Chapter 9

Vespus Creed didn't know what had hit him when he felt a blade under his throat as he lay on his bunk. Someone had managed to enter a guarded barracks building, into the sleeping quarters and was now standing behind his bunk with a sword to his throat! He glanced at his own weapon at the foot of his bed on his wooden chest before grimacing to himself and slowly outstretching his arms in submission.

“Give me one reason why I shouldn't slit your throat and let the rest of the arseholes believe it to be the work of your treacherous shit-bags here in the Military?” Kore said savagely.

“You'd never get out of this room in one piece for a start.” Creed tried to control his thudding heartbeat. The gladiator girl?

“Wrong answer.” Kore pressed her blade closer into the Captain's flesh.

“Wait!” Creed gasped. “You said once before that you appreciated my honesty, give me the chance for that appreciation again.” He closed his eyes and waited for the sting of metal slicing into his throat. The soldier almost sobbed in relief when he felt the pressure of the sword easing off his flesh slightly. “My reason for you not slicing my throat is that I wouldn't know why you were doing so and I think I deserve at least that.” Creed waited for the pressure to be re-applied.

“Horse-shit!” Kore rasped. “My brother?”

“Is no longer under investigation.” Creed answered promptly.

“Decided that rather swiftly didn't you? Judge, jury, executioner? You bastard!” Kore pulled Creed's head back by the hair.

“Wait!” Creed yelped in terror. “He's not under investigation and he never was! There isn't one single written document anywhere to say that any research was done on your brother, I swear it.”

“You lie! I kept up my end Creed and you saw me at that banquet to prove it!” Kore snarled.

“I know you did! Shit, you beat up a Captain just to prove it too! I know you kept up your end and so did I! Your brother is not under investigation!” Creed said in sheer panic. She was insane, armed, and he was going to die.

“So why is he sitting in your jail-house right at this very minute?” Kore managed to draw blood with the tip of her sword.

“What?!” Creed actually tried to turn round in sheer astonishment, cutting himself deeper. Kore noticed. Kore noticed every reaction to everything by everybody. “Kore I have no idea what you're talking about! The first and last time I saw your brother was at his home in Blue Lane. Shit I can't even remember his bloody name now!” Creed was completely taken aback at this news, so much so that he forgot he was at sword-point, unarmed, and lying down. “No bugger tells me anything in this shit-hole!” He wafted his arms around and sighed heavily. “Why was he arrested?” Creed raised his eyes and realised that the sword was away from his exposed neck. “Thank you.”

“How in shit's name should I know?” Kore snapped. “I don't trust you Creed.” She kept the blade levelled at the soldier while she edged round the bunk to retrieve his weapon. “Even though you're a blundering oaf. I sleep with my sword.”

“You do? Look, never mind that! I had no part whatsoever in your brother's apprehension. If I had, I'd be down at the jail right now with my prisoner, not oafing around in the barracks! The only way I could be part of an arrest is if I had authorisation, I'm a Captain, not a General, and if you look on that paper on that chest you'll see that my immediate General is currently in Quarter One supervising security measures for a forthcoming Ambassadorial visit. Go on, check it. There's no one to give me such an order except a governmental Administrator. As you can see, I did see one of those earlier but you can also see the crappy orders he gave me. Nothing to do with arrests, in fact I'm not even detailed to be here.”

“Block hinges?” Kore said in surprise.

“Yes I know. I think he's got that wrong, fool.” Creed muttered. “Now do you believe me?”

“Not in the slightest.” Kore replied. “So who did arrest him and who authorised it and why in black hell did they arrest him? If any of those answers even hints at the word 'dissident' then I promise you, I will end you.” Creed didn't doubt it for one second.

“I have no idea why he was arrested, I knew nothing of it until now. As for your other questions, well I don't know that either and I refuse to indulge in speculation and premature conclusions, as you just did.” Creed wiped the blood from his neck. “Finding out who actually carried out the arrest would not be productive anyway.”

“You think not?” Kore fumed and raised her sword an inch more.

“I know not, and for that very reason.” Creed nodded at the sword. “You butchering official Military soldiers isn't going to exactly help is it? The only thing that will achieve is both twins sitting in the jail-house.” He said patiently. His calm words and manner belied his feelings completely. His stomach was a knot of emotions and none of them were pleasant. Creed felt shock at the arrest of such a placid and model citizen and immediately saw it as some sort of strategy move involving his not so placid twin, he'd used the exact same reasoning, himself. On this scale, however, it made his blood boil. This couldn't possibly be an official, parliament endorsed, action, otherwise the whole Military would have been notified. Creed felt panic and fright for obvious reasons, he's just narrowly escaped being sliced to death. Creed felt insulted too, his honour had been brought into doubt. If Creed gave his word then he stuck with it, but Kore the gladiator had been given reason to think he'd broken his promise. Creed felt unbelievably angry that something was going on here and that weasel Pape was among it, alongside his second skin, Marx. It had never ceased to amaze Creed how Marx ever got as far as Captain, let alone General. The man was as crooked as a dog's leg and sickeningly bigoted, attributes he shared with his pet kiss-arse, Pape, who he'd raised to the rank of Captain himself because no one else would.

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