Long story short. This is an origin story for the Outreach Irregulars. We are an upstart merc unit based on Snord's Irregulars. I think people will like it and I hope it's readable.
The Capacitor Lounge Harlech Outreach April 4th 3049
The Capacitor Lounge wasn’t the kind of place you went to pick up chicks. What it was; was an incredibly cramped, windowless, whole in the wall; on the mostly industrial west side of Harlech. No… not a place to pick up chicks, but the beer was cheap, and Gauge kept um cumin’.
Gauge was an ancient looking Lyran mercenary veteran who’d found himself too old, and too tired, but sitting on just enough C-bills to open a Bar. Smith figured he didn’t really give a damn about the place; it looked like **** and smelled worse, but it was Axel’s place; a place to tell nostalgic stories of his time; his wars gone by, but most importantly it was his place; a place to call his own. Smith wondered weather or not this was just what an old timer did when he ran out of fight and all his friends were dead; or if this was what you did when all your luck had run out, and you knew that next fight was going to be the last one. Most likely it was both. Smith wondered if he would live long enough to have a place of his own; maybe like this, maybe something else… but something. Right now just about anything was a lot more than what Smith had.
The Capacitor Lounge may have been a shithole, but it was Smith’s shithole; at least it had been for about three weeks now, but his bank account was drying up faster than his glass, and that first big payment would be due to Tharkad First Mutual in a week or so. If the last three weeks had taught anything is was that being an out of work mech jock cost way too much money. A month ago Smith had been a Lance Commander in Ronda Snord’s Irregulars, but ten years in hadn’t gotten him much; all he had to show was Sidekick; his highly modified Hunchback HBK-4H, a nice letter of reference, and a little beer money. Soon the beer money would be gone, and he’d have to figure out what to do for work. The Dracs would have called him Ronin. Ronin, ha! He felt more like a bum with Battlemech; nothin’ more. Tomorrow he’d be broke, but that was tomorrow; tonight he was going to party like it was 2999.
“Gauge my good man; beer me up!” Smith yelled, as he saddled up to the bar.
“I’ll be right vit you Herr Schmitt, I ave another patron.” Gauge’s German accent was thick like molasses on a cold day.
“What! Another customer in this **** hole? I’ll believe that when the Dracs role in, and open a ******’ tea house!” Smith shouted.
“Ja… it’s ard to believe, but I am afraid Herr Komiker ear ordered first, and he tips much better than you do… ven you tip at all Herr Shmit.” Gauge gestured to a tall thin man with short dark hair wearing the unmistakable leather jacket of a Mechwarrior.
“’Mr. Comedian’ what the **** kind of name is that?” Smith yelled across the room, to the stranger at the bar.
“It’s Joker, *******, and it’s a call sign,” the stranger said.
“Oh! Well I beg your apologies great Mechwarrior!” replied Smith sarcastically. “I meant no offence.” He said without meaning it. Smith didn’t care for just anybody walking into his watering hole, only to get in his way when he ordered a drink.
“You should show some respect guy. I’ve killed better men than you for less” Joker’s words were cold and sharp, the words of a killer.
“Alright, alright, vent some coolant bro.” “I’m not looking for any fights tonight.” “Names’ Smith… well that’s my call sign anyway.” He walked over to Joker and held out his hand. Smith was the kind of guy who could act like a complete *******, and still make friends. It was a special kind of gift the kind most people wanted but almost none actually had.
“So Joker dude, you some noble man’s lap dog, or do you kill people for money like the rest of us on Outreach?”
“I‘m a… I was a Lance Commander in Snord’s Irregulars; until a few weeks ago anyway.” Joker’s words were heavy with shame; his service with the Irregulars had meant a lot to him.
“No ****! Those ******** just laid me off too; and after ten years of faithful service no less!” Smith’s excitement was almost inappropriate considering Joker’s obvious regret. He knew others had been let go, but he didn’t think he’d run into anybody; most people had families on Clinton to go home to. “So how the heck is it I don’t know you?”
“I was a Lance Commander; third battalion, second company, recon lance” Joker said.
“That’s crazy. I was a Lance Commander also; first battalion, third company, attack lance.” “Wow… it sure was a big regiment wasn’t it?”
