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Battletech [Battletech/Planetary Annihilation SI] Iron Blooded Commander

Chapter 18.1

Seras

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Chapter 18.1 Home on the Range.
3027
New Avalon
NAIS
A different perspective
Hanse Davion

Hanse was surprised at himself. Settled in the commissary of the NAIS for a brief lunch, Melissa sitting across from him in a cozy nook that the staff had set up for him. He found himself quite enjoying the sharp intellect of the girl that he would soon marry.

There wasn’t a single thing he said or spoke of that she didn’t pick up and follow along with, or in some cases to his shock, surpass him.

“I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. You did have the Memory Core longer than I have. Did you really study Endo-Steel construction?”

“Well I did go through quite a few of the SLDF courses instead of the standard Nagelring Courses. There was little point in studying science that was so far behind.”

Hanse chuckled, nodding at that. Most of the NAIS courses had been instantly rewritten which had caused an absolute riot with the staff. But the new knowledge was too valuable not to start teaching it. “I’ve taken a few of the courses myself, but I suppose I will have to defer to your wisdom in the future regarding scientific advances. You have surpassed me.”

“Hardly.” She scoffed. “You run an entire state, and had time to go through the course on Hyperspace generation. I never bothered with that one. A bit too dense for my taste.”

“Oh it was… and hardly useful. I still barely understand it. But to be the first person to touch on knowledge thought so long lost… I had to.”

“I understand.” She spoke after a moment, “I felt that way about some of the medical knowledge… The Cancer treatments. Well, mother and I both felt passionately about it.”

Hanse nodded. Katrina’s once husband had died from the disease. The fact was that for all the medical advances the Inner Sphere still had. Cancer was still something they struggled with.

“Well between the NAIS and wherever you have the cancer research started up, we should be quite prepared for the future.” He offered with a smile that had her smile return.

“I think so too. So much more to relearn. To start spreading through our states again. It feels right that we are regaining so much.”

“Hah, To going backwards, to move forward.” He teased raising his drink which she smiled and tapped her own against it. “Speaking of, have you had a chance to speak with Commander Eisen-Blume?”

Melissa huffed her smile growing amused. “Oh sure. She dragged me out onto the training course in her Nightstar, to see how well we compare now. Annoyingly, she is better than I expected a few years of actual experience with her mech gave her the edge this time.”

“Oh? I didn’t know the two of you had a competition with mech piloting.”

“She is the one that made me interested in piloting. It was a technical issue, apparently my brain is slightly a-typical, it means normal NeuroHelms don’t quite connect right. The SLDF helms could bypass the issue. She gave me one when I was younger. Well, I suppose you could say the two of us running off to hit the mech course when we meet might be a new tradition. But you didn’t want to hear about that. You want to know if I learned anything more about her Naval forces. No. She continues to be tight lipped.”

Hanse smiled the young woman grumbled a little as she played with her drink. “Well thank you for trying.”

“No it was for me too. I’ve been trying to get her to spill as well, but she isn’t interested. The only thing I managed to squeeze out of her was the fact her next Warship is already spoken for. In her own words. ‘I have plans for that one!’ something like that.” Melissa grumbled, Hanse chuckling as Melissa had spoken the Commanders words, in a voice eerily similar to the other blonde.

“I wish we had more information on her… benefactors.” Melissa met his eyes, and he could see she agreed with him. There had been more than a few meetings over the last month about who it was, that had supplied the Commander with a Warship, Melissa was sure she didn’t have the resources purely in manpower from the recruits she already had yet to do something like this. Especially since 99% of the ISDF were currently accounted for on Zaniah.

“I do too. But we can be sure they aren’t any of the other great houses. It doesn’t fit. If they had a Warship, they wouldn’t have given it to Vicky.”

Hanse nodded agreeing. It was one of the reasons he had taken it slow while putting down an agreement with the Commander. If he thought the Warship was actually under the command of Takashi, he would have already ordered the nukes broken out.

But that didn’t fit. So instead he was stuck trying to make sense of an impossible.

How did a woman with no history pull a naval yard out of nothing. One that was capable of creating a Lyran Warship design, one which had already been confirmed to not be one of the original Tharkad runs.

The Stick, as she named it, was newly created, and not one the Commonwealth had built.

That fact alone had caused an uproar in the Commonwealth. Hanse was only getting minor details at this point in time, but he had a few messages from Katrina regarding the shock that had struck the Commonwealth.

Of course the ship's first act had been rescuing Melissa. It probably gained a lot of leeway with that one act.

But that came back to where the ship came from. And the rumors? The rumors had been exploding.

“I still have my five pound on her having a connection to the SLDF.”

“You only say that because of the movie.” Melissa grumbled, but it was all a joke to them at this point. They had made a game of going over the rumors that were spreading about just where the ship came from.

“Perhaps, but it does fit.”

“No I think she just found a Naval yard, and managed to sneak people around to finish building a nearly completed Tharkad. It makes more sense, and doesn’t bring ghosts into it.”

“You don’t think the SLDF are still out there?” He asked curiously, and she shook her head.

“No that’s not what I mean, I think they still exist, but they are probably just as happy to ignore us as we are to not try and find them. At least they certainly haven’t done much to reach out to us over the last three hundred years.”

“What if they have. Or if they are now. Commander Eisen-Blume, certainly seems to pull equipment from no where.”

“No we have information on where a lot of her equipment came from, and Vicky herself was in a Lyran orphanage for a long time. Of course LIC checked in on the orphanage once she came up. The Matron, and every person that worked there, confirmed that Vicky was a normal kid since she first was dropped off at four. So no strange connection to the SLDF there.” Melissa mocked waving her finger at him.

“I have lost. It seems my bride to be, will certainly be able to handle me without issue.” He teased back and that caused the young woman to blush as she actually looked her age for a moment before she regained her composure.

“Good. I would hate to have you believe this isn’t a partnership.” She offered and he couldn’t help but smile at that. She was quite charming.

He wasn’t sure he could ever truly give her his heart, but he felt at least he would enjoy her company.

“We got company.” Morgans voice broke them from their quiet moment as they both blinked looking up. Melissa immediately started giggling as the one looking around the commissary with multiple guards all trying to hold her back and failing was none other than the Commander herself.

Of course the fact she was holding probably her body weight in bags made the entire scene comical rather than concerning.

“Mel! There you are, I’ve been looking everywhere. Oh hey Hanse, Old man. Still looking grumpy!” She teased Morgan, as the guards finally backed off as Hanse signaled them to let the Commander through.

He supposed this was his fault. He had given her a rather hefty access to the NAIS. It wasn’t like 90% of the things they tried to keep secret here, hadn’t come from her memory core to begin with.

“Vicky? What are you doing?” Melissa finally asked as the woman stomped over nearly teetering with how much she was carrying.

“Oh this! Did you know there are orphanages here in Avalon City? When I heard I went and grabbed a bunch of the ISDF Swag! Want to come help pass out toys to orphan kids?” Vicky asked standing tall before the two rulers seemingly unbothered by the massive pile of bags she was carrying, all of which Hanse noticed had the Eisen-Blume stamped atop them.

Melissa Hanse noticed, was waffling a bit, but Hanse was nothing if not a gentleman. Plus his schedule was completely open for at least another few hours. He had made sure he would have plenty of time to get to know Melissa. “I wouldn’t mind coming along with Melissa if you don’t mind the company Commander?”

“Not at all! The kids would love to see their Prince. Grumpy, you want to come too?”

Morgan Kell, Hanse noticed seemed to take the Commanders rudeness in stride. “I’m escorting Melissa, where she goes, I go.” He shrugged and stood.

“Great! So… Can you take some of these? I can carry them, but my arms are getting a little tired.” She begged holding out a massive stack of bags to Morgan who was already reaching out to take them from her, even as his eyes rolled.

“What even is all this?” Melissa asked as she took one of the bags from the Commander and opened them. A moment later she burst out laughing as she started pulling childrens toys out of the bags.

A stuffed Nightstar in the ISDF colors.

A small noteputer with an Eisen-Blume stamped across the back.

A small jacket, that was ISDF colored.

And tons of other bits and bobs that Melissa was laughing as she went through.

“Where did you even get all this?” Melissa asked as she was looking over the Nightstar toy.

“It’s been in the works for a while. We passed this stuff out to the younger kids in the orphanage on Zaniah, and a few other worlds, but it’s not like we talk about it much.” The Commander shrugged shifting the bags still hanging off her.

“Oh is this a button on the Nightstar?” Melissa asked, as she was squeezing the toy.

“No! Don’t pus-”

“I am the Phantom of the SLDF!” The little toy cried out unmistakably the Commanders voice, and to Hanses ear that sounded like a recording coming from a mech cockpit. The woman grew bright red as all the eyes in the room switched to her. Melissa, Hanse noticed, looked like someone had just fed the cat a canary.

“It’s not my fault! Stupid Eldritch abomination! It was supposed to just say normal stuff! Someone is messing with me!”

“Vicky! I love it!”

“I hate it!”

“I think it’s cute! Can I keep one?”

“Ugh!” The Commander responded as she turned and tried to waddle out of the room. “Well you old people coming? We can take my hovercar. It’s a little messy though. I got even more bags filling the thing.”

Melissa looked to Hanse amused as if the Prince of the Federated Suns would just take a normal Hovercar. But Hanse decided if only because this whole situation was so strange he would go along with it. Of course his protection detail would already be going over the car for bombs, and ensuring they had a safe path to the orphanage.

None of their group Hanse included, expected to walk out into the parking lot of the NAIS and find an absolute top of the line Hovercar waiting for them, with little Eisen-Blum flags on it.

“Vicky… If your car is full of more bags, And you were taking them to the orphanage, why did you carry so many into the NAIS with you?”

The blonde stalled for a moment, as she walked up to the drivers door and simply sighed. “Idiot sandwich.” Was all Hanse managed to hear as she then simply ignored the question.

Interesting.

—-

A different perspective
Morgan Kell

Morgan Kell had plenty of experiences in his life. After Mallorys world, he was sure nothing could surprise him anymore.

But forty minutes after the group had stopped at the Avalon City Orphanage. Morgan was surprised.

Melissa was incredibly amused, and Hanse?

The man was practically pouting.

Sure when they first arrived he had been the most interesting thing in the orphanage. Every orphan had been incredibly excited to meet their prince.

Then Vicky had stolen the show. Not through the toys she passed out, she had given plenty to Hanse to hand over as well, but just…

She walked among them, as one of them. And the orphans reacted. She wasn’t some untouchable leader.

She was their leader. And Morgan, who had been a leader of men all his life, both politically and militarily was suddenly drastically aware of just what a charismatic leader could do with enough people. Already Morgan was going to have to make a note of just how many orphans the ISDF had contact with. Because if his napkin math was correct.

The ISDF might just be a lot bigger than anyone realized.

Because there were hundreds of kids at this orphanage alone.

And Morgan would bet money that when they all got old enough, they would all be joining the ISDF.

Every last one of them.

It had started simply enough. The Orphanage matron had been absolutely shocked when Hanse Davion had walked into her orphanage, and had told her, they were here to hand out toys for the kids.

The poor woman had practically fainted, and had been obviously flustered as the Prince had put on his best charming persona.

Them meeting the kids had been loud, shouting and screams of surprise and excitement. Vicky had been completely unaffected. The woman simply striding in amongst the kids as if she wasn’t twice most of their age, or wearing armor.

They hadn’t taken long to simply accept her as being one of them.

Hanse and Melissa both received plenty of attention, although mostly Hanse. Morgan got a few of the older boys asked questions about mechs, but that was all the attention he got as he passed out bags of toys.

But soon attention slipped from Hanse and Melissa, as Vicky started talking. Telling stories, sharing tidbits.

Calling the orphans family. Each of them was called cousin by the blonde, and it was accepted without a ripple of contention.

Once the blonde was settled on an old couch, helping a smaller girl with a braid as she told stories about her assault on Ko.

Well the kids were far more interested in her and the ISDF than Hanse Davion.

The fact many recognized her from that movie she was in. Only made her even more interesting.

Morgan was actually surprised at how absolutely casual she was with the kids. She tweaked noses while talking, poked sides, lifted the smaller kids and acted as if they were the mechs she was talking about getting giggles and laughs.

And did it all with a casualness that made the First Prince of the Federated Suns, someone usually treated with almost mesianic respect by the citizens of the suns left quiet in a corner as she spoke.

Morgan chuckled as she told the story about her Hovercar. That had caused every person in the room to burst into laughter.

Even the First prince laughed at the plight of Draconis Governors when their prized Hovercar got stolen.

“So that’s why I drive a really expensive piece of junk, but hey. It does have heated seats!” The girl ended her story to another barrage of laughter, “Ah before I forget! There is tons of Noteputers in the bags! They don’t all have the same stuff, but they have SLDF courses! It’s the same stuff I put in all of our libraries, just split between a bunch of different notputers for space. So pass them around and use them okay? Education is really important! And if you want to join the ISDF you will have to do them anyways! So if you can prove you did them before you get to the fun stuff like mech training faster okay?”

“YES!” The cries came back at her, and she laughed.

“Oh?” Hanse suddenly spoke up. “Is that what those noteputers are for? I hadn’t considered something like that. It might be rather useful for the Vagabond Schools.” He said while looking over one of the Noteputers from a bag he hadn’t finished handing out.

“Vagabond School?” Vicky asked, but it was the way she spoke that made everyone look to her. The girls face was going through a small array of emotions, but seemed to settle on determination.

—-

A different perspective
Melissa Steiner

Melissa really shouldn’t be surprised. I mean it was as surprising as anything Vicky did, so if the woman always surprised you, shouldn’t you be more prepared to be surprised?

Well Vicky basically Vicky’ed the whole situation.

“What do you mean, you don’t have schools on entire worlds!?” The girl demanded the whole room despite sitting on a couch covered in orphans that had moments before been hanging all over her.

Now they were looking at her in awe, as she quite abruptly was nearly yelling at the top of her lungs. At the First Prince of the Federated Suns.

The man who looked bewildered at this turn of events.

“The worlds in question, have schools. Simply not enough. It has been an active issue that my brother started trying to remedy with the Vagabond School program.” Hanse replied, “The Vagabond school program has been active for almost twenty years now.” He offered, trying to explain the situation.

Vicky though? She had a look on her face that was pure determination. Even Melissa felt like she was flowing in the womans wake.

“I understand. Things have been hard, but that means there are entire worlds of people that need help.” She spoke firmly. A statement of fact. She turned to the kids dismissing Hanse as if he was just another person, and not the most powerful person in the room. “Sorry little Cousins. I have a job to do! But don’t worry, Big Sis Vicky is pretty cool and will help out! Don’t forget to do the lessons on the Noteputers if you ever want to be a cool awesome Mechwarrior, or Pilot, or Engineer, or even an awesome Warship captain!”

As Melissa watched, the kids didn’t want her to leave, but Vicky handled it like she had a million times before now, patting heads, giving hugs, but always moving towards the door. “Hey you all coming?” She called out as she nearly got to the door, casually pulling off a young boy from around her leg and casually handing him to one of the older boys that looked just as about to grab her.

“Yes, I think we have stirred up enough trouble for the Matrons today.” Melissa offered as she had noticed the women looking quite harried, but unwilling to actually do anything with their prince present.

The next few minutes were a blurr but soon the group was once more settled into Vickys car as the blonde instantly began grilling Hanse for more information about the Outback, and the problems there.

Melissa let out a sigh, she had been worried Vicky would go tearing off instantly, but it looks like instead the woman was plotting.

Melissa wasn’t sure which would have been better.

—-

A different perspective
Hannah Hayha
Zaniah III
Red Base


Hanna jerked behind her controls, the Movement was ridiculous, she could hear her gyro screaming, but the movement was something she had been training for all week. A jerking side step that could be done at full speed. A motion designed even for assault mechs to try and dodge incoming fire.

The streak of the PPC buzzing past her mech told her that for the first time she had done it. Jerking back on her controls she had a moment of weightlessness just before the mechs weight fully shifted back. And in that moment.

“Hold your breath, aim what you can, and take the shot. You only have a half second. But if you can, it will be an unexpected shot.” The words from her trainer.

She felt her mech stir and in a fury her ERPPC fired back. Shooting towards that damned Marauder. Her shot was perfect, which is why she was cursing when her shot not only missed. The fucker used the same move she had just used.

The return fire was too much, she couldn’t push her Nightstar into a second dodge and the PPC splattered across her nose. The simulated weapon fire telling her she had lost.

Mech ‘tag’ was basically the name of the game. And she had just lost. Again.

“Fuck!” She cursed as she rested back, she had hoped she would get him with that. But it was still just beyond her.

“C’mon Darling! No need for that. You actually pulled it off this time you know? Another year or so of this, and you may actually count as an elite pilot.” The voice over the comm tried to re-assure her.

