Lord Palen’s tragedy, Chapters 7-8

Stormfire returns home at last. Jorge reports in.

Chapter 7.

Oceanside.

Marc was telling a rather rapt audience of rather disreputable relatives about his adventures with the Flying Leaf, the Great Captain and their dramatic rescue of the refugees from Ishendell. His stock with his future father in law and his new relatives had risen greatly after his encounter with the legendary pirate and the fact that he had pulled off a caper on said pirate didn’t hurt. So the young captain was being plied with drinks for his telling of his encounter with a legend. The party was getting rather raucus when Midnight and Chrissie came into the room and Chrissie said, “Uncle Andy, grandmother has a job for you.”

 

Andy looked at Chrissie, put down his drink and said, “What happened?”
“Yesterday, Stormfire removed five devises that created the Scrouge from a vault on the Nerihorn Estate. One devise was recovered. Stormfire has three of them. The last one had its arming lock set to “Armed.” That devise went off. Two estates were killed.”

“Does she want me to go up to Tony’s, Chrissie?”

“She wants your people looking for some trucks.”
“Imperial trucks?”
“The Provisional troopers weren’t sure. Midnight’s family is sending fae and we need you to provide cars and your boys to start looking at truck parks for compelled drivers. Stormfire switched the devises from the trucks he used and grandmother wants you and the boys looking for those other trucks, soonest.”

Andy looked at the party and said, “Boys, I think that this party just ended and we are going have a long day tomorrow, so let’s pack it in and get started early. If the Scourge running around loose, we want to tie it down. I also imagine that if we manage this , there will be a big bonus for us.”

“How many people were killed, Chrissie?” Brian asked.
“The Justiciar’s are working on the report and the estates are not safe to enter right now, but they were saying two thousand at least when Midnight and I were at Nerihorns.”

“Are there any more of these things?”

“Brian, if you should go into the Empty Lands again and look, I think that some people will appreciate that. There was a lot of concern about more of them that the Darkmage had stashed and didn’t recover when he was digging before he took over the palace. I have pictures here of the devises in the vault, the truck that the Nerihorns did not let get away and the preliminary report. Midnight, put the stuff on the table here after I wash it off.”

Chrissie grabbed a towel, dried the table off and Midnight was relieved of the rather large load he was carrying. Chrissie said, “Here’s the report and a stack of pictures. If you see one of the things on one of the trucks, back off and use the phone number to call the Dragonmaster. If the truck is unguarded, hijack it, take it to someplace and then call the Dragonmaster. Before you take the truck, make sure that the arming lock is set to “safe.” If the lock isn’t, secure the truck and don’t move it.”

Andy was looking at the report and said, “Boys, be careful with this. We do not want another one of these things going off.”

The Fortress.

Herdir looked at his brother and asked, “How did it go?”
“We got three of the devises out, the enemy stopped one of the trucks and one of the devises was armed. It went off.”

“Where?”
“I’m not sure. North and west of the rendezvous.”

“How did you know that the devise was armed if you didn’t inspect it before taking it?”
“A young boy saw us, Jumped to report and then was sent back to tell me that one of the devises was armed and to stop that truck before the thing went off. I was going to leave the truck and the devise at the rendezvous, but it never reached the rendezvous.”

“So where are the devises now?”

“On their way to Lylalune on a rather circuitous path.”

“You are not watching them?”
“We discussed this. The enemy is going to be looking for me, and you. If I was close to the devises, I, and the devises would be spotted. That was bad before the thing went off. It’s worse now. Every spy, agent, police officer, soldier and probably gangster is going to be looking for us and those trucks. So if I am here and you are here, they are not looking in Lylalune.”

“How will we get them out of Lylalune?”
“We can discuss that with the Great Captain.”
“We are going to take the devises to Ishendell?”
“We need to discuss that. First of all, there are the infiltrators and they probably can communicate and second, if a ship or boat shows up at the quay now, the infiltrators and Republican marines will swarm it over at all costs. We will find one of the old portals that Wyrran discovered, a mana battery and a discreet location. We launch the devises and leave. We can discuss this with father. You can, at least. I will be staying far out of Ishendell and here, in the Empty Lands, as hidden as possible from High Guard, Justiciars, Fellowship troopers and the Marshalls with a bounty on my head that is probably unbelievable.”

“Why?”

“Because all of the parties know that I have at least three of the devises and they will want to recover them. I don’t think that father understands that our enemies are not going to sit passively and wait for the next blow he throws at them.”

“So you want to use a hidden place to launch the devices?”
“First of all, if preserving the Empire is a goal, actually launching the devises from anyplace inside the Empire will not be something we want to do and second, if the Republic thinks that the Empire is responsible, the Republic and Lord Qinvaris will crush the empire and remake it. So we have to launch from a location not tied to the Empire. We, at least, are already Anathema.”

 

 

Chapter 8.

Ishendell.

Jorge watched the rather exhausted young man emerge from the portal and said, “Where were you?”

“I discovered where Stormfire was going and what he was doing.”
“What was he doing?”

“He went to one of those empty estates that Lord Qinvaris had, and raided the Nerihorn estate where the Darkmage had parked five of those devises used to create the Scourge. One of the devises was armed and went off. Two estates were essentially killed. I was making a report for the Emperor and the Justiciars, seeing Keerla about unlocking a portal for us at the Sanctuary, then going back to Nerihorns and picking up the report on the Scourge, talking to some more people, including Lord Qinvaris and Lord Nerihorn, porting to army headquarters with the report and then porting back to Innshys and here. Here’s a copy of the report. The generals want you to port out and coordinate. They may switch you with Major Steelaxe’s battalion and have you back in the Empty Lands looking for more of the things and providing backup for the Dragonmaster’s people looking for some trucks. That is after two days when Adiun is going to send a huge surprise through the portal, you take the shield down and I render the big portal here useless.”

Darkmaker looked at the portal code and frowned. He hadn’t checked the code itself when resetting the portal previously for the exit points for the Inanimates and hadn’t had any error messages. Now error messages were appearing and so he looked at the code itself. When he did, he could see that the code had been patched and that the patch included commands that the portal didn’t recognize. He looked at the commands and they were all commands that one of the new portals would recognize, but the old portals did not. Darkmaker suspected that an infiltrator, well trained by the Beinans on the new portals, had simply patched in his new code and being that he was here, did not have time to check the code for errors, at least on this portal. Thus, the errors. Fortunately Darkmaker had pulled his own copy of the portal’s base code when he arrived and so he had no difficulty restoring the base code and his own patches. He made a copy of that code in case the infiltrator checked the portal and patched again. Then he set a tripwire in the portal and set one in the portal shelter. At least his part would work as intended when the time came in two days. The Darkmage came in and asked, “Is the portal ready?”
“Yes milord, the portal is ready.”
“What about the Projector?”
“We should get some shots out of it. I am not a Projector expert and the devise is very worn and shaky. We have the spare cores, but they are probably not very reliable.”

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