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A Warrior's Family (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 86[]

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Dealing with Low-Rankers[]

DS Phaidin, Leopard Class 'Mech Carrier DropShip
In Orbit above St. Ives
St. Ives Compact
May, 3030

Hap had to work through a couple different departments of the Federated Suns Embassy before he got transferred to the Defense Attaché Office. The holo screen changed from a very prim and proper librarian looking woman to a very surly fat-jowled Corporal. Even with the holo he looked like he hadn't shaved in days and his uniform jacket was open and badly wrinkled. He was also leaning back in his chair and Hap suspected he had his feet up on his desk.

"Hello Corporal, I'm Captain Calahad. I'm a Liaison Officer with the mercenary company McFinnigan and Sons. Ms. Roweyna McFinnigan to my left represents the company's interest. Not on camera, but also in the room, is Subaltern Capetian-Calahad. We're about to conduct combat operations with the Compact's military, but before we land we'd like to speak to the Defense Attaché." As Hap introduced himself Hawkins came onto the bridge and started speaking to Sarah and Anastasia.

The corporal looked bored and annoyed, <<"The Defense Attaché isn't here right now.">>

"That's fine Corporal, but we're landing in about two days. We're told the embassy has a secure hangar facility. If it's available, we'd like to land there. Can you help me get permission to use it?"

<<"No.">> The corporal said as he reached for a bag of chips and started eating.

"Okay. Can you tell me who can give us permission to use it, Corporal?"

<<"I don't know.">> The corporal shrugged. Hap was starting to get irritated.

Anastasia slid into the seat next to Hap, "Hello Corporal, I'm Subaltern Capetian-Calahad. When will the Defense Attaché be available? Perhaps he can help us." As she spoke she put her hand on Hap's knee and gave it a squeeze. She also gave him a look to remind him not to overact.

<<"I don't know.">>

"You don't know if he can help us? Or you don't know when he'll be available." Hap asked, trying not to let his frustration show.

<<"Both really.">> The corporal seemed to be getting annoyed too. <<"Look buddy, the Defense Attaché is a busy man, maybe you should just wait till you get here.">>

Buddy? If Hap could reach through the Holo he would likely backhanded him.

"We want to land at that secure hangar, Corporal." Hap said, "How is it going to work if I have to come and see the Defense Attaché before we land? You expect us to stay in orbit while I do a combat drop in my BattleMech onto the embassy."

<<"I don't know.">> The Corporal said. <<"I think that's your problem.">>

Hap wondered if Anastasia could calculate a way for his Griffin to land directly on the spot where the Corporal was casually disregarding every rule and regulation on military customs and courtesy.

Roweyna leaned over to whisper, "Yer handling this masterfully."

"Is there someone else I can speak to? Do you have a Sergeant perhaps?" Anastasia asked.

<<"Nope. Just me and Private Harmay.">> The Corporal took a long drink from a soda bottle.

"What is your name, Corporal?" Anastasia asked nicely.

<<"Weber.">> The Corporal said before belching.

"Corporal Weber, do you or Private Harmay have access to the Defense Attaché's calendar?"

<<"I can get that, Ma'am.">> Said a female voice from off camera. <<"We can schedule the Colonel's appointments.">>

A young female soldier came into view and sat down next to the Corporal. She had to push the Corporal's feet off the desk which caused him to have to change his posture. For a second the camera caught the Corporal's large gut and it became obvious why his service coat was open.

<<"He's not busy tomorrow afternoon, ma'am.">> Private said as she looked down at the notebook she was carrying.

<<"If there's nothing on his calendar, he's probably going to play golf or get a massage. He's going to be pissed with you if you schedule anything, Private Harmay.">> The Corporal told her. The way he said "Private" almost sounded like an insult.

"Meeting with members of the AFFS is part of the Defense Attaché's role. I would doubt meeting with us would upset him." Anastasia said.

<<"You don't know the, Colonel. I'm telling you, he's going to walk in tomorrow and just cancel that appointment.">> The corporal huffed, <<"Boot Harmay gonna tell him about it, and he's just going to yell, 'CANX!'.">>

<<"Ma'am, what will your meeting with the Colonel be about?">> Private Harmay asked.

"We need to encrypt this call." Anastasia said, "Does your system have that capacity?"

<<"You know you're asking a lot out of us just to do you a favor?">> Corporal Weber said.

