Dalkeith

A staging post for raids against both the Draconis Combine and the Clans, Dalkeith was well suited to supporting combat operations, Its repair facilities and stockpiles of consumables bolstered years earlier to support units committed to a new conflict with the Clans. Devastated by nuclear and chemical weapons in the First Succession War, much of the land on Dalkeith was barren and served as training grounds for the units based there. The Fourth Deneb Light Cavalry—the resident unit when war erupted—made good use of the facilities to maintain their edge. The Fourth refused to be drawn into the Civil War. instead advocating armed neutrality for the good of the Alliance in case the nation's enemies should seek to exploit the situation. Leutnant-General Vidal's position, while accepted by many, was not enough for all in the LAAF High Command and in early 3064, the Thirteenth Donegal Guard—nicknamed the Black Cats—were ordered to Dalkeith to force the issue and prevent the facilities falling into Allied hands, destroying the Deneb Light Cavalry if required.

The Fourth Deneb was wary of the Thirteenth's arrival but did nothing to undermine their landing and subsequent deployment. To the surprise of many, generals Vidal and Stokoi organized a face-to-face meeting, though this did little to shift the DLC position.

THE ITIMSTERV OF THE ARTHUR DfflflOU

The LAS Arthur Davion was intended as a "welcoming present" for Prince Victor and his troops, but when they arrived there was only token resistance—the Lyran WarShip had vanished. Even now, almost 5 years later, the fate of the Arthur Davion is surrounded in mystery, the usual collection of conspiracy theories springing up to fill the void left by the absence of solid facts.

Some believe the crew mutinied and fled the war zone, perhaps taking refuge in the vastness of the periphery, while others claim the vessel joined the Allied forces. Neither is particularly likely as the crew was fanatically loyal to the Archon and no record exists of the WarShip joining the Allied forces. Slightly more plausible is a last-minute reassignment of the vessel to some covert mission, though again no records exist of such an assignment. The theory has, however, gained a following among Katherine's more hard-line supporters, who believe the vessel will, one day, return and restore the Archon-Princess.

Other suggestions are more believable, though no less provable. One theory suggests that the Arthur Davion mis-jumped, either while attempting an intra-system jump to better position itself against enemy forces or while jumping to a different system. Another possibility is that the vessel was destroyed by a catastrophic accident or enemy action—presumably another WarShip, though records indicate there were no hostile WarShips within 60 light years at the time of the disappearance. Furthermore, the absence of wreckage would seem to run counter to the idea of destruction, though given the size of a solar system, such debris could be overlooked. Indeed, recent observations have suggested the presence of a hitherto unidentified object in an irregular orbit around one of the system's gas giants though it is no longer identifiable, presumably having fallen out of orbit since the initial detection.

Whatever the facts of the matter, the fate of the Arthur Davion looks set to join the ranks of the Vandenburg White Wings, the Minnesota Tribe and the identity of Snow Fire as perpetual mysteries of the known universe.

Fran Vidal restated her commitment to the Alliance rather than to any one candidate. This did little to mollify Leutnant-General John Stokoi who called on the Fourth Deneb to "hand control of the facility to authorized units of the Lyran Alliance." The Deneb commander refused and the two parted, knowing their next encounter would be on the battlefield.

Though the Thirteenth both outnumbered and outmassed the Fourth DLC, they were ill suited to offensive operations, relying principally on Andreas von Breunlg's aerospace forces while the RCT's ground elements fought from fixed positions. This policy was in stark contrast to the DLC's use of light, mobile warfare that used speed and maneuverability to outwit their opponents.

The two units jockeyed for position, with the Deneb staging lightning thrusts at the Guards' positions but failing to inflict significant damage. The Thirteenth's determination to unseat the Fourth—along with the origin of those orders from Tharkad—finally gave the DLC reason to commit to a side in the conflict and, as the tempo of their battles increased, they declared support for Victor. Little did the generals know at the time that their small-scale conflict would escalate into the most brutal battle in the Alliance theater, becoming a meat-grinder to rival Kathil or New Syrtis.

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