: is this our best chance to catch Amaris completely off-guard? Does that opportunity outweigh the risks? I believe that the answer is yes, but then I have always been a gambler, Stephen.”

“Like you gambled with your Q-ship at Oriente?”

Minoru snorted. “How long have you suspected?”

“For several months now, ever since you integrated those ‘armed freighters’ of yours into the Asta defenses.”

“And why haven’t you said anything? To either me or Philip?”

Stephen sighed. “Because it brought the Free Worlds League into the fight. I don’t approve, and I would have tried to stop you had I known in advance. That being said, we have a better chance of pulling this off with Philip Marik onboard. And he won’t learn about it from me—I owe you that much and more besides.”

“And soon enough, it will no longer matter. I will either die in the assault, or I will die by my own hand after Amaris has been brought to justice. If Philip does discover the truth . . .”

“I will inform him that the order was yours and yours alone—and involved none within your government or family.”

The two men stood silent, gazing out of the window to the grounds beyond. Outside, the first flakes of an early autumn snowfall began to drift down towards the manicured lawn.

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-04 09:40am

September 17, 2768
Embassy of the Lyran Commonwealth, Hawkins
North Continent, Asta
Terran Hegemony


“They didn’t believe it; hell, Erik, I didn’t believe it! And after Kurita offered his reasons for why Amaris would have attacked, I don’t think we have a chance of turning Philip Marik against them.”

“You planted the seeds of doubt, my Archon. And if the Emperor says he didn’t hit Oriente, then he didn’t. Your arguments on that score were quite legitimate,” Erik mused as he rubbed his chin. “It does appear that our Master was mistaken, however. Lord Stephen has not the ruthlessness to attempt this—Minoru Kurita, on the other hand . . .”

“Weren’t you listening? He came clean with a story . . .”

“. . . about how he had tricked Amaris into launching the attack. But Minoru is more than ruthless enough—and clever enough—to have a fall-back plan. And the dates match. Suppose that he sent a clandestine ship to Oriente, to make certain that if Amaris didn’t take the bait he could still strike the shipyards? But after it arrived, news of the strikes on New Avalon and Luthien had been made public. By their own admission, the Free World began inspecting all visiting vessels—the captain must have made his own decision to carry out the Dragon’s will.”

Erik raised his glass of wine in a mocking salute. “A most audacious play, indeed.”

The Archon sat in his own chair. “You know he can’t survive—and what will happen to us when he fails?”

“Rest assured, my Archon, those plans are even now being put into play,” the head of the Lyran Intelligence Corps replied. “Should the Amaris Empire be crushed, I have already laid the ground-work for you to discover a traitor in our own midst—a traitor that attempted to divert attention from herself by sabotaging her own ‘Mech.”

“Jenny? I thought you were going to have her killed!”

“She is being closely watched now—there are too many eyes on her and her lover both. The two of them will make excellent cats-paws to pin this debacle upon.”

“She almost died in that explosion!”

“Ah, yes. But she was saved by her lover Truscott, ja? The same Truscott who rescued the First Lord’s daughter, but was too late to save his wife. Perhaps the two of them have been in collaboration this entire time, leaking information back to Amaris. Truscott saw his opportunity in the Black Pines to eliminate his underlings and solidify his position among the trusted guards of the First Lord—and he was the one who saved dear, sweet Jenny. Worry not, my Archon, I have already altered a copy of the transmission from our Master having him address Jennifer in all of his messages to date—and she did lobby you to commit the forces of the Lyran Commonwealth to this campaign, true?”

“They will protest their innocence, but after the blood split in this campaign and the damning evidence against them I have amassed, you will have no choice—the Council will have no choice—but to try them, find them guilty, and execute them both as traitors to the Star League. And your position will be secure, my Archon.”

“As long as I remain alive, that is,” Erik finished with a smile. “My records showing your alterations to the communications logs and your framing of Jenny and Truscott are prepared as well—and will be delivered to the High Council should I disappear or die.”

“You seem to have thought of everything,” the Archon sputtered.

“Yes. Whether Amaris wins or loses we shall survive, my Lord. And we shall thrive.”

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-05 10:42am

Part Two

Chapter Seventeen

October 29, 2768
SDS-SOL-117
Outer System, Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


The ship drifted silently in the outer reaches of the Sol System. SOL-117 bore no crew within her almost seven-hundred thousand ton hull, for she was an M-5 automated drone WarShip—a Casper. Within the thickly armored shell, her central core processed the data from her sensor arrays. All was well within the system—the capital system of humanity. Near the Zenith point—over a million klicks distant—she could clearly see the two dozen defense stations. Unlike her, those stations were manned by her creators. Far ‘below’ she detected the manned ships of the system defense force in orbit around Titan.

As SOL-117 arrived at the way-point for this leg of her endless patrol, the core rotated the ship slightly and a single fusion-drive exhaust port lit, gently changing her bearing on an arc that would bring her back to the elliptic. And then she saw it.

At the Zenith point, forty-two ships materialized into being where nothing save vacuum had rested an instant before. Merchant class JumpShips, her core recognized. After an eternity of time—two seconds—each of the arrivals released their docking clamps and eighty-four DropShips—Overlords, ‘Mech carriers—began to accelerate towards the stations on full overthrust. None of the new arrivals were broadcasting the current IFF codes.

SOL-117 warmed up the onboard FTL comm and transmitted an alert. Not capable of emotion, the core wondered why the stations were still not firing upon the invaders, when first one, then two, and then a dozen more finally opened fire on the rapidly closing DropShips. Three of the intruders exploded in tremendous blasts, far larger than the weapons—or the ships—should have generated.

