CHAPTER FOURTEEN PART ONE PLANS COME TOGETHER
SNOW KINGDOM SYNOPSIS: Two soldiers from the United Northern Alliance, Colonel Castille Tasca and Master Sergeant Rambika Maseru, have undertaken a clandestine mission deep into Snow Kingdom territory to test a new agent designed to kill coca plants the source of the Snow Kingdom’s cocaine and the very foundation of its power and wealth
Part One, on its own, is 1,177 words long.
Anton Teis: Age sixty-one. Height one point eight meters, weight 98 kilograms. Deep set brown eyes, hair and complexion.
Origin: Parana River Basin, Matto Grasso, South America
History: Unknown until he becomes War Lord of the Martuzian Clan in 2331. War Lord until 2352. Ascendancy to Lord in 2352 blocked by the Lords lead by Lord Ganath. Appointed Chief Analyzer, Atacama Hydroponics Complex, 2354.
Characteristics: Intelligent, calculating, extremely loyal to individuals perceived as friends and allies. Vast knowledge of Alliance military tactics due to numerous encounters.
Weakness: Temper, overblown sense of importance, does not forgive those who have wronged him.
Lord Tabir: age forty-four, height two meters, weight ninety-eight kilos, red hair, hazel eyes and light complexion.
Origin: Moscow, Red Zone, Russia
History: Originally director of security and information. Became envoy between Moscow and the Snow Kingdom in 2147. Moved quickly up the chain of command until appointed Lord in 2352 to oversee security matters of the hydroponic complexes in regions three, four and five.
Characteristics: Practical, will pursue all possibilities before acting.
Weaknesses: Still viewed as an outsider by various members within the Kingdom political hierarchy. Self-serving if it is to his advantage
MULE: Kingdom term for prisoners.
SO FAR: While Tasca and Maseru close the distance between them and the second DBS located inside the Latal Gorge, Chief Analyzer Teis and Lord Tabir continue their plans to capture both men.
WORDS PART ONE: 1177
Teis studied the emerging image on the gemsteel plasma screen. It was Lord Tabir. Now what does this fool want?
“Chief Analyzer, as the new stalkers are being primed for the hunt, Staff Lieutenant Lucheri will be placed under your direct command upon her arrival. Commander Aeripica will pilot the Reaper and Praetor Ziebek will man the Strider sent to you, as a personal favor to me, by Lord Salazar. I trust you have read their orders? Both officers will maintain continuous contact with you and will obey your orders throughout the hunt until its satisfactory conclusion.”
Teis sat back into his chair and smiled. Interesting, is it not, Chief Analyzer. Of all the Kingdom officers I will command during the hunt, it would be Aeripica who cast the deciding vote that kept me from becoming a Lord. Standing slowly, huge hands cupped behind his back, Teis paced in an agitated manner in front of the immense screen. It was a development he neither wanted nor asked for. Aeripica’s motives, her relentless drive to dominate, Teis knew all too well. Ziebek, however, was a different story. Though he had heard her name mentioned on three different occasions, there was little information about her his sources could add. He would remain cautious of her until the hunt was over. “M’Lord, you know our history. How much I despise Aeripica.”
“I am well aware of the history you share with the Commander. I trust this arrangement will not present a problem, of have I erred in my judgment, Chief Analyzer.”
Outwardly clam, Teis was livid as he stopped pacing and looked into Tabir’s obsidian-colored eyes. “You have erred, M’Lord! I see no logic in your choice of Aeripica! She is arrogant, self-serving and dismissive, three traits that will impact the hunt’s success! She will resent taking any orders from me! You knew this, yet you still chose her!”
Tabir’s face showed emotion. “You appear to have more to say on the matter, Teis. Am I correct?”
“May I speak candidly, M’Lord?”
Tabir continued to study Teis’s chiseled-brown face. “Odd, I thought you were, Chief Analyzer?”
