Tech Services Vendors Section
Galatea Hiring Hall Building Delta, Galatea City, Galatea
2102 Hours, 26 July 3080
The tall mechwarrior, clad in a flowing cloak over his Arabian garb strode through the hall, looking for a specific vendor. On his hips were two weapons, an ornate saber in a frilled scabbard and a large slug-thrower. No one blinked over the weapons, being that Galatea was still a dangerous place despite the Republic doing a killer job at reigning in troublemakers over the last few years. Dumb shit happened though; only a fool would think it was really that safe this late in the evening… and Khalid Bin Zalas was no one’s fool.
The former Knight of the Inner Sphere, one of the few survivors of the fighting on Arteus during the Jihad and Marik Civil War, was here with a purpose. That purpose… was to find an organization that was willing to help him and his handful of surviving Knights rebuild. He had a handful of machines and a double handful of pilots. What he didn’t have was many truly functioning machines… Everything he had was damaged in some fashion with the majority in desperate need of skilled technicians. With nothing he or his few contacts within the Marik Military that he trusted finding any group or service willing to work with him within Marik space, he and his troops pooled resources and booked passage to here.
And it was a big gamble. While Outreach might have been better choice, that planet was still recovering from its Blakist occupation and the near destruction of its patrons (Wolf’s Dragoons), Galatea was deemed the better choice. Add in that the recommended vendor of tech services for units like his maintained an office here, all the better. Travel to here wasn’t cheap… and this adventure could end in failure if he could not secure a deal. But he had to try, if only for the memory of the Knights that had fallen back on Atreus.
Coming to the office front of what he was looking for, he glanced down at a business card then up at the signage. “Lancer Mekworks Technical Services, a division of Centaurus Industries,” He read aloud and noted the lights were still on within. Adjusting his gun belt, he strode to the door which opened without effort. A small bell jingled as the door opened, amusing the former Knight.
Behind a counter, a young raven-haired woman stood with a terminal keyboard in front of her. Looking over at him, she called out. “Evening sir. May I help you?” She flashed him a smile as she turned to full face him.
Kahleed bobbed his head once. “I Certainly Hope so, My lady,” He answered in his accented English. “I come representing a group of Honest Men and Women who are down on their luck through the results of Treachery and Religious Vermin… and your Establishment was recommended to me as a Haven and a source of Help.”
The woman took in Khalid’s manner of dress and noted the symbol on a small patch, that of a hand rising from a lake bearing a gleaming sword, in place over where one’s heart would be, were the cloak closed. “Ummm… Treachery and Religious Vermin?” She asked. “I guess you ran afoul of Blakist agents?”
A sad smile. “You would be correct, My Lady,” Khalid replied. “Them and those who bought into their Lies.”
The girl nodded to herself as she muttered, “Oooh boy.” Grabbing the keyboard, she looked at the screen, typed a few keys then back at the man. “Well, considering the state of the Inner Sphere, you did well to survive their peculiar hate of everything Not Them. And you managed to get here too. No small feat… Now, how many machines are we talking about refurbishing and what level of rebuild are we looking for? Depending on the work load, we can likely help you though it won’t be cheap nor will it be super fast. The more extensive the work, the longer it will take.”
Khalid nodded. “I and my people understand, and I appreciate the honest warnings on cost and time. We are prepared to enter into contract should we be short on funds for the work needed… And unfortunately, there is a large amount of it to be done.”
“Like how much work?” She asked. “Are we talking about a complete redesign, systems upgrades or just refurbishment and replacement of damaged components? And for how many machines?”
Khalid reached into an inner pocket on the cloak and produced a note paper. Unfolding it, he presented it to the woman. “I estimate a full company of battlemechs, of which a handful are minor refurbishment jobs. These were victims of extended campaign and slap-dash repairs to keep the mounts functioning. The other eight… are unfortunately in a sorry state. At least three will need internals decontaminated. They were cleaned up for transport but I suspect there is still remnants of chemicals within their inner workings.”
