Writer’s Note: Sid & Cyrus: Part Two was published originally in Jump Point 5.6. Read Sid & Cyrus: Part One here.
A Vucari cavalcade cut across the Platean Plain. Master Kraujas stood in the back of a heavily plated vehicle, specifically converted to accommodate his massive Titan armor. The vehicle also featured a rotating platform, so he could adjust which way he faced — an essential feature considering the tachyon cannon attached to the Titan suit’s left arm.
The vehicle barreled over a bump and only Master Kraujas’ magnetic boots kept him from being bucked out of the back. He slammed a metallic hand on the cab just above the driver, who immediately slowed. Vucari mechanics joked that this cab panel was the only piece of armor on the whole vehicle that ever needed to be replaced. Protected by his elite Vucari cavalry and that tachyon cannon, not many enemies could get close enough to Master Kraujas’ vehicle to even chip its paint.
Master Kraujas turned his attention to the horizon where he could see black, acrid smoke rising from the site of the ambushed convoy. The closer he got to it, the more the anger swelled inside him. How dare they so brazening attack such a large convoy traveling through his territory? The Cadejo were no longer an annoyance, they were a menace that must be eliminated.
It had all started a few months ago. Vucari scouts found the wreckage of a small civilian convoy on the edge of their territory. A few weeks later, another convoy was hit. Then another. At each scene, body armor ripped off the people in the convoy was found in a pile, but never any bodies. That’s when the rumors started.
Stories about the Cadejos swiftly moved through his ranks. How was it they always won? How did they always vanish without a trace? They weren’t simply slavers, the stories said. Whispers started that maybe the Cadejos’ leader, Tomyris, took people to fuel some strange, ancient rituals that gave the crew dark powers.
Master Kraujas knew better than to believe such tripe, but some of his troops still did. Then he started to see fear in his men’s eyes when another attack pointed to the Cadejos. That’s when Master Kraujas knew they had to be crushed. He could not have his crew fearing anyone; fearful warriors fail.
Vucari spies were dispatched across Lago to dig up information on the Cadejo, but nothing was found. No one seemed to know who they were or where they holed up. The only thing known about the Cadejos was that they were stepping up attacks on civilian convoys crossing Vucari territory.
Now, sitting before Master Kraujas was the largest convoy struck by the Cadejos yet. It was attacked right on the main road between Reis and Behistun, too, a clear challenge to his authority that made him look weak to his troops and other outlaw leaders.
Once at the ambush site, Master Kraujas walked among the still smoldering wreckage, trying to understand how this attack could have happened on such a wide-open region of the plain. There were no good spots to hide an attacking force that could dominate and destroy a convoy of this size. No damage to the ground indicating the use of mines. It didn’t make sense.
Master Kraujas stomped around the scene, examining every detail. He estimated that the Cadejo had made off with a hefty haul considering the size of the convoy. How they had even known about it?
According to Dalton, the next major shipment to Behistun was supposed to leave Reis in two days. How had that date been changed without him knowing but the Cadejo finding out? Now he not only appeared incompetent but out of the loop.
He approached the back of the only intact truck. Inside sat a large pile of personal armor, the Cadejo Crew’s calling card.
A wave of rage overcame Master Kraujas. His hands grabbed one of the truck’s rear door panels, and in one terrifying motion, he ripped it off the hinges and tossed it behind him. The door knocked two Vucari off their feet. One lay motionless. The other writhed in pain until Master Kraujas brought his foot down upon his head. “Where’s Dalton?” demanded Master Kraujas.
When no response came the Vucari glanced among themselves. All eyes looked for the man assigned to oversee this part of their territory.
“Sir . . .”
Master Kraujas turned to an outlaw pointing at the body he just stomped. An intricate Vucari emblem was etched into the chest piece. Dalton had hand-carved it himself.
Master Kraujas glanced at the lanky figure who pointed out Dalton’s body.
“What’s your name?”
“Colby . . . sir.”
“Since you’re so observant, tell me what the hell happened here.”
Colby stalled, unsure of how to answer. Then he remembered something he saw when first surveying the site.
“They forgot to cover their tracks. They’re clear as day, heading north.”
Master Kraujas smiled, “Show me.”