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Freeport 1, Omega-3
October 16, 827 A.S.

"Well, well, well," a raspy voice rang out from behind where Olivia was sitting. She slightly turned her head to glance over her shoulder and spotted a brown-haired Caucasian male, looking to be in his late thirties, early forties, approaching her table in the freeport's bar. "Didn't think I'd see you down here again so soon." The man strode around the table, coming to a stop behind the empty chair across from her, placing his hands on its backrest. A grim smile bisected a scruffy beard.

"And I thought you might make yourself a bit more presentable before having a drink with a lady," Olivia replied coolly. She let her eyes wander over the tall figure before her. The man was clad in a heavy coat, thick fur lining its standing collar and a number of patches covering its wear and tear. Beneath it she could make out a grey flightsuit, plates of steel and polymer armor attached strategically to protect his vitals. Her gaze wandered back up to his unkempt head. She smiled. "Good to see you, Blue." Gesturing at the empty chair, she indicated for the man to take a seat.

Pulling out the chair and letting himself drop into it with a groan, Blue signaled for a waitress. "The usual," he called out as she approached, prompting the young girl to turn on her heels and head for the bar. Shifting his attention back to Olivia, he leaned forward, placing his elbows on the tabletop and resting his chin in his hands.

"So, Sable," he spoke to her. "What brings you down to these lovely parts?"

Olivia leaned back in her chair with a sigh, dropping her eyes to the glass of ale on the table before her.

"Nothing pleasant, I'm afraid."

Blue chuckled. "I didn't think so."

Olivia nodded, raising her glass to her mouth for a sip. Replacing it on the tabletop, she glanced back up at the man.

"How's Red?"

The man rolled his eyes in exaggerated exasperation as Olivia deflected his question with one of her own.

"He's still recovering," he replied as the waitress arrived at their table, carrying a plate with two glasses of a murky, colorless liquid. He nodded his appreciation as the girl placed them on the table in front of him before leaving again for the bar. Blue leaned forward and took a deep breath of the faint vapor that rose from the drinks. He held it in for a moment, then exhaled with a satisfied smile. Locking eyes with Olivia again, he continued, "He's still jittery - or rather, still more so than before - after what he went through."

Olivia nodded pensively. "His family's alright?"

Blue nodded his confirmation.


Olivia leaned forward, glancing around the establishment cautiously. For the most part it was empty, only a few freighter pilots sitting together in a booth on the far side. Nonetheless, she didn't want anyone eavesdropping on what she was about to discuss with her old acquaintance. She lowered her voice.

"Are you still in touch with any of the other Colors?"

At this, Blue narrowed his eyes. Keeping them on Olivia, he reached for one of the glasses, pressed it to his lips and threw his head back, emptying the drink in one swig. He wiped his sleeve across his mouth before placing the empty glass back on the table.

"Yeah," he finally muttered. "A few of 'em." He turned his head from side to side, glancing around the bar. Then he, too, leaned forward, bringing his face to within a few inches of Olivia's. "Why?"

Olivia hesitated.

The Colors.

The company of mercenaries she had served with throughout her employment in the Omegas. The men and women who, like her, had been taken advantage of and pressed into service by Pedro. They all had suffered from his machinations. Some, like Red, were unable to cope with the crimes they had been forced to commit and suffered from post-traumatic stress, depression. Others had put down their arms for good, searching for new careers far away from the bloodshed and murder. Some, like Olivia, had remained mercenaries, not knowing any other way of life nor any other method of earning a living.

Would she really try to rope the survivors into a new plot, one that involved them facing off against the man responsible for their pains and nightmares? She had little choice. Alone, she would never get close to Pedro again, not after her failed attempt at taking him down in Liberty. Olivia's reconnaissance had revealed that her target now spent his days on Crete, living in comfort in his luxurious homestead, guarded at all times by a company of hired guns and local Corsair allies.

