Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Star League Part 23


Stefan Amaris proclaimed himself First Lord in January 2767. This was the first transmission from the Terran Hegemony since the coup began. General Kerensky and the leaders of the other realms were shocked. Everyone had considered the Periphery uprising, not the Rim Worlds Republic, to be the threat. Even the suspicious Takiro Kurita, who had tried to warn the other Council Lords about Amaris, was caught off guard by Richard’s death. Kurita knew that Amaris was a schemer, but the Coordinator had believed that Amaris would exercise control through his influence over Richard. Kurita had thought Amaris too shrewd to risk the reaction of the entire Inner Sphere and the wrath of General Kerensky and the SLDF.

As weeks passed and the fait accompli began to sink in, the House leaders began blaming each other for letting it happen. They also waited for General Kerensky to restore order. The General, however, was totally surprised by the coup. When he recovered from his initial shock, the General reasoned that Amaris could not have been foolish enough to attempt the coup without support from one or more of the other realms.

In fact, the Draconis Combine began to cooperate with First Lord Stefan. Shortly before the coup, Takiro Kurita had ordered his grand-nephew, Drago Kurita, to evacuate his post as Ambassador to the Star League because the Coordinator feared a popular uprising against the large number of Republican troops on Terra. Drago and his family did not get out in time, however. Though the 121-year-old Takiro had assigned most of his duties to staff members, he flew into a rage upon learning that Amaris had arrested Ambassador Drago, his wife, and their four children. After fretting for days because he knew how brutal Amaris could be, Coordinator Takiro had a heart attack. On the day before he died, Takiro made his son Minoru promise to resolve the hostage situation through negotiation.

Thus the Draconis Combine was civil and cooperative despite Amaris’s brash goading of the Kuritas. Not knowing why House Kurita behaved in a friendly manner to the Usurper, the other Council Lords and General Kerensky feared that the Draconis Combine had been part of the plot.


While we fought and died trusting that all was well back home, a cancer was allowed to grow that has now seized our hearts and souls. The Hegemony is lost and our hopes with it.

-General Aleksandr Kerensky, announcing the Amaris coup to his troops, February 15, 2767

In January 2767, General Kerensky led the attack to retake New Vandenberg. For a year, he had been at the head of an offensive to regain the Taurian Concordat. Though he faced stiff resistance from the Periphery forces, he finally gained the upper hand.

With the seizure of New Vandenberg complete and the submission of the Concordat likely to follow soon, the General hoped to pressure the neighboring realms to submit with a minimum of bloodshed. Yet certain things worried him. The large enemy BattleMech divisions, once so eager to engage in combat, began to avoid big battles. It seemed to General Kerensky that they were waiting for something.

His message to Terra, telling the First Lord of his victory of New Vandenberg, went unanswered. Then General Kerensky heard Stefan Amaris proclaim himself First Lord. An unbelieving Kerensky immediately asked for a status report from commanders in the Hegemony. The few still alive told the General that there was no hope for the SLDF units that were still fighting.

On May 19, the General received a message whose full implication filled him with horror:

FROM: Stefan Ukris Amaris, Emperor of the Amaris Empire
TO: General Aleksandr S. Kerensky, Commander of the late Star League Defense Forces

I, with my infinite skills and aided by my loyal subjects, have struck, with a swiftness given only to the righteous, a blow that has corrected decades of injuries and slights to my family. I rule where the Camerons once called home. I control the Cradle of Humanity. All within the Hegemony have bowed before me; those who didn’t are dead.

Join me, General Kerensky. Become my sword arm and help me impress my word and wisdom upon the other realms. I’ve no reason to hate you; I wish only peace between us. Join me and convince your men and women to follow you, and I will give you power second only to mine.

But should you dare turn a blind eye to the wisdom of my offer and decide not to join, then heed my warning: I control everything the Hegemony has. All its defenses, all of its fortifications are now manned by people loyal to me. Should you try to attack, every inch of Hegemony soil will be stained with the blood of the fallen, and every drop will be a burden upon your soul, which must already be heavy with guilt for allowing me to accomplish the complete control of your homelands.