At first it had been nothing but mocking, but over the past year of working with him his attitude had changed. Hanna still wasn’t sure exactly why.

“Ugh. Thanks.” She grumbled. “How is the rest of the Gunslingers doing Lawrence?” Hanna asked, the team had been split up amongst the elite mechwwarriors that had taken the lucrative contract from Vicky. Seriously, it was a hefty pay for basically training. Some had been kicked out when they had proven to be incompetent, or simply not willing to actually teach, but that still left a few elites that had happily accepted an easy job.

“Oh everyone is improving well. Mitchell likes the other one Lenden. I think he keeps grabbing him for training just because of how much the kid blows his top.”

“Yeah Lenden is like that.” She chuckled weakly. Lenden had been absolutely furious when Mitchell one of the elite pilots had started ‘picking’ on him. Oh man. It had been hilarious. Funnier was the fact Lenden was actually getting pretty good. He had a strong instinct now that someone was showing him how to really pilot.

Hanna’s Comm buzzed after a moment. “Hanna. I need you inside, we just got a message from Vicky… You aren’t going to believe this.” Benny tells her with a sigh before cutting the comm.

“Sorry Lawrence. Something just came up!” She calls over her comms as she turns her Nightstar towards Redbase.

Benny only sounded that put out about Vicky when she did something stupid… Or crazy. Or stupid crazy… I mean it was Vicky.

By the time Hanna got her Nightstar locked down deep in the depths of the Castle Brian, she could tell something was going on. People were running all over getting ready. And if Hanna didn’t miss her mark, she would bet it meant they would be leaving again soon.

She sighed. She had really hoped to get the time to finish her training first.

Walking into the Command room she knew she was right. She could see the captain of one of the Collosus, finishing a salute to Benny before passing by her his legs hurried back down the hall.

“What did she do this time? Decide to go to war with the Dragoons? Or maybe she figured taking over Terra was on the Docket?” Hanna asked as she walked up to Benny.

“Worse.” He muttered with a tired sigh. “She ‘found’ a working Warship.”

Hanna’s joking smile stuttered.

“That fucking little Goblin!” Hanna hissed “A Warship!?”

“Yep.”

Hanna was quiet letting that simply roll around her mind. “Well fuck.”

“That was what I said.” He grumbled.

“So where are we going?” She asked already thinking about the fights to come. Wondering if a Mech was even needed?

“Nowhere. Vicky is requesting a Library Crew and Colossus, they will carry some mechs and such, but Gunslingers are staying here to complete the training, and I am staying to keep RedBase going.”

Hanna blinked. She wasn’t going? “But what if Vicky gets in a fight!? She will need her Mechwarriors even with a Warship!”

“Oh it’s worse Hanna. She isn’t going to a fight. She heard about the FedSuns Outback… Apparently they have planets that are basically uneducated and illiterate.”

“Oh god. She is going to conquer the Federated Suns.” She muttered in horror.

“That’s what I’m afraid of too.” He mutters. “I’ve already ordered everyone to prepare for an expansion.”

“Oh… That’s a lot of orphans.”

Benny looked haunted. Recruitment had been insane over the last year. After the Invasion of Ko, and the everything else the knowledge of the ISDF was growing to be something everyone at least knew about.

Orphans from all over were coming, or sending messages requesting to join. The libraries were working. Maybe too well. If you couldn’t afford a message. The Libraries were paying for people that wanted to be recruited to get a message to Zaniah. Honestly Benny had spent so much time handling recruitment, that he had created an entire recruitment division.

“Wow. I’m really glad she didn’t leave me in charge.” Hanna muttered with a hint of schadenfreude. Bennys glare had her laugh as she closed in placing a kiss on his nose. “You know I’m your second, I’ll always be here to help out.” She tells him, and that settles him quite a bit. “Sub-Commander Benjamin Rommel is the rock of the ISDF.”

He scoffs, but his spine straightens a bit and he looked more ready to deal with the mess Vicky left behind wherever she went.

“I can’t believe she got a warship and didn’t even bother to warn me. She knew what she was doing when she left.” He grumbled. And Hanna laughed.

“What else do you expect from our Goblin? You do realize we are going to have to deal with so many spys now. Like a million more than we have already.”

He sighs weakly. “I’m going to kill her.”

All Hanna could do is chuckle and pat him on the back

—--


That next week was a rush of activity. HPG messages to Zaniah, Sandy screaming at being told the new plan, settling in the new FedSuns crew on board the Stick. Getting the deal between the FedSuns/Lyran Commonwealth, and the ISDF for Warship actions taken care of.

Anyway, we were readying fast and furious. I had told Sandy I wanted to be gone in a week, to meet up with the Library group on board WhiteBase.

Apparently Hanse had realized I was serious about leaving so soon and hadn’t tried to slow me down, although I could tell he wanted me to not rush off. Probably full of questions he wanted answered.

But then if he didn’t want me rushing off he never should have allowed part of his state to have illiterate planets! I had to take a deep breath and keep myself from exploding every time I thought about it. These worlds were his responsibility. People were barely able to survive, out there, and he ignored them.

Even if my mind understood he was limited on what he could do for every planet, my heart didn’t care.

Still. There was no reason not to be civil. The Vagabond school was putting a bandaid on a gaping wound, and about as effective, but it was an attempt. It was fine. I would take care of the rest.

It was close to the final day and Hanse had invited me to a dinner, along with Melissa and Morgan, Ardan joined as well.

I had been given an amused look by Melissa when I once again showed up in my armor, instead of any fancy dinner attire, like the rest of them were wearing, but I shrugged at her idly tapping at the Eisen-Blume on my chest, to remind her, that I wasn’t some weird noble.

I was a weird non-noble!

Sitting at a fancy table eating dinner with some powerful people wasn’t new to me. I had done something similar on Tharkad. Yet still weird. Although at least this time they didn’t give me tea! The new drink was some weird sparkly cider or something? Not sure. Tasty though.

“So Commander. I am curious.” Ardan asked, breaking me out of my focus on stuffing my face. “What is it that prompted the creation of the ISDF?”

I was quiet for a moment. I could see Hanse perk up in interest as well, Melissa was looking over as well, their conversation dying out as I was put on the spot. The fact I could read Hanses interest so clearly, meant this was likely another little trap from the man.

Ah this was an interrogation… Well. Might as well.

—--


A different perspective
Hanse Davion

“Ardan. I expect the report from last night is complete?”

“Yes. We had some of our best go through the Commanders chatter.” Ardan offers as he takes a seat across from Hanse dropping the report on the First Princes desk. The two were in his office, and he had purposefully ensured that Melissa would have time to see her friend off, as the Commander was leaving in a few hours.

Hanse decided there was no time like the present to go through the report. He skimmed bits and pieces to start. The obvious warning that nothing was guaranteed inside, but it was all estimates, and guesses.

“The Inner Sphere is a shithole. Huh?” He couldn’t help but chuckle as he re-read the transcript.

“Yes I believe Victoria feels rather strongly about the state of the Inner Sphere.” Ardan replied dryly, as he waited for his prince to continue reading.

“I mean you guys went from the most advanced state humanity has ever been in, and in three hundred years nearly knocked yourself back to the stone age! What kind of idiot does that! If you win a war to rule the kingdom, but you burned down everything that made the kingdom worth it, what’s the point?”

Hanse read aloud, once more he felt that same twinge of irritation reading through the Commanders words. She spoke as if that was the plan. He had read the diaries of his ancestors the men and women in charge during the first and second succession wars.

What had happened, had been totally unexpected. It was thought impossible. But then before there had always been the SLDF to stop the war from growing.

Hanse skipped the next bit. Her biting commentary of the leaders of the Inner Sphere, and how they allowed worlds to basically fall to ruin on their watch wasn’t something he needed.

“Ah here we are. The naval base and warships.” He mutters reading through.

She had mentioned the Warship production, and naval base only once last night. Despite Ardans, efforts to focus her on it. The minor drug she had taken in her drink had made her more likely to spill, but it wasn’t enough to really force it, and to his irritation, she had managed to sidestep the matter each time. Or simply saying nonsense.

“How many do I have? However many I want I guess?” He repeated her words.

“It is an entirely annoying statement.” Ardan added after Hanse had finished re-reading it. For someone that should have been on enough truth serum to have difficulty actually lying. The fact she had offered complete nonsense was irritating.

“It doesn’t look like our boys got more much than I did. She believes that statement as truth, but it’s a vague statement to begin with. She could mean she has the ability to create as many as she likes, or she has access to enough ships as to not matter… So unfortunately we are back where we started. She either has a Naval yard, somehow able to create warships, or she has some connection to a faction that still has Warships.”

“The SLDF is still the greatest bet.” Ardan agreed. “Too many coincidences regarding Eisen-Blume and the SLDF. The Movie could have been chosen specifically to mock the idea of that being the truth. It’s not like we haven’t done something similar.”

“Agreed, but the lack of surety means we are stymied on how to act. If she is on her own, and she found a naval base. Picking her up for a more thorough interrogation would be an option… But if she has connections to the SLDF. If the exodus troops are still alive and are checking in on us?”

“Touching her could create an enemy we aren’t prepared for.” Ardan agreed it wasn’t the first time the two had gone around in circles about what to do. Unfortunately the Commander had done a good job. Her connections to Katrina, and Melissa, gave her a certain immunity to the normal snatch and interrogate that Hanse would have ordered.

Although the idea was still on the table, just collecting dust for now. In a few years when the Federated Commonwealth was more connected perhaps.

“Anything new about the Warship?”

“Nothing at this time my Prince. The security measures the ‘Delta Ops’ have laid down are quite stringent. And the few men that attempted to smuggle listening devices on board Were immediately discovered. Oddly the devices were forced to be handed over and destroyed, but the men were allowed to stay on the crew.”

“The Commander is an odd woman.”

“Indeed. Are we sure we shouldn’t push for a deployment of the ship? She is planning on taking it to the Outback. It won’t do much good out there.”

“It will take at least a year or more before I would want to bring that ship anywhere near a front. Let her run out to the Outback if she wants to help my people. It will give the crew time to learn how to use the ship, even with our old warship training information it will take some time before I would have faith in the Warship being ready.”

“It could still be used as a symbol… Or bait.”

“That would be useful if we were more desperate, but we hold every advantage, and it’s growing every year. Once the Federated Commonwealth is created, I would rather have the Warship under our control, than a single victory.”

“Understood. And if we don’t have control of the ship then?”

Hanse leaned back, running a hand over his chin. The entire situation was something that was rapidly turning into a problem. The ISDF moved in ways that Hanse didn’t like. Katrina might have given them latitude to act because of their contributions, but Hanse saw it differently.

The Commander had spoken outright about her intentions.

“I worry about what they will become.”

“I understand. They could very easily become a threat. Or even have the intention of becoming a threat in the future.” Ardan offered frowning.

“Unfortunately, Katrina is protecting them, if she wasn’t so fond of the Commander, we could get some real answers.”

“Perhaps she knows something that we don’t? We never considered the ISDF as something more than an odd mercenary company before now. Perhaps, Katrina knows something she didn’t bother to inform us about?” Ardan offered with a shrug.

Hanse considered it. “I don’t know. There is the rumor about them being related…”

“Unlikely. You are well aware of that.” Ardan pestered him grumpily, Hanse smirked, he knew Ardan hated incorrect information.

“But, this is a good chance. I am guessing a DNA sample was gathered?”

“Of course. Standard procedure for anyone entering the palace.”

“Start running some tests. I want to know if there is a familial link. If there is, it means any interaction we have with the Commander will have to take a soft touch from here on out.”

“I will send the order to our lab.” Ardan offered. Both men had known each other long enough to realize their meeting was done. Ardan stood and headed out.

“Oh and Ardan? Check it against the Cameron genome as well.” Hanse finally spoke just as Ardan was about to leave. Hanse had done it on purpose, and Ardan would know.

He only sent a final task to Ardan when he didn’t want to talk about it.

Hanse didn’t expect it would impact much even if it was true. House Cameron was gone. They didn’t have a single ounce of support left in the Inner Sphere.

At least. That is what he had thought.

—-
 

Blasterbot

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kek if she is a secret cameron that would be extra hilarious. everyone would probably think it explains a bit about how vicky she is though.
 

xachariahxx

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I wonder how much Vicky is going to get trolled by eldritch abominations. Cameron would be a huge troll. But it could also just change her lineage to YES.
-------

Ardan Sortek seemed to stumble into the room, holding a printout in one hand. "Victoria Eisen-Blume's genetic results came back and they're very strange. It appears my understanding of fall of Star League era lineages have been lacking."

Hanse frowned, had Ardan been drinking? "I take it that something came back. Is she a distant descendant of House Cameron?"
"No, not exactly." Hanse let out a breath, but then Ardan continued. "She's a direct descendant. Great Grandchild."

"That's literally impossible," Hanse said. By simple math, she should be somewhere around ten generations removed.

"NAIS scientists confirmed it. Twice. Our best guess is that she was cryogenically frozen sometime shortly after her birth in the late 2700s. I gets worse though," Ardan said. "She's also the descendant of the great houses."

Ah, that explained why Ardan had been drinking. Part of Hanse wanted to scold him, but he could hardly blame the man. "Explain. Which great houses do you mean?"

"All of them," Ardan said, then waved his hand lazily. "Archon Silvia Steiner, Mary Davion, Coordinator Takiro Kurita, Chancellor Barbara Lioa, and Captain General Kenyon Marick. It technically gives her a better claim to each Great House than most of their sitting rulers."

Hanse mind did backflips. He tried to latch onto something he knew of history. "Wait a second, isnt Mary Davion famous for giving up ruleship of the Federated Suns to be wed with Soto Kurita. It was the causus bellum for the war of Davion Succession."

"You'd think that, but apparently she wasn't faithful. I would love to air it out to the Dracs, but it would reflect just as badly on us, since she was a one-time First Princess to the Federated Suns."

Hanse could get through this. He'd been around Vicky before and didn't need a drink to survive her wierdness. "Okay Ardan, is there anything else to know?"

Ardan hesitated for a second then responded, "Also Jerome Blake and Aleksandr Kerensky."

"What? That's five male great grandparents," Hanse said.

"Yes, the scientists suspect it's one of the great secrets. Nobody, not even Comstar, has ever suspected that Jerome blake was a woman and a mother, what with her impressive beard."

Nevermind. Hanse was going to drink until he couldn't see.

---

Other option, she's Hanse and Katrina's niece. Apparently Ian messed around when he was originally signing the accords.
 
Last edited:
Chapter 18.2

Seras

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Chapter 18.2 Home on the Range.

3027

Federated Suns Outback

Farnsworth


Lucas Dubois


“C’mon!” He roared, doing his best to urge the cattle up out of the flood plain. Lucas was desperately trying to save the cows. If they got washed away that would be it. Papa had said as much.


Without their few cows giving them some income the farm would fail.


That would be the end. Lucas had seen other families that had failed. Death.


Lucas was not going to allow it to happen. Even if the river was flooding, even if this flash flood was ripping their farmland into mud. Even if he had to spend the next month trying to get something out of the ground to feed his family.


He would.


But right now he was struggling to get his cows out of the damn flood basin, because they were all going to die if he didn’t. Covered head to tow in mud, the only reason his eyes weren’t coated in mud was because of the heavy rain. Lucas pushed the cow he was focused on, but it only mooed long and loud, and he realized it was stuck.


The damn mud. He huffed barely keeping his own legs from slipping down into the gunk. He looked around. He wasn’t the only one desperately trying to save their livestock, or their family. Lucas huffed catching his breath for a moment as he looked through the torrential downpour. He could just see Old Milly being hauled around on the back of Francois.


Old Milly was Francois’s grandmother. Or great Grandmother? No one was really sure. But for him to be hauling her out into this storm?


He cursed. That meant they had probably gotten an update on the flood. It meant it wasn’t just the farm lands in danger now. Their homes were too.


He realized it was too late. They wouldn’t recover from this. Losing the farmhouse meant losing their feed stock. Meant losing their everything.


Lucas did the one thing he could. For just a moment he closed his eyes. “Please God. Don’t do this.” He prayed for a moment, like Pastor Feller taught. Because Lucas wasn’t sure he had the strength on his own.


But as usual Lucas heard nothing in return, only the sound of the storm roaring down on them, blocking all other sound.


So he opened his eyes, and got to work. If he could save even one of the cattle they might survive.


Even if they just had to butcher it after.


Struggling with mud and rain, and animals that were starting to freak out with everything that was happening Lucas dove into his task.


And then. He realized something was wrong. A light cutting through the rain, and a noise a roar that was definitely not the storm.


Looking up Lucas gasped, because what had just punched its way through the cloud cover was a massive dropship. The plume of fire cutting through the clouds like a knife as it slowly came down. Lucas stared, as did everyone else.


The fear of everyone in the Outback was here. A fact of life out here. Pirates meant death. It meant the years of work to build up their homes and town was about to end.