“Recon lance eh, what’d you drive?”
“I picked up a Jenner in 39’ I’ve been in it ever since.”
“Yeah that was my first milk run. I started out in a Spider but it got pretty messed up the night before that big counter assault; a lance of scouts pushed our sector. I managed to drop two of them so command gave me choice of the salvage.”
“Damn Dracs popped my cherry there too; I was just a scarred kid, but I managed to come home with all my fingers and toes.”
“Some didn’t” the inflection in Jokers voice changed just a little.
“You’re tellin’ me; I thought I’d never make it back into that Overlord.”
“I guess Ronda’s first fighting retreat worked out better for some than others.” Joker laughed; it was a strange kind of laugh; not a happy one. Dark humor was a coping mechanism for a lot of vets, but it seemed to power Joker like a fusion reactor.
“Dracs put up a hell of a fight, didn’t they? Everything else seems almost tame after that” Smith said.
“That was a real war; everything after that was just glorified rent-a-cop action.”
“Were you on Callison for that corporate job last November?” Smith asked.
“No; third battalion got left behind on that one. Why, did you go? I heard there were a couple real gun fights.”
“Yeah I was there. Those Marik raiders were third rate, but it was still a good time. I dropped an entire lance when they tried to pull out. The ******* idiots had this tendency to turn and run straight away. Damn those were some easy targets.”
“You’d shoot a man in the back?” Joker chuckled as he said it.
“I’m a scout; I’ll put fire anywhere I can before I have to run my ******* of there.”
Gauge interrupted with fresh drinks. The Lyran beer was cold, and the war stories when on for hours. The lack of windows created this strange time machine effect in a place like the Capacitor Lounge.
“So did you take the buyout option when you left?” Joker asked.
“I did. They only wanted two, point five mil for my Hunchy. You can’t just walk away from that… can you?”
“You can’t. But you probably should have” Joker smirked.
“What, you think I can’t make the payments?”
“With work as scarce as it’s been lately I don’t think any of us can make the payments.”
“I’ll worry about work in the morning” said Smith.
“It is morning” Joker responded.
“Well ****; now I’m **** drunk, dead broke, and hungry. Maybe I’ll go down to the spaceport, and just hang out on Sidekicks foot with a cardboard sign that says have battlemech will travel”
“You know Smith; we probably aren’t the only guys in town short on work” Joker said.
“I know! That only complicates the whole getting a job thing.”
“No, no, what I’m saying is; we could find a couple more half rate, out of work pilots, and form our own company.”
“You really think a couple of Irregular has-beens can put together a MRB rated company in a week, while hung over?”
“It worked for the brothers Kell” Joker laughed.
“**** it I’m in. It was that or prostitution anyway.”
Rio Grande Space Port Harlech Outreach April 11th 3049
Harlech’s spaceport was a seemingly unending field of ferrocrete, gantry cranes, and communications towers. Smith watched through the window as a giant Overlord dropship slowly fell from the purple orange evening sky on a huge plum of golden fusion fire. Below the window, loader mechs worked loading and unloading creates, and stillage’s destined for worlds throughout the Inner Sphere.
The executive lounge above concourse C was a much nicer bar than Smith was used to. Joker had even forced him to buy a tie for the occasion. If things had been different Smith thought; this might have actually been a good place to pick up chicks. Harlech’s spaceport was one of the best places in the city to meet people and people where exactly what Joker and Smith needed right now.
If a guy wanted to create his own job in the mercenary trade he needed a number of things; all of which came back to the people who could provide them. The first thing you would need were other Mercenaries, one and two man armies are great for action holovids, but on the real battlefield you wouldn’t last more than a few minutes without a good group of lance mates. The next thing you needed was equipment; mainly spare parts and ammunition. Sidekick’s class five ultra autocannon wasn’t going to feed itself, and Smith didn’t know any pilots who could get in a fight and come back without any need of repairs. So of course you also needed a support staff to load that ammunition and make those repairs. After that you needed a job to do, but before you could get one you needed to be registered, certified, and rated with Comstar’s Mercenary Review Board or MRB. Without these guys say so you couldn’t get a real job anywhere in the Inner Sphere. There was always illegal or gray market work in the periphery, but that wouldn’t pay the bills nearly as well as a cakewalk guard job for the Federated Commonwealth.
