2949-05-18 – Tales from the Service: Sovereign Machinations

As I suspected last week, just as the battered Fifth Fleet returned to Maribel, the Frontier Defense Army aired the controversy taking place in higher military circles.

While we heard rumors of problems between the Fifth Fleet and Commandant of the Confederated Marines, F.D.A. Supreme Headquarters claims that Commandant Matsushita and his entire staff offered their resignation to the Admiralty Triumvirate over the alleged mishandling of the defense of Margaux, stating that it was impossible for the battle there to have become the current disaster without sheer incompetence on the part of either Navy or Marine staff work involved. The Admiralty can only reject this slate of resignations by casting blame, even by inference, on Admiral Zahariev’s headquarters, and can only absolve the Fifth Fleet commander by accepting the resignations and thus casting blame on the Marines.

The F.D.A., not technically subservient to the Navy, seems to be going public with this to earn autonomy from the Navy, and this seems to be an uncharacteristically politically savvy move for the new service. Even if the Constituent Assembly does not allocate ships and logistics assets to the F.D.A., the planetary administration on Maribel has started an initiative aimed at independently funding F.D.A. transport ships and military supplies outside the usual Confederated chains. Other systems on the Frontier and in nearby regions may follow suit.

Fortunately or unfortunately, one of the most profitable mercenary outfits in the Reach seems to have placed itself squarely astride this potential new flood of funds. The reputation of Sovereign Security Solutions is formidable, both for their high fees and for their dedication to completing a job once a contract is struck. That they sense profit in this schism is not surprising, but they're not exactly the most diplomatic bunch - their involvement won't do anything to heal the divide between the services.

[N.T.B. – Even Duncan, ever the optimist, is struggling to spin this as good news for a reason. If the F.D.A., Marines, and Navy can’t coordinate their efforts, each will continue to be defeated individually by the Incarnation. Those bastards on the other side of the line will be watching this crisis with great interest, and probably looking for ways to make it worse.]

Cassandra Wolters paced the length of the waiting-room, too agitated to even kill time by browsing datasphere feeds on her wrist computer. The committee meeting on the other side of the sound-proofed door at one end of the room held the fate of Maribel, and perhaps the fate of the whole Reach, in precarious balance, and she hoped the men and women in there knew that underneath the bombastic, witty exteriors that any good politician on the Coreward Frontier had to have or fake.

The defense of the Frontier, with its lynchpin at Margaux, had unraveled in spectacular fashion, and now Margaux’s remaining defenders were on their own, caught in the jaws of a meat-grinder they had carefully crafted over nearly two years of preparation and combat. Cassandra had made her commander’s case for the F.D.A.’s independence as well as it could be made, but it was up to the committee to decide what to do about it, and more importantly, how much money could be siphoned from Maribel taxpayers to pay for their own defense.

Though the Navy likely didn’t approve of General Yu’s lobbying of the Maribel administration, they had not made any move to interfere, at least, not openly. The commander of the Frontier Defense Army had sent millions of his freshly-trained volunteers into the entrenched Causey Plana on Margaux, and only those few who had been badly injured and evacuated had returned.

Like Yu, Cassandra knew that there would be no more millions of volunteers as long as their deployment was beholden to the same Navy who would strand them on worlds at the mercy of the Incarnation. Already, volunteer streams had slowed to a trickle which would make it impossible to reconstitute the formations lost at Margaux, and the Army was not remotely prepared at any of the likely next steps in the Incarnation’s invasion. The Navy could throw away the Frontier’s bravest defenders, but the Frontier itself, she hoped and prayed, would not – the worlds most threatened had to do something to save the new service from the apparent abandonment which Core Worlds Navy officers had condemned it to.

The sound-proof door opened with a click, and Cassandra whirled to face the diminutive clerk stepping out. “Well?”

“Colonel Wolters, ma’am, the committee has voted in favor of a trial program to address General Yu’s petition.” The man consulted a bulky slate computer. “There are some details we would like to address. Would you come with me?”

Cassandra breathed a sigh of relief. The Maribelans, as General Yu had hoped, were quite aware of the situation they were in. “Of course.”

Following the clerk out of the waiting-room, Cassandra passed a group of three men in the hall. She couldn’t help but notice their uniforms – one was a captain, and the other two were lieutenants, and they all wore the sky-blue and indigo piping of Naval Intelligence. Their conversation stopped and each man glared at her as she passed; none bothered with the inter-service nicety of saluting a colonel of the F.D.A.

Cassandra did her best to ignore them. Naval Intelligence had very little to do with the catastrophe at Margaux, but General Yu’s headquarters earned their spite all the same, since he refused to censor his press releases as completely as their service would prefer. Intelligence, as a result, preferred to work only with field headquarters, such as that of General Bell on doomed Margaux. Why they would be skulking about the Maribel planetary capitol, she could only guess.

Following the clerk into one of the capitol building’s innumerable meeting-rooms, Cassandra stopped short when she saw it was already occupied by two more officers, a man and a woman, seated at the long conference table. Unlike the grey Navy uniforms, however, the pair wore garish blue tunics with gold trim and piping, evidence enough of their mercenary identity.

To Cassandra’s surprise, the pair stood and saluted her smartly before the man stepped forward, extending his hand for a handshake. “Colonel Wolters, I presume?”

Off-balance, Cassandra accepted the handshake. “I am.”

“Captain Carson here has agreed to be General Yu’s liaison with Sovereign Security.” The clerk gestured to the conference table, indicating that she should sit. “Their company has agreed to be the contractor for our trial program.”

Cassandra stepped back. She knew the name, of course – Sovereign was one of the largest mercenary companies in the Reach, and the only one whose force contained a proper first-class battleship. What was it doing contracting to ferry F.D.A. troops and supplies around the Frontier? Surely they had bigger-ticket contracts to complete. Moreover, their presence mere minutes after the committee approval of such a contract suggested that the petition Cassandra had issued on behalf of General Yu had been anticipated.

The dark-haired woman standing behind Carson flopped back down in her chair, kicking her boots up on the table. “Do sit down, Colonel. Let’s talk about what the F.D.A. needs, and what Sovereign can do about it on Maribel’s dime.”