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With a lever big enough I can move the world{BattleTech CYOA]

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by MageOhki, Nov 10, 2018.

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  1. Czlyydwr Llrngwl

    Czlyydwr Llrngwl "Sell ya a door Learn gull" Czly/Celly for short.

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    Heist movies never go according to plan, though. Kiki at least should know this, even if everyone else is too in-character.
     
  2. MageOhki

    MageOhki Getting out there.

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    Cabbit looks shifty eyed, whistling innocently....



    (Side note: Let's just say, this is 80's style. Hit the ground running! And...)


    Possible near future scene:

    Hanse eyed the young woman before him. "If you're right, Kikyo, how important would you say the Argo is? And what would you do in my shoes?"
     
  3. Czlyydwr Llrngwl

    Czlyydwr Llrngwl "Sell ya a door Learn gull" Czly/Celly for short.

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    Heist movies seem to have been more of a 60s and 70s thing actually, aside from A Fish Called Wanda. Well, there's The Muppet Caper in 1981, too... but then I suppose that makes it the perfect material to be taken over the top in an 80s show's tribute episode. Of course, from the perspective of 30XX, what's a decade either way? :D

    Edit: It's been a few hours, but I don't have much to add to this besides that it's very 80s for something released last year, and the "Don't tell me what you can't do, baby, show me what you can do and do more" refrain seems to fit the message of the fic rather well.



    non-embedded link
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
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  4. MageOhki

    MageOhki Getting out there.

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    ... Czly... that's .. yeah. 80's.
     
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  5. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Very nice story so far. Love the wild characters and colourful past, which I hope will keep cropping up.
     
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  6. Silverbullet

    Silverbullet Not too sore, are you?

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    Sargeant Alexander Armstrong, Punching his way into Samurai mechs has been in his family FOR GENERATIONS!
     
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  7. Omni

    Omni Know what you're doing yet?

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    I wonder if he has a Hot Sister called Olivia?
     
  8. MageOhki

    MageOhki Getting out there.

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    /me gives two cookies. One to Silver Bullet, one to Omni.

    Thank you all for reading, too.
     
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  9. Silverbullet

    Silverbullet Not too sore, are you?

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    Actually if you have the good Sergeant as Jump Infantry this could be his method of anti-mech combat. Especially if he has a pneumatic spike gauntlet to use as a breaching tool.
     
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  10. Omni

    Omni Know what you're doing yet?

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    Or a Rocket Fist on a Chain!
     
  11. MageOhki

    MageOhki Getting out there.

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    Alas, he is acutally a *Marine* Space cerfted, too!
     
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  12. kaazmiz

    kaazmiz Waiting for an Issekai Adventure

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    I get a feeling that the original Kiko, after hearing those "demands" swimming out of the royal, would just have everyone board the dropships and lift off.
    Not leave the system mind you, but make a silly impulsive statement that she does not appreciate being ordered around... then still show up for diner.

    There are a lot of shortened names of places or polities in this chapter. Would it be a problem to attach some explanations to them, as I am not a BT fan?
     
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  13. Threadmarks: Chapter 2.2
    MageOhki

    MageOhki Getting out there.

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    And a bit later than planned but at least done here's part 2 of Chapter 2.

    “Keep it simple, keep it easy.” Ichigo advised again as we walked out, which triggered something in me.

    I paused for a moment, and turned to look at him with a sweet smile. “Dear brother… my unit, my people, and I do believe I have more experience in public speaking than you do.” I paused again, stomping on the panic at not having a script to work off of, and continued smiling. “I do think you believe you are in charge.” My smile dropped. “Correct that belief. These are my people, my responsibility, not yours. I have to inform them of who am I, what I intend, and convince them that they should stay under a 20 year old who’s rep is ‘party girl actress’, not a halfway decent battlefield commander or one with the potential to be such.”

    I resumed walking, and threw over my shoulder. “Me. Not you. You might be assigned to join me, or be part of this unit, yes, but you will never be the one who the buck stops for here. You made your choices, live with them. I did.” I threw my hair back and strode to the podium, leaving dead silence behind me, and feeling a bit lighter. Apparently I had some anger towards Ichigo’s choices in life. Something to work on, but... Time to give a speech.

    Stepping up to the mic, seeing the cameras zooming in on me behind the gathered personnel, which a quick count showed well over 500 people, I knew it was showtime. Time to convince people who had no good reason to trust my abilities. Drawing a deep breath, I started and leaned slightly into the microphone. An impish thought took me, and for a brief second, I examined it. And then ran with it.

    “Hello, everyone. I’m Kiyko Onishi. I’m not an actress portraying your new commander, I am the owner and commander today. This wasn’t what I planned on. This wasn’t what you planned on, this wasn’t what my father planned on, clearly. But that’s the universe for you.” Looking around at the reactions, I nodded once and continued on.

    “I didn't know much about my father, except he was competent and did his best to meet his responsibilities. I didn’t know that he was putting together a mercenary regiment. I didn’t know he was going to leave it to me, or I’d have studied a few other areas than the engineering program I just finished, magna cum laude, I might add.” Sipping at a glass of water, I took the moment to gather my thoughts.

    “What I do know is he was an excellent leader, an excellent judge of character, and someone who had the ability to pick those who’d be best for the jobs he had in mind. He was also a explorer, both of space and history. The proof is literally in front of me and behind me.” I waved at the Colossus that was behind me, then at the senior people of the unit.

    “I also know that the primary purpose of a mercenary unit can be summed up as ‘Make the other sorry son of a bitch die for his nation or contract.’ I also know that I can learn to truly command a unit, and do well. Otherwise, Father would not have sent you to me, he had other children, and of course his heir to his title. I know I can fight a battlemech, and even have some training to do so. I know, given time, I can do what my father wanted. Which is to command you. Lead you. Fight with you. He sent you to me, because he could no longer meet his responsibility towards you. He entrusted me with that, and I will not let you down. I will not break up what he started. I will not fail in the trust he left me.”

    Leaning forward even more, I grew more intense. “What I need from you, is your decision. Do you want me to lead you. Do you want to stay in the unit. Do you trust me to rise to what you need me to be? And I need that answer by tomorrow afternoon. Time waits for no one, and as always, vultures gather. Again, I am Kikyo Onishi, your new commander and leader. And I will lead us well. Which means I will listen, I will learn, and I will care. Which means I have a lot of learning to do, and a lot of work to do, to get up to speed.”

    I stepped back and nodded once. “Dismissed.” Murmurs rose as the people clumped together to talk to each other, and I turned to the closer group. Father’s senior people who survived, and of course my family and friends.

    “Nice speech.” Sved spoke in a soft rumble as I approached. “I’ve told the senior officers to assemble, but this is Evie Cook, our chief technician.”

    A weathered dirty blond looked over my clothing, tsking. “No cooling suit, even walking on a tarmac?”

    “Bun Bun runs very cool.” I smiled.

    “He’s an Archer, that’d have to be a modified one… How much training do you have?” Evie asked.

