The nervousness of Chei Pui-Yan, the Chief Marauder of the Clan of Despair, was palpable.
Even though he redoubled his efforts to highlight the value of his actions and those of his troops, the one he was giving tour of the Marauders' camp of the Hidden Source did not deign to born the shade of a smile.
Disconcerted, it was with some assurance that, once the visit was over, he brought the visitor into his tent for a private conversation, closely followed by The Scarlet.
Chei bowed with deference to the Fyros homina and invited her to sit at the table that stood in the center of the tent.
But Akilia Ash Storm, the Warlord Chief of all the Marauder Clans, who arrived from the Old Lands that morning, remained upright, impassive, while The Scarlet, her trusty lieutenant, stood back in the shadows, helmet on.
The Zoraï launched itself: "See at the advances we have made on the New Lands! And first of all this camp where we are now, which we conquered by humiliating our adversaries who have not been able to dislodge us from it since!"
Akilia, arms folded, replied: "And the rest of the region? Why don't I see the Marauder flag flying on its borders? You dare to call this an advance?"
Uneasy, Chei continued: "We have also rallied a Zorai tribe! And, after they pledged their allegiance to us, we attacked the Theocracy together in Zora itself, with a new weapon using Goo!
— Only one tribe turned Marauder? And you dare to brag about it!
— But… We also almost succeeded in convincing the Theocracy to let us install a small camp near the Zorai capital, after these attacks!
— Almost? Convincing? These words are not acceptable."
The Zorai fired his last shot: "We just won a great victory by robbing the Fyros of supreme materials that a convoy under powerful escort was bringing them from the Nexus!
— It's a start. But a start only. Never rely on one victory, prepare right away for the next."
Chei Pui-Yan fell silent. He, the tall Zoraï who made his enemies tremble in battle, felt very small in front of the scathing words and the fierce, determined and icy look of Akilia Ash Storm.
The latter showed his lieutenant with her chin, who silently watched the scene before going on, dryly.
"The Scarlet had warned me. You were the best to lead the ancient Synod of Despair, at the dawn of the birth of the Clans on the New Lands. But you never knew the wildness of the Old Lands. You didn't dare enough. Or not yet."
Chei stared at her, puzzled.
"What do you want from me, Akilia?"
The Fyros answered in a categorical tone: "That you make my orders enforced. The Marauders vegetated enough waiting for this world to come to them. It's time to reverse the roles. So we will attack on several fronts.
I demand that the Marauders take outposts to take over their precious materials. And no way, you hear me, using to extract those one of those hideous drills designed by the so-called Powers! I brought the plans of the only drill worthy of the name: a marauder drill. I want to see this drill running. Quickly."
Chei nodded his head.
Akilia went on: "I also want to see our ranks grow. Recruit the most promising homins within the Nations. And rally other tribes to our banner. No matter which way.
You also mentioned a camp to be built near Zora. I want one to be erected near every capital city, each hosting a zinuakeen. And don't think for a moment about begging for the Nations' permission! Build them, occupy them, use them. The rest does not interest me."
She beckoned The Scarlet to approach.
"The Scarlet told me about strange events and new riches discovered in the Nexus. And also about the fact that the lame Nations are present there, but we are not. Or so little. That has to change! Let the Marauders be present and active in the Nexus. Its riches and the future discoveries it promises will be ours.
Chei, who was about to bow, followed The Scarlet who was just nodding his head.
"Now get out! You both have work to do."
Chei Pui-Yan quickly left the tent that had been his, torn between anger and admiration. The legendary Akilia had undeniably taken possession of the place and of their destiny.