Horror and Thriller Science Fiction posted December 31, 2017

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Two men on a mission deep into enemy territory

The Snow Kingdom Chapter 8 pt 2

by rtobaygo

 SNOW KINGDOM SYNOPSIS:  Two soldiers from the United Northern Alliance, Colonel Castille Tasca and Master Sergeant Rambika Maseru, have undertaken a clandestine mission deep into Snow Kingdom territory to test a new agent designed to kill coca plants the source of the Snow Kingdom’s cocaine, the very foundation of its power and wealth. 
 Procter Madaruo Salazar: Age thirty-one.  Height one point six meters, weight 80 kilograms.  Gray eyes, brown hair and complexion.
Origin: Baja California, Mexico.
History: Hand-picked by Lord Tabir to Governing Council of zones three and four in South America at age twenty-eight. Youngest person to be appointed Proctor.  Answers to Lord Tabir as liaison between him and all hydronic complexes in zones three and four.
Characteristics: Relentless, with a sharp mind and a methodical knowledge of human relationships. Loyal to Lord Ganath and Lord Tabir. Is not afraid to take on expanded responsibilities.
Weaknesses: Does not take criticism well.  At times overbearing, alienating her subordinates, never apologizes. Self-perceived importance has her at odds with certain Lords and Proctors.
Teis cleared his throat.  “Nine stalkers, including my prototype and two alphas are now eight hours overdue.  All logictates conclude they have been killed, Proctor.”
A deep scowl covered Salazar’s face.  “Do you realize the implications of this, Chief Analyzer? 
“I do, Proctor, better than most.  Even with the logictate’s conclusions I still find it hard to accept the fact they were killed by just two escaped mules.
“Their deaths are regrettable, Teis.  Do you know how they were killed?”
“No, Proctor, we will not know the exact cause of death until we bring their bodies back to the complex for study.  All I know at this juncture is twenty-two mules were armed with Alliance laser rifles, retrieved from a clandestine-buried weapons cache ten kilometers south of the complex.  Somehow two mules had survived the brutal fight with the HK’s and consequently were able to hide from the Reapers.  Even with laser rifles, the mules would not have the been capable of killing more than three stalkers, especially with two alphas and my prototype as part of the pod.”
“So, am I to believe these mules, these twenty-two prisoners, besides escaping undetected from your complex, were able to destroy four Hunter-Killers and their crews?   Is this what you want me to consider, Chief Analyzer?  Is it?”
Teis’s reply was bitter. “YES, PROCTOR, I DO.  As inconceivable as it appears, they did.  I cannot nor will not deny twenty-two mules destroyed four HK’s, or the same with the two surviving mules that killed nine stalkers.”
Salazar’s face showed no emotion.  “How is this possible, Teis?  Explain to me who supplied the arms?”  Salazar waved her hand, stopping any reply from Teis.  “Was it the Alliance that entered undetected to bury the rifles, or was it a Scavenger clan no longer allied with the Kingdom?  Tell me, Chief Analyzer, which is it?”
“I know it was not the scavengers, Proctor.  All clans have sworn their allegiance to me and to the Kingdom, which leaves the Alliance.  It is the only logical conclusion.”  Do not let her get the upper hand.  You must control the discussion.
A hint of menace in her voice, Salazar pressed the issue. “I have knowledge of your deep contacts within the Alliance.  I know you were told two Alliance warriors, posing as gypsum prospectors, let themselves be captured, and were instrumental in the complex’s first escape attempt. Twenty-two mules in total, Teis.  How was that possible?  I was told your complex’s security made any escape attempt impossible   Obviously it did not.”
Summoning the courage that once made him the most brutal and feared Warlord, within the Snow Kingdom, Teis stood defiantly, and with his hands on the console, leaned forward.  “Proctor, is it not Lord Tabir’s responsibility to provide you with information on such matters?  Is he not the one who oversees all operations within this sector?” Teis’s temper grew.  “HE is the one that should have notified you concerning the escape and the fate of the HK’s, NOT I, PROCTOR, NOT I.”
