"The Wrath of Paradise" - ADNfic, The Fall of Stra

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"The Wrath of Paradise" - ADNfic, The Fall of Stra

Post by Steve » 2005-12-30 07:23am

"With pride and hope our warriors ventured forth,
seeking to reforge that which had broken,
to restore that which had been lost,
to reclaim Paradise itself.

How could we have known the
strange will of the Fates, cruel and calculating?
How could we have known of
the Titans who had come forth,
terrible in their power, irresistable in their strength?

Woe unto the Children of Kerensky!
Woe unto the heirs of the Star League!
Paradise has unleashed Her Wrath upon us!
Her angels are the unstoppable tide,
the unquenchable fire, the unconquerable blow!

Courage and honor once brought glory and victory;
now they are outmatched; unequal to the foe,
they are only companions in Death.
Warriors who once fought for their Clans,
who bled and died for the greater whole
now fight only for Death.

Such is the judgement of the Fates.
Our ways are to be ended, our Clans destroyed;
the legacies of the Founders turned to ash;
the hearts of our warriors stilled.

So be it! So the Fates have decreed!
We spit upon it! We are the Clans;
born to be warriors, the defenders of Humanity!
We shall not now bend our knee!
In Death we salute our forebearers,
the warriors who died for the glory of their Clans;
the honor of their Houses!

Let the destroyers come! Let them
come with their wrath, with all that they have!
We shall meet them on the battlefield,
though victory is impossible, though Death is guaranteed,
we will meet them and fight them to the end!
Such is the way of the warrior!
Such is the way of the Clans!

And so The Remembrance has ended, it's task completed.
The history of our Clan, of all the Clans,
lies here in these pages.
All that we were, all that we had,
is here to be discovered.
And all that we ask is that our story be told,
that it be told truthfully, good and ill,
our vices not hidden for our virtues.
We take faith that those who live on shall judge us fairly,
and that though the Clans die,
we will not be forgotten.

Thus shall we stand until we all shall fall.

-"The Lament" - the final passages of The Remembrance, Final Edition
DNS Enterprise, Huntress System, Alliance Occupation Zone
Universe Designate MWB-32
9 September 2151 AST
26 January 3051 IST
23:55 GST

Everything was in readiness. In orbit over the planet Huntress, the fleet had assembled. Transports gathered, carrying over a quarter of a million troops from the Alliance of Democratic Nations, the Federated Commonwealth, the Free Rasalhague Republic, the Saint Ives Compact, and the reborn Tanite System Republic, as well as the supplies to maintain them in battle for the first three days. Sixty warships of the Alliance fleet to escort them in and deal with what was left of the Clan fleets, led by the Enterprise herself, the first great carrier of the Alliance Stellar Navy.
On Enterprise's bridge, positioned forward of her hanger and launch decks, a small group of officers and enlisted men maintained bridge watch as the hours ticked down to 10 September and the launching of Operation: Jupiter - the invasion of the Clan capitol world Strana Mechty, where the last forces of the combined Clans had gathered. Standing with the bridge crew were a small collection of individuals come to oversee the operation launch. In their lead were the two liaisons from the main Inner Sphere allies of the Alliance to the man who held the post of SCAF-Hillsdale (Supreme Commander Alliance Forces-Hillsdale) and thus commanded all Alliance military forces in Universe MWB-32.
Both were recognizable. With wolf-gray and beard, Grand Duke Morgan Kell was imposing and firm, the legendary MechWarrior not showing any discomfort from being so far from his field of experience. Beside him in an anti-grav chair, with attendant ever at the ready, was the legendary Iron Jarl of Gunzberg, Tor Miraborg. Miraborg had his people's newly-won hatred of mercenaries, having tormented Morgan's son Phelan nearly two years prior for his short-lived romance with Miraborg's daughter Tyra, and his undisguised contempt for Morgan was answered by Kell's complete apathy for the Iron Jarl.
Standing near Morgan, Kommandant Victor Steiner-Davion was absorbed with the sight of the great fleet before them and the great ship around them. Head of a veritable armada by Inner Sphere standards, the Enterprise was a behemoth, a marvel of lostech if not honest-to-God magic. He swore he could feel the Enterprise's powerful Dyson-Jeffries M/AM reactor thrum through the decks. Outside her windows was that armada, with enough firepower to dominate the Inner Sphere. The people here were Human and yet not, representatives in many cases of societies long deceased in the history of the Inner Sphere. It was like stepping simultaneously into a historical drama and a science fantasy work.
To Victor's left stood one of his subordinates, the redoubtable Kai Allard-Liao, a Leftenant in the AFFC and heir to the Saint Ives Compact. Kai was not seemingly as taken with the view as Victor was, remaining reserved and aloof as always.
A shrill whistle filled the bridge. "Admiral on the bridge!" came the cry of a chief on watch, and every man and woman stood and saluted the figure who stepped off the lift onto the bridge - even Victor and Kai. He was a man of good height, about six foot one, with a strong but not imposing build. Green eyes looked around the bridge, his head of black hair - combed back and well-kept at military length and regulation - moving slightly as he finished walking onto the upper platform of the bridge, where Morgan and the others had assembled. He was in duty uniform, a black jacket and suit with red trim to denote command branch, and four admiral's stars on his collar and jacket cuffs.
The clock was at 23:58 GST. "Two minutes until zero hour, Admiral," an officer - the ship's Bridge Watch Officer - remarked.
Admiral Robert Allen Dale replied with a nod. He moved to a position on the other side of Morgan Kell and Tor Miraborg, not bothering to a central position. Victor admired the cool, collected air of command that the admiral gave off, so much like his father. He had only heard, through talk, that Dale was a man also capable of happily chatting up the lowest crewman, though reputation alone spoke of the man's capabilities as a speaker and leader.
It was clear that Dale's subordinates regarded him with awe and reverence. He was the hero of Gamma Icara and Alpha Centauri, the man who turned back the Agresskan when no one else could. When everyone had been too busy talking about the quibbling domestic matters of the Alliance's first years, Dale had stepped forth and given the warning that the newly-formed government of the Allied Nations was neglecting naval defense. Victor's father had all but insisted that he read the man's book on the subject.
And he was here now. The man who had turned back the Clan tide at Rasalhague. Who had returned there, victorious from hunting down the Clan fleets, with a broom tied to the Enterprise's primary comm mast. The man who had argued eloquently to the Tanites for patience regarding the Alliance troops on their world, who had negotiated the early surrender of the Snow Raven Clan, and who had nearly succeeded in preventing the resolution from the Alliance Council that was making this battle, and so many before it, necessary.
"It's almost time," Miraborg said in a low voice. A smirk crossed his face. "This will be the greatest conquest since Aleksandr Kerensky took Terra."
There was a glare in Dale's eyes as he turned and looked down to the crippled, bitter old Rasalhaguan. Miraborg returned the look only partially, confused perhaps. Morgan, Victor, Kai, and Miraborg's attendant looked on to see what would be said next. The clock was reading 23:59 now. At any moment, the time would come.
Finally there came a reply. "Conquest, Jarl Miraborg? This is not going to be a conquest." His expression hardened, and he looked back to the windows and the fleet beyond.
"Then what will it be, Admiral?" Miraborg said challengingly, as if emphasizing the supposed inferiority of Dale's rank to his own.
The time hit 00:00.
Speaking louder now, so that everyone on the bridge could hear, Dale spoke once more. "This will not be a conquest, or a battle. This, gentlemen and ladies, is going to be an execution. Helm, set course for Strana Mechty and relay to the other ships in the fleet. Go order is given."
And that was that. The final battle against the Clans was set to begin.

The Hall of Khans, Katyusha City, Strana Mechty
00:30 GST

"My Khan. My Khan!"
The gentle, kind tone roused the old woman from her sleep. The cot in her office felt surprisingly soft below her aged, aching body. Her eyes slowly opened to behold the sight before her.
Her aide was a young woman, just turned 21. Her hair was light blonde, cut short in warrior fashion, with shining blue eyes. She was well-figured and perhaps lovely to some ideals of such with her firm body and subtle curves. She was dressed in a jump suit, her rank of Star Commander visible upon it, and the red dagger-star of a MechWarrior with it.
"My Khan, the deadline is past. We have reports that the enemy invasion fleet is on the way."
"I expected as much, Natalie." Slowly, surely, Cyrilla Ward rose from the cot she'd placed in the ilKhan's office. Her desk was still covered with papers, the day-to-day affairs of state for the Clans necessary even now, even in these times, as their doom approached. Natalie was her new aide, a loyal young woman of her House of Ward, the granddaughter of one of Cyrilla's biological sisters. "Thank you for waking me, Natalie."
"Thanks are not necessary, my Khan."
"Perhaps not, but they are given anyway. And, please, today you may call me Ril. As Tasha used to say, 'Slavish adherence to ritual is a sign someone doesn't have anything better to think about', and today, Natalie, we have far more important concerns."
"Tasha actually used such horrid language?"
An amused cackle came from the older Ward. "Oh yes."
Natalie nodded, watching Cyrilla pull her own jumpsuit on over the undergarments she had slept in. "I am ready, my Kha.... Ril. I am ready to join your Star when the battle comes."
Cyrilla looked up at the younger women. "I have another task for you, Natalie."
"What is it? Defense of the Svoboda? A Star to command in the defense of our genetic repository?"
Those things were replied with a shake of the head. "As soon as we are ready, you will join those being placed in the Svoboda."
Natalie's reaction was harsh. Tears formed in her eyes as she emphatically screeched, "No! No, please, don't do that to me! I'm... I'm willing to die with you, Ril! I'm ready to die as a warrior of the Wolf....!"
"Natalie!" A surprisingly harsh bark from Cyrilla ended Natalie's protest. "Natalie, my dear, you are still young. You can have a future. You must have a future. You and the others being sent to the Svoboda will guarantee the continuance of our bloodlines. It is our responsibility to the previous generations of our warriors to ensure their legacies live on, even if the Clans do not."
"But I...."
"This, Natalie, is a great responsibility, and I know you're up to it. You must live, for all of us."
The young woman stared at Cyrilla for several minutes. Her eyes were filled with tears, her sense of duty clashing with her desire to prove herself worthy as a warrior. "But.... I don't want you to die alone. I want to be with you."
"And you will be, dear Natalie." Cyrilla smiled at her, and to someone from outside the Clans, she would seem to look like a caring old grandmother, not the grand war leader of the Clans. "Natalie, I will die today, and when I do, I will die easier knowing you are safe. You are the future of the Wards, Natalie. You are my future."
Natalie nodded. Standing, with tears in her eyes, she saluted her ilKhan and the leader of her Bloodhouse. "I will do as you have ordered, my Khan."
"I know you will, Star Commander. You are dismissed." Fearing she would break down into tears in front of Cyrilla, Natalie immediately left.
Cyrilla watched her go, letting her go because she did not want Natalie to feel shamed at losing her composure here. "I know you will, my dear," the old woman breathed softly. "I know you will."
And so she returned to her work, preparing private messages. One to her old friend Natasha, the other to the man who would later this day be destroying everything she had ever lived for.
Last edited by Steve on 2009-03-29 08:01pm, edited 1 time in total.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2006-03-26 11:41pm

D.N.S. Enterprise, En Route to Strana Mechty
02:45 GST

With a few hours to go before the attack force arrived, Morgan Kell decided to return to his room. He had been berthed in one of the handful of staterooms on the ship, made for VIPs and the like, though it was hardly the same as a set of suites on a luxury liner DropShip.
Morgan wasn't interested in being alone, however, so after briefly checking a few written reports meant for relay back home - the customary paperwork of any senior position - Morgan walked back out into the passageway, still wearing his uniform. It was a short walk to the stateroom marked with admiral stars.
A knock on the door was followed by silence for a few seconds, after which a voice from within called, "Come in." Morgan entered into the stateroom.
It was the same size as his, with pantry, desk, wall vidscreen, personal bathroom, and a small secluded bedroom with a closet and nightstand. The room had further been furnished with a couple of tables, a bookshelf, and some pictures were arranged on the far wall with detachable wall hooks. Admiral Dale was seated in one of the chairs facing the vidscreen, his uniform jacket shed to reveal the white buttoned shirt beneath it. An image was upon the vidscreen, a paused message showing a lovely young woman in uniform trousers and sleeveless undershirt standing in what looked to be a barracks apartment. Her hair was as black as Dale's, but her eyes were a bright blue. A bar on the bottom was almost completely to the right, showing that the message was near it's end. Morgan could see the close family resemblence that the girl in the video bore to the Admiral, and loudly guessed, "Your daughter?"

Dale nodded slowly. "Yes, my daughter Susanna. Computer, resume."
The girl moved slightly, slipping into a chair. "But I don't have to wait long," she said, her voice a strong alto. "Commander Lukashenko told me today that I'm going to be assigned to the Plataea when it's commissioned next month. I can't wait. Getting experience with a sensor cruiser is great, and if I do well enough with contact identification and intercept command, it'll help my application when I go for advanced officer training. I'm hoping to get into Portsmouth or New Cleveland." She sighed and smiled at the screen. "I miss you, Dad. But I'll do you proud, I promise. And, before I go..." Her grin showed the youthful mischief that Morgan was familiar with from his own children. "Aunt Beth would really like it if you call more often. She says if you don't, she's going to throw everything in your study into storage! Bye, Dad!" The image disappeared, replaced by the symbol of AT&T Interstellar.

Dale chuckled lightly, holding a small glass that had some leftover brandy in it. Morgan grinned at the humor of the moment. "Does that come from you or her mother?"
"I say it comes from Rebecca - her mother - and her Aunt April says it comes from me," Dale responded.
Morgan nodded. "You have my condolences."
That brought a humorless chuckle in reply. "Yes, I'm quite sure your Inner Sphere scandalvids and tabloids have already dredged through my personal life and made it well known." Dale finished his brandy and set the glass down at the coffee table. He pointed to a seat. "You can sit, Duke. May I call you Morgan and you call me Robert?"
"I'd be pleased." Morgan sat down into the chair. He looked onto the coffee table and saw a book there, still opened. He picked it up while Dale went to the bar and looked at it.
Seeing Morgan looking at his book, Dale asked, "Want something?"
"Something light. I'm not quite used to your detoxicants yet."
"I received a case of Timbiqui Dark from a grateful citizen of that world a few weeks ago," Dale replied. "Will that do?"
"It would be excellent." Morgan looked back to the book, now centered in his hands. He quietly read the text on the open page.

[1] ...The two opinions thus expressed were the ones that most directly contradicted each other; and the Athenians, notwithstanding their change of feeling, now proceeded to a division, in which the show of hands was almost equal, although the motion of Diodotus carried the day. [2] Another trireme was at once sent off in haste, for fear that the first might reach Lesbos in the interval, and the city be found destroyed; the first ship having about a day and a night's start. [3] Wine and barley-cakes were provided for the vessel by the Mitylenian ambassadors, and great promises made if they arrived in time; which caused the men to use such diligence upon the voyage that they took their meals of barley-cakes kneaded with oil and wine as they rowed, and only slept by turns while the others were at the oar. [4] Luckily they met with no contrary wind, and the first ship making no haste upon so horrid an errand, while the second pressed on in the manner described, the first arrived so little before them, that Paches had only just had time to read the decree, and to prepare to execute the sentence, when the second put into port and prevented the massacre. The danger of Mitylene had indeed been great.
Morgan looked up to see Dale offer him a glass with Timbiqui Dark in it. He put the book back on the coffee table and accepted the glass, taking a sip while waiting for Dale to sit. "Indulging in some wishful thinking?"
"I suppose."
"It has been quite a long time since I read Thucydides," Morgan admitted. "Is it true that in Universe AR-12, an excavation in Turkey discovered the rest of his eighth book and his ninth, tenth, and eleventh ones?"
"Yes. I have an edition of that on the shelf with the other replications of some of my personal collection. That edition I keep because it is a replication of the edition my maternal grandfather gave me when I went to the naval academy."
Morgan took another drink. "I suppose you know more of what we're going through than most of your people, coming from a world that was still in the 20th Century when contact was made with Humanity from the other universes."

Dale nodded at that. "Yes. My childhood was spent with everyone talking about what the other Americans in other universes were doing, and discussions of how we should act toward them, or if we should have anything to do with them." He took a drink and sighed. "Then again, I was just three when the Surveyor crashed in Nebraska. My parents had it even worse."
"I cannot get over thinking," Morgan began wistfully, "that when my children reach my age, they will look as they do today. The idea of people living over two hundred years, and keeping a youthful appearance well into their eighties, has been the realm of magic to us. I'm just now getting used to speaking with you as a man close to my age, and not some young aide."
"The Genetic Fountain of Youth," Dale said, remembering an old title he'd heard. "Though I was fortunate. The treatments didn't become cheap enough for most Americans until I was in my thirties - which is too late to enjoy their maximum effect - but they were packaged with my admission to New Annapolis in the exchange program my United States had with the one in SE-1. My cousin Beth is my age, but she looks well into middle age now."
"I see." Morgan sat his glass down on the table. "You know, Salome has told me that she has it in good confidence that you will be appointed the Military Governor of the Clan worlds when we finish here."
Dale smirked at that. "Yes, well, the last thing Jennifer Verdes needs is me back in Washington raising hell over this."
"You don't approve."

After taking another drink, Dale set his own glass down and placed his hands on his knees. "Ah hell, sociologists are probably better qualified than I am to speak on such things, so I can't say that I'm in full disagreement... but we're awfully damned lucky that the Snow Raven leadership was pragmatic enough to accept the baseline of the order. Every day I read the updates from our observers in the Snow Raven territories, waiting to see the first inklings of the former warriors rising up. And then we have the rest of this God damned campaign, which was frankly unnecessary. By arming all of the rebel communities in the periphery of the Clans' territories, and doing the same for the Tanites, we would have guaranteed peace with the Clans for generations to come. They would either have to reform to face those threats, or they would eventually be destroyed. Instead, that self-righteous sonofabitch Weisbaum found the right experts to say the right things and to convince the Council to do this." Dale sighed and picked up his glass. "And so we're here," he said, stopping to take a small drink. When he finished swallowing, he finished his thought by saying, "...causing even more bloodshed for something that is completely unnecessary for our security."
Morgan nodded slowly. "I've seen more than enough death in my life to sate any man's thirst for blood, so I am no more willing to cause more than you are. Men like you and I, we've been in the field for so long that we have no patience for politics, and when we are brought into it we can only get by on our other talents. While we're here, in the field, we're left with the slim hope that those in power have made the right decisions."

"Well spoken, Morgan."
The two older men nodded. After a few moments of silence, Morgan pointed to the nearby shelf by the door with pictures upon it, specifically pointing to a black-and-white one framed there and a picture he personally recalled from his military history studies. "I couldn't help but notice some of your family pictures when I first entered. Is that who I think it is?"
Dale looked over his shoulder at the picture. He turned back, gave a small smile, and nodded. "Why yes, Morgan, it is. That is Private Allen Jeffrey Dale, my grandfather, being personally presented with the Bronze Star by General George Patton after he re-manned a crippled tank's gun under fire and put a shell into a German tank's backside. I still have that medal in my study back home, along with the medals my great-grandfather Henry Rollins Jr. brought back from France in 1919."
"The First World War I take it."

Dale nodded. He laid further back into his chair. "Yeah, Grandpa talked about his Dad a bit when I was a kid. Both he and his dad lost younger brothers in their wars too. My Dad was named after Grandpa Allen's little brother Michael, a Marine who was killed in Iwo Jima after fighting as a Marine Raider in the Solomons. Great-Grandpa Henry - I never knew him, he died in the 50s - found out about his younger brother getting killed by a German machine gun while he was recovering from a battle wound." Dale sighed and looked on at Morgan, seeing that what he said had caused some memories of the man's to return. It was only after a few moments that Dale remembered a detail about Morgan Kell. "I apologize. I forgot about Patrick."
"It's fine."
"It does come as a shock, doesn't it?" Dale sighed and took another drink of the Timbiqui. "I was in my second year at New Annapolis when I found out about my parents and little sister. They never saw it coming." He took another sip, looking off into the distance. "All it took was a long-haul trucker having a heart attack, and all I had left was Beth."

