Citations of Respect
|Citations of Respect|
|First published||9 January 2009|
|Era||Civil War era|
|Timeline||18-20 June 3062|
|“||War is a maker of many mysteries, and during the savage fighting on Galtor before the Fourth Succession War, a great mystery was founded. Can a pair of historians, one from each realm working together, piece together the truth and bring honor to the dead?||”|
In 3065 Professor Douglas Running-Elk of the NAIS is working with Tai-i Toshibo of the Dover Institute for Higher Learning in an attempt to determine what happened during a battle on the McGraw Plains on Galtor III in September 3025—a battle in which two battalions of the Seventeenth Benjamin Regulars fought Seymour's Battalion, a battalion from the Raman Draconis March Militia, and in which Seymour's Battalion fought to the last man. Despite apparently being a great victory, no record of the battle exists, and forty years after the battle, every member of the Seventeenth Benjamin Regulars who fought in the battle has died, leaving no-one alive who knows what happened.
For the Seventeenth, the battle was far from glorious; much of the pursuit of Seymour's Battalion took place at night, with Combine aerospace fighters conducting numerous air-to-ground strikes. Antipathy towards their aerospace forces was growing in the ranks of the two DCMS battalions at the lack of kills their warriors were able to achieve due to the amount of damage being inflicted by the fighters. Evidence uncovered by Toshibo and Running-Elk indicates that during the course of the battle, the aerospace forces dropped as much ordnance in a 12-hour period as they would normally have consumed in a week. Conversely, the 'Mech forces had consumed almost no ammunition, according to logistical records.
The last three survivors of Seymour's Battalion, MechWarriors Bernard and Annabelle Domingo, husband and wife, and MechWarrior Damien Michaels, managed to pilot their three 'Mechs to the coast, only to find that they had nowhere else to retreat. Contacted in the open by Tai-sa Timothy Elazar, commanding officer of one of the pursuing battalions, Bernard answers Elazar's frank question about why they fought to retreat as far as they did, given that they knew there was no relief waiting for them. Bernard answers that they had nowhere else to go—and despite his Quickdraw being almost out of ammunition and damaged, he challenges Elazar (who is piloting an ancient Guillotine that the Domingos had already engaged during the night) to single combat, offering to surrender if he loses, but requesting that the three of them be released back to the Raman DMM with their 'Mechs if he wins. Elazar agrees to his request, and states that Bernard brings honor to himself and his unit with his challenge.
As Bernard moves to engage the Guillotine, he spots four inbound aerospace fighters heading towards his position from the sun; enraged at Elazar's perceived betrayal, he engages Elazar's 'Mech while Michaels charges an enemy Dragon—his own Hunchback out of ammunition—and Annabelle attempts to engage the inbound fighters using the last of the ammunition aboard her Blackjack. Elazar frantically orders the fighters not to attack, but they ignore the orders and strafe the Federated Suns 'Mechs. Michaels' Hunchback explodes, and the horrified Combine MechWarriors see the mortally wounded AFFS pilot stagger out of the remains of his cockpit and onto the sand of the beach, bleeding out in front of their eyes. As Elazar continues to call for the fighters to break off their attack, Annabelle tries to cover Bernard, whose badly-damaged Quickdraw has stumbled into the ocean; Bernard manages a last volley at the fighters while trying to jump out of the water, before his 'Mech blows up. While he is ejected from the cockpit, the ejector seat parachute does not deploy.
As Elazar is joined by numerous other warriors in his command in calling for the fighters to break off, the four fighters turn and attack Annabelle's Blackjack, destroying it in front of the watching Combine forces. Elazar orders a lance of light 'Mechs into the water to find and recover Bernard, while a second light lance spontaneously joins the recovery efforts, the warriors incensed at seeing the AFFS MechWarriors mown down in such a cavalier fashion, particularly on the heels of an honorable request to duel.
Forty years after the battle and still uncertain as to what had happened, Running-Elk and Toshibo managed to track down the mortician who prepared Bernard's body for burial, after it had been found by fisherman a week later; the same mortician had dealt with the remains of Annabelle and Damien, whose ashes had been delivered to him in reverential fashion by the two Tai-sas of the Seventeenth who had pursued them—delivered along with an order for them to be treated with honor and respect. Michaels remains had been returned home, but Annabelle and Damien were buried together in a single grave in New Wuhan City along with the other fallen warriors from numerous campaigns on the planet, the graveyards maintained by whichever faction controlled the world in a mutual "gentleman's agreement" that extended across numerous worlds and many borders.
Meeting in New Wuhan City, Running-Elk learns from Toshibo that the two DCMS Tai-sas had returned to Galtor in 3045, twenty years after the battle, and had visited the graves—thevonly Federated Suns grave they visited—and had paid for the large, single gravestone that replaced the default AFFS grave markers. Toshibo has news for Running-Elk; he has obtained classified reports of the battle that confirmed that the two Tai-sas worked to ensure that the aerospace force's accomplishments were not recorded, to deny them any honor from the battle—actions that are now considered unforgivable. Toshibo has a quandary that Running-Elk recognises; in Toshibo's own words, an account needs to be published, so that the actions highlighted can form a part of the reforms running through the DCMS, and so that the incident can be learned from... but his book on the battle will never be published if he includes the truth, due to the internal politics of the DCMS and the desire to avoid shame.
A seasoned Combine academic, Toshibo is used to the political machinations involved in getting material published within the Combine. He has arranged for Running-Elk to be sent copies of the reports. Toshibo cannot publish the accounts himself, but if a foreign academic does, Toshibo is obligated to cite the detail as references, caveated with standard Combine lines about the information almost certainly being fanciful and incorrect that he knows academics will see through, and the truth of what happened in 3025 will finally come to light.