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Chapter 39 - What Could Go Wrong[]

15 August 3041
Inner End (Federated Commonwealth)

After an hour of searching, Sergeant Davis finally located Leftenant Colonel Mitchell on the Mule Cargo Dropship with Chief Zuniga and Chief Engineer Jones. When he finally caught sight of them, he could tell something was wrong, so he remained quiet and kept his distance.

"That second Monarch is worse off than this rust bucket. Your giving me turds and expecting me to turn them into roses. No sir, I am not going to put any spacer on either of those ships until they can pass MY inspection. You mud dwellers might enjoy dirt and smells, but no spacer worth his salt can stand either. Dirt gets into important stuff, can even be explosive in the right circumstances. Top to bottom cleaning and all four cargo lifts fully replaced with new assemblies BEFORE I certify this Dropship as fit for duty." Chief Zuniga said forcefully.

"We need this Mule bad Zuniga. With the Mule, we could do a complete sweep of the system and grab everything in a single mission instead of this back and forth crap." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell fired back.

"Then you wait until this Mule passes my standards. Until then, she is grounded. Besides, we do not have the crew to even operate her. When I signed on you said the engineering and technical aspects of any and all Space faring vessels was mine and mine alone. Well, now your crossing into my territory. I will NOT risk anyone of this unit on this vessel in its current shape. PERIOD!!" Chief Zuniga said standing his ground.

"FINE. We launch with what we have in 5 days. SO, get what we need loaded aboard the Intrusive and be ready to go. We will just play ping pong back and forth until doomsday." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell said as he brushed past Chief Zuniga heading for the lowered ramp, but he heard behind him "Chief Jones, you already know what I want so get to work."

Spotting Sergeant Davis he angled towards him "Finally came out of your cave Davis. Well, it's good for you to get some sun. Your starting to look like a vampire." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell said

"Is everything all right, Sir? That sounded pretty heated." Sergeant Davis replied

"Having the Mule would save us a ton of time. But Zuniga controls what flies and when, he was right. I just hate losing an argument or anything for that matter. Now, what have you found to make you risk burning up in the sunlight?" Leftenant Colonel Mitchell said

"I have several extremely good leads on where to go next. One of them is a single jump from here, but there is a complication to that one." Sergeant Davis replied

"What sort of complication?" Leftenant Colonel Mitchell asked

"It's on Valasha. A 'Outworlds Alliance system. Probably has a garrison and they might not take too kindly to us poking around." Sergeant Davis replied

"Yes, I can see that as a complication. What is there worth even risking a look see?" Leftenant Colonel Mitchell asked

"A cache that I know for a fact was left behind by the SLDF when they pulled off world. Now, the big question is, has anyone found it since then?" Sergeant Davis said

"Once we complete the next mission, we will evaluate whether we need to hit Toten again or if we can move on. Get your ducks in a row and be ready to present your findings to everyone. Good work." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell said

On the other side of town, Agent Jessica Hammel read the fax handed to her. A sudden ball of worry entered her gut, SWEET JESUS, he is coming here and I am to be ready to provide security for him. She knew the ROM raid was a big deal, but no more than any of the others over the years. Why is HE coming here? And arriving on 1 September, that is short notice.

24 August 3041
Toten (Former Outworld System)

SaRI Express, Invader Jumpship materialized at the Zenith Jump Point. As the sensors came back online, they quickly detected targets. "Sound General Quarters. Leftenant Colonel Mitchell to the bridge."

With the alarm sounding, it took Leftenant Colonel Mitchell 8 minutes to get off the Intrusive where he had been and make it onto the bridge. "What the hell is going on?"

Ship Master Sarah Campbell pointed to the sensor display "We have targets close, inside of 40,000 kilometers." But before she could continue, she heard "Ma'am, we are being hailed."

She accepted the headset "This is SaRI Express, state your intentions."

<<"This is Diversified Hauler. Your trespassing in a claimed system. By order of Adam Pallas, you are to stand by for boarding.">>

Sarah Campbell looked over at Leftenant Colonel Mitchell who had been listening on another headset, he keyed the mic "This is Leftenant Colonel David Mitchell, boarding my ships will not happen. Is Pallas on board your vessel?"

Another voice responded <<"This is Adam Pallas. Did not know who you were. What are you doing back here?">>

"Collecting what I own, Pallas. I see Dropships heading for the stations. The K-1 Dropshuttles and mining 'mechs belong to me, per our contract, they are not fixed equipment. Plus, you sent me some run down ships." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell said

There was some silence before <<"All ships meet the letter of our contract. If I remember correctly, you are a stickler for the exact wording of a contract.">>

Leftenant Colonel Mitchell was about to respond but he paused for about 2 minutes before keying the mic again "Tell you what, Pallas, I think we can save each other a ton of expense and time. You game?"

<<"What are you after now, Mitchell?">> said Pallas over comms

"How about I sell you the 22 Mining Mechs here and give you the two K-1 Dropshuttles." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell said

MiningMech (by Cromwell)

MM-1 Light MiningMech, digging IndustrialMech

<<"Give? That is out of character for you. What is this going to cost me?">> Adam Pallas asked

"Assistance. I assume you brought experienced technicians and possible even experienced Zero G miners and workers. Agree to 2 Million C-Bills for each Mining Mech and they are yours. Saves you a bundle on shipping them in." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell replied

<<"What kind of help?">>

"Well, I could use the help in recovering something we found on a moon. With your help, it could go so much faster." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell said

<<"Your up to something, I can feel it. One Million per Mining Mech, both shuttle FREE along with anything else remaining in this system.">> Adam Pallas countered

"Now Pallas, let's not get too greedy. I was even going to give you a good deal on the remains of that Tramp Jumpship not far from where we sit. The jump core is toast, but we both know it is worth a fortune, just needs to be ground down and reprocessed, so I am told. Care to make me an offer on it?" Leftenant Colonel Mitchell replied while silently hoping Pallas would take the deal and they could be done with the Toten system.

Adam Pallas was silent for a long five minutes <<"150 Million C-Bills for the Tramp Jumpship. It is going to cost a fortune to recover the core and haul it out of here. That is my final offer.">>

Leftenant Colonel Mitchell looked at Sarah Campbell, "What do you think? That a fair trade?"

"He is right, it is going to cost a fortune to grind that thing down and haul it out of here to where it can be sold. Saves us a bunch of time. He will recoup his expense and then some when he sells it off." Sarah Campbell replied

Keying the mic Leftenant Mitchell said "Deal Pallas. 100 Million cash for the Tramp. One million for each Mining Mech on the station, both K-1 shuttles in exchange for your help with our find. I won't give up claims to anything else in this system if discovered. See, I am even giving you a discount. I can be reasonable. You wouldn't happen to have a lawyer with you would you?"

<<"No, I do not have a lawyer with me. How about you come aboard my ship and we can video record the deal, each gets a copy and we sign a paper deal. That fair?">>

"Sounds good to me, Pallas. I will board a shuttle and be right over." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell said

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