The Quest for Home

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masterarminas
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The Quest for Home

Post by masterarminas » 2013-08-25 11:41pm

THE QUEST FOR HOME

A tale of alternate history set within the BattleTech Universe

By Stephen T Bynum

All Rights Reserved, 2013


PART ONE: Trials and Tribulations


"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Book of Matthew, Chapter Seven, Verses 7-8.

"Seek not greatness, but seek truth and you will find both." Horace Mann, 19th-century politician.

"It's written, 'seek and ye shall find'. But first, 'imagine what you seek'. Otherwise, you will end up searching everything everywhere forever." Toba Beta, My Ancestor was an Ancient Astronaut.


Prologue

Office of the Khan, Clan Wolf
Borealtown, Wotan
Clan Jade Falcon Occupation Zone
January 2, 3058


Vlad Ward, Khan of Clan Wolf, looked up to the door of his temporary office in irritation as one of Elemental Guards stationed outside entered. The medical technician working on his arm—broken during the Refusal War and then injured again in the Grand Kurultai where he had killed Elias Crichell—did not pause in his duties. Indeed, the free-birth made certain that his Khan—the Khan who just challenged and killed the ilKhan in single combat—saw that his total focus was on his task . . . and not on matters above his station.

“I asked not to be disturbed,” Vlad snarled, and the Elemental Warrior nodded his head.

“Aff, my Khan,” he said as he came to attention and saluted. “There is a Khan who is requesting to meet with you—she is rather insistent, Khan Ward.”

“What does Marthe want now?” he asked; for the two had parted ways just minutes ago. And then he cocked his head in question as the Elemental shook his head in a gesture of no. “Who is paying a call upon Vlad Ward of the Wolves, Ian?”

“Khan Ariel Suvorov, of Clan Goliath Scorpion, my Khan.”

Vlad snorted and then he nodded his head. “Show her in, Ian—we must extend courtesy to another Khan after all,” even to the Khan of the third-rate, stagnant, drug-addicted, impoverished, Warden Scorpions. The corner of his mouth twitched—he did not know which of his mental appellations were more damning. “That is good enough, Technician Philip,” he said briskly. “The cast will harden—if I have further need of you I will summon you.”

The med-Tech bowed low. “As my Khan commands,” he whispered; then he gathered his tools and supplies and—still casting his gaze upon the floor—backed out of the office.

After a moment’s pause, Ian stepped back within the office and he held the door. “Khan Vlad Ward of Clan Wolf, may I present your guest—Khan Ariel Suvorov of Clan Goliath Scorpion.”

The woman that entered was petite—she stood barely 170cm tall even wearing the thick-soled boots that were part and parcel of her ceremonial leathers (skin-tight polished black leathers, Vlad noticed with a leer, that accented every curve of her body and the taut musculature underneath) and if she massed fifty kilograms the Wolf would have been astonished. It was rare for a Pilot to achieve the rank of Khan—rare in any Clan but the Cobras and Ravens, that was. But those few who did, Vlad’s leer changed into a genuine smile of appreciation, those few were individuals with whom it was folly to take lightly.

Still, Vlad being who Vlad was, he could not resist the temptation—he did not meet her eyes, but deliberately cast his gaze at her feet and he drank in the sight of perfectly proportioned legs and the arc of her hips. She was armed, he noted, but only with the ceremonial blade of Clan Goliath Scorpion—a pair of gem-encrusted zulkari resting in scabbards hung from the tight belt around her modest waist. One hand, gloved, he sighed as he imagined the sight of those hands, rested upon the hilt of the one of the knives, and his eyes continued up. Up to the swelling of her breasts—small, true, but enough to make his loins stir. And then he smiled broader as he took in the first sight of her flesh—the alabaster of her cleavage appearing; she had unfastened her collar, and her long neck rose to delicate lines of her cheeks, the sable hair bound in a long braid that wrapped around that fair skin and rested upon her bosum.

At last, he met her eyes—the Hellion-cold blue eyes that spoke to him with their anger at being made an object for him (a Wolf!) to admire. Vlad Ward of the Wolves grinned at her.

