Disclaimer: I do not own Battletech/Mechwarrior.

A/N: I'm going to be honest. This is nothing more than me testing the waters of a fandom that isn't Fairy Tail, GOT, or Warframe. Whether or not this story becomes something depends on the reception it gets.

I have only seen one game of the tabletop and most of my Battletech knowledge comes from wikis and the video game. In fact, the plot of this fic is base on the latest video game and I mainly write Fairy Tail fanfics. Also, know that this is going to be a slight AU, like Ostergaard actually mech duel the main character and whatnot.

Also, remember this take place in the year 3029.

Update Jun 30, 2019: So I brought the official Battletech book for House Arano: The Aurigan Coalition and I have to say there is a lot of stuff that in here that changes everything. But seeing how I have already started I have decided that I'm going to keep going with what I have while using the book to change a couple of things.

Feedback would be greatly appreciated.

One last thing: Those side missions in the game where you take on random foes. It's just going to be the Argo's crew hitting Directorate targets along with the Taurian once they enter the field.

An Offering to the Dragon

A glorious victory celebration forever ruined by the actions of a young man, second in line for the household throne. Before him stands an enraged father, a fuming brother, a sadden mother, and a crying sister.

"Begone from my sight and never return", the father said.

"The young man turns around without a second thought and quietly leaves the main hall, never looking back.

The man opens his eyes and stares out across the capital at all the lights that illuminated the night's sky.

"Haven't thought about that day in years", he says as he took in the sound of cheering and jubilant partying that was going on underneath the Taurian's fortress walls. The entire planet of Coromodir Six was celebrating the coronation of Kamea Arano and the end of the Aurigan Civil war. For four years the forces of the Arano Restoration and The Aurigan Directorate clash until finally, on the very grounds of Coromodir itself, the Restoration claim a bloody but final victory.

"Four years of war", Nico Strong thought as he scratches the hairs on his chin, "Seem like only yesterday we fought Grim Sybil and her pirate crew to retrieve the Argo".

Speaking of the very ship that carried him and the crew of his mercenary group "The Dragon Raiders" across space Nico Strong aka Dragon, turns his head to the stars, watching as another shuttlecraft, bearing his company's log, the face of a fierce green dragon, ascended into the atmosphere, where the Argo was currently drifting.

"The ship is all ours, no strings attach", Nico whistle, remembering back to when Kamea, as a show of thanks to the mercenaries who won her her throne back, gave the Argo over to them along with the Atlas II along with keeping the Highlander that she allowed him to use during the war. She even gave them a second Leopard.

As a final thank you, she let them stay as her welcome guests until after the coronation, all expenses paid. Truth be told, Kamea pull Nico aside and told him that while she was extremely grateful for him and his crew's assistance, she was also doing this to make sure a powerful military strike force was on standby near the capital should some remnants of her uncle's forces come out of hiding and launch an attack before, or worse, during her coronation. Nico found himself agreeing with her tactful mind but chose only to tell the senior staff of the Raiders about this so that the majority of the crew could enjoy their well-earn vacation to the fullest.

Senior Staff of The Dragon Raiders/Argo:

XO: Darius

Navigator: Surime

Head Mechtech: Yang

Chief Engineer: Farah

Head Medtech: Qartio

1st Lance Captain: Behemoth

2nd Lance Captain: Dekker

3rd Lance Captain: Glitch

4th Lance Captain: Medusa

That was three days ago and the crowning of Kamea to the status of High Lady would be going down in another three. But alas, while the time off was greatly appreciated, Nico figure it was about time they move on back to the Rimward Frontier looking for work once everything was done. If there was one thing Nico knew beside Mech fighting, it was when he had overstayed his welcome.

"Guess I'll send a message along saying we're leaving the day after the coronation.", he tells himself before his ears pick up the sound of footsteps behind him. Despite the war being over, Nico was still on his toes about any possible House Espinosa sympathizers that had yet to be rooted out. So when he turns to face the figure coming up behind him he had one hand on the handle of the sidearm at his waist. But his precaution proves all for not as it was none other than Lord Alexander Madeira of House Madeira standing there behind him. The right hand of soon to be High Lady Kamea arches an eyebrow as he spots Nico's hand on his gun.

