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.One minute you talk of ending the caste system.then you invoke it.""The Codex doesn't call for the end of the caste system, only a reform of it, a melding of the lower castes.The warrior caste would still operate much as it does now.though with more opportunity for individual expression.""And marriage and family?""Of course! The warrior genes must be shared with the Inner Sphere.They are the pinnacle of everything we are as Clan.Our loyalty and devotion to the warrior caste remains strong, Star Colonel! We are not traitors.We do not wish to diminish the strength of the Clan.We only wish to share it.enriching the Inner Sphere, and in so doing, enrich ourselves!"There was a certain mad logic to it all, yet there was something Conner had to know before he could continue along this path."What castes are represented in the Freeminders?"Reuben looked surprised."Well, all the castes, in some numbers.Of course, the great majority are laborer caste, in part because they are most numerous in the general population, but also because they have the most to gain from the Freeminder reforms.Technicians and merchants are also strongly represented, though not in the same proportion as laborers.Scientists are much rarer, but they are there.""But warriors.Are there warriors?"Reuben looked apologetic."There are some.A few.To be honest, very few.Most are paramilitary police.Often they are assigned to investigate us, and end up joining and helping us hide our activities instead.Most of them feel ill-treated by the rest of the warrior class, and not appreciated for the benefits they provide the Clan.Galaxy Commander Bekker's reforms since our arrival on Vega have eased those resentments some, but we continue to gain recruits.""But how many Bloodnamed warriors have joined the Freeminders?"Reuben just stared at him.saying nothing.Conner shifted into his command voice."How many?""There are—I have never—" He swallowed."I do not believe that there has ever been one.If you join us, you would be the first." He blinked."Do you understand how important that could be to us? If a Bloodnamed warrior were to join us, it would be a great sign that our cause was just, and that we were not traitors to the warrior caste.""I could lose that Bloodname far more easily than I gained it.""That would have to be your decision, to take such a risk.Frankly, I would not blame you if you chose against us."Conner considered carefully.To a warrior, his Bloodname was everything.His codex was everything.His honor was everything.But Conner Hall found that the definitions and importance of those things kept shifting and evolving."You have leaders here in the Freeminders? People in charge?"'"Yes, of course.The leader of the Freeminders is here, the one who first discovered records of the Final Codex.""I wish to meet this person, as soon as possible.Can you arrange that?"Reuben nodded."I will have to ask.but I am sure that he would want to speak with you.As I have said, having such a famous Bloodnamed warrior join us would be of great importance.It could be the most important thing that has happened since the discovery of the Final Codex itself." He frowned."But I will need to make contact off base, when I am off duty."You are off duty now.Tell me where to drop you, and then I will return to the hangar and explain that I have given you a special assignment.If I am going to do this, I must do it quickly, or not at all."* * *Isis Bekker looked around the subbasement complex that was the war room.It had not been fully activated since the end of the warlord conflicts, but it was active now.The military command center, of course, which occupied a glass-walled space that took up a third of the complex, had never fully shut down.But the functions of the rest of the space, handling communications, intelligence, civilian planning, logistics and coordination with off-planet resources, these functions had largely been transferred to regular civilian departments after the fighting stopped.Now, Isis was pulling all the strings back down to terminate here.She walked around the large backlit glass table that represented a map of the surface of Vega.Under the table, numerous tri-vid projectors created floating icons over the map, representing their various forces.A smaller grid at the far end of the table showed a more abstract representation of off-world forces and space assets.As she was inspecting the displays, Trenton entered the room."Just in time," she said to him."A lot is about to happen, and you are my right hand in making it all work.""Whatever you say.Galaxy Commander.I was surprised when you ordered this room reactivated, but—""Shut up, listen carefully and answer the questions I am going to be asking to the best of your ability.I know some of these questions probably require research for a detailed answer.Never mind that.Just consult that encyclopedia you have for a brain, and give me your best estimate."He blinked in surprise."Yes, Galaxy Commander.""You're certain in what you said about the Freeminders.You honestly believe that they are ultimately loyal to the Ghost Bears and will support our cause here on Vega?""Nothing is certain, however—"She had no time for waffling."Are you sure?"He stared at her for a moment."Yes, they are loyal and not a threat to our mission.""Next question.How self-sufficient is Vega?""In what respect?""In every respect.Worst case, if we were cut off from Ghost Bear support or faced a trade embargo, how would we fare?"He considered carefully."The planet Vega is very rich in natural resources.With the damage done during the Warlord Massacres, energy production is an issue, but one that can be solved.The true challenge is that Vega is also an arid planet.Food production is difficult.""We are not self-sufficient, then?""I didn't say that.It would be a close thing for a few months, but if we relocated workers to ramp up production on the south delta farms, we could manage.""What about factory production?""If we can feed the workers and miners, we can make a lot of stuff.This is a rich world.Aerospace assets will be an issue, especially repair.We have much to trade for such services off-world, of course, but if there were a blockade—""Can we make BattleMechs?""What?""Big machines.Walk around.Carry really big guns.Perhaps you have heard of them?""Without importing key parts? It would be hard.Of course, there are several factories producing IndustrialMechs, and plenty of myomer.The big issue would be fusion reactors [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]