Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter VII : The Problems of Others

Merchant Circle, Tessier Rd, Oxford SW6

“'Well, I’ve got a problem with this,' the bugger says to me. 'Yeah?' I replied feigning shock, 'Well, it's all edible except for the tail!'”

The six people assembled around the makeshift bar in the back of Okran Radsley’s shop erupted into laughter. The loudest of them was Okran himself. He was sitting with his back to the wall and saw Lukas enter shortly after he actually had. With an offer of another round in his absence he excused himself as someone else segued into another anecdote.

“Any problems, mates?” Okran asked, still smiling.
“No. It went well.” Lukas responded as Okran led him out into the hall and up a flight of stairs.

They entered a small room on the third floor with one shuttered window. It appeared to be Okran’s office: books, file cabinets, and stacks of papers and ledgers covered every surface. It was cramped and overloaded but looked fairly neat and orderly.

Once they were seated Lukas pulled the small silver flash drive from his jacket. Okran opened a drawer in his desk and took out an envelope which he handed to Lukas. He, in turn, returned it to the same pocket the flash drive had just come from.

“Listen, Jax, I like you and your team. You're efficient and quick. You’re also adaptive. It's rare to find those qualities together in the Humanist Alliance. But you’re also a bit reckless and impulsive. You may think quick on your feet, but you don’t think ahead.”

Lukas sat and listened patiently. Okran wasn’t being abusive, perhaps a bit patronizing, but given the bind he had just got them out of he was willing to eat a little humble pie.

“I could use you for more work. I like that you went for the crate, it was ambitious. It didn’t amount to much for us, but I like the way you seized an opportunity when you saw one.”

Lukas couldn’t help feel he was getting mixed messages. It was true that the crate hadn’t amounted to much, but then again Okran hadn’t known what they had thought was in it.

“So what do you say, Jax? You want to go to work for me?”


Eastbound on Etali Way, Oxford SW3


“I know, Ryss, I’m working on it.” Lukas said, trying to keep his tone neutral as he worked the large steering wheel of the truck to take a sharp corner in Oxford’s labyrinthine inner city.

“In Devona Whyn’s ‘Shadowgulleys’ they drove their getaway truck onto a high speed boat disguised as boathouse.” Todd suggested helpfully as they crossed a narrow stone bridge over one of the many small canals winding through the city. Lukas’ eye caught one of the small pleasure craft moored there and suppressed his ire.

“Grizz, I get that we’re in a truck, but could you come up with something more appropriate to our…”

“Gabriel, what can you do about the tracker in the container?” Lukas interrupted Lyta. Although he shared her frustration, he really needed viable suggestions fast.

“Well, sir, if I could get in the container--”

“Assume you can’t,” Lukas interjected.

“Well, if I had a high powered focused--”

“Assume you don’t!”

“I’m sorry, sir, then there isn’t anything I can do,” Gabriel said somewhat contritely.

“Then you continue to be of questionable use to me, Gabriel,” Lukas said a bit more harshly than he had wanted to as he jerked the wheel hard clockwise. “What about the lowjack on this truck?”

“Ah, well, that I can do something about if you stop the truck.” Gabriel answered more cheerily.

“What if he can’t?” Lyta responded before Lukas could.

“C'mon, we can do this,” Todd said with his typical insouciance which contrasted sharply with the greenish hue of Gabriel’s face as he watched Todd open the truck door and clamber out onto the side with a friendly ‘come-on’ wave.

Gabriel followed reluctantly as Lyta closed the door behind them. Lukas raised an eyebrow and his sister just shrugged. “He’s fine,” she added sardonically. “Seriously, though, Jax...”

“Call Radsley,” Lukas said through clenched teeth.


Nipen Metal Depot, Bondi Rd, North Oxford

“Got it,” Gabriel said.

Lukas placed a hand on his shoulder and pulled him aside. His other hand held a pistol at the ready.

“Jax?” Lyta asked, careful to use his new codename. Her eyes were on his pistol.

“I know what we want to find in there. However, I don’t know what we’ll actually find.” Lukas answered to her unasked question.

Lyta had already managed to circumvent the mechanical lock, and now that Gabriel had deactivated the remaining security she was anxious to save the Koreshi inside the container.

Todd was on overwatch on the crane they had used to remove the 6 meter container from the truck. The junkyard Okran had sent them to was well equipped and, according to Gabriel, the magnetic interference from the high-powered scrap crane should mask the signal from the tracker they thought was on board.

Joe Nipen had told them that Okran had told him to do whatever he could for them. He had offered armed men and other resources but Lukas had politely refused so that there were just the four of them around the container. Even that number made Lukas uncomfortable; he would have preferred not having Gabriel around, but there might still be countermeasures inside to deal with.

Lyta had a sturdy length of metal in her hand and Todd had turned his arc of fire inward as Lukas cracked open the door to the shipping module. Inside he could make out some small blinking lights and low lumen display screens. He opened the door a bit wider and shone in his light. There were three rows of bodies hanging vertically from harnesses. Four people to a row with the middle ones alternating back and front so that in the two channels between hanging subjects you could access six of their life support controls.

Lyta opened the second door and Gabriel shed more light on the scene. There was no apparent threat, but Lukas had Gabriel do a scan of the systems. No booby traps were found.

“Are they alive?” Todd asked through the coms. Lyta was surveying the six to the left and Lukas the six to the right.

“Yes, Grizz, but they aren’t who we thought they were,” Lukas chose his words carefully to give Todd the information he deserved but not reveal anything to Gabriel. Still, even that statement was bound to raise a question or two.

“Emiratees,” Gabriel concluded based on the skin tone and the blue marks on their shoulders which indicated slaves in that barbaric land. “There aren't supposed to be any slaves in the Alliance. It's illegal.”

“Looks like someone forgot to tell Bakir that,” Lyta said with obvious venom. She was both disappointed at not having found some of the Borodin Package, her brethren, and disgusted by the sight of these people hanging like sides of springer meat. She vowed she would put Bakir in the hospital the next time she had him in her grasp, no matter what Lukas said.

Lukas was also disappointed. He might not have the misguided affinity for the Koreshi that his siblings had, but he respected Todd and Lyta’s feelings and recognised how important it was to them to save the unfortunate sand people that made up the Borodin Package. Looking at these people strung up, veins violated by tubes that were keeping them in this artificial state of half-life, he also felt a moral disgust at the idea of human guinea pigs and human trafficking.

Todd's voice came back over the coms: “Can we revive them?” Lyta looked at Lukas pleadingly; clearly this was her first instinct as well. She couldn’t hide the sickened look on her face.

“Sir, I don't know if you want to try and do that yourself,” Gabriel’s voice resonated oddly as it reverberated off the corrugated metal inside the container. “These people have been webbed; they might need specialized medical attention.”

“Webbled,” Lyta repeated aloud as Lukas thought it. Inside the crate Lukas took a closer look as Gabriel turned one of the limp people’s heads and showed the interface in the back of the skull.

“We’ll let Radley decide what to do. Close up the container.” Lukas was aware that this wasn’t going to sit well with his siblings, but they couldn’t appreciate that they simply didn’t have the resources or contacts to deal with this situation. And to be perfectly sanguine, this wasn’t their problem.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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