Concrete Dragons Ė Beggars Canít Be Choosers

 

Leftenant Brian Hasek slowly made the round of the recruiting halls one last time, looking for any sign of a job for his unit, the Concrete Dragons. In a way, he thought, it was a blessing that his unit couldn't afford an agent; the anticipation would be killing him if he wasn't doing this himself. He had spent more money than he would have liked from his unit's very shallow pockets, to at least get its name up on the monitors at Galatea, but the investment had yet to be returned.

The problem is, Brian thought, nobody wants to hire a lance of lowly Urbanmechs that barely even have transport. The Concrete Dragons didn't even have a real Mech-carrier dropship; they rode in the cargo bay of a rusty old Buccaneer, along with the cheap flatbed truck used by their small tech team, and the broken fifth Urbanmech that was their main source of spare parts.

Brian returned to the small cubicle "office" he had rented, pausing to look at the hastily-created badge he had put up on the wall. A dragon's claw, crushing a building. Well, it was better than nothing. And maybe, if ever anyone wants us, they'll know where to find us, he thought. He sat back down at the desk, his hand on his chin, and hopelessly watched the scroll go by on his small monitor.

If nothing else, Brian thought, we DO have spare cargo space. Maybe we can make some money hauling goods on the side...

----

Elsewhere on Galatea, Elder Earl Flatt was looking through the list of units for hire, and sadly shaking his gray-haired head. All the units he had tried either wanted more than his small world could afford, or else they weren't willing to take a pirate-defense job in the Periphery. His tiny home of Renfro couldn't take much more of the penny-ante raids; they needed SOMETHING to put up a decisive fight, and so he had come to Galatea to find help. If he could.

The old man sadly made his way down a list of small units, knowing that he was bottom-feeding for help. He had learned very quickly that there was no point in even asking any Mech unit bigger than a company. He might have better luck with conventional units, he supposed, but nothing intimidated like Mechs, and Earl was determined to find them if he could. Besides, his own world already had a small infantry militia...they just needed help with those dinged pirate Mechs was all.

Finally, down near the bottom of the list, he came to a unit that he had overlooked at first. The Concrete Dragons. A Mech lance, with their own dropship. "Very flexible on terms and location," it said, and gave an office number nearby.

What the hell, Earl thought. They're probably only one grade above pirates themselves, but no harm in trying. Especially since he was running out of other options. Earl scribbled down the office number, picked up his floppy hat, and went looking for the Concrete Dragons.

----

Brian jerked awake as a knock came on the cubicle wall. He had drifted off while watching the scroll of jobs for hire. "Yes! Hello." He looked up at the old man standing there, hat in hand. A civilian. Well, the Five Houses weren't the only people who hired mercs, he thought, and right now, he and his unit couldn't afford to be picky. "Sorry, I've not been sleeping well the last few days. Come in." He gestured the man to the one other seat in the spartan little office.

"Howdy." Earl sat down, looking at the officer carefully, trying to assess him. Well, he didn't LOOK like a pirate. That was definitely a uniform. Davion, if he wasn't mistaken, though the sunburst had been replaced by the badge that he had seen outside. "I saw yer unit fer hire'n thought I'd stop by with some questions."

"Certainly!" Brian was enthused; this might actually be a serious offer, the first his unit had gotten. He poured a cup of coffee from a thermos, and slid it across the desk to his guest. "Sorry for the lack of pomp and circumstance, but we're not exactly Wolf's Dragoons here. We are willing, though. Ask away."

Three hours of back and forth followed. Brian talked about his own past, as a minor scion of the Hasek family who had fallen out of family politics, and out of the Capellan March Militia. He talked about his unit, a small band of disgruntled soldiers from the Capellan March; their equipment wasn't fancy, but they did have experience from the Fourth Succession War, and were willing and reliable. For his part, Earl talked about his homeworld, and the pirate problem they were having. He talked about Renfro's tiny militia, and how they just needed help to run the bastards off for good.

Between the two men, they worked out a contract. No negotiators were needed...indeed, neither side could afford one. The two men simply talked it out, a basic two-year retainer contract. The mercs would be under militia command, fighting when needed, training with the militia in their off time. Full salvage rights to pirate Mechs made up for Renfro's lack of high-tech support. The mercs would hitch a ride to Renfro aboard a trader's jumpship. The money wasn't great, but it was fair.

In the end, Renfro had its defenders, and the Concrete Dragons had a job. It wasn't much, but it was something. It was a start.

Because after all, beggars can't be choosers.