Prelude to a New World
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Sep 27 2013 7:53pm
A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire. ~Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, Kashan

A lone speeder bike zipped through the barren prairie like a howlrunner after its prey. The rider, an average-sized man dressed in gray Confederation fatigues, bereft of any insignia, eased back on the throttle and began to glance around. Where is he? A single, faint column of dust in the distance caught his eye. There. He stared hard at the dust and the path to it, and hit the throttle hard again; the bike lurched across the ash-covered plains. Several hundred meters passed before the bike jumped over the summit of a hill, plunging down the hillside towards a small, plodding convoy of Confederation AFVs with a contigent of Paladin II droids marching behind them. Abruptly the convoy halted, with the lead Ares Heavy tank taking the point position while two other Ares fanned out on either side, and the Artemis carriers and Apollo battle tanks took up secondary positions. The Paladins interspersed themselves among the AFVs, pulling security against any unwanted interlopers. One of the droids trained its railgun on the approaching speeder bike. That IFF tag better be working right now...but the droid didn't fire, letting the bike pass towards the lead tank, out of which a well-built man popped out. The tanker removed his dust goggles and wiped his brow with the sleave of his shirt. General Trutzig shook his head.

“You're a long way from the fleet, Admiral.”

The real Corise Lucerne removed his helmet and set it on the bike.

“How did you know it was me?” questioned Lucerne, advancing towards the tank.

“Not people have a habit of breaking regulations by not wearing any insignia on their clothes, and fewer still tend to come out here without wearing armor or carrying heavy weapons, especially when they're by themselves. Seriously sir, come here and get some cover. What brings you out here?”

Lucerne's cold eyes sparkled, “It's pretty rare for either of us to be in the same system any more. I needed to stop by and chat, off the books.”

“How did you know I was here anyways,” said Trutzig curiously, “this was supposed to be off the books at well. Supposedly, I'm in Audacia right now.”

“But your personal tank isn't?” questioned Lucerne, “you know, it's IFF tag is pretty distinct.”

Trutzig muttered, “Let me guess, it's showing up on the Fleet computers.”

Corise nodded, “Given that you're directing them to fire down here in suborbital strikes, I take that as a good thing.”

“Touche,” agreed the Audacian, “gentlemen, you can proceed with the procedure without me. The Admiral and I will be over here, trading some scuttlebutt.”

A series of dampened acknowledgments echoed out of the tank. Hans propped himself against the side of his beloved Good Grief. The two men removed their gloves and Trutzig passed a canteen over to Lucerne, who took a brief sip.

“Since we're both not here officially, I assume we're talking off the books?” queried the army man.

“We are,” stated Lucerne, handing back the canteen, “I wanted to let you know, that despite whatever you've heard, your daughter is doing excellent. Her work has been a little unorthodox, but I think it's worked out well, and she's setting herself up fairly well to transition to Fleet Intelligence.”

"That's somewhat relieving to hear,” replied Trutzig.

A salvo of sapphire beams pulsed down from the skies above, like ancient lightning, causing a cacaphony of crackling sounds to overwhelm their sense of hearing. He clamped his hands over his ears. Ion Cannon fire from the orbiting KDF. The bulk of the unknown spiders that had invaded Kashan had been wiped out now by the combined arm assaults of the Contegorian defense forces, but pockets like the ones over here remained. Typically, orbital strikes destroyed the bulk of the spiders, which were then immediately followed up by more precise strafing runs from traditional starfighters and Piranha drones, and anything that survived that was mopped up by heavy ground forces augmented by the droid legions. The strategy had done well in terms of preserving Confederation war material and personnel, but it was a painfully slow process to Lucerne. The ion fire settled down, and a flurry of Piranha drones following a lone S9 Deathsaber silently swept over the formation to begin their strafing runs.

“So how's the other Corise Lucerne doing?”

Corise hesitated, “I'm not sure if I'd want to really know the answer to that. CSIS is going to have a field day dealing with that whole mess. I'm half-tempted to get Ravenna on that, but you've distracted me already. I want to get your opinion on something. On the Confederation's overall strategy, off the record.”

“It's going to have to change, especially with everything that's happened these last few months,” agreed the Audacian, “I'm going to guess that you're going to lobby against any more fixed defense and expand the expeditionary forces instead.”

Lucerne nodded, “Given these spiders can teleport through them apparently. And no, I'm not in favor of Harding's idea to start fortifying every city either..”

Trutzig wrinkled his brow, “I'd rather wish you didn't say that, or consider scrapping any fortifications. I think the overall idea is still sound, particularly with the Reavers still running around. Look, I know these spider things somehow got through here, but that's one attack out of countless they've probably prevented.”

“I know,” said Lucerne somewhat irrately, “but at the same time, we can't sit still. Somethings going to have to change, and our mobile forces, the army and the fleet have both shown to be more useful and adaptable in these interesting times.”

“It's not going to happen,” countered the Audacian, “not with the council's approval in any case. Everyone wants to have their home planets protected as best possible, even if it means limiting our mobility.”

“Normally, I'd agree with you,” replied Lucerne, “but there's a third option here, and it's been inspired by what your army and my fleet have been doing here.”
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Sep 30 2013 12:00am
Some Decades Ago...

The Rain House Bar and Grill, Kashan

Christopher Wylde set a cool glass of amber liquid down next to the exhausted spacer. The man muttered some thanks, and began to slowly sip the liquid, and glance around. He looked around through the large ceraglass panes that made up the cubular Rain House, noting that Wylde only have a few other customers in one of the few decent looking man-made structures currently on the world. The barkeep glanced around, before finally settling in on what had been an ejector seat next to the freighter captain. His eyes, only slighter darker than his crew, covertly checked out the others in the room.

“Matt,” whispered Wylde conspiratorially, “things have gotten worse since you've been gone.”

“How so? I brought enough supplies I hope, though whatever native plant you're using here for the brew is fairly good. Chalo root, right?”

The tavern owner shook his head, “I'm not worried about hopps or supplies; you've done well, and we're starting to actually get an actual settlement, an actual permanent community pretty well situated here. And that's what worries me. People are comfortable enough here in their prefabricated houses with their rations that last years, that they've moved on beyond mere survival to the future.”

“That's good though,” replied Matt slowly, cocking his head to the side, “isn't it?”

Chris sighed, “I wish. Do you remember that Lord Kellington that came maybe three runs ago?”

Matt closed his eyes, attempting to put a name to the face. He nodded.

“I think so,” replied the spacer, “the guy who's roughly my height, with a crop of blackish hair and cold eyes, said he's a pilot, and complains about not being able to sleep all the time?”

Wylde winced, “He was that bad on the flight in? Who vouched for him?”

“The Thorn family did,” replied Lucerne, “I think they owed him a favor of some sort, from the little I could gather. But what's he doing that's got you so worried?”

“He's suggesting we build a government center right where the old landing pad was, you know, the one that the Starry Way crashed on not too long ago. And that may not be a bad thing in itself, but now we have people thinking about changing how the covenant we all agreed to works. There are people wanting representative democracy for districts that they're planning now, which they want to settle with their own people.”

Matt shook his head, “But no-one's suppose to be here except those directly invited by the original crew.”

“I don't think that's going to work anymore,” replied Wylde, “There's too many people missing loved ones now that they're cutoff, or too many people here who want more people like them, not fewer. It's going to unravel. Now Thorn's being doing his best to stave this problem off, and so are most of the original crew, but then there's Abel now who's turned. They say his man is pressing him to bring some others that he misses, but that Abel doesn't know. But that's what I've heard, but one thing's certain, he's actively going out and trying to change people's minds on the covenant. And Kellington's gone so far as to have stated that he will have his district. He's gathered some people in a mind similar to him. Mike over there, he's the one who stated derisively calling them all collectively House Kellington. Problem is, now they're the ones using it, like his aristrocracy matters here...”

Matt sighed, setting down his now empty glass, “We're not going to have a nice little hideaway at this rate...”

Chris shook his head


Current time...

