[Note: the date at this point is in early August 3052]
About a week after the Trial for my BloodName, I received a message from Nova Captain Bob Ward, asking to meet me for lunch. I agreed, and come lunch time, I met Bob in the mess hall.
Much to my surprise, he informed me that he is transferring to Beta Galaxy. He has been given command of Alpha Assault Star and Trinary Assault, 352nd Assault Cluster. A large number of the warriors of this Cluster transferred to Delta Galaxy in the restructuring that has been occurring since Khan Phelan Ward's assumption of the Galaxy. He was not sure if Star Colonel Erik Kerensky would be remaining in command of the Cluster or not. Three of his MechWarriors would be transferring with him; the Nova Commander of Bravo Third Nova has been promoted to command of the SuperNova, and one of the MechWarriors remaining behind has successfully passed a Trial of Position for Nova Commander -- he will take command of Bravo Third Nova. Several of Alpha Third Nova's Elementals are also transferring to the 352nd with Bob.
I must admit that I was shocked. I had always thought of Beta Galaxy as being staunchly Crusader, even when Khan Phelan took over. Of course, I've had little time to investigate troop movement patterns between Galaxies over the last few months, so I was in no position to comment. I was pleased for Bob insofar as this would likely put him in line for promotion to Star Colonel of the 352nd should Erik Kerensky screw up, but even so, I would miss our friendly chats and billiard game matches. Although there were others in the 16th Battle Cluster who played pool, none were of Bob's caliber, and my skill level was swiftly rising.
Well, after I'd digested this little bit of information, Bob dropped another bombshell. Before the transfer was completed, Bob would like to meet me in a friendly challenge trial, for old time's sake, Nova on Nova, as he will be commanding a traditional assault Trinary in the 352nd. [Chief Rabbi's note: although w/ Bob in command, that Trinary promises to be anything but traditional! --JA] I asked him if there was a specific reason for the request, and he just mumbled something about being bashfully nostalgic, then gave me a wicked grin as my jaw hit the floor. After a good laugh, he said that it was just a sort of farewell ceremony. Naturally, I agreed, and we set the date for a few days hence.
Then Bob said, "As you are the challenged, you have the right to set the location for the Trial." Since I had just had my last BloodName battle on this planet, I had studied all the available fields and locations, and I realized that I knew of the perfect place for a Nova Battle. I asked Bob, "How do you feel about baptizing a new field? I know of a new battle arena that has just recently been constructed. As of yet, it has not yet been used in battle. It is double the size of a standard field, which makes it perfect for Nova operations." I gave Bob instructions on how to get there, and then we both reverted to minor chit-chatting until we finished eating. [For the record, the field I plan to use is from the just-released Map Set 5. I am trying to decide between the two 2-part fields, the giant mountain or the running canyon -- I will most probably use the canyon.]
After lunch was over, I started looking for additional reasons for all these transfers. Apparently, the Crusader faction was simply disgusted when Phelan took over Beta Galaxy after Garth Radick's demise, and the vast majority of Crusaders were concatenating in Delta Galaxy. Although transfers are to be expected when a major command changes hands, this was something beyond the ordinary. In response, Phelan was asking all the best warriors, especially those of the Warden persuasion, to transfer into his Galaxy, and the resulting shuffle has left many a commander without a command, and warriors were getting promoted and demoted with alarming rapidity.
As to Bob's transfer, all I could dig up was a rumor that Phelan had asked Bob to transfer to the 352nd to put some pressure on Erik Kerensky. I guess he just was not up to Khan Phelan's standards!
Since I had been assigned to the ilKhan's Special Command for the Solaris mission, I was currently ineligible to put in for transfer. I couldn't help but think that the 16th Battle Cluster was being gutted by all these transfers, and would cease to be an effective fighting unit for several months. SuperNova Third was in the throes of a massive reorganization, and would need at least a few months of training to become an coherent unit once again. SuperNova Second was coming with me on the Solaris mission, for reasons ranging from security to just general companionship. SuperNova Command was Star Colonel Dwilt Radick's personal unit, and Trinary Fighter -- well, they were just not Mechs!
At any rate, I called up Michael and Klen, and informed them of the situation. Klen eagerly accepted the upcoming battle, and said that he would inform the Elementals to prepare. Michael noted with some amusement that since both Bravo Second and Bravo Third Novas would be watching the match, it might be wise to put them in separate rooms to prevent the two Novas from bursting into a free-for-all fist-fight!
[ To be continued when we actually play the battle ... :-) ]