Yukari sighed as she stepped onto the bridge. She loved astronavigation and traveling through space, but it was always terribly boring when the mission actually started. Everyone fun was on planet, while she and the support crew sat up on the ship and kept an eye on the jumpship.

Still she loved her ship, Gensoukyo. And it was hers too, which meant Reimu had to actually listen to her advice. Reimu's rep as a merc commander may have gotten more job interviews, but the unit's ability to travel with their own ship had gotten a lot more contracts.

Ran gave her a wave as she sat down in the commanders seat. "Anything up?" she asked.

Ran shook her head. "Nothing, as usual."

Yukari was about to reply when there was a loud buzz. Chen jumped up as far as the chair restraints would allow her, before shutting down her game of minesweeper and checking the sensors. "Yukari! We have a dropship at Pirate Point 16 Gamma Alpha. It's deploying a dropship right now!"

Yukari pressed the alarm button, causing a ear raping klaxon to permeate the ship. "What's their target? Do they have fighters?"

Ran looked up from her own screen. "No fighters deployed, looks like the dropships got 2 on it."

Chen made a few more calculations. "Definitely clan origin. They're headed for objective Alpha. And at 3Gs too." The young woman frowned at the screen. "It looks like... Clan Snow Raven?"

Yukari shook her head in confusion. "I told Reimu to dig a little deeper into this contract. Alright, Chen you send a signal to Reimu telling her what's up. Ran, make sure our point defenses are working and then start scrambling the rest of our ground units."

"Roger!" her two closest friends went to work.

Reimu swore as she ran into the mech bay. She probably should have waited to hear the rest of Yukari's information, but she really wanted to be in her mech before anything else weird happened.

She cursed again as she nearly slipped off the ladder trying to get to the cockpit, then again when she had to actually think to remember where the startup code needed to be entered. Finally the machine powered up and Reimu relaxed a bit. She slowly stood the mech up, letting the neurohelmet use her own balance to keep the machine stable. As the fusion engine warmed up the cooling vest that comprised most of her wardrobe started doing it's work.

By that point the radio had come back on, and Yukari was already talking. "Reimu. The ship's one hour out by our reckoning. It looks like they're heading straight for you as well. They don't seem to be fooled by the false sights."

Reimu began moving her mech out of the bay. "They send out a bachall yet?"

"Doesn't look like it Reimu. I think they're being polite and allowing us to figure out what forces we can muster before calling."

Reimu grimaced. "How nice of them. And it's 'Miko' when I'm in combat Sukima. Use callsigns like a normal soldier."

"Soldier?" Yukari replied with a laugh. "I'm just transport. We'll keep an eye out up here. Good luck... Miko."

Reimu nodded and cut the channel. She then checked the rest of her squads. "Hey Ghost? You think you can make it here in an time for the battle?"

"Neg Star Captain Hakurei." Youmu replied. "We were on training maneuvers when the message came. We are two hours thirty minutes to your position. My apologies Star Captain."

"Well drop by anyhow, just in case things run into overtime." Reimu closed that channel then opened up a link to her employer. "What the hell's going on here Kanako? Clan Snow Raven shouldn't have any forces within twenty planetary systems of here!"

To Reimu's continued anger 'Planetary Chairman' Kanako's voice remained calm. Even amused. "I told you there might be clan entanglements. What particular clan is immaterial, isn't it?"

Reimu fumed. "It damn well does matter! I'd kinda like to know what rules they're playing by!"

Kanako laughed. "You don't need to worry about that. Just deal with the ground forces. Oh, and I heard you were a little short handed. I'll have Sanae help you."

Reimu groaned. Just what she didn't need. Some spoiled noble girl getting herself killed in the front lines. "That's not necessary. I can..."

Sanae's voice broke over the radio. "Don't worry about me Captain Reimu! I can handle it!"

"It's Miko! And if you MUST come along you'll follow my orders Newbie!"

"What? My call sign is..."

There was beep and Reimu saw that a wide beam signal was coming in. "We'll talk later! They finally decided to call."

Reimu opened the channel and said calmly and clearly, "This is Captain Reimu Hakurei, of the Youkai Buster mercenary group. You're in violation of Suwa planetary airspace. Please relay your intentions."

The voice that responded was high and slightly nervous. That was odd for a clansman, much less one attacking a planet. "This is Star, er, this is commander Satori Komeiji. I am calling a trail of possession for all occupants of the base at our drop location. Who shall you defend with?"