It had been one week since Smith and Joker had first met at the Capacitor Lounge, and they were only now beginning to realize the full scope of their undertaking. They had set up meetings with ten possible Mechwarriors, three potential; corporate investors, and a low level assistant to one of the greatest arms dealers in the Inner Sphere. It had been a long but not very productive day.
“So how exactly are you a qualified battlemech pilot?” Joker asked.
“Well I’ve spent time in the simulators. And I’ve got three years with the active reserve for house Davion” Bowman replied.
“So what was the name of this reserve unit, and what exactly did you do in it?”
“Well… I was in the 13th logistical support unit, New Avalon Crucis March Militia… reserve. It was the only unit on Victoria where I grew up. I was a… well… a cook actually” Bowman said.
“You know we’re looking for Mechwarriors, not cooks” Smith said.
“I think we’ve heard enough. We’ll let you know when we need a cook” Joker said.
Bowman got up and left.
“That’s the third damned wannabe mech jock in a row!” Smith’s frustration was obvious. “Who would have thought that there were so many ******** on Outreach clamming to be Mechwarriors when the only time they have behind the controls was playing children’s arcade games.”
“Well that first guy wasn’t half bad.”
“His call sign was Bone Collector” Smith said. “Do you really want to work with a guy who calls himself the bone collector?”
“Beggars can’t be choosers’ dude” Joker replied.
“No, Mr. Smith they cannot.” agreement came from a very tall, extremely well-dressed woman with dark brown hair, standing near the entrance. Her white evening gown looked like it cost as much as an Atlas, but was easily twice as intimidating.
“You don’t look like our seven o’clock” Smith said.
“Why? Because I’m not dressed like a Mechwarrior; or because I’m not a man; either way it doesn’t matter, I met your seven o’clock at the door… I turned him away. Believe me, he only would have wasted your time” she said.
“To whom may I ask do we have the pleasure of speaking with?” Joker asked.
“Names are of such little importance in this line of work Mr. Joker.” She looked at her own reflection in the mirror behind the bar. “You can call me Ms. White. I came here to represent a number of interests. To start with, the two of you have quite a lot of individual debt with Tharkad First Mutual, but you happen to be in luck. You see Tharkad First Mutual has been looking for an opportunity to make an investment in the Mercenary market for some time.”
“What does that mean for us?” Smith asked
“Well Mr. Smith what that means is this. Tharkad First Mutual with renegotiate the terms of your loans and compile the two you have into one easy payment. They are also willing to extend a corporate credit line to the two of you at a very competitive rate. In exchange Tharkad First Mutual will be your sole provider of financial services and they will hold a ten percent share of your company’s value. Oh, and by the way they will hold off on your bill until after you have completed your first contract.”
“Ms. White we really appreciate the offer, it sounds like a great deal, but if we can’t find some pilots worth their salt, we won’t have a company for your banker friends to finance.”
Ms. White asked the waiter for three bottles of Terran spring water then sat down at their table. She didn’t ask permission. She didn’t need to. Smith got the impression that if she wanted to she could buy the entire spaceport then close it for her own amusement. Smith had never had Terran anything before; the label on the bottle was Italian. Smith could only make out that the company was established in 1917. He wondered if you could really taste the difference between water from one planet and another. He was sure he couldn’t tell the difference; but it was still really good… for water.
“They used to say that this water had special healing properties; back on Terra, a very long time ago. The town’s people would bathe in it, hoping the magic water would heal their wounds; sometimes it did… I told you that I represent a number of interests.” She paused again to stare into her water.
“You two aren’t the only out of work Mercenaries on Outreach right now” she said. "There are actually many more just like you. Other organizations have let people go too. I don’t know all the where’s, and whys, but I know there was thought behind it, intention even. I believe you were set loose on the Inner Sphere to gain experience. These are peaceful day’s boys, but they won’t last. Peace has a way of disappearing overnight.”
“I thought Snord’s was the only large Merc unit laying people off right now” Smith said.