Lucas whined, “Really God? The storm wasn’t enough?” He could see it. The way everyone was slowing for a moment before they simply started moving, trying to get away. Hopefully enough would escape from the reaving.


Slaves were probably the most valuable export on Farnsworth after all.


“Dammit!” He yelled as he started plodding through the mud desperately trying to find his family, his sisters needed to be rushed somewhere safe. Lucas was old enough now that he would probably be given a rifle.


The dropship came down as Lucas was running, close enough to the town, that the drive plume was sending warm air shooting over Lucas. He slowed slightly, trying to see through the storm as the massive bays on the dropship opened.


Depending on how many mechs came out Lucas would know how fucked they were.


And then he slowed and stopped. His feet catching in the mud because what stepped out was a monster.


A mech with a skull face. The largest mech Lucas had ever seen. And then another.


And another.


Hope curled up and died in his heart. Whoever these pirates were they were monsters.


He watched as the mechs stomped out, each one of them walking in lockstep. Carrying between them some monstrous hunk of metal thing.


Cages? He couldn’t telll the rain was simply too much. What was worse? Behind the four monsters came more mechs. More and more poured out of the dropship. And they were moving. Quick and steady each mech moved as if they had a plan.


“LUCAS!” The call stirred him out of his daze and he looked to see Missy. His sister waving to him hurriedly. “LUCAS! MOVE!” She screamed and he did. There was no defense against that many mechs. No hope they could save their families with just a rifle. No the only hope was to run.


So he started tugging his feet out of the mud to hurry after. Of course he kept his eyes on the mechs. Whatever the pirates were doing would be a priority.


And the monsters moved as one, and slammed the massive slabs of metal, they were carrying into the riverbed. Lucas didn’t slow but his confusion made it so he couldn’t tear his eyes away as the monsters moved, and suddenly, he realized what they were doing.


They were literally plowing out runoffs for the River! He gasped as the massive mechs were used like, like livestock! “Lucas! Come on we have to get out before-”


He didn’t argue. He wasn’t sure what these pirates were doing, but getting away was more important. Especially since he was with Missy now. He had to protect her.


His sister tugged him along annoyingly, she was still bigger than he was, although only for now. He would definitely grow taller than her someday! He just had to grow a bit more first.


As the two raced through the streets away from the pirates, Lucas couldn’t get the image out of his head about what he had seen. He had never seen mechs used as anything but a weapon before.


He wondered if he could get a mech and use it to help the farm?


“Oh no.” Missy whispered which only barely reached Lucas’s ears as she stopped suddenly. The road they were on led to one of the main thoroughfares in the town, but it was already flooded. And with how fast the debris atop the water was moving there was no way the two of them could cross here.


“We have to go around!” He called out tugging Missy to get her moving, this time he was tugging her. He knew a place they could cross. There was an old over the road crosswalk that had been built years and years ago back when the town had been growing into a city.


It was one of the last signs that the town had once been on its way up, back in the StarLeague.


The water kept rising though. And soon they were both holding onto the edges of the buildings along the road just to keep their feet.


This was bad. They were going to either get swept away, or stuck for the pirates at this rate!


“There!” He called out pointing to the walkway stairs they were finally there. He pulled Missy through the water and onto the ancient ferrocrete stairs gasping for breath when they finally climbed out of the water. Although now they were on a bridge over a road, and the water wasn’t letting up.


“This is bad.” He whispered finally managing to catch his breath he looked over and the water was rising still. Both sides of the pedestrian bridge were now covered in rushing frothing water.


“Maybe they won’t see us up here?” He begged but that was instantly cut off, as the bridge shuddered. And a massive mech turned the corner.


He gasped and Missy screamed as they stared into the face of a mech that was on level with their walkway. The beast turned and seemed to instantly notice them, as it took a shuddering step forward. And then another until it was nose to nose with them.


And Lucas didn’t even have a gun.


He did have his work knife still. And as he gripped it, he promised he would cut the throat of any pirate that dared to come after his sister.


And then to his surprise the cockpit of the mech opened, and Lucas felt his jaw drop.


The mechwarrior took one step out of her cockpit, one hand pulling off her NeuroHelm, releasing her short blonde hair to be blown around by the rain, and her other reaching out for them.


“Don’t worry! Everything is going to be okay! Why? Because the ISDF is here!” She stated loud, a bright smile on her slightly scarred face. And Lucas couldn’t help but be shocked because despite his fear and worry that she was a pirate. He really couldn’t stop himself as he reached out and took her hand.


Laughing boisterously, the Blonde pulled him into the Cockpit of the mech, and then reached out for Missy, who seemed just as awed as he felt. A moment later both siblings were being settled into smaller seats behind the main chair. A towel dropped on their heads while the blonde chattered.


“Man! It’s really coming down! My hair is already soaked! Good thing these things don’t care about a little water huh?” She asked waving her neurohelm for a moment before throwing a hand through her hair which made Lucas swallow strongly before the woman slipped the helm back on her head.


And a moment later the noise of the rain cut off as the cockpit closed.


Lucas could see Missy looking around in awe at the cockpit of a mech. Neither kid ever hoped they could be in this position, but Lucas was a little too focused on the woman. He swallowed again trying to clear his dry throat. As the Mech started stomping down the road.


“I-I’m Lucas!” he only stuttered a little as he squeaked out his name, but the woman didn’t seem to mind. She turned in her chair and flashed him a grin that made his stomach flip. “Vicky! Nice to meet you Lucas!”


“Missy! I’m Missy!” Lucas’s older sister chirped out suddenly, “Where are we going?”


“Oh I’m heading to the gathering point! It took us a bit but we managed to convince your.. Mayor? I’m not sure what his position actually was, but he was the bossiest one so we spoke with him! He agreed to let us help. We’ve been bringing our rescues there.” The woman spoke with a laugh. “I’m glad we caught your radio signal as we were coming in. That flash flood warning helped us show up on time!”


“On time? But the town… It got flooded.”


“Yeah but just a little! The Scout group managed to divert the river enough that water flowed around a bit, but everything should be fixable! I already said it didn’t I? Don’t worry! The ISDF is here!”


Lucas took a moment, and the fourteen year old boy felt that maybe it was okay? Maybe. It was okay to hope that everything would be okay?


—--


“Well that was pretty good work!”


“Vicky. I am covered in mud. There is mud in every crevice of our mechs. I am pretty sure, Connor is going to mutiny and literally put all the mud they find in your bed.” Erica tells me as the three weeks of working fixing the town on Farnsworth finally was falling behind us. Traveling back into space to meet up with the Stick. White Base was filled with tired but happy kids.


The work they had done had revitalized not just the town, but also a few other towns all over the planet. Although they had taken a longer time to ensure that the river wouldn’t flood the town they had landed at again.


That and they had picked up a ton of new recruits. Plenty of families had kids that they had trouble feeding. Which had really pissed me off. But it did ensure that the ISDF had done ample recruiting. Even if we were Lyrans, that hadn’t mattered, not after we had shown just what it was that we were on the planet for.


Sure a few grumbles had been concerned about us trying to steal kids into slavery or something, but when the libraries went up all over the planet. It had shut up just about any talk like that. That and the rental Noteputers that I had decided to add into every Library.


We had after all ‘spent’ hundreds of thousands of C-bills of equipment to help the planet. Enough to build libraries in multiple cities around the world. And had dropped off enough computers and Memory cores to keep the libraries running through another succession war.


The Noteputer had been a sudden inspiration when I realized on New Avalon that there wasn’t really a good place to build a library right next to the orphanage. So why not give them access to the education courses at least?


Now they were standard in each library, Noteputers that could be given out like library books! I figure on worlds with low populations having a few hundred of each noteputer would give them the ability to spread the knowledge better!


“Connor complains too much. Gauge wouldn’t have complained.” I grump. Connor was the new head of Repair at least for Whitebase.


I missed Gauge.


“That’s because Gauge just did whatever you said… And then he would hire other people to mess with you until he felt his revenge was met.” Erica pointed out.


“What? Gauge never did that!”


“He totally did. I can neither confirm nor deny any particular instances, Commander. But trust me, he got you a few times.”


I was gaping as Erica informed me my best friend had been pranking me! Me!


“When he gets back I am going to assign him to first month training PT. FOREVER. Erica Make a note.”


With a laugh Erica pretended to do just that. “Sure Commander.”


“Well I guess I’ll be a good Commander and lend a hand. They usually chase me away from repairs, but I can handle a bucket of water, and a sponge.”


Erica shakes her head. “You’re the Commander.” She teases, I laugh flashing her a grin.


“A Commanding officer that isn’t willing to get their hands dirty has no right to Command. Actually that’s a good line Erica write that down.” I tease as I wander towards the mech bay. Hopefully I wouldn’t end up with a muddy bed tonight.


Never noticing that Erica did in fact write that down.


Walking away I felt satisfied sure, it had taken a lot longer to get back too the Outback after I had basically traveled all the way back to the Commonwealth to pick up WhiteBase that was heading our way, and the second set of new crewmembers. The Lyran contingent had apparently just followed WhiteBase to meet us.


Katrina was way too sharp! I still shuddered whenever I imagine the Holo message she had force the highest ranking Lyran officer to hand deliver to me.


Thankfully saving Melissa’s life had done enough that she had ended the message with an honest thank you.


That was nice.


“Well no time to wait around! Where are those buckets at?”


—--


A different perspective

Julian Tiepolo

Terra


The room was silent. Julian had been Primus for some time but never had the room been this still. The image of the ISDFS ‘The Biggest Stick’ was circling in a small Holovid. The First Circuit, the most powerful men and women potentially in all the Inner Sphere considering just how much ComStar kept secret were speechless.


“I want to know who failed this badly.” Myndo growled out. The woman had been frothing mad when the Stick had been revealed months ago. Not only because it was a massive strike against ComStars ascendency, but also because it came out that she had been the mastermind behind the kidnapping of Melissa Steiner.


Although the trial afterwards for breaking the Non-intervention policy had deemed her exonerated for her actions as it hadn’t blown back on ComStar. The fact was no one was happy at the actions that had been taken, and while Myndo was getting a lot of backing for her aggressive reaction to the war ships reveal.


It had also weakened her once ascending power. While it wasn’t truly her fault, it had been her actions that had set up a scene where a Warship had appeared in the Inner Sphere, and if not for the rescue of Melissa Steiner, it is possible that the Federated Suns could have been guided into trying to take the ship by force.


Of course such an act would lead to a bomb going off after. But that had fallen through. Instead Commander Eisen-Blume who just a few years ago Julian had considered a girl with luck, but nothing else, had acted with such political acumen that she had actually reinforced the upcoming Federated Commonwealth.


Commonwealth, and Federated Suns officers serving together on board the only Warship in the Inner Sphere, besides those ComStar guarded?


Already the messages passing back from planets visited by the Stick carried mentions of its crews growing respect for eachother.


The girl. The Commander was too sharp by far.


ComStar had worked hard on ensuring that any attempts of the Commonwealth and Suns to train together ended in irritated feelings or strained relations.


But the complaints of men in mechs were drowned out by the letters home from men stationed on a Warship for the first time in centuries.


Steiner and Davion had even been politically smart enough to have some of the letters printed in newspapers spreading across each state. Funny excerpts of working together with men and women from the other state, and how together they were learning to use a machine thought lost.


Of course they were all heavily edited, and stylized. Julian had read the originals himself and there was plenty of arguments edited out.


But it didn’t matter.


ComStar had been caught completely flat footed. The last year had every message, every spys report. Everything gone back through if it involved the ISDF.


The fact was. They had little. Only that even their new member. Mr… Blake. Hadn’t known. They were sure of that. His reaction had been quite loud at the time.


“We didn’t. Whatever game that is going on… It wasn’t something we could have stopped. How could we? We didn’t even know there was another player.” Julian spoke out into the quiet room. “The ISDF have played us for fools, they pretended to be nothing, and yet. Looking back over their records it is obvious they are more than what they wanted us to believe.”


“We should kill them. Now. The girl, Eisen-Blume. She is the lynchpin, kill her, and the whole thing falls apart. I am sure of it.” Myndo offered “I can have it done. A virus, or just one of our briefcases in storage.”


“No.” The immediate response shut Myndo up, but it wasn’t Julian who had spoken. It was Nicholas Cassnew. Precentor ROM. “You will do no such thing Myndo. You have already nearly broken our neutrality to the leaders of the Successor States once this year. Let’s not go for another.” He rose. “First Circuit. The ISDF is more dangerous than we understand.”


“Nicholas? You know something we don’t?” Julian asked, and the man nodded.


“I do. Are any of you aware of just what the ISDF is currently doing?”


There was a moment of silence before Myndo spoke. As always she was too eager. Too quick to speak when listening was needed. “They are wasting time using a Warship to build their little libraries across the Federated Suns Outback.”


Nicholas sighs. Loudly. “All of you are playing directly into the Commanders trick. She is… Jingling a warship on a string and like fools everyone in the Inner Sphere, including the First Circuit is so focused on what that hand is doing, they don’t notice the other.”


“And you know what they are plotting? Just you? Not a single other person in the Inner Sphere?” Myndo mocked. “Please tell us then. Inform us of your wondrous insight.”


“It is one of our greatest weaknesses that we pay too much attention to technology.” He offered before pulling out a set of actual physical photographs which had Myndo scoff. Before he tossed them onto the table. “These photos were taken on Farnsworth. The images were fuzzy, whoever took them was obviously fighting the storm but the pictures were clear enough. Massive mechs Atlas literally holding a massive plot between them, as they fight rushing water.


“And this is what? Exactly?” Myndo argued scoffing. “Images of a few mechs?”


“Images that are spreading. This is the ISDF, using a Warship. A Colossus dropship, and enough mech hardware to conquer a planet. Stopping a river flood.”


“Nicholas, why is this relevant?” Julian asked, Nicholas was a smart man, and if he saw something here, it was worth it to hear him out.


“It is relevant because scenes like that are what affects public perception. Perception that not even we at ComStar are immune to.” He offers tapping his fingers on the pictures. “This is happening across the Inner sphere. Twelve new Libraries have been set up in the Free World League in the last year. Each one built completely at the direction of the ISDF. And every one of them free and open to every person that walks through the doors.”


“I don’t care about their libraries, Nicholas! It’s a pointless vanity project. The power a Warship brings is the only relevant fact!” Myndo argued back heated. The woman was nearly standing despite everyone else at the table calm and collected.


The man across from Julian shakes his head. “Two hundred and fifty six messages from ComStar Adepts and Precentors across the Inner Sphere regarding the ISDF and what our role will be in assisting them… In the last six months.”


That quieted Myndo completely. The woman’s mouth falling open in utter shock. “Assisting them!? You must be joking!”


“I am not.” Nicholas was looking directly into Julians eyes and now he understood.


“They are winning a war, we didn’t even know we were fighting.” Nicholas utters.


Julian had no choice but to scoff at his own foolishness. He hadn’t even considered the effect this would have on ComStar whileit was indoctrinated out, there was a strong element in the newest members to try and improve the Inner Sphere. “How bad Nicholas? How far behind are we now?”


“It isn’t insurmountable. But… The First Circuit needs to consider how far we are willing to go. We could tarnish the image the ISDF has created. But there is little doubt in my mind that our part will eventually come out in any lies we create. Eisen-Blume is… a difficult figure to tarnish.”


“We can create a situation! Hold them responsible for some disaster. Or get someone on board their Warship to start an orbital attack. That would do everything we need!” Myndo was as always firm in simply removing the obstacle through force Julian sighed, he could already see how such an act would fail.


Julian spoke first. “She isn’t in complete control of the ship. By crewing her Warship with members of the Suns and Commonwealth, she mitigates any action falling back directly on her. It would be easy to shift the blame onto the Great Houses. Which everyone will believe. They have done it before, why not again?” Nicholas nodded, agreeing.


“That was my understanding as well Primus. We stand in a situation unlike any ComStar has ever faced. A… Peer of sorts has risen. Not one of the Great houses, but a group that through their actions are changing the Inner Sphere for the better.”


Myndo grimaced but while she was aggressive, she wasn’t a fool.


“We can’t let them keep acting. If they do, we may lose control.” She spoke simply, and Julian nodded as well this time.


“Perhaps. Or perhaps, we have found a partner for our great work.” Nicholas spoke and that caused a reaction.


“You can not be serious!” This time it wasn’t Myndo, but another precentor but the words had escaped from multiple throats.


“I am.” Nicholas pointed to the pictures. “ComStar has used our philanthropic acts as a way of recruiting and legitimacy for centuries, And now we have competition. One that we were not ready to react to. None of us expected to have a group in the Inner Sphere try to out philanthropy us. Yet the ISDF are doing just that. We can either try and fight against their ascension, or we can attach our reputation to their work. It would not be the first time we recruited. The SLDF remainders became our Comguard after all.”