"My condolences," Morgan replied. "Losing family is never easy."
Dale nodded slowly at that. "Yeah. We've... we've always been close-knit, have been since the first Dales settled in Kansas in the 1850s. Grandpa Allen used to say that there were two things that a Dale boy became in his life: a farmer and a soldier." Twirling his drink in his hand, Dale looked as if he were recalling a story that had been told long ago. "Two Dale brothers founded the family farm. They had five sons between them. The eldest of the five was killed in the fighting in Kansas between the pro-slavery and abolitionist factions. The next eldest and the second-youngest were killed in the American Civil War. Out of the two left, the youngest went off to become a lawyer or some other damned thing, leaving the farm to my ancestor Jacob. He was a veteran of William Sherman's March to the Sea. Grandpa Allen showed me his letters home, his enlistment and discharge papers, and some of the trinkets he'd brought home with him before he donated them to a local museum. His son Phillip joined the army, rose through the ranks, had a son, and came home to farm. Phillip's son was Henry Rollins Senior, who went to West Point in the early 1890s and fought in the Spanish-American War, and his other son was 'Old Uncle Mikey' as my Dad knew him, who sailed with Teddy Roosevelt's Great White Fleet. Of course, Henry Rollins Senior had Henry Rollins Junior, my Great-Grandpa Henry." Dale chuckled. "In twelve years, we Dales will celebrate the second centennial of the founding of the family farm."
"A fine pedigree," Morgan said. "A good, honest one, and I mean that. It says something about your society that someone can come from that and make it to the height you are at." A wry grin crossed the older man's face. "Even if you have strayed from the honest path of the foot soldier."

Dale chuckled a little. "That was my father's doing. Dad broke the family tradition of Army service for the eldest son when he went into the Navy to become an officer. He dreamed of being in the Navy his entire life. Dad grew up with what he called 'Old Uncle Mikey's sea stories'. It made Grandpa Allen a bit jealous."
Morgan chuckled at that. "I'm afraid that when it comes to naval tradition, your people have quite the jump on us. For the people of the Successor States, BattleMechs are the one true path to glory in the war." He took a sip out of what little he had left of his drink. "That will be changing soon, I think."
That brought a slight nod from Dale. "Yes, quite possibly." Dale looked to Morgan. "What of your family, Morgan? Anything in the past beyond the Kell Hounds?"
"The Kell Hounds alone have done more to make my family's name than anything," Morgan remarked. "Salome, though, she's a Ward, and they claim an ancestor who left the Inner Sphere with Aleksandr Kerensky." He rubbed at his eye. "I suppose that our greatest claim to fame before the Hounds and our excursion with Katrina is that our family owns a fully functional BattleMech factory. When I was a child, that was enough to make anyone important."
Dale nodded at that. "Ah, I see."
They continued to speak for a short while, Morgan explaining the Kell family history as he knew it, and Dale enjoying the chance to learn about this universe's past, as drastically different as it was from other universes known. It also reminded him just a bit of his mother's side of the family.

As if reading his mind, Morgan finished what he was saying and asked, "I'm curious to know, what of your mother's family?"
"Ah, the Staffords." Dale chuckled. "Not quite as humble as the Dales. My mom's family is in New England. Many of them are upper class, a few middle class. The Staffords, now mostly my cousins and their kids, own shares in a number of shipping companies, and their military tradition has always been the Navy." Dale finished his Timbiqui Dark. "I was named for my maternal Grandfather, Robert J. Stafford. He was my father's CO and mentor when Dad was in the Navy. A couple years before Dad was going to get out and return home, he met Mom, Leigh Anne. They hit it off and Grandpa Robert approved. They married in '77 and I came three years later. Grandpa Allen used to joke that 1980 was a special year for him: he had his first grandson, and it was the first year he voted for a Republican to become President!" Dale's flourish at the end was enough to tell Morgan that he was emulating his late grandfather's way of telling it, though the reference to politics was outside of Morgan's knowledge.
"When I was young I used to look forward to summer vacation and trips to see my mother's family. We stayed in my Grand Uncle Simon's estate on the Maine coast. We'd go sailing at least once per visit on Uncle Simon's yacht, with Grandpa Robert coming from his post in Annapolis to see us all." Dale looked for a moment at the book of Thucydides still laying upon the coffee table. "Uncle Simon got me into reading. And, I think, the entire family was convinced to get me into the Navy and not the Army. I still remember...."

A voice suddenly interrupted them, coming from the small intercom speakers in the room. "Admiral, this is the Bridge. We are ten minutes out from Strana Mechty," the voice said.
Dale nodded out of habit. "Very well. Make all due preparations. I'll be in the CIC shortly."
"Yes Admiral. Bridge out."
Dale looked to Morgan and began to stand up. "I'll see you in the CIC, Morgan."
"I'll be there."
Leaving Dale behind, Morgan left and opted to head straight toward the CIC. The drink had caused only a slight effect and he saw no need to seek the detoxicants that had already been stored in his stateroom.
As he walked toward the CIC, Morgan found himself contemplating the complex, interesting nature of the man in charge of this mission. A man who seemed to have long ago accepted the contradictions in the two worlds he came from - his father's humble farm family and his mother's wealthy, undoubtedly aristocratic merchant family - and had taken aspects of both to become the individual he was, a man that Morgan believed to possess the qualities needed to inspire his subordinates and to command them effectively.
Now it was left to see how he would handle a task he showed so little enthusiaism for.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Chris OFarrell » 2006-03-27 04:41am

More damnit, more!

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Post by ElPintoGrande » 2006-03-28 10:16am

It's nice to read a Battletech story! Or rather, a story that has Battletech in it. And yes... MORE! MORE!
Yay! Midget Toss!

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Post by MPC2163 » 2006-03-28 03:41pm

You are one of the best writers I have ever seen. Your stories have the same feel as a number of other Sci-fi books I have read, especially David Weber stuff. Are you David Weber without dinner parties and treecats?
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Post by Steve » 2006-03-29 10:26pm

Prepare to cue "B5: In the Beginning"'s soundtrack, please. The track... should be obvious. 8)

The Hall of Khans, Katyusha City, Strana Mechty
03:19 GST

The Hall of Khans had seen better days. Sixteen Clan banners - formerly seventeen, but the Snow Raven surrender had provoked the others to remove it - remained, but a number were accompanied by empty chairs. The Blood Spirits and the Smoke Jaguars were no longer represented, long lost or cut off on Huntress and York and in the Pentagon, and many Clans had impossibly young or impossibly old Khans taken from the depleted ranks of their Clans' Bloodnamed.
Kael Pershaw, the aged and half-artificial Loremaster, showed his years more than he ever had before. He called the Grand Council to order as he usually did and ceded the floor to Cyrilla. Cyrilla stood in the resplendent uniform of her Clan, complete with wolf mask. "My fellow Khans, the day has come, and we will soon face our deaths. I ask now that all confirm the completion of your lists for those young who we have sent to the Svoboda to pass on the genes of our forebearers."
One by one, the attending Khans affirmed such. Cyrilla found herself struggling to keep her spine straight, the years catching up decisively with her. When the final remarks were made she nodded. "Then all that remains is to await the enemy landings." Cyrilla turned to a screen prepared against the wall. The screen flashed and a man wearing the Diamond Shark naval uniform appeared. "Star Admiral Jason, report."
Jason McKenna, once a Snow Raven who had been accepted into the Sharks following the Raven surrender, nodded from his place on the bridge of the McKenna's Pride. "Enemy ships have begun to arrive, my Khan. They are moving toward us at a high speed. We will be in their weapons range within twenty minutes."
"The fleet is ready?"
He nodded. "Every warrior ship and aerospace fighter we have left is awaiting the enemy. We have orientated ourselves so that the enemy will not hit Strana Mechty with stray shots." The middle-aged man's jaw clenched. "We may not be able to deliver a blow against them, my Khan, but we will not break the line. We will hold until we have all fallen."
The use of words common in Clan oathes was well-placed, and Cyrilla nodded at them, the sentiment of the words now so painfully alive. "Thank you, Star Admiral. Seyla.."
Cyrilla watched McKenna's image blink out. With the coming death of their society, it occurred to Cyrilla that every communication, every announcement, was now filled with the words and phrases of Clan ritual. It was, perhaps, the only thing they had left for themselves, their future stolen and their society at the mercy of the executioner's axe.
"My Khan." Pershaw's voice brought Cyrilla's attention. "The technicians tell me that we have an incoming communication from the enemy fleet."
"And now to face the executioner one last time," Cyrilla whispered to herself, so lowly that only Pershaw could hear it. He gave her a solemn nod, and it occurred to her that the customary tension and contempt between their Clans had disappeared from his behavior toward her, as if they were no longer worthy of attention. "You may put him on."
Cyrilla looked back the monitor. After a few moments, an image flashed onto the screen. It was a single man, standing tall in a room with lit work stations in the background and uniformed people standing at them. The man's black and red uniform, complete with a four-star rank insignia on cuffs and collar, was crisp and well-kept. He looked impossibly young, but all present knew that the enemy had genetic manipulation technology that in some respects was greater than their own, including the secret of delaying the aging process. Waiting a moment, Cyrilla pulled off her mask, much to the surprise of the assembled Khans, preferring to speak with her killer face-to-face. "I am Cyrilla, leader of the House of Ward, ilKhan of the Clans," she announced in a firm, though not rough, voice - looking more like the stern grandmother figure than a warlord.
"Admiral Robert Dale, Allied Nations Star Navy, speaking from Enterprise," was the man's response. Cyrilla looked into his face, and it made her think of someone who was not very pleased with what he was doing, like that of a warrior finding out he would have to fight a close sibko mate in the final match of his Bloodname tournament. "By order of the government of the Allied Nations, in conjunction with our allies the Rasalhague Republic and the Federated Commonwealth, I have come to either accept your surrender on the terms announced by my government or to impose the terms on you by force."
"Very well." Cyrilla nodded stiffly. "The Khans of all the Clans refuse your terms. We pledge all of our remaining active duty ships, aerospace craft, and warriors to the defense of Strana Mechty."
Admiral Dale's nod was almost mechanical, acknowledging their intent to fight. "If I might ask, ilKhan, why?" Cyrilla detected the change in his voice tone. "Your Clans have already lost thousands of warriors. You are heavily outnumbered against our forces, which enjoy an insurmountable edge in technology over you. All you are doing is guaranteeing the deaths of those you lead."
At that, Cyrilla Ward nodded. "Yes, Admiral Dale, you are correct. We have no hope of even stalemate. If we fight we will be ground under by your forces. There would be wisdom in surrender, to preserve our lives, and trust that perhaps we could find a new meaning to our lives." She sighed, and a grandmotherly smile - one full of weariness and infused with the fatalism of a woman who knew her time was drawing short anyway but yet benevolent in it's appearance - crossed her wizened face. "But I am too old. I have lived as a warrior of the Wolf Clan my entire life, Admiral. It is the only way I know how to live. The new world you create upon our ruins may be a nice one, perhaps even better than the one we have created here, but I have no place in it. And I have lost far too many kin and friends to abandon the society they died to defend."
Cyrilla didn't require eyes in the back of her head to know some eyes were looking at her intently, full of disgust and contempt. There were diehards still here, who had barely acceeded to the idea of keeping some of their young out of the struggle to ensure the continance of the Founders' bloodlines and who most certainly would not appreciate her remarks that another way of life might be better than their's, but Cyrilla was far too old and far too experienced to care much. She had long known the kind of lives the lower castes lived, and while her upbringing meant she saw it more as a sign of their greatness than anything else, she was also aware that other ways of life might be gentler and better for their well-being than the life of labor and sacrifice demanded of them by the Clans. In the end, it didn't much matter, for the Clans were going to die, and Cyrilla could only hope that they knew a happy existance afterward.
"Nothing could persuade you?" she heard Dale ask. "Nothing could convince you that surrender would be best for your people?"
"I'm sorry, Admiral, but no. My people are rather set in their ways, and like me I fear they - particularly the older ones - could not function in a new society." Cyrilla took in a breath to continue, lest the communication end before she spoke upon the matter that she cared most of. "But, Admiral, not all of us will be fighting. Our youngest warriors, those who have never seen battle except in their training and their trials, are not going to be fighting. We have brought them to the Svoboda Zemylya, as we call it, to remain with the chapels we have dedicated to our Founders for the battle. They will surrender, and all I ask is that you keep the Svoboda out of the fighting. Our forces will remain away from it to ensure the safety of the people there."

There was some mumbling off-screen that Cyrilla couldn't make out, but Dale clearly heard it, for he leveled an angry glare at the speaker. He turned his attention back to Cyrilla as she waited patiently. "Very well. I'll inform my ground commanders that the Svoboda is a non-combatant zone."
"Thank you, Admiral." Cyrilla nodded gently. She could see the man's hesitation, his desire to avoid the duty he had been placed with wrestling with the sense of duty he undoubtedly possessed. There was a clear benevolence there; this man did not hate her, did not hate her people, no matter what he thought of their system, and felt that the violence to come was unnecessary and, perhaps, the fault of his people and not her's. This was someone that Cyrilla decided deserved a measure of respect. "Perhaps if the Fates had been kinder, you and I might have spoken in happier circumstances, maybe even as friends."
"Perhaps so, ilKhan. Perhaps so." Dale nodded. Having nothing better to say, he finished by saying, "Farewell, ilKhan. Enterprise out." At that, remark, he disappeared from the screen.
Cyrilla turned and could see the people looking at her, some understanding, some apathetic, and some perhaps trembling with rage at how she'd spoken. To hell with them, was the thought through her mind, and aloud she simply said, "I suggest that we adjourn now, and that all of our units be readied for action."
Without complaint, the Grand Council session ended.

DNS Enterprise

Cyrilla Ward's image disappeared from the communications screen. Immediately afterward, Dale levied a second angry glance at the defiant, hate-filled visage of the Iron Jarl. "That was completely and totally unacceptable!" he growled in as stern a tone as those around him had ever known.
"It is the truth!", Miraborg shot back. "These barbarians invaded my homeland and murdered my people without pause! Need I remind you of the massacre on New Bergen? The slaughter of our troops on Leoben and Verthandi? And now you speak to them as if they are anything other than the inhuman savages that they are! They never showed mercy, why should we?"
"Why should we? Because mercy is the one thing seperating us from societies like the Draconis Combine, that's why," Dale retorted. "Making peace isn't just about crushing your enemies. Your people are proof enough of that. You were crushed by the Combine, but that didn't bring peace, just centuries of violence and turmoil until you won your independence again, the hard way. My responsibility, Jarl, my responsibility, is not just to my subordinates but to the peoples I serve, and that means I have to do everything possible to ensure that our victory here is won in a way to foster reconciliation with the native populace and an end to violence for the long-term. Otherwise in a few decades, perhaps even centuries, the worlds here will simply rise up and cause another conflict in their desire to throw off an authority they despise for another. And I will be damned if I will allow your desire for vengeance to lead to that!"

For a moment, the two men - one standing, the other rigid in his wheel-chair - glared contempt at one another, and finally Miraborg simply turned away, ceding the contest.
An uncomfortable pause covered the Enterprise CIC for a short while. A subordinate officer broke the silence by announcing that they had entered firing range of the assembeld Clan armada.
Miraborg promptly sneered and remarked, "Perhaps we should hold fire until we are in their firing range, Admiral? It would be fairer and more sporting that way."
Dale once again shot a glare at the hateful, spiteful man nearby. "Yes, you'd like that, wouldn't you Jarl? We could wait until then, prolong their suffering for a while longer as they wait for us to destroy them, and then tease them by presenting them targets. But I am not a sadist." He looked to an officer. "Fighter complements are to target their opposites. All ships, open fire."
The ships of the Allied fleet promptly opened fire.

SLS McKenna's Pride

Star Admiral Jason McKenna took in a breath, steeling himself for the end. The enemy fleet was arranged in echelon, their bow guns being all that was necessary to destroy his force.
The Clans had assembled every ship they had left. Armed DropShips, WarShips - with even the Prinz Eugen and McKenna's Pride - aerospace fighters, all gathered in formation to block the enemy path toward Strana Mechty.
The fire that came on was ferocious. Torpedoes from the enemy's destroyers and cruisers raced across the distance swiftly, followed by a barrage of fire from particle cannons, nuclear-disruptors, and railguns. To the left and right of the McKenna's Pride, Dropships burst open like crushed eggs or simply disappeared when hit directly by enemy torpedoes. Point-defense fire struck out at the fast-moving torpedoes, and some torpedoes were even destroyed before they could get in range, but more than enough got through. On the ship's side the Hell's Horses' ships Gold Knight and Red Knight were torn apart by direct torpedo hits. The last Coyote Warship, the battlecruiser Blood of the Coyote, took a torpedo hit that tore off it's bow, dying afterward from a direct hit by the DNS Normandie's 260mm plasma cannons.
The aerospace fighters maneuvered and evaded, but they too were claimed. Far off, anti-fighter missiles from the Enterprise's fighter contingent claimed one after the other. Some fighters were destroyed by their desperate pilots trying to intercept torpedoes, sacrificing themselves to try and preserve the ships for a few moments more.
Jason McKenna watched his ships die one by one, giving repeated orders for them to undertake evasive maneuvers and fire when the enemy reached range... and then he died. The front dorsal turret on the DNS Missouri focused it's 270mm particle cannons on the McKenna's Pride. Three beams of energy sliced through the ship like it were an animal being carved for a meal. McKenna and his bridge crew were vaporized as the blue beam passed through the bridge effortlessly. Where the beams hit armories, what they didn't vaporize detonated from partial hits heating them to that point, and a series of internal explosions tore the guts out of the flagship of Aleksandr Kerensky.

DNS Enterprise

Dale watched the battle quietly from the CIC of the Enterprise. Morgan Kell stood off, watching as well, as did Miraborg.
Victor and Kai had come to the CIC as well. They had remained silent during Dale's conversation with the ilKhan and his argument with Miraborg, and now they were transfixed by the magnified image screens showing the explosions flowering one after the other in the heart of the enemy fleet. The explosions began to decrease in number until finally, after several minutes, they stopped. An officer reported, "All enemy vessels destroyed, sir."
"Signal SR craft to go find survivors. Bring us in to medium orbit." Dale looked to Victor and Kai. "Gentlemen, now that this phase is over, I believe you have troops to join. COB, please escort Major Steiner-Davion to the hanger deck and arrange for his return flight to the transport with his unit."
The door opened and Morgan joined them as they walked down through the corridors of the monstrous Enterprise. A lift took them to the hanger deck and to a waiting shuttle. Kai climbed in behind the pilot, but Victor stopped when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked back and up at Morgan. "Are you ready for this?" Morgan asked.
"Yes," was the reply.
"Remember, they're desperate, and not all of them will be as accepting as the ilKhan. Be careful." Morgan let go and stepped back. Victor nodded at him and closed the hatch. He found a seat by Kai and slipped on the harness as was protocol.
As the shuttle was being lifted to the launch deck, Victor looked over at Kai. "So this is going to be it. Feeling okay?"
Kai nodded at him. "Yes. I got the feeling, though, that the Admiral isn't."
Victor replied with a shrug. "I'm not sure I liked the way he dressed down Miraborg. The man has a right to be angry. We all do, after everything the Clans did. I lost a lot of good people on Trellwan."
"I'm not saying you're wrong, or he's wrong, but...." Kai's attention was diverted to something. "What's that?"
Victor looked out the cockpit window now. On a different catapult to the one their shuttle was being rigged under, a large wreath was being fixed by men in vac-suits. The two watched until their shuttle shot out of the launch deck and into space.