    “About 3 to 4 months instruction by mercs, plus since I got Bun Bun an half hour to hour a day sim practice.” I shrugged. “My conservator was quite pointed that I… ah, how did she put it? Ah! ‘Did not need to use a Battlemech, even if she owned it, since an actress or fusion engineer had no place…’” I sighed. “So…”

    Evie thought for a moment. “I see. I’ll get several techs to look her over. She’s not standard, that’s for sure. Too smooth for a rookie.”

    “He.” I shook my head.

    “Ah.” The tech shrugged. “No matter. He was moving too smooth to be anything less than fine tuned, either you had very good techs, are much better than you indicate or…” Before she could finish a rough voice broke in.

    “She’s fluff. Hasn’t even thought about fighting a day in her life, Evie. And she couldn’t have moved the mech, she’s not been trained to do so.” A bearded giant of a man strode forward, looking like a wall of muscle. He glared down at me, and I shot him a look, itching to just show him. “We should have been sent to Baron Azula, not her.” Before I could shoot back at him, Gry rumbled.

    “We weren’t, because he is, in order, first a shit commander, second a traitor to the Archon, third so politically naive he actually believes the crap Lestrange is peddling. Kikyo at least isn’t stupid, has been used to direction so if needs be we can shape her, which you are good at, and is also very much a person who looks after her own. Or so the very expensive private detectives her father hired indicated.” He smiled. “Among other things, some of which was easy to find out.”

    “Azula isn’t that bad…” Uri started, only to be looked at by a still young looking blonde who walked up.

    “Uri, he is, and he blames it on his subordinates. Or do you not remember how I came to the Count’s attention?” As Uri paused for a moment, she turned to me. “Hey, I’m a fan of your movies… not as bad as Armstrong, but who is?” She winked. “Jaroslava, one of your mechwarriors.”

    I nodded, smiling at her, then turning to Uri. “I see.” My smile grew sharp and Ichigo started muttering under his breath. “Care to put your pride where your mouth is?”

    “What?”

    “Here, now, unarmed, first to be knocked out.” I smiled innocently at him. “It’s not like you have anything to fear, is it?”

    Uri looked up and down. “You have no training, girl…” He paused. “And this isn’t a movie set.”

    I looked at Gry. “You said Father made a file on me…” He nodded. “Did Uri read it?”

    “He did.” I blinked at the response

    “Give my lawyer the detectives’ names, we want that money back.” I nodded, and turned to Uri, who was considering me as he looked up and down my frame, noting that for all the softness of my curves, there was muscle and tone backing it up, plus his expression was saying something about me bothered him.

    “Bah. She’s just fluff. Movie fluff.” He stripped off his jacket, and settled into a boxing stance.

    “Call it.” I looked at Gry, who nodded, as I stepped roughly ten feet away from him and settled into a watchful stance.

    “No lethal blows, no crippling.” Gry waited til we both nodded, but before he could speak the starting words, Jaroslava broke in.

    “You all know she actually does all her own fight scenes, right?” The blonde grinned, as she looked at the giant.

    Gry shook his head. “Go.”

    I let my ki flow, and hit the watchful state that all good practitioners needed as Uri advanced, careful to keep his guard up, and watching my hands.

    As his fist darted in, I flowed down, and into a kick, aiming for his side, to disable him as fast as possible, but for a man of his size, he was quick, though my kick did stagger him enough that my follow through jump kick caught his jaw, knocking him to one side, and as I came down, I spun again in another kick.

    This one connected firmly on his temple, and down he went.

    “Good thing you used the side of your foot.” Gry said mildly.

    A redheaded woman, with a bag with a red cross on it dropped next to the fallen giant. “Next time you feel the need to beat sense into Uri, ma’am, make sure he’s wearing headgear.” A pause, as she checked his eyes. “And don’t kick him in the temple. He’s got a mild concussion I suspect.”

    I shrugged, but before I could respond, a man spoke. “Flashy, but I recognize the style from another lady I saw fight, when I was still a believer in the crap sold in the Combine.” I looked at an half asian man. “I’m Tokutomi Kartodirdjo, your father saved me from being killed by ISF, when I thought flying starships for the DCA was not a good idea anymore. Cumin here,” He jerked a thumb at a swarthy redheaded man, “is my boss, and runs the Fleet.” I nodded at both men, who had the classic pale look of spacers.

    “My mother taught me, and I learned some from here and there, as well.” I smiled.

    “Uh-huh. I’m not asking any more questions.” He shrugged and leaned against the podium.

    “Urg..” Uri groaned as the doctor put smelling salts under his nose…

    “What were you doing?” The redhead’s voice was calm.

    “Showing some fluff she wasn’t on a movie set… why am I on the ground?”

    “Yeah, you have a mild concussion, because she kicked your ass.” The Doctor stated amused. “And she made it look easy.

    “... oh.”

    Ichigo broke in. “Thank you, sincerely on agreeing to being her kicking bag today. She needed to blow off steam. And I was getting the feeling it was time for another of our… ah, spars. I rather not replace another cup this week, thank you very much.”

    Uri with a bit of help eyed me blearly. “Okay.” He winced at the sunlight. “So, you’re not totally fluff.” He paused, rubbing his side. “And kick like a cornered rabbit. I should know better.” He straightened, and shook his head. “Okay, okay. I deserved that. But will you listen to what we have to say?”

    “Of course.” I shrugged. “I’d be a fool not to listen to those who know what they’re doing in their fields.”

    “Good… good… now I’m going to go get an ice pack.” He staggered off, followed by a few others.

    “Huh.” I shook myself. “Okay, I do need to see Gry, Cumin and Evie, I think, plus whoever’s in charge of the dropships… and the rest can go get information on what our people want to do?” I looked around at everyone, some I just met, some who hadn’t been introduced. Several nods responded to my statement. “Right, let’s get going. The clock’s ticking, we’re not a proven by law unit yet, and the Federated Suns, specifically the First Prince, is eying his checkbook, and wondering how much the courts will say he has to pay to get our stuff.” I clapped my hands. “Go, go… I have dinner with him tomorrow, and I want to give him an answer that means we stay together and keep most, if not all our stuff.” Several smiles, several nods.

    Gry nodded at the three I mentioned, and to the others, backed me up. “Get to it, people, she’s right, time’s a ticking.”

    As the rest scattered, I looked at the two remaining who Gry had waved at. “Ma’am, this is Tim Nichols, our overall dropship commander, he flies a Mammoth.” The weathered spacer nodded at me, and he was of a cut my inner Kikyo found tasty, slim, ripped and a bit salt and pepper with piercing black eyes. His wave at the younger Indian looking woman, who spoke.

    “I’m Meheitav’el Mari, I fly a Vengeance, and acting overall combat dropship CO.” Her smooth alto was soft. She had the look Ichigo and fellow pilots did, though the metal peeking out of her jumpsuit’s leg said why she wasn’t in a cockpit. She noticed my glance. “Bad ejection from a Sparrowhawk. As your brother can tell you, it’s not healthy taking one of those up against the Snakes.”

    “Lucky they didn’t shoot you while you were *out* of your Sparrowhawk.” Ichigo mildly noted.

