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The Other War (Cover)

Chapter 3 - The Other War[]

04/18/3059 Location – Brim Zenith Station, Brim, Kerensky Cluster

Bowie Opriq was escorted under heavy guard along with his fellow Burrocks from their transfer ships, mostly older Lions whose corridors were far too small for the Elementals. He had been debriefed, authenticated, and interrogated on and off for almost a month by Adder Watch. They were justified in taking their time; Bandit Conspirators were still being found out, civilian processing centers came under attack by raiders, and large numbers of star-lift assets needed to be brought in to ensure security and complete the Absorption. Tough to run away if you can’t breathe outside your prison cell.

Brim Station was massive, most Clan recharge stations were on the Pentagon facing worlds of the Cluster due to the large volume of Merchant and Warrior traffic coming from enclaves on either side of the Shroud. His threat analysis was in overdrive surprisingly he hadn’t worn it out by now. He could see lower Caste paying close attention to him and the others as they passed likely Watch assets from the Sharks or Ravens that frequented these stations.

The Cloud Cobra enclave loomed large in front of them. That Clan had been allies to the Burrocks and were to the Adders. It was a neutral ground to continue sifting through the stories that each Burrock had about their clans dealing with Bandits throughout the Deep Periphery. Bowie was separated from the others and a Cobra agent joined the Adder Elemental assigned to him. Both led him to a small room with table and three chairs. Ah more interrogation I see. When does the torture start? I grow weary of just talking.”

Both snakes looked at him incredulously, the Cobra started, Well he did ask for it, Kren.” Do you think we need to torture you Bowie? Cause I can maybe work out some aggression.” He looked over at the Cobra Watch agent longingly, if Carver leaves the camera off a little longer.”

The Watch agent nodded and Kren cracked his knuckles. He was a large specimen for Star Adder who never put much time or effort into their Elemental lines. At ‘only’ 190cm and 130 Kilos (an MMA super-heavyweight) he was equivalent to most Marine Elemental blood-lineages, Ravens and Hellions ran a little smaller, but puny to True Elemental Armored Infantry. The Burrock average was 210cm and 160 Kilos (Big NFL Offensive Lineman) which was middling, around Coyote and Mandrill size, compared to the giants of Clan Hell’s Horses and Ghost Bear who repeatedly split the events in the Martial Olympiad.

Give me your best shot Snake.”

The Adder Elemental delivered a punishing hook to the abdomen the force of which thumped off the wall. Bowie tensed his muscles dampening the powerful blow then relaxed and sat down on the bare chair, That’s good. I’m satisfied now. Just wanted to make you earn it.”

He breathed deep taking a moment to satisfied with his circumstances, I miss that.”

Kren was surprised that Bowie hadn’t bothered to protect himself and sat down without incident despite being unfettered, You miss being punched?”

I miss being around my Elemental brothers and sisters. Wrestling, boxing, drinking, the whole thing.

My Point was completely wiped out.”

Carver sat down and bid the reluctant Kren who sensed something off to do the same. Kren waited until it became uncomfortable then proceeded to take a seat. The Cobra turned on the video camera which beeped and began blinking red, Yes, that is what the initial reports stated among other things. It was one of the easier things for the Adders to verify. What happened at 'Boomtown Station' the day you were abducted?”

It was a regular day walking the hills, a wildfire had just gone through and exposed a vein of titanium. A mining survey team was sent out conducting soundings to survey the area that thus far we had not needed to exploit. One of the bombs went off and our Geologist received unusual readings, something man-made where there was no record of Brian Caches. He reported it to command and we were awaiting heavier equipment and more people to investigate it. This was five cycles before the Adders arrived.” Why was a Point of front line Warriors assigned to guard the team?” Bandit activity had recently increased nearby. Two survey teams had gone missing in other places nearby. A Ranger team sent to find them found no trace, it was as if they were never there. My Point was on world already and was tasked with the assignment.” Why your unit? Why not a Solahma squad?” My Point Commander Sean was involved in a low level contraband operation. Earned some credits on the side selling Artisan tchotchkes to lower caste without paying the import duties. A Merchant complained to his Factor and it got to Star Commander Brandon. Sean was embarrassed and Brandon assigned us to this detail as punishment in order to keep our codices clean when he chose not to refuse.

It was supposed to be a temporary hardship operation, ten cycles out and then we would be sent toward Albion for a normal rotation. It was except for the still located about 4 klicks North of our camp.”

Kren gave him a sour look at the admission of the second round of dezgra activity. Don't give me that look Elemental. You do it too and if you don't then someone on your Star does and nobody talks about it.” Carver tapped his stylus on the Noteputer, Interesting, none of this was in the report.” My mind was a little fuzzy. Couple of weeks off-world and those drugs going through my system cleared up some things in my memory.”

