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A Warrior's Family (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 12[]

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A Warrior's Family[]


Meeting XO, New Billet Assignment[]

Edwards System
Federated Suns
August 3029


Eventually food was served, it was classic fish and chips with squishy peas. The various groups broke off to their regular spots, and Anastasia, Harold and Joker found themselves alone for a moment. Joker poked at his peas with his fork, "It looks like someone forgot to add water to the pea soup concentrate."

Before Hap could answer Fletch sat down at their table. He had a pint and a cigarette in one hand. "Let me personally welcome you to the family. I'm James Fletcher the company XO. Everyone calls Fletch."

"Hello Jimmy-" Joker started to say.

"Shut up." Fletch snapped. He took a drag of his cigarette then continued, "The old man probably spent the last few days filling your heads with ideas that this family of his is damn near a charity that runs on kindness and home brewed beer, and everyone bakes each other's bread and sometimes we fight if someone offers us enough money.

Fletch's tone somehow got more serious, "Let me assure you, this is a professional mercenary outfit that has a notorious reputation for audacious lightning raids, and high risk, high intensity combat operations. We've worked for every major house, and if we're offered enough money there isn't too much we won't do. Are any of you going to have a problem with any of this?"

"No Sir!" Hap replied for his Lancemates.

"We'll see." Fletch said as he took another drink, then leaned forward again. "The Commander said-"

Fletch stopped and looked over his shoulder. There was a man with a blank look staring at Anastasia.

"You want something, Dillon?" Fletch barked

"I wanted to ask Anastasia to dance." Dillon replied

Fletch looked up and cocked his head to the side, "There's no damn music, Dillon."

"Well I wanted to be the first-"

Before Anastasia could say "No." Hap held up both their hands and said, "She already has a dance partner." Anastasia wasn't sure what to make of that. She appreciated the gesture, but she had a great deal of practice telling men, "no".

"Uh, what about the second-" Dillon started to drawl.

"Get the hell out of here Dillon." Fletch yelled. Fletch took a long pull on his cigarette sighed heavily. He looked annoyed as he said, "Like I was saying the Commander said you" He pointed the two fingers that held his cigarette at Harold, "were going to be the lance leader for his recon lance. I want you to know that he doesn't usually let a new hire command a lance."

"Noted. Thank you, sir."

"Stop calling me sir, and stop sitting up tall. You're not a Lieutenant or Leftenant or officer in the AFFS, you're a Mercenary, grow a beard. I see you've already decided to make mistakes with this one." He pointed at Anastasia and then took a long drink. He gave Hap a smirk "Don't look so shocked. I married into McFinnigas's Armored Circus. Let me set you straight on a few things"

He looked around the room and then spoke in fluent Russian.

A tall blonde modelesque woman walked up to the table and sat down on Fletch's lap. "This is my wife Tatyana." Not only was Tatyana gorgeous, she was wearing a plaid skirt and a low-cut blouse that was tailored to snugly fit around her thin waist and ample breasts.

"Hello" She purred with a thick Russian accent and gave everyone at the table a warm smile.

Tatyana took Fletch's cigarette and started smoking as he continued, "I used to be a fast tracking officer in the LCAF. Any of you ever remember General Horzdof? No. It was about ten years ago, probably before your time. He got caught accepting bribes and giving preferential military contracts to companies he owned stocks in. I was a Lieutenant Colonel and his Aide De Camp. When he went down I was pushed out of the military. I wasn't part of his schemes, so I kept my pension, but I was out."

Fletch took a drink, "I had plans to make general myself, and never made time for a life, and only had a few friends. All I knew was how to pilot a 'Mech and work LCAF bureaucracy. When they kicked my ass to the curb I was at a loss. Then one day I meet the she-wolf, here, at a bar."

"I am Volchitsa." Tatyana told them, as she exchanged Fletch's cigarette for his beer.

"Sorry. Her call sign is Volchitsa, Russian for she-wolf. So I meet her, thought at first she was some type of honey pot for Capellan intelligence. Shows you how desperate I was. We start talking and one thing leads to another and she re-introduces me to Kelly."

Fletch paused to light up another cigarette. "We'd hired McFinnigan to do personal security for the general when he wanted to tour the front. So I asked Kelly if he could use a disgraced LCAF Sr. Officer. He signed me on the spot. Even stranger Tatyana wasn't a spy, she just liked washed up bitter old men."

"Dah. I have a thing for bitter old men. Reminds me of my father." Tatyana said as she returned his beer.

Fletch shrugged, "A little while later I asked Tatyana to marry me." She laid her head on top of his, and for a moment Fletch appeared less mean. "My point is fraternization rules in a house army is a good idea. You don't want senior leaders pressuring junior subordinates into things, but now you're in a mercenary company with a pretty flat hierarchy. As long as you can keep your domestic disputes outside the cockpit, and not piss off your lance mates, no one really cares what two adults do."

"I go put Sophia in bed now." Tatyana said as she kissed Fletch and gave him a tender squeeze.

He leaned back and watched her go, then looked back at the three of them, "Having said that, here are things you can't do. Don't screw around with anyone's wife or husband, or cheat on yours. Kelly and Elinor are serious Catholics, and they don't put up with that shit. Honestly, it's corrosive to the unit too."

He took another draw of his cigarette, "Don't use drugs unless the doc gives them to you. Also I know it looks like we're all alcoholics, but you need to stop drinking eight hours before mission time. Don't get caught lying, cheating, or stealing either, once the old man feels he can't trust you, he's going to release you from your contract." Fletch finished his pint and held it up to catch the eye of a bar maid.

