[Mock-Fiction] III - In Amore et Bellum

Note: Please read the Formal Notice movella. It should be on the list on the right hand side.

Protest piece. Third in the series after 'I - Requiescat in Pace' & 'II - Memento Mori'. Enjoy x

Cover by Secrets Unfold

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8. Six - Decision

Myra was told one thing when she was allowed into the Bureau:

You will not tell anyone of this meeting. What’s said in this room, stays in this room. You say a word, and you’ll be–

And Richard had stopped Vesp there. All the members were going ballistic. This had never happened before. It shouldn’t have happened. Not at all. Not ever. Rogue wasn’t a fool to get caught like that. No way. Not unless she had a few screws loose. Not if–

 

“May I say something?” said Myra, raising her hand.

The members of the Bureau silenced, glancing at her for a split second, and then all said collectively: “No!”

Myra sighed and watched Richard, who – unlike the others – had his back turned to them all, staring pensively at the mask in his hands. He shook his head every now and then, confused and worried for good measure. He was wondering what had happened to the mercenary leader, all of a sudden just disappearing. Rogue may have been a nut-job, but that didn’t make her any less responsible.

 

“E-NOUGH!” shouted Vesp.

All went silent.

“It’s no use all jumping at each other,” he continued, composing himself, “It won’t help us, and it certainly won’t help Rogue. We need to go one at a time. Richard?”

Richard looked towards Vesp, but didn’t say anything.

“You interrogated the mercenaries, and the imposter. What have you got to report?”

“Some of the mercenaries remain imprisoned in the barracks’ dungeons, others have been set free. The imposter is to be publically hung today at 5 p.m. sharp.”

“Alright, but what have you found out?”

 

“The mercenaries are all confused,” put in Myra, “What they’ve recounted is all very… strange.”

“Go on…”
“The campaign to Bengal hadn’t been much of a campaign. Many of them said they fell into a number of tiny skirmishes that were defeated easily, but produced an unnaturally vast amount of war-booty. They said that Rogue went out several times with a handful of Germans to negotiate terms with the contractor and to ask why there was a delay… perhaps she got ambushed on one of these parley trips? And then replaced by the imposter?”
“That easily?” said Vesp, “Did none of the mercenaries notice the rather apparent change in Rogue?”

Myra hesitated, “Vesp… Of course they noticed, but Rogue isn’t someone you challenge unless the odds are largely in your favour. The mercenaries… they fear her as much as they love and respect her. I, being a mercenary myself, can relate to that. No one has ever gotten on Rogue’s bad side in the barracks, and frankly, no one’s willing to find out what that’s like, either.”

 

Vesp nodded, “Do you know the name of this contractor, by any chance?”

“Rogue did not tell me. She did not tell anyone. I’ve asked some of the tribunes, but they all said no. It’s one of her policies to keep the name of the contractor confidential and safe.”
“Perhaps if we knew his name,” said Lia, “we’d have a lead as to where she is.”
Myra scowled for a moment, “Perhaps,” she said tersely, “But we do not.”

“It was foolish not to write the name down somewhere so someone else knows.”

“It’s respect for people’s privacy.”

“Sounds like sheer laziness to me.”

“She didn’t give a name; how is that laziness?”
Lia glowered at Myra, “It was foolish.”

“This has never happened before, and not handing out a name is not the reason why it’s happening.”

“Then why is it happening, Myra?”
“Because a bunch of twisted people out in Bengal want her dead. There must be a huge bounty on Rogue’s head!”

“Shouldn’t that be a reason to take precautions?”

“What are you–”

 

“There’s no time for this,” growled Vesp. There was a pause and then, “Jess?”
Jess looked up, and a frown weighing down her usually cheerful lips, “I tried to pinpoint her location using the Apple, but…” she lowered her gaze, “It just says that Rogue is alive. That’s all. It won’t help any further… Should I try again?”
“No,” said Richard, “The Pieces of Eden have minds of their own. If it’s not feeling supportive, then it won’t be helpful – we’ll have to make-do without it. At least we know she’s alive.”

“She could be imprisoned,” added Myra.

 

“Chains cannot hold Rogue.”

 

Everyone looked at Abbess Britney. She twisted the beads on her rosary nervously, and then continued, “I’d gotten a report from Calcutta Monastery a few days ago. The Mother there said that a woman in black clothes and a mutilated mouth claimed to be Rogue, and asked for the Brotherhood’s support.”

Vesp raised his brows, “And what did this nun do?”
“Nothing,” said Britney flatly, “But at least we know she’s alive and out of prison, even if she could have been held in captivity before.”

“Then she can take care of herself.”

 

Myra frowned, her thin brows arching, “You’re going to leave her there?”

Vesp paused a moment, and then said, “What choice do we have? If we go, we are under threat of attack.”

“That’s what’s he’s been planning…” Richard muttered.

“Richard?”
“Smith. Kidnapping Rogue wasn’t to disarm us, it’s to make us move away and leave Masyaf undefended. The coward. Il diavolo!” Richard clenched his teeth, “And it gives us all the more reason to go and bring her back.”

Lia gasped, “You’re going to leave Masyaf anyway?”
“Yes, but not undefended,” Richard set the Venetian mask down on the table in front of them, “We’ll take your fleet of ships, Vesp, and a team of 50 soldiers – no more. I’ll leave Masyaf’s army under Myra’s control and–”

 

“You what?” said Myra, angrily.

Signora?”
Myra’s jaw clenched, “You might be the Mentor, but you are not the boss of me. I am coming with you.”

“That is a danger to you.”

“What’s your point?”

“You will not be going, Myra, that is my order.”

“Then I refuse to obey. I’m joining you.”

“No, you are not.”
“Yes,” said Myra, folding her arms, “I will be.”

 

“Can we watch this episode of Old Married Couples later, please?” said Jess, “We have a mercenary who’s being hunted down in Bengal.”

Vesp nodded, “I’ll prepare the ships. Myra can come with us.”
Richard raised a finger, “But–”

Vesp was already on his way out, and Myra walked out with him.

Richard scowled, “Very well,” he said through clenched teeth, “I’m leaving the army and the mercenaries under your control, Lia. Should there be an attack, stay on the defensive until we get back. Comprende? Britney, madonna, keep us informed of anything that comes your way. And Jess, try and use the Apple to defend Masyaf in the case of attack. All clear?”

All three women nodded grimly.

 

Bene. Let’s get to work then.”

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