    “They tried. Is why I have a new leg. Nowhere good as the older model, alas.” She shrugged. “Was bumming around for a bit, your sister’s father picked me up to run the ships, since I had some experience in covering assault ops, both from a command deck and an fighter.”

    Ichigo’s eyebrow rose a bit, but he nodded.

    “Right.” Clapping my hands together, I drew the five’s attention to me. “Issues. Evie, as Chief Technician, you’re also handling supplies?” She nodded. “What’s the major issue we have to solve right now.”

    Evie raised her eyebrow as to ask where did I figure there was one. “Food, well, coffee and food, plus Diesel. We’re virtually out of the former two, except the jumpships having two months worth each, and we’re out of gas for our ICE. Which do I prioritize, and do you have any good sources?”

    “Coffee, then food. Don’t worry about fuel for the ICE, hydrogen though… And” I turned to look at Rayanne who nodded. “Rayanne can help there.”

    “No fuel? Not for our tanks?” Gry asked mildly, a clear question, as if he was questioning my thinking.

    I grinned, looking at Aiko who was bouncing in glee, based off one of our discussions on how stupid logistics were in the 31st century. “Nope. Well, low priority, as with a bit of luck, we’ll replace all engines with fuel cells.

    Evie’s eyebrows drew together as she narrowed her eyes, while Gry and Uri who had walked back in were about to speak.

    It was Mari who spoke up first. “Aren’t those just for civilian use? Not reliable enough? Cranky? Short ranged?”

    I shook my head, a few loose bangs flying around. “Don’t our industrial mechs have them? As for reliability, they’re pretty solid. I’m thinking of not having to tote around two types of fuel.”

    “She’s right. They’re as reliable as the ICE’s we got, and I’ll admit, not having to tote Diesel, just water or hydrogen around would simplify things a bit, and water’s easy to get. Yeah, we’d take a range hit, but the cells, offhand, are lighter, so we might be able to make up the range by bigger tanks.” She paused, then nodded. “Risk of explosions due to the hydrogen instead of Diesel, but realistically, tanks burn easy anyways.”

    Gry’s eyes narrowed, and a slight smile crossed his face. “And the fact no one uses them for military?”

    Evie shrugged slightly. “NIH? Laziness? Annoyance at having to reequip? Scarborough Tried with the J-Edgar, DCMS wasn’t buying, which also likely threw off people. Of course, since you had to add heat sinks to the poor hover, in that case, to keep it’s weapon load, it did suck.”

    Uri snorted. “And the others?” Evie shrugged.

    “Don’t ballistics and missiles not need cooling on tanks?” I raised an eyebrow at Evie. “And well…” I shrugged. “Less fuel types, and one that requires processing our reactors can do…” I paused, and nodded once. “I figure since the SLDF didn’t use them at all for military use, most people missed the boat, and well… ‘If the SLDF didn’t do it…’”

    A snort there was shared. I grinned. “Exactly. Evie, is it possible?”

    “Sure.” She looked at the others. “It’d require people, and money to buy the cells, and time, of course.”

    Several more people walked up. “Hey. I’m Meta Jinks. I run your infantry” The short and weathered black woman waved a hand at the man that stepped next to her. ”Albert here, Albert Shelton, “ a classic English looking man nodded. “Is your tanker boss.”

    A Half Japanese woman eyed me, her gray hair speaking to her age, though the small number of wrinkles indicated she wasn’t too old. “I’m Micte Messana, your fighter boss. Hydrogen? Why?”

    “I’d be curious, myself.” Albert spoke up in a New Avalon accent himself.

    Evie raised her eyebrows at me. I nodded.

    “Replace all our ICE’s with Fuel cells.” I saw a bit of puzzlement finally breaking through on my words, so I expanded. “Hydrogen burning engines, not fusion reactors.” I sighed. “Okay, simple? You take hydrogen gas, oxygen, run it through an electrical setup, out comes water and electricity. And as any person who has studied fusion engineering or worked on reactors, or had ‘Emergency fueling 101 of your mech’ knows, crackers, or the device used to break hydrogen and oxygen apart from water, is built into every fusion reactor just about.” I grinned. “Or Fusion Design 101 lied to me.”

    Albert narrowed his eyes. “That’d help, but Hydrogen is explosive… but.” He shrugged. “I doubt it’s much more of a risk than Diesel, in some cases. Why hasn’t more people done this?” Evie answered him in an aside, quietly.

    “Any other pressing issues tech or supply wise that has to be handled now?” I raised an eyebrow as Evie finished.

    “Yes.” Evie raised an eyebrow. “‘Fusion Design 101 lying to you’?”

    “Magna Cum Laude, Capitol City University, Fusion Engineering.” I smiled sweetly. I shrugged at the slight looks of amusement and questions. “I figured it’d be cheaper to maintain Bun Bun, if I could do a lot of the work myself. And acting degrees are for posers. If I’m going to spend money on a degree, I’m getting a degree that pays well in a career that I can have as backup.”

    Evie grinned. “Smart.” Several nods ran around at that.

    I looked at her. “Anything else?” She shook her head and waved at Cummin.

    “Fuel for the jump and dropships, and all fusion reactors are done, Ma’am, and while I’d want to set up a rotation for liberty, I can handle that, though would like to know how long we’ll be here.” The swarthy jumpship officer nodded. “I expect a bit while recruiting.” I nodded at that.

    “Okay. I’ll get you that info as fast as possible.” I nodded and turned to look at the others.

    Gry pointed at Albert.

    “I’d appreciate some range time and exercise time for my crews, considering you’re going to sideline their vehicles, but, it’s not critical. And I’ll add to Gry’s request for more people, as I expect he’ll do.” I nodded at the officer that Ichigo was staring at.

    “I understand, and in fact, if at all possible, schedule in field exercises for all units. I’ll see about renting some training grounds.” I looked at everyone who nodded. “Give me… well, give me and Rayanne,” The named woman sighed, put upon, though I didn’t miss the cash register sounds in her mind. “2 days?” I looked at everyone, who nodded again.

    Gry looked around at everyone else who shook their head, leaving it to him. I raised an eyebrow.

    He smiled. “As you can guess, we need to register our new name with the MRB, “

    The Mercenary Review Board, aka Comstar’s attempt to control the mercs was the rating and bonding agency for the mercenary units and the houses. “And of course, get you registered with the Mercenary Guild.” The Guild was for the mercenaries themselves. It did what the MRB did for units, but for individual mercenaries. I nodded.

    “And start recruiting as fast as possible?” I smiled innocently. He grinned back.

    “You understand. As you, yourself pointed out, the First Prince knows, and well, why make it easy for him?” Gry’s slight smile was shared by most, though Albert and Ichigo looked a bit bothered.

    “Can’t say that’s a bad idea.” I paused. “Right, I have dinner with him scheduled tomorrow, do we have a uniform yet?” Gry shook his head, and I grinned. “That I can take care of shortly.” Gry’s eyebrow rose at that statement.

    “Professionalism. Not only should we have a uniform, it helps with recruiting and with morale, so our people know we’re a unit. Not a cast together bunch headed mostly in one direction. And...” I smiled at Ichigo. “Prince Davion will understand the message of me in a uniform that’s registered with the Guild and MRB means.”

