Gienah HPG, April 3015, Interlude

"Of course those mercs aren't a security risc: most of them are misfits with little or no education. All the vehicle crews have only one dream: to find a mech and become 'possessed' - no need: they are already, mentally at least. Some might have what it takes, but the odds of them living long enough to learn... with the shitty equipment we've got... And most of our crews are to **** young. They're willing, and I read their qualities, but will they be able to cope? Yeah, I know, I'm 25 myself. Warn me when I act odd - and stop smiling."

Captain Deborah Hansen to sergeant Ariben Arbi

"How it was? Those upty mechjockies at least tried to protect us and we all got out alive. But they could have scored a mech, perhaps even two! Witties - Me and mine would have loved to own one. But no missus captain said mission first - and guess what - mission was a complete failure. Now Reneir doesn't even got a tank anymore - even if he didn't own the rust bucket. Yeah and they lost their heaviest mech - ****, our luck sucks."

Recruit Steve mcLadin to recruit Henry Rawwings

"According to senior Mogazaki we hardly needed to have zapped that core. It was intact but they clearly didn't understand what part did what. They even had removed the holo memory banks from their shielding! They weren't there, but one bit of UV on those things and they're ruined. Pity about it, I would have loved to play with that kind of hardware - I clocked weeks warships sims back home, but they said the real thing was unavailable. They never tell you anything. Anyway, I wonder what miss Hansen - eh captain Hansen - is going to do about the return of Miriam. I really have to talk to the mercs about what the current customs are. This is Steiner space, isn't it?"

Cavalier Joshi Mazim to lieutenant Joshua Goldbau

"Why Misha? Because you speak 7 langu - sorry 9 - languages, because ROM thinks its a good idea, because these inner-sphere idiots stopped nuking eachother because they ran out of nukes - but they might do something incredibly stupid still, because you went to Sandhurst, because Comstar took you in when your family had 'problems' in the Confederation, like my mother did in the Suns and the Barasda brother in the Combine. We cannot allow those houses to ruin mankinds future, and we were choosen to do our little part. I would have loved to be stationed as part of the honour guard in Geneva, but that is not how the game is played... so we better play it well. We were the lucky ones to get APCs. Who would shoot us if there is any other target available?"

Cavalier Joab Alison to cavalier Misha Shen

"Where do those guys come from? I be a dead bugger if Locust pilot and his brother aren't half drac, half azami. I thought they shot those crossbreeds in the DC? And have you heard the Caps 'english' - she's clearly from some backwater planet where they kept their original landing tapes as their language pronuncy style - whatever. But there is money involved... and good contacts. Probably some League faction training a secret army for their next revolution: young guns with old fart cadre and an expensive family daughter as captain. I'm right ehh?"

Cadet Micheal Ironford to cadet Wanda van Buren


The situation in the HPG was typical for the third succession war. On the parking lot in front of the main building stood mercenary, Steiner, and Marik transports separated by coloured tape. Inside the situation was identical, the two warring factions sharing the waiting room in deadly silence. It proved the power of ComStar: neither faction dared to fight near the HPG, and both factions needed access, so the compound and the route to it became neutral territory. Inside the building the rules were strict: any disturbance meant less communication, violence no communication for days or even weeks.

Deborah walked to the 'mercenary' counter and asked for a one page message to the Mercenary Review Board. The acolyte accepted her request with some distain and told her that she could wait. Deborah stared at the insulent youth, thoughts flying through her mind: 'She outranked him! He should...' She sighted and dropped her gaze. She was a mercenary, hired for money, not to be trusted, even lower than the 5 houses. She remembered the class 'Factions in the Inner Sphere'. She walked to the seats and started to wait.

It was odd how this place felt like a home taken over by strangers. The well known chants and prayers, the perfect maintained equipment, the two -always two- Rho agents in the rear, the cameras keeping watch over everything. Alright, she was glad that there were less cameras and agents in her unit - she was sure that there would be at least some. Gabriel was likely, Ariben very possible, some of the techs almost guaranteed. So many things to think about... She hoped Joshua would keep the camp secure, to many thought that the camp was safe. Didn't they know that nothing ever was - not even Earth. These thoughts she better keep from all, but she had to teach them: fighting was only part. Suddenly she remembered the text of an original 1000 year old book: 'Throwing rocks' indeed... Some books had tough her to look 'differently': the 120 BC copy of Sun Tzu, Jomini versus von Clausewitz, 'Moltke, the Tactician', Guderian's 'Achtung Panzer', Patton's 'War as I knew it'. mcKenna's 'Strategic Analysis' - she had dug deep to uncover those, Kerensky's keynote speeches had been disappointing.

Half an hour later a booth became available. She closed the door, sat down and started to type her report to the MRB. After she finished she checked if all the marking signals where in the right place and her covert security checksum matched, then she did it again backwards; doing this from memory was tricky but a device would be a security risc. The pressed 'Queue for sending' and was rewarded by a query.

"Your mission is not finished yet; some parts from the dig have been moved to another location. Your request for external resources will be taken into consideration."

So she had a minder in the HPG; Deborah was not surprised. She typed: "Of course I will finish the mission, but another 'failure' will either destroy the credibility of this unit, or worse, alert Loki."

"Trust in Blake, Acolyte, we have already planned for this. We will make sure that your patron will be happy. Just listen to your command channel. Remember: Inner Sphere pride is for sale." The screen changed and displayed: "Message queued, transmission in 4 hours 37 minutes."