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Mad Dog Irish

Posted on Sat Apr 11th, 2020 @ 2:15am by Comm Tech Wulf Edevane & Pilot Allegra Jennings & Commanding Officer Mickey Serendipity & Medical Officer Alex Garcia & Executive Officer Kenneth McTigue & Passenger Kol Wescott-Fitzgerald
Edited on on Sat May 2nd, 2020 @ 11:32am

Mission: Port In A Storm
Location: Lower Metronome, Vallis Marineris, MCR
Timeline: After 'Parachutes?' and 'Chain Of Command'

The tram car the crew were in was spacious, mostly because it was empty. A few blue-collar workers were at the back, huddled around a terminal watching something with rapt attention. Mickey glanced up at the news ticker that ran along with the ceiling: UNN DENIED PHEOBE STATION AS MCRN SCUTTLE MOON.

Taking his own terminal form his pocket he flicked to the local Mars affiliate feed for his subscribed news service, keying up the volume just enough for the others to hear.

++ "...-peating our breaking headline. Sources from within MCRN Head Quarters at Olympus Mons have confirmed that the MCRN Scirocco has destroyed the Saturnian moon of Phoebe. A press release from Olympus Mons has confirmed that the one time MCR/Corporate science station on Phoebe was unmanned, and no MCRN service personnel were injured in the mission. This action was taken to prevent a UNN boarding team from breaking the L5 Accords. Congressional Republic Spokesperson Ransom commented on the missions as 'Yet more proof that the MCR is ready, willing, and able to defend all of its Outer Planet Installation from any aggression from any who test our resolve. And this does not change our ongoing redeployment plans of our Outer Planet Fleet back to their stations in the Jovian and Saturnian lunar systems.'. Comment from Earth has not been forthcoming at this time." ++

"Well don't that make the Cold War a little warner," Mickey breathed as he closed up the terminal and eyed the crew. "Doesn't change anything. Plan remains the same. We're meeting with a pair of 'respected businessmen' to broker a deal for credits upfront for cargo shipped to wherever the hell it needs shipping. Let's just focus on that."

"Tram arriving at Lower Metronome, Environmental Processing Sector 4. Please ensure all personal effects are collected before leaving the tram. Thank you for using Metronome Municipal Transit.""

The brakes began to hum loudly as the conveyance started to slow down within the vacuum tunnel.

"And please remember that this is not Ceres Station or Vesta, Martian Police carry guns with a little more pop than Star Helix and Alubard Securities," Mickey finished as the tram stopped, mated with its airlock, and the doors open to reveal another tram station as worn down as any other blue-collar working area. "Let's not give the nice MPD any over time today."

Having grown up on Mars, Alex knew quite well how true what Mickey was saying was. He fully intended to follow his advice to the letter, especially with his particular status in the eyes of the MCRN. There wasn't any guarantee that it would be an issue, but he damn sure didn't want to find out. "Understood, sir," he replied as he began to exit the tram to wait for the rest of them.

"And new rule for you, no 'Yes, Sir's. Mickey will do, the sort of people we're about to meet might jump to a conclusion that your fine Republic paid for training is for the Police not the Navy," the Tross's CO said as he stepped out, leading the way into the small platform and vending pagoda that would fleece the new shift arriving and leaving.

"Ah, sorry about that, Mickey" Alex replied. He hadn't even given that a thought, so he was glad Mickey had pointed it out. It was going to be a huge adjustment, and he really should have already considered it.

A new holo coil was playing in the corner of the tram station, a pillar of fog holographics depicting Saturn at the bottom with 'NAVY BLASTS MOON!' in an eye-catching font.

"Couldn't wait like, a day? Two?" Mickey muttered under his breath.

Saturn had 82 moons, and the one mentioned in the story was only a little one, but it didn't stop the feeling of nausea creeping through Wulf's gut as he saw the headline swirl prettily. He exhaled in a rush and made frowny face.

