~Author's note: This story is based somewhat on the events in Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries.~

Prologue: Coming to Terms

The cold sounds of heavy industry could be heard in the distance as John Mercer sat on his stiff cot in his tight, dimly lit office. Although the frequent clanks and shouts easily penetrated the reinforced Endo Steel security door, John paid no mind to them as he stared down intently at the partially torn scrap of paper in his hands.

Dear John,
If you're reading this, by now you know that I'm dead. This unit is all yours now so take good care of it. You have your mech and whatever money I've got left in the coffers. But listen John, first and foremost you need to look out for yourself. Don't pay attention to the politics, that will only get you into trouble, God knows I did. It's all about the money John, and you know that as well as I do. Get as much as you can for you and the rest of your future unit and retire in style in a beachfront villa on Outreach. DO NOT die on some god-forsaken rock in the middle of planetary nowhere, you hear me?
Surround yourself with good people John. I know you're competent enough to lead a unit but no one is leading a bunch of dumbasses anywhere in this day and age. Again I want to stress not involving yourself in politics. Let other people worry about that kind of crap. If you're feeling patriotic for whatever reason go shoot off some fireworks instead of getting your ass killed.
Well that's it then. Good luck John, I know you have what it takes to be a great leader. Don't disappoint me.

Your former Commander,
Sally Harris

It was hours before John got up from his dingy cot and walked over to the sorely outdated cooler next to his desk. Grabbing a soda, he chugged it down without abandon, feeling the cold liquid pour down his parched throat. Running a hand through his short but messy hair, he sighed deeply. It had only been a week since that fateful disaster. He along with Colonel Sally Harris had gone on what was supposed to be a simple survey mission.

"Get in, get out. Easy money", she said with that trademark smile.

"Sounds like something a brothel worker would say", John had remarked with a chuckle.

That would be the last casual conversation the two would have. John sensed something was amiss as soon as they had landed. For one, the terrain was not desert as the mission parameters had described, it was a filthy, foggy swamp. The sloshy ground made it difficult for their mechs to move. Colonel Harris's 100 ton Atlas was having particular trouble as it had landed in a rather deep pool of swamp mud. John's own 25 ton Commando fared better as he was able to navigate the light mech out of the deep swamp. As soon as he turned around, however, he was met with a horrific sight.

Colonel Harris's mech was showered in laser and projectile fire. Swiveling her mech around, Colonel Harris fired a barrage of medium and large laser fire in all directions but the unseen attackers continued to pepper her. John, so transfixed with fear, could only watch as his commander's mech succumbed to the damage. He searched relentlessly for any enemy contacts on his radar but to his frustration could find none. He was then met with one final radio transmission.

"John, GET OUT! I've already called for Beth to land at NAV ALPHA. It's only 500 meters from here, GO NOW. I still have enough armor left to keep these bastards' attention but you need to hurry! GO!"

Hesitating for a moment, John followed his commander's orders and throttled his mech to top speed in the direction of Nav Alpha. Sure enough, the dropship was in sight. John made it safely on board, but not before a shrill shriek was heard on his intercom. And then there was silence.