Kryos: Chapter 11

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Club beats and the shifting footfalls of a lookout caressed the stifling air within the backroom of The Red Moon, where three individuals anchored a bare, mahogany table; a lock upon the door, a shadow in every eye. Vitalik Radigan, a elderly aecerite undersecretary, pepper-haired and well-tailored, took a drink of water from a small glass and clasped his hands together before addressing the slim, verdant-coated man, who sat the opposite side of the desk.

“We’ve been impressed with your work, Mr. Rehdon. Your talents are singular-“

“‘However.'”

“… However, the Bureau has become concerned of late about unnecessary volatility.”

Illander Rehdon raised a brow as Iyad Zhu, spokesman for Bright Horizons, Eastern Federation’s Aecer outreach program, tapped upon his tablet.

“Unnecessary?”

“Incursions against Kryos properties have become increasingly destructive,” Radigan declared, flexing his entwined fingers over the sleeve-worn tabletop, “Social instability is what we wanted, a dissolution of institutional trust is necessary, but these riots are becoming too chaotic. Dissidence must not be allowed to become too extreme.”

Illander smiled slightly. “You can’t extract honey without agitating the bees.”

“We don’t want a repeat of the Aestival Incident.”

“They never tied anything back to me. Commission closed the case.”

Radigan held up a hand in supplication, “As before, no one is casting blame at your feet, but recall the damage that was done. It was a diplomatic disaster. And the financial costs incurred-“

“You needn’t remind me. With what you require of me, there will always be errors. I can spark a fire, but I can’t control the direction of the wind.”

“We understand that,” Zhu replied coolly, “But you’re fanning these flames in a very particular direction. That drone footage of Acelin Syzr didn’t find its way to the media on its own.”

Rehdon’s brow crinkled with dazzled perplexity.

“How did you know that was my handiwork?”

Finally, Zhu looked up from his tablet, “I didn’t, until now.”

Rehdon grinned bitterly, eyes mordacious, and tapped out the ash of his half-charred cigarette into a small tray upon the elbow-scuffed tabletop.

After a moment of repressive silence, Zhu leaned forward, “Look. They don’t want lucrative properties damaged. As I’m sure you’re aware, the Kryos Aerospace Complex is exceedingly lucrative; not easily replaced.”

Rehdon leaned back in his chair, visage quizzical, and took a drag off his cigarette.

“They want to take it over?”

Zhu nodded and beamed with muted pride, glancing briefly to Radigan before continuing, “Yes.” Radigan scowled at the indiscretion as his confederate continued, heedless, “And they want me to be the one to do it. So from now on, focus your attentions on swaying the activists against the Consortium more generally, rather than Kryos specifically. What we need to attack is not brick and mortar, or flesh and blood, but the idea of Aecer itself. When confidence in the aecerite’s collective bonds are broken, we will intervene to provide fresh ones; a new social contract.”

Rehdon nodded and stubbed out the burning cylinder, “As you wish. My heart beats only for The Bureau.”

Zhu straightened, his face waxing solemn as he crossed his fist about his chest, “And may it thrum forever.”

Radigan reluctantly raised his fist to his chest and swiftly let it fall to his side once more and rose.

“I think that concludes our business here. Shall we?”

Zhu nodded and rose with his compatriot.

“Oh, and Illander.”

“Yes?”

“Give my regards to Ms. Cece.”

“Give them to her yourself. She’ll be waiting outside.”

Zhu inclined his head, moved to the door and knocked, whereafter it was opened by a man from the security detail.

The men exited the room, whereupon they were greeted by Zarya Cece advancing down the hall, who smiled warmly, saw them out, returned to the room and shut the door. She regarded Illander a moment, walked slowly to his side and snatched up one of the man’s cigarettes.

“What did they want?”

“To tighten the leash.”

“How so?”

“They don’t want to see further damage to Kryos properties.”

“The whole point of going after the company was to force an admission?”

Rehdon grinned broadly, “I had to figure out a way to discern whether or not they wanted to take over his company without violating The Bureau’s orders.”

“How are they going to do it?”

“They didn’t tell me. Probably by nationalizing the company after they have sufficient presence within the Consortium. That’s what I’d do if I cared as much about gadgets as our gracious masters.”

“Would cause quite a stir. Do you think they can pull that off?”

He shrugged disdainfully. “Even if the Bureau gets their way, all that shall be accomplished is the replacement of one stifling, sordid bureaucracy by another.”

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Losing your nerve?”

The woman removed a keycard from her pocket with a defiant flourish and placed it upon the table.

“No. Its treason, Illander. I thought even you would take that seriously.”

Illander laughed.

“You took it from him without compunction. Yet how fearful you grow of mere thoughts.”

“Such thoughts will not die stillborn.”

Illander looked at the card, then to Radigan’s glass, his eyes narrowing, filled with strange intensity. “Such thoughts will not die.”

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