Jammack Military Landing Field
City of Landing Main Space Port
0605hrs (GMT+2), 15 April 3080
In the hours since he was advised the fleet was on its way, orders had gone out to secure the Spaceport of all Planetary Flights starting at 0530.
Three full companies of Infantry were moved to the complex and went about securing all areas with lines of sight to the Military Terminal Building and its small craft hangars. Complete sweeps were made for explosives in the main terminal a half hour prior to the expected landing time; such checks were often done in the age of Jihad but with who was coming, extra effort was made. No one wanted to be the one who missed something…
In the meantime, the buildings on the Military Side were given a similar once over and within the Terminal, with all spaces given an additional cleaning. Gathered within the Terminal, the well garbed reception party stood waiting in Dress Uniforms, swords adorning the officers as appropriate to their position and rank while many troops secured various things or took up guard positions at the building entrance.
Lancer Dress uniforms were styled on the Star League form, as the Lancers were descended from those units. Very little had changed overall, though there was a lot more variety in the World Sashes the officers wore. Colonel Tinney wore the sash of the Albion Military Academy instead of the common World Sash, as was also the custom. He was a Federated Suns native and was rather proud he managed to graduate Albion, one of the most difficult schools to do so.
Major Farquharson wore a kilt with his, as befit his Highlander heritage. The choice of ceremonial sword though, a Kurita Samurai’s Daisho, was the striking part of it and showed the honor bestowed upon him by the DCMS units that helped free the world almost eight years past.
The former Major McCormack’s uniform was now graced with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and she was still stunned by the very unexpected promotion. Her world sash of Outreach was worn with a bit of pride; there were few that existed outside of world in historical record, and it was a source of pride for her. In addition to the various awards that she and others wore, the insignia patch of her Spirits sat upon the shoulder crest of her sash- a statement of who she was.
The plainest uniform among them all was Hollister’s. His Uniform was also that of Star League cut and styling, but in lieu of where the unit crest of the Phoenix Lancers would be on the upper section of the Sash, he had the patch identifier of Clan Wolverine and the original rank pin of Khan placed within the center of the patch. It would be a very stark reminder of who and what he was to the visiting Ghost Bears.
The Wolverine Loremaster, Jeffery Kosh, was clad similar to his Khan but wore the Star Colonel rank in the middle of his Clan patch. A major’s oak leaf was the rank worn on his uniform. He also was the only one among all gathered who did not wear a sword.
At this moment, Tinney was on the comms making sure the final details were taken care of when a series of sonic booms was heard, the very blatant sound of nearby reentry into atmosphere. “… Ok, sounds like they are on final approach. I’m out of your hair, Andi- all your show now,” he said into the communicator. “Later.” Hanging up, the Lancer Commander stepped back to the group. Looking at Hollister, he commented. “This is it.”
Hollister nodded. “It is. And I am not certain how I should feel…”
Leslie answered that. “Scared, happy, curious, trepidation. Pick one and at least two others will tag along, Colonel Hollister,” she said. “No matter what you ultimately pick, this is all quite real.” She motioned towards the front of the Terminal and its windows. “May as well watch them come in…”
Off to the side, Sean was eyeing the three Bagpipers who were doing a final check on their instruments. He knew at least one of them, a lad from Northwind who had joined up with the Lancer Infantry a few years ago. The other two, he had not seen before. Going over to Tinney, he leaned in close. “Where did ye get the Pipers?”
Tinney looked over to the musicians then back to Sean. “One is that rifleman over in 3rd Recon. The second one is one of the crewmen from the Matilda… Third one is actually one of four pipers among the Returned.”
“They have them?”
“Apparently….” Tinney smiled wryly. “Hollister had him flown in from Sage while I had someone in supply get find him a Black Watch kilt. I don’t know how good he is… but its bagpipes; Doesn’t have to be good. Just can’t sound too much like strangled cats…”
“Ach, ye smartass…”
Outside, the sleek form of a passenger transport in Ghost Bear colors knifed its aerodyne shape through the air, a pair of Phoenix Lancer F-92 Stingray fighters flanking it. Flying high overhead, the four Batu Omnifighters flew top cover. If it was in the air and on its way here, it would not stay in the air for long.
