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Chapter 203 - What Could Go Wrong[]

Sorsk (Former Outworlds System)
12th June, 3045

Colonel James Woodall had spent the night in the grounded Mark VII smallcraft and was sore from the cramped couch he had slept in. The tour inside the small city had been unimpressive overall. The broad main street and the buildings along it had been quite beautiful from a distance, but up close, you could see the not-so-great workmanship. The few people he had spoken to had uttered a phrase that he could not place, but he had not liked to hear for some reason...Comrade was said a lot by these folks but damned if he could shake the icky feeling it gave him.

Today he would be meeting Chairman Ito Zhukov, the ruler of the planet. His guide, Major Odel Smith, had stuck to an almost memorized speech during their tour. The phrase "worker paradise" had also not sat right with him. He just could not figure out why. But while the people along the main street had been fairly decently dressed, he had caught glimpses of even more people beyond his tour that seemed to be dressed not nearly as well. While his and his two marine escort had their heads on a swivel for the entire tour, the people they observed seemed to not do much looking around, a quick glance in their direction and then away again.

They might not be wearing chains, but I'll be damned if these people are really free, he had thought. At least today, he might learn something when he met Chairman Zhukov.

The drive to the large building had been pretty bland with not much talking. The large building had been easy to spot, even from a distance, large and painted red. An almost blood red color. Major Odel Smith turned in his seat and said "Welcome to the Kremlin. Chairman Zhukov is waiting."

It took quite an argument from Major Odel Smith to get both Marines inside the building with their sidearms only after Colonel Woodall had flatly refused to surrender his or his Marines sidearms. It had surprised him when the guards had actually challenged Major Smith's authority in the matter. He had figured they would be under his command along with the Sorsk Regulars. But he did not have the chance to ask about it.

Chairman Ito Zhukov was dressed in a dark suit, a very nice dark suit. He was large, at least 300lbs and it was not muscle. "Welcome to Sorsk. A true workers paradise. Major Smith tells me that your unit wiped out those filthy pirates that have caused us so much trouble over the years. For this, you have my thanks."

"Just doing the job we were paid to do. We were surprised to find an inhabited planet out here with a working government. So many have been long abandoned." Colonel Woodall replied

"There are a few others out here. We only trade with one, they are very secretive but honorable. Always keep their word. They bring us many luxury goods and we provide them with solar panels of the highest quality." Chairman Zhukov said

"I am sure that my commander would love to work out a trade deal with you, Chairman Zhukov. Would you agree to a meeting with him if he so desires?" Colonel Woodall asked

"Trade deals are good for everyone." Chairman Zhukov said

"It will be a few months at least before we link back up with him, but I am sure he would be open to trade for the solar panels." Colonel Woodall replied. He had taken note that Sorsk was not that different from Wokha, a pretty bleak place and the soil did not smell anything like Thazi, it had an almost acidic smell to it when he had dug a small hole with his knife this morning waiting on Major Smith out of boredom. The Sorsk Regulars had not impressed him any, their equipment was pretty poor and the Battlemechs were bog standard bug 'mechs. Locust, Stingers, and Wasps. If there was trouble, his troops would wipe the floor with them. But he would advise General Mitchell that military equipment should not be offered to this planet, something just felt off about the place.

"I look forward to your return then, Colonel Woodall." Chairman Zhukov said and realized someone had walked up behind him which caused his eyes to narrow slightly. "Joseph, this is our visitor, Colonel Woodall I told you about. Colonel Woodall, this is my son Joseph. Named in honor of the great revolutionary Joseph Stalin."

Colonel Woodall immediately did not trust the young man now standing beside Chairman Zhukov. Everything about him said....THUG. His eyes gave it away more than anything, humorless, cold eyes. "Good to meet you, Sir."

"Father, the Politburo is waiting for you." Joseph said barely giving Colonel Woodall a nod in greeting.

"Yes. I am sorry, Colonel, but my duties to the Party and people is never complete." Chairman Zhukov said as he turned and walked away.

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