Book 1- A Time to Plan, A Time to Plot
August 7th, 3053
Offices of the First Prince Emeritus
It was not easy to bore Hanse Davion, but his enforced retirement had finally accomplished it. Everyone else has something to do, I go and have one little heart attack and everybody starts coddling me like I am made of bone china! Hanse's mind raged, retirement had been couched romantically. He would have more time for his hobbies and philanthropy, they said. He would be able to do as he pleased, they said.
They lied, he realized. May my thrice damned doctors be given their own enforced retirements..and the home care nurses? Why do I need a home care nurse? I can walk, talk, wipe my own posterior, just what the hell do I need a home care nurse for? I am a very spry 70 years old I will have them know! I know they all mean well, but really, I was a 'Mechwarrior for Book's sake!
The enforced inactivity was galling to Hanse. Hanse had lived his entire life as a man of action, a well-read, rakish man of action, but one nevertheless. The "guilded cage" his doctors had put him in was, to say the least, a sources of frustration. He knew his son was ready to rule. And, that Melissa was thinking of abdicating herself to spend all of her time with Hanse, and how Hanse was kind of dreading that, for Mel's sake. She will go insane within the year. They don't tell you retirement is not all it is cracked up to be.
That said, Hanse did enjoy some of his enforced retirement, he had managed to hack his way into the NAIS system, and was occasionally appearing in student wargames as a black-painted Battlemaster. It was fun to mop the floor with those kids. But then, you were one of those kids, Hanse. But if his doctors, or god forbid, his family found out, they'd kill him for sure..especially Melissa and Katherine. They say women are in our lives to civilize us..is it wrong I am bloody tired of being civilized?
The other hobby Hanse had cultivated of late was reading…and writing. Having been a soldier and ruler most of his adult life, he had become a prolific op-ed writer to the Brunswick Chronicle, under the name John Sanderson, a friend who had been killed during his time with the 3rd Davion Guards. Forgive me, old comrade, for the deception I must use. Hanse didn't want to be printed just because he used to be the First Prince, hence the pen name. Nobody at the Chronicle knew, all they did know was that Sanderson used to be a "high ranking military officer with connections at the palace who commented from time to time on military and political matters". It spared a lot of people a lot of headaches..and spared Hanse from having to write his memoirs like some blowhard. Plus it helps my introspection and intellectual honesty to write about myself in the third person.
But Hanse had a new obsession of late. Though age had slowed him down, the ravages of age had spared his mind. And it was as sharp, and obsessive as ever. Stacked around his moderately (and lushly furnished) sized office was piles of books on a very specific force in history: The Soviet military. This was interspersed with stacks of BattleROMs and intelligence reports on the Clans. Thank you my son for keeping my security clearances current, though he thinks I am writing a book like Doctor Banzai..if only he knew what I was really up to…he and his mother would be furious. But what the hell are they going to do about it, send me to bed without supper? Hanse chuckled at that last thought with not a little bit of genuine mirth.
He had been attacking the problem that had been on everyone's mind lately, that of the Clans. He hadn't thought much of the conventional wisdom, which the Inner Sphere was going to have to use the truce to close the technological gap to take on the clans some 15 years from now. We have let those damn Clanners dictate the fight from the beginning. And that is precisely the wrong way to approach this.
Hanse had cast about for examples in history to approach the Clan issue. He knew much of their success had come from three factors; One was surprise, they had had the unknown on their side, and that advantage had faded by the time Tukayyid had rolled around. The second, that had been their supposedly superior training, but as he had looked over the BattleROMs, he wasn't so convinced. Sure, they were excellent individual mechwarriors, but their ability to coordinate at the operational and strategic levels stunk, for lack of a better word. Their offensive, should, by all rights, have collapsed from the logistical strain a year earlier than it did, and it damnned well did on Tukayyid, but the Clans took stoicism to a new art form. They simply shorted their lower classes, from all the intelligence he had been getting from the LIC reports coming out of the Clan OZ. The third was painfully obvious, their technology. But their logistical hangups, even with omnimech technology (which should have freed them to some degree from said logistical issues), suggested that their industrial base wherever they came from was to some degree, limited.
All of these things made them vulnerable. To Hanse, they resembled the German Wehrmacht after the first winter of invading the Soviet Union. They were powerful, and had survived, but they were still weaker than when they had begun. And that alone, to Hanse, provided an opening. One that could be exploited.
It had become rather interesting material to Hanse, and while logic, not to mention good sense had stated he should probably write a paper for NAMA about it, he knew that would get the damn thing stamped "Most Secret", filed away, and a stern talking to by Melissa and Victor. No, if I cannot convince my visitor today, then the whole enterprise is for naught.
