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TURN #1: June 1, 1995 (129-1118 to 142-1118)

 After selecting the crew for your (as yet unnamed) Grendel-class scout, you make plans to travel to Sacnoth, approximately 4 parsecs away. Due to the recent goings-on (discharge from the Scout Service, finding your crew and receiving the "message" from your sister), you really didn't have the chance to look for any charter passengers or light cargo.
 Finally, on 129-1118 (see CALENDAR in the database), your ship lifts off for its eventual trip to the Sword Worlds, a place you haven't visited in nearly twenty years. Despite some ominous creaking as the ship enters space, everything seems to be running fine. Caladbolg shrinks behind you as the ship moves to a safe jump distance, 100 planetary diameters.
 You use the time to plot a course to Sacnoth. Unfortunately, the only direct route takes you through deep space; even though you have sufficient fuel for such a trip, you'd be stranded if anything went wrong. Still, the next best route would take four weeks rather than two, and two of the systems you'd stop in have no gas giants or populations, so they aren't much better.
 With a sign, and crossed fingers, you make out the shortest course. Not long after you're finished the ship reaches safe jump distance. Wishing you had a few hundred rtaki's foots for luck, you press the 'engage' button for the jump drive. With a whine, the drive revs up to operating speed, then "poof", the ship is in hyperspace. The crew settles down to the most boring part of space travel, actually travelling.
 Six days later, 135-1118, the ship pops back into normal space as expected. Dade spends a few minutes checking over the jump drive, and then gives the all clear. After making corrections for a slight drift, you punch in the new route and off the ship goes again. As before, nothing happens.
 Finally, on 142-1118, the ship arrives near its final destination, only a few hours transit from Sacnoth. As the ship approaches, Stiferd radios in for docking information (which is extremely brief, since you aren't in a freighter or liner) and current events (none of which are very interesting). It is shortly before noon (local time), when your ship makes planetfall. Everyone is itching to get off the ship for a few hours (at least) though O'Dea recommends that someone stay aboard at all times. Since Dade wants to look over the drives, she says she'll take first shift, and O'Dea will follow.
 Your ship and crew are treated fairly indifferently by the Sacnoth customs officials. Fortunately, since you don't have any cargo or passengers to offload, they don't need to check out the interior of the ship. They do point out that the starport has very efficient security, so for safety reasons "suggest" that the gatling lasers be deactivated while landed (you are in a normal open-topped ship bay (think Star Wars)). They also hand you a sealed message that the official says has been waiting for
you for several days. The message reads:

 Dear Brother,
  Please contact me as soon as you arrive. It is a matter of grave concern to our family. I am at the Sarat Arms, room #1261.
          Helena Sternor

 As far as you can tell, the message looks authentic, and you have no difficulty finding the location of the hotel, the largest at the starport. Everyone goes their separate ways for R&R, though Stiferd stays with you just in case your meeting with your sister isn't legit. Plus, he is a relative.

 It doesn't take very long to reach the hotel by foot, or to find room #1261. You buzz the door several times, but there is no answer. The door is locked and there are no sounds from the other side. You start to get this funny feeling. Thinking a few seconds, you head down to the front desk.
"Excuse me, but could I leave a message for Miss Helena Sternor. She's staying in room #1261."
 The clerk glances up from the news channel he's watching, then turns to the computer terminal next to him. After several moments, he turns back to you.
 "I'm sorry sir, but no one by that name has been at this hotel within the past 30 days. Perhaps she hasn't checked in yet, sir. Would you like to leave a message for her anyway?"
 You aren't sure if it would be a good idea, so you decide to pass on it.
 "I'll just come back later."
 You and Stiferd head back to the ship, but you stop at a vidphone to call it, just in case. O'Dea answers.
 "No, nothing unusual here. Dade just left and she didn't mention anything. What's wrong?"
 You explain the situation, and her brows begin to furrow.
 "Someone may be following you."
 "I had considered that," you say," Just in case, power up the gats."
 Fortunately, the gatling lasers have an advanced IFF system which uses bioprints (think of those old aura-field pictures), so you probably wouldn't get hit in a firefight.
 You and your cousin make your way back to the hanger, watching to see if you are followed, but you don't notice anyone. The gats track you as you arrive back at the ship, and you nervously wait for O'Dea to open the airlock. Just as it starts to open, two dozen uniformed men swarm into the hanger, weapons leveled. The gats begin to track them.
 One of the men holds up a micro-loudspeaker.
 "Attention, Adolphous Sternor of the {unnamed starship}, you are under arrest for the murder of one Helena Sternor. Put your hands on your head, and do not move. Whoever is aboard the {unnamed starship} is ordered to deactivate the gatling lasers. This is your only warning."

