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Chapter 3 - What Could Go Wrong[]

13 December 3039
Breed (Federated Commonwealth)

Master Sergeant Harry Caldwell took a long pull of his beer while eyeing Captain David Mitchell sitting across the small table from him. He wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve. "Sir, you're not asking for much are you? You trying to get me hung or shot? I thought we were on good terms."

"Nothing will go missing, I just want to get Corporal Davis into that Mech those techs have been swooning over." Captain Mitchell replied

"Not just the techs sir, word is there is a team from the NAIS coming to take possession of it. It's under lock and key, WITH armed guards posted." Master Sergeant Caldwell pointed out

"You seem to forget; those armed guards are from my company. So that is not going to be an issue. But we are not techs, no clue on powering up a Mech, but you are a Master Technician, trained on Battlemech, Vehicles and even Aerospace if I recall your file correctly. We just want access to the computer system for a little while." Captain Mitchell said

"Master Mechanic, Sir, not even close to a Master Technician on Battlemechs or Aerospace. Of course, weapons and fusion engines are all pretty much the same along with repairing armor." Master Sergeant Caldwell stated

"Close enough for our needs. Will you help us?" Captain Mitchell asked

"Nothing gets taken from the Battlemech. I am there the entire time watching. I respect and like you, Captain Mitchell, but damned if I risk a treason charge." Master Sergeant Caldwell replied

"Nowhere close to treason, Master Sergeant Caldwell. We have some ancient data drives that we think that fancy computer might be able to read correctly. Nothing on them has anything to do with current events. If we find anything current, you may accompany me to turn the drives over. That sound fair?" Captain Mitchell asked

"Okay. Tomorrow night. I will power up the Battlemech and Corporal Davis can do his thing. I know he knows computers; he has helped me out a few times with buggy software updates." Master Sergeant Caldwell said

14 December 3039

"Everything quiet, Sergeant Harris?" Captain Mitchell asked

"Boring as ever, Sir. I can promise you 5 hours, after that, this area starts to wake up and folks start moving about." Sergeant Josh Hogue said

"We should be long gone before then. Call me on TAC 2 if anything comes up." Captain Mitchell said as he waved the others inside the hanger.

Master Sergeant Caldwell looked at the equipment Corporal Davis had brought along. "A printer? Really, you need a printer?"

"I only get one shot at this Top, I have to be ready if this plays out right." Corporal Davis replied

With a grunt, Master Sergeant Caldwell helped load the equipment onto the lift next to the BLR-2C Battlemaster that all the Mech techs had been going ape over. Once everything was aboard, he engaged the lift which started rising to the cockpit hatch. Reaching the hatch, he climbed inside and sat down in the pilot's couch. Flipping a few switches, he felt more than anything the THRUM as the Battlemaster's fusion reactor powered up. It only took a few seconds before the cockpit controls began lighting up. He did not have the password hack to do more than power up the cockpit fully. Finally, he turned slightly towards the hatch. "Let's go Davis, get this over with."

Wasting no time, Corporal Davis entered the cockpit and moved to the couch next to Master Sergeant Caldwell. He started pulling out various cables and located the correct places to plug them in. He then began plugging in the 3 drives. As they slowly spun up, the computer he was sitting at began coming to life. Reading from the various drives at what seemed like the same time, the computer screens began displaying the information in its proper format. He quickly realized that he could select each command and drive deeper into information on each command listed. Quickly, he began connecting the printer and did a test print to see if it worked. Sure enough, the printer quickly printed 2 pages of information. He looked at the 2 reams of paper he had brought. "Captain Mitchell, we have a problem here."

Sticking his head inside, Captain Mitchell asked "What is wrong?"

"I do not think this is going to be enough paper. Hell, I might not have enough ink for the printer." Corporal Davis said

Master Sergeant Caldwell grunted "Jesus Davis, I thought you came prepared. Sir, go over to the office over there, should be a full box of printer paper. You can steal the ink from the printer in there also, maybe find some extra cartridges. Davis, get back to work, we are on a time crunch here."

"Wish we could just steal this computer. This thing has more processing power than my own rig and it is top of the line." Corporal Davis replied, as he got back to printing pages of information.

"Keep wishing, not going to happen. They shoot folks over tech like this. You just stay focused on the task at hand and no surfing the computer. No telling what kind of logs this thing will make and I am not keen on explaining anything to a NAIS team or MI6." Master Sergeant Caldwell replied as he made sure everyone was gloved, no need in leaving fingerprints.

While the printing had been going on, Corporal Davis had begged Master Sergeant Caldwell to let him carefully take a few access panels off and look at the guts of the computer. Just look, no touching was the reply. After 20 minutes of carefully looking the inside over, Corporal Davis let a low whistle out. "Man o man, this is one sweet computer. I count at least 8 separate processors. Graphics suck, but this baby has more raw crunching power than anything I have ever seen. I think it is even tied into the comm system. Might even be able to get real time updates. Sir, we are not going to get all the information on these drives. No way, unless you break into base supply and steal all the paper and ink to be had. Probably going to kill my printer even."

"Just hit the highlights Davis, we don't need all the individual unit info and such. Scan for what looks important and copy those." Captain Mitchell replied

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