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Wings of Dawn Lore

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--- Quote from: Lorric on April 04, 2017, 08:28:13 am ---Why do I get the nasty feeling my beloved CRF is going to be on the wrong end of one almighty ass kicking at the hands of the DD... :nervous:

I will be shocked if it doesn't happen. The DD has already been painted as the clear underdog here, even before we take into account who the writer is. I think it will either happen immediately, happen after some initial CRF success, or (and the way I would try to do it if I was wanting to weave a DD victory story from this start point) after the CRF have had a series of great victories and pushed deep into DD space, putting the DD's very existence in dire peril, that's when the almighty ass kicking gets dished out and the CRF invasion is utterly destroyed.

--- End quote ---

--- Quote ---The DD has already been painted as the clear underdog here, even before we take into account who the writer is.
--- End quote ---

I'll let Spoon-sempai decide how much spoilery information he wants to reveal as teasers (because, and I need to make this clear, this is his plotline, like everything else that I will be writing). For now, I'll only say: "For shame. Give me some credit for impartiality."  :nono:

And stop fishing for info. :P

--- Quote from: Lorric on April 04, 2017, 08:28:13 am ---
--- Quote from: Enioch on April 04, 2017, 02:09:02 am ---See the flaming yellow mass of Terconia Secundus above you; feel the absurd heat and power of the cosmic furnace slam into you. Look away, blinded by the foreign sun. Let your hurting eyes

--- End quote ---

No! :p

--- End quote ---

Listen, young man, you will look where I tell you and like it. :hopping:

I wasn't actually fishing for info, just speculating. I appreciate that clarification though, I thought Spoon had just let you loose essentially.

I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes though, even if it does indeed involve the CRF taking a beating. I enjoy your work very much, this is going to enrich the Spooniverse considerably I think. :)


--- Quote from: Enioch on April 04, 2017, 09:17:45 am ---I'll let Spoon-sempai decide how much spoilery information he wants to reveal as teasers

--- End quote ---
None whatsoever!
Speculate away!

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17-year-old Midshipwoman Juliette Landsgrave decided that she was going to take this punishment in stride, as was to be expected from any Officer and Lady in the service of Their Majesties’ Fleet (she was no Lady from a legal standpoint yet; that would only come if she passed the Examinations and became a Lieutenant or if, God willing, she drew the attention of a Knight of the Realm and was dubbed a Squire – but, until then, she would bloody well act like one!)

So, she would wear her dress Whites. And play honour guard to whatever posh tosser Pegasus decided to send their way. And stand there in nice, orderly ranks with her fellow midshipmen in the cavernous hangar bay of the Nelson as the Pegasus shuttle punched through the atmospheric forcefield and coasted to a gentle landing. And even suffer through the fifing of that utter pillock, McFarland.

But God these shoes hurt like iron maidens.

"Hey, July," she heard Ranger's low voice from behind her and her eyes shifted slightly. "Hey. Four Imperials say it's Forsythe." 

A low groan from her right; Seymour Holborn stood in rigid attention but his rolling eyes still communicated his utter revulsion at the idea. "God, I hope not," he muttered. "They should have put him out to pasture a decade ago. I swear, if it's him, old French will have an aneurism."

"Shut up, all of you," came the snappy admonishment from Her Divine Majesty, Lady of All she Surveys, Smug ***** Extraordinaire Clara Settwee, First Midshipwoman of the Nelson. "Also, Ranger, you're on. Four Imps say it's Simmons."

"Guard - ATTEN-HUT," came the call from Master-at-Arms Vinter and a few hundred feet stomped on the deck. Landsgrave winced as pain shot up her leg. Further to the right, she could see a small detachment of Marines, in their ceremonial red coats presenting arms.