Trawling in the party's wake, the tech was vaguely aware of Mickey and Alex exchanging words, but he kept his gaze outward, scanning the tram station around them briefly to then let it rest back on the holographic. The image made the previously spoken words all the more real.

"They just blew up a whole moon?" Wulf asked no one in particular, voice small. "There's gonna be a war now, right?"

"As you said, Saturn's got a lot of moons. The Saturnian Confederacy will throw up a stink, but given their little co-operative has maybe 15 obsolete UNN and MCRN destroyers in its defence force it'll amount to indignation by email. We know why Phoebe was blown up, Mars did the system a favour," Mickey commented. But in the back of his head a phrase kept replaying itself; Tit for tat.

Wulf shrugged, because he didn't disagree. But it still felt like Saturn had been robbed. "Just cos there's lots doesn't mean people are gonna think it's okay," he muttered. But politics wasn't his real concern. "Why are they destroying stuff all the time now? The Cant... Eros..."

The group came to a door marked 'ATMOS SAMP #4'. The door itself was nondescript in the dank, slightly humid air of the industrial sector. What really made it pop out of the woodwork were the pair of no neck bruisers casually standing to either side casually not putting their hands casually closer to the poorly concealed holsters. They were very casual, almost to the point of being liquid relaxation.

"You're expected," said Goon 1 in a voice that, if bottled and sold during MArch, would have glowed green.

"No pass code? No banter and pat down?" Mickey asked.

"The boss say's fella in a fine white jacket like yours will come along with a crew, ta open up and make the way. Not for me or mine here to stay in the way of such instruction," Goon 1 said. "Course, there's enough gun hands on t'other side to make you regret using them fine pieces you've got stowed about your personages. Unless of course some of you want the rub down, in which case we can be obliging."

Ken shook his head at the brogue so thick it could be used as airfilters. "Let's get inside." Ken stepped in front of Mickey, opened the door, and stepped through it first. It took a quick moment to adjust to the dimness of the room, and seeing at least half a dozen moor goons spread around the place.

Mickey followed in, along with presumably everyone else. He eyed mostly handguns in the assortment of street-level enforcers on display, a few knives and shivs with pretensions above their station. The Cydonia Mafia had grown up around a kernel of hardline nationalists and criminal entrepreneurs from a tiny island somewhere on Earth's Northern Hemisphere. A history of loyalty, family, plaza bombings and a trade in almost every type of contraband new or old. And on Mars, one of the largest families was the McCulluaghs.

And in the centre of it were two men, one slightly older than the other, but still of a contemporary nature as the crew of the Tross. The brother's Terry & Jerry McCulluagh.

Somewhere in the middle of the pack as they entered the room, Wulf let his gaze openly wander the room from his perceived position of safety amongst found family. He had history with the McCulluaghs, and not the kind of backstory that brought hugs or offers of free drinks. Yet, with a confidence stolen from his comrades about him, Wulf locked eyes with Jerry and awkwardly offered up a forced, friendly smile.

Jerry had the looks of a born, dyed in the wool killer. Military-style buzz cut, the suit jacket set he was wearing looked tailored but then again so did a costume made for a dachshund. He didn't look comfortable in the suit, his eyes a little too wide, the whites evident rimming the pupils. To anyone who didn't know the brutal enforcer of the McCullagh family, you would think he was a junkie: MDMA, Pixie Styx, tetrameth and all the other psychopharmaceuticals of the rainbow. In truth, it was the bi-product of a highly illegal bio-mod that wired into his brain stem released a lab tailored growth hormone/adrenaline mix. Meaning he would hit harder, push through pain, becoming a suit of living power armour in his boxer briefs.

The downside being, tied into the brains flight/fight autopilot, meant the implant was constantly slightly 'on' due to the less than peaceful lifestyle he led. Which made Jerry the man with a temper literally on a hairs trigger.