The Enterprise slowly entered the debris field of the destroyed Clan fleet. Her deflector screens pushed debris away from her, as the other ships did with their own, and she continued on her course for orbit. As the fleet moved through the debris, a wreath was thrown from the rear-facing launch deck opening of the Enterprise. As the ships moved through, suddenly each targeted its guns toward empty space, and one by one flashes of energy erupted from each.
On the bridge of the Enterprise, Admiral Dale looked out at the debris and snapped off a firm salute in time with the harsh bellowing of the Chief of the Boat, which prompted every other man and woman on the bridge to do the same. Across the ship, all personnel stopped and remained at attention for the respectful moment of silence, those near any kind of viewer saluting toward space as was ordered. The steps were repeated on every ship of the fleet, even those transports carrying Rasalhaguan and Tanite troops, most of whom were perplexed at why the Alliance crews had suddenly stopped and done so.
When the moment of silence passed, Dale walked over to the bridge's comm unit and put himself on, having it patched to every ship in the fleet. Lifting the receiver to his mouth, he began speaking. "Good morning. This is Admiral Dale speaking to all ships. You have done a fine job today. The enemy fleet has been annihilated in the quickest time possible. Now it is our place to watch and wait while our comrades in the Army, the Marines, and the Allies' ground forces finish the work we started."
"For those of you wondering about the gesture we have just presented, all I can say is that no matter the faults of their society - and there are many - the Clansmen we just killed were brave men and women who gave their lives for what they believed in and for the society they and their ancestors created here. If we must hate the society they made, it is only fair that we recognize their courage and willingness to die for it. This helps us remember that our foes were human, and that their people are human, and that they deserve respect and dignity as we do. By doing this, we improve the chances that this war will not lead to another one, and that the peace to come will bring reconciliation and a common devotion to peace. To the men and women who are about to enter battle, I say this; Good luck and God bless you all. Our hopes and prayers are with you."
Dale reached down and switched the comm unit off. He nodded to the bridge crew and promptly left. The next phase in the battle was out of his hands.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Chris OFarrell » 2006-03-30 06:50am

I need a good 'pwned' pic for this....

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Post by Steve » 2006-05-11 08:38am

The Hall of Khans, Katyusha City, Strana Mechty
05:00 GST

It was with effort that Cyrilla Ward pulled herself up into the cockpit of the Timber Wolf OmniMech painted in the colors of the ilKhan. To the technicians watching she looked no different from when she'd climbed in before as part of the yearly qualifications to keep her place in the warrior caste, not appearing at all to change due to the simple fact that she was climbing into her tomb.
Once in the machine, Cyrilla brought it to life quickly and promptly. She waited for her Starmates to do the same and led them out of the 'Mech hanger and onto the soil around the Hall of Khans.
In the distance, Cyrilla squinted and saw the contrails of craft entering the atmosphere. Through the planetwide communications net she heard the initial reports of enemy landings across the planet, many voices suddenly breaking off - likely from enemy attacks on the planet's communication facilities.
"Remember, do not enter the Svoboda," she reminded the others. "If for whatever reason you try to, I will shoot you myself."
There were responses. Some were not enthusiastic, but Cyrilla was confident her orders would be followed. The future depended upon it.

North of Katyusha
05:44 GST

The Clan Uller collapsed under the weight of fire from Victor's lead company, the rest of the enemy company retreating under the withering fire of the long-range weapons rigged onto the BattleMechs of the 10th Lyran Guards. An enemy army, composed of the Star Adder and Goliath Scorpion Clans, had attempted to intercept the 10th Lyran even with enemy forces now coming down behind them in Katyusha itself. Now they were under vigorous fire and trying to fall back to cover Katyusha, though by most reports steadfastly avoiding civilian areas. Whether it was a conscious gesture or a lingering habit of Clan trial warfare nobody could tell, but in the end it was something that would save the civilians from taking damage to their communities.
Victor's 'Mech was a Clan machine, a Daishi captured during the Damocles Offensive launched months before that liberated the Clan-occupied worlds in the Inner Sphere save those in the Combine, and it was now rigged with weapon systems bought from extrauniversal sources. The new neurohelmets were smaller and lighter, a great relief compared to the older ones, with new Alliance-based systems in them for command, communications, and other functions - even an in-built translator.
Yen-lo-wang strutted alongside, and Renny Sanderlin's refitted Victor was alongside. The entire unit was moving forward by the plan first laid down from General Sergei Molotov - commander of the Alliance 3rd Army - to compress the enemy into pockets and annihilate him with firepower.
So far the battle had gone differently from those Victor remembered from the Damocles Offensive. In the Offensive, Clan units had vigorously attacked the landing forces as soon as they could, just to be torn apart in the field by airstrikes and artillery, the survivors being easily mopped up even by forces not yet given upgraded weaponry. Now the Clans were fighting more conservatively, holding formation and supporting each other. They want to hold on as long as they can. They don't want it said that they fought like crazy savages and idiotically blundered into our fire to be slaughtered, Victor thought to himself.
Or so it seemed, but as they crested a hill and marched past, small agro-towns on either flank, Victor's battalion scouts fell back. "Multiple enemy contacts approaching, Kommandant," one of the scout MechWarriors reported. "'Mechs, tanks, and Toads."
With eye movements Victor was able to bring up command menus on his helmet's HUD and pop up an orbital view of the area from one of the orbiting Alliance warships. He could make out the host of red contacts coming, a force that was an even match for them and which had not yet been targeted by the rolling bombardments by the air and artillery forces. A second string of looks - "eye-typing" it was sometimes called - selected the options necessary to bring up a list of fire support options. Indicators showed which artillery batteries and air units were available, what weapons they had, and what their effective ranges were.
Victor located two flights of Alliance A-11 Tornado bombers of the ADNAF's 23rd Tactical Bomber Squadron that were loitering in sub-orbit over the Novy Terra continent, newly arrived from airbases on Huntress. They were loaded with high-energy plasma explosive bomblets, good for attacking groups of enemies. "This is 1st Batt, 10th LG, requesting air support from Raven or Crow Flight 23rd TBS. Fire support requested...." he looked at the map and read off the grid square and more exact coordinates of the incoming enemy forces..

After a moment, a female voice with an American Midwesterner accent replied, "Roger, 10th LG, Raven is inbound, ETA one minute."
The command menu removed the two flights at that moment, indicating to everyone else on the network that they were not available for fire support missions. Setting his comms to his unit with another eye-look, Victor gave the order to hold position. The entire battalion stopped and waited as the Clan forces drew closer.
There was a thunderous roar from the skies that came over the speaker system, and in succession four Alliance A-11s soared overhead in a blur, each dropping a string of bomblets.
The result was devastating. The bomblets each exploded and high-energy plasma was thrown everywhere, melting through 'Mech, tank, and "Toad" armor alike. 'Mechs collapsed from the bomblets blowing out their legs, tanks stopped from melted tank treads, and the Clan armored infantry simply collapsed, the plasma alive the men and women inside the suits. Explosions rippled through the enemy line as successive bomblets blew plasma into ammunition pods and storage areas, not to mention the Clan Elementals who were simply blown to pieces when their machine gun ammo or SRMs exploded.
The bombing had only taken seconds, but when it was over, there was a patch of scorched earth within which stood crippled and dead husks of what were once feared Clan war machines. A few surviving units, nevertheless, pressed on toward Victor, some of the 'Mechs even limping along with fused knee actuators.
"All units, resume advance, fire at will," Victor ordered, and again his battalion pressed on to the Clan capitol.

Svoboda Zemylya, Strana Mechty
05:50 GST

Natalie was sitting at a bench on one of the main roads leading through the Svoboda to the Hall of Khans. She was still in her warrior jumpsuit, not willing to part with the warrior insignias she had strived her entire life to wear, and watched alone as distant plumes of smoke came from the area around the Svoboda and Katyusha. Occasionally she would hear a roaring jet engine and look up in time to see enemy fighters racing overhead, going to kill her trothkin while she sat here and did nothing for them.
Weeping to herself, Natalie's eyes were closed and she fought with all control to not openly cry. "Warriors do not cry" what was she had been told as a child in her sibko, and she had bravely held back tears for all those years.
She heard someone approach and sit near her on the long bench. "Hello pup," the male voice said, an ancient gentleness to it that made Natalie think of Cyrilla. "I am Michael, of the Cloud Cobras."
"Natalie," she answered, looking toward him and conscious of her tear-streaked cheeks. "I am a Ward."
"Ah, a Ward." The tanned-skin man was on the thin side, though his general appearance and build was that of a Clan MechWarrior who'd simply grown old. "I am a Telinov myself, though I have Khatib links through my genefather."
"I thought the solahma were fighting?"
Michael of the Telinovs chuckled wryly. "I am too old to be a solahma. I am no longer an active warrior, but the Josian Cloister has helped sustain me. The Clan lets me help maintain our Honorarium here in the Svoboda." He reached a hand out and touched Natalie's cheek. "You desire to cry?"
"I am a warrior, I cannot cry," Natalie said firmly, repeating the mantra she'd forced herself to follow since she was a child.
"Yet you have tears anyway," Michael teased. "Warriors do cry, Natalie. We are, after all, still Human. Perhaps it was our arrogance to presume that we became better than Humans that led us to this point. The Way has sent these people from another universe to punish us for our hubris."

Natalie turned away angrily and stood to her feet. "Cobras! You always speak of this 'Way' as if it is real, but none can see it. The universe is controlled by deeds, not by an unseen, unheard force."
Smiling gently, Michael nodded. "Yes, when I was young I felt the same way. Even we Cobras have our disbelievers, our rationalists who only see the world with their eyes. But I have seen the Way, Natalie. I know it is there, and I know where it seeks to lead us. We Clans have let our arrogance stray us from the Path, and now we are suffering the consequences. And I say that now as a Josian, and we Josians supported the Crusade. Foolishly, I see now, but we did it, and we too must face the punishment awaiting us for it."
Looking back to Michael, Natalie was going to continue the argument when she heard rumbling. They both turned to the road and watched as a column of vehicles rumbled through, armored vehicles with turreted guns. On some a few men rode on the outside, wearing air-tight combat uniforms with face-plate helmets and packs and with large rifles in their arms or slung on a shoulder. A flag flew from some of the vehicles, showing a blue background over which two cross shapes, a + and x shape, where displayed in two distinct colors - an outer white and an inner red color. Another flag displayed a torch with a four-colored flame circled by stars, the flame colors being red, orange, white, and blue from inside to outside.
Watching them pass, Natalie knew that the time was approaching when Cyrilla would die. She teared up again and finally collapsed to her knees, crying. Michael walked over and slowly lowered himself beside her. "What is troubling you, wolf pup?"
"I wanted to fight with her!" Natalie shouted. "I was ready to die for her, to die with her!"
Sobbing, Natalie finally answered, "The ilKhan. I am.... was.... her assistant. She ordered me here. I begged her to let me fight, but she said I must come here. She would not let me die with her and the others. She said I was going to have a future, but I do not see how! I am a Clan warrior! I was raised to be one! How can I be a Clan MechWarrior without a Clan? How can I bring honor and glory to my Bloodhouse if I am not allowed to fight?! Being a warrior is the only thing I ever wanted and the only thing I know how to be!"

"There was a time I felt the same way, back when I was your age." Michael embraced the sobbing young woman. "But you have a different destiny. Even if you do not see it, the Way has set a different path for you. A path that may lead to something great, if only you follow it wisely."
"What can I do?" Natalie sobbed.
"I cannot answer for certain, for I do not know. But I know that you will find a path to follow, and if you choose wisely, it will be the path to the future the ilKhan sought for you." Michael stood and Natalie relented to letting him pull her up to her feet. "Come, I am getting many of the others to help me work in the Honorarium. We have much to plant, and maybe the work will show you the path you were meant to take."
Natalie nodded humbly and followed the elderly Cobra deeper into the Svoboda.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2006-05-21 07:20am

The Hall of Khans, Strana Mechty
06:08 GST

Cyrilla remained still in her 'Mech while listening silently to the reports of the approaching enemy. There were two enemy columns moving through the Svoboda toward the Hall of Khans, and Cyrilla had positioned her Star to oppose the closest one, a trail of tanks from a unit identified as the Alliance Marine Corps' 2nd Armored Division. She didn't give a verbal challenge as the tanks moved toward them. The front one fired as Cyrilla maneuvered to her right, causing it to miss and the shell to impact on the building behind her.
At that range their fire would be ineffective, and Cyrilla didn't want to hit any part of the Svoboda, so she gave the order to hold fire and continue evading. Her Star took shelter behind buildings to wait until the enemy entered range... presuming they did.

Seated in his command tank, Lieutenant Sam Bowie Jr. of the 8th Marine Armored Battalion saw the enemy BattleMechs take cover. He knew they'd be waiting until he was in range before they emerged. Bowie looked at his gunner, Private Jenny Carson, and asked, "Think we can collapse those buildings?"
"It'd take a bit of ammo, sir," she replied.
And they might just take cover elsewhere he thought in addition to that. They weren't in a total hurry, but there was a bit of friendly rivalry going on between the Marines and the British Army troops advancing from the other direction, and he wanted to make it to the Hall of Khans first. Bowie moved his eyes to bring up the command menus on his helmet plate HUD and began the process of ordering air support.

Cyrilla's sensors were showing the enemy tanks had stopped. She wondered briefly why until the answer became obvious.
Unfortunately it came too late to matter. Above her and her Star, a flight of Marine Corps F/A-37 Corsair aerospace fighters soared by, missiles already streaking downward. She watched the Summoner one of her Starmates, Star Commander Lewis Raddick, blow apart as a missile tore into it's heart and exploded, detonating it's internal ammo stores. A Mad Dog in the hands of Nadia Kerensky joined it from another missile hit.
Cyrilla didn't see the missile that hit her. Her back had been turned to the airstrike, and the missile plowed through her Timber Wolf's rear armor and detonated inside her machine. Her 'Mech was blown apart in the resulting explosion. Plasma from the missile and from her 'Mech's torn fusion reactor seeped into her cockpit, incinerating her in the microseconds before the cockpit chair was thrown clear by the explosion that sent the corpse of her 'Mech to the smoldering ground beneath.

D.N.S. Enterprise, In Orbit
06:20 GST

Dale was alone in his stateroom and at his desk, looking at the display on his wall monitor. A few commands typed into the keyboard embedded into the desk and the system was set up as he pleased, letting him read from the screen. Adjusting his uniform collar, Dale began to speak firmly:

"Good day, esteemed members of the Alliance Council. I would like to thank Chancellor Mamatmas for granting me the opportunity to directly speak with you. As I sit here, the soldiers of the Allied Nations and our allies in the Inner Sphere are overrunning Clan resistance here on Strana Mechty, completing the enforcement of the resolution passed by the Council on implementing the Morgenthau Option on the Clans."
"It is this resolution that has made the conflict last for so long, and soon it will have been imposed completely. This is why I am speaking today. I am speaking on behalf of the surrenders I accepted from the Diamond Shark and Blood Spirit Clans after the passing of the Weisbaum resolution, which I have been told are now being debated in the Council and have been opposed by a number of Council Representatives on the grounds that they do not meet the Morgenthau standards determined by the resolution."
"While I understand the concern of the Council in light of my opposition to the Weisbaum Resolution, I defend the agreements made with these two Clans and the reasons for them. First off, the Diamond Shark and Blood Spirit Clans had unique social characteristics that set them apart from the other Clans. The Diamond Sharks possess a democratic and practical mentality that lent itself to accepting the inevitably of Alliance victory and to reforming their government to place power in other castes. The Blood Spirits, in turn, pursued such reforms in light of the horrible losses they knew their civilian castes would take if the invasion of York and their holdings on Arcadia were pursued to their full extent. A group of morally courageous warriors, aware that failure would mean their deaths and the deaths of their offspring as traitors, worked with civilian caste authorities to impose the reforms upon their Clan's diehard leadership. Like the Sharks, the Spirits are unique, in that their civilians are armed and trained in a manner similar to the National Services of some of our own member Nations, and the losses we took during the combat operations against them were only a taste of the kind of fighting and bloodshed that would have resulted if I had not agreed to accept their surrender."
"In both cases, these Clans are now under the rule of a multi-caste Council with warriors possessing no political power at all. Their warrior castes, or what remains of them in the case of the Spirits, have accepted temporary disarmament with the guarantee of future service in a new self-defense force, a guarantee open, I will add, to all the citizens of these Clans and their holdings. Their governments are under Alliance supervision and they are being prepared for free-market economic reform and property reforms. Though they may maintain some elements of their old societies through these agreements, all efforts can and will be made to ensure that those things central to what the Weisbaum Resolution deemed unacceptable will be stricken from them."
Dale cleared his throat. "I have laid the facts before the Council. It remains your duty, Representatives of the Allied Nations, to ratify the agreements. They were made with the best interests of all the people involved, those here in the Kerensky Cluster, those in the Inner Sphere, and those in the Allied Nations. These agreements help establish the foundation for a just, lasting peace here in the Clan worlds."
"I must make it clear that I feel the Alliance Council must accept the terms if it wishes to maintain the credibility of the Alliance Government. They were honorable terms, made in good faith, if they were to be rejected it would do harm to the moral and legal standing of the Alliance of Democratic Nations. Many officers of the government and military, including myself, would be unable to maintain any allegiance to such an unlawful government body, and it would likely result in the withdrawal of petitions for membership by many great nations and the withdrawal of membership by those already a part of the Allied Nations. If you listen to the voices of intolerance that exist in the Council, you will destroy the Alliance and all the promise it contains. I plead with you to accept the honorable terms offered, in the name of the common dream of the peoples of the Allied Nations. Good day."

The message sent, Dale reached over and picked up a phone unit. "This is the Admiral," he said into it. "Tell Grand Duke Kell that I'll meet him in the hanger bay at zero nine hundred for our trip down to the planet."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2006-05-23 09:00am

The Hall of Khans, Strana Mechty
08:12 GST

Ten left.
James Cobb, the young Khan of the Hell's Horses Clan, counted the survivors of the Ebon Keshik again. There were, indeed, ten besides himself, their comrades' remains strewn around the halls and rooms of the Hall of Khans, some just outside the Grand Council chamber itself. Cobb and his men were in the pit of the room, where the ilKhan traditionally stood, tending to wounds and watching the doors. Cobb himself had suffered from wounds to his arms, where the enemy's high-velocity coilguns had punched through his armor.

His suit's radio system picked up an open transmission coming from the other side of the doors. For a moment Cobb did not answer, but he finally did acknowledge the signal.
The voice that came through the signal was accented. "This is Captain Harold Lamond, addressin' Clan forces. Yer position is surrounded and ye are outnumbered. Ye've fought a good, honorable fight. We offer ye this chance tae surrender."
Cobb growled angrily and bellowed, in defiant reply, "We will never surrender the Grand Council Chamber, freebirth! Come and take it!"

The response was not long in coming. The doors were blown open and Cobb and his men immediately fired at the openings. Soldiers coming through were caught with hits and fell, and for the moment nobody came through the doors.
Then the walls exploded. All around the room walls crumbled inward and revealed holes through which fire poured. Heavy railgun rounds pushed through the armor of the Elementals and tore through muscled flesh and organs, wounding and killing them. Cobb tried to order his men to find cover, but there was no cover to be found. He felt pain after pain come to his chest as railgun rounds ripped his torso open. His suit's systems began to work to seal his injuries, but it was too late. His heart was torn by two rounds and Cobb fell, never to stand again.
As the Elementals stopped moving, the fire ceased bit by bit, and the soldiers flooded into the room. The Grand Council Chamber of the Clans had fallen.

