April 15th 3049
Catherine's office was on the one hundred and thirteenth floor of a very tall building in downtown Harlech. Through the large windows Smith could see all the way out to the spaceport. The endless comings and goings of the city were fascinating. Dropships arrived and left every few minutes, the streets where packed with cars, trucks, and every other type of vehicle; the municipal maglev ran right through downtown on its way out to the spaceport and beyond. In the three days that had passed since their meeting with John, almost everything had come together. They had a lance of good pilots, three battlemechs with another on its way from Solaris and around a hundred tons of ammunition and spare parts; they still needed logistics and support staff, and more importantly they still needed approval and initial rating with Comstar's MRB. When they arrived Catherine was on the phone.
"Yes, alright... I can work on that... Well you're going to have to up your offer, my people don't work for free... yes I know they are untested, but they're all very experienced Mechwarriors... Okay I can live with that... Yes you have a nice day also... okay good bye." She hung up the phone and turned to the two men waiting at the door.
"Smith, Joker, darlings, how are you? Are the preparations going well? How was John? Did he ask about me?" She asked.
"I'd say we are holding up alright; the preparations are going well." Joker answered "John was in good spirits, except the part about getting sent to the Periphery."
"Why would he ask about you?" Smith asked.
"We have a long and storied past, Mr. Smith. Anyway I have some great news for the two of you. I've secured you a contract with StarCorps Industries on Son Hoa. It seems that pirates from the Circinus Federation have been participating in cross border raids to steal war materials from StarCorps' battlemech production line. So far they've had very little success but they've kept up the pressure and the current mercenary garrison needs all the extra help they can get."
"Who's there now?" Smith asked.
"A group called 'Mobil Fire'" Catherine responded. "StarCorps Industries is bringing in as many small merc units as they can right now, and you guys fit their profile perfectly. Your repairs will be covered by StarCorps so you won't need a support arm until after you get back."
"So we can leave as soon as that Centurion chassis arrives?" Joker asked.
"Well not quite." Catherine added. "We need to discuss an important addition to your staff."
"Five's an odd number for lance Ms. Valencia" Smith said.
"The new hire isn't a Mechwarrior... She's a tactical command and control officer."
"Look Ms. Valencia, we appreciate everything you're doing for us; but in a lance with three lance commanders we hardly have use for a tactical over watch." Smith said.
"And that's exactly why you need one Mr. Smith. You're all chiefs and no Indians as they used to say."
"Joker man, back me up on this one" Smith demanded.
"Sorry dude, I'm with her on this one. A tactical officer will help us digest battlefield information, and maintain unit cohesion. As a scout I like to know that the information I gather is going to good use."
"Well if Joker needs a MechCommander to sleep at night I guess we can have one" Smith relented.
"Good; her name is Yoshimi Watanabe, and she just finished her service as a 'Tai-I' or Captain with the First Sword of Light DCMS."
"WHAT!" Smith's rage was automatic; in his mind Dracs were for killing not talking orders from.
"Mr. Smith I understand your history with the Draconis Combine, but I'm afraid you'll have to put that aside, for the betterment of this endeavor."
"My history with the Dracs; you don't know a god damn thing about my history with the fucking Dracs!"
"Actually Mr. Smith I do. I know everything about you; both of you actually." She gestured to Joker "I know about Vega. I know what you saw, and did there. I know the names of friends you lost there. I even know about what happened to your father on Deshler. The fact is that I don't care Mr. Smith. Your hatred of the Draconis Combine is understandable, but you'll never make it in this industry if you can't put your past, your politics, and your personal beliefs aside long enough to get paid. What if I had told you that we had a contract to act as House Kurita's personal guard? Would you refuse it? Learn to hate everyone equally Smith; it pays better!"
"Oh, you know do you? Do you know what it's like to like to grow up on a fucking ice ball without a father? Do you know what it's like to be a nine year old at a military funeral? Do you know all about how my mother worked herself to death in a Germanium mine, because you can't raise three kids on a Fed-Com Pension?" Smith paused; his anger was a white hot ball of fire behind his eyes. "But you don't know shit because you're whole life is just a pretty picture of a warm green world with big white castles and expensive hover cars. Have you ever been in a Germanium mine, princess? No of course you haven't." Smith trailed off, calming he turned and left the room.
