Friday, July 6, 2012

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter V: A Case Of Coincidences

Lukas had the right idea: if Wallcraft’s conflicting allegiances could be revealed to the Kolsons, they would cut him off and he would no longer be protected by the Spyder.

The way to pull that off was clear enough to Ti. The Hermes transmission logs from Smith’s computer showed that Wallcraft was part of the Kolsons’ effort to uncover what Tantalus was all about. But everything they had uncovered revealed he was covering up Tantalus, not digging things up. All Ti needed was proof.

He started searches in all his databases, looking for a link between Wallcraft and Tantalus. His phone rang and he saw it was Tom. ‘The cool uncle,’ Ti thought, shaking his head. Lyta was never any good at being discreet, even when she was sober. He smiled to himself and let it ring. He typed in a new search parameter. He was tempted to open his databanks to the Nexus so he could get some help but reminded himself that secrecy and compartmentalization was paramount. At least Todd was helping.

“He said I should kiss you,” Lyta had reported after her conversation with Tom. Why would he do that, Ti thought to himself?

He got a search hit. Ti crossed the results into his other active searches, refining the information. He only needed the smallest link, enough to raise a shadow of doubt and then he could deliver it to Markus inside the Kolson network and let their suspicions do the rest. Another hit. Ti considered the information for a moment, then logged onto the Hermes 72 and posted an encrypted update under the guise of a suggested flower arrangement on a communal bulletin board. When Nadya deciphered it, she would be looking for NorthCo links to the Direkt Norr bank. According to surveillance, Wallcraft had a personal account with the Prince Gable branch.

Ti was concerned about Nadya; she had been under deep cover for nearly a cycle, but it might all pay off very shortly. That, or her cover would be blown and she would die. For some reason that made him think of Lyta again. He shook his head, trying to focus. He was tired and distracted and short on time. He couldn’t afford to sleep right now. He was immune to fatigue, immune to fear, immune to desires and emotions. This was his mantra; he had a mission.

Another hit. Ti returned to his console and put down his cup of tea. He was looking at an SNS article on a scientific prize which Dupré, the head of the Kolsons, had given generously to. Marius Wallcraft was in the picture talking to one of the scientists identified as Ludmin Hetherton. Ti’s fingers tapped furiously, opening a new line of inquiry. An hour later he had pieced together various scraps of information. He rubbed his fingers against his temples.

The Tantalus project had operated under the guise of the WestCore Mines during the Alliance War. It served to perform genetic tests. In 1919, 24 million marks from DN bank were used by Belinda Havel to buy WestCore for WestCorp which had just been incorporated by a Kolson by the name of Nanda Devi. Marshal Sullivan identified her as The Bear’s partner. She also recruited Bradwick. Havel was eliminated a week later. A season ago, WestCorp got bought up by a northern company called WestRim. The entire board was eliminated by Bradwick. Wallcraft hired Sheldon Pinkerton to destroy any records of WestCorp’s transaction and then went to great length to have Pinkerton and Bradwick both killed.

Ti reviewed his leads: Wallcraft had an account in Prince Gable with DN bank, the same bank that lent the money to WestCorp. Could be a coincidence? He had been photographed with a northern scientist whose research had been paid for by WestCorp. Could that also be a coincidence? He hired Pinkerton to destroy records of WestCorp’s creation and killed the last surviving member of its board. Another coincidence? Ti had to admit that although there were too many coincidences, there was no clear evidence linking it all together.

He put it all back into the data sifting algorithm and took a break. He had to admire the level of care that had been put into hiding all this, the layers upon layers of obfuscation. He never would have been able to dig up as much as he had without the Lassanders. They had been instrumental in almost every significant lead he had uncovered; their level of commitment was certainly on par with that of his own kin. Lukas made sound judgement calls that paid off as well as any gambit Ti had concocted. Torgath was in as much danger as Markus, and Lyta took no less risk than Nadya. She was likely to be killed every step of the way.

“He said I should kiss you.”  Her word echoed in his mind and for just a second. For the first time he let himself imagine what that was like. Later, he would hate himself for the weakness, but at that moment he imagined her standing close to him, drawing her into his arms and leaning in. He could practically hear her breath as she sharply inhaled the moment before their lips met.

His search query chimed another hit. Ti snapped back to the present, his guilty dream vanishing like the darkness before the rising sun. It was already morning, but there was still no time to rest. He sat down and reviewed the results. There was no coincidence.

Hetherton was a lead researcher on a project called Helix run by the Yele Medical Center; the publicised goal of that project was genetic engineering. One of the prime financing institutions involved was DN Bank. The Lassanders had been in that facility. They had seen the same kind of biosample cases there as the one they took off Bradwick. It was all connected.

Ti allowed himself a tired smile. It wasn’t conclusive, but it was damned suspicious, and that was all he needed. He set up a data spike to Markus. The Kolsons would know all about Wallcraft’s hidden connections soon enough. Once again, Ti reminded himself this was all possible because of Lukas and his siblings. If they hadn’t been to the Yele Medical Center...

Something stuck in Ti’s gut. Lukas said that job was just a random contract to prove themselves to the mercs. It was a strange coincidence that it should be Hetherton’s facility. Ti didn’t like where his mind was going. He got up and laughed at himself, a sharp sound that was devoid of joy. He looked at the computer terminal again. He had to purge this feeling, this unfounded and foolish feeling. He typed in a new query. He shook his head, the guilt of it even greater than his idle fantasy of just a few minutes ago involving Lyta. He was tired, he reminded himself. He was being emotional. He was giving in to the very impulses which he always knew would be compromising. He was about to cancel his search when it produced a hit.

Hesitantly, he read the result. DN Bank had provided the loan to buy WestCore mines against a collateral of Paxton stock. He had made some inquiries about where that money had come from, but he hadn’t been back to see if the search had produced anything because he had been more concerned with where the money went than where it had came from. Now he knew.

Peace River had confiscated that stock from Donovar Lassander. Ti thought it had to be a coincidence. Then he remembered that last night Lukas had specifically asked for Belinda Havel’s transaction records. It had to be another coincidence. He couldn’t accept that they had their own agenda, that they were somehow involved. It was a coincidence that Bradwick’s biosample case had Sand Ryder blood in it. It was just coincidence that they had met up with Ennick Kazzov, an inmate of Camps 9a where the WestCore mines performed their tests. It was just coincidence that he met them in Port Arthur, that they had been hired to protect Vovelle, and coincidence that Vovelle was linked to Tantalus.

It was all Just Coincidence.

Ti’s phone rang, he saw Lyta’s name on the display. He let it ring.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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