The group of craft circled around the city several times, bleeding off speed and altitude as the VIP shuttle eventually angled in for a landing. As it went on final approach, the F-92’s broke off at the last second and the Shuttle landed gracefully. Rolling along, a hovercraft with FOLLOW ME sign raced ahead of it and guided the shuttle from its strip around and to the Military Terminal.
As the ship slowed on the pavement, its gear lowered the craft down some until it was roughly three feet off the ground. Rolling towards the Terminal, the craft slowed even further, gliding to a stop some ten yards from the Small Craft hangar and the reception carpet.
AS the ship approached its final position, the Lancer welcoming party began making its way across the tarmac to a point near the end of the carpet. A trio of technicians rolled out a mobile stair that was low enough for the hatch on the craft in case it needed one.
As the party approached the ship and the Pipers began playing, the main hatch on the shuttle opened and out stepped a pair of Elementals in Non-Powered Combat Armor. Both had rifles slung and once the stair was in place, descended down and took up station on both sides of the unit. Out next came the aforementioned Star Colonel Lebowski followed by Loremaster Tseng. Both were clad in the dress uniform of the Ghost Bears, a simple grey shirt and blue-grey jacket and trousers, all accented with dark blue piping and gold buttons. Both had black neckties and black claw patterns sewn on the shoulders with their ranks on their collars. They both wore golden aiguillettes on their right shoulders.
Both came down the stairs to the bottom and were met by the Lancer Officers, bagpipes ceasing their playing. “Star Colonel Lebowski, Loremaster Tseng… Welcome to Centaurus.” Tinney spoke formally as he gave the two Clan Leaders a hand salute, echoed by his officers, including the Wolverine Khan. “May I introduce Lieutenant Colonel McCormack, Major Sean Farquharson… and Colonel John Hollister of the Three Thirty First, current Khan of Wolverine.” Tinney saved Hollister for last, to watch for a reaction. If this went poorly, he was stepping in the Wolverine Khan’s way…. with Andi Westerling’s overwatching snipers becoming very busy.
And a reaction *was* had. A very restrained one too, as both Ghost Bear Officers twitched at the mention of Wolverine. The Elementals twitched a bit harder but based on Tinney’s estimates- both were veteran soldiers and likely picked for this duty because they would keep their cool. Even out of their powered armor. Star Colonel Lebowski recovered fast. “A pleasure to make all your acquaintances,” he said. “Believe it or not, I’ve been hoping to meet who I would be negotiating with from the start…”
Tinney nodded. So far, this was going well; he hoped it continued. “If you and the Loremaster would follow us inside, we can discuss a bit more of why you are here and what events were that you mentioned in your message,” he said. “Are the Elemental Marines part of your entourage?”
Lebowkski shook his head. “They are guards for the transfer and for the Shuttle. I am told by the Loremaster and representatives of our Watch that the Phoenix Lancers have a reputation for honesty and even dealings. Therefore, if you are guaranteeing security, I shall leave my fate in your care.” He commented. “Why complicate matters and worry your own Security about my bodyguards? I sincerely doubt those swords you all wear are blunt…”
A chuckle. “Very astute, Star Colonel. Right this way.” Tinney motioned towards the Terminal. “Restrooms and sustenance are within.”
The group moved into the Terminal and security troops all over the complex relaxed a hair. Part one of the Security Nightmare was over….
Inside the building, the main lobby had been set up as a small reception and conference area, with several Vidscreens powered on over to the side that showed aerial views of the Star port and a conference table was set up in the center. Food and Beverages were along a wall with two of the Lancer Cooks manning the food as stewards. As the group entered, Tinney moved towards the table. “Ladies and Gentlemen…” He began. “Relaxation with food and beverage first, discussion or a bit of both?”
Loremaster Tseng glanced at Lebowski, who shrugged. She then turned to Colonel Tinney. “Perhaps a bit of both. I am desirous of something tea related and perhaps a small snack.”
A Steward stepped forward. “Ma’am, hot or cold. We have black teas here.”
“Warm please. No sweetener.”
“Right away…” The Steward stepped off to acquire the beverage. As he moved, he spoke to Lebowski. “Sir?”
