Harbinger of War (Ank Ki'Shor)
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Jan 25 2014 2:47am
Some time ago...

CSIS Preparatory Academy, Audacia

“So tell me, why? Why would he do that?”

The instructor, a short olive-skinned man with an aquiline nose paced around the desks of the students, eying all of them, but not a single one of them, at the same time. Pierre glanced around the class, half-expecting the fast talking woman from Metalorn or the typically reticent Adams boy to raise his hand speak, but neither of them did. Instead, Pierre found the instructor's brown eyes bearing down on him.

“What do you think Mr. Reygrl, would you have done the same thing in his position?”

“Well, the Dragons killed many innocent people that way...”

“Did they win?”

“Well...I suppose, but everyone hates them now.”

“They accomplished their objective, Mr. Reygrl, and perhaps more importantly, unlike what the other instructors may be telling in your other classes, the consequences were not diplomatically severe to them either. Months later, the Dragons were still able to make deals with Vinda Corp, or even travel to Coruscant to observe some negotiations. So why? Tell me, where was the political backlash?”

“Well their actions helped form...us.”

Instructor Reilson offered a predatory smile and pointed at Adams, “True. But my point was there was no immediate short-term negative effects. But I hardly leave out the rancor sitting in the room either now, can I? The Empire hasn't suffered for its countless atrocities either, has it? So I pose a question to you, if those actions have been successful, why haven't we done them yet ourselves?”

“It'd be immoral,” suggested Pierre.

Reilson shook his head, “Closer, but morality isn't something universally shared by peoples. What I think you meant to get is that many people here in the Confederation would not stand for us to do those things, correct?”

“Ah, yes.”

“And let me guess, you all just think that we couldn't get away doing those things because it'd ignite protests from our people, and politicians would be saked, right?”

Silence permeated the room. Reilson let out an exasperated sigh.

“I fear that either no one wants to learn today or I am becoming predictable. The answer is yes, we could get away with things like that too. And here's why...”
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Feb 1 2014 2:02am
The Present...

Styria-class Galleon Pondichéry, in orbit via Ank Ki'Shor

“What a world,” murmured the female Wroonian by his side. Her light blue skin just barely pressed up against the man's forearm. Despite its blue hue, he found it even warmer than his own skin. With a faint smile, Rey'grl turned his light blue eyes to bear down on her golden-flecked eyes. But the woman kept her eyes focused on the ugly gray world in front of them, whose artificial mists of smog strangled the world in wispy strands. The system's blue sun brought rays of cold light onto the world, turning the upper gray clouds and smogs into gleaming silver while keeping the rest of world clouded in darkness. Rey'grl snorted.

“It's a manufacturing world like any other.”

“No,” murmured Indigo with a slight shake of the head, “it's not. Yes, I've seen the smog. Yes, I've seen the industrialization, the countless factories below. Yes, I've seen the catalogs and brochures of the world. But none of them pay enough tribute to a such a tragedy of world that puts corporate profit first over everything else...”

“That's not what I was expecting you to say,” mused Rey'grl, turning his head away from the scarred gray world, “you had me going, well, for at least a second. I almost thought you were going to try and convince me to move there.”

She lightly laughed and gently patted his back, “As if. I know my tastes seem a little strange to you at times, but this isn't one of them. Ank Ki'Shor is a sick world.”

“I'm not sure if we can fully help them...not with the rest of the Confederation's utilization of the rest of the Eastern Reach worlds...”

“You know what they will all say.”

“Probably,” admitted Rey'grl, “but they have their priorities, and we have ours.”

“You mean High Command.”

“I mean me, myself, Indigo,” reaffirmed the other CSIS operative, striding towards the galleon's command chair.

Indigo turned and followed in his wake, “You don't mean that.”

“I do. I'd do worse to this world than you probably think I'd do. Estaria...Estaria affirmed something that one of my instructors, one of our, instructors told me.”

She frowned, “You aren't thinking of Rielson, are you? We can't go all the way down that path, even if we break the rules sometimes...in exceptional cases...only exceptional cases.”

