Friday, March 13, 2015

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter IX: Thicker Than Blood

Tom waited patiently in the antechamber of the consular building. A polite Humanist offered him a real coffee which he was delighted to accept. After only 15 minutes he was ushered into the ambassador’s office.

“Doctor Chambers,” the ambassador said welcomingly.

“Ambassador, it is a distinct pleasure to finally make your acquaintance.”

“How can the AST or the Humanist Alliance be of use to the Badlands Caravan Guild?”

Doc Chambers smiled. “I see my reputation precedes me.”

Ambassador Gavin Hippolyte returned the smile with a perfunctory nod.

“I wonder, Ambassador, just how much of my reputation?” Chambers’ smile became more predatory as he laid a localized white noise generator on the desk. He then moved to a nearby bookshelf where he produced a voice recorder.

“I’d like the opportunity to make a sales pitch...” The recording started while the Doc quickly moved back to the ambassador’s desk. The official looked puzzled.

“I want to help you, Hippolyte,” the Doc started saying quietly while his recording continued in the background and beyond the range of the interference device. “I know about your efforts to recruit and arm special forces around Port Arthur and I approve, but your operation will never work unless you have someone who can manage it properly. Using freelance agents is a recipe for disaster. I am going to find the weapons, transport them, and hide them for a very reasonable fee. Thereby protecting your endeavours from calamitous failure and shielding Colonel Arthur from colluding with you against the Southern Republic.”

Before Hippolyte could react to this concise and potent statement, Chambers deactivated the white noise generator and swiftly moved to the bookshelf again. The timing was exact. As he arrived he stopped the recording as his own voice ran out. He pocketed the device, turned on his heels, and with his same smile concluded both his pitches.

“I’ll let you think about it. But if I may be so bold, I believe we both know it is in our shared interest for you to accept. If you agree, I’ll make all the necessary arrangements leaving you completely unencumbered by the hassles this may incur. I simply ask that you make arrangements for me to meet with a representative of the DA in Perth where I can hammer out the logistics.”

With that, he stepped back over to the desk one final time and dropped a piece of rice paper with a name on it. He then took a pitcher of water and poured a glass and placed it next to the paper.

“I do appreciate you taking the time,” he said with a small bow and let himself out. The ambassador hadn’t said another word.


He arrived in Perth with time to spare before his appointment, so he took in the sights. It was a pretty city with classical architecture and cats in every street. In the center was Acropolis Hill and near its center was the imposing structure of the Department of Administration, the central organization that planned and executed the vital operations that kept Humanist society functioning.

He arrived early and was escorted into the tastefully decorated office at precisely the appointed time.

“Tom, it is you, I wasn’t sure. My, but it’s been a long time. After we’re finished our business you must allow me to take you to dinner,” the administrator said, welcoming the Doc but getting straight to business.

“It is good to see you too, Rycardo, after all these cycles. This is a delicate matter and it’s comforting to speak with the Sub-Director of Planning. I appreciate that your time must be very precious.”

“My dear fellow, you flatter me. How I can assist you? You said something about delicacy?”

“Yes, Rycardo, the intricacies of Humanist interests and politics are devilishly hard to follow. Even I have had to struggle to understand the complex relationships between the Southern Republic and the Humanist Alliance.”

“I’m sure you have. It isn’t quite as simple as the dealings between the Dominion and the Republic. Now, I understand that DEFTA wants to pursue some economic venture with your organization and they require our department’s resources.”

“I can see you’re anxious to get right to it. Alright then.”

The Doc leaned forward and placed two envelopes on the desk.

“I need your help to clear up one matter and to illuminate another. I need the people on this list to be released from obligations and I need to know who’s financing the activities on the second list.”

The sub-director had the lists in hand but had stopped reading them after only a cursory glance.

“Tom, I’m afraid you’ve been misinformed. These aren’t matters for the DA. But I take it you knew that already. It that why you’re here? Did you think our relationship and my position  would make this possible? You haven’t changed at all, have you? Still unable to play by the rules.”

He rose from his desk, a clear indication that the meeting was over. Tom stayed seated.

“You may be right. I haven’t changed much, but neither have you. You’ve done very well for yourself, Rycardo. You have strong support from within the Cult of Gropius.  They see you as a forward thinking pragmatist. You were instrumental in encouraging the process of caste changes a few cycles ago and that has forged you some strong ties within the CSRAC and the Department of Immigration.”

The sub-director sat back down, trying to hide his irritation.

“However, there are some who consider your efforts unpatriotic. There are some who say CSRAC and the DI are tools of the Southern Republic, whose aim is to infiltrate Humanist institutions. And we both know to what end, don’t we, Rycardo?”

“Tom, I don’t know what you were expecting, but my respect for your honoured father only goes so far. I’m going to have to ask you to leave before you get yourself into a sort of trouble even I can’t get you out of.”

The Doc continued, unphased.

“The Republic will of course thank you for your efforts. The Illuminatus will be pressured to allow your star to continue to rise. Your boss, the director, is getting quite old, is he not? You could even rise to the directorship of the DA. What would that make you, a preceptor of the second tier? Very impressive. Why, you could be in the Illuminatus yourself one day. That is, unless someone stops you. You see, Rycardo, this isn’t a game.”

“Are you threatening me, Tom?” the sub-director asked.

“Yes, but only indirectly. After all, I too have respect for your father. I’m threatening your bosses.”

“You can’t threaten the Department of Administration. Whatever you do or say will have no impact. Even if you ruin me, the institution…”

“Rycardo. Not the Department of Administration. HIRA”

The sub-director’s indignation and rising anger had made his face red. A good deal of that colour now drained.

“You have a good poker face, Rycardo. That isn’t the sort of thing I noticed as a child. I know that HIRA organised to have your file stolen from the DA offices in Oxford. There was a brief moment when I thought they were targeting me, but the pieces didn’t fit together. It didn’t take long for me to figure it out. Oh, not that it isn’t deliciously machiavellian, but we both know I’m smart…”

“I was always smarter”

“Yes, you were. Smarter and more focused. Though I would have suspected until now that I was more ambitious. I may have to revisit that. Regardless, we also both know I was always devious.”

“Tom, I don’t know what you think you know, but if you have any sense of self preservation, you’ll forget everything you’ve imagined and you’ll return to your little caravan business and live a simple, long life. Out of respect to our fathers I will forget we had this conversation.”

“I don’t think so. You see, I know you. I know the way you were raised, I know that you weren’t a product of a creche, I know your values.”

“And you would use them against me?”

“Only because I share them. We are both trying to defend what is important to us. Poetic, isn't it? We are both patriots. Pass my notes on.”

“Tom, you will be wiped from the face of Terra Nova, you and everything and everyone you ever cared about. You have no idea what they are capable of.”

“You’re right, of course. They can kill me. But at what cost? You see, I’ve been busy in my way as well. And what I know will not die with me. You know I know. Convince them and then get my friends out of trouble and give me the financial information I’m looking for.”

“You overestimate my influence.”

“And you underestimate mine. Trust me, Rycardo, when they agree -- and they will -- HIRA will actually benefit from this.”

Tom finally got out of his chair while Rycardo remained seated. Before leaving Doc Chambers turned around.

“Wish my uncle well from me.” And after a pause, with the door ajar, “It was good of you to see me, Sub-Director Chambers.”

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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