Shuttle Null Four, in orbit via New Oceania

Holly Trutzig scratched her skin just over her substernal notch. After weeks in Confederate Grays, you'd think that I'd like to get out of it, and now, I wish I was jumping back in it...The nebula clouded the starry vista that most of her starship rides until recently had afforded her. Now, the giant cobalt sphere of New Oceania overwrought with layers of quick moving alabaster clouds provided the only interesting scenery to her. She felt a slight tug on her sleeve and glanced down to see the pilot pointing at a darkly-colored winged ship approaching them. Odd. That's not any model I've seen in Confederation service before, but it looks vaguely familiar. Almost like one of those Onyxian warships, but this one is too small, and too angular. She frowned. And ship identification was one of my good subjects, but it still looks familiar. Why? Null Four edged upwards, skimming across the upper atmosphere of the ocean world, and revealing yet more about the ship, including a navy blue paint scheme with gold stripes on the wings. The word Félicité was gracefully painted on her nose. As the shuttle docked, she noted a pair of corporate crests emblazoned on each of the wings; one that matched the one now sewed onto her civilian jumpsuit: that of Bluewater Security Ltd. They must have the last of the my full New Oceanian crew aboard, wonderful.

The airlock hissed open, letting a rush of air into the shuttle. Odd. It's not heavily actually smells pretty nice, which means this ship has probably been planetside for a long time before this...I wonder why...Trutzig picked up her few bags, checking over the shuttle one more time to ensure that she hadn't left anything behind.

Lieutenant Trutzig strode through the airlock into what appeared to be the main hallway of the vessel, somewhat taken aback from the unfamiliar geometry of the warship's corridor. She stumbled pass a pair of humans in unfamiliar blue uniforms speaking the peculiar dialect of basic that the natives of New Oceania used. They exchanged greetings with her as she passed them, but she didn't fully understand what the second man had said. Holly shuddered. What did my father get me into this time? The bridge foyer doors in front of snapped open quicker than a gundark's jaws onto its prey. Her gray-green eyes immediately picked out a pair of figures in the mostly dark bridge talking next to what she thought was the captain's chair. The first man, even in his conspicously nondescript fatigues, was instantly recognizable: Admiral Lucerne. The second man, she was not so sure about. He was a shorter man, with roughly cropped hair not acceptable according to any military regulation which she knew about, and wearing rather plain, earthly colored clothes that could have been from any number of planets. Yet the man had a rank cylinder clipped to his tunic, and a CCA-5 Carbine with attached silencer dangling on sling in front of him. Both men stopped their conversation as she approached. She raised her hand and gave Lucerne a brisk salute, which the Admiral casually returned.

“Congratulations captain,” informed the younger Lucerne, “you are now in command of the only Steadfast-class Gunship in the Confederation navy, the recently renamed Félicité.”

“That explains some things, but not others,” replied Trutzig, tugging at her uniform, “like that you're sending on some mission which the Confederation can't officially be doing.”

Corise glanced upon, ostensibly weighing which words to choose, “Perhaps, it's not quite that simple. We're also hiding it from ourselves.”

Captain Trutzig raised an eyebrow. Corise waved the gesture away and motioned to the other man in the room. Her eyes met his, and she immediately noticed a sincerity in those almost emerald-hued eyes. When their eyes crossed, she almost felt as if there was a fourth presence among them.

“This is Robert Swenson,” stated Lucerne plainly, “a Jensaarai trainee, and an accomplished CSIS agent. He'll be aiding you in your mission. You will be using different identities than your own for this mission, personally provided by Director Howe himself, of which should tell you of the importance of your journey...”
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Oct 8 2013 3:29am
Steadfast-class Gunship Félicité, in orbit via New Oceania

Trutzig looked across the table which occupied most of the cramped staff room. Everyone wore some sort of variation of the basic blue security uniform, with its nearly tacky brass accoutrements and badges emblazoned on them, even the pilots’ jumpsuits. The only exception to it was the sole Jensaarai agent, and Trutzig wondered if he was changing over to one of the uniforms, as well as ditching the Confederation issued blaster. She eyed the man slowly, half expecting him to invade her mind. He merely stared back with his glazed blue eyes. Well, with Lucerne off the ship, maybe we can come to terms on a few things. She leaned forward.

“I’m Captain Trutzig,” stated the woman plainly, and with a broad gesture, pointed to the man seated across the table, “and that is Special Agent Swenson. We will be the mission commanders for the duration of this voyage. Many of you may remember how the stock markets were rattled a few months ago when rumors started circulating that the government’s financial reserves with depleted. There is some truth to it, and I wish I could tell you about it, but I cannot, simply because I do not know. What I do know, is that we are charged with bringing someone into Confederation custody who played a role in it…”

She tapped a button, and the exquisite Stellar Enterprises’s equipment quickly and immaculately portrayed a holo of an older gentleman, wearing a traditional, black business suit. Trutzig noted the man’s craggy face, neatly cut hair, and dull brown eyes. He could have passed as anonymous businessman on any number of planets.

“Our target is known as last going by the alias of K. Longline from Capricia. He is not from Capricia, however, and is actually a citizen of Kashan. The true identity of the man has not been revealed to me…”

But maybe Swenson here knows. It’s not like CSIS is known for sharing their information...Trutzig gestured again at Swenson.

“Do you have anything to add about him, Special Agent Swenson, before I continue?”

“I prefer to be called Rob,” snorted the Jensaarai, “if everyone would please dispense with the formalities aimed at me. Mr. Longline was last seen travelling on his private ship, the Shadow-Billed Crawler, a heavily modified Muurian Interstellar transport. As many of you pilots may know, this would give him a lot of firepower, hence the recquisition of this gunship. I can only reveal one other thing about the man which I do not think Captain Trutzig here may know about, and this is only mere speculation from what I heard of a few rumors at CSIS headquarters. Mr. Longline here was part of the Confederation bureaucracy, and I would hazard to guess that it was with the Genon Stock Exchange. But I’m trying to get more solid information from CSIS, which I will share with the appropriate parties as I obtain it…


Back in the Past...

Solace, Kashan

Matt strolled around the streets of Solace, taking note of the new prefabricated houses expanding off the town’s main thoroughfare, Explorer’s Ridge. Several of the colonists had begun to add more local touches on their houses since he had last walked through the streets. One colonial family had added some crude latticework to the walls of their house, which now flourished with the pale green stalks and warm orange blossoms of the native Autumnglow flower. Yet another house had been fortified with a duracrete involving some of Kashan’s own soil, turning it into the sole house of more of a cappuccino shade, standing out the phalanxes of stolid gray structures. The other colonists offered him a variety of greetings, many with a tone of ambivalence more than friendliness. Matt waved at a passing man, who merely nodded and kept striding forward with a blaster rifle in one hand, and some sort of quadruple mammal in the other. I wonder what that is, or even if its even been catalogued yet…

Solace had been besieged by a variety of wild beasts ever since its founding despite its high duracrete walls. The city’s epicenter was where his captain had been slain when the colonist had first landed on Kashan. Captain Fyre hadn’t lasted five minutes against what the colonists now called a Shadow-billed Crawler: it was a roughly the size of a large howlrunner, but covered in dark, chitin scales, set on nimble, spindly legs, and most disconcerting, a head sporting pair of piercing mandibles that secreted a paralyzing venom into its prey. Few had survived single combat against the creature, yet Matt knew one man reckless, perhaps even vengeful enough, to actively hunt the beasts: Hiram Tier.

“Matt,” called out Tier, holding another one of the new animals in his hands, “how have you been?”

“Good,” replied the spacer, eying the many scratches splayed across the man’s battered clone trooper armor, “but what about you? That armor looks like it’s taking a beating. Are you sure want to keep on buying those surplus suits?”

The man shrugged, setting down his kill, “It’s what you can easily get, and I really do appreciate the extra sensor package you’ve been slicing into the visor. It’s more useful than you know.”

Matthew Lucerne shook his head and ruefully smiled, “It only makes me more of a profit.”

“I’d say it’s fairly earned,” countered the man, grasping the older Lucerne’s hand, “but walk with me. We have some stuff to discuss.”

“Nothing with the armor I hope.”

“No,” replied the hunter slowly, “your armors have served our hunters well. I’m worried about Solace. We’ve got the beasts well under control now, and I almost feel like we’ve avenged our Captain’s death, but I’m worried about the inside of the city now more than the outside. It’s gotten more uncomfortable.”

“Because you’re a founder, and this Lord Kellington is riling people up?”

“It’s against you too, you know,” nodded Hiram, nearly whispering, “maybe even worse for you, because you own a lot of land here, yet you’re hardly here.”

“But Corinne is,” stated the older Lucerne, “and she’s been doing a lot with the homestead.”

“They’re calling it an estate now,” informed Hiram, with a weary half-smile.

