Seb watched out the window of the loft above the Flaming Cockpit. Two AM was way to effing early for anything good to happen, even if it meant a paycheck. But, still, a paycheck would be nice, as things were getting tight. But two AM?
Headlights pierced the humid morning. No limo this time, nope, just a dump truck with a tarp overhead. “Ride’s here!” he called. Various groans and snorts growled out in reply. The Green Aces filed out of the warm loft into the cool damp. Each carried a ruck sack with the few belongings they would need. Hui Mah’s Samoan bodyguard stood behind the transport, massive arms folded over a massive chest. His eternal scowl set in a wide face. He seemed to take delight in slamming a screeching tailgate after they clambered in, each looking for the most comfortable seat amongst the two rows of uncomfortable seats.
Seb stood beside Ferret and watched the ungainly truck trundle out of sight. Still not sure if it was a good thing they were staying, they turned and crept up the stairs to the loft. Last night in this very loft, the argument had been heated. They needed money. They needed to figure out who framed them for Spade’s murder. Chester suggested they arm wrestle for who would go on the mission. Only Darius laughed. In the end, it had come down to the most democratic method they knew. A drinking contest. First two to pass out stayed behind. Ferret rubbed his temples. “I do not know if this headache will ever go away.”
They felt every ridge and pothole in the road, the truck’s heavy duty springs amplifying their discomfort. Noone felt like talking as they swayed in conjunction with turns and sloppy stabilizers.
From out the back of the transport, they watched as they entered the drop-port. Squealing brakes announced a lurching stop to their excursion. The Samoan scowled at them again as they gratefully clambered out of the back. Darius tried a smile at the Polynesian, but got narrowed eyes in return. “What that boy needs…is more fiber…”. Chester grinned and hiked up his pants for the 94th time.
They were directed to an Overlord Dropship on the far end of the tarmac. It was difficult to make out in the early gloom. Bjorn was mildly surprised that no lights shone about the ship. Bjorn’s surprise increased as the logo of the DCMS appeared on the side of the ship. Hui Mah met them as they neared the embarkation ramp. “Good morning, my fellow warriors.” More surprise as the Aces noted her mechwarrior jumpsuit. “Very good for making it here on time. We will brief in 15 minutes.” With that she turned sharply and strode up the ramp. The Aces looked at one another, not at all sure this was a good idea.
Three other mechwarriors, seemingly in the same estranged state, started up the platform. “G’day mates. Best we follow the little Sheila. Wouldn’t want to miss the party.” And so the Aces met Ezekiel Darter, Trudy Fujita and Clark Fitchner.
Doing the math, Pierre realized that with the Aces 7 members, Hui Mah, and now these three made 11 total. Three lances? The tramping of the company of mechwarriors up the metal ramp was lost among the rumbling of the dropship’s lifting engines.
“Meh! C’est le guerre” he mumbled, a cigarette butt flying from his fingertips towards the coiled dragon logo, but never quite making it.