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09.28.2012 , 02:34 PM |
Culture Shock: Twin Stars
? Wynston back in the Sword of Mercy-verse. 500 words, spoilers throughout the Imperial Agent line.
Hunter kept his familiar mask on around Wynston, at least most of the time. It made things simpler.
"And you see how that works?" Hunter was saying, pointing to a sector map on the console. "We lean hard enough on the CEO - and we do have the leverage - he'll supply that gang anything they want. The resulting uprising will keep both Republic and Empire tied up around that little resource trove for months if not years, giving everyone, first, a point of frustration the anti-war contingents can rally around, and second, a weeping budget wound to add to the cost of keeping this war going."
"Yes, yes. Get back to the uprising. I know that gang's methods, Hunter. How many civilian lives will be taken in tying up that little resource trove?"
Hunter made a little moue. "Let me guess. Any price is too high."
"I do get very touchy somewhere around the seven-digit mark. Call it a sentimental weakness."
"Everything has a price, Wynston, and in a war that price is blood. Yes, even the blood of innocents. If we weren't spilling it, someone else would be. It's worth it in the end."
"I once knew a man who preferred such crude methods. He had an extensive network of unknowing agents doing his bidding for one big doomsday scenario that would leave the wreckage ready for him. I hunted down and neutralized most of those agents. And then, after he laid out his big idea for me, Vector and I locked him down, dismantled the damned weaponry, destroyed every resource of his we could get our hands on, and drove him into retirement out in deep space." Wynston crossed his arms. "I would've finished the job if I could, and to hell with any benefit he thought his vision had. That's what I think of your blood price."
"That's quite impressive. How big a doomsday were we talking?"
"Millions dead on each of dozens of worlds. Targeted sometimes on his enemies, sometimes just on anything he thought would cause maximum fear."
"And he came close to completing that? That's really remarkable. Where did you say he is now?"
"We're not calling Darth Jadus for strategic support, Hunter."
Hunter shrugged in acceptance. "All right. How about the weapons he left?"
"They're gone now and you won't go looking for them."
"You don't throw away a resource just because it's a little dirty."
Hunter gestured impatiently. "When you gave the recruitment speech about rebuilding the Star Cabal I thought you were talking about doing something that vaguely resembles what the the Cabal and I actually did."
"No. I was talking about doing what you should have done." Wynston kept his stare cold. "It would be disingenuous of me to say you can just walk away; this is all you have, all you've ever had, we both know that. And I do need you. But if we're to work together, there are some habits I'll have to insist on you breaking."
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