Reimu thought a moment. Normally she thought telling your enemies the number of units you had was stupid, but given the size of the dropship, she likely held the numerical advantage. Knowing her opponents forces could only help. "I've got a lance of air fighters and two lances of mechs and infantry, mixed."

The voice returned. "Aff. We will attack with a star of mechs and a point of aerofighters." Then the channel shut off.

Reimu nodded. About what she'd expected, though it was odd they weren't calling out their unit. "Alright! We've got bogeys inbound. Wizard, Warhead! See if you can bounce them before they become a problem. Everyone else, follow me outside. We're here to guard this place. Not level it."

Patchouli slowly eased into the lead position. She didn't like the look of the upcoming fight. Downing two Sullas should be easy for her and Nitori, but the dropship in the back looked like it had point defenses of its own.

"Okay Warhead, I'm going to break ahead. Maybe I can get those two to play with us. You just do your thing."

"Roger, Wizard," came Nitori's cheerful reply. The kappa green craft slowed to allow Patchouli to move up a good distance. Sure enough the two Sulla took the bait.

The first pass was head to head, Patchouli's emerald green lasers sliced some armor off the lead plane, but her enemy returned the favor. Fortunately the particle beam from her enemies PPC missed. Sadly her own PPC missed as well. Patchouli sighed under her breath. Once again Clantech was proving to be an annoyance. The enemies Sulla was almost a perfect copy of her Stingray. It wasn't as armored or powerful up close, but it was much, much faster.

Fortunately the pilots fighting her had made a mistake. They'd kept their planes full throttle, hoping to speed past their foe and circle around. Patchouli had slowed down, allowing her to make a much faster turn. Her combat suit allowed her to take the High G turn despite her normally frail body, and she ended up right on the lead planes tail, with her targets wing frantically turning to try to cover her friend.

Patchouli opened up with her powerful Sunburst PPC, and swore as the target dodged her blast. The next few moments were spent dogging the craft as it swerved all around Patchouli's targeting sights. "Damn it! Do you have a solution yet Warhead? Because our friend here apparently can read my damn mind!"

"Wizard break left!" came Nitori's reply. Patchouli immediately broke left.

There was a massive crash, and she had to fight the stick to stay airborne. After what seemed like an eternity she managed to get her nose pointed the correct direction. Her monitors were showing all sorts of bad things in red, and the craft was still handling terribly. "Warhead, am I clear?"

"You're clear Wizard. They caught a full spread. I splashed the first one and sent the second back home to mommy." Nitori had once again earned her name by managing to catch enemies with blind fired missiles. Most pilots, Clan or IS, weren't prepared for that tactic. Mainly because it was insane. "But, uh... your Stingray isn't looking to hot. I suggest you bail." Nitori's voice sounded worried.

"I can hold it," snapped Patchouli. She took a few breaths now that she was no longer in danger. "Damn, that other one must have taken lesson from you or something. I didn't notice her at all."

Patchouli finally looked down at the damage to her craft. "Warhead, I seem to have a malfunction in my damage sensors. I can't get a read on my left wing."

"Wizard, your sensors are working fine."

Patchouli paused, then looked out the window. Sure enough, half her left wing was missing. "How annoying. I liked that wing. Rinnousuke's going to be displeased too."

"Don't tell me you're going to try to LAND that thing?" Nitori cried.

Patchouli frowned. "Of course I am. It's flying, so it should not fly just fine."

There was a long pause before Nitori replied. "Okay Wizard. I'll stay here and burn my ammo keeping the last bogey honest. Don't die on me okay?"

Patchouli smiled. "I promise I won't die until I've gotten my holovids back from Marisa."

Reimu looked over the field, studying the terrain for any hint of advantage. She did a quick swap to infrared, then magres in order to try to spot Aya or the Shanghai team. Nothing on all counts.

"Warhead to Miko, one splashed one damaged. Unfortunately, Wizard took some serious damage and I'm outta missiles. I'm afraid the dropship's gonna land."

Reimu sighed. There really hadn't been much chance of taking out the dropship, but she had to try. "Good work Warhead. We'll finish things off here. You two take it easy."

With slow ponderous steps Marisa Kirisame's black and white Awesome moved next to Reimu. "Why are you sounding so down boss? Normally you're spoiling for a fight. You still being prissy about your new ride?"

"Yeah I am." Reimu growled. "I liked my Exterminator. This thing's just too new."