 Ah, it's nice to be going back home...

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TURN #2: June 16, 1995 (142-1118)

 Seeing no survivable alternative, you raise your hands and suggest for Stiferd to do the same. Before being scurried off, you tell O'Dea to get the ship's flight records in order and follow you ASAP.
 The trip to the police station is rather nice, considering what you've just been accused of. Once at the station, you are rushed deep into its inner recesses and left in a small interrogation room. Within ten minutes, a police detective and two armed officers enter the room.
 As you start to protest your arrest, the detective raises his hand.
 "You aren't under arrest. We don't know where your sister is, but we don't think she's dead. This is probably confusing, so let me start at the beginning.
 "About six days ago, the body of a man was discovered in your sister's hotel room. He was dressed up like a hotel employee and carried a silenced pistol of Sword Worlds origin. He'd been shot twice with a laser, probably at close range given the penetration. Most of your sister's luggage was still in the room, but there was evidence that some of her possessions were
missing. We still haven't been able to find her.
 "This brings us to you. We know that you had nothing to do with any of  this. However, we do know about you familie's actions during the Fifth  Frontier war, and that several Sworld Worlders are still pretty pissed about  it. The stiff in her room was probably an assassin, and there may be more. We  brought you in the way we did to confuse the hell out of any other assassins  out there, and because you might be the next target.
 "Personally, I wouldn't care what happens in a Sword Worlds feud, except that you're doing it on my planet. So here's what I'm going to do; here are three concealed carry permits for you and two crewmen. I'm  assigning Officer Marel..."
 One of the officers in the room, a large and burly fellow, nods.
 "...to assist you in any way possible. What I want you to do is find your sister and then get the hell off this planet. Now get out of here."

 You're still trying to take all this in as you exit the police station. Marel has changed into street clothes and hails an automated taxi to get you back to the starport.
 By the time you get back to the 'Dagger, all your crewmen are back on board. O'Dea, not sure what was going on, decided it would be best to get everyone back to the ship, especially if a hasty departure was in order...
 You think about what the detective said, and something about it bothers you. You quietly mention this concern to Stiferd, and later O'Dea, but neither has a problem with the plan. You do, however, think that Helena may come looking for you; if she was checking the arrivals at the starport, she would have likely noticed a starship showing up (Loki's Dagger) with you listed as
its captain/operator.
 As far as the weapon permits, you and Stiferd each take one. No one else has any skill with a pistol, but you and O'Dea figure she's the best choice (she takes one of the 9mm automatics from the ship's locker).
 During this time, you realize you haven't seen Dr. Nathan since you  arrived back on the 'Dagger (not that he would be of much help). You decide to see if anything is wrong (O'Dea does confirm that he came back) and knock on his stateroom door. There is no answer, so you push the door slowly open. Dr. Nathan is seated at a small, cluttered desk (oh, the safety hazards in zero-gee...) busily examining an old book.
 "Just checking in," you say," By the way, what is that?"
 It takes a few seconds for Nathan to realize that you are in the room.
 "Just an old book ... nothing else."
 He goes back to ignoring you, which doesn't set well. However, you don't see any point in getting an argument started. You close the door and head back to the galley (which probably serves well as a ready room). Everyone is there except for Dade, who is sleeping, and Greer, who is looking over the weapon systems, just in case...