"Well that went well." Catherine said.
"I'll go talk to him" Joker said as he left the room.
Joker caught up to Smith by the elevators.
"Smith man; wait up!"
Smith stopped and turned around.
"Look dude, I'm not exactly a big fan of Dracs either, but you've got to cool down on this one. We need this; we need Catherine, and if she says we need this Yoshimi woman on our team; then we need her on our team. And face it, if the Dracs weren't so damn good, we wouldn't have much reason to hate them, now would we."
Smith was still angry, but Joker was right. If he had to listen to this Drac bitch babble on the radio all day to get paid, well that was just what he would have to do. This was the life he chose, and it was a hell of a lot better than the mines back on Colorado.
"I guess you're right." Smith answered.
"I'm sorry, about your parents that must've been hell" Joker said quietly.
"It was." Smith looked away slightly at the ground.
"You never told me you're from Colorado." Joker said, attempting to change the subject.
"You never asked." Smith said.
Joker pondered that for a moment. "I guess you're right; we still don't know each other that well. So, you think we can just accept this whole TAC officer thing and just move on to the part where we get to shoot at stuff with our giant robots?"
Smith was calm now, and Joker was right; all he ever wanted to do was wreck shit up in his very own giant killer robot. So long as this 'Yoshimi' didn't try to stop that, things would work out.
"Yeah I guess we can do that." Smith said, looking up to the sky.
"Cool" Joker nodded.
April 27st 3049
The west side stables were located just outside the perimeter fence for the space port; four massive hangars which were once home to the local garrison forces, but now served as a place to store battlemechs brought to the planet by mercenaries looking for work or training. Smith, Joker and Bull's mechs filled adjacent bays. A large cargo hauler drove in through the main entrance carrying a primer grey Centurion chassis. Smith, Joker, Bull, Colt, and Yoshimi Watanabe stood at foot of Jokers Jenner; watching as the giant hangar crane picked up the Centurion, and moved it into an empty repair bay next to them. Several technicians quickly set up a series of mechanical locks to hold the mech upright without power. One of the techs walked up to the group of waiting mercenaries.
"Howdy, name's Chet" he said holding out his hand.
"I'm Smith, this here's Joker, Bull, Colt, and Captain Watanabe" Smith said as he took the man's hand. The rest of the group took turns shaking hands with Chet the tech.
"So; these are your 'mechs, then?" he said gesturing to the four massive combat vehicles.
"They are." Smith said. "That new one there is for my friend Colt here." Smith pointed to the young man who couldn't take his eyes off the fifty ton killing machine with its pale grey primer finish.
Each of the four mechs was painted differently. Sidekick had been painted in dull grays for its last deployment on Callison's moon Yngve. Joker's Jenner was still painted in a khaki tan desert scheme; from a training mission in the outback deserts of Outreach. Bull's Cat was painted in the distinctive emerald green of Wolf's Dragoons Beta Regiment. They hardly looked like a unit, but before they left each would be repainted to better suit the environment on Son Hoa.
"Your agent called me yesterday. She said you needed these mechs stripped, primed, painted and MRB inspected before the end of work Friday."
"We're booked on a dropship for 0500 Monday morning." Joker responded.
"Well then; we'll get these machines painted up for you ASAP. What color do you want them, and what's the name of your lance?" Chet asked.
Smith, Joker, and the other members of the team just stared at each other. Somehow this had never come up before. "Um?" was all anyone could say.
"You'll need a name before the MRB will sign off on you or assign you a rating." Chet said.
"Damn... okay... well maybe you could paint them up now, and we'll get back to you with a name in an hour or so" Smith said
"Well we won't be finished painting your mechs in an hour, but yeah that seems like a decent plan. What color do you want them?" Chet asked.
