The Praedian Records

J.G. Phoenix

Related Posts

Begin (2024)

2023 ended weirdly abruptly for me, but I got the shot in the arm I needed in order to hit the ground running in 2024. This year's going to be absolutely crazy, but for me personally, I feel my worst years are finally behind me. I'm ready to stop drowning in a sea of...

read more

Yamato Progress

Oh my goodness ... well, things may have slowed down exponentially compared to the first 24 hours of working on this thing, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been major progress. Check this out. The exterior is nearly finished (minus coloring) The catapults work...

read more

Fleeing Victory #15

by | Dec 13, 2021 | FV, Pinned, Short Stories


Red had been certain the Schultz fleet’s presence in Port Barbate was no coincidence, and the rest of the ghosts agreed. Since Helena Schultz’s sudden arrival at their mobile HQ, she told them why her ship and its escorts had made such a conspicuous detour. She wanted to Doctor Gil brought to her ship instead of the merchantman.

In other words, she was butting into the mission. Sable wasn’t in the best mood by then, but even he found it amusing when the nobility were stepping on each other’s toes for the fun of it. He only wished he and his team hadn’t gotten themselves caught in the middle. After all, the Blue Ghosts couldn’t serve two masters in the same instance, even if both hailed from House Krieger.

“They really need to stop letting the noble brats do whatever they want,” Shark muttered, “This sort of thing always happens eventually.”

“Where is the good doctor, anyway?” Helena asked. She scanned her surroundings, but between the hideously uneven lighting of the ghosts’ trailer, and the large crates and other supplies stacked high and long, even a clumsy eavesdropper could have gone unnoticed.

“Come now, Milady,” Sable smirked at her, “We don’t fold that easily.”

“Johann, it’s just Helena for you,” she said, “For all of you.” She stopped just short of prodding each man to keep things casual, but even Sable wasn’t ready to humor her just yet.

“I’m curious, Milady,” Vesper chimed in, “We all are. What do you want with the doctor? We don’t require assistance, so who is supposed to benefit from you taking the doctor?”

No one, Sable mused, which made him suspect Helena had entirely different designs for Doctor Gil from the ghosts or their handlers. It was unusual to see a Krieger break ranks, so he hoped they could get the truth out of her before she got frustrated and gave up.

“And how did you find out about this operation?” Shark hastily added, “Our missions are kept discreet from everyone who isn’t involved, especially inexperienced lordlings who are supposed to be on voyage.”

Helena let out a heavy sigh and leaned back against a stack of crates. “I’m suddenly not in the most divulgatory mood.”

“Amazing,” Shark scoffed, holding out his arms, “Neither are we.”

“We have forty-seven minutes until Command is back on the line,” Vesper said, “I don’t know what you want with the doctor, but there are procedures in place for stopping whatever you’re trying to do here, Milady. If you want to be anything more than a delay, we need more information. A lot more information.”

“Give us something,” Sable said. At the rate they were going, he was worried Helena wouldn’t reveal anything at all.

“… fine,” Helena suddenly snapped back to her full height. She approached Sable and jutted two fingers into his chest. “Helena. Now then, Doctor Gil was working on a combat stimulant until recently, correct?” She took the split second of silence for a yes. “Your mission is to gather up his test subjects and use them to track down the breeders for the species of monster used to create the stimulant and eliminate them, yes?”

“Where did you find that out?” Shark asked. While the ghosts worked primarily for House Krieger in the field, their internal information networks were a mystery to them.

“I give a little, you give a little,” Helena said in lieu of an answer.

“Ja, that was the plan,” Sable explained, “but the doctor was the only test subject we could find, so we took him.”

Precisely,” Helena smiled. “I’ll bet he didn’t even start using the stimulant on himself until he was forced to, but even that was a waste.”

The ghosts exchanged looks. Something was up.

“What if I told you that you that your mission is a waste of time? Out of date, or simply not worth the trouble any longer?”

“Command might disagree,” Vesper gave a noncommittal argument, “but we’re listening.”

“Doctor Gil was the first scientist allowed to work on the project. It was his brainchild, so it’s only natural he would get the first shot at it. But he wasn’t the last. Someone must have realized a greater potential than simply augmenting the abilities of their soldiers and informed Clan Vega. You four have been trying to track down breeders to completely wipe out Cryptid Species #1347; meanwhile, a group of lunatics managed to find them first and took several alive.”

None of the ghosts liked where Helena was taking them.

