[RP Episode][CANON] Land of the King


#41

“Heh, one of the benefits of 3D-printing tech is that you can easily produce small items such as cutlery or plates. Most Kavehan households use them. You can get stuff as large as pillows, bedsheets and the like, but for furniture you’ll still have to go to the shop.” Jahangir took the lid off the pan and smelled deeply, humming in approval. “You’re in for a treat, Marcellus! Proper Kavehan curry, my old grandmother’s recipe. With potatoes, too! You can say of the Homelanders what you will, but they sure have some interesting ideas for cuisine.”

He looked up when Roxana entered the room. She lifted an eyebrow. “What was that, big guy? You think I speak Valkorian?”


#42

“Indeed. Something other than that horrid excuse for a fried fish we ate on that ship will be a joyous feast. When we get a chance I will cook you a REAL swordfish steak.” Marcellus promised. He looked sheepish at the playful admonishment from the sniper. “Force of habit ma’m. Most Kavehans I knew before were soldiers, and spoke Latin.”


#43

Roxana waved him away and sat down at the table. Jahangir was loading the food on several plastic plates while the other three men arrived. Bahram indicated for Marcellus to sit at the head of the table, before sitting down himself. Jahangir placed a plate full of food in front of everyone, starting with Marcellus, before standing at the other head of the table and bowing his head for a moment - a gesture the others replicated. After a second he looked up and intoned what was probably a blessing of some sort in a deep lilting song.

It was not long, and Jahangir went to retrieve the six earthwork mugs of tea from the kitchen to place them in front of each person. With his tasks as host finally finished, he took a seat at the other head of the table, took the cup into his hands, and drank. The others did so too.


#44

After the brief Silence, which was a Valkorian custom as well, and they began to eat, Marcellus devoted himself to the food. For a brief period, nothing but the satisfied chewing and clinking of mugs could be heard as the party devoured the delectable meal. Finally, after several minutes of focused eating, Marcellus sighed.

“An excellent meal Jahangir. I drink your health.” He raised his tea in a small salute.


#45

Jahhangir smiled, the tiniest bit ruefully. “It is Kavehan custom to drink the tea before the meal, and not speak until it has been enjoyed, but I thank you for your praise. Now then, let us talk shop. Meanwhile, Roxana will clear off the table and do the dishes, as it’s her turn today.” He said the last with a glint in his eye, smiling faintly in her direction.

She came to her feet, grumbling, and began to gather the empty plates and cups. “Jah, I still don’t get why we can’t just throw the stuff in the recycler and print new ones.” Jahangir sighed. “You know as well as I what happens when you throw organic matter into a recycler, Rox. Don’t be childish, please.”

Shaking his head, he turned back to the table, which by now had been reconfigured into some sort of glassy surface. Touching an icon on the upper right, the interactive screen flashed to life to show a map of the city, with the main roads and factories highlighted. “Alright. Let’s talk shop. When I spoke of economic sabotage before, Marcellus, I essentially meant bank robbery. The Shah’s family owns most financial services, having joined them in a business called Moonbird Financial. We are going to raid their northeastern location, here.” He touched a button, and the indicated building flared red.

'Rahim has been working on getting his hands on the building’s blueprints, but they’re kept under wraps. For now we’ll focus on the external part of the operation, as well as general duties. Bahram will act as our driver, and procure a suitable getaway vehicle. Roxana will keep on overwatch and warn us if anything happens on the outside. Marcellus, you, myself and Bahraz will enter the building, subdue the customers and bank personnel, and move on the vault. Minimal violence. No civilian casualties." His eye was hard, and he looked both men in the eye. “We cannot make a revolution if we squander the population’s goodwill with wanton casualties. Marcellus, the vault is likely protected by an armoured door. Cracking that open will be your main job. Bahraz and myself will deal with any guards. They drank the Moonbird’s milk, so they’re traitors to their people. Do not hesitate to kill them.”