Near Katyusha, Strana Mechty
09:07 GST

One of the Enterprise's aerospace shuttles landed on freshly replicated tarmac at the impromptu spaceport put up by the Alliance landing forces. Two jeeps were waiting for the shuttle's passengers. Dale was the first to step out, getting salutes from the soldiers at attention around the shuttle, with Morgan Kell following him. A ramp was brought up for Tor Miraborg and his assistants, who helped wheel his chair down.
Tor was placed in one of the jeeps with his attendants while Dale and Morgan got in the other, Dale in the front passenger seat and Morgan in the back. The corporals driving the jeeps turned their fuel cell engines on and drove off the tarmac on the path to the major road leading to the captured Hall of Khans, where they linked up with the light APCs that were acting as their guards.

As they drove on past security checkpoints, Dale suddenly looked to his left at the soldier driving the jeep. "What's your name, Corporal?"
The reply, in Scots English, was, "Corporal James Hendry, Sir."
"Your unit?"
"New Caledonian Royal Guard, 1st Battalion, Sir," the man replied."
"One of the post-terrestrials," Dale said in response, using the term used to distinguish between British Army regiments from before and after the interstellar ages. "New Caledonia?"
"Yes Sir. From Douglas Valley, Carrick."
"Carrick?" Dale seemed to recognize the name. "Familiar with MacCleary's Orchard?"
"Aye Sir," Corporal Hendry replied. "Ah worked a job there before Ah enlisted."
"That's good to hear." Dale smiled at that. "They're my favorite brand of apples. My daughter's too."
"Really, Sir?"
"Oh yes." Dale put his hands together, taking his eyes off the road around them, where here and there the remains of a Clan BattleMech or their armored infantry "Elementals" were still visible. "When Susanna was a child she ate them all the time. One for breakfast before the morning farm chores, one for lunch at school, and usually one while doing homework."
"Farm chores, Sir?" Hendry didn't take his eyes off the road. "Ye're a farmer?"
"Yes, well, I was." Dale chuckled to himself. "On Earth, though. A family farm in Kansas. Soil's not quite as rich for fruit as what you've got in Douglas Valley. I've always wanted to go there, you know. To Douglas Valley. I hear it's beautiful."
"It's best in fall, Sir. Our fall lasts for four Earth months. The trees along the foothills of Princess Harriet's Mountains turn tae shades of purple and blue...."
"Really? I'd never heard that."
"It's somethin' tae see, Sir, for you Earthers."
That was answered by a nod, after which Dale began to occasionally ask the young man about his homeland while Morgan Kell listened silently from behind them.

The Hall of Khans

The jeeps pulled up to the Hall of Khans, just outside the collection of tents that served as the battlefield hospital. Here, they were met by Captain Howard MacDougal, who gave them a tour of the hospital. Miraborg and Morgan watched and said nothing while Dale exchanged words with a few of the wounded, looking somberly at the beds which had occupants covered by sheets.
One wounded man he didn't get to speak to was one of the Clansmen, whom the supervising nurse said had been extricated, unconscious, from his destroyed machine with severe plasma burns. He had barely been saved, and he laid on the bed asleep with an IV line pumping medication into his badly burned, scarred body. After looking at the sleeping man for a moment, Dale looked back to the others and said, in a low voice, "The cost of your revenge, Jarl,", sweeping an arm out the man and the other wounded and dead soldiers in the tent. "I hope it was worth it to you." He moved by the scowling Rasalhaguan and walked out of the tent.

Outside he was brought to the other fallen enemy 'Mechs, where support troops were extricating the dead bodies of the warriors who had piloted them. Dale watched the bodies placed together and motioned for Captain MacDougal to bring the sergeant in charge of the detail over. The man was an Alliance Marine still in combat gear, dark-skinned with a strong jaw. "Sergeant Haysbert reporting as ordered, Sir," he said in a deep voice, saluting in the process.
"Sergeant, I want the bodies identified if possible and properly cared for. Cordon off the general area where their machines were and prepare it for burial with appropriate markings."
Haysbert nodded. "Yes Sir." He returned to his detail.
MacDougal looked over at Dale. "Sir, I thought orders from the MoD were to burn the bodies and arrange the ashes to be placed into the seas of the planet?"
"Perhaps so, Captain, but since they were signed off by me, I am free to override them where I wish. Don't worry, the responsibility for this is mine." Dale looked to the main building. "The building is secured?"
"Yes sir, as of ninety minutes ago."
"A hard fight?"
"The enemy armored infantry fought hard. The casualties to the New Caledonian were higher than expected."
Dale nodded at that. "Lead the way, Captain."

The tour of the Hall of Khans had revealed the ferocity of the battle. If it was quick by many standards, it was still a bloody one, and in many places the fallen bodies of the Clanner and British dead could still be found. Dale and his entourage were escorted through the battle-scarred halls and corridors of the building until they arrived at the Grand Council Chamber. Dale had seen only a fragment of it during the communication with Cyrilla earlier in the day. It had once held a terrible, powerful majesty, with it's granite construction and the proud standards of the seventeen Clans arrayed here, but now it was in ruins. Armored Elemental bodies and a few British ones were strewn on the ground, with the chamber's walls having been blasted open during the final assault.
Dale walked down to the pit of the room, from which Cyrilla had addressed him, and took another look around. "Secure the standards," he ordered MacDougal. "Your regiment is entitled to them."
"Yes Sir." MacDougal nodded.

Looking at the place assigned for the ilKhan to stand, Dale asked, "Where is the ilKhan's office? Have you found it?"
"Yes Sir. This way."
Dale was led out of the Council Chamber and through another series of corridors, a small series at least, before arriving at a room marked with special insignia. He opened the door and was presented with the spartan office that Cyrilla had kept. There were few mementos present, as well as the interesting presence of a well-made cot.
Heading to the desk, Dale was presented with a single picture, the only one present. Cyrilla was in it, young and surprisingly beautiful, standing behind a young redhead as attractive as she was, the two in form-fitting Clan warrior jumpsuits and smiling at the camera. Dale realized that he recognized the woman in the picture; the infamous Natasha Kerensky of the Wolf Dragoons.
On the desk were two discs and a book. One was labeled "Tasha", and the other was addressed to him, set on top of a book bound in fine leather like it were a Bible. The title on it, emblazoned in gold, was "The Remembrance", with a mark on the bottom stating "Final Edition - 3051" and with the insignia of the Wolf Clan laid in colored leather on the cover and on the side cover. Dale looked up to Captain MacDougal, who was standing at the entrance to the room, and picked up the disc for "Tasha". "Captain, I want this placed into a special delivery pouch for delivery to Outreach, addressed to Colonel Natasha Kerensky. You may then consider yourself dismissed."

"Yes Sir." MacDougal accepted the disc.
Miraborg had long shown no interest in the tour and remained with his aides, but Morgan walked up to the desk and took a seat opposite from it as Dale settled into what had been Cyrilla's seat. He took the disc addressed to him off the book and slipped it into the data port of the noteputer on Cyrilla's desk.
The system had been set, thoughtfully, to auto-run, and it brought the disc's contents up. It was a single video, recorded using the built-in recorder on Cyrilla's monitor. Dale recognized her immediately, her face still showing some signs of having woken up from sleep. She was in uniform, magnificant and dignified, and a stoic expression on her wizened face.
"Hello, Admiral. I hope you are well. I am sorry that we were not given the chance to talk like this, but duty is a harsh master for me as well as for you.
In the past months I have tried to learn what little I could about your people. The Nations of your Alliance are a kind that have not existed here in so long that even the most knowledgable of our Clan scholars can only speculate about your ways.
But what they do know has told me all I needed to know as to why. Your people value individual liberties highly, indeed, you value individuality itself and far more than the Clans could ever do. To you our system is a system of slavery and oppression." Cyrilla sighed softly. "Looking at my people through your eyes, I can see why. By your standards we, the warriors, have treated our lower castes atrociously and the system of claiming bondsmen would, to you, be slavery.

I can understand why we have incurred the wrath of your people, now fueled by the misdeeds of my brethern, and I understand why you have decided to stamp us out. And yet you, personally, have acted with mercy beyond that which your government ordered. You have allowed gracious surrenders and left it open for my people to maintain at least some of our ways, perhaps infused with some of your's. I hope, Admiral, that the synthesis of our ways will lead to a future of happiness and prosperity for the Clans."
There was a resigned, sad smile on Cyrilla's face, the same Dale had seen when she had rejected surrender. "Please forgive me for keeping some of my pride, but I cannot simply dismiss the Clans. We worked with the best of intentions. By creating the warrior caste and adopting our ways, we hoped to insulate the civilians from war and to provide for all of them while fulfilling the natural human tendency toward conflict. Our ways were made in a time of great crisis, and they were not allowed to change when the crisis was over. Perhaps that is the start of our crime. We of the warrior caste grew comfortable in the state of crisis while our skills in genetic engineering made us arrogant. We altered ourselves, changed our genes, and declared ourselves better and more fit to rule than other people. I acknowledge this.

But we also raised life on hostile worlds. We advanced far in the fields of medicine and technology. Our civilians were kept free from the horrors of war in most cases, and all of the exceptions to that are remembered with sadness and anger by our histories. Surely our virtues as a people must count for something when compared to our vices."
Cyrilla sighed softly and her smile changed, becoming clearly sad. "I do not make excuses. I am a warrior of the Wolf Clan and I have lived my life devoted to its cause. I cannot denounce it, no matter what it may have done wrong. It would be a violation of everything I have lived for. I hope you understand.
I wish, Admiral, that Fate had been kinder to us. Perhaps, then, you and I could have met at the peace table and clasped hands as fellow warriors, fellow leaders, with our common bond; that we are both devoted to duty.
Do not let my fate trouble you. Much of what I have cared for is lost now. What is left will be the responsibility of you and your people. Please, be just to my people. They are not guilty of any crimes committed by the warriors of the Clans. They deserve to live like your people do, even if it takes them time to learn how. I die trusting that you, Admiral, will do what is necessary to bring happiness to the Pentagon and the Kerensky Cluster."

"I forgive you for what will happen today. Again, we are both devoted to our duty, and I cannot hold that against you and the warriors under your command. Do not hold my death and the deaths of my comrades on your conscious, for we went to our fates willingly. We have died as we lived, with the past we lived in, and the future is for those who live on and have a chance in your new world.
Farewell, Admiral Dale. As your people say, may God watch over you."
The image turned off. Dale stared at the monitor for a moment, blinking back tears that had formed in his eyes at the courage of the old warrior woman who had died for the society she had lived for, wise enough to know it's crimes but proud enough to die with it anyway. A humble kind of pride befitting someone of her age and grace, someone with imagination and devotion, who could see personal duty clearly and not deviate from it no matter what it cost her.
Dale removed the disc from the player and slipped it into it's case. He stood up and looked at Morgan, who was still seated and who had heard everything. "Did it have to end this way?" he asked the old mercenary.
"No," Morgan replied. "But it has anyway, and we must live with that."
Dale nodded and put the disc in his pocket. He picked up Cyrilla's copy of The Remembrance. "Bloody Elijah wants every copy of this burned."
"Well, if he gets his way, I'm afraid I'll have forgotten you have a copy," Morgan replied with an amused grin.
"Yes," Dale said, matching Morgan's grin. "I think I'll forget about my copy too." He slipped the book into an inner jacket pocket on his uniform. "Let's go."

They came out the door and met up with Miraborg and his aides again. A Lieutenant, a sandy-haired young woman, walked up and saluted. "Admiral, Sir, Captain MacDougal said you'd be here," she said, her Scots accent less distinct than the others Dale had heard this day. Looking concerned, the young woman continued speaking. "Sir, we're having some problems with a few surviving warriors in the Svoboda."
"Lead the way."
"But Sir..."
"That's an order, Lieutenant."
The woman - almost a girl - nodded briskly. "Yes Sir, please follow me."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2006-06-01 01:46am

Svoboda Zemylya, Strana Mechty
10:10 GST

Dale and Morgan Kell were walking behind the sandy-haired Lieutenant - Lieutenant McGowan, they had learned - as they were led through the Svoboda Zemylya of the Clans. It was a beautiful park, surrounded by the chapels dedicated to each of the Clan Bloodhouses. Some were marked with art, some were kept untouched by the brush, and all looked magnificant.
McGowan led them to a gaggle of troops, some from the Federated Commonwealth as well as a collection of Marines. They were armed and were holding their weapons to a moving gaggle of figures, some wearing simple clothes and some clad in the jumpsuits of Clan warriors. These figures were standing in a patch of land, within view of a nearby garden, very dirty and muddy in appearance and at work planting seeds of various kinds into the soil. Dale got the impression that this was very much an impromptu expansion of the existing garden, and was curious as to what the problem was.

Lieutenant McGowan brought him to a Leftenant wearing an AFFC infantry uniform. He saluted to them and asked, "Sir, are you sure you should be here?"
"First off, what is your name Leftenant."
"Jason Givens, Sir. 199th Galax Infantry Regiment."
"Okay, Leftenant Givens, I am here because I wanted to know what the problem was with the non-combatants."
Givens nodded. "Yes, Sir. My orders were to take them into custody to be relocated to a holding facility."
"I gave no such orders."
"The orders were from General Killick, Sir."
Dale nodded. "Well, have they explained the reason for their resistance?"
"They say they're not finished working, Sir." Givens seemed contemptful of that. "We've even threatened to use force, and they haven't done anything to obey."
"Well then..." Dale looked back to the warriors. "I don't see why we can't let them finish."
Givens seemed struck at Dale's remark. "Sir, my orders are to take them into custody, with force if necessary. They came straight from Gen..."
"General Killick is under my command," Dale barked. "I'm modifying that order as of now. They will be placed into temporary housing, with appropriate security, until we can find somewhere more permanent for them."
"But Sir, we have a camp ready...."
"I said housing. Use their former barracks if you want." Dale turned toward the assembled warriors, some of whom had not yet noticed his presence, and stepped toward the garden. He carefully stepped over a barrier and avoided the mounds of fresh dirt where seeds had been planted. Two Marines walked up beside him, taking the same care.

This gesture was noticed and a single figure emerged from the crowd of warriors, clad in green overalls over a blue shirt. He was tan-skinned and old, though Dale considered it likely that they were of the same age since the Clans did not have anti-aging genetic treatments. He nodded respectfully to Dale. "Sir, my name is Michael. I am a Telinov, of what was once the Cloud Cobra Clan."
"I am Admiral Robert Dale, commander of the Allied Forces. May I ask the purpose for this garden and your choice of today for it's expansion?"
Michael nodded solemnly. "Admiral, this is the Honorarium of the Cloud Cobras. My Clan has a practice, that when a life is lost, we plant something, anything, into the Honorarium to symbolize it. We do this for our enemies as well as our friends because all life has meaning, and we regret the taking of the life. And a great many lives have been lost today. I suspect some of your people as well as many of mine have been killed in the past hours, or are dying as we speak. If you will provide me with a list of your dead, I will ensure that we plant for them as well."
"It will be done."

Natalie watched as the uniformed man spoke with Michael. She shifted the spade she was holding and used her right forearm to wipe sweat off her brow.
He was clearly a man of high rank, though why he had come Natalie was not sure. She felt a tinge of bitterness at the thought that the enemy that had so ruthlessly crushed them would now interrupt them at this peaceful task, even if the drudgery of it was wearying her as much as it helped her deal with the pain in her heart.
Nothing was happening at the moment save for Michael talking with the enemy commander. But then Natalie noticed movement to her right. She saw another warrior, a Blood Spirit given the markings on his jumpsuit, move forward. Her eyes went to his pocket, and she saw him begin to pull something out.
As he moved through a small gaggle toward Michael and the enemy leader, Natalie recognized what was in his hands - a laser pistol. She raced foward, raising her spade, and shouted, "Look out, he has a gun!"

The shout of a female voice jolted the Marines to attention, and they moved to step in front of Dale to protect him.
But it was Michael who jumped on him just before the beam appeared. Despite his age, Michael had enough body mass to knock Dale out of the way so that the laser beam missed him, striking Michael instead. He fell, a burn mark on his overalls and shirt at the right side.
Warriors fell back, instinctively seeking to avoid the shot and the expected counterfire from the Alliance and Commonwealth troops. Few heard the clang of Natalie's spade striking the assailant in the back of the head as he tried to fire again, knocking him to the ground. The Marines, looking toward the direction of the shooter, pointed their guns toward her and Natalie dropped the spade and raised her hands.
This didn't save her from being tackled from the side by another Marine, who sent her face down into the dirt. He laid on top of her, screaming obscenities into her ear as he placed painful pressure on the back of her head with his weapon.
A cry rose above the tumult, demanding medics, and soon it was Dale on his feet ordering the Marines to restore calm and demanding, again, medical treatment for the man. He turned and saw the fallen shape of the shooter, clear from the gun still in his hand, as well as the Marines crowding around Natalie. Her wrists were bound painfully tight with tight straps and she was hauled to her feet, hair disheveled. She was in a dirtied white sports bra and knee-length khaki shorts, which Dale recognized as a common undergarment worn beneath the duty jumpsuits, and appeared to be in rather good physical condition. She was grimacing from wounds, and Dale briefly wondered if it was a cracked rib after getting tackled by a two hundred and sixty pound Marine. She looked at him defiantly, then her eyes went to Michael and she shouted "No!" and began to struggle against the Marines holding her.

"Let her go," Dale ordered.
Without pause the Marines did so, although they kept an eye on her. Natalie ran over to Michael's side as he lay on the dirt, his eyes half-closed and a look of pain on his face. It had a strange air of serenity to it, and his head turned toward Natalie, his eyes focusing on her and barely registering Dale standing behind her. He had a smile on his face. "The Way showed me the path. God showed me my destiny. I have fulfilled my purpose. You must fulfill your's, Natalie of the Wolves. Find your path, and fulfill....." The man's breathing stopped and he moved his head again, looking straight up for a moment before all movement in him ceased.
The Marines had by now secured the assailant, removing his gun and placing the straps around his wrists. They came for Natalie now, taking her by the arms to lead her away. She didn't struggle, and Dale could see tears forming in her eyes. "Did you know him? Was he one of your superiors?"
"No. He was an old warrior who took pity on me." Natalie looked down at him.
"Did you do that?" Dale pointed to the assailant who was being lifted, unconscious, from the ground.
"Because I had to," Natalie answered. "To save Michael, to save you. If I let you die your men would have slaughtered us all in vengeance, and the sacrifice of my trothkin would have been in vain."

"Hopefully not," Dale said in reply to that, but he couldn't blame her for thinking that. "What is your name? What Clan were you in and what unit?"
"I am Natalie of the House of Ward. I was in the ilKhan's Honor Guard and served as her assistant."
That brought Dale's interest. "You knew Cyrilla Ward?"
"I did."
That prompted a slow nod and a few moments of silence. "Release her," Dale said.
"But sir...."
The protest from the Commonwealth troops was too late, and the Marines cut Natalie's wrists loose. She rubbed them while looking at Dale. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Please, continue your work here. I'm afraid you have a lot of planting to do." Dale looked to one of the Marines. "Marine, assemble a sufficient guard to keep watch over them as they work. Set up a field mess for them to use for meals and portable facilities for other needs. If anyone gives you grief, tell them to talk to me."
"Yes Sir."
"As for you..." Dale looked back to Natalie. "In the coming days, I would like to see you again, Natalie. I have a few things I want to ask you."
"I will," Natalie promised, seeming a bit surprised at how everything had gone.
"You are dismissed then," Dale said, prompting her to recover her spade and get back to work. He took a final look at Michael's remains, now covered with a sheet provided by the arriving medic, and walked on, ensuring that the order was given for the body to be treated properly.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by ElPintoGrande » 2006-06-01 08:03pm

Good as usual, this Dale character seems like he could turn the Battletech U. on it's ear. Can't wait to read more.
Yay! Midget Toss!