The woman took the paper and looked it over. Letting out a low whistle, she took in the extensive detailed estimates of work the machines listed needed. “Chemicals you say?” She glanced up at him and noted the patch once more. “Where were you?”
She blinked as the connection of the patch worn and the location jogged her memory. “Ooooh… ok, I know who y’all are and yeah….” She paused a moment as she glanced at the heavy work the note showed. “Sir, I think we can help you out… Could you give me a minute? I need to make a call to verify ability to do some of the work needed.” At the concerned look that came over his features, she continued. “Don’t worry… I am pretty sure we can take y’all on as a customer. Just some of what’s goingto be needed is some rare services. And not likely available here. Hence the call…”
“Of course,” he replied. “I shall await an answer.”
The woman smiled and pointed at a beverage dispenser. “Please avail yaself of something to drink and I will be with you in a minute.” She stepped into the back areas of the office and closed the door.
Khalid stepped to the dispenser and punched up the selection for strong coffee and awaited its being brewed into the cup available.
The woman glanced at the video screen that showed the outside waiting area and shook her head. She had heard about the Knights of the Inner Sphere and their efforts to be the Chivalric Warriors of History and Legend. That they had managed to gain a rep for such in their history was impressive… and the reports of their being gassed in the early days of the Jihad had come out a couple years ago. Most reports had them destroyed as a result of the gassing and subsequent campaign to eradicate them. But one thing she had learned working here and living through the Jihad with her mom… is sometimes reports of demise were greatly exaggerated.
It would appear that adage applied to at least *some* of those Knights. At least this one and whomever was with him. And she wanted to help. Call it misplaced romanticism, crazy altruistic thoughts… or just cause the man had some awesome taste in clothing. No matter the reason, Amelia Yoder knew what it was to survive in a bad situation and well, if these guys were who they said they were, maybe she could help another good bunch to recover from a shitty hand. The Knights of the Inner Sphere had been dealt one shitty hand, if the reports from a few years ago were true.
Wasn’t often they got the truly deserving as customers. Most were mercs looking for simple affordable tech work and upgrades or sometimes units looking to find an edge for their machines (the Centurion and Enforcer packages were solid upgrades). And there was a deal to be had here- she doubted Khalid and his people had the amount of C-bills necessary to fix some of the mechs on that list. And of them, at least the Albatross was easy to fix. The Decontamination work, not so much, as Mechworks didn’t have those resources here. No one did really. Lifting the comm unit, she dialed a number from memory.
“Richards, Its Amelia; hey… how badly does Uncle John need small units to do border work?” A pause. “Would you believe I may have a Down on his Luck Knight who might go for it?” Another pause, this one longer. “Yeah, I know. He seems like the real deal. He has a Dozen machines, some that should be scrapped but he wants them fixed. We are talking about serious C-bills…. Easily 75 million in work will be needed.”
A pause again. “I know he could buy new… but we both know sometimes you gotta fix old stuff for principle. Or just because who had it. We both know Uncle John still has that Highlander for that very reasonand if these are former Knights, I want to help them….. Stop giggling, Jon. I’m serious.”
A lengthy pause. “Yeah well… If they are, and I think so, I am pretty sure I can negotiate a side contract for paying their bill. Depends on how desperate they are… and if they are willing to trust us. Get here when you can- I want a witness.” A six second pause and the person on the other end brought up some information for her. “Good… I will have something agreed to by the time you get here. Later!”
Amelia hung up and after grabbing a few forms (somethings are still done in hardcopy), she exited the back area.
“Sir Knight?” She called out. “I think we can do some business here…”
Khalid looked over from his position by the window looking outward. “Ah good…” He replied and came over to the counter. “I trust we can come to some sort of agreement”
She nodded as she motioned to a booth location for discussion. “I don’t see why not. And my name is Amelia…” holding out her hand, Amelia used her other one to set down the documents on the table in the booth.
Khalid took the hand and gave a polite shake. “Khalid bin Zalas. My lady.” He sat down in the booth opposite her and awaited explanation on what was being discussed.