“Perhaps. But.” Julian spoke and the room went silent. “We can not allow a new group, no matter their means, or intentions to stop us from our work.” Julian hated to say this. He was a firm believer in cooperation in diplomacy. “We must act firmly to ensure that Warships are not in any hands but our own. We are the only ones trustworthy enough to guard them. Nicholas. Find a way to destroy the threat, or bring it to heel.”


The man, whatever emotion he was feeling at having Julian deny his idea was non existent on his face. “Understood Primus.”


Myndo smiled widely at getting her way. “Do everything possible, to ensure it does not come back on us. Blame a great house if needed. ComStar must remain clean from any association.”


“I will make it happen, Primus.”


Julian sighed. He always regretted ordering the death of so many people, but as Primus it was his duty to ensure that only ComStar could lead humanity into the future.


“On the matter of our people's interest in the ISDF. Ensure that word gets out that we are very concerned about the ISDF’s connection and intentions. While we approve of the philanthropic work, we worry it is another Great House plot. Make sure our people know. I don’t want any naive adepts seeking to help the ISDF harm our goals.”


“Yes Primus.”


—-


The next few months filled me a true sense of satisfaction. This is what I had wanted from the start. Moving planet to planet, and leaving knowledge, and hope in our wake. And our holds full of new recruits.


The fact they were all FedSuns Orphans, and not Lyrans was actually perfect! So many of them were hesitant at first, the ISDF was too Lyran still, but like all good forces in the Universe our actions spoke for themselves. And the more feddies we picked up the more the ISDF felt like a true neutral organization!


This was how you made a difference!


Never mind that I was spending the equivalent of millions of C-bills on the repairs and construction projects! As if the Fed Suns didn’t have those millions! As if the Commonwealth the richest of all the factions of the Inner Sphere didn’t have the money!


As if ComStar didn’t have the money.


But that didn’t matter because we would make a difference where others failed!


I had been getting looks of disgust from Erica and some of the others, the smirk on my face was a permanent feature!


“Commander! We just got a message. It’s from ComStar. Priority Mail There is actually an adept outside.”


“Huh? Is it Aunt Katrina!? If it is… I’m not here! We didn't get it!”


“Idiot Commander.” Was whispered behind a hand earning a pout. “We won’t know who it is unless you go outside and get the package!”


“Okay! Okay! I’m going no need to yell.” I grumble waiting until they were out of sight before chuckling. It always did my kids good to banter a bit. Heading out of Whitebase I came across an interesting image. A man in ComStar robes carrying a very fancy box. Was surrounded by a few of my kids. One of them actually in their Nighthawk which the adept was eyeing up in wonder.


“Hiya. I’m Victoria Eisen-Blume, you have a package for me?” I ask as I pull the adept's eyes away from… Is that Mathias? I couldn’t tell as he had the helmet on, but the way he kept playing with a sticker on his rifle made me think it was Mathias. I had to yell at him about leaving stickers on things before.


“Ah, yes Commander Eisen-Blume. Please press your thumbprint here, for verification. I am afraid it was requested by the sender.”


Frowning a bit I shrugged, taking off my glove and pressing my finger against the Noteputer. It scanned me for a moment before beeping.


“Excellent everything is in order then. Here is the package straight from New Avalon.”


“Oh It’s probably Hanse and Melissa then.” I mutter as I open the package and inside was what I figured it would be.


An invitation to a wedding on Terra.


The wedding between Melissa Steiner and Hanse Davion.


I was ‘cordially’ invited.


“Well I guess I have to go to Terra.”


“Wha! Commander! We get to go to Terra!?” The voices picked up all around me, I looked up and rolled my eyes, of course a crowd of my kids had sneaked over when I opened the package to look over my shoulder as I read it.


“Hey! You bums! Reading the Commander’s mail is illegal! One thousand laps! All of you!” I roar out as I started chasing down some of the nearest kids leading to a game of tag as everyone ran screaming from me as I threatened to make them run forever.


The invitation and box was thrust into one of the kids hands that weren’t playing not long after. That could wait. My kids needed some surprise exercise!


Hah! Benny! Who’s playing the joke on who now? My endurance was unbeatable! I ended up catching so many of my kids each one of them earning extra laps!


But all the while my mind was mostly on what came next.


The Fourth Succession War, and how I would react to it. Seriously Hanse. You stupid show off. Did you have to do this at a wedding!?


Wait. Does this mean I need to wear a dress?


—--
 
Last edited:

Doomsought

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The interesting thing about the particular type of lunacy that Vicky shows the inner sphere is that it is so completely different from the normal types of space madness that ComStars usual methods won't work.
 

Blasterbot

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Wait. Does this mean I need to wear a dress?
yes or the face of disappointment Katarina makes will stay with you forever. also she will man handle you into one. don't do it. if you come with a nice dress you can at least make sure it is comfortable.
 

xachariahxx

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My background knowledge of battletech makes me take the FedCom as a single entity as a given. But actually at this time, they're not all that close yet. I bet there was some real interesting messages passing between Hanse and Katrina trying to figure out the Biggest Stick.

Hanse sending messages to Katrina warning about a battleship in his territory.
Katrina utterly shocked.
Hanse realizing that it's a Tharkad and sending some extremely pointed questions to Katrina if this is just a show of power.
Katrina having no idea what's going on.
Hanse finding out that it's part of the ISDF/Iron Blooded Orphans and asking wtf they have a Tharkad for.
Katrina saying she had no idea, but that the ISDF does stuff like that.
Hanse not believing her about how a mercenary company can get their hands on a Tharkad class battleship.
 
Chapter 19.1

Seras

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Chapter 19.1 Sometimes. You have to put your cards on the table.

3028

Terra

Hilton Head


I was a week late. Can you blame me? I found out pretty late that ComStar had been absolutely firm that if the Stick entered the Terra Solar System, they would stop at nothing in destroying it and me, to protect earth. Or Terra…


Yeah it was still weird that everyone called it Terra. I kept slipping on that one.


But here I was. On a ComStar provided Jumpship, with a few other ‘nobles’ that were getting rides from ComStar into the system. Only the big bads got to bring their own dropships after all.


One did not simply Jump into the Terra system.


Anyway, so I was a week late. I had thoroughly pissed off the jumpship captain that was carrying me to Terra, but I had a very small amount of time to get away from the Stick, and build something.


Seriously one thing I hadn’t considered with the stick was how hard it was to get away from FedCom people when I needed to space magic some shit up!


But as a proven tactical genius I had taken WhiteBase and split off, and used that as the point to go out and build some stuff. It hadn’t taken long once I put together a Leopard NFX as a building dropship once we split up far enough. Funnily enough a Colossus was big enough to block the light of my Nanoforge, at least when the mech I was using was stuck in its hangar as it slowly built a Leopard out in space.


Then. Well. Shit had started getting serious. The Fourth Succession War was coming. It was time for a Vicky plan.


But now here I was. Stepping off the dropship ComStar had provided, along with Erica who was my smart backup, and Carl as my tough backup. Although again ComStar had a conniption and had refused to let him walk around in his NightHawk.


Losers.


This is why you don’t let tech guys be in charge of tech, they fuss over it, and then after a few centuries they start worshiping toasters.


Toasters are useless if they don’t toast toast you know!?


“T-this is Terra!” Erica gasped out as we landed at the airport on Hilton Head.


“It smells weird.” Carl muttered looking around.


“Eh? It smells normal though?” I question him as I hurry them along so the guests behind us couldn’t glare and talk behind our back about something new.


Seriously nobles were such drama queens. It was all “You besmirch my honor!?” Or “Do you know who my daddy is!?”


I seriously didn’t care. It wasn’t my fault that the lady and her paramour spent way to long trying to stick their tongues down each others throats. I was pretty polite when I told them to go into their room if they were going to get that handy with each other.


How was I supposed to know they weren’t married? And that it was ‘insulting’ to point out their relationship.


Nobles.


“Oh hey, it’s Nondi. Hey Nondi!” I call out seeing the Steiner Royal waiting at the exit.


“Commander Eisen-Blume.” She greeted me casually, looking me over oddly for a moment. “I hope your trip was comfortable?”


“Not really. But I’ll live. Oh, This is Erica Tesla, and that is Carl Shade. Erica, Carl, this is General Nondi Steiner.” I introduced them, Nondi looks the two over, and I can see Erica and Carl both wide eyed as they came face to face with Lyran Royalty.


“So who are you waiting for? I don’t think anyone else on the shuttle was all that interesting.” I comment as I turn back, seeing the group of minor nobles looking rather uncomfortable under the eyes of a Steiner.


Nondi waited a moment before scoffing. “I am waiting for you Commander. My Sister asked that I escort you directly to her, so that you don’t get ‘lost’ on your way.”


“O-oh. Hahaha. That’s funny. Wow. Um…” Shit. Shit what was I supposed to do?


“We get to meet the Archon!” Erica whispered to Carl who was grinning widely as they smiled to each other, which is when I realized escape was pointless. Fission Mailed.


“R-right. Let’s go see Aunt Katrina… I don’t suppose Melissa will be around? I was sort of planning on throwing her at Aunt Katrina when I needed to escape.” I informed Nondi without realizing that it sounded way stupider out loud.


“I believe Melissa is busy.” Nondi deadpanned completely uninterested in my excuse. “Follow me.” She demanded turning and marching off.


Shit.


—--


I was escorted through guard post after guard post of ComStar Security. They checked me over again and again, and Nondi didn’t even make a single complaint or mention.


ComStar was taking this very seriously.


But it wasn’t far, and once we moved from ComStar to Lyran security it went by faster after the first checkpoint.


They had taken longer just to be sure.


Then I was taken to a fancy almost ornate meeting room, the sort of thing you would see tea put own on small tables and everyone sits on little couches.


Katrina was not sitting.


In fact she was standing looking out a window, her back to me, and both arms behind her back in an almost parade rest.


You would think the very fancy dress she was wearing would diminish her stern look.


It didn’t.


I could feel Erica and Carl practically buzzing in excitement at the sight of the Archon.


“Sister. Victoria Eisen-Blume, and her entourage.”


Katrina turned, and it was with a nervous smile that I waved at her. Although that all didn’t matter as the tall blonde strode across the room, Nondi must have been aware I was going to be attacked as she stepped widely to the side, just before Katrina was on me.


Her strong arms wrapped around the back of my head and pulled me into the tightest hug I had ever experienced.


I was shook. Total shock at what had just happened. I almost managed to work up enough nerve to say something when I heard it.


A sob.


I blinked realizing that Katrina was actually crying into my shoulder.


What the fuck. Was I drugged? Did ComStar drug me? I felt drugged.


“Thank you.” She spoke finally as she pulled away, and those were definitely tears.


“Nn-no. You can’t cry because then I’ll cry and I don’t even know what I’m crying about!” I whined, tears already coming to my eyes. Totally just because crying people made me cry, not because I just got a really emotional hug. No way. That would be weird.


Katrina offered a broken chuckle as she wiped her eyes. “Nonsense. You saved my daughter Victoria. You rescued her from a fate that I have had nightmares of since before she was born. Thank you.”


“Oh… Right. It’s been a while since we talked and we didn't’ really get a conversation since then.. Right. Right! Oh that’s no problem. Melissa’s my friend! Plus… well it was pretty funny. I have a recording of Yorinaga’s reaction when he got told I was in a Warship. I’ll send it to you when I’m back on the Stick.”


“Ugh!” Katrina almost physically recoiled. “Victoria. You are not allowed anywhere, until we speak about acceptable names for very powerful weapons of war. When I heard that name. I had days, days! Of meetings where my generals complained to me.”


I blinked at that image, and despite myself, I let out a snort of amusement at the idea of the Archon getting complaints about my naming sense.


That was funny!


“Oh? You think it’s funny Victoria? Have no worries. I will enjoy educating you on the proper way to name a Warship.” She offered with a sinister smile, and my amusement died a quick death. Uhh I needed a distraction stat!


“Oh hey Aunt Katrina, did I invite you to my friends? This is Erica Tesla my 2IC on the battlefield, and this is Carl Shade, my captain of my guards… and my special operations captain.” I said that last part in a fake cough, but I don’t think I slipped that part through.


“Amusing. But fine. Hello, I’m Katrina Steiner. It’s nice to meet more of Victoria’s people. I hope we will become good friends.”


Both kids rushed to speak, and soon I realized Katrina had co opted my people! Damn Lyrans! They were stealing my kids!


—--


An hour later we were still having tea with Katrina. Mostly it was Katrina interrogating me on everything that had happened since we last met on Tharkad.


I was doing my best in avoiding bringing up the warship in the room.


Thankfully before the interrogation could continue any further, Melissa showed up.


The blonde swayed into the room looking quite pleased with herself, as she quickly gave her mother a hug and kiss, a hug to her aunt, and then she turned to me with pointed finger.


“You're late!”


“Sorry! I had to make a stop. It’s not like wedding gifts for some of the most powerful people in the Inner Sphere, is something I can just go pick up at a Jumpship bodega.”


The blonde snorted as she setted into the chair beside her mother. “I won’t even ask what you found. Just tell me if it’s likely to make everyone take up drinking when they find out.”


“Who do you think I am? Of course it is.” I smirk. Hehehe! Be awed at my gift giving ability.


“You certainly haven’t gotten any easier for my headaches.” Katrina offered with a sigh, as she took a sip of her tea.


“Well then I guess I should be happy I invited you.” Melissa smirked as she looked over my friends. “Erica, Carl, nice to see you again, keeping your boss out of trouble?”


“Never. Unfortunately.” Carl replied with a forlorn sigh. “I have a feeling I’ll be spending the rest of my life saving the Commander from her crazy ideas.”


“Hey!”


“It’s true. She made me come up with a way to use mechs to solve a river flooding in the middle of a storm, on a planet that I had never been on before.” Erica informed the group. “I still have nightmares about trying to organize that.”


“We saved a lot of people that night! It was awesome!”


“It was muddy, cold, and a massive pain in my a-butt.” Carl suddenly reworded remembering he was looking at the archon. The poor boy flushed a little red as if he had just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar, as he grabbed his tea and took a sip to hide behind.


I ignored the leaf water! It had no power over me! “You're just upset because all the kids thought you looked weird in your nighthawk and that our Atlas pilots were cooler.”


Carlos started pouting which told me I hit the nail on the head, which earned some chuckles from the group.


“Aunt Katrina… Is this an acceptable time for a bit more serious of a topic?” I asked suddenly earning me some piercing looks from the assembled Lyran contingent.


“Yes Victoria, if you need a frank discussion, now would be an acceptable time.”


“Great. Cause I don’t know how well this is going to go over, but I’m, uh calling in my favors?”


That earned me a surprised look from Katrina, and Melissa as well as the woman sat upright, well more upright. Katrina had impeccable posture. “Very well Victoria.”


“So. I want to ask you to attempt another offer of peace. One last time before the marriage goes through. We both know that war is on the horizon, but we can mitigate it right now. Take a risk. I would like it if we could have a meeting with the Captain General.”


This earned me a truly surprised look from Katrina before her face turned to one of regret. “Although it isn’t public Victoria, I have attempted to convince Janos that a peace treaty would do more for him than our current hostilities. He has refused.”


“I actually didn’t know you kept trying after you sent out your peace request. That’s… Pretty cool actually.” I couldn’t help but admit. Damn Katrina was pretty awesome.


“A few times since the first request, yes. Janos has sent back the same request each time.” She mentions cooly, and if I remembered my lore correctly, it was basically ‘have your daughter marry my son.’ Or something like that.


Yeah I would have told him to shove it too.


Jeeze! This is what was wrong with the Inner Sphere! Everyone was an asshole and an idiot! Even the smart people were stupid! Stupid!


“One last time. I’ll consider any debts you think you owe me completely repaid. Just let me be there and make my attempt too. I think… Janos right now is in between a rock and a hard place, and I think we have more leverage over him than he wants to admit.”


“Oh?” Katrina asked, suddenly surprised. But I shrugged.


“The Concord of Kapteyn isn’t going as well as Janos would like. Not only is he forced to make peace with the Chancellor that assisted in the League Civil War, but hostility is still there. Raids are still happening.”


Katrina I noticed had gone from being a little frustrated with the topic to being interested. “You think we can create a better deal for him?”


“Oh I know we can do that. Honestly the fact that you and Hanse created an actual peace between your states without any of the backbiting raids that Capellans are known for is already most of the work. The problem is just convincing him this isn’t a trap, or that he won’t simply be the first loser of the Succession wars for agreeing.”


Katrina blinked and realized instantly what I meant. But it was Melissa who spoke.


“If he joins us, then it means we have the largest powerblock in the Inner Sphere… The Succession war would be over. But Janos would realize, it means he loses.”


“Yeah.”