    Uri relaxed slightly at that, and several more nods. I looked around, and noted that no one seemed to want to press the issue, though Jinks and Uri were trading looks. Finally Uri himself spoke. “No insult to the First Prince intended, but you need a security detail. Putting aside the threat that LOKI provides, your half brother was very angry, and well… can’t argue he’s capable of doing some dumb things.”

    Ichigo interrupted. “Got a call in to a person who owes me a favor, for a good detail, or at least a solid line on one.” Uri looked stubborn til Jenks herself spoke up.

    “I’ll detail Armstrong’s squad for short term, until your line comes though, though I’d want to verify their skills.” She shook her head. “It’s not just LOKI, or an idiot…” She mildly glared at Uri, who raised his hand in a manner indicating between the two to drop it. “Or even other national actors I’m concerned about. Let’s… say lostech finders have had a bad habit of ending up dead. By ‘unknown’ actors.” Her voice dripped sarcasm.

    Ichigo nodded. “Works for me.”

    I looked around, a bit annoyed. “If you’re all finished making decisions for me…”

    Gry interrupted. “Ma’am, Meta’s in charge of security. Let her do her job… and Uri is the person I had slated to actually act as somewhat of a mentor.”

    I blushed slightly. “Oh.” I paused and nodded once. “Good leaders find people and let them do their jobs.” I shook my head.

    “Exactly.” He looked around and nodded. “I’ll go with you to see the uniform idea, and then we can go deal with the Board and Guild.” He raised an eyebrow at that, seeing if I’d challenge him. Since I agreed with him, I simply nodded. “REST of you, get to work. Bed down the people in the warehouses, so they can spread out, and start uncrating the equipment.” Everyone nodded and with various salutes, departed.

    Evie had remained behind for a moment. “Can I have Bun Bun’s override? So we can get him into a bay?”

    I shook my head. “A friend, who’s also a tech has it, Debora Hickey. She’s next to him.” Evie nodded with this, and moved off to where Bun Bun was waiting.

    Gry turned to look at me. “We also have to discuss organization ma’am… and ranks.”

    I pulled out a chip from my valley and handed it to him. “My thinking on targeting recruiting, Table of Organization, Table of Equipment, and rank structure, Brigadier, if I may be so bold…”

    His eyebrows hit his hairline.

    “I didn’t sleep much last night.”

    Pulling out a clunky datapad, my mind screamed. Fuck you futurists of the 80’s. Unlike the sleekness of a Kindle or Ipad of the other world me would know, this looked like something you’d see in Star Trek, the original series for that. Did explain why his side cargo pocket on his trousers bulgeled, though. Putting the chip in, he used the controls to tab throughout the document I had spent several hours creating. By the time he finished a fast scan though, I’d have sworn his eyebrows hit the back of his neck.

    Finally he looked at me. “Remarkably complete and has some things that, unless you leaned on your brother, it shouldn’t. Most units don’t organise support that deeply.” Ichigo raised an eyebrow, and was passed the datapad. “But workable, very workable. I note the uniform design, though I only saw it in monochrome. Will do for a dress or semi formal one.”

    “We really do need to form the Command unit as fast as we can, I believe.” I nodded. “That’ll make any other issue moot, with courts or unit, if there’s a solid combined arms regiment with support to build around…” I trailed off.

    “Agreed. I’d not say that it’d completely constrain anyone, but the Suns, like the Commonwealth, is a nation of laws. That’s before the Review Board, and it’s master Comstar gets involved.” He nodded. “And outside the advanced technology, Davion wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, if there is a unit. I have a car arranged, let’s pick up Armstrong and his squad, and get to the offices, if you’re meeting with Davion tomorrow.”

    I grinned. “Let’s.”

    Guifier’s Clothier, Avalon City, New Avalon, Early Afternoon, Jan 2nd, 3015,

    “Kiki, Kiki, Kiki.” The man shook his head sorrowfully. “You never write, you never call, unless you need something. A man would think you don’t love him anymore…”

    I rolled my eyes. “Didn’t we talk New Year’s eve?” I grinned taking the sting out.

    He put his hand to his heart, “But that was business! Not pleasure!”

    “Uh-huh, and you staying for most of the party?” I just shook my head.

    He grinned. “Well, so many…”

    “Right, pretty pretty boys you call men.” I singsonged. His laughter rang.

    Ichigo and Gry were just looking at each other, sighing. Richard, the proprietor of the shop finally stopped pulling my chain, and turned to look at the two gentlemen. “Does your brother need a new dress uniform, Kikyo? And this gentleman a tuxedo for an event?” He walked around the two men. Ichigo just snickered at Gry’s uneasiness.

    “No, and stop the ham.” I mentally marked my XO’s discomfort, and wondered was it the frank appraisal, or Rich’s usual routine with customers who didn’t know him very well. “How is your wife… and five children.”

    “Six. And you well know how Lisa is, since she catered your party for New Year’s” He answered absently. Gry’s head snapped around.

    “Yes, Richard’s a fan of the classic style, where in New York City in the 80’s all the fashion designers were gay.” I rolled my eyes. “It’s all a clever trick to get young women to strip and let him feel them up, even though he’s dedicated to his wife.”

    “But it works.” Richard protested. “And I can’t say I don’t love my job!”

    “Ah… It’s not the flamboyant act. It’s I thought we were here for uniforms, a tux? Really?” Gry finally spoke, bemused. He shook his head. “I’ve seen worse. You should see Mira butch it up when she’s of the mind.”

    Richard turned to me. “Uniforms? You?”

    I shrugged my shoulders. “Hanse Davion wants to ah… acquire my inheritance from my father.” I tapped my lips with a finger and nodded once. “It’s mostly equipment, but with a solid core to form a merc unit, right now… combined arms regiment, give or take?”

    “With lift, lots of lift, yes, ma’am.” Gry nodded.

    “But there’s enough equipment easily for a division.” I nodded. “And some of it… well. I can’t blame the Prince for wanting it. But there’s implicit.. Duty involved.”

    “Uh-huh.” Richard looked long and hard for a moment. “I’m not quite sure I buy that. You spent too much getting that gift from his parents fitted right.” He shrugged a bit though. “However, do you have sketches of the uniform?” He accepted a chip from me, and put it into a reader on his counter.

    The holo fuzzed a bit, til Richard thumped the display, then it steadied. I grinned. “So?”

    “Kikyo, dear…” He shook his head as he pulled up a display and went to work, adjusting, redrawing some lines, checking layers. “Do you have preference for color… ah, I see. Hmm, delineated by branch of service, nice touch…. Oh, Kiki, kiki, kiki. You didn’t talk to Ichigo, did you?”
    “Oh?” I tilted my head.

    “Turtleneck pullover of a soft wool blend for summer? And this fabric choice. Gah! You’ve driven mechs before, Kikyo, you know how hot they get.” Richard looked at me slightly amused. Gry’s wince could be heard.