"Were...you expecting company?", Alexander asks causing Nico to shake his head.

"Nah", he chuckles, "Just still a little jumpy, that's all."

Alexander nods in agreement, "I can not blame you. Even now I find myself jumping at shadows. No doubt a side effect of being on the run with Lady Kamea for years", as Nico notices him suddenly doing a thousand-yard stare, no doubt remembering back to those dark times.

Not wanting to ruin the evening with bad memories, Nico does a loud cough to get the youngest son of House Madeira's attention.

"Ahem!"

Alexander snaps out of his trance and once again focuses on Nico.

"I hardly doubt you came up here to talk about the past", Nico states.

Alexander cracks a smile, "You would be correct, Nico. I am actually here to pass along a message from Lady Kamea."

Nico throws Alexander a baffling look and for good reason. In days past, Kamea had no problems calling or even coming to Nico herself to let him know about something going on whether it be a new mission or just information on the war's progress.

"She will be High Lady of the Reach soon. Might look bad on her to be seen socializing with a mere mercenary personally. Though I'm still surprised she allow me to come right into the castle", he thought, "What's she want?"

"She would like you to meet her tomorrow in her stateroom in the morning if that is possible", Alexander replies.

Nico thinks for a moment. He had to pass along the order to Darius to have everyone being making preparations to ship off but other than wanting to run a few battle simulations he really had nothing going on in the morning. Besides the sims could be push until the afternoon.

"Nah, I'm free. Tell her I'll be there", he answers and Alexander nods his head in satisfaction.

"Excellent, now if you will excuse me, my wife and son are waiting for me at my family's capital estate", as he makes an attempt to leave.

"Have a good nigh-", Nico stops in mid-sentence as he snaps his neck to Alexander, "Who's waiting for you?"

"My wife and son", Alexander repeats.

"You're married and have a kid?", Nico said.

Alexander looks at the mechwarrior funny, "Well yeah, we were engaged six months before the coup and got secretly married not long after we librated Guldra and my son was born two weeks before the final assault on the capital, while I was being held by Victoria. Is that a problem?"

Nico opens and closes his mouth several times before he could form a coherent sentence, "I….always thought you and Kamea were a thing. I mean, you two were always together."

Several moments of silence pass between the two men, near-identical in age yet so very different in lifestyles. Then without warning…

"Bhahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!", echoes throughout the night as Alexander was suddenly bent over with his hands on his knees, his laughter being carried throughout the fortress by the walls and the wind, "You really thought that?"

Nico founds himself slightly tick off at the prospect of someone laughing at his expense, "EVERYONE THOUGHT THAT!"

Alexander's laughter somehow got louder as tears started falling from his eyes, "Sorry! This is -! This is too funny!"

This plays out for a full minute before….

"Are you quite done yet?", Nico sneers only for Alexander to continue chuckling for a few more moments before finally stopping.

"Sorry...sorry. Now that I think about it, I can see how people could make that assumption about me and the High Lady. We are always seen together and we have known each other since we were kids", Alexander explains as he straightens up, "Nevertheless, we are friends, great friends, but nothing more. If I may be so bold, I would say we are more like brother and sister."

"Hmph", was all Nico said as he started to walk to the shuttles to make his way back to the Argo, "I'll see Kamea in the morning."

"Have a good night, Nico", Alexander says only to received a handwave in reply.

"For tomorrow is going to be an interesting day indeed", Alexander whispers to himself as a small smile forms, "For come the morning, you, my friend might well be making history."

The Next Morning

Nico took a good hard look in the mirror at himself. With his uncombed black hair that ran down to his neck and his chocolate eyes that match perfectly with his dark skin he never really consider himself ugly. At least, that was what most of his one night stands told him in the past years. But with the tattoo of the green dragon that circled around his right eye along with the long scar that started from the top of the left side of his forehead and went over his left eye all the way down to his nose, he wasn't exactly a supermodel either.

"Perhaps I should clean myself up a bit", he says to himself as he examines the hairs on his chin, "I am meeting "Lady" Kamea after all."