I waved my hand side to side. “But the wars are over regardless. The Fed-Suns have already won. It’s just a matter of time, and making sure you guys don’t do something really stupid in the next decade or two. With the Helm core, and your tech advantage?”


“I see. Janos won’t agree. He sees the Concord as a way to fight against the Fed-Suns… from winning the war outright.”


“Not if you cut him in. Not if you make it so no one loses.” I looked at the two blondes. “He isn’t a fool. Not really. Try to cut him in. Give him an offer that shows him he will be treated as a partner and not a vassal.”


“That’s not an easy task. Even assuming he would listen, assuming he would even consider any deal we offer?” Katrina asked the Archon was the one sitting across from me. Her steel colored eyes were hard as she was thinking.


“I’m not assuming a miracle. Only that once again we try. Janos isn’t Mad Max. He can be reasoned with, we just need to peel back the stubbornness. No one wants to be the one to lose a war three hundred years ongoing. But all wars end eventually. With a winner, and a loser. But just because you lose, doesn’t mean you lose.”


“I’m not against speaking with the Captain-General.” Katrina offered. “Although I will point out Victoria, he has never shown any interest in making peace before. Even leading up to the wedding.”


“I know. He still thinks he can win, that he can become First Lord. God what I wouldn’t do to permanently remove that title from human memory.” I grumble. This entire issue was because of it. If only there hadn’t been a single human dictator, then the nation states that had spread out to the stars… Well there would still be wars for sure. But not this Casus Belli of single domination victory.


“If you wish to try, I will be with you. But you should prepare yourself, Victoria. It is… Unlikely what you hope will happen, will actually happen.”


“I have to try.”


—-


Hilton Head was currently set up as a giant hotel, security everywhere, different wings for the different factions. And all kept very stringently separate except in designated areas.


ComStar really really didn’t want to have to deal with an assassination under their protection.


But if you wanted to talk to someone in the other factions? That was what the ballroom was for. A massive room dedicated for all the different nobility large or small to mingle as the wedding approached.


Stepping into the room might have normally been an innocuous thing. But that only happens if I was walking in alone, or with just Carl and Erica. No, I was entering the room at the side of Katrina Steiner.


So it didn’t take but a moment for eyes to turn to me. Calculating gazes all wondering. ‘Who is that, and why are they important enough to talk to the Archon?’


But I was a woman on a mission! Although I did make a quick stop at the table set up for the wedding gifts. Pulling the letter I had written for Melissa and Hanse. But after that I was on a mission!


Katrina and I headed over to the League side of the ballroom. There Janos had a table for himself and his family, although currently he was dealing with men in military uniforms.


As we approached we were of course halted, although thanks to Katrina’s presence, we were quickly given access. The men in uniforms quickly dispersed as Katrina approached. They realized something important was happening.


The fact I came with must have been shocking to many of them. Probably expecting me to be some strange guard or something.


I mean the armor was a bit eye catching, and made most people think I was some sort of bodyguard. But this was my fancy armor! It even had the medals we had decided on, although I made sure to keep them small and innocuous. People that have more medals than minutes on a battlefield always pissed me off.


“Janos.”


“Katrina. A pleasure as always.” He offered before turning to me. “Your guest?”


“A friend, and ally. Janos Marik, please be introduced to Victoria Eisen-Blume. The Commander of the ISDF. I am sure you know of them.”


“The Librarians. Yes.” He spoke looking me over.


Honestly I was struggling not to stare at his weird forehead tattoo. Seriously what is it with space 80’s and face tattoos? Or Lyrans and large amounts of eyeshadow.


Weird.


“I hope the libraries have been useful?”


My words caused a shift in the man. Although I couldn’t tell if I surprised him, or if he simply expected a different reaction.


“They have. Education and opportunities have risen in every city they appear in. The courses have been very useful. Although I still wonder their purpose. We are not Lyrans.”


“Four fifths of the entire human race isn’t Lyran Captain-General. Should I close my eyes and pretend we aren’t all human?”


“Most do.”


I nodded at that. Not much else I could add there, sadly.


“Janos. Might we take a few minutes of your time?”


The old man looked the two of us over for a minute before shrugging. “Take a seat. This will certainly be more interesting than what I was just dealing with.”


The both of us took a seat sitting across from Janos, his sharp eyes never leaving us.


“Janos. I would like to speak once more of Peace.” Katrina began causing the old mans eyes to widen for a minute before he openly scoffed.


“Not this again.” He sighed, sounding a little tired.


“Yes. The Inner Sphere is changing. You see that. We don’t have to continue the old grudges, and the old ways. There is always room in the Federated Commonwealth, for the League. A peace, true peace between three fifths of the Inner Sphere.”


“Peace? No. Simply conquest.” The old man punched in immediately. “Your alliance seeks to conquer just as surely as you did apart, and I won’t be the first Marik to surrender.”


“We aren’t asking for a surrender Janos. We never have. Never in any of my offerings of peace did I ask you to reduce your military, or give up on defending your people.”


“No, but now you ask that I join your alliance. Which with all three of us, we would inevitably win the war. Who gets the throne? Certainly not house Marik.”


“Yes. It would fall my daughters heir.”


“Then no. The answer will always be no.”


“Wait.” I interrupted the two leaders shaking my head. “This… I’m sorry Captain General, but the Inner Sphere is changing. Right now the only way for you to fight back against the Fed-Com. Is through allying with the Capellans and the Combine. I know that it can’t be an easy alliance, and I would put money on the fact that the Capellans haven’t even bothered to stop raiding while you have this uneasy agreement.”


“None of your concern.” The man rebutted, but didn’t deny.


“Right. I won’t ask any further, but let's be hypothetical. With the Fed-Com Alliance, everything is changing. Suns military minds, with Commonwealth money and industry. You have to have done the calculations. It’s going to be a fight that is going to be truly difficult to win. Yet the only way to do it is to trust the most untrustworthy people in the Inner Sphere to fight with you.”


“Perhaps. But the three of us will keep the Davions, Or the Steiners off the throne.”


“For how long? At what cost?”


“For as long as we can. Everything.” The old man sat up in his chair, from where he had been almost slouching this whole time. “You are a child. But let me be clear. House Marik is the true heir to the Star League. No one else will be allowed to sit on that throne. Not until we are done.”


I immediately shook my head. “You can’t mean that. What’s the point of a throne no one in generations have even used? Fuck the Star League. Make a new Star League, a better one. Ally with the only people in three hundred years that have succeeded in making peace with each other, true peace, not backstabbing each other at the first opportunity. Take the opportunity to not just secure your family, but peace, perhaps even in your lifetime. An end to the war.”


“An end that means we lose. Never.” He spoke immediately. A calm simple statement. He turned to Katrina who had let me try until then. “You brought an idealist.”


“She is earnest about stopping the war.”


“A shame. Life will break that. Like it did me. I was like you once girl. Thinking that I could help end the war. That I wouldn’t even mind if it wasn’t me on the throne. Those thoughts died half a century ago.”


“You would work with Mad Max, instead of Katrina Steiner? You have to have seen that the peace she offers is real.”


“It’s a tempting sight, but I don’t trust it. It’s a poisoned chalice child. Perhaps this generation we would have peace. What about the next? Or the next? No. I will fight, continue to fight for the chance my family succeeds. That’s all we can do.”


Katrina’s hand on my shoulder stopped me from jumping out of my seat to beat this stubborn oaf upside the head. Chance!? What chance? The League lose every god damn war they are in! But fine. If reason doesn’t work, then temptation.


“The ISDF has worked with the Fed Com. We can work with you too. If you are worried about being subsumed once the Combine and Capellans are defeated, or joined, then we could help. Warship access just like the Fed-Com currently enjoy. A place to train your people and relearn some of what was lost. And more. This doesn’t have to be a loss. It can be a new path, away from the future that the Inner Sphere has stubbornly held to for three hundred years.”


“Girl… No Commander. You won’t convince me. Not with all the treasures of the Inner Sphere. There is only one way that I will surrender. If Katrina and Hanse proclaim House Marik as first Lord we can talk. Otherwise?”


“Otherwise you will all just keep fighting.”


“As we have for three hundred years.” He told me, his eyes firm. He was an old man, his pride, and ego wouldn’t allow him to be the one that finally loses.


“Thank you Janos, for being willing to listen.” Katrina interrupted my complete loss of where to go to next.


“Sure. It was certainly more interesting than what I was dealing with before.”


Katrina pulled me along, as we left the League section of the ballroom.


“I failed.” I had been so sure I could do it. That my words alone my offering for people would bring people together.


“So did I.” And I took a moment to look into Katrina Steiners face, to see the effort it must have taken to try again, after failing over and over.


“Jeeze Aunt Katrina, stop making me respect you so much. If you keep this up, I’ll have to name the next Warship, Katrina’s massive ba-”


“Don’t you dare young lady.”


“R-right!” Katrina’s back hand sounded better anyways.


—-


I wouldn’t admit it, but my complete failure to bring the League into the Fed Com alliance was massively wrecking my mood.


I had such high hopes.


With three of the Successor states working together that would have been it. The wars would end.


But I hadn’t counted on pure human ego. Janos refused to be the one that lost his family the throne.


Even if the fuckin throne hadn’t existed in generations. It’s like none of the fancy nobles could wrap their head around the fact there probably would never be another first lord.


None of the different cultures would accept rulership by the other. Didn’t they understand they just needed to start acting like different states and they would be fine? If the League just accepted their borders wouldn’t expand in the directions of the other states, and focused on expanding the other way this wouldn’t even be a problem.


Stupid idiots! Space was really big! Stop fighting over the same damn planets and just find new ones!


I followed Katrina around for a while. Mostly just grumpily glaring into my drink after we settled into the Steiner half of the room.


I could have gone out to try and convince people to stop fighting but if the League which I considered the most reasonable group refused. I certainly wasn’t going to get much from the Liao or Kuritans.


If these kids wouldn’t stop fighting, I might have to do something drastic.


No. I took a deep breath. I was trying not to fall into that trap. I couldn’t. Otherwise it would just lead to the same issues as before. I wanted to be the neutral-ish entity that is only focusing on the people.


Heh, That sounded like a good idea. Until I remembered that I couldn’t even go into Combine systems without being attacked. I wasn’t going to stop Combine civilians if I couldn’t even help them.


Who am I kidding? The Great houses had centuries to build up cults of personality. And I wasn’t going to be well liked by the nobility. I treat them like normal people too much.


“Kroner for your thoughts.” Nondi Steiner spoke up settling in next to me, the woman startling me enough I almost dropped my drink.


“Oh? Oh Hi Nondi, Just… I was hoping I could settle this whole nonsense. A face to face meeting with the Captain General. It should have been enough. If he could just see reason we could have created… What the Fed-Com-League alliance? It would have been unstoppable.”


“Only to its enemies. The League would always be a second string state in the alliance.”


“Better to be second, then last. Or simply not able to finish.”


“You really don’t understand nobles well. Especially the great lords. They could never accept second. That means they lost. And they spent too much, too many battles, too many people to lose.”


“If they had been willing to lose, their country would be more powerful than it is now. We lost so much in three hundred years, any state that refused to be drawn into the wars would have been able to win. Just because they wouldn’t have had so much destroyed.”


“A nice dream. But that’s all that is. A dream. If the League had at the fall of the Star League decided to stay out of it, the Capellans still would have attacked them. Still stole from them, or destroyed their factories.”


“I know.” I sighed. “I know! I’m just… Irritated.”


The woman actually chuckled at me. The first time I had ever seen Nondi amused at anything. “Yes I rather know the feeling.”


“Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?” I prompted suddenly causing the woman to shift.


“You may, I can’t promise to answer.”


“What do you think of the Fed-Com alliance. No rather, what do you think of it existing? Do you think the Lyrans, the Commonwealth is losing because it is joining the with Fedsuns?”


She blinked looking to me for a time. A long time.


“I was against it from the start.”


I waited. I had know that Nondi was one of the defining reasons the Fed-Com had failed in the original timeline.


My patience seemed to give her confidence.


“I’m not happy about how the Commonwealth has taken second string in many cases. Our military is larger than the Suns, but they are the ones taking more higher level command positions. They are the ones determining military action moving forward in many cases. And I worry that our voice will be lost.”


“You mean, you are worried Melissa won’t get a voice when going against Hanse.”


She was quiet for a while. A long while. “Yes. Hanse is too competent as a political actor. I worry that Melissa will simply fall into his pace. That no matter her disagreements with him, they will still end up going his way.”


“You think Melissa won’t be listened to? I doubt that. The Lyran side will always hear her first. And the Suns? They will have the mother of the newest Davions. They will listen to her.”


“But always second.”


“For now. Give it a generation and both halves will be whole. As long as we can avoid any civil wars… That is the most important thing of all.”


“It will come to that if Lyran voices are not heard.”


“Like Tharkad doesn’t hear the voices of Skye?” I cut into her argument instantly. Nondi looked surprised for a minute.


“Skye’s complaints are-”


“I agree.” I cut in. “Almost all of them are fictitious. Tharkad doesn’t listen. Tharkad doesn’t protect. We could protect ourselves better without the Archon… Sounds familiar doesn’t it?”


The woman shook her head. “That is not in any way a comparison. The situations are completely different.”


“Maybe, but you have to ask yourself. Is it that the new leaders aren't hearing you, or are they just disagreeing with you?”


Her lips pursed at that. She wasn’t pleased.


“But if it helps? Hanse isn’t a fool. His biggest concern isn’t going to be burying Lyran culture over his own, it’s going to be keeping things stable for his kids to rule. Are you willing to accept a child of Melissa on the throne to both groups?”


“Of course I am.”


“Then be in their lives. If you worry they won’t be Lyran enough. Teach them. But also trust them to love both sides of their family. Their people.”


“I suppose I will have to.”


I smile at her. Hoping our talk would skew away the civil war, seriously. They almost win the Inner Sphere and then get stuck in a civil war. And everything goes back to how it was. Idiots.


“Also if it helps. Hanse will be dead long before Melissa. So while he might have more influence at the start. When it comes down to it, Melissa’s voices will be heard far longer than a davion voice.”


“I’ll drink to that.” She mentioned raising her glass. Which I clinked with her. Of course she was drinking something alcoholic, while I was drinking some fruit juice.


—--


A different perspective

Capt. Sandra Nelson

Saffel System

ISDFS The Biggest Stick



“If this is another complaint about the food. I really don’t care.” Sandy called out as there was a knock on her door.


“Nothing of the sort Captain. Although I do have a stack of complaints from the Suns people about how our Lyran food is awful and we should pick up some good Outback cuisine.”


“I’ve told those idiots a hundred times. If they want food, all they have to do is speak with the quartermaster, and we will do our best. Seriously, I get that they are used to a different command structure, but this is the ISDF. All you have to do is ask the right person!”


“They aren’t used to us yet Sandy, give them time.”


“Yeah yeah. Whatever. Hows it going James?”


“Fine Captain. I have a report here from Delta. Only a few of our new crew members have caused trouble. Although we did get a few bugs that we had to pick up. Right now they are packing them all into a ‘lost and found’ box per the Commanders orders.”


“Ugh. I really hate that she is just turning them spying on us into a joke.”


James shrugged. “Let’s be honest Captain. Is there anything politically we can really do about it otherwise?”


She sighed, popping her captains hat off her head and running a hand through her hair. “No. Too politically important to throw a fit about. Did you at least write lost and found in crayon?”


“We put it to a few members of Trouble Squad we have on crew. There may be glitter.”


“Good. Make sure the bugs get covered in the Glitter too. Make them unusable.”


“I believe that was done. There may also be glue involved just to make sure they can’t be easily reused.”


“Damn Trouble Squad. Always causing trouble. When I get the complaints I’ll have to act properly contrite about it.” Sandy smirked at the thought. Cmdr. Cruze, who was the Federated Suns officer in charge of his people, was very uptight, and really hated the fact that Sandy was not only the captain but not in his chain of command.


She had already told the Cmdr. a few times that his ‘requests’ would need to be put through proper channels. Only two people in the entire Sphere, controlled where the Stick went. One was Sandy herself.


The other was the Commander.


“How are the letters going?”


“Good. Per the Archon, and First Princes request we are giving time for all crewmembers to write home, and they have all been ‘suggested’ to do so regularly. No issues there.”


“Good. Can’t say I love being a political weapon, but… Well we are the flagship. So I guess that’s part of it.”


“Blame the Commander?”


“Well it is her fault.” Sandy offered with a grin. A common refrain with the ISDF. Everything was Vickys fault.


“Alright. Well take thi-” The sudden change of every overhead light to red, had Sandy jumping out of her seat in an instant. Her ready room was connected to the bridge so as she rushed the door there was already a report about what was happening from the man left in charge of the bridge.


“I don’t know! Lieutenant! I want answers!”


“Nuclear device detected! There is a shuttle approaching!”


“What!? We have nothing on the-” Sandy cut him off.