“If you have come to couple you are overdressed for the occasion,” he sneered—and was rewarded by the flush of her cheeks. “If not,” he continued without pause, “I do not see what business the two of us have—I am no Warden, Scorpion. Ulric tolerated your kind; I have time for nothing that is not of use to me. What use do you believe that you have for me?” he asked, and then he smirked again. “Certainly your Clan has nothing I need or desire; so it is a personal matter? Need you an Alpha Wolf? If so, you can remove the extraneous clothing—you don’t mind an audience, do you?” he laughed he swept the top of his desk clean with his good arm.

“You are a mangy cur that I would see dead,” Ariel snapped, and Vlad nodded his appreciation again at the woman. Spirit, he thought, she does have spirit. And then she sighed and shook her head. “If I had no use for you—but I do, Vlad of the Wolves.”

“Ah, a Scorpion has use for a Wolf,” Vlad chuckled. “You wish my Wolves to fight your battles for you, Ariel of the Scorpions? Is that what you have come for?”

Vlad could hear her knuckles pop as she tightened the grip upon the knife—and Ian tensed. Then she released her breath and made herself take her hand from the hilt of the blade. And she smiled.

“Upon this occasion, Vlad, you do have need of me and my Scorpions. What you did in the Grand Kurultai will only carry you so far; your Wolves have been grievously wounded in this Refusal War . . .,” and she smirked at Vlad, “. . . and by the defection of many of your Warriors to follow Phelan Ward into the Inner Sphere.”

Vlad grew still and his lips twisted, his eyes narrowed into slits. “Traitors,” he snarled. “Abjured from the Clans.”

“So they are,” Ariel said with a lilting laugh. “That does not change the fact that an entire front-line Galaxy, a rather discouraging number of individual Warriors, and six WarShips—to include Clan Wolf’s only battleship, mind you—have deserted you to follow Phelan into Exile.”

Vlad stood, his mouth twisted as he opened his mouth to shout her down, but Ariel held up her hand. “We all have our buttons, Khan Ward—shall I continue to push yours just as you sought to push mine?” she asked. And then she batted her eyelids. “Or shall we get down to the matter which brings me here?”

The Wolf exhaled and then he drew in a deep breath, and then he exhaled again. But at last he nodded and sat, pointing to a chair with his good arm.

“Thank you, Khan Ward,” Ariel laughed and she sat, crossing her legs. “You have but seven Clusters of Warriors remaining in the Occupation Zones—seven, Khan Ward. Not counting Garrison Clusters that are not fit for offensive operations. And none of those seven are at full strength. In the Homeworlds,” she continued, “Ulric was quite specific—your Clan assaulted the Falcons throughout the Homeworlds. It was . . . glorious,” she whispered with a smile. “But there, as well, you have taken losses and suffered defections as the Wardens are abandoning your Clan and making their way to Phelan.”

She paused. “Killing Elias Crichell bought you some time, Vlad—but not much. Why, at this very moment, your Wolves are weaker than my Scorpions. The difference being, my Scorpions are not under attack at this time . . . and soon your Wolves will be.”

Vlad scowled. “My Wolves remain strong—we will rebuild. Within a year . . .,” he began to bark, but Ariel’s laughter interrupted him.

“A year? Yes, if you have a year you certainly have the salvage to rebuild. You have sibkos which you can promote early—and free-birth aplenty that you can finally make into Warriors. But will the Clans give you a year, Vlad? That is the question.”

“What do you propose then, Ariel,” the Wolf snapped.

“You need Warriors. I have Warriors,” and she smiled.

Vlad sat back and he considered the woman sitting before him. “Are you suggesting that I fight a Trial against you—for a Galaxy of Warriors?” He shook his head. “We would both take more casualties in such an endeavor . . . weakening my touman until I could turn the abtakha into Wolves.”

Ariel laughed. “Are you familiar with the Horse custom of a contract bid, Vlad Ward of the Wolves?”

For a moment, Vlad was taken aback, and then he began to smile. But the smile faded. “I am—from history. Are you suggesting . . . ?”

Ariel nodded. “I offer Clan Wolf six Clusters of fresh veteran Warriors under a contract bid, Khan Ward. For the duration of the contract, these Warriors will be part of your touman—at the end of the bid, I reclaim all six.”

