MLM – Chapter 31

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Vance stood angrily before a bruised and bloodied group of men. They were the group of thugs that Vance had sent out to capture the man from Upper.
Each man lay there quietly, not even moaning in pain as the blood dripped from their open wounds. They knew that it would be worse off for them if they did.
“How did you fuck-ups manage to let two holdings kids and their babysitter escape!? You knew where they were! You went in the middle of the night while they were asleep!”
Still the men remained in their silence. They knew by experience that this was a question that couldn’t be safely answered. Each man prayed that Vance wouldn’t pick him to report.
“You!” Vance lifted up an unfortunate man by the collar. “How the fuck did this happen?”
The man stuttered while wincing, “L-like we said-d boss, the-the-there was this robo-”
Vance interrupted the man by smashing his fist into the man’s mouth. Repeatedly.
“There was a robot that fucking put you all to sleep?!” Vance roared as he pummeled the helpless man. “Then they broke all of your rovers and then just walked off.”
He threw the unconscious man to the ground. “That’s right, I remember you telling me that story. I’m only going to tell you this once. Fuck up again and I’ll kill every single one of you.”
Vance planted one more vicious kick to the man’s midriff before gesturing to some guards standing alertly on the side. “Bring her in.” Glaring at the rest of the rebuked men, he screamed at them, causing them to scrambling over themselves to leave. “GET OUT!”
A few seconds later, the guards dragged a limp body in front of where Vance was waiting.
It was the beautiful woman that Lasko had chosen to heal. She was covered in bloody wounds, and one of her legs dragged helplessly.
“Theresa, Theresa.” Vance’s shouting was completely erased from his voice now. “What are we going to do with you?”
Theresa said nothing, only breathing painfully from under her disheveled hair.
“I was surprised, Theresa. You’re such a capable person. Up to this day, I’ve never seen you make a mistake. Not an imperfect business decision, not even a curse whispered under your breath.”
Vance sat down on his throne heavily.
“Because of that, I gave you a chance. But it turns out that you weren’t able to make yourself useful after all.”
He motioned her away. “Take her and throw her into the pits, along with the rest. Maybe we’ll find some use from her later.”
The men began dragging her away, but before she went far, she suddenly spit on the ground in front of Vance. The men froze, wondering what Vance would do for her insolence. But Vance did nothing, only staring briefly at her with mild interest before turning away.
When they had left the room, a man approached behind Vance, but didn’t say anything, only standing there silently, the two of them in the empty room. It was Greely, Vance’s new ‘dirty’ business advisor.
“Are you wondering why we don’t just sell her as a slave?” Vance said to him, suddenly.
The man nodded. “With her face, she would probably sell for a lot,” the man said. “If you want…”
Vance shook his head. “No, we can’t sell her. Theresa has too much business ability, we can’t risk her working against us. And we can’t kill her either, just in case we need her opinion again.”
He waved his hand, wanting to talk about another topic. “Where are we on the location of the man from Upper.”
Greely hesitated, before answering. “They’re way out into the junk ranges, somewhere at or beyond the border of the hex. We followed the signal of the rover they stole, but the tracker was cut off an hour later. We could comb the area, but with our limited manpower we might not even pick up a trace of them in years.”
“I see.” Vance stood back up. “He’s not going anywhere. I’ll figure out a way to get him.” He stretched easily.
Greely marveled at Vance. The man was very calm, even when he wasn’t. The screaming, the viciousness, the unpredictable behavior was all an act to maintain his control in the hex with an iron fist of fear. In reality, Vance was calculating, cunning, and patient. But most of all, Vance was ruthless.
“That reminds me. Kill the holding’s kid, whatever his name was. Put up his head in the marketplace as a warning, and send his body to Gate, along with a hundred credits.”
“A hundred credits?”
“Yeah. Somehow they always seem to know who kills those little buggers. If we pay up front, the droolers won’t make a fuss.”
Greely nodded in understanding. “What should we do about Leonard then?”
Vance scratched his chin. “I had hoped to take him down Theresa’s way, but without taking out those scavenger brats, it’lI take too long. I guess there’s only one way.”
He looked at Greely. It was an evil look.
“Gather the men. Start preparing to attack Leonard’s warehouse.”