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Chapter 70


Where Andrei plans an ennemy's downfall and decides to put his 'chubby disciple' to the test.


This chapter is dedicated to RB! Thank you for your continuous support!


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Episode 70. 63 kg (4)


The sudden high-pitched squeal that came out of Andrei's mouth caught Curtison off guard.


Assuming that his Master was having one of his mood swings that occurred when he found something that piqued his interest, Curtison replied calmly. 


"Yes, It appears that they have established a base there as well, though it is smaller than those of Ollarisa and Paktan."


Rising from his chair, Andrei started pacing in the room.


Since it was his habit when he was planning something, his aide waited patiently.


"Scorpion. The only reason Orlando can make such a bold move is because he has strong backers..."


"......."


"Yes, that's right. This is going to be entertaining, but how do we do it?"


After twenty minutes or so, just as Curtison was starting to fidget on his toes, Andrei Pitt turned around, smiling, his eyes shining frighteningly.


His hair was slicked back today leaving his face eerily exposed, and it made Curtison slightly lower his gaze. 


"Looks like our disciple is going to have to help us out a little bit this time since she happens to be there, hehehe."


"Durben is too far from Skandoa, and Scorpion is a small organization, so it's hard to assume that the information is leaking from there."


"Well, that doesn't exonerate them. And while the odds of the leak coming from Durben are slim by any objective measure, it does have a military presence and classified military information is accessible to the high-ranking officers, regardless of their location, so we need to look into that as well."


"Are you planning to lure out the backers?"

"Yes. I need to know who Orlando trusted to make this bold move." Andrei replied offhandedly as if he'd only remembered.


"The ones that quit half-way through always try to take the easy way out."


Curtison understood that Andrei was referring to the disciples who had run away after he took them in, unable to bear the training.


Only about ten students had left, and among those, only three had used their knowledge for criminal activities instead of continuing in the spirit of the Black Society.


So, he knew it was unusual for Andrei Pitt, who hadn't taken an apprentice in years, to take on a young female aristocrat as one.


"What was the issue?" Curtison? wondered. "Was it because he thought it was amusing?"


Andrei was deep in thought and had put aside the matter at hand to consider quite seriously how he had trained his disciples.


"Sheesh. Is it my judgment or the fact that my apprentices learned a little too much?"


Curtison wiped a bead of sweat from his brow before giving the expected answer.


"Of course, it's the fact that they became arrogant after gaining a little knowledge that is the issue."


"Yes, I'm sure I'm not mistaken. They were all pretty good at first, but as it is the nature of humankind, they lost their initial commitment when they saw immediate gain."


Again, the given answer was obvious.


"Then will young Lady Elias...?"


Andrei looked back at Curtison with a puzzled expression and explained why he had taken Tara under his wing.


"My chubby apprentice is already knowledgeable, she just wants to learn things from me that will help her, things she doesn't know or think about yet. I thought that it was unique and fun."


Andrei let out a raspy sigh and stopped explaining as he realized what he was thinking.


"Ha! Now that I think about it, that's kind of mean of her. Maybe she's just trying to use me. I'm not sure if she wants my help or to learn from me. Hmmm. Curtison."


"Yes, sir."


"From now on, the Black Society will be assigning all of its new faces to the Scorpion case, with the exception of first and second-level intelligence. Our new apprentice is also unknown to Scorpion, so she's perfect for this. And it's safe."


"I want a first-class Black Society squad near each base, so they 're ready for immediate deployment.  Keep our movements hidden until then. I want you to be careful with Orlando. He uses drugs. If he knows we're making a move, he'll run away. I'm going to show that filthy traitor how it's done. Kekeke."  


"Hmm. So, should we concentrate on Scorpion headquarters in the Capital and catch Orlando?"


"Well, well, Curtison. Arresting him without proof? The military can handle that. We don't need to break the law. Just make sure he doesn't get away."


"Yes, Sir. What are you aiming for with this operation?"


"A ledger. A Top-Secret Imperial Military ledger. We can't destroy Scorpion and know who their backer is if we don't have it. So, we need to find it." 


"The Second Prince must have made a move as well..."


"Given his personality, I doubt he's given us all the information, so we need to move quickly. He's operating from the border region of Skandoa, and we're operating from the Capital, so the sooner we move, the better chance we have of getting to it first."


"What if it falls into the Second Prince’s hands first?"


"... The leaks are bad. We can find out more details before then. We'll have to rely on our Palace teams, and it will take them quite some time before they manage to acquire more pieces of information. So, we need to act quickly." 


“Yes, Sir.”