“The Council will never allow this,” Vlad mused.

“It is none of their concern—it is an internal matter between the Wolves and the Scorpions,” Ariel answered. “Besides, who will tell them? You? Me?” and she chuckled as Vlad nodded.

For a moment there was silence in the office and then Vlad slowly nodded. “What do you want, Khan of the Scorpions? You did not make this offer out of charity, I am certain.”

“Why, Vlad, we Scorpions take our responsibilities under surkairede quite seriously,” but she smiled as she answered him. “Seeing the Clan of Nicholas Kerensky fall to the treachery of Falcons? Scorpion honor demands that we do something. But what I have proposed goes far beyond what we are oath-bound to provide to the Wolves. Quiaff?”

“Aff,” Vlad answered sourly. “What do you want?”

“Three things. First, the six Clusters that I provide you will outfit with OmniMechs. The Scorpions will keep those OmniMechs when the contract bid expires. And my officers will review all of your orders to those units and have the right of refusal; any obvious suicide missions will void my terms of this contract bid.”

“Out of the question!”

“Vlad Ward, you have sufficient stockpiles that Ulric has cached—and salvage on a score of battlefields—to meet this condition. Do not be miserly, Wolf . . . the life of your Clan hangs in the balance.”

Vlad sighed and he ran his good hand through his hair. “You will take salvage?”

“If necessary . . . yes,” replied Ariel. “After your technicians have repaired it.”

The Wolf inhaled sharply and then he nodded. “Agreed.”

“Second, the Warriors and Clusters of this contract bid will not be deployed to the Inner Sphere—they will remain in the Homeworlds. However,” she held up a hand as Vlad began to rise, “that will allow you to transfer actual Wolves to the Occupation Zone while keeping your enclaves in the Kerensky Cluster and Pentagon safe. This must be done—my Scorpions are forbidden from participating in the Invasion, Khan Ward. If my Warriors fight here and the other Khans discover it . . . ,” her voice trailed off.

“They will have a genuine reason to move against us both,” Vlad finished with a sigh. “And your third requirement?”

“Our two Clans share Roche—we are the only Clans to have enclaves on Roche. I do believe that we should cooperate to establish a new manufacturing center there; one that will supply both our Clans with OmniMechs, Elemental battle armor, and OmniFighters. Spare parts and OmniPods. Munitions.”

Vlad’s eyes narrowed. “The Scorpions do not have the resources to build such a plant,” he growled.

Ariel smiled. “No, we do not. But the Wolves do. Your Clan will supply the necessary resources and we will jointly operate the facility, sharing the production—equally.”

“You are a . . . a . . .,” Vlad sputtered.

“A Khan, Vlad Ward of the Wolves?” Ariel bared her teeth in a sharp smile. “Was that what you were going to say?”

Nothing more than a common bandit, Vlad thought bitterly. No, there is nothing common about this bitch—and he shook his head. “I will need those resources to rebuild my touman, Ariel,” he growled.

“Rebuilding your touman will take years to do properly, Wolf. My merchants have run the numbers—you have enough resources and raw materials to undertake this project and rebuild your touman.” She smiled and batted her eyes. “You just will not have any extra to spend on little luxuries, my Khan.”

“The Wolves get two-thirds of the production,” Vlad muttered.

“Half, Khan Ward. That is non-negotiable,” and she smiled. “After all, you can always get a loan from Falcon bankers—oh, wait!” And she laughed.

Vlad forced himself to remain in his seat, but he balled his good hand into a fist—and could hear the plaster of the cast creaking with the stress his other was placing on it. “How long will I have these contract bid Warriors?”

“Three years,” she answered.

“Five,” barked Vlad.

“Four—and not a day longer,” she compromised. And then she stood. “Have we a bargain Wolf?”

Vlad stood as well. “We do, Scorpion. I hope that one day you regret loaning me your Warriors when the other Clans discover what we have done. And how vulnerable you have left your Clan.”

Ariel laughed. “Why, Vlad—you yourself said that such a weak, hedonistic, poor, necrosia-addled Clan as my own has nothing to tempt the other Clans with. And you were right—for the moment. Frankly, I doubt that most of our trothkin will even notice my Warrior’s absence.”