The shuttle doors slid to the side; and, after a few heartbeats, a small figure emerged, straigthening his own dress Whites as he went. Landsgrave heard Ranger curse softly behind her; and she could already imagine Settwee's smug, infernally punchable face as His Grace, Pegasus Champion Paul Simmons (Fourth Lord Simmons, Earl of New Westford, Knight of the Realm, Member of the Order of Merit etc etc.) came to attention and exchanged salutes with ol' French.

And then, the Pegasus Champion stepped aside and saluted again; and Landsgrave's breath hitched in her throat as a second figure emerged from the shuttle; this one tall and considerably more feminine.

"Well bugger me sideways," she heard Settwee gasp and for once in her life, Landsgrave felt like fully agreeing with her.

For the woman who had just stepped out of the shuttle with a gentle smile and immaculate Whites was Her Grace Aretha; High Lady of the Realm; Eighth Exarch of Renkin and current High Mistress under God and King of the House of Pegasus.

Midshipwoman Landsgrave, being by all accounts (including her own) a savvy girl and having a pretty good idea of what ol' French would think of this development, could only bring herself to mutter a laconic expression of her discomfort, in anticipation of what she could only assume would be difficult days ahead.

"Oh, bollocks."

And her ****ing shoes were still torture.

You could cut the tension with a knife during the regal dinner, where the usual platitudes were exchanged and the appropriate jingoistic sentiments were expressed but where no matters of essence were discussed; and you would probably need a rather sharper implement to cut the tension during the after-dinner Port, when Victoria and Pegasus officers exchanged condescending looks and pointed comments. Throughout it all, Arc Champion Julius French and Exarch Aretha Pegasus were the epitome of icy politeness, maintaining (with timely enforced changes of topic and the occasional glare) an iron grip on their subordinates' manners, at least superficially.

And when the Port had made its round and the Loyal Toast was toasted, it did not take long for the Champion to invite the Exarch to adjourn for refreshments in private; or, indeed, for the rest of the officers to also leave the Nelson's officers' mess, huddled in groups of Victoria and Pegasus personnel and commenting (perhaps a bit more loudly than their relatively minor inebriation could excuse) on those oh-so-evident lapses of their opposing numbers' manners.

Meanwhile, in the Arc Champion's quarters, coffee and liquors were served (coffee, black for the Exarch; a small glass of grappa for the Champion); the stewards withdrew; and the two commanders enjoyed a few seconds of silence, before French leaned slightly forward in his seat, laid his glass on the low coffee table between the two and brought his hands together on his knees.

"Well," he said, his voice expressionless but not outright cold, "this is certainly irregular."

Exarch Aretha raised an impeccably made-up eyebrow over her coffee cup, her face framed by her auburn hair. "Unusual, certainly," she conceded with a half-smile. "But, surely, not irregular, Sir Champion. I assume, of course, that you are referring to my assuming the command of the Pegasus forces?"

"Indeed," French said. "Frankly, I was expecting one of your Champions, Your Grace. It is hardly expected of an Exarch to lead their troops in combat anymore."

"In Arc Victoria, perhaps," Aretha replied, and her lips twitched in a way that might indicate a degree of condescension. "I am sure that Their Majesties have more important business to attend to. But I can hardly delegate something of this importance to others. In Pegasus, at least, Exarchs are expected to share some of the danger of the battlefield."

French's eyes flashed up sharply "I see. Well, there's going to be quite a lot of danger, I can assure you. You do realise that I cannot guarantee your safety, if you choose to lead from the front?"

"How chivalrous," Aretha retorted with a smile. "You are not expected to guarantee any such thing, of course. Neither by me nor by my subordinates."

French leaned back with a nod of acknowledgment. "Still; I would have preferred to have known much earlier. You have received the briefing documents I forwarded to your forces, I'm sure, but it would only have made things easier if we had more time to discuss the overall invasion strategy and the specific battle-plans."

"I will grant you that, Sir Champion," Aretha said with a small laugh. "I truly am sorry for causing you this much trouble; I am sure you are quite overhelmed by having to deal with your own forces already and the last thing you needed was more trouble. However, our negotiations with Their Majesties to arrange for our presence here took up more time than I had originally planned for."