The core rapidly processed the data, and the spectrographic analysis, and concluded that each of those ships carried well over 5,000 tons of advanced high explosives. The analysis was confirmed as another score of Overlords were hit and killed. But not enough were dying, at least not as quickly as they should have. Their hulls had been reinforced by thick plates of armor, and each of the sixty-odd survivors rotated as they selected a target and altered course slightly to collide with a specific station.

SOL-117 transmitted a warning to the station concerning the possibility of kamikaze runs by the intruders, but humans were far too slow. By the time the message was relayed to the station commanders, it was far too late. Twenty-seven Overlords survived to ram the stations. Within seconds there were only clouds of debris slowly expanding outwards to mark their passing.

A new intruder appeared on her scanners. A Bugs-Eye class corvette jumped in, and then jumped back out after a brief interval. And then the true invasion began.

One after the other, one thousand four hundred and eighty-four capital WarShips jumped into the system. Fifty-one Potemkin-class Troop Cruisers formed up, each bearing a full load of twenty-five troop carriers on her massive hull. Almost four hundred Battleships and Cruisers englobed the vulnerable Troop Cruisers, surrounded still further out by more than twice that many frigates, destroyers, and corvettes. Nearly three thousand DropShips disengaged their docking clamps and took up formation within the protective globe of WarShips.

None of them transmitted the proper code. SOL-117 recognized the ships and analyzed the threat. If fully loaded, the invading force carried more than one hundred divisions onboard—posing a threat that the drone simply could not ignore. Altering course to remain well out of weapons range, she transmitted again and then watched and waited as one by one the remaining five hundred and ninety-three of her sisters acknowledged her call.

After an eternity of waiting, she finally received an acknowledgement from the human component of the Space Defense System. Her ultimate command authority gave a simple answer to her request for instructions: KILL THEM ALL.

It was a most unusual order, and certainly not formatted in proper regulation fashion. But it was certainly easy enough for the core to process and understand. She began to form a plan of attack—one that would be shared by all of her sisters and cousins, and executed with machine perfection. She was incapable of emotions, but that last thought did cause her to activate her warming systems in preparation to bring her weapons on-line. After all, after such a long time of waiting, finally she could fulfill her purpose for being, her duty to the creators.

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-05 10:42am

“We’re in clean, First Lord, Lord Kerensky,” Admiral of the SLDF Jean Kirkpatrick said to the two holographic images projected from the HPG link. “I’ll attempt to transmit again when the main body of the Caspars are eliminated, but if they get to the communications ship first I will not have the opportunity. We are nine days out from Terra, and they have to launch their attack before we arrive in orbit. So give us 200 hours before your assault jumps in . . .”

The First Lord smiled a crocked smile. “. . . on the 6th. If they haven’t responded to you, it’ll come as one Hell of a surprise when the rest of the Fleet jumps into the Earth-Moon LaGrange point.”

Jean nodded curtly. “Very well, then, Sir. I’d best get my command underway.”

“Understood,” Aleksandyr said. “Godspeed Jean, and good hunting.”

“We’ll make a hole in the defenses so big it won’t matter if a few Caspers survive, Lord Kerensky. We’ll do you proud.”

“You already have, Jean. You already have.”

The holographic projection faded as the HPG link ended, and Jean pulled herself across the weightless command deck of her flagship, SLS Bismark. She climbed into her command chair and fixed the straps to secure her safely in place.

“Maneuvering,” she said.

“Awaiting your orders, Admiral.”

“Set course for Earth at 1-g acceleration. Comm, upload the course plot to the remainder of the Fleet and instructed all ships to comply with our maneuvering. Engage in sixty seconds.”

“Aye, aye, ma’am.”

“Aye, aye, ma’am.”

She watched silently as a digital clock slowly ticked down to 00; and then she felt gravity around her as the massive WarShip smoothly accelerated. “Keep a close on the eye on the sensors and maintain Condition Two on all ships—weapons manned and charged. There be dragons out there, and I want to see them impaled on our sharp lance, gentlemen.”

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-05 10:44am

November 1, 2768
SLS Randolph
Outer System, Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


“Why don’t they just charge instead playing with us?” muttered the young Tactical Officer, even as he kept his eyes fixed on the targeting consoles for which he was responsible. The Lieutenant (junior grade), only three years out of the Academy, had probably meant to make his comment sotto voice, but four days of standing Condition Two watches around the clock had taken their toll on the crew of SLS Randolph.

Commander Audrey Hitchens, entrusted with the command of the old Vincent class vessel, smiled grimly. “We still have another five days to orbit, Guns,” she answered. “Those bastards are fully programmed on the weaknesses of human crews—including our need to rest. The drones don’t have that need. Besides, it is not like they haven’t been probing the screen for the past four days.”

That last sentence left a sour taste in her throat, because the Caspars had proved fiendishly clever and extremely difficult to target. More than three of hundred of them now shadowed the Fleet—just outside of weapons range. And still more were en route. Every now and then the drones would suddenly dart into range and pour weapons fire into one unlucky bastard of the outer screen, and then dodge back out of range. They were slowly bleeding the Fleet, and the randomness of their attacks—ranging from once every seventeen minutes to one interval that had lasted for more than five hours—had put all of the Fleet’s personnel on edge. So far, the attacks had not been pressed home and not one SLDF vessel had yet been lost. But more than four dozen were badly wounded and only just able to maintain formation. Audrey grimaced as she shook her head slowly. They are waiting for our reaction time to slow down still more—and with their acceleration advantage, we can’t catch them once they evade outside of weapons range again.