Marisa laughed. "Hey that Albatross isn't like one of those fake Omnis. Or even that Nodachi that crazy Clan girl stomps around in. It's tried tech, just put together better. Besides there's a reason that Exterminator went down. You need something with better armor if you're gonna play decoy."

Reimu sighed. "Yeah, yeah. I still liked it better."

Suika laughed. "Don't worry Marisa. After this fight she'll know what it's like to play with real power. Even if my Akuma's more fun."

"Are you going to give us our battle plan soon, boss?" came the calm voice of Alice over the line.

Reimu shook her head. "Right. Standard practice. Me, Oni and Witch shatter their attack. Tengu and Shanghai assist. Alice routs them with fire support."

"What should I do?" came Sanae's voice.

"Stay in the back and shoot any enemy that looks at Alice," snapped Reimu.


"No buts! That Shugenja of yours is a back line mech. Use your C3 to help the fire support and keep outta trouble!" Reimu gripped the controls to her massive war machine. "Now get ready, they're gonna drop soon."

As if spurred by her words the enemy dropship entered into a hovering pattern right that moment. Seconds later, mechs began jumping from it's hold. The first one out made Reimu's heart skip a beat. The 100 ton Behemoth outweighed anything in her squad, and was famed for being damn hard to take down. It was followed quickly by the distinctive shape of a Mad Cat, then a Loki, both dangerous foes.

The next two mechs out the dropship however looked like no Clan mech Reimu had ever seen. One was a four legged mech, while the second was a odd light mech that looked sleek and deadly with its laser array. Her computer took a second before labeling them as a Stalking Spider and a Solitaire.

Suika laughed. "Looks like that software upgrade we got from Kanako as part of the deal's paying off."

"Let's see when the computer can't recognize them anymore, Oni." Marisa casually replied.

"Shut up and advance you jokers. We're seriously out ranged here!" Reimu snapped. She began moving her own Assault Mech forward.

Sure enough the first Mech to fire was the massive Behemoth. Strangely the pilot fired the mechs massive rifles off in succession, which while intimidating didn't actually help much for accuracy. One shot slammed into Suika's upper torso, but the impact of that shot caused the next hit to rocket into the arm, and the third shot missed entirely.

Suika gamely swiveled her torso back forward and continued on course despite the massive armor loss. In reply she fired off her own PPC which splashed some armor off her foe. Sadly the Behemoth didn't budge.

"Alright, time to teach the chaos god the power of LOVE!" With that, Marisa's Awesome opened up with all three PPC shots at the Loki. That had to have sent the heat in her cockpit soaring, but it's effects on the smaller machine were worth it. The three beams hit the opponent all across it's torso, sending Loki onto it's back and causing it's return PPC shots to miss into the air.

Reimu decided to play by clan rules for now and fired a shot off at the Mad Cat. Her laser missed high, but the scattered LRMs impacted the mechs left side.

"Shit!" Reimu yelled as the Mad Cat returned fire with two PPCs. The beams striped armor from bother her arms causing her machine to rock from the impact. "What the hell's with all these damn PPCs? Do these guys not care about heat?"

"They could say the same about us," came Alice's mild reply.

Both the Stalking Spider and the Solitaire began to move to flank the inner sphere party. Reimu was expecting them to blow past the three lead mechs and try to engage Alice and Sanae, but they turned in mid run and fired at Marisa's Awesome. The giant black white machine shuddered as it was struck by a PPC and a large laser.

"Hey! That's not playing by the clan rules!" Marisa complained.

"Guess these clanners aren't stupid," said Suika casually.

"Apparently not," Reimu muttered. "Witch, don't let them circle you! Sanae advance to guard our rear. Me and Oni will press forward!"

"Yes sir!" replied Sanae.

Sanae Moved forward and fired a quick shot off her two large lasers ripping the tiny Solitaire's Left arm right off and eating into it's chest. But the pilot barely seemed to notice the damage and started running even faster.

The Stalking Spider looked like it was going to finish encircling Marisa, when suddenly a Raven popped out from behind a rock formation and fired a single shot. "Gotcha!" yelled Aya over the radio.

"Finishing the job," came Alices reply. The Clan warrior must have noticed the NARC pod's signal and what it meant, because they wisely ejected seconds before the massive Arrow IV missile from Alice's Archer cut the quad mech in two.

"Nice one Alice!" cried Reimu. But her exaltation was short lived. The Behemoth turned to where Aya's Raven was moving to cover and fired again. One, two, three. The first two shots missed.