Negotiating the assistance of her former comrades and wingmen was Olivia's only chance of getting her revenge against Pedro and to finally put an end to his evil. She hoped that the prospect of vengeance would convince the scattered band of mercenaries to come back together for a final hurrah.

In a hushed tone, she told Blue as much.

The grizzled man leaned back slowly, his eyebrows raised in surprise.

"Jesus, Sable," he muttered, reaching out for his second drink. He raised it to his mouth and paused, letting it hover a few inches from his lips. He stared at Olivia intently, clearly in deep thought about the proposal he had just been made. "You really mean it?" He finally spoke.

Olivia nodded silently. Without Blue's help, she had no chance of getting the other Colors back together. She herself had always been an outsider among the company, dejected from the fraternity of the other mercenaries. It was the way she preferred to operate - not getting too close to anyone she might be afraid of losing. But the others had noticed and treated her accordingly. As a valued member of the company, but not as a friend. They would never listen to her call to action, not now, not under the circumstances. Only one of the Colors' former leaders would be able to rally them and, with Red out of the picture, Blue was Olivia's only remaining ally.

"Well," Blue uttered quietly and finally brought the glass to his lips, emptying this drink, too, in one long gulp. "That sure is quite the undertaking you're planning."

Olivia nodded her agreement.

"That's why I need your help, Blue. If you can get the old gang back together, I can hire a few more mercs to fill in the gaps."

Olivia silently thanked her uncle for drilling a sense of fiscal responsibility and frugality into her from a young age. Her savings hardly made her rich, but they were sizeable enough to pay for a small company of private contractors; enough, she hoped, to supplement the thinned numbers of her old crew.

Blue cocked his head to the side, gazing at the woman across from him. She waited patiently for his reply, knowing that he was no man to rush to important decisions. Despite his almost berserker-esque appearance, of the Colors' two de facto leaders, he had always been the more cautious, often reigning in Red's more gung ho tendencies.

They remained this way for several minutes, silently sizing each other up from opposite sides of the table. Olivia's cool slowly evaporated away, getting her to unconsciously tap her right foot on the floor in a nervous staccato.

Finally, Blue leaned forward again.

"If I'm gonna send out the call to the others," he growled under his breath, "I'm gonna need to know that you've got a good plan."

Olivia let out a breath she hadn't realized she had been holding in. She did have a plan. Or at least a rough draft. It was dangerous, almost certain to result in at least some casualties, probably even fatalities. But she hoped that her old comrades would be enthusiastic enough about cracking a shot at Pedro to overcome the danger.

"I'm still working out the details," she disguised the truth.

The man across from her nodded his head slowly.

"Alright," he said. "I'll make the calls."

Olivia could have sprung out of her chair and kissed him. However, she restrained herself, wanting to maintain the semblance of someone who was in control of what lay ahead. She smiled a warm smile instead.

"Thanks, Blue."

Fishing a credit chit out of his coat and dropping it on the table, the older mercenary rose out of his seat.

"I hope you know what you're doing."

With that, he turned and left, leaving Olivia to celebrate in silence over securing the first of many small victories she would need to reach her goal.

Freeport 5, Omega-41
October 17, 827 A.S.

Olivia stood at the viewport, staring out into space at the vast field of rocks - the remains of the system's planets. Occasionally, the fragments would move to reveal the black sphere of the neutron star, its electromagnetic field so immensely powerful that it could be observed with the naked eye. Olivia hated it. She popped a set of pills into her mouth, swallowing the radiation medicine in one big gulp. How anyone could willingly live in a post-apocalyptic system like Omega-41 was beyond her. Then again, having grown up on a freeport herself, she knew only too well the lengths to which Zoners would go to escape the ever-expanding grasp of the Houses.