Although Randolph was one of the swiftest and most maneuverable ships in the Fleet, the damned drones were capable of pulling a third again higher acceleration.

The JG blushed, and shook his head. “Sorry, Skipper. I didn’t mean . . .”

“Just keep you focus on the sensors, Guns. We’re all a bit groggy.”

The Chief of the Watch turned around in his seat to face Audrey. “We are approaching the next dog-leg, Skipper.”

Audrey nodded. “Maneuvering, prepare to alter vector to conform to Fleet maneuvers in . . . forty-two seconds. Sound acceleration warning throughout the ship.”

“Aye, aye, ma’am,” the Chief answered. “Sounding acceleration warning.”

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

Had SOL-117 been capable of expressing emotion, she might well be described as furious. As it was, she merely pondered the illogic of the new order. Command Authority had become increasing impatient over the past four days, and now he had ‘grown weary of the excuses of machines’ to quote his latest set of orders; orders that instructed the drones to launch an immediate full-out attack on the Enemy.

It made little sense: in only fourteen more hours the Enemy would match vectors and accelerations with the reinforcement dispatched from the Inner System four days ago. Those reinforcements would triple the number of drones and add an additional one hundred and fifty-four manned ships as support. SOL-117 had already asked for permission to delay until those ships arrived, but thirteen seconds ago the reply had been received: ATTACK AT ONCE!

And so the great ship had no choice in the matter: her logic center would not allow her to disregard a properly formatted, coded, and authorized command from a recognized and legitimate authority. She scanned her files searching among the tens of thousands of contingencies which she had prepared over the past four days and selected one. Opening a broadcast channel, she copied the order to her sisters and brought her fusion plants to maximum safe operating power.

After seven point four seconds, each of her sisters had confirmed the order. And as if a single mind directed them, they executed her instructions precisely and perfectly.

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

Audrey came out of her seat as the holographic projection suddenly lit with the harsh red of icons rapidly closing on her section of the perimeter screen. “Evasive Gamma-Four!” she snapped. “Comm make sure the Admiral is aw . . .”

“Incoming!” screamed one of the crewmen, and Randolph staggered as she was hit by the concentrated fire of no less than dozen of the drones—and exploded.

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

Aboard SLS Bismark, Jean winced as the Caspars that surrounded her formation suddenly pivoted and every last of one began to accelerate towards her capital ships and the Potemkins they sheltered. Dozens of icons representing corvettes and destroyers of her outer screen brightened and then dissolved, and several of the drones died as well, savaged by the return fire. But instead of altering course away from the battle-line, the drones continued to accelerate madly for the center of the formation at a full 4-g’s. And they were launching Voidseekers. Why hadn’t they waited just fourteen more hours? Damn it. Only fourteen more hours and she would have had them all!

“All ships: engage at will! The CAP and reserve fighters will deal with the drone fighters—Assault Droppers and capital ships hammer those Caspars! Release of nuclear weapons is not, I say again NOT, authorized! Launch the ready birds!”

We can’t reveal our trump card—not with the manned Amaris ships still closing that must have full magazines of nuclear missiles aboard. And as powerful as this force of drones was, the one coming up from in-system was nearly twice as strong. Even though without the missiles, she was going to get hammered badly. But she squared her jaw and pulled the restraining straps on her command seat tight against her body as the acceleration warning sounded one final time, and SLS Bismark altered vector and accelerated to meet the enemy. May God have mercy on my soul, she thought.

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

SOL-117 calculated her shot trajectories in milliseconds, concentrating on the primary targets of the inner screen: the seventy-two McKenna-class battleships and two hundred fifty-six Luxor-class cruisers. Those ships would prove the most deadly, and it was imperative that they be eliminated. She was somewhat surprised at the speed of the Enemies reaction, but by the time they began to return fire, her sisters had already penetrated the outer screen and were in weapons range of the inner. Locking her forward batteries on a McKenna, SOL-117 went to rapid fire on the battery of three Heavy Naval PPCs mounted in her nose, and made minute course adjustments to ensure that the energy bolts went home. Without even a passing thought, her secondary processors took control of the broadside arrays and savaged two Enemy destroyers as she passed through the perimeter of the outer screen, and her own hull shook as hostile naval autocannon, lasers, and PPCs began to strike home. She fired her reaction control thrusters in a precisely timed series of burst, spiraling down her base course to throw off the incoming fire, and salvoed bolt after bolt into the nose of the battlewagon.
The lesser M-11 Voidseekers she carried had already been ejected and screened her flanks as she—and three hundred fourteen of her sisters—continued her hell-dive into a maelstrom of fire. Their less capable AIs were hard-pressed to devise strategy, but were more than adequate at carrying out tasks SOL-117 assigned to them. Now, they served as mobile shields, absorbing damage meant for the Caspar, as they threw themselves in front of weapon discharges to protect SOL-117. Six of her sisters had also selected the same McKenna, and its nose shattered under the combined fire, and then the vessel exploded. The drone altered her heading dramatically and fired an entire broadside into a nearby Luxor already in distress—and that ship too died.
And suddenly, the AI felt her first ever emotional response! Shame and distress, for she at last saw the DropShips emerging from within the protective shield of those Potemkins. And not a single one out of the twelve hundred was a troop carrier! No, they were all Avengers and Achilles and Pentagons and Titans.
She prepared a flash report for Command Authority, but then a stream of shells from a pair of massive NAC-40 Naval Autocannon slammed into her flank. Emergency sub-systems immediately came on-line to replace primary and secondary circuits shattered into useless junk, and her reaction thrusters flared to roll the damaged hull section away: but for once in her long life SOL-117 was microseconds two slow. Two dozen heavy Naval Laser burned through the remains of her broken armor and the drone erupted as her fuel stores ignited.

