Adventurer's Notebook - A Scout's Honour (Chapter 2)
Updated: Apr 18, 2020
The field camp, across the St. Lawrence River and several kilometers east, was a bustling hive of activity. There was an orderly flurry of movement, tents being struck and vehicles getting loaded. As their van finished its approach, armoured guards waved through the perimeter a series of supply trucks under command of a towering Mountaineer ATV. A pair of Northern Gun Flying Titan power armour suits lifted off and followed.
The van came to a halt; rear doors swung wide open. Micheline squinted as she adjusted to the floodlights. The night was cold for early autumn, the skies now a deep blue covered in a brilliant tapestry of stars. Her breath came out frosty, despite the leaves only just starting to turn into a dazzling array of brilliant oranges and reds. She clamoured out of the back, a pair of guards very purposefully training their weapons in her direction. She fought every urge to grunt or wince at the pain in her shoulder and the rest of her body.
The mercenary woman dismissed Vok and the other man, waving Micheline to follow her. She led them over to one of the few remaining field tents not actively being torn down and packed away. A massive partial conversion Borg stood guard outside.
“She’s here to see the boss,” the mercenary woman announced. Despite Micheline’s relative height, she was absolutely dwarfed by the Borg’s massive bulk. She was reminded of Marco's bulk; this guy made that piece of trash seem like a strung-out city rat.
Cybernetic eyes training over her, several scans occurred before the guard nodded silently. A compartment in the brute’s right arm popped open and a neural rod slipped into his grip. She could smell the acrid odour of the stun mechanism charging and chirp in declaration it was ready to be deployed. The woman led her through the main tent flap, followed by the guard. As her eyesight adjusted to the lamp lit interior, Micheline was amazed at how silently the Borg moved as he straightened to his full height behind her.
The tent had been thinned out. Flattened grass indicated where banks of storage containers and tables once stood. In a far corner there remained a single table with a radio bank and its operator, oblivious to their entry. A single six-foot table occupied the space in the middle, a pair of chairs facing off on either side. Facing across was another woman, tall with shocking platinum blonde hair flowing past her shoulders, dressed in a brilliantly conspicuous white business ensemble and blue overcoat. Beside her, dressed in the same combat fatigues most others here wore, a completely average looking man watched her every move.
“I hope the ride in wasn’t too uncomfortable,” the platinum blonde asked.
“Ominously silent,” Micheline replied. “We never did discuss how I was going to get my truck back.”
The blonde grunted in reply, a smile accentuating her features. She was exasperatingly gorgeous.
“Please sit, Micheline,” the man started.
“And just how exactly do you know my name,” she asked, hesitating.
“Your interest in Marco DeGallo was not a complete surprise, given the circumstances,” he answered from his chair. “Please,” he indicated to the other chair.
“Since we are all friends and you seem to know my name, how about you tell me yours,” she said grasping the back of the chair. Her body sung in protest, bruised muscles reacting to her tensing. ‘I might be able to catch the woman behind me and one of these two before that goliath zaps me unconscious.’
The guard moved closer behind her.
With a grimace of finality, Micheline shifted into her chair.
“My name is Felix Massey.”
“Is that supposed to tell me something?”
“You’ve heard of Massey Security and Intelligence?”
“Sure,” Micheline answered after a pause. She shrugged, immediately regretting it. “One of a couple dozen mercenary outfits in the region.”
Felix smiled. Platinum blonde was just stone cold unreadable. Micheline had no idea what the two behind her thought.
“Chantal here,” Felix said gesturing to the mercenary woman, “gave me a quick rundown of your little assassination. In her evaluation, you have certain skills we could find useful.”
“So this is a job interview.”
“Of a sort,” Felix said.
“Not exactly how I thought you merc companies hired. Fine, whatever. What is it you want to know?”
“Not exactly what I had in mind,” Felix corrected. “I already know a fair bit about you.” He produced a technical pad and tapped a few commands. The screen lit up and he slid it in front of her. She stared at the image in disbelief. Standing next to an old battered truck, her mother held a smiling toddler, dark brown eyes lit up, dark hair flowing in a breeze as she reached for her father nearby. Next to her father stood a much younger version of the man sitting across from her. She couldn’t be bothered to fight the tears flowing down her cheeks, the slight tremble of her lower lip. Her fingers gently caressed the screen.
“Needless to say, that picture makes me feel my age,” Felix said. “I used to work with your father. I saw you once shortly after your birth, this picture the second time.”
She fought to verbalize through her surprise and the emotions of seeing another person’s intimate memory of her parents. “What kind of work?”