“Fire on that shuttle! Evasive maneuvers!” The lieutenant in question was ISDF.


And he was the current contact for who was watching Vickys crazy lostech scanner.


“Full ahead right rudder!”


“Gunnery crews are alerted! Firing solution in ten!”


“Captain your going along with this!?” The Cmdr gasped, the man was looked horrified at the rapidity of Sandy willing to blow up a shuttle.


“Not now!” She yelled at him. Seriously these damn Fedsuns guys were almost worst than the lyrans! At least they did as she told, even with the groveling.


“Fuck… Captain! Nuclear Launch detected!”


Sandy grabbed the comm, “ALL HANDS BRACE FOR IM-”


Sandy jostled, as her vision went white.


—---
 

Omnimercurial

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I'm sad Vicky did not get a hyperactive fangirl Romano visit in the Ballroom....

The Special Leopard interests me though.... Wonder what it was up to during all of this?

Shame that Vicky made a Lyran Ship first, the Liao had a Warship that was a TOTAL Energy Boat, which would have much faster firing than a Warship using NAC's and Gauss as PDS.
 
Chapter 19.2

Seras

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Chapter 19.2 Sometimes. You have to put your cards on the table.

3028

Terra

Hilton Head


Everything was going okay. I had calmed down after my failure to convince Janos. I was starting to relax to think that I could just enjoy this whole situation as it comes as a wedding. I mean I was actually looking forward to Wolf showing up just to insult the Coordinator.


But thinking of the Combine group had me turn to them, and I noticed something that had me nearly crush my glass in my fist.


I was on my feet before I could even think about what I was about to do. Because there, next to Takashi, and Yorinaga Kurita, was a younger man.


Wearing one of my kids' armor! They had even repainted it in Combine colors, but I recognized the armor and equipment, I had fucking made that!


I had only gotten about half way there, when Carl, and Erica joined my side. My stare had obviously clued them into what I saw, and they weren’t there to stop me.


Although Nondi was. “Commander, stop. I don’t know wha-”


“Sorry General, give me a minute would you. I have to have a conversation about theft with someone.” I nearly growled teeth grinding.


“No you don’t.” Nondi stepped directly in front of me, halting me cold. “I don’t know what you are about to do, but this isn’t a place for grudges Commander. This is Melissa’s Wedding.”


I took a deep breath. Pushed my first instinct of bull rushing the woman away, and then let it out.


Fine.


“Fine. I’m still going over there. But I won’t cause a fight. A scene? Maybe. But not a fight.”


The older blonde sighed, rubbing the bridge of her nose as she obviously tried to come to some way to keep me from going over and causing an international incident.


“Fine. No trouble Victoria. I mean it.”


I bit back my instant heated denial, swallowing it. “Don’t call me that. Nondi. I like you, you can call me Vicky, but don’t call me Victoria.” I must have been more irritable than I thought I was getting snappish about stupid things.


“Very well. Vicky.”


“Sorry. That’s… Katrina gets special dispensation. Maybe if we hang out more I’ll consider it.” I joke but my smile turns flinty. “Now excuse me.”


I took a deep breath and moved past. As I approached, it wasn’t long until I was noticed. The two older men both turned to look at me, although both dismissed me as they turned away, although I knew both were going to try and speak to me.


It was a common trick. ‘Oh you are so unimportant, I wouldn’t even notice you walk up to me, but I will deign to talk to you.’ The sort of nonsense people with over inflated self worth tended to get up to.


But jokes on them.


I was stopped by a guard in Combine colors, but after a moment he allowed me to pass, although he did take up a presence on my side.


As I approached the men all gathering around their Coordinator. A few of the stragglers took notice, and their scowl was quite amusing.


It was about to get a lot deeper. Finally the Coordinator seemed to break away from his conversation with Yorinaga. He opened his mouth to speak to me, but I had the opportunity that I wasn’t about to let go.


The Coordinator was sitting at a table, set up like a conference room, with everyone semi turned to the Coordinator, and I was on the ‘outside’ of the table. Almost like the man was sitting at a desk, and I was a noble coming to beg for his attention.


To my utter and forever amusement. The look on the mans face when I simply walked right past him to stare into the eyes of the boy wearing my armor would live with me forever.


“That armor doesn’t belong to you.” My words weren’t harsh. Simply a statement of fact. The silence of the room around me meant that everyone heard though.


The narrowing eyes of the Coordinator at being ignored? Priceless.


The younger man, I couldn’t really call him a boy, I mean he looked like he was probably older than I was. Turned to face me fully, and I looked over the armor, unfortunately, they had taken off any of the identifying marks of who it belonged to. Something I had started adding in after the first batch of armor so I wouldn’t have to deal with ‘That is my pauldron! Get your own!’ ever again.


But there would still be markings inside, each piece was marked after all, and I could easily figure out who it belonged to.


The silence stretched out, but I wasn’t one to care about that after all.


“I suppose it would be a little rude to demand you strip now, so I suppose I’ll have to accept you wearing armor that you don’t deserve for a little longer. If it’s returned to me, I’ll even ignore how you came to own it, and not hold you responsible for its theft.”


“You are Commander Eisen-Blume.” The man said looking me over for a moment. “You are not what I expected.”


“What, did you expect someone taller?” I mocked. The fact I was actually a good bit taller than the man made my joke a bit cruel.


“No. I simply heard you were a woman much like Katrina Steiner, aiming for peace. I am Theodore Kurita.”


“Peace can not be gained by throwing down swords, especially not when you have a spear at your throat.” My words struck out fast, without me thinking as I looked into the face of the next Heir of the Chrysanthemum throne.


He took that with a smile. “An interesting metaphor. Perhaps use a dragons claws next time?”


“Why? I don’t think house Kurita has represented anything resembling a dragon in centuries. Dragons have Honor.”


The small not smile the man had across his lips thinned for the first time at that. “You speak harshly. Almost as if you are looking for a fight.” He looked around the room, drawing my eyes to the different groups. “Is this really a place for conflict?”


“No, it’s not. But neither is the Inner Sphere. You would think after three hundred years that the Great houses would be sick of it.”


“We are.” He surprised me by saying. “When the war is over. A time of peace will finally descend upon the Inner Sphere.”


“Let me guess. Only if House Kurita is in charge?”


“That is the fate of humanity.”


The worst part? I was actually pretty sure he believed that. Theodore was the smarter, more willing to change and adapt leader of house Kurita.


“When you say things like that. It makes me think there will be no peace in the Inner Sphere, as long as House Kurita exists.” I mentioned tiredly. “I wonder, Theodore. You see more than most of your family. Do you realize that your path only has two endings? You win. Or you lose.”


“Then we will win Commander.” The man stated strongly a confidence that I wanted to scoff at.


I look at him. At this younger man. Who saved his house in another life. His changes made sure that the Combine didn’t fall even against the Fed-Com. Could I do it? Could I murder this man for caring for his people? For doing too good a job working for the bad guys?


“Theodore. I’ve already spoken with the Captain-General tonight. I wonder. If I asked you for peace, right now. Just an agreement between you and the Commonwealth, and the Federated suns to stop fighting. Not to win, not to lose. Just an agreement for the wars to end. Would you accept? ”


My question seemed to confuse the man, and he hesitated. I could tell, as I watched, the answer wasn’t hard for him to come to, but he used the time. Simply wondering why I had asked. He was trying to figure out if I had a ‘right’ answer for him to give, rather than his answer.


He was probably wondering if the Captain-General had said yes to such an offer, but I could see it on his blank face, as his eyes shifted when he realized it didn’t matter. That he would answer for himself and nothing else.


“No. The Succession war will not end, not until the Coordinator is proclaimed First Lord.”


I nodded slowly. So this was my enemy. A man that was good to his people. But refused to stop until his goal was done. A goal anathema to my own. The heir to the Dragon huh?


“First Lord? House Kurita?” I shook my head. “Over my dead body. Keep the Armor. I’ll bury you in it, with honors.” I walked away. I had always had a faint hope that maybe peace would prevail, that old idiots in families more powerful than reasonable could be convinced that peace would make them more powerful than war.


But House Kurita had built itself on war. They were good at it. Good enough they grew arrogant, comfortable with the wins and losses. The Coordinator, Takashi, would never surrender. And now I knew his son would never surrender either.


So being able to face my enemy. Speak to them, and internalize that. It led me to only one fact. The ISDF were going to have to get off their ass and go to war. The Combine needed to be rescued from themselves. And I suppose I should talk to Katrina, and Hanse. They should probably know I was going to join in on the clusterfuck coming.


Damnit. Why does everyone want to fight? After three hundred years… haven’t they fought enough?


—--


A different perspective

Theodore Kurita


Theodore looked at the back of the blonde woman. His mind awhirl. As Yorinaga would often say, watch a warrior's Ki, and you will know the warrior's intent. But Theodore didn’t often believe in his teacher's words. Or his fathers.


But there had been something. When the woman had declared his family would attain their goal only over her body… He had heard the remark before. Soldiers of the Federation, or the Commonwealth had spoken words similar enough to him before. Perhaps it was because this time he wasn’t about to kill them?


“Your thoughts are flowing.” His father surprisingly spoke, almost startling him.


“Yes Father.” Theo eventually admitted. The relationship of father and son had been strained for the last few years. But Theo wouldn’t insult his father here by denying him. Not with the eyes of the leaders of the Great houses watching.


And they were being watched. Many nobles great and small had an eye on the Commander and her actions as she approached.


“Let the words of your enemy flow over you. Inspect them. Acknowledge them, and put them aside. If you spend too long contemplating the words of enemies, that is all you will do.”


He nodded. Accepting his fathers words, even if he wasn’t sure he would take them to heart. So much recently had made him look at his teachings with judging eyes.


“She will be a thorn in our side.” He finally spoke, admitting a truth he knew. The girl would be the Combines enemy.


“She is already our enemy.” His father stated plainly, but just in that Theo knew his father wasn’t taking the woman seriously. Her Warship yes, but not her. Not the threat the person represents. Something Theo had learned, a man that could drag the sort of following the young Commander was capable of should not be ignored.


But the Dragon had enemies in every corner. Theo knew that they couldn’t focus on all of them at once.


“She challenged you, Theodore. Will you accept?” Yorinaga eventually added into the quiet between father and son. Theo noticed even his father seemed interested in his answer.


He considered, and realized the truth.


He was the only one that could. His Legion could move in ways the Swords of Light could not. Only the Genyosha was close enough, but Theodore already knew that Yorinaga would accept no task that was not towards his enemy the Kell Hounds.


“For the Honor of the Dragon.” he eventually said. An acceptance without the words themselves. The ISDF was the sort of threat that was hard to pin down. He would have to draw them in. To create a target that they couldn’t resist.


—--


A different perspective

Jaime Wolf


Rage was a funny thing. It went hot and cold. And both were dangerous. Jaime was glad Wolfnet was on his side, otherwise he never would have managed to smuggle Tetsuhara’s swords onto Terra, much less in Hilton Head. ComStar security was… Active.


But that didn’ matter to him.


So much death. And yet, it was the dishonorable death of Tetsuhara that infuriated him most of all.


He knew the Spheroids wouldn’t get it as much. Natasha understood though. To see a strong warrior. A true warrior forced to die due to the words of a man so full of dishonor? He had nearly yelled at her, in his rage, trying to understand how this could happen.


But Natasha, as offended as she was by the Combine's actions, had shrugged.


“They aren’t Clan. Of course they have no honor.”


It was always easier for Natasha. As much as she had adapted to the Inner Sphere, she was also still the most Clanner of them all. She took the enjoyment of the battles, the losses and wins, and although she had her grudges, she retained the Clan mindset more than any other.


Although he knew she too had learned much from her time here.


But as Jaime turned his back on the ‘Coordinator’ his Batchall, thrown down as blatantly, and loudly as possible he strode away from the man with all the dignity he could muster. He had done it. The Combine wouldn’t accept such an insult, and they would come.


And the Wolfs would feast.


“You talk a lot of shit for someone who lost most of their hardware recently. Again.” The voice startled him as he realized as he was leaving the room a second pair of footsteps joined him. He slowed, he had wanted to leave the room entirely, but at least he was far enough from the Combine group that he wasn’t likely to be assassinated. Yet.


The woman was unknown to him, but her armor wasn’t.


Jaime had a headache of a week as Wolfnet went frantic at the oddity that was the ISDF to determine if they were a second Clan insertion, or just something odd.


Eventually determining they were just odd, Jaime had put them out of his mind. Too busy fighting for the Combine at the time.


“I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage?”


“Commander Victoria Eisen-Blume, ISDF.” She introduced herself, and Jaime nodded. So this was the ‘Commander.’ He hadn’t heard much about her directly. He wasn’t usually that interested in random commanders around the Inner Sphere.


But even he had heard about the Warship.


So this was the only woman in the Inner Sphere with a working Warship.


“Colonel Jaime Wolf. Wolf’s Dragoons.”


She chuckled at that. “I know who you are, Wolf.” And despite being assured that this woman definitely wasn’t a Clanner. Or at least Wolfnet was 90% sure, despite her actions, the way she spoke that made him second guess himself.


“Can I do something for you Commander? I’m not really in the mood for any further politics tonight.”


“Are any of us? The normal people? What I wouldn’t give to not have to deal with nobles you know?” She grouched before standing upright, and Jaime realized the woman was surprisingly tall. As she looked into his eyes. “You have something I want. And I have something you need. But let me be frank. I have mechs.”


That caused Jaimes eyebrow to quirk. The Dragoons hadn’t exactly been doing well since Misery. If the Commander was offering what he thought she was? “What would you want in exchange?” He finally asked. His voice colored by his interest despite himself.


“Three things. First I want you to use them against the Combine. I’m well aware you will probably take a contract against them soon. That’s good.”


“Yes.” He had already had a few messages passed through the Federated Suns, Hanse had offered him a substantial contract, to do just that. “What else?”


“I want access to your Marauder II design. Yes I’m aware the dragoons have last say in who gets them. Preferably I want a production right.”


That caused Jaime to blink in surprise. She wanted to build mechs? “Do you even have-no. That question doesn’t matter. I don’t think there will be too much trouble with that, as long as you agree to only sell them out of your company to approved buyers.”


“I have no intention of selling them to anyone. Marauders deserve to be used to protect the Inner Sphere, not destroy it.” She offered and that was a weird way of saying it. Spheroids always destroyed themselves. It was something Jaime had long come to accept.


“Alright… Last requirement?”


“I want you to-”


“There you are.” The voice interrupted was silky smooth, Jaime recognized it, despite the years between them and he immediately put her in his sights.


Romano Liao, was a snake, of the worst sort.


The Commander blinked, looking a little bewildered by Romano's appearance. Romano's guards were facing the man that Victoria had brought with, the man had done a good job staying far enough away from the conversation, while still keeping watch that his approach to stand at his Commanders side, was the first Jaime had taken note of him.


“I’m sorry. I don’t believe we have met?” The Commander asked as she looked from the woman to her guards.


“Of course not! You keep playing around with the Lyrans, and now the Suns! I would almost think you are avoiding me, but that would be impossible!” Romano crowed, looking more pleased than Jaime had ever seen her.

The Commander was looking around, trying to figure out who she was interacting with obviously. Jaime figured he might as well help.


The woman had promised him mechs.


“Lady Romano Liao. You are looking… well.”


“Huh? Oh. Wolf. Ugh, have you finally come to your senses and are ready to return to service to my father? No I can already tell you aren’t. Foolish. But you are not the one I am speaking to. Commander, I have sought out communication with you for quite some time. You are a… Difficult woman to reach.”


“Ah. Lady Liao. Apologies, I wasn’t aware of your communiques.”


“Obviously! You wouldn’t ignore me! Some fool in ComStar probably, attempting to keep our destined meeting from happening! Hah! Look at them now, ComStar watches from afar, unable to stop our unification!”


Jaime couldn’t help but look on as a trainwreck happened, because whatever Romano was thinking the Commander definitely didn’t share her outlook. Romanos… Flirtation? Jaime wasn’t sure if it was that, or just odd word choice.


With Romano it was impossible to predict. She was as crazy as a… Well a Liao.


“Right. I didn’t know we were being kept separate… But I am in the middle of something, Lady Liao. If you could excuse us for a-”


“Nonsense! The Wolf can wait. Our meeting is far too important! Surely you must know that? It is time Commander! Father is here, on Terra itself! Ready to accept your fealty, come, kneel before him, proclaim the return of the SLDF. Working once more with the Chancellor we will reignite the Star League! With My Father as First Lord and you The Last Cameron fighting together as it should be! So Come Victoria Cameron! Take your place at my fathers side!”


“What?” The Commander uttered dully, voice flat.


Jaime felt himself blink in shock. When the crazy woman had brought up the SLDF he had almost flinched, but then…


Last Cameron?


He looked and the Commander. She looked more blank than confused.