“Doctor Gil’s original test subjects were actually taken to the new research facility. I don’t want to think about what could be happening to them now, but Clan Vega is making a more powerful version of the stimulant. This version can hardly be called a stimulant at all.”

“What?!” Doctor Gil himself came fumbling out of the shadows with ruin in his eyes.

Red stepped between the distraught doctor and Helena before he could get to close and gently held him at a comfortable distance.

“They just shut me out and carried on with my research?!”

Sable couldn’t quite bring himself to say so, but the doctor had his condolences. Even if his research fell just shy of criminal insanity, his heart might have actually been in the right place.

At least some of the time.


“I gave every ounce of myself to this project. I risked my own safety to carry on after our funding was pulled and the project was all but cancelled. Ms. Helena, you have to tell me, what’s happening now. What greater potential did they see? Why did they shut me out like this?”

“It’s just Helena, please. And I’ll get to that when the time comes. For the moment, I’m only trying to explain why this mission is a bit pointless.”

“Because we can’t kill off the entire species,” Vesper noted gravely, “Not while Clan Vega has breeders in captivity. In the best case scenario, we remove them from the wild.”

“That’s quite single-minded of you,” Helena shook her head at him, “Even if you snapped your fingers right now and all of the 1347s died on the spot, Clan Vega would still have enough raw material to carry out their plan. They’re the bigger threat now.”

“What is their plan, Schultz,” Shark said, unable or unwilling to hide his agitation, “and how do you know about it?”

“The same way I know all of your names,” Helena jutted a finger at him this time. “Aegir Haufmann.” She pointed at Sable, next. “Johann Fawkes.” Then Vesper. “Siegfried Eriksson.”

Everyone looked to Red, expecting something, but Helena hesitated. She never did single him out, instead quietly crossing her arms and looking for a way to get back on track. Sable had seen Red’s face a few times, but even he didn’t know the man’s real name. It was exceedingly rare, but House Tenebrae and House Krieger were known to insert completely anonymous operatives into various organizations. Issues of trust rarely lasted long, as such agents had always proven exemplary and patriotic to the bone.

Red was no different, and so, to anyone and everyone, he was simply ‘Red.’

“I have access to more information than you field agents ever will. And let’s leave it at that.”

“Fine,” Vesper agreed partially, “Will you tell us what Clan Vega’s plan is, at least? I don’t know what we can do to stop them if they’re as far along as you’re implying, but if you want to convince Command to let you sail away with the doctor, now is a good time to rehearse.”

Helena’s rehearsal left her audience a little worse for wear, and nearly converted besides. Even so, were the world about to end, Vesper could still keep his calm and find something productive to do. Sable knew he was as troubled by Helena’s intel as the rest of them, but as their leader, he had to set an example and focus on what they could do to address it. Doctor Gil was at the far end of the spectrum, nearly crumbling at Helena’s revelation.

“They’re going to artificially create a hive of their own? Coordinate whole companies of troops through a single person?”

It wouldn’t be the first time, Sable mused, but most of the time, when someone wanted to link the minds of soldiers and coordinate them that way, the used complicated magic. Trying to achieve it through crimson psionic abilities was a mistake with repercussions the Municans would be feeling for centuries if someone didn’t stop them.

“The stimulant you were working on,” Helena explained, “supposedly heightens brain functions to a degree that enhances combat effectiveness. You observed the effects, but this is far more than a chain of chemical reactions.”

“What do you mean?” Gil wasn’t asking questions anymore, he was desperately pleading for any information he could get.

“Do you ghosts know why House Krieger wants the 1347s completely wiped out?”

“They’re an assimilator species,” Red answered before anyone else even had time to think about it. “It hasn’t been confirmed, but a lot of the other crimson species in the Arenas region are thralls. Natural flora and fauna are also affected. There’s even the possibility that some of the larger species are being coordinated by them.”

“Those crimson veins do show up in some interesting places,” Vesper noted.

“How is that possible?” Gil put a hand on Red’s shoulder, “There are hundreds of species of malevans in the Arenas Desert. You mean to tell us that they’re all under the control of the hive? That can’t possibly be the case, can it?”

“It’s probably true. They’re thralls. So are you. So are all of your test subjects.”

“So is every poor soul being subjected to Clan Vega’s new project,” Helena added with a grimace.

“Of course,” Shark shook his head at the whole mess, “I was worried he was under their influence, but it goes well beyond that.”

