“Roughnecks Need Not Apply.”
You have barely entered the bar when you are knocked backwards by the flying body of one of the bar’s patrons. The burly individual knocks you to the ground, and as you stand to give the offensive ruffian a piece of your mind (if not a piece of your boot) you notice that the man was sent flying your way by a red bearded giant fighting on the far side of the bar. As you watch, a number of men attack him, only to be beaten back by his prodigious strength. A man comes at him from behind, smashing a barstool over his head. He staggers and begins to stumble. His sneaky attacker begins to draw a knife, and you feel as if you should help the man before he is stabbed in the back in a cowardly attack.
You quickly jump into action, smashing your fist into the other man’s face. He falls backward as your fist comes away stained with blood. The giant shakes his head, and with a roar launched himself at the remaining ruffians. As you watch the fight ends in a quick a brutal flurry of blows. In a matter of seconds the floor is strewn with unconscious bodies. The man turns to you and offers his huge hand.
“Thanks for your help,” he says in a thick brogue, “Can I get you a drink?”
You nod your assent and he turns to a dazed looking barman and orders two drinks. You make a mental note to not drink in dockside bars any more, and turn your attention to the man beside you. He stands about six and a half feet tall, and looks as if he could pull apart Leviathans with his bare hands. He has a shock of bright red carrot colored hair, and very pale skin. He turns to you and hands you a huge drink, as black as pitch and as thick as fresh cream.
He raises his glass to you in a silent salute, and takes a long pull on his drink. You follow suit, and are surprised by the thick bitter taste that fills your mouth. It is at once revolting and enticing, and you don’t quite know what to make of it. You guess that you should be polite and finish it, but you don’t know if you’ll be able.
Many hours later you and your new friend, Michaleen Houge, stagger from the bar. The manager slams the door behind you and locks it quickly, and you get the distinct impression that he was not happy that the two loudest patrons were also the last to leave. You head back towards the docks, when Michaleen curses loudly. You follow his gaze as best you can, and see a heavily modified Hammerhead being locked down by the port authorities. Michaleen shouts abuses at them in a strange tongue, but it makes no difference. Before they leave, they give him a notice to the effect that he had outstanding storage debts, and that his ship was impounded until he pays them back.
“Ah, but that would have to be the life of a wild rover,” he sighs wistfully, waving an unsteady hand at his locked ship. “I spent all me money on the whiskies and beer, and now I’ve got none to get me ship out of hock.”
He slumps down next to the ship and puts his head in his hand. Your heart goes out to him, and you ask if there is any way that you can help him. He explains that he has to be in New Ireland in the Tuatha system before the end of the month so he can be best man at his cousins nuptials. He says that if you can give him a lift, you can stay for the wedding and the party after. Apparently one is very serious, and the other involves a white dress. You’ve had far too many ‘pints’ to figure out which is which.
You awake in the morning with a heavy head, and there is far too much light in the cabin. The instruments are too bright, and you cannot remember ever feeling quite so awful. Michaleen doesn’t appear to be much better, but takes a very philosophical view of your predicament.
“Just remember that you can only start to feel better when you feel this bad at the beginning,” he tells you with grim humor.
Somehow, it does make sense in a bizarre way.
The wedding turns out to be a very loud and jolly affair. The rites were solemn and beautifully written, and the sentiments of love and the eternities spent together brings a tear to your eye.
Michaleen’s cousin, Riley Shaskeen, is so happy that you have delivered his errant cousin that he places you at the place of honor at the reception, between his unmarried and beautiful sister Sinead, and his best friend and brother Sean Shaskeen. The night seems endless, and is full of drink and song, fights and dancing. Men vie for the attention of the ladies, who treat them with a faintly mocking humor. Their tongues move like whips, and you find your sides hurting from laughing at their banter. Michaleen tries to teach you old drinking songs, and Sinead tries to teach you to dance.
In what seems to be only a few short hours, the night is over, and you stagger away to Michaleens place to pass into a blissful sleep full of dreams of quick witted women and quicker-fisted men.
Morning finds you in a small bed in the home of Michaleen. You see him enter the room with a huge plate of steaming food, which makes your frail stomach perform a couple of small flips. He thrusts it under your nose, and insists that you eat. As you weakly push the food down your gullet, Michaleen tells you that all the young men of the town must go to the bride’s family home and collect her dowry, so that they can deliver it to the newly-weds, and you have been invited to help.