    “Oh… I wasn’t thinking Summer.” Richard and Ichigo both shot me a look that said ‘Clearly.’ Gry snickered a bit.

    Richard returned to the display and nodded once. “But workable. Very much so. While I don’t get many commissions for merc units, I’m aware the better ones do… the fly by nights or small ones… don’t.” He paused. “With these modifications, it’ll present the image you want, yes. More breathable fabric, and a light pullover with a turtleneck collar for summer will generally do, though you have a notation, this is duty, not combat or work uniform. For a dress variant, may I suggest adding a cape?” He sketched one on, and let it show, with four images in the holo. Two male, two female, one without, one with cape, and the caped ones wearing a slim rapier next to it.

    Gry leaned forward, and Richard looked at me. “My XO.” Richard leaned back to let Gry study the images. First, starting from the bottom were cavalry, or shin high boots, female version having a two to three inch heel, then for males, baggy black trousers, tucked into the boots, the female uniform with a straight a-line skirt with it’s hemline at just below the knee. A single-breasted space jacket with a black stripe along a sealing strip, which attached to a over the right shoulder strap which held the rank of the wearer covered the torso and waist, clinched by a belt with a Houou,my family crest or kamon as I thought of it.

    “Silver piping for enlisted along the sealing, rank bars the same for enlisted, gold for officer, their pips in gold as well.” Richard commented sotto voice. “Branch color is the turtleneck, strap and name plate, except for mechwarriors, where the name’s in white, since their branch color is black. Space personnel use a red color for the jacket, not black. I removed the cuff band, no need for it, not really.”

    “Cycle the colors, show the work uniform.” Gry commanded mildly, and Richard put it into words.

    “No taste for the work uniforms, none at all, Kikyo.” Richard shook his head sorrowfully. The technician and medical jumpsuits had their shoulders and to their breast line in their branch color, with rank pins at the same place they’d be on the duty uniform, while the rest tended to have fatigues of the late 20th century US Army, also called BDU’s, with branch color for their name, and rank in dull white or yellow depending on enlisted or officer at their right collar. To the self from the 20th century, I recognized the Star trek uniform, modified of course. The capes on the ‘dress’ versions only went to the waist, and were the same color of the jacket. They attached to the uniform at carefully hidden clasps at the collarbone points, and had a braided rope in branch color connecting the two clasps

    “I have to admit, I like the touch of the leather jacket, Richard for flight crew” Ichigo spoke up after that image had shown, a soft leather jacket in the style called bomber, with a strap for rank and rank.

    “That was Kikyo's idea, I just adjusted it slightly.” Richard looked at Ichigo’s jacket pointedly. “I wonder where she got the idea.”

    “Yep.” Ichigo’s amusement could be heard in his word.

    “It’ll do. It’ll do very well.” Gry pronounced. “It’s professional, yet conveys a image, and works to unify the unit. And the shoulder patches are a nice touch, left shoulder for the overall flash, right for the regimental flash, if we end up being multi regimental, that is”

    “Dear Kikyo forgot one thing.” Richard returned to his keyboard, and typed in a few commands. “May I suggest a Beret of this style? It’s called American, with the regimental flash on it, except for senior senior officers, who wear the overall crest?”

    I paused, grinning. My inner old self demanded this. I really wanted now the Black Beret back. “In branch color?”

    Gry tilted his head one way, then the other. “And rank pins on it, as well, over the flash, and we’re good. Perfect. At least outside actual field work, then we’d want helmets, but for garrison or day uniforms, much less formals, yes. How long for one for the boss, one for me? Do provide the capes. And I gather providing full pattern for mass production is a non issue?”

    “Oh… yes.” He grinned. “I don’t do mass production, m’boy. But patterns for shops that do? Yes. There’s been several times, studios needed uniforms of a ‘design’, and came to me for the pattern.” Gry nodded at Richard. “As for how long… Hmm. I’d have to fit you, that’d take … call it an hour for that. Berets, Trousers, the pullover? Half hour per person, I have those or can quickly put one together, it’s a stock pattern. Patches… I can send the design to a shop that’ll have them here in 2 hours. Jacket’s the pain,and Kikyo’s skirt.” He pulled the holo up and looked closer. “Bomber Jacket, I’d have to order, at least the dye job on it, that’ll take time, I don’t do that. Cape’s trivial. It’s the jacket. Call it… hour at most to sketch it… say two to make it at most.” He paused. “A skirt for Kikyo isn’t a real problem, it’s putting in the mag strip at the stripe so she can move if needs be.”

    “I see.” Gry turned to me and nodded.

    “Okay… 3 hours, then?” I sighed. “Your normal account?”

    “Oh, yes, invoice will be delivered, with the pattern.” He grinned knowing why I sighed. He was the best on planet, but charged as such. Richard turned to Gry. “And as for you, I’ll let Melissa put her hands all over you. Not my thing, you understand.” He winked.

    Gry dryly replied. “And having a woman run her hands over me, does happen to be a thing of mine, so we’re both pleased.”

    “Excellent!” Richard turned to look at Ichigo who simply shook his head.

    “But while we wait, Richard, can I use your phone?” Richard nodded at Ichigo, who walked behind the counter.

    I watched as Gry got measured, and slowly drifted over to the counter, listening to Ichigo’s second call.

    “Hey, Morgan, this is Ichigo.” He nodded at the response he got. “Right, right, you said you owed me one. Collecting on it.” He grinned at the response. “Well, this is easy. Need at least a good name for a bodyguard, highly professional. Someone who can put in a full detail.” He nodded at the response. “Kikyo, you met her once, picked up a merc unit as inheritance.” The snicker that escaped him from the response had my eyebrow climbing. After he caught himself. “So, I need a name or some. Got any?”

    Ichigo blinked at the response. “Really? Seriously? Who?” His expression went blank on the response. “I got to hear this. When?” He tilted his head. “Well, you know of Guifier’s?” He nodded at the response. “So… Cheerful Hopes, half hour?” He grinned. “Yeah, I’ll buy the first, least I can do. I got to hear this, Morgan. See you.”

    Hanging up the phone, he raised his voice. “We lucked out, it appears the guy I was owed a major favor not only is at loose ends right now, but is willing to personally consider the detail role.”

    “Who?” Gry’s voice raised.

    “Major Morgan Blackhand.” Ichigo grinned. “Kiki met him… what, five years ago?” I nodded, a cigar smoking stubble faced man appearing in my memories, who had said he owed Ichy big.

    “... what does he do?” Gry didn’t move an inch, but was curious.

    “Can’t say, though he wears DMI patches.” Ichigo’s voice rose in a challenge.

    Gry’s silence said he understood.

    I tilted my head. “Okay, why would he be willing to do it himself?” I tilted my head the other way. “And he’s a Rabid Fox, I’d bet.” Ichigo’s wince confirmed what I said. “Again, why?”

    “He’ll tell you, when he tells me, but apparently.. Well, black ops stink for a reason.”

    Gry’s voice dryly responded. “You’d be shocked at how many mercs have done them before becoming a merc, and been covered with the aftereffects.”

    Ichigo and I paused. Finally I sighed. “It’s likely less than I expect, Gry. Much less.”