This time, French's eyebrows came together and his fingers tightened on his glass; but good manners prevailed again. "I appreciate the sentiment. I assume you have gone through the briefing documents?"

"I have indeed. In general, I found your invasion plan to be ingenious and most of my Staff, including Champion Simmons, agree; Arc Victoria is justified to be proud of your skill as a fleet commander," Aretha smiled and sipped some more of her coffee. "There are some aspects of it that I find, frankly, sub-optimal but they do not detract from the worth of the whole."

The clack of French's glass on the table sounded like a gunshot. "Your Grace," he said, his face an expressionless mask, "I would be most grateful if you could elaborate on that statement."

"I am referring to your apparent focus on the preservation of the Delest infrastructure," Aretha replied in a matter-of-fact voice. "You acknowledge the danger of allowing the two starbases that are currently under construction in Terconia to be completed. You acknowledge that the orbital shipyards will be a major help to the Delest in keeping their damaged ships into the fray. And yet your plan calls for a cautious - perhaps too cautious advance, which will preserve these structures and most of the asteroid mining platforms at the cost of increased casualties on both sides."

"I am aware of the risk to my ships and crews," French countered,"but I will not gift my King and Queen with a burnt-out wasteland. If the annexation of Terconia is to be viable in the mid- to long-term, some of the Delest infrastructure in-system needs to be preserved; or Terconia will be a massive drain of resources instead of an asset."

"An asset to Arc Victoria, you mean?" Aretha asked and, for the first time, her voice carried more than a hint of hostility.

"An asset to New Britannia," came the immediate answer.

"I see." Aretha's smile and narrowed eyes looked much less accommodating now. "You do realise, of course, that I object against any plans that will needlessly endanger the lives of my ships and personnel?"

"I would be happy to log your objection, your grace," French scowled, "should any such plans need to be implemented. For now, however, I believe all risk inherent to my overall strategy to be necessary."

"I disagree," Aretha countered, her voice cold, "and so do my advisors. With our numerical and qualitative superiority, our projections show that the optimal way to proceed would be to seek out a decisive battle, perhaps even over the Hōseki orbitals. A new Trafalgar, as it were, to completely eradicate the system defenses-"

"-and give the Delest garrisons time to plant demolition charges and scorch the entire system behind them as soon as they realise that the battle is lost. Unacceptable," French interrupted, his tone angry, "and indicative of a focus on tactical over strategic victory. No, Your Grace, we will follow the plan as laid out by my Staff and myself."

"Typical," Aretha shrugged softly and returned to her coffee. "Well, far be it from me to tell you how to run your fleet. We will, of course, provide support where possible, but be aware that my first priority is to preserve my crews, not squander them so that Arc Victoria can lay claim to yet another God-forsaken asteroid mine."

"I will keep that in mind when determining the Pegasus deployments, Your Grace" French replied, slightly more than a hint of sarcasm in his voice. His hand reached for his glass again.

"...I'm sorry?" Aretha looked up, sharply.

"I said that I will seek to keep your wishes in mind when I determine how the Pegasus forces are best to be deployed," French said, his eyebrow arcing over the rim of his glass.

"...Oh. Oh dear," Aretha exclaimed, apparently worried. "There seems to be a misunderstanding."

"How so?"

"Well, Sir Champion..." and Aretha's gentle smile had just a hint of dry humour in it, "you have no say in how my forces will be deployed. I'd be happy to discuss things with you, of course, to provide as much help as I-"


French's expression was a kaleidoscope of emotions, none of them particularly positive ones. There was some shock; and anger; and, primarily, sheer incredulity. Aretha, on the other hand, seemed perfectly at ease.

"My forces are not under your command, Sir Champion. They are under mine. 'My' forces, you see? And I am not eager to squander my dreadnoughts as nannies for Marine boarding detachments."