 You pause a few seconds before saying anything, as you try to make up your mind on a course of action. It's a lot easier to wait for her to come to you, and you'd rather go out and look for her instead of sitting around.
 "Here's what we're going to do: Helena may show up here, or she may not. Hans and I are going to go out and look for her, with Officer Marel. Max, if my sister shows up here, let her in and contact me immediately. I'll feed a picture of her into the ship's VRS (visual recognition system). Just to be  safe, though, don't let her in any farther than the airlock until I get back."
 You don't get any complaints to your plan, though Marel grunts as he gets up from a computer terminal where he was playing one of the games in your ship's computer system.
 It doesn't take long for you to get the picture scanned in (an older photo than you realized before seeing it, with you late uncle who was killed during the Fifth Frontier War). Securing your Luger in one of the many pockets
of your flight suit, you join Marel and Stiferd at the airlock.
 Once outside the docking bay, you hail a cab to take you into the city proper (just like airports, starports aren't inside a city). Once in the city, in a move that confuses your companions, you snake your way though alleys until you end up at a shuttle bus stop, headed back to the starport. Catching your breath, you get in the bus, followed by Stiferd and Marel.
 "What the hell are you up to?" asks Stiferd.
 "There's no way we're going to find her out here. However, I bet that  if there is anyone out there who's still after her, they probably have somebody watching Loki's Dagger. Well, now they think that we're in the  city looking for her. If I know Helena, though, she's probably been around the starport since the attempt on her life."
 "But we searched all the hotels ..." starts Marel.
 "Every major starport, at least every one I've been to, has slums and dregs in them. You probably never looked for my sister there, and the assassins probably haven't either; my family isn't run-of-the-mill,  pampered nobility."
 Stiferd grins at the last remark.
 "So we're going to roust the winos, 'eh?" asks Marel.
 "You and I are. Hans, I want you to find someplace you can watch the ship from. I mainly want you to see if anyone else is watching the ship. Here's a comm link in case you need to contact me."
 "Good plan."
 "Good roll vs. IQ."

 After a half-hour, you and Marel are unable turn up anything in the  rubbish-strewn alleys. Either your sister is better at hiding than you  thought, or she's not here. As you watch a couple of rats gang up on a cat,  and wishing you had more than a pistol, your comm link beeps.
"Adolphus, this is Hans. A dreg is approaching the ship slowly. Two men who were here before me appear to be shadowing her in. I'm going to swing in behind them but keep my gun hidden."
 "Don't do anything stupid [then again, he is related to you]. We'll be there in few minutes."
 You and Marel take off running to the ship.
 A few seconds later, your comm beeps again. Continuing running, you almost drop the comm while getting it open and on.
 "Who? What?"
 "Captain Sternor?" It's Max "Are you okay?"
 "Comm line might be compromised, am aware of situation, out."
 Actually, the line is probably safe, but have you ever tried to talk and run at the same time? While dodging dregs?
 As you get down to the end of the alley, which is about sixty meters  from the entrance to the dock your ship is in, you hear several gunshots  ring out. You and Marel now pull out your pistols and begin pushing people out of the way as you rush to the ship.

