CHAPTER FOURTEEN PART TWO
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
Commander Reza Aeripica age: forty-seven, height one point seven five meters, weight forty-three kilos. Black hair, brown eyes, dark complexion.
Origin: Pantanal Region, Argentina
History: Graduated Brasilia War College, Brazil. Intelligent, pragmatic, valued for her tactical and strategic insight. Action in the Scavenger Wars of 2341 and 2347. Led four missions into territories loyal to the Alliance. Rose through the ranks becoming Senior Commander in 2350. Oversees all military actions against Alliance incursions into Kingdom Territories in regions three, four, and five.
Characteristics: Intelligent with intimidating insights to strategic and tactical situations. Known for her persistence and focus. Once she is committed will see it through to its conclusion.
Weaknesses: Arrogant, driven by her perceived self-importance. Vengeful. Never forgets any real or imagined insults. Willing to sacrifice those under her command. Outward hatred of Teis.
Praetor Ziebek: Age forty-six, height one point eight meters, weight seventy-nine kilos
History: Joined Snow Kingdom military as front-line combatant 2134. Distinguished herself in actions against the T’ming and Worlar scavengers, Warlord Zapotec and clandestine raids against the Four Civilizations. Hand-picked by Lord Ganath to serve underneath Aeripica.
Characteristics: Said to be fearless, loyal, does not question authority.
Weaknesses: Prone to make rash decisions. Has been known to be self-serving.
MULES: Snow 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 TWO: 1072
FROM PART ONE
“I could M’Lord, but my trackers are not trained to hunt Alliance Warriors. It would have been a slaughter, M’Lord . . . theirs. They were 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 the 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?”
WORDS PART TWO: 1072
“No. Either alive or dead we can learn their intent from a neural infusion, which must be completed within twenty-four hours after their deaths. I know it is a calculated risk, but the Reaper can bring the bodies to us within a workable time frame. Do you agree, Chief Analyzer?”
Teis hesitated. He wanted them alive. “The information the mules will have on Alliance military, and clandestine insertion tactics, would be invaluable to us, M’Lord. It could be the essential key to finally ending Alliance incursions within the Kingdom.”
His logic is sound. I see no other option. I must agree with him. “I find no fault in your reasoning, Teis. So be it. We will capture them alive, if possible, then extract what they know.”
“I concur, M’Lord, to a point. My concern is they may have orders to kill themselves by shooting themselves in the head. Should this prove true, then what, M’Lord? We have nothing.”
“That is a concern, Chief Analyzer. Logictates indicate a sixty-nine percent probability the mules will be killed by the Worlar and seventy-three percent probability they will be killed by your stalkers. We have issued orders to the Worlar to target only the body. If the mules are killed by a head shot the Worlar will pay a heavy price. With Ziebek now part of the hunt, she will control the stalkers and keep them from eating the mules.”
I have no doubts she will control the stalkers, M’Lord, but is this wise to punish the Worlar? In the heat of battle, if their lives are threatened, they might disregard the orders. If you take punitive actions against them, it could lead to conflict, a distraction we can do without, M’Lord.”
Perhaps, Teis, but the odds are in our favor. I see no other viable course of action.”
“It appears, M’Lord, you have considered all possibilities except for one; the supplies the mules will have at the second site. If their earlier actions are any indication, they may become more dangerous. We can only speculate on the weapons the Alliance will provide. This presents a conundrum, M’Lord. The Alliance knows their operatives will be surrounded by the Worlar. I cannot believe they had not considered this, so the weapons they possess will have the capacity to eliminate any threat from the Worlar . . . and possibly the stalkers as well, M’Lord.”
Tabir rubbed his chin in an agitated manner. “I am aware of this. These mules are Alliance warriors, Teis, trained to eliminate real or perceived threats. If anyone knows what they are capable of, it is you, Chief Analyzer.”
“True, M’Lord, but I trust my instincts. I feel their mission is one of utmost importance, and presents a great danger to the Kingdom. Furthermore, I agree with you, the mules are not going to walk into a known ambush without having an egress point. Thus, two puzzles, M’Lord.”
“And what do your instincts tell you?”
Slouched in his chair Teis let out a long, deliberate sigh. “Unfortunately, M’Lord, I see nothing of any good. We have two mules, disguised at gypsum miners, spending ten days in the complex to help twenty mules escape with no addiction to the snow. This must be taken as a dire threat the Kingdom. To have caused the carnage they did, and now presumed to be in Worlar territory, makes one almost envy their courage and intelligence, M’Lord.”
“To a point, Teis. Interesting, is it not, they reach scavenger territory just as Manaus is experiencing a major uprising which forced us to commandeer your Reapers and stalkers, leaving us with no viable means to search for them. Does this strike you as serendipitous?”
“No, M’Lord, not at all. My sources point towards covert Alliance involvement on both.”
“Sources, Teis? Of what sources do you speak?”
Should I reveal my long-time confidants or provide those recently turned? If I reveal my network he could take them from me. “M’Lord it would be unwise for me to do so. Any interference, any disturbance within my contacts, could undermine their effectiveness.”
Tabir raised his hand in a disarming manner. “You need not worry, Teis. I have no desire to know your Alliance contacts, but I will require current information as the hunt progresses.”
The tension in Teis’s face vanished. “Yes, M’Lord. As I receive reports on our progress, you will be informed once the information is decrypted. I trust this is sufficient, M’Lord?”
“Yes, it is. What do you know regarding the situation at Manaus?”
“What I understand is this, M’Lord. Ten standard hours after the indigenous population rioted, the Alliance inserted four covert units to provide assistance. My sources informed me they supplied laser rifles, thermal grenades and medical supplies. I was told two covert units are still assisting the insurgents while the remaining units have faded into the jungle, their intent and destination unknown. How much longer the units fighting alongside the insurgents will be extracted, is not clear, M’Lord. There is no information beyond this.”
Tabir let his body sink into his chair, a wry smile locked into the corner of his mouth. “I will inform Manaus to continue the fight until they’ve destroyed the Alliance combatants.” The numbers of Teis’s contacts must be substantial. I will have them one way or another. “Enough about Manaus. We must focus on capturing both Alliance operatives. Do you wish to interrogate them, Chief Analyzer?”
Teis bit his lower lip. Why the sudden interest in what I want? Is he forthcoming or is it part of his end game? “Yes, I would, M’Lord, but with one request.”
“Of course, Teis. Name it.”
“That both Alliance warriors be interrogated by me with no interference from Aeripica and Ziebek, M’Lord.”
“You shall have it, Chief Analyzer.”
Commander Aeripica and Praetor Ziebek, located in a hanger within the Atacama Complex, are checking the Cyber Strider’s neural and optic connectors.
“Everything appears to be in order, Commander. With the connectors I will be able to control the stalkers up to five kilometers, seeing and hearing what they do. Based on my briefing, it appears I, and my machine, will be severely tested.”
“With the rugged terrain we’ll find in scavenger territory, I have no doubt you will, Praetor. It will take time for the stalkers to locate the mules scent trail, which is why I you will be positioned five-hundred meters behind the pod.”
© 2017, Raymond Tobaygo. All rights reserved.
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