The conversation next door proceeds slowly. Four voices are fairly clear; a fifth, sometimes addressed as “Meselheim”, is muffled oddly. The language is difficult to make out but between all of your knowledge, you piece together the Arkalian conversation.
“Meselheim”, it seems, Is in charge; though the other four seem oddly dismissive and undeferential towards him, even though when he gives an order, they simply agree to do it. After a few minutes, you have the impression from the tones, that “Meselheim” might be a messenger of some kind, passing on instructions (or reminding the men of instructions) from an authority that they do recognise, and accept he is authorised to speak for.
Meselheim, at times, seems to refer to the group collectively as “Cobras”.
The man called Sokolev – probably the Sokolev Gerasim that Jaxar has mentioned he spotted and knows from a long time ago – seems to be in charge officially, to judge by the way that everyone (including, sometimes, Meselheim) show.
The discussion they’re having at the moment is the benefits of sending the “last shipment” for “the Zhorak “ to collect. While three of the men seem to support this – and sending the “raw materials” too – the rest, including “Meselheim”, say it’s best to drop them overboard and get away from the factory before any “suspicions” develop from “Kardevron’s involvement”.
One of them points out that if “the Zhorak” isn’t going to collect the last shipment (and they just dump it in the river/sea) they will have trouble getting to the “Slader dock” since they don’t have a map of “the reefs” and that besides, they wouldn’t dare risk a “third party captain” knowing that information. Meselheim agrees vehemently and says they will have to report to “Solaria” and await new orders.
The men worry that if they go to “Solaria” they may be sent off to “Ortorten”, but are assured by “Meselheim” that that mission would be volunteer-only. One man – whose name seems to be Sergei – seems very happy at the idea and says he would lay down his life to prove to the world that Solaris was a force beyond immortal emperors and merchants. His colleagues are dismissive of him, but in a way that seems to be friendly (but awkward) banter rather than bitter division.
After perhaps 10 minutes “Meselheim” tells them that “a close ally” has urgently asked to speak with them, and that “the Admiral’s” standing orders to “Meselheim” are that if this ally makes any requests they are to be treated as priority orders. The others seem confused and protest, but Sokolev silences them and says that of course, any friend of the Admiral’s, they will hear out, and to “connect” them whenever they’re ready.
Then there is a long silence which Sokolev breaks.
[Musical link for the following conversation: https://youtu.be/uhesDs6FWpo?t=54m31s ]A deep, oddly booming voice answers.
“No. A new mission, priority, for Cobra Squad. Bring me Jaxar Tilton.”
“Jaxar..? You mean Ga-”
“Dead or alive. If dead; no significant decomposition permitted. No significant thermal, chemical injuries even post-mortem. Body to be kept intact for sampling. Do this and you will be rewarded. Do you understand?”
There’s a long moment of silence and some whispers that you can’t make out.
Then Sokolev replies. “Actually, we’re not sure we do; we’ve been after Kardevron for months, we’ve never been given any… instructions on how to treat his body. We don’t really understand why there’s a sudden interest?”
There’s a long silence. Then…
“You have identified Jaxar Tilton as your Kardevron.”
Sokolev is silent for another long moment. “But that’s just an alias, I don’t-”
He’s interrupted. “Jaxar Tilton is a more important identity. Jaxar Tilton is a Trynsham identity.”
Sokolev breaks another odd pause. “Trynsham? I suppose he was looking for our operatives, I don’t-”
“6 survivors known, at Trynsham Station with X4 sample. Further 5 suspected present within infection window soon after. You will bring me Jaxar Tilton, dead or alive, for the furtherance of vital research. This is priority above your equipment; your factory; your lives. Fail and you will be made to suffer greatly in punishment. Succeed and you and all your men will receive 5,000 Guilders each, and be granted any power you wish of the Sixth Concentric Tier.”
There is a long silence.
Then the deep voice speaks again. “Do you understand?”
More whispering, this time more urgent.
“…yes”, Sokolev says, simply.
Meselheim responds. “I heard all that. This is unorthodox but the Admiral was clear, and I’ve never heard Deep Ocean give a command that urgently, so as soon as you’ve sealed the valves and covered over the factory, find that Tilton man and bring him in. You know what to do.”
Sokolev replies, “Shall we just dump the shipment in the river and head after Kardevron?”
Meselheim thinks. “Make sure the factory won’t survive the night, and dump the last rounds wherever you think necessary. Then get out of there and let it be an unexplained tragedy. No witnesses… obviously.”
Sokolev replies, affirmatively. “Understood. Rastok, out”.
Then there is the sound of chairs scraping, and Sokolev continues – this time in New Urgenian. “Vitomir, Sergei, shut down and tidy up here, then come find us. We need to be gone within the hour. Bring anything you don’t want to carry with you; we’ll burn it in the engines. Give us a minute downstairs, though… we need to take care of something.”
The Sergei voice leaps in. “Sir, we know cremation in the furnaces can’t be traced, we-”
Sokolev interrupts. “Not at half power, sergeant. This will take a bit more ingenuity, but we’ll deal with that after we deal with him. Now get on with it, we don’t have much time if we want the bonus the… ‘friend’ mentioned.”
Two muted “Yessirs”, and the door outside opens… and two sets of footsteps walk past, and down the stairs. Within seconds you hear a door shutting, and the place is quiet – but the remaining men must be in the next room even now.