He thinks on this notion for just a second before shaking his head, "Nah, I'm good", as he makes his way to the Argo's landing bay. Two hours later, he is taking in the features of the hallways of the Royal Palace which was big enough that one could easily fit a light mech inside of them, much different than the cramp hallways of the Argo that Nico was used to. Velvet red carpet covered every inch of the floors and large portraits of House Arano bloodline adore the walls. At both ends of every hallway, a pair of House Arano Royal Guards were posted, standing at attention with their rifles at their shoulders. He walks by them like he had been during the past few days, with both of his hands in his pockets and whistling a tune.

But then something strange happens as he turns the corner in front of the guards…

They saluted.

Nico was sure that there wasn't anyone behind him so that could only imply that they were saluting him.

This action stops Nico in his track and he turns his head to stare at them.

"Um...is something wrong?", he asks only to received a shout in return.

"Sir, nothing is wrong, sir! All conditions are normal!", the pair yell in unison before dropping their salute. Nico cleans the inside of his ears after the echoing of the screams dies down.

"No...I meant why are you saluting me? I'm not part of the Aurigan military", Nico states remembering how the average military soldier feels about mercenaries and it wasn't a high opinion.

The man to his right pops another salute, "Sir, as of 0400 this morning, Lady Kamea has released all information to the public regarding The Dragon's Raiders mercenary company and their contributions to the Arano Restoration during the war! We are merely showing our respect to you, sir!"

Nico took a double-take at this revelation, "She what?",

"Yes, sir!", shouts the guard to the left, "She personally states that the war would have been lost without you!"

Nico stares at the two men for a moment, "Why would she do something like this? I'm a merc, I'm in it for the money, not the glory." He then returns his attention back to the guards, "Do either you know where I can find a data-slate?"

Minutes later, Nico is still walking through the hall while reading the information on his newly acquire data-slate. Everything was release by Kamea. Everything from Nico's role in defending her on the day her uncle and cousin betrayed her to the battle against Victoria in the arena, even him solo dueling Samuel Ostergaard.

"They're calling me the "Dragon of the Reach", Nico shook his head at the absurd nickname that the newspapers have given him, "Damn, that sounds corny."

What was even more silly was how the newspapers had spun about that certain battle in the arena that day. It said that Nico stood with upmost loyalty at Kamea's side in his Highlander mech against Victoria's lance and even took down three mechs while the two women duel each other. They made it sound like that it started out two against four.

In reality, the battle started out with Kamea, himself, Behemoth, and Medusa. But when Glitch and Dekker reported that they were having trouble finishing off Victoria's loyal remnant forces, Nico made the call to send Behemoth and Medusa to aid them while he would hold off the three mechs until they got back. He was lucky that Victoria ordered that no one was to touch Kamea but herself, so that made him the main focus for the other three, and all he had to do was run around, dodging fire. Though that change half-way through their duel when Kamea got the upper-hand and Victoria, already no longer sane, order the rest of her lance to attack the heir of House Arano and that was when Nico showed everyone just how good of a mech-pilot he truly was, though almost at the cost of his Highlander and his life.

"Yang is still sending me messages about how it's going to take three weeks to repair all the damage and the bandages on my arm and legs are starting to irritate me", Nico thought before a smile appears on his face, "Though I can't wait to hear Behemoth and Medusa's complains about how they weren't mentioned at all."

But then a thought cross through his mind, something that was mention in the article. About how he steadfast stood by Kamea's side.

Nico had to admit that during the war things started getting a little hot for him and his crew, especially after the Taurian Concordat enter the war on the Directorate's side. Any sane small-time mercenary company would have kicked rocks and broke the contract he had with Kamea rather than face a power like the Taurians, but for some reason, Nico stayed.

"Well, the pay was good. Looks bad on our reputation if we bail on our first big contract because things got dicey", Nico thought before his thoughts drifted to his crew. Not one member of the Argo opted out, even when things look bad. Nico didn't know whether to chalk that up to personal loyalty to him, the fact the pay was good and constant or because he was fair in his treatment of the crew.

"I guess adding that low-g pool really was a good idea after all", Nico says as he arrives in front of the doors that led into Kamea's stateroom. He glances at the two royal guards and instantly notices that they were more armored and better armed than the ones he has passed along his way here.

