Chaos Calls 05: Island Girl - Cover

Chaos Calls 05: Island Girl

Copyright © 2017 by Ernest Bywater

Chapter 01

Getting Ready

After my last trip to Chaos I doubt there’s much I can do in the way of a rescue within the area controlled by the Brotherhood on the mainland, but there may be something on one of the islands so I decide not to take any animals or materials destined for Grassy Meadows with me on this trip. I’ll take a number of people who I expect will return with me. Since I’m going into an unknown area I want a solid core of fighting supporters with me. It also means I can take a larger number of people who want to see what it’s like. In line with my last trip I set the number at ten people.

I talk with Sharon, Tora, and Bridget about who to take. The first filter is the people going have to meet minimum skills in using a sword, bow, and a knife as well as being able to ride. All of the guards interested in going are fit enough to suit me so that’s not a consideration. Also, they all have good hand to hand combat skills. Once I’m assured Rob is good with the weapons I start the list of the nine going with me as: Tora, Kira, Bridget, and Rob. So we need to identify five more guards interested in going to Chaos. After rating everyone on their skills we end up with eight to choose from and then look at their other skills, knowledge of history, and their knowledge of low technology methods to put them in an order.

Saturday morning of the weekend between trips my maker of ancient armour arrives to measure all of those who need bamboo armour and Chaos clothing made for them. I’m sure she wonders why I need it all, but she never asks me. I do know she likes making the clothes as much as she likes the money she gets paid for making them. I also have her make everyone a large back pack and a set of camping blankets.

After everyone is measured and the lady leaves we have a meeting to discuss people’s expectations and what it’s really like. While we cover what it’s like to live there we don’t talk about where it is or how we get there. However, I make sure everyone is aware to be ready to go next weekend and to gather in my office on the day so we can go from there.

Amongst the gear we’re taking everyone has their own plate, fork, spoon, cup, and knife made from hardwood plus a ceramic skinning knife. They also have a two blanket set for camping, an unstrung short bow made of ash, and a hanbō as a three foot long walking stick. Add in their pack plus two sets of clothes with a large floppy hat and all are ready for Chaos. Everything fits in or on their packs, along with their cotton underwear and socks. The leather boots with a ceramic plate in the sole completes their outfits. The packs are only two thirds full so I’ve a lot of space for extra items of bags of seed, iron rich sand called satetsu, hemp ropes, hardwood climbing gear, and some horse tack made from leather and ceramic rings.

All we need to complete everyone’s ensemble are the many weapons we placed in my box on the last trip. Before we left Chaos on the last trip I made sure to see we put enough weapons in it to arm twelve people.

On the morning of our trip I have everyone gather in my office so I can check all of the gear for unapproved materials. It’s all correct and ready in the packs with the travellers wearing their clothing with bamboo armour on. I lead everyone through the main vault area into the portal vault then I have them form a continuous chain of contact by holding hands. Sharon locks the vault on her way out then I approach the portal while those waiting behind me wonder about my sanity.


Arriving in the portal room of my quarters at Crossroads I find Merry holding open the door to the stable. However, there’s only a few tables for our gear in it today. I lead everyone in and we put the packs on tables before Merry leads us into the main lounge of my Hero’s suite.

After introducing everyone to Merry I leave them watching a video on what life on Chaos is like while Merry and I renew our relationship. Tora, Kira, and Bridget can answer their questions while I’m busy with Merry.

Merry and I return to the main room a little after the video ends, so we join in on answering questions. It takes time, but we cover everything and everyone is soon happy; very surprised, a little shocked, but happy.

Rescue Request

About forty minutes into the general chat about Chaos and how it works Mac asks me to talk with him in the computer room. When Merry and I enter the room we find two of the screens are on. One is showing a large island while the other is showing the ocean with the Brotherhood’s zone of control on the east coast at the west edge of the screen. An island well into the ocean is circled, so I think the image is showing the location of the island on the other screen. Mac says, “Al, we have a situation on the island I’m showing you. The Damsels on the island aren’t under a high enough threat to be near the top of the rescue lists, yet. However, I want you to take on this mission to rescue the three Damsels on the island, despite one of them not being in any real danger at all.”

I ask, “Why do I get the feeling there’s politics involved in this one?”

“It could be because you have good instincts. I know you’ve been told how the system works, but I don’t think you’ve been given the details. I won’t bother you with it all now, but the key points to keep in mind is a person who wants to be a Damsel registers, takes a medical check which includes a fertility check, goes through a review panel process, then she’s entered into the system with her details to become subject to the Lottery which is controlled by a special computer. Two aspects of the system which are very closely held are the process up to the entry into the main computer is in the hands of the Cassandran staff, and the computer assigns a value to the candidate based on the information provided by the staff. Ninety-five percent of the applicants end up with the same value entered, but a few have a value slightly up or down from that based on some parameters even I don’t have access to.”

