Touchdown. The Gulfstream's landing gear screeches on the tarmac as it arrives on solid ground. The Carrier looks up from his Thinkpad and out the plane's window to see a beautiful sunny day.
The warm sun glistens off other planes already moving about the small airport outside. As his plane taxis off the main runway and towards the hangars nearby, he catches a glimpse of his ride.
Two dark SUVs, both with men loading gear into them and looking to his plane as he passes. One man in particular he notices.
His old friend...
The Carrier grips his metallic briefcase tightly as he exits the plane.
The case's contents have come a long way to end up in his hands. Its importance could not be understated. It is a great responsibility and honor to transport such valuable cargo for the Alliance, the organization he serves.
The organization he owes so much too.
"Glad to see you've got my back today." The Carrier shakes Walker's hand as the two old friends meet on the tarmac.
"Piece of cake, sir." Walker smirks as he escorts The Carrier towards a group of dark SUVs. He holds a small communication device, tucked in his jacket cuff, up to his mouth.
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The two converse as they make their way around a set of hangars to meet other members of the convoy. Walker lets The Carrier into the back of one of the dark SUV's.
He turns to a fellow escort.
The escort pats Walker on the shoulder.
"You got it, Wally."
Walker cuts him a look of mild annoyance.
"What's our ETA to the Conclave?" The Carrier asks as Walker gets into the SUV next to him.
"Should take no more than 45 minutes, sir. We've got a secondary route picked out that avoids traffic and gives you a nice ride through the countryside."
"Ha. That's why you're the best escort Alliance has to offer, Walker." The Carrier pauses. "Good to see you, old friend."
“Last stop. Westminster Station.”
The train hisses and squeaks as it slows to a stop. The passenger doors open to reveal The Traveler standing ready to exit.
He steps onto the platform and surveys his surroundings before moving with haste.
It has been 72 hours since the mountains. The crash. The markers. His journey has been a strange one, but a necessary one.
If he is to join The Alliance.
His handler was very clear with instructions.
- Move from waypoint to waypoint until arriving at his final destination for pickup.
- Use the provided SIM cards to communicate his position within the route.
- Avoid detection and apprehension.
- Protect his cargo at all costs.
"WAYPOINT 2. GREEN. MOVING."
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Every camera, every stranger, and every passing vehicle is suspect to him. It’s as if a massive game of hide and seek is under way, and he is the target. He can’t help but feel watched.
A fire crackles in the corner of Dixon’s office.
He sits at his desk reading a text on his phone while sipping on a glass of scotch.
The office door cracks open to reveal a slender figure standing in the light.
“Sir, a Mr. Rhodes is here, unannounced, to see you.”
Dixon slides his phone back into his jacket pocket and looks up to the door.
“Let him in.”
Mason Rhodes slides into the room with confidence. He carries with him a briefcase. A large bloody hand print smeared across the front of it. The case looks beaten up. Dirty. It’s seen action.
“I figured you’d see me.” Mason announces as he plops down rather childishly in the chair opposite of Dixon’s desk.
Dixon takes a slow sip from his scotch.
“Given today’s events.” Mason glares at Dixon, trying to show strength and power.
Dixon isn’t buying it.
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Mason opens the case with a clumsy fumble as Dixon takes another sip of his scotch, quietly observing Mason‘s excitement and nervousness.
"I've waited three years for this!" Mason proclaims.
Dixon sits, unphased.
"Three years I've watched you pompus Chapter figures sit around at your Concord. Moving peices on a chessboard like gods. With all your trading, voting, controlling. All your 'Alliance Rules'."
Mason's emmotions begin to get the better of him. His voice climbing in volume as he speaks. He rushes his point, eager to make his move and surprise the power figure sitting across from him.
“Well, I control the Karns assets now!”
Mason hisses as he pulls a smaller electronic protective case from the briefcase.
"I just took my seat at the table, Dixon!"
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He punches a sequence of numbers into the case, opens it, and slides it across the table to reveal its contents to Dixon.
Three triangular, metallic, Markers lay nestled inside the protective case. They glisten with orange light emitted by the fire that crackles in the distance.
The three Markers are all of the same shape, but all forged out of different metals.
One silver in tone.
Another matte black.
Another brass like.
Dixon glances to the markers then cuts his eyes up at Mason in a piercing fury, yet his tone and demeanor do not change.
Mason sits proud, smirking. As if he's just beaten the master at his own game.
“Mason.” Dixon speaks with calmness, his face barely moving as he speaks.
“What did you do?”
One of the convoy drivers yells as incoming fire riddles the rear vehicle of the convoy.
The trap has been sprung.
A rather ingenious ambush renders the convoy immobile.
Walker does his best to organize an offensive while keeping The Carrier and his cargo secure.