(signed) Emperor Stefan Ukris Amaris I

The feeble attempt at conciliation and the mockingly adversarial tone of the letter confused General Kerensky. Even after the losses in the Periphery war, the SLDF was by far the strongest military ever assembled. How did Amaris dare to antagonize its commander?

For three days, General Kerensky stayed in his quarters. His troops were more vocal in their reaction. Because Amaris was from the Periphery, many troopers wanted to go on a rampage, destroying anything and anyone from the Periphery. Just barely, their officers contained them and prevented a catastrophe.

Royal units, whose soldiers were recruited from the Hegemony, were the hardest hit by the news. Most of them wanted to leave the Periphery immediately to attack Amaris, but their officers ordered them to wait for General Kerensky’s decision. One unit, the Thirty-fourth Royal BattleMech Division, would not wait. It left its post in the Outworlds Alliance and headed for home. It was later wiped out above Epsilon Indi, its homeworld, by that planet’s automated Space Defense System.

General Kerensky finally broke his silence by issuing a long message to his troops and the people of the Periphery. He expressed outrage at what Stefan Amaris had done. He stated that, considering the nature of the Amaris family, there was little hope for the life of the First Lord or anyone who dared to show their loyalty to the Star League.

The General went on to say that a state of war obviously existed between the SLDF and the Amaris Empire. He cautioned his troops that it would be foolish to charge blindly at Amaris and his forces. The Rim Worlds forces were strong enough that the SLDF needed to plan strategy, General Kerensky said. Though the SLDF vastly outnumbered the Republican forces, General Kerensky knew that his adversaries would be in excellent defensive positions, and he worries that one or more of the House militaries, especially the Kuritans, might be fighting alongside the Amaris troops.

Addressing the people of the Periphery, he said it would be ridiculous for his troops to continue fighting the Periphery rebels to preserve a Star League whose capital was enslaved. He declared a cease-fire with all the Periphery realms except one. General Kerensky warned the Rim Worlds Republic that he intended to seize the homeworlds of Stefan Amaris to use as his base of operations. This was not simply a matter of revenge. General Kerensky, mistrustful of all the Lords after what had happened, needed a command center, and the Rim Worlds Republic lay undefended.

His announcement calmed the soldiers of the Star League. Knowing that their leader, a man whose stature and charisma had grown to almost godlike proportions, was back in command gave everyone hope that all was not lost. Some still disagreed with the General and felt that they should try to recapture the Hegemony immediately, but the news of the fate of the Thirty-fourth Royals restrained even the most impulsive among the soldiers. MechWarriors and common soldiers eagerly agreed with General Kerensky’s plan to attack the Rim Worlds Republic as a chance to repay Amaris for what he did to their homeworlds.


The decision to move on the Rim Worlds Republic must have been a difficult one for General Kerensky. He had long been a vocal opponent of what he called “war’s unnecessary acts of stupidity against the innocent.” Even during a battle’s angriest moments, he had never succumbed to the temptation to strike an easy and telling blow against an enemy’s civilian population. General Kerensky was an anachronism, more in tune with a time when warfare had a set of rules and a code of honor.

As news of General Kerensky’s plan passed through the Inner Sphere, many people questioned its sense. These individuals believed that the General should stay in the Concordat, summoning his strength and planning his strategy. To embark on a campaign against the Republic seemed a foolhardy waste of effort and lives.

Some among the militaries of the five inner realms understood. They realized that the Republic was probably woefully underdefended. Officers of the five Houses also understood that the Rim Worlds Republic was the only Periphery realm that was not battle-scarred and exhausted. There was every reason to believe that General Kerensky would find plenty of supplies and equipment for his troops in the Republic. Some also realized that Star league forces would vent their frustrations on the Republic and thus be able to fight for the Hegemony with less passion and greater thought.

When he heard what General Kerensky was planning, Emperor Amaris was livid. He sent messages throughout the Inner Sphere about “the butcher Kerensky” and “his unholy intention to attack innocent men, women, and children.” He also sent messages to the remaining Periphery BattleMech Divisions that he had helped form, ordering them to defend the Rim Worlds to the last soldier.