 As you reach dock for the 'Dagger, you see the dreg hiding behind the nose landing gear, firing a laser pistol at two men behind a tech's cart inside the dock. Stiferd is near the dock's entrance, holding his left arm.
 "What happened?" you ask as you take cover near Stiferd.
 "As soon as the dreg got up to the airlock, the two guys started to pull guns. The dreg hadn't noticed, and I opened fire before they could. It gave the dreg a chance to take cover, but I got tagged before I could take out either of the gunmen."
 "You have ground defense lasers on that ship, don't you?" asked Marel.
 Marel takes out his comm unit. "Starport Control, this is Officer Marel, authorization code AZZ000671-Delta. The starship in dock #17, Loki's Dagger, is hereby authorized to use its ground defense lasers."
 You grab your comm unit. "Max, burn 'em."
 The port-side gat laser, which apparently had been locked on the pair, fires two brief bursts. The cart explodes, and the two burning gunmen drop to the ground.
 Very carefully, gun in hand, you enter the dock. The opposition looks pretty crispy and dead. The dreg, pistol in hand but lowered, comes out from behind the landing gear.
 "Identify youself" says the dreg in a woman's voice.
 "Identify myself, hell! This is my ship. Who the smeg are you?"
 The dreg pulls the hood of her outfit back.
 Helena Sternor.
 "It took you long enough to show up, brother."
 <mushy family reunion deleted in case impressionable pets may be reading>
 Marel walks up and says "Miss Sternor's baggage is being brought here. I suggest you be off-planet an hour after it's loaded."
 You, Stiferd and sis enter the ship. After seeing to Stiferd's wound (fairly minor), you get Helena (due to her temper, most family members call her Hel) settled in a stateroom.
 "Addy (her pet nickname for you, which you are free to hate), the situation back home isn't good. As you know, the treaty that ended the Fifth  Frontier War had provisions for restoring our family lands, and most of our family returned. The Von Bergs, who we've always had something of a feud  with, lost a great deal during the war. Well, now they've declared a blood feud against us and have the unspoken support of several other families. We need your help."
 "That's kind of interesting, since I was on my way back home anyway. In fact, I'd be there now if it wasn't for my trip here to pick you up. But exactly what can I do? This," you gesture around," isn't an Imperial Navy gunship with a crack veteran crew, in case you haven't noticed."
 Before Helena can answer, someone knocks on the door.
 "Come in."
 Nathan scurries in, laying the book you had seen him with earlier on a table next to you.
 "I must apologize, Captain Sternor, for my rudeness when you came to my cabin. I was quite busy translating this fascinating personal log, which may be of interest to you. It is the diary of a Zhodani Naval officer who died during the most recent frontier war. It seems he was stationed on a battle cruiser which operated in this subsector, a ship which was  forced down on a planet's surface due to massive jump-drive failure. The ship was wrecked and only and handful of the crewmen, including the officer, survived. They managed to escape in a shuttle, but a pirate raider captured  the survivors, and eventually killed all of them. I've checked official news records, and no reference is made to the discovery of the ship. The Imperial Navy may have secretly jumped on the wreck, but I think it's still there; the remains of a major Zhodani starship. From what I can tell, its either
located on Steel (709) or Iron (806)."

 Hmmm, decisions, decisions...

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TURN #3: July 16 (142-1118 to 177-1118)

