For Glory, For Empire
Noote was not subtle in the darkness. His heavy stride announced his presence behind his relaxed boss. Carbatkin did not move, wishing his evening peace to remain unbroken. Noote’s baritone was way too loud for the subject matter.
“Sir, we have a problem. The one you had me watching, Ti Bon Fu,” Noote was furtive in giving bad news.
“What has that conspicuous dolt done now?”
“He has done something to the scribe.”
“What do you think has been done to Gael Tovash?”
Noote answered by simply turning green. That got Carbatkin’s attention. He mobilized his bulk, grabbed his cane, and was waddling off his cabana after Noote toward the new town hall through the midnight darkness.
Klato was alert enough to roll out of bed and follow. The three stopped short of the building at Carbatkin’s signal. There were a number of rapid-fire voices inside coming from the area of the jail cell.
“What is wrong with him?”
“I think he has been poisoned.”
“How long has he been like that?”
“Let’s search him.”
“Who is he?”
“I think he came on the last boat. He’s been asking many questions about Gael.”
“What was that Major Lucat said about this fellow after the battle?”
“The battle with the ratfolk.”
Carbatkin instinctively stopped in the shadows, close enough to hear everything, but far enough to retreat away, out of sight. The cacophony went on and on in circles until they got around to searching the prisoner. Then there were sudden cries of alarm and surprise. Carbatkin motioned for his men into cover. The prisoner was convulsing and foaming while four stout colonists carried him through the settement to the hospital.
“Oh, it has been mucked up now,” Carbatkin observed. “He will be lucky if he lives an hour by the smell of it, and we all might be better off if he expires before day break. Who knows who that fool would be after next.”
Carbatkin now carefully made his way back to their shelter in the dark.
“Boss, you want me to help him along?” Klato asked, trying to anticipate his boss’s next command.
“Heavens, no!” Carbatkin revulsed. “I will go down to the hospital at dawn, surprised that anything is going on at all. Go keep an ear out, Klato, so I know what I am walking into.”
The bank was almost ready for business, the next ship was due soon, and he was finally in a position to put the House of Poughash’s plans in motion.
Fanatic assassins are always three steps too far. Why this one had come, and was targeting the scribe, Carbatkin could only make an educated guess. But making an attempt with no escape route, making contact with me, making sure he made me aware of his vocation, as if I could not guess by his dress and manner, carrying so, so much on his person…
Carbatkin shuddered, then spit onto the side of the path. Fanatics. Bah.