“No thank you. At least for now,” Was his reply.
Tinney motioned for everyone to sit. The Stewards knew he’d take the same as whatever his guests ordered, if only to assure them it was safe. As everyone sat, he took a seat last. “Now then…” He began. “Where would you like to begin?”
Tseng pulled out a small datapad from an internal pocket. Tapping a few times on the device, she set it down on the table. “According to the histories that we among the Clans retained, the events of the 23rd of October 2823 were partially engineered by individuals outside of the dispute between Clan Wolverine and Clan Wolf with their allies. Indeed… the vast majority of the Clans were given a version of the story of supposed treachery by your clan in that a nuclear detonation of a warhead within your city of Great Hope was done at the command of Khan McEvedy… and subsequent second blast over the Snow Raven city of Dehra Dun was blamed also upon you.” She paused. “Efforts were redoubled to destroy your clan… and their destruction was done at a planet called Barbados, whose coordinates are lost. Likely wiped from the Databases on order ilKhan Kerensky. There were many things he ordered done afterward… especially when the machinations and treachery of Clan Widowmaker and its Khan, Jason Karrige, was learned of.
Incidentally, Karrige was killed in battle against your clan as per official histories. Khan Tseng recorded the deed was done by your Clan’s Khan Hallis- though not in what fashion. Our Khan left that information out of her journals and our Loremaster at the time didn’t say anything at all.”
The tea showed up at this point and Tseng waited for it to be poured by the steward. When her cup and that of Colonel Tinney’s were poured and he took a sip, she sipped her own and continued.
“ilKhan Kerensky orchestrated a coverup of events… because he could not afford to let ANY of the truth behind what precipitated the Annihilation to see the light of day. And he managed to get other Khans to agree to the cover up… Some of it I learned about through a deep digging of Ghost Bear Records- a bit of it was within the writings of our first Loremaster.
Our Khan found some in the Clan Founder journals too… items and anecdotes that I suspect no one thought would be seen. I am also privy to some of the ilKhan’s own words, courtesy of an associate of Lieutenant Colonel McCormack. So, the truth was and IS out there in our records, in our archives, despite the efforts of the ilKhan and his supporters.
I am convinced beyond a shadow of doubt… what was done to your Clan was done out of misplaced Malice, Jealousy… and in some cases, abject hatred of the success of Clan Wolverine. And there are so many things that are in use among the current Clans that are built upon your clan’s efforts. So much… and the origins hidden for the same reasons the truth was.
I am not certain how much of these events you and yours are aware of; it is plainly obvious that there was multiple groups of your clan that escaped the initial attempts to destroy you…” Tseng finished then took another sip of the tea.
Hollister and Kosh glanced at each other. Kosh had not been introduced and he did so now. “Loremaster Tseng, I am Loremaster Jeffery Kosh of Wolverine and I believe I can fill you in on what we know.”
He produced a data pad of his own and glancing at it, began to speak. “When the Snow Ravens launched a strike at our holdings, Khan Hallas had the Bismark attempt to shoot it down. It did but the craft accidentally detonated over Dehra Dun. No amount of trying to convince anyone of it not being our fault it exploded was believed; Khan Kerensky had made his decisions and the Absorption Trial became one of Annihilation within two days.
Khan Hallas had anticipated this and had our fleets split up to facilitate at least some of us avoiding pursuit a. And it had worked for a while too… My portion of our forebears, led by saKhan Ebon, managed to avoid being found and arrived at Barbados where we retrieved the few survivors of that group and continued on. According to records, the Clans who were there had destroyed the members of Wolverine there… and never even tried to take the non-combatants… they also crashed many of the various ships they defeated into the planet, ensuring few survivors as possible would be found or simply survive.
It was absolute carnage… and would be constituted as war crimes in almost any era. Indeed, the level of barbarity inflicted was on a level that we had accused Amaris of.
Part of our not being there was due to a Jump Drive failure…. And trying to not leave anyone behind. Had they had been there, what fleet Clan Wolverine may have had might have been enough to win through, though at terrible cost. Or it might have died there too. Snow Raven was the better naval force, after all… and they were there, or so surviving databank records said. The fact remains we were late… and our arrival after the fact allowed us to see the results of the Grand Fleet handiwork.”