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Post by Steve » 2006-08-03 12:43pm

(Former) Hall of Khans, Strana Mechty
Alliance Occupation Zone, Kerensky Territories
13 September 2151 AST
28 January 3051 IST
09:45 GST

The ilKhan’s office had not been greatly changed since Dale had first walked into it three days before. Even the cot that Cyrilla Ward’s last night of sleep was spent in remained where it was, just as she’d left it the morning of her death.
At her desk, the only change was that a picture of Dale with his daughter now sat at a corner, with an Alliance-model personal computer having replaced Cyrilla’s clan device and Dale’s name plaque set facing the chairs on the other side of the desk.
A small pile of papers were on the desk next to a larger pile, the smaller marked by his signature. They were various correspondence, part of the day to day running of both a military command and, now, a military occupation zone. Robert Dale was no longer just an Admiral of the Alliance Stellar Navy and the commander-in-chief of all Allied Nations forces in Universe MWB-32; he was the de facto ruler of a billion human beings spread around about two dozen worlds and space habitats.

He stopped the paperwork sharp at 9:45 GST when his secretary, Yeoman Gomez, called to inform him that his appointment had arrived.... on time of course. The door opened and Natalie entered. She was in a plain Clan-make jumpsuit instead of the civilian clothes Dale was used to, and despite the lack of military marks upon it she looked very much the soldier when she stood at attention and gave a crisp, well-executed salute. “You don’t need to do that,” Dale told her. “Please, be seated.”
Natalie didn’t reply save to sit.
Dale took a moment to finish one last piece of paper before speaking again. “Miss Ward, how have you and the others been treated?”
“Very well, Sir.” Natalie looked uncomfortable. “But, if I may sir... my name is not...”
“Yes, I know that you’re not Bloodnamed, but that’s going to be something to change. If you don’t want to take Ward as your surname, there are others...”
“I do not want a surname. I am Natalie of the Wolf...” She stopped herself. “Ah, I see. The Clans are gone and now you will start imposing change on us to make us more like you.”
Dale nodded slightly. “Some changes, yes. I won’t lie to you on that. The scope of those changes, and how difficult they are for your people, is going to be decided in part by you."

"I am in no mood for games," Natalie replied in an angry tone. "You and I both know I have absolutely no power here to decide anything."
"I am being serious." Dale looked at her closely and Natalie got the feeling she was being scrutinized. It was... uncomfortable, and distinctly different from the kinds of scrutiny she had endured in the sibko. "Odds are that my government will talk the others into accepting me as the military governor of your territories. Nobody wants a Commonwealther, or God forbid a Rasalhaguan, to be in charge here because none could be trusted to do anything but abuse you and enrich themselves and their cronies, and my own government and commanders would rather have me here than in Washington taking the place of a devoted political infighter and causing any discomfort to certain politicians responsible for the escalation of this war."
There was a self-satisfied smile of pride on her expression. "You say our ways are bad, but among our people we do not let civilian politicians and thieves steal the glory of our warriors."
There was a threatening, almost mischievous gleam in Dale's eyes. "Given the amount of your histories I've read over from captured archives, I think you're wrong. But history is rarely as bright and good as people like to think of it. The truth is, history is filled with bloodshed, betrayal, arrogance, bigotry, and greed. The Clans were not immune from it and neither are the Allied Nations that I serve. Which is, I must say, part of the problem. But now we're getting off-topic, and I'm afraid I have other matters that need attention which prevent me from having this conversation as long as I'd like to."
"And what is the topic?"
"I need your help, Miss Ward." Dale kept his eyes on her, gauging her response, her body language, as if he were actually trying to read her mind. "You see, for all that I've read, I'm still only partially acquainted with your people, your ways, your social strictures and idea of proper conduct. I need someone to be my aide, my... cultural interpreter if you will. Someone to keep me from committing a faux pas or seeing a slight when one isn't intended. I need someone who is a living, breathing member of the Clans and young enough to keep up with me as I try to make something good come out of all of this tragedy."

Natalie listened to the request and tried not to bark when she replied. "You come to me for help? You, who destroyed everything I knew, everything I cared for? You destroyed my future, Admiral, everything I ever dreamed of. I will never now know if I was meant to be a great MechWarrior, if I could have defeated my peers and won a Bloodname, or even become a Khan in my own right. I havenothing left because of you, and now you want me to become your servant so that you can mold my people into your image to claim glory for it? You speak of arrogance but you do not hear it in your own voice! No, I will not be your aide, or whatever you wish. I will live as I must to ensure the continuance of the Ward genetic legacy, but I will in no way support you for what you have done!"
Dale's response to Natalie's outburst was not the injured pride that she had thought she would see - that she had wanted to see. For the first time she began to wonder if she had read him wrong, as a heavy look came to his eyes, and he began to carry himself quite a bit older than he looked. "I'm not asking you to do this for me, Natalie Ward. I am asking you to do this to honor the memory of Cyrilla Ward, and to ensure she is remembered as something more than the aged warlord of a dying group of barbarian tribes."
Mentioning Cyrilla was opening a wound still fresh in Natalie's heart, and despite her hesitation earlier on if she had judged him right, Natalie's reply to Dale grew into a full screech. "How dare you invoke her name! How dare you?! You killed her you murderer! If not for your Alliance she would still be alive, they would all be alive!"
In the heat of the moment Natalie nearly lashed out at him, but she stopped her forward movement when the door opened and Dale's secretary entered, a large Marine behind her. It took a great deal of will to restrain her temper from dealing a blow anyway.

"Yeoman Gomez, that's unnecessary," Dale said, ending the confrontation before it could begin. "We'll be just a minute." When Gomez and the Marine went back through the door, Dale returned his attention to Natalie. "You're right, Natalie. If the Alliance had never come to this universe, Cyrilla would still be alive and the Clans would still exist. And you would still be fighting a war to conquer the Inner Sphere, I'll add."
"On the same hand, if not for some spaceship pilot calculating the wrong set of numbers some sixty-odd years ago, I wouldn't be here either. I'd be on a family farm in 21st Century Kansas, looking my age no doubt, and living a quiet life instead of being responsible for over a billion human beings. I never would have had to watch my parents and grandparents struggle as the world they knew was turned upside down by contact with Humanity from timelines centuries ahead of our own." Dale took the photo of his daughter and twisted it to show Natalie. "But neither would I have met that girl's mother, and I wouldn't have my daughter Susanna as a result. Sometimes.... that's the only thing keeping me from actually wishing the Surveyor had never crashed on my Earth. But I am here, and I have a duty to perform. And that duty, Natalie Ward, is to build something good, something lasting, out of the ashes of this war. It's what Cyrilla Ward wanted, and I aim to honor her memory by putting every effort I can into bringing it about. Now, again, I ask you to help me do this."

Natalie's rage had smoldered, then died out, and now she was left with the haunting emptiness that came from her guilt over the death of Cyrilla Ward and the Wolf Clan, which she had not even fired a shot in defense of. All that was left to her was the vague hope of the future. And now here, this man, the man who had overseen the annihilation of the Clans, had offered her something concrete. The only question for Natalie was whether to trust him or not.
Bowing her head, Natalie finally nodded in assent. "Very well, for now, I will help you in any way I can."
This done, Dale stood up and walked around the desk. He offered her his hand, and Natalie ignored it as she stood as well just to see it was offered. She grudglingly took it. "A handshake it is called, quiaff?"
"Yes. To the future, your future and that of your people."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-01-14 02:14pm

Quan Zemin AFB, Strana Mechty
Alliance Occupation Zone, Kerensky Territories
20 September 2151 AST
4 February 3051 IST
10:00 GST

The private aerospace cruiser made a perfect landing on the tarmac of Quan Zemin AFB, the name for the spaceport put up by Alliance forces outside of Katyusha City. A full detail of Marines were ready and standing with Dale, Natalie, and senior members of his staff - along with other notables - when the door opened and a group emerged. In the lead, ahead of the Council Security detachment, was Council Representative Sir Kevin Maxwell-Fyfe, of the United Kingdom Universe Designate SE-1, and a handful of other persons, mostly aides of other Council Reps.

Standing at attention in respect to the Representative, Dale introduced himself and his entourage and the tall, thin Maxwell-Fyfe did the same for his, seeming very jovial and generally informal. More tense was one of the aides, who was introduced as Jerald Vernon, the chief of staff for Representative Weisbaum, and a man standing with him, introduced as retired American Army General Samuel Collins.

A hover limo once used by one of the Khans was waiting for them, and Dale was invited to ride with Maxwell-Fyfe while his staff, and Natalie, would have to follow them back in another fashion.

The hover limo made it's way onto one of the main roads and went on it's way to Katyusha City. They passed a number of sets of apartment blocks, as well as factories producing consumer goods. "Have we implemented the demilitarization plan yet?" asked Vernon.
"I've had all of their weapons factories shut down," Dale explained. "The machine tools are being packaged away to be distributed as reparations and the workers for the factories have been re-assigned to other work, including cleanup from the fighting."
"How large of an occupation administration do you think will be necessary, Admiral?" was Collins' question. "I'm not a fan of large bureaucracy."

"Most of it is in place already, General. Until major reforms are begun, the system here in the Clan worlds hasn't really changed, simply who's in charge. Scientist, Merchant, Technician, and Worker caste elders who used to report to the Clan Khans now, in most cases, report to the military governors of the various worlds. The only exceptions are the Snow Raven and Blood Spirits."
"How are they exceptions, Admiral?" asked Maxwell-Fyfe.
"Well, the Snow Ravens surrendered after their fleet was annihilated and before Representative Weisbaum's Resolution was agreed upon in the Council. As a result, I had already arranged a reformed government, with equal representation between castes, to oversee them until we decided on our permanent solution. The same happened among the Blood Spirits after the resolution, after certain parties in their warrior caste came to understand the full nature of the Resolution text and worked with the other castes to remove their commanders and reform their government similar to that of the Snow Ravens."

Collins smiled diplomatically, but Vernon was certainly irritated. He asked, "Admiral, why weren't the warriors completely removed and imprisoned?"
"Because the resolution doesn't require me to do that," Dale replied succinctly.
"It calls for the elimination of the warrior caste and the imprisonment of those in it."
"No, Mister Vernon, it calls for the elimination of their political and military power," was Dale's response. "I know, I examined it for hours to make sure I followed it to the letter. The resolution says nothing about what I'm supposed to do with them, it simply says that they must be removed from control of the local state apparatus and also disarmed."
"Admiral, with all due respect, that is a twisting of the spirit of the Resolution," Vernon remarked. "It's intent was to completely remove the Warriors from their position in this society."
"Which is what I have done. They're not in control anymore."
"Don't worry about it, Mister Vernon, the Admiral was simply trying to avoid unnecessary complications to the pacification," Collins remarked. "You have to be a little soft at first."
"Thank you, General Collins." Dale looked at the man, who was seated across from him, and studied him for a moment, the thin face, the cheery blue eyes, and the posture of restrained superiority that a long-time general officer tended to have - one that Dale himself could manage at times, he was often told by others. "If I might ask, sir, why are you here? I don't recall being told your position with the Council."

"Oh, I don't have one," Collins replied. "I work with Representative Weisbaum, unofficially mostly, as his military advisor, but the plan is for me to take over here, Admiral."
Dale tried to hide most of his amusement, simply showing a slight grin. "Really? I wasn't aware that a new occupation authority was being decided upon?"
"Yes, well, that's one of the reasons we're here, Admiral," Maxwell-Fyfe replied. "We'll be meeting with representatives from the Commonwealth, Rasalhague, and Saint Ives over the next several days, we hope to have a formal treaty regarding the disposition of these worlds wrapped up quickly."
"Our plan is to recreate these worlds, with the exception of the protected communities as you've had them called" - Vernon was referring to the peaceful "Dark Caste" communities, the rag-tag villages and settlements from those kicked out of Clan society and commonly subjected to vicious raiding before the coming of the Alliance - " as the Kerensky Territories, with a Military Governor to oversee them until such a time as a Civilian Governorship will be more appropriate. Our aim is to establish a new government for the entire region by the end of the decade, though it may take much longer given the social backwardness of these people. Democracy doesn't take strong root where people are trained from birth to be mindless drones. 'One man, one vote' tends to become 'one man, one vote, one time'."

"True," Dale agreed.
"And General Collins will be our nomination for the Military Governorship," Vernon said, finishing the explaination. "We don't think that Hanse Davion or the other leaders will oppose that."
"So he'll be taking over the occupation? Just the administration or the military forces as well?"
"The forces too, Admiral. And because of your work here, a number of Council Representatives are interested in giving you a spot in Washington as soon as a slot opens up." Vernon gave off the air of complete confidence that senior aides of important legislators often did.
"Being the effective ruler of a billion people on top of a major theater command is a bit much for one man," Dale replied succinctly.
"That's what chiefs of staff are for, Admiral," Collins replied.
"Of course." Dale tried to hide the slight contempt in his voice at the suggestion of using staff to bear the brunt of such important duties. "And just what is your plan, if I might ask?"

"Well, you understand I still have to survey the situation before making such a decision, Admiral..."
"Of course, of course..."
"...but my plan," Collins continued saying, "is that the warrior caste population, including the eldest generations of their child companies, which are too old to be properly raised, be placed into habitation zones isolated from the rest of the Clan worlds, to prevent them from exploiting the other people here through their old mastery. These habitation zones will be surrounded by occupation forces to prevent escape, but the people within them will be given full rights to establish their own little democracies, town assemblies and such, and to govern themselves so long as they work toward as much sufficiency as possible. In the meanwhile, I'll encourage foreign investment and arrange for the sale of the major factories and various resources to companies that can continue to operate them, rekindling the economy here and ensuring it becomes a free market and not planned as the Clans had it."
Dale listened to the plan quietly, and patiently, but felt a slight tinge of contempt grow within. Finally, with an air of irritation in his voice, Dale remarked, "In other words, you want to put the warriors into concentration camps and let the big multinational corporations move in and basically take the place of the Clans."
Vernon frowned, but Collins shrugged. "Well, like I said, some parts need to be ironed out, though I think concentration camp is a bit harsh. And what else would we do with the factories, the farmland, and the mines?"
"Well, letting local people have them has merit."
"I'm not opposed to selling the property to them if they have the capital to outbid other buyers," Collins remarked. "But I believe in the free market. I'm not a socialist, and I didn't think you were either."
"I'm not, and I believe firmly in the need for free enterprise and respect for private property," Dale responded. "But if our purpose here is to build democracy, a lasting and good government to replace the Clans, then that's what matters, not the free market. That will come hand-in-hand with democracy as we let it grow by giving the people here a stake in their futures, teaching them what it is to own property, to be able to actually hold onto it, to let others inherit it, and to sell it if that is their desire. I can guarantee you now that only the highest echelons of Clan civilian caste leaders have the kind of hard capital, or at least things that can be converted into it, to buy factories and farmland against the kind of competition we'd have. Most of the production in the Kerensky Cluster would end in the hands of major corporations that wouldn't mind having a large base of dirt cheap labor, as the people here would prove to be. They can pay them wages that would be unacceptable most everywhere and be in a position to destroy their livelihoods if they don't do exactly as they are instructed, even in a 'democratic' vote."

"Admiral, your... criticisms will be taken into due consideration," Collins remarked, showing quite plainly that he wasn't going to pay heed to a word of it. "I'll just have to ask you to trust me."
"Oh, I'm not done yet," Dale remarked. "Your policy with the warriors is frankly offensive and something I'd never dream to have heard from a man who wore an American military uniform. Not to mention that it would probably lead to the revolt of the Snow Raven and Blood Spirit enclaves."
"Revolts that can be easily extinguished, and would be suitably punished..."
"I wasn't finished," Dale barked. "Quite frankly, we're at an important crossroads here, and the policies we take in the next few months will determine whether these worlds become a functioning, prospering corner of the Multiverse, or whether we're creating a problem that our children and grandchildren will have to fix. You reap what you sow, General, and I don't like what you look to be wanting to sow here."
Collins and Vernon both went to protest when the chaffeur announced, "We're here, Admiral."
Dale looked out at the Katyusha City Suites, where the leaders of the Clans' lower castes would stay when in Katyusha City, as well as those lower castes of the neutral "Free Guilds" that were not aligned to any one Clan. "Gentlemen, this conversation has been enlightening, allow me to have you brought to your quarters during your stay here," Dale said to them as he motioned for a nearby Army Corporal. Behind them, the other vehicles bearing Dale's staff, the minor staff members of the entourage, and all of their belongings were pulling up.
There was acceptance of his offer, and the conversation ended. The fight, however, was far from over.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-04-16 01:26pm

Kerensky Territories Occupation Authority (the former Hall of Khans)
Alliance Occupation Zone, Kerensky Territories
26 September 2151 AST
10 February 3051 IST
12:00 GST

Some of the day's paperwork was already finished and prepared for dispatch when Dale was alerted by his staff that Representative Maxwell-Fyfe had arrived. He had the British statesman led into his office and stood to greet him. "Councilman, thank you for coming. Interested in some noon tea?"
"That would be splendid, Admiral," Maxwell-Fyfe said as he found a seat.
Dale nodded and pressed down on a desk key. "Yeoman Gomez, please get that tea I had prepared for myself and the Councilman."
"Right away, Sir," was the young woman's reply.
"I hope you don't mind the local milk," Dale said as he returned to his seat, watching Maxwell-Fyfe get comfortable in the chair across the desk. "It is fairly good, but I know how some get about having specific brands or types for their tea."
"Oh, as long as it's good I don't mind local milk," Maxwell-Fyfe said heartily. "You're taking to the duties of occupation well, Admiral. I know you worked with Her Majesty during the post-war Agresskan Occupation, but that was rather different from this case."
"Yes, it was." Dale leaned back in his chair, his dark blue common duty uniform the same color as Maxwell-Fyfe's business jacket. "But I don't know if I'll have them for much longer. General Collins seems rather convinced that he's going to get the position."
"Oh yes." Maxwell-Fyfe's grin was sarcastic and mirthless. "He's doing a rather good job licking boots in our meetings. Mine, Marshal Sortek's, even Leftenant Allard-Liao when he briefly joined the Saint Ives delegation. Must've thought it'd transfer well to his mother. Mister Vernon seems to have convinced dear General Collins that Councilman Weisbaum has the necessary political clout to win Council favor for him as Military Governor."

"But you don't think so?"
"Oh, no. We should feel fortunate for that." Maxwell-Fyfe let out a polite chuckle at the thought. "Weisbaum has already spent up what influence he had, now that the scandal has broken back home about some of those 'experts' he trotted up to testify about the Clans being a perpetual threat and all that. He couldn't even block your treaties with the Blood Spirits and Diamond Sharks, how can he dictate our choice for Military Governor?" Maxwell-Fyfe shook his head. "No, the good General is wasting his time, not that he or Mister Vernon seem to be aware of that fact."
The door opened and Yeomen Gomez walked in, a saucer with a tea-cup in each hand. "Here, Sirs," she said politely to them, handing them both tea. "I took the liberty of mixing in the milk already."
"Thank you, dear girl," Maxwell-Fyfe said.
"That'll be all, Yeoman. You can take your lunch break now."
"Thank you, Sir," the young woman replied, departing the office.

