The opinion Second Lieutenant Kollkie had of the device she had confiscated of her detainee could be summed up into one word.
Stuart’s tablet had caused the scholars within the military to scratch their heads.
Despite their dissection the strange black glass tablet was foreign and otherworldly, the experts had no clue as to what the casing was made of, let alone the wires, or the web of silver that had been printed on the green board inside.
As she admired in disgust at the little odds and ends of metal and plastic on her so called specialist’s table, Kollkie asked, “What have you learned?”
The military man, who had a diploma in several engineering degrees which he obtained from the Beinn Chùirn Fortress, seemed to have developed a migraine which Kollkie took as not a good sign.
“No bloody idea.” The man said as he stroked his temples in a vain attempt to sooth himself. “I don’t see anything familiar. Nothing that looks like thermotolgy, no steam, there’s some kind of power source but I can’t see it.”
Kollkie pointed at the strange block characters along the circuitry, a script that she had never seen before. “What about these runes?”
The man could only shrug. “I have no clue be they spell or instruction. From what you told me this device acts like a magic mirror, able to capture sound and allow the person to distort…”
The engineer was unable to look at Kollkie in the eye. “Images with a hand gesture.”
Since Sargent McKellen’s abrupt departure Kollkie had been volunteered to play the foreigner’s stupid little game, a truly worthless waste of time if there was one.
She could only shake her head at the notion that a roll of the dice could determine a man’s swing.
Anybody who had spent ten whole minutes with Kollkie would have known that she was neither a gambler nor somebody who thought of anything as just a simple game.
She saw tournaments as useless spectacles, card games as con games, and gaming dens as a good place to lose ones savings. In her honest opinion a mugger on the street had more honour than any man who had a pair of dice in his pocket.
So, against what many thought of was a bad idea, including Kollkie herself, the Second Lieutenant was given a twenty sided die and a blank character sheet.
Not having much of an imagination she had put her own name down and listed herself as a solider, after this initial formality the Second Lieutenant went about the process of drilling the dungeon master as if he had just murdered his own mother, all while over fifty people witness the spectacle.
The moment Kollkie opened her mouth her superiors had desperately wanted to get her out of the game and pass blame onto the dumbass who thought it was wise to enlist her as a spy.
It seemed as if the foreigners had made the same mistake when they had allowed Stuart, a member of their company also play the game.
It was hate at first sight and Kollkie’s natural grudge against smartass bullies blended in with her orders, it was a burning wreck in the making as Stuart and his character became the focus of Kollkie’s attention.
During a simple raid Stuart had commented that Kollkie’s breastplate appeared to be padded and wanted to know if she wanted some breast enhancement drugs along with a vibrating sex toy, something inside Kollkie snapped.
But to the shock and surprise of everyone inside the hall, rather than going straight into giving Stuart the hiding of his life Kollkie had killed Stuart’s game character, Sir Balzac Sexmagnet of Orgasmia, and kicked him off a cliff.
Stuart’s revenge had been swift. Using his tablet he had taken a snap shot of Kollkie’s face and had pasted it onto the body of a model who was in the process of shaming her entire gender by posing in a less than family originated magazine, he then gave several posters of said combination to the spectators.
The guard’s quarters became quiet, Kollkie daring any fool to utter so much as a snicker with her eyes.
She had been sorely humiliated by that son of a whore, Stuart.
Though it had not been her body what respect Kollkie had gained from her peers was sure to be tested, not all the posters had been accounted for and Kollkie was sure that one or more of the men in her own unit had a private copy.
The Second Lieutenant’s turned back down to the evil construct that had played a part in her disgrace, “Who do you know would have knowledge to divine its workings? A dwarf? A High Elf craftsman?”
Tiered eyes admired the solar crystal which stood on the desk, its luminescence failed to give the engineer any insight into discovering more about his project. “This is alien magic Kollkie, it could take decades to understand one fifth of this puzzle.”
This was unacceptable, any minute now Kollkie expected a magistrate to come through that door and confiscate both Stuart and the device.
The murderous intent which flowed from the scorned Kollkie fouled the air, and fearing that she may take her frustrations upon him the engineer hesitantly spoke, “Maybe if I could have a word with…”
“No.” Kollkie said firmly.
Stuart was an ass and most likely had little to no power within his little community, but he was a foreigner. Already people suspected there might be a war coming, that Stuart’s arrest might have started something that could quickly explode.
