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Strider’s Strikers H.Q.
Miranda, Labrea System
Irece Prefecture
Third Quarter 3067

“No. You will not. Not without proof of honor. You have brought disgrace down upon every man in this unit, upon everything we stand for. You have brought this on yourself, and you will be the one to face the consequences.” The words echoed in Mike Strider’s ears as he sat in his office, staring at the wall. He had heard them for the first time only yesterday, but it seemed he was hearing them now for the hundredth time. ‘The one to face the consequences,’ Devon Carns had said.

Mike shuddered at the thought of his dilemma. Though Devon had been exactly right in all he had said, Mike hated to think of the physical consequences he had cost himself. Devon, a member of the Nova Cat Clan and a teammate of Mike’s for the past 8 years, could only do one thing to maintain the loyalty of his men and prove his own honor. He was going to challenge Mike to a Circle of Equals. If the Nova Cat won there, only time would tell if Devon would kill him over a matter of honor and symbolism.

The status of the Strider’s Strikers mercenary group had been up in the air for almost nine months now. After a narrow victory over the Word of Blake’s ‘Denouncement’ sect, the unit had acquired a newfound Warship after combating the Thunderdome Minions pirates. The Minions had been protecting the Warship with two companies of Inner Sphere and Clan assault Mechs, and had not fallen easy. Despite their wins over their enemies at each turn, the unit was now facing the biggest scandal it had ever dealt with. Someone in the Intelligence Corps had discovered that Mike Strider himself, the founder of the unit which had been allied for 8 years with Clan Nova Cat, had hired an assassin to kill the Word of Blake task force commander responsible for the destruction of the Strikers' Wasat base. While assassination was still practiced by many members of the Inner Sphere states, the concept of such a killing was an incredible act of dishonor to the Clans. The Clans behaved under their strict code of batchall for nearly any challenge they faced. Following this set of rules would ensure that both sides of the conflict would be able to face defeat or triumph with honor, truly a style unique to the Clans. The Inner Sphere could rarely rely on such honorable systems to provide solutions for their military problems.

While none were sure of the assassin’s real identity, most of the Strikers believed the figure was posing as Striker personnel. ‘Hawthorne Abdensen’ was the name Mike had referred to the assassin by in written documents. This, of course, was merely a fictional name.

The WOB figurehead who had been killed was the man responsible for the destruction of the Strikers Wasat base, Adept Ahrald Prinzelden. While Mike had known the risk taken was a rather large one, he had never guessed that his own unit’s intelligence agency would discover the secret. He’d underestimated the abilities of his own men and women.