“In fact,” he says through a mouthful of his own breakfast, “I’ve been told not to show up unless I have you in tow.”
You readily agree and spend another very enjoyable day in the company of these strange and hospitable folk.
You an Michaleen are sitting in the bar, and you are considering how easy it would be to stay here and drink for the rest of your life. You notice that Michaleen has not been to work a single day you have been here. So far all he has done is swan about and drink in pubs. You ask him why he doesn’t seem to have to pay for anything, and he looks at you in surprise.
“Why, don’t you know who we are here in New Ireland,” he answers, slightly surprised. “We’re the Wild Geese, the best mercenary organization in the Universe. We fight for the best pay and the best causes, and we never lose. I’m one of the Geese, so I am more responsible for the income of New Ireland than many others here. So tradition has it that I don’t pay for grog or food, nor lodgings either. You see, there is a good chance that I will die in the service of the New Ireland economy, so I don’t pay taxes or for services, I’ll cover any debt when I die”.
You ask him further about the Geese, and you realize that most of the famous battles of the past have had the Geese somewhere in the field. They have a long tradition of being the savior of their employer’s troops, and when the day is all but lost, and most men are ready to break, the Wild Geese find a special reserve and push on, often winning the day single-handedly. Or at least that is the way that Michaleen tells it. By the time he has finished his explanations, many of the other patrons have begun telling their stories. They all involve fighting, women, and lots of drinking. By the time you leave the bar, you have a deep wish that you’d had the fortune to be born on New Ireland, or the Sol homeland, Ireland itself. At least then you could lay claim to this rich tradition of warriors and heroes. You tell Michaleen, who laughs until his face hurts.
“Musha,” he waggles his finger at you “it’s talk like that that’ll cause folks to not let you leave. If you stay long enough, you’ll look and think and sound so much like us, that a stranger won’t know the difference. But unfortunately, I have to get back to Sol and collect my ship. Can you take me back?”
You tell Michaleen you would be happy to take him back. Next day you head back to Sol.
You and Michaleen land on the Kane Band with a minimum of fuss. It is odd that you get clearance so quickly. You have seen waits at least ten times longer than the one you had. Michaleen is in high spirits, and together you set off to the Impound Office to arrange for Michaleen’s ship to be released. You are nearly there when you see a group of burly figures walk out of an alley ahead of you. They turn and wait for you to approach, and you glance over your shoulder. More men are there, and a sudden sweat breaks out on you, as cold as the pit of your stomach. They are all armed in some way. Michaleen stops, and gives you an almost imperceptible nod. The hour is late, and traffic on the walkway is thin, made up mostly of the dregs of the port’s population, the night-walkers who only appear after most regular folk have gone to bed. There is little likelihood of outside intervention, and you are forced to let the other men make the first move.
“Foot soldiers,” Michaleen whispers from the side of his mouth, “They work for a black-hearted bastard called McGowan. He runs a pirate organization in the Galactic North. He has a lot of backing too, mostly from the Bureau of Internal Investigation. Hard to prove, but still fact. The big bastard in the middle is ‘Bull’ John Pennant. He is McGowan’s man in this sector, and a real piece of work too. The only problem is I owe them money, and lots of it. That and the fact that I bedded with Pennant’s wife. I don’t like the looks of this little party.”
“Michaleen Hogue, you worthless muck-shoveller,” Pennant steps forward, casting back his overcoat to reveal a sawn-off shot-blaster, “You have a lot of nerve showing your ugly face about here. We was tipped off you’d be droppin’ by, so I thought I’d get myself a little payback while I’m here. Boss wants his money as well.” He starts to walk forward. The men behind you begin to close in.
“If I don’t get out of this in one piece,” Michaleen whispers urgently, “get back to New Ireland and find Eamon Flanagan. Tell him what happened, and that I’m sorry about this.”
The men behind you charge, and Pennant opens fire with the shot-blaster. Michaleen pulls a hidden blaster from his cloak and returns fire, and you turn to face the charging men behind you. You fire at one of them, but you feel a sudden pain in your back. You fall into unconsciousness, and the ensuing blackness is the heaviest you have ever known.
When you regain consciousness, the area around you is covered with blood. Some of it is pooled in places, but all of it indicates that the bodies of the fallen have been removed. You lift your head and see Michaleen. He is sitting slumped against a wall, covered in blood but smiling still.
