"Yea, she'll fight..." Rick choked back. The confiction between throttling Draco for forcing his decision on which mechs took priority, and more so letting his techs wander off for chow and rack was feeling like salt on the wounds, and being the proper solider and mechanic he needed was growing strong. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but he couldn't help but be cross, and it showed on Rick's face.
Rick lifted the large metal plate on the bench and brought the four-hundred pound sheet of armour to the foot of the mech, laying it against the ankle of the giant gladiator. Rick rubbed the small of his back afterwards, regretting not doing the job properly with a lift, but he had to put that aggression out on something, and it was not going to be his commander. Besides, despite being short and fat, he was very strong, the kind of strength you could never develop in decades of combat training, and it felt good to 'show off'. Yea, it was definitely a lack of sleep.
Pulling the cutting torch close, he watched the hot blue flame almost explode out of the tip. "You already know my concerns, Sir. I... I will trust in your judgement." The lie stuck in his throat and felt more bitter coming up than any bit of vomit after shore-leave experience he ever had. Placing the dark goggles over his eyes, he began to start cutting along the lines etched in white chalk along the large piece of metal.
After a few minutes of silent cutting, he turned the torch off. Balling his fist, he brought it back and punched the metal chunk he was cutting, it fell to the floor with a loud 'clang'. "Is that all Sir, or are you gonna pick up a wrench and start pullin? Kerensky knows those lazy techs coulda been here at least another hour at least, maybe two. Wouldn't ask em if I wasn't willing to pull the stint with em. Though I guess that's how most of you mech jocks opperate, you just pull a wrench here or there, but for the most part you're in and you're out, right?"
Rick's eyes went wide realizing what he just said. He slumped down on the ground, covering his face with the gloves stained and cracked. "I'm... I am sorry Sir. It's... It Has been a long night. You were right to let them get to their racks. There is just so much more to be done, and so little time. I do not think I could sleep if I tried, it would eat at me, you know? The work never done, that one more plate to weld or bolt to tighten or something, something that could be done before...." He realized he was rambling.
Reaching inside his tool box beside him, he pulled out a can of Zoom beer, the cheap market stuff he got hooked on in Solaris 7. Cracking it open, he drank from it heavily. After taking a moment he breathed out with a sigh. "I did not earn those Colours Draco...." Rick felt using his name instead of Sir would change to tone of the thought, maybe make it more personal and let his commander know what kind of sorry sack he had put his chips on.
"I got them after a mistake, friendly fire incident because of a pirate raid. They fired on me, or maybe me on them, we could never get that straight. What we did get to note was the confusion came because She looked like she did, a salvage-yard Frankenstein's monster, looked like a run-in-the-mill pirate mech. So when the shooting finally settled and we half-blasted ourselves to Kerensky's exodus, one of them painted the arm with me over night, a visual cue to stop the mistake from happening again."
It became clear in Rick's shoulders that he was tired. Not from the lack of sleep, but because of him trying to live up to something he was not. The expectation of being able to 'earn' the colours of Wolf's Dragoons on his mech was burdening him heavily, and finally he just gave way to the pressure. He had been pushing himself more and more to get all the mechs in the hanger ready for the encounter that loomed over all their heads, and finally it was just too much.
"There's a reason no one heard of 'The Great Mop-Boy' in the merc circles. At best, I am a garrison duty pilot, always have been. Everyone I run into claims to be the best of the best, every one of them running with the elites and high-rollers. 'Best of the best'... Well, I guess today Draco, you have the misfortune of running into 'the rest'. Bottom of the barrel, just trying to do some kind of good in this fracked up universe before someone puts a bullet between my eyes."
He took another long haul of his beer. After a moment, he placed it down on the floor between his feet.
"You know what the part of it that really eats at me Draco? That part that really gets under my skin? When I first started out, I could not even make enough money to get off planet to even start my hand at being a merc. Ya know what I did? Gave kids rides in my Archer. I was a one-man amusement park for months. A bit of farm land, some cheap flyers, losing 70% of my cut to the farmer for tearing up his fields. And every one of them looked at me and said 'Wow, a Real Mechwarrior'. They saw me as something more than a *** **** grease monkey. It was the coolest thing they ever seen, and how they would tell stories to their friends about how they got to ride in a mech with a pilot who seen real action."
"And then I got to see their parents go along with the lie. They lied through their teeth just to give those kids something more than just saying it was a bum giving kiddies a ride. Oh, the lies. It made me sick to my stomach. It's pain Draco, the real thing, that kind of pain you bury under mountains of beer cans and stims."
"When some kid calls you a hero, and believes it with every breath they can take, and you know your not, that is.... it's.... Kerensky damn it. Guess it is not something a guy like you would know. You're Dubya-Dee(W.D), you are the big-boys. Big time heroes with big time names and big time paychecks. The rest of us, we are not heroes, and if we get anywhere, it is because we put more time, sweat and blood than anyone just to get half-way there."
Shooting back the rest of his beer, he crumpled the can. Standing up, Rick reached far back, and threw the can at his Archer's black-and-red painted arm. Rick was grateful that his welding goggles were down, so Draco wouldn't see the bitter tears starting to swell in the corner of his eye. He took up the cutting torch and turned it back on, turning the flame into a searing blue. Rick began cutting the sheet of ferro-fibrus armour, breathing heavily.
"There is more work to be done, I've been at this for over forty hours, I can get a couple more in. They can keep their show-room piece mechs, they can keep their academy training, they can keep their fancy crews and high-end do-hickeys and thing-a-ma-jiggers, but they will NEVER put in more time, sweat and blood into this than I do. Never."
Edited by MacabreDerek, 13 May 2012 - 01:05 AM.