Agents of Carrion
“A Report for Lord Diener: I have always disliked my work in Tribe Raben. But as a Marshal, I’m good at my work and we’ve made strides over the last few years. If we are diligent today, we may add another to the ravens in the coming weeks. I only pray that the will of our people has grown stubborn. Nadel was a particularly foul case. She offered no resistance to the madness. The biological chemicals coursing through her flesh left her changed after the machine pulled the toxins from her blood. She still oozes a mind of fantasy and a lust for mischief that only abates in isolation. But she’s in there somewhere, she still cries.
-Personal Note: Marshal Verner-
Avisland: Northern Robin Territory
“Are you sure sister?” asked Mafic, her voice was like the ancient satellites bouncing their messages. She spoke into a grid of wire attached in her smooth black visor helmet. It was something of a crash helmet, but not used for vehicles.
The woman and her accomplice couldn’t see each other but they moved in the same direction coordinating their movements though the woods flushed with whirling waves of leaves. No sounds revealed their positions and no movements were made that the other could detect. Only a few falling leaves indicated the operatives in the branches. Light twisting circuits of movements in stealth only hinted at the other's movements.
"Yes sister. We're on our own channel." Her sister replied. "We need to know where we lie on this." Her discussion was a dire one and much needed to be said in secret.
She peeked through a ring of glass from atop a leaning tree. Moss grew about it at the base of the truck and a single creeper wormed its way around. It reached the middle hugging tightly as claws tore their way up the tree. The grace was so great that not a leaf was removed from the creeping ivy. The wood had light holes from the grip of the climber. Only an observer looking for such marks could discern that any paths were taken through the trees. Such marks were easily confused with climbing mountain lions. It was one of many times the squad had moved through here and again the harvest, the season, and the mark arrived.
Hopping and crawling around the over mutated canopy was easy and it was what she lived for. They were lurking like owls in complete silence, hearing all, seeing all, but they were scarcely seen in turn. Feathers of the corvidae family adorned their arms like badges of honor. Raven-like and fell to behold. Well groomed, properly oiled, and extremely elegant quills framed their figures. The two sisters had a morbid beauty in the manner of a lioness’s prowess.
"You see, I have respect for the struggles our elders went through, I truly do, but does that serve Avisland?" Mafic stated as she tested her sister.
The pines they maneuvered through had grown inverted. The pine trees did one of two things. They either grew small branches at the bottom with longer branches at the tips, or they grew and bent at the halfway point of their maximum height. Either way the forests was a woven wooden armor to anyone traveling. They were held close and safe in the limbs of the forest like a fathers hands. Said branches formed a tangled web of gangplanks and tightropes.
"A puzzle... Kaiser served us well. But why is he being used as the linchpin for the openness of Raben, and the reason to keep it covert. Kaiser openly explains that Raben needs to be covert, but the Wardens hold up his history as a testimony against Roost." Said Felsic, her voice leaning toward quaint ascents.
Beneath the branches, were only passing glimpses of unpleasant black body armor. Tight black leather with metal over a few regions would introduce criminal witnesses to their deaths if they were particularly diligent or completely paranoid. This kind of gear would be enough to stop knifes, arrows, and even the replicas of ancient black powder weapons, at least the weaker variants.
Truly genuine blasting and ballistic weapons were rare and prized treasures but secret and only reverse engineered in great need or at the ambition of the completely mad. Because for all the terrors the world provided, humans were still chief among them. But for Felsic and Mafic, their razor claws were enough to deal with nearly any adversary.
The labyrinthine crisscrossing bridges over the forest floor moved Mafic and her sister into place. Great trees beside the farmlands resembled entryway arches coated in green pine needles. They had been grown in that manner by the farmers of the Robin Tribe eons ago.
"Now for a new point." Felsic spoke through their shared channel. Her voice crystal clear, "Hugo, dear sister" she said nearly motherly.