The offensive began in August 2767 after General Kerensky and his forces approached the Republic from one side, and General DeChavilier, with an equal force, moved in from the other side. Before they attacked, the Star League force offered the Republic the chance to surrender. Mohammed Selim, Regent of the Rim Worlds Republic in Amaris’s absence, flatly refused.

The Periphery divisions that Amaris had ordered to protect the Republic had refused the order. Their reasons were many, but the most common one was revulsion for what Stefan Amaris had done. The warriors in the divisions had wanted independence from the Star League, not the death of innocents. Without the protection of the Periphery divisions, the Republic had only reservists and a few militia units to defend against the most powerful fighting force in history. Against such odds, many Republican warriors simply gave up, either refusing to fight and going AWOL or defecting to General Kerensky’s side at the first opportunity. The main contests were at the 20 fortifications scattered throughout the Republic.

Built decades earlier by the Star League, these fortifications were virtual copies of the Castles Brian in the Terran Hegemony. After Richard Cameron had ordered the SLDF to transfer the fortifications to Republican units, Stefan Amaris had used them to train his troops on how best to overcome the Castles Brian in the Hegemony. General Kerensky assaulted the Republican fortifications in a variety of ways: full frontal assault, combined assaults, bombardment from the air or space.

As expected, General Kerensky’s troops fought the Republicans with unmatched fury. There were many acts that, under different circumstances, would have been called foolhardy and overly violent. The General and his command staff issued special orders in an attempt to prevent the Star League troops from committing the same sins as their enemies. To their credit, most SLDF soldiers controlled their emotions. There were exceptions. The massacre at Gutui Junction, where the Ninetieth Dragoons killed 100 POWs, was the worst incident.

The Rim Worlds Republic fell quickly.


[EDITOR’S NOTE: The Thirty-fourth Royal BattleMech Division was aided in its attempt to win back the Hegemony by the 568th Armed Transport Flotilla. The flotilla consisted of a single Black Lion Class battlecruiser, two Aegis Class cruisers, four Lola Class destroyers, one Potemkin Class cruiser/transport, and 20 transports and service vessels.

Commanding the 568th was Admiral Amanda Braso, a 30-year veteran of the Star League Navy and recipient of the Naval Medal of Valor, for her action during the Battle of D’Van’s Star. What follows is her last transmission. The message was received and recorded by a small trading vessel that was watching the battle from a jump point. The message was forwarded to the Periphery.]

This is Admiral Braso, commander of the 568th Armed Transport Flotilla. I’m hoping that someone friendly to the Star League might be listening in and relay my message to the General. He has to know what has happened.

We materialized into the Epsilon Indi system on July 1 at 0900 hours at both the zenith and nadir jump points. No resistance.

We high-geed it to Epsilon Indi in two groups, I in my flagship and Vice Admiral Mitchell Justin in his cruiser, the E. Presley. A day away from Indi, we picked up a challenge from a drone warship. We gave the proper response. To no one’s surprise, it refused our ID code. Our computer programmers took over at that point and attempted to worm their way into the controls of the Space Defense System. They tried everything but were rebuked by the computer’s security system each time. My hat’s off to whoever built the SDS; they built quality stuff, damn them.

As we drew nearer, more Caspars left their posts on the far side of the planet until all 56 were ready and waiting for us. There was no way to avoid a fight. I ordered Justin and his ships to change course and try to make it to the far side of the planet while my group would bear the brunt of the fighting. I was hoping that he might have a chance to unload his troops unopposed.

The Caspars, looking for all the world like warships from hell, are incredible to watch. They took the initiative, which surprised me, and performed an incredibly swift raking pass at my ships. Our gunners found it difficult to aim at the drone ships because of their speed and maneuverability. After they passed my ship, they concentrated on the Rex, a destroyer. Her commander made a fatal error and tried to run away. Like sharks around a whale, the drones encircled the Rex and sliced her to pieces. They went after the transports next. We managed to scatter the drones by diving into the middle of the fray, but not before they had gotten two troop transports. The gunners on my ship, bless their hearts, managed to get two of them by aiming at their tails. There seems to be an unusual weakness there that might be exploited by whoever follows us.

