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Chapter 22 Barracks payday

Clutching a sheaf of papers Squad Leader Toms walked into the barracks barking, “Line up you worthless lot if you want your vouchers.” Trooper Zelot, elbowed Tomic whispering, “Let's not dawdle this time in getting our coins, or all the good pleasure girls will be gone.” Moving out quickly they trotted down the hill to the bank. The entrance was blocked by restless troopers arguing with the Banking Elder. “We want our coins now! Don't you know who the hell we are?” swore a beefy trooper in a rumpled uniform. The dour Elder in black robes was slowly being pressed back by the angry troopers. “Yes I know who you are,” he squeaked out. “You'll all get your coins. There's been an accounting error, and there aren't enough coins available right now to pay everybody. The quartermaster has been called, and he is on his way here so please just be patient.”

The tall man wearing a crisp captain's uniform pushed his way through the growing crowd of irate troopers and pulled the pudgy and blotched Banking Elder aside and out of earshot. “What the hell is going on here Elder Franko?” “Honored Captain Jorn, there were not enough funds in the account to pay everybody.” Pulling a piece of paper out of his pocket Captain Jorn shoved it at the Elder. “I personally authorized the transfer myself.” “I understand sir, the funds you authorized did indeed transfer. I used as much as there was left in the account to pay your troopers until we ran out.” “Those funds were there yesterday. What did you do with the money?” accused the Captain. “I didn't do anything with the money, but I personally looked at the accounts to see what happened. Some funds were moved to another account leaving the trooper's voucher account too short to make all the payments.”

“I didn't authorize any transactions. Whose account was the money moved to?” asked the Captain. “Honored sir,” said the Elder at a bare whisper, “The funds were transferred to Marshal Banner's personal account. I don't dare question it. He has the authority to make any transfers he wishes at any time.” “There is another issue Captain. More funds were transferred from the Senior Elder's most substantial personal account to the Marshal's at the same time. The Senior Elder is not aware of this yet. I'm afraid I'm going to have to say something about this problem to him out of concern he will find out first. ” 

The Captain pensively chewed on his bottom lip for a moment. “Elder Franko, I will authorize a transfer of enough funds to pay the troopers right now. You do whatever you must. I have a few days of leave due. I think this is a good time to take them.”

“It's time to start with some real planning Ben. I have finished downloading all the available information from these old computers. It's taken days because of the glacial speeds of their networks. I now understand big pieces of Pastoral's history. The Eaulander's were a successful lot, but ideological very rigid. When the Great Collapse occurred, their income went away. This created unemployment along with extreme poverty and the populace revolted. Food was in short supply and raids were made into Gaia for produce and other farm goods. This resulted in less food for everyone, and internal fighting over food started in Eauland. The Eauland government disintegrated and was replaced by warlords, and the capital city was divided into zones. Eventually, the population was cut in half due to fighting and starvation.

Out of this arose the religion of the Oneness and the Elders managed to get control of everything. They were the smartest warlord group and a nasty bunch at that. Their technology slid backward until a sustainable level was achieved. They gathered together excess equipment and stored it for use as spares. This is why they still have some basic tech. A deal was made with the Gaians to supply them with batteries in exchange for the seed which they use for fuel and power generation. The security forces were created to keep control. This is not an unusual outcome from the Great Collapse, but this is a particularly poor outcome for most of the inhabitants here. I have seen few that were worse. I think the place to start planning is here.” An aerial view of the city appeared on the vid.

Ben studied the map. “It seems the two critical areas are the walled cathedral complex and it's Elder's palaces and the adjacent security compound. The cathedral seems to be a straightforward approach. There are only two gates, and it's not likely to be swarming with too many guards. We can ask Ungar about this when he shows up. The security force's compound will be more difficult. How many security force troops are there Celeste?” “I have some familiarity with their payroll records. Eight hundred and ninety-three to be exact of which one hundred and twenty are in training. Looking at the barracks buildings layout, each should have twenty-four troopers making a platoon. Four platoons are a company, and it appears there are eight companies. The rest are officers, support, and administration staff. The large standalone building off in the corner is the armory. It will be the most difficult building for the women to handle, and I will use a drone to leave a substantial explosive charge on its roof I can detonate at the right time.”

“What are the rest of the town folks going to be doing or thinking when this is all happening?” asked Ben. “Good question. I'm not sure. The men of Eaulander don't have a great life either. They are definitely better off than the women, but they work for slave wages in the factories and do all the heavy labor, and mining in the mountains. The only access most Eaulanders have to any media is the public viewing vids scattered through the city. Given the poor quality of what's being broadcast, I doubt most bother looking at them. I was considering giving them all something interesting to watch at the right time, starting with the Senior Elder's perverse and foul treatment of women in the sacred chamber of the Oneness. My micro drones have been collecting a lot of ugly footage of Elders doing and saying nasty things. I can produce some powerful content promoting the women's revolt is good for everybody.” Ben laughed, “Yes, I've seen one of your vid productions, and it worked on me.”