 A Zhodani battle cruiser! Even if the warship *is* smashed all over the planet's surface, there should be enough for useful salvage, provided no one has gotten to it yet.
 You quickly pull up the subsector map on the terminal in your room to check your distance from the two possible sites. Iron is 3 parsecs (2 weeks) away, while Steel is 5 parsecs away. However, with no places to refuel along the most direct path to Steel, your best paths are both 6 parsec (3 weeks) routes -- one through Biter and Bronze, the other through deep space and Caldabolg (where you were discharged not too long ago...). You decide to go to Steel first, via Caldabolg. If only you could make Jump-3.
 (fast fact: an upgrade would require 13.5 cy, 27 tons and Cr 300,000)
 The jump to Caldabolg and then to Steel goes without incident. Stiferd, checking the sensors, tells you that there appears to be no unusual solar activities -- luckily, you should miss the solar flares during your trip.
 The closest thing to a starport is a level piece of bedrock with some lights and a landing beacon. Since the cruiser would most likely not be around it, and there aren't any other facilities, there are no reasons to land yet. Being an experienced scout, you know your best chance of locating the ship is to perform a standard orbital survey, paying special attention for unusual traces of metal on the surface.
 After several (24) hours of sensor sweeps, it seems reasonably certain that the cruiser is not on this planet, or was so totally destroyed that whatever was left was completely overgrown. Since the only option left is to land, throw a rock, and start digging where it hits, you decide to refuel and head to Iron.
 (note: you decide against questioning the miner, since if he knew about the wreck, he probably wouldn't tell, and there's no sense in torturing the natives until you make sure the ship isn't elsewhere...)
 (another note: a Grendel's sensors are more accurate than most commercial sets, and more suitable for ground searches than most military sensors)
By the time you reach Iron, the 'Dagger has been in space for 36 straight days, and the air recycler smells like it. Dade is doing her best, but says you really need new filters.
 You arrive on Iron on 178-1118. For some odd reason, you aren't able to make contact with the research base (Stiferd can pick up their landing beacon; he's sure the problem is on their end, as the 'Dagger's radio is working fine).
 Despite the thin atmosphere, you decide to land, if for no other reason than to air out the ship (it might have been best to do this on Steel). Something concerns you about the silence from the research station; to be safe, however, you locate a large, flat area on a nearby (210 km) island and land the ship there.
 Leaving Dade, Greer and Nathan to deal with the life-support system, you, O'Dea and Stiferd (sis decides to check out the island you landed on) take the air/raft and head out to the research station, taking a full compliment of weapons (you: shotgun; O'Dea: rifle; Stiferd: SMG; all of you are wearing vacc suits (very thin atmosphere, remember), which protect as cloth armor, and carrying blades plus pistols).
 The island the station is on is about 10 km by 40 km, with most of the buildings at the southern tip. Before your ship landed, a quick sensor sweep was made of the station, revealing no active energy sources. O'Dea moves in closer while Stiferd monitors the air/raft's (limited) sensors; so far, nothing. Looking over the site with the IR/LI binoculars, everything looks dead. After a few seconds, you notice what appears to be battle damage to one of the buildings, then another. Pretty soon it becomes apparent that the research station was hit by some kind of military or starship weaponry.
 You can't think of any reason why the base would be hit by pirates, unless they were really desperate. Espionage (corporate or government) seems more likely. While you'd like to check the ruins, you decide to return to the 'Dagger, just in case whoever is responsible is still in the vicinity.
 When you get back, Dade is about halfway through with the life support system. She mentions that this is just temporary; you'll need to pick up some filters and catalyst modules (about Cr 500 total) soon. Nathan and Greer are in separate parts of the ship, doing routine maintenance. Otherwise, nothing seems to be amiss.
 You decide to keep alert, sending O'Dea up in the air/raft as a sort of combat air patrol (the 'Dagger's sensors have a reduced field while you are grounded, though this also makes it harder for someone else to find your ship).
 Two hours later, the maintenance is finished; O'Dea returns with nothing to report. You decide to fly over to the station before you go into orbit to conduct another survey, figuring that the attackers should be gone by now and that you should probably check for survivors (or unmarked gear to loot...).
 Appoaching carefully, Stiferd doesn't detect any ships or energy sources. Bringing the 'Dagger down on the station's landing pad, you, O'Dea and Stiferd disembark and begin to explore the ruins (armed as before).
 It doesn't take too long to realize the tremendous destruction done. There are bodies and destroyed equipment strewn about the site; what little escaped onslaught is either immovable or of little value (this supports the theory that this probably wasn't a pirate raid). After about an hour, you decide there are neither survivors nor salvageable equipment here.
 As the three of you exit the ruins, headed back to the ship, you stop dead in your tracks. Loki's Dagger is gone; in it's place is a Jayhawk-class freighter (about twice a Grendel's displacement), with several armed figures exiting her. As the three of you take cover, Stiferd taps you on the shoulder, and quietly whispers:
 "I recognize their gear, from when I fought in the Fifth Frontier War; it's Zhodani."
 It looks like you may have found the right planet, after all...

ps. No, it doesn't look like they've seen you yet. Also, there are about six men, armed with 7mm or 9mm advanced combat rifles and wearing combat armor, outside the freighter. You aren't sure, but you think a Jayhawk has a crew of 3 and can carry 8 passengers (it's a very common light freighter).