The Watch Operative tapped something on the noteputer and after reading the Burrocks initial bloodwork showing a cocktail of pharmaceuticals. Their names meant nothing to him but most were in some way related to sedation and some of the more interesting ones had been abandoned by SLIC (Star League Intelligence Command) prior to the Exodus. Seems reasonable to me, this interview was primarily for fidelity purposes; but if you have new information please continue Elemental Opriq.”

So the night I was abducted, Quiaff?” Aff.” Well I was drunk. I remember that...strangely, or was I for whatever reason my memory is a little hazy but I recall there was no alarm. The Bandits arrived using Sneak Suits to get past the perimeter sensors. We had good sensors too which meant they were really good Sneak Suits.

I tried to fight them off, two came for me, I recall breaking the nose of one and broke my knuckle hitting the helmet of the other. They were intensely strong, almost Elemental level but much smaller like regular Warriors no bigger than you Carver, no offense.”

The Cobra didn't seem to mind being called small most of his Clan was even smaller to fit with their more Aerospace focused Touman and space colonies. None taken, please continue.”

Well I am certain I killed one of them, I remember seeing a dead body at my feet and blood on my hands. Then I blacked out, they dosed me with something, something really strong, and I was out.”

Carver continued to run his stylus over the noteputer while Bowie talked doubled checking previous minutes and Kren kept a close eye on the Elemental. There were trace amounts of a Carfentanil analog in your initial blood work. It is a very powerful, fast acting, but rapidly metabolizing sedative often used on Elementals so that is a reasonable assumption. What do you remember next?”

I remember a drill. Fast high pitched, could smell something burning. I was restrained with thick irons anchored to a cold damp stone wall. Hewn stone not concrete, like a mine shaft.

I woke to screaming, one of the technicians that were part of the group was restrained in a chair while a surgeon was putting something in his head. Something chrome, an implant of some kind, it was dark, motion, five people, three armed, two unarmed plus the Surgeon. The name Juergens comes to my mind I don't remember who said it.” Juergens you are certain?” Aff, does it mean anything to you.” It was a Widowmaker blood-name. Do you remember anything about insignia? Did they have a uniform?” No, one of my captors had a tattoo of a spider web tattoo sleeve down her left arm. Its one of the common Bandit motifs we learn in Sibko. I paid it no mind at the time.”

The agent moved his stylus across the tablet tapping rapidly on icons a writing out in exquisite script. Tell me more about her? Is she Juergens?” No I never saw Juergens. I remember hearing it but my head was restrained, I couldn't look over to see who it referenced or who said it.”

Very curious. I will have to see if the Adders collected any DNA from the Black Mesa Bandits to compare to Widowmaker bloodnames. How about a break?”

The trio called for a break allowing Bowie to collect his thoughts and Carver sent Kren out to get lunch. Carver left when he returned to send out an HPG. Bowie put down his fork having the whole hour to leisurely chow down on his lunch I really like the food you guys have. Its hard to find good falafel on Dagda not a lot of halal food there, or food in general unless you go to the gray markets.”

Carver was still eating his shawarma, Your codex specifies no Cloister affiliation. Are you a Qarani or Ka'ani?”

No I am not one of your faithful that needs a special diet. Are you?” I love shawarma and ambas but I am a Rossei.”

Born Nova Cat but ended up in the Clouds.” True Warriors are strong in Mind, Body, and Spirit. I choose to believe what I do because I derive strength from it and the brotherhood of our friends.” Speaking of friends; what has happened to Star Captain Irons? I thought we would be on the same vessel.” The Star Captain has come down with a blood infection. He is stable and convalescing aboard the Black Adder heading toward Sheridan along with other injured Warriors and Burrock isorla.”

Good, I would hate all my labor to have been in vain.” Bowie placed his hands back on the tabletop showing the three strands of his bond-cord the only fetter that he decided didn't need to be broken yet.

I have made a query of Kael Pershaw's people regarding Widowmakers on Dagda.” All the way to the Loremaster of the Clans. Impressive.” No I have never seen the man. Though I hear he is something awful to behold and likes to keep it that way.”

Now what did the Dark Caste do to you? And how did you escape? The more descriptive the better, I can bring in a Doctor to interpret what you experienced and then explain it to you at our next meeting.”

Bowie began unbuttoning his BDU jacket. Can I get some whiskey first? Its going to be painful to relive that week.”

Whiskey after. I need to see your pain and record it for my own records.” I would rather let Kren punch me a dozen times with dusters.”

That is why he has them. If its difficult we can try hypnosis it might be easier on your mind. We cannot let your return to Warrior status if you are damaged.”

Bowie lifted his shirt and showed off a tapestry of surgical tattoos and scars, You underestimate how hardy Burrock Elementals are. We never break from pain.”

A single tear came down his eye catching the overhead light, but I was damn close.”

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