French unfolded off his seat like the wrath of God. In all honesty, his greying mid-length hair, magnificent sideburns and bristling eyebrows did lend him an air of considerable gravitas.

"Madam," he said in a low growl, his hands clenching into fists, "I am the senior commander in this theatre of operations, answering directly to Their Majesties and the War Department, and by God you will follow my orders."

"How quaint," Aretha replied, leaving her cup on the table, "I was about to say something along the same lines. Well, I wasn't going to ask you to follow my orders, of course - you are an Arc Champion, after all. But I am the Exarch of Pegasus and I'm not part of your chain of command, Sir Champion. Nor are my ships and crews."

"Your forces have been assigned to my fleet as support elements-"

"Not so," Aretha interrupted. "I am here under orders from Their Majesties to provide support and relief where it is deemed necessary and you can rest assured, Sir Champion, that I fully intend to do so. But my task force is an independent command, recognised as such by Their Majesties. I'd be happy to forward you my deployment orders and you may peruse them at your leisure."

"This is preposterous!"

"This war is preposterous, Sir Champion," Aretha replied; and her voice was cold steel. "Pegasus did not wish for this war. It is not our economy that suffers, or our people who live under the spectre of unemployment and poverty. It is not we who need to shift into a war economy or seek out Delest spoils like starving jackals. We are still here, helping Arc Victoria out, because it is our duty as loyal Britons. But as long as we are here, we will conduct ourselves as we see fit and seek battle as we see fit. If Arc Victoria wishes to have Terconia and her riches, then let her, I say. Pegasus will be satisfied with victory and glory on the battlefield. Under our own banner."

French staggered back under her words as if he'd received a physical blow; but he rallied, drawing himself up again.

"Your Grace, you are jeopardising this entire operation and, by extension, your own forces. I have more than thirty years of experience as a battlefield commander-."

"So does my own Champion Simmons," Aretha countered hotly and French winced at the interruption, but kept on.

"-and seeking out a decisive battle at this point would be a disastrous mistake. We need to advance cautiously; we need to choke Dyatlov out, deprive him of his assets; not kick his door down and fight him in his own house where he holds all the cards."

"I am no fool, Sir Champion," Aretha said, contemptuously. "I do not propose to run my fleet down a Delest gauntlet. I can wait and pick my fight. And, when the hostilities begin and we take our ships through that Starlance, I will help you where I can. But when the time comes, I will seek out the enemy and blow them out of the sky, instead of inching forward from one barren space-rock to the next. I hope that, when that time comes, you make the right choice."

French, by this point, had gone past apoplectic rage and into the still waters of the other end. "Madam," he said, slowly descending into his seat once more, "I will ask you once again. In the name of God and all that is good and right, will you follow my orders?"

Aretha bestowed upon him a pitying look; not unkind, but sad. "Yes, Sir Champion," she answered, softly, after a few moments of silence. "I will follow your orders - those that I can agree with and no others."

"Then God help you Madam," French replied, his eyes blazing and his voice a low growl, "for you have taken yourself and yours beyond my help."

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So who is right? What is the goal of this conflict? It looks like it's just an opportunistic grab for a valuable system in which case Arc Victoria would appear to be right, otherwise what's the point? If the higher goal is hurting Delest though Pegasus would appear to be right. Ordinarily you'd want to end a war quickly and decisively. Especially when the CRF and the DD aren't the only players in the game. They'd love to see the DD and CRF grind each other down and turn Terconia into Stalingrad. So I'd like more information, but I'm leaning more towards Pegasus being right here. Expend minimal resources taking Terconia. If the system's worth having it's worth rebuilding if necessary. If not, it's not worth fighting over if Delest going scorched earth essentially makes the operation a failure. And Delest would surely figure it out for themselves too after a while and use that to their advantage. So yes, I think Pegasus is right based on what I know right now. If the system isn't worth having without the Delest infrastructure intact, better not to go in at all and instead lean on Delest and get a favorable peace agreement. Possibly leaning on them could include trashing the place to get them to the table.


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