The third slammed straight through the Raven's center-line and dropped it on it's back. Black smoke rose from the fried gyro.

"Hourai team, send someone to evac Tengu!" commanded Reimu. She then turned her weapons on the Behemoth and slammed the triggers.

This time all her shots went true. Her large lasers (Pulse and normal) combined with missiles and LBX autocannon fire to rip the top layer of armor off the Behemoth. Suika then added to the fray with her autocannon and PPC. After the fire stopped there wasn't a single pristine spot on the mech, but there wasn't a crack in the armor either.

The Loki pushed itself off the ground and attempted to avenge it's losses, sending two PPC beams straight into Marisa's Right Torso. The armor there disintegrated and the beams started to chew into myomer muscle.

Marisa turned her torso and replied with another triple burst that probably had her computer spitting out shutdown warnings. But the attack succeeded, splashing across the other mech's torso then ripping into it's internals. The ammo for the Loki detonated sending both arms flying, and the machine collapsed into scrap.

Then the Mad Cat ran up and unloaded a full PPC SRM combination into Marisa's torso.

The Awesome was a mighty war machine, but a full spread of 24 streak SRMs and 2 PPCs smashing into it's center torso went beyond even it's tolerances. Reimu's heart sank before the Awesome's head split open and sent Marisa rocketing into the sky, seconds before the fusion reactor failed and exploded messily. "Shit!"

The bad news just kept on coming. "I could use some help back here," Alice snapped over the radio. "That Solitaire thing just hit my Ammo. I've only got the shot in the tubes."

"Newbie kill that thing!" Reimu yelled, while rushing towards the Behemoth.

"I'm trying! But it's using Alice as a shield!" Sanae yelled back. "Wait... got it!" There was a whoosh from Sanae's MRM launcher as thirty missiles sprang across the battlefield. Through some miracle all but one of the damn things hit. The Solitaire collapsed to the ground, it's legs and torso a twisted ruin.

At last Reimu and Suika had reached their primary weapons range. Now it was their turn to open up. A stream of short and medium range missiles backed by medium lasers tore into the Behemoth. Yet the damn thing was still standing! Reimu thought she saw a hole in it's torso armor, but that wasn't dropping it.

Reimu was maneuvering for her next shot when there was a massive roar. Suika's mech shuddered as a PPC came down from the sky and set off the MRM reloads in her torso. Fortunately her CASE activated. But the massive explosion still sent the mech crashing to the ground.

"Suika, you still good?" Reimu felt cold despite the cockpit's heat when there was no response.

"I got him!" yelled Sanae from behind her.

Reimu looked to her 360 display to see the enemy fighter going down. "I hope you keep that beginners luck Newbie. 'Cause we're gonna need it."

Reimu started backing away from the Mad Cat and the Behemoth, when Alice spoke up. "Shanghai team got the target with TAG. Last shot. I'm out."

There was a "whoosh" as Alice's last missile flew through the field, guided by the hidden infantry units laser system. The Behemoth rocked back as the massive missile slammed into it. It's left arm slowly tore free, then it collapsed to the ground. Reimu could only pray it was out of the fight.

It was time to end this quickly. Reimu placed all her weapons over the Mad Cat and sent her heat to the roof by letting off over half of her mechs massive arsenal. Her Large Pulse Laser joined her medium lasers, auto cannon and SRMs in a cacophony of destruction that washed over the heavy Clan mech.

From the rear Sanae's Shugenja added her own fire. The PPC missed, but the two large lasers slammed into the mechs rear torso. The shot should have hulled it. Instead the mech merely rocked forward. That did save Reimu's life though, as the machine's massive PPCs slammed into the ground, and it's SRMs only peppered her legs.

Reimu pulled her weapons up to finish the deal, but the damned Mad Cat rocketed into the air on jump jets.

"Huh!" Sanae cried. "That's impossible! There's no way it can have all that and jets!"

"And it should have blown up from overheating too!" Reimu shot back. "Live with it!"

Suddenly the radio crackled and a wide beam transmission came in. "Inner Sphere mercenaries, uh... this is Orin. I challenge the Red White mech to single combat in order to retrieve my comrades and leave the field honorably."

Reimu blinked. That was odd. Then she noticed the red light signaling that the Mad Cat had been painted by TAG. Obviously the pilot didn't know Alice didn't have any missiles left in reserve. "Sorry clan warrior but I refuse. There's no way I'm letting that machine off planet. If you surrender however you will be treated honorably, even if you do decide to self destruct your mech."