"So fight hard, be a good family member, help out, and avoid adultery, drugs, lying, cheating, stealing, and drunk 'mech piloting and you'll make good money here." Fletch took another long draw on his cigarette, "Screw up, and I'll come down on you like an Atlas's fist."

There was a pause, then Hap asked "Is anyone going to have a problem with me getting a lance?"

"Mostly no. Like I said, usually the old man makes you earn the right, but you've already led half your lance in combat, and you were an AFFS officer. They saw you in action, they know you got the chops."

He received a new beer and stood up. "Now for the moment I've been looking forward too." He looked around and saw a crowd around a table in the corner. He motioned for them to follow as he started walking. When people noticed Fletch they cleared a space for him, he still had the air and bearing of a senior officer and even in this wild bunch it commanded respect. In the corner they could see a tall burly man sitting across the table from a short young woman with olive brown skin and silky black hair that was in a neat bun pinned to the back of her head with what looked like large steel pins.

The woman was wearing black track pants, and an olive drab tank top. On her shoulder was a tattoo of the Cerillos flag. She also had "La Familia" tattooed in script on one wrist, a cross on the other wrist, and the Virgin Mary could be partially seen on the back of her right shoulder. On the table were several large bottles one half filled with a clear alcohol, dozens of shot glasses, and a substantial pile of C-bills.

"Grizz, Mags, why don't you two call it a night?" Fletch suggested.

"What are they doing?" Anastasia asked

Grizzly, the burly man, carefully picked up a full shot glass. He looked at it blearily eyed, "Well we were going to scorpion wrestle, but the doc and the load master wouldn't let me bring scorpions on the ship." He said as he threw the shot back, and swallowed hard.

"Because they're candy asses." Mags said as she carefully lifted a shot glass and drank it. Then slowly set it down. For a moment it looked like she was about to lean out of her seat, but she caught herself.

"No, because no one wants to travel across the galaxy in a ship infested with scorpions." Fletch said.

"Then why the hell do we have a cat?" Grizzly asked

"One, because I can't trust you ****** not to try and bring shit like scorpions on a ship. Two, because it's Rowena's cat and the old man can't tell her no." Fletch replied

"Oi! What's this about me?" Roweyna called from across the pub.

"Just talking about your cat, we all think it's a lovely beast." Fletch called out as Grizzly slammed down another shot of alcohol.

"Very good." Roweyna sang out and went back to talking to her mother.

The man next to Fletch giggled, "Oh! Yer talkin' 'bout the boss's daughter's pus-."

"I swear to god I'll throat punch you, Smitty." Fletch threatened.

Mags took another drink. Slammed the glass down and then pounded her fist on the table as she tried to swallow. Once she got the liquor down she smiled wide at her table mate.

Grizzly took another glass and threw it back. He choked it down and gave Mags a toothy grin, and promptly collapsed under the table. Mags smirked and held the table edge as she carefully looked under it. Satisfied she had won she took the money and shoved it into her bra as she gingerly stood up.

A few people exchanged bills and started to pull the big man out from under the table as an old man with a large khaki military bag that had a faded cross painted on it keeled down beside Grizzly. He pulled out an IV bag as he looked over his shoulder at Fletch, "This shit has to stop," He then looked around the crowd, "One of you idiots is going to get alcohol poisoning and then I'm going to in act the three drink minimum again."

There were groans around the room and Joker whined, "Oh man, even in a mercenary outfit, one guy shits his pants and everyone has to wear diapers."

Fletch sighed, "Well it's not one guy, and the Doc is right. I should have stopped it, but sometimes they need to blow off some steam, and it's fun to watch." Fletch took another draw on his cigarette and then pointed at Mags, then pointed at the ground in front of him.

She looked sullen as she slowly walked over, "Yes, Fletch."

Fletch smiled like a cat that had caught a mouse, "Oh Mags, I think I finally found the solution to one of my biggest problems, which is you."

"Who are these fools?" She glowered at Hap, Anastasia, and Joker

"Well this is Joker and Valois, they're your new lance mates. And this is Hap, he's your new your Lance Leader. Hap, Valois, Joker, this is Marietta Maria Rose "Mags" Camacho."

"No f'n way. Commander McFinnigan said I was just going to be on my own spotting for Hammer lance."

"Yes, until we found a new recon lance. Which we did, so it's your lucky day. Actually it's my lucky day, because now you're Hap's problem." Fletch laughed evilly.

"I saw the video. They pilot slow ass 'mechs." Mags nearly shouted.

Anastasia and Hap exchanged looks. "You know were right here, and our 'mechs aren't that slow."

"They are compared to my Jenner." She snapped then looked at Joker, "What are you looking at?"

"I think I'm in love." Joker said.

"Did your 'mech take too many hits to the head?"

"Oh it's a like a match made in heaven. I feel like one of those dating services." Fletch cackled, "Mags, show your new lancemates to their berths. Which I hope you cleaned out like I ordered you."

Mags turned took a few steps and almost fell over. Joker caught her and she said, "Hey what are you trying to do? Cop a feel or steal my money? Either way I'll cut you."

"Fantastic" Fletch said as he walked away chuckling.

"What have we gotten ourselves into?" Anastasia asked Hap as they followed Mags and Joker

"An Armored Circus" Hap said shaking his head.


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