Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 367






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Claude found himself to be quite busy. Even though Miselk had mostly settled the staffing choices for the new theatre, Claude had decided to move the command post to Lanu, which was a rather troublesome affair.

But Miselk didn't object to his decision as he felt that Grinosburg was a little too far to the borders of Anfiston. Lanu was right at the centre of the colony and transport there was convenient. However, Grinosburg was still the most developed mining city where two of the mines were situated. Given that Anfiston had developed based on its mining industry, there was good reason to make that the centre of command to safeguard the mines.

During wartime, however, making that the command centre would delay too much time. It took the good part of a day to travel from Grinosburg to Lanu and any emergencies would only be reported soonest a day later. That would greatly hamper their ability to respond. Yet, moving the command centre to Lanu wasn't that simple a matter either.

Other things aside, transferring Ranger's supply to Lanu alone proved to be challenging, not to mention the fact that Miselk had ordered for all carriages of Ranger to be taken for the transportation of the newly arrived settlers.

Like Miselk mentioned, they were short on time. Storm had set out with the other transport ships and they would arrive in Tyrrsim in another half a month. It would take around 20 days to travel from Tyrrsim to Anfiston by carriage transportation.

In other words, the command post had to be moved within the span of 40 days at most. Lanu would also be the main area where they allowed the settlers to rest at the moment while their jobs were being arranged. Food and other necessities like medicine for the settlers also had to be provided in the meantime.

It was so busy that Claude couldn't even catch half a breath, let alone return to his house in Lanu for a good night's rest. Fortunately, with Myjack, Berklin, Dyavid and his other loyal aides' help, more than 4000 of the 5000 members of Line 131 were willing to transfer to Thundercrash. Claude had established the folk's basic hierarchy without expending too much effort.

Miselk's estimations were correct. Most of the troops in Ranger were willing to transfer to an irregular corps for a one-rank promotion. Rather than benefits and salary raises, they'd much rather forge a career on the battlefield. As long as they continued to win battles, their salaries would always continue to rise far above others'. They were confident that Claude would lead them to even more glory and prosperity if they served under him.

Of the 30 plus thousand of the original Ranger folk, more than 25600 people were willing to join the five enhanced folks. Of the 30 thousand new recruits, more than 2000 were willing to follow the veterans into the new folks. Miselk settled on giving each folk five thousand rangers and left the other three thousand remaining ones to Claude's Thundercrash.

As for the 30 thousand-odd soldiers Miselk was going to bring back to Freia, he used them as labourers before their return to build the camps near Lanu for the settlers and expand the roads and towns, much to their peril. Miselk didn't care about their complaints, however, and said that since they weren't brave enough to go on the battlefield, they might as well make it up for it through work.

Weyblon's son also joined Thundercrash as a formerly discharged veteran and was once more made a first lieutenant. Currently, he was still learning and adapting to his new unit under probation. Claude picked a time to have a short meeting with President Henderman to discuss how the settlers should be distributed.

To his surprise, the mining and trade association didn't need the settlers to go toil away in the mines; that job could be done by the nikancha youth. What he needed was talented folk. Usually, each household had an average of six people while larger ones can go up to ten. Apart from the couple, there were still the parents and siblings. The association wanted to source their talent from that pool of people.

High-skilled people were rare in the colonies in comparison to the kingdom. Given how immense the area the association conducted business over was, they were really short on manpower on the managerial level. Having no choice, they let the nikancha fill those positions, but their bad performance greatly affected their profits. But now that more than a hundred thousand households would be immigrating to Nubissia, the association finally had more people to pick from.

As Henderman had said, it was fine if they weren't literate. They could still perform the task of supervising the ǹikancha. There wasn't a need to encourage or help them either. All they needed to do was to hold a gun in one hand and a whip in the other and the nikancha would comply. What the association lacked the most were these folk. If there were settlers who could read and do arithmetic, that would be even better. The association had no lack of such posts.

Claude also had Henderman promise him a few things. In principle, he wasn't against the association recruiting workers from the settlers, so long as they weren't coerced into working. The recruitment also had to wait until the households were settled into their camp first. There was to be no trickery or coercion. The association could only help settle down the immigrants who were willing to go with them in their mining towns and cities.

Thirty days soon passed in a flash. The first batch of settlers had arrived and Claude received a report from the command centre that something went down in the logistics department.

General Fansnik was up to again. He didn't know that Miselk had attributed all remaining supplies to the new theatre under Colonel Skri's authority. Instead, he referred to the old corps' accounts and believed that they had too much Shiksan gear and supplies, so he was prepared to auction them off to merchants.

Perhaps the day of returning to the kingdom was coming close, Fansnik, who had nothing much to show so far, was probably trying to sell off whatever he thought wasn't necessary. In his mind, supplies left here were wasted supplies anyway, so he decided on his own that selling them off would be a good idea.

After much trouble of finally locating an interested merchant, Fansnik rushed excitedly to the warehouses to check the stock, only to be shocked after he opened the door. Quite a number of the stores were emptied out and the rest were covered with sealing tape, marked for use by the theatre exclusively.

He panicked then. Even though it was Ranger's supplies, why did it suddenly belong to logistics of the new theatre? He rushed to find Colonel Skri and demanded the supplies be returned, but Skri merely said that Miselk had ordered all supplies and gear of Ranger to be handed over to theatre command. It wasn't like they could ship it back to the kingdom anyway.