“I’ve never seen that tactic before,” he grins merrily. “Deliberately knocking yourself out to trip up the enemy. Maybe I can do that next time and you can take care of them after that.”
“Yeah,” Michaleen laughs at your obvious discomfort, “I’ve never seen someone head butt another man’s foot so hard! Very good thinking though, you did break his foot! Nothing like using your head in a fight as Flanagan always says.”
“Oh well,” he grimaces as he levers himself up and helps you to your feet, “we had better get back to New Ireland to inform the man himself of what has occurred, because I have very much doubt McGowan will be prepared to leave this one alone.”
You look surprised to hear the obvious trepidation in his tone.
“You don’t think you get to be leader of as unruly a mob as the Wild Geese without being able to crack together a few heads,” he grunts as the two of you head back to your ship, “now do you?”
Despite the pain you cannot help grin at Michaleen and his wonderfully warped view of the universe.
As you pilot your way down through the atmosphere you cannot help but notice a couple deep energy-discharge impact craters not far from the spaceport, and you wonder what has transpired here.
As soon as you land Michaleen takes a deep breath to steady himself and motions for you to follow him.
“C’mon,” he murmurs, looking more cowed than you would have ever believed possible, “we may as well get this over with.”
He leads you to a side-building off the spaceport and into what appears to be an office block. For the commander of a mercenary unit you are surprised that this Flanagan has no personal body guards, but as you enter his office, you see him training with some other men in a side area. As you watch you see ten men rush him, only to be repulsed by him. He moves in a way that you have seen no other man move. He weaves around them as if he controlled their movements as well as his own, and that each step taken was part of some elaborate (and painful) dance. By the time you begin to piece together what your eyes are telling you, the man has moved on further. It is amazing to behold.
Within moments he has defeated the men. You expect them to be smashed… broken… bloody; yet the stand, slowly for some, but they are not injured beyond possible bruises. “Better, gentlemen, much better. Now go and practice amount yourselves. I have business to attend to.” He turns and walks towards you. “I can see you are impressed,” Flanagan waves behind his head at the practice mat. “The skills of a mercenary are varied. Some situations require force, others non-force. It is something I learned during my time with the Aurorans. The house Heraan use a specific style of the Martial Arts; the Heron Style. I am a master, but I have started teaching my men here a variation of it. It’s an amazing system.”
You nod in agreement, and ask what the principal basis is.
“In learning the Heron Style, you are taught to read and direct the “Weave” of combat. Subconsciously, all of us fight to a pattern and rhythm. Heron Style teaches us to detect it and control it. It isn’t so much that you defeat your opponent, but he defeats himself, if you force your the “Weave” to do so, it is hard to explain, but once felt, and mastered, it makes all combat easier, from one on one, to mammoth battles between hundreds of ships. There is one teacher called Karlaekar, to whom the most promising students are sent. It is said that he imprints the ability to read and control the “Weave” on the student subconsciously. This makes their “Weave” unreadable, and therefor very dangerous.”
You nod, even though most of what Flanagan has said escapes your understanding.
“So,” he says, turning to Michaleen and eyeing him wryly. “Not 12 hours ago we beat off a well-planned and well-conducted raid by ships that appear to be untraceable, and then you come home looking like a whipped dog. Why am I not surprised? When I told you to try to infiltrate McGowan’s organization I didn’t mean you had to piss off all his lackeys in the process. Let me guess, you had a run-in with Pennant?”
Michaleen nods, his eyes downcast.
“All right,” Flanagan nods as if having made a monumental decision. “Meet me in the bar in a few hours, and I’ll detail you a new set of orders. In the mean time Michaleen, got and get your training gear on. If you’re going to get into all these fights, the least I can do is show you how to survive them without having to go through major surgery all the time.”
Michaleen sighs and despondently turns away, and you notice a quick smile crossing Flanagan’s face. He looks at you and shakes his head after Michaleen leaves.
“There are days,” he grins, shill shaking his head, “when I swear I could throttle that boy. If he wasn’t so damn good at what he does, I reckon I probably would have by now. Regardless, he seems to have taken a shine to you, and whatever his faults are, he’s a fine judge of character. If you want to drop by the bar as well, I could use you, if only to try and keep Michaleen from straying to far into the wilderness.”
