Janssen was in a rage. “You sent those troops out there to stop sabotage, not to be massacred!”
“Yes sir.” Boran wondered at what point the troop train had become his idea. He had been in his office going through the list of the dead and drafting letters to families when Janssen had called for him.
“This after what happened to the wings and in the goods yard!”
“I want you to action this immediately. I want these scum to see what happens when they try to hurt us!”
“Sir?” Boran studied the sheet Janssen was stabbing at. It was a death order, for ten times as many as had been lost in the train ambush. “I cannot do that sir. I will not be party to murder.”
“Will not? You do not have the stomach for it then? No. No, I know what it is. I have read your political file! Get out! I shall order the purge myself!”
That had probably been Janssen’s intention all along- there were multiple copies of the order on his desk. He turned and stared out of the window, trying not to look smug at his manoeuvring. Boran picked up one of the sheets and pretended to read it.
“Are you still here? Leave, I told you. I shall deal with you later.” Boran left, the papers still in his hand.
There were no guards awaiting him in the outer office. The corridors were no more nor less busy than usual. Janssen hadn’t yet issued his internal purge yet. He must still be lining up people to take blame. Boran’s own office was the same as ever- the Army issue male typists of the pool and his own assistant outside his door.
Aylo was a native of the cities. Working as a clerk for the occupying forces, there was every chance he was pure collaborator. But if he weren’t…..
Janssen had already fabricated enough evidence to put Boran in the poisoner’s chair. If he was going to die for treason then he might as well do something treasonous. He unfolded the paper and approached Boran’s desk.
“Commander Janssen has requested some items from the commercial district. I would like you to collect them.” Boran had trouble controlling his voice. He wanted to be curt, the very model of an arrogant Southerner. But the army typists knew how polite he normally was to his clerk, and would get suspicious. He slid the sheet across the desk, tapping a finger on the official stamp.
Aylo studied the list, doing well to control his emotions. “Some of these, erm. Some of these will be hard to procure.”
“Just so long as you are not caught. I would not like to to explain that to him.”
“How soon does he need them?”
“A couple of days, maybe a little longer. But it would be best if you start right away.”
“Yes sir.” Aylo grabbed his rain shawl. He paused and dipped his hand into the inside pocket. “There is some paperwork for you sir.” He gathered it together. Whatever was in his hand was slipped into the top most folder.
Boran closed his office door. He ran his hands over the folders. His window overlooked the main gates. He watched as Aylo hurried through, hunched against the rain. Now that his fate was truly sealed, he opened the top folder.
Nestling inside the folder was a piece of jewellery. Hanging off a fine chain was a little silver tower, two digits long and half a digit in diameter, finely decorated with tiny runes. Boran kissed the little icon and clasped the chain around his neck.