Mara Northen Isles, november 3015: Who us?

Cadet Micheal Ironford knocked on the door of the C&C, which was a small room near the entrance of the administration building. He waited impatiently until he heard the 'enter', the captain being a fuzzy stickler for that kind of things.

"It does not make sense", he told captain Hansen and Joab Alison, who were bent over the huge map showing the factory and mining locations, "this corp should not have the money to hire us! They make galvanized fish tins and some utility mech parts for the Mara Development Corporation! And what's the 'we have been here for months'? We just arrived yesterday! And how the hell could we land here? According to the radio this planet is under attack from the Kuritans!"

As usual the captain paid more attention to the vehicle crews than to the mechwarriors, because she first finished the vehicle placement before not answering his questions: "Cadet Ironford, I don't remember having to explain myself to you. Some noble clearly can not afford to loose this corporation, it might even be a Kuritan noble. In which case I am sure he would not want the Draconis Combine to look at the files. Anyway, it is not important: the money is escrowed with the MRB, so if we perform well, we'll get paid."

"But the 'we have been-"

The captain interrupted: "Yes, yes, whoever paid us does not want to show that this corporation is important to him. We are just regular security, nothing to do with the invasion. And keep your mouth shut about this: everybody doctors the records and there is no problem as long as nobody finds out. Dismissed."

Micheal walked outside towards his gray and blue camo Wolverine. 'Boring colors', he thought. The captain was a strict woman, but she did have good industrial contacts: his mech was in good working order and even the targetting system now seldom blocked, she also bought a new Vedette and Striker. Hamal should count himself lucky to be upgraded from an APC to a Striker.

He saw cavalier Mazin lounging on his Packrat, while a junior tech was servicing its SRM6. He was outranked by a mere driver, the thought needled him. Yet, Mazim talked often with Alison, so Micheal decided to chat him up.

"Hi, what's going on?"

"Nothing much, tube-5 got dented during transport", Joshi yawned.

"Have you seen that new mech in action yet?"

"Nope, the fusion engine is working but the gyro sounds like it has not been lubricated for 500 years. Come to think of it, it probably has not been touched for 500 years. Shows that the ancients sure knew how to build."

"But why Gabriel?"

"Come now, think! Put a light mech pilot in 75 tons ancient design? No. The captain or lieutenant Ami? You can not put your commanding officer in a mech that just might stop working. So the choice is between you and Gabriel and his gunnery record from last month is better than yours. Sorry, dear chap."

"Any ideas about where the fight will be?", Micheal inquired, changing the subject; He was not a bad gunner, he was just unlucky during training.

"Fight? Who have you been talking to? Levi and I will do the outer perimeter with our Packrats, and I understand that the captain has decided on 3 APC, Scorpion-S pairs for the inner perimeter. It's a bit spread out, but it is a fairly sizable piece of ground to protect."

"Why should she do that? Just let us mechs patrol."

"Infantry, my dear boy, infantry. They see you coming for miles. The captain knows that we can fight anybody we can see, so she keeps the heavy units together for a strike, but if you have no info, you just lost the game. We have good maps and with enough, and not to loud, vehicles, we can make sure we do not have any nasty surprises."

Getting lectured by a driver was to much. Micheal stomped of to his mech, where he felt far more in control.