"Yes, about Hugo... His last announcement was quite dividing on the clans." Mafic's voice differed from her sister's in a slight divergence of tone and sharpness. "He always leans for union. He always seeks to hold the tribes together and for unity within the clans. But he surrounds himself with detractors. I feel he lingers in dark moods and his plans are devilish."
"You're not wrong. He's creating a dichotomy that he can claim to be neutral in, all the while he plans his side to rise and grow."
Their destination approached quickly through the tree.
With their equipment, the armored figures moved steadily in the paths and the secret ways. The camouflage laced cloaks around their heads with blurred their movements into the swaying of branches.
“We’re going to be yelled at for this.” Mafic spoke through the device at her helmet.
It was maneuverable armor underneath these cloaks that would flash darkly in their sudden movements. She used this to travel with the grace of dark feathered angels. Her sister crept through the canopy just behind her. Atop the trees, she gracefully slipped though the branches, peacefully centered in the thickest collection of branches, there sat a perfect perch. She could gazed out over the land. And the land would struggle to gaze back.
“We'll finish this talk later, Perhaps we can meet with Alanza and Rankivol. Someone reported this morning. Scouts clan signal; a symptom and its just ahead, I’m positive” Mafic said.
“Who is the native of that region?” Felsic Her black hair formed a knot and came out of her helmet in a ponytail mimicking her sister's.
“Yes sister, that is Wren, she was registered among thousands of native children of the region, but she is one of roughly one hundred approaching the age. She is the only daughter of Muller and Sofia Koko,” said Felsic. “The ravens have gathered there, thats our indicator. The ravens are here from most of the northern territories. We tracked their tags to right here. All other squads report an all clear. If there is a new bird it’s here and thing might get out of hand real quick.”
Felsic gave her boot a double tap from her claw in a manor akin to a woodpecker drilling against bark. It was merely a sensation to confirm the other’s position beneath her sister’s perch so she would break branches or leap in her direction.
Her sister found the signal in good humor, chuckling to herself over the suddenness of her sister’s position just below her in the same perch.
The two hid in their surrounding as if in a nest of lichen and moss. Only the stained skin below their eyes displayed a revealing color or pattern, but their helmets saw to that secret, never revealing skin above the mouth or nose when opened for speaking.
Felsic’s face bore streaks of blood under her skin, resembling a stretch mark from her eye lid to her chin in a straight line. Mafic’s marks zigzagged down her face.
Both bore night black hair, very different to their natural shades at birth; tainted upon their initiation into the tribe as their genetics were overwritten by their mark, they wore the blood marks upon their faces and the darkness in their hair but last was the eyes indicating the Mark of Tribe Raben in it’s completeness. The Raben’s Mark.
Felsic and Mafic peeked back from their forest perch, their faces peering.
“Another fate you say? The birds appear for every new bird, what makes this one different?” Mafic replied. She risked a glance behind her.
“Yes, but the sheer count of ravens here.” She raised her hand. “Just there sister, they flew over the crops, and she might be the target, you see her?”
“Our squad approaches sister.” Mafic said as the needles to their rear moved as if in a breeze.
“The farmers have a repellent sprayer to keep the birds off them, but they’re not there for the crops, it’s the initiate that they’re after.” Felsic said while modifying her visor. "I think one of our squad was deployed ahead to disable it. It would draw off a group to fix it giving cover. Standard infiltration."
“Oh, it’s Verza behind us. She always was the best tracker. Did we really think we would get away with this.” Said Mafic.
A flock of birds was nesting atop a country villa now. Large pillars supported a tile roof with solar panels on the top. Black birds were croaking their moans, ruining the spring quiet and the rising sun.
“You know the Robin mortality rate is low after the changes start?” Said Felsic.
“Hush sister, she will need to prove herself strong, we will do whatever we can to aid the native when the mark surfaces but Robins recruiting into Raben don’t usually survive.”