    Gry paused at that. “That’s a story there, Ma’am… that’s a story on how you are that cynical.”

    “And one you might never know.” Ichigo responded before I could, only to grimace as my fist impacted his waist.

    Don’t answer for me. Even if right.” I turned to Gry and raised my voice. “Not today at the very least, Gry, not today.”

    “Ah.” The pause indicated several things. “Everyone has secrets, Ma’am, mercs more than most, and a past. As long as it doesn’t come back to bite, in the end… no one cares.”

    I grinned. “That’s the plan. That’s the plan. To have the past stay the past.”

    Cheerful Hopes, Capital City, New Avalon, Mid afternoon.

    Stepping through the doors, my eyes casually swept the bar, comparing it to several other times I had been in it. I froze when my mind came up with a mismatch, and said that at least a dozen people were too fit and too observant to be the normal bar crowd. Gry had stopped when I did, only to follow me as I had recognized the man we were to meet, who had a quirked eyebrow as Ichigo hadn’t broken stride. Shortly we were at his table.

    “Major Blackhand, I presume.” I said dryly. “And your friends.” He smirked, looking at Ichigo who blinked and scanned the room, with Gry nodding behind me, understanding why I had frozen slightly.

    “Good instincts.” His gravelly voice was approving. “More than your brother.” He waved at a chair, and I dropped my Silver Ice Weasel fur coat in the chair next to him.

    “I’m wondering at times how he survived on the Kuritan Front, yes.” I dryly commented, shooting him a glare. “Or other times.” Ichigo didn’t say a word, knowing that he was in trouble for several things though he wasn’t sure what. “I’m surprised. When did Cheerful Hopes become… Frothy Fox, I think it is?”

    Morgan grinned around his cigar. “You’re right there. Got a few drinks on order, hope your XO doesn’t mind, but got him a Timbuktu Dark.” Gry nodded his thanks.

    “So.” I looked at Gry who raised an eyebrow, indicating this was my job. Turning back to Morgan, I steepled my fingers together. “Why are you willing to quit MI6?” MI6, or Military Intelligence, Section 6 of the Department of Military Intelligence, was the Davion’s version of the SAS or Delta, the best of the best, the most qualified operators for direct action missions, and used in the most critical situations. They had earned the name Rabid Foxes and it wasn’t a compliment, not when first used for them.

    Morgan snorted at that. “Willing? No. But I’m not accepting a return to leading a troop, instead of my company, or being kicked out of MI6, for some asshole not telling me the details, and expecting me to slaughter an orphanage.” My eyebrows rose at that.

    “We’re the Federated Suns. We’re not supposed to do that.” I paused, nodding once. “Though I’m realistic enough to know you might have to, but…”

    Morgan sipped his beer and before he could speak, the somewhat rattled waitress had arrived. He waited til she was again out of earshot, and I had sipped at the Cuba Libre that was placed in front of me.

    “Well. Good to see you’re not total fluff.” He paused, and shrugged. “Let’s say this. I wasn’t given the information needed to make the on site call I had to, and I made one that was not acceptable to command, however, I made it based on the information I had.” He shrugged. “I’ll say if I had the information I was supposed to have, or at least more, I’d likely have made a different choice, or at the very least, be more sanguine about the situation, but, in this case, someone’s covering their ass and I don’t like it. Fuck ‘em.”

    His look at me was challenging.

    Ichigo was about to speak only to have my eyes boring into his. “Hush, brother.” Turning back to Morgan, I smiled sweetly. “Why didn’t you bring your case to Yvonne or the First Prince? Neither would be… unsympathetic to the situation. Nor would they blame you for following policy without reason to override that you knew. I wouldn’t.”

    Morgan blew out a breath. “Because, in a way, it’s not worth it.” He shook his head. “What, you think all our ops are Real Tales of…” He snorted, mentioning a off and on again holovid supposedly dramazing the Rabid Foxes.

    I shook my head in them. “I act, yes, but unlike enough of my well, fellows in that field, I’m quite aware that if any television show including news is even 25% accurate, much less ah, dramatizations, I’d be honestly shocked.” I twirled a finger. “Even if I do plan to shoot a reality show using the Heavy Cav, I’m not going to try that hard to make it realistic.” Morgan laughed out loud at that.

    “I like your sense.” He leaned forward. “I don’t have a problem with at least a short term gig til shit hits the fan again, and I get my company back… Let’s talk numbers.”

    “I don’t want you for just a bodyguard.” I nodded. Internally squealing, I was gloating. Gloating. An elite operator? Who was an officer and at least 10 year veteran of such? Oh, yes.

    Morgan took a puff and blew out the smoke. “Oh?”

    “Having you, just as a bodyguard, or leader of such, or hell, just leading the recon elements for a multi regimental force, is a waste.” I nodded seriously. “So… how’d you feel about putting together and leading a Direct Action unit? At least company, though I’d prefer at least a battalion.” I heard Gry’s sharp intake of breath. He was right to be shocked. Very few mercenary commands could boast of operators, and maybe only a dozen could boast of a company. Battalion? Maybe 3 or 4 at best.

    “You think big. Time scale.” Morgan’s grin was infectious.

    “Depends. I figure at worst you could put together a company ready for operations of a limited nature in 6 months, no less. Full Battalion, with a bit of luck, and this does require you recruiting only no longer working operators, and those still mostly qualified… I’d expect nothing less than a year. Three if we had to train them.” I leaned back at him.

    Morgan’s eyes narrowed. “Good and mostly accurate thinking there. Costly though.”

    I smiled innocently. “I asked around and thought about it. If anything, your people have to be, no, are better trained before they step on the field than anyone else. So… first your people have to be proven, then go through training as intense as flight school, SERE, and space operations, then add in more training on top of that. At the least. That takes time.” I titled my head at him. “Am I wrong?”

    He blew the cigar smoke and I sniffed appreciatively. “No, you’re not, though I think you’re underestimating how hard the training is. And the cost.”

    “If we have to train operators, if 1 in 4 make it, and you don’t kill or cripple for life one in ten, during the training, I’d be pleasantly surprised.” I answered coldly, and hiding the pleasure of the shocked expression crossing Morgan’s face. “And it’s worth every penny afterwards.” I paused, face tight as I bit out the next. “And it’d save countless of not just of your operators, but the line personnel. Worth it in the long run.”

    “Well.. huh.” He took a long drag of his cigar, finally stubbing it out. “You’ve got a clear idea at least on what it’d take.” He looked thoughtful. “Well. I can see some potential here. Still, numbers?”

    I slipped a piece of paper out of hiding, and slipped it over to him, after circling the top number. His eyebrows rose slightly. “Pay as an o-5 top flight Mechwarrior with bonuses, I see.”

    “And the authority to go with it, if we go full bore.” I nodded. “I don’t stint.”

    He nodded. “And what does Sved here think of this brainstorm of yours.”

    Gry looked a bit uncomfortable. “I’m not sure.” He turned to look at me, with a sigh. “You realize, if we do this, we’re going to be heavily marked, and we’ll have to bring Blackhand in on most everything? I’d suggest even more than you’re bringing me in.”