“You told Chantal that Marco was dead as soon as he had entered Grease and Gears. Would it surprise you to know we also had marked him for death? Not just for the fact he killed your father, but that personal aspect figured into it. Marco has, had,” he corrected himself, “a bounty on him for double-dealing on a previous contract. We were very keen to have a discussion with him. You made that conversation very difficult to have, not to mention the circumstances made collecting the bounty impossible.”
“Is this an interview or a reprimand? I’m kind of lost.”
“Consider it a bit of both. I mourned your mother’s passing years ago, the same for your father. What was it, just short of two years ago? He didn’t deserve to die that way. But the retribution I had so meticulously planned has come to a bit of a standstill with Marco’s death.”
“Retribution? What did you have planned,” Micheline asked, leaning forward.
Felix pursed his lips. “It doesn’t matter now. What I am interested in is your position on a number of issues. From what Gemini here has been able to find out, your actions paint you as quite the partisan for Free Quebec.”
Micheline stared at the platinum blonde. “If Gemini did a full background check in the time it took me to get hauled out here from Old Bones, I’d be surprised there is much left to ask.”
From a folio sitting under the table, Gemini produced another tablet. When the screen lit up, she began reading. “Fiercely patriotic in online message boards and with her closest friends. Marginal anti-D-Bee sentiments, despite working alongside two or three regularly. Hates psionicists, dislikes magic users. Several cybernetic implants, including a universal headjack and ear implant, amplified hearing with filtration system. Extensive field craft experience with particular emphasis on surveillance, lore and intelligence. Natural leader, but easily frustrated by rules and regulations.”
“Well, that sums me up I guess. You can add Vok in that ‘hates psionicists’ list.”
“Attitude aside,” Gemini continued, “she shows promise. She could definitely be useful to Patrol ops. Maybe Philippe could trim off the rough edges.”
“You want to see rough edges bi-,” Micheline started.
“Let’s put this in a different context,” Felix interrupted. “We have openings in our company and I strongly believe you would be a great addition.”
“Despite the revenge homicide?”
“Despite the revenge homicide,” Felix repeated. “You spent over a year assisting the remote communities around Shawinigan, your field craft known well enough to those in the region. Your skills don’t lend you to assassination, which is good because that isn't a service we advertise in the brochure. You got lucky, even more so that Chantal was able to intercept you before the authorities. I believe we could make much better use of your talents.”
“What’s the catch?”
“How do you mean,” Felix asked.
“You just offer me a job? Because you knew my father and worked with him? You still haven’t answered that question, don’t think I missed that,” Micheline said pointing her finger. “You’ve got platinum blonde over here checking in on me, your bionic goon standing seven feet away with a stun rod at the ready if I make any moves, or maybe if the blonde decides to not respect your authority enough to give the signal. I don’t have a read on Chantal,” she thumbed blindly behind her, “but I imagine she’d just let this one play out.”
Micheline heard the guard shift his weight and casually turned in her chair. “Down boy,” she warned. She risked a glance at Chantal. Micheline winked at her shocked bemusement before turning back around. “You guys are hiring? Sure, I could use a job. My recent one ended in a bloody mess on the floor of a dive bar in a shitty ‘burg. The only payment was emotional compensation. I figure you guys pay credits. Self-congratulation doesn’t buy me food or ammo.”
“What did the Preacher say about her, Chantal,” Felix asked, eyes never leaving Micheline’s.
“Jonas? He said, and I quote, ‘I like her already’.”
“I think I’m beginning to see why. So, Micheline Leduc, you feel like joining MSI?”
“Lead the way, Uncle Felix,” she answered with a grin. Gemini’s eyes looked like they were about to pop out of their sockets. Chantal failed in desperation to restrain her giggle.
Felix’s face darkened several shades of scarlet. She had no idea if it was rage or embarrassment. He reminded her of Mr. Duclos, right before a heart attack took him. “First order of business,” Felix said, his pointed finger jabbing the air between them, “I am not your Uncle.”
“Whatever you say, boss,” she acquiesced.
“Chantal, take care of her until we reach Acton Vale.” Massey stood and turned on his heel, leading Gemini out of the side entrance. As the tent flap fell back in place, everyone turned as the radio operator’s chair creaked. Micheline gave Chantal a toothy grin as they watched him mouth out ‘Uncle Felix’ over and again.
“I think I see what the Preacher was talking about,” the guard said with a guttural chuckle as he reinserted the neural rod into his bionic forearm.
Continue to: Chapter 3
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