Hvs.tCF 102:2

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Turn Number:90
Side's Turn:Charlescomm

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Furious and terrified, certain that they would only need a moment to spot her veil, she had obeyed her Overlord. Only once in ten thousand times should three high-level Archons all fail to make a veil spot under these conditions, by Lilith's estimate. But they had walked right past her, looking in other directions, muttering nervous jokes.

In retrospect, they were probably faking it, hoping to draw her fire and take Gobwin Knob's cities by force of contract. And if so, they knew exactly where she was "hiding" right now.

"So you were actually touching him? Did you engage him?" asked Chief Gotti. "Can you get to him now?"

Lilith swallowed. "I had a shot at him," she found herself sending. "I was prevented from taking it. I don't think I can get to him now, but I could try."

"Prevented by what?"

You never know where your Loyalty lies until it is tested. They'd told her at Charlescomm that even Archons could turn, even though that was the worst thing you could ever do. A unit might swear to the Titans to feel nothing but love for her Ruler and side, but when faced with a true test, she might just say something to surprise herself. Something treacherous.

For example, she might say:

"By Mistress Wanda's order."

The Chief's surprise this time was tempered by a cold anger. Something in him wasn't actually shocked at this at all. A pit of guilt formed in Lilith's stomach.

"All right," he said after a moment. "Well, I had a plan. I think I need to amend it. One moment," he said, and his distraction at something was evident. "Stay on the call," he added.

Lilith waited. She could hear voices, but nothing too close. Currents of cool air brought the scents of grease and iron to her nose. The Chief Warlord muttered some words, but they were not intended for the thinkagram, so they didn't come across.

"The plan was," Chief Gotti sent clearly, after a few moments, "to get them to hurt you. As cold as that sounds, it's our best bet for getting out of this mess. If they do you any material harm, then we'll get half the Charlescomm treasury, which should be capped at five million. So whatever you do, don't suicide." This came as an order.

Without hesitation, Lilith sent a grateful affirmative. Holy Titans, she had a way to redeem herself! Just as those three Archons had passed her by, trying to trade their lives for a city, she had to find a way to draw their fire. She could trade her own life now, to make amends for her mistake.

"Hang on, though. Here's the amendment," said the Chief. "I need those guns. The bracer thinks you've got no chance of getting to Charlie, but a surprisingly good shot at getting to their portal room. You think you could throw some guns through the portal?"

Lilith frowned. The portal room was on 40. She'd never been there and she didn't know how it even connected. But it was supposed to be the highest security spot in the city, since it was the only place that ever hosted non-Charlescomm units.

"I can certainly try, Chief," she sent "Would you have a way to retrieve them?"

Chief Gotti seemed to be distracted again. "Yeah, we've got a force in the Magic Kingdom. What, Wanda?"

Lilith focused intently on the call, but her Chief Warlord was talking to Mistress Wanda now. Oh, Mistress, I am so sorry…

The Chief turned his attention back to the call. "Not just the guns," he sent. "We want the bodies, too."