Rough 'Round the Edges

09 Jun YC124
Dark Wolf Legion training camp, Great Teeth mountain range

Shasta looked down at the phalanx of men and women assembled on the sprawling parade ground below. “This is the newest class of Legionnaires? How many were recruited from the populace?”

Praetor Darim checked his tablet. “Yes, sir. Of the hundred and twenty seven candidates, we have thirteen recruited from the populace.”

Shasta sighed. “And the rest have passed their evals?”

“Yes. A few orange and yellow flags, but the Professional Evaluation - Probationary SubDepartment knows to keep a closer eye on them. Shouldn’t have any problems.”

“Good. I don’t want another Sugbert causing an incident,” Shasta said, referring to Anneh Sugbert, a Legionnaire who had died after causing an incident with the UNF a few months ago.

“ProfEval knows the importance of keeping the guys in line. They’ll do their job.” The praetor checked his chrono before adding, “It’s time. Come on.”

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,” Shasta said, standing at a podium before the assembled men and women. “My name is Duke Shasta Ardeind, but y’all can just call me Shasta, or Duke Shasta. The man standing next to me here is Praetor Najir Darim, who I’m sure you’ve all met before.”

“I’d like to welcome all of you to the Dark Wolf Legion. Here we aspire to be both the tip of the spear and the iron bulwark of the Duchy,” Praetor Darim began. “The cluster can be hostile. It is our job to shield the Duchy from any threats, and strike as necessary to eliminate a threat before it can grow into a danger.”

“This job has risks. I know you’ve seen the Tank,” Shasta said, referring to a massive holotank in the courtyard of the Legion’s headquarters that served as a memorial for the many Legionnaires that had been killed in the line of duty. “Every face, every name in that tank is a hero, who gave their all to help safeguard this beautiful city. I hope you will do the same. Thank you.” He stepped back from the podium, followed by silence, then a small, brief smattering of applause.

“Good morning, Private Mihayano,” Shasta said to a lanky, bespectacled Civire whose uniform hung off his frame. “Welcome to the Legion.”

“Thank you, sir,” the man replied curtly.

Shasta shook his head slightly at the trooper’s formality. “You can relax a little. Tell me about yourself.”

“There’s not much to tell, sir.” The private remained standing stiffly at attention. “Was an Angel until my ship went down. Y’all made a job offer, and a job’s a job. Long as the money’s good, don’t give a damn what you tell me to do.”

“I see. Well, good luck to you,” Shasta said, repressing a sigh as he turned towards the next trooper in line.

“Good morning,” he said to the tall, muscular Intaki woman. He strained to read the name tag pinned to her uniform, “Private … Hik … Hika …”

“Hikajarni. Private Misha Hikajarni. Good day to you, sir,” the woman interjected. “It’s a pleasure working for this unit, sir.”

“That’s good to hear. You live here?”

“No, milord. I’m from Renarelle - a little Intaki settlement out there called Lil’ ‘Taki,” the woman said. “Keep mostly to ourselves, but we’re run by a couple of illegal miner gangs, so there’s always some organized crime activity going on. Recently though, some Angel goons from another colony called New Hek have been sabotaging our gear. Don’t know why, but it’s blown up into a little gang war. Cost many an innocent their life. Including my brother and his kid.”

“My condolences.”

The woman nodded before continuing, “The normal authorities weren’t much help, never have been. But when I heard of the Legion’s raid on the Flames, I knew this was an effective group and I had to join up. So I bought passage on the next Venal-bound transport, and here I am.”

“I take it you’ll request a post in Pegeler?”

“Yes, sir,” the private replied. “I’ll do what I must of course, but I’d like to go back and help my people as much as possible.”

“Of course. I’ll try to get you a Pegeler post. Good luck to you,” Shasta nodded as he made a note on his datapad and stepped further down the line.

“Good morning,” he began before being cut off by the eager trooper.

“Private Galfried Kotomi, ready for duty, sir!” the young Deteis said. Shasta frowned. He looks awfully young.

“Eager, I see, Private Kotomi.” Shasta said, extending his hand. “Tell me a little about yourself. What led you to don the red and black?”

“My older brother Adelvi, sir!”

Shasta raised an eyebrow. “Your brother wears the red and black?”

