Chapter Four: City of Spires (Part 2)   Leave a comment

(Part 1 here)

Victor’s plans for Corezza’s funeral unfolded in an opulent al-Malik ceremony. Family members and friends competed to outdo each other in a display of public mourning, rending their clothing and pulling at their hair. A handsome young man, Sir Ibrahim Amarjah, waxed poetic about his love of the late Corezza and how dark the galaxy was without her. He laid the blame at the feet of “that dog of the Hawkwoods,” challenging Victor to a duel.

Fannagus ferreted some security footage out of the apartment’s service panel, discovering that Ferezzio had received a message and left without warning. He cornered the steward who delivered the message, who described the messenger as tall, hairless and “wearing robes much like your own” – Engineer robes. Deciding he needed some backup, Fannagus flexed the contacts he’d made on Sutek, stopping in at the Hazat compound. He was passed off to house concierge Manuti Lesange, an intrepid young investigator who took Fannagus’s case very seriously. Lesange spirited Fannagus off in a flitcar to the Engineers’ real seat of power in Achaeon: the arcology power plant.

Manuti Lesange, Hazat concierge

Captain Manx was frogmarched into a car by his captors and taken to an abandoned warehouse on the lower levels of the city. There, he met the brains behind the operation: Major Lexa Cassardi, his old rival from the Muster. Cassardi accused him of misappropriating Muster resources not on behalf of his missing son, but on behalf of the Scravers. She brought in the Scraver flunky who had escorted Manx to his meeting with Dean Toth as a witness. Manx countered Cassardi’s accusations with the honest truth – that his son was the reason he’d committed these infractions – but she wasn’t hearing it. “We’ll continue this conversation on Bannockburn,” she said.

Victor managed to talk his way out of dueling the intimidating Ibrahim, claiming that to shed more blood on the day of Corezza’s funeral would dishonor her memory. Ibrahim agreed and was swayed by an equally strong passion to proclaim Victor a friend. Victor’s funerary efforts met with Duke Ivan’s approval, and he and his party returned to Achaeon.

Sir Ibrahim Amarjah

Manx’s captors escorted him toward the spaceport, keeping him covered with a snub gun. On an elevated walkway, Manx ran into an exceptional bit of luck: the Muster officer who had loaned him the original bodyguards was coming down the other way. Manx played up the anger of a hurt customer, pretending that the original bodyguards had simply wandered off. “How are you going to make this right for me?” he demanded of the Muster officer. The officer stammered his apologies and interrogated Manx’s captors. In the few seconds of confusion, Manx took off at a sprint.

Victor, Acolyte Guinn and Brother Sand arrived back at the pilgrims’ suites. Looking around the empty apartments, Victor found Deacon Nedeau and Countess Adorna in a sitting room. Nedeau had the same curio box that she had brandished at Victor on Sutek, and Victor’s head was filled with the same insufferable buzzing. But that was nothing compared to the shock he received when Countess Adorna locked eyes with him and sent him a telepathic plea: help me … help me … help me …

Posted November 15, 2011 by John Perich in Uncategorized

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