This is a short story set in the same world as Hollow.
Military Adviser Finnick Baker was a strange man.
And he was treated as such.
Lieutenant Oak stood at the entrance of the war room, his job to watch for any threats. He had been on this duty enough to notice how each person at the table interacted and reacted to the other members.
Baker sat quietly, scribbling away into a small journal. Other members had (on occasion) asked if he was paying attention. The man usually recited the previous statement.
Sometimes he would lower his arm (as he was now) and black silk would poke out from his shadow. He would pet it, much like anyone would pet a well-loved dog. Then return to his work.
It was likely his shadow was part of the reason he was so unnerving. Baker’s shadow was almost never where it should be.
And if it was where it should be… Then that meant the usual occupant of it wasn’t there. Where were they then? Oak had seen Baker questioned on this once. His reply had been a quirk of his lips and the word “recon”.
Oak almost prayed for the poor souls. To have a scavenger watching you and just waiting to feast…
The pair of them showed up in the capital city several years ago. Baker was younger then Oak then. He had a tendency to find battles and participate.
The man also had a tendency to show up those in charge.
Baker was in no small way responsible for the ending of the Black War. A fact that had earned him a place at this table.
It also got him both fear and respect. After all no one had known who he was until the moment he stepped onto a battlefield with his shadow elongating into a long silken mass of teeth and darkness.
Hollow was in no uncertain terms a nightmarish monster. Capable of being in front of you, to your left and a gaping maw bellow you all at the same time.
The man treated it like a puppy that likes to climb into his lap.
Baker paused in his scribbling and tapped his pen. The other men and woman turned to look at him expectantly. The only other person who commanded attention like this was the President. But Oak had noticed that if Baker wanted to speak, there was a reason for it.
“Baker?” The president indicated for the man to speak. The man in question looked at each member before shuffling his notes.
“I have nothing much to add.” The man said.
“Then why did y-” One of the generals started, he seemed more exasperated than anything. Most respected Baker. But it was obvious who the few who considered the man a friend were. They reacted to him in such a manner. Most were scared of him, most citizens of Daiz were scared of him after all.
“-However you seem worried about scavengers in the area? Send my unit ahead then.” the general frowned at that.
Oak understood the feeling. Baker’s job for the most part was military advice. But he had a pet unit, He called it Chaos. From what Oak had heard, it was an apt name.
It wasn’t a large unit but it was very infamous. Chaos tended to do anything from spy work to guard duty. The members themselves were known for being as offbeat as their commander.
No one had spoken yet, Baker looked around the table almost curiously. Oak got the feeling there was more mischief in the man’s expression then the rest of the table was comfortable with.
“Chaos has the most experience with the creatures. After a battle they will come out to feed.” He gave a soft chuckle. The president looked at the man.
“Are you up to something Baker?”
“Now why would I be up to something Jeffery?” there was a clear “you are always up to something” left unsaid. But instead Baker just looked around the table. “Well? Is there a reason to not send Chaos? If it’s because you doubt my unit’s skill, I would be awfully offended.”
It was one of the admirals who replied.
“Whenever you offer Chaos for a something, it means you have another plan in mind.” The woman said. Her eyes were narrowed. Unlike the general and president. This person didn’t have much fondness for the man.
Baker swivelled a little in his chair and played with his pen.
“I tend to do reconnaissance, whenever possible. This would allow me to send a few people to do so.” He looked at her, an eyebrow raised. “You gain a few extra soldiers.”
“Who never listen to orders.” She muttered.
“They always listen to orders Maribelle. It just so happened those orders your man gave… Well they conflicted with my own.” a cough from the president. Both turned back to him.
“Well?” The president turned back to the general. “Would having Chaos along for the ride be worth it?”
“I have a few teams that are used to working with Chaos.”
“I am happy to send people that yours have worked with previously.”
“Would prefer a promise of men, mine can stand.” the general’s statement caused a nervous laugh to start. “But I trust you to send what we need.”
With that the matter was closed. Baker went back to scribbling in his journal as the others discussed the impending battle.
Oak was somewhat distracted. He was fairly certain Hollow was watching him. On the ground he could see two unnatural holes in Baker’s shadow, like eyes… facing towards him.
Oak sat to the left of the little secretary. She was typing away, bobbing her head to music from her head phones. Right now Oak seriously wished he could hear it too. A distraction would be nice.
After a moment she paused and turned to him.
“He’s ready for you.”
The lieutenant took a deep breath and stood.
“Relax, if it was bad… You’d be dead.”
“That does not help.”
She shrugged and went back to typing.
Opening the door, Oak found Baker sitting at his desk. The man was scratching just under the right cheek of the iron mask Hollow wore. The creature had its tongue out in clear pleasure.
To Oak who had only ever seen scavengers as he was heading out of a battle… It was bizarre to see one like this.
“People always have that reaction.” Baker remarked. “Unless they have somehow had a positive experience with a scavenger.”
“Two people. One is a member of Chaos.”
“That would be telling.” Baker gestured for Oak to sit. “Would you like a drink?” The man asked curiously.
“Umm… Tea?” Hollow sprang up and disappeared. Baker’s lips quirked again. The creature soon returned with a tray. On it was a plate of biscuits, a tea pot, milk, sugar and two cups. “What?”
Baker shook his head.
“Who did you take that from, brat?” the creature disappeared again. Baker examined the tray before pouring two cups. “Well are you curious what the president gets?”
“It- Hollow took it from the president?”
“Yes, don’t worry. Worst case scenario? My secretary get’s a call asking for us to return it once we are done.”
That just made this scenario even stranger.
Now Oak was staring into his tea cup.
“Now, you are wondering why you are here correct?”
“I wanted to extend an offer to join Chaos to you, Lieutenant.”
Oak just stared at the man, open mouthed.
“Again, not an unusual reaction. Hollow has noticed how observant you are.” The man took a sip of tea. “I tend to trust his judgment.”
“Think on the matter Benjamin.”
Another strange thing about Baker was his tendency to only ever use someone’s first name.