"I'm here to see-", he started before the two guards pop to attention and begin to open the doors.

"Hail, Dragon of the Reach! Lady Kamea awaits you!"

Nico merely rolls his eyes as he makes his way inside and the doors close behind him and he found himself glazing at a room that had on both ends shelves of books, though the middle was mostly vacated except for a single wooden desk where Kamea was at going over a large amount of paperwork alongside two of her aides with two royal bodyguards behind her. Even from a distance, Nico could see dark bags under her eyes, indicating a lack of sleep.

"When the last time she got some sleep?", Nico wonders as Kamea and her aides look up from the paperwork to see the new arrival and the next High Lady couldn't help but crack a smile at the way her companion was standing there looking around at the room. Eventually, Nico ends his little sightseeing and turns his attention to her.

"Yo, Kamea, Alexander said you needed to see me. What do you need?", he says with all the tact of Behemoth ramming her mech through a building in an effort to destroy it, (Even though she argues that it was an excellent way to save ammunition).

The four audible gasps behind Kamea and to her sides all but confirmed that she was the only one in the room who appreciated Nico's straightforwardness, having grown used to it over the last four years.

Nico easily heard the gasps as well and notice the shock expressions on the faces on the aides and the guards. Thinking quickly, he made a feeble attempt at a bow before speaking.

"Errr, my presence was...requested? Yeah, requested. My presence was requested by you, my Lady?", he said.

Kamea looks to her aides and her guards, "Leave us", she commanded and after a moment's hesitation, they all comply with the order, walking past Nico with looks of contempt and disgust to which he only smiles in return.

The two share a moment of silence after the doors close, staring at one another for the longest time. Kamea with an emotionless expression plastered on her face while Nico merely stares back her with his own neutral expression.

Without warning, Kamea started snickering and before long it because full-blown laughter that fills the room.

"Hahaha! My presence was requested by you, my Lady?! That was the best you could come up with?! And what kind of bow was that?! You looked like you were doing yoga stretches!", Kamea laughs as Nico rolled his eyes and walked over to her desk.

"That type of criticism is funny coming from you", Nico reminded her as he sat on the desk's edge, "It has been a while since I had to do anything remotely close to that."

He looks over at the stacks of paper behind him and pulls one-off, "Shifting trade routes to Panzyr, huh?", he reads aloud.

"In order to keep the food relief up. Even with the war being over there are still vast swathes of Panzyr's population that are still living on the bare minimum of nourishment", Kamea explains as she calms down, "I have been working on the reconstruction of the Reach ever since the end of the duel at the arena."

"I see", Nico says as he puts the paper back on the stack, "But I doubt you ask me to come here just to tell me how the rebuilding is going."

Kamea takes a breath and pushes a button on the panel to her left and the room darkens and a holo-map appears in the middle of the room, showing the entirety of the Inner Sphere and the Periphery, factions and all.

"What do you see, Nico?", Kamea asks and the mech-pilot instantly draws his attention to the lower center of the map where the Aurigan Coalition was nothing more than a small speck compared to the powers of the Federated Sun and the Terran Hegemony. In fact, the Taurian Concordat was easily four times the size of the Coalition and they weren't even considered a threat to their northern neighbors, House Davion.

"I see Aurigan in a bad spot. You could easily be shallow up by the Concordat, the Confederation, the Free World League, or even the Magistracy should they no longer see you as worth the effort to keep around.", he admitted while showing the tactical prowess that made him such a high-level threat on the battlefield, "Hell, a coalition of the Rimworld Frontier systems could spell trouble, especially while you're in your rebuilding stage."

Kamea nods her head in agreement, "Finally, someone who is not afraid to give me the hard truth. Thank you for that, Nico."

Nico tilts his head back toward Kamea, "Everyone else being disgustingly optimistic?"

"So much that I want to vomit", Kamea replied as she laid back in her chair, "They all say that we are powerful enough to hold our own against any one of the other factions long enough for a truce to be formatted. Some of the more bolder ones think we can fight them to a standstill."

Nico shakes his head, "Ignorance is bliss. I willing to bet any one of them can easily pack up their entire house and flee to another faction the minute things start going badly for them."

