Loq’rims Gambit is my entry for the 2010 NaNoWriMo. It was the first year I had attempted to take part in the competition: 50K words in 30 days. Get your free copy of this book on my eBooks Download Page.
The year was, no one could remember exactly, but they did know it was 2950 days after the fall. The fall of what, no one could remember, life just went on as usual. Loq’rim trudged through the snow dressed in a rough shirt, and pants that were meant for summer wear. His boots, loosely held in place by strips of leather, gripped his bulging feet like gloves. Over one shoulder hung a modified crossbow, across his back a massive axe, hanging from his belt were two nasty looking daggers dripping green slime that hissed as it hint the snow. He was a Telarkin, from the seventeenth planet of the Telar system. He and his kind were sought after either as mercenaries or soldiers due to their special qualities.
Their planet, the largest in their system, was snowbound for most of the year. A standard day, at least for the residents, was 72 of the old earth hours. It took their planet 763 days to circle their twin suns and the meagre light it provided had forced them to evolve in a different direction than most of the other recruits.
“Sergeant where is the rest of your uniform” bellowed an officer.
“What uniform sir?” he snarled in return. “You mean that collection of rags they tried to issue me that is only suited for cleaning the floors?”
“I’ll see you busted for that remark” screamed the young buck Lieutenant.
“Go ahead and who will stand watch over your pretty little body while you sleep, or man your outposts that you are too damn cheap to heat for your own kind? Go ahead and bust me, just learn to sleep lightly.”
“Lieutenant! Find something to do before I find something for you” thundered across the compound.
“Yes sir.” came the meek reply, as the Lieutenant turned and scurried away, his tail tucked between his legs.
“Loq’rim, my office now.”
Loq’rim changed directions walking slowly towards the voice. He stooped low as he entered the door, standing as far as possible from the raging fire on the other side. “I don’t understand this incessant need for fire & heat, makes them soft.” he thought.
“What do you want now?” he demanded of the figure sitting by the fire at the sole desk in the room. “I am due for my down time, need to repair my gear and get some sleep.”
The major carefully sized him up. He was amazed at the resilience his kind had for the cold and the snow. The soft down that covered most humanoids had developed into a light fur, almost indiscernible to the unknowing eye. He found it unnerving as Loq’rim turned to study him with his socketless eyes.
“I have a mission for you, that requires your special touch.”
“Right, who do you want removed?”
“Damn you Loq’rim I didn’t say that.”
“There is very little that you need for me to do, other than the long range killing your weak soldiers can’t seem to master.” he replied.
“I need you to meet with, damnit where is that order” he said searching through the papers on his desk.
“Left side, second from the bottom, and I like the odds. I see some pencil pushing idiot is still trying to get rid of me and my boys. Tell him to be grateful we are on your side, for now as long as the money stays flowing. Maybe we should hunt a few of them instead” he said grinning.
“So you want to stay here for the rest of your life, never see home again?”
“It is warmer here, just need a mate and some little ones, and it would be a great place to vacation in, maybe even settle down.”
“Your orders are simple. Meet with Sor’teer, asses the situation, decide how to proceed with negotiations. The ‘pencil-pusher’ wants it done quietly, quickly and efficiently. They have been interfering with trade, demanding a larger cut, looking to branch out farther. He feels they need the personal touch to get things back in order.”
“The usual restraints, not that it matters?” Loq’rim asked.
“Yeah, but it needs to be done within 72 of our hours, and they are 350 leagues from here. Transport is going to be a problem, we have very little that you can use. Seems they don’t come back when you take them out. What do you do, eat them” he asked half jokingly.
“Bingo, and I use everything to repair my gear” he said smiling evilly.
Shuddering the officer waved dismissal and returned to his papers. Loq’rim stood for a few seconds before turning “When am I going home?” he asked. “I am 95 days overdue, contract stipulated my return date. If I do this I expect transport to be arranged with seven of my days, upon my return. Or …”
“Or what? You think you can threaten the federation that controls this planet, this universe? Don’t push your luck or I just may turn you over to that young Lieutenant, I know he would like a crack at you.”
“You are playing a very dangerous game, one that could rear it’s ugly head and bite you in the ass. Contract is binding, honour it or face the consequences.” Loq’rim said as he slammed the door, almost taking it off its hinges.
Angrily he strode across the compound, scattering the regulars like chicken feed, stopping long enough to remove someone or something from his path with a violent jerk. Slipping through the entrance to their barracks he stretched before saying, to no one in particular “looks like the contract is being ignored again. Prepare yourselves for the excuses. I am going to grab some sleep, someone make sure I am awake by midnight. And make sure the guard is doubled on the door, none of their kind is to be allowed in here.”
He moved into his alcove, in the back where it was the darkest. Eased off his weapons and oiling them carefully before easing them into the rack. Gracefully he rolled into his hammock and was snoring before the snow off his back had settled on the ground below.
Midnight found him already awake, his kit packed and ready. The sleep had done him good, revitalizing him, replenishing his psyche preparing him for what lay ahead. A younger member of his clan approached him, kneeling in respect he presented a mug of chai, long cooled, just the way he liked it.
“Thankyou Tel’ron.” he said acknowledging their newest member. “We have not had much time to talk, since you arrived. When I return we will remedy that. Is there any pressing word from our homeland?”
“Nothing that can’t wait Loq’rim.” he replied with respect.
Loq’rim’s reputation on their homeworld was legendary. Anyone lucky enough to join his group enjoyed the privileges afforded them before they left. Many did not realise, until it was too late, that they would never return. They were joining a group that while steeped in legend and battle honours were too highly prized to be allowed the simple joy of returning to their loved ones. Those that knew just didn’t care, for whatever reason.
“Where is Zor’tin? I need speak with him before I leave.”
“He has not returned from his last mission Loq’rim and is now 2 days overdue.”
“ Send out a search team. Return his body, be it dead or be it alive, but return it they must.”
A flurry activity was heard as the search team quickly assembled, gear already prepared. They quietly slipped through an earthen entrance that their employers were unaware of, resurfacing well beyond the boundaries of the fort. They slipped from evergreen to evergreen and quickly disappeared into the dark to fulfill their mission.
“Bar’jin, join me.”
There was a slight movement in the shadows, before Bar’jin settled in besides Loq’rim. Loq’rims people were aware of their employers ability to listen in on their conversations, but had adapted very quickly to the threat. What their employers were not aware of was their ability to speak with their minds while carrying on an animated and useless verbal conversation.
“It is time, these weak impotent malingering people are not going to honour our contract. We must find out if they have at least been paying us. If you are satisfied we have received payment as agreed then move our people from this wretched stink hole to our new mountain home. Do it quietly, take whatever you feel we will need, and send word to our homeworld and me. I will meet you at the new camp. Make sure you leave them our surprise package set to go off just before their change of guard at the fourth hour of the day. Make it look like the camp is being attacked.”
” Loq’rim I will do as you command. Be safe my brother. Until we meet again.”
Bar’jin moved quietly away from the dead hearth as Loq’rim rose and gathered his supplies and weapons. Moving to the door, he paused and looked back, knowing that this would be the last time he would see this home away from home. Pushing the cover aside he slipped into the darkness, across the compound and into the dark moonless night. The fort quickly disappeared in the darkness as he checked the stars before pushing off to complete his mission. ”Maybe I can turn this into a profitable mission an d really mess with their heads. It would serve them right, especially if their profit margin suddenly dropped.” he thought smiling to himself.
Softly he whistled, waiting for the soft pad of feet as several great wolves slipped in behind him. Reaching out he gently scratched the ears of the alpha female, who growled her appreciation, as they settled into a steady pace.