Amelia sat and laid out the documents. Pulling up a monitor screen from the end of the booth, she produced a keyboard from under the table and began to type, pulling up several screens. Over the next twenty minutes, she laid out the exact services that were available on Galatea and what had to be done elsewhere if said service was requested. Costs were enumerated by machine and by type of service. Of the machines in the list, the Black Knight would be in question. While it was an older machine that had come back into use, she wasn’t aware of anyone making parts for the Classic BL-6 design. At least original specs. Numerous upgrade packages out there- mostly to make the Royal versions of the machine. But those were generally factory refits…
In taking a good closer look at the list, she noted which machines were reasonable jobs and highlighted those. The heavier damaged designs got a different highlight… and a detailed explanation as to why they would be difficult to fix or decontaminate, as was the case with Crusader. The sheer damage on that machine meant just about everywhere would require a thorough decontamination prior to a rebuild. And a specific package would be needed as once chosen, there was limited ability to change it.
All told, after Amelia went over every line item, the final tally had come to less than she thought but not by much. Final tally, with all the decontamination and labor, came to just under 70 million C-Bills. Add in transit costs (if they had a drop ship) and the cost rose to just over 70 million. And she explained this to Khalid.
Jon Richards had arrived while this was going on. Richards, a mech pilot turned technician turned businessman, ran the office here on Galatea. His background as both a merc and a former Solaris competitor allowed him to know what was what with the machines they saw; his background with the less-than-sterling folks on that world and elsewhere, helped him with checking on stories he was given and also leads on potential jobs. Or issues; if nothing else, the dirty side of places like Galatea, Solaris and other planets like them had some serious built-in warning systems for when odd trouble was to come calling.
He had used said network of contacts to verify the Knight’s story while on his way in… and to his surprise, it checked out. They *were* survivors of battle on the former Marik capitol world and had recently managed to gain transport to here. Based on what he was told, these guys were in some bad shape but were still carrying themselves with discipline. At least one fight had broken out over on the C Zone pads where their Union dropship sat. What over, he wasn’t sure… but Marik boys were not terribly popular around here… but even with the hate on half of everything Marik because of the Word, the Knights should be alright there as they took it in the teeth fighting the bastards.
Operative term being ‘Should’.
Anyways, he was present here in the office as the last of the breakdown of costs were discussed and he watched the body language of the Knight.
Khalid was very calm and stoic as Amelia went over the pricing and costs associated with the repair and reconstitution of this company of Knights. As the estimate rose, the mechwarrior had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. Collectively, he and the survivors had managed to scrape up about half the amount of the estimated repair bill. A substantial amount of money, none of them had factored in availability of services nor the cost of reputable labor. And Lancer Mechworks was a well-regarded company with a deep pool. Affordable services but for the amount of work necessary, it was proving to be a bit much.
It would mean either sell some of the machines or go with a lower rated service. And he had doubts on how fair a deal he would get. Saying no really was not an option.
Amelia enumerated the last pieces of the information. “… so in order to completely refurb all of the machines, final cost with trusted Jump ship transport for your drop ship, you are looking at 70,9703,437 C-Bills.” She paused. “There is trade-in opportunity for gear… or financing via Contract Work.”
At the mention of contract work, Khalid looked away from the screen and to Amelia. “Contract work? Of what kind?” He asked.
Jon spoke up at this time. “Well… the Phoenix Lancers are responsible for Anti-Pirate and stability operations along the eastern borders of the Federated Suns, up near the Outworlds Alliance. Given the discord and instability that the Jihad has caused, along with some tensions that have sprung up from relocation of Snow Raven to Outworlds… and some new residents locally, there is a need for extra help in maintaining the peace.” He smiled. “Think of it as the Local Sheriff is a bit hard pressed to be everywhere it needs to be, even with AFFS in the area. Even their militias cannot be everywhere.”
Khaled nodded. “A sound analogy. And the Lancers are deputies?”
“In essence, yes.” Jon said.
