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The Other War (Cover)

Chapter 64 - The Other War
Babylon Star System
Pentagon Worlds, Clan Space
February, 3063

Rebekah had been rehearsing this moment in her mind all morning, was it morning, it didn't matter, but it all disappeared as the situation suddenly changed. She pulled the maps forward but her gauntlet commpad was still within arms reach of the other woman, “Let me see my CommPad.”

“And let you delete or upload the data to some other location. I think not.”

“You are a frustrating, woman.”

“Times wasting, Rebekah.” “Fine, I will do it from memory. I am not here to spy on your people Sharazad.”
“Then why do you have maps of an area near my husband's present operating zone?”
“I didn't even know that Sumral had been abandoned by the Hellions. I just knew it was a nomad way station. How could I know where the Sheikh was?”

Shara sipped her tea and watched the sands fall, “Information does not need to be complete to be worthwhile.”

“Precisely! I was given a secret roster of a base located in this area. A Scientist Black Site where the population never ages, dies, or grows. Looking into it last year almost got me killed, twice. Once on Ur and another in Versailles. As far as Clan Coyote is concerned I died on Kirin of a drug overdose following my Grand Melee last month.”

She put her finger on a basalt ridge, “I need to infiltrate this base and investigate it in order for saKhan Clearwater to act on it.”

Once more she spread her hands on the map, stopping on the labyrinthine basalt canyons that were between Sumral and the location, “I need to contact the Vaga so they could guide me across the Black River. I can survive in the Tamaron desert but I don't know this planet as well. If no one is willing to take me across I will learn how to do it myself.”

The sands fell as the woman paused in contemplation, "Why are you so determined to do this mission solo young lady?”

“Because I lost a friend to it...I've had much time alone to think about it...and since someone tried to kill me I think I'm onto something and I want to save my Clan.”

Sharazard's sand clock emptied and she let it stay there for a while judging her prisoner on the far side of the table. “You've convinced me, congratulations on saving yourself from the garrote. I am afraid I cannot personally help you with this task but when the Sheikh returns next week you can appeal to him."

She pushed the CommPad back across the richly lacquered table, “Until then I am certain a caravan would be willing to let you accompany them. A warning, the Black River is a treacherous and constantly changing place with nothing to offer those that venture through it be very careful if you go there.

Chan will see you out and return your possessions. Do try to be more subtle next time, Zahra and Masika still don't trust you.”

She was bidden farewell and exited right into Chan who stood there with her rucksack, knife, and medicine satchel. Reequipped she walked out into the shaded of the noon sun and returned to her jeep. Three days later she was driving over the whipping black sands and ruthless sun of the Valence desert with a Kaskan rifle slung over her back, looking through goggles at a herd of Tallasi gathered around a soda oasis with one of the Vaga groups.

Within the city of Versailles Coyote Kin Keeper Shawn Rosanske accessed his secret terminal. The terminal was linked directly to the Valence Shell facility in the middle of the harsh unforgiving wastes of the Basalt Ocean. A windswept and utterly desolate facility once a strongholds of a long erased Pentagon Power before being transformed after the Blood Scandal almost a hundred years ago. His many times predecessor was worried that the Reavings would cripple the Coyotes forever and he was mostly correct. They lost their empire to other powers and fell from the height of their power which at one time equaled the Wolves, Jade Falcons, and Ghost Bears.

They had instituted a fallback lab to experiment with biological weapons and genetic engineering trusting the remote and harsh location to insulate them from any uncontrolled release. The badlands themselves provided plenty of isolated Bandit populations on which to experiment. Much had been learned and when he took over in 3050 after being cast down as part of Khan Sullivan Koga's reorganization he had found alternate uses and allies among those disaffected from her actions.

Enhanced Imaging was still a relatively new technology to the Clans only being rolled out less than 30 years ago shortly after he took his first Trial of Position. The Smoke Jaguars and Ice Hellions were the largest users per capita as both Toumans had high turnover already so the negative long term effects were mitigated.

Jade Falcons however had a number of them these lasted longer typically and through back channels the Scientists including their own Scientist-General Etienne who had escaped to an unknown location just as the All Clan Watch closed on him. When the Smoke Jaguars launched their Protomech program they were building on these notes and found the Aerospace phenotype resisted degradation longer due to a number of synergistic factors.

Shawn didn't know how widespread the Scientists experiments were yet he allowed them to continue. The Clan's collective failure at the Great Refusal had shaken his own confidence in their Warriors. As a Scientist he was willing to green light experiments to improve their individual proficiency. Star Captain Jeremi Kufahl's performance during the Grand Melee had proven their latest experiments were successful. He had taken down a whole Binary by himself and was little worse for wear because of it according to the after action reports.

Within his mailbox he saw that Scientist-General Richarda had identified another three dozen civilian candidates through genetic screening that had similar genes from among the Steel Vipers or Kindraa Beyl-Grant. Covert capture teams were already slowly moving to their quarry, “Authorize.”

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