Kosh paused, barely glancing at his pad. The information within… he knew by heart. It, along with the known details of what happened at Barbados was something every Loremaster since then committed to their memory. To let it be forgotten… was considered a grave insult to the memory of those who were executed there. And he knew this next part would be a shock to all but his Khan…
“Unknown to anyone outside of our leadership at this point… is that Khan McEvedy did survive the bombing of Circe, albeit with heavy scarring from various injuries and burns. She had been found by personnel loyal to Nicholas and had been present at the slaughter of Barbados as his prisoner. When the fleets had finished their carnage, she was left on the planet to die. She survived with her injuries through sheer force of will… to be found by saKhan Ebon when our fleet checked the surface for additional survivors.”
“She was found burned and scarred… hobbled by injuries sustained in the bombing and afterward, prior to being marooned on the surface of Barbados,” Hollister finished. “That information is in Khan Ebon’s diaries.”
The silence around the table was epic, the only thing heard was the sound of fighters in the air above performing patrols of the area for a good fifteen seconds.
Lebowski spoke, his voice a touch husky at first but cleared up after a few seconds. “Khan Hollister, Loremaster Kosh… I believe I can assure you that had our founders had known of those deeds done to your Khan, of the true scope of acts that ilKhan Kerensky had done or planned… and the abject dark soul that man had, there may have been another clan chased off,” he said. “Our Clan founders, based upon everything we know and our own Traditions, would have demanded action. But this was not to be and it is to our shame that our founders unwittingly participated in the lie.
Given the little bit of it I know of in briefings coming here, I am willing to bet my own life in that my Khan would be offering to help you in an effort to exact vengeance on those responsible.
Unfortunately, all those who were responsible are now dead and buried… with Widowmaker being absorbed by Clan Wolf after their Khan killed ilKhan Kerensky, supposedly by accident. That absorption was more a near annihilation, based on what records I have read.”
Tseng spoke up then. “Some revenge may have been carried out on your behalf; some of the notes I read of that event by Loremaster Cook indicate the destruction of Widowmaker was something desired by those who had been upset over the treachery of ten years previous… but not in position to do anything about it. Either through lack of ability, lack of will… or both.”
Lebowski took up speaking. “To my Khan, she wishes to repair some of the damage done to the Clan Wolverine… and to perhaps obtain at least a measure of neutrality. What we were part of doing to your Clan… was wrong. We know this NOW… and it is uncertain if any true healing can happen. Part of an attempt to do so… is also part of a modified Trial of Grievance we seek for an event done in the name of your Clan.”
Hollister crossed his arms. “What event was this?”
Lebowski continued. “Fourteen years later, there was a discovery of a genetic manipulation of two generations of our youngest warriors… by an adopted former member of your Science Caste who was an expert on genetics. He managed to insert either a mix of Ghost Bear-Wolverine DNA or pure Wolverine DNA into those Sibkos… which when found, caused them to be destroyed as per ilKhan Kerensky’s Edict of Annihilation against any warriors of your Clan.
Per records, they chose suicide rather than be killed or hunted down. This event caused a change in our oaths which is being re-done again by our Khan… and to be made possible by what is being proposed… which is a Clan level Trial of Grievance… for any other means does not fit.”
Tseng spoke next, and her words clarified a few things. “You must understand, this act by the Science Caste both impressed and infuriated our Khan at that time. His own diary notes spoke of how impressed he was at the act of defiance, how he would have gladly led these warriors into battle as all of them were promising… and how detrimental the Edict was… and how much their culling due to that action had weakened us. Time and a reexamining of this act after learning of everything else… It was confessed by myself and by our Khan that if given the chance, we may have done the same act to attempt a piece of Vengeance against one who participated in the destruction of Ghost Bear,” A pause. “were it to have happened to us.
It is these revelations, this information… that has caused a reformation within Ghost Bear of policies and an attempt to end the overall hunt that never should have happened. There MUST be a repercussion for the deaths of those generations of warriors as far as our society is concerned. But when measured against the acts that precipitated it… the response has to be measured. And the closest method or means is that of Grievance.”