“No, sir! Adelvi’s a Gurista, sir!” Galfried continued to stand stiffly at attention as he continued, “He hasn’t stopped laughing at me since I washed out two years ago. But his unit keeps getting pummeled by this crew of Angels and Serpentis. So when I found out about this outfit with a great success rate of raids against the Cartel, I knew I had to join up. Adelvi’ll see that I can handle myself!”

Shasta nodded and forced a smile. “Good luck to you, Private Kotomi,” he said as he moved further down the line.

Two hours later, Shasta was leaning on the railing of the balcony overlooking the parade ground. He watched as sergeants directed the newly commissioned privates back towards their barracks.

“Sir,” Praetor Darim said, coming up next to his boss.

“Hey, Najir. Here, this is the list,” Shasta said, handing over a datapad listing trooper names and desired assignments. “Tell me, is it just me, or does this class not care too much about this Duchy?” He waved his hand at the distant Dam Vishen skyline.

“It’s not just you, and it’s not just this class, boss,” the praetor said as he took the datapad. “Recruiting is difficult, boss. There’s few reasons why people would want to come all the way out here to begin with. Less reasons why they’d want to join an army. Most these recruits, they’re convicts who took the uniform to spare the collar.”

Shasta groaned loudly. “I never had any of these problems with my ship crews. They all seemed quite dedicated to making the Duchy more prosperous.”

“Well, boss, the Navy’s so much smaller, it doesn’t have the staffing issues we do. Add to that the fact that your ship is staffed by volunteers,” Darim chuckled. “Not surprising that everyone on your ships has that dedication.”

Shasta groaned again. “I envisioned the Legion as being the cream of the crop, Najir. But it isn’t that, is it?”

Najir smiled. “Our recruits aren’t the best, no. But our training regime is excellent. And our record speaks for itself, boss. If you approve some incentive packages, I could poach some men from the PMCs. I’m sure they’ll have the mindset you’re looking for, but the Holders won’t be happy about it.”

Shasta sighed. “Hmm. I’ll think it over.” He straightened up and stepped away from the balcony. “Either way, let’s head back to the city.”

Meanwhile, in Antojio Hirakso's office in the Central Investment Bank of Beseth Dunijia Main Branch, located in Dam Vishen's Financial District

Antojio Hirakso groaned as he looked at the spreadsheet on his computer. Row after row blinked red. He checked his chrono. Should I call again?

The trilling of his comm interrupted his musing. He glanced over at the device. Speak of the devil.

“Good day to you, Mr. Kimosai,” Antojio said, accepting the call.

“I am very busy man, Mr. Hirakso. You need not call me so many times,” the banker on the other end immediately began admonishing Hirakso. “I have many meetings every day. Call me once, leave a message. I call you back when I have time!”

“I understand, Mr. Kimosai, but this is urgent. I seem to have a problem with your system,” Antojio began.

“A problem?! No, no problem … everything working just fine, I assure you!”

“There is a problem, Mr. Kimosai. Your office has rejected seventeen of the last nineteen scrip exchange requests that I have sent over. That’s a total of thirty six rejected requests out of the forty nine I’ve sent this year! I need megacorp scrip for my own business, Mr. Kimosai!”

“Ahhh … yes, we may have a problem,” Mr. Kimosai trailed off for a bit. “We have experienced an unexpected reduction in revenue. I’m sure it will be rectified shortly.”

Antojio Hirakso sighed. “What do you consider shortly, Mr. Kimosai? I need scrip, and soon.”

“I don’t know, Mr. Hirakso.” There was a lengthy pause before he continued, “We are working on rectifying the issue, Mr. Hirakso.”

“That’s not good enough, Mr. Kimosai,” Antojio let out a long breath to calm himself. “I have two loans that are on hold because I don’t have the scrip to cover it. I have three more that will be on hold if I can’t get scrip by the seventeenth! I need mega scrip, and soon!”

“You will get it, Mr. Hirakso! Just give me some time! Two weeks, that’s all I need!” The other banker was practically stumbling over his own words. “I’m in the middle of some negotiations for additional lines of credit. They’re going quite well. I’ll have enough reserves to cover your needs by the end of the month, plus some extra! Just give me some time.”

“Fine. But if you renege on this too, I’ll have to find someone else!” Antojio said, feigning confidence. “I’m sure I can find someone that CAN fulfill his obligations!”

“You’ll get your money, Mr. Hirakso! Two weeks - that’s all I need. I just need” Click.

“Mr. Kimojai? Mr. Kimojai?!” Antojio checked his comm.


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