The Chosen, Chapter 1G

Lying on the bench in her cell later that day, Wolf tried to understand how the ambush had failed. The Safety Committee had arrived from the Philos side of the road, which had been Red Trout’s responsibility; he was too good of a scout to have failed to see them coming, or raise the warning signal. Had he betrayed them? Perhaps, but there was no way for her to know for certain. Yungen’s gang didn’t visit prisoners in jail, or attempt rescues. Once you were captured, Yungen was done with you.

“You heard about the Pentapolis?” Her fellow prisoner’s question caught Wolf by surprise, as it had been hours, or so it seemed, since either of them had spoken.

“Not sure I care what happens over there.” Wolf rolled onto her side, facing away from the other prisoner’s cell.

“They’re about to declare independence.” The other prisoner laughed, amused at the sound of her own words. “Been threatening to leave for years, but that young fella, Thurgood, he has the five cities believing they can make it on their own.”

Wolf shut her eyes. “No surprise there. The Empire’s got too many problems at home, to control the Pentapolis.” Then her eyes snapped open, and she propped herself up on the bench. Talk of the Empire prompted a memory from that morning, the nobleman advancing at her, with an Imperial blade. A weapon he had sheathed before the Safety Committee’s arrival. She called out to the other prisoner – “Does the Safety Committee still post a bounty, for information about Imperial spying?”

The woman in the other cell thought a moment. “Three grand, if’n I ‘member correctly.”

Wolf smiled to herself. The Empire may have been reduced to little more than a city state on the continent, but its influence was still feared, even in the colonial world. If she could convince her captors to investigate the nobleman, and if they did determine he was working on behalf of the Empire, they’d be disposed to dismiss the charges against her. And if she collected the bounty as well, she would be set for life, could even leave Yungen’s service if she desired.

“You know of any Imperial spies?”

“Perhaps.” Wolf reclined fully on the cot, and continued engaging the other prisoner without revealing any information about the failed robbery attempt, or the nobleman wielding the Imperial blade. The less anyone else knew, the better. After a while the other prisoner gave up her attempts at prying, leaving Wolf to her own thoughts again. As dusk filtered through the narrow barred window, she gave in to sleep.

***

She was not sure how long she had been out, when she woke with a start. She looked around her dark cell, feeling she had been jostled awake, but quickly determined she was alone. There was, however, something distinctly different. An odor.

Cinnamon.

“Mind if I have a word?” At first, Wolf thought the other prisoner had been speaking, but this voice was softer. “I promise, this won’t take long.” And it wasn’t coming from the next cell, but rather, the window.

Wolf approached the window cautiously, as if the speaker were about to leap through the narrow opening. “You were on the road today.”

“I’m not here to talk about what happened.” Wolf wished she could see this woman’s face, evaluate her sincerity. “I know this may seem unusual, but my companions and I have – a favor, to ask of you.”

“A favor?” Wolf snorted. “I’ll do you a favor, the courthouse has night guards, better watch yourself.”

The voice on the other side of the prison wall laughed. “Don’t worry about the guards. Just, tell me if you can help us, find Yungen.”

This was hardly the first time Wolf had been asked to lead someone to her gang’s leader. Usually, though, the request came as more of a threat. “He’s not a particularly easy man to find.”

“But – we can count on your assistance?”

Wolf bit her lower lip. She had no reason to trust this woman, but given her current situation, she had no other choice. “I don’t owe Yungen any loyalty. You get me out of here, I’ll help you find him.”

“Thank you.” Wolf could feel the woman’s smile in her voice. Sensing she was now moving away, Wolf called out to her. “How do you plan – ”

“Silence, Prisoner Three!” She recoiled at the sound of the gravelly male voice of the guard.

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