I ordered the remaining transports to launch their DropShips and ‘Mechs, hoping that so many targets would confuse the SDS and that some would get through. The Caspars split into two groups, one to engage us and the other to slice through the cloud of DropShips and ‘Mechs, their weapons firing at even the smallest tank-carrier. Many ‘Mechs were lost, but some survived.

Then, without warning, one of the drone ships rammed the Huston, an Aegis Class cruiser. I was horrified to see both ships explode. I then watched helplessly the ground-based SDS lasers and missiles picked off our remaining ‘Mechs and DropShips like so many kernels of corn thrown into a fire. One by one, ‘Mechs and DropShips were singled out and destroyed. I estimated that of all the DropShips and ‘Mechs I had in my group, maybe 10 percent actually reached the ground. Justin’s last report said that his group fared a little better, but not much. I do not hold out much hope for those that did reach the surface.

I don’t know how we are going to overcome these SDSes. The only way I can see to combat them is just hunting its warships down and destroying them all, then bombarding the hell out of the planet in hopes of destroying the laser and missile batteries on the planet’s surface. I…

What? Evasive action to port! Gunners fire, maximum spread. Prepare for collision. (Sounds of explosions)

End of transmission.


The Rim Worlds Republic had a wealth of resources badly needed by the Regular Army. What was not expected was the docile way the people of the Republic accepted the presence of so many SLDF units on their worlds and in their skies. This has never been fully explained, though some historians have speculated that even the citizens of the Republic were shocked at what Amaris had done.

Stefan Amaris sent new messages to the leaders of the five major Houses calling General Kerensky everything from an unprincipled schemer to the Great Satan. These messages had a new twist, however, in that they stated Amaris’s terms for admitting the Great Houses to join with his new empire.

General Kerensky also called upon the five Houses to join him “in ridding Terra, the home of us all, of the Amaris scourge.” He did not offer terms or try to persuade them to join; he merely stated that he considered it was a duty honorable people would undertake. Not one of the five member states joined either side.

Oddly enough, the Draconis Combine, the one realm that most thought would join Stefan Amaris, was actually the most eager to join General Kerensky in smashing the Usurper. Though Minoru Kurita had pledged to try to rescue his nephew peacefully, he privately did all he could to help Kerensky. Though pleased to have the support, General Kerensky was mystified by the Coordinator’s public stance.

The other Houses had no such excuse. Members of their ruling families had escaped the Hegemony safely. The other Houses did not want to join the struggle for political reasons. To join the losing side would cause physical and political losses that could not be recouped, and none could predict the eventual victor. Though the SLDF was obviously more powerful than the Republican military, none of the leaders knew what secret deals might exist. All the inaction heightened the mutual suspicion.

For the next year and a half, while both sides sought to win the support of the five Houses, the military of the Star League prepared for the offensive. General Kerensky grew more cynical and less trusting of the Lords. He created two groups of the divisions and regiments that were stationed in the Inner Sphere. One group stripped Star league bases of supplies and equipment and sent the material to the Republic. General Kerensky ordered the second group to test the defenses of Stefan Amaris. Emperor Amaris, too, began to prepare for the inevitable, building up his forces and strengthening fortifications.

The House leaders attempted to protect their interests without angering either side. The Capellan Confederation rebuffed Amaris incursions. The Draconis Combine, still trying to negotiate with Stefan Amaris, refused General Kerensky permission to stage raids on Amaris from Combine territory. Coordinator Minoru Kurita even forced the Third Regimental Combat Team, the Eridani Light Horse, to leave the Combine if it persisted in testing the Republican defenses. Colonel Ezra Bradley, commander of the Third RCT, was treated brusquely even though his unit had been based in the Combine. After an initial confrontation with the Free Worlds League, the Third RCT was allowed to use bases there. Colonel Bradley learned a lesson from the Thirty-fourth Royals, making only probing raids on worlds protected by an SDS in the hopes of destroying a few drones at a time.

Often these tactics worked, but sometimes they did not. Almost weekly, the soldiers training in the Republic heard about the deaths of their fellow soldiers. This news hardened their hearts and deepened their resolve.

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