At first, nothing was spoken as the two men sipped at the tea. "Yes, this is quite good. Linden's?"
"Weaver, actually."
"Ah, splendid." Maxwell-Fyfe sipped on his tea again. "Newer brand, but still much better than what they've been serving at the negotiation table."
"So I've heard." Dale took a sip of his own before setting the cup on it's saucer. "So, if not Collins, than who?"
"One angle has been to consider a Commonwealth Governor, a little bone to them so they don't feel too bad, but from what I can tell, most everyone agrees that it will be an Alliance Governor." Maxwell-Fyfe sipped again. "Don't see a real problem with that, given we were the ones who won the bloody war in the first place."
"And the ones who made it bloody," Dale responded with more than a hint of sarcasm.
"Yes, well, no use crying over spilled milk on that one. Besides, do you think the Rasalhaguans or the Commonwealth really opposed dealing with the Clans like this? After centuries of stalemate I'm quite sure they're happy to actually see an enemy go down." Maxwell-Fyfe settled his tea saucer on his lap, a finger wrapped around the tea-cup handle to keep it from spilling. "So, you didn't ask for this meeting just to sip on tea and lament Bloody Elijah's handiwork. What's on your mind, Admiral?"

"Oh, the usual. War, peace, and how to keep this place from going to hell," Dale responded. "As you're probably certain of, I have a few sources who are letting me know how things are going on the negotiations. The key things, like what to do with Clan industry, how to reform the Clan economy and society, and other issues of that vein."
"Well, talks are proceeding on that."
"As I said last week, Councilman, if our mandate is to remake Clan society into a strong and free one, we must take care to actually teach the people here what that is. We have to help them make the leap from simply controlling property to owning it, inheriting it, passing it down, that kind of thing. We're not going to do that if we allow megacorps and FedCom aristocrats to come buy up every mine, factory, and acre of arable land in the Kerensky Territories. Because that's what would happen. The people here have no capital, no concept of how to use it. They have to be gently taught what it is to actually own something, not simply control it as property of the Clan. If we just auction everything here off, we'll be turning these people into corporate serfs, without the education or mentality to do more than work for whatever wages their employers desire."

"That might be true, Admiral, but what do you have in mind as an alternative?"
Dale reached into his desk and pulled out a data disk. He placed it on the table before Maxwell-Fyfe as the Englishman looked on in interest. "My full proposals are on there. In a nutshell, it is property distribution. I won't say re-distribution because it's all formerly state-owned anyway. Workers would be given shares in the factories and facilitiesthey work in dependent upon their grade and value of skills. Large-scale ownership would go to the former scientist and upper grade merchant caste management, though not so much that they can go over the heads of the laborers, lower grade merchants, and technicians easily, who would altogether have enough shares to be a majority. Apartment dwellings will be distributed similarly to this, with all guaranteed housing for a long-term period. Houses would be granted to the occupants, and vehicles granted to the current primary user. Agricultural property will be seperated and plots given out by lot, with grants and long-term low-interest loans to provide the new farmers with the material and manpower to build homes, buy and maintain equipment, and survive until they can sell their crops."
"And where will the funds come from?"
"The Clans' germanium stores as of now, as well as partial rights to latinum deposits found throughout the Kerensky Cluster. In the Hector system alone surveyors have already found deposits worth about ten trillion Alliance dollars. Anytyhing left the Alliance Council would have to cover."
Maxwell-Fyfe chuckled. "Quite an interesting scheme, Admiral. Do you think the Government will agree to help foot the bill?"
"They'd end up footing some of the bill anyway," Dale pointed out. "Think of this as an investment, Councilman. I'm asking you, the other powers, and the Council and Government to be willing to invest money to make the Kerensky Territories a full and prosperous part of the known Multiverse. One where we won't have to worry about future violence or insurgency."

Maxwell-Fyfe nodded at that. "Do you want to be in charge of this Admiral?"
Dale grinned slightly and shook his head. "Not if I don't have to be, no. I'd take the job if it was absolutely necessary, but to be honest Councilman, I can't wait to get back to the farmhouse."
"Her Majesty said you were like that," Maxwell-Fyfe chuckled. "Well, Admiral..." He put the empty teacup and saucer on Dale's desk and picked up the disk. "I'm afraid I must be going. I did enjoy the tea. And I look forward to looking over your proposals in closer detail and to bringing them to the attention of the delegates."
"Thank you, Councilman." Dale stood and shook Maxwell-Fyfe's hand again, this time over the desk. "If you're interested in better fare than the caterers are offering, I can arrange for better. One of the ex-warrior Ghost Bears in my advisor's barracks took up cooking as his hobby. Salisbury Steak will never be the same for me again."
"If I have the time, I shall have to take you up on that offer, Admiral. Good day."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-10-17 02:23am

Katyusha City, Strana Mechty
Alliance Occupation Zone, Kerensky Territories
2 October 2151 AST
16 February 3051 IST

The Alliance Marines tasked with the security of the former Ebon Keshik barracks in Katyusha City, now the living quarters of the Alliance military's senior officers and staff, swiftly escorted Natalie through the various checkpoints and security sensors that had been emplaced to offset the threat of any attack on the barrack occupants. Neither Marine did more than give a cursory glance to her typical Clan dress, that of the warrior caste MechWarrior's jump suit, having long gotten used to her defiance in not adopting the clothing of their society.
They left her at the door to Dale's suite, which she entered on her own. It was hardly as orderly as she'd seen it before, though clearly as spartan; where uniforms and clothes had once been neatly arranged in drawers they were now piled on the bed. A feeling came to Natalie, a lump in her throat, as she realized he was packing his things. Turning the corner around the doorway she found him slumped into a chair, taking the time to read the morning's reports, a half-eaten bagel and a cold cup of coffee at his. He was half-dressed, his uniform shirt open and revealing a chest and stomach that, while clearly not muscular or athletic, was also not unfit. His trousers were on but unbuckled, and Natalie thought he looked almost half-awake. She stood there a moment, taking in the sight of him, before asking, "Are you leaving?"
Her voice prompted him to look up as he'd gone to take a sip of coffee. After their eyes met for a moment, he sipped at it and put it down. "I'm being ordered to the Inner Sphere to participate in the official victory celebrations. I'll tour the allied capitols and lead some of 3rd Army's troops in their official parade in Avalon City. Probably give some speeches as well."

"You don't seem very happy about it," Natalie said plainly.
Dale looked up at her for a moment, a slightly amused smirk on his face. "Was that a contraction?"
"Aff, it was," she replied, returning the grin. "Your vulgar speaking habits have begun to worm their way into my speaking. Very soon I shall speak contractions at all times. But for now, I hope to keep my speech clean. In the meantime, you seem displeased for a man returning to the Inner Sphere a victorious conquerer."

A sour look came to Dale's face. The disapproval and irritation was evident, and Natalie found it awkward remembering that such a youthful face belonged to a man the same age as Cyrilla Ward had been. "I'm not a conquerer," he mumbled in irritation. "And this was no conquest."
"To my people, you are a destroyer," Natalie said quietly. "To the people in the Inner Sphere, you are their savior, their great hero."
"I did what I was ordered to do, nothing more," he replied.
"If you had the slightest interest in receiving glory for your victories, your sense of duty would have made you a fine Clansman," she remarked. She walked up to the table and took another chair to sit in, having finally grown accustomed to such. "Why do you look so depressed? You know this day would come, and you did not seem quite so opposed before."
After several moments of silence, Dale sighed. He put the paper down, looked at her intently, and answered, "People I know in the negotiations say they're about to hold a final few sessions to finalize the details on the treaty. Vernon and some of the allies he's picked up in the discussions are going to push for some terms that I find frankly contemptible, and I can't help but feel that the timing is intentional. If I'm here, I can be asked to comment and weigh in. If I'm not, Vernon and his ilk can push through whatever they desire without any fear of me finding out until it's too late to go to the press."

"What are you afraid they'll do?"
"Punish your people further. Chop up all your factories and lands and hand them over to Inner Sphere nobles and wealthy megacorps, turn the other castes into a source of cheap, easily exploitable labor," Dale remarked sullenly. "I'm sure quite a lot of corps are already pulling strings in Washington for getting first dibs on mining rights, farmland, those kinds of things."

"And my caste?"
"Anything from being restricted to certain worlds to outright permanent confinement in isolated colonies and communities," Dale muttered in reply. "God damned concentration camps, but some people still think you're too inhuman to be treated any other way."
"Do they realize what will happen if this was done to our people?" Natalie asked. She felt a swelling anger in her heart at the idea; to be penned in like an animal, such a thing could only be met with resistance and death. In her mind she had already considered such a possibility...
"The fact that you and your friends and anyone like you would fight back in any way you can?" Dale asked. "They've convinced themselves anything but meek acceptance of any terms we give is a sign that the warrior caste is not broken."

"And what will you do if this happens? What can you do?" Natalie asked with some fury in her voice, the concept rattling her severely.
"Whatever I can. Protest in the media, to my admirers and contacts in Washington. Anything. I'm just hoping it won't come to that." Dale looked at Natalie and to her clenched fists. "Go ahead and unclench your fists. It's just as likely they'll still be hung up on technicalities when I get back, or that nothing will happen."

At first there was no reaction. Finally, Natalie did give a reply. "I am your advisor now, am I not? A part of your staff?"
"Why have you not asked me to come with you?"
"Because if I bring you, I'm turning you into some amusement, a pet or a trophy I've brought home for everyone to lay eyes on," Dale replied. "Even if I don't intend that, others will take it that way. And I won't insult you like that."
"Thank you, then," she answered. "When do you leave?"
"In a few hours, why?"
"Because..." Collecting her cool, Natalie continued, "I wanted to know if you would like lunch with me. Horace believes he has found a good recipe for pork that you would enjoy."
It might have been the way she said it, or simply the look on her face, but she actually drew a grin from Dale. "Sure, I'll come by for lunch before I leave. Thanks for the offer."
Natalie nodded stiffly and asked, "May I go now?"
"Sure, sure," was the reply as Dale turned to a mirror and began buttoning upn his uniform shirt. "I'll see you at lunch."

Katyusha City Suites, Strana Mechty
Alliance Occupation Zone, Kerensky Territories
4 October 2151 AST
18 February 3051 IST

The suited and uniformed men sat in one of the executive conference rooms in the City Suites complex, noteputers and PDAs strewn about with all sorts of notes while their aides stood at the ready to help them organize their things.
The treaty teams were divided by nation. The Commonwealth team was led by Olivia Fenlon, Duchess of Chesterton, the able Davion negotiator who had years before negotiated the treaty that brought the Federated Commonwealth; she was aided by Hanse Davion's old miltiary friend and advisor Arden Sortek. The Saint Ives Compact had Mandarin Wu of Milos in charge, an official in the Compact's growing foreign office, and Rasalhague was represented by two men, Tor Miraborg, the Iron Jarl, and Rupold Swisgard, the Elected Prince's foreign advisor. The Alliance team had been taken over recently by the Foreign Ministry's Vice-Minister of MWB-32 Affairs, Leopold Swelbach, though Sir Kevin remained the senior delegate in truth as a respected Council Representative.

Maxwell-Fyfe had today finally revealed to all the extent of Dale's recommendations and ideas, and voiced his support for these measures. Everyone had gone over them, but Jerald Vernon had made clear his opposition, and while General Collins sat to the side quiet, not willing to give direct input on the discussion, Vernon let everyone finish before giving his intense, vitriolic refutation.
"I concede that Robert Dale is a brilliant naval theorist, a great commander and probably a smart man, but this is preposterous! He has absolutely no standing to recommend anything to these negotiations, and his attempt to interfere is offensive and insulting! It is an attempt to undermine the Alliance government and the governments recognized here for personal and political reasons."
"Let me make myself clear: you can't trust Robert Dale to manage these worlds, or anyone who thinks like he does. He is effectively the biggest sympathizer for the aggressive, fascist governments we just rid the Multiverse of, your universe, and he would have allowed the Clans to go right on if it'd been left up to him. Military men like him, they don't understand civilian politics, so they naturally sympathize with military societies like the Clans or the Draconis Combine. Again, I'm not saying he's a traitor or anything...."

"Heavens, I would hope not," Maxwell-Fyfe muttered at the bottom of his breath.
"General Collins is a committed patriot," Vernon continued. "He understands and respects the rights and desires of your governments. He is not some idealist who wants to play with the future of these worlds to test his personal theories on developing democracy, but a man willing to let the free market work as it should to integrate the former Clan territories into the Inner Sphere and Multiversal economy. He is a man who respects civilian oversight of the military rather than threatening to undermine the government with his popularity if it doesn't do as he asks. And as a man committed to these things, he is committed to proper civilization and society, and will make sure the warrior caste is safely excluded from any position where they could undermine our intended reforms here. He is the man for this job, and the Alliance Council will nominate him for the post of Military Governor. It stands to reason that this treaty should be written along the lines of his plan."
And at this point, Maxwell-Fyfe finally stepped in. "Curious, Mister Vernon, that you can state that for a certainty when you do not sit on the Council."
"Representative Weisbaum has given his full support to General Collins," Vernon said loudly. "His influence, I'm sure, will be enough, despite your partisan attempt to undermine him by introducing the Admiral's ridiculous ideas to the negotiations."

"Oh please, stop deluding yourself," Maxwell-Fyfe snapped in retort; Vernon's ridiculousness and stupidity had finally gotten the better of the Englishman's patience, and had left Vernon exposed to sharp attack to boot. "Representative Weisbaum has already been caught tricking the Alliance Council into pursuing the war with the Clans on far harsher terms than the circumstances warranted. He will be lucky to escape impeachment the way things seem to be going, and quite frankly, the only reason you are here is because the government didn't want to completely embarrass him on just how much influence he's lost. Frankly it's my view and experience he's never had as much influence as he and you undoubtedly think, he's just very good at disguising slander with moral outrage and scaremongering, and he has managed to pull the wool over enough eyes. I can tell you, right now, that the Alliance Council would sooner nominate a chimpanzee to be Military Governor as it would this incompetent desk general you've trotted before us."

The look on Collins' face was one of consternation and anger, and Vernon came off as deeply offended. "Representative Maxwell-Fyfe, Sir, you go too..."
"I have not yet begun, Mister Vernon, and if you do not want to make yourself or your master look any more the fool, you will shut your mouth," Maxwell-Fyfe barked, and Vernon's angry glare was nevertheless followed by acqueisance. "While I was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in my home universe, I had occasion to work directly with Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Her Majesty was, as always, deeply interested in the issues and policies facing the British Government, but our talks also drifted to less formal venues outside of the sphere of duty. She spoke highly of her career in the Royal Navy, and remembered her last duty as an Admiral, when she was called upon to oversee the occupation of the Agresskan survivors' worlds. And I recall her clear praise for Admiral Robert Dale, then her subordinate. He was eventually called upon to succeed her in that posting while it remained under military authority, and she never lost a moment to assure me of how eminently qualified he was for it, to inform me of his intelligence, of his wisdom, and of his character."
"And just as he was qualified for that post, he is qualified for this one. Admiral Dale has spent months operating in this area of space and dealing with the inhabitants here. He has recognized, more than anyone, the nature and character of the people who inhabit these worlds, and it stands to reason that a man as thoughtful and intelligent as he knows the best way to reform them into prospering citizens of a modern nation. History will remember the choice we make here, and whether we decide to be greedy or gracious. And I know this; when I return to Washington in two days I intend to go to the Council and move that this treaty be accepted or rejected on the grounds of how closely it fits Admiral Dale's views, and on how much power it grants the Military Governor and his eventual civilian successors to follow this views through, and then I will ask the Council to vote on a resolution affirming Robert Dale as our preferred choice to the position of Military Governor, and ask President Verdes to nominate him."
"The decision is come, ladies and gentlemen. You have heard my position. Now I relinquish the table to hear your's." And with that, Maxwell-Fyfe sat down.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-10-23 04:04am

Avalon City, New Avalon
Federated Commonwealth
14 October 2151 AST
26 February 3051 IST

The crowds that had gathered in Avalon City were massive, coming from across the planet and, in some cases, from other planets, just to get a look at the army that had crushed the Clans. Flags were flying everywhere - the FedSuns flag, the FedCom fist-and-sunburst, the Alliance flag - and people squeezed into every space they could find.
The art of the military victory parade had not always been kept up in the Multiverse, and especially not in Dale's home universe, but it was intact enough that, combined with the clear propensity for it by the Inner Sphere, it had been relatively easy to plan and arrange. As it was, the victory parade here was only the (thankfully) final stop in Dale's journey, as he had already been showered more than enough by accolades on Rasalhague and Tharkad (which had been a bit too frigid for his Kansas origins).

But this was worse. It wasn't just formal dinners and stuffy award ceremonies. This was an ostentatious display of military strength and was clearly meant to exult in the "conquest" of the Clans, and which was being acceded to by the Verdes Administration as a means of cementing ties with the Inner Sphere states... and possibly as a further incentive toward behavior for the regimes of Romano Liao and Takashi Kurita.
In a move certain to irritate some of his peers, Dale had been insistantly asked by the Commonwealth to be in the lead of the parade; he eventually compelled the compromise of coming behind the lead regiment in the parade and sharing a car with his Army opposite (and technical subordinate), General Sergei Molotov. It still didn't sit well with him for various reasons.

Or because I simply haven't been able to keep up with those treaty talks he thought while joining the exuberant General Molotov in waving to the cheering crowds as they came past the Davion Peace Park. If he had initially been undesiring of the position of Military Governor, the time that had passed since and the rumbles he'd gotten from Washington and the Press, as well as the negotiators, had made Dale more willing to pick up that burden if it meant making sure that the right thing was done in the former Clan territories. Simultaneously, the fact that Weisbaum had been permitted to send his aide to stump his point of view in the talks, and Dale's knowledge of the bloodymindedness of some of the Commonwealth and Rasalhague leaders, made him unwary that the peace would hardly be a just one.

The parade itself winded on as he was thinking. Ahead of them, at the lead of the parade, the Royal New Caledonian marched with bagpipes gleefully blaring "Flower of Scotland". The honor guard flew the flag of the Alliance as well as the regimental colors; the flag of the United Kingdom and the Saltire - the white St. Andrews Cross on blue - the national flag of Scotland. Behind the regimental colors marched several members of the regiment, each holding a captured banner from the sixteen that were in the Clan Grand Council Chamber. Behind them, of course, was the rest of the regiment in dress uniform, ceremonial rifles held at parade position.
Dale and Molotov were riding in a open jeep on which the flag of the Alliance fluttered, while behind them a vehicle bore General Killick and other FedCom officers associated with the victory, including Prinve Victor. Behind them Victor's battalion of the 10th Lyran Guards was recognized for its part in the capture of Katyusha City, and the 1st Federated Suns Armored Cavalry had a battalion participating as well as the unit that captured the administrative complexes of the Jade Falcon Clan on their capitol of Ironhold.

Then came the spoils of war from that battle; Jade Falcon OmniMechs and Omnifighters arrayed on anti-grav cargo trucks that had to be specially ordered for this purpose. The war machines once feared across the Inner Sphere were now presented as harmless trophies for the pleasure of the crowd.
Behind them were other Alliance units. In what was certainly a feat of planning and - to Dale at least - a extravagant and unnecessary expense, every division that participated in the capture of Katyusha City and the capitols of the Invading Clans was coming through, beginning with the Marine Corps' 2nd Armored Division. The marching band sent for the parade led them along with "From The Halls of Montezuma", while behind them a US Army-drawn division played "Stars and Stripes Forever" and "The Cassions Go Rolling Along".

A Chinese division marching to the Eastern tunes of the "March of the Unified Chinese People" - composed in the 21st Century of Universe SE-1 to celebrate the reconciliation between Taiwan and the mainland under the reformed Republic of China - received stares and bewilderment, reminding the populace of their distinctly Asian foes (given that their primary enemies through the centuries had been the clearly-Oriental Houses Kurita and Liao and their despotic states). A few boos from the racially-minded came here and there, but also some awe and silence. As it was, some of the ministers of Hanse Davion's government had expressed a desire to keep the division out of the parade, and attempted to play the semantic card that their role in the capture of Ironhold was "needlessly replicating and belittling the accomplishments of our troops", but Hanse had wisely forbidden such a consideration, forseeing that the demonstration of the multi-national, inclusive nature of the extremely-powerful Alliance of Democratic Nations could only further awe his populace (and thus make them amenable to his designs regarding the Alliance in the future).