"No doubt", the High Lady of the Reach agrees as she stands up and walks over to the holo-map, pointing her finger at the northern border, more specifically the Zangul system, "During the war, I have received reports of a number of Capellan lances operating here. It has mostly been attacks on our patrols and our outposts in the area. The confederation denies involvement and says that it must be deserters or pirates bearing their insignia."

Nico looks at the map, rationalize these attacks, "Pirates and deserters, really?"

Kamea gives a dark smile, "I thought the same thing."

"So let's says that it's not "pirates" or whatnot? Prelude to invasion? Probing your defenses for weakness?"

Kamea nods, "It would seem so. We have never had an official problem with them before but it seems like the civil war has left us in a weakened state and it is too good of an opportunity for them to pass up. Taking over the Reach would put them in a good position to take the Concordat plus with the great positioning and additional resources they could reclaim lost territory from House Davion."

Nico feels an awkward feeling swelling up in his chest, "So what happens next?"

Kamea takes a deep breath and exhales slowly, "You say it like it is the Reach's only problem", as she then directs her attention to the eastern border, "Taurian forces have been launching small raids into the Artru systems. Protector Calderon insists that these are rogue elements of Ostergaard's command but even if they are, he does not seem to be in too much of a hurry to bring them in."

Nico taps his chin in thought, "So you think Taurain is trying to pull the same trick that the Capellan Confederation is trying to pull? Using the coalition as a staging area for a much bigger conflict while letting these "rogue elements" do all the work for them and test your defenses?"

"Yes, and how I respond to these threats could mean the difference between war and peace. The attacking forces are small, no doubt basically recon elements but if I send too large of a force I could be seen as overreacting and they may use the opportunity to mobilize a larger force and wipe out a chunk Aurigan's military in one fell swoop. If I send too small of a force, they will see it as me not taking the threat seriously enough and mobilize anyway to make a devastating first strike", Kamea tells Nico, "What I need is a response that is not too large but at the same time not too small."

Kamea then turns her attention toward Nico who was still sitting at the desk. The MechWarrior for hire shakes his head as he stood up from the desk.

"Okay, Kamea, let's get one thing straight. You dissolve our contract on the day your uncle surrounded", he started.

"I did", Kamea answered as she already had a feeling where the conversation was now headed.

"And I came here today as a friend seeing how much we been through together these past four years and because the generosity you have shown me and my crew in recent days" Nico went on, "Hell, the fact that we're still here even though you aren't paying us anymore says a lot."

"And I greatly appreciated that, Nico. Truly I do."

"So let's cut to the chase and be done with these silly games. Why are you telling me all of this? Why are you telling me something that would be considered top-secret to all but the highest brass in your military?", Nico asks as he took a step closer to the ruler of the Reach.

"Tell me, Nico, what are your plans once you leave the Reach? What will you and the Dragon Raiders do next?", Kamea asks as she clasps her hands together, causing the man to slightly growl.

"Did you not just hear me when I said no more games?"

"Please answer the question", Kamea says.

Nico scratches his head for a moment, trying to find the best way to word the decision he came to last night, "We're heading to the Rim Frontier and pick up any jobs that come along."

"I see", Kamea says as she nods, "And then what?"

"What do you mean?"

"For the size of your company, you are remarkably well-off money-wise, no doubt thanks to you and Darius shrew management and selling the scraps from all of the Directorate and Concordat's mechs", Kamea started, "But you have to realize that even with a crew like yours and the Argo, you are still considered, for lack of a better word, small-fry compare to the major mercenaries group in the Inner Sphere like the Big Mac or the Eridani Light Horse."

Nico, regrettably, had no choice but to agree with her on that. While the Dragon Raiders were no doubt some of the top dogs in the Rimward Frontier, they were nothing more than a big fish in a small pond compared to the some of the other mercenary groups throughout human space. A few of these mercs were large enough to overwhelm individual planets' militaries.

"It is said that forty percent of newly form mercenary companies are destroyed or dissolve within six months of their forming. Sixty percent of those that make it past this point meet a similar fate within a year", Kamea states as she paced back and forth in front of Nico, "While you and the raiders are fortunate enough to make it past this milestone, I fear it is only a matter of time before you hit a wall."