Vlad smiled and he shook his head. “Some will; they will see and they will trial you—and you will be understrength.”

“For a short time,” she agreed. “However, I am recalling my Seekers and reactivating older Warriors who have gone on to other tasks for my Clan,” and she smiled. “And since I am keeping my BattleMechs, I can field the replacements within a matter of months. Four years from now, when you return my Warriors to me, my touman will be expanded by a full quarter . . . and by that time our factory should be beginning its first production runs.”

Vlad laughed and he slammed his good hand down on the desk. “Woman, did the scientists add Shark and Falcon genes to your mix? Bargained well and done.”

“Bargained well and done,” Ariel repeated. And then she turned and left.
Last edited by masterarminas on 2013-08-26 09:32am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Re: The Quest for Home

Post by masterarminas » 2013-08-26 02:07am

Clan Goliath Scorpion Naval Reserve Cache
Dagda System, The Pentagon
Clan Homeworlds
January 4, 3058


“Easy on the thrusters, Jake,” Lynn McKenna, Khan of Clan Snow Raven, ordered the pilot of the S-7AC ‘Bus’ as the moth-balled and derelict ships stored here at the system’s largest Trojan Point slid into view. “All this shuttle wants is a man with a slow hand,” she said with a smile—and then she turned to her host. “You know most of these ships are fit for nothing more than scrap, quiaff?”

“Aff,” Nelson Elam, saKhan of Clan Goliath Scorpion answered sourly. “And it was your founder who never got around to repairing the battle damage on these ships after Klondike.”

Lynn held up her hands and she shrugged. “Still, there are gems here—you know, I have never really examined the ships out here in the Dagda Cache,” she paused and smiled, “perhaps because we all know that the Founder considered them all but worthless.”

“If it weren’t two centuries ago,” Nelson growled, “I would declare a Trial of Grievance over his so-called inspections!”

“Your Scorpions already have seventeen WarShips, Nelson—including two battleships. Why do you need more?”

“We do not need more; it is the principle of the thing,” the saKhan muttered. “There,” he said pointing. “That is the one that we want—the Avatar.”

“Bloody hell,” Lynn whispered. “That is one of the original six that survived the Coup and Liberation and the Exodus.”

“SLS Chandara,” Nelson confirmed. “We found her drifting out-system about sixty years after Klondike . . . badly damaged, but we her towed back to the Cache with a pair of tugs. The Khan wants her restored to service, Khan McKenna.”

Lynn shook her head. “She suffered major visible damage—no telling what has been done to the K/F Core or lithium-fusion batteries. We would need to get a yard-ship out here and make repairs before we even try to power up for a jump. Why do you need her? I mean, you Scorpions have two battleships, a battlecruiser, and three cruisers already—why do need an Avatar; well, a Liberator after we rebuild her?”

Nelson smiled. “You know that Lei Kung is our Clan’s Flagship, quiaff?”

“Aff.”

“And she has six docking collars?”

Lynn frowned. “She is a McKenna-class battleship—they all have six docking collars.”

“So do the Avatars/Liberators,” Nelson finished. “Lei Kung is the Clan Flagship—CGS Deathstalker, as we have decided to name her, is going to be my WarShip/Transport.”

Lynn nodded. “You Scorpions use five DropShips to transport your Clusters, plus a sixth collar for an Assault Dropper as escort. Makes sense,” she said and then she turned her gaze back on the derelict. “But it will take a lot of time and resources—can your Clan afford it?” she asked bluntly and Nelson smiled.

He waved his hand at the rest of the ships floating in the boneyard. “Resources are surrounding us, Khan McKenna.”

“You want me to gut the rest of the Cache to get this one ship operational? There are another . . . eleven? . . . hulks out here.”

“They are not serving the Clan by floating around out here useless, quiaff?” Nelson answered with a shrug. “Besides, half of them will never leave the Cache under their own power—take that one for instance,” he said pointing to a Lola III-class destroyer (a red hourglass still emblazoned on her nose), the stern mangled and twisted and broken, missing all four engine pods. “Beside Deathstalker, we might get another two, maybe three if we have a miracle, of these ships restored. And none of them heavier than a Naga.”