The mercenary's PDA vibrated in her pocket. Pulling it out, she saw that she had received another notification - another response to her job offer. She was surprised at how many freelancers and hired guns had applied for the job in such a short time. The description she had posted was vague but it did clearly state the dangerous nature of the mission and that the pay would be far from generous. But she guessed she should have probably known better than to be surprised by the interest. Many of the mercenaries that came to the Omegas came in search of the thrill more than the big bucks. She would find out what manner of nutjobs and adrenaline junkies she had hired when they started arriving in-system over the coming hours.

Another message popped up on her PDA's screen.

Maroon, Amber, Turquoise joining. Gathering others. -Blue.

Olivia sighed a sigh of relief. Blue had pulled through. All three of the named Colors were of the old guard, among the company's most experienced veterans. With their help, getting other survivors to join their operation would be significantly easier.

She typed up a quick message expressing her gratitude before pocketing the device again. Her gaze wandered back up to the viewport. Out there, across the vast expanse of the planetary fragments, was the jumphole to the Corsair homeworld. And on that bleak, rocky world, housed comfortably within a luxurious mansion, resided the man she would soon come face to face with for the last time.

The freeport's modest canteen had slowly started filling up as hired muscle and former Colors alike arrived. The random mercenaries and assorted glory-seekers gathered around the bar, exchanging exaggerated stories with each other in efforts to impress. Olivia's former colleagues instead huddled around a few tables in the back, catching up with one another after years apart. Olivia was glad to see them all; the old close-quarters team Ocher, Cyan, and Violet; the brothers Teal and Sage; the medic, Turquoise and the pilot, Amber. Their feelings towards her, however, were clearly muted.

She understood why. After the last job Pedro had made them do for him, she had been the first to quit the company, leaving the others to deal with the aftermath on their own. The only reason any of them had come at all was, likely, because they chose to follow Blue's call, not hers. Olivia had, however, hoped that more would heed it. With Blue, Maroon, and herself, there were twelve Colors. Nonetheless, she expressed her heartfelt gratitude to those former brothers- and sisters-in-arms who had come.

"So, we're really going after the old son of a dog?" Teal muttered in his gruff voice. A strand of long, black hair fell into his face, obscuring one of his blue-green eyes. The other stared at Olivia intently.

She nodded slowly.

"That's the plan."

"What exactly is the plan?" Amber chimed in. She smiled at Olivia, but it wasn't friendly. The woman had always been overly sarcastic and the two of them had spent most of their time together in the company on bad terms.

Olivia sighed.

"I'll explain it when everyone's here," she spoke calmly, defensively. For this to work, she would have to make sure everyone was on the same page, cooperating instead of bringing up old rivalries and grievances. When's Blue gonna show up, she thought to herself, hoping his presence would lend her more credibility with the Colors.

"Who's missing?" Violet asked, puffing on one of his trademark self-rolled cigars. Letting the smoke sift around his mouth for a few seconds, he looked around the group and back to Olivia before letting it slowly seep out between his parted lips.

"Well-," she started but was promptly interrupted from behind.

"Me, for one!"

Olivia could feel her guts drop and her face redden.

"How's everyone? Hah!"

She slowly turned around, her face grim. Walking towards her, arms held aloft in a wide greeting, was Beige.

There were a few muttered greetings from the other Colors as Beige approached their group of tables, a wide grin plastered onto his face. His blond hair had an even more disheveled quality than usual, his face covered with stubble. He stopped just short of Olivia, leaning in for an embrace. Olivia took a step back, eyeing the man suspiciously.

"I didn't know you were coming."

Beige's smile somehow widened.

"And yet, here I am! Hah!" He slapped Olivia on the shoulder. "You didn't think you'd go after him without me, did you?"

Olivia brushed his hand off of her.

"So the bribes worked?" She asked coolly.

"Sure did. Hah! Detectives decided I was innocent!" Beige threw his head back in laughter. "Bless the LPI!" He shouted.

The mercenaries at the bar looked over their shoulders to see what the commotion was about. Olivia grabbed Beige by the arm and dragged him into the Colors, shushing him. Still grinning, he looked from face to face, nodding his greetings to each of his former comrades.

