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[The Landers seem to be friendly, and they have accepted our cover as Mercenaries, with a promise of large amounts of raw materials for our assistance in clearing out the Klem that are hiding in the mountains. They don't know the extent of the infestation at the moment, and we are not going to tell them that it was only a small percentage that broke our containment.

It would lead to too many questions that I have no intentions of answering. Be sure you are all in character as Death Wind Mercenaries, and we are ready to go.] Max instructed the Regiment over the recently changed main channel.

[If we're going to pull this off, we need a name. Eventually, someone is going to ask about contact information, and if we don't know what to say, someone is going to screw it up.] Major Miller pointed out.

[The man has a point. Something simple and easy to remember.] Another voice agreed.

Max thought about it for a few moments, trying to come up with something that was suitable to a group of mercenary Mecha pilots but not so obvious that it would be taken by another group and arouse suspicion if anyone looked into it.

[If anyone asks, we are the Terminus Trading Company. It fits with the Death Wind's way of naming their Mercenary forces as if they were legitimate businesses, and I am reasonably sure that it isn't taken yet. My copilot, Rage, has checked it out and says that it looks clean and usable.] Max told the Regiment, giving Nico a thumbs up for her timely search of their available data.

The Landers started falling all through the mountain range, clustered in flat spots near every region where Abraham Kepler's sensors had detected that the Klem might have gone to hide.

The ship had, of course, been keeping very close tabs on the Klem force's movements, so the orbital insertion was very focused, without the usual scattering of troops to far flung regions, just in case.

As the Pilots of Max's Battalion watched the troops arrive, the expanded Central Command contingent aboard Abraham Kepler was working out the best way to deploy the "Mercenaries."

"Just look at the number of Super Heavy Mecha. They could take a small Empire. Asking them to spread out to cover more territory with that vicious-looking artillery shouldn't be an issue.

The brigands of the Death Wind territories are many things, but nobody would dare call them cowards." General Tennant suggested, and the other officers nodded in agreement.

Inquisitor General Ming suspected that General Tennant might know more about these Mercenaries' intentions than he was letting on. But by their position between Kepler and the Klem on the edge of the Galactic Core, where few habitable planets existed among the vast nothingness of empty space, he suspected that the group was planning something much more insane than a simple Trade Depot.

General Ming suspected that this bunch might actually be planning to raid Klem territory for precious resources. The insectoid aliens gathered everything that they needed near a Queen once a planet was fully under their control. With twenty Super Heavy Mecha, it was conceivable that the Mercenaries were going to raid one and loot them dry.

If only he had seen their vessel, he would know for sure.

"Contact the Mercenary team and convince them to split up. It's your idea, so you get the honors, Tennant." Ming instructed, using his rank as Inquisitor to take the lead among the Central Command team.

Inquisitor Ming had already sent a silent query out into the intelligence community, wanting to know more about these Mercenaries and which Clan Leader might be here to authorize the decryption of his request without delay, but a response could take a few days, assuming that someone else had noticed that they were in the region at all.

[Mercenary Force, this is General Tennant of Kepler Central Command. We have a deployment request for you. We are sending six Regiments of infantry with light mecha support to the surface and would ask that you spread your force to provide Heavy support for them.

It would free up a lot of our infantry and light mechanized forces to enter the underground without fear of being ambushed from behind.] General Tennant's request was reasonable and didn't ask the Mercenaries to take all the risk, only to protect their backs while the Kepler Military hunted the Klem.

[Would you like the whole force on guard duty?] Nico answered, looking as if she was considering the matter.

[If you can spare forces, the supply depot could use heavy Mecha support as well.] General Tennant suggested, after referring to General Ming.

[Agreed. Place your supply facilities between our camp and the first mountain face. I will have my men stationed to defend the camps.]

The Generals all relaxed a little when she agreed. Most of them because they previously weren't sure how the idea would be received, and General Tennant because he understood Nico's personality and had feared that she would make them sweat over it for her own personal amusement.

While the meeting between the other Generals was ongoing, General Yaakov was hunting for the traitor in their midst.

He hated to admit it, but logically, he was the prime suspect. The Empire was bordering on civil war thanks to Bureaucratic Nobility who wanted to overthrow the Royal Family, and he came from a noble lineage as old as the colonization of his home system, with many family members serving the bureaucracy.

For that reason, he couldn't tell any of his own inner circle what he was looking for, or anything that he suspected. Most of his staff was chosen for loyalty, but it was Loyalty to the family more often than to him personally.

Though he largely agreed that the System of Royalty was outdated, he also saw the greed and self-interest that drove the rebellion and how the lack of strong leadership would inevitably cripple the Empire.

General Yaakov strongly valued stability, unlike the upstart Bureaucratic Nobles faction, most of whom still had family members who were alive the day they were granted titles for their administrative work. After all, with modern medicine, it wasn't unreasonable to expect an oligarch to survive for close to three centuries if they weren't assassinated. Longer if they got lucky with the bonuses from a higher System Compatibility.

His Yaakov Family had a lot in common with the Tarith Family. They had held power for nearly three thousand years before the Kepler Empire was founded and their influence extended well beyond their home planet.

But unlike the Tarith Family, which suffered a tragedy on their homeworld and focused on spreading their power in the shadows, the Yaakov Family proudly held their homeworld and openly supported their other businesses, which limited their ability to spread their reach.

The Nobility was a jealous sort of culture, after all.