Saturday, September 6, 2008

No loose ends in Prince Gable

Owen was going into Prince Gable for a drink, and maybe a night with a woman. Regardless of whoever he used to be, it didn't matter anymore. He had always gone to the same bars in Prince Gable, always the same women, the same old haunts. But now with a new face, a new identity, and a chance to move on...

Oh, who was he kidding? He coughed as he breathed in too much dust. The riding springer was going at a trot. It would only take a couple of hours to get into town. And then, at least, he could make his troubles disappear.

Owen wasn't going to fool himself. The fact of the matter was that his new face was a gift, given to him by the kind of people he knew would be looking to cash in a favour. And he knew that it was too late for him to run.

Owen Orzak was a small time commodities merchant when the CEF occupied Prince Gable in TN1913. After the shock of occupation had worn off and his warehouse stores were seized, the baby-faced and affable man realized that it would only be a matter of time before he was deported to some labour gulag somewhere. He had no skills to contribute to the wartime economy the Earthers were running in the Westridge range.

So Orzak became an informant to the CEF. It wasn't much at first. Just the occasional tip-off to the local watch officer about 'suspicious' activities. Once he had developed a reputation for reliable tips, the CEF made him a police officer in Prince Gable. Owen woke up one day to find himself enjoying luxuries he had only once dreamed about: women and power. The fruits of collaboration were sweet indeed. Still, he knew that if the Resistance ever got ahold of him, there would be no quarter given.

It was in the heady time just before the CEF withdrawal from Prince Gable that the Party of the New Earth Commonwealth offered him a chance to run: full facial reconstruction. He agreed. Amidst the atrocities and the heavy house-to-house fighting in Prince Gable, Owen Orzak disappeared and Francis Zane resurfaced after having gone missing in TN1914.

Zane knew that one day the Party would contact him. He didn't know how, and he didn't want to know. All he cared about now was that he needed a drink. In the back of his mind, the encounter with that caravan and that Southerner barely registered. He had no information for him, and he knew that he'd be hunted down, one way or another. He had time, at least, for that drink.

He was wrong.


Ben Cantor was waiting. When Zane made a turn down an alleyway in Prince Gable towards a brothel, he stepped halfway out of the shadow, aimed his pistol, and fired. Owen Orzak fell to the ground, dead.


It would be the next evening when a couple of urchins found Owen Orzak's body lying in the gutter outside Her Unmentionables, a seedy brothel near the mining district in Prince Gable. Marshal Arnold Sullivan sighed as he looked over the scene. There was blood and brains splattered on the alley wall, though the rats had cleaned up the worst of it. The body was bloated and stiff. Decomposition had already set in, what with the body having endured one very hot afternoon. Sullivan frowned to himself. Zane's story was suspicious: he had disappeared at the outset of the occupation. Then he materialized out of thin air a cycle after the war's over. The marshal examined the murder scene. This was a clean kill: one shot, close range, and probably silenced, given that the crime scene guys hadn't found much in the way of gunpowder residue. Zane's wallet was still in his pocket. His pistol was still in its holster. Not a robbery, or a vendetta.

"Who had been asking about Francis Zane only recently?" Sullivan wondered aloud.

"Marshal! We've found a shell casing!" someone interrupted with promising news.

"Fingerprints?" he looked grim.

"None sir, sorry," came the reply a minute later. Sullivan looked over the spent casing: 9mm, subsonic. Definitely a silenced kill.

"Didn't you just call me from the Zane homestead a week ago, Marshal?" asked a deputy.

"Adams homestead," Sullivan shook his head. Then it clicked, "but that caravan crew leader asked about seeing his old friend Zane. What was his name?" Sullivan frowned, resting his chin on his fist as he stood over the body of Francis Zane.

It didn't take too long: "Delacroix." He turned to his deputy, "find out where Delacroix is now. He's our only lead. And keep it discrete."


That's two dead. Let's do a little research.









A legionnaire, hm? Sounds dangerous...



Hermes 72 - Heavy Gear RPG - Most artwork Copyright 2002 Dream Pod 9, Inc.