|Author||William H. Keith|
|Illustrations||William H. Keith, Clint Thorne|
|Era||Succession Wars era|
A chance meeting in a bar on Cassias brings mercenary MechWarrior Daryl James of Andrews' Avengers an intriguing opportunity: the chance to acquire an operational Atlas BattleMech. A mercenary unit left stranded on Cassias by its Kuritan employers has had to barter for DropShip transport off world, using its commander's personal 'Mech and technician as collateral.
Working out a scheme to steal the Atlas from a storage facility with the disenchanted Tech, James poses as the buyer's agent, sent to collect the machine. Despite the efforts of his comrades on the outside, the alarm is raised while he is piloting the Atlas away from the storehouse.
A hired force of heavily-armed guards arrives and starts firing upon James' fellow mercenaries. Even though the assault 'Mech's weapons are inoperable, James uses the machine's armour and physical strength to drive back the guards long enough for his comrades to pull out.
Once the Atlas is secured at the Avengers' temporary billet, Colonel Andrews reveals to James that the "transfer" of the 'Mech was all a trap. Some of the "hired guards" were Kuritan soldiers in disguise, and it is probable that the Atlas was to be used in a surprise attack on the spaceport, just as a number of DropShips - almost certainly 'Mech transports - arrived at Cassias.
The story ends with Colonel Andrews toasting James' success - and "punishing" him with a promotion to Lieutenant.
- BattleTechnology 0202, pp. 24-33, "Max".