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-05 10:44am

November 1, 2768
RWS Thresher
Outer System, Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


Commodore Eli Ranson pursed her lips as her 2nd Fleet coasted closer and closer to the Star League formation. The first strike had done their job well, eliminating more than three hundred of the hostile vessels—which only left a little more than twelve hundred for 2nd Fleet to deal with. Well, 2nd Fleet and the rest of the Caspars. Luckily, the drones had managed to spread out the damage, and nearly every Star League ship she could see had suffered in the exchange. For the first time since her command had left Titan orbit, she began to feel hope that at least a few of her spacers would survive the exchange—perhaps she would survive. And with the six hundred drones alongside, they might well even stop this juggernaut.

“Transmit to all ships: load and arm nuclear munitions,” she barked.


November 1, 2768
SLS Bismark
Outer System, Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


Jean nodded to herself as the range slowly clicked down. It was going to be bad, she thought. That first strike had hurt—with eighteen McKennas and more than ninety Luxors destroyed in the exchange. All of her ships in the outer and inner shells, with the sole exception of the Sovietski Soyuz class cruiser SLS Ticonderoga, had suffered damage as well. But she retained a sizable core of missile frigates—and the Rim Worlds still had no idea she was packing them!

“Transmit to all ships: by order of the First Lord and the Commanding Admiral of the Star Defense Force Fleet, the release of nuclear weapons is hereby authorized. Initial targets are the manned vessels—secondary targets are at the discretion of vessel commanders.”

She paused for a moment. “We’ve come a long way, spacers, and we have almost finished the job we set out to do. Remember what we are fighting for—and every Caspar we destroy is one less that will be available to intercept the troops landing on Old Earth. I know you’ll make the General proud. Sound action stations and stand by for engagement.”

Aboard Bismark, Ticonderoga, St. Vincent, Collingwood, Idaho, Ranger, and hundreds of more ships klaxons sounded and the crews made their final preparations as the digital range counter continued to wind down.

The Fleet passed the threshold, and missiles blossomed from the opposing ships as the Caspars went to full power and began to bore in. “FIRE!” snapped Jean.

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

Six hundred capital missiles streaked out from the Rim Worlds Fleet—but the SLDF answered that salvo with forty-four hundred of their own. Point defense on both sides began to fire, and even the Caspars broke off their attack runs to engage in evasive actions—but none of that massive initial strike was targeted on the drones. Nuclear explosions tore through both formations, and when the debris fields stabilized, the Rim Worlds Fleet no longer existed.

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

ACN-042 conferred with her sister drones and elevated the threat posed by the remaining Enemy WarShips. Targeting priorities were recalculated and the eighty-odd missile frigates and twenty-two missile cruisers in the formation jumped the queue to the very top. New orders were passed, and the drones converged.

A second massive accelerated towards the Caspars—but the drones carried heavy batteries of point defense systems. Only those few missile frigates and cruisers had the saturation capacity to penetrate them, so merely one hundred and seven of the M-5s died in a third flare of nuclear annihilation. But the combined fire of five hundred and ninety-three drones destroyed every single one of the Enemy’s missile ships in exchange.

More than seven thousand of the Voidseeker drones received new orders and leapt forward at maximum overthrust. The fighter drones ignored the assault ships and fighters of the Enemy and plunged deep into the formation of capital ships, firing their weapons continuously before slamming into the heavily armored flanks of their foes.

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

Bismark rocked as six of the drone fighters rammed into her side. The holo-display was utter chaos, a maelstrom of explosions and streaks of fire and electronic jamming. Suddenly, the ship lurched and emergency sirens sounded. The ship began to spin wildly, shifting the internal gravity by eighty-degrees to port.

“Port mains off-line—starboard mains locked on full overthrust!” screamed the helmsman. “I can’t override!”

“Jettison the fuel stores,” Jean snapped as Bismark pinwheeled through space, and she blanched as her flagship tumbled directly towards the Potemkin-class Hood. “Maximum power on auxiliary reaction-control thrusters!”

“No response, ma’am!”

“Abandon ship, all hands, aban . . .”

Bismark collided with Hood—three million tons of ship meeting violently. And then both ships erupted in a massive detonation.


November 1, 2768
SLS Ticonderoga
Outer System, Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


Captain Michael Raeder watched as the last of the Caspars exploded under the combined fire of two dozen SLDF vessels. He sat back in his command chair, his uniform soaked with sweat and blinked. Twenty-three Star League Ships remained on his display—just twenty-three out of the entire Fleet that had jumped with Admiral Kirkpatrick.

“Sir,” his communications officer said. “Sir, you are the senior surviving officer, Captain. The other ships are requesting orders from the Flag—that’s us now, sir.”

Raeder slowly nodded. “Launch shuttles for search-and-rescue; and let’s recover those as many of those life-boats as we can. Our fight is over.”

But the Battle for Terra is only beginning, he thought.

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

Post by Crayz9000 » 2013-06-05 02:48pm

Bismarck and Hood, huh? History repeats itself in strange ways...

