Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Star League Part 22


For MechWarrior Nicholas Henson and everyone of the 2234th Battle Regiment (The Star Vikings), the uprising came as a shock. Two weeks before the rebellion on New Vandenburg, he had been carousing with his classmates, celebrating their graduation and wondeirng where they would be assigned. Though he had hopes for action upon learning that he was Periphery-bound, Henson was given the boring job of patrolling the warehouses.

Henson had been listening to the news for further word from Fort Gorki when the station went dead. He flipped through the dial looking for another, but all the civilian stations had gone silent. Just then his CO popped up.

“Henson, this is the situation. The whole planet seems to have gone up in arms over the Fort Gorki fighting. General Kerensky’s headquarters are under attack. He and his staff are headed here. Go to Warehouse 5 and open it up so that our Techs can get in there and start powering up some of those ‘Mechs. When you’re done, look for the General’s convoy and guard it. Understood?”

Henson spent the next half hour assisting the Techs as they powered up a Wolverine II and an Atlas II. Using power they drained from his Warhammer’s reactor, they inserted live fuel cores into the two ‘Mechs and started them up. Just as the Techs were disconnecting the last power cord, a laser-scarred and blackened hovertank pulled into the warehouse. The hatches of the vehicle opened, and its occupants got out.

MechWarrior Henson recognized General Kerensky. The tall, muscular man stepped down from the vehicle and walked toward Henson and his ‘Mech.

“At ease, at ease,” came the General’s voice through the speakers of Henson’s helmet. “This isn’t a parade. What’s your name, warrior?” The voice was remarkably gentle for all the authority it carried, and the slight slavic accent gave it an unusual cadence.

“Henson, is it? Well, MechWarrior Henson, we’re faced with what my people back home would call a snowy choice. The entire planet has rebelled and apparently has more than enough weaponry to give us a run for our money.

“I’m guessing the enemy ‘Mechs are after me and will soon attack the spaceport. My DropShip is coming, but I don’t know when. It will be close. Until then, I want to be able to fight, which is why you’ve been helping these good Techs to power up these ‘Mechs. Excuse me a moment.”

The Atlas, Warhammer, and Wolverine walked out of the warehouse and looked upon the inferno that had once been the spaceport. Suddenly, General Kerensky’s aide called out that his sensors had picked up a fighter coming in from behind. Henson ran for the warehouse but stopped abruptly when he realized that no one was following him.

General Kerensky, in his Atlas, took a few steps forward and away from his aide. Both faced the approaching fighter and calmly waited. The fighter, a Thrush, dove and waited until the last instant to let loose a volley of missiles and laser fire at the two ‘Mechs standing so defiantly below.

An instant before the enemy missiles reached them, General Kerensky and his aide let loose a salvo of their own missile and cannon fire. Then, with a speed and precision Henson never seen before, Kerensky and his aide dodged their ‘Mechs out of the way as the enemy missiles exploded into the ground where they had been standing.

An instant later, the fighter erupted into a ball of flames as it passed over and crashed into one of the warehouses behind them. Sheepishly, Henson walked back from the warehouse and approached the two warriors, who, he could hear, were quibbling over whose missile had brought the fighter down.

“There you are, MechWarrior Henson. A wise move to hide. Don’t worry. We’re just too old to really care anymore.”

There was a barrage of artillery shells that whistled over their heads and exploded nearby, demolishing several warehouses.

“Well, Henson, looks as if the enemy wants to save us the trouble of blowing up our stores. Let’s find your company and lend them a hand. Lead the way.”

The next 30 minutes became a blur of impressions and sensations for the young MechWarrior. The shock of arriving at the runway’s edge and linking up with the remainder of his company just in time to see enemy ‘Mechs appear across the runway, their weapons searing the ground and air about him. The crazy chase as the enemy ‘Mechs pursued them through the maze of warehouses and buildings, every blind intersection becoming a potential ambush. The horror of seeing three friends being cut down. The anger he felt as he launched a Headhunter at an enemy ‘Mech, and the elation he felt as he saw the cockpit explode and the ‘Mech collapse, smoke billowing from where the head had been.