“We have our own researchers looking into this,” Helena said. “Some of them made the trip here to Barbate with me, in fact. The psionic abilities of the hive affect every cell in a drone’s body. That’s why consuming their flesh–or injecting elements of it,” she fixed Doctor Gil with a knowing glare, “will eventually produce another drone. That’s also how the stimulant enhances combat effectiveness. You aren’t giving the subject’s system a boost solely through chemicals, you’re inserting a bridge between yourself and the hive mind and then stimulating it with those chemicals. The psionic feedback affects every cell in your body while it’s active. That’s what makes it behave as a combat stimulant.”

Sable felt things were just barely starting to go over his head, but he at least had the gist of it. Taking the stimulant was akin to becoming a drone and requesting a psionic boost from the hive directly. However temporary it was, that sounded incredibly risky. The ghosts had already witnessed the doctor being controlled by the hive once before.

“No …”

Sable approached the doctor as he let go of Red and finally crumbled. “Hey, stay with us.”

“I thought I understood,” Gil murmured, “They assured me the material was perfectly safe to use. I can’t believe that Ibelieved them.”

“So now you know,” Helena stepped closer to the ghosts, putting herself at the center of a loose semi-circle. “Hunting for breeders is pointless right now. There is a team of researchers that needs the doctor’s assistance. I have no doubt that we’ll find a way to break the hive’s influence eventually, but we can do it much faster with his help. That’s why I want to take him and his research back with me.”

“Haven’t I already proven that I know next to nothing?”

“I agree,” Shark said, almost surprised that he and Gil were on the same page for a change.

“Hush. Doctor, you were told that the materials you received were fully processed and safe to use, correct? That was the assumption you were operating under. Now that you know what’s really going on, you’re far more useful to us.”

“What she means to say is you’re not stupid,” Sable chimed in, “Now that you know how the stimulant really works, you can do your research properly.”

“Basically, yes,” Helena nodded.

“My research,” Gil huffed, “You mean your research. I was trying to give Munican soldiers an edge against the Cordaeans. You’re quite literally attempting the opposite. Not that I blame you. Vega has something grander in mind than I did, something extremely dangerous. And you Calmans have something more prudane in mind, a way to break the hive’s influence, no doubt.”


“I take it you would use whatever treatment plan your researchers and I produced to counter both my stimulant and Vega’s variant, and then go on to use it against the hive more directly?”

“That’s right,” Helena grinned mischievously at him. “Will you help us?”

Doctor Gil thought about it, and eventually smiled. “Cure the ailment and then kill the source. I guess it wouldn’t be Calman if it worked any other way. I’ll help you, then, but only if I won’t be thrown in prison, or executed, or whatever Calig does with people who dabble in fields of science they don’t like.”

“It’s a deal. I need your help, too,” Helena said, looking over the four ghosts. “The information I had on Clan Vega’s shenanigans wasn’t easy to come by, and it will be even more difficult to act on.”

“Milady,” Sable gently interjected, “We have another mission we need to deal with, first … even if Command let’s you run off with the mad doctor here.” Sable didn’t want to explain his run in with Fran Sandoval in detail, so he kept it short, for better or worse. On the other hand, he held back nothing regarding the enormous explosion at Fort Baldi, if only to convey the severity of the situation. “Command already approved the mission, so we need at least two men to go back and recon the place as soon as possible.”

“So you made a mess and now you’re scrambling to clean up before anyone in Munica can act on Captain Sandoval’s information. I suppose that should be the higher priority, here,” Helena conceded.

“It shouldn’t take more than a day or two,” Sable offered with a shrug.

“And only two of you are required, yes?”

Shark winced. “Oh no.”

Suddenly Sable realized his mistake. “I said, at least two men. We’ll finish up even faster if all four of us go. your people can keep the doctor safe on your ship while we recon Fort Baldi. Does that work?”

“Let’s see what ‘Command’ has to say, first,” Helena said, promising nothing and leaving Sable and Shark to hang there.

Damage control was about all Sable could manage. Granted, they didn’t know exactly what Helena needed them to do. They suspected she would send them deep into Munica on some grand infiltration mission, but she could just as easily point them toward something only their walking encyclopedia, Red, would be able to guess at.




Recent Pinned Posts

Begin (2024)

2023 ended weirdly abruptly for me, but I got the shot in the arm I needed in order to hit the ground running in 2024. This year's going to be absolutely crazy, but for me personally, I feel my worst years are finally behind me. I'm ready to stop drowning in a sea of...

read more

Yamato Progress

Oh my goodness ... well, things may have slowed down exponentially compared to the first 24 hours of working on this thing, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been major progress. Check this out. The exterior is nearly finished (minus coloring) The catapults work...

read more