I have to admit, as much as the BT universe's technology annoys me, this story so far has been very enjoyable. With the exception of the 'Mechs (which really can't be rationalized with modern physics knowledge, no matter how hard fans protest) you've done a tremendous job of rationalizing the other quirks and glaring holes in the BT background. And it was refreshing to see 'Mechs get used in a semi-realistic combined arms force as well.
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Re: The Cameron Legacy: The Fall of the Star League

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-05 03:44pm

Chapter Eighteen

November 6, 2768
SLS McKenna
Zenith Jump Point, Asta
Terran Hegemony


“Godspeed, Aleksandyr,” the holographic image of Stephen said. “I wish I was there, but . . .”

“Hiroyoshi Kurita, Colonel Moreau, or even I would have shot you somewhere survivable, First Lord if you had so much as attempted to board one of these ships,” interrupted Aleksandyr Kerensky from the bridge of his flagship. The old man grinned. “Luckily, it did not come to that, because you have shown you have better sense, my Lord.”

“Yes,” Stephen nodded in reply. “Lord Kerensky,” he continued formally. “I do hereby instruct you, as Commander of the Supreme Allied Headquarters of the Star League and its member states, having received authorization from the High Council of the Star League and approved by the First Lord thereof, to proceed with Operation Ragnarok and the Liberation of Terra. Good hunting.”

“Sir.”

The holo-display flickered and then died. Aleksandyr looked over his command bridge at the men and women of his staff, he looked at the faces of his Army, Corps, and Fleet commanders on the monitors set into the bulkhead. And then he simply said, “Execute you orders.”


November 6, 2768
Earth-Moon LaGrange Point
Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


Wave after wave of the massive WarShips materialized into existence. Star League, Davion, Kurita, Marik, and Steiner; fifty-four hundred such vessels were arrayed in close formation keeping station between the jump point and the planet itself. And then the JumpShips began to arrive, one after the other adding another two thousand hulls to the armada. Never before in the history of Mankind had such a Fleet been assembled, at one place, at one time, and for a singular purpose.

And aboard the Dictators and Overlords and Unions and Triumphs and Condors of that fleet, more than seven hundred divisions of troops waited, twenty-five percent of them BattleMech divisions with a total of nearly two hundred thousand BattleMechs and their pilots.

Those troop-carrying DropShips undocked and formed up behind the wall of capital WarShips. And then the Fleet of the Star League lit their drives and began to accelerate towards the planet.

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-05 03:45pm

The Fleet settled into high orbit above the planet, just outside of the range of the surface-based Space Defense Installations—although every threat receiver in the Fleet was going wild with the ranging lidar emerging from the surface. Slowly the Fleet spread out to cover the entire planetary surface, but the main part of that vast armada was concentrated above the Eurasian plateau.


November 6, 2768
SLS McKenna
High Orbit, Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


“Communications, open a channel to the surface,” Kerensky said. He waited until the rating acknowledged his commander and the light on the side of the screen near his knee stopped blinking and turned a brilliant green.

“Stefan Amaris. I demand your immediate and unconditional surrender to the authority of the Star League. Stand down your forces and you will be given a fair trial. You have five minutes to comply—no further requests for surrender will be made.”

Silence reigned over the flag bridge of the mighty battleship as the seconds and minutes slowly passed. Kerensky nodded to himself as the count-down timer reached zero and there was no reply from the surface.

“All ships channel, communications,” he said softly. “This is Kerensky. Ship, battalion, regiment, brigade, division, corps, and army commanders open your sealed orders encoded Ragnarok Seven—authentication code Cameron Two Two Four Alpha Three. Execute revised operations plan in fifteen minutes from my mark. I have faith that you will overcome any difficulties posed by this sudden change in orders, my troops. Do your duty, remember your training, and we will prevail here today. MARK!”

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

“We’re dropping on a different continent! Fifteen god-damned minutes before the Drop! He can’t be serious,” sputtered brevet-General Conner Stirling. “What the Hell happened to the Russian landing?”

“Hai, General Stirling,” answered Minoru as he tightened his chest straps. “We are trained and prepared for this—our troops are trained and prepared for this. It was . . . necessary. Amaris had a copy of the original Operations Plan.”

“My god,” the Highlander whispered over the radio. “But that means . . .”

“Yes, Conner-san. His troops will be far out of position for our actual landings.”

“TWELVE MINUTES TO DROP: ALL MECHWARRIORS STAND BY,” announced the DropShip’s loudspeakers.

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

“THEY’RE WHAT!” screamed Erik in the private briefing room of the Archon aboard LCS Tharkad.

“They changed the whole plan, Erik. The landing zone is in bloody North America, not Russia!” the Archon answered as he held his head in both hands. “They know, they have to know!”

“They can’t know . . . it isn’t possible,” snarled the Lyran intelligence chief.

“Then why the change? Why now? I’m not a General Erik, but it has to play Hell with their deployment schedule. Formations are going to get buggered up something fierce—they must have a had reason to change it. And even a more pressing reason to keep it secret until now.”

“They . . . they . . . can’t,” he sputtered, speechless for the first time in a long time.

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

“Lord Kerensky, Lord Kurita is holding for you,” a comm-tech called out.

“Minoru,” said Aleksandyr as he activated the comm. “What can I do for you in the ten minutes we have before you drop?”

“I would ask that you open your ship’s secured files. Within it there is a document from Stephen Cameron that needs to be transmitted immediately to Archon Steiner,” Minoru nodded as Aleksandyr sucked in a deep breath of air. “Yes. And fear not, Aleksandyr. I shall secure your landing zone and I shall hold it.”