"Scorpion Headquarters shouldn't be aware of our involvement yet. The Second Prince has only spoken to us, so they don't know they've been caught selling classified documents to Skandoa. The borders are already closed, but we need to remain focused. That bastard leader, Orlando, is also a poison master, so we need to keep him busy."


"How are we to do that?"


"I'd like you to turn a couple of the big assignments that came our way over to Scorpion HQ. Give them a very generous retainer, and since the next few weeks will be hectic for them, it should lessen the risk." 


"Oh, yes, sir."


"I'll write a letter, send it through our fastest men. I need to get it first. Oh, and..."


Andrei stopped talking and went to the chest of drawers lining the wall.


All the drawers had keyholes, suggesting each held something valuable.


Opening one of them, Andrei handed Curtison several small pouches.


"Dilute this and give it to everyone involved in this operation. Just don't give it to Tara, my new disciple."


"What? Why am I not supposed to give it to her?"


"Let's see if she can think of her feet. Don't give it unless she asks for it first."


"How can she ask for something that the chief has prepared if she doesn't know about it?"


"If I'm right... If my eyes haven't failed me, she will ask for it first."


No matter how much he thought about it, Curtison felt that his boss was expecting too much from his apprentice.


"No, that's not it... Come to think of it. I've given her everything she's asked for without much in return. I'm strangely weak to this disciple. Why is that?"


Andrei, whose thoughts had strayed from the serious to the frivolous, voiced his thoughts aloud.


Looking at him, Curtison shook his head.


‘Why doesn't he realize?'


"Well, Sir, you did give enough reasons as to why you favor her by now."


"I did?"


"Yes."


"Like what?"


"Hmm. First you said that apprentice Tara was the most entertaining disciple you've ever had under you."


"She is."


"You thought she was trying hard with her chubby body and said it was fun to watch the gears in her head turning."


"I said that too."


"You also said it was peculiar that she was moving and thinking on her own, trying to make a profit in return for her efforts, where she could just easily have enjoyed the privileges of her class, playing and eating all day." 


"Yes. I said that as well."


"If there is nothing else you wish for me to do, I'll go deliver your orders."


"Yes, go. I know I’m right. Hmm, I do have a keen eye."


As if he was afraid to lose his conviction if he didn't say it, Andrei muttered. "I have a keen eye; it is the others who are blind." 


Curtison, who knew - though the Chief would never admit it - that the seemingly rational Andrei was actually more emotional than any of them, lowered his pitiful gaze.


‘Well, when a man suffers the same betrayal three times in a row, he begins to doubt things he was sure of at first, tsk, tsk tsk....'


Curtison nodded and went out to give his orders.


***


October 1.


Today was the day I would interrogate the parties reported by Paul Simpson. Beforehand I wrote a summary of the reports' contents.


I was the sole Imperial Administrator here in Durben, and the only one authorized to investigate such reports. With that power came responsibilities.


All the more reason to report it to the higher-ups so there wouldn't be any surprises. I wasn’t the kind of person to be held back by trivialities.


Following the report, I first travelled to the outskirts of the Triangle, where the Joint-Security  Unit was located, in a carriage provided by the government, accompanied by Bernard on horseback.


The day was cold but clear, with no wind at all.


"What is the procedure?"


"Well, since the report has come in, I'll do a quick interview first, then I'll send the report to the higher-ups, and they'll decide what to do next. After that, they will tell me what to do and I'll get extra points on my performance record, easy right?"


"How many extra points do you need to be allowed to transfer back to the Capital?"


"... It’s said that if you get 300 points or more on your record, you’ll be transferred wherever you want..."


"Has anyone achieved that so far?"


"From what I know... none."


I tried to keep my voice from dropping, knowing that a lack of precedent was no guarantee that I couldn’t make it.


"Still, I've got almost 250 bonus points right now, and I'll be one step closer to 300 once I've given this report. Well, it would be better if I could have made a bigger contribution to the Empire, but that isn't the case here. Oh, but I have a good feeling about it."


"... A good feeling, right."


I almost got angry, but today was a good day, so I generously decided to give Bernard a pass.


"Oh, come on. It wouldn't be a fair Military if they didn't let me transfer after all this hard work, would it? Don't you think we are nearing the day we'll return to the Capital?"


Bernard didn't answer, just shrugged his shoulders.


The gesture, which was neither affirmation or denial, would normally have set me off, but I took another deep breath and admired the scenery instead.


I had been feeling lucky since this morning.



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2 Comments


ProMama
ProMama
Feb 18

I just love how much the novel dips inside various heads to give us such a big picture, yet also so many fun details~

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Replying to

Yes, it's all those little tidbits that livens the story even more and make you love the characters.

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