“Why? Why can't we?” questioned Pierre, collapsing into his command chair, “the more I tour these Outer Rim worlds, sometimes I wonder if the Empire wasn't right in the first place. Do you see the lawless and suffering these people have lived through? Sometimes I wonder why they don't think they'd be better off dead...The Empire was doing some of this worlds a favor, bringing law and order to them. Maybe even modernity. How can they live like that?”


Rey'grl shook his head and rose up from his command chair, “No, not all of them...but enough of this. The real CMF ships are probably anxious to do some trading, and more likely than not, suspicious of us if we keep up talks. I'm putting Reglia in charge of the trading again, groundside. While I'm away, you're in charge Indigo. I don't think I have to say it...”

“I won't do anything to mess up whatever plot you've cooked up for them,” said the Wroonian slowly, “but try not to hurt people.”

He lightly laughed, “I think you misunderstand me. I don't like hurting people, well, not most people. I just want to see what it's really like down there. See who we're really dealing with when they don't think it's us, get the truth. I swear to you, if it'll make you feel better, that I won't do anything that I don't think you would...”

She nodded, “You worry me sometimes, Captain...”

“Me too Indigo, me too.”
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Feb 1 2014 9:28pm
Eriton, Ank Ki'Shor

“Five hundred thousand credits, final offer.”

Reglia glanced around the office of the executive. The raven-haired woman seated across the desk kept eying him while he attempted to roughly calculate the value of such an exchange. Reglia tilted his head from side to side as he added up the numbers. He shook his head.

“Not interested, Mrs. Coungley, but I thank you for your time.”

“What do you mean not interested? That's a fair exchange for the power crystals...”

“It would have been competitive about two months ago, before the Reavers.”

She scowled, “Are you trying to price-gouge me, Captain?”

He smiled, “Now Mrs. Coungley, I could accuse you of the same. But let me ask you this, how many ships are coming to Ank Ki'Shor these days for trade? How many of your suppliers, because I know the Confederation pretty much owns the market out from here. Your ores from Makeb Te, your power from Estaria, your food from Emmer. With the rise of the Reavers, our worlds are some of the few that can both supply your own, and buy your products. I can just as easily sell my cargo in less dangerous areas. That's the fee. I'll do it for six hundred thousand.”

“Your Confederation wouldn't be so keen to be taking advantage of the situation now, would they? I bet your press would have a field day with that,” replied the woman with an arched eyebrow, “or maybe the Empire's would? I'd bet they'd love to paint a story about the Confederation economically oppressing its neighbors. Five hundred and twenty thousand.”

“We could simply stop trading with your world if it isn't profitable,” countered Reglia, steepling his stubby fingers, “and let it fall apart. Five hundred seventy-five thousand.”

She sighed, “You're just being a dick now. Five hundred thirty thousand is the most I can do. I'm sorry, that's all I've got to spend on this. Like you said, orders are down right now. I know maybe it's not as profitable as you'd like, but well, my company will remember your Confederation when times are better. Maybe even as allies, or maybe...we could do a loan.”

He shook his head with a wry smile, “You're making it too complicated now, Mrs. Coungley. Tell you what though, I'll take the five hundred thirty thousand, it'll be a modest profit...but maybe...maybe we can work something out later on to secure your company's finance, some sort of long-term trade deal. Do you think you could be able to supply Confederation Defense contracts, with a little work?”

“Huh, I've never really thought of it. We've done mostly a lot of one-off runs for whoever has the credits until recently, even that Neo Death Watch group, but it wasn't an exclusive sort of thing. I don't see why not though, if we have a particular product you want, and if you can supply the materials...”

Reglia nodded, “Hold those thoughts and get thinking. Perhaps we can both do a little better than we thought. I'll have the galleons start coming down with the cargo, and we'll assume that your credit account will suffice for now. But I'm going to go back and do some talking, maybe see if we can sweeten the deal with some defense contract stuff.”

“The Baron might not like that so much,” warned the woman, “but I'll see what we can do about that...”

“I'll ask the convoy leader if he'll speak with him.”

She frowned, “It's not you?”

Reglia shook his head, “Not technically. Captain Rey'grl doesn't like to get too deep into the trading thing. He's more of a guy for space-going aspects of our profession. Doesn't seem to really like being on the ground so much unless there's trouble...”

Counglia shook her head in turn, “Sounds like the wrong profession for him...”