Lucerne suppressed the urge to sigh. The compact agreed to by the original crew of the Endeavor’s Light had split up the planet’s landmass among the surviving crew, giving almost a dozen men millions of undeveloped square kilometers each: more land than they’d ever be able to fully explore in their lifetime. Matt and his wife Corinne had opted to develop a couple hundred acres of their land into a mostly automated farm. In terms of size, it was roughly the same as many of the farms that other settlers operated, whether they had rented the land, or had simply bought it from one of the original crewmembers. Yet the farm had become a bit more developed simply because Matt was able to bring in more equipment to it than most because he operated the largest ship that knew the planet’s location. The older Lucerne shook his head.

“It took a lot of work to get it to where it is now,” said Lucerne, “and a lot of credits too. What else are people saying?”

“Kellington is mobilizing some of his supporters into what they’re calling a collective House, but what sounds more like a political party to me. To be fair to Kellington, he does seem to be helping out a lot more of the poorer folk materially.”

“But is that altruristic, or is he simply trying to buy them off?” questioned Lucerne.

“How is it, that whenever I want you to talk more, you talk more when or where I’d rather you not? We should go to your house, and we can talk about some other more private matters there...”

Matt clamped his mouth shut. He’s on edge. He must really be worried. But why my house? Why not his? The two strode through the streets of Solace, passing a gray statue of Captain Fyre attempting to heroically hold off a Shadow-Billed Crawler that seemed to coil around his visage. The former security chief of the Endeavor’s Light stopped talking as they neared the statue, and Lucerne watched as the man eyes stared intently into those of the statue. They were close, and I get that, but it was over a year ago. But then again, all that time I spent tinkering with the ship on my downtime, he probably spent with Fyre and company with their games and drinks. Nearly five minutes had passed before the two restarted their small talk. His legs ached. I forgot how far away everything is on land…especially without a vehicle. Twenty minutes later, the two found themselves at the outskirts of Solace and at the edge of the so-called estate.

Lucerne’s dark blue eyes noted that his wife had been among the colonists that had started growing the Autumnglow flowers on vines across lattice work on their house. What could be seen through the foliage-covered house revealed it to be a two-story structure in a relatively large rectangle shape, but with a large, covered porch that encircled much of the house. In turn, the structure itself was mere meters away from Corinne Lucerne’s beloved garden, which slowly turned more agricultural than decorative the further one got away from the house until it turned into the fields of amber grain that the agri droids maintained. As they neared the porch, Matt noticed that among the droids, there were two human figures. The first he expected, his Kuati wife. The second, he did not, and neither did Tier. Lucerne had to admit however, that Lord Kellington almost looked in place on the porch of Lucerne's house.
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Oct 8 2013 10:57am
Steadfast-class Gunship Félicité, Fyre Sola system

Captain Trutzig fidgeted incessantly with her name plaque on her uniform; she hadn’t managed to get it quite straight enough for her liking. She glanced up and blushed. The cramped bridge of the gunship made her behavior painfully obvious to everyone of her bridge crew what she was doing. On a ship with a crew of only forty people, news of her almost obsessive compulsive behavior with her uniform would be well-known in less than day. That will take a lot of work to fix to my reputation…

Holly abruptly stared through the ship’s viewport at the vista of the Fyre Sola system. Massive clouds of amber dust billowed out to blot out the stars and even dampen the solar rays of the system’s suns. Kashan was a mere specter, and even the blue orb of New Oceania that almost the entire crew called home was even reduced to a hazy brown blob. Ahead of them, thousands of asteroids tumbled about, many of them hollowed by KDI’s aggressive mining operations. But Holly had not seen any mining ships, not even the Montcalm-class frigates of the Confederation’s navy. If not for the beacon up ahead, it would be as if we were among the first people in this area. A chill ran up her spine. Let’s hope that nothing bad happens then, since we are the only people in the area. What could cause them to shut down the mining operations? She shook the thought away. The Montcalms probably got pulled up to help deal with the Reavers or some actual naval duty for once…and KDI, they haven’t been as active as they used to be. It’s not like they don’t have connections either, so what are they up to then? Holly shook that thought away too. I’m going to die of boredom up here…maybe it’s time to have a talk with Swenson. She turned to the New Oceanian native to her left, a balding man who seemed to be barely capable of speaking basic, though he seemed to understand it quite readily.

“Tuqwda, you have the bridge. I’ll be in the back discussing our plans with Mr. Swenson…I mean Rob…”

She strode through the bridge foyer doors quicker than a Tie fighter into the ship’s main corridor. A pair of Stellar Enterprises CD-1 patrolling the corridor abruptly halted as she passed. I’m not sure if those things worse than a Paladin, or better. At least the Paladins are simple-minded enough to almost ignore people around them…A quick walk led her to Swenson’s quarters, which were located across the hall from her own. She lightly rapped on the door, which whisked open alarmingly fast. Holly blinked. I’ve really got to get used to that…Swenson glanced up from a partially disassembled IR-18 battle rifle laying on his desk. She offered a strained smile.

“Getting used to some more Stellar Enterprises tech too I see.”

He nodded, “I get why we have to do it, and the equipment is pretty high end, but I just don’t like it. Especially since it’s not real government property, like everything else on this ship.”

She frowned. Not government property…Swenson tapped a button on his comlink; the door snapped shut behind her. He eyed her carefully, yet he did not pry. The Jensaarai shrugged.

“You didn’t know that,” stated Swenson, setting one of the rifle’s barrels down, “but I think everyone else on the crew does.”

Frowning, the woman leaned up against the bulkhead. What the hell is going on here? Did he lose something up there? Or is he up to some sort of plot? The blonde-haired man shook his head.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to be so forward with you,” said the Metalorn native with a sheepish grin, “but I felt like it had to let someone else know. Everything about this mission just doesn’t feel quite right.”

Holly held up a hand as if to ward off any more of the Jensaarai’s comments.

“So you’re telling me that a highly decorated Confederation officer, no, our own supreme commander, just lied to us and gave us a non-Confederation warship to conduct some secret mission. Let me guess, it’s not an official Confederation mission…”

Swenson hesitated, “It’s a bit complicated. Admiral Lucerne didn’t exactly lie to us about it being a Confederation warship, it is, sort of. The ship, and everything in it, is actually the property of KDI. You know, the company his father owns. Kashan has a law that allows private citizens to temporary donate their ships to the Kashan Defence Fleet for its own use. Corise invoked the law, and with it, took a KDI crew with it. And while it’s all technically legal, there’s no official record, no missing personnel, no equipment that anyone would be able to trace back to the Confederation. That is to say, everyone but you. And officially, you’re on leave enjoying a vacation on New Oceania resort exclusively available to members of the CDF…meaning that next to no-one is going to be able to verify that you’re here.”

She frowned, “But why all that effort to shield a mission so extensively? It’s obviously already shielded from the outside, did he really go through all of this effort to shield it from the inside too?”

“I think so. We are hunting are our own, after all,” stated Swenson plainly, “and a man that supposedly had some pretty high up connections within the Confederation as well. He’s not taking any chances, it’s why he picked you, after all.”

She frowned, “Because I’m General Trutzig’s daughter…”

“Because your father is a close friend of his,” stated Swenson, “he feels like you’re one of the few people he’d be able to trust, at least one of the few he could trust that could easily be available for this mission. There’s not many lower level officers he knows enough to trust, and anyone too high up there that he does know well enough to trust couldn’t just publically disappear for so long without a lot of suspicion.”

“And you, what about you?” questioned the woman, “a crew of his company’s employees, his equipment and a captain that he trusts. But what about you? How do you fit in all this? I can’t see him knowing many low-level CSIS personnel…”

“It’s a story which I don’t care to let you know yet,” replied Rob quietly, “maybe later on when you have a better understanding. But I’m glad you’ve came, there’s some holos I want to show you. Admiral Lucerne gave me access to his father’s old holo journals from when they had first started settling Kashan. There’s a lot to comb through, but I’ve spotted our Mr. Longline, take a look at this. It actually gives a bit more depth than merely a name and an alleged occupation…”


In the Past…

Lucerne Homestead, outskirts of Solace, Kashan

Matt eyed Lord Kellington’s back warily. Unlike last time, his nearly raven-black hair had been neatly cropped into almost a military cut. The Alderaanian noble wore tailored trousers and a fitted shirt in emerald green, and a vibro-rapier dangled from his belt on his left side. As the Lord spun around, Matt noticed the armorial crest of the man’s house neatly stitched over where his heart should be. Kellington offered a self-sure smile and extended a gauntleted hand to Matt. Matt slowly shook his hand.

“Lord Kellington, isn’t it?” said Matt.

“Indeed it is,” replied the other man warmly, “you brought me here a few months ago on your ship. How is the Estrella holding up?”

