SALVAGE OF EMPIRE

14. Plotting

Continued from .
The story begins with 1. The Director.

Back in his office, the Director had appeared reluctant to visit his prisoners. Instead, he had called a council of war with Romik, Major Mus, and himself. Usually, such councils were brief. The three men had worked together long enough that they were frequently of the same mind, each able to anticipate the other. Not so this day.

“This is a terrible idea,” said Major Mus. It was the third time he had said it, by Romik’s count. He was pacing back and forth.

“Which part this time?” asked Director Ais. His patience appeared to be growing thin. The conversation was looping in circles.

“All of it, but especially the part where you roll over and let that fool brother-in-law of yours destroy everything we’ve worked toward. Especially when he’s our prisoner next door!”

“Marrem, how many times do I have to tell you? I’ve decided. It’s final.”

Major Mus made a disgusted sound. “Fine. And so you want to start by assassinating a fellow director and sow as much chaos as you can before you skip out?”

Romik had never seen the Major so agitated. Mus stopped pacing and looked plaintively at the Director. “You realize that some of us will have to stay behind and live with whatever mess you leave behind, don’t you?”

The Director nodded. “I do realize that, Marrem, and it’s for their sake and yours that I must do something about Iani. I’ve tolerated him far too long, but I’ve never had a free hand to deal with him properly.”

Major Mus looked at Romik. “Talk some sense into him, would you?”

Romik shrugged. “I can’t say he’s wrong, Major. You’ve seen Director Iani same as I have. Of the other Directors, he’s the worst of the lot.”

Director Ais smiled. “Thank you, Romik. Yes, he’s the most ruthless, and the most ambitious. The only thing that’s kept him in check has been my firm grip on the military chain of command.” He frowned. “To be honest, Marrem, if I were you, I’d be afraid for my job and my life if Iani were unleashed. Are you sure you won’t come with me? Even with Iani out of the story, you’ll be in great danger because of your association with me.”

Major Mus shook his head. “No, and I’ve made up my mind. I was never directly involved in your scheme. I’ll get by.”

Director Ais sighed. “I know you will. You’re a resourceful man. Now, my mind is settled. Iani must go. Romik, how do we do it?”

Romik sat up. “I recommend we deal with his son, Dev, first. He’s the easier target, but he would become much more dangerous if word leaked to him. Right now, all I have to do is switch out his security detail with picked men.”

“Alright, and Director Iani himself?”

Romik frowned. “If we had more time, I’m sure we could easily turn one of his armsmen. Garsi comes to mind, actually.”

Major Mus raised his eyebrows. “Garsi? His chief armsman?”

Romik nodded. “He’s a good man, Garsi is. But we don’t have enough time. This needs to be a quick operation. How subtle do you want to be, Director? The easiest thing to do is go in with a squad of Enforcers and gun him down.” He hated to suggest it. It would get good men killed one way or another. But it was the right path, operationally.

The Director pursed his lips in thought. Finally, he said, “I don’t have time for subtlety. I’d rather be done and on my way, not lingering on. Yes, Romik, that’s how we’ll do it. Make the arrangements.”

“Aye sir.” Romik hid his surprise. Usually the Director involved himself personally in operations like this.

“Marrem, give him whatever he needs.”

Major Mus gave the Director a sour look. “Aye sir.”

The Director nodded. He stood and tugged on his waistcoat. “Make it happen, gentlemen.” He looked off in the direction of the holding cells. “I have other matters to attend to now. Dismissed.”


If Director Amady Iani was bad, his son, Devon Iani, was worse: petulant, spoiled, yet with his father’s cunning; evil in deed and aspect. It would not do to leave him unaccounted for in this reckoning.

While Major Mus requisitioned a strike team at Central Command, Romik made arrangements for the security detail switch.

As chief armsman for Director Ais, Romik was in nominal command of personal security for the entire government, though he couldn’t make permanent personnel assignments. That privilege was reserved for Central Command, which of course also had parallel control over personal security details. He found the whole situation strange and awkward, and he generally left well enough alone, leaving Command to manage day-to-day business. Romik kept busy enough with his own charge. Today, however, the arrangement would be convenient. He could pull a few strings, and nobody would think anything of it.

Der Iani was merely family of a government official. Family didn’t usually get dedicated security details, at least not while on Siben, but Der apparently had a habit of making enemies. Director Iani had personally requested that his son receive a full-time security detail. It was usually drawn from his father’s but occasionally drew from a pool of unassigned armsmen. Romik went to them first.

He quickly found two men who suited his need: Kloordi and Even. “It’d be an honor to slab the little bugger,” said Kloordi when Romik explained the mission to them. Even simply smiled wide and nodded.

At the appointed time, they would tap out Der’s current detail and wait for Romik’s signal. His goal was to take care of the son at about the same time as the father so as not to alert either one.

Romik returned to Major Mus’ office. The major was still grousing about it, but he did have the strike team assembled. “They’re ready for you. I still don’t like rushing this,” he said.

Romik shrugged. “You heard the boss.”

Major Mus shook his head. “He’s obviously distraught. Can’t you talk to him? Slow this down?”

“I did talk to him, Major. You know the Director. This is slow.”

The major sighed. “Would you consider waiting until tomorrow?”

Romik shook his head. “I’ve got Der’s detail in place. If we delay, we risk blowing the whole thing up.”

“Alright, fine,” said Mus, nodding in resignation. “I’ve also got an armored sky car and security codes for you. You could catch Iani in flight, drop his shield, and bring him down. Then go in with the strike team and finish the job on the ground.”

Romik smiled. “I like that better than a straight firefight. There’s a danger of collateral damage either way.”

“I figured you’d agree,” said Mus. “I’ll be on overwatch. We’ll have to stand ready and wait until he’s moving though. He didn’t set a schedule for the day.”

“Sitting and waiting can’t be helped. Where’s the Director?”

Mus indicated the closed door behind him. “He’s holed up in his office. Told me not to bother him unless the building was on fire.”

“Has he been to visit the prisoners yet?”

Mus shook his head. “Not yet.

Romik raised an eyebrow. “The longer he waits, the worse it’ll be.”

Major Mus shrugged and held up his hands. “I’m his aide, not his commander.”

Romik sighed. “I don’t suppose he’ll want in on the operation.”

“I didn’t get that impression, no.”

It was unusual for the Director to stay out of a fight, especially when it was personal.

“Alright,” said Romik. “I’ll get my kit. Have the strike team meet me at the car. Let’s get the waiting over with.”


Continued in:

Romik carries out his orders. Everything goes according to plan… until it doesn’t.

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