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Chapter 41 - What Could Go Wrong[]

5 September 3041
Inner End (Federated Commonwealth)

After an uneventful docking with SaRI Express, Invader Jumpship, Leftenant Colonel David Mitchell gave the order to return to Inner End. After the normal customs inspection, which was becoming quite normal to everyone, though there were some fairly heated discussions over the Titan Fighter Carrier Dropship. Leftenant Colonel Mitchell paid a 10,000 C-Bill penalty for having an unregistered Dropship. After being issued a temporary permit, they were allowed to undock and head for the planets Space Port.

8 September 3041
Inner End, Space Port

After the Titan Dropship was on the ground at the Space Port, quite a crowd was gathering to view a ship not seen in several hundred years. Walking down the ramp of Intrusive, Leftenant Colonel Mitchell was surprised to find Agent Jessica Hammel quickly walking across the tarmac on an intercept course. He gave some quick orders and moved to meet her.

"Agent Hammel, this is a surprise. We do something wrong again?" Leftenant Colonel Mitchell asked

"Well, for one you have not yet secured a contract, which is causing some angst among the local authorities, but that is not why I am here. You need to come with me right now." Agent Jessica Hammel said

"Okay, I guess. We have looked for a contract, but the Feddies want us to travel to Outreach. That will not work. Where are we going?" Leftenant Colonel Mitchell replied

"To a meeting, a very important meeting. Someone has been waiting to see you. That is all I am going to say. Get in." Agent Jessica Hammel said pointing to the rear door.

Opening the rear door, Leftenant Colonel Mitchell spotted Sergeant Major Chester Pullman was again seated, but remaining very quiet. That in itself put Leftenant Colonel Mitchell on guard. No sooner had he closed the door than Agent Jessica Hammel pushed on the gas. It took fifteen minutes of total silence in the car to reach their destination. After everyone exited, Agent Jessica Hammel said "Hand over any, and I mean any weapons you have on you."

Leftenant Colonel Mitchell slowly pulled his only weapon, a Hold Out Needler Pistol, which he had started carrying at all times. His heavier stuff he had left aboard Intrusive, Intruder Dropship. "What is this about, Agent Hammel?"

Taking the pistol, she gave him a once over visually "A meeting. Come on." She locked the Hold Out pistol in her car's trunk, next to her own pistol.

Entering a fancy hotel, Leftenant Colonel Mitchell and Sergeant Major Pullman followed Agent Hammel to the elevators, one elevator door had to obvious guards posted at it. They nodded and pushed the button to open the door. When the doors opened, it contained two more guards. When they entered the elevator one said, "Against the wall, arms out to your side please." Even Agent Hammel was frisked, whoever this was, he took security damned seriously, Leftenant Colonel Mitchell thought.

This elevator took them to the very top of the hotel. Penthouse suite, only a single entrance or exit. When they reached the penthouse, once again they were frisked by the waiting security detail inside before being led to a large sitting room. Leftenant Colonel Mitchell could see an elderly man standing and looking out the large window, where you could barely see the Space Port, the man shifted, and he saw there was a fairly powerful looking telescope in front of him. "A very interesting and unique find Mr Mitchell. Tell me, do you have a death wish?"

"Excuse me, Sir? I do not know what you mean?" Leftenant Colonel Mitchell asked

The elderly man turned to face them, and Leftenant Colonel Mitchell felt some of the blood drain from his face and a cold shiver rose up his spine. He recognized the man before him, Quintus Allard, King Spook of the Federated Suns, the Left Arm of First Prince Hanse Davion himself, or so everyone said. "You have already attracted the attention of two intelligence agencies, are you going for a record? That ship down there is the sort of thing that intelligence agencies will kill you for. You and your entire little unit, along with everyone who even knew any of you. So, do you have a death wish?"

"No sir. No death wishes." Mitchell replied

"Good. Then I suggest that once anything needing to be done with that ship is complete, you get it back into space and leave it up there. On the ground, well it is a very tempting target. I have already come up with two ways to take it from you in the short time it has been on the ground." Quintus Allard said

"Yes, Sir, back into space it will go." Mitchell replied

"Now that we are past the immediate issue. Let us have a little talk shall we." Quintus Allard said while he settled into a very comfortable chair. "Explain to me how in such a short amount of time, your little band has managed to find quite a few advanced Aerospace Fighters, a bunch of Mining Mechs that we have yet to identify, and a Titan Dropship, managed to get Adam Pallas, of Alliance Industries Diversified to purchase a small fleet of ships for your unit."