“Hmm! It is no longer time to hide! Join us, proclaim your true name! Your ISDF no longer needs to hide among the lesser houses.”


“Last Cameron?” Jaime found himself saying, his surprise actually cutting through his usual self control.


“Silence Wolf! This is a meeting more important than any other! The unification of both the SLDF, House Cameron, and the Star League under its rightful ruler is happening in front of you! A common Mercenary has no voice here!”


“Proclaim my true name?” Jaime jerked his eyes away from the crazy that was Romano.


Because he realized he might not have just one crazy woman to deal with.


The blank words of the Commander came off more threatening than accepting as the crazy Liao nodded.


“Of course! The SLDF, your ISDF” And she laughed as if they were just pretending. “They are destined to reunite with the confederation, to bring the rightful First Lord to the throne on Terra! You, as the Last Cameron speaking for my father and house will solidify the argument in the minds of the lesser houses. The traitors will finally kneel!”


“You want the ISDF to help you conquer the Inner Sphere?”


“What? Of course! To bring the traitor houses to heel! The SLDF returning will finally bring order once more to the Confederation and the Inner Sphere!”


“I’m sorry Romano, this is taking me a minute to wrap my head around. If I’m the Last Cameron… Why would I proclaim the house of Liao as the First Lord and not take the throne for myself?” The woman asked, an actually reasonable question in Jaimes thoughts, although he knew Romano.


Reasonable wasn’t going to work.


“Foolish nonsense! The House of Liao is obviously the true First Lords! The failure of House Cameron should make it obvious that we are now the destined leaders of humanity!”


The armored woman sighed, a hand coming up to rub her face. And Jaime could have sworn he heard something about “Urbanmech jesus?”


“Romano. I’m sorry but you are massively mistaken. The ISDF isn’t the SLDF, in any way.”


“Hmph! If you wish to carry on with your deception, Commander do as you like, but I know!” Romano argued as if everything the Commander had just said, didn’t even matter. Yep. That was Romano alright.


“Right. Listen Romano.” The Commander took a deep breath, as she seemed to try and gather herself. “Let me ask you something, if Hanse Davion came and asked you for peace right now. A true lasting peace between you and the Federated Suns, would you accept?”


The Crazy Liao seemed utterly confused by the question, almost as much as the Commander had been by Romanos statement. Although Jaime was still simply wondering about the whole Cameron thing.


“No of course not! They are the ones keeping my father from the Throne of the First Lord! I would never make peace with them!”


“Yeah. That’s what I thought you would say.” The Commander turned to him suddenly, Jaime once more part of the conversation. “Let’s call it here for now. We can hash out the rest of the deal… At a more private moment?”


Jaime hesitated. So much of what just happened, had every inch of him wondering what he was getting into.


But to get back at the Coordinator, Jaime would make a deal with a devil, or a Cameron even. “Agreed. Till later Commander.”


“Great. Now Romano. I’m sorry I can’t be your SLDF. I am going to have to re-affirm myself to the Commonwealth. Katrina Steiner is the only one of the great houses that is actually interested in peace. So unfortunately for you, and the Confederation. I think we are going to be enemies Lady Liao.”


Jaime made a hasty retreat, the sounds of Romanos delusions shattering around her sounded a lot like screaming death threats from a grown woman having a hissy fit.


—-


I watched waiting. So much had happened in the last few hours. So many weird questions from people, and odd conversations. Even the ComStar Primus, had mingled with me as the wedding went on, asking me odd questions.


Seriously guys, Romano was crazy. My last name was Eisen-Blume!


But here we were. The day after Jaime Wolf's insult to the Coordinator, to Romano Liaos meltdown as I refused to ‘kneel’ to her father.


Hanse and Melissa were getting married. And Hanse was cutting the cake. Preparing for his grand reveal.


“Wife, in honor of our marriage, in addition to this morsel I give you a vast prize. My Love, I give you the Capellan Confederation!” Hanse proclaimed.


I ducked down in my seat as Mad Max threw a fit rivaling his daughter.


“And so begins the Succession War has.” I muttered. But this time? This time I would need to act. I needed to be the stone in the stream that shifted the path. I would need to bring out a force that makes the Inner Sphere quake. Because there would be no better time. No greater moment to finally end this fighting than now.


If we could end the Succession wars now. Give the Inner Sphere a few decades for the Clans? Maybe. Just maybe I could bring humanity together.


I sighed, tipping over my glass of wine that Hanse had passed out for his toast. I hated the idea of war. Of helping in this mess, but I couldn’t see a better path. I wasn’t a genius. I could only do what I could think of.


So with my spilled wine soaking the plate that had an image of a Capellan world painted onto it. A joke from Hanse, I could only think that more than just this tiny plate would soon be soaked red.


How many of my kids' hands would come away just as red in the next few years?
 

Omnimercurial

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I wonder how long it will take for Vicky to get disillusioned by Hanse and Milfy Steiner?

I think Vicky will need to go more independent after she builds up her logistics and beefs up her Dakka Capacity.
 

The Whispering Monk

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I wonder how long it will take for Vicky to get disillusioned by Hanse and Milfy Steiner?
That will depend on how jaded Vicki gets and what actions Hanse and Co. take.
I think Vicky will need to go more independent after she builds up her logistics and beefs up her Dakka Capacity.
I think Vicki realizes she's GOT to do a bit of fence-sitting in regards to the ISDF's independence. Too much and she'll just become the enemy of everyone. Too little and other parties will see no way to separate the ISDF from the polities that are already working with her.
 

Blasterbot

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I wonder how long it will take for Vicky to get disillusioned by Hanse and Milfy Steiner?

I think Vicky will need to go more independent after she builds up her logistics and beefs up her Dakka Capacity.
on the other hand only 2 out of 5 houses would accept not being the king. so she is kind of locked in on what to do to end the war. she did make the attempt at an olive branch for the remaining ones. if any had taken it this would have turned into a pretty solid stomp.
 

xachariahxx

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on the other hand only 2 out of 5 houses would accept not being the king. so she is kind of locked in on what to do to end the war. she did make the attempt at an olive branch for the remaining ones. if any had taken it this would have turned into a pretty solid stomp.
Do any of the Houses accept not being king? Kurita doesn't. Marik just didn't. Liao doesn't.

But even Steiner and Davion don't accept anything but being king. Katrina's 'Peace Proposal' ends up as a plan for her kid/grandkids on the throne in the end.
 

Mackon

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It seems like now is a good time for Vicky to sit Karinna and Hanse and Melissa down and have a serious conversation about the First Lord's nonexistent uncomfortable chair. See if she can convince them that being grand poobah of the Federated Commonwealth is worthwhile in and of itself rather than just being a stepping stone towards the dead and broken throne of the Star League and that renouncing the Davion and Steiner claims would do wonders for the stability and future of the FedCom. Help them out with the Periphery nations take away a bone of contention between successor states and so on.
 
Chapter 20.1

Seras

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Chapter 20.1 Do you hear the people sing?

3028

Terra

Hilton Head


With the reveal of the beginning of the 4th Succession war, the faux peace of the wedding was ended. Everyone was leaving, and the barrage of weird questions I had been subjected to by nearly everyone, finally ended. But it wasn’t over yet.


Eventually even with the disruption the party ended. People began leaving. Long after the Chancellor had already made his hasty exit.


I walked up to the married couple. Hanse had been utterly glorifying in the chaos he had created, while Melissa kept a calm face.


She had obviously known, but I didn’t really know her opinion on it all. I had been forced to wait quite a while in the end, only as things were winding down, did an aide let me know Hanse and Melissa were available to talk to.


Watching up to the new couple. I sighed. I was… Tired.


“Ah. Commander… Should I use Cameron?” Hanse asked with a weird voice.


There is that stupid weird question again! Why do so many people listen to Romano Liao!? She was crazy!


“Not unless you want me to kick your shins. And I am still wearing my boots.” I grumbled as I walked up, and ignoring the groom for a moment, I pulled Melissa into a hug. “Congratulations.”


“Thank you Vicky.” Melissa replied back into my hug actually sounding touched. Pulling away I turned to Hanse.


“Congratulations on your marriage. I wish your family peace in your time.” Was that a disguised dig? Yes. yes it was. Did Hanse realize that, but still accept the compliment.


He did. He was a pretty smart fellow after all.


“Thank you Commander.”


“Don’t thank me yet, you haven’t gotten your marriage gift. You should open it. It will make the rest of this easier.” I tell them pointing towards the table. A few things had been shown off so far, but my letter hadn’t.


Melissa nodded sensing my seriousness and walked over to the table grabbing the letter and cutting it open with the same knife that Hanse had cut the cake with.


Inside was a simple piece of paper. I liked directness when I was messing with someone after all.


It was a set of coordinates, the name of the system to use the coordinates, and a single line.


Since you decided to be an idiot and start the Fourth succession War. You will need this to make sure you win it. -Vicky


As expected the moment Melissa read it aloud Hanses face shifted into a blank mask, the Fox coming out to play.


After all, they had all known I had dropped off the letter almost a week ago.


“Predictable.” I tell Hanse with a haughty smirk. “You can trick Max. You can trick Takashi, but I'm Lyran, and I’ve been all over the Suns in the last year. If you think I’m stupid enough to not notice the build up and be able to guess what it is, and if you think I don’t have you figured out Hanse, you should know I expected you to start the war for a while.”


A soft but definitely forced laugh slipped from the mans throat. “Well what else can I say, but I’m glad you are the only one.” He offered with a slight grimace that was quickly hidden away.


Oh yeah. People that think they are brilliant, hate when their plans get noticed. Especially since my usual joking manner meant Hanse thought I was an idiot.


Well jokes on me I guess.


I was. I hadn’t found a way to stop this nonsense.


“There has been a change though. I’ll admit. Originally I planned on grabbing the ISDF and focusing entirely on support. You are going to conquer a lot of worlds, a lot of people are going to be left homeless, hungry and hurt.” I ran a hand through my hair. “I still want to do as much as I can, but I spoke with some of the most important people in the Inner Sphere over the last week. And I realized my hopes of ending this peacefully, isn’t going to happen.”


“They don’t want peace.” Hanse offered with a casual shrug, that earned him a glare.


“Don’t act like you aren’t involved in that either, Mr. I’m going to turn my wedding into a declaration of war.” I sighed again. “You're probably wondering what I had planned for you, at those coordinates you will find a few Colossus prepped and ready for war. They have SLDF level equipment.” I looked to Hanse. “Hopefully an entire regiment of mechs is enough to help you out.”


The eyebrows on Hanse Davion were well past his hairline as he considered that.


“I didn’t think you had so much equipment.”


“Oh, it’s nothing. A tiny offering. Again that was what I was going to give you before, even with my distaste of your little war. But the ISDF isn't going to sit back anymore. I’ll be mobilizing against the Combine, and assisting the Dragoons. Guaranteed Takashi is going to focus all of his attention against them. So I’m going to get them to the point that the historians will call their battle the 2nd Thermopylae.”


It took Hanse a few moments before he clicked. “Greek Spartans?”


“That’s exactly it. While they are doing that, I’m going to be setting up the next step.” I trailed off suggestively as I waited.


“Okay Vicky what is your next step?” Melissa asked, exasperated as she had to play along with my nonsense.


“Why the only sort of battle that should ever be fought against Samurai my dear Melissa. Shiroyama.” I spoke the name of that battle with deadly seriousness.


Neither of the two recognized the name right off, but I threw them a wink, and stepped away. They would look it up eventually. Until then, I needed to get moving. It was time for the ISDF to mobilize, and to enact Operation Shiroyama.


After all, it was time for the Samurai to Fall.


—--


Of course decisions required preparation. Not long after the couple had finally left I went to speak with Katrina.


Nondi and Katrina were both drinking in their private room. Both women probably realized the trouble Hanse had just made. Even if Katrina had to have known about this in advance, after all the Lyrans were going to try and keep the Combine busy.


“Aunt Katrina. General Nondi.” I called out as I was let into the room, both women waving me over. Katrina looked like she had finished crying a few minutes before I arrived.


“Seeing Melissa in her dress got you huh?” I asked, pinpointing the Archons emotions like an arrow as she let out an actual bark of laughter.


She must have been a bit more into her drinks than I expected.


“Yes… You should probably know, Melissa will be going to New Avalon. In secret.” Katrina eyed me with that, and I gave her a grin.


“I know. I heard the announcement that Melissa was going back to Tharkad. Knew it was baloney. Don’t worry. I’ll keep my mouth shut. I wouldn’t want to have to send the stick for a second rescue.”


“God I hope not.” Katrina offered with a sigh.


“Right… I’m sorry. This… Isn’t a social visit. Archon. General.”


That perked both women out of the quiet mood they had fallen into. Katrina took a moment as if pushing away the slight buzz of the alcohol, while Nondi seemed completely unaffected from whatever she had drank.


“Commander. What do you need?”


I hesitated. God how could I say this? I had spent half a decade working towards one thing, only to realize the plan was unworkable. No not that it was unworkable. I admitted. Just that it would take too long.


We only had twenty or so years. If I didn’t get the Inner Sphere working together before then? The devastation of the Clans… The Slavery?


So I needed the ISDF to be more than its slow growth allowed for. “The ISDF is going to mobilize fully, against the Combine.”


That got a slightly pleased look from Katrina, but it was Nondi that asked the question both women were probably thinking. “Does that mean you will allow your Warship to act?”


“Yes. The Stick will be taking part in the ISDF operation. But that’s not all. I meant. The entire ISDF. I’m pulling out all the stops.”


Katrina nodded, obviously not getting quite what I was hinting at. Yet. “Another offensive with your people will be very useful at splitting the Coordinators attention even further.”


I felt kinda bad about this… I actually felt myself wiggle a bit as I tried to figure out how to best explain this without having an archon strangle me to death.


Oh well. I couldn’t think of anything. Blunt it was.


“Hypothetically, If someone had a fleet of jumpships. How many could the Commonwealth reasonably crew? Hypothetically of course… Also how many mechwarriors does the Commonwealth currently have dispossessed that could be stuffed into a mech ready to fight? I should probably ask about dropship crew and techs, as well… Just to be sure.”


For once Katrina seemed completely unbothered by me. She simply kept a nice little smile on her face as she picked up her glass of wine. Did she expect this? Was I too predictable? Did she know about the Nanoforge!? I mean, it had been years now. It was definitely possible someone in the ISDF had tattled.


Oh. She just chugged that glass. Nevermind. I guess I still can shock her.


“Nondi. Go get what we need. I think it’s time we talked numbers.”


“Yes Sister.” Nondi spoke after a moment, her eyes staring at me like she was attacking me with daggers. But she stood and left the room.


Only when she was gone did Katrina speak.


“Victoria. Where are you getting this? The equipment? The Warship?” Katrina finally asked, as Nondi left the room. I hesitated. I liked Katrina. She was cool, and I had already trusted her with a lot. But the lies were getting big. She was going to want something.


“I can’t tell you. But I know how this looks. So let me be as clear as I can.” I rubbed my face a bit with my gloves. “I found a lot of stuff thanks to my mother. I’m on your side. I never lied to you about my intentions. I want the Succession wars to end. And I don’t really care overly much how that looks. Whether that ends with a Steiner-Davion on the Throne of the First Lord. Or just everyone realizes how big space is and stops fighting over the same three worlds like idiots.”


Katrina sighs as well, rubbing at tired eyes. “I should lock you up, and interrogate you until I know everything you know. I should. But you saved my daughter Victoria. You saved Melissa. So I guess I’ll put my faith in this weird child that showed up out of nowhere and hasn’t done anything but help the Commonwealth, and my family. Just. Promise me. This isn’t some trick. Some attempt to…”


“It’s not. God no. Look at me. Do I look like someone who wants to rule? Aunt Katrina. I would literally run off to the periphery to hunt bandits if anyone ever tried to put a crown on me.” I admitted joking and she chuckled at that.


“I did that once. It was fun.”


“What? No way! Details! Story time first. Plans to conquer the Combine second. At least until General Nondi gets back.”


Her laugh was pure as she nodded “Fine if you insist. Well. It was right after my Uncle tried to have me assassinated-”


—-


I managed to escape the grasping talons of Lyran greed late that night. The plan was set. Numbers were taken down, and I was on the hook for shit that I didn’t even have yet.


Stupid Jumpships. Why was it so hard to get a Jumpship!?


Still I would be leading my own assault into Combine space, to help split Combine attention against another invasion corridor. All the better to break the samurai.


I was put into communication with a few generals that would be in overall command, of both the Commonwealth, and Federated suns forces, and would help coordinate all the assaults. Although I doubt the Dragoons were going to play ball. Not that they had to. The focus on them would be so intense any plan for them to assault the Combine would fall through.


I left Terra the next morning. While taking off I kept my eye out into the sky wondering where Gauge was. I had heard from him, but it was only through a text message. Basically that he was busy doing Comstar stuff, and then it was about four pages of him screaming at me, about the Stick.