Terry, on the other hand, was a contrast as start as night today. Older by a few years, with distinguished grey streaks rising from the temples of his carefully combed hair, he was tailored for style. Earth cotton, Martian bauxite cufflinks, and a wrist chronometer made with Belt titanium. Terry was the brains of the operation, the man of business, schooled expensively, but just as ruthless as his brother. He merely showed his sadistic streak in a smile and a mind as sharp as a razor.

Terry placed a hand on his brother's shoulder, restraining him slightly as Jerry took a step towards the Tross crew. Though the brute's attention was divided between Ken's forward step, and seeing Wulf again.

"Lot of people here to listen to folk talk business," Mickey said into a suddenly taut silence. Jerry was still looking at Wulf and Ken, his twitchy pupils dancing back and forth. Terry merely kept his hand on his brother's shoulder and smiled at Mickey.

"You brought your entire crew, it seemed only reasonable to negate that advantage if you had sought. To treat on an even field, as it were," Terry said. His voice was cultured, with the sort of neutral accent best described as 'Rich'. "After all, you're the ones who wanted the meeting. And my people in the docks have laid out the fact that your ship is in dock with tanks as empty as the void. It would seem less about talking business and more begging charity."

"And yet, here we are. Talking with you, grey marketer to the entire MCR or thereabout. Though if you think the Chinese Triad's down in Dollfus Crater could do us better, I'd bow to your opinion," Mickey commented.

"Wouldn't be the first time you lot worked for the Crater Critters," Jerry grumbled. His accent was thick, homespun, as green as the goons out at the doors. The education for the younger brother had not been as extensive, or it had been but years of artificial chemical abuse had rounded the IQ points down into the high tens. "McCullaughs are all about loyalty Mickey, something your crew don't know shit about."

Allegra snorted. Clearly things were all about loyalty until it actually came right down to being loyal and then those that preached it usually were the first to hightail it out.

Ken's teeth nearly creaked, so hard was he biting down his retorts. At the back of the group, Ken felt his neck itch with the fact that he had people standing behind him that were tooled up.

"Maybe the McCullaugh men are loyal," Wulf muttered, "but the women... not so much."

"Keep your mouth shut, Wulf." Ken hissed quietly. "I'm not planning on dying here because you're trying to be funny."

Alex felt the tension in the room mounting and continued to hang back, making sure he kept an eye on as many of the people around him at all times. Situational awareness was one of those things drilled into you from Bootcamp onwards, and a lesson he'd never forgotten. He heard what Wulf said, and what Ken replied, and felt a healthy jolt of anxiety start flowing through him. He'd never had any direct contact with the McCullough family, but he'd certainly heard of them, and there was very little chance they'd make it out alive if things went downhill in this small of a room, with this many people.

"Now now, no need for all that," Terry said, taking a step closer so he could put a restraining hand on Jerry's shoulder. It was a light touch, a hint of pressure, but it might as well have been a leash being pulled back on a rabid dog. The smarter brother looked to Mickey. "We all know each other's bonafides, so there's no need for posturing. It just so happens I do have a cargo that needs express delivery to Rhea, the 5th moon of Saturn. I can provide fuel and air for the trip, and provide the various fee's needed to process you through the Saturnian Confederacy's tinpot navy."

"Whats the cargo?" Mickey asked.

"For a man needing the credits, you are asking more than your fair share of questions. But for your information small arms, hand weapons, nothing crew-served or strictly prohibited. Highly controlled perhaps, but nothing you could start a war with. 12'000 kilo's, back into twelve crates marked as medical supplies with all the various foils and seals needed to get them through customs," Terry continued with a wave of a hand. "In truth, they have already been cleared, but the haulier I had hired on to do the job met with an accident involving a poker debt to the Golden Boa and an industrial airlock. I would be doing you a favour of providing the work and fee, you would be doing me a favour by expediting the process of the transaction. My clients on Rhea are eager for their delivery."