“Once we have our hands on the money, we will make our escape. Bahram will be at the ready to ferry us out. I have procured spraypaint to dye the vehicle, should take no longer than a few minutes if we can find a quiet alley. If this is not possible, we will lose any pursuers in the warren to the southwest, ditch and boobytrap the vehicle, and make our way home on foot.” He looked up. “Any questions? Any suggestions?”


#46

”You will have to establish some sort of perimeter around the vault door, to let me set up the charges. It shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.” Marcellus said. ”Speaking of which, I will need explosives themselves. Simple gunpowder will work in necessary, but Nytroglycerin or Ammonium nitrate would be much more effective.”


#47

'Way ahead of you." Jahangir reached into a bag to lay several paper-wrapped bricks on the table. 'This is what we call shamtex. It’s used widely for mining and such - I got it from the family warehouse, as my father owns a minor mining business. It’s a so-called plastic explosive, meaning it is entirely safe without detonator."


#48

”Good! That will work quite well. Now, and I must thank your Shah for this, I have spent sometime with the batteries provided during the treaty. It was my last assignment before I retired. I happened to bring one with me:” he said, pulling out a oddshaped box, with a switch in one end. ”Connect the wire to the shamtex, and the box, and flip the switch.” He placed the detonator back inside his duffel bag, which he had grabbed from his room before the conversation began.


#49

'Wonderful! That’ll do the trick."

At that point, Roxana spoke up. “What do we do in case of unforeseen circumstances?” Jahangir turned to her. “If it’s the police, shoot to kill and warn us, we’ll make our getaway money or not. Anything else, contact me and stall for time. I’ll come to the entrance to deal with the… disturbance myself.”

'Nothing else?" The crewmembers shook their head. “Okay, then for now it’s stand down until Rahim gets his hands on the blueprints. Take care and enjoy yourselves - the Firewings are playing tonight, so the telly’s mine.”


#50

Marcellus nodded, and rose from the table, unsure of what to do next. Sleep was sounding like a good idea.


#51

CHAPTER 3: ON A RAINY AFTERNOON
September 6, 119 AE

Four days later, Jahangir came barging into Marcellus’ room. The Valkoran was tinkering on some trinket, a wooden model ship of some sort, and looked up at the intrusion. Jahangir spoke, excitement in his voice. 'Come, Marcellus. It’s time for your formal initiation into the Resistance. I’m taking you to see Her. Grab your coat and let’s go."


#52

”Her?” he asked, while grabbing his old legion cloak, clasping the old cloth around his throat with a heavy-handed stab of the brooch that held it together.


#53

Jahangir nodded vigorously. 'Yes, the heart and soul of our movement. There’s a rally today, at the square near the factory. While men like us strike at the Shah from the shadows, it’s those like her who turn our ideals into a real workable ideology by creating popular support."

They headed outside into a light drizzle, and Jahangir put up the hood of his vest. Underway, Marcellus was filled in on the story of the one named Jasmine. 'Supposedly, her father is some bigshot noble and one of the main driving forces behind augmentation. When her brothers were augmented, she saw the horror for what it was and began to organize a group to eventually petition the Shah to pass a ban on the practice. Gilgamesh refused, of course, and in a rage she burst out of the palace and began shouting on the market place. Turns out she has a real thing for public speaking, and she’s attracting more and more support."

From not far away, they could hear clamouring. They walked closer and rounded the corner, and found a group of people, no more than a hundred, in front of the factory’s main entrance. Before the cloud was a woman, holding a funnel to her mouth that amplified her voice many times over. Her hair had been plastered to her head, dress hanging loosely around her, but despite that it was still clearly apparent she was of high class from the quality of the garment. People were shouting and cheering, and some held signs that said things like “no to body corruption!”, “ban tech-augments!” and “To prison with the corrupters!”. A small group of police officers, off to the side, kept an eye on things, but things were fairly sedate. There were no more than a dozen officers, with no vehicles or weaponry in sight, and they did their best to project a calm image, often making conversation and small talk with the protesters.