Alas, the attack is well planned. The convoy never really had any chance.
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A mysterious figure vigorously scours through the wreckage of the convoy until arriving at The Carrier’s case, still in The Carrier’s possession. A true protector to the end.
The figure takes the case with excitement and clicks in the combination to reveal its contents.
Inside are various files pertaining to Alliance, the Karns Chapter, Concord and a single smaller electronic protective case.
The figure removes the smaller case and examines it.
This case change everything.
Alliance rules state that ‘any holder of a Chapters' Markers will thus be recognized as the governor of said chapter by the sitting members of Concord.’
Mason smiles while holding the case.
The Karns Chapter, whom he had briefly served before serving Dixon's Chapter, is now his.
He has taken his seat.
The Traveler approaches his final waypoint.
His journey is nearly over. From the mountains to the city, from planes, to trains and presumably automobiles come next. He has worked hard to earn this opportunity to join The Alliance.
His mission, moments from success.
His sponsor will most certainly be pleased. While he doesn’t quite understand the events that have unfolded, he is eager to see the bigger picture and learn of the role he has played.
He slips into a dark corner of the parking garage and removes the final SIM card to send his last message.
“Waypoint 4. Green. Waiting for pickup.”
He takes one last sip of his coffee and surveys the garage for a sign of what the next move may be.
Is he to pick up a car? Is someone coming to get him?
He checks his text again. The message shows “Read“. The only connection he has had with his sponsor over the last 72 hours, is that simple little word. “Read“.
He assumed his sponsor was, in fact, the one that was reading his messages but he couldn’t be sure. So many questions, and he was very close to getting answers.
A dark SUV rolls around the corner and slows as it approaches him.
This is it, he thought. Finally a face-to-face meeting.
The dark SUV rolls to a stop in front of The Traveler. The window rolls down to reveal The Driver.
“Dangerous to go alone.“ The driver utters in a low voice.
The Traveler thought for a moment on the corresponding passphrase. He was told to remember it and to use it should he be challenged.
“Never alone when strangers are near.” He replies.
The driver responds immediately. “Get in.”
The Traveler opens the door and tosses his bag onto the floorboard as he gets into the passenger seat. He moves to click his seatbelt but catches a glimpse of light reflecting off a dark object in the drivers left hand.
Before he can get a good look at the object a single sound erupts in the car.
A soft 'POP'.
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The Driver leans over and pushes The Traveler out of the passenger side door.
He slides his suppressed pistol back into his coat pocket and begins to search through The Traveler’s backpack.
He digs around amongst candy bars and a change of clothes, finally coming to a small canvas sack. As he removes the sack the contents jingle like metal shards clinking about inside.
The driver opens the canvas sack to reveal three metallic markers.
One brass in color.
One matte black in color.
One silver in color.
Dixon glares at Mason, who sits with a smug grin on his face.
“I’ve done what no other has done, Dixon. While, I admit, I may have broken a rule or two, those same rules bind me to what is now rightfully mine.”
Dixon takes another sip of his scotch.
“All the remaining Karns that could run the Chapter died in that plane crash.” Mason explains.
“Their loyal dog recovered the Markers and was bringing them to Concord, for what? To be voted in as the Governor Apparent of the Chapter?”
He balks “No.”
“You asked what I did? I took the initiative.”
Dixon has heard enough.
In one fluid motion he flicks his glass, splashing scotch onto the Markers. Mason jumps in his seat, startled.
The Markers begin to dissolve instantly. Fizzing and bubbling as they turn from solid to liquid.
Dixon smiles as he witnesses Mason facial expression change from confidence to horror. Watching his hope vanish away in the blink of an eye.
As the Markers fizzle into nothing, Dixon removes a small canvas sack from his coat pocket. He opens it and slides the REAL Markers across the table in front of him.
“You see, Mason. I had to give Alliance a villain in this story.” Dixon speaks calmly as he stands up from the desk.
Mason is in complete disbelief. He’s been played. Again.
“You are right, you see. We do move pieces on a chessboard.”
Dixon walks to his collection of Scotch as he continues to speak.
“And I have just played your last move.”
A dark figures enters the room behind Mason, a suppressed pistol in hand.
“Alliance will be very grateful for what I have done, bringing them the traitor responsible for the loss of the Karns assets.”
Mason replays the events of the last 72 hours over in his head. He turns to plead with Dixon.
“DIXON, you can’t….”
The dark figure moves closer to Mason.
Dixon raises his finger to interject.
“Alliance isn’t something you just request membership to Mason. Nor is it something you simply take.”
Dixon pours a new glass of Scotch.
The dark figure raises his arm behind Mason.
As Dixon sips on his new glass, a sound pierces the room.
A soft ‘POP’.
The Karns : 2020.11.27
The Stealth : 2020.12.01