Travel Log
Origin System Destination Flight Duration Time at destination
Sacnoth Caldabolg 13 days 3 hours
Caladbolg Steel 7 days 2 days
Steel Iron 14 days ?

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TURN #4: September 22 (177-1118 to 207-1118)

[shoot-down and subsequent plunder of freighter ommitted for brevity]
Summary: Emerging from the ocean behind the freighter, Loki's Dagger fired several 100mm slugs into the enemy at point blank range. Some internal explosions followed, and the freighter (only a few meters off the ground), crashed to the surface. Most of the crew was dead and the freighter itself was unflyable. In the cargo bay were found numerous items.

 What a cargo! You can salvage:

1   Mystery Box (6 cubic meters)
6   suits Zhodani battle dress (double Strength, unlimited Endurance, sealed for vaccum, +2 to-hit from battle computer)
104 doses Psi Booster (+2 or +3 to Psi Strength)
52  doses Psi Double (+4 or +6 to Psi Strength)
19  doses Psi Special (raises Psi Strength to 15; slight risk of permanent reduction of Psi Strength)
17  doses Combat Drug (+4 to Strength and Endurance; lasts 10 minutes)
23  doses Medical Slow Drug (knocked out for 1 day, but heal as if 30 passed)
12  TL 13 laser rifles with 19 power packs
21  TL 13 laser pistols with 32 power packs
4   9mm Advanced Combat Rifles
11  ACR clips (5 APDS, 4 HE, 2 tranq)
4   PGMP-13 (requires battle dress) with 5 power packs; plasma "rifle"
2   FGMP-13 (requires battle dress) with 2 power packs; fusion "rifle"
47  breaching charges (military issue)
6   underwater suits with artificial gill
3   grav belts (resembles a parachute harness; max 300 kph)
*   assorted Zhodani papers and data files including intelligence and military codes, maps, etc.

 After a few hours of transfering cargo, Loki's Dagger is ready to get underway. The lone survivor of the freighter is secured and restrained in your sick bay. Since his psionic abilities are unknown, Dr. Emmett suggests that the prisoner be sedated to the point of unconsciousness, which you agree to.
 The final leg of your trip home to Gungnir is very anti-climatic (fortunately). Aside from getting some food and life support supplies at Terfling, nothing happens until you reach the large island your family controls on Gungnir. As the 'Dagger makes its approach, and you prepare to step foot on your native soil for the first time in nearly 20 years, your sensors light up with threat warnings.
 Stiferd, next to you in the cockpit, mumbles," We're getting painted with fire-control lasers. I can pick up a half dozen missile and AA gun sites on visual near the landing pad."
 You grumble a bit and open a channel to the starport's tower.
 "This is Captain Adolphous Sternor, commanding the ISS Loki's Dagger. I request clearance for landing by right of blood privilage."
 The radio is silent for a few seconds, then," This is Sir Herman, of the family Sternor. We are having difficulty locating someone who can verify your identity. Please wait."
 "I'll handle this," says your sister, stepping up next to you," Uncle Herman, this is Helana. Quit fooling around and let us land."
 "Ah, sorry about that. We...well...I'll explain after you've landed."
 The lasers stop tracking your ship, and you land without further problem.

[generally-mushy mass family reunion ommitted due to tastelessness]

 "I'm glad your back," says Uncle Herman," Your ship will come in handy. Eight days ago the Von Bergs declared a Blood Feud against our family; as you know, this means the Feud cannot end until all members of one family are dead. Unfortunately, the Scholl family gave them a handful of military vehicles prior to the declaration. The Von Bergs now have the edge in equipment as well as numbers."
 You glance back at your ship, watching your crew unload the hold.
 "Uncle, I think I have a bit of good news for you..."
Origin System Destination Flight Duration Time at destination
Iron Terfling 15 days 1 day
Terfling Gungnir 14 days n/a

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TURN #5: January 25, 1996 (207-1118 to 213-1118)