“You have a Naga?” Lynn suddenly perked up.

“A Naga and a Carson,” Nelson laughed. “Old ships.”

“What is the third—if you get that miracle? The third ship you might get back in service?”

“Just a Vincent,” Nelson said with a sigh. “The other eight derelicts just took too much damage when we came back to Dagda—and when the SLDF was fighting their civil war here after our founders bugged out to Strana Mechty.”

“That Congress does not look too bad,” Lynn mused.

Nelson snorted. “Wait until you get a look at the far side of her—she was in range of the mis-jump that crippled Black Venom during the opening phase of Klondike. Her entire starboard side is melted and the K/F Core is scrap.”

“Still, the hull and guns and electronics are worth something,” she mused as she considered the Cache and then she nodded. “We will restore and rebuild Deathstalker as a Liberator-class—in return we get the other eleven vessels in the Cache, derelict or operational. Deal?”

“Bargained well and done—as long as you also take all of that debris floating out there with you. It is a hazard to navigation in this part of the system.”

Lynn’s expression fell and then she nodded. “Aff—we can do that.” And Nelson Elam smiled.

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

Re: The Quest for Home

Post by masterarminas » 2013-08-26 11:54am

Goliath Scorpion Warrior Training Facility Prime
Porthos, Roche, Kerensky Cluster
Clan Homeworlds
January 7, 3058


“Contrary to what might be suggested by a casual reading, the idea does not imply that humans in the state of nature act morally; in fact, terms such as 'justice' or 'wickedness' are simply inapplicable to pre-political society as Rousseau understands it. Humans there may act with all of the ferocity of an animal. They are good because they are self-sufficient and thus not subject to the vices of political society. Rousseau views society as artificial and holds that the development of society, especially the growth of social interdependence, has been inimical to the well-being of human beings. The goodness of the humanity is the goodness of an animal and not the virtue as we can read it very clearly in The Social Contract, which I quote,” Master of Instruction Nikolai Djerassi placed his hands on the podium as the passage in question appeared behind on a wall-sized monitor.

The passage from the state of nature to the civil state produces a very remarkable change in man, by substituting justice for instinct in his conduct, and giving his actions the morality they had formerly lacked. Then only, when the voice of duty takes the place of physical impulses and right of appetite, does man, who so far had considered only himself, find that he is forced to act on different principles, and to consult his reason before listening to his inclinations. Although, in this state, he deprives himself of some advantages which he got from nature, he gains in return others so great, his faculties are so stimulated and developed, his ideas so extended, his feelings so ennobled, and his whole soul so uplifted, that, did not the abuses of this new condition often degrade him below that which he left, he would be bound to bless continually the happy moment which took him from it for ever, and, instead of a stupid and unimaginative animal, made him an intelligent being and a man.”

“Basically,” the former Khan said to the attentive thirteen-year old sibkin sitting in the lecture hall, “the society corrupts the Man only because the Social Contract does not succeed, de facto. The Society does not corrupt the Man per se; only if the society failed and the society actually failed as we see it in the Discourse on Inequality. In Rousseau's philosophy, society's negative influence on men centers on its transformation of amour de soi, a positive self-love, into amour-propre, or pride. Amour de soi represents the instinctive human desire for self-preservation, combined with the human power of reason. In contrast, amour-propre is artificial and forces man to compare himself to others, thus creating unwarranted fear and allowing men to take pleasure in the pain or weakness of others. Rousseau was not the first to make this distinction, mind you; it had been invoked by, among others, Vauvenargues.”

He smiled at the young men and women cribbing notes and furiously writing down his words; he remembered well his own days in those chairs so long ago as he tried to understand what his instructors taught—of course, even here among the Scorpions and their (to some) heretical ideas of instruction the sibkin were well motivated by the knowledge that failure in even this course could well result in their being assigned to a lower caste—to be denied the honor of serving as a Warrior.

“According to Rousseau, by joining together into civil society through the social contract and abandoning their claims of natural right, individuals can both preserve themselves and remain free. This is because submission to the authority of the general will of the people as a whole guarantees individuals against being subordinated to the wills of others and also ensures that they obey themselves because they are, collectively, the authors of the law.” Nikolai paused and he nodded.

