Saturday, 25 April 2015

The conflicted mercenary

I rescued a slave girl once. A very pretty slave girl. She saved my life and didn't even know it. At least that's what I believed at the time.

Nothing is ever as it seems.

I shake my head to try and remove the unwanted intrusion, and the recollection of events past falls away as I store the powerful memory back into a locked chest I would much rather leave untouched.

With the memory suppressed my anger returns with nothing to distract it. Boiling and seething inside me at the goddamn feckin' arrogance of an Imperial Senator. Thousands dead and an oh so simple change of plans that wasn't telegraphed at the start.

Used, exploited, and discarded is how I feel and that should never, ever be the outcome of a mercenary contract. The slaves of Kui Hsien weigh heavily on my conscience.

Defaulting on a debt is no small matter, though knowing this the small colony of 30,000 people on Kui Hsien refused to accept a one sided rate increase imposed on them. All of this is normal for the business world of a wheeling dealing senator like Patreus. A debt only has meaning when it provides a return on investment.

That the entire colony is then crushed under the weight of a cadre of loyal or mercenary commanders is a text book response. All the commanders involved are looking for a profit and have been handsomely rewarded once the dust has settled. They probably don't look any deeper.

That Senator Patreus has expended huge amounts of money to achieve this makes little business sense though. Over 10 billion credits in combat bonds and probably the same again in personal reward. The interest increase and remaining debt could not have been worth spending all of that, could they?

Apparently so, for it has happened.

Yet this must have been foreseen as one possible or even desirable outcome, for it would not be a good business decision to have started the campaign otherwise. The asset foreclosure is also a normal part of business, and huge tracts of land are sold with a tidy dowry of slaves to a Senator who has a penchant for slavery as a profitable business.

The memory of the slave girl intrudes again unbidden, raising a dam against the flood of my emotions and changing their course.  The adrenaline rage struggles weakly before acquiescing again, and the memory tries to nudge me towards something I can't quite see yet.

A pretty slave girl is easy on the eyes and quite the distraction. There are many uses and some are even documented in the contract, and invited as an easier way of life than many of the alternatives out there, but...

A moments silence hangs heavily in the air as other recent events play back through my mind, and for the second time I put the memory of the slave girl back into the past where it belongs. This time it is different though: a connection has been made. The raging emotions that had clouded my mind are gone; replaced by a cold and calculating view of the universe that demands facts and evidence to go any further.

What I've imagined would be treason in the Empire at the highest level.

I'm stunned. Could a Senator be so bold?

It would be quite the powerplay for a senator in waiting. A young senator who is going places and isn't known for patience or compassion.

Signposted by the enslaved of Kui Hsien, a new path opens up in front of me.

[Note: the link back to an earlier blog entry is, at this point in time, an unfinished background story. I'll get around to writing the rest of it one of these days...]