Angered beyond reason, he said that Miselk had no right to order that, especially when Fansnik, the chief logistics officer, wasn't informed about it. So, the supplies couldn't be transferred to anyone else without his permission. He ordered Colonel Skri to hand everything back.

Skri refused to comply immediately and demanded to see a hand-written order from Miselk himself if a return was to be conducted.

But how would Fansnik dare to see Miselk for one? He had planned to sell the supplies away and pocket part of the profits before putting the rest into the corps' account as his contribution. With his plans completely wasted, he reacted with anger and emphasised Miselk didn't have that authority and that the logistics department was in charge of all that.

So, he accused Skri of embezzling the supplies for himself and ordered the enforcers from the court martial to arrest Skri before hurriedly packing up the goods to sell to the big-time merchant.

Skri was in charge of the new theatre, so his arrest caused a lot of chaos. Without anyone making the calls, problems began to pile up. Fortunately, some level-headed logistics officers used carrier eagles to inform Claude about this immediately as well as Colonel Birkin who was busy forming 4th Monolith folk in Grinosburg.

While the command post had been moved to Lanu, Skri's logistics department was still in Grinosburg dealing with the transfer of supplies from Ranger to the theatre. Little did they know that something like this would happen during Miselk's excursion to Brikaman in Robisto to supervise the formation of 1st Monolith and check on Dorinibla River Defence Line. Since Fansnik held the highest post in Ranger's headquarters, nobody could stop him.

Claude couldn't possibly ride to Grinosburg on such short notice, so he wrote Colonel Birkin a letter and requested him to close Grinosburg down and forbid the merchant who bought the supplies from leaving and arrest him first. Claude would then go to Ranger's headquarters to save Skri.

However, one hour plus later, Claude received a letter from Birkin that stated that Fansnik had used the logistics department's heavy support tribe to escort the merchant's convoy out of the city. Currently, he was in a standoff against them and Fansnik was going to accuse the colonel of mutiny.

Claude really felt like cursing out loud. While most of the units from Ranger were in Lanu working on the construction, there was still a keeper tribe and logistics tribe in headquarters. Claude couldn't afford to let Birkin's unit open fire against the support tribe lest the matter escalated beyond recovery.

The signallers from the theatre said that it would take at least three hours for a carrier eagle to fly to Brikaman. By the time Miselk received it, it would already be six in the evening. Miselk had left before noon yesterday and was probably still on the way there and would only arrive tomorrow afternoon. While Miselk also had his own carrier eagle, they had to wait for him to send it their way first before being able to send a message to him. The carrier eagles couldn't reach someone who was still travelling, after all.

Claude wracked his brain over what to do. This sudden development would cause a domino effect in the new theatre. Nobody could've expected that useless general to cause such waves. It wouldn't be that much of a problem if the sale itself went through, since those were Shiksan spoils. When Miselk returned, he'd naturally deal with it.

However, Claude didn't want to let Fansnik off this time. If he didn't teach him a good lesson, the man might continue to cause even more problems down the line. Not to mention, letting him get away with it would make a bad precedent for the new theatre. Even if the brass knew how troublesome it was for him and how difficult his position was, the soldiers wouldn't see it the same way. It would greatly diminish his reputation among the men.

"Write an eagle message and get Colonel Birkin to let them through. Also, have Thundercrash Folk Strike Tribe set out with me," Claude ordered.

Strike was the only fully manned tribe at the moment. It was an enhanced tribe similar in scale to Tribe 131 and Myjack was the tribesman. There were around 1600 men, all veterans, and they would be Thundercrash's sharpest knife.

After some two hours, Claude and Strike reached the entrance of the mountain pass. He gave the order to rest. Then, he sent scouts along the path to see whether Fansnik, the support tribe and the merchant convoy had arrived. Fortunately, there was only one pass to leave Grinosburg from.

After half an hour, Claude received reports that the convoy would be arriving soon.

The rest was a simple matter. Strike, laying in ambush, popped up all of a sudden and accused Fansnik of treason and ordered for his immediate arrest. They proclaimed that anyone who resisted would be shot without exception.

The heavy support tribe's men were completely captured off guard and soon subdued. Fansnik kept bellowing that he had royal blood and couldn't possibly commit treason. Some officers near him wanted to come over to ask about the situation only to be immediately subdued and tied up by the experienced veterans.

Claude came to Fansnik and took out an eagle message from his pocket. He addressed all the troops publicly. "This is the letter Lord Militant Miselk just sent us. General Fansnik has committed treason. He's leaked information on the theatre to Shiks. His arrest is to be immediately carried out."

Nobody actually saw what the letter contained, but Claude's authoritative tone made sure that nobody doubted him.

However, Fansnik was still stubbornly struggling. "Bullshit! I didn't betray the kingdom! You're accusing a member of the royal family! I won't forgive you for this!"

Claude gave him a firm punch to the chin and he collapsed on the ground immediately.

"Tie him up and throw him in the carriage. Make sure to stuff some old socks into his mouth too. The carriage is shaky and we wouldn't want him to bite on his own tongue." Claude wiped his fist with a white handkerchief.

"Sir, what about the merchant and the convoy?" Myjack asked.

"Take them all away. We'll have Colonel Saljorak question them. They're spies, after all... I want the merchant to admit he's an informant for Shiks."





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