“He does well enough,” defended Reglia, “otherwise he wouldn't have made it too far.”


“Well, I'll get back to you. You take care now Mrs. Coungley.”

“And you as well Captain Reglia.”
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Feb 2 2014 9:05pm
The Throne Room, Baron's Summer Retreat, Ank Ki'Shor

“Your people are harbingers of war,” lashed out the lean man in the red trappings of a royal adviser, “Baron, for the sake of your throne, for your people, it would be wise to not invite the wrath of the Empire, this new Dominion, the outside world for some paltry credits...”

“Quiet, Mr. Rexet,” rebuffed the baron, raising a hand, “I will come to a decision myself.”

Captain Rey'grl eyed the royal adviser quietly as he pleaded with his king. Yet Baron Demetri IV the Black, so called for his fondness of dark clothing, only let out an exasperated sigh at the other man reached an end to his words. The black-clad man slowly rose from his heavily embellished chair and let his hazel eyes gaze over the Confederate in front of him.

“Captain Rey'grl, my adviser is right about some things, even if he ventures off into the realms of hyperbole. I must particularly admit that I am concerned about the possibility of war myself, if we are to start manufacturing war materials for your government. There are some galactic powers that would not take that too kindly to such actions. I am afraid that it would give them impetus to annex our world.”

“You're speaking of the Empire, I'd assume,” guessed Pierre, meeting the other man's gaze, “who have claimed that all worlds in the galaxy are under their authority...”

“Yes. They tried once. Given the right reason, I do not see why they would not try again, particularly since your Confederation doesn't seem to get along too well with them...”

“But Ank Ki'Shor has never fallen to the Empire...”

“Yes,” admitted the Baron, “that much is true. I was only seven that day, but I can still vividly remember the Y-wings swooping in to fight off the Imperial invaders that day. The Alliance saved many people of our world that day, but it was not without significant loss. There areas on my world where you can still the damage done by the Imperial bombers as they sought to level down the factories where we produced...items for the Alliance back then. It is not a mistake I would like to repeat again. It is a regret my father had that I would not like to repeat.”

“Then why have you?”

“Excuse me?” questioned the Baron, raising an eyebrow.

“Several of your corporations have been known to make items for the Neo Death Watch group, honorable baron. I have been told that Kuarex Aerospace has even made them heavy starfighters based on an old Mandalorian design. You do realize that the Confederation doesn't have the best of relationships with this new Death Watch.”

Demetri IV sighed, “Yes, I heard about the unfortunate incident at Felucia, though I admit that I do not know the whole story, nor do I think you convince me one way or the other who was more correct in that matter.”

“But neither of this neglects the fact the Confederation could potentially attack your industries, if your own reasoning is correct, if tensions with the Neo Death Watch flare up some more...”

The baron raised an eyebrow, “Are you threatening me, captain? Did your Confederation recently turn into the Empire?”

“No,” replied Pierre, “I apologize if it came out that way. I was merely attempting to point out that such an exception, or perhaps inconsistency, already would seem to exist. Moreover baron, your world needs the Confederation if it is to last economically, at least in good shape. But don't trust my word alone, baron, talk with the heads of the businesses that call Ank Ki'Shor home. Ask them what they think.”

He furrowed his brow, “I know where Mrs. Counglia's loyalty lies, if that's what you're insinuating...”

“I was not attempting to insinuate anything, honorable baron,” defended the CMF officer, “only to point out that there are other viewpoints of this matter on this world, by some people who are probably more expert in this opinion than at least I am, baron, and perhaps with insights not seen by your adviser either...”

“I will take your words into consideration, captain,” replied the Baron, “and I will speak with them to see what they think, if it will placate you.”

“It will, honorable baron. I assume that we will still have permission to carry out our current activities in your sovereign space until you reach a decision?”

The baron spared a quick glance at his adviser, “Yes, for now. Good night, Captain.”

Rey'grl offered a curt bow, “Good night, honorable baron.”
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Feb 2 2014 9:58pm
Later that night...