“Good,” answered Matt, withdrawing his hand, “I actually just got back from another journey on her…”

“I’m terribly sorry,” apologized the noble, “you must want to see your wife. I was just on my way out. I would like to talk to you more sometime, perhaps tomorrow, or the day after? Whenever it’s convenient for you.”

“Perhaps you could leave your comlink number, and I can give you a call,” suggested the older Lucerne, “then we could set up a meeting, most likely tomorrow evening, if that would work for you.”

The noble hesitated, “Might I suggest not tomorrow evening, but the even after? I regret that I have an appointment then with Abel Teirranor, I believe you know him?”

Matthew nodded, “We are old shipmates.”

“Indeed, well, I must be off then, enjoy your evening.”

The noble left, leaving Matt, Corinne, and Hiram to enter the house. No sooner had the couple crossed the threshold when Corinne launched into him and gave him a warm embrace. Her warm amber eyes melted into his.

“I’ve really missed you dearest.”

Matt held her close, “What was he doing here?”

“I’d like to know that too,” quipped Hiram, setting his blaster in the gun rack at the house’s entrance, “the man looks like nothing but trouble.”

“He came asking for you,” said Corinne, “I sounded like he had heard that you were arriving sometime today. But when he found out you weren’t here, we just chatted a bit, and he asked me for my opinion on a few of his ideas-”

“What kind of ideas?” gruffly interrupted the hunter.

“Hiram, relax,” defended Matt, “I’m sure my wife will explain everything to us fully.”

Corinne snapped her fingers, and a silver protocol droid ambled into the room with a platter of four glasses with a dark-hued liquid. She handed one to each of them, setting the forth one on the caf table in the house’s living room. He snuggled up to her on the love seat, letting Tier occupy the entire beige couch.

“Mostly political ideas that Abel and himself have been spreading around,” informed Corinne, “I’m not sure if it entire an effort to convince me of them, or if he was trying to see how you would.”

“How do you know that?” asked Tier, taking a gulp of the ice tea.

“The way he phrased his ideas and asked for my family’s opinion, not mine. The interesting idea that’s new to me is suggesting a way to amend the compact by popular vote…”

“Thorn needs to know about this,” muttered Matthew.

“I invited him to join us for dinner,” replied Corinne, “but he’s apparently running late…”
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Oct 12 2013 7:40am
Steadfast-class Gunship Félicité, near Ebrilia

With a cup of fresh caf in his hand, Rob leaned up against the back wall of the gunship's bridge, watching Captain Trutzig direct the KDI crew as the warship exited hyperspace. He pulled out an ancient pendant from underneath his shirt and gripped it tightly. The winged ship flashed into realspace to Ebrilia, the last known planet where the Black-Billed Crawler had been spotted. The man winced, recalling how just three years ago, a self-proclaimed “Prince-Admiral” had taken control of the trade world in a coup that had shocked the nearby systems. Yet even from his vantage spot at the back of the bridge, he saw dozens of lighters, bulky container ships, and myriads of tramp freighters of nearly any make and model. He closed his eyes and began to meditate, attempting to get a feel on the system. While not nearly as experienced as Ravenna or as naturally adept as Kitty, he was able to get a broad feel of the thoughts that surrounded him, despite some interflow from the crew of the Félicité. He fumbled to find a word for what he felt, but the closest he could come up with was not alarming. The captain beckoned the agent to her.

“I'd say it's going to be close to impossible to find the Black-Billed Crawler here, if still is here.”

Swenson strolled forward. His eyes scanned the viewport, getting a closer view of the orbital traffic around here. There's a good chance this is going to be a dead end. This Mr. Longline fellow picked a good place to lose us if he wanted to...The Jensaarai slowly nodded.

“Even if the Black-Billed Crawler is here,” mused Swenson, “it doesn't necessarily mean that he's here either. He could have abandoned it for another ride, or if I were him, have sold it.”

“So what's the plan,” asked Holly, brushing a strand of dyed hair to the side, “I'm assuming we're not just going to sit around here. I see a couple of customs ships headed our way, and I don't see this going very well.”

Swenson purses his lips, “I'll handle it. We're going to have to head groundside to take a look at port records, see if they can give us a clue...”

“Ma'am,” mumbled a woman, “we're being hailed by a customs ships.”

Félicité's tactical officer raised his voice, “There's also a couple of Ashar line warships powering up on the far side of the orbit...they're scanning us...”

Wonderful. The problem with carrying a lot of weaponry is that one does tend to attract a lot of attention. Yet at the same time, it's not exactly as if we can reasonably expect Mr. Longline here to just come over here and give up. Swenson plopped himself down into the captain's chair; Trutzig's jaw dropped.

“Put it on the captain's console,” decided the Jensaarai.

The woman hesitated, but then tapped a few buttons. The SE-built holo-projector quickly formed an image of a middle-aged gentleman wearing a subdued uniform of Ebrilia's customs agency. Jensaarai studied the man closely, trying to decide whether the man's tense expression was from the fact that he was confronting a significantly more powerful vessel than his own, or if it had something to do with the navy ships apparently becoming involved in the operation.

“I am Officer Culias of the Ebrilia Customs Service. We are here to conduct a brief routine visit of your vessel to ensure compliance with our laws, and see if we can be of any assistance to you. Tell me sir, are you planning on staying here a while, or are you merely passing through, that is to say, not staying more than a few hours...”

“We'll be staying for a day or so at most,” said the Metalorn native, “I suppose you're next going to want to know why we're here, and why appears to be a small warship...”

The customs officer nodded.

“I am Tristan Applegate, a regional executive with the Bluewater Security group. You may have heard of us, we provided security to a number of worlds evacuated because of the Reaver infestation...but that's not what I'm here. We're here because we're chasing a criminal, or rather a former employee, who has stolen something from us. He's rather dangerous. We are told he passed through here...We have no cargo for you to inspect, but of course, you're welcome aboard. Shall I order my crew to prepare for boarding?”

The other man stared down at something off-screen. He seemed to mumble, before looking back up at Swenson. His lip seems less tight. That's good, I think...

“You are welcome at Ebrilia,” stated the official, “and our scans do agree that you have no cargo to inspect. But while you are here, ensure that keep your weapons powered down, and do not launch any starfighters. Realize that Ebrilia does not have many reciprocation laws with other nations. If you find your man here, you will not be able to legally detain him without a trial before the Ebrilian Court System. Do you understand?”

“We do,” nodded Swenson, “thank you for your time.”

The holo cut off. Swenson cocked his head ot the side, immediately noticing Trutzig's angled stance. In a rough bar or cantina, his hand would be already be reaching the closest weapon at hand. Yet he knew the approaching conflict would be settled less violently. At least he hoped it would.

“I apologize for taking your chair, Captain,” said the man, rising from it, “but I thought it would best complete the image that we are trying to project to them.”

“I'm not upset,” said the woman, “not much anyways. But don't you think that was cutting it a little close? What if Mr. Credit-bag Longline paid-off the Customs Office to inform him of any suspicious ships or people like us?”

“I get what you're saying, but I think you're reading too much into this,” countered Swenson dryly, “because there are probably at least several dozen bounty hunters. Granted, we may stick out with such a warship, but if he's focusing on us, he's just going to get the story about us hunting a rogue mercenary or thief tied to the Bluewater Group, which he obviously isn't. Besides, he's more likely than not focusing on the threat that he already knows he has coming...”


In the Past...

Lucerne Estate, Kashan

The three colonists had just finished their main course of braised bantha steaks when Ithon Thorn rapidly knocked on the door. Without waiting for a response, the man swung open the door and went straight to the dining room. Matt glanced up from his plate towards the other Alderaan native. Built on a lean frame that some compared to that of Tarkin, Ithon appeared every part of the composed gentlemen. Thorn's amber-brown eyes reminded Matt of the brew back at the Rain House not solely because of their color, but rather for the merriment which seemed to accompany them both. His fine, almost chocolate-color hair was longer and looser than when Matt had last seen him weeks ago, as was his warddrobe. Ithon had apparently traded in his old jumpsuits that he had worn on the Endeavor’s Light for a more urbane, charcoal-colored suit cut in a style currently popular on their home planet. Rather than his old chunky DL-44 at his hip, the man instead wore what appeared to be a very finely embellished smallsword. Where have I seen that style of weapon before, the Tapani sector perhaps? Matt spared a glance at the compatriots at his table. Corinne seemed unsurprised; she merely went back to fetch their guests food. Tier muttered.

“A sword now? How those come back in vogue here?”

