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Library:The Macheteers part one

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Part one : A traitorous tool
0 Mol 4 Kaban
September 7, 1940
Temple of the Smilodon, City of Bahk, Yajawil of Joychan

"Captain Nishwa, do you take me for a fool ?"

"Your Excellency I do not understand..."

An abrupt hand gesture silenced the Guard Officer. Since his arrival, the new "Lord of the Guards" terrified all of his subordinates. Not because of what he did but because of what he could do. Lords of the Guards had to obey laws, administrative rulings, and orders from their Province' Viceroy and their political patrons. This one could do away with all of that if he wanted. The only retribution possible could only come from K'alak Muul. Disobedience, even if it was a most inconsequential failure to follow proper etiquette, was a death sentence. And for people like Captain Nishwa, bogged down in the complex political web of his Province, any meeting with the Lord of the Guards could be the last.

The appalingly young Lord of the Guards massaged his temples, eyes closed, clearly frustrated by the situation. His long hairs were tied in a bun kept in place by a simple band of bark paper with three small turquoise stones. This simple band of paper was, to Captain Nishwa, more terrifying than any of the many, many jewels, bracelets, and rings that covered his superior' hands, wrists, and necks. This simple band of paper was the symbol of its wearer' true identity : he was the B'ah Ch'ok Ajaw, "Head Young Lord", the Prince inheritor of the Mutul : Jasaw Chan K'awiil, a man who was promised godhood as his birthright. And paper and turquoise was his crown.

"Did you really think I would've let your report stand as is ? Twelve dead men, twelve bullet wounds, all to the head, from different angles ? This is the largest massacre in the Province in the past two decades and even if I was ready to believe a single man barging into the restaurant might have disposed of so many hardened criminals, would such a man, in the heat of the fight, be capable of such perfect marksmanship ?"

Jasaw Chan K'awiil opened his eyes. The dark colored pupils seemingly reflected no anger, not even the annoyance the tone of his voice betrayed. The Captain tried to be as immovable as he was being accused of falsification of evidence, gross incompetence, and retention of information by the Heir of the country. A bead of sweat ran down his spine, he had to prevent his hands from shaking by clasping them together behind his back but otherwise he felt he wasn't doing too bad of a job trying to remain dignified in front of the incoming storm.

"I asked you a question, officer. Answer."

"Your excellency, I merely reported to you the situation as it was. These are nothing more than the observations, analysis, and conclusions from our service."

Nishwa could not, nor was he really allowed to, stand his superior' glare.

"And you persist. You do realise by your own admission, I can have you and your entire service sent to Court to be asked the Question for high treason and corruption ?"

"Your Excellency we do not understand why we should investigate more into the death of a couple of known bandits ! Criminals killing criminals, good riddance ! It has always been internal order to not spend more than the bare minimum of time on such cases, we've merely done our jobs as we'd been instructed !"

The Prince leaned forward in his chair, this time visibly angered. "Instruction not given by me." The cold rage and threat in each syllable was obvious, but Nishwa had been forced to take the gamble to save his skin.

It was a dangerous game but so far, it was working : he was still alive.

Jasaw Chan K'awiil fell back in his chair, eyes closed, his fingers once again on his temples. "So, Captain Nishwa." he began, somewhat calmed down. "Who are you protecting ?" Before the Guard could answer, the Prince had raised his hand. "Don't. If you want your two kids to know what became of your father, don't. I already know the name, anyway, I just want to hear it from your mouth."

Nishwa gulped. Once. But otherwise did not move. After a couple seconds of silence, he finally cracked. "B'ajal Chen Kan, your Excellency. He was the one who financed my formation at the Guards School."

The Prince nodded, his eyes still closed. "So, I suppose it was B'ajal Chen Kan who ordered this little demonstration of strength ?"

"Yes, your Excellency."

"Were you alerted beforehand by your patron or were you ordered to botch the investigation afterward ?"

"Beforehand, sir."

"Oh ? Interesting. Were you informed of the purpose of this rather bold attack ?"

"Yes, your Excellency. The victims were all gangsters from a local Pitz club under the payroll of the local K'oh lineage. B'ajal Chen Kan and his associates, as Mountain people, have always been in conflict with the K'oh and other Yokot'an houses. But your predecessor was a K'oh agent as well. Your arrival was seen as the moment to act, as the disturbance provoked by the change of leadership to the Guards would offer a short window of opportunity to get rid of a few rivals."

"You do realize the K'oh Patriarch is my father-in-law, yes ?"

"Yes, your Excellency. But I am not part of B'ajal Chen Kan inner circle. I can learn of his decisions, but not influence them."

"Don't underplay yourself. Tools aren't supposed to know that much in the first place."

Nishwa could feel the sweat on his forehead but still he had to show the less emotions possible, for his own sake. The Prince now seemed deep in his own reflection, seemingly no longer concerned about his subordinates presence, but Nishwa couldn't before he was dismissed. As proven by his betrayal, he was not suicidal. The tension lasted for five seemingly endless minutes before the Prince finally addressed him back. "You know, I could let your report stand as it is. But only if you can do a service for me, Captain..."

"And what it would be, your Excellency ?"

"I wish to meet your current patron. Organize this for me and I'll let this report slide."

"Your Excellency... you know I can't do that ! B'ajal Chen Kan will consider it an obvious trap and..."

"Stop. Be assured, Captain, that I am merely humouring your patron' little plan. He wanted my attention, he committed the right crime at the right time to get it. So, you will not incur your patron' wrath, and you will not occur mine. See ? Even your betrayal was accounted for. You have nothing to be blamed for. Dismissed."

The last few remarks of his Prince left Nishwa with a clenched jaw as he performed the appropriate reverence to the to-be-god before leaving the room. A tool ? A traitor ? Well, there was little to deny, but still, can a man be blamed for wanting to survive ? This is what he told himself as he embraced his wife and kids when he returned home, oblivious to why he was seemingly so emotional tonight compared to any other day. It's what he told himself as well when he picked up the phone and began composing his contact' number. He had to survive and with such materials as his botched report hanging over his head, he had no other option but to do what he always did : what he was told.

"A tool, a traitor" he mumbled to himself as someone picked up on the other end of the line.