Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day Five-Fifty-Seven: Bladed Bureaucracy

Shit. So much for the fast way. We have to wait.

There's a lot of space between Imperium checkpoints, so we spent almost all of yesterday travelling alongside a canyon, hoping we'd get to a southern checkpoint quickly. And we did… only to find a loooot of troops already waiting for us. 

The moment we appeared, what looked like an entire garrison of soldiers on the other side of the canyon took up arms, both in and surrounding a compact, sleek-looking fortress, its towers decorated with the Imperium's blue banners. They were waiting for us, cannons poised, as we stopped the Dauphine some six hundred feet from the checkpoint. We didn't want to get close, lest the soldiers open fire. I think that was a wise move.


We waited.

And so did they.

For… a fairly long time. 

The tensness of the situation, oh, man. So tense. You could cut the tension in the air with Grylock's poisonheart. (If only that would also poison the tension, and make it go away, and get us across the border. Alas.)

At length, we opened up the front of the Dauphine. I went and sat on the ramp, unarmed and alone. At greater length, three men on horses galloped out to meet me: one human, two orcs.

"Howdy, gents." I waved them over. "Sorry for freakin' you out. We just -"

"Identify yourself," barked the orc in the middle. He had the bearing and the armour of an officer. "If you be enemy we will show you no quarter."

I held my hands up. "No enemies here. We want to pass through, is all. Peaceful-like."

The orc glared up at the massive nose of the Dauphine. "Mmm. Peaceful. I see gun ports. You aren't convincing, little man. Documentation?"

I scratched my head. "Documentation? Whaddya mean?"

He sighed wearily. "I thought as much. Visitors to the Imperium must now provide proper documentation. Each person on your… transport… requires a passport. The transport itself must be inspected by a team of weapons experts to see that it poses no threat, and any weapons onboard must be impounded by Imperium authorities until such a time as you leave our lands. All equipment and belongings on board must similarly be inspected -"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa." I gently stopped him from continuing, hands still up, voice light. "Back up. That's a big list. How long's all that likely to take, you think?"

The orc smirked. "From the looks of this clunker, somewhere between three and six months."

"Months!" I might have stood up, indignant, but I was wary of the three armoured men in front of me. "Months? That's crazy! Sure, I've heard your hoighty Imperium is hard to enter, but months? Too long. Way too long. We've got things to do!"

"Oh? Like what?" The orc's jaw went tight. The two guards at his side loomed forward menacingly. 

I slid back a foot on the ramp. "Like… get to a desert. Waaaay in the west."

"The wastes? For what purpose?"

"Why should I tell you? Y'aren't bein' too nice."

"If you want across the border, you need to state your intentions. Truthfully." The orc rested his hand on the sword at his hip. "Until you do that, your application for entry will not move forward at all. Trust me on that."

I sighed. "Fine. We're lookin' for a guy. Hermit. Name's Iko. Know him?"

"Know a hermit? In the desert? Why would I?"

"I dunno. Worth asking. You guys know him?"

"Don't speak to them."

"Well, that's unneighbourly."

"Be quiet." The orc pulled back to speak with his two comrades for a few minutes. Then, grunting, he came back to me. "I will speak to my superiors. Do not move your vehicle anywhere near our checkpoint or you will be attacked. Is that clear?"

"As the window on my cabin. Which, I guess, could use a cleanin'. Just don't take too -"

And off he went. I considered telling him about the possible horde of Non on our trail, but, nah. Guy's a jackass.

I closed the ramp and found Libby waiting for me inside, one eyebrow raised.

I shrugged. "Yeah, we're gonna ram through the assholes. Fun times."


Dragomir the Wanderer

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