"Good to see you all!"

A few eyes were rolled, a few chuckles laughed. Olivia shook her head to herself, wondering what she'd done to deserve two encounters with the loud-mouthed mercenary in such close succession.

The persisting muttering of the Colors suddenly ceased as, in unison, they turned their heads towards the entrance to the canteen. Two men crossed the threshold, one looking like a bear, hair and beard scruff, covered in a heavy coat lined with fur, the other shorter and leaner, clad in tight-fitting black body armor, his dark red hair flowing about his head as though exempt from the laws of gravity. Olivia sighed in relief as Blue and Maroon approached. Some of the weight of leading the band of mercenaries was lifted off her shoulders.

"Sorry," Blue muttered once he was within earshot, "for letting him run ahead like that. He was too excited to walk with us."

Beige guffawed at the remark.

"I'm just glad you made it back in time," Olivia replied gratefully. She turned to face the red-headed man and nodded a greeting. "Maroon, good to see you."

He greeted her in kind, a feint smile on his face.

"It's been a while, Sable," he spoke softly, barely audible over the banter and laughter emanating from the hired guns at the bar. "A shame that it would take this to reconvene us all." He glanced around the group, smiling at each former member of the company.

Crossing her arms in front of her, Amber stepped forward, next to Blue, and turned to face Olivia.

"And now that we're all here, care to reveal your great plan to us?"

At Olivia's signal, the Colors and the additional hired guns gathered at the center of the canteen, forming a circle with her at its center. The mercenaries looked at her expectantly, while she scanned their faces.

Her dozen or so contractors were a cobbled together crew of thrill-seekers, budget hitmen, and killers for hire. Their services were inexpensive and their lives, while not expendable to Olivia, nonetheless of secondary importance. They would be the grunts sent into the meat grinder.

Blue. He was a grizzled veteran and charismatic leader, using his southern charm combined with his vagabond appearance to get his way most of the time. His skills both in the pilot's seat and with firearms were impressive, though he preferred to downplay either. Having him by her side for this mission was a blessing for, without him, there would be no mission.

Maroon. Olivia had never been too certain what to make of the man. His odd, aloof attitude had made building any kind of rapport with him difficult, though over the years they had come to hold each other in considerable regard. For a while, perhaps, there had even been a spark between them. But that was a memory for another time. The mercenary's slight build and liquid, cat-like movements made it hard to believe that he was the Colors' prime CQC expert, never having been bested by any of the others in a sparring match. His skills would be invaluable.

Amber. Olivia could feel the woman internally roll her eyes. Rivals was a good way to describe their past relationship with each other. Amber had never approved of, or perhaps simply not understood, Olivia's desire to remain apart from the rest of the company, taking it as a slight against both her and her comrades. Nonetheless, when it came down to having each other's backs in combat, they had never failed one another. While Amber was more of a pilot than a fighter, Olivia had seen her wield a sniper rifle with outstanding precision on more than one occasion. Regardless of their past grievances, she was happy to have her onboard.

Ocher, Cyan, and Violet. As always, they stood side by side, always keeping an eye out for one another. Ocher and Violet towered over Cyan, flanking her like oversized guard dogs, but Olivia knew that the smaller woman was perfectly capable of handling herself in a fight. Together, the three of them had cleared entire battle transports on their own, cutting, shooting, and punching their way from bow to aft like boiling water through ice. Only Maroon ever stood up to them and remained standing afterwards. Olivia wouldn't have to worry about them once the action kicked off.

Teal and Sage. The brothers looked like identical twins but were actually two years apart. The only immediate hint that they weren't clones were their eyes' different shades of green. Together, they made up the company's heavy weapons team, specialized in anything from anti-tank rockets, mortars, and the occasional piece of artillery to heavy machine guns, energy lances, and anti-materiel rifles.

