I own neither Battlestar Galactica nor Battletech and don't claim to. There's no point suing me for borrowing the storylines or characters unless you want a share of an underpaid Civil Servants salary and trust me it wouldn't be worth the trouble.

This is a spin-off story from Hunted Tribes which is co-written by myself and another writer known as Cannonshop, you'll likely notice the style of writing switching back and forth between us. A little more familiarity with the Battletech universe might be helpful for this one than for Hunted Tribes and it uses characters from Cannonshop's other battletech stories (it's not strictly necessary to have read them though).

New Circe Military Industries HQ, McEvedy City, New Circe...

"Mister Keeley!" Brenda Hammerskjold greeted him warmly enough. "How's life working as a general contractor?"

Keeley smiled a sad smile, "Not too bad. What's Vaun want me down here for?"

"Problems with the Fjellhas." Brenda said, "You seemed the man to go-to for that."

"Engineering, or is it production?" Keeley asked.

"Production. They're having problems making parts to spec, you seemed to have gotten a handle on their labour situation." Brenda said, "Which is, if I recall, part of the whole mission when the Protector called you and Blohm out of retirement."

Keeley sighed, "I can't take credit for more than hiring the right consultant on that one-it never even dawned on me that an advanced spacefaring culture wouldn't have an extensive welfare state...I mean, I'd Heard of it, but I didn't really believe it..."

"Can you loan us your consultant?" Brenda asked.

"You'll have to talk price with her-Mai's our 'mercenary', she's probably going to follow family tradition and want something in return for any out-of-contract work she does." Keeley said, "She's been teaching Ross how to manage a project, but that falls under the deal I made when I hired her services." He cleared his throat, and Brenda handed him a glass of water.

"The problems are mostly on-time issues." Brenda said, "But some of it's also specifications data-we have had to re-work a lot of the components coming out to fit the chassis."

"Fjellhas is a seventy-five tonner, isn't it?" Keeley asked.

"Yep, Our energy weapons, their ballistics and missiles." Brenda said, "We've licked the software interface, but mountings, and more importantly, getting the stuff on-time is turning out to be a real pain in the ass."

"I'll offer Mai a bonus to look over the production issues on that side of the border, maybe it's something she can hat-dance around like she's done with the slowdowns in the Saggitarion sector." Keeley said, "But I think you're going to want to make an offer if you want something comprehensive-the one thing I'm certain of, is that Mai Pham's a corporate shark in a skirt-she makes you look like an idealistic nun running a charity house."

"You turned someone like that on Ross?" Brenda asked, not offended in the slightest, "That poor man!"

"He won't be when his bonuses clear." Keeley said, "He'll be a pitiable Rich man-at least, his cover identity will be-otherwise, he's just a civil servant like the rest of us."

* * *

Tenner's Foundry, Leonis Sector, Colonial City State, later that day...

"...sure you're up to this? we could wait until to-morrow..." Ross offered as the car rolled to a stop.

"Yes, I'm up to looking over the factory and seeing if I can see why they're late-are the local managers expecting me?" Mai asked.

He pointed out the side window. There was a crowd gathered around the parking area. "I'd say they're expecting You." Ross told her.

"Damn that woman!" Mai muttered, "Couldn't leave it be, could she?" she opened the door, and stepped out, smoothing her now-clean dark gray skirt-suit.

"Relax, it's like having an all-access pass." Ross told her, and she let him take her arm.

"All access my skinny ass. I left home because of shit like this." Mai muttered back, "Changed my name and everything."

"Be nice to the natives, Mai...you didn't forget your meds THIS morning?" he asked.

"did my shot before breakfast, and I've got supplementaries in my pocket in case I need 'em." she muttered back, "Maybe if they don't get a show, they'll go away."

The crowd parted as they walked up, and the Leonis Delegate, Elrad Hunt, flanked by Sarah Porter, waited at the entrance.

"Mister Hunt, Madame Porter..." Mai rendered a brief curtsey. "Okay, I'm getting paid a lot of money to look at your processes and figure out some solutions, let's get working."

* * *

New Circe Shipyard...

"...sure you want to do this?" Karl Agathon asked.

Maggie "Racetrack" Edmondson looked at Skulls, and then back at Colonel Agathon. "Yeah. We're sure." she said, "Someone's got to keep an eye on that giant frakking toaster, and someone has to watch Kat's back as the CAG."

Karl looked at the Admiral. "Sir?"

Adama shrugged, "It's a volunteer mission, Colonel, it's part of the Joint Operations agreement, and we DO need people we can trust aboard..." he handed the signed transfers over.

"We'll keep a berthing open for you." Karl said, "Good luck."

as the Raptor crew left, Agathon looked at the Admiral, "What does that make. five?"

"Six." William Adama said. "Once I explained it in terms they understood, we had four viper pilots and those two volunteer...which is, honestly, six more than I expected and six fewer than I'd hoped for. All in all a win."

* * *

Commander's Sea-Cabin, SLS Nike...

Alan pored over the latest recruitment reports, and wondered if he shouldn't ask for permission to run press-gangs of his own...when a knock on the door got his attention.

"Nike?" he asked the air.

"Visitors." Nike said, in a tone that told him she wouldn't tell him who.

He opened the hatch.

"Louanne Katraine, Captain, Colonial Forces, reporting to duty, sir." Kat said, and held out her transfer, "If, that is, you're still looking for pilots."