I was happy with that. It meant Gauge was fine. ComStar couldn’t have gotten the insults he used right after all.


Before leaving I had sent out a few messages. Zaniah would Mobilize, and I had sent out nearly twenty different messages through ComStar A few of them costing me a hefty chunk of change considering how I was sending them. To my own amusement I expected most would end up in Combine hands shortly. But would they even be able to make sense of them? Of my intentions?


I doubt it.


They would have to understand what I was capable of to even start figuring out how fucked they were.


First priority? Getting enough force together all the way on this side of Terra. The Combine would probably only expect a modicum of force from me. Well, and a Warship. But I expected a lot of nukes to get unpacked to go against The Stick. But I knew they would be heavily focused on the Dragoons. Enough that just the Lyrans alone in the original time had been able to capture a large chunk of the combine, only to lose it to Rasselhague.


Another issue I would have to figure out.


But as always something came up. A few days of quite travel, the Jumpship I was on, made the jump to Saffel. Once there I was introduced to a new problem. Once the Jump completed, before I had even gotten the smell of raisins out of my hearing.


Yeah. Jumpships were weird.


I was called up over the intercom by the dropship Captain. The man was a member of ComStar, and the fact he was practically screaming for me to get on the bridge of the Leopard told me something was up.


Rushing into the bridge I figured out why the captain was so frantic. “Finally! Here, talk to them! Tell them not to fire!”


Confused, I was pushed in front of a holo emitter displaying a familiar face.


“Captain Nelson.”


“Commander! Tell this idiot I’m not threatening him! I’m simply ensuring a demarcation zone… It’s good to see you Commander. We had a problem.” She tells me, and I knew she was telling the truth. Sandy looked tired, and she had a healing gash on her forehead that was healing well, but still obvious.


“You don’t have to worry, The Stick won’t fire. Captain report.” I turned away from the Babbling ComStar adept that was the captain of the Leopard.


“We were attacked. A sudden Nuclear strike. A missile launched from a Shuttlecraft. We were alerted to it, but… We were too slow. The Stick is limping. But we managed with only injuries, no casualties. The armor held.”


“How bad?”


“Bad enough. But that’s not all. About the same time as the nuke hit us, a jumpship came into the system, and released a few dropships.”


I scowled. Someone had taken a shot at my ship!


“Status?”


“Well despite just getting hit by a nuke we were alert… Let’s just say we noticed them a lot faster than they expected. They also weren’t expecting the accuracy of our Naval Gauss.” The Captain says with a sinister sneer as she shows a hint of the fury fluttering under her skin. I had never seen Sandy so angry, not even when we had rescued her. I guess she still had a bit of an issue with Combine in space.


“Alright. I’m going to head over, and we can complete the debrief in private.”


“Of course Commander.” The holo ended with a bzzt, and I sighed.


Dammit. I needed the Stick and its mobility for my plan. But if it was stripped right now… It certainly wouldn’t be safe to use it.


“You. Get me on board my ship. And if you have a nuke on board… I’ll be very upset.” I growled to the Captain who looked horrified at my words.


—-


“They somehow slipped into a convoy of supplies, no one even noticed. And our ‘sensor’ operator was overworked. It’s my fault Commander. While we have a clear view of the system, we don’t really have trained stellar sensor operators. We were relying on noticing the big things, and something small slipped past.”


“He still noticed it.” I offered gently, the woman had been furious when I arrived, but not at anything but herself.


“Yeah. At least no one died, but it was close. They were aiming for the magazine. If we hadn’t initiated evasive maneuvers, we could have gone up.”


I sighed mostly in relief at that. Sandy and I were standing together, looking out into space as she explained everything that happened. The room we were in had already been searched for bugs, so it was safe to bring up the secret topics.


“I’m sorry. I didn’t send a message because I wanted to try and keep this as quiet as I could. We are so vulnerable right now, and it’s all my fault. I shou-”


“No.” I turned to her and to her surprise actually pulled her into a hug. “Don’t be sorry. I gave you an impossible task, and you have done a damned good job. This isn’t your fault. This is enemy action.”


Of course eventually I pulled away and we got back to the rest of the briefing. “The dropships are fine. White Base was on planet, taking leave, and your Leopard was with them. The others were in other systems, putting down some libraries, so it was just the Stick hit.”


“That’s a relief. A dropship, even a Colossus, wouldn’t have handled a nuke so well.”


“I don’t know if losing practically all of our armor counts as handling it well Commander.”


“Better than exploding.”


“Right. Well the Combine assault that followed, well, they tried. We popped the first Dropship before they even realized they were under fire, the second had managed to start putting out a few ASF, before they died. The last Dropship, released its full complement of ASF, but they couldn’t maneuver fast enough to dodge our shells either. Then we simply mopped up the ASF with accurate point defense. Two of the ASF had nukes, but we targeted them first.” She shrugged.


For the poor Combine they must have been frantic when they realized their secret nuke fighters were being targeted first.


“Well, at least that’s done. I bet the Saffel defense force was happy to get all that scrap.”


“Gods no. They have been screaming at us for days.” she shrugged. “Apparently they are worried the Combine will send an assault force to retake their scrap.”


“But I bet they are still working through it taking what they can.”


“Of course.” Sandy chuckled at that. The first laugh I had gotten out of her since I arrived. Good. Hopefully this wouldn’t hang over her head for too long.


“Okay if the Stick is in this condition, I will do what I can to make sure the important systems are good to go, but I am going to need to do something drastic. Sandy I need a working Jumpship. Hell I need a lot of them.”


Sandy blinked before her face took on a truly sinister smile. “Did I ever say you are the best Commander ever?”


“Uhhh. No actually. Usually you are cursing me out.” I offered weirded out by sudden the sudden almost sinister amusement.


“Yeah well guess what Jumpship is still in the system?” She offered almost hungrily. It took me a minute.


“Wait. The Combine Jumpship is still here?”


“They are. They had to do an emergency burn from their jump point when I started filling the area with lead. I wasn’t aiming for them, but they were on line behind the enemy dropships so they got a scare. They are still charging their drives.”


It took me a second to remember. Jumpships were untouchable in this time. Of course they would feel confident waiting around, what were we going to do. Attack them? No one did that. And it was safer to wait around for the drive to finish charging than try a fast charge.


“Sandy. Get me that ship.” I stated bluntly, going full Commander voice as I did.


Her smile was truly evil. But I did watch it slowly return to normal. “Are you sure Commander? I really doubt anyone will be happy if Jumpships become targets again.”


“I am. Because it turns out the Fed-Com are about to get a new fleet of brand new Jumpships. Funny how that works.” I watched the shocked look spread across Sandys face.


“Commander? That’s.. An escalation. You’ve always been careful about what you make.”


I was silent for a long while. “I met the leaders of the great houses. There won’t be peace Sandy. Not until we make the prospect of peace the only choice they have to continue forward. I hate it. I despise everything about it. But diplomacy is more than just words. Sometimes you have to remind idiots the cost of idiocy.


“Understood Commander.”


—--


A different perspective

Benjamin Rommel

Zaniah III


Benny walked into the merc den. It wasn’t the first time he had been in here funnily enough. Zaniah didn’t used to have something like this, but the planet had started to become pretty… if not popular, then frequent stop for mercs in the area.


After all, if you needed spare parts, you could always reach out to the ISDF, and for a good price, they might have them. Especially considering Benny made it a standing order that if any mercs on the planet helped out in acting as Opfor in a training exercise the ISDF might just cut off a bit of cost.


But this was a different circumstance.


As he entered he looked over the bar, mercs from different squads hung out around the building, sometimes by themselves, as the rest of their unit were off doing other things, sometimes the entire group sitting around a table drinking.


But Benny was here for a specific purpose. Just like what would be happening on hundreds of planets all across the Inner Sphere.


Vicky had sent out a message to every Library, and ISDF group in the Sphere. Of course it was also being submitted to the MRB, Vicky was being surprisingly straightforward about it.


So Benny walked over to the physical message board, and pinned the request into place.


“Yo kid! Your ISDF right? You finally hiring?” A woman wearing standard merc mechwarrior gear stomped over in her unlaced combat boots. Benny reminded himself that Hanna would not approve of him flirting with the pretty merc.


“The ISDF is posting a job, yes.” He says stepping to the side to let her see the posting. It took about twenty seconds before the reaction he was expecting happened.


“The fuck!” Her curse attracted the eye of every other merc in the den, Benny wasn’t surprised, he had been watched by most since he entered. “This has to be a joke.” She demanded the red head pushing right into Bennys face, although he was really struggling to focus on her eyes when her hair kept brushing his nose. Seriously the headband was cute, but if she could just back up a bit?


“No joke.” He said, pointing and letting her see that his finger was resting on the note, where Vickys scrawled signature was. “Commander’s own handwriting. This contract is backed up by the MRB to. Their update should be posted soon, I got this message at the same time they did.”


“Fuck. Fuck fuck! Hell Yes! I’m in! Randys Raiders! Randy will agree no problem, where do we sign up!?”


“Contact the MRB. And get your ass to Saffel. That’s the current meeting point. Although you will probably be pointed somewhere else, when you get there.”


“Fine with me!” She yelled, heading over to the Comm system, that was connected to the MRB database. She was probably signing up for the contract immediately.


Interest peaked Benny stepped aside, watched the same emotions hit everyone that checked out the posting, which ended up being everyone.


“Hey Kid. This… Are you guys really serious about this?”


Benny looked as the entire room had turned, all of them wanting assurance this wasn’t a prank. “MRB backed, and if you don’t know, I’m Sub-Commander Rommel, This contract is real. Not a joke, and not a prank. If you ever wanted to change your life around? Well there it is.” Benny turned and left. Hopping into a truck that had been idling for him. His job was done for now. But he just knew he would be in charge of handling all this nonsense.


“Vicky I hate you.” He whispered. Although he felt thrilled at the same time. This was the moment when the whole Inner Sphere would know how powerful the ISDF is.


But he was going to end up with so much paperwork!


—---


Work work work.


After committing to a piracy action, that had gotten me a ton of flack after. Seriously, the Governor of Saffel had even called, despite the time lag to scream at me.


I had just walked away letting him scream at an image of me that wasn’t even still there until he realized I had left.


We had jumped out of Saffel. The Stick stayed behind for now. Instead a skeleton crew had taken the Combine Jumpship. An invader to an uninhabited system nearby. They were ISDF members of the Sticks crew who knew how to initiate a jump, but not much else, that was all we needed. A single safe jump out of Saffel.


We arrived in Lockdale. A system so close to Terra you would expect it to be bustling.


Instead it was dead. A gray planet floating in the system, the ancient debris still floating around here and there. A testament to the destruction Amaris heaped onto the Inner Sphere.


Just another dead world. Abandoned and forgotten. Literally forgotten as it happened. But not to me. Not to the Helm Core.


Once we were in system, after a quick check with my Sensor, making sure we were alone. I had everyone switch out to the NFX Leopard, and gobbled up the Jumpship with the Nanoforge.


I couldn’t help but grin. For the first time. I had Jumpship blueprints!


It took a week of flying around to get the beginning of Operation Shiroyama started. Metal extractors were placed throughout the asteroid belt. Only then did my work begin.


First, I needed a base. I found an asteroid that was stable, and close to the jump point.


Using the Leopard I began building the first Castle Brian since Zaniah. Piece by piece, the Large Nanoforge ripped into the asteroid and in its place a castle formed. The bright white of the ferrocrete standing out brilliantly against the dark stone of the asterid. And the massive red Eisen-Blume imprinted on the front informed anyone who would see it now and in the future who it belonged to.


Only then did the Leopard dock into the Castle Brian. And deep inside, in a room that I secured with every lock I had. I began producing a factory, and then another. And another.


I ended up needing more Metal Extractors to keep the factory's hunger in check.


The Army grew.


—-


A different perspective

Ian Flounders

Saffel


“So I have a MRB backed contract to take command of a Jumpship. Here it is. I’ve been here for weeks. Waiting, you keep telling me to be patient, but I don’t see a jumpship!” Ian yelled at the Holo. He was getting real sick and tired of waiting around at the edge of a system in a dirt cheap dropship for a Jumpship to ‘appear’ that he would take command of.


His Ma had told him not to be a fool. That the offer of a Jumpship on lease with a new company was obviously some trick. No one just had Jumpships to offer people. Any ship off the lot was bought up years in advance, and any captured ship certainly wouldn’t be handed over to a third son like him.


But he had a good feeling about it. And had signed onto the contract.


Big mistake.


“Captain Flounders. I told you a week ago. We are waiting on delivery. It will be here. If you don’t wish to continue the contract. I will allow you to break the contract without repercussions, but it will remove you from taking the contract again.”


“Do you know how much it cost to get here! You can’t just-”


“I can.” Captain Sandy Nelson, the first human to captain a Warship in over a century cut off Ian without hesitation. “You can be patient. Enjoy the benefits of the ISDF and our contract, or be impatient and leave.” As she spoke her holo shifted as someone entered into sight and spoke to her, although the holo couldn’t pick it up.


Before Ian could say anything else she raised her hand to him and continued speaking before nodding.


“You are in luck Mr. Flounders. The transport taking you to your Jumpship just arrived.”


Ian stopped letting his mouth click shut before nodding slowly. “Good.”


“Dock with the Jumpship ready for you, they will take you to where your jump ship is waiting.”


“About time. Ian out!” He growled, hitting the holo. It buzzed for a few minutes before finally turning off.


“Let’s get moving!” He called out and his crew jumped to it. He would be happy to finally get rid of this ship.


Over the next day he sped over to the waitingJumpship. And as he approached it didn’t take him long to notice something was off with it. Well for one, it was painted in the colors of the ISDF, something he had grown used to seeing,since hanging around the Saffel system was ‘The Biggest Stick,’ Awful name.


But as he approached he noticed something more. “That Jumpship… That’s not an old ship. It’s new.” He commented, unable to resist as they passed over to the docking rings, he noticed instantly that they were in perfect condition. He had spent a not so small amount of his childhood cleaning and repairing his family Jumpships docking collar.


He had never seen a better looking collar in his life.


“What the fuck.” He rushed out of the bridge once the Collar connected and rushed to the connection. Opening up the hatch he didn’t move on into the Jumpship. No, he spent a few minutes going over the collar shocked at the fact it was in perfect condition.


“This Collar. It’s never been used before.” He finally admitted to Caitlyn, his wife. She had been hovering around wondering what he was freaking out about.


“That’s impossible Ian. Even an off the yard Jumpship would have taken cargo, or ships on the way over. There isn’t a Jumpship yard near here.”


“This is brand new Cait. Look. The connection here? Not a scratch on it. I’ve never seen a Collar that didn’t get scratched as it unhooked. But this one? Not a single etch into the metal.”


He spent the next few days looking all over the jumpship. It was skeleton crewed, and with a bit of diplomacy he offered to help the overworked staff.


His crew, people who all had been born on a jumpship, leapt to help.


And more and more data was flowing to Ian. This was a pristine ship. And every part was pristine. Perfect.


He almost cried when he first got to see the jump drive. It was beautiful. He can still remember the Longsteps drive, how they had patched it with every spare part, or even hand made replacement they could get.


The engine room was beautiful. None of the odd smells, or hissing releases of steam, or air that shouldn’t exist on a ship to be found.


Although Ian still didn’t know where they were going. They were waiting for more dropships. More Jumpship crew connecting to the ship, and the fact they filled up every collar told Ian something weird was going on.


Even weirder than a brand new jumpship.


Hell. S-7As’ the ‘Bus’ as it was called. Were constantly landing on the Invaders two hangar bays, but they weren’t dropping off cargo.


They were dropping off even more Jumpship crew. Some he recognized from his years plying the trade channels, all second or third sons or daughters like he was. Those that wouldn’t inherit their ship, but still had all the skills.


And then almost a week after he boarded.


The Jumpship was ready to jump.


And as the crackle of a perfect Jumpfield arced around him he felt so confused about this whole situation.


And then, since he had joined the ‘crew’ he was able to be on the bridge when they finally jumped to where they were going.


They jumped to a dead system of all places. Apparently it was called Lockdale? He had never heard of it. It was just another dead system, a place wiped clear with nucleaer fire, or bio weapons. But now?


He gasped. The sensor system, he had made sure to park himself close to as they made the jump, began picking up contacts.


Then more contacts.


Then even more.


And then more and more and more!


Ian gulped, as the Jumpships sensor was basically flooded with ships. Dropships. Jumpships. More jumpships than Ian had ever seen in one place before.


“Well buddy. Since you're already up here. Go ahead and pick out one of those beauties. One of them is going to be yours.” The ‘captain’ of the Jumpship told him, the boy was barely capable of jumping the invader, which is why Ian had helped.


Ian stared out into space.


What had he just walked into?


—-
 
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