What Hanse had learned was interesting. Contrary to many of his instructors at NAIS, the Soviets were not a bumbling force that had relied solely on mass, but had developed a very refined form of Operational Art that fit the solution he was looking for with the Clans to a "T". The Soviet concepts of massed fire, deep battle and seeking to force the enemy to fight a series of encirclement battles he was destined to lose was the solution versus the Clans. It would not matter the amount of technology he had, they would mass the numbers needed at the point of decision, and swamp the Clans. And the Federated Commonwealth would do it better than the Soviets did…the AFFC was an all-volunteer force that had a good standard of training. Hell the old American Military had a force that pretended to be the Soviets for many years…and did it better than they did…why can't we?
All he had to do now was convince his oldest friend that it was possible.
A knock at the heavy oak door brought Hanse out of his reverie. His head perked up and he shouted "Enter" far more brusquely than he had intended. The door creaked like the bones of an old man, and it opened slowly to reveal the form of Ardan Sortek, Ardan was slightly bent with age, as he had just turned 60 last month, with his remaining hair thinning, and shot through with grey. He was dressed in his customary AFFS fatigues, even though the uniform of the day was undress greens, except during state occasions (which were often). Sortek had been the Prince's Champion, and was still on the General Staff at Mount Davion, though he was handing over more of his responsibilities to his aides. His craggy face was cracked with a beaming smile. Hanse and Ardan didn't get to see too much of each other due to Ardan's remaining responsibilities, not to mention Ardan writing his memoirs.
"Looking good, Hanse, how is retirement?" Ardan inquired, still wearing his wry smile as he unceremoniously deposited himself in a plush couch across from Hanse's lounge chair. .
"Ardan, I will spare you my answer, as you already know what it is" Hanse stated with a trace of exhausted mirth. "Retirement, is, to put it in simple words, boring."
"So I hear, I come bearing a request from Mel and Katherine for you to please stop terrorizing the palace staff and the head of the military archives." Sortek replied, spreading his hands in a non-committal gesture.
Hanse shook his head "Now Arden, would little old me do such a thing? I am under doctor's orders to-"
Arden's face creased with a wry smirk as he interrupted "Um, Hanse, we both know that is bull. You don't follow a lick of the orders of your doctor since you agreed to abdicate, and your idea of retirement is just working an 8 hour day like the rest of us mortals. You will be happy to know it is a work ethic your son shares."
Ah Victor, I guess he is finding out about how heavy the crown really is..not that he had any illusions about that. Hanse mused. "Arden, have a question for you, and before you answer it, I still have my security clearances, and this office is swept for bugs on a regular basis."
Arden's features went blank. His face said it all, he knows about some of my extra-curricular activities. "I know about the Brunswick Courier, Hanse. John Sanderson? Anybody who knows you knew about him. He got the Sunburst for what he did on Halstead Station, posthumously of course. You really ought to be more careful. MIIO had to pay the editor a visit when he got too curious about who John Sanderson was, and compared it to some of your speeches!"
"Does Victor or Mel know?"
"Not yet, Hanse, but they will find out shortly, because Quintus is going to have to tell them. And they are both going to lose it. I am here to head it off at the pass." Arden leaned forward, with a look of concern in his eyes. "Hanse, you have a heart condition. Do what other parents do, harass your kids into making you grandparents."
"Haven't got time for that. " Hanse waved off Ardan's concern, dismissing it as trivial. "'Old friend, I have been doing a lot of reading, and thinking. I have time for plenty these days."
Ardan had seen that look before, the look had been in Hanse's eyes when he had first thought of Operation RAT, or the abortive invasion of the Combine. The old Hanse was back. But he wasn't the same old spry Hanse Davion, or was he?
"I have been giving some thought about the Clan problem. Our enemies have some serious structural and doctrinal issue, ones we should be exploiting sooner, rather than later-"
"Hanse, we have thousands of staff officers here and on Tharkad, whose job it is to study the damn problem, and you think you, with a second rate holo map, and piles of old books-" gesturing to the cluttered office "-suddenly have a solution to the problem?"
Ardan exhaled "Ok old friend, well, if I am going to get in trouble with Melissa and Victor, we might as well make it worth our while, show me what you have…"
..To say that the planning for what eventually became Clover Spear was unorthodox is an understatement. Hanse Davion was always a sharp operational and strategic mind with a penchant for thinking outside the box. Operation RAT, the abortive '39 conflict, all of these had used the enemy's structural weakness against them in a brutal, yet elegant format. But the Clans had scared the Inner Sphere silly, to say the least. They had struck without warning, and had savaged half-a-hundred regiments and taken a hundred worlds. The few victories against them had been costly, and had cost Hanse Davion what was left of his health. He was the last person anyone would have thought to have come up with a plan to launch a counter offensive only six years after the invasion.
But sometimes, serendipity does find itself in the strangest of places.
Page 96, Ch 9, Marshal Reginald Herrigan, AFFC (ret) "Punch the Falcon and Stomp the Viper" -