“And how long would such a contract run, based on our ability to pay half of this bill… and what benefits are there for us? I will not bind us as slaves…” the knight replied. “While I do not believe you would run a Company Store action on us, we will not do this without any benefit. I will sell machines first.” The man was very calm but both Lancer agents could see a bit of bristling at the notion of being indebted heavily.
Jon held up his hands. “Whoa there… Ain’t no one said anything ‘bout putting the screws to anyone here. Contract work is an option; contractors are given appropriate lodging, benefits and good pay plus extensive tech services in lieu of salvage. In your case, salvage rights will be a bit tight, if there is any to be had but repairs won’t be an issue. We are mercenaries, even if we are more house than free sword lately. We know a thing or two about a thing or two… and how much more value technical services versus salvage can be.” Jon paused. “If you are worried about getting the shaft, don’t be. It isn’t us.”
Khalid took in this information then looked at the screen once more. Amelia had fully explained out everything to him and the costs that were associated with getting the company back on its feet. And the terms seemed reasonable, considering what was offered as a service for services trade. “How long is this offer good for?” He asked after a minute.
“Forty-Eight hours,” Jon replied before Amelia could answer. “Fast Transport to Centaurus is only to be in system for seventy-two hours… and they have a schedule to keep.”
A nod. “I need to discuss this offer with the others. May I have a hard copy of the estimates… and the offer?”
Jon nodded. “Of course and I get it. Big decision and if everyone isn’t in the know for this, tempers and all that. Give me a minute….” He reached over and tapped a series of keys on the terminal. He then got up to go retrieve the document from the back printer.
Amelia smiled at the Knight. “Khalid, I know it’s a leap to do this, especially with how badly mauled your troops are. But I am sure the deal being offered is better than all but two other companies might give you with similar risks. Anything less than us… well, it’s going to be a scam tried on you at some point. Especially here…”
The Knight sighed. “Agreed. The other option was Hinto Koto Group; and they do not work on anything heavier than the Tempest without an upcharge…”
Amelia laughed. “Well, you did your homework on this… smart. HKG does good work, but they are better with light and medium class machines. The larger battlemechs strain their crews and facilities which is why the upcharges though I’m surprised the Tempest is not an upcharge; it is a Heavy class machine after all… but eh, you did due diligence and that’s good.”
Jon returned with the hard copy documents. “Here you go…” He said as he handed them to the Knight. “I hope your council is willing to do this. I don’t think you will do any better elsewhere for what you need and the level of work necessary to get operational.”
“I don’t think so either; so it will be a short discussion, I think,’ Khalid said. “How long is transit time on your Jump ship?”
A smile. “Thirteen weeks. Anyone else and you are almost double that.” Jon replied. “Which is why the small window.”
“Duly noted… I will be back with an answer by tomorrow morning.”
“Good to hear,” Jon commented and offered his hand. “If agreed to, we can formalize things then.”
Khalid took the offered hand and shook. “Very well, my friend… I will see you hopefully tomorrow with an answer.” Bowing to Amelia, he turned and left the office, the door chime announcing his exit.
Amelia looked at Jon. “Jon, that there is a proud man. A somewhat beaten proud man…”
Jon watched the Knight go and answered Amelia without turning his head. “Yep… and they have reasons for the pride even though being the beaten down. Not every day your enemies have to cheat to drag you down… and still have to work overtime to do you in.” He glanced at Amelia then. “AS much as I wanna give you shit for the deal offered, I know they could use a leg up…”
She nodded. “Ya… the decontamination of some of those machines will take days. Gas residue gets everywhere… and some might still be present.”
“Well… not our problem until it becomes our problem. His fellow pilots could say no.”
“I don’t think they will,” Amelia said. “Pride has already been beaten out of them and if they want to rise again, they gotta take this deal. I don’t think anyone else will offer better.”
Jon shook his head. “They won’t… some of the calls were to the other companies that do what we do. And they wanted a bit more. Decontamination was twice our rate… No body got time for that.”