There was a long pause before Orin replied. "Come on sis, have a little heart here. You beat us via numbers here."

Reimu's eyebrow quirked at that. That was NOT clan speak. "Sorry. Take it or leave it. I'd take the surrender offer. Even if you take off, we've got more fighters in bound to capture your jumpship.

Orin sighed over the radio. "Guess we lose. Star Captain's gonna be soooo pissed..." There was another pause. "I give."

Reimu blinked again. Today was turning out to be very strange.

Youmu's squad touched down just as Reimu started her debriefing.

As befitted a mech squad after combat her troops were bruised, sweaty, and considering most of them didn't wear much to help mitigate the heat caused by a mech battle, barely decent. Shanghai team on the other hand was in full uniform, it's leader (after whom the squad was named) sat chatting with Alice, who was the least beat up of her mech team.

Suika on the other hand had a grin, a bottle she'd grabbed from somewhere and a sling for her broken arm. Marisa had let her cooling vest open and was muttering darkly while staring at the crater where her mech used to be. Aya was fiddling with her bandages, and Sanae was realizing she was a little out of place among the tight knit merc band.

Reimu sighed, she supposed she didn't need to wait for Youmu to give the briefing. "Looks like we got of lucky personnel wise. No deaths on either side amazingly. Materiel wise we did well too, despite the losses. The Behemoth is salvageable, and that insane Mad Cat is still intact. On our side only your Awesome is a total loss. Sorry Marisa." Reimu managed a smile. "Though now you get to enjoy figuring out a Behemoth."

Marisa frowned from where whe was sitting down. "Tch. Gauss Rifles. Those aren't nearly flashy enough to be real weapons."

Shanghai laughed. "Yeah, and they don't give off enough heat to justify walking in on Alice with a soaking wet shirt after training."

Alice halfheartedly smacked her friend, while the rest of the infantry laughed. Marisa just blushed and looked away.

"Anyways, Aya's mech needs a new Gyro, and Suika's mech has to have that panel that dropped on her bolted back in, but Kourin should have that done in a month. Good job everyone. They may have matched us in raw firepower, but we took them down none the less." Reimu paused then looked at Sanae. "That goes for you too Newbie. You'll be a fine mechwarrior once you learn to stop questioning orders. You can tell Kanako I said that too."

Sanae blinked. "Er, Thanks! Though why are you still calling me Newbie?"

Suika laughed. "Because your beginners luck is insane. Tagging a aerofighter after ascent, and hitting with unguided missiles like that? Reimu wants to try to milk it as long as possible."

"Hey Captain." Aya raised her hand. "Any word on the pilots we took down? Or what's up with that Mad Cat?"

"We bagged both pilots after ejecting and we caught their dropship crew too. As to what they were doing here or that insane Mad Cat? No clue." Reimu stood up. "I'm gonna have Youmu and Sakuya question our new bondsmen."

Reimu waved Youmu over and the small girl quickly moved up to her. "Star Captain," the ghost bear renegade said, "I just got a message from Yukari Yakumo. Apparently our employer wishes to speak to the prisoners as well."

Reimu shook her head. "Dammit must she interfere with our job here too?" Sanae looked like she was going to speak up in Kanako's defense, but she wisely reconsidered.

Youmu shrugged. "She also said she would explain what was going on." Reimu's frown didn't fade. "And give us a bonus."

"What are we waiting for? Round up those prisoners and let's go! Tell Sakuya she's in charge, with Marisa as XO."

As the prisoners and their escort walked down the large corridor, Reimu softly moved over next to Youmu. "So what's your take on, 'em?" she whispered.

Youmu gave the five pilots another look over. "These are not Clan mech pilots. The large girl you said was piloting the Behemoth is definitely the child of a Elemental. The rest... do not act as captured clan warriors do. They are too calm for having lost to the Inner Sphere."

Reimu nodded at the analysis. She'd noticed that as well. Only the Hellbringer's pilot, Parsee, looked angry about their situation. Orin and the pilots of the Spider and Solitaire, Kisume and Yamame, seemed to be mostly chagrined. Like kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Yuugi, the Behemoths pilot, just seemed to be tired.

The corridor ended in a massive door. One designed for mech entrance. Sanae quickly walked to the front and entered a passcode, revealing a large manufacturing room. At the center of it sat a Warhammer, it's front panels opened up and it's fusion engine dismantled on the ground.

