Connor McArty grinned. He wasn't going to win this battle, but he'd qualified almost six times over. Black Hand had seen a bit of action, just enough to get him into the thick of things and drop a Crescent Hawk Mateaus and one of two Fleas painted in ComStar colors. Unlike the commander of the similarly-painted Daishi in a ravine to the north, he preferred his command unit to play the back of the field; mobile and capable of leaping on any opportunity that presented itself instead of wading into the middle of battle.
Of course, the Daishi's plan had worked. The Dragoon command platoon had broken down into lances; one supported the pressed forces to the north while the other, faster, two circled around (McArty's lance to the west, Major Kim's to the east) to press the opfor flanks with hit and run attacks. With any luck, their forward elements would break off to regroup when surrounded. McArty couldn't make a win with it, but if he could slow them down, most of his company could avoid (simulated) destruction and escape.
"I'm impressed Major Steiner-Davion...or is it Kommandant?"
The much shorter man smiled and met McArty's outstretched hand with his own, "Neither, really. I think General Youngblood is going to revoke my Crescent Hawks field commission for not exterminating you and your whole unit."
Both laughed politely, more obfuscation than humor as each one probed the other while their hands remained locked. Connor McArty tried to drown his surprise at the Precentor Martial's stature; the man's height--or lack thereof--was nearly mythical, but no amount of mere knowledge could have prepared him for the experience of it. He'd seen his share of battle scars and wounded, but Victor Ian Steiner-Davion right hand was different from the battle-wrecked flesh he'd learned to harden himself against; it just seemed wrong, like a poorly-doctored photo that walked and talked and drove a Daishi like a demon.
The scarred exterior wasn't all he noticed; there was a serene intensity to ComStar's Precentor Martial, like a bow cocked and ready to fly into the heart anyone under its gaze, if need be. His style of battle on the field had borne that out. While McArty feinted and maneuvered, the ComGuard had prowled and baited. They had been slower than his force, but after a few early missteps, they had been two moves ahead at every engagement, cornering and pounding their targets mercilessly.
As the man under that gaze, Sitting President Connor McArty did his best to seem unfazed. Certainly, the Steiner-Davion was dangerous, but it wasn't the uncontrolled tempest of a Liao lord. He was here because he wanted something. They unlocked their hands and seated themselves. The Crescent Hawk's commander had been kind enough to lend them his office and the Precentor Martial had risen from one of the two leather chairs in front of the General's desk to greet him. McArty took the other leaving the General's chair empty.
"I was sorry to hear about Ju Nair-Waite's death. He was a good friend and a wise man."
"He never forgave The Word for Hamseh's death. He let it spoil his perspective." The President got up and filled a paper cup from the water cooler. His tone was politically cool to show ComStar where he stood in relation to his predecessor, but it didn't require much acting.
His guest seemed to have no response to that for a moment "Jur wanted to protect his people by bloodying the Blakists' noses. His soldiers followed of their own volition." He paused briefly and even after riding his Centurion's head curve for the past six hours, McArty paused the drink at his lips as he gave his full attention to the Precentor Martial's next words.
McArty felt the heat of contest, but he swallowed it--and the water--down; the only thing that concerned him less than dead men were others' perceptions of dead men, "Why come to The Dragoons Pact under an alias? Or do I have to wait for your next memoir?"
Before he left Outreach, Greenbaum had coached him for a total of twenty three hours on how to broach the subject. It was inspired stuff; feints, catches, sly ways to extract just how much ComStar knew about The Pact's operations. None of it mentioned Cause and Effect.
"I do actually have a piece of official business," his tone indicated very little on the change of topic. Apparently their conversation up to now had been part of the Precentor Martial's off-time, "ComStar and the Lyran Commonwealth are planning an operation."
It didn't surprise McArty that he was planning an operation with the realm of his distant cousin--he'd been trying it between various other crises for years--it was that the Lyrans had apparently taken the offer that gave him pause.
The Word of Blake-sponsored offensive of 3070 was supposed to be The Word's delicate wooing of The Commonwealth. They promised The Clan Jade Falcon occupation zone, but when push came to shove The Word didn't have enough bodies to repel the devastating Jade Falcon counter attack. The Lyran people expected other 'liberators' to fall short of their promises as well, especially where The Word of Blake and their secular counterpart, ComStar, were concerned. The hope of defeating the Clans and reclaiming what had been lost thirty years ago was too foolish for most.
"Without the Star League's help?" He feigned only enough surprise to make his companion feel compelled to explain.
The Precentor-Martial's mood darkened visibly, "The Star League Defense Forces are practically non-existent," it had been something of an open secret for years now; undersupplied units with low morale had become the standard of contributions the Great Houses offered to the Star League Defense Forces, "and even if they weren't, interest in operations are base based on how many members feel threatened. Without a galvanizing foe, the Star League has no unity beyond trade agreements and hunting down The Combine's political prisoners."
He hadn't expected of honesty, "Hmph," he passed on further inquiries about The Star League, "And I assume you need us for more than hunting down populist agitators."
The older man's demeanor subtly traded its ominousness for a military bearing too natural to be faked, "We have a plan," he passed the Sitting President a noteputer that had been sitting unnoticed, on the desk, "as you can see, it involves striking military and industrial centers the same way we struck during Operation Bulldog and Snowcap, followed by a conventional strike to take and hold worlds between Tharkad and the Lost Theater."
"This plan has no specific target worlds; merely possible worlds and operational areas. The active units are," he paused as the thumbed the toggle and selection buttons to bring up the list, "...classified?" He pulled his attention from the small computer to his guest.
"Units from the ComGuards and Lyran Commonwealth are taking part in Operation Mare, some twelve regiments, plus the ten divisions we're asking from you and possibly another seven regiments from other allies, possibly Free Skye, the Entente Alliance, and the Wolves in Exile, or Clan Wolfhound. Whichever they're calling themselves right now." He paused, reading McArty's skeptical expression, "We can do this."---
Operation Snowcap: Just a filler operation that happened between 3067 and 3087. We can assume it was successful and led by Victor Steiner-Davion.
Clan Wolfhound: Though specifics are unclear, it seems like Khan Phelan Kell started the New Year by melding the Arc-Royal Defense Cordon, the Kell Hounds, and the Wolves in Exile into a new, integrated state going by the name of Clan Wolfhound.