Unfazed by Teis’s outburst, Salazar’s reply was a cold sneer.  “Tell me, Chief Analyzer, how did two mules terminate nine stalkers?  Tell me how such a thing is possible?”  Taunt him Madaruo.  Push him to see what flows through his veins.
Eyes locked on Salazar’s wide face, Teis pushed himself off the console and moved behind his chair. “The only logical conclusion is the Alliance made a second clandestine drop of supplies including weapons powerful enough to kill my stalkers.  If I understand the chain of command, Lord Tabir should have notified you of this and the results of autopsies from the twenty mules.  Lord Tabir sought my opinion, which I gave freely.  I respectively reminded him it was his duty to notify you, Proctor, which, by the accusatory nature of your questions, he has not.  When the retrieval unit arrived, they found twenty dead mules not twenty-two.  The nine stalkers not involved with retrieving the bodies, had obviously locked on the mules’ scent trail leading away from the carnage.  Logictates have concluded the nine stalkers are dead, killed by the very mules they hunted.”
“Why did you fail to engage the Reapers to help track the mules?  It seems a simple solution to your problem, does it not?”
“I did not have that option, Proctor.  By direct order from Lord Ganath, our compliment of Reapers, along with my remaining stalkers, were sent to the Amazon complex at Manaus to help quell an Alliance-backed native insurrection.  The same is true of our complexes in zones two, three and four.  All Reapers and HK’s are either there or are on their way to Manaus.  All I have at my disposal are six human trackers.  Had I engaged the trackers, without the Reapers to resupply them, they would last, two, maybe three days at best before they would have to break off the search and return to the complex.  I cannot stress enough the consequences of this situation.  We need the New Buenos Aires Complex to send help immediately.  All I require are three Reapers and a stalker pod.”
Challenge him, Madaruo. Do not let him take control.  A dour look covered Salazar’s face.  “Are you issuing orders, Chief Analyzer?  Lord Tabir said you could be difficult to work with, that you would have a sharp tongue.”
“No, Proctor.  I was merely suggesting the sooner I have the resources to pursue the mules, the sooner we will have our answers.”  I must be clever with this one.  I cannot not fall into her trap.
Salazar leaned back into her chair.  “Hmmm, odd, for a moment I thought your tone sounded . . . commanding . . . but perhaps I was mistaken due to the low-grade interference on the transmission ban, yes?”
Be very careful, Anton. Do not give her a reason to reject your request.  “Proctor Salazar, I assure you I have no such intentions.  I merely wish to protect us both.  I deeply apologize if my zeal to serve was interpreted as being insubordinate.  I pledge this will not happen again.”
A wicked smile formed on Salazar’s face.  A disarming manner you have Teis.  I’ll give you that.  “Noted, Chief Analyzer.”  She motioned with her left hand.  “Please, continue.”
“This transmission is time-locked.  Should no action be taken, Lord Tabir will question our logic regarding our inaction on this matter.”
So, this is your endgame, Teis; to place the blame on me.  Salazar grinned. “Our logic, Teis, or is it only yours?”
“No, Proctor.  Lord Tabir will see it as ours and not mine.”
Salazar shook her head.  “You are a real bastard, Teis, but our bastard, and a thorough one at that.  You have impressed me, Chief Analyzer, so I will contact the New Buenos Aires Complex personally.  I guarantee you will receive a pod of twenty stalkers and a walker within thirty hours, but there will be no Reapers, save one.  I want the mission’s progress monitored with a silent feed to me.  Is this understood?”
“Yes, Proctor, understood.”
“Excellent, Salazar, EOT.”
Teis watched the screen turn black.  He smiled.  “Twenty stalkers the mules will not anticipate.  They cannot know of the insurrection at Manaus.  I have you now, Alliance scum, a little later than anticipated, but have you I will.”

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