Friday, July 22, 2011

Koreshi Chronicles – Chapter IV : Spilling Over

The lieutenant looked more amused than apologetic despite her protestations. She was young, quite pretty in her way and doing a decent job of suppressing her bemusement. She was a Badlander, one of the new breed of officers trained at the academy, a sign of things to come. Major Stone wiped ineffectually at the darkening spot where the cawfee was soaking into his uniform. She offered to buy him another cup, to pay for the dry-cleaning, finally escalating to fetching her superior officer another uniform personally as she realized her charm, looks and smart attitude were not impressing this major as they had so many others along her career path.

Major Stone saw her growing discomfort as the elevator finally stopped at her floor and the junior soldier started to worry about what to do. Stone’s face lived up to his name and she could not read the relative indifference he was feeling. He couldn’t explain to her that he didn’t care, that she didn’t need to suck up to him -- he was nobody and her career was not in jeopardy. He couldn’t explain to her that her charms were wasted on a middle aged balding man who affected constant irritation because it was easier than trying to communicate his real emotions to others. He was introverted, analytical and hopeless at interpersonal relationships. He opted for the simplest and most expedient resolution of the situation: he pressed the button that sent the elevator on its way, closing the doors on her pleading blue eyes and furrowed brow.

Seven floors down was the deepest subbasement of this wing of the Korps Main Base. The Logistics and SLF Quarters had extensive and well-built bunkers, but most were now closed due to lack of use. His floor was mostly empty, lacking staff and resources. Major Stone was head of Military Intelligence for a city state that had neither a military nor any need for intelligence of its enemy. In point of fact, there was no enemy anymore. The young lieutenant with the tight blond braids and blue eyes who clumsily knocked his cawfee all over him was a testament to the peace that Colonel Arthur had made with the Terranovans. SecBuro policed the city and did their own investigations. The Korps was reduced to small force that mostly acted a territorial sheriff for the security perimeter. A Military Intelligence officer was no longer a priority according to the higher-ups. He felt some nostalgia for the glory days of a company worth of signals intelligence officers and communications and electronics intelligence staff. Not to mention cryptography and the whole cavalcade of sophisticated modern warfare analytics that used to fill these now-empty halls.

His office was large and spartan, the walls showed his commendations and campaign brevet. Through the cold and impersonal office he kept for show, he passed into a smaller room piled with loose-leaf papers, small notes pinned to the walls and a computer terminal. This was his real world, one of data and details. He started reviewing the night’s reports from SecBuro’s after-action reports. He scanned the Korps mission summaries and all the usual arcana of Port Arthur’s apparatus. He read the highlights of forty or fifty SNS articles. Then he perused the headlines of polar dailies.

A report on an altercation in the Caravasery caught his attention. A known associate of the Forzi was found shot dead. Most criminal activity, such as there was in Port Arthur, was limited to the strip. Stone knew the Granis ran protection rackets in the caravans. This happened on two levels: some kind of partnership with the Badlands Caravan Guild which afforded them protection and the more traditional extortion of non-guild caravaners. So the Forzi had no reason to be in the caravansary, thought Stone. This reminded him of another innocuous report he had seen recently; a few quick searches pulled up the recalled information. A Korps patrol had inspected a caravan near Corel firebase two weeks before and had confiscated a substantial arms cash. The caravan had been linked to the Forzi cartel.

Major Stone scratched his bald head. Was he looking at a war brewing between the Forzi and the Granis? He knew tensions were building between the Forzi and the Kolsons since Dupre has become captain in Wounded Knee. Looking up some contacts he had in that city, Stone checked recent activity reports and found that no evidence of a heightened state of enmity between the Forzi and Granis clans. On the contrary, some kind of truce had been brokered between them, partnering in a joint venture a few cycles back in Khayr Ad-Din called the Lucky Shot Casino. Further digging revealed that Jahmoon and the Guild were also part of the mix. In fact, the Guild managed the casino. The previous week there had been an article in the SNS feed about a fundraiser at the Guild HQ in Khayr Ad-Din. They had opened a new extension on their facility, the “North Quarter”. Closer to home, the Guild were adding a new section to the Caravansary. ‘Things are rolling for that enterprise,’ the major reflected, ‘and they’re in bed with the Forzi and the Granis and who knows who else?’

Jeremiah Stone was an old solitary soldier. He didn’t believe in coincidence and he didn’t like the feeling that something was brewing in Port Arthur. He had too little information, and that made him nervous. These Badlanders were brash, independent and cocky, just like that pretty young lieutenant. Except they blundered around in their enthusiasm and that usually meant he ended up with a mess on his hands.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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