“What does that mean in the context of the society that Nicholas Kerensky founded? Our society in which we today live and die? How do those two—the ideal of Nicholas Kerensky and the reality of today—differ?” he asked as a bell rang three times, signaling the end of this period—and the a brief intermission before the next course began. None of the sibkin moved from their desks however—they had not yet been dismissed, and Nikolai nodded. “You have four days until this class reconvenes—and there are field training exercises scheduled for tomorrow and Monday. I will expect at least six pages from each of you examining these questions when we reconvene on Wednesday; be prepared to defend and debate your words, sibkin.” He paused and then the corner of his mouth twitched slightly. “I will recommend to your attention The Society of Nicholas Kerensky, authored by Jennifer Winson. Her insights into the thoughts and beliefs of the Founder might well provide you with a starting point to answer these questions; there are multiple copies in the library and on the computer networks—although I need not remind you that I want your responses in your own words, not those of the wife of the Founder. In addition, read the next three sections—we will begin discussing the philosophy of Locke and Hobbes on this very issue and how they differ from Rousseau . . . and where those differences impacted the society that Nicholas founded. You have seven minutes to change into fatigues and report to Star Commander Randolph for physical training—class is dismissed.”

And with that, the youths sprinted from the room, rushing to get back to their barracks to change and fall in formation on the parade ground before the whistle blew . . . most would fail in that, Nikolai thought as he shook his head; it was designed that way. The Sibkin never had quite enough time; and that would give Randolph an excuse to run the entire Sibling Company ragged for the remainder of the afternoon. He grinned—it made him feel young all over again. And then he heard a soprano voice chuckling from the stage behind him.

“I remember this lecture—I hated it,” Star Colonel Jillian Scott, newly promoted to the command of the 14th Scorpion Hussars, said with a chuckle.

“So do most of the sibkin, Jillian,” Nikolai answered as he closed the folder that contained his lecture notes and turned around. “It is necessary lest we become mindless Jaguars, however.”

“Aff, Master of Instruction,” she agreed, and then waved forward a massive Elemental Warrior standing beside her. “I wanted to introduce my replacement on the staff here, Nikolai—Star Commander Lucien Mattlov, meet former Khan Nikolai Djerassi, Master of Instruction for Clan Goliath Scorpion.”

Nikolai smiled and he extended his hand—the Elemental took it in the grasp of a fellow Warrior and shook it firmly—but not with the bone-crushing grip that some Warriors felt that they simply had to give.

“So this is the Falcon abtakha that Jason brought into the Nest—I heard of your deeds on Circinus, Lucien. Well done—Scorpion. And you survived the melee trials for your Blood-name on Ironhold—survived and overcame.”

“Thank you, Master Nikolai,” the Warrior rumbled, even as his features softened at the mention of Jason Scott—lost to the Clan almost two years now. “My former trothkin in the Falcons were taken aback when I announced my intention to Trial for the name—and were shocked when I prevailed and won my Name.”

Nikolai laughed. “I am willing to wager that they also accused you of being un-Falcon after spending two years in the company of Scorpions, quiaff?”

“Aff,” Lucien chuckled. “And it is grateful I am that I did not have to sit through classes such as this—what Jason pounded into my skull was difficult enough to master!”

Nikolai and Jillian laughed, acknowledging the point. “What then would your answer be to the question I posed to my students?” Nikolai asked with a grin.

Jillian shook her head and Lucien sighed. “It never ends, does it?”

“Neg,” both of the Scorpions answered at the same time.

Lucien paused and then before he could begin to recite the lessons of years past, Jillian spoke up. “We have others to meet, Nikolai—you can drill Lucien on philosophy at your leisure another time.” She smiled. “Besides, this is only a temporary posting for Star Commander Mattlov—he has volunteered for assignment to your abomination.”

“Oh?” Nikolai mused. “Khan Suvorov gave me permission to build the Scorpion Operational/Strategic Services Cluster, but even among this Clan I have had precious few volunteers.”

“Imagine that,” Lucien commented dryly. “There is little honor to be found in covert operations, Master Nikolai. Less chance of promotion and glory as well.”