Just as the remaining SLDF forces were surrounded and the noose was beginning to tighten, the ground began to shake, a hot gale came down over them, and a shadow fell over the Star League ‘Mechs. Moving impossibly slowly over their heads was a Fortress DropShip, so close Henson felt he could touch it.

“Ah, good,” was General Kerensky’s only comment on their rescuer’s appearance.

The loading onto the DropShip was eerily quiet, considering what had been happening in the battle just moments before. General Kerensky walked up to Henson, who was desperately trying to compose himself.

“I feel for you, Henson. To have such a disaster for your first battle is a difficult way for you to begin your career. You did very well today. Unfortunately, it looks as if disasters may be what we will be getting for a while. It is going to be a long and stupid war."

-Excerpt from the novelization, Brian Henson, MechWarrior, by Vincent DeVries, New Avalon Press, 2788


Days of infamy, when some heinous act or crime is committed, are almost always bright and sunny. All have their faces pointed to the peaceful heavens above, making it that much easier to slip them the knife.

-Stefan Amaris to his officers the day after he usurped the Throne of the First Lord.

As he traveled toward Terra, Stefan Amaris listened closely to the news coming from the Hegemony and the Periphery. From the Hegemony, he heard very little to alarm him. Resistance to his Republican troops was growing but still too small to have any effect. From the Periphery came reports of continued heavy fighting, demanding General Kerensky’s undivided attention. Pleased, Amaris sent streams of coded messages to his officers and agents in the Hegemony. By the time he arrived at Unity City on the snowy night of December 26, 2766, all of his key personnel were ready to act.

The next day dawned cold but beautiful, after the snowstorm of the night before. The storm left behind clear skies and a layer of fresh snow, through which Stefan Amaris and his guards trudged across the open courtyard leading to the First Lord’s private chambers. Amaris had a nine o’clock audience with Richard Cameron, and he did not want to be late.

The Amaris group went unchallenged past the guards at the door, who had standing orders to admit Amaris and anyone with him. Carrying a large box tied with satin ribbons, Stefan Amaris continued with his bodyguards down the ornate corridors with their white marble pillars, past the sentries in their cloaks hiding ablative flak suits and weapons, and past the elaborate security strongpoints hidden among the decorative ornate carvings and sculptures.

When Amaris and his guards entered the private Audience Chamber of the First Lord, they found Richard Cameron eagerly waiting. Amaris and Richard exchanged greetings, with Amaris complimenting the First Lord on his decisive and capable administration since their last meeting. Then, with a flourish and a smile, Amaris handed the First Lord the present, saying it was a gift from one friend to another.

Richard tore through the wrapper and opened the box, only to discover another, identically wrapped package inside. Laughing, he repeated the procedure. After working through box after box, he finally discovered a large laser pistol set with ornate jewels and with the Amaris crest carved into the grip.

Amaris reached out and took the pistol from the First Lord, saying that it was a very special weapon, made to his exact specifications. He held the gun up to the light, letting the jewels catch and reflect it. Amaris then slowly lowered the pistol until its barrel was pointed at the First Lord’s forehead.

From outside came the sounds of distant explosions. “It has begun,” Amaris said as he pulled the trigger. As the body of Richard Cameron slumped to the floor, Stefan Amaris sat down in a plush chair and calmly watched his guards leap into action. They pushed aside a large painting on a wall, revealing a hidden panel that controlled the security systems for the First Lord’s private quarters. On instructions from Amaris, to whom Richard had proudly shown the panel’s workings years before, the guards quickly took manual control of the many automated security systems in that wing of the palace.

Amaris interrupted the guards only once. Motioning to the body of Richard Cameron and the growing pool of blood, he asked one of them to clean up the “unsightly mess.”


Surprise is the best weapon to have in any arsenal. With it, all things become possible.

-Excerpt from the testimony of General Patrick Scoffins, Commander-in-Chief of the Republican forces in the Terran Hegemony, August 2780

Before 2765, there were 25 divisions in the Terran Hegemony. These included fleets, supplies, and planetary militia units. By December 2766, all but eight divisions, only two of them BattleMech divisions, had been sent to the Periphery. Reinforcing these divisions were a handful of independent SLDF regiments and planetary garrisons made up of aging veterans with Reserve status and young men and women hoping to get into a military academy.