You are sitting quietly in a corner booth in the bar, when a man walks in and walks straight up to you. “[insert RSI handle]?” He asks you in a lifting voice. You nod, noticing that the man is very heavily armed, carrying a sawn-off shot-blaster, two heavy blaster pistols and a laser rapier.
“I’m Flynn Brereton. Eamon should be along soon, as should be the others.” Others? You wonder just what is going on, when another two men saunter towards you. They are identical, with a shock of red hair, and are both very large. They nod a greeting to Flynn, and sit down. Again you notice the newcomers are heavily armed.
“I’m Sean O’Driscol,” one of them says “This here’s me brother Ryan.” The other grunts, and waves for two ales. No sooner do the drinks arrive when a slim athletic woman approaches. She sits, and begins to polish a throwing dagger. You introduce yourself, and she smiles shyly at you “I’m Tara. Tara Collins. I’m pleased to meet you.”
“Don’t mind her, [insert RSI handle],” says Flynn. “I’ve been told that she talks more eventually, though I’ve known her three years meself, and Mary an errant word does she say to me.” Tara shoots a wilting look at Flynn, before returning to her blade. You are about to ask what is going on when Eamon Flanagan stalks into the bar, followed by three others including a brow-beaten Michaleen.
“Ah [insert RSI handle], I see you have already met the others. These with me make up the rest of the Wild Rovers. The Rovers are the closest thing the Wild Geese have to Special Forces. The eight people you see here are the most resourceful individuals on all ew Ireland. They are used primarily as spies, but are also capable of demolitions work, assassination, anything really. Now, I’ve called them all here to outline the plan against Pennant and the Sol Sector branch of McGowan’s organization.”
Eamon goes over the background of the situation, of how Michaleen was tasked to infiltrate the organization and assess it’s strengths and weaknesses; how he got into trouble when he owed the criminals a lot of money, and how they responded by trying to kill him. The Rovers are quiet throughout the meeting, silently drinking their drinks and listening to Flanagan. You get the impression that at any other time they would be a lot of fun, but that the current situation calls for a certain level of professionalism.
Flanagan concludes his briefing with an outline of the plan to come. The Rovers would separate and enter the Sol system. Each two man team would be responsible for the destruction of a different sphere of McGowan’s organization. When each team had finished their tasks they will return to New Ireland. “O’ course, we could always use another man,” he says as he claps a hearty hand over your shoulder.
You tell Flanagan that you would be honored to take part in this operation, and that you owe McGowan and his sidekick Pennant that much.
“In that case,” he grins good-naturedly, “I want you to go to Mairim in the Hannaford System. Flynn will go with you, and he’ll be in command of a team of our special operations commandos. When you get there you will need to locate the wreck of a freighter called ‘South of the Boarder’. It crashed nearly 80 years ago on the icy steppes. McGowan has made the wreck habitable again, and has been using it as a Tobacco and Hammerhead processing facility. It is a handy arrangement for McGowan. Mairim is close enough to Sol hat is doesn’t take too long to ship the product back. However, since Mairim doesn’t have and official government, McGowan has been able to have a steady influx of income without having any police trouble. I want you to go and fix the situation. All of the workers there are convicted criminals that McGowan has been able to secure as part of a governmental work contract. It is a good indication that the Federation cares little for the state of its criminal justice system. Terminate them. Teach them the folly of dealing in destructive drugs. After that, meet me back here for the next phase of the operation.
“One final thing,” he mutters, looking straight at you, “as a new member of our team, if any time things get too out of hand for us to survive here, look up my friend, Professor F Cook, on Misfire in the Trishka System, and I won’t be far away.”
After avoiding the orbital patrols you and Flynn quickly move through the facility smashing and killing everything you come across. Flynn is just a whirling dervish of destruction and whenever you find yourself getting pinned down he somehow manages to pull off the impossible and pull you out of trouble.
After the better part of an hour of fighting your way through the crashed ship, everything is quiet and Flynn plants his charges and the two of you take off as soon as possible to avoid any further entanglements with pirate goons.
