Friday, May 6, 2011

Koreshi Chronicles: Chapter III - Politics

18 Autumn 1922, Wolves Den

The sun was descending on the crags, filtering soft red beams through the jagged terrain and casting long dark shadows across the Wolves Den. Antoni Mor was in the hangar area, a largish cave which had become home to the rover’s cadres of Gears.

“Antoni” Dronath called out as he approached his leader.

“The raid was successful?” the second in command of the Wolves asked his subordinate distractedly.

“It was, we did well. I hear you had some action while I was gone as well. A coupe new wrecks for our grease monkeys to play with.” Dronath was playful, but Antoni’s face darkened with the mention of the failed raid on Haven.

Dronath sensed his leader’s mood of disappointment. Far from suppressing Dronath’s mirth it elevated it, though he showed some restraint in the good news he had to deliver.

Well then Boss, this may be just what you need to pick yourself up,” Dronath continued in a hushed tones, throwing sideways glances to make sure no one was in ear shot, “On our last run I got a very good lead on a cadre of Gears ripe for the taking.”

Antoni blinked twice and turned his stern attention on Dronath. “Speak” he said quietly.

“Well, I struck a bargain with the caravan leader, I spared some of his god in exchange for a lead he swore was worth twice his entire train. I was skeptical, but I let him talk. He says he came from a homestead in the southern flank of the Western mountains where a fellow came across a cadre of gears in a cave. In perfect working order and armed.”

“Sounds like he won the lottery, so he must have sold them by now?” Antoni responded reservedly.

“No, there’s a catch. The Gears are all covered in Legion Noir colors. It must be special opps cach that got forgotten during the war. The homesteader can’t just repaint them, he can’t offer them back to the South,”

“They’d probably just thank him for his efforts and walk off with them without so much as a reward, that is assuming they were kind enough to let him live.” Antoni interjected.

“Right, which is why he can’t sell them outright either, he’s worried word will leak back through the SRID or something. He’s scared shitless to have these Gears. So he’s kept them hidden while he tries to carefully offload them” Dronath’s eyes sparkled, he could read the rising interest in his leader’s expression.

“So we could take them off his hands without anyone being alerted to it, what do we care about the Legion Noir. He can scrub any trace back to the South. What kind of gears?” Antoni asked with growing excitement.

Dronath Smiled, he had saved the best for last. “Two Iguanas, two Jagers and a Black Mamba.”

Antoni let a smile curl up on his lips. But the expression seemed uncomfortable or unused to his face and quickly slipped away.

“Davood will be pleased.” Antoni hissed.

“Boss, if I may, I heard about your raid on Haven, you’ve gone on your own authority before. I haven’t told anyone about this yet. Why don’t you just get the Gears yourself. Its sure to make the clan elders see your worth. At the very least, The Black mamba would be yours as a prize.”

“Because of Haven I can’t. Davood was displeased with my initiative. He feels we don’t need to antagonize that Sherriff anymore and that with more deaths we are only sullying our reputation further.”

Antoni let out a sigh. He could have salvaged the situation, earned respect for his daring if only the Gears had been in better shape.

“Boss, I have a notion.” Dronath said, bitting a nail and looking at the long shadows stretch across the valley floor. “What if you could take the credit for the cadre of Legion Gears if they were retrieved but none of the blame if it fails?” Dronath looked up at Antoni with a devious notion in his mind, the very kind that kept him in good stead with his leader. Antoni nodded for Dronath to continue.

“Send the new cubs, the Sandriders. Their pretty capable, obviously work well as a close unit and sufficiently new to be somewhat less dear than any of the old timers. They also still feel a need to prove themselves I wager and they’re closed lipped so you know you can send them without it leaking back to Grey Cub?”

“So if they fail and die, we can wash our hands of them, if the fail and get caught, they are Sandriders, not Wolves. Politically it works. But I’m not sure it necessarily heightens my status if they succeed. First off, I’m not sure they would come back here with the Gears instead of just making their own way. Secondly, I’d feel more comfortable if one of my men was with them so it was clear that it was my glory.”

Dronath Nodded. It was true that the Sandriders could hardly be trusted this early on. And it was also true that Antoni’s paw print had to be on the operation without it coming back to scratch him. “Lets send Enick with them. It works, he’s one of yours so when they come back, the glory is yours. But he’s also loyal enough to know if it goes wrong he can’t bring it back on you. Besides, he knows those Sandriders better than anyone here, he can watch them better.

Antoni nodded quietly for a short while. “Yeah, he can also make sure the Gears come back here, putting in some kind failsafe against the Sandriders trying to nick them. If he messes up, he will have done so one too many time. It’ll be easy for Grey Cub to write him off. After Haven and now with the murder of the collaborator coming back out of the cracks. He’s loyal, he’s mechanical and he’s currently a liability which we can afford to loose. At the same time, if he comes back victorious, all past indiscretions will be forgotten and that still makes me look better. OK Dronath, let’s go see our favorite drunk”

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