“I’m afraid not Mr. Smith, the Wolves have also been letting people go.” She responded “I’m keeping my eyes open for others as well”
“Why let people go if you have an interest in keeping talented pilots?” Joker asked
“Maybe these companies have become too large… too big to fail. Maybe they have loyalties to certain political entities. Maybe they want young pilots out there doing the work they can’t. Gaining the experience needed for the next real war. Maybe; just maybe, they know where the next war will be, what it will be.
“So these talented pilots you were speaking of; where exactly can we find them?” Smith asked
“I’ll make sure you find them; that is of course, if we have a deal.”
“What sort of deal?”
“I’m an agent Mr. Smith; I’d like to be your agent.”
“We’re Mechwarriors, not holovid stars Ms. White” Joker smiled.
“And that’s exactly why you need an agent.” She looked around the executive lounge. “This isn’t your world… It’s mine.”
“So what’s an agent in this business cost?” Smith asked
“Nothing right now Mr. Smith. But my fee is fifteen percent off the top on every contract completed.”
“What about contracts not completed” Joker asked
“Well this early on in your carrier failing or breaking a contract would be the end of you; if you’re lucky.”
“And if we’re not?”
“Well then someone will have to travel to take possession of your remains” She said. “I charge extra for that.”
Smith turned to Joker. “I like her. Can we keep her? Can we Joker? Please.”
“Fifteen percent’s a lot of money. Can you guaranty us well paid contracts, and a pass from Comstar’s MRB as well?” Joker asked
“Joker darling let me worry about the details; just head over to the Wolf’s Dragoons club next to the privet mech stables on the other side of town. There are some men there that you need to meet with.”
“I don’t think they’d let us in.” Smith added
“Tell the door man that Catherine sent you.”
“So our agents name is Catherine White?” Joker asked.
“No, it’s Catherine Valencia. I’m sorry but I don’t like to drop names, my own included.”
“Valencia; like the New Valencia, Valencia’s?” Smith asked
“The very same” She said. “See why I don’t like to prematurely drop names.”
“Well I think we’re in capable hands.” Smith added “Joker my good friend we have a Dragoons’ party to crash.”
“I guess we do.” Joker agreed
Wolf’s Den Night Club Harlech Outreach April 11th 3049
Smith had to give it to them. The Wolf’s Dragoons owned this world, and when they built a place to party they did damn fine job. Lights flashed, and strobed, like lasers in a fire fight. The thud of base was a constant pounding that shock the floor. Catherine was right; the door man let them right in, which was awesome because the Wolf’s Den was most definitely the kind of place you went to pick up chicks. Not the kind of chicks you took home to meet your mother. No these were more like the kind of woman that you would have bragged to your buddies about; if you hadn’t spent every c-bill in your wallet for the privilege. Joker had already remarked that it looked like they had girls in here from every corner of the Inner Sphere, and more than a few from the periphery, but pretty girl’s aside; there was still business to attend to The two men Catherine had sent them to meet where sitting at a large table on the upper level, overlooking the dance floor.
Smith offered a hand and introduced them “Good evening gentlemen I’m Smith; this is my associate Joker. We were told that you two were looking for some work.”
“Might be” said a short bulky man at the head of the table. The tattoos on his head, neck , and arms told the story of a guy that had spent a long time in Wolf’s Dragoons.
“Joker and I got let go form Snord’s Irregulars a few weeks ago. We are looking for pilots to form an independent operation.”
“I’m Bull, this here’s Colt; we were with the Dragoons. Things got slow, they sent us packing.” The large man said.
“We’re in the same boat then” Joker said.
“What makes you think we’ll be able to find any work, on our own?” The young Asian man previously referred to as Colt said. “If big name ‘A’ rated units like Snord’s Irregulars, or the Wolf’s Dragoons can’t get any contracts what makes you think we will.
“We have the same concerns; but after looking into it we’ve found that the big names are so locked into their long term interests serving the house governments that they are actually passing up smaller corporate jobs. Basically they are all waiting for a real war. We just want the cash, and there is still plenty of money to be made out there if you know where to look” Joker answered.
