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Dead Man's Hand - Family Values (Chapter Cover Art) 1

Chapter 19[]

Dead Man's Hand: Family Values[]

Wolf's Dragoons HQ
Harlech City, Outreach
Contested Space (Chaos March)
17th March, 3058

"Oh what a tangled web we weave..." Jamie Wolf looked at the decoded HPG message from Arc-Royal.

"She is certainly her mother's daughter." Michi Noketsuna agreed, "This was not part of the 'Tradition' I inherited during my tenure as the Bounty Hunter."

"No doubt your predecessor wanted it kept secret, as much for his own protection as anything." Wolf nodded, "No matter who inhabits the mantel, the Bounty Hunter always has a knack for attracting the kinds of enemies who wouldn't think twice about going their kid. He may have acted like a cold blooded killer, but he evidently took at least some precautions to try and keep her safe when she was younger. Has Travers been in touch?"

"No, and I don't expect him to be. Not over this." the spy-master shook his head, "Part of the Tradition is when you walk away from being the Bounty Hunter, you can never look back. While I consider Vic a friend, he is essentially dead while he bears the mantle. It is... complicated."

"Isn't it just?" Wolf asked wiley, "I've talked with our medical and scientific staff, they have... ideas, but nothing workable."

"I have our people searching everywhere, looking for anything, but this is not what we normally specialize in." Noketsuna paused then added, "How far should we push this? We have Natasha Kerensky's genetic profile on record..."

"This goes beyond that. Whether she ever wants to admit it or not, Joker is, for want of a better word, family." the old mercenary mused, "She could have asked for anything, or gone public with this information, but insisted she's apparently completely uninterested in claiming any presumed inheritance. All she asks is that we try and save her friend, and for that, she is willing to pay an unimaginable price."

"I do not believe that she is fully aware of what she is offering." Noketsuna sounded hesitant, "Forgive me if it is not my place to say, but, to an outsider, your ways can seem abhorrent. You subject your children to a life of military service, regardless of what they themselves might want."

"Her file would seem to indicate that she finds such practices, as you said, abhorrent." Wolf nodded, "And yet here she is, potentially consigning dozens, if not more, of her children to such a life. We should all be so lucky as to have such a friend."

Lazy S Ranch
Ia Drang, Kowloon
Bucklands Province
Lyran Alliance
17th March, 3058

"Welcome home!" Kelso enveloped Joker in a hug as the mercenary walked through the door.

"Still healing!" Joker winced, "Still healing!"

"Ya baby!" Kelso laughed, then turned to face the nurse who was following behind, "Speaking of..."

"Only way they'd let me out." Joker admitted, "Do you have any idea how hard it is to sneak out of a hospital staffed by ninjas?"

"Ninjas?" Kelso stopped and looked at her friend.

"Okay, not actually ninjas per-say, but some of those Coast Guard types can be damn scary, and they answer directly to Liz." Joker put her bag down, then accepted the bundle of blankets that contained her daughter, "Don't get used to having her around, I start interviewing foster families next week."

"Foster, not adoption?" Kelso asked as she cooed over the sleeping newborn.

"****** Liz; she got into my head while we were sharing a room at the hospital." Joker admitted, "I'm still leaving Alexis here when we head back out, but I will technically be a part of her life, poor little sod."

"You know, if you're gonna be around a kid, even fleetingly, we need to do something about your vocabulary." Scilicorn walked in, eating an apple, "You cuss like a drill instructor with a tooth ache."

"Eh, I had sixteen years of some very... Old Testament minded nuns trying to 'cure' me of my foul mouth." Joker shrugged, "If they failed to beat it out of me..."

"So, definitely not going with a religious school." Scilicorn nodded, "Check."

"Anyways, meet Trinh." Joker introduced the uniformed nurse, "She's here to help look after Alexis while I work on getting back into fighting condition. Doctor Wah said to take it slow, but we need to get back out there, kicking ass and taking names before we get too rusty."

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