Swamped Chapter 134 Page 10

“Well, I can tell you this,” Long says after a moment. “Burgundy didn’t write this. He’s a military man through and through, and this is full of improperly used military terms. For instance, asking for a ‘platoon’ of twenty? He’d never use that term to refer to a bunch of civilians. Must be some sort of trick to get you to divert your forces.”

“Hold on,” you interject. “It’s a pretty dumb trick, don’t you think? Send a message and say it’s from someone you don’t even know? If you’re going to fake who it’s from, why pick this Burgundy guy and not someone they have an actual alliance with? Can’t be as simple as hoping you’ll bite.”

Spade looks you right in the eyes.

“Then what do you make of it?”

“Hmm. Well, first thought – what if it’s really from Burgundy and the bad terms are a code?” You muse on this a little more. “But that runs into basically the same problem – you don’t know him, so how would you even realize anything’s off about the message. He’d have to know someone would be here who’d recognize the problem.”

“He’s more talented than I thought if he realized I’d be here,” Long chuckles.

“Right. So what else… okay, one thought is, they’re crying greatrat. Send a fake message, so when a real one comes, you think it’s junk. But that only makes sense if they think he’s going to contact you anyway…”

You think a little harder.

“Ah, here’s something. I saw his crew and they didn’t seem to be of one mind about a lot of things. So if one of them thought it was worth calling you for help, and Burgundy disagreed, they might fake a letter from him. They don’t all have military backgrounds, so they might get the terms wrong.”

“Doesn’t that still run into the problem that we don’t know who he is?” Spade asks. “They might as well ask under their own name.”

“Maybe they had to get a go-between to send the request. Someone who’d only do it if they thought Burgundy was on board.” You shrug. “It’s all I’ve got. Does fit all the facts, but I admit it’s still a stretch.”

“So if it’s either that or crying greatrat, he’s in trouble for real,” Long says. He’s smirking a little. “Seems worth investigating, then. Not sending twenty people out, but sending one good scout. At least, that’s what I’d do in your position, I suppose.”

Spade frowns.

“This situation’s getting more complicated than I’d hoped.”

“I know the feeling,” you mutter under your breath. Your whole plan was just to talk to Badger, and it feels like you’re getting further away from that.

So you start thinking. Maybe there’s some way you can use this to convince Spade to let you have that talk.

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