You land on New Ireland with the memory of your assault on the ‘South Of the Border’ still fresh in your mind. You and the Wild Geese team moved through the derelict like the wraiths of death itself. The workers tried to repulse you with small arms fire from numerous blasters, and the sentinel gun emplacements slowed you down for a while, but nothing could stop Flynn. His heavy repeating blaster spat an unending stream of destruction, and soon enough it was time for the up close fighting. In battle, Flynn became a wild killing machine, hacking and slashing without fear. Men fell before him like wheat before the scythe, and many turned and tried to flee. Flynn pulled his pistol and he and his team wreaked a bloody vengeance upon their massed ranks, and it was over in less than an hour. You looked out a porthole and watched the survivors flee across the icy steppe, safe in the knowledge that the extreme cold would soon end their lives.
You remember standing guard while Flynn quickly set a number of microfusion charges before both of you returned to the [insert name of vessel]. As you passed over the site, Flynn depressed the detonator, and the entire wreck disappeared in a ball of white light, rapidly expanding to a sphere of flaming debris. The hulk was simply vaporized.
You and Flynn report the details of your assault to Flanagan, who grins happily at the result.
“That should upset our friend McGowan somewhat,” he says a little cheekily. “He just lost a sizeable portion of his drug production capability. It took him almost a year to set up the site, and it took the two of you and a strike team an hour or so to utterly destroy it. Wait for me in the bar, I’ll have something else for you to do in a few hours.”
You are sitting waiting for Flanagan, and Flynn has been telling you all about his recent adventures. You do a lot of flying, but Flynn has been from one end of the Universe to the other so many times that he would have easily eclipsed your journeys. All of his missions involve some sort of espionage, from destroying installations, to planting bugs and wires in crucial places. You are beginning to get a grasp of how large the Wild Geese’s intelligence network is, and you ask Flynn how the Geese maintain such a high level of security and awareness in what is a constantly changing world.
“That’s simple,” he says, sipping his pint. “We Geese come from a long line of usurpers. Our ancestors fought in so many wars after being forced into exile for their political ideologies, that we have almost evolved into the unit we are now. Where some people tell their wains about ‘The Three Little Bugbears’ or ‘The Princess Bride’. We get told stories about ‘Michael Collins and the Flying Columns’ or the battles of ‘Rory of the Glen’. Guerrilla tactics are like mother’s milk to us. Intelligence and counter-intelligence are easy if you have been trained in them since you have been able to listen.”
You are still musing over this information when Flanagan arrives. He quickly walks up to you and pulls you into a booth.
“Now we are going to play a little game. McGowan has placed orders with a number of smaller operators for drugs. In a few hours, we’ll have a shipment for you to deliver. Only thing is, your containers aren’t going to be filled with Hammerhead, or Fly, or Goofjuice. They are going to be packed with explosives. Since the orders are being filled by so many groups, it has been easy for our spies to discover what the passwords and delivery schedules are. Do you want to make some evil men go boom?”
“Good for you. Here is the deal. We’ll load the containers onto your ship. You have to take them to Ryll in the Porto Rillia System. McGowan has a distribution center there. When you arrive, tell the dock-workers that the container are for Margret Harris. They will ask when you want them delivered, and you MUST respond with ‘Before six tomorrow, and make it snappy’. If you don’t, they will assume you are a plant, and more likely than not try to kill you. Even if you escape, you’ll still have a hold full of explosives to get rid of. So make sure you have it right. Get the shipment there ASAP, as I’ll need to make McGowan sweat in order to take my plans to the next phase.
“Also,” he adds with a quiet grin, “you might want to avoid Federation patrols, as I don’t think they appreciate people who ship large amounts of explosives froM place to place. Any questions?”
You tell Flanagan that you have it, and head for your ship.
You land or Ryll to find the dock a swarm of activity. You wonder how the corrupt dock-workers know which ships to approach, but you guess that Flanagan and the Geese have made sure that the shipping scripts have been organized to match.
A number of burly dock-workers approach you, and with a poker face you tell them that the containers are to be delivered to Marguerite Harris. When asked by what time the goods must be delivered, you tell the foreman “Before six tomorrow, and make it snappy”. The foreman grins, and hands you a chip for 30,000 credits.
“There you go, he says, smiling. “A little bonus from the boss for a prompt delivery.” You smile, more at the irony of the situation, but the dim-witted foreman does not notice the difference.
You head back to your ship to get some rest and watch the news. A couple hours later, the broadcast you are watching is interrupted for a special report. You watch in grim satisfaction as a news reporter makes a telecast from the front of a burning warehouse. Great gouts of black, oily smoke billow from the building, and the reporter has to shout to be heard over the roar of the flames. Switching off the holo-receiver, you head for the stars and ultimately, New Ireland.
