The Cyneweard

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Part III - All That's Left is Blood :: 64

Parton stared down the long table and into the eyes of almost every Vice Chairman that helped run the Machine. Calor was standing behind him. He had grown to trust the young leader and knew that he was aware of what the meeting was about.

“I’ve called this expensive and risky meeting to tell you all that we are at full on conflict with the Unionizers. Firing them did nothing to douse their flames. Killing them only made them angrier. We have no choice but to meet the threat head on and eradicate it.”

He nodded to Vice Chairman of Weapons Production, Chairman Schmitt, who returned the nod, eyes resolute and posture straight. He had been a squad leader during the Rebellion and was known for being merciless. His only weakness was that of the flesh.

“Schmitt will ramp up production of the auto thrower. I have a feeling we will need plenty over the coming days.”

The aged, beak-nosed man nodded sharply in reply.

“Chairman Weber,” Parton began, turning his attention to a doughy, short man propped up on one of his own legs in the tall leather chair. “We will need shift coverall production to uniform production. Can that be done?”

“Easily,” came the reply.

Parton nodded and moved his gaze to the Vice Chairman in charge of Foreman Affairs. A former stonemason prior to the rebellion, Berger was tall, wide, and seemingly made of marble from the waist up. His square, stoic face hid a burning rage that kept his Foremen in check. Despite his position, Parton had never wanted to raise the man’s ire.

“We are going to have to pull some more Foremen into protection duty. I will want at least four with each Chairman.”

Berger nodded. “I will need to raise more from the workforce.”

Parton waved a hand. “Of course. Make sure they are Machinists through and through.”

“Always,” replied Berger.

Vice Chairman Pfeiffer stood and cleared his throat.

“Yes?” Parton asked, turning his gaze to the lanky hume that once assisted him with sniffing out members of the Remnant after the Rebellion was successful.

“I’ve not heard back from you in regards to my daily reports of the affairs in the district, so I will make it clear here in front of all of you. The Machine district, Little Mille if it pleases, is in utter chaos. Beatings occur hourly, our assets are being defaced, vandalized, and at time outright stolen. I trust that we have a plan for getting this mob mentality snuffed out before it causes the entire downfall of the district that supports our bottom-level workforce.”

He blew an angry puff of air from his flared nostrils and sat down, not once bothering to look to his Chairman.

Pfeiffer had been angry ever since they had lost Clanton, may more so than Calor had been. Both of them had done great work in the days following the Rebellion’s success, ensuring the temperament and tone of the gossip amongst the workers and citizens of the soon-to-be rezoned districts were on board with the newly-dubbed Machinist Group’s plans.

Parton sighed. “Snuff out the Union, snuff out the fire raging amongst Little Mille. It’s as simple as that.”

Pfeiffer huffed but said no more.

“And what of my division?” asked Schroder, the man in charge of all shipping operations. A number man to the core, he had helped finance and move supplies for Parton’s offensives, including the Purge. His full beard hid a weak chin and his bulging eyes never seemed to miss a detail.

“You’re going to halt all shipments until we’ve handled this situation,” instructed Parton.

“You want all supplies, all sustenance, all money making endeavors to cease? Are you sure?”

“They starve if they resist. That message should be clear to those who haven’t picked a side.”

“Humboldt save us,” piped up Vice Chairman Winkler. He ran the farming and gathering operations that kept food in script stores and out of the hands of every day people. If you wanted food and you couldn’t pay in gold, you either worked for the Machine or your family did. Winkler had a tangle of graying black hair, deep set beady eyes, and a wide jowl-laden jaw. Age had not been kind to the man that had once fed nearly ten thousand rebels with only two working farms.

“We don’t need Humboldt,” chirped Calor from behind Parton. “We just need lots of slugs.”

And for this nagging feeling to go away, thought Parton. The bodies of the Emperor and his wife. Clanton, Goody, and Dumdhall; all key figures of his past. All murdered.

And that prisoner. Calor had not had time to go down to Little Mille to spec out the prisoner yet and now, at least from the reports Pfeiffer thought Parton was ignoring, that prisoner was back on the loose. His shoulders flex as a rush of tingling cold ran down his back.

“Calor has the right idea,” Parton broke the silence. “And if slugs are going to fly, you gentlemen will need to be scarce. Don’t go out unless you absolutely have to. You will have four Foremen on duty guarding you, day and night. Don’t try to leave the Chop. Just stay low, out of sight. Once we handle our business, we can breath easier.”

“What of Koph?” asked Berger. “What do we do with him?”

Parton looked at him. “I have something special in mind for him.”

Berger smiled.

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