Friday, September 30, 2016

Rough Riders on Mars! - Chapter 23 – Miss Linton’s Story

Chapter 23 – Miss Linton’s Story

I left Lieutenant Griffin in charge and took a well deserved rest. I awoke shortly after noon to check on our progress. We were still moving by the engines, so we were making good progress. I then checked in with Miss Linton about Miss Jordak’s condition. She said that the woman was resting and should pull through.

With that, I went back on deck to discuss the plans for our return with Griffin, Chronto, and Kumlik.

“We are three days out and it will take as many to get back,” I said. “What do you suppose we’ll be sailing into?”

“I am sure that Reytik knows we are gone by now.” Chronto said. “He has probably deduced where we have gone, but hopefully he does not know the means by which we’ve traveled.”

“If he does not know about our ship,” Kumlik said, “he will figure he has at least a month to act against us.”

“True,” Lieutenant Griffin, “ but I’d think he’d want to act sooner than later, before our men or Borlak have a chance to strengthen their positions.”

“I agree.” I said. “Should we fly over the city at night, what do you think we will be able to determine about their situation.”

“If Reytik has pressed the issue,” Chronto said, ”there will be ample evidence that can be seen in the dark.”

“For the sake of argument,” I said, “let’s assume that Reytik has acted. I am guessing it would take him about a week to round up the troops he needs.”

“I think that that is a safe assumption.” Chronto said.

‘So, when we arrive, he will be in the early stages of his assault.” I said.

Lieutenant Griffin said, “If he plans on a siege rather than an assault, he may be just leveling buildings to create a kill zone.”

“Kumlik, What time do you think we will arrive in the area of Ceraunius?” I asked.

“We should have a decent view of the city on the evening, two days hence.” He said.

“Well,” I said, “that is when we’ll know if we are siege breakers, reinforcements, or avenging angels. Let us plan for all three options and we can select the most appropriate when the time comes.”

We spent the rest of the afternoon and on into the evening posing different scenarios as to what and where Reytik would act. Then we would devise plans to counter his moves. We finally broke for dinner when Miss Linton came in to our makeshift war room.

I asked her how Jordak was faring, to which she replied that she was progressing admirably and would be ready for visitors sometime tomorrow. I said that that was wonderful news and that I was curious to hear the lady’s story. I then asked how she was doing.

“Well, I was never in any real danger,” Miss Linton said, “until we were a day from Palamnus. That is when we were ambushed by Deyak. Fortunately, you came to my rescue before anything happened.”

“It is also fortunate that we have made the friends we did in Ceraunius.” I said. “Otherwise, we would still be trailing you and who is to say what would have happened.”

“I was wondering how you came by this magnificent vessel.” She said.

I then asked, “Did you learn anything about as to why you were kidnapped and why this Deyak tried to take you from Jordak?”

“Reytik does not deal with most desert tribes and especially those led by women.” Miss Linton said. “Therefore, Jordak’s tribe could only get their necessaries at extremely inflated prices. Jordak assumed that we were in league with Reytik, so she captured me to use as a bargaining chip in order to obtain better treatment for her people.”

“As she soon found out,” she continued, “we are not in league with Reytik. Then, a day out of Ceraunius, one of Deyak’s men, a spy in Jordak’s camp, tried to carry me off. The attempt failed and the man was killed.”
“Yes,” I said, “we found his body as we were tracking your flight across the desert. Please continue”

“Well, Deyak is from the Trinythios region,” Miss Linton explained, “and that is a state that is well known for hiring out its soldiers to the highest bidder. They also fear the spread of the democracy movement. Because Jordak is in favor of democracy as well as an interloper upon Trinythios territory, the ruler of Trinythios could solve three problems by attacking our party. First, he could get rid of Jordak’s tribe; second, he could get a recalcitrant minor noble out of his hair; and third, he could strike a blow against democracy. He also had the added bonus of being paid a hansom sum by Reytik.”

“At least he achieved his second goal.” I mused.

“Indeed he did.” Miss Linton replied.

“How did your capture by Deyak come about and why was Jordak not killed on the spot?” I asked.

“The man that Jordak killed did not make his rendezvous with Deyak,” she said, “so he assumed ‘Plan A’ had failed. Of course, Deyak had planned or expected ‘Plan A’ would fail. He knew where he wanted to attack and he had overwhelming numbers. Jordak’s men were shot down before they could act.”

“As for why Jordak was captured instead of killed,” she continued, “Reytik wanted to make a public example of her. If she were taken, I fear her fate would have been worse than death.”

“I believe that.” I replied. “That same fate may await us, if we do not make it back to Ceraunius in time.”

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