"I'll take my chances", Nico tells her.

"Oh?", Kamea raises an eyebrow, "And how long before the jobs of the Rimworld can no longer support you or worse, a bigger merc company moves into the frontier and realizes it doesn't like competition?"

"We took on the Taurian Concordat just fine", Nico reminded her.

"With respect to you and your crew fighting ability, we would have been in trouble if we had face the full might of the Taurian", Kamea counters, "And let us not forget, despite Ostergaard going rogue, he was still considered a hero of the Taurian military with his fights with the Federated Suns and you no doubt killing him has put a bullseye on your head if only to preserve Taurian's pride."

"As I said, I'll take my chances", Nico said as he started to walk to the door, only to get stopped by Kamea stepping in front of him.

"I have an offer for you, Nico. One I think you and your crew will greatly appreciate", Kamea says but Nico merely sidesteps her and keeps heading for the door.

"It's time that I and the Raiders moved on, Kamea. There's not much profit in peacetime anyway. Once you're crown the High Lady, we're gone", he tells her.

Kamea once again appears in front of Nico, proving that she was faster than she looked.

"At least hear me out", Kamea all but beg.

"Listen, you already know how we feel about garrison duty, so if that's your offer for an extended contract, it's not going to work", Nico tells her as he places his hands on her shoulders and moves her to the side, "Now if things get hot again, you'll know who to call", as he heads once more to the door."

"I am offering you and The Dragon Raiders a position in the Aurigan Military", Kamea said softly.

...

...

Nico's foot was still hovering in mid-air, seconds after Kamea made her bold announcement. Then he slowly turns around on one leg to look back at the woman who was standing there with the same emotionless face she had on when he first entered.

"If this is your idea of a joke it's not very funny", the ace mech-warrior says as he puts his foot down only to get a head-shake from the head of House Arano in return.

"No jokes,", she assures him, "The Aurigan Coalition needs someone of your talent in these dark times along with your company. I will be honest with you, the military is in complete shambles after the civil war. A good number of the experienced officers supported Victoria and my uncle, thus there is no way I can fully trust them. Executions and imprisonment are on there way for the more senior ones while the junior officers are getting reassign to lowly positions and kept a hard-eye on."

Nico found himself sympathizing with Kamea but that was it.

"And if I was to mass my forces at one end of Aurigan Reach to deal with either one of these threats, the rest would be completely defenseless. We are too spread out and it's going to take months, if not years, to get recruitment levels back up to what they were before the coup and that is not even counting our mech numbers", she ended.

Before Nico could reply there was a knock at the door. Moments later, Alexander peeks his head in.

"Sorry about being late. I had to finish going over the paperwork for...", as he senses the mood in the room, "Oh, I have a feeling you two are already discussing things."

"Yes, we are, Alexander. Do come in", Kamea says and Alexander does just that.

"You're in on this too, aren't ya?", Nico asks Kamea's Head Adviser.

Alexander gives a nervous chuckle, "Afraid I am, we have been talking about it ever since the war ended. But to be fair, you and The Dragon Raiders are as of right now, the most flexible combat unit in the Coalition and contain the most experience mechwarriors in the Reach."

Nico lets off a dry laugh, "Bullshit! What about Raynard, Kanaloa, and Charybois?", he counted on his fingers, "Those guys got you out of the scrap on Artru, didn't they? They're your best pilots in the Reach right there!"

It was Kamea's turn to laugh now, "Ha, I applaud you for your humbleness, Nico. But you seem to be forgetting that while those three got me to the LZ, it was you and the others that circle around the Taurian rear from behind the SLDF bunker and took them by surprise, tying up their main forces and only leaving us to deal with the vanguard."

Nico crosses his arms, "I didn't forget. I just didn't mention it because it was not like we put a dent in their numbers or anything, just took potshots and missile volleys them until you were able to get away and then Sumire came and pick us up after she dropped you guys off at the Argo."

"Whatever you say, Nico", Alexander shrugs, "Moving on though, I think it is a wonderful offer and you should jump on it. I mean, you never heard of a mercenary company getting integrated into the actual military before. Individual mercenaries, yeah, but not this. The closest thing to that is company signing on constantly with the same faction, sometimes for centuries."