Conference Room 1A, Styria-class Galleon Pondichéry, in orbit via Ank Ki'Shor

“And? What did the baron say?” asked Reglia

Rey'grl eyed Reglia closely, wondering if the ex-trader had the slightest idea about his original reason for going down to the ground. It's really too bad he called me while I was already ground-side. But he doesn't seem like the type to typically question his superior except in matters in which he is already involved...The CSIS man spared a quick glance at his datapad, taking note to remember the times.

“The baron said he'd think about it. I managed to get to him to at least talk to other corporations on the world to see what they thought about such a deal.”

“So it should be as good as done?” questioned the short man, “my other dealings with the world's other megacorps showed that they have a lot of appetite for our goods, though they too are a little lacking in what they can do for us...”

“I hope so,” replied Rey'grl, sitting down next to the other man, “but one of his advisors, a former economics professor by the name of Rexet, has convinced the baron that there is an element of bringing war to the world if they start manufacturing goods for us. It's understandable that they don't want to get bombed or invaded by the Empire again, who can blame them, but they've only got tough choices.”

“So we have to get them more reasons to go through with the trade...”

Rey'grl nodded, “I suppose, or more reasons for them to not be worried about the Empire coming back and beating the crap out of them. But the Empire is a shell of what it once was. The nearest Imperial system is probably Centares.”

“Less than a day's travel if the entire Perlemian was open...”

“If it was, but if it was, that'd be assuming that the Empire would travel through no less than two of our own systems. That's unlikely to say the least, never mind that they'd probably not want to travel through Reaver or old dragon space to get to them. We're talking days for a safe route...”

Reglia sighed, “I doubt that will convince him to go through with the trade by itself. We'd have to give him better protection than mere distance.”

“Perhaps,” suggested Pierre, “we could get the Baron to bring Ank Ki'Shor into the Confederation. If we're going to go through all of this work for a mere trade...”

The short man frowned, “I don't follow. We're here to make a profit. Not that our superiors wouldn't be happy with us, but isn't that a bit out of our realm to start doing negotiations unless the Council authorizes us?”

“So why not ask CMF command for authorization?” started Rey'grl, “it's not like it's going to hurt to ask. I heard they've got one of us CMF captains doing that in the Western Expanse pretty frequently...”

“But she's a line captain...unless. You're in this for the promotion aren't you?”

Pierre quickly drew his eyes from his datapad to bore into the eyes of his comrade, his potential threat. His brown eyes turned hard as he quickly began to assess the other man's expression. He can't possibly know...but have my motivations become so obvious that they don't match my cover story? I've already almost had it blown once...He plastered a wry grin on his face.

“You're right, I do think it'll look good on our records,” started the man, “it'll look like we're ready to advance up to the next rank if we're already doing their job. Think about it, we could do trading for any number of companies, even as free traders ourselves. There's a reason why I joined the CMF. It wasn't just to be another trader, or to have access to Confederate resources, but to see the galaxy, make it a better place. What a better way to do that than by bringing in a struggling world into our fold? It's a mutually beneficially arrangement...”

Reglia hesitated, “Well...I suppose....”

“I'm right, am I not?” replied the brown-haired man, “do you think that Ank Ki'Shor would better off by itself, or with us? Or are the Reavers probably going to start knocking on their doorstep if the Empire doesn't? I won't claim to understand the economics of the situation more than you, but you've already confirmed my suspicions that they need us more than we need them...”

“Well, yes...”

“So I'm right, am I not?”

“It just seems so weird. Artificial even...”

“Perhaps,” admitted Rey'grl, “but the real question is, is it the right thing to do for them, for us?”


“So the real question is how do we go about that?”

Reglia sighed, “You already have some ideas on that, judging by how quickly your mind seems to be spinning.”

“I do,” admitted the other man, “but it's not as important was what you're going to start doing tomorrow.”

“What's that?”

“The same thing you were doing today,” replied Pierre, tugging at cuff of his uniform, “talking to people of business, seeing what kind of deals that you could broker. Try and ask them all what they would think about manufacturing war material, that way, they can start thinking about it before the baron starts talking to them about it. Obviously, you're going to want to be careful about how you bring that idea up...”

“And just what exactly are you going to do?”

“Start hunting for leverage....”
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Feb 3 2014 2:42am
The next evening...

Eriton, Ank Ki'Shor

“She's pretty, isn't she?” said Rey'grl, eying a lithe night club singer.