“We saw your handiwork on the news,” Flanagan smiles as he meets you at the hatch. “I especially liked the bit where the authorities tried to take he credit for the destruction of a large shipment of drugs, and breaking the smuggling ring. Funny thing about crooked cops. If something too. If happens, they take down everybody, get promotions and medals m, and sleep well at night knowing that they have heaps of cash and have still done their jobs.” Flanagan shakes his head, and you wonder just how the police and security forces were tipped off.
“ Go and get some rest in a real bed,” he finishes with a warm smile, “and take some time to wind down. The next stage of the operation is going to be tricky, so I’ll need some time to set it up.”
You are sitting down, enjoying a drink when you see Flanagan and Michaleen walk in, both looking grim.
“We need you to go into the dragon’s lair,” says Flanagan without preamble once they make their way over. “From what intelligence I’ve been able to gather, this guild that McGowan is in charge of is a little more capable than I thought they were. They have ties with the Bureau, and some of their equipment could only have come from them.
“I’m going to be sending you to make a peace proposal,” Flanagan says showing you a data-cube and holding up his other hand to forestall your protests. “We do not have the manpower to defeat them, and if we do get dragged into a way with them, we will probably be blind-sided by the Federation through their ties with the Bureau.
“We have to hurt them,” Flanagan notes quietly, “and hopefully, we can negotiate a truce without further incident, if I can get McGowan to see that the cost to this damned guild of so-called ‘associated traders’ would also be detrimental to their purpose of amassing wealth.
“Are you prepared to risk your life to be our envoy?” he asks quietly.
“Thank you, [insert RSI handle],” states Flanagan evenly, “we owe you more than you know. McGowan’s headquarters are on the station called ‘Harbor’ in the Scheall System to the galactic north of the Federation. Good luck.”
With that he turns on his heel and heads out of the bar leaving Michaleen behind.
“I’ll be thanking you as well,” Michaleen says shamelessly. “If you had refused, it would have been me going! And I know that McGowan holds me in no high regard since it was me that caused this whole thing. Anyway, I had best be catching up to Flanagan or else he’ll have me back in training again!”
With a wink and a saucy grin, Michaleen heads off after Flanagan.
Almost before you land, someone has picked the lock on your hatch and in minutes a small group of men carrying all sorts of weapons have stormed into your cockpit and taken you prisoner. They carry you through the spaceport to a set of offices just off the main structure of the spaceport and throw you into what appears to be a conference room of sorts. Inside you see seated in a plain, yet obviously comfortable, chair a man slightly more than medium height and of slim build. There is something almost hauntingly familiar about the man, but you cannot put your finger on it.
“If my information is correct, Captain [Insert RSI handle],” he begins pleasantly, “you have recently come from the planet called New Ireland in the Tuatha System. Now, as I am sure you have guessed by now, my name is McGowan, and at the moment, as Guild-master of the Associated Guild of Free Traders, I am not terribly impressed with a group of people, known as the Wild Geese, that hail from that area of space. Now tell me, why should I allow you to leave this station alive?”
You take a few moments to tell McGowan of your most recent meeting with Flanagan and of the data-cube containing his peace proposal. When you have finished speaking McGowan stares at you for several moments.
“Meet me in the bar in a couple hours,” he dismisses you indifferently, his urbane manner sends shivers of something akin to recognition down your spine. “By then I will have made my decision regarding this ‘truce’.”
With a small wave of his hand his muscular henchmen grab you and turf you back out into the spaceport. With a few muttered curses you decide that discretion would probably be the better part of valor in this case, and you head off to find the local bar, wondering what it is about the man that seems so familiar…
As you sit, drink in hand wondering what it is about McGowan that bothers you, an expectant hush falls over the bar and you look around to see McGowan, and a number of his bully-boys have walked into the bar. Noting you sitting near the rear, they make their way over.
As soon as McGowan sits down his bully-boys set upon you. You desperately try to defend yourself, but there are simply too many of them for you to do anything effective. Possibly only two or three minutes later the beating abates and one of the thugs lifts you off the floor to face McGowan.
“I have accepted Mr. Flanagan’s proposal,” he says, unperturbed by your condition. “I will no longer launch operations against the Wild Geese if they do not launch against us. As for you, I am warning you never to return to this place whilst I am alive. I don’t know what it is, but there is something offensive about you, and I will not tolerate your presence any more than I have to.”