    I nodded. Morgan grinned more. Gry just shook his head. “I’m torn. I like the idea, on one point, it’d allow us to really charge, on the other… well. Dirty business.”

    Morgan snorted, and I barely held back from joining him. “We’re in a dirty business, period. What it takes so we come home and spend our paychecks is good.” I paused, turning to look at Morgan. “Not that that means slaughtering orphanages. Ever. Nothing could be worth that. If it is, we’ll find a different way.”

    Gry looked somewhat uncomfortable. “I really think this is a case of where the past may be needed to know, Ma’am, stuff that wasn’t…” I held up my hand.

    “When I’m sure I can trust you. Or are you willing to undergo babblejuice?” I raised my eyebrow. “I’ve already made a mistake in trusting one person.” I didn’t look at the said person.

    Gry’s eyebrows rose slightly. “I… see.” He didn’t answer the question, and I left it at that.

    “Which raises a question, are you, at least for limited questioning?” Morgan’s eyebrow’s hit his pompadour.

    “Huh.” He paused and lit another cigar, drawing it. When it was properly drawing again, he grinned once again. “Limited, and agreed on questions before, with someone who has a clue of what they’re doing? Sure. It’ll be fun. It’s been a while since me and my team have had fun juicing each other.”

    “I’m afraid I’ll not be able to let your boys juice you, but I’m sure we can both come to an agreement on who. At least. Maybe a pair, one each?” Morgan grinned.

    “I see we understand each other. Almost tempted to get you to agree to some juicing.” I raised my eyebrows.

    “It includes memory enhancement, doesn’t it?” I tilted my head. He nodded, curious where I was going. “Then I just might have to agree to such. I do hope you can find a qualified interrogator.”

    “That’s not a problem. As for the company you want. Got checks handy?” Morgan stood up, waving at a woman.

    I raised my eyes. “On me, no. Gettable in a couple hours, yes.” The Why was unsaid.

    Morgan smiled. “Eh, paperwork can wait.” He turned to the vaguely hispanic woman that had stepped up, observing me. Her shock of white hair over her eye contrasted with the tight black braid quite elegantly. Her trench coat covered a tight fitting pair of trousers and a black blouse, as well as the weapons I knew she had on her. “Ma’am, this is Captain Rios, called Rogue. I’ll have her handle your close in with a squad.”

    “Ma’am.” Her eyebrow rose in a question at Blackhand.

    “Well, you did say the company would follow me, and I said only if I could make sure you all weren’t going to be screwed by it. Meet our new employer who wants a Direct Action company.” The woman’s eyebrow was joined by another. “For her mercenary command.” Captain Rios turned to scan me, and finally in a soft soprano spoke.

    “... I… see. Sir, before we depart the Service, may I suggest something?” Her tone was frosty.

    “Strangle an MI2 profiler?” His smile already indicated that he had that thought. “Ahead of you, there. I’ll go collect the rest to see if they were serious, but for now, I’d want you and your squad on close.” Rogue nodded at her superior.

    I thought of protesting, but shelved it. Morgan was right, more than he knew, actually, and more importantly, best not piss off the man who’d be responsible for my personal safety and my unit’s most critical missions. But… “You know Guifier’s, right?” I received a nod. “Well, we’ll be there waiting for two uniforms, and fitting the Captain’s, though her rank will be higher I think…” I trailed off. “As well as her squad’s…”

    Rios developed a slight smile. “And dare I hope when Solo finds us, his?”

    “Hey!” I returned her smile at Morgan’s exclamation.

    “I do what to see what’s under his trenchcoat and pullover, yes, I do…”

    Rios smiled a bit more. “I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. At least looking.”

    “... I may need to rethink this.” Morgan muttered. “At least putting you two together.”

    I tilted my head, and smiled innocently, looking at my watch. “Well, we need to go, several meetings to do, dropping you off to have a uniform tailored, along with a few of your people…” I paused as he seemed to wilt a bit, then muttered under my breath. “Seems like old times, like Ranger school to me. Always running.” I wasn’t sure, but Morgan’s eyes seemed to narrow slightly at the last.

    Dropship Xanadu, Avalon Spaceport, Avalon City, New Avalon, Late Evening.

    I rolled my eyes, as Rios directed her platoon throughout Xanadu. I understood what she was doing, but as it stood, if anyone got in, we were screwed anyways. I quirked an eyebrow at Morgan who just grinned.

    “We’ll deal with full security once we get a full crew for her, Ma’am.” the stubble faced man smiled around his cigar. “For now, let Rios soothe her paranoia. She’s good at this.”

    I snrked. “And she didn’t really like the fact she’s good looking enough to be a pinup herself, and that I drafted her.”

    Morgan shrugged. “Her beer money thanks you though.”

    I rolled my eyes. “Uh-huh.” I nodded as Rios waved that it was clear.

    Shortly, the senior staff was assembled in a convenient nook of the park deck. Morgan grinned as Rios swept the area for bugs.

    “Now that institutional paranoia is satisfied, can we handle business? I hope everyone’s read the brief and unit organization.” I raised an eyebrow

    Gry nodded, but looked around, finally ending up on Morgan, after sorting though Cummin, Evie, Mari, Tim, Micte, Albert and Arwan. “You’re first, Blackhand.”

    He nodded. “My impression? You’re going nuts. Merc units do not and I need to repeat this, do not have the need or want for the support elements you want. Unless you’re really serious about having a multi regimental combat team size, or at the least a old SLDF division, Boss. Which I’d question how’d you afford the people and hell, just finding the gear. Much less transport.

    Several nods. I responded after a moment to see how others reacted, but that was the general view. “For the money, I don’t intend to give Hanse Davion, one damned thing. He’ll pay.” I grinned. “As for acquiring the equipment…” I sighed. “Look again at Deep support. Evie?”

    “It’s… oh, hell.” She nodded. “We can’t buy the equipment finished? We buy the frames, the parts, and do it ourselves. Commodore, how many contacts do you know that could source even full ASF frames? Or …”

    “That’s workable.” Cummin nodded at Evie. “Very much so. Time consuming, so unless you get a favorable contract from Davion… we’re going to have to scrounge our asses off to make it viable. But it is.

    I nodded. “And once up and running, well, I’m sure the Dragoons or Light Horse make money providing that to smaller units.”

    Gry nodded. “As well as their host nation units. Clever, very clever. That just leaves transport. Assuming we can get money out of Davion.”

    I nodded. “That… honestly, likely will take a *lot* of time to make work. Unless any of you have a list of sites Father forgot to tell me that had a pile of dropships.”

    Gry shook his head. “Only thing I knew about was a lead on where the Argo crashed.” He raised an eyebrow.

    “The Star League concept for a heavy support and forward base with a grav deck?” I quirked an eyebrow.

    “That be it.” He was mildly impressed. I shrugged.

    “One visiting lecturer commented on her drive and reactor from what little Gainax has of the plans.” I shrugged. “Stuck in the mind.”

    Evie nodded. “Understandable.” She paused. “Now, the big issue. Hiring. You mentioned recruiting posters and like?”