Arrayed against the Regular Army in the Hegemony were Republican regiments and brigades with a total strength of 16 divisions. Even on Terra, Republican troops outnumbered the SLDF. Even as Stefan Amaris was murdering Richard Cameron, his regiments were pouncing on Regular Army units throughout the Hegemony. Republican troops used surprise to devastating advantage with such tactics as destroying Regular Army barracks filled with sleeping soldiers and flooding troopships with poisonous gas.

Regular Army forces stationed further from Republican forces fared little better. Amaris had made a point of having adequate air support for his strike. Among the weapons used by the Republican AeroSpace Fighters were nuclear bombs, which they used enthusiastically on the SLDF units untouched by opening moves of the coup.

Other prime targets were the Hegemony communications centers, for Amaris wanted to prevent any calls for help. Squads of Amaris commandos had little trouble seizing the lightly defended sites and shutting them down. Though HPG operators in the surrounding member states noticed the sudden cessation of messages from the Hegemony, it took days for their concern to work its way up through the channels. By then, it was too late. Surprise and ruthlessness were the keys to Amaris’s grand plan. It succeeded on almost every Hegemony world.

Because of the gallantry of some units, there were exceptions. Certain units, like the 3986th North American Infantry Battalion (The New Grunts), took to the wilderness of Hegemony worlds to fight a vicious guerrilla war that lasted until the liberations. The regiments in five Castles Brian also survived the initial onslaught and remained constant thorns in the Republicans’ sides until Amaris got impatient and destroyed all five with the repeated use of nuclear devices.

The most valor was shown by the palace guards, who almost killed Stefan Amaris despite his elaborate preparations. Amaris was unaware of the full extent of the security measures in the palace. He did not know that when he fired his pistol, the laser light was picked up by a sensor in the ceiling, sounding an alarm in a control room. Within seconds, the entire Court of the Star League was alerted, including the warriors of the Royal Black Watch BattleMech Regiment, the Camerons’ personal regiment stationed a few kilometers away.

Inside the palace, the guards raced down the halls to the Audience Chamber. They soon discovered that Amaris’s guards had control of the palace’s security systems. Hidden lasers killed many of them. Some pressed forward, relying on speed and their ablative armor. Three reached the doors of the Audience Chamber, only to be killed when Amaris’s men opened the door and lobbed a grenade at them.

Two lances of the Black Watch escaped the traps set by the Amaris Dragoons and headed for the Court of the Star League. Unaware that Richard Cameron was already dead, the nine warriors prepared to meet the Dragoons and hold them off as long as possible so their First Lord could escape.

The last members of the Royal Black Watch met the forward elements of the Fourth Amaris Dragoons at Gorst Flats. Commanding what was left of the elite SLDF regiment, which had been made up entirely of graduates of the Gunslinger Program, was Colonel Hanni Schmitt. She had chosen an excellent site to make her regiment’s last stand. With high, forested hills on one side and the waters of Puget Sound on the other, the nine ‘Mechs of the Black Watch forced the Republican ‘Mechs to bunch up and face them head on. Unable to use their numerical superiority, the Dragoons felt as if they had walked into a meat grinder that chewed up the first ten ‘Mechs before they could even react. The commander of the Dragoons withdrew his forces.

Meanwhile, a platoon of guards with jump packs was hopping across the palace roofs toward the Audience Chamber. As they approached the inner buildings, they too came under attack from the defensive systems. Turrets with lasers meant to knock out enemy AeroSpace Fighters cut down several troopers slowly arcing through the air. The defenses were programmed not to fire if the shot would hit the palace. Using this to their advantage, the remaining troopers started making shallow but dangerous jumps, praying that the turrets would not risk shooting at them.

Upon reaching the roof above the Audience Chamber, the guards began to use lasers to drill holes into the building. They cut into the wall that held the panel Amaris was using to control the security systems, hoping to destroy it so that other troopers on the ground could assault the chamber. As they drilled, two AeroSpace Fighters flashed past them high overhead on their way to destroy the last Black Watch ‘Mechs. The turrets on the palace did not react. An instant later, a flash, then the incredible force of a nuclear explosion, shook the Court of the Star League. The Royal Black Watch Regiment was no more.