“Yes...” murmured Rexet, setting down his beer, “she is...wait a minute...”

The economics adviser turned his head to face the Rey'grl, “What the hell are you doing here?”

Rey'grl offered a smile, “Enjoying your fair world.”

“Don't be so condescending, really, what are you doing here?”

“I already answered that. The question is what are you doing here. I've heard you're a bit of a fan of hers.”

Rexet blushed, “I'm a happily married man...”

“Of course you are.”

“What are you doing here captain? You might have ditched the uniform...but I know your type...It's all business, or should I say all power...”

After downing a gulp of ale, the Confederate set down his ale, “That's a funny way to put it, but you're on the right track. I'm here to see you in private.”

“And if I don't want to talk to you?”

“You won't have much of a choice in that,” said the man, “unless you want to try the hard way, but I'm going to tell you right off the bat that if you can run faster than my agents and droids, in which case, I will admit that there's more to you than the CSIS briefing files suggest...”

“What do you want?”

“If you are as smart as they say you are, you already know what's coming.”

Rexel sighed, “You're really here to bring Ank Ki'Shor into the Confederation, aren't you? Your ship appears over Makeb Te, weeks later, the world joins the Confederation. Your ship appears over Estaria, not even a day's journey away, and the world suddenly has a lot of interesting political changes before it too joins the Confederation. You want to assimilate us too.”

“I wouldn't use the term assimilate. We're making your world a better place. You of all people should know the economic state of your world. It's already reliant on the Confederation to simply survive. You cut off your world from the Confederation, it dies.”

“So what, you expect me to believe that the Baron should sacrifice his world's control and independence for some short term economic gain?”

“Is it really short-term?” questioned Rey'grl, “Or is it long term? The tariffs on Makeb Te's ores, on Estarian energy crystals, and the foods of Emmer? Do you think they will simply cease if the Reavers disappear? Do you really think that some other super power won't take interest in your world eventually, even it isn't the Confederation? What if it's not the Confederation nor the Empire, but this new Dominion that sacked Coruscant?”

Rexel sighed, “You really think I can change the Baron's mind?”

“You can at least not oppose it.”

“I can't do that. I serve the Baron as an honorable man...”

“But not as an honorable husband...”

Rexel scowled, “Some things are more important than others.”

“A patriot then.”

“Perhaps,” stated Rexel, “but I think that if you really want my world, you, I mean the Confederation, could take it by force like the Empire would. But you haven't, yet you're unwilling to plead your case like the Coalition.”

“We come as equals.”

“Really? You've just spent all this time telling me about the benefits of the Confederation, our need for the Confederation, and you think that you can suddenly switch over and talk as if we're equals.”

“It's a relationship of mutual gain...”

“Possibly,” said Rexel, wagging a cautionary finger, “it certainly is better than some of the alternatives...”

“What are the better alternatives Rexel, realistically? You've got some big name Mega Corp coming here to place millions of orders on the edges of Reaver space?”

“Good grief, you just won't stop, will you? They did say you Confederates are known for being dogmatic...look, I'll shut up, but it's going to cost you.”

“I can work with that. What's it going to be?”

“First,” stated Rexel, “you agree not to harm Baron Demetri IV, or any of our people once Ank Ki'Shor joins your Confederation. Second, I want two million credits in my bank account for my silence-”

“Two million?”

“You're right. Make that five million credits and I'll even add a couple of words distancing myself from your previous comments...”

“I believe that concludes our talks,” said Rey'grl, holding up a pocket stenographer.

“You son of a-”

“Your silence or your life,” stated Rey'grl, rising from his chair, “that's my proposal. I'm assuming that you wouldn't want the honorable Baron to know about your offer. So, do you accept?”

Rexel glared, “And just exactly how do I know you'll keep your end of end of the bargain?”

“If you really think I'd turn you in, you have time to escape from this world, and I won't try to stop you, because my objective will have been completed irregardless. This isn't personal, Professor Rexel, it's just good politics.  But in your case, I guess we'll just have to see how it goes...”

The morning after...

Baron's Summer Retreat, Ank Ki'Shor

“Good morning, honorable baron,” said Captain Rey'grl with a curt bow, “How are you?”