I interrupt with, “So people on Cassandra can exclude someone from being in the Lottery beyond them not meeting the requirements, and the computer can also affect the likelihood of them being selected to a small extent based on parameters you don’t know. Is that it?”

“Yes, Al. There is a system where an applicant can have their case sent to an independent panel for review if they feel the panel wasn’t fair. We’ve always assumed the system ensured only those who wanted into the Lottery would be entered.”

“Yipe. That sounds like someone gamed the system to get someone in who didn’t want to be in. Is that where you’re heading, Mac?”

“Yes, Al. After reviewing the data of this case I now understand the usage some people on Earth mean when the say the word ‘politics’ as a swear word. A woman who didn’t want to enter the Lottery was placed in the system against her will and then basically kidnapped to go when her name came up. It seems the people involved have worked out how to use the file details to affect the computer evaluation. One of those involved in the plot has to have had access to her medical records, and another has to have been on the selection panel to get the file entered. However, we don’t know who did it. We hope the woman can tell us.”

“To ask her you need her back here, right?”

“Yes. But she doesn’t want to come back. Also, she’s made changes in her area to make it hard for her to qualify for rescue, and for anyone to bring her back. Of the Heroes who stand a chance of bringing her back you’re the only one whose career has started since she went to Chaos. So she not only doesn’t know what you look like she has no, or almost no, information about you at all. That gives you an edge on her. I also think you having such a large team with you will stop her from thinking of you as being a Hero there to bring her back.”

“Before I say yes or no I want a good briefing about her. I need to know the high points plus her skills, not her full history. OK?”

“Hilda is the best military strategist Cassandra has seen in generations who is also a great tactician. The troops she commands are loyal. She was in line to be the next Planetary Commander until her number came up in the Lottery and she got shipped to Chaos. Hilda was never one to play politics, but her main rival has always been heavily involved in politics. As best as we can work out Hilda’s sister applied to the Lottery but there isn’t a file on her in the system. We believe someone swapped Hilda’s file for her sister’s file. Also, the only people who could’ve got access to Hilda’s full medical file is a small group which includes her main rival. The appointment of the new Planetary Commander has been deferred until after the Selection Committee can find out how Hilda ended up on Chaos after going to sleep in her quarters on a military base. One thing few people know is the top people have tracking devices that also give us their basic health information. So when that was accessed we know she was moved off base and shipped to Chaos while in a drugged sleep. That was enough for the Selection Committee Chair to put a hold on the process. The full Senate wants a decision made but they can’t act until after the matter comes back out of the committee. So it’s a stalemate. One of the Senators has asked we do what we can to get Hilda home.”

“That explains how she got there. Now we have two problems. First is to make contact to then bring her back here. Second is to get her removed from the Damsel Register.”

“Why remove her from the Damsel Register, Al?”

“I gather she doesn’t want to have a baby, which is why she didn’t apply in the first place. Thus it’s likely she’s setting up to not come back so she doesn’t have to have a baby. If we can get that part taken out of the equation she may agree to return instead of fighting it.”

“Al, no one has thought of that aspect, and I think you’re right. I had the full file checked and the signature on the application is an obvious forgery, so we can apply to have the application voided due to forgery. If the courts agree it means she’s no longer a Damsel, so the rest of the rules no longer apply to her. Good thinking, Al.”

“Once she’s out of the Damsel list she becomes a Lost Companion because she isn’t a native of Chaos so that’s the only category left for her. As a Lost Companion I can bring her back to Crossroads. Now, what’s the local situation where she is?”

“If you look at the map of the island you’ll see there are only three places where you can reach the sea. Two are the ports on each end of the island and the third is the beach in the middle of the island. The ports are deep and are well defended harbours while the beach is protected by a large patch of coral creating a wide barricade between the headlands. The beach is great for swimming plus some people fish in those waters. The coral comes so close to the surface no ships can sail over it, not even at high tide, and there are a number of dangerous animals like sharks who inhabit the waters on the ocean side of the coral, along with some unpleasant inhabitants of the coral that make the Puffer Fish look nice in what they do to you. Thus the only way to get onto the island is by the ports or the banks in each port. Hilda has taken control of one port and the Brotherhood’s associates have the other port. Both have armed guards in the banks watching for people arriving by the portals. Both give all of the arrivals a thorough check, and they enslave many they don’t trust. Both also have a Damsel as a prisoner. We’d like you to bring back all three of the women. To add to the problem the Brotherhood is building a large army in the area around their port so they can attack and capture the other port to control the entire island. Take your time examining the situation and give me an answer as soon as you can, please, Al.”

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