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Chapter 12[]

Dead Man's Hand: Second Star to the Right[]

75 Kilometers north of Bolsun
Nox
Clan Wolf Occupation Zone
12th September, 3054


Joker drove through the night and into the next day, only stopping for fuel and to give the two by now very sleepy children a chance to use a restroom. The local radio station, having long been taken over by the collaborative civilian government, told of a raid that destroyed a group of dangerous insurgents who had been planning an attack on the Metals of the Earth factory, with the intention of slowing production by killing as many of the workers as possible.

She hadn't gotten to know Jokinen well enough to tell if it was the truth, pure propaganda, or a mixture of the two, but at least there was no mention of a blond woman driving a stolen car with two small children.

Late afternoon saw them making their way up a windy, narrow road into the forest covered hills, until they came to the secluded valley where the Ante-Up had been hidden. Not that it was easy to hide something as big as a Union-C class DropShip, but a combination of a small lake. An obscene about of camouflage netting and the high metallic content of the hills made it just another magnetic anomaly amongst a sea of others. Unless you were actively looking for something out of place, it was reasonably well hidden.

"You're cutting it damn fine, Boss." Kelso observed as Joker brought the car to a stop at the shore of the lake, "Time, tide and skittish JumpShip captains wait for no one."

"What can I say?" Joker shrugged as she carefully woke the children, "I was invited to a surprise party."

"Are we there, Wendy?" Kristina asked with a yawn.

"Wendy?" Kelso asked, eyebrow raised.

"Not even close." Joker smirked, then turned back to the children, "Yes, we're at the ship. Time to go for a ride."


Garrison Outpost
Bolsun, Nox
Clan Wolf Occupation Zone
12th September, 3054


"I want the CAP redirected immediately." Charles Dinour ordered, even as he saw his Khan enter the room out of the corner of his eye, "Tell them to either force the DropShip to land at the spaceport or shoot it down."

"Belay that order." Natasha Kerensky countered, "The ship is to be allowed to leave unchallenged."

"My Khan?" the Star Colonel looked at her, confused, "They are Inner Sphere mercenaries..."

"Yes, I know exactly who and what they are. That is why we are letting them go." she explained, "I have encountered them before on Tamar, so I know how they think. Interrogation of the surviving rebels indicates that they were sent to retrieve two children left behind when their mother was killed during our invasion. They took no part in the fighting, and indeed, seemed to be at odds with the rebel leadership."

"Yet still, they are mercenaries..."

"I was once a mercenary too, but that does not cloud my judgement on this. Have you read the Watch file on them?"

"Neg, not fully."

"Well, if you had, you would see that these particular mercenaries have spent the last two years raiding Jade Falcon territory. They never do much material damage, but they do have a knack for embarrassing the Falcons. Indeed, in their last raid on Malibu earlier this year, they cost the Falcons a Ristar Star Colonel, two Abtakha, one of whom had risen to the rank of Star Captain, and a promising young MechWarrior. All taken Bondsmen, not killed, in a Trial of Possession that even Elias Crichell was forced to admit was fair... if unconventional."

"And anyone who can embarrass and distract the Falcons..." he ask

"...is not necessarily an ally, but at the same time not necessarily our enemy." Natasha Kerensky nodded with a smile, "They are a useful distraction; a cats-paw if you will. So we will leave them be, for now."

"Aff, my Khan." Charles Dinour bowed his head, then turned to the confused communications tech, "Order the CAP to stand-down: let the mercenaries go. What are two less sniveling Freebirth children after all?"

"Aff." his Khan turned away to leave, "What are such things to us?"

--The End


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