Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter VIII: That Sinking Feeling

Okran Radsley plugged into the terminal reluctantly, a sinking feeling settling in. His computer immediately set up a local dampening field that played havoc on any device more sophisticated than a bottle opener. It only took a few seconds for the secure link to Nightingale to connect. He was prepared for the worst. In 18 cycles of operations he had never had one go so badly.

It wasn’t the death toll in and of itself -- that was always a black stain on any covert op in the Alliance -- it was where it had happened and with whom and when. A public battle with fatalities in a secure transportation terminal with Republican forces during a week of diplomatic discussion at the heart of the HARPF command center. It was truly and epicly disastrous.

There was a brief pause while layers of security built upon each other and resolved into Nightingale’s impassive image on the screen.

“Radsley, I’ve secured their release from the VDSS. You can collect them within the hour.”

He nodded, waiting for the recrimination to come. It didn’t.

“What’s your new plan for getting them out of White Rock?”

He remarked that she was very calm, almost disinterested. That made him feel worse, not better.

“Still working on it, but there’s always the back door. I’ve got Herzel waiting on the Bandama River.”

“There’s no time for that. It is critical they get on with this mission without delay.”

Radsley nodded.

“Contact me when you’re en route,” she said simply and went to terminate the connection, but Radsley interrupted her.

“Lorelei, can we talk about this?” There was an edge to his voice.

Nightingale raised a single eyebrow over a cool grey eye.

“I know I screwed up. Something went wrong with the hand-off. I should have provided them with a better entry, but I didn’t anticipate this level of surveillance. I still don’t know how they made us, but if you give me a bit more time…”

“Okran, what are you doing?” she interrupted, her forehead contracted in confusion. “Are you... Are you pleading for your life?”

A cold drop of sweat travelled from the nape of his neck down his spine. He hadn’t planned on this, but he had to admit that he probably was, and the thought was humiliating.

There was a moment, and then she laughed, not maniacally but earnestly. She was laughing at him and his humiliation was complete. His face turned red and a stone formed in his stomach as his fist clenched into tight whitening hammers.

“Okran, my dear Okran. I’m not going to kill you,” she said as she quickly regained her stoic disposition, though a faint smile lingered at the corner of her red lips. “This wasn’t your fault. It was mine.”

There was more confusion in his expression than relief, and the anger had not yet abated, so she continued.

“Your operatives did something to alert the SRID, who in turn deployed the MILICIA. As far as I can tell they were pursuing an alternate objective.”

“How do you know? What if they were just randomly caught by SRID surveillance? There’s certainly enough in White Rock, and these guys have had time to make enemies.”

“Okran, please. There’s no need to protect them. I chose them. The fault lies with me, and I’m certain they have betrayed us in some way.”


Nightingale’s face was utterly still, as though the connection had frozen on that single frame. In fact, she was debating how much to tell him.

“It doesn’t matter to you, but it is much more serious than the dead bodies in White Rock. I’m investigating it personally. For the time being you need only get your operatives to the jungle and mount your mission.”

Radsley felt tension drain out of his chest and his limbs relax. After all this, she was more concerned with something else altogether. If he cared more, he would have pushed to know what it was, but it was above his pay grade. Whatever was brewing might eventually burn him too, but right now he was happy her attention was on something else.

“Your operatives are commodities, Radsley. Put them in a box and ship them,” she suggested.

“That might just work.” He allowed himself a smile. “I’ll contact you when we’re out of White Rock.”

She nodded. “One more thing. In your planning for this mission, make sure you don’t leave any loose ends.”

Radsley thought she might be poking fun at him now, rubbing salt in his wounded pride. It had been a long time since she had laughed around him and longer still since they had shared any playful banter. He thought that alone might be worth the debasement and worry he had experienced on this video link.

“Don’t worry, I won’t leave anything to chance,” he said ruefully, some of his bluster having recovered.

“Excellent,” she said, a smile just hinting at the corner of her crimson lips again. “And make sure we have some bodies to give to the SRID when it’s done. At least enough for them to identify the Lassanders.”

Before he could even react, the communication terminated, leaving him with that sinking feeling again.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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