Thorn wryly shrugged and slipped into a chair opposite of Matthew, “Not here, but in Alderaan. A lot of the officers in the Alderaan Defense forces or whatever they call themselves these days have been wearing them at galas and other social events.”

“I wasn't aware you were part of the nobility back there,” said Tier, “but maybe that's because us Kuatis tend to maintain a distances more when it comes to our social circles...”

“Oh, well, everyone on Alderaan is probably related to a royal house somewhere along the line, even Matthew here.”

Tier groaned, “Don't tell me that you're agreeing with Lord Fancy-Pants Kellington here and Abel.”

Corinne set the man's braised bantha steak in front of their guest, but Thorn ignored it. His amber-brown eyes fluactated between glancing at Tier and gazing into Lucerne's. He raised his right hand up in a palm up fashion to Matthew.

“Please, I don't expect any of you to agree with it just from what you've heard,” stated the man, “but hear me out. When we drew up the compact, we all were thinking that not a lot of people would come, that maybe it'd just end up being a quiet little shadowport at most, where we could all scrap by and avoid the wars and battles which seem to be sweeping through the galaxy as of late. I think Emperor Palpatine has scared more of our people towards us than we'd ever thought would happen.”

“Like Lord Fancy-Pants,” derided Tier, crossing his arms.

“Like Lord Kellington,” echoed Ithon, “you do know that's why he's here, right? Rumor has it that the Empire thinks he was aiding this new Alliance that has been forming. I can't see it though, he's always been something of a playboy with his toys. But I digress, let's talk about this houses idea. I've been running the adminstrative side of the colony while the two of you have run off, hunting wild beasts or travelling the stars, or whatever you want to call that stuff. And simply put, with thousands of people here now, we can't simply rely on common law and common sense. We're going to have to organize an actual standing government. Most people are going to go for a democracy if given the chance, and I don't really blame them. But I can see this being to our downfall, people could simply vote to confiscate our lands or take away any powers that we've enjoyed as downfalls. Lord Kellington came over to me the other day, and suggested that we go something around the Tapani style of government. Great houses control certain sections of land, and all convene to form a representative council. There's a lot of ways that people can be represented, and we still have most, if not all, of the benefits we've enjoyed as founders. On top of it, that could get us into a fully functioning society with a model that gives people enough with something to understand to be familiar with it, but yet enough that they can grow into it.”

“There are fourteen people on the compact,” noted Lucerne, “so you are thinking of fourteen houses?”

“Fifteen,” stated Thorn, beginning to carve out his steak, “we need an odd number so that there's never a deadset tie within the council, and since we don't want to cut any crewmembers out of the power, we simply add one.”

“Let me think,” guessed Tier, “the man's last name starts with a “k” and ends with “ellington”. He's the fifteenth member?”

“He has a lot to offer us in exchanged for this,” defended Thorn, “and more importantly, since we talked about it, he supports the plan, and that will put an end to this House unrest that he and Abel have started. We can simply bring up the plan to bring more people here to whatever the House Council meeting is called, and simply vote it down, even if Kellington wants it. Let me tell you guys a few other things about it, and I can get your input on some more specifics...”
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Oct 14 2013 6:55am
Swenson's quarters, Steadfast-class Gunship Félicité, in orbit via Ebrilia

Swenson eyed the intimidating IR-18 blaster rifle. Too big for covert work. Not that a true Jensaarai has need for such weapons...not that I am one yet. The Metalorn native walked over to the cabin's built-in closet and pulled out a simple wooden box roughly a third of a meter in length. He flipped open the lid to reveal a blade that was either a large knife, or a small sword. He had spent hours forging it during his brief self-imposed exile on Dorumna. It had a simple, unfullered double-edge ultrachrome blade that neatly met a series of elaborate rings formed out of cast cortosis ore that formed an almost rapier-like hilt. Yet the composition and physical form of the weapon itself did not please him as much as the fact that he had been able to imbue some measure of the Force into the weapon itself, like the Je'daii katanas and Sith swords before it. While his weapon was an amateur's work at best compared to such masterpieces, he felt more than comfortable buckling it to his side. He took a simple blue rain poncho and simply draped it over him to conceal its presence and the light body armor he wore. She's waiting for me.

He tapped a button on the comlink, opening the door to reveal Holly Trutzig. She too wore the poncho, but appeared to carry no weapon either. She probably has her naval sidearm, or some other blaster pistol on her. It's a wonder why KDI didn't provide us with any blaster pistols, but I suppose the reason they bought all of this to begin with was to test their designs against those of the competition...does SE even make a blaster pistol? He shook the thought from his head and walked through the door. Silently, the pair made their way to the aft hangar, where a plain Lambda-class shuttle had remained docked to an airlock. They clamored in, and with Trutzig at the controls, plummeted down towards the surface's planet.

“You know,” mumbled Trutzig, “I didn't think the Council was that messed up...I didn't even think the rumors about the clones had been real.”

“The ones on the holo-news are, I think,” stammered Swenson, “but I'm pretty sure the rumor they started about sending a clone of Mr. Longline with Force abilities after him was more of a misdirection. Might as well make good use of the worse of disclosures...”

“Well, with your lightsaber at your side...”

“I'm not carrying a lightsaber,” announced the man, “not all Jensaarai do...”

She frowned, watching the shuttle's display as they shot through the clouds, “Well, I hope you got something up your sleeve, because I don't trust our contact on this one.”

Swenson scratched his face. Inquiring with Port Authority, Swenson had managed to bribe an official to reveal that Mr. Longline had parked his ship at a landing pad seven days ago, where the ship still remained. Swenson thought the vessel was now likely abandoned, especially given that it was laying in plain sight. The other alternative was that it was a trap or set-up of some sort. As they neared the local spaceport, Swenson leaned forward to peer over the nose the shuttle, trying pick out out the Black-Billed Crawler among the dozens of ships parked in the circular landing pad. She snickered.

“Good luck with trying to find it like that, we're moving a little too fast, and we're still about a half-klick away from the pad where it supposedly is...but what's the plan?”

“Keep our ship in the air,” decided Swenson, “give me some air support if I need it, or you can follow the Crawler if he tries to escape in it and I can't get onboard.”

“If that's what you want...and...he were are then...good luck...”

Swenson exited the craft before it had even fully touched the ground. Trutzig goosed the craft up yet again far into the clouds beyond his sight. A customs officer came running into the bay, blaster drawn and pointed towards the ship. Seeing Swenson, the man pointed the weapon straight at Swenson, who promptly raised his hands over his head.

“You want to tell me what's going on?” demanded the officer, “that was entirely reckless on your pilot's part. Let's see some ID, and move slowly.”

Swenson slowly withdrew the false identity card supplied to him by CSIS and gingerly dropped into the other man's hand. The officer slowly retreated as he looked at the card. The officer frowned as he scanned it with his datapad and handed it back to the man.

“Well sir, you have already been cleared by customs in orbit, but I'm going to want to do a random full body search of you to make sure you aren't bringing in anything illegal...”

Would my blade be considered illegal? On many outer rim worlds, it would have been barely noticed as a minor anarchronism, but on a world where a dictator maintained an iron grip on his populace, Swenson wasn't so sure. Though he was certain it'd be considered less dangerous than a blaster...I can't risk that chance. He closed his eyes and felt the air ripple around him; the smell and heat of starship exhaust flowed through his body as he felt the millions of molecules rippling around them. He sensed an tidal wave of air coming from a low-flying starship overhead, and focused it onto the officer; a thick gust of wind caught the man and buffeted the man to the ground. With a grimace, the man landed solidly on his rear. Now that I've delayed him...Swenson eyed the man's uniform, noting an ID badge dangling by a flimsy clip to his pocket flap. Perfect. The Metalorn native took another oncoming rustle of air, constricted the molecules into a smaller flow channel, pressurizing the air towards the ID badge; the wind ripped the ID badge off; Swenson focused harder, watching the steady current of wind catch the ID badge and toss it through the landing pad's entrance into the crowded hallways of the star port. Rising up, the customs officer rushed out to retrieve his badge. Swenson wasted no time, and quickly followed in the other man's footsteps before disappearing into the crowd.


In the Past

Lucerne Estate, Kashan

“I would like to get myself a place like this, eventually,” announced Lord Kellington.

Matt shifted his feet at the comment before fussing with the badge of House Lucerne, designed by Corinne while he was on his last voyage out. It was a leaf of the native Autumnglow flower, upon which was set a white eight-pointed star. Kellington now wore his own badge, a white phoenix set on a gray shield edged with red. Lucerne walked over to the holo-projector he had just installed and tapped a few buttons, bringing up a projection of the world as seen from his small fleet of cargo vessels.