Then came another division, a French division of the French Sixth Republic in AR-12 with the Marche d'Austerlitz playing loudly, the French tricolor fluttering proudly beside the Alliance standard as well as those mounted on the vehicles in the parade.

Each division carried with it the spoils of war. Captured Clan weapons dominated, as well as the banners and flags of various Galaxies and Clusters from their foes, all proof of the conquest being glorified today and, indirectly, testament to the indomitable power of the Alliance.

In the rear came an interesting sight. One last division, proudly carrying the banner of the revived Tanite Republic. The liberated Tanites, freed from the Cloud Cobras' conquest of decades prior by the armed might of the Alliance, marched as allies just as they had participated in the conquest of Strana Mechty, carrying their own weapons and drawing the attention of the crowds. With the Tanites came a vehicle on which stood a young couple, a smiling husband and wife, with a small child of not six months of age in the woman's arms, with the vehicle proclaiming "The First Child of Liberty!" - the first child born on Tathis after the liberation from the Clans. Behind them trailed the young citizens of the various "bandit caste" communities that had gone over to the Alliance, carrying banners and symbols commemerating their liberations from both the Clans and the more violent, atrocity-prone bandit caste communities. Young women blew kisses at the crowd and threw flowers out while one of their number stood adorned in Roman robes of golden and purple silk, a sword in her hand, the living symbol of Victory.

The parade was gaudy, ostentatious, ridiculously large and completely shameless. It irked Dale to no end as they continued the trek, and at one point he looked sardonically to his Army peer and said, "General Molotov, I'd be grateful if you were to start whispering 'sic transit gloria' into my ear."
Molotov laughed at that. "Yes, it is overbearing. I feel like I am in a May Day parade in Soviet Moscow!"
And so the parade went on.

Mount Davion

The parade finally ended, the divisions returning to their bivouacs arranged in the countryside for them for re-embarkation and departure to home and leave, but the ceremonies had not fully ended for the seniors, as the divisional commanders and other senior officers were the hosts of honor at a formal dinner held by Hanse for them. High-ranking officials from the capitol, diplomatic figures and high society, and some press with the right connections were allowed into the function, where an exquisite meal had been prepared and the assembled wined and dined. At the height of the dinner Prince Hanse called a halt to the festivities long enough to commence an official ceremony granting the Golden Sunburst to Admiral Dale, General Molotov, and General Killick, met by the applause of the assembled.

After the festivities Prince Victor was summoned to meet his father and his cousin Morgan Hasek-Davion in his father's office. When he arrived he was presented with a paper, confirming a promotion to Leftenant-General. Victor didn't express his joy at the promotion for a moment, and for good reason, because the next item on the paper was his assignment.
"You're giving me a desk job?!" he said in a demanding tone to Hanse and Morgan. "You're taking me out of my unit for this work?!"
"Your father and I agree that the staff work would be good for you experience wise," Morgan replied. "The post of AFFC Liaison to the Office of the Military Governor is a good place for you to learn the skills you're going to need one day, Victor."
Looking crestfallen, Victor looked to Hanse. "Father, don't do this to me. Let me have a combat command, just for a while longer, and then I'll take a staff position. But...."
"Victor, your seem to be mistaken if you think there'll be such a thing as a combat command," Hanse replied dismissively. "I know that Trellwan burned a lot of your eagerness out of you, and that you're mostly concerned with doing good for your unit, but you're mistaken if you think you'll be there for them as they face the usual raids and forays across the border. Those days are gone, Victor. There'll be no more battalion and RCT-sized attacks on our neighbors, no more border skirmishes. The world has changed and we must change with it, lest we find ourselves left in the dust."

"But why this job? Why now?"
"Because you will be dealing with these people far longer than I will," was Hanse's candid answer. "And I want you living among them, working with them, getting to understand them. It is important to our very survival that we maintain a close relationship with the Alliance."
A protest started to come from Victor, but he ceased it before the first word came from his mouth. Accepting his father's argument, he simply said, "Then I suppose I have no choice. Permission to be dismissed?"
"I want to ask you something first, Victor." Hanse leaned a little in his chair. "I heard you were on board the Alliance flagship when the final surrender offer was given to the Clans and rejected. What do you think of Admiral Dale?"
"Why do you ask?" Victor was taken aback by the question, not understanding his father's curiosity in the rather self-righteous, somber naval officer.
"Because, going by the message I've received by Ambassador Gaston, he is President Verdes' choice for the Military Governor," Hanse answered. "President Verdes is kind enough, and diplomatic enough, that she's actually seeking my acceptance and not simply using her position to impose it upon me. I've already talked with Morgan on the prospect, but I want your views as well, especially if I'm seeking you to work with him."

Victor, for a moment, remained silent as he tried to think of the best way to respond. "He cares for his subordinates and is informal with them without undermining his authority. The Admiral is an intelligent and educated man, a capable leader, and wins respect easily."
Hanse knew his son well enough to murmur, "But...?"
"He can also be insufferably self-righteous," Victor added. "He is cold to anyone who doesn't agree with his sympathy for the Clans and doesn't seem to care the slightest for what they've done to us or to their own people."
Hanse nodded slowly. "Examples?"

Swallowing, Victor continued. "While I was on Huntress, we were approached one day by a woman of about thirty-eight. She begged us to save her husband, and I called for an army surgeon to come examine him. He had a systemic infection in his body so severe that they had to amputate a leg to save his life, all because the Clan denied him simple antibiotics."
"Shortages happen in war, Victor," Morgan pointed out.
"This was no shortage," Victor replied. "We found their stocks. They were going to let the man die because they didn't think him valuable enough to save. And going by Admiral Dale, I'm supposed to feel bad for the warriors because we destroyed them but not the people they were allowing to die just to save a few pills of penicillin."

Hanse nodded slowly at that. "So you think I should reject him?"
"I... would prefer it if the Alliance found someone else," Victor answered, carefully. "I don't think he can be trusted to do the job. He'll let his sentiments get in the way."
"Well then, that justifies my decision to send you, because it's too late for me to say no. I've already informed Ambassador Gaston of my consent to the Admiral taking the post."
Victor took that news silently. "So this whole conversation was for nothing?"
"No, I wanted to know how you felt about him. Respect but disagreement. That's perfectly fine, Victor, and I'm glad you're not as taken with him as some of our people are. If you had been, I'd probably not give you the position." Hanse stood from his seat and moved around his desk. "I want you to learn from him. The Inner Sphere is changing, Victor, and Admiral Dale is partially responsible for that. Use your position to approach him. Talk with him, learn how he thinks, why. Ask him about his accomplishments and learn from them. Because one day, Victor, you will take the throne, and by that time we will no longer live in an Inner Sphere that will be run by the MechWarriors, but by the men who understand navies and trade and interstellar economics. Men like Robert Dale."

Victor nodded slowly at that. It made him think of being on the Enterprise again. The feeling of wonderment, that sudden realization that everything had changed, when confronted by that high technology. Because of that experience he knew his father was completely right, and the age of the BattleMech, of noble MechWarriors fighting for their liege lords and Great Houses, was coming to a close. Within a decade, the power of a Great House would not be judged by the number of BattleMechs under their flag but by the number of space warships. "Okay, Father. I'll do what I can."
"Good." Hanse chuckled to himself and gestured to the door. "And now to bed, I have enough work to do tomorrow as it is and we could all use the rest."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-10-28 05:16pm

Katyusha City Suites, Strana Mechty
Alliance Occupation Zone, Kerensky Territories
24 October 2151 AST
8 March 3051 IST

The ballroom of the hotel, once used by the elite of the Free Guilds to entertain their opposites in various Clans as well as Clan Khans and respected Clan Council members, had rather easily transitioned into entertaining the officers of the occupation forces and the negotiators sent to decide the future of the former Clans. The ballroom had filled again this night with banners hanging from the ceiling celebrating the official ratification of the Katyusha Treaty by the Alliance Council the day before. A band serenaded the occupants of the room with a soft composition of Sukinsky - a popular composer from the timeframe of the rise of the Terran Hegemony that had been added to James McKenna's Peer LIst, just to turn it down contemptuously - that was kept low enough to allow personal conversations to go on.
Dale stood near the front of the room, not far from the band, wearing dress whites and sipping at a Davion-make champagne - the Commonwealth team had insisted on making the arrangements for the celebration - while indulging in idle chatter with Sir Kevin Maxwell-Fyfe and Ran Felsner, who was to be Dale's subordinate as the Commanding Officer of the AFFC Occupation Forces. At an opportune moment he excused himself and slipped away, seeking a moment's peace.

The gruff female tone made Dale turn toward the side of the hall. He found Natalie at the entrance to the room, having just entered. To his surprise, she had finally shed the jumpsuits she'd been wearing defiantly for the past month, wearing a remarkably flattering silken silver dress with thin neck straps, baring her back completely and, at the front, split open widely to show cleavage and virtually all the skin between the cleavage and neckline. She had a lipstick on, a bright red, and other cosmetics that Dale had a hard time imagining her wearing.
The reason why was standing beside her, helping Natalie along, as she was clearly somewhat bewildered by the experience. Wearing a dress just as attractive, and flattering a female figure that could be easily considered more attractive than Natalie's, was Dale's assistant, the brunette Lt. Anne Windsor. Lieutenant Princess Anne Windsor, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria III of Britain SE-1, who's father Edward - now the Prince of Wales - had been Dale's chief of staff in the Agresskan War about fifteen years prior. Walking up with an amused grin on his face, Dale remarked, "Out of uniform tonight, Lieutenant?"

"You said it was our choice, Sir," was Anne's amused reply. "Natalie came by the office, said she was curious, so I got her a dress and showed her how to be ready."
"So you did." Dale looked to Natalie. "She didn't give you the high heels, did she?"
"Admiral, Sir, what do you take me for?!", Anne said in mock horror. "I would never inflict those on the untrained." And, indeed, a glance downward showed that while Anne was clearly in high-heels, Natalie's footwear was flat and comfortable. "Have you never talked to Susan, you know how she refuses to even touch heels..."

Chuckling, Dale nodded. "You're right about that." He looked to Natalie and grinned a little at her. "I'm sure the experience is a bit jarring. Don't worry, I'm not very comfortable here either."
"I believed it better to confront this directly," she admitted. "Being your advisor on culture, I was certain you would ask me to attend social events such as these and I thought it best to make a good impression. Lieutenant Anne was very supportive, as you would expect."
"Oh, I'm sure." Dale saw Anne walk off toward Sir Kevin and the collection of FedCom officers beyond. "Well, allow me to take you to a table, get you something to eat."

They found an empty one off to the side, and a server recovered the dishes they wanted. "You look good," Dale finally said, looking at Natalie's face as she took in the scene. This was something new for her, he was certain.
"What is that music?" Natalie asked as the band began playing a new team.
"Holst, I think." Dale allowed another chord to play before nodding. "Holst's 'The Planets', the theme of Venus 'The Bringer of Peace'. Suitable, maybe."

"I thought Venus was a love goddess?" replied Natalie.
"Several ways to interpret that. 'Peace' is a good choice." Dale accepted the plate and wine from the liveried server, as did Natalie. "The food is good, at least, But not to the quality of Horace."
She chuckled at that. "I think he will enjoy that flattery." She took a bite of one of the expensive meat dishes that had been prepared and for a time was simply intent on the taste. "Are rich flavors common in your foods?"
"In some. Fancy dishes like this tend to have a lot of spices and sauces."
"I am... not sure I like it," Natalie admitted before having another bite.
"It can be an acquired taste."
For a couple of minutes there was silence as they ate. Natalie's plate was mostly empty when she spoke again. "Many of the others were pleased to hear you were to be the governor. It was somewhat surprising for us."
Swallowing down some food, Dale said, "I was surprised as well."

"Some hate you, and will always hate you," Natalie added. "To them you are nothing more than a freebirth who has destroyed our people by applying dishonorable and unfair advantages."
"I was expecting that."
"But I do not feel that way, not anymore," Natalie said. Her eyes looked intently at him. "Horace and others have agreed with me that we are honor bound to accept what has happened and to try and live on. That is what our fallen comrades would want, and our ancestors. It is the best way to make sure that our Houses survive the fall of the Clans."

The conversation after that was light, which Dale was thankful for since it permitted him time to think. The Treaty had been signed, and the terms permitted to the occupation government a great deal of latitude. A government that he would be leading for another two years at minimum. He was not unused to living a long time away from home, thankfully; for the past three years he had barely been back home, and before that he had come up through the Navy serving for years on end on starships or in advanced officer courses.
Deep down, however, there was a homesickness. Dale longed to wake up before dawn and watch the sun rise over a rolling field of grain, to sit at the family table and enjoy his cousin's coffee and a simple breakfast, the local newspaper in his hand, before going off to oversee the day-to-day affairs of the family farm and the associated farms around it. It was the life he'd mostly known as a child, the life he'd grown up with. Looking back in his life, Dale couldn't help but feel that he'd done too much "soldiering" and not enough "farming"; those being the two "family occupations" that his grandfather Allen had drilled into him from an early age.

The band's tune began to play a dancing tune of some form. Dale stood from the table and offered a hand to Natalie. She looked at the hand with curiosity. "What is it?" she asked innocently.
"They've started dancing," Dale answered, and with an amused look on his face he added, "I'd rather dance with you than endure all of the requests from the ladies in the room."
"But...." Natalie took his hand very hesitantly and let him stand her up. "I.. I do not know this...."
"Don't worry, because I don't either." And with a chuckle, he led her to the dancing floor.

None were more amused than Anne Windsor at the sight of Dale and Natalie on the dance floor, trying to feel their way through a formal dance. She stood to the side, a pair of noble officers from the AFFC hovering near her debating on who had the sufficient rank to ask for her to dance, neither realizing they were within earshot of her. One was a Kommandant, the other a Hauptmann.... but the Hauptmann was from a Ducal family while the Kommandant's ranking relative was just a Landgrave.
The entire matter was settled for the quarreling officers when an individual stepped past them and up to Anne, considerably shorter than either the Hauptmann or the Kommandant, but higher-ranked than either in both a military and social sense. Having been alone most of the night, Victor had taken notice of the young woman in the lovely dress standing alone as well and had been informed afterward that she was, in fact, a British princess, the granddaughter of Victoria III. Interested and curious, he walked up to her completely and bowed gracefully. "Your Highness, might I have the pleasure of this dance?"
The newcomer's German accent intrigued Anne. After a moment she recognized him, by his stature more than the hair color or eye color. "Why, Your Highness, I would be delighted," she replied with a grin, offering her hand for him to lead her to the floor. "I was rather uncomfortable with having to decide between those two."
"Then it pleases me to relieve you of that," was Victor's reply.
As it was, both men stared a bit sullenly as Victor led Anne out to the dance floor, and certainly the appearance of the two ranking royals in the room drew the attention of a great number of eyes, such that a lot of people completely failed to notice Dale and Natalie.

The evening had grown late and the banquet long ended when Dale returned to his temporary suite in the building. Natalie came in behind him, having no where else to go for the moment. The wine had left her feeling a little light in the head, but she was at least not completely drunk.
Dale only shed the uniform jacket he had on before going to the suite's balcony. The air was crisp but not entirely cold, a pleasurable temperature at least. Watching him look out the balcony she walked up behind him to view the skyline of Katyusha City. "They're my responsibility now," Dale saiid suddenly. He felt a dread in his heart, a swirling of doubts and fears about the work set before him. "We should never have done this, Natalie."
She looked at him. Her eyes were subdued in the dim light, but as he looked at them they seemed like a pair of blue stars. She put her hand on his, knowing exactly what he meant by that. "You have destroyed my very way of life," she said. "You did so because you were forced to by your superiors, and now they have ordered you to look after the mess they have made."

"We were so convinced we were right. We let talking heads, 'experts' who knew your people only as lines of text in analysis reports, convince us that you were like some rabid animals who had to be put down before you had the means to harm others." Dale looked distantly at the horizon. "I was almost done when the Council made that idiotic resolution. I was going to let your people sue for peace honorably. The only thing you would have lost were your Inner Sphere conquests - which we had already stripped you of anyway - and some of the civilized bandit caste communities and the Tanites. Cyrilla Ward would still be alive."
Natalie blinked back tears. This confession had not taken her completely by surprise, but it was reassuring. Her heart often railed against the injustice she believed to have been done by her people. A foreign power had, without giving them a single chance, condemned them to death.
"I... I've never done something like this," Dale confessed. "I've led sailors into combat, yes. I've commanded in war and in peace. But not an entire society. I'm... I'm not sure I'm good enough."
Bringing her hand up, Natalie used it to turn his head to look at her. "I do not doubt you," she said. "You are the kind of man we need today. A man with ideas and dreams, with vision, which is what the Clans need."

For a moment they simply looked at each other. "What have I done to earn your faith?" Dale asked Natalie.
After a pause where she seemed to seek an answer, Natalie finally answered, "I... I do not know. I only know that I trust you."
And then, rather unexpectantly, she raised her head up and pushed her lips to his.

The sensation on his lips was like a jolt, bringing his senses alive through the thin haze of the night's wine. His hand moved up to her cheek, gripping it as he returned the kiss almost out of instinct. The taste of Natalie's lips and tongue was fresh and invigorating, and the growing sensation of her body pressed against his brought to life desires and passions that had been bottled up for so long. It had been a long time, too long perhaps, since he had experienced this sensation.
He pulled away suddenly. His mind began to reject this with a stern fact: She's younger than Susannah! But Natalie had her own ideas, and simply followed his head, keeping lip contact long enough that the mental protest was simply swept away in the tide of passion and desire.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Alan Bolte » 2007-10-28 11:46pm

Heh, I was wondering how much wine they'd had.
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Post by Steve » 2007-10-30 08:17pm

Epilogue 1

Katyusha City, Strana Mechty
Alliance Occupation Zone, Kerensky Territories
27 January 2154 AST
11 June 3053 IST

The formal dinner was the biggest held in Katyusha in years, again using the Katyusha Suites, who's ownership board had decided to keep the old Clan-era name. Ranking occupation officials, dignitaries from the involved nations, corporate officials who had invested in the region, all had come to attend.
But the most prestigious individuals to attend were just now arriving after landing at Quan Zemin under high security conditions. Personally led into the ballroom by Admiral Dale, they waited as the maitre d' was obliged to take the place of a protocol minister and proclaim the arrivals and the most prominent of their titles, and so First Prince Hanse Davion and Archon Melissa Steiner were introduced to the attendees.
There was some attention given to this event, and a few of the AFFC officers were obliged by forlorn hopes or simple awe to introduce themselves to their rulers. Dale himself slid off to the side and allowed Hanse and Melissa to get the full attention of the crowd.

It was at the side of the room that he found Natalie, wearing a dress no less pleasant than the one she'd been wearing that fateful night over two years ago. She smiled quaintly at him as he walked up. "I'd hoped to see you one last time before you left," she said softly.
"Is that a contraction I hear?" he remarked with amusement.
"Aff, it is. Horace is befuddled by them constantly," Natalie answered.

For two years, Natalie had stood at his side. She had helped him understand the nuances of Clan culture as she had known them, and with that knowledge he had been able to begin the difficult task of rebuilding and reforming the shattered society he'd been tasked to oversee.
At the same time, she had relieved him of the loneliness he'd felt in the years since the death of Rebecca, helping him in his tasks during the day and making love to him on many a night. And he would be a damned liar if he pretended to have not enjoyed it... or to have not felt genuine affection, even love, for Natalie.