"Well that's fine and dandy for them, now ain't it?", Nico comments.

"Why are you so against this proposal, Nico?", Kamea wondered, "During the war, I would assign you near-suicidal tasks and you would do it without hesitation."

"I have my own personal reason but one of them is because I have never been good with taking orders from someone who wasn't willing to get their own hands dirty. If the pay was high enough, I would swallow my pride and deal with it but now you are trying to get me to agree to an offer that will have me taking orders from some puff up general on a not-that-great of a paycheck", he explains.

"That will not be the case. You and your men will be taking orders from me and me alone,", Kamea told him, "In fact, you will be semi-independent."

Nico looks Kamea directly in her eyes, "Semi-independent?"

"Listen, Nico. Take this offer and you and your crew will basically form the core of Aurigan revive special forces due to your size", Alexander explained, "Lady Kamea will give you an assignment and from there on how you handle the mission is fully up to you, granted you keep civilian casualties and collateral damage to a minimum, of course."

"But basic training and uniform regulations and whatnot", Nico list off, "There's no way the rest of the guys will be down for that."

Kamea shakes her head at his stubbornness, "While yes, you will have to conform to at least the bare minimum of military regulations, such as appearances and such, you are welcome to keep things going the way they have always been on the Argo. I would be an utter fool to try to fix something that is not broken."

Nico turns and slowly walks back to Kamea's desk, taking a seat in her chair and spinning it around to look out at the window behind him. He looks up into the sky and sees a flight of aerospace fighters fly overhead in a diamond formation, leaving a white streak behind them.

"Me, an officer in an honest-to-god military. Has everyone in the Reach gone fucking nuts?", he asks himself as he looks off into the distance at a nearby military base, "Was it like this when you offered the position of a royal bodyguard, Raju? You tried everything in your power to make them change their mind? Or did you hop right on it?"

Memories of his time when the grizzle MechWarrior plays in Nico's mind as he calls out over his shoulder at Kamea and Alexander, "What rank would I be if I decided to go along with this crazy idea of yours? Just out of curiosity."

Kamea lets out a breath she didn't realize she was holding, "Well, going off of Aurigan's military structure compare with that of the average mercenary company, you would be given the rank of colonel while your subordinates such as Darius...", Kamea pauses, "Well, we are still deciding on that."

Nico spins around in his chair, "You two want to make me a colonel? Without going through officer training school?"

Alexander coughs before speaking, "In most military throughout the Inner Sphere, specials forces are usually kept out of the command structure because they only answer to the head of state as was explained. Very few people are going to question the legitimacy of your rank, especially when they find out that the High Lady herself personally commission you base on your merits."

Gears started turning in Nico's head and he quickly came to a conclusion, "It was no coincidence that you happen to release all those files on us about what we did during the civil war this morning, was it?"

Kamea at least had the good graces to look down at the floor in quiet meek shame. Seeing this, Alexander steps forward.

"You have to realize, Nico", he began, "There are people in the Aurigan Coalition who will not be too thrilled about a mercenary suddenly becoming a high ranking officer in the military, no matter what you and your men did to help our cause. We thought it best that if we cannot get all of the military and nobility on our side with this decision then the next best thing would be to get the public behind it."

Nico turns around back toward the window, "Oh, I can only imagine the newspaper article when the "Dragon of the Reach" is standing next to High Lady Kamea looking absolutely spiffy in his sharp new uniform, with shining medals and everything", Nico jest, "The children will eat it up and recruitment will soar!", as he gives a fist pump, "All according to plan and a win-win for everyone!"

The clambering of metal onto wood startle Nico and forces him to once more spins the chair to see the source of the noise. His attention is drawn to the center of the desk where the crown that he usually saw on Kamea's head was laying. Not the official crown, but the one she wears to show that she was next in line to govern the Reach.

He slowly raises his eye upwards to meet with the ones that belong to Kamea, who was now glaring a hole into his soul. Alexander was slowly scooting away from her and even the ace mechpilot who had stared death in the face a dozen times and didn't blink found himself slightly intimidated.