“And you're certain you don't want to be by Solace?” questioned the spacer, “there's not going to be much support out there in the boondocks...”

“But that's why I came to you,” replied the aristocrat, turning to face Lucerne and the holo-projector, “because you do run the largest transport ships.”

Matthew pursed his lips. There were two other people who ran transport ships, each with their own house. I doubt Taniss would ever want to deal with Kellington, simply because Taniss is too close to Hiram. And Beauregard only has that small shuttle, which he only uses for personal use, or that of his actual household...Lucerne himself ran only two ships, a heavily modified HT-2200 called Estralla, and a later model Mark I bulk transport named Redwater. But still, Beauregard is on such good terms with Kellington that something else must be going on...

“What can I do for you then?”

“Two things,” stated the other Alderaanian, “I hear you're the one owns this island, what do you call it? I suppose it doesn't matter, because if you'll let me buy it from you, I'll rename it...”

Matt looked at the island on the holoprojector. I guess I do, it's in the right area...and that's a good several hundred square kilometers...Matthew hesitated. The other man's green eyes looked between Lucerne and the planet.

“I hope I'm not being too forward about this all, I'll pay you more than a fair price,” explained the noble, “money is not concern for me...but I thought it might be more of an interest to you. I realize that credits don't hold a lot of people to the rest of Kashan, but as a merchant who continues to interact with the rest of the galaxy, I thought they'd be most attractive to you, at least in terms of what I can offer for the land. I'm afraid I do not have much else that the others would be interested in...and a great house does need land...”

“Credits are fine,” assured Lucerne, waving the other man's concerns away, “but what is the second item?”

The other Alderaanian briefly turned around to look through one of the house's repurposed windows to gaze at the garden that Corinne had produced. Trellises of Autumnglow flowers interwoven with grapes dominated the immediate scene, but a wide variety of the orchard's trees were beginning to blossom as well. Of course...

“You want transport to get supplies for your new land,” guessed the spacer, “logistical support.”

The man nodded, “I realize that I have a reputation among some of your friends that might make this difficult. But on this world, you are literally the only one who can get me all of the things which I require. You have me in a very vulnerable position.”

Lucerne cocked his head to the side, “I am a little curious. Why not Beauregard? Give him the credits, he buys more ships to get the job done then?”

The man pursed his lips, “I only have so many credits for what I want to bring. But in a way, you're right. I probably could just skimp out enough credits to buy Beauregard some ships and bring my stuff back. But that is not the only thing I wish to accomplish, Matt. I want to buy new things as well, such as prefabricated shelters for my new land, all the infrastructure that goes with it, like the plants your wife was lucky enough to have been able to import here. And while that could alone justify my response to you, I'll do you one better. I'll reveal my true intentions to you, but you must promise not to reveal them to anyone else, I assure you right now they are not truly ignoable, but if you feel they would harm people, I would not ask you to keep silent.”

Matthew hesitated, “Very well, I swear by the Force that I will not reveal anything, unless I feel in my judgement that it will harm others.”

“Good,” decided the other man, turning back to Matthew, “because the other reason I'm doing it is to gain your trust, and that of your friends. I mean no ill will towards any of you, and I never have. But I know Lord Tier does, as well as Lord Taniss. I understand their suspicion, but I want a chance to prove myself. I want them to see past that exterior that people so often attribute to me, that of a vain, maniupulative aristocrat who's never done an honest day's work. Because it's not true, nor would you ever think so if you saw me during the war.”

The ship he talked about flying so much...

“You were a fighter pilot in the Alderaanian Volunteers,” hypothesized the merchant, “I knew you flew Razors from when I heard you talking at dinner onboard the Estralla...”

Lord Kellington nodded, “I met a lot of people then, many that were heroes. Much more heroic than I ever will be. One of them gave me this, shortly before the war's close.”

Kellington hefted up a long, but thin plasboard box before setting it on Lucerne's dining room table. Matthew studied the box, roughly as large as Kellington's entire torso, looking for any manufacturer's marks or port inspection marks, but there were none. It was entirely inconspicuous to him save for the item's apparent weight. Kellington gently lifted the cover, revealing what appeared to be a very large, silver shield. Matthew looked back up at the other Alderaanian.

“It's a vibroshield,” explained Kellington, “an archaic weapon used by some Separtist supporters on Haruun Kal. You may not know it, but that metal is over thousands of years old, and while it sat around in a jungle for nearly that long, it hasn't gone rusty or decomposed in any matter. In fact, it was strong enough to resist a lightsaber blow, or so the Jedi told me. I heard you had an interest in arcane and exotic technology, and this is the only thing I have that I think may have interest to you. And it is one of the most valuable things to me that I currently have in my possession. I want you to keep it, as a symbol of my trust in you, and hopefully as a symbol of friendship between our two houses.”

Two men held in silence for a few awkward minutes before Matthew cleared his throat.

“I accept your offers, both items anyways, and this generous gift of yours,” announced Lucerne, “but I have to ask, what magical material is this shield made of?”

The other man looked at the Dark Jedi weapon, “The Jedi told me it was made out of Ultrachrome.”
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Oct 23 2013 7:42am
West Dentris Starport, Ebrilia

Swenson quickly sidestepped to his left, just avoiding the massive armored foot of an unaware of a binary loadlifter. Even normal life around here is dangerous...but I suppose all of life is, when one begins to take into account all the things could that potentially could happen. He set his jaw. But life goes on, regardless. The man waded back into the congested streetways, bobbing between a motley milieu of droids, aliens, and other humanoids like himself. He passed an open air cafe, that guy back there said it should be right over there. He winced. I suppose one's intelligence is bad if it can be found on the open street by a random guy. Swenson glanced around, drawing upon his tenuous connection with the Force to try and reveal something. Whether it was the Force or pure luck, he finally saw the fading orange lettering spelling out the docking series where the Black-Billed Crawler was allegedly docked. The Metalorn deftly slipped behind an alien cloaked in a dark, billowing cape as the being walked towards the corridor which led to the series of landing pads. By the Maker, I can't see a thing past this creature's cloak...but hopefully anyone in front of me won't be able to see me. Finally, the alien turned out of the corridor to his landing pad, leaving the Jensaarai idly walking down to the last pad and hopefully the heavily modified Muurian Transport. A Rodian, wearing an oddly shiny vest and wielding a blaster rifle, stepped out of landing pad Y434 and jabbed a finger at the approaching Jensaarai. The alien's eyes seemed to bulge out at spotting the man.

“You stop right there. Who are you? What are you doing here? Gathorn, get over here.”

Another being rushed out of the bay, a hammer-headed Ithorian wielding an ubiquitous T-21 repeating blaster. The Ithorian quickly brought his blaster's barrel to point at Swenson. Halting, the Metalorn native brought both of his hands up in a palm gesture. Swenson offered up an appreciatative smile.

“Relax guys, I must be at the wrong docking port, I think anyways. The Starlight Wanderer isn't back there, is it? I think it's a Lambda-class shuttle, or was it a Muurian transport? I think it's a Muurian transport. Is there a Muurian transport back there?”

“I doubt it's the one you're looking forward,” snickered the Rodian, “turn around.”

“Look guys,” replied Swenson, slowly edging up towards the two men, “this area is public space, and I just want to make sure I don't miss my flight. Is is possible that the ship could have had its name changed, or there was some sort of last minute docking change? Because the security officers directed me here, and they seemed pretty sure that this was the place for my flight. Should I go get them, or can I just take a look? Just one little look at the ship couldn't hurt. Look, I'm going to see the ship no matter what, if I have to go up that observation tower over there and take a look at it, I'll do that. But I'd really appreciate it if you'd just give me a quick chance...”

The Jensaarai advanced under the cover of his barrage of words, frequently making eye contact with both of the aliens. He wasn't entirely sure if they had bought it, or even if they were going to try and work with him. But they hadn't fired on him yet. He finally got close enough to confirm that there was indeed a Muurian Transport there, but he wasn't in a position enough to see if it was the correct starship. The rodian now shouldered his arm and loudly snapped the selector lever on his rifle.

“You see the ship, now you leave,” demanded the Rodian.

“But I can't see the ship's name,” countered the man, “can you escort me to see that, or give me some sort of documentation...”