“Why then did you volunteer?” Nikolai asked.

Lucien nodded at the question. “I learned on Circinus that sometimes one must sacrifice personal honor for the good of the Clan, Master Nikolai. I know that the other Clans will consider us dezgra—if they ferret out our secrets, that is—but if that is the price that I must pay to keep my adopted Clan safe . . .,” Lucien’s voice trailed off and he shrugged.

Nikolai grinned. “For too long, the Watch has only watched—and they have not always seen. We must give our intelligence arm some teeth . . . even if that means we do not always play by the standard Clan rulebook. Welcome aboard, Warrior.” And then he sighed. “But it will months—if not years—before the Cluster is staffed and ready for operations. In the meantime,” his grin widened, “we need to get you up to speed for the classes you are teaching.”

“Nikolai,” Jillian growled. “Lucien has been assigned to the firing range and hand-to-hand courses—not your academics.”

The former Khan waved that off. “I have need of an experienced officer to teach Basic Ethics and Moral Thought—Lucien will serve well there.”

The Elemental groaned. “I take that means you are going to teach me and then I am going to instruct the sibkin?”

“Sharp as a Falcon’s talons, he is,” laughed Nikolai, and Lucien sighed.

“Can we at least start after we eat?”

Jillian and Nikolai both laughed, and after a moment, Lucien, shaking his head, joined them.
Last edited by masterarminas on 2013-08-26 08:24pm, edited 2 times in total.

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

Re: The Quest for Home

Post by masterarminas » 2013-08-26 04:40pm

Research Facility Gamma-11
Marshall, Kerensky Cluster
Clan Homeworlds
January 8, 3058


“Welcome, Joan Levin—or should I say Joan Cameron?” a man greeted her as the hood and blindfold were removed.

“What is this? Who are you? I was promised a new life on Strana Mechty—the Khan herself told me I was free to live my life within the rules of your society! Why have you taken me?” Joan spat.

“Ah, my associates have failed to make the introductions, I see. Madame Cameron, I am Scientist-General Germon Wilkinson—and this . . .,” the scientist gestured at the barren metal walls of what had to be a cell, “this is your new home.”

“Scientists don’t have Bloodnames,” she whispered. “Lucien and Amanda taught me that much.”

Germon frowned and then he nodded at one of the two burly men who held her arms—and a fist struck her right cheek, making the room spin.

“Show respect for the language, Madame Cameron,” he said calmly as Joan gasped and began to spit up blood. “Do not debase it with contractions; as for what you were promised . . .,” he shrugged. “Your bargain has been altered—by me. You are too valuable to I and my trothkin to risk—or rather, your genetic legacy is too valuable to risk.”

“The Khan swore to me that you would do nothing without my consent—she swore it!”

“The Khan is a Warrior; the Scientists are charged with maintaining our genetic legacies and improving the breed. You, my dear, are the last known survivor of the ruling line of the Camerons—Richard’s heir, if we had a Star League for you to reign over.” He chuckled. “One day we will have that Star League—and through your genetic material, we will breed a new line of Camerons to rule us all. A Cameron who, with the assistant of the Scientists, will put the Warriors back in their proper place—one that is subservient to us.”

“You’re mad,” she whispered, and received a back-handed slap for the trouble.

“I shall not warn you again—I do not need your life; just your eggs.”

“You son of a bitch.”

Germon smiled. “I am true-born—I have neither father nor mother, only gene-donors. Once we have cleansed your eggs of the genetic riff-raff that has interbred with the Cameron line over the centuries, then we will begin breeding the Camerons anew. Improved with all of their defects corrected—and with select genetic material from exceptional individuals added.” He smiled. “After all, the eggs must be convinced to start division; we could simply fertilize them with donated sperm—but that is so . . . haphazard. No, my dear, we have in our possession a sample of the DNA of Nicholas Kerensky himself—and we have added to that the greatest leader of the Inner Sphere to rise in our long absence . . . Hanse Davion.”

“You are mad,” Joan repeated. “Hanse Davion has been dead for six years.”

