Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Page 1034

Flames aside, that was the reaction Parson had been expecting. Jackson’s disapproval of Blacksong was only natural.

On the surface, Blacksong was a multinational operation with the expressed purpose of discovering and exploiting weaknesses in Abolish’s territory. Specifically, it was an initiative which would mount a simultaneous offensive against twenty-nine Abolish strongholds spread all across the Eloan continent. It was going to be the largest coordinated assault perpetrated by the Vanguard in decades.

But that was not the part Jackson had a problem with, Parson knew. Jackson disliked one of Blacksong’s many hidden objectives--albeit the primary one.

That was, to turn the Monster of the East away from Abolish. Or at the very least, away from Dozer.

Parson doubted anyone would ever be able to convince Jackson that this was a viable strategy. The Star of the West and the Monster of the East--these monikers were not coincidental. Even among non-servants, their rivalry was well-known.

Jackson saw Gohvis purely for the monster that he quite literally was, but Parson had seen shades of something else, something that still retained at least some semblance of humanity. He’d seen it thirty years ago, thanks entirely to the massacre of House Elroy, the one from which only two young teenagers and a single reaper survived.

The one Parson had helped orchestrate.

In truth, however, it had not been a plan of his or Overra’s making. Rather, they had simply been following the orders of Air Marshal Artemis.

In all his years, Parson had never known a more ruthless and vengeful member of the Vanguard than Artemis. Save, perhaps, Lamont. But that was another matter. Ultimately, Artemis was the one who decided to exterminate the Elroys, and his motivation for doing so had been a combination of fear and hatred. Because, as Artemis discovered, House Elroy was the bloodline which spawned the monster now known as Gohvis.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Page 1033

“I don’t think he would push any harder for Korgum,” said Jackson. “He’d run the risk of overextending himself there, and Dozer isn’t one for gambling.”

Parson had to agree. That old bastard had built his empire upon calculated strikes and measured responses. He wasn’t the type of opponent who could be expected to make any strategic mistakes. A most irritating enemy, to be sure. And against such a foe, even the most carefully laid plans were all but worthless. Parson Miles had spent many years learning that lesson the hard way.

“Perhaps we should accelerate Blacksong,” Parson suggested.

Jackson scowled, and Parson’s coat caught fire. “Oh!”

Parson hurriedly patted himself down, trying not to panic with the knowledge that if he used his own power right now, Jackson’s flames would swallow him whole.

“Sorry,” said Jackson. “But honestly, Blacksong? The project that your Gema Elroy might have leaked to Abolish?”

Parson was still patting. The flames weren’t going out. “Did you soul-empower these?!”

“No.”

“Well, could you put them out, please?!” Now they were spreading.

“Eh, I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

“Sir, please!” Parson dropped to the floor and started rolling. It made no difference whatsoever. He could feel the searing pain beginning to pierce his passive soul defense.

“Oh, very well.”

And in a blink, the fire extinguished itself, leaving only his smote uniform and smoking flesh behind. No actual damage had been done, as far as Parson could tell, but it was more than enough of a glimpse at the power that this person now possessed. Perhaps that had been the marshal’s intention.

“Project Blacksong has always been a fool’s errand,” Jackson went on. “Now, it has only become more so.”

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Page 1032

“A celebration would be one of the most foolish things I could possibly do right now,” said Jackson.

“You’re much more uptight than I remember,” said Parson. “Is that your wife’s influence?”

“Are you trying to annoy me?” said Jackson. “I don’t see why. You usually do it so effortlessly.”

That pulled a barking laugh out of Overra. ‘I’m glad to see that biting wit of yours hasn’t changed. You’ll have to forgive Parson. I think he’s somehow getting stupider with age.

Parson just frowned.

One could argue that Abolish is at its most dangerous after taking a major loss like this,’ she went on. ‘I’m sure they’ll be feeling the need to reciprocate. And soon, too. Else the balance of power will begin to shift in our favor. And Dozer can’t very well let that happen.

She was right, Parson knew. Morgunov was about as predictable as a lottery that used imaginary numbers, but Dozer, at least, would certainly not take this lying down. Gunther and Dunhouser had both belonged to him. Their deaths would undoubtedly leave a power vacuum that many of Dozer’s other men would be looking to fill, and what better way to distinguish oneself in their master’s eyes than through battle?

There was no need to voice his concerns, though. Overra had it covered, and besides, he was supposed to be the stupid one.

“The only question is where Dozer will strike,” said Jackson.

Certainly not here,’ said Overra. ‘Trying to retake Horsht from you would be messy, at best, and draw Sermung’s attention, at worst. If I were him, I’d redouble my efforts to seize Korgum.

Doubtful, Parson figured. While it was true that finally getting a hold of Korgum would certainly make up for losing Horsht, it would still be a long shot. At the moment, winning that territory meant courting Chaos itself.