    I grinned. “Why do you think the film crew ran around shooting stills? Of just about anything we let them?”

    “And that’s why Rayanne isn’t here.” Gry nodded. “She’s with the ad exec to put the campaign together. Are you serious about the docu-drama idea?”

    “Money, money, money. Every extra shilling counts!” I smiled innocently. I sobered. “If people want out because of it, we can let them go, if they just don’t want to be on TV, that’s doable.”

    Evie shook her head. “I don’t have a problem, and so far not many of my people even have raised it.” She looked around with a slight challenge. “If nothing else, long term, it might pay out, if young kids see how techs are critical, might get more into science and engineering, much less actual techs.”

    Gry nodded. Blackhand raised an hand. “My only issue is operational security, and keeping our operators, outside… well, maybe your bodyguard platoon, say?” He raised a eyebrow at me. I nodded understanding. “Outside the camera lens, or at the very least we get to edit shit and ‘shop it so our people aren’t marked.”

    “Understood, agreed, and I’m mildly surprised to see you letting any on camera.” I shot back.

    “Rogue abuse.” Several snickers were done in response. Evie stopped the laughing for a moment, and nodded once.

    “Only other issue *I* have, honestly, is how and why you want that many medics. One medically, at least paramedic level trained per squad?” She shot me a look. “That’s beyond excessive. Only Canopus does that. And…” I held up my head, reenforcing the command with a look.

    “Our people will have the best treatment and care we can get them. Putting aside having more people in a unit able to do medical duties, basic, at least, is a good thing for morale and internal capabilities, here’s a question for you.” I looked at Morgan with a smile. “How likely will people be to start shit with us on planet, if we’re treating their kid’s fevers or broken bones? Fixing their teeth? Helping their parents with heart issues?” I raised an sculpted eyebrow. I turned to look at Mari and Gry. “Same with our engineers. If we build roads, repair buildings, string power lines…” I trailed off.

    Gry nodded. “That helps, as I’m sure Blackhand would agree Hearts and minds is an important bit. But it also leads to garrison work of recently conquered worlds, which… well. I didn’t do it as a merc, but there’s times… and that’s Marik space, not Draconic held.”

    I nodded. “We’ll just have to be careful til we’re sure we can handle it. Though… I’d not be fond of being on recently liberated worlds from the Combine, I’d not trust the ISF not to bury cells to try to kill us.”

    Morgan snorted. “I’d trust them.” He paused and shifted his cigar. “To do exactly that, and try to set it up to blame us for other things.”

    Various nods at that. I continued and added. “But between those two reasons, that’s my thinking.”

    Evie thought about it. “Canopians have high retention rates in their units, maybe that’s a reason. Worth a try at least.”

    Gry shrugged. “It’ll help with infantry and armor recruiting, they’re always a pain, since a lot of people consider them unimportant. As for the specialist combat arms… make that part of the deal with Hanse. Getting them otherwise… difficult.” Before I could respond, a knock, and hatch opening interrupted us.

    Kelia stepped in with Rayanne following her. “Hey.” Trailing behind her was a man I had met several times before. De'Ath Bredon. Handsome in a sleek way, and with an great sense of humor, he had done a lot of work on various ad campaigns for my movies and other activities. He had an eye to targeting military as well, but had never really gotten noticed by the executives of various firms for bigger and better things. A tad just into middle age, he had taken his ‘failure’ to go beyond mid level manager with grace.

    “Yo, Kikyo.” The man smiled. “Got some test pictures and text to try out for the posters you wanted. Wasn’t too difficult.” He laid out the posters he had in mind, and put pages on the table.

    Gry scanned through the papers, and put one aside. “This, this will work for pros.” Morgan looked at it, quirked an eyebrow and nodded.

    “Should do… now let’s see the bait.” He grinned.

    It was hilarious, I mean come on. I know I look damn good, better than most in fact and i know that my personal presence and ability to command attention was why I was so successful as an actress. But here, my athletic figure hinted at a more obvious hourglass, breasts emphasized to look bigger than they actually were, and airbrushing to make my hair look redder, my eyes more emerald and my skin more porcelain. It was a fantasy, but this fantasy would make money, and send people into the unit.

    Gry snorted. “Uniform in front of the troops, cooling suit with Rios next to her holding the rifle up, and the one where she leans forward at the table. Tasteful, but still *not* unprofessional.”

    I tilted my head. “Keep some of the others, might run them as limited prints. The shot of Rios and Morgan working out is nice, Scythe boy.”

    Evie grinned. “I like the one of me and a few of my minions disassembling that tank. Might work for targeted recruiting.”

    “Yeah, my thought. The more cheesecake ones, like Gry boarding his Highlander, nah, whoever shot those didn’t get the message.” He paused. “So as I must, I’ll snip those for personal or limited sales. ALong with several ah… ‘action’ shots.”

    I nodded. “I like the one where it’s a wide view of the unit in front of my speech. Whoever did the overlay of the uniforms…”

    “Can’t clip her yet, she’s new but she’s got talent, Kikyo.” He sobered.

    I wagged my finger. “No reaping! You’re paid to immortalize, not cut people short!” I grinned at him.

    He grinned back. “So… that’s why I’m not allowed at parties anymore. Tsk.”

    I shook my head sorrowfully. “No, that’s because you make too many bad jokes.” I grinned, then turned serious. “That’s enough?”

    “Those three, and the Text, yes.” He returned to serious mode. “I can have a set ready to run to the Guild and other places in … call it a half hour for the final three to be proofed then an hour to run off 100 each?” He raised an eyebrow.

    “Works!” I grinned. “Gry?”

    “When they’re ready, I’ll send Uri to the Guild to post them and register recruiting, and to the MRB to also include it in our package and register everything. I’ll go around a few bars and post as well.” Gry nodded, looking at Uri who had trailed behind the ad executive.

    “Outstanding, I don’t want to be a grim and ruin people’s drinking, as people accuse me of…” De’Ath was grinning as he spoke. “Anyways, let me go and handle this.” He nodded.

    I toyed with the idea of inviting him back after he was done with that for a talk and a possible private recruitment session, but I squashed it, at least in front of my minions.
     
  14. Lightwhispers

    Lightwhispers Getting out there.

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    A touch of Wimsey here?

    I like, but I need a reread for more commentary...
     
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  15. Redacted

    Redacted No

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    Would a "Finally" be in bad taste? :p

    Although I did recently wonder if I missed an alert. Ah well, at least that meant I didn't have reread everything just now :)
     
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  16. StillReflections

    StillReflections Getting sticky.

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    Ah, this was nice, I'm glad to see this is still kicking after all.
     
  17. MageOhki

    MageOhki Getting out there.

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    No, but I had RL hit, and hit hard, and then I had to wait for certain things to happen.... So, yes, Not bad taste.
     
  18. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    Well, it was a wait, but it was worth waiting for, so thank you for sharing it with us.
     
  19. Bluesnowman

    Bluesnowman Getting sticky.

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    • Don't necro. This is against Rule 7.
    Awesome story so far, one of the best starts to a BT yet.
     
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