With Carrion Men
|With Carrion Men|
|Type||Short story/novella (3 parts)|
|Author||Phaedra M. Weldon|
|First published||17-24 June 2008|
|Timeline||2 February-5 August 3072|
|Preceded by||(The Art of War)|
With Carrion Men is a story by Phaedra M. Weldon that was published online in three parts on BattleCorps in June 2008. It was also published in print in the fifth BattleCorps print anthology, Counterattack, in 2014.
In a sense, the story could be regarded as a sequel to Weldon's earlier story, The Art of War.
- published 17 June 2008
|“||Once more into the breach. With thought only for the will of the Celestial Throne, Aris Sung flings he and his people into the maelstrom of Farandir. Following a tenuous lead, that the MoC might have active resistance, he enters the den of the Word. What he finds is... heart stopping.||”|
- published 20 June 2008
|“||Always to duty, the members of Aris' team attempt to complete their mission, but will they complete it before they are caught? All while Aris, learns to adjust to his new heart and his new allies. Who will rescue who?||”|
- published 24 June 2008
|“||Aris pursues the completion of his mission at all costs. But who else is pursuing a mission and can their goals and Sung's coexist?||”|
Warrior House Hiritsu forces under Raven Clearwater have infiltrated the Word of Blake-controlled planet Fanardir in the Magistracy of Canopus to investigate the situation on the planet on orders of Chancellor Sun-Tzu Liao for his fiancé Naomi Centrella, heir-apparent to the title of Magestrix of Canopus. Clearwater reported a possible resistance cell. Aris Sung and Mikhail Chess are subsequently sent to Fanardir in a separate mission to make contact with the cell.
However, following a failed insertion attempt on 2 February 3072 in which their Leopard-class DropShip Midnight's Call was detected on approach and ordered down, they find themselves on the run in their BattleMechs. Both 'Mechs are soon destroyed in the wintery city ruins of Jakarta City. On foot and armed only with his jian, Aris is then confronted by a Manei Domini operative who employs a shimmering cloaking device similar to what Aris saw when he rescued Isis Marik back on on Hustaing twelve years earlier. Introducing herself as Precentor Delta Setiwah, she proceeds to disarm Aris by cutting off his sword hand with her own (implanted) blade. After making cryptic remarks about him and her having saved The Master's progeny she stabs his heart.
Many weeks later Aris awakens in the care of a resistance cell run by one November Talliard, an Ebon Magistrate operative from the Magistracy Armed Forces; other prominent leaders are acting General Erzulie March, Colonel Robert Holden, and Force Major Maria Martin. Aris was rescued from some Word of Blake laboratory where he was kept alive with cyberware and the Ebon Magistrate further upgraded his body, including a heart implant and an artificial hand. Mikhail Chess reportedly did not survive the destruction of his Phoenix Hawk.
Four months after the failed landing Clearwater learns from her subordinate (and student), communications expert Quinn Tudors, that Aris' Wraith was confirmed to have been one of the two destroyed 'Mechs, and that Aris was subsequently captured by the Word of Blake and detained for an unspecified research experiment project but has since been "misplaced". They take this to mean Aris has escaped. On or shortly before 10 June 3072 Raven Clearwater is arrested by Word of Blake forces, leaving Quinn to fend for himself. He tries to contact the other Hiritsu team which is led by Lynn Trahn (and consisting of Yan Lu and Shindo Rosenberg otherwise). He meets them in the middle of evading an attempt to arrest him. In the chaos they do not immediately recognize him and Rosenberg stabs him with a knife before Quinn reveals his identity and warns them that Clearwater was caught.
Aris, meanwhile, is not initially allowed by his hosts to send a message, so as to not compromise their security. However, a hidden broadband message is received from Quinn in an extinct Mandarin dialect taught to Hiritsu warriors. After Aris provides an answer, Quinn reports possible contact with another resistance cell and Aris insists that he and November must meet with him. The origin of the transmission can be traced to a place in the ruins not far from where Aris' Wraith was destroyed. In the small basement, they find the bodies of Word of Blake troopers as well as those of Lynn Trahn and Shindo Rosenberg, dead for days. Quinn, who was bedridden with the knife wound, survived the assault by chance and informs Aris that Mikhail Chess is alive and with the other resistance cell. He gives Aris information how to contact them. (Yu had been away when the attack occurred, trying to obtain medicine for Quinn's infected wound.)
Aris makes contacting that other cell his first priority over rescuing Raven Clearwater, which puts him at odds with Quinn who is distrustful of November Talliard. On 3 August, after Mikhail Chess sent an answer to the contact attempts, Aris insists on going out with November while leaving Quinn behind despite his protests. Near the rendezvous point in the Jakarta ruins Aris incapacitates November and goes to the real rendezvous point which he kept secret from her. He meets with Mikhail who knocks him out cold and imprisons Aris for several days of questioning first. Only when he is satisfied with Aris' story and has double-checked it, Mikhail reveals details about the cell that took him in, and gives away some information they learned about the local Word of Blake operations, including the clandestine arrival of one Manei Domini named Setiwah a month prior to Aris' and Mikhail's arrival. He finally shows Aris a message from Quinn stating that Quinn was attacked shortly after Aris (and November) left, and that November Talliard is a Blakist deep-cover operative. Even as Aris realizes he has been played, Word of Blake forces attack and overrun the secret base; Mikhail is killed and Aris finds that his artificial hand spasms, preventing him from playing any meaningful part in the fight.
Setiwah finally approaches Aris, together with November Talliard and Erzulie March. She incapacitates Aris with the push of a button and then informs him that his implants include a transponder that allowed them to find him (and thus the secret base). Setiwah was indeed watching over Isis Marik on Hustaing, where she was sufficiently impressed by Aris Sung that she decided to suborn him for the Word of Blake cause. Information about a resistance cell on Fanardir was leaked hoping that House Hiritsu would send Aris who was then used by Setiwah to find and destroy the only real resistance cell on the planet (November's faux cell having been set up to fool him). Finally, after having told him how he failed, she stops Aris' implanted heart with the push of another button and lets him die.