"Show some respect and gratitude," Jerry grumbled.

"Got nothing but, mind if I take a moment to discuss this with my crew?" Mickey ask.

"You're the captain of your ship, you do as you might like," Terry smiled, and took his terminal from his pocket. "Have your chat whilst I make a call."

Mickey turned around, and stepped towards his crew, ushering them in close.

"Thoughts, opinions, and for the love of Patchamama's mylar coated tits Wulf, use your inside voice," Mickey said quietly.

Wulf had the decency to look a little sheepish as he spoke. "Sorry, Mickey," he murmured, and he looked up to guiltily meet the taller man's gaze. A brief pause and while the tech didn't entirely expect to be listened to seriously, he opted to share his - now whispered - opinion. "I don't like it, running guns towards Saturn just after Phoebe... But if you're gonna do it, I'll clear the ways as best I can, boss." A short, sharp sigh. "I'm not buying the whole 'it's already cleared' story."

"Let's take the contract. We'll get some reaction mass, fresh air, and water out of it. Plus it'll give us the credits to get some representation to get free some more credits. And, from Rhea we can get more work than we'll get from Mars. As the resident Earther, I'm getting rather uncomfortable being this close to the Red Dot when there is a chance of a war."

"I'm for it," Mickey said, and looked at Kol, Alex and Allegra. "Three out of three, what say you?"

Kol's expression was uneasy. For years he'd spent his time actively working towards shutting deals like this down. But what could he do? He couldn't depart from the crew and wait for the next Transport to Earth just as much as he knew Mickey would never endanger the crew by dropping him off. His options were limited and as long as he remained a guest of the Tross' crew he'd cast his vote with Mickey and trust that Captain could keep them safe. "Count me in, Mickey," he flatly. He might not have liked it but he'd do the best he could.

"What say our two Martians?" Mickey asked, now at the former MCRN troopers.

Alex looked at the people around him one last time before speaking and then chose his words very carefully. "I'd be willing to bet most of your crew would rather I not have a say in this, but since you asked, here's my thoughts. There are about a million ways this could go wrong. I'm not going to sugar-coat that. But, the payoff's pretty damn good if we pull it off. I say let's go for it," he said, giving Mickey a level gaze.

"Five to one, want to make it unanimous Allegra?"

Her gaze shifted from each of them as the answered, settling on the the toes of her boots when it came down to her vote. This just didn't feel right. None of it. Not anything that had happened since they'd stepped off the 'Tross on Eros and certainly not since they'd strolled through the door behind them. Allegra let our a sigh, the movement hitching her shoulders in slight motion, "Don't matter since I seem to be outnumbered. But this ain't feelin' right, Mick."

"I think we left feeling right at the docking collar the moment we hitched up at Eros. This is just 'keep us flyin' money," Mickey muttered. He nodded and turned around to see Terry McCullagh put his terminal back in his pocket.

"All is agreeable I take it?"

"It is. We'll take the job," Mickey said.

"Splendid," Terry said with a mirthless smile. "I'll message my man on High Elysium to begin readying the cargo mechs then. I'll have them supply you with the flight plan, at least in regards to destination and contact information of the men and women who are expecting the shipment. So good to be working with professionals who understand the need to be on time."

He held up a finger. He tapped his terminal screen.

"Speaking of which, as we are working on something of a time table allow me to provide you the small courtesy of providing you a lift back into orbit," Terry said. "You have tickets on the next heavy-lift shuttle heading up to High Elysium. So much faster than the space elevator. You should have reaction mass and stowed cargo by the time the docking clamps catch."

"That's mighty generous," Mickey said agreeably.

"Merely expedient," Terry said, and stepped closer. "The longer you're on Mars, the more likely I am to lose track of my brother's ire and for you to be hiring a new comm tech. Getting you out of Mars space is just good business. Enjoy Saturn, I hear the rings are beautiful. Now leave."

 

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