Chapter Fifteen: Cities Under Siege   Leave a comment

The Straylight landed at the Isfahan spaceport on Criticorum. They were greeted by an armed escort and Amir-Ali Cadizza, a local customs official. While Captain Manx met with TK in his office, two of the armed guards prowled through the ship!

Fannagus fenced off the guards by locking off certain bulkheads, pretending a computer malfunction had messed with the doors. Meanwhile, Cadizza made clear his (regretted but necessary) plans to seize the ship to ferry off VIPs from the troubled planet. Manx tried to counter with cajoling, blandishments, and veiled threats, but settled for punching Cadizza in the throat and yelling at him.

Freed of their entanglements, Manx, Avracek, Fannagus, and Ferizio set off into the city. Manx and Avracek got some more details on the guild summit happening in the coastal city of Ostgard. Manx’s former mentor, the “Old Man”, was in attendance, as was Lt. (once Maj.) Lexa Cassardi. Yori Jaehar, whom the pilgrims had ridden with to Kish, was representing the Scravers.

Fannagus and Ferizio found a pilot willing to take them to Achaeon. Since they were low on firebirds, they worked out a trade that required them to reactivate an AI-capable think machine for some home rule revolutionaries. Fannagus did so, but introduced a bug that would reboot the system every 37 minutes, making it useless.

Arriving in Ostgard, Manx and Avracek split up: Avracek to check out the Muster contingent, Manx to reintroduce himself to Captain Jaehar. He found the captain at a flashy nightclub that the Scravers had taken over. While exchanging insults and banter with the Scraver, Manx noticed a ring on the man’s hand, bearing the same device he’d found on Brother Sand’s ring!

The Engineers arrived at Achaeon, now a vast and lightless cityscape, at night. They crept through an abandoned shopping arcade, decorated with four-color revolutionary posters of Ibrahim Amarjah, Sir Victor (!), and other heroes of home rule. After several hours, they came to an open-air plaza at the crossroads of two skyways. They started across the plaza before noticing the approach of others: a party of Istakhr loyalists approaching the plaza from one direction, with a party of home rule revolutionaries lying in ambush!

Manx produced his own copy of the ring, prompting Jaehar to dismiss his entourage and produce a blaster. Despite the apparent weakness of his position, Manx bluffed Jaehar into letting him go, and dropping a few unsubtle clues as to the nature of the mysterious organization that employed Sand and Jaehar, in exchange for the ring and Brother Sand’s message strip. Manx slipped away to his rendezvous with Avracek, only to be ambushed by a party of armed goons! They dropped a hood over his head, whisked him through a series of blind turns, and loaded him into a flitcar for Yintrai.

Fannagus and Ferizio took cover behind some outdoor furniture while the ambush kicked off, then exploited or created a few distractions—including a rigged machine pistol to simulate a second ambuscade, and hacking the assailants’ think machines to get them to overheat—to get past them. In the confusion, Ferizio took a bullet to the gut. Fannagus dragged him to safety, sterilized the wound with some scavenged liquor, then stole some first aid supplies from the abandoned corpse of one of the ambush party. Though he wanted to bring Ferizio with him, the plucky apprentice insisted that Fannagus continue on alone.

Manx woke in an opulent study in Yintrai, an abandoned, plague-ridden city on the southern coast of the continent. He was interrogated by the Iconoclast from behind, who pretended or claimed not to recognize him. Manx caught only a glimpse of his son’s face—burned in some accident, his right eye replaced by a cybernetic—during the conversation. However, before he was hooded again and dragged off, he caught a glimpse of something on the study desk that could provide an insight into his son’s crusade.


Posted May 6, 2015 by John Perich in Uncategorized

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