Marx and Pape left the office and headed to their barracks.

“You handled that pretty well.” Pape said truthfully. “Thanks for being concerned about my injuries.”

“Huh? Oh get a grip Pape.” Marx snorted. “I've had bigger cuts on my arse off the wooden middens in here.” He loosened his buckled tunic and sat on Pape's bunk, his own bunk being in an adjoining room befitting a General. “We arrest that twin and the other one's bound to go crazy. She'll get herself arrested in no time at all then the both of them are out of here and headed for the gem mines on Killian. I can't believe they survived all these years in the Pit! Damn you Cooper, you arsehole.”

“Maybe a crazy twin can be handled but what if she gets the others there onside too? As you said, they're a mob.” Pape pointed out. “I realise it's a good opportunity to flush the shits out but is it the right way? Those twins are only two of them.”

“Two of them who we should have cut and buried ten years ago. How many ranks have you lost due to that crap? I know I lost far too many whilst pissing about on urban patrol for three years. To add insult to injury, who gets ranked at every stage before me? Ben bloody Astrella! The very shit-bag who smuggled them into Azoria to begin with.” Marx said angrily. “Are you stupid altogether Pape? You got it even worse than I did because you actually a blade to the little bastard.”

“I should have made General last year, at least.” Pape agreed.

“And Astrella shouldn't be in for Divisional General for the full Military.” This position had never been filled since Faust Cooper had retired and this was purely because no one had ever had the skills, experience and knowledge that Faust had. No one except who he chose to impart this knowledge to, at least, and that was a class of only one individual. Ben Astrella.

“There's still the risk of a revolt though.” Pape reminded the General. “Bonetti won't want that.”

“Bonetti won't mind in the slightest, Pape.” Marx explained. “He isn't the Governor and he's waiting in the wings to rectify Toller's catastrophes, as are we. We get the positions we deserve and so do the rest of the decent people here. Positions that are being filled by bloody gladiators who decide they want a cushy life they don't damned well deserve. The Azorian Military is obliged and bound to protect the people of Azoria and if a gladiator revolt doesn't constitute as need for protection then I'll be buggered if I know what does.” Marx exhaled loudly. “They'll be flattened, Pape, deemed criminals once more. A name that should never have been taken off them in the first place.”

“Why now?” Pape was rather surprised at his General's sudden passion regarding this. He was well aware of Marx's opinions and views about the gladiators, he shared those opinions completely but this sudden urgency was a bit overwhelming for the Captain.

“That bitch last night was the last straw for me.” Marx spat. “Floating around giving herself airs and graces, even to the extent of getting that gold-digging tart Ursus Toller on her side. They're in the governmental strata Pape, don't you see? Do you want Athulan bastards running Azoria?”

“Well, no.” Pape actually moved a few steps away from his General. He was starting to make him a bit edgy and Pape thought this a bit maniacal even for Marx. “Don't you think you're a bit ... stressed out? I don't think the name Athula would ever resurface again. Even if there were any kicking around they wouldn't use the name would they?”

“For shit's sake! You have missed the damned point!” Marx yelled. “Athulan, Athulan sympathiser, Anti-DeGaise, anti-Azorian! Yes? They caused a war the last time and they'll do it again with their underhanded greed.” Pape actually wondered which history books and which account of which war his General had been reading. “We need this started Pape, we need that librarian arrested and we need it done before the shit in our own ranks stops it. Cooper and Astrella showed their colours ten years ago. Cooper isn't an issue now, he's old and past his time. Astrella needs kept out of this, it doesn't concern him at all, how can it? He's Tibraen for a start.”

“Louis, as a friend of twelve years, I ask you to seriously think this through.” Pape said warily. “I'm not saying that this doesn't need to happen but I believe it'll happen in it's own time and by a different method than an all out revolt caused by the arrest of a suspected dissident. If he'd tried to assassinate the Governor or attempted to blow up the Military building then it'd ...” Pape actually flinched when Marx jumped to his feet.

“Good point.”

“Er ... thank you. Yes, I think so too.” Pape nodded. “I'm not trivialising dissident behaviour but something less ambiguous would ...”

“Shush Pape, I'm thinking.” Marx scowled at the floor and Pape shushed. “Something that won't make a martyr out of that twin.” Marx mused. “Something that's not severe enough for his gladiator sister and her rebels to be completely revolted by, otherwise they'll disown him, but ... hmm ...”

“A 'serve you right' type thing?” Pape offered and Marx's face broke out into a wide grin.

“And when we're running the entire Azorian Military, and therefore Azoria, it'll serve the damned lot of them right. We have work to do Pape and our first stop is Toller's Villa.”


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