Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Kingmaker

Spirits were running high in the Saracens' club, the Keep. Kaly Laing felt that her gang had come out of this whole ordeal better off; their main rivals, the Forzi, had been crushed, the gang was flush with weapons and munitions to hold their ground and the new alliance with the Guild, although still hard to define, made her feel like things were going their way.

The younger one wearing goggles was building some kind of life-sized pinball machine using crates, two-by-fours and empty bottles. With the judicious application of alcohol – taken internally of course – her intrepid band were trying to descend his rollercoaster achieving the most spectacular failures.

Goggles - Strauss, she reminded herself - was sparring with Sven who was easily three times his size and had apparently taken offence to the course. Nothing that some whiskey couldn't settled. The one named Kain was trying to cajole Sam into taking the challenge and the lady, Maia was barely holding onto her glass she was laughing so hard, tears of joy and relief rolling down her red cheeks. Chambers suddenly picked up his glass of Trinwood blue in one hand and Kaly above the elbow in his other.

He swung her away from the boisterous activities. “Tell me Laing, how would you like to be my queen?”

“Uh Doc, I don`t think, uh I mean, you`re a bit old for me.” She stammered through a curious smile.

“The head of state for a political system known as feudalism.” He continued unphased.

She pulled free of his grasp and sat down, her mirth evaporated. “A history lesson? I think I liked it better when I thought you were hitting on me.” She said annoyed before taking a long draft of her drink. Chambers sat down opposite her.

“Not a history lesson Laing, politics. Politics and economy. A queen rules her kingdom. She has the right to tax its citizens and in return she defends the realm. I want to make you Queen of the Badlands quarter.”

She scoffed. “I already am Doctor man.” Before taking another swig.

“No, you are a punk with guts and luck who is chaotically managing a rag-tag bunch of hooligans. I’m talking about organized crime. Serious profit and serious responsibility.” Tom leaned in, his face too serious for her liking.

Kaly paused, drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. She though quickly but went with her gut in the end. “I guess you’re proposing something heavy on the organised, light on the crime. What’s in it for you?”

“Forget me for now; are you willing to step up? You’re right, I’m talking about running the quarter like a business or a small state. It doesn’t have to be light on crime, but it will be heavy on the organised. Are you up to it?”

“Damn right I am” she said nonchalantly, finishing her drink but when she was done, she could see her bluster had not impressed the old man. “What do you want from me?” she asked accusingly.

“I want you to take responsibility for these punks, to shape them into a disciplined army, to run the old Forzi rackets efficiently, to protect your borders and your clients from the BRF; like a queen would protect her subjects from the barbarians at the gates. I want you to grow up.”

Kaly tried to take another sip of her empty glass, she put it back down on the table and spun it around. She watched it as it clunked in imperfect circles, all the while never raising her eyes to meet the stare of the Doctor. She wanted to scream that she could do anything. Her instincts told her she could rule the Badlands quarter, she could take the entire second terrace but she swept her gaze to the street thugs that comprised the Saracens and shook her head in dismay as they tried to bobsled down the back of four chairs from the bar into a bowling alley of empty bottles head first. She could do it but she needed help and she knew, though it chafed her, that the Doc could help make it happen. Finally looking up, she found his frank gaze. “How do we do this?”

He took a long breath and leaned back in his chair. “Well I don’t want to belabour the metaphor but I suggest Strauss stay here as your Prime Minister of sorts, helping you with the administrative side. I’m thinking I’ll also send you a couple of Captains from back West to help shape up your troops. I suggest you give me four of your best kids to take with me and put them through boot camp. We have to set up a sort of officer corps. I have all the Forzi business intelligence for the Badlands quarter and I can give you what you need to set up a proper business network. I know how to launder money and jump on opportunities. I have contacts in PacSec and the POC which should help insulate you as long as you don’t do anything stupid which jeopardises the peace. The Guild will give you trade lines out of Peace River and help you become incontestable. Run your fief like a kingdom, responsibly and maturely and you will prosper.” He concluded matter of factly and sipped his whiskey with some satisfaction.

“If I’m the Queen, then why is it called a kingdom?”

“Doesn’t mater. Any other questions?” He said, a touch too patronising for her taste but she continued.

“If Strauss is Prime Minister and I`m Queen and everybody else is a subject and there is no king, then who the hell are you?”

Tom smiled. He took a sip and thought a few moments, apparently growing more and more pleased with himself in silence. Kaly misinterpreted his stupid smile and was starting to think she had stumped him when he cleared his throat.

“A monarch rules by Divine Right, because it is ordained by a Greater Power which rules over Nature and confers legitimacy to an earthly establishment. I am the kingmaker.”

“I didn’t get any of that.” She said, a confused look on her pretty young face.

“It doesn’t mater, it was idle megalomania. Do you accept the job?” He said pleased with himself and relived no one else overheard his conceited conceit.

“OK Guild man, I’m you’re Queen.”


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