"I'm looking...didn't think I'd get any of YOUR people." Alan admitted.

"I brought three more Viper pilots and a Raptor crew." Kat confided, "Not a squadron, but we all volunteered, we're here, and we're ready to start."

"You checked out on a Kirghiz yet?" Alan asked.

Kat, reached out, and pointed at a section of the documents, "This morning, signed off by the air-boss of the SLS Olympia."

"Captain in Colonial means leutenant-senior-grade here, you're going to want to adjust the terms on your signature." Alan said.

"Fine with me." Kat said, "I'll make the other pilots aware. When are we running training ops? I know you've been running your knuckledraggers and marines through 'em for days now."

"When are you ready?" Alan asked, reaching for his own flight-suit.

"We can get our stuff stowed and be on the deck in ten minutes." Kat told him.

"Eleven minutes be out in formation in your birds off the starboard bow, we'll do some flight ops and deck-ops, scrambles and drills." He said.

She saluted him, he returned it.

nine is better than the three we HAD... "Nike, I'm going out for a drive."

* * *

Airspace over the Carcajou continent, New Circe, L-7 Days...

Gibson explained what their first outing would be when Nike launched, and Kat wrote a training operations plan for it.

Consequently, they were practicing sattelite deployment, combat-aerospace-patrols, and dropship escort with ships from the Second Battlegroup.

"Nike, what do you see?" Kat asked.

"Hostiles inbound solar north twelve degrees by ten mils west, range half an AU."

"Alright people, Formation Echo, cover those dropships!" Kat barked.

The OpFor was being provided by SLS Olympia with borrowed Vipers from Pegasus to simulate Raiders.

Monitor room, New Circe shipyard...

Alan watched his pilots at play, stuck where he was by his position.

"So...you gonna do it?" Nike asked, appearing on a holostage in her 'visitor's' face.

Alan watched them, and he listened to Kat urging and chiding her pilots.

"Yeah. Katraine's a good pilot, and she's got a strong grasp of the CAG job." he said, "Not as good as me, but better than Federov, and he was my original pick for the position...the only possible change to that is how she deals with you."

"She actually coordinates with me." Nike said, "She also listens, and she adjusts to when I 'make a mistake', I think she'll just about do."

* * *

Tenner Foundry...

Mai stood on the catwalk, and stared. "You have got to be bullshitting me." she said, "Hand work?"

"We've added significant automation from the New Circe establishment..." the Plant manager, Dero Heroditus said.

"No, you've got what looks like a shipboard machine-shop, sufficient to effect minor repairs, and a bunch of hand-tools." Mai corrected him, "This isn't your industrial standard, is it?"

"Even the City-State runs a lot of hand-work, we've got some heavy industrial but-" Ross interjected.

"But bullshit. này không phải là một nhà máy sản xuất, đó là một hội thảo!" She rounded on the Colonial officials, and Ross.

"Ross, take a note, we're going to be presenting the New Circe government with something more substantial than...." she gestured at the floor, "THIS."

"What did she say?" Elrad Hunt asked.

"I'm not..sure..." Porter replied, sotto-voce.

"I said it's ****** primitive and totally un-acceptable." Mai clarified, "You can't run an industrial base off of ten milling machines and a dozen two-meter lathes." she pointed down onto the floor, "THIS gets fixed. I know where proper equipment can be had, and I can get it at cost, but it's going to need government assistance to get through the red-tape."

Ross stared at her open mouthed. Mai snarled "Close your mouth, Mister Ross, remember, I'm a Ngo, my family is the largest industrial toolmaker in the Inner Sphere bar none, we've even sold equipment to the Terrans in the past. this home-workshop shit is utterly and completely unacceptable for any nation's needs."

Ross cleared his throat, "THAT would require you returning to the Inner Sphere, I don't think-"

"That's right, you, and the Governments on New Circe don't think." Mai managed to loom over the larger man, "You have my little girl-the only child I will ever have for a hostage to guarantee my cooperation. It's an arrangement that's NOT unusual in the Inner Sphere."

She pointed again at the factory floor, "THIS kind of setup kills workmen, and produces a tiny number of acceptable goods for a large amount of waste and inefficiency. So, either New Circe Defense Industries brings in some real tooling for these folks, or we go get the tools they need."

Ross recovered himself, "What would YOU get out of not-stabbing us in the back?" he countered, "You weren't exactly happy about the situation."

"Simple, Ross, simple enough even YOU can get it." Mai growled, "Market Share-the Colonial City State and New Circe are a strong potential growth-market with good fundamentals-if they're cultivated. One-hundered-percent of a branch office in a growth market, is better than five percent in a fixed trust fund...and then, there's also the presence of a rule-of-law here, which makes this a safer haven, and guarantees a certain...exclusivity."

Elrad got it, "WE are a gold mine, and YOU don't want to share it." he said.

"Right in one, Mister delegate." Mai said, "A set of investments now, and in ten years, the people on the ground floor of it are going to be fantastically rich, and the folks working here will be damn well off. It's one thing to be rich when everyone is poor, it's another scale of wealthy when you're wealthy compared to a general lifestyle you, yourself, only dreamed of in fantasies that made you feel guilty for thinking them." she sighed, "BUT, only if there's a means to get the exchange going. You don't have enough 'core tools' to simultanously build your industrial base up, while also filling orders for weapons and equipment that you must fill to keep your population fed."

Note from the Author:

Reviews are always appreciated :-)