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Deadman's Hand What Price Glory (Story Chapter Art)

Chapter 2[]

Dead Man's Hand: What Price Glory[]

DropShip Ante-Up, Froese River Valley
Port Author
Clan Smoke Jaguar Occupation Zone
June 1st, 3059

As promised, a hot meal, an even hotter shower, and a surprisingly comfortable bunk had awaited Calvin when they arrived at the Mercenary DropShip. Despite Joker's previous statement, he was surprised to discover that the crew were predominantly former members of Clan Wolf, who had been... captured may not be the right word, and he'd heard the word 'shanghaied' used, although he didn't get the reference. What was clear was that they were treated no differently than any other crew, and had no love for the Jaguars. He didn't know if that was due to their previous allegiance, or something more personal, but they had dubiously taken in the Mechwarrior he had technically defeated and put them to work scrubbing the deck of the Mech Bay.

And that was another thing that had surprised him. Despite it not being their responsibility, the mercenaries had patched up his Commando, going as far as to strip out his damaged Coventry 90mm SRM-6 launcher and replace it with the Streak SRM-4 and Small Pulse Laser from the Uller he had helped down. While it technically continued a reduction in his firepower, he was much happier to have a working launcher than one that might explode if he tried to use it in combat.

Dawn had brought a pleasant surprise in the form of a returning scout mission, which had located two other members of his ill-fated unit, Twitch and Boomer, both of whom had unfortunately been forced to eject and attempt to evade pursuit on foot. Unfortunately, the elation he'd felt upon seeing them again had been tempered with the news that they'd found several other 'Mechs from Yankee Company, none of whom had been so lucky. It hadn't been possible to recover the remains of the lost MechWarriors, but their locations had been logged and would be passed onto the graves registration service as soon as they made contact with SLDF command.

That, however, would have to wait, as the mercenaries had made it clear that their orders called for strict radio silence except under the direst of circumstances. And it wasn't the typical mercenary BS about 'not in my contract', but rather they were hunting for individuals who had been actively collaborating with the Jaguars. Men and women whose intimate knowledge of the Clans plans, not only on Port Arthur, but across the entire OZ, made them prime targets for snatch-and-grab missions. HighCom certainly didn't want them to get wind of what was about to happen and make like a startled rabbit and bolt for whatever he they'd prepared for themselves, or even to their Clan masters. No, even Calvin could accept that sometimes, for the greater good, it was necessary to do the unpalatable.

Union-C DropShip (In Space - Farseer Animation)

Union-C Class Mech Carrier DropShip, Ante-Up

Making his way through the DropShip, he was amazed at how empty it seemed. The Ante-Up was a Union-C, not too unlike the DropShip that had delivered Yankee Company to Port Arthur. However, where as that ship had carried a full company of BattleMechs and their immediate support staff, the mercenaries only operated a single Lance, meaning that there was far more room than would otherwise be the norm. He had no idea just how expensive it must be to operate such a complex ship at only a fraction of its capacity, and the mercenaries certainly didn't seem like they were rolling in C-Bills, so there was obviously a deeper reason behind their decision to limit their numbers.

"All right, sleepyhead?" A voice called out from the far end of the catwalk, bringing Calvin back to the here-and-now.

He looked up to see one of the Mercenaries, a tall, slender man with a thin mustache named Scilicorn. His accent pegged him as a fellow Davion, all be it with an unmistakable Liao twang that indicated he hailed from one of the countless worlds that changed hands every few decades or so. He'd been the one who'd gone out the night before and brought back Twitch and Boomer, but it seemed clear that he'd done it because it was the right thing to do, and not out of any sense of loyalty to his homeland. But that tended to be the life of a Mercenary. Oh, sure: some units, like the Kell Hounds or McCarron's Armored Cavalry, were House units in all but name, but they tended to be the exception rather than the rule. That being said, the mechwarriors that made up Dead Man's Hand seemed to have a specific hatred for the Clans, which was in stark contrast to how they treated their DropShip crew and support staff.

The universe was full of mysteries, Calvin reminded himself, and this was just another one.

"Just trying to loosen back up, you know." he nodded to the other mechwarrior, "I love being a pilot, but two days in the cockpit..."

"Yeah, no matter what you try, it always ends up smelling like arse and old socks." Scilicorn mused, "Anyway, the boss wanted me to track you down and ask a favor. We've gotten a lead on a particularly nasty piece of work, so we'll be heading out soon. We were hoping that you'd be willing to stick around and help guard the ship while we're gone."

"Way I see it, I owe you that at the very least." Calvin nodded, "Happy hunting."

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