Lilly and Imogen wind their way through scrap hovels and past chop shops. Dead Man’s Port is a scavenger’s dream, but a sanitation worker’s nightmare. “I wonder if Mira’s got more sway here than the last time we were around,” Imogen says, “if she’s got a control tower harassing incoming ships.”
Lilly shrugs. “We don’t know how much power she had before.”
“Fair point. There was some sort of power struggle with a…” The name escapes Imogen for now. “Some other mercenary group.”
The Cruiser is a wreck of a bar inside of a wreck of a starship. The last time Imogen and Lilly were here was their one and only meeting with Mira Han, when she shot a drugged man in the head just to prove a point. The bar looks the same filthy mess as before, and the bartender is just as surly and uncooperative.
While Imogen tries and fails to get them drinks and information, Lilly admires the power armor of a couple patrons. These suits put even the War Pigs to shame. The marauder chassis is designed to hold more heavy arms and adds a foot or two to the height of the wearer. One of these soldiers is even packing a rocket launcher. “Oh, wow,” Lilly breathes, impressed by the bunker-buster. That is a fine tux. These soldiers probably move slowly in all that gear, but she bets they cause a lot of havoc wherever they go. The suits are covered with stickers and decals—brands of beer, ammunition manufacturers, etc. One symbol that stands out among the others, due to its standard location on both suits, looks like a throwing star with only three points. Lilly recognizes the mercenary group it represents: Mira’s Marauders.
Imogen watches the bartender pour yet another drink for one of the well-armored soldiers while still ignoring her. “Hey!” she snaps, slapping her left hand on the bar. “I’ve got credits. This is a bar. You know, transactions, business? Give me a bloody drink. That’s what a bar is for.” Her right hand holds the envelope containing Matt Horner’s note for Mira, and she fidgets, tapping it impatiently on the counter.
Lilly hears her partner getting feisty and pulls her attention away from the gear. She steps up behind Imogen wearing a glare, letting her imposing presence add weight to the slighter woman’s words.
“If you don’t want to tell me where Mira is, that’s fine with me, but I still want my bloody drink,” Imogen says testily. “And a beer, too, for my friend.”
“I’m pretty sure I run this bar,” the grumpy barkeeper says. “I get to decide what it’s for, and if I—”
“Dude, just give the lady a damn drink!” one of the soldiers exclaims. Then he looks at Imogen and nods at what is in her hands. “You got something for the commander?”
“If you work for Han, aye.”
“Mira’s Marauders, right,” he says, tapping a symbol on his chest that means nothing to Imogen. Near it is an abstract design with a pink mohawk. That fits Imogen’s experience of Mira Han.
“Do you know where I can go to deliver this?” Imogen asks.
The marauder does her one better, offering to take her and Lilly to his commander. “But drink first,” he says. “She’ll understand.”
“How does this fella stay in business?” Imogen mutters as she sips the watered-down whiskey finally put in front of her. “Joey was serving stronger stuff than this last week,” she says to Lilly.
Lilly tastes her beer. “You’re not wrong.”
“Listen, you got a problem with the establishment, you can leave. You think the establishment is fine? You can also leave,” the bartender growls.
“Eh, shove off, man,” the marauder tells him. “Just ‘cause you’re the only bar for ten klicks…” Imogen reflects that this sounds like an opportunity for other businesses. “Not many people are looking to set up shop on Dead Man’s Rock,” the soldier tells her with a sad shake of his head. “Salvage planet, no law, active warzone. It’s a tough sell. But whatever. You wanted to go see the commander? If you want, we can just take that to her for you, and you can get out of here.”
“I have to hand deliver it,” Imogen insists. “That was my charge.”
It is not that far from the Cruiser to Mira’s headquarters. As the two marauders escort Lilly and Imogen, one asks what brought them to Dead Man’s Port, not quite buying that it was just to deliver a letter. Imogen tosses him one of their business cards. He glances at it and sees that deliveries and acquisitions are mentioned, so he does not press any further.
Conversation instead turns to the marauders’ power armor. Imogen drifts further and further behind the deeper into the discussion Lilly and the soldiers get. Mira’s troops “acquired” them from a former battalion of Hammer Securities. Kel-morian mining suits are rugged, and the ones adapted to warfare are even more solid. These fire concussive Punisher grenades. Although there are only two launchers, one on each arm, the mini-factory mounted on the back of the suit can manufacture a constant stream of grenades. Provided it is kept stocked with the necessary precursors, of course. “The trade off is speed,” one of the soldiers tells Lilly in response to all her questions. “Many marines cannot handle the change, used to being able to hustle when they need to. With these marauder suits, though, you just kind of plod along. After all, what is the hurry when you have all the grenades you could ever need?”
Lilly manages to extract a tale about one contract these fellows did clearing out a mess of zerg. The concussive grenades are great for stunning zerglings, leaving them vulnerable to firebats who can then just roast them. Groups like the War Pigs, they handle a large number of small jobs. Mira’s Marauders is a large corporation, though. As the soldier puts it, “You just want to win a battle, you can hire War Pigs, Hammer, whatever. You want to win a war, you hire Mira’s Marauders.”