Ben wondered if he would ever understand his unit, here he was on a mission that had nothing to do with what he had been trained to do, in fact other than the threat of unruly drunken pirates it was about as far away from battlemech combat as one could get. Part of him sighed and admitted that it was somewhat fortunate because if the Warding Guard’s mission did involve mech’s he would be out of the roster as his Blackjack had been destroyed in his last mission and his new salvaged Grim Reaper GRM R-PR 29 was currently under repairs and refit and customizing to fit in with the rest of the mechs of the unit. If there was another good thing about the unit’s current mission, it was that at least on the pirate world of Hilad’s Landing a busy pirate base in the no-man’s land in-between the boarders of the Circinus Federation and Marian Hegemony, finding black-market weapons and components was just a matter of finding a seller and the last time Ben had checked in with Chief Toren he was only looking for a good set of jump jets for the feet and a decent Medium Pulse Laser to replace the faulty one and his Grim Reaper would be ready to go.
Ben sighed as he brought the jeep to a final stop at the side entrance to the club the Hade’s Hideaway that was his destination and he climbed out feeling almost naked in the cold night air without an armored warmachine to separate him from the hostile world around him. In place of a mech, he wore a simple black and grey suit with undercover armor underneath, a hidden knife and baton along with his large 12mm Revolver in a shoulder holster as his only protection but as he opened one of the back doors for his first passenger climbed out he knew he had nothing on nakedness compared to the stunning woman who was the first to step out.
Aike wore a slip of a shirt that showed of the skin tight halter-top underneath and a hip hugging ‘schoolgirl’ skirt that had a slit up half its length that didn’t cover much with only the help of knee high stockings and high heel black boots. Aike’s shoulder length long hair was pulled up to show off her neck line and the plummeting cut of her top. Her hair color and make-up looked like it had been done up by a fairytale hairdresser and she gave Ben a smile as he helped her out of the armored jeep as she took a few steps to stand next to Harvey who was attired much as Ben was.
The next beauty to take Ben’s offered hand was Clara who was dressed in a sheer see through dress of a bluish tint with a bright pink skin tight body suit underneath. She wore her hair down except for the two braided strips that framed her face and although her hair was not colored she too had bright make-up and face paint patterns. She gave Ben a warm smile that made his breath catch in his throat as he admired her deep blue eyes. Where Aike had a physically attractive body and a playful look, Clara had an elegant beauty that drew your attention and made you almost embarrassed for the ideas that came to mind upon looking at her.
In Clara’s hand was a black case, her only equipment for the mission, a mission that had the Warding Guard now called the Wayward Girls and Ben and Harvey playing the part of bodyguards along with all of the Marines of the unit and several Tech’s functioning as the band’s crew. When Clara had learned where the terrorist’s weapons and mechs had come from she had set about a bold mission that involved the unit gathering information and keeping tabs on possible threats to their home planet of Galava and many others. The Warding Guard couldn’t just show up on a pirate planet as themselves and if they had masqueraded as pirates that would have made them competition and fair game to other larger pirate bands instead Clara had devised the idea of traveling as entertainment as no one paid much attention to the entertainment or wished to run them off without good reason.
So Ben found himself gathering information by day and fighting off overeager pirates who tried to rush the stage to get a more hands on performances from the two women on stage. It was a job that Harvey seemed far more adapted to do to his upbringing in the slums of city of Trade Port and his affection for card games and conversation. Ben had focused his efforts on gathering information to general observation and logistics intelligence gathering because even in the chaos of a pirate port one could tell the difference between a merchant smuggler operation and a pirate raiding band. Ben had identified three possible sellers for the terrorist’s weapons, and with Harvey’s beer assisted investigation they had narrowed it down to one pirate crew that had branched into weapons smuggling just in the past year and now high ranking member of that crew including the Captain would be at this club tonight and it would be up to Aike and Clara to get a closer look at who they were dealing with by way of a little tempting company.
The Wayward Girls and their assorted crew and guards made their way into the packed Hade’s Hideaway nightclub that was a spacious cross between a gambling den and a saloon with a stage and dance floor. Clara and Aike stayed backstage as the crew set up and their Marine ‘security’ positioned themselves in front of the stage as Ben and Harvey would be handling security from backstage watching the girl’s back as a hidden last line of defense. When the time came for the show, Aike stepped out on stage first to load applause and wolf whistles followed by Clara who got less cat calls but far more applause, and Ben took the opportunity to get a good look at the gathered crowd filling the dance floor. The Wayward Girls had been on planet for two months now and had a large following of fans already and as Ben walked the streets in the day time he had heard more than one person spreading word about the great act to land on planet.
The Wayward Girls had very few instruments, two band extras on drums with a keyboard in the background, but the stars of the show was Aike’s voice and dance moves as she seductively danced and twirled about the stage while Clara passionately played her violin as she would easily switch back and forth from a very rock like sound to a soft soothing melody only stopping to add a few back up vocals to Aike’s performance. Ben had to admit it, they were good and had drawn attention as they had hoped they would as the band’s overseer he had been petitioned several time for private concerts and dates from the ladies which Aike and Clara had skillfully chosen who was worth the time and who to ignore. Ben didn’t like the idea of them going on the dates, especially Clara, and maybe she knew this as every time he had been assigned to escort Aike on her dates and not Clara.
It was one such date that Clara hoped to received tonight from Captain Jim Hines of the Black Rats, the pirate turned gun runner who they now believed had sold the mechs and weapons to the terrorist on Merton, but there was one thing that all of Harvey’s talk and Clara’s computer skills could not figure out, just were they were getting their wares. If this was just a small amount of weapons, it wouldn’t be that surprising, most likely stolen goods but they seemed to only leave Hilad’s Landing for a few months and returned with ship loads of merchandise. That spoke of a supplier or hidden vault of goods, if it was a supplier, who was it and what did it mean for the Periphery and if it was a vault, where had the pirates found it and could it mean trouble for the surrounding planets. All questions that needed answered and Clara was willing to risk and do much to find out, far too much in Ben’s opinion.
The concert took on a fevered pitch as it neared the end of two hour long set before the Wayward Girls would break for a shot rest. The girls ended the set with a performance that had Aike dancing around Clara before springing off to dance at the edge of the stage as if to illustrate the message of the song that spoke of leaving and returning to a lover who one just couldn’t seem to get over. When the two ladies stepped backstage, they were sweating, especially Aike who Harvey promptly handed a bottle of water while Ben took Clara’s violin before she also grabbed a bottle from Harvey. Both ladies had bright smiles of their faces and Ben wondered just how much they were losing themselves in their roles, and decided that maybe a few minutes of being a star wasn’t that bad for them as they seemed to enjoy it.
It was at this moment that Ben caught sight of a man approaching them being lead by one of the Marines and Ben recognized him as one of Captain Hines’ Lieutenants. That blissful moment of fun was gone, and although Clara tried to hide it Ben saw her shy away at the sight of the man who walked forward to extend an offer for the Wayward Girls to put on a private concert and too entertain the Black Rats and enjoy the hospitality of Captain Hines. Ben stepped up, falling into his role as manager easily enough that he hated himself as he haggled over price and just what was the band was allowed to bring and just what functions the ladies were to play at this party. It made Ben sick inside when the Lieutenant refused to negotiate the fact that the ladies would be expected to be acceptable to the Captains wishes and the hidden threats if the band backed out was enough to make Ben’s blood boil. The thing that ate away at him the most was how easy it was for him to hide all of this from his face and how he was able to say yes without a break in his voice. His father had taught him too well on how to be a noble and how to cut off any feelings over lesser individuals to get what he needed.