He had already been given one black-eye courtesy of Kollkie and though he everyone agreed he got off lightly a few people might suspect that the other foreigners might not like it if the people responsible for Stuart’s safety were up for a game of torture.
This was bad and Kollkie knew it, her career was on the line, possibly even the lives of several people. Her only chance of redemption was scattered across the table, if she could discover just one thing about the device she could use it to bargain for her job when the politicians came looking for a scape goat.
The sound of footsteps outside announced the arrival of a visitor.
The door to the barracks opened with a slam drawing the attention of everybody in the room and causing the engineer to jump for fear that the device he disassembled would bite him.
By instinct the highly trained officers had gripped the handles of their weapons, their muscle memory preparing themselves for anything from a fire to a bandit raid. They of course had heard the foot steps, but by the fact that they did not sense them earlier meant their was subterfuge baring down on them.
What came through that door was a blue grey skinned harlot with a smile that told danger had come.
Despite the chill of the world outside Captain Eclipse Dune wore the smallest skirt Kollkie had ever seen with a blouse two sizes too small for her, as if to make a point the pirate’s muddy red shoes tapped across the wooden surface of the barracks.
Kollkie didn’t have to look down to know that the Dark Elf’s shoes were probably worth more than what she could earn in a year, instead, her amber eyes were on Eclipse’s gloved hands.
Like wise, red pools that hid snake-like pupils observed the surroundings to discover that the men within the station began a pitiful attempt to make themselves presentable, a less enlightened girl might take this as flattery till you remembered one thing. Wood Elves that had survived this long didn’t often think with their dicks.
Eclipse noted that men’s cheeks might seem blushed but their eyes were on her hands, they weren’t dropping their guard. “Lieutenant Kollkie.” The Dark Elf said pleasantly, “I would advise you to release my fellow staff member, Student.”
“Stuart.” A guard corrected.
Eclipse waved the detail away. “His name means nothing. My employer would like for you to surrender him into her care.”
“Would you?” Kollkie said with authority, her gaze examining the intruder as though she were an unsavoury murder scene. “You must be Legen, Lady Tabhair’s assistant.”
Eclipse crossed her arms. “Then you know me?”
Oh yes, there were many within the military who knew about the notorious Captain Eclipse Dune, the Un Neill Navy had an awful amount of experience cleaning up after blood she left on many a ship and tavern.
The only reason Kollkie had not strung up the pirate for hire on the spot was because apparently Eclipse had a habit of rescuing slaves, it also helped that those in charge were planning to blackmail the sea whore into being their little informant.
The silly pirate actually thought she could pass herself off as a merchant’s assistant when her portrait still hung on several dartboards located in two coast side taverns and navel officer cabins, apparently Eclipse had this odd habit of stealing other captain’s lovers and turning them into masochistic lesbians.
Still, Kollkie was not about to give the politicians one more arrow to shot into her back, she would play right up to the point when Eclipse hung from a tree.
“Only that my soldiers had to knock on your door for disturbing the peace.” Kollkie said trying to restrain the urge to put the deviant right into a jail cell.
Disturbing the peace had been the official report the officer in charge of the incident had put on paper, while in the more detailed report which he gave his fellow work mates during a few hard drinks had specified that a cursing Eclipse had impaled herself on another woman’s penis while her one eyed boss masturbated in a corner.
It was easy to say that there was not enough alcohol in Un Neill for anyone to believe him.
“May I advise you and your mistress to close the windows? Little kids could have seen inside for Badb’s sake.” Kollkie said this time not bothering to be amused.
A devil’s smile crossed Eclipse’s face. “We’re just breaking in the new office assistant. How about you come over some time? He has been trying to get us to invest in some charities.”
Mouths dropped and eyes turned to a red cheeked Kollkie, and the other guards expected there soon to be one more person in the cell with a black eye.
“I’ll pass.” Kollkie said her temper held back to the point several men thought they could see steam erupting out of her ears.
Even Eclipse might have thought she had gone a bit too far.
Army women were meant to be harder than nails and trained to be the embodiment of being a bitch. Normally these were traits Eclipse would beat into her pathetic crew but she could tell from experience that the knife eared cow was on the edge.
Eclipse’s snake-like pupils caught sight of the mangled parts that had once been Stuart’s tablet. “How about I just have a chat with my fellow staff member?”
