Friday, May 8, 2015

Lord of the Arena-06

Interstate 35 still existed, even after the collapse and the Second American Civil War, and it remained the primary road connecting Duluth and next-door Superior to Minneapolis and St. Paul. In those 150 miles (roughly) lay the remains of small towns and First Nations bands, ravaged into ruin first by the global economy collapsing and then opportunists using the war that followed to settle scores going back to the 18th Century (in some cases) while trying otherwise to survive. It was, therefore, something that had to be regularly patrolled and caravanned in force to ensure a traveler's safe passage- bandits were hardly uncommon.

As Eric arrived at the garage, he listened to the daily road report provided--in part--by the Minnesota State Patrol and the Minnesota National Guard. "Bandit activity is light, confined to solo travelers in weak vehicles. Caravans are advised. Patrol response time is 15 minutes." Eric knew what that really meant: they're preying on the side roads that feed into I-35 and they're avoiding both fortified towns as well as the Twin Cities as well as Duluth entirely, so look like you can gank them and you'll be okay.

Eric sighed. This report never took into account deliberate and deliberating trouble-makers, such as bounty-hunters, and neither the Patrol nor the Guard cared much so long as they didn't disrupt traffic too much; a brief fight on the Interstate would be tolerated, but not a long one and not a fight that messed with key commodities or VIPs making the rounds. For all his fame, Eric was not yet important enough to merit official favor of that sort; he and his crew would be on their own once beyond the range of the Cities' artillery.

His tactician and security head welcomed him with a handshake. "I got an update on the bounty. It's crowd-funded, but even that's dodgy; most of the pledges are from locations known to be full of gangsters, and I don't mean punk kids with wardrobe issues. I mean the syndicates, and out that way you know what that means."

"Too much." Eric said, "Matt's always been less than subtle about his ties to the old-time organizations in New York. This also means that we've got a good chance of attracting international attention."

"Italian hitters in supercars stand out here." his man said, "I'd expect more low-class hired hitters, and plenty of wanna-bees looking to make a name for themselves at your experience. That we can handle easily. This is our turf, after all."

Eric had an idea. "Has this hit the feeds yet?"

His man looked at Eric, and nodded. "No, but-"

"Do it. Make those local bandits into assets."

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