"Is that what you think this all is?", she spat in a voice Nico had not heard her use on him before, "A recruitment tool? A means to raise numbers?"

"Well-", Nico began.

"Do you truly think I would sink to such a level?! To such a level that I would use a man who I consider a loyal friend for propaganda?!", she screams and part of Nico was worried that the guards outside might get the wrong idea of what was going on in the room.

"My High Lady", Alexander tried, "You are suffering from sleep-deprived. Perhaps it is best-"

"Weldry, Panzyr, Smithon, Artru, Itrom, Tyrlon, and finally, Coromodir Six itself!", Kamea shouted, ignoring her childhood friend, "At every major battle in the civil war, there was a significant chance that the Restoration could have ended then and there but yet you and your raiders manage to pull off the impossible and achieve victory every time!"

Nico found himself standing up as Kamea listed off all of the hellish battles he and the Dragon Raiders fought in during the Aurigan Civil War, brief flashbacks coming up here and there.

"The only reason I'll be able to become High Lady is because of the sacrifices the soldiers underneath me made but most of all because you decided to never abandon me when things got bad!", Kamea rants as she stomps over to the front of the desk and leans forward until she and Nico's faces were almost touching, close enough that he could easily make out the light scars on her face.

"I mean this with all sincerity in my heart, Nico", she whispers but the pilot heard her anyway due to the close proximity they were to each other, "The Aurigan Coalition needs you here. For the sake of all the lives lost in the war, including our teacher Raju, at least consider the offer I have laid before you."

The top pilot of the Dragon Raiders is silent with only his slow breathing being heard, "I need to talk to the crew about this. They have a right to know before I make my choice."

Kamea withdraw from her position and straighten herself out, "Very well, I will await your decision on-"

"Before your coronation", Nico cuts her off, "I will tell you my decision before you're crown. But whatever my decision, the Dragon Raiders will stay until the day after you become the High Lady", as he moves around the desk and heads for the door, not making eye contact with Kamea whatsoever. He is then stopped by Alexander.

"I will be sending the full agreement to your console on the Argo as soon as you contact me. It has all of the benefits and such within it so everyone will know what they would be receiving if you agree", he explains, "Now know that even if you don't personally agree to the offer, there are sub-offers for each of your crewmen should they decide to join the military."

Nico nods at this. He has always run a policy that anyone on board the Argo was free to come and go as they wish so he wasn't surprised by the sub-offers. If guys like Behemoth, Sumire, or even Yang, decided that the military life was more stable then so be it. Their presence would be greatly missed but Nico wouldn't stop them from having a more relaxed lifestyle.

Nico reaches the door without any more interruption but stops just short of grabbing the handle, "Kamea", he calls out over his shoulder.

"What is it, Nico?", she answers, looking straight ahead out the window, never looking back at him, her crown still laying on the desk.

"You should take Alexander's advice and get some rest. I didn't fight my way through hell for four years just for you to drop dead from exhaustion", and with that, he made his way through the doors.

A shuttle takes off into the night sky, leaving behind the young man in its wake on the edge of the Rimward Frontier.

A backpack of basic supplies, one thousand c-bills, the common clothes on his back, a goodbye kiss from his mother and sister, and a torn-up photo of him standing in his former house uniform with a girl his age dress in a glamouring gown next to him.

This was all he had to his name and his mom had to beg for him to get the backpacks and c-bills.

He turns his attention off into the distance and sees a few lights on the horizon.

Where others would see exile and despair he saw opportunity and hope.

He starts walking toward the rundown settlement.

There is a cold chill in the air and the sounds of gunfire could be heard off in the distance.

But he keeps moving forward.

Always moving forward.

Never looking back.

A/N: Nico may come off a little gruff despite his noble upbringing, but he has been through a lot, which will be shown in future chapters.

Oh? You were expecting feelings, right off the back? Well, remember that Nico is 30 and Kamea is 29 going 30., they're not hormone-driven teenagers, they're two fully grown adults who respect one another.

Now the plot may feel rush but that's only because I want to mainly focus on how Nico and the rest of his crew adjust to military life and the fact that they're no longer mercs. Also, Nico having to deal with top military brass, the nobility, and his past that's going to give him trouble.