The guards on the roof feverishly continued to drill. After fifteen minutes, they broke through the last barrier and found their lasers had burned a hole directly above the wires. They lowered a small explosive into the hole and detonated it. The explosion blew out the wall, killing two of Amaris’s guards and filling the Audience Chamber with debris and smoke. Amaris escaped injury only because he was standing next to a high-back oak chair that protected him.

Though unhurt, Amaris must have thought that his grand scheme had failed. Troopers were undoubtedly storming up the corridors, and he had only four guards with laser pistols to hold them off. The explosion, as powerful as it was, buckled but did not blow out the windows, which were made of safety glass laced with steel fibers. Unable to climb out or open the door that led to the First Lord’s private quarters, Amaris was trapped.

Through the hole in the wall, he heard the approaching steps of palace guards. Just when he thought he was finished, the sounds of running changed to crashing noises, the explosions of laser fire, and the confused shouts of soldiers. Poking his head through the hole and looking down the corridor, Amaris saw Dragoon infantry pouring out of an armored personnel carrier that had plowed through the wall of the palace. The bodies of Star League troopers were scattered on the marble floor.


Republicans quickly seized control of the Court of the Star League after rescuing Stefan Amaris. Amaris then broadcast an ultimatum over all channels that called for SLDF soldiers to lay down their weapons and surrender or he would kill the First Lord. The ruse largely succeeded. Many units, badly mauled or outnumbered by Rim Worlds troops, did lay down their weapons. Those who surrendered were forced to dig their own graves before they were shot.

Those who did not surrender were chased away from the major cities and then hunted down. Many lances of the 191st Royal BattleMech Division, of which the Royal Black Watch Regiment had been part, survived the initial slaughter and escaped. They continued to fight for two years, with some surviving to see the liberation of Terra.

Reasonably secure on Terra, Amaris listened with pleasure to reports from the other Hegemony worlds. His plan was almost a total success. Of the 103 worlds, 95 fell under Amaris’s control in the first day. Though a few units held out and others resorted to raiding, Amaris forces controlled all the worlds by the end of the year. Many of the Castles Brian and the Space Defense Systems were captured intact and now belonged to Republican soldiers.

In a gruesome ceremony, Amaris forced the surviving soldiers of the palace guard to remove the Star League standard from the flagpoles and run up the Amaris family crest. Then Amaris ordered the prisoners shot and their bloody bodies buried at the foot of the flagpoles with the Star League flag as their burial shroud.

Amaris next turned his attention to the Cameron family. Richard’s wife, Elise, and two-year-old daughter, Amanda, were in custody. Consulting computer records, Amaris traced the names and locations of everyone who might have even a trace of Cameron blood. He brought these people to the Court of the Star League, treating them with kindness and courtesy until the whole group finally arrived.

Amaris assembled 79 men, women, and children of the Cameron family in the Throne Room. Sitting on the Star League Throne and protected by many guards, he gave the distant relatives of the Camerons an ultimatum: swear allegiance or die. He had them brought before him, one by one, to answer. Not one of the first 20 yielded to Amaris, who accepted their answers and asked them to rejoin the rest.

The 21st relative of the Camerons, Jason Cameron Bashina, agreed to bow to Amaris. With a cruel grin, Amaris shot Jason Bashina with the same laser pistol that had killed Richard. With no chance to live, the rest of the Camerons rushed the throne, only to be cut down by the surrounding guards. After the smoke from the charred bodies had cleared, Stefan Amaris left the Throne Room and ordered it sealed.

Elsewhere on Terra, similar atrocities occurred. The Greenhaven Gestapo, a notorious mercenary band, took control of Rome and tortured the people of that noble city for a decade. In 2770, the mercenaries, after an attempt to extort money and riches from the already-stripped Rome and Vatican City, killed Pope Clement XXVII and many cardinals and bishops of the Roman Catholic Church.

Across Terra and the Hegemony, Stefan Amaris destroyed everything that had to do with the Star League or the Camerons. Amaris wanted the memory of the Star League expunged from the face of every planet, to be replaced by his family crest, the symbol of the cruel Amaris Empire.

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