"I think all we have to do is push this button here. I loaded the encryption on the first of the month like the Colonel told me too." Private Harmay said. The image froze and was replaced by floating text stating, <{"Request for Secure comms. Press Secure to encrypt call."}>

Hap hit a button marked secure on the comms station. The text was replaced by system messages reporting <{"GOING SECURE…SYNCHRONIZING…ESTABLISHING ENCRYPTION…CONNECTION SECURE."}>

Corporal Weber and Private Harmay reappeared on the Holo. Private Harmay was smiling and looked pleased with herself.

"Well done, Private." Hap said, trying to sound appreciative. He was starting to suspect that Private Harmay was a very fresh recruit. She was bright eyed, her uniform fit her properly and she had her hair in a tight bun. She also looked young. She had the general disciplined look of a Soldier that had just left her initial training.

"Yes, thank you, Private Harmay." Anastasia said very cordially, "We recently conducted a raid on Necromo, and secured some highly sensitive military equipment. We need a secure location to protect it. We can't trust any Capellan sympathizers that might still be in the Compact's Military, and we can't trust ComStar. A diplomatic site with its immunities would be ideal for us."

Hap cleared his throat "The other reason we need that hangar is that our dropship was seriously damaged during that operation and needs repairs. So if we can be protected from the elements while we fix it that would be an added bonus."

"It also needs several centuries worth of routine maintenance." Anastasia said.

"The Phaidin has received decades, possibly centuries, of excellent maintenance. It has layers of paint and rust that have been maintaining hull integrity long before you were born." Hawkins said as he passed the Navigation station on his way to the Bridge's coffee urn.

<<"Ma'am, what did your unit take in the raid?">> Private Harmay asked.

"We really can't say, but it's brought us nothing but trouble." Roweyna said, "If the esteemed Federation o' Suns would like to compensate us for acquiring it, I'd be more than happy to strike a bargain. It's become evident the villains that originally commissioned us for the job aren't going to honor their contract, and I'm running a business, so I'm willing to make a deal."

Private Harmay nodded, <<"Okay Ma'am, you need to speak to the Colonel about using the secure hangar, a raid on Necromo, and purchasing 'sensitive military equipment' from the Mercenary Company you work for.">>

"We're Liaisons, so we work with them not for them, but, yeah. That's close enough, Private." Hap said.

"Who is the Defense Attaché'?" Anastasia asked as the Private erased what she wrote in the notebook and jotted down the correction Hap had given her.

<<"Colonel Bruckner, Ma'am.">> The private replied. <<"If you call us tomorrow at 1400 he should be available to speak with you.">>

"What time did ye have there locally?" Roweyna asked

<<"It's about 1030, Ma'am.">> Private Harmay answered. Roweyna nodded and started adjusting her watch.

"Thank you again, Private Harmay." Anastasia said. "Also, please note that you should not use any ComStar equipment like HPG to communicate about us, or tell anyone except the Colonel about the things we discussed during the encrypted call."

<<"Yes Ma'am.">>

"Thank you." Hap said as he disconnected the call.

"Well I dare say I've never met a Corporal in the Federated Suns that was that fat, or undisciplined." Roweyna said after the holo turned blank and went into standby mode.

"Yeah. That's what happens when Corporals don't have adult supervision." Hap said. He gave Anastasia a skeptical look. "It sounds like the Defense Attaché office is small, and he's not there very often. I'm not sure they're going to be much help."

"I know." Anastasia answered, "but we have to go through the proper channels. As military members we start with the DAT. If he can't help us, he'll either set up a meeting with the ambassador or, if the ambassador isn't available, the Charge d'affaires."

"Is that how embassy's work?" Roweyna asked.

"Mother had me intern at an embassy for a summer, and it was how that one worked. Although given our experience with the Corporal it seems more probable Colonel Bruckner will just tell us to go away."

"Aye, that does seem more probable." Roweyna said as she sipped her tea.

"You're in a mischievous mood." Hap said, "You just feeling better or is there something your happy about that I'm missing?"

"Many things Mr. Calahad, yer missing many things I am feeling better, and thank you for asking. And my conversation to arrange things for the company went perfect, while yers went to shit, so I'm almost ashamed to admit I'm feeling a little smug."

"Our interaction with the DAT's office was…suboptimal, but we do have an appointment scheduled for tomorrow, so I don't believe it went that poorly." Anastasia said

"Very well, we'll find out tomorrow that it went to shit, but the thing that I think is most important is I don't think that fat Corporal laziness will really matter. I could tell from the way Major Liu was looking at Captain Haphazard that we're in good standing with the Compact, and they'll take fine care of us."

"How was she looking at my husband?" Anastasia asked.

