Monday, October 3, 2016

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter X: A Fine Line

Major Stone had six locations under surveillance, including Minnie’s. It was important that he find Quinn and his team before Major Beria and Sec Buro. In the battle between information and order, the two majors fought like angels on Colonel Arthur’s shoulders, appealing to conflicting sides of his nature.

Beria wanted the independant operators locked up and buried in a diamond mine. Some of his concerns over the disruptions they had caused were justified, if a bit over-dramatised. Stone of course wanted to use them and thus was able to work out a compromise in the form of exile.

That agreement had the potential to go up in smoke, or in this case fire, given that morning’s explosion near Epsilon. It was critical the head of Military Intelligence lay his hands on the Badlanders before the constabulary.

Sitting in his drab and isolated bunker, levels below Korps Main Base, Major Stone was already collecting as much information as he could on the events of the last few hours when his agents radioed in.

“We have them in custody, including Professor Vovelle.”

Stone acknowledged them and gave instructions. He determined his agent had been more diplomatic in his wording when he approached them since Quinn had decided not to put up a fight.

Now that he had them, he had time to make sure he knew what he was going to ask. He kept them in isolation for 10 hours. In a conference room, not a cell -- albeit a secure one and well out of the way so that no one would find them. He also fed them twice while he barely had time to grab a few cawfees.

Major Stone had started his career in the Judge Advocate General of the Korp and he still had a tendency to approach an interview like a cross examination. He liked to have the answers before he posed the question. It was a fine line between information and preconception, between confirming analysis and feeding prejudice. Still, preparation was the key to any interrogation as the answers could only ever be as good as the questions.

Finally, after pouring over records of the Epsilon mine, interviewing the camp warden and a number of guards and inmates, as well as a long discussion with Vovelle herself, he felt he knew enough about what had transpired to risk speaking to Quinn.

Stone believed that these capable assets were not inherent risks to Port Arthur and might, in fact, prove valuable. But he weighed this assessment against the possibility that Beria was right and these free agents were too dangerous to leave to their own devices.

The Major reviewed the office recording log on the off chance they had been careless enough to speak while in custody. Then he interviewed them each in series, finishing with their leader. Quinn walked a tightrope between the highs of their success and the dire consequences of failure: boasting about their accomplishments on the one hand while selling the threat to Port Arthur and the Hermes 72 on the other. When Quinn was done, Stone was satisfied that Gustafson was dead and that they had helped avert a global crisis.

Stone was also convinced that both he and Beria had been right.

Stone eyed Quinn carefully. He had prepared two contingencies for this interview and with all the facts now at his disposal he had to make a choice.

“This is the intel I promised Corovan in payment. You’ve more than fulfilled your part of the agreement and so it's only fair I should as well.”

Quinn looked it over immediately. It revealed that Bartok had been targeted by Military Intelligence, that is Stone himself, for termination in 1916 after he had been recruited by the NGIS in a turncoat operation known as ‘Haven’.

Quinn looked up from the data stream. “Who else knows?”

“Colonel Arthur, myself, now you and Corovan. And the parties involved, of course. I had another arrangement with Minnie so she didn’t need to know, and Bakov only had to follow orders, so he went to his grave unaware.”

Quinn skipped most of the file, looking only at headings, when he found an addendum. A few cycles ago it came to light that Kable had saved Bartok’s life and used him as the first test subject for an experimental project. Quinn secreted the data key away.

“I must warn you about Beria. It is imperative you stay out of the Port Arthur security zone. Despite appearances, the Major is resourceful and stubborn. Should you be captured by Sec Buro again, you cannot count on my influence staying Colonel Arthur’s judgement.”

Payment in hand, Quinn took the warning as his cue to leave and stood. Stone nodded at a camera and the door to the interrogation room unlocked.

“I would also like to offer you some advice if you care to hear it.”

Quinn paused a moment and sat back down.

“In spite of the fact that I have lobbied for your freedom and advocated for your worth, might I suggest you stop viewing your skills as an unambiguous value. Although you demonstrated extreme skill in infiltration and direct operations, Quinn, you show a proportionate naivety in power brokering and navigating the halls of influence. There is a fine line between intelligence and politics, and the needs of the former often succumb to the exigencies of the latter. ”

Quinn smiled and stood. Stone sighed, certain his words were falling on deaf ears.

“You are a weapon, Mr. Quinn. Coveted as long as you can be controlled. Doomed to be universally condemned as a threat if you cannot.”

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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