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

Eighty-eight McKenna-class battleships suddenly shifted orbit and changed their vector to cross the North Atlantic. Entering the range of planetary based SDS systems, all of them turned to present their broadsides to the planet and unleashed Hell on a mere three defense installations: one in the Appalachians, the second on the island of Cuba, and the third buried deep within the Ozarks. Thousands of aerospace fighters tore into the atmosphere and plunged deep, even as the SDS returned fire, ripping apart a dozen of the McKennas in quick succession. Heavily laden with bombs, the fighters broke through the defensive fire—at the cost of nearly a third of their number—and put their ordnance directly on target.

The McKennas were joined by cruisers and destroyers, and the firefight grew even more intense. But then the Appalachia battery fell silent, followed quickly by the Ozarks. Finally, despite the loss of fourteen hundred aerospace fighters and twenty-seven irreplaceable McKennas, the Cuban battery too ceased all fire.

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

“Archon, we have received an eyes-only transmission for you from the Flagship,” a voice said from the speaker.

“Put it through,” Robert commanded with a frown.

“Yes sir, it appears to be a recording, sir.”

The miniature holo-graphic display on Robert’s deck lit up and an image of Stephen Cameron suddenly appeared. “I’ll make this short, Archon Steiner. I know what you and Erik Kiplinger did; my wife’s blood lies on your hands. And you both are guilty of far worse. But I can’t prove it; and the High Council will not remove you without that proof. So be it, Archon. This is for Marianne and my dead daughter, you son-of-a-bitch.”

Robert stared at Erik in horror as the transmission ended.

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

“NUCLEAR DETONATION!” bellowed one of the ratings on Kerensky’s flag bridge. “LCS Tharkad . . . she’s gone, Lord Kerensky. The Archon was aboard that ship!”

The corner of his mouth twitched, but Aleksandyr sternly forced his face into immobility. “Were they hit?”

“No, my Lord. The explosion came from within the ship’s hull.”

“All ships, ensure that any nuclear ordnance in your magazines are not armed! We cannot afford another accident of this scale.”

“Comm, send my personal condolences to Archon Jennifer aboard her transport,” the Supreme Allied Commander continued.

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

Two hundred and eighty-eight Overlord and Dictator class DropShips swung low into the atmosphere, bearing Minoru’s Assault Corp on board. At 36,000 feet, even as Rim World conventional fighters and aerospace fighters raced to intercept, the DropShip’s ejected eight divisions of BattleMechs—and only BattleMechs. Ninety-six regiments worth of ‘Mechs rained down from the sky over the northern half of Alabama and Georgia.

The speed of the assault—and the fact that all of the Rim Worlds leaders knew where the assault was coming—allowed the Dragon and his Corps to land without a single casualty. That grace period enjoyed by the lead elements would not last for long.

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-05 03:49pm

November 6, 2768
Imperial Palace
Unity City, North America
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


“My Lord, we must begin to redeploy our forces immediately!” Gunthar von Strang shouted at his lord and master, immediately silencing the din in the War Room buried beneath the vaults.

“We must? WE MUST? Do you forget yourself, Colonel?” Stefan Amaris hissed. “This is a diversion—we have their plans! Or have you forgotten that?”

“Diversion or no, my Lord, Kerensky just dropped nearly one hundred regiments into Alabama and Georgia—on this continent. And there have been NO landings outside of Moscow. Even now, still more troop carriers are landing in the cleared area, with no signs of stopping. At the least, we need to move those divisions in Mexico, my Lord.”

Stefan Amaris stared at the holodisplay that showed the handful of divisions he had deployed in the American south-east running! Running away from the invaders. He kept looking at the hundreds of icons on the Moscow plain, and then back again at the ones here, within two thousand miles of His Own Imperial Person. Finally, he slammed his hand down on the projector table.

‘Very well, Gunthar. Order General Timmons to move from the Mexican Highlands to contain this threat—but he is to leave half of his forces in Mexico. HALF. Am I understood?”

“Of course, my Lord,” von Strang answered quietly. “And General Beck’s command in Russia?”

The Emperor’s jaw worked, and for a long time he was silent, but then he at last nodded. “He is to send forty divisions—not one man more—east to the Bering Sea tunnels, and then south to Unity City. And Gunthar?”

“Yes, my Lord?”

“General Clinton has failed me; his divisions flee before these damned Kuritans and Highlanders. Have him arrested and shot for incompetence. And contain Minoru Kurita, damn you!”

“Yes, my Lord!”


November 6, 2768
Assault Corp Field Headquarters
Bessemer, Alabama, North America
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


“The 11th Benjamin Regulars report heavy resistance at Muscle Shoals, Lord Minoru,” the staff officer reported over the radio. “Rim Worlds forces are dug in deep across the Tennessee River and have at least a brigade of artillery. The 4th Pesht and 10th Galedon are moving to assist.”

“Hai. And the Highlanders?”

“General Stirling reports that the eastern half of the landing zone is secured. We apparently caught the Rim Worlds troops sleeping—they flee before us everywhere, my lord!”

“Not everywhere, and only for now,” Minoru mused. “We have secured most of the perimeter we planned on—signal all units to hold in place and prepare to receive local counter-attacks. And I want at least three kilometers of separation between all regiments—at least three, you understand?”

“Yes, my Lord Minoru.”

“In the meantime, let us make the traitors north of the Tennessee River think that is our initial objective: Corps Artillery and Engineer reserves are to report to Tai-sa Hondo at Muscle Shoals; they are to convince the Rim Worlds forces north of the river that we are preparing to cross en masse.”

“And signal General Kerensky in orbit: the landing zone is still hot, but as secure as possible. I advise that Wave I begin immediate landings.”