"Like a fellow warrior." Roweyna said, "Father pointed this out to me a long time ago. When yer dickerin' over a contract if yer dealing with some bean-counting bureaucrat or careless staff officer they sell you short, choose the lowest bid, or agree to exactly the amount they're told to bargain for. But, if ye talk to a warrior, they know that a Mercenary that is treated well and compensated fairly will fight like a professional and endure damn near the same hardships and dangers as their own sons and daughters.

"Now, If ye fought on the same ground as that warrior, 'lose the same blood in the same mud' as Father would say, they'll fight for you to their leadership and ensure yer taken care of. So I'm thinkin' Major Liu's word is as good as gold, especially since we personally saved life and limb for her."

"You know we're dealing with people that grew up and were trained by the Capellans?" Hap said, "Major Liu and Chyou, or-" Hap looked over at Anastasia.

"Lieutenant Mun." Anastasia said.

"Major Liu and Lieutenant Mun were straight with us, but Sang Wei Zhang was insulting, tried to put us at unnecessary risk and was generally an ass." Hap said.

"I read Fiona's report and agree with you, but I assure you that Major Liu is going to ensure we get the best that she can get us. Besides the Compact can't afford to ostracize mercenaries and, as far as they are concerned, we're just a one-off from being an official Federated Suns unit. I'm telling you they'll treat us well and we'll be fine, even if the embassy doesn't come through.">>

Hap wasn't sure how to respond but the communication system indicated they had an incoming call from the Embassy. Hap accepted the call and the encryption system re-engaged and then the holo displayed Corporal Weber and Private Harmay. The Corporal looked kowtowed and the Private seemed nervous.

<<"Captain Calahad, Sir, and Subaltern Capetian-Calahad, Ma'am, we were able to get you access to the secure hangar. I'll transmit the location and access codes now.">>

"Thank you." Anastasia said as the computer registered receiving the incoming information. "Did Colonel Bruckner return?"

<<"No, Ma'am.">> Private Harmay said. <<"We were told the Ambassador is a friend of your mother, and she personally insisted you have access to anything you need, including the secure hangar. We were also told you will need to report to the embassy and we'll coordinate a meeting for you with the Foreign Affairs Department.">>

"Who is the ambassador?"

<<"The Countess Clarke-Martin.">>

Anastasia nodded, "Very good. Thank you, Private Harmay. Will the Defense Attache' still be available tomorrow?"

<<"I believe so, Ma'am.">>

"Thank you, again, Private Harmay, I look forward to seeing you in a few days." Anastasia said as she disconnected the call.

"Do you know the Ambassador?"

"No," Anastasia replied, "nor is her name familiar. That's not to say she isn't my mother's friend, but I don't know her." Anastasia seemed to be thinking, "I should have asked for her first name." Anastasia added.

Kate came in and looked around, "Anastasia, Hap I'm surprised to see you both here. I thought once Anastasia's watch was over you'd two would run off to your berth so Hap could take more liberties with your person." Kate was amused as Anastasia blushed and Hap tried to hide his embarrassment and annoyance.

"I'm realizing now I should have never said any of that." Anastasia said as she saw Hap's look.

"You really shouldn't have." Kate agreed

"Don't you have another four hours before your watch starts?" Hap asked.

"I took a nap, now I'm bored. I thought I'd keep Hawk company for a bit then go to Aero-bay 1, run on the treadmill and see how the work is going on the prison cage for that ROM agent you captured. Yesterday Henry and his band of cut-throats were taking one of the old storage containers and welding it into a brig."

"Oh I didn't realize Shafer was doing that well. I assumed she'd be under Doctor Lesley's care for weeks." Anastasia said.

"She's probably not doing that well. Doc Les is probably running low on sedatives, and tired of hearing her threaten and curse at her." Hawkins said. "Hey, who cleaned my coffee cup?"

"I might have." Sarah said, "Sorry, I probably mistook it for mine."

"Damn it Sarah, the most important thing about space operations is to never clean your coffee cup, and for the love of Kerensky you never wash another crew member's cup, unless you want a fight."

"I'm really sorry." Sarah said.

"She's blind, Mr. Hawkins." Roweyna said, "And a clean unbroken coffee cup won't kill you."

"What's going on with Shafer?" Hap asked.

"I told Henry to make us a brig. Not sure how long Ms. Shafer will be our guest, but I don't fancy her taking up a bed in the sick-bay unnecessarily." Roweyna said, "When she's well enough we'll move her. Although now that yer talking to the Embassy maybe someone there can take her off our hands."

"I'll bring that up with the DAT tomorrow." Anastasia said.

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