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

Chapter 7[]

Dead Man's Hand: What Price Glory[]

Froese River Valley
Port Arthur, Clan Smoke Jaguar Occupation Zone
June 9th, 3059

Joker whistled to herself tunelessly as they made their way back to the Ante-Up. Their latest snatch-and-grab had gone off smoothly, no doubt because the remaining Davion Guards forces on planet were giving the Jags a hell of a time. With so many units being redeployed to replace losses and buster defenses around likely targets, it was easy to slip in and out of hostile territory, even in BattleMechs. Their latest mission had been particularly easy, as they had managed to catch up with their target while they'd been trying to run. Every day that the Jags failed to rout the invaders, every town and village that was liberated, made it increasingly difficult to maintain the illusion that Port Arthur was going to remain under Clan control.

God only knew how people would react when the actual liberation forces started to land? From what Joker knew about similar situations throughout history, with an orgy of blood-letting and score-settling. Humans were predictable like that, and Dead Man's Hand had no intention of getting caught up in the middle of it. No, they'd collect their pay and move on to the next mission, leaving the thankless task of keeping the locals from killing each other over perceived slants and crimes committed during the years of occupation. Oh, sure, there was always money to be made at a time like that, but while they might be mercenaries, that didn't mean that their morality was for sale.

No, far better to hand in their prisoners, collect the bounties, then get the hell out of dodge... which Joker felt sure was somewhere around the Lyran Thumb.

Dead Man's Hand were almost back to the Ante-Up when the radio chirped, announcing someone was attempting to contact them over a short-ranged, encrypted frequency.

"Ace of Spades to Big Blind," Joker checked and double checked her passive sensors, "talk to me?"

"Joker, Okusama, I apologize for this unexpected breach of protocol," Tommy Okajima's heavily accented voice answered, "but I must inform you of a most worrying occurrence."

"You have my attention." the MechWarrior started to bring her Loki back up to battle-ready.

"I regret to inform you that Lt Basu and her people have left, along with a number of the former Clan Smoke Jaguar Bondsmen." the Yakuza mechanic relayed, "Their stated intention is to raid a Smoke Jaguar field base and capture additional BattleMechs to continue the fight to liberate Port Arthur. A most honorable goal, but one I fear they will fail to fulfill."

"Oh ****** me six ways from Sunday!" Joker lamented, "You heard the man, people! We've got some idiots to save. Jay, take our new guest back to the barn and make sure she's ready to lift if needed. Bobbie, Emelio, you're with me. Double time."

A chorus of affirmatives filled the radio, even as a new way point appeared on their maps. The slower Archer continued on its previous course, still holding the port-a-potty that contained their latest prize, while while Shadow Hawk and Wolverine fell in behind Joker's Loki, the three accelerating to their top speed of 86km/h and veering off to the west.

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