The Rodian's eyes locked into his. He's not buying it...Swenson rushed forward, launching himself into the Rodian. The alien fumbled with his somewhat displaced weapon; Robert took advantage of that distraction to shove the green-skinned creature into his partner as drew his short sword. As his two opponents disengaged from themselves, his left hand swept forward towards them, drawing upon the Force to fling a cloud of dirt and dust into the creatures' eyes. The bulbous eyes of the rodian scrunched shut, while the Ithorian's more beady eyes simply narrowed more. Him first then. Swenson brought his blade down hard into the middle of the being's repeating blaster; sparks sprung out of the cracked barrel, producing the sordid smell of ozone. Swenson locked eyes with the Ithorian again before delivering a sharp kick to the being's shins. The alien doubled over, but as he did so, the rodian finally cleared his eyes and began to raise his gun. Not today....Swenson lunged forward and whipped his blade up at the rifle. The tip of his blade smacked the blaster up far faster and farther than the rodian would have liked; his eyes widened as Swenson closed the gap to deliver a smashing punch into the alien's face. The alien staggered back. Swenson quickly pivoted to grab the rising Ithorian. The metalorn native kicked the already injured shin of the Ithorian before swinging the alien in front of him to face his partner. Swenson pulled the mottled Ithorian's back to the man's chest, holding him close as an organic blaster shield. The Jensaarai's blade came up to neatly press itself against the Ithorian's long throat. And for a brief minute, their combatative dance came to standstill before Swenson cleared his throat. I just took someone hostage...a very sweaty, pungent Ithorian hostage...

“Now,” decided the Jensaarai, “let's talk about this for a second. Gathorn is it? I've got you by the throat, literally. If you try to move, I'll end you. Now my other sir, I do not know your name.”

“Bomer Lodarr,” spat out the alien, covering up a heavily bruised eye.

“Now why are you here? What's your business with this ship?” demanded the Jensaarai.

“A guy paid us to watch over it while he was away; nothing unusual about that,” replied the alien, “why, is he wanted or something?”

Swenson hesitated. Do you tell the truth and risk an operation? Or do you leave them in the dark? No time to think...

“You might say that,” replied the Jensaarai, “drop all of your weapons, and I'll let you both leave with no more harm.”

“My weapon is my lifeblood,” replied the alien, “It cost me a lot of money. Tell you what, we both leave, and don't file any reports or anything, but we keep our weapons.”

“And how do I know you want try to kill me? Tell you what, drop your powerpack out of your weapons, and we have a deal.”



In the past...

Lucerne Estate, Kashan

Matthew Lucerne glanced around the gardens; a flurry of people, most wearing the badge of House Lucerne, popped in and out of the house onto the dozens of tables that the household droids had set up for the party. In the midst of the activity, Corinne Lucerne flirted about, talking to the various guests and House supporters. Most of the Houses had drawn their supporters from the people their families had brought or rather introduced into the settlement. Matt could see dozens of his family's friends, and even more of Corinne's, along with many people who did a lot of business with Lucerne's shipping operations. To an extent, most people were reliant on his ships, which afforded the Lucernes a measure of protection from some of the already vicious politics sweeping through the city that others had not enjoyed. House Tier had already become extremely polarizing. Hiram's tendency to be exceptionally straightforward had rubbed several people the wrong way, notably the members of House Beauregard. House Kellington enjoyed an oddly populist support from those brought from the settlement who in actuality hadn't been very close to their sponsors. Watching people switch allegiances had been interesting for Matt to see unfold. Some of the new class of nobles formed some resent over that, and consequently towards Lord Kellington himself. The political fervor continued to rise as the first meeting of the Council of Houses was a week away. Matthew had almost schedule a shipping run just to avoid to getting entangled into the politics, but Corinne insisted that their people needed to be represented and fought for. Looking at their many friends and acquaintances gathered, he really couldn't disagree with her, but he still dreaded the inevitable conflict.

“So you're the wild card I hear.”

Lucerne turned to face the voice, a shorter man wearing a plain business coat with no pinned House badge. Now just like Corinne said...Matthew offered his hand to the man, who took and shook it.

“I don't believe we've met,” said Lucerne, searching his mind for any memory of the man.

“We haven't,” acknowledged the other man, “I came on Beauregard's ship a couple weeks back. My name is Mr. Lonovos.”

“What can I do for you?” said the Alderaanian man, “I must admit, I'm more of a wallflower than my wife would like; I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to meet you in the party.”

“No worries,” replied the man, “I won't be staying here for long. I'm not one of your supporters, but I'm here to represent a potential ally.”


“It doesn't matter,” replied the man, “and no, it's not Lord Beauregard. There are groups of Lords forming onto sides. You've got the traditionalists like House Tier and House Thorn, and the more, shall we say liberal, Houses Kellington and Beauregard forming the core of the sides. But no-one seems certain where you plan to go. Do you know where? You're going to start missing out on people's plans if you don't decide soon.”

“I am on my people's side,” informed Lucerne, “and I don't buy into the insular idea of two sides opposing each other. In fact, I will be rather disappointed if our council devolves so quickly on its first meeting. We will all need to work together to get things done for the good of the colony. Is there something more specifically you wanted my opinion on? Perhaps that could be more of a help to you?”

The man squinted his eyes, “Not yet I'm afraid, not if I don't know where you stand.”

“Then you will found out where I stand when the Council meetings start.”

“And nothing could convince you to tell me who you are with at all? Nothing?” queried Mr. Lonovos.

“I was being serious and straightforward just now,” said the older Lucerne coolly, “I'm not any bloc of house's sides. If you have some sort of political machination that you want to include me, I would appreciate it if you would kindly go away...”
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Oct 28 2013 6:08am
Landing Pad Y434, West Dentris Starport, Ebrilia

Swenson strode around the Muurian Transport, letting his hands brush up against the outside of the metal. There's no warmth coming from the exhaust areas, nor around any of the repulsor pads. Which means the ship hasn't been turned on for at least a couple of hours...if I could actually get onboard the craft, I might be able to figure out what exactly is going on...He looked around the circular ring which enclosed the craft. The security holo-cams are oriented to point horizontally over the pits. His forehead wrinkled. That suggests that the port authority isn't as interested in what's going on once the ships have landed, but are more interested in collecting fees from ships coming and going...that explains how that officer found me so quickly too when I landed. Which also means they're actively watching them. He hesitated. There's no way for me to provide survelliance on the ship then, nor do we necessarily have the time if he's already abandoned the ship. Only one real option then: got to break in.

He looked around the craft. The loading ramp was tightly clamped shut, nor could Swenson see any controls to lower from the outside. There were several airlock doors, but none of which he could easily reach, assuming they were unlocked. Bob winced. What, am I going to have to throw a rock through the cockpit window to get in? His eyes scanned the craft, finally settling on the four landing struts which extended out of the craft. They're probably sealed from the inside of the hull to prevent atmosphere escape or vermin from getting in...but I'd be willing to bet that the metal inside them is less thick than the rest of the hull plating. The Metalorn native strode over around the struts, finally settling on accessing the largest one, which supported the great mass of engines near the starship's rear. Not a lot of room to work with, but what other option is there? He straddled the strut and raised himself up as far as he could into the landing pad well as he could. Looking around, he could spot the tell-tale amber slick that accompanied over-lubrication of the equipment. Well, that's a good sign. It suggests that he takes care of the ship, which may suggest he's not planning on abandoning it outright...or it could suggest he's about to sell it. He shrugged to himself. But I suppose there's no point in making pointless conjectures about Mr. Longline's intentions without solid evidence. Swenson scanned the well, looking for a maintenance hatch or panel of some sort. May be there. He drew his blade and managed to puncture the thin plate; for minutes, he struggled to pry the plate open. He drew upon the Force, trying to channel it to strengthen his arms. Finally, whether by wear and tear or mystical forces, the plate plopped off, revealing a solid mass of bewildering colored wires. Basic electronics he knew. These wirings, he did not. It's probably part of the hyperdrive system being this far back...I'd better not touch that. The Metalorn native looked around some more, finally noticing a larger panel that ran perpendicular to the long side of the well, but comprised part of the well's roof. Maybe...there's hinges there, it looks like...He thrust the blade upwards; the Force-imbued metal slowly slid and pierced through one set of hinges. He sharply withdrew the blade. Swenson thrust upwards again, and again, until the hing had been completely separated from the floor of the ship itself. He slid his hand up, just barely getting the pads of fingers onto the top of the hatch. The man tugged at it; the hatch slightly flexed. He let out an exasperated sigh. There's an internal latch on the other side. Half in frustration, the man jabbed his blade at where he guessed the latch was; the small sword pierced the metal. Finally, some luck. Swenson pulled the sword back, and accidentally brought back the panel embedded into as well. By the least I can finally get in. He pried the panel off the blade and pulled himself into the shadowy interior of the ship. This looks like the engine room. But let's have a look around...