Turquoise. The 'mother' of the company. She was the oldest of the Colors, though she had never actually admitted to her precise age. Olivia estimated her to be somewhere in her mid-fifties. Before joining the company, she had been a nurse in a New London hospital, then, when the war with Gallia broke out, she joined the Armed Forces' medical corps. During those years, she developed a strange taste for not just mending pain, but for causing it, too, which lead to her desertion and subsequent recruitment into the Colors. From then on, she had provided her services as a medic to the other mercenaries, both after battle and during combat. Olivia was certain that the woman's expertise would see plenty of use.

Finally, Beige. Olivia rolled her eyes as the man grinned at her. As far as she was concerned, he was a nutjob, if - admittedly - a competent one. He could handle himself as well in the cockpit as he could on the battlefield, relying more on his wit and unorthodox tactics than raw talent to best his opponents. During their tenure in the Omegas, Olivia and Beige had often been paired up on smaller jobs, much to Olivia's chagrin. At the time, she had believed that sooner or later, he would run out of tall tales, absurd anecdotes, and repulsive jokes to tell, but time and again she had been proved wrong. His indomitable humor always kept the stories coming and Olivia could tell that even now that hadn't changed. Still, she was better off having him on the team than not.

Olivia completed her inspection of the crew and returned to the center of the circle. It was time to explain the details of the mission.

Olivia fished a small projector out of her pocket and placed it on the deck. At the press of a button, a holographic image appeared in midair for everyone to examine. It was a detailed schematic of a Cretan landscape, at its center a large homestead. Pedro's mansion. A few miles east lay a village and not too far from it one could make out the entrance to a mine of some sort. The terrain was uneven, hills and ravines dominating the geography.

"The plan is relatively simple," Olivia explained.

Pedro's estate was too heavily guarded and too well fortified for a frontal assault by the small company of mercenaries Olivia had assembled. Even if they committed to a raid, their target could easily escape via the manor's own landing pad. Instead, they would need to approach the mission from two angles.

Olivia knew two things for certain about the man she was after. Firstly, he loved few things more than his source of income - artifacts. Secondly, he had a daughter, who lived in the mansion. Olivia would strike at both.

Preliminary reconnaissance had revealed that the village and its adjoining mining operation were only lightly guarded at most times. On his home turf and believing to be the dominating power in his little corner of Crete, Pedro likely didn't believe anyone would attempt to interfere with it. Ever since their last encounter in Liberty, however, he had increased his personal security considerably. A host of local Corsairs and hired guards now garrisoned his personal estate at all times. These troops would have to be drawn away before Olivia could make a move on it.

"Cyan," Olivia pointed at the short but muscular woman, "you, Ocher, and Violet lead the assault on the mines. Teal and Sage join you with heavy weaponry to punch through their defenses."

"You all," she glanced around the crew of hired guns, "are the assault team. Listen to the Colors."

"Turquoise," she nodded at the combat medic, "you go with them, too. Resistance should start off light but, if Pedro reacts the way I expect he will, it'll get messy quickly. Remember, you only have to keep him and his men busy. Don't worry about destroying anything or even trying to win the battle. Just pin them down."

The village attack would be the easy part of the operation. At least from a strategic standpoint. The second prong of the assault, however, would require greater finesse.

"Blue, Maroon, Amber,... and Beige," Olivia nodded at each of them in turn, "you're with me. Once the assault team is engaged at the village and Pedro takes his men out to reinforce it, we infiltrate the estate. Take out whatever left-behind garrison gets in our way. I need to get to his living quarters. Your job will be to get me there and make sure the alarm is raised."

Blue looked at her quizzically.

"You want the alarm to be raised?"

Olivia nodded.

"I need Pedro to come back. When he does, you take care of his bodyguards but let him pass."

She glanced around the circle of accomplices. Many of them would get injured. Some would die. They all knew the risk and yet they were here, willing to join her, either for revenge, money, or personal glory. The reason mattered not, only their willingness to help.