Leftenant Colonel Mitchell was stunned into silence, he glanced over at Sergeant Major Pullman, who seemed to try and melt into the couch cushions. Quintus Allard spoke first "You were gone on my arrival, me and Mr Pullman had a nice little chat already, though he left out quite a few details."

"I do not know where to start, Sir." Mitchell replied

"I prefer from the beginning, try not to leave anything out. I tend to get annoyed when people do that." Quintus Allard said

"After we beat the Combine on Breed, we found some data drives in a wrecked command truck. I tried to give them a NAIS team, but he was not interested in them. Said they were worthless to him. So, I kept them, and we managed to decipher enough information that has so far paid off." Mitchell replied, only stopping when Quintus Allard held up a hand.

"NAIS turned this information down. Who exactly turned it down?"

"A Professor, I cannot remember his name. He led the team sent to take possession of a recovered Battlemaster." Mitchell replied

Quintus Allard barely turned his head which Mitchell followed, and he saw two different people making notes. Once again looking at Leftenant Colonel Mitchell, Quintus Allard said "Continue please."

"I took a trip to Sevon, met Adam Pallas and managed to convince him to bank roll our first search. We found it, almost got stranded when part of the group he hired turned out to have pirate tendencies. We managed to beat them and bring them back here to Inner End." Mitchell explained again stopping at the raised hand.

"Exactly what did you find out there? Had to be something other than that Dropship down there." Quintus Allard said

"A lost Outworlds Alliance system. Gas giant, single moon and a massive asteroid field. That asteroid field contains a rich Germanium streak. The SLDF thought so much of it they had a permanent guard there." Mitchell replied

"And you gave it to the Outworlds Alliance and not the Federated Suns? Have you turned on your nation?" Quintus Allard asked, his voice had a very dangerous tone to it.

"No, Sir. But those were the terms to get Adam Pallas to bank roll us for the first search. I love the Federated Suns, served twelve years. Fought for her." Mitchell said with conviction

"And got screwed over for promotion to Major three times. I have read your record son, all of your records to be more precise." Quintus Allard said

"That Dropship was the last thing we wanted from that system. Now we can move on to other things." Mitchell replied

"Other things? So, you have more information to use?" Quintus Allard asked

"Yes, sir. Nothing concrete, but enough to make it worth our time to go look around." Mitchell replied

"What if I were to demand you hand over everything you have?" Quintus Allard asked, his calm voice was more threatening than ever.

"I would say no. I would make sure that information was destroyed before you could take it from us. You could destroy us, but you still would not get the information, Sir." Mitchell replied

"I see. Then I am being left with only a single option. To assist you." Quintus Allard said

"Assist?" Mitchell asked now confused

"Your in violation of being an armed mercenary command operating from Federated Commonwealth soil without a contract. That is a serious offense. So, I am going to issue you a contract. We will call it pirate hunting. Normal pay, no transportation reimbursement, liaison command rights and the Federated Commonwealth gets first crack on any and all salvage." Quintus Allard said

Negotiating, okay I can play this game., Leftenant Colonel Mitchell thought before answering "Normal rates, 30% transportation, I get to pick the liaison officer and I will offer the [Federated Commonwealth]] first dibs on whatever we are going to sell off."

"Federated Commonwealth gets 50% of any salvage. Above normal pay and I can help make sure your not hassled by customs and try to keep the other Intel agencies off your back. I suggest you take this offer." Quintus Allard said

Leftenant Colonel Mitchell looked at Sergeant Major Pullman who did nothing but shrug, not wanting to get pulled into this. I cannot be bullied into giving away our future, he thought "Sorry sir, but I have to look out for our future. Everything, but the salvage rights is agreeable. Federated Commonwealth gets first right on whatever we will be selling, at fair market value. After that, we sell it off. I am going to have to stand firm on that."

"You have guts, I will give you that. Not sure about brains yet, but you have guts. Your previous finds you sold were going to Federated Commonwealth companies anyway, so I will not hold that against you. I assume you have someone in mind as a Liaison officer?" Quintus Allard said

"So, we are agreed?" Mitchell asked

"I can live with those terms. You have loyalty to your people; I cannot fault you for that. They showed that loyalty when they all left AFFS service and followed you on a hunch. Now Liaison officer?" Quintus Allard said

"Agent Hammel, Sir. I would like Agent Hammel here as our Liaison officer. The Sergeant Major trusts her, and I see no reason not to either." Mitchell replied

Quintus Allard looked at Agent Jessica Hammel, who had been standing off to the side, now looking a little unsure of what just happened. "Agent Hammel, your now assigned as Liaison to Search and Rescue Inc. You report to me and my son only. I will make sure you are properly equipped for that task. Where they go, you go."

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