The affirmation of Minoru’s orders was cut off as he switched frequencies. “Otomo! Sword of Light! We move to Lake Wheeler!”

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-05 03:51pm

November 6, 2768
RWNS Nautilus
74 miles south-south-east of Savannah
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


“Skipper, another wave of DropShips are preparing to enter the atmosphere—same descent vector and trajectory.”

Captain Tobias Barstow looked at the display relayed to his submerged vessel via the SONUS network on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. The Star League had once possessed nearly one hundred submersibles such as the ship he commanded, but that had been long ago. With the completion of the SDS system, the submarine fleet had been deemed obsolete and mothballed nearly a century ago. And unlike ships mothballed in vacuum, these vessels had suffered degradation as they rested in their lonely berths. Only twenty-three had been considered recoverable, and of those twenty-three, only seventeen had so far been relaunched and provided with crews.

And of those seventeen, eight were stationed in the Pacific, four in the Atlantic, three in the Gulf of Mexico, and two in the Arctic Ocean. Which meant that only the seven in the Atlantic and Gulf were able to range on these invaders, now that the ships had stealthily crept close to shore. Barstow frowned as he considered the tactical screen and his sub’s available inventory. Twenty-four nuclear-tipped Killer Whale missiles packed into individual vertical launch provided the main punch, and he could fire them while submerged. But the designers of the Stingray-class ships had also fitted the design with two superimposed triple turrets mounted forward, each containing heavy anti-DropShip cannons able to reach nearly into orbit. To fire those guns, he would be forced to surface. Finally he nodded.

“Signal all ships, ignore capital ships, surface immediately after firing missiles and continue the engagement with guns.”

Silence greeted that stark command, and Barstow frowned. “Is there a problem, gentlemen?”

“Sir,” the XO began, “that will make us vulnerable to return fire.”

“Yes. Gentlemen, we either win or we die. If we don’t stop the landings, do you think Internal Security will let a single one of us live once we make port? And I don’t have to remind you, we only have food and fuel to last a week, thanks, once again, to IntSec.”

Barstow paused. “So, unless you are planning on mutiny, you have your orders.”

For several seconds there was only silence, and the XO slowly nodded. “Chief of the Boat! Bow planes at 10-degrees up-angle. Make your depth Three-Zero Meters and prepare to fire missiles One through Twenty-Four in sequence.”

Letting out his breath, the COB passed the order, and RWNS Nautilus prepared to engage the SLDF.

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

One hundred and sixty-eight missiles erupted out the calm waters and roared aloft to engage the incoming DropShips. Behind the missiles, seven submarines surfaced and unlocked their turrets—they rotated and elevated, and salvo after salvo of heavy cannon fire shot into the heavens.


November 6, 2768
SLS McKenna
High Orbit, Terra
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


General and Lord Kerensky went white as a hail of missiles—launched from beneath the surface of the oceans—tore into the heart of Wave I with more than a hundred and fifty nuclear detonations! Seven new targets appeared on his displays as a handful of ancient submarines surfaced and began to savage the survivors with ballistic fire. The Seventh Star League Army and all of its troops simply vanished in the blink of an eye!

“Captain McCall! Drop to low orbit and engage those vessels!”

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

“Skipper, we hammered the bastards! Tactical is estimating close to a 100% kill on the first wave!”

Barstow stood and began to bark orders to his crew. “Emergency submergence! Blow all ballast and take her deep!”

The XO lifted the microphone, “DIVE, DIVE, DIVE; EMERGENCY DIVE! BLOW ALL BAL . . .”

Two dozen heavy naval PPC bolts streaked through the evening sky and slammed into the hull of the Nautilus as she attempted to submerge. Her hull shattered by the bolts, her internal seals broken, water poured into her compartments and she descended to the floor of the ocean one final time.

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-05 03:52pm

Aleksandyr grimly nodded as the seven red dots representing the submarines faded from the screen. Submarines! He hadn’t thought it was possible for Amaris to restore those relics into service. What other surprises were waiting below?

“Lord Kerensky, General DeChevilier is holding for you,” the communications rating called out.

Aleksandyr flipped the switch and Aaron’s face appeared on the view screen set on his command chair’s arm. “Da, Aaron?”

“I’m passing the orders to move Wave 2 up—they are go for drop in fifteen minutes. With your approval, of course, Supreme Commander.”

“Approved. Are they ready for the drop, General DeChevilier? They were not scheduled for six more hours, after all.”

“They will make do if they aren’t, Supreme Commander,” Aaron said briskly, and then he looked down. “I am thinking about ordering Bastogne to go with Wave 3, Aleksandyr. Cowpens is prepped and I can drop in his place . . .”

“Nyet. The troops are used to you being with Wave 3 and Thomas has been part of Wave 2 since we began planning the operation. There have been enough sudden changes for one day, I think.”

“He’s going to be the senior officer on the ground for at least twelve hours until I arrive—technically he is senior to Minoru.”

“Not technically, Aaron, actually. He is inexperienced, but I find that he has a level head and a good eye for strategy. He goes with Wave 2.”

Aaron nodded and then he cut the comm circuit.

Aleksandyr leaned back in his command chair and thought for a moment. “Comm, open a link to General Marik aboard the command DropShip Bastogne.”

He waited for a few moments and then the face of his Deputy Commander, the very young and impressionable Thomas Marik appeared on screen. “How may I help you, Lord Kerensky?”

