Sunday, August 12, 2012

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter V : A truth wrapped in a lie

A cycle and a half ago they walked into a warehouse in Mainz and he didn’t know what to say. Lyta appeared utterly unafraid and Todd looked as serious as any killer Ti had ever seen. He didn’t know anything about them; didn’t know then how terrified Lyta was for Lukas or how gentle protective but gentle Todd really was. All he knew after that meeting was that they were fiercely loyal to Lukas and that after a lifetime they had come back into his life.

Now, some 45 minutes after the TNTR maglev had arrived, Lukas was walking into another warehouse; the one Ti had used to launch their operations in Prince Gable.

Over the last few days Ti had moved all the equipment out and relocated to a new secure location but he knew this was where they would come so he waited. He waited to see what would happen.

When Lukas showed up alone, Ti didn’t know if that made things easier or harder. Ti had hoped to see how Todd was, though the gravity of Todd’s wound probably wouldn’t show, they rarely did. Lukas had his usual swagger; the one both the born-rich and self-made have. He was, after all, both.

Ti had mostly wanted Lyta to be around. She would have been angry, he considered, but she had reasons to be: Ti’s efforts to avoid her, her brother’s wound, her other brother’s attitude and there was what was about to happen.

Lukas had directly disobeyed his orders. Ellen’s warning about the extra Kolsons had not phased him, Ti knew through Markus that the goons were heading to KAD to take Wallcraft into custody. All Lukas had to do was sit tight and let things evolve around him. Let Wallcraft search in vain while his own organization came after him. It would have left the Spider content, Tom in the clear, Wallcraft in Markus’ custody and guaranteed the bounty on Lukas’ head was gone in a day. It would have been perfect. But Lukas never let things evolve around him, they had to revolve around him.
After all this waiting, after his doubts and fears he realised he didn’t know what to say. He hadn’t slept in days. He was furious and frightened by the Lassander’s actions and connections. He was ashamed and aghast at his own actions and foolish trust. It felt as though his world was falling apart. He loved them all and hated them for it.

Contractors you could fire, assets you could burn. If they were his Kin he would have simply ordered them to stand down. But he would never have been in this situation with his Kin. This situation of his own making he reminded himself. Whatever Lukas’ motivations, it was Ti’s error in judgement in ever letting them get close to him and close to his operation. Above all it was Ti’s failure to figure out what they wanted and to give it to them.

For the Kin is was just a sense of belonging and purpose as well as someone to look up to. In all those respect Ti had utterly disappointed the Lassanders. And so, he realized, he wasn’t letting them go, we was losing them.

“I'd hoped to speak to all of you together, but this will have to do. In light of Torgath’s wounds I think you should stand down for a few weeks and take a rest.” Ti started. "Then I’ll wire you 150,000 marks and we can go our separate ways. I hope you'll accept that as a simple token of my appreciation for your work because it’s been truly invaluable." He shifted his feet, the sound echoing in the now empty warehouse.

“I think you're reacting emotionally,” Lukas began, apparently expecting the dismissal, “on two different levels. And without all the information.  We're useful, and soon we'll be rich.  We're too valuable too lose.”

Ti shook his head. “I've been reacting emotionally. Now it stops. You may be valuable, but I can't afford to keep you.”

“Can't afford to what? Did I mention how we're going to be rich and can help you, long-term?  Also, aren't we winning?” Lukas’ indomitable confidence was not making this any easier for Ti.

 “That's all this is to you isn't it? A pay day and a joke? Well this matters to me Lukas.” Ti responded exasperatedly, but it turned bitter in his throat. “I know about your side activities, I'm gullible but I'm not an idiot.” Ti waited to see if that had an effect on Lukas and it seemed to, though he hid it well. “The problem Lukas is that you want money more than you want my trust and I need your trust more than I need your money and that's were all of this falls apart.”

“I'm not sure why you're so upset?  And I'm not sure what "all of this" is supposed to include, or what "side activities" you think you've uncovered.  Since we signed on with you, we have produced results, real, tangible, valuable results.  You want trust?  We're *this* close to our family legacy, and instead of following up on it, I'm here talking to you.  Todd found the missing link in a chain I've been following for cycles in the data from the raid.  And I think you know where it leads.”

“You're not sure why I'm…” Ti’s voice was harsh and loud in the empty warehouse. His own anger echoed in his ears and he hated that the Lassanders did this to him. He took a deep breath and thought about family. ‘You don’t choose your family’ the saying goes. Ti had chosen he Kin, maybe that’s why it was easier with them. Maybe it was time for Ti to try and earn what he asked for. “OK, then I'll help you get the money Lukas.”

Shaking his head, Lukas responded easily “That's not what I'm asking. This isn't your fight, or that of your Kin.  I had planned to ask for a leave of absence, unpaid, before you started in with firing us.  Todd's hurt, so we can't really be operational anyway.  We need to go over the data and speak with some lawyers.  I'd be grateful for any intel you have, and if I need help, it's good to know I can ask you.”

 “Lukas, are you sure you want...Are you sure about this?” Ti was trying to keep the desperation out of his voice, he knew this was it.

“Frankly?  Since Todd and Lyta aren't here, I can tell you that no, I'm not sure.  But the fact remains that we can't involve you or your team in this.  It's family business.”

And there it was: the truth wrapped in another lie. “Family business” and they weren’t family. Ti had nothing but doubts and suspicions, coincidences that were too blatant to disregard. After a cycle and a half it was clear that he didn’t really know Lukas or the others for that matter. It was also clear that he couldn’t trust them and that he had failed to earn their trust. Lukas had lied right to his face. ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ He had asked Lukas but he could have been asking himself.

Now it was clearer than ever that it had been a mistake to try and recapture his past and dream of the future, the breaking of his heart was evidence enough of that. His feelings had blinded him and compromised his mission and his Kin.

“Tell Lyta I’m sorry, sorry I couldn’t help.” Ti deposited a file which had everything he knew about the Lassander money trail and left without another word.

As he left the warehouse he realised he knew only two things about them and no words could change them now: They were only loyal to themselves and, he wished they had never come back into his life.

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