The long winters end
"Something I can help you with, Khan Dalia Bekker?" The woman behind the Precenter Martail's desk didn't even look up as the two huge oak doors swung open with enough force to rattle the teacup sat in front of her, "Or is this a social visit?"
"You still intend to go through with this insanity…" The Clan leader looked enraged.
"Sit." The word was softly spoken, but carried the weight of a landing DropShip, and the Ghost Bear leader dropped into the nearest chair.
"Good." The Precenter Martail looked up, her old eyes still full of life, "As of noon today I will no longer be Precenter Martail, or even an employer of ComStar. If I wish to go on holiday, it will be my desertion to make."
"But you plan to take your honour guard…"
"They have all volunteered, and I see no reason to refuse them. And one Star of OmniMech's is hardy an invasion force."
"The Republic may not take kindly to their presence on Northwind."
"The Republic of the Sphere can kiss my ass! I was fighting Word of Blake forces during the Jihad while the high and mighty Delvin Stone was still thinking happy-happy thought in one of their re-education camps. The day I listen to that bunch of two-faced, neo-roman sons-of-bitches is the day I swallow my own pistol!" The Precenter Martail fist slammed into the desk, her Lyran accent starting to show through, "I'm almost 100-years old, and I don't have much time left. I made a promise many years ago, and I intend to keep it."
"You know that Anastasia Kerensky is lose in the Republic, leading the Steel Wolves?"
"Yes: I have read the intelligence reports from both The Watch and ROM."
"You know of her past involvement with…"
"I have spoken to Anna about it, and she insures me that her friendship with the Galaxy Commander will not interfere with the performance of her duties: She may have been born from an iron-womb and raised as a Clan Warrior, but she is still, biologically, my daughter. If I can not trust her to lead my honour guard, who can I trust?"
"Why do you trust her so much?"
"She reminds me of my husband: she has the same dedication to duty and those under her command as he did."
"And her subordinate?"
"Justin Kerensky is loyal to Anna and Clan Ghost Bear. He as regained his position as a MechWarrior and his rank through dedication to his duty. I trust him as much as I trust Anna."
"Even thought he was raised in the same sibko as Anastasia Kerensky?"
"In her own, twisted way, Anastasia Kerensky is as loyal to the Clans as anyone. And they may have been raised in the same sibko, but we both know they only share half the same DNA: Khan Ranna Kerensky's little science project may have been ill advised, but it appears to have finally born fruit."
"I still say your mission is ill advised…"
"It is not a mission: I know you want more detailed information as to the state of the Republic, and I am sure Anna will provide you with it, but I am too old to play spy anymore: I have not been Precenter ROM for almost 30 years, and I am unwilling to go back to that way of life. I am old, and I am dieing, and I intend to be buried wit my husband when the time comes. Fear not: you will have the information you need. The Ghost Bears have been hibernating for a long time, and I have no doubt that the galaxy will shake when you roar again."
"As ever, you are impossible to deal with, if somewhat poetic."
"I have lived in the Domain since the end of the Jihad, and I have never once refused a direct order from a serving Khan."
"None of my prepossess where foolish enough to issue you a direct order."
"I may be a lot of things, but I am no fool." Khan Bekker stood, "I bid you a safe journey."
"Thank you, but somehow I doubt it will be safe." The Precenter Martail looked up, a faint smile playing across her face, "Safe is too dull for my liking…"The End