“I’ll be happy to throw you into his cell if you want, but I can’t guarantee you’ll be getting out.” Kollkie also couldn’t promise that she wouldn’t lose the key and forget to feed them.
“I was hoping for something less permanent.” Eclipse confessed though she wouldn’t have said no to a little shackle play with her two office workers. “How about this? Give me a chat with Stingert…”
“Stuart.” The same guard corrected but Eclipse wasn’t listening.
“…And I get him to tell you how that little device works.”
“And he’ll tell you?” The engineer asked sceptically.
Eclipse let out a laugh, “Morrigan, no. But you haven’t got much else to work with.”
A bored expression crossed Kolkie’s face, she tried to think up a reason to keep both Stuart and this tramp apart but besides the obvious ones where Eclipse assassinated him or tried to pass him something through the bars, the Second Lieutenant couldn’t work up the energy to care about any of that.
As far as Kolkie was concerned Stuart could starve to death in that cell or escape, either way he was one less pain in the ass.
Kollkie watched as the guard escorted the pirate back to the cells, as the Dark Elf’s scandalous form escaped from view the Second Lieutenant performed the unheard of task of confiscating McKellen’s desk.
“What are you doing?” The engineer whispered harshly wondering if Kollkie had gone mad.
Her eyes closed Kollkie worked through the desk’s exterior; her fingers prodded the places only a few others knew about and few dared to touch. She was awarded with a satisfying click before a secret draw opened.
Back in the capital it was a common act for prison cells to be outfitted with surveillance equipment, one of those little secrets the watch utilised when the gangs ruled the streets and innocence was on vacation.
Kollkie personally didn’t care how morally bankrupt she was, the foreigners were a threat to her people, one that needed to be understood and possibly destroyed.
If they were an ally as they so often claimed than why did they not offer up their technology? Why did they keep people out of their land? Why the games?
But while the prison cells mostly had a standard talking quill due economic cutbacks, McKellen’s desk had been outfitted with a magic mirror he had liberated in the war.
Through the piece of mirror Kollkie could just make out Stuart sitting on the floor of his cell, he looked as though he had been expecting his new visitor for some time. “Is this my conjugal visit?”
All around the room the office of men and women that had been left in charge of enforcing the law in this area put down what they were doing and listened at the exchange.
The voice that resonated from the glass was like it came from a small doll, but to a Wood Elf and their enhanced hearing capabilities it might as well have been a lion shouting for attention among a pack of mice.
Eclipse waited for the guard to leave before she set her smile onto Stuart, it was clear that the pirate also did not find Stuart’s humour enjoyable. “I don’t know if you know me, I’m…”
“Legen Montague.” Stuart said cutting in. “Currently hired as Lady Tabhair’s assistant, you stay away from kidney pie but you enjoy mint tea. Prone to bouts of violence, sexually attracted to blonde women. Sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet last time, I believe you were too busy trying to steal the gold from the witch and mage convoy.”
Stuart clicked his tongue at Eclipse. “Not your typical snatch and grab job, huh?. Digital lockers are very fun like that, biometric locking system. Also helps if Jessy didn’t remove the bag’s memory stick.”
The urge to thump her hand on the table overwhelmed the Wood Elf, they had been told that several attempts had been made on the bag while in transit, but to think that the pirate had the nerve to attempt such a thing. A dark Elf should know better than to steal from any witch.
For a moment Kollkie assumed Eclipse would actually kill Stuart, bars or no bars, it was not wise to think yourself smarter than a trained killer. But the pirate only returned a stern expression. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Stuart’s smile caused Kollkie to glower at the mirror. “I guess I’m wrong. Sorry.”
The foreigner didn’t bother to stand or move, he continued to sit there, his eyes scanned his stone environment as if for the first time. “So what did you promise Kollkie to get in here?”
“She wants to know how your little toy works.” Eclipse said honestly.
“The tablet was forged in the mighty dystopia of China by the many enslaved children conscripted by the faceless ones. It was meant to combat those misguided by the evil apple with the untrustworthy, though, more structurally powerful Linux.” Stuart said.
Kollkie shared a look at her engineer, who could only shrug, the words meant nothing but sounded impressive.
Kollkie’s bullshit meter was reading meltdown levels, she lived to put men like this Stuart in situations that would make devils give applause, but she had her orders and she was tiered of knowing nothing about her enemy.