09/10/3065 16:05 Location – Mercenary Assembly Area, As’Sab
After checking the camp for Jasmina and not finding her Joe “Hotfoot:” Leeson flagged down one of the techs that was driving a 6×6 utility vehicle to go to the assembly area. Lieutenant Mutabe and the Battle Armor squads were practicing mounting and dismounting the recently modified for mechanized battle armor Locust and Lieutenant Nyx’s matte black Anubis Battlemech.
Joe walked over to André Mutabe’s Battle Armor, only recognizable by a pair of gold bars on the spaulder, The Lieutenant snapped a quick salute and removed his helmet. His cornrows and black skin were covered in sweat, a common feature for everyone on the planet even if they had to suffer through two weeks of acclimation from Niops to Astrokaszy, 61°C is still not something humans are equipped to endure.
Hotfoot what brings you out here?, the battle armor’s helmet looked positively small in the massive battle-claw of the light grey IS Standard Battle Armor, the heavy machine gun in the other arm was empty now but the chamber looked massive. Joe felt mildly uncomfortable in the presence of such a machine he couldn’t imagine what was in the heads of anyone who faced it on foot, unarmored.
Just looking for Lieutenant Ilonka, André; but since I’m here what is your team’s status?, Joe adjusted his goggles as the Lieutenant’s visor caught the sunlight and reflected it into his eyes. André adjusted it but the light was momentarily blinding.
Practicing some tactics, most of my people haven’t been in real combat before or hung off the side of a mech traveling at one hundred kilometers per hour in a sandstorm. Additionally Mechwarrior Bowman has never piloted a mech with five battle armors hanging off it. Kinda throws the balance off when you have another twenty-five percent of your mech’s weight hanging on. We don’t want falls at high speed, I had it happen before, spent a month in the infirmary.
Alright don’t wear yourselves out. Have you seen Jasmina?
I think she was with Commander Arachne and Lieutenant Inderpol or at least I saw her when we came out for maneuvers. See you at the briefing Strike Commander. André shook out his battle armor’s helmet before putting it back on and walked to join the rest of the squad as they jumped onto the Locust as it walked by, taking time to find the recently added platforms and claw-holds that would secure them while the Battlemech raced across the desert.
The Ebon Magistrate kept their own little assembly area complete with guards away from the normal mercenary gathering areas. Joe passed through a squad of Magistrate soldiers who stood and readied their weapons as he approached but let him pass.
Everytime he interacted with Ebon Magistrate he got a chill down his spine, they rarely spoke or showed their faces, and kept separate from the main unit. The only person that talked to the main unit was Arachne, she wasn’t very personable, and something always seemed off about her. He didn’t pursue though, content with getting a paycheck and secretly glad they didn’t divulge terrible secrets to him, he had plenty of his own.
Joe walked toward the matte black Thunderbolt, Raven, and Beowulf that were next to the Niopian Mongoose, Crab, and Guillotine. Captain Blackwell, Commander Arachne, and Lieutenant Inderpol were conversing in a language that Joe didn’t understand that seemed like some kind of pidgin or creole. Jasmina stood nearby in a fresh blue Gendearmerie uniform with a black cooling vest that he had never seen her in before. She noticed him crossing the gap and tapped Inderpol on the shoulder, the trio stopped their conversation with Captain Blackwell and Commander Arachne departed.
Oh, hi, Joe, what brings you out here?, her body language was tense and visibly uncomfortable but confidence beamed on her face. A gust of wind shook her sun bleached hair from its bindings and he missed the rest of her sentence to the wind. Closing the distance with a short jog he stood before the two of them.
Mina, I’ve been looking for you for two hours. What are you doing here; shouldn’t you be at the command post prepping the briefing?, Jasmina took a moment to retie her hair and gather her thoughts before facing him. I’m going on this mission Joe. Joe was taken aback by the firmness and finality in her voice. Mina you have never even ridden in a Battlemech before. The Headhunters are shooting to kill, we are about to break a cease-fire with them after killing nearly a dozen of them including their Captain in a dangerous but necessary raid. This is not a time for amateurs.
Joe this is not a point of discussion, I am the only other officer here that can operate Blackbird’s command console. You said it yourself this mission is dangerous you are going to need every advantage you can get. Joe couldn’t hide his surprise, the Magistracy had maybe two Command Consoles in the entire army the fact that Major Grey had secured one of them was no doubt a result of her ingenuity and “failure” to inform the Command Committee when it just disappeared. Mina how do you know how to operate that piece of Lostech?
Major Grey taught me after she stole it from the First Canopian Fusiliers and smuggled it to Niops, I was in her WILDCATs during the the Lothan campaign before she sent me to keep an eye on you guys in the St Ives Compact.
Wait what? Why didn’t you ever mention this? You just told me you were in the Gendearme before we hired you.
Well it wasn’t a total lie, I was in the Gendearme before I was shadow recruited into ARC team WILDCAT. So technically I never left them before I went to work with you. Although its true I’ve never ridden a Battlemech before, just Mech-jocks. Her comments rose a range of emotion in Joe but he was still visibly angry with her. Even as the Strike Commander she would just call Arachne or Felicity and override any veto he might have on her presence.
Oh and Joe the Headhunters are still looking to kill Felicity Grey and they don’t know she is in Shervanis, so they will be gunning for Blackbird. A hundred million Eagles will go a long way to fixing the thrashing you boys have been putting on them so fight well, for my sake, will you.
She gave him a quick kiss and jogged off to regroup with Arachne and Blackwell on the way to the briefing.
Lieutenant Nirav Inderpol looked at Joe, Don’t worry, Mina is in good hands, the Major hand picked us for this mission. By the way Ejay sends his regards, you guys should stop by Canopus when this is all over.