“Samples of his blood and bone marrow were preserved in the Avalon City Hospital—not a high-security area at all. Seekers working for me—not Ariel—managed to obtain a few vials. To this blend of Nicholas and Hanse we will add all of the improvements made over the Golden Century. Just think, child, by this time next year you will have twenty children born from this ménage a trois between you and Kerensky and Davion—children that will form the seed of a new Bloodname. The Cameron Bloodname. Children who will be raised by . . .,” he grinned here. “By the Society to which I belong, and instructed from day one of decanting on how to rule.”

He turned as one of his assistants pushed a metal cart into the room—a cart filled with syringes. Germon smiled and he lifted one, taking the cover off of the long needle.

“Do not struggle—this will be painful enough, my dear.”

And Joan, who had lived on Circinus her entire life, who had been sold into slavery by her own brother, who had seen horror each and every day of her twenty-six years before being rescued; Joan screamed at the conspiracy that fate had delivered her into.

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

Re: The Quest for Home

Post by masterarminas » 2013-08-27 12:25am

Since I never finished The Seeker (prequel to this tale), here are my draft ideas and outline of events that finished off that book.

Short and sweet:

When we left The Seeker, Jason and his companions had just found an entrance to the SLDF facility on Circinus that served as Kerensky's HQ. They were being pursued by proto-Manai Domini of the Word of Blake. But, the MD are following the trial of Elemental red-shirts leading them astray. The MD catch them and kill them, with one of the civilian castes surviving and pleading for his life in exchange for ratting out the heroes. The MD reward his information with a bullet and back-track to the heroes cave.

Meanwhile, the heroes manage to gain access to the facility and realize that it is (mostly) intact. Not with machinery for producing advanced SL equipment, but certainly capable of 3025-era technology. However, the sheer size and centuries of disrepair means it will require years (perhaps a decade) to restore (and maybe upgrade).

The MD find the hidden entrance and follow on foot. There is a running gun-fight within the buried installation. During the fight, the sole pilot manages to get a Drop-Shuttle back on-line . . . but someone has to hold off the MD. Lucien volunteers and Jason cuts his remaining cord, declaring him a full-fledged Warrior of the Scorpions. He orders everyone to leave and make rendezvous but the MD attack too soon. Jason and Lucien are pinned down by hostile fire, with Jason having been wounded . . . the hanger doors are still sealed, and Amanda has been cut off in an unexplored section.

Just as the MD launch their final push, Amanda returns at the controls of an abandoned SLDF tank (or 'Mech; hadn't decided). The balance of firepower shifts and the MD recoil, allowing Jason, Lucien (unconscious and wounded), and Amanda to reach the DropShuttle. But the hanger still must be opened. Jason orders them to lift as soon as the doors open, and makes his way alone to the flight ops. He and Agent Smythe meet for the first (and last) time and a fight ensues, even as the remaining MD begin advancing on the unarmed shuttle. The tank ('Mech, whatever) systems fail (no maintenance in nearly 3 centuries!), and they are in dire straits.

Badly wounded, Jason activates the hanger doors and orders the Scorpions to leave. The pilot blasts off and Jason shoots the fuel storage tanks, causing an explosion that kills the remaining MD (and him?).

The heroes scramble and barely make their planned rendezvous and then the Jenna Scott jumps away.

The story ends with Lucien and Amanda meeting with Ariel, Lucien being accepted into the Clan (formally), and Ariel deciding to hide the pedigree of Joan (because of the chaos it might/would cause in the Homeworlds). The old man from Wolf/Snord finally dies after returning home and the Clan now knows of the confirmed existence of Kerensky's HQ (somewhat scorched, but mostly intact). Ariel and Nelson have a private talk about the discovery and Ariel notes that technicaly, the Scorps are not constrained from attacking the Periphery; Nelson replies that it was technicalities that got the Mongeese killed and they decide to do nothing at this time.

Meanwhile, back on Circinus, the Word back-up arrives and they begin the long, hard work to open up the Castle Brian (Periphery Castle, whatever) and get the factory operational. President McIntyre (more machine than man now) filled with hate of the Clans signs an alliance with the Word and Circinus becomes a hidden base for training the Shadow Divisions.

Roll end credits.

So ends the summary and my notes/outline/draft. :)

MA

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