But it was all over now. Tonight's dinner would be his second-to-last public appearance on Strana Mechty. Tomorrow he would attend the formal ceremony to relinquish his post as Military Governor to his civilian replacement, Dr. Aron Gierulewicz, and from there he and his things would depart on the cruiser Austerlitz for Hillsdale Station and a civilian liner home for his long-overdue leave. And he would be going alone.

"Give him time, I'm sure you'll get him to come around," he remarked, chuckling. After that he asked, "Have you decided?"
"On what? 'Marriage'?" Natalie laughed. "No, no we have not. Warriors do not marry. Did not marry. Perhaps we shall in the future."
And then there was the long awkward pause. "What has happened between us, I did not intend..."
"No, it's fine, Natalie. I'm happy for you," Dale responded, cutting her off. "Seriously, I'm sure he'll do good by you and you'll both be happy, married or not."

"It was foolish of me. I did not think of how emotionally attached your people could become over physical relationships."
"Natalie...." Dale took her hand. "I do not regret it. So I don't want you to regret it either. You are the reason I've succeeded here. We should be celebrating you, not me."
"They were your ideas. I simply helped you understand our people enough to fit the two together," Natalie replied. "As I will do for Dr. Gierulewicz."
"I'm sure you'll do fine by him."

The conversation ended there. It was little more than an epilogue to the prior conversations they'd had since November, when after the Alliance Council elections President Mamatmas had confirmed Dr. Gierulewicz as the new Governor of the Kerensky Territories and Dale had informed her he would be leaving. Often Dale wondered if Natalie was as unhurt as she appeared to be. She had rather swiftly come into Horace's arms, which he had fought feelings of jealousy and betrayal over by the sheer fact that Natalie and Horace were still Clanspeople, still thought and acted in that fashion, and among Clan warriors sex was about as open and uncommital as any culture could have it.
But there was a look in her eye as they parted ways, something that told him that maybe it had been more for her. Not just the respect between them, but an actual bond.

Natalie returned to the crowd first, and Dale a few moments later, chatting with Ran Felsner for a few moments before returning to mingle generally with the assembled.
A conversation caught his attention, and he saw Hanse with a familiar bald-headed figure with a dark-haired woman on his arm. Walking up he began to overhear their conversation.
"I suppose serving as John Sheridan's right hand man for so long gives you plenty of stories to tell," Hanse remarked.
"Oh, plenty," replied Michael Garibaldi, President of Garibaldi-Edgars, who then added, "And I'd love to share them, Highness, really, but you see... then I'd have to kill you. You know, security stuff, it can be a hassle."

That remark brought bewildered looks from a handful of people around, and a very acidic glare from the security man - introduced to Dale as Curaitis - standing just behind Hanse, but the First Prince laughed heartily at the remark. "Are you sure you don't want to get back into security, Mister Garibaldi? I could use some more humor at the Intelligence Secretariat."
"No thank you, Highness, I've gotten my fair share," Garibaldi responded with a humorous tone and a grin. "But if you're ever interested in pharmaceuticals, Garibaldi-Edgars is here to serve."
"And make a great deal of kroner, I'm sure," was Hanse's mirthful reply.
"Yes, the stockholders really insist on that."

"Highness, Mister Garibaldi," Dale said aloud, stepping into the conversation. "And Mrs. Garibaldi-Edgars," he added upon seeing Elise. "Nice to see you've both gotten acquainted."
"Admiral, nice going away party, I'm happy I got invited." Garibaldi waved off an offered glass of wine from a server who walked by, as did Elise and Dale, though Hanse took one (Whether he knew or not that Garibaldi was a recovered alcoholic went unsaid).
"You've put a lot of investment into these worlds, I could hardly forget you with the invitations."
"Just what kind of investments would a pharmaceutical company make here?" Hanse asked. "Clan medical technology is behind the established level, I thought?"
"Garibaldi-Edgars is a megacorp, Highness. Pharmaceuticals is our main business, but we have subsidaries in other fields. For instance, Cuddy Biogenics specializes in researching new gene-modification to agricultural foodstuffs, and it now acquires sixty percent of its raw research stock from farmers here in the Kerensky Worlds. And naturally this means that when Cuddy creates a new, hardier form of the native grains on, say, Ironhold, the local farmers will be readily available consumers."
"Garibaldi-Edgars is one of many companies that have chosen to try to develop the Kerensky Worlds as a future base of consumers, not simply for cheap labor," Dale added.
"Cheap labor is never so cheap that it will outdo the profit margin we'll get when people here can buy our products. And since they'll like us already...." Garibaldi smirked and made a "cha-chink!" noise.

"Hopefully you'll be proven right, Mister Garibaldi," Hanse said, and at that point Dale moved away to leave the two men to chat. He did, however, notice Melissa come up to Hanse, Victor in tow, and Hanse leave the conversation with Garibaldi at that moment.

The function continued as normal, Dale responding to talking when asked, but finally the time came and he was asked to walk to the front of the ballroom where a microphone awaited.

The matrie d' got everyone's attention and introduced him, and as the assembled dropped what they were doing and applauded Dale took the offered mic. "Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening. I thank you all for coming here and taking the time to see the progress we've made in the past two years."
"I am proud of what has happened here in the Kerensky Worlds. The occupation authorities, my office, and the Kerensky population have come together in a fashion I'm not sure can be rivaled elsewhere." Dale said that with full awareness of the crisis on Bajor and the constant fear of a collapse of order there as the New Liberty gates bottlenecked the amount of aid coming in.
"The mandate I was given was to prepare the way for the Kerensky Worlds to become a functioning part of the Multiverse. To induct a society that has for two centuries stood isolated from any other human contact and developed in a unique fashion, one that left its people at a disadvantage to the rest of us, is a difficult challenge for even the wisest, which means my chances were especially low." There was, of course, laughter at the humbling self-deprecation. "But we seem to be moving along rather well."
"Now the worlds of the Kerensky Cluster are undergoing terraforming to make them fully habitable. On worlds that already enjoy Earth-like conditions, small towns and fields of grain have grown larger and richer than ever, and are attended to by people who are learning the simple joy of knowing that what they have worked for belongs to them, for all time, and will not revert to the State upon death but go to their families. Where once factories churned out weapons of war while their workers survived on a strict ration, now they produce peaceful goods that improve their lives and the lives of their neighbors."
"I had the pleasure two days ago of reading a final report showing that productivity was growing in the Kerensky Worlds. Jobs are plentiful and goods becoming more so. The work is not done yet, but I have every bit of confidence that it will be, under Dr. Gierulewicz's careful oversight."
"I also have special reasons to feel pride as of late. As we speak, about thirty six-thousand brave men and women from these territories are still at the front in ST-3, ready should the Cardassians violate the armistice. The Strana Mechty Division and the Pentagon Division, joined by our Tanite allies, participated in the New Year's Offensive that, due to its success, brought down the Cardassian junta and permitted a civilian government to come to power and sign an armistice, ending the war. This shows that not only have the Kerensky Worlds' people begun to join the Multiverse economically, but entirely, offering up their youngest and brightest in service to save a people a universe away from tyranny."
"I fully expect that when the term described in the first treaty comes to an end, these people will be ready for self-government as a free and prosperous nation in the Multiverse. And I pray that prosperity will always bless them. Dr. Gierulewicz," Dale looked to the half-bald Polish man sitting at one of the tables with his wife and youngest son, "I wish you good luck, sir."

With that Dale was about to put down the microphone when someone from the crowd approached him with a small piece of paper. He took it and read it quickly, after which he brought the microphone back up. "Well, it seems I'm being asked to play announcer tonight as well." Chuckling, he looked back to the paper. "Something I'm being blamed for, apparently. I think it's an unfair accusation, but I'll plead no contest to the charges." Unable to help himself from smiling, he added, "Apparently, the decision has been made, and His Highness Prince Victor Ian Steiner-Davion will be getting married to Her Royal Highness Princess Anne Margaret Windsor. My congratulations to the happy couple."
He brought the microphone down and began applauding just seconds after the rest of the crowd did, all eyes on the engaged couple as they held hands and smiled at the crowd, Hanse and Melissa standing nearby and watching. And with the show so neatly stolen by the royals, Dale put the microphone back out and returned to melt in with the crowd.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-11-06 05:14pm

Epilogue 2

Katyusha City, Strana Mechty
Kerensky Worlds Republic
16 March 2265 AST
31 July 3164 IST

The fireworks and bright holographic images flashing in the sky delighted crowds across the city, and indeed across the Kerensky Cluster and the Pentagon. A parade procession by the finest regiments of the Army of the Republic, each named after a fallen Clan, progressed down the avenue of the Svoboda Zemylya to Republic Park, once known as the Hall of Khans. The celebration was held across the borders of the Kerensky Republic, their first centennial to celebrate the signing of the Second Treaty of Katyusha and the formal ratification of their Constitution.
At the former meeting place of the Khans the Republic had installed a memorial and museum to their predecessors and to others who had formed the way of life they had taken to in the past century. The banners of the original twenty Clans fluttered above the building, all raised at a lower point to the Republic's flag, a horizontal tricolor of blue, red and orange with a Cameron Star in the pole corner reminiscent of the Union Flag's position on the national flags of Australian and New Zealand.
The military leader of the procession, General Morgan Patrick Kell-Kerensky, led the vehicle guiding the President of the Republic, Allen Ward, on his way to the podium where he'd be giving the centennial speech. The short-cut hair on the general's head was almost pure white, not a sign of age - anti-aging meant he was as spry as a twenty-five year old, naturally - but simply showing he had his mother's hair as the President knew it. As the vehicle came to a stop, Allen gently kissed his mother on her forehead as he stepped out and went to the platform.

A few moments later, Natalie joined her son. She walked to the rear of the platform, behind which the tower structure of the Hall of Khans was visible, and sat and watched from behind as her oldest spoke proudly and strongly on the accomplishments of the Republic. Still independent, a handful of attempts to join the Alliance had failed due to the independent streak within the Kerensky population, and their nation had become a breadbasket that fed the many and plentiful colonies sprouting up in the Deep Periphery between them and the Inner Sphere over the past hundred years. The Republic's military was well-trained and maintained, pledged to defend their homeworlds just as their Clan predecessors had years ago, and within all burned the hope that one day yet the Inner Sphere might restore the Star League and extend the invitation toward them; as it was, the Republic was content to stay out of Inner Sphere affairs and only be prepared should they be necessary to help restore the peace.

After the speech was done, Natalie hugged Allen and left him to his advisors and others to take a walk around the park. The memorials had been built in the past century, statues to the giants of their history, and Natalie would admit if asked, the heroes of the Warden cause over the centuries. A statue to Kerlin Ward here, and over there, one of Ulric Kerensky.
Cyrilla didn't get a statue, because she didn't need one. The one memorial Natalie was walking purposely toward was the one that had determined the exact positioning of the park. A marble statue of a wolf on a pedastal, and the inscription carved in stone for all time: Here Lies the Wolf Khan Cyrilla Ward, Last ilKhan of the Clans. She Fell Here in Gallant Defence of the Old Warrior Order of the Clans.

Seeing Cyrilla's grave wakened century-old memories in Natalie. She was here today, and her son the leader of their people, because Cyrilla had sent her to the Svoboda and life. At twenty-one years of age Natalie had hated that, but here, at one hundred and thirty-four years old, she had lived a long and happy life because Cyrilla had made that choice, and in turn had lived up to the expectations the elder Ward had for her when she went off to her final battle and grave.
The grave was now marked by the marble wolf, paid for by the British Government of Universe SE-1 by the request of the British officers in the Allied Nations force that had taken Strana Mechty. Princess Anne, the granddaughter of the late Queen Victoria III, had personally attended the dedication of the site before heading off to her marriage to Victor Steiner-Davion, cut tragically short not long afterward.

"It's a lovely statue," she heard an accented voice call out. The man who came toward her was English, with the sort that Natalie had learned was prominent from planetary colonies of AR-12 founded by Londoner populations. "The First Mother, I presume?"
"And you are?" Natalie asked the thin, wiry man.
"Jack Lillet," he replied, extending a hand. "I'm a historian from the University of New Chatham, currently writing a comprehensive history of the Kerensky Worlds. A pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Ward."
Natalie smiled politely at him. "Mr. Lillet, I hope your studies have gone well."
"They have." Lillet turned away from her and looked up at the wolf statue. "Were you close?"
"One of her sibkin was my grandmother. On my mother's side, of course," Natalie replied. "I was her aide at the end."
"Ah yes, I recall now." Lillet kept looking at the statue. "I wonder what she would have thought if she knew you would have children, one of whom would become her successor as the leader of these worlds?"

"She would have approved," Natalie answered, knowing it to be true. "She had the foresight to see that simply because the Clans were doomed did not mean our houses were. The bloodlines of the Wards, the Fetladrals, the Carsons, needn't die with Clan Wolf."
"Not to mention the Kerensky line," Lillet remarked. He finally turned toward her and to the center of the park, where a pair of statues stood. One of them was the image of Aleksandr Kerensky himself, the man who led their ancestors to the Pentagon worlds and Kerensky Cluster, and who's name was now given to the Republic. "I'm rather interested in the arguments about honoring him. They're to be prominent in my book."
"I have heard them all too fiercely," Natalie answered. "Blaming Aleksandr for what Nicholas did out of necessity is not fair."
"Yet he dragged your ancestors out here, and within a decade the Exodus Civil War was the result," Lillet pointed out. "Some historians back in the Inner Sphere have long debated if Aleksandr could have prevented the Succession Wars."
"More likely he would have gotten wrapped up in the bickering of the House Lords."

"Yes," Lillet remarked. After a pause he looked straight at her and said, "I noticed your son has his father's eyes, among other things."
"You are mistaken, Mr. Lillet," Natalie said, now a bit disturbed by what was being said. "My late husband Horace's eyes were blue as mine are."
Lillet seemed to resist the impulse to smirk. "You misunderstand me, Mrs. Ward. I didn't mean Horace. I meant President Ward's biological father." And with that, he pointed to another statue.

He would never have approved of it during his lifetime, but it wasn't long after his death that the people of the Kerensky Republic had commissioned a statue of Robert Dale. It stood tall in Republic Park near Aleksandr Kerensky's image, two of the three key figures of the worlds' history together representing the birthing of two different ages. He was in military uniform, as most people here remembered him, a hand slightly extended as if to offer it to someone trying to stand, a look of gentle friendliness on the marble features. In the Alliance he had not even been given a full memorial, unlike his two predecessor Presidents, and while generally admired and looked upon well, Dale's Presidency was not as widely celebrated as that of Nicolas Mamatmas' Presidency or the following Presidency of Alexandria Verdes. For every peace treaty with the Taloran Empire there seemed to be a botched handling of the Federation Civil War to counteract the benefits of his Administration.
But here in the Kerensky Worlds, he was more than he had been in the Alliance. More than a brilliant naval theorist and strategist, more than a better-than-average statesman who made annoying mistakes, more than a historical figure of prominence. To the people of these worlds his image loomed larger than life as the man who rebuilt them, the visionary who's ideals had suffused their society, integrated with the culture of the Clans of Kerensky and, with the exception of the Crusader holdouts who later emigrated, crafted the new society they all enjoyed today.

Another governor, being more loyal to the intents of the "de-Clanization" of the Kerensky Worlds, would have removed the genetic repositories. He would have barred The Remembrance from school curriculum and perhaps tried to ban it entirely. He would have done everything possible to strike the Clans from the memory of the people as anything but a nightmare, a bad dream.
But Dale did not. He allowed them to remember the Clans for good and ill. The Remembrance was read in literature classes and analyzed as a partial source of history. The genetic respositories no longer found use to breed new generations of warriors, but they were maintained and opened as memorials to the past, allowing the people of the Kerensky Worlds to remember their heritage. Clan history was taught to high school age children, and across the Kerensky Worlds individual communities and groups viewed the Clans along a gamut of beliefs ranging from dislike and disgust to fond remembrance. The pros and cons of the Clan years were debated openly and fervently. Instead of their past being reduced to a nightmare cutout to frighten them, it was remembered as it was and as it should be; a part of the past, good and bad, and necessary to their identity as a people.
The statue looked rather good, being newer than most of those in the park. And the sharpness of Dale's features was more than sufficient for someone to see, in that face, the face of Natalie's son Allen.

"He has passed on, and yet you still hound him," Natalie said, genuinely upset. "Do you people not give him a moment of peace?"
"Even if neither of you ever fully admitted it, it's a generally-known fact that you were not just Dale's cultural advisor," Lillet remarked. "Susannah Weaver, his first daughter, all but admitted it after his death, and his wife has also said he admitted to it. Now, I'm not a tabloid journalist. I'm not here to hound you on it. But I want to speak the truth with you. Allen Ward is not Horace Ward's son and many people have long suspected that. He is Dale's son. Fitting, actually, that the illegitimate son of Robert Dale would come to lead the Kerensky Worlds. I hear he's become popular enough that they're thinking of rewriting your constitution to remove term limits."
"Allen will never allow them to elect him past that," Natalie said.
"Perhaps. But it shows how popular he is. I guess people see his father in him."

"Why are you doing this?", Natalie asked.
"History, Mrs. Ward. Pure and simple. Now, I'll admit, I was likely not going to give your relationship with the late Admiral more than a footnote or a couple sentences. But I want to know, from you, on what kind of relationship it was."
Natalie was silent for several moments as she thought of what to say. "I will tell you this," she remarked finally. "Robert Dale was a man of principles and intelligence. You see the result of his vision all around you."
"He was also a lonely man with a history of tragedy in his family and who, deep within himself, would have preferred a quiet life on his family's farm. The deaths of his loved ones always weighted heavy on his heart and were a constant source of anguish. He forced himself to overcome this in the name of duty, and I will never forget his devotion to that duty."

A thin smile came to her face. "As for us... he was lonely. And I was young and full of fire. I do not have regrets and I do not believe he did either."
Lillet nodded at that. "Well then..."
There were footsteps nearby. Natalie turned and watched Allen Ward walk up with some of his entourage and security. "Mother, I was wondering where you'd gone off too..." President Ward said to her.
"Contractions, my dear Allen," Natalie said, teasingly, before looking to Lillet. "I was merely taking in the sights and speaking with Mr. Lillet. He is a historian."
"Ah, Mr. Lillet. Pleased to meet you." Allen shook Lillet's hand. "I hope you've enjoyed your time here on Strana Mechty."
"Greatly, Mister President. Greatly." Lillet nodded at the two of them. "Well, I guess I'll let you all be."
"Enjoy yourself, Mister Lillet," Natalie said before turning away gracefully and following her son to the building.

Watching them leave, Lillet looked up at the statue of Dale for several moments. "I wonder, Admiral.... did you know about Allen?" he murmured to himself before taking a device out of his pocket. It was his digital aid, used to take high-quality images, accept dictation and notes.... and with voice activated recording for whenever Lillet spoke ideas aloud. A device that might very well have recorded what was just said.
Here was a final confirmation. Lillet could hold onto it and use it as proof that there had been a sexual relationship between Natalie Ward and Robert Dale, so long suspected and believed. She had admitted it. Certainly confirming this would help the visibility and sales of his book.

And yet, upon considering it, Lillet decided against that. "System, delete last thirty minutes of audio," he said into the device, ensuring forever that the conversation that had just taken place would remain between his memory and Natalie Ward's. Having done this, he looked back at the statue and pondered aloud, "How much of this was you, Admiral, and how much of it was her? How much of the great Dale legacy in the Kerensky Worlds was because Natalie Ward was beside you? Questions... I guess that's what history is made up of. Questions that can not always be answered. Oh well, good day sir, enjoy your place in history." With that final nod, Lillet walked off to resume the work on his book - which would be his own little mark on history - leaving the park empty again.

”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

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