“So you’re telling me that we got **** canned for a lack of work that doesn’t exist?” Bull snapped.
“Yeah, that’s how it is” Smith said.
“Well **** me” Bull added “I’m not ready to be done yet. I’ve got a lot more fight left in me, and the kid here, he’s just getting started.”
“Good; it sounds like we have your attention then. We need pilots or this isn’t going to happen. What sort of pilots are you, and do you have your own mechs?”
Bull responded for the both of them. “I was a Lance commander; Beta Regiment, Charlie Battalion, Third Company, Second Lance. We specialized in indirect fire support. Colt was our rookie. They made us an offer to buy our mechs on the cheap, so I took it, but Colt here didn’t.”
“What’d you ride?” Smith asked “Oh and how much do you owe?
“I’m a Catapult driver. They wanted four point five million for it. I knew I wouldn’t get that kind of deal anywhere else so I took it.”
“We can work with that” Joker said. “Who has your loan?”
“New Avalon Capital Partners” Bull responded.
Joker turned to Smith. “You think we can convince our Lyran banker friends to buy up that loan?”
“I’ve got no idea, but I bet we know someone who does.” Smith replied “So rookie, what’s your story?”
“I was born on Kittery in 3025. When I was eighteen I joined up with the 1st Kittery Training Battalion. They made me a Mechwarrior, after that I did my time in the 1st Kittery Borderers; after four years in I hadn’t seen any action so I applied with the Dragoons. I thought I’d see some of the real deep ****, but after a year of good training they started letting people go. I guess they didn’t want me anymore. I didn’t take the offer for that Trebuchet because I didn’t think I would be able to make the payments and because… well I really didn’t like the Trebuchet. I was a Cicada pilot on Kittery.”
“Well heck the kids got more brains then any of us ********.” Joker laughed “Can’t make the payments. That cautious instinct will do you well son.”
“We can find a battlemech… I think.” Smith said “Tell me Colt did you miss that gun on the Cicada while you were riding around in that underweight missile boat?” Smith asked
“Direct fire, direct action, your my kind of Mechwarrior son” Smith said. “We’ll find you something with a gun don’t worry.”
“I appreciate that sir” said Colt
“Son, I’m not sure this is the kind of unit where you get to call anybody sir” Smith replied
“Sorry sir… I mean Smith”
“Well if that’s all of the business for this meeting, I say we get some drinks.” Joker added “It’s been a very long day, and I’m very thirsty.”
“Joker my good man I couldn’t agree more” Smith answered “You two sticking around for some beers?” Smith gestured to his new lance mates.
“I can’t think of a reason not to” said Bull. He turned to Colt “You in Kid?” Colt nodded. Before long it was morning and the door man was pushing them out into the street.
The sun was just cresting the horizon when they exited the Wolf’s Den. David Cameron Boulevard was still asleep, but within an hour or so the street would be packed with morning commuters. Sleep was a luxury Smith, and Joker could not afford. They were still a bit drunk, but they had work to do.
Wolf’s Dragoons Supply Depot S13
April 12th 3049
John was a short, balding, middle aged man, of unknown origin, who could be tracked around the galaxy by the unusual cigarette butts he left behind. The bark brown filters could be found on the grounds of bases and supply depots belonging to every military force large or small. Jon was a business man; the kind that traveled the Inner Sphere collecting used arms and ammunition that the House militaries didn’t want anymore. Just a few years ago the Successor Lords would never have sold even a single round of ammunition, but with the recent resurgence of lostech and almost ten years of peace to build their armies the older stocks were being auctioned off to the highest bidder; more often than not, that bidder was John. Today he was loading dropship with surplus long range missiles, at the Wolf’s Dragoons central ammo dump on the Remus continent of Outreach. Smith and Joker had caught an early morning flight to Wolf HQ. The last four hours had done them well. Sobriety went a long way in doing business with arms dealers.
“So you’re looking for a medium battlemech; spare parts for a Catapult, Hunchback, and Jenner, and enough ammo to burn a major city to the ground. Is there anything else I can get for you?” Maybe some command and control vehicles, or a mobile field repair gantry. I also have a contact with access to some of the latest in recovered lostech weapons. You guys like pulse lasers, or gauss rifles, or extended range anything? Anyway you two know who to ask, if you do.” John made a note on his data pad as an industrial exoskeleton loaded another container of long range missiles into a large freight container sitting on a flatbed cargo hauler.