 His attack plans center around using the Far Trader (see the crew, below) to transport infantry and armor to Von Berg territory. He would like to use Loki's Dagger to 'soften up' the proposed landing site and provide air cover (the Von Bergs have a couple of armed shuttles (95% the size of the 'Dagger, without jump capability, and a very battered far trader). The Sternor's free trader (used mainly as a planetary shuttle due its poor interstellar range) would then bring in reinforcements (after the Far Trader offloaded its troops, it would assist your ship in providing air cover). The unarmed free trader  would then move out of the battle zone. Maxwell plans to equip some of the troops with the weaponry and battle dress armor you recovered.

 Since Castle Von Berg is very well-protected by mountains, the strike would hit Durst; this would take out the Von Berg's largest town and allow you to land-block Castle Von Berg. Hyvard would have to be attacked within 2-3 hours of Durst. Unfortunately, the exact disposition of Von Berg troops is unknown, but they number about twice that of the Sternors. They have 4-6 75-85 ton tanks and 8-10 20 ton tanks. No other military vehicles are known of.

 After several days of preperation, the time has come to launch the strike. The two shuttles and two freighters are loaded with men and armor and you leave just before dawn, flying only a few meters above the surface of the water (the old free trader isn't capable of running submerged, so that option wasn't available).

 The ships quickly swoop in over Von Berg territory. So far, no resistance has been encountered. The other ships drop their troops while the 'Dagger keeps watch for any retaliation from the air. The shuttles and far trader take up air cover positions after they are done while the free trader heads to a spot several kilimeters away from the island.

 The invasion starts off well for the Sternor forces, but it seems the Von Berg troops are better trained; after the initial shock of the surprise is over, the superior numbers of the Von Berg ground forces begins to make a difference. The Von Berg starport, left alone during the invasion (a serious oversight by your brother), launches a handful of aircraft that keeps your air cover busy; so busy you can't help the ground forces.

 About 90 minutes after the battle has started, you brother calls for a  retreat. Both sides have taken a severe beating and the Sternor forces left are simply insufficient to continue the invasion with. The remaining forces are loaded onto the starships and taken back home.

Battle Losses - Sternors
Troops: 18 of 80 regular, 102 of 160 militia, 5 of 6 suits Battle Dress gone
Armor: 2 of 6 armored cars destroyed, 2 of 8 light tanks destroyed, 1 of 2 heavy tanks severely damaged
Aircraft: not involved
Starships: light damage only

Battle Losses - Von Bergs
Troops: 275-300 dead or wounded, 350-450 regulars left (militia numbers unknown)
Armor: 1 heavy and 2 light tanks destroyed, same number heavily damaged
Aircraft: 3 aeropace fighters destroyed out of 5 encountered
Starships: none encountered

 Upon your return, Dame Natalia (your aunt, though she is the same age as you and your brother) is furious and is trying to talk your father into exiling your brother for gross negligence. Maxwell, to his credit, does not deny that it was a mistake to leave the starport alone, but points out that it would have been just as bad to remove half the air cover for such an operation. Eventually, this degenerates into a shouting match refereed by your father. As you ponder whether you should say anything (you aren't sure what), Uncle Herman pulls you aside.

"I'm no tactician, Adolphus, but it is clear that we will not be able to launch another attack for several weeks. We only have 62 regulars left, plus some 1900 militia. The Von Bergs are hurt, yes, but can probably launch some sort of attack within the week."
 "So what's your point? Are you trying to say we should flee?"
 "Of course not. We simply must act quickly before the Von Bergs can react to our assault."
 "But you just said..."
 "I'm talking about a commando raid on the Baron's palace. You, your brother and sister, Hans and perhaps a few more."
 "I'm not a coward, but I'm not a soldier either."
 "Have you been away from your family for so long that you forget our one advantage?"
 Hmm, you'd almost forgotten. A half-dozen psychic assassins in the Von Berg palace could do a great deal of damage. Now if only someone could come up with a plan...

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