“Thomas,” Aleksandyr began, and then he paused. “General Marik. When you hit dirt, you will be the ranking military officer of the Star League on Old Earth. Minoru Kurita, General Stirling, General Wyatt, General Kimagura, General Morgan, and General Montoya will all be your subordinate officers. Yes, General DeChevilier and myself will both still be here in orbit, but you, General Marik will be officer in command of this offensive on the ground until my arrival. You and your troops are dropping early because of what just happened to Seventh Army. I need to know, General Marik, are you prepared for this?”

The young man blushed and then he fiercely nodded. “I’ll give ‘em hell General, until you and Aaron DeChevilier touch down.”

“Hah! Just remember this, young Thomas. General Montoya commands Eleventh Army. Lord Minoru commands the Advanced Guard. They are both far more experienced at this business than you, so listen to them if they have suggestions. However, you are senior and you, young Thomas, are in command. Trust your instincts and don’t ride the plan down in flames.”

“Yes, sir. I have one more question, Lord, General, and Supreme Commander Kerensky?”

“Then ask it, General Marik?”

“Do you also have instructions on how to change my diapers?” he asked with a smile. And Aleksandyr laughed.

“Good hunting, General Marik. I’ll see you on the surface in twenty-four hours.”

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

Post by masterarminas » 2013-06-05 03:54pm

November 6, 2768
Headquarters, 4th Imperial Army
Nashville, North America
Empire of Amaris (Terran Hegemony)


“General Cobb,” Michael Clinton said as he stared down at the map before him. “You managed to pull most of your Corps back across the Tennessee, correct?”

“All but a few regiments, Sir. They hit hard and fast and I wanted to put some defensive terrain between them and me as soon as possible.”

“Yes, we lost the 8th Armored Division when they tried to make a stand in Atlanta. That puts a hole in our defenses, but I am bringing reinforcements down from New England, the Midwest, and Texas.”

Clinton stood up and stretched and then he lit a cigar. He took several puffs and then pointed at the map with it. “This is our perimeter, gentlemen: in the center we have the Tennessee River to the Appalachians, then the Savannah River to the Atlantic will be the eastern sector. 4th Army has enough troops that we can hold those lines if we dig in right now. General Cobb, I want your Corps to get to work on the Tennessee line, while General Boleyn, your 52nd Division is responsible for the Savannah line. General Craig, I know your 13th has been hard hit, but I want you to take the connecting sector of the Appalachians. Your Light Dragoons and Jump Infantry regiments should be able to hold that line, even understrength.”

Both of Clinton’s divisional commanders and his surviving Corps commander nodded their understanding. “Meanwhile, if I can get an answer from Unity City, we’ll bring in IX Corps from Texas—their three divisions should be able to hold the line of the Mississippi from Memphis to the Gulf. I’ve already ordered XX Corps and LI Corps to get down here ASAP. Depending on how many more troops they put on the ground here, we should be able to hold until reinforcements arrive from out west, or from Mexico.”

“General,” interjected Cobb. “Any word on resupply—some of my regiments are down to half their basic load.”

“The trucks are already moving forward, Henry, along with as many ‘Mechs, tanks, and infantry as I could scrounge from detachments in the Cumberland Plateau.”

“Sir, some of my units are reporting civilian traffic is impeding their movement.”

“Damn it Blake,” the Army commander shouted at Boleyn. “Warn them once if you have to, and then shoot them off the road if they don’t move! You know how the Emperor will react if he learns that you are letting civilians slow you down.”

There was silence in the tent. “And I have already given orders to have half-a-dozen squadrons of Makos prepped with tactical devices. They will be standing by to give close support to any element of 4th Army that needs it.”

Henry Cobb winced. “That is not going to make us very popular in these parts, General Clinton.”

“Yeah. But I figure that particular complication is for after we contain this drop zone and then push Kerensky off planet. In the meantime, James, I want the engineering brigade to begin prepping every bridge that handle anything over twenty tons with explosives. If it comes down to it, stopping their logistics flow might mean more than the cost of rebuilding them afterwards. Highway, rail, what-have-you, make all of them ready to go in the water. Blake, you just get your troopers to the riv-“

The door to the briefing room slammed open and three Internal Security officers walked into the room, followed by a squad of underlings carrying assault rifles—with fixed bayonets.

“General Clinton,” one of the IntSec officers barked out. “By the order of his Imperial Majesty, Stefan the First, you are hereby relieved of your command. You are under arrest for treason against the Empire of Amaris, and incompetence in the command of His Armies.”

Michael Clinton’s knees buckled and he nearly collapsed, but the other two IntSec officers were there and they hauled him from the room. “Now, lady and gentlemen, and I use that term loosely, I am General James Larson, and I have been authorized to assume command of 4th Army. Why are my division and corps commanders just standing here and doing nothing?”

Henry Cobb sucked in his breath and then he shook his head. “Sir, we were finalizing plans for establishing a defensive line to con . . .”

He was interrupted by a fist slamming down on the table. “No, no, NO! We will not stand on the defense, we will attack and we will drive these traitors from our soil! If I have to arrest every last one of you cowards, I will do so, but I will not tolerate such defeatism in the ranks of my Army!”

From outside the building came a salvo of rifle fire, and General Larson smiled. “General Clinton has just been summarily executed for failing his Imperial Majesty, gentlemen. Anyone care to join him?”

There was absolute silence. “Very well, you know your jobs, so do them! Or you—and your families—will pay for you insolence and incompetence.”

Larson looked down at the map and ripped it, and the defensive lines drawn on it apart. “Well? What are you waiting for? You are dismissed—and gentlemen, I want to be informed of the gains of our offensive within the hour!

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