“Well enough, Captain,” replied the black-clad man, “I have had a chance to speak with some of my people's business men. I did not fully appreciate the difficulties, so to speak, that they are facing right now. One even floated the idea of membership into your Confederation to eliminate the tariffs.”

“Just the tariffs?” smiled Pierre, “I could think of dozens of better reasons...”

“Yes,” said the baron, “I imagine you could. I regret that you will not have the pleasure of debating Professor Rexel today. He seems to have taken a surprise leave of absence.”

Rey'grl frowned, “He has?”

“Yes,” said the baron slowly, “more unusually, my staff received a call from his wife, wondering why he didn't check in last night. But there are records of him taking a flight off the world at nearly midnight. I can't imagine why he'd leave like that.”

“Very odd indeed.”

Baron dismissed the news with a wave of a hand, “But my talks seemed to have a more pressing effect that I did not intend.”


“News of my visits leaked out to the public.”

Pierre cocked his head to the side and eyed the baron carefully, “Forgive me honorable Baron, but that doesn't seem all that noteworthy to myself...”

“No,” replied the other man, “I suppose that in itself wasn't even a secret, though the contents were. There is now a hope among my people, spread by throughout the forums of the Ank Ki'Shor IntraNet, that the Confederation is going to be placing a lot of orders, and even that I am personally considering bringing our world into the Confederation. There seem to be a lot of unusually accurate posts by a user named “Indigo”, but for some reason, none of my IT experts have been able to trace where he is posting from.”

Rey'grl frowned, “Why give the rumors credence by trying to find this poster?”

“Because now it's an expectation, Captain. One that I am increasingly thinking that I cannot stop. One I'm not sure if I want to stop. It's good to see the people looking up in grim times like this. I'm not so sure I can let them down.”

“So we are going to through with the military contracts then?”

“No,” replied the baron quickly, “I'm not one to go back on my words, especially when my previous opposition to them is already on record. Nor can I really rely on the corporations and your Confederation brokering them quickly enough for my people's appetite. Mr. Rexet once told me that there were members of the CMF who were authorized to help negotiate membership treaties. Was he right?”

Pierre nodded, “There have been some. While I do not personally have permission, there is a Confederate ambassador who is stopping by my fleet today, on his way from Felucia to Estaria. I can show you around the ropes of our basic membership treaty, so that the two of you can discuss it when he arrives later on today, if would it would please you, honorable baron.”

“It would.”

Pierre nodded, “If you'll excuse me for one minute, I am going to go outside and get the basic treaty tightbeamed down here from the Pondichéry.”

Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Feb 3 2014 5:46pm
Captain's Quarters, Styria-class Galleon Pondichéry, in orbit via Ank Ki'Shor

“Well, I have to admit Pierre, that worked out fairly well,” mused the Wroonian, collapsing in the captain's bed.

Captain Rey'grl began to unbutton his tunic gray tunic, “It was all based on Rielson's ideas. I know you think he's a bit of Templar. But the man is brilliant.”

“Brilliantly manipulative,” countered the woman, “but I suppose that Intelligence work for you. But go on, aside from stripping away the main opposition from the Baron's side, what was this really about?”

“About the illusion of choice,” replied the man, “because few of us actually ever have full control. It was only a matter of guiding him to the right choice, giving him some gentle nudges. Your work did all the heavy lifting, I'll let you know...”


“Truth,” countered Pierre, tossing his tunic aside, “you brought them the truth. When you took away the possibility of the Baron simply blowing off our visit, he had to act, and he had to act in a way that would match his previous actions. The man found himself continuing to try and follow his people's footsteps, either because he truly wants to keep his people happy and looks out for them the best he can, or he doesn't want to lose position in a revolution. It he had opted to go with the trade agreements, we could have just delayed them, tightening the pressure on him until he did opt to join. But we didn't have to do that, thank the maker.”

“Someone is going to get wise about this Pierre,” replied Indigo, “Rexel already saw through part of our ruse. If someone else starts getting smart about the nature of this convoy...”

Rey'grl nodded, “I agree. We need to fade back into the rest of the CMF for a while, keep our activities a little less...high risk...maybe take a bit more of the scenic route...”

She smiled, “I like the sound of where this is going...”