Olivia took a deep breath and sighed. This was the best plan she could come up with. She didn't know whether it would work. And yet, it had to.

"This mission will be dangerous. I can't guarantee all of us will make it out alive."

There was silence. The hired mercenaries exchanged uncertain glances with each other. Most of the Colors just stared either at her or the deck. Olivia could sense the uncertainty. For a brief moment, she considered calling it all off. Was it worth it? Worth risking all these lives just to get revenge on one man?

Beige stepped forward, interrupting her thoughts.

"Yeah," he muttered in an unusually somber tone, "this scheme of yours sure sounds a little crazy. Suicidal, even." He looked around the group, mustering each mercenary up and down. Then he spun around again to face Olivia.

"But I know you and I've done so for a long time. All the Colors have. And we know Pedro." The venom in his voice as he spat out the name was tangible. "That bastard needs to be stopped. I've tried. You've tried. But neither of us could do it alone. All of us together, however...," his face cracked into his trademark grin as he turned back to face his old comrades. "Well, there's no force on Crete that could stop us."

The Colors murmured excitedly, some nodding their approval, some patting each other on the shoulders for reassurance. Blue caught Olivia's eyes and nodded. Beige turned to face her, a warm smile on his face.

"We're all with you."

Olivia returned the smile, sincerely.


Cyclades Region, Planet Crete, Omicron Gamma
October 19, 827 A.S.

The dropship weaved to and fro between the rocky hills and deep ravines of the Cyclades Basin, the steep slopes that made up its rim just barely visible in the hazy distance. Keeping close to the ground, the craft avoided detection by any radar systems that might have protected the area from unwanted intruders.

The mercenaries huddled close together within the vessel's cramped interior, holding on to whatever support they could get their hands on as the pilot banked, climbed, and dove across the countryside at breakneck speed. Olivia glanced out of one of the viewports, watching the hills shoot by. They were covered in little more than rocks and some tufts of tall, scraggly grass - not exactly optimal for a stealth operation. The fact that it was still daylight didn't improve the situation either, but attempting to traverse the terrain under the cover of night would have proven suicidal without giving away their position with portable lights.

"Thirty seconds to drop off one," the pilot announced over speakers. Olivia patted down the gear she was carrying. Over her usual flightsuit she wore light polymer armor, sturdy enough to withstand small caliber kinetic and low power energy weapons. Her trusty sidearm was holstered to her right thigh while her reliable combat knife was nestled snugly to her left. Magnetically attached to her back was her compact rifle.

She glanced over at Blue, standing a few feet away. At first glance, it appeared he was only wearing his usual outfit, flightsuit and coat. But she knew that underneath the bulky tunic, his body was covered head to toe with firearms of various shapes and sizes. A veritable walking arsenal. Beige stepped up beside him, his usual smile on his face. He would go into combat with only the most necessary gear - his beloved handcannon. Maroon and Amber leaned against the far wall of the compartment. The former had his eyes closed, his lips moving slightly as he whispered in meditation. Attached to his black bodyarmor were a small submachine gun and a long, straight-bladed weapon. His red hair flowed around his head in a strange, mesmerizing rhythm. Amber hoisted a duffel bag over her shoulder, containing the disassembled pieces of a modular sniper rifle. Covering her wiry body was a grey-and-khaki poncho, perfect to blend into the dry environment they would soon find themselves in.

"Five seconds."

Olivia braced herself as the ship flared to the side and came to a sudden stop, hovering a few feet off the ground within a deep gorge. The rear wall split away from the vessel, swinging down to the ground as a ramp. The five mercenaries of team one nodded at each other and hurried out of the craft. The moment they were disembarked, the ramp sealed up again and the dropship shot off down the canyon, disappearing around a bend.

Olivia pulled her PDA out from within her armor and checked their location.

"Mansion's three clicks south. We'll have to hurry."

Nodding, the others formed up around her and the team broke into a run up the hills towards their destination.

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