Hollister considered the words of the Ghost Bear Star Colonel and before him, that of Loremaster Tseng. And it was a large amount of information to filter through as well as attendant thoughts. He was saved from an answer by Tinney.
“Forgive me for intruding on this conversation…” He began. “But if I am understanding this correctly, what is being proposed is a field battle size Trial of Grievance? To include a Batchall?”
Tseng nodded. “Yes… at least a Modified Batchall… and I am pleased to note you understand our ways as it has been said,” She replied. “Being such a peculiar idea for such a grievous act in our eyes, it was felt that modifying a tradition to fit made the most sense. Khan Kabrinski no long wishes to see… Wolverine… dead and destroyed. But something must be done to support this reform within the Clan… for that event affected so much and nearly caused our being absorbed. Khan Jorgensson managed to hide our weakness then… but the legacy still survives with large amounts of anger. So perhaps this trial idea would allow both sides a measure of closure.
Lebowski nodded. “No matter what result occurs, the Hunting of Wolverine by the Clan Ghost Bear has ended. And any conflict after this will be as Clan to Clan.”
Leslie got up. “Forgive my getting up here… I need to get something to eat… and I suggest before any bidding occurs, everyone else eat too.”
Tinney looked at her then at the rest of the group. “She’s right. Its early and some food will help with thinking.”
Loremaster Tseng then stood. “Agreed.” She said and followed McCormack to the food table to retrieve some of it. A Steward was there to parcel out the contents of the various hot trays.
Tinney looked at the remaining Clansmen at the table. “If you cannot decide on what to use, as host I can figure something out that should work for the both of you.”
Both Hollister and Lebowski shared a look. “No…” Hollister said after a handful of seconds. “I think I have a handle on how to do this and I suspect my opponent shares understanding. I bid Half my ground based Touman, which is approximately a battalion all told.” The offer made had to be from being punchy due to the time. And lack of food. But it was made…
A smile. “I submit to you a supernova trinary.” Lebowski’s reply caused Tinney and Loremaster Kosh to blink. Sean smirked.
Hollister countered. “Two Dragoon Companies.”
“A SLDF Strike Company and Dragoon Company…”
“I accept your offer and counter with a Nova Strike Star and a Binary.”
“I maintain my last pitch as I feel it is Sufficient to beat your offer.”
“My Dear Khan… your bid is acceptable as a reasonable counter to my own,” Lebowski replied. “I call this Bid Well and Done.” He held out a hand.
Hollister nodded and took the hand offered in his own. “Bid well and done.”
Sean was laughing slightly as the Loremaster and McCormack came back to the table. Seeing the handshake, Leslie looked at everyone and said, “I can only guess…” as the remaining Clan officers all got up to get food.
“Lass… they elected to get food After they made their pitches.”
Tseng blinked and looked back at Lebowski who was getting food alongside the Wolverine Khan and Loremaster. “What?”
Sean chuckled. “Aye… and it was pretty simple thing too. No posturing, just some wee haggle. The best part… neither dinnae know the overall stakes or where they will fight.”
Tinney got up. “I think they know what they are fighting for on both sides… The rest, I think will be decided after food. Sean, make sure their guards get some chow, even if you have to stand watch for them. I do not think this is going to go sour…”
Tseng held up a hand. “Major Farquharson, tell them I said Copper Gold.”
“Yes. It’s a prearranged signal that your offer is to be trusted. Half will rotate in at a time- there is four others aboard the Shuttle.”
“Ach… Sure thing, Loremaster.” The Highlander said and ventured out to inform the Elementals guarding the shuttle.
Leslie shook her head. “I will suggest then after we eat, we adjourn to ponder some of this and rest. Do the two of you wish to remain planet side or shall you return to your ship?”
Lebowski answered as he returned. “We will return to our ship. Any further planetside excursion will occur after the final details of the Trial are settled…. We have deviated a bit already so another adjustment will not change anything overmuch.”
Tinney nodded. “Very well… then let us eat, discus other things… and depart on good terms until the day of Battle.”
Hollister agreed to this as did Lebowski; the discussion around the table then changed to small talk as everyone consumed their meals.