The Final Approach Tavern,

Belgorod, Terra

Prefecture X

May 3134; local summer

Countess Tara Campbell didn't look out of place in the dark, smoke filled bar: her overalls where rumpled and covered in mud and lubricant, a sure sign that she'd been working on something heavy and powerful.

"What can I get ye lass?" The grey-haired barman asked.

"Whisky, neat, best you have." Campbell sat, "I'm looking for a man named Connor O'Neill; I was told I could find him here?"

"And what would the Hero of the Republic want with me?" A voice came from a shadow filled alcove to the side of the bar, "Last time the two of us where this close, I was being stripped of my rank and position in the First Kearny Highlanders."

"That was a long time ago O'Neill." Campbell walked over to the alcove and sat opposite a balding man in a shirt and jeans, "Back before I became prefect. Things have changed."

"Yeah, now you NEED Mechs and people who know how to use them. Back when you found that my family had been secretly keeping an old Centurion mothballed on the farm, you kicked me out for breaking his holiness Lord Stones golden rule: though shallot not be able to defend thy self."

"The irony is not lost on me O'Neill. But you've done ok for yourself: managed to get a full lance of BattleMech's, not just these AgroMech conversations we're stuck with."

"What you gona' do: try commandeer them?"

"No: I'm offering you the chance to come home."

"Don't make me laugh…"

"Northwind needs you and your Mechs: we barely survived the Steel Wolves attack last year. We need time to rebuild and rearm, but until then we're sitting ducks to any of the other factions that try and take what we have. 4 fully functional BattleMech's will keep people from trying anything more."

"Who says I need you?"

"You're a Northwind Highlander, born and bread; your family was among the first settlers to land there. The O'Neill clan has served with the Highlanders since their founding in 2362…"

"I know my family history: I can trace my roots back to Ireland here on Terra."

"I know, and I saw your Mechs on the edge of the battlefield two days ago."

"Nothing illegal about watching a battle..."

"You still piloting that Centurion?"

"Na; got me an Orion now. My wife has the Centurion."

"You got married?"

"Two years ago: Sam's from Glengarry; a Scott/Irish like me."

"You're family will be pleased. Of course, with the HPG network down, there's no way to tell them, unless…"

"I go home."


"Nice try; but I've done my bit for Exarch and Republic."

"What about freelance?"

"Why, you looking to hire us?"

"If that's what it takes: I could send someone to Galatea to find Mercenary's, but I'd rather have some I can trust."

"What makes you think you can trust me?"

"You're a Highlander to the death, and you'd never do anything to harm Northwind."

"I was a Highlander: you saw to that."

"You can be again."

"How bad was it?"

"The Steel Wolfe attack? Bad: half of Tara was burned to the ground, and we had to blow up the castle rather than have them capture it."

"Must have been hard on you."

"Look, I don't have time to draw this out: you want to come home, be at the encampment at dawn tomorrow." Campbell stood, "We boost at 0800."

Highlander Encampment

Belgorod, Terra

Prefecture X

May 3134; local summer

"We have something you should see Sir." An all-too young infantry sergeant found Campbell in the command tent early next morning.

"What is it?" She asked, stepping out into the predawn twilight, "Oh my." A line of four green/grey Mechs stood at the edge of the encampment; an Orion, a Centurion, a Shadow Hawk and a Beowulf.

The same Mechs that had silently watched the climatic battle with the Steel Wolves a few days before.

"You look surprised to see me." O'Neill stepped out of the gloom, dressed in the universal MechWarriors uniform of vest, shorts and combat boots.

"I didn't know if you'd come." Campbell stood hands on hips, "You going to act like the officer you claim to be?"

"An officer; yes. A gentleman; no."

"Like a Mercenary?"

"I can't talk for Max and Felix; they'll expect to get paid, but Sam wants to see my ancestral home."

"You back?"

"No, not yet; One day, maybe, but not yet."

"Stowe your gear and grab a bunk: it's a long way home…"

The End