Swamped Chapter 62 Page 17

You suppose there’s another half to your question, and it’s an interesting one to explore at that.

“So, hang on. You sounded surprised that Squib Squad was involved with this Guild of yours. What did you think they were doing, if not that?”

“Well… back when I first encountered them, I figured they’d be the sorts to pull some kind of basic shakedown scheme. You know, find a scrawny newmuck, scare ’em out of their money. But then I realized that most of us don’t bring a lot of money here, just whatever change we have after traveling all this way.”

Indeed. You implied you had more money than you really did, but in truth, you left most of your pay with your family. They’re going to need that money more than you are, at least until you go on leave again.

“So then I figured, well, the real currency here is favor with the officers. They’re the ones who can give you good assignments or bad, maybe requisition something a little special for you… So maybe that was their game, do some off-the-books discipline or whatever on behalf of an officer who didn’t want Captain Long finding out about it.”

“Any guesses as to who?”

“I didn’t take it that seriously,” Mark shrugs. “Figured I could be wrong and they were just bullies by nature, but nothing worse than that. Still, I did keep my ears open about their dealings with officers. Sounded like they didn’t have great relationships with anyone… but they were spending a lot of time with Ash in particular. Supposedly he was disciplining them, but, well. Would also be decent cover for giving them under-the-table orders. I didn’t have any real proof, though, so I just figured I’d keep away from Ash just in case I was right.”

He lets out a sigh.

“So if Ash is directing Squib Squad, and they’ve got contacts with the Guild… well, that just tells me Bernard’s in even deeper than I thought. Almost pity the bastard.”

You should probably ask him who Bernard is, but you might want to ask him some other questions soon after.

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1. Okay, I’ll bite… who’s this Bernard person?

2. Not a question, just a statement, but I’m pretty sure your hunch is right about Ash giving Squib Squad orders, based on what I’ve been seeing tonight.

3. What would the Guild want out here? The swamp isn’t exactly a font of wealth and influence.

4. Can you think of any reason why people would be smuggling weapons out here, where we’re already equipped with arms from our respective nations?