A man standing next to the woman triggered some sort of electrical siren, and the crowd fell silent. Jasmine scraped her throat, and began to speak. “Behind us, the corruption that has infected the Kavehan soul shows its ugly face. The practice of tech-augmentation takes people, and twists them from men into things. Into mere gears in the machine! By giving up our flesh, we give up our soul. By sacrificing our body, we open ourselves to the foul worship of Angra Mainyu! Those in charge push these technologies on us, saying it’s an advancement, the way into the future. They do not realise the price they already pay!” At this, the crowd cheered - a rough and primal sound. Those waving signs held them high, while one held up a cloth painted with the rough image of a broken gear. Jasmine waved them to silence, and continued. “Now, the nobles in their castles keep ‘upgrading’ themselves without end, swapping this outdated arm aug for a new one, or that eye for a better alternative. How long, I ask you, until we become outdated? Until normal people, like you and me, are thrown out into the trash like waste? How long until your jobs are taken and given to someone who paid with his flesh for a technological trinket that lets him do it better?” The crowd jeered and whistled at that. 'NO! We say no to those who corrupt our body, our soul, our very humanity with their filth. No to those who upgrade themselves, no to the replacement of normal people. We will lift up our voice to the heavens, growing in strength and wrath, until we become too strong to ignore! And then the body befoulers will discover who it really is that will be replaced."

Once again the crowd cheered. When it was evident she’d finished her little speech, a chant began rising, swelling in strength until everyone was shouting rhythmically at the top of their lungs. Jahangir joined in, to the confused look of Marcellus. “A-nâ-hi-ta! A-nâ-hi-ta! A-nâ-hi-ta!” It was almost hypnotic in its cadence and rhythm, and the centurion felt nearly compelled to join in when it suddenly ended in cheering and whistles, and the crowd dispersed.

On the way back, he asked Jahangir what the word had meant. The Kavehan looked him in the eye, a melancholy look to his face, and simply said, “Purity.”


#54

“She certainly makes a point. My people would agree with her.”" The centurion was in thought for a few minutes, silent as they walked home. “How long until Rahim gets the blueprints?”


#55

Might be a few days still, depending on how quickly he can find a hacker or sympathetic employee to get them for us. Jahangir walked, head held high despite the drizzle. 'Rox would probably hit me for saying this, but Jasmine is magnificent, isn’t she? She gives voice to what we all feel. That is why she must become President."


#56

Marcellus laughed. ”She is most magnificent, but it takes more than an upjumped crowd rouser to lead a nation, much less keep it safe. And I somehow doubt the Emperor would leave Kaveh alone, with a woman with no real authority instead of a battle hardened king.” Valkoria had never had a democratic government, merely stronger and weaker emperors, and this the idea of a republic, much less a woman, was most intriguing.


#57

Jahangir chuckled at that. “Your Emperor can try. He’ll find the wrath of a unified people before him. Little can defeat the strength of a populace roused to anger. We will outnumber any army a dozen to one.”


#58

A grim smile graced the face of the soldier, as he rembered what riot duty as a legionary had been like years before, and against Valkorians at that. A uproused Kavehan populace would be slaughtered.

”Perhaps” was what he said, however, not wanting to offend. He changed the subject. ”You said he needed to wait to find a sympathizer to secure the blueprints. Is there anything else being done to speed the process?”


#59

Jahangir shrugged. “I’ve got Roxana checking the guards’ patrol habits and everything, but besides scouting there’s not much we can do. Once we have the blueprint we can plan our operation in detail. Be patient, brother. The chance to wet your sword with the blood of lackeys and servants will come.”

Soon, they came back home. When walking into the apartment, Jahangir made a sweeping motion with his arm. 'For now, try familiarizing yourself with our tech. You’ll be living here for a while, and if you’re to be effective as a fighter it is important you know what is what. If you like, I can also have Bahram rig you up a bunch of combat stimulants - adrenalin and the like, for added strength and reaction speed. Up to you if you want to use it."


#60

“I do not seek blood, I seek to finish the job. And no, thank you, I’ll fight as is.” After reentering the home, he paused. “I’ll do that. You are a curious people, Jahangir…”