Next to the mighty war machine was their employer and a woman in a lab coat with long black hair. They both turned as the doors opened. On seeing the prisoners the woman blinked in surprise. "Orin? What are you doing at this place? Were you claimed in another trial?"

Orin gave her nervous laugh again. "Not exactly Utsuho. You see..."

"We stole some mechs and came to recapture you in a trial of possession," Yuugi stated. "Unfortunately, it seems there's a reason such tasks are normally left to the warrior caste."

Utsuho dropped the screwdriver she was carrying. "What? Surely the warriors did not approve of this quineg? If it weren't for your capture you'd be sure to be killed! What were you thinking?"

"Neg, Utsuho. We did not approve of this. But there was little choice in the matter."

"Star Captain Satori Komeiji? And Koishi too?" The prisoners turned to see two small Clan Aeropilots being led into the room as well. These were real Clan warriors, as the drastic size difference attested to. The lead pilot seemed depressed, while the one following her had apparently moved past depression and gone into acceptance. Reimu guessed from their similar features that the two were from the same sibko.

Surprisingly Kanako bowed to the two warriors. "I'm impressed you came all the way out here, but I'm curious as to why you didn't wait for reinforcements before attacking. Unlike the rest of the fools at the station we raided you two seemed to have some intelligence. I'm curious as to your reasoning."

Koishi laughed. "We can not be too smart if we are here as bondsmen, quiaff?"

Satori sighed and shook her head. "It was a simple matter of logic. When the Touman finally understands what you've managed to steal from us everyone responsible will be tainted. Possibly executed. In addition, by the time a full invasion force get here you'll probably have completed a second prototype and prepared your orbital defenses, quiaff?"

Kanako nodded. "Yes, I have planned for your Clans retribution."

Satori continued. "Thus I had no choice but to try to retake Utsuho from you quickly. I had no wish to see five loyal workers killed for no fault of their own. A quick raid might have succeeded, causing fewer questions to be asked, but all the mechwarriors had gotten themselves killed by their stupidity. Thus I had to conscript techs and scientists."

The clan warriors face fell in shame. "It seems my actions however were wasteful. Now we've lost five good techs and the prototype mech." She looked up. "While I know I am now no longer a warrior and simply a bandit, I implore you to spare my subordinates lives. I ordered them to follow me, they are simply techs and can serve well in that department."

Koishi patted her commander on the shoulder. "I agreed with your assessment sibkin, otherwise I would have called for a trial of Grievence. I simply failed to make up the difference."

Reimu snorted. "Simply techs my ass. Their tactics sucked but their piloting was spot on. They'll work as techs but only until I find a seat for them."

All the clansmen looked shocked. "Huh?" Parsee asked. "You're keeping us as warriors?"

Kanako coughed. "Before we get ahead of ourselves, I believe you had an explanation you wanted."

Reimu nodded. "Yeah! And a bonus too!"

Kanako smiled. "Exactly. First the explanation. The reason I hired you was because recently I staged a raid on a secret Clan research base. One owned by Clan Snow Raven." Kanako looked smug. "Considering it's value I should probably have lost, but the commander was a fool and managed to put his entire command into a trap. Those two ladies are the only ones that escaped."

"In the process I captured this lovely scientist here." Utsuho waved. "Our friend Ustuho has managed to make the next development in fusion engine technology. One that halves the size and weight of an XL fusion engine."

Youmu's eyes opened wide, while Reimu whistled. "So that's how that damned Mad Cat managed to pack all that armor and extras. No wonder everyone's running to get the tech back..."

Youmu recovered enough to speak. "Forgive me Kanako Yasaka, but I have a question. Clan Snow Raven is noted for it aerospace superiority. Why is such a important prototype on a mech?"

"Oh that? Well I just stumbled on to it," Utsuho replied. "You see, I needed the room for the transformation gear."

Reimu's eyes widened, while Kanako chuckled. "Areomechs. You've found a way to make viable areomechs."

Kanako nodded. "Yep. And now that I have more then one tech to help on the project I might actually get this one off the ground before Suwako comes back with reloads for our Regan defense."

Reimu shook her head to clear it. "That might help, but we're still going to be facing the full might of everyone from two bit pirates to all the damn Clans. And they WILL use orbital bombardment. Even if your system has a 99% success rate you aren't paying us enough to die 1% of the time."

"That's why you're getting a bonus of 15% of the company that's going to sell these engines," Kanako said sweetly. "Assuming you stay of course."

Reimu walked over and held out her hand. "Agreed, partner."