“Well my hunchy already has more than a few tons of lostech inside, but I’ve heard those pulse lasers really kick ***” said Smith
“I’ve already got them on my Jenner. I wouldn’t trade them for anything” Joker added.
“Well I can see you boys know your stuff, and I don’t think you would settle for anything less than the best tech available. According to my trusty note book here I have a good selection of medium mechs available, but I don’t have anything on this rock. I’ll give you a good deal on shipping but it won’t be free.” John handed the data pad to Smith who looked at the list of available chassis before handing it to Joker.
“We should consult our pilot before making a deal” said Joker.
“Well I’m here through the end of the week. After that I’m on Solaris for two weeks, and then I’m on my way out to the Periphery to meet with some less than honorable individuals. I have no idea when I’ll make it back from that one. “
“We’ll give him a call.” Joker said
Smith and Joker walked away leaving John to tend to his loading. The exoskeleton’s servos whined under the weight of the missile containers. John made a note on his data pad; then lit a cigarette.
They didn’t have to go far to find a quiet place to make a phone call. The outback was massive, and between installations there was little more than scrub and some lizards. The phone rang out on speaker… Colt picked up.
“Hey Colt, its Smith and I’ve got Joker here with me.”
“Oh; hey guys, how’s it going? I was just sleeping off the beers from last night”
“It’s going; we have a lead on some Battlemechs for you.”
“Really, already, that’s awesome! What kind?”
“Well there are a few to choose from. In our price range, we could get an Assassin, Cicada, Hunchback, Centurion, or Crab. Any of those sound good to you?” Smith asked
“Well, I started out as a Cicada pilot, and I really liked it, but I’ve also learned a lot about fire support in the Dragoons… If it’s up to me, I think I’d like the Centurion. I mean, if it’s good enough for Justin Allard then it’s good enough for me.”
“That sounds like a good choice to me” Joker said “Smith, do you have any objections?”
Smith paused for a second, thinking about how well a Catapult, a Hunchback, a Centurion, and a Jenner would work as a lance, then said “I think that will work great, so long as the kid here doesn’t start thinking of himself as the next great Solaris champion.”
“Good; because we won’t ever want to scrape you out of that cockpit with a spatula and a scrub brush.”
“Alright kid, we’ll come find you as soon as it’s delivered so you can take it out and see how it handles.”
“Thank you, sirs!” Colts excitement was audible.
“Go back to sleep Colt; we’ll talk to you sooner than later.” Smith hung up. He knew there was no more sleep for Colt today. He’d spend the coming days reading everything he could on the Centurion Battlemech. He’d learn about its development and combat uses, about the weapons it carried, and the weapons it could carry with future upgrades. They say you only fall in love once, but for a Mechwarrior every time you’re assigned a new battlemech you fall in love all over again.
The two walked back towards John in silence; they could both remember being in Colt’s shoes. What it was like to pick your own battlemech for the first time. The excitement of real battles to come, but also how that excitement could turn to stark terror in the face of the enemy, and how that terror could get you killed. So many young warriors only fought once. On Vega back in 39; the life expectancy of a rookie pilot was only four minutes. Smith, and Joker had managed to survive those first four minutes; many of their friends had not. The real question was whether or not Colt could do the same; because sooner or later, he’d find himself in the really deep ****.
“So you make up your mind on those chassis?” John called to them as they approached.
“We want that Centurion chassis.” Joker answered
“An excellent choice” John said. “I’ll make arrangements for shipping as soon as I’m off the boat on Solaris. You know that chassis has three wins in the urban arena on the medium circuit” John added.
“That’s interesting, why is it for sale?” Smith asked
“Because it has one lose” John added his voice somber
“You can send the bill to Tharkad First Mutual.” Joker said before they turned to leave, suddenly reminded of the dangers inherent to their profession.
John waved then off; lit a cigarette, and made a note on his data pad; servos whined.
The SmithMember Since 24 Nov 2011
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