With that, he gets up and starts walking out of the bar. The man holding you up drops you to the ground and you remain there, unmoving for some time before levering yourself up.
Not a single person in the bar makes eye contact with you as you leave this establishment.
When you return, your bruises are nearly all healed, and most of the aches and pains are gone. Flanagan receives the news the McGowan has accepted his proposal stoically, and mutters something about keeping an eye on the bastard to make sure he is actually abiding by his word.
Within minutes word has gotten out of your bravery in meeting with McGowan, and, in typical whirlwind fashion, Michaleen has grabbed you and dragged you, only partially against your will, down to the pub. There is much singing and dancing and before too long, you catch yourself smiling and enjoying yourself.
At one point Eamon pulls you aside, and tells you that the Hacker Techs had been able to perform some last minute trickery whilst McGowan was ordering his people to return to normal activities. For all intents and purposes, the entire Wild Rovers team are employees of the McGowan organization. You will be receiving a regular salary from McGowan, and he will not know a thing about it.
“All the entries are invisible. His accountants will never know that they are there. Even if he gets shut down, and the proper authorities take over the operation of some of the front businesses, we’ll all still keep gettin’ paid.”
You both laugh at the irony of the situation for a long time.
Toward the end of the night, Eamon calls for quiet, and an expectant hush falls over the bar patrons.
“Friends,” he says “You’ll all know [insert RSI handle], and have heard what a wonderful fella he is!”
There is a roar from the crowd, and you feel yourself blush.
“You’ve heard that it was himself that did well for Michaleen, and fought beside him, using his head to break the feet of his foes,” again the roar, this time accompanied by good-natured laughter. “Well, it is my great pleasure to bestow upon [insert RSI handle] the Order of the Red Branch!”
The crowd goes ballistic, and you are pushed forward by a wave of hands patting you upon the back. Flanagan takes you by the arm, and instructs you to kneel before him.
He takes a huge sword of highly polished steel and places it upon your shoulder, the. The other intoning “I dub thee Sir [insert RSI handle], Knight of the Red Branch, keeper of the Blood of Cuchalain. Stand and be recognized.”
The roaring of the crowd is deafening, and you stand and are presented with a small broach. Looking at it, you see it depicts a goose in flight, surrounded by small three-leafed plants, all set over crossed swords. Tears mist your eyes, and you feel the arms of your new family embrace you.
Next day Flanagan see you off at the spaceport.
“Don’t forget what I have told you, now,” he embraces you warmly. “Stop by every now and then and I’ll probably have a job for you. And if you ever get into trouble, just you come back here, and we’ll take care of it for you.”
You smile and tell him that you will, and step aboard your ship. He waves farewell, and before long the stars fill your viewpoints, and you leave New Ireland behind…for the time being.
SONG OF THE WILD GEESE
…sung by the soldiers of New Ireland before battle or when leaving on an extended journey. Also sung in bars and pubs on New Ireland after the death of a compatriot. It is a traditional song, and has been sung by the Geese for generations, since their forebears left their native home so long ago…My Maire bhan! My Maire bhan, – I’ve come to say good-bye, love; To France I sail away at dawn- – My fortune for to try, love The cause is lost a stoir mo chroi, – All hope is now departed; And Ireland’s gallant chivalry; – Is scatter’d broken-hearted. Ah! pleasant are our Munster vales, – Encrowned in summer sheen, love; And say, could we remain and see – In ruin and dishonour Far o’er those banners waving free – The foeman’s blood red banner! No, sweeter in far lands to roam – From Lee’s green bank and thee, love, Than live a coward-slave at home – To plighted vows untrue, love, And better ne’er to grasp thy hand – Or view those tresses shining, Than ‘mong the vravens of the land – Crouch down in fetters pining! Mo bhron! ‘tis hard to part from thee, – My heart’s bright pearl, my own love, And wandering in a far country, – To leave you sad and lone, love! But spring’s young flowers will crown the glen, – And wreath the faeries wildwood, And Druith’s feet will pace again -The mountains of my childhood. Farewell, farewell, mo mhuirnin bhan – Time flies, I must away, love; ‘Twill soon be dawn, ‘twill soon be dawn, – My stted begins to neigh, love; Farewell, preserve thy heart as true, – As changeless as yon river, And Druith’s will be true to you, – Anear, afar-forever!
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