“M’Lord there will be dire complications in working with Aeripica, complications that could endanger the hunt. Should Ziebek show signs of indecision, Aeripica will not hesitate to use this to gain control of the mission. You know she will, M’Lord.” Teis moved behind his chair, his stare intense to the point of mesmerizing. “You know of the bad blood existing between us, how she cast the deciding vote keeping me from becoming a Lord?”
Tabir leaned forward on his console. “I am aware of the circumstances regarding Commander Aeripica.”
“Are you, M’Lord? From all the officers you could have assigned to this mission you chose her, an egotistical, condescending whore that will not think twice of placing her subordinates in harm’s way!”
“Perhaps, Teis, but it is irrelevant. I need to know you will not let your feelings compromise the hunt, that I can rely on you to control every aspect of it.”
“Then tell me, M’Lord, why did you choose her?”
“Because the Commander is relentless, focused and an excellent tactician. If anyone is capable of capturing the mules it is her. In the past you were allied with her three times, and each time you were victorious, were you not, Chief Analyzer?”
We were M’Lord, but not due to her! Because of her arrogance, I lost many good men! It was I, and my First Prime, Pinowne, that were the difference between victory and defeat! She is quick to claim success, yet slow to recognize the sacrifice and pain of others!”
Expecting to hear anger and resentment in Teis’s voice, Tabir stood, and in a voice calculated to shift focus, spoke: “Despite what you have said, this should not present a problem. You, Chief analyzer, will oversee the hunt from the complex. It will be you that controls every facet of the mission. Commander Aeripica has been ordered to provide updates every thirty minutes until the mules have be turned over to you.”
Amused confusion covered Teis’s face. “To what point, M’Lord? Is it until she decides my orders will endanger the hunt? And what of Salazar, what part will he play in this, M’Lord?”
“Lord Salazar will receive a silent feed in order to monitor your progress and nothing more. He has no input regarding the hunt. Each stalker has a tracking chip imbedded in its neck along with a vid-link collar. The Reaper and Strider have relays allowing you to track their position and see the pursuit as it unfolds. In turn I want you to relay this information only to me.”
Which you will relay to Coquero. “I do not like the fact so many will be involved, M’Lord. It is a plan for disaster. And what Coquero countermands my orders as the situation unfolds, M’Lord? What then?”
“I have a persuasive tongue. Lord Coquero will not question my decisions on this matter. On this you have my solemn word as Lord Protector.”
Teis moved to the front of his chair and sat down. “I shall give it no further thought, M’Lord.”
“Excellent. When you heard of the destroyed HK’s, did you not suspect Alliance involvement, Teis?”
“I did, M’Lord, but I needed definitive proof. The trackers I sent to retrieve the dead Hunter-Killer crews noticed the dead mules were armed with dacon lasers which is an Alliance weapon, thus their direct involvement. Based on the Reapers’ initial report, every mule had been killed. It wasn’t until the retrieval unit conducted a body count did I realize two mules had escaped. I ordered the trackers to find their trail and pursue it for as long as possible. When they found the second site they attempted to open the container which exploded killing seven men. Those that survived and were not injured were ordered to follow the trail until their supplies ran out.”
“You could not resupply them?”
“I could M’Lord, but my trackers are not trained to hunt Alliance Warriors. It would have been a slaughter, M’Lord . . . theirs. It was at the very limit of their range when they found the dead stalkers. A snow carrier was dispatched to retrieve the bodies. Upon a thorough autopsy I found the mules had used a chemical poison to kill eight stalkers. They remaining were killed by laser fire. As to the location of the mules, logictates indicate there is another site somewhere between the dead stalkers’ location and the Dune Sea.
Tabir stared hard at Teis. “So, we know nothing about their exact location and intent. It is imperative we kill them and bring their bodies back for autopsy, not only to find their mission’s objective, but as too why they were not addicted to the snow.”
“Not true, M’Lord. To reach the Dune Sea they will have to travel through Worlar territory. Once they do, we can intercept them. M’Lord, would it not be more prudent to capture them alive and extract the information?”
© 2017, Raymond Tobaygo. All rights reserved.
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