Smith thought about it for a moment. "I think we're looking for a good temperate woodland camouflage. Is that something that you guys can do?"
"We do a half way decent splinter camo. I like to use use OD, Sage, and Brown. It should work for most temperate environments."
"Everyone agree with woodland splinter?" Smith asked the group.
"I believe this would be a wise choice." Captain Watanabe's response came first.
"Whatever keeps me hidden" Joker said.
"My mech's green already" Bull shrugged.
"I don't care how it's painted so long as it's mine" was Colts response as he continued to stare at his new 'mech.
"Alright Chet my good man, looks like that'll do; we're going to find a place to talk this whole name thing over." Smith said as they all turned towards the small side exit between Sidekick, and Bull's Cat.
"There's a pub a couple of blocks from here were we can get some beers" Bull said.
"Sounds like a great way to come up with a name" Joker chuckled.
Westside Brick and Brew
April 27th 3049
The pub Bull brought the team to was really more of a restaurant; but the food was good, and the atmosphere was great for a brainstorming session... dark and quiet. Everyone had at least some idea for how they thought the unit should be named. Colt started first.
"How about, the Colt Commandos?" he said, grinning.
"You want us to name our unit after its most inexperienced pilot?" Joker asked, his eyebrow raising over the top of his mug as he took a deep drink of his beer.
"No, I want us to name our unit after an ancient sub machine gun I saw in a museum one time."
"I think we'll pass on that one" Smith said.
"What about the Bulldogs?" came from Bull "Bulldogs are tough; we need a name that makes us sound tough!" he added, giving an old fist pump for good measure.
Smith, Joker, Colt, and Watanabe all looked at each other before answering in unison.
"What about the Regulators; you know... we regulate any stealing of his property. We damn good at it too. But you can't be any geek off the street; gotta be handy with the steel if you know what I mean, earn your keep." Joker said; then hummed a strange beat before he burst out laughing.
No one really knew what to say to that one.
"I'm not sure but I think The Regulators is already a unit" Smith said.
"Unit, more like a G-UNIT!" Joker yelled, jumping up.
"What's that? G-String?!" Came a random response from the patrons at the bar.
"Um yeah... I think we'll pass on that one" Smith said, gesturing for Joker to take a seat.
Miss Watanabe piped up. Slowly, carefully, she said. "We are an Irregular unit... with ties to Snord's Irregulars... Wolf's Dragoons, and the world of Outreach. What about a name that contains some of that information like the Outreach Irregulars maybe?" she asked.
There was a long pause as every member of the team thought about the name and what it meant to them. You could see the unspoken consensus on their faces.
Looking around at everyone Smith said "I think we have a name... Thank you Ms. Watanabe."
"You honor me Mr. Smith" she responded.
Smith had only known Tai-i Watanabe for two days. She was a small woman with long dark hair, and a scar across her left eye. The eye appeared to be damaged somehow, but Smith wasn't sure. If she had a problem seeing; she didn't show it. She had a sort of understated grace, as if the universe moved around her and not the other way around. It was difficult to admit that he didn't hate her; he really wanted to; he'd been doing his best not to talk to her, but she was intelligent, confident, and most importantly she was utterly competent. She was must have been a real loss to the DCMS and that sort of made Smith feel better about having her around. If they had to have a tactical officer she was clearly the MechCommander to have.
"No, Tai-I Watanabe you honor us" Smith responded.
Jokers jaw just about hit the floor on that one. He collected himself before thanking Watanabe for the name.
"He's right Captain we're all honored to have you with us, and I think everyone would agree that the Outreach Irregulars owe you their name."
"Here, here" Bull said as he raised his glass in a toast. "To the Outreach Irregulars; may we live long, and win many battles!"
"Here, here" everyone said as they raised their glasses.
Smith ran back over to the stables to tell Chet, while Joker got on the phone and called Catherine. They had a name now; everyone needed to know it. Catherine could finish their paper work with Comstar's MRB, and Chet could stencil the name on each of the four Battlemechs, along with some kind of battlefield identifier.