Saturday, July 14, 2012

Koreshi Chronicles - V: Know thine enemy and know thy self

Everyone knows they have a place in the world where they belong. For some this is just a subtle feeling, one they could discard as a romantic imagining. Then there are those who feel it profoundly, like a spiritual certainty. It could be on the porch of an old house looking out onto a breezy field or beneath the shade of a tree by a glimmering body of water. For some that feeling is found in another’s arms and for others still it's found on a stool in a bar.

Ennick sat there like a tree that had stood its ground for a hundred cycles -- like he belonged. Antoni strolled up and gave the barkeep a half grin full of sharp teeth. “I’ll have what he’s having” the duelist said before turning to Ennick, “so what did you want to talk about?” Ennick had been in Khayr-ad Din a few days now and this was the first time he had caught Antoni alone, unfettered by his entourage of protectors, admirers and leechers. Ennick drew a piece of cloth from his deep pockets and slid across the bar just as the bartender set a drink by the item’s side. “This is from Davood”.

Before arriving in KAD, Ennick had been travelling south from Port Arthur. A season had carried him across the Badlands from Temple Heights to Fort Neil, From Prince Gable to Westphalia. Every city, every town had a stool where he sat like he belonged. It was a practiced ease he had developed with time.

It was on a bar stool in Port Arthur that he had first learned about Campbell, the accountant for the Kolson cartel, and how he could be used to uncover the business that that crime syndicate and the Bear had forged together cycles before. His investigation was born out of duty to a dead friend and over time spurred on by devotion to a living sister. Ennick followed Campbell’s leads to Lyonnesse. Stool after stool followed in  succession like a dotted line to Prince Gable where he found his sister but no peace.

In the Wolf’s Den, Davood gave Ennick something to carry to his brother but also gave Ennick somewhere to care for his sister. What he couldn’t give him was peace of mind, so Davood gave him information instead. Titan Corovan had given him information too, but for the first time since he had first found his place on a stool in a long forgotten bar, Ennick also found hope. Out of devotion to his friend and out of hope for his sister he carried on; turning up clues, following Sullivan’s leads and tracking the Kolson’s business dealings with the Bear.

Bit by bit he was putting it together. On one stool he found that many Kolson business ventures had been born of trading with the enemy during the War. Another stool, judiciously applied to someone’s head had revealed that collaborators had been blackmailed into helping the Kolsons succeed where other cartels had failed. The link between the Kolson’s success and growing influence in the past decade on the one hand and the Abacus list and it’s master on the other had at least become clear if not proven. The Bear didn’t just work with the Kolson’s he had helped them to thrive.

Every city and every bar repeated the same story. Even when nothing was said, Ennick could feel it, spreading across the Badlands and from pole to pole. From Westphalia to Wounded Knee one crime syndicate was growing to overshadow the others while in the shadows grew the infamy of one name. If Ennick had not known the Bear was real, had not known that he had personally set him up to murder the man who made the Abacus list, he would have believed him a myth. On one stool someone who otherwise would have been convincing tried explaining to Ennick that The Bear was a criminal folk tale, a bogey man or a malefactor’s deity to which one prayed for a good break. By accident or by design -- and Ennick suspected the latter -- The Bear had escaped the notion of earthly justice and entered the realm of intangibility, like the Prophet's own Will. But not for Ennick, the Bear was a man, a man who had crimes to pay for: Ennick’s sister’s suffering, another sister’s disappearance, his friend’s death and countless other war crimes against Terra Nova.

Ennick knew he was the one to find him and make him pay and in the process save one sister and find the other. He knew this was his calling and city after city, bar after bar and stool after stool he sat with patience and conviction knowing that this was his purpose. For himself and for his family.

Antoni unwrapped the object and found a small stone wolf. The duelist cradled it gently in his hand, turning it over with reverence. “This...” he croaked and swallowed hard past a lump in his throat. “This was my father’s. He made it with his own hands when I was a boy.” Ennick had noticed that Antoni had changed a great deal since he had arrived in KAD from the Wolf’s Den and a lot of it had seemed for the best. He changed far more in those few moments. “It was our  father’s” he amended. He swiped at a tear on his cheek and laughed with a mixture of joy and self consciousness and took a swig from his forgotten drink. He face turned sour and he coughed. “What is this crap?” He demanded. Ennick rose from his stool, remembering his own family duties. “Tonic water with a twist of lime. I don’t drink anymore.” He said, aware that everyone changed and if you wanted to change for the best, first you had to find where you belonged.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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