In the Past...

Thorn Estate, Solace, Kashan

Lucerne stared at newly titled Lord Thorn's house, which Lucerne guessed would more appropriately be styled a manor. The structure managed to dominate the surrounding block by its sheer girth and three story height. It's a bit bigger than my house, but I do suppose that greenhouse in the back takes up a lot of space, as well as actually having a family...Matt strode through the simple fence and stepped up the stairs. The door promptly opened, revealing a smiling Lord Thorn who ushered him in. A servant droid promptly took the man's cloak and Thorn guided him to the family's table, where Lord Tier and Lady Laurent already sat discussing politics. His former shipmates both gave him warm welcomes, which he returned.

“I get the picture that this just isn't tea,” muttered Lucerne, “it's a political meeting, isn't it?”

“Look Matt,” cautioned Thorn, handing him a cup of tea, “before you get all defensive, yes, you're right. It's about politics, sort of. I know you only spend half your time here, sharing your marriage with your wife and space itself, but this is important. Not only to me or Lord Tier, or even Lady Laurent here. Your wife thought we should drag you into this, even though Tier was skeptical about it, but Laurent and I here finally agreed to your wife's demands.”

He raised his eyebrows, “And why didn't my wife tell me this?”

“Would you have came if she had?”

“Fair point,” admitted Lucerne, “now that you finally lured me in, why am I here?”

Lady Laurent turned her grass green eyes to peer into Lucerne's.

“Kellington is up to something. And we know about the deal you've made him with the island and your shipping business; Corinne told us that. We don't have a problem with that, really, but with what we've been also hearing throughout the streets, we think he's up to something.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Some of his people have been looking for people who have done either a lot of hunting, or have some sort of military or war experience,” replied Tier, “he's been asking around the fringes of my social circle, but you know, hear it from a friend, and so forth. To the point, where I specifically got a name of one of his people doing the asking, and followed him around. It sounds likes he's trying to recruit them. Maybe form a militia or army of some sort.”

“He might want people to guard his new island settlement that he's planning, or needs the area cleared of the beasts to begin with,” mused Lucerne, “there's nothing wrong with that. Besides, if he wanted an army, he'd be asking for me to get him weapons of some sort, and no-one has asked me for anything like that, save for the powerpacks that we all use.”

“Then why be so hush about it,” questioned Thorn, “it's a job that I'd be a lot of hunters and I'd be willing to be that Lord Tier and his men would love to have a shot at it. And I know that Kellington has been many overtures trying to get some of us to join him. It seems like he's almost got you.”

Lucerne frowned, “My dealings with him are purely business, and you all know that. I haven't joined his bloc of houses in calling for any of the changes he's been proposing.”

“Nor have you allied yourself with us, at least not publically,” replied Thorn, “look Matt, I know you're simply trying to be fair-minded and objective, but now is the time to see that there's just something not right here. I've heard other things as well, but I don't have anything solid on them. And I'm the one who brought him here, admittedly before I'd knew anything this guy has been up to, and what I'm hearing from my shared social circle with him, while not exactly the most clear or anything, doesn't sound good, and by good, I mean what we thought off when we first got here. It's not going to turn the shadowport that you wanted.”

“I know,” admitted Lucerne, “and there's no point in going back to that dream...”

“Look Matt, you don't have to join us if it doesn't feel right to you,” suggested Hiram, “I don't like it, but it is your choice. But can we at least expect you to stand with us on our original plan of bringing no more new people in, because that's what we're still fighting for.”

“You can,” replied Lord Lucerne, setting down his tea cup, “because that's what we seems to be the best thing for Kashan right now. You really think he's going to continue to push so hard for that right now? I've heard some reports that even Beauregard is growing hesitant about some of his proposed immigration ideas.”

“Well,” admitted Thorn, “we keep on hearing different versions of the plan. For all we know, the plan that eventually reaches the first session might be something we can agree to.”

“Not likely,” rebutted Tier.

“There's always the chance, however slim it is,” countered Thorn.
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Oct 31 2013 8:27pm
Muurian Transport Black-Billed Crawler, West Dentris Starport, Ebrilia

Swenson slid over to the right, just missing the duraplast crate labeled “datacards”. It's a good thing there isn't much in the ship's holds to stumble over. The Jensaarai hadn't seen much cargo onboard the craft, though it did seem unusually well-stocked with extra fuel, food, and other consumable items. Slowly approaching the short corridor leading up to the cockpit, he drew his blade. He grabbed the handle to the cockpit's door, and quickly slid it open, only to reveal an empty cockpit. Light streamed through the tinted windows, giving the man his view of the ship's interior with any light. The Metalorn native glanced at the floors, noting its sheen was either very new, or very fastidiously kept. Given the buffering pattern on the floor, it looks too regular to be that of a normal person, must be that of a droid...which means that it tells me nothing about the man, except that he's willing to have droids work on his ship...He peered through the viewport, noting a pair of starport security guards entering the landing pad, followed by the Rodian he'd early beat up. Well that's not good...Half out of instinct, the man slid to take cover behind the cockpit's seat. Swenson gripped the seat in front of him tighter than a rancor's jaws on a juicy bantha. The trio of people walked around the duracrete pad, but noticing nothing out of the ordinary, continued to pace around the pad, looking around. Finally, the pair of port security guards left, just leaving the Rodian at the entryway to the landing pad. Swenson groaned. Well, getting out of here might not be as easy as I'd like. He glanced at the pilot's main console. And he didn't leave the keys in...just my luck.

He tapped his comlink.

“Captain, I'm onboard the ship, but it doesn't look like I'll be able to easily leave anytime soon. But if you do not hear from me in four hours, I'd appreciate it if you would send some people to try and pull me out of this mess. Our guy isn't even here yet.”

He heard a brief acknowledgement and the channel went dead. If anyone was listening, that should be vague enough to not really provide any information, unless they already knew I was here, and what we're doing...For the next hour, the man contented himself to further exploring the light transport, finally finding a glowrod to better explore the ship's dark interior. He was able to access a guest account on the ship's computer, allowing him to read some of the data cards, which seemed to contain archived stock and financial information. Abruptly, the Black-Billed Crawler's internal lights flickered on. The Jensaarai rushed to nearby cockpit, seeing a shorter man handing the Rodian a handful of credit chips. He eyed the newcomer closely. The man wore a business suit set in a cut not unlike those worn in the pictures of Mr. Longline that the Jensaarai had seen. But the eyes aren't the right color, and neither is the nose. I don't remember Mr. Longline's lips being quite so who do I have here? An accomplice of some sort, or potentially an innocent new owner of the ship? The Jensaarai reached into the Force to try and probe around the man, but Swenson's telepathy was not remotely advanced to get close to a coherent thought out of the man. Instead, the Jensaarai sensed that the newcomer felt relief for some unknown reason. Swenson frowned. But why? At least his guard will probably be down...The CSIS agent quickly walked into the nearby refresher station and shut the door. Shortly after he did, a hum emanated throughout the ship's hull, followed by a dull thud. He's entering the ship...Swenson closed his eyes, concentrating on the light footsteps he heard echoing throughout the ship. They grew louder as the newcomer approached the cockpit of the ship. Now. Swenson rapidly swung open the door to the refresher, smashing it into the other man. The newcomer staggered back, instinctively shielding his battered head. Swenson pulled his right foot up quickly into the man's groin. The newcomer keeled over, presenting the back of his head to Swenson, who promptly smashed it with the pommel of his blade. The man collapsed into an unconscious heap laying on the floor, with a small streams of blood trickling out his dark hair. Swenson hesitated. Did I really need to have done that? What if the man's innocent, but then again, what if he's not? Can I really say all that was just to protect myself? He shook the thoughts away and dragged the man to the freighter's limited sickbay.


In the Past...

Solace, Kashan

His hand resting on the pommel of his newly forged ultrachrome blade, the newly minted Lord Matthew Lucerne strode into Fyre Sola Hall, trailing in the wake of several of Lord Kellington's allies. Behind him, the man could hear Lord Tier and Lady Laurent murmur about something, though what exactedly, he didn't know. Matt considered slowing down, thereby putting him solidly within the more traditional block of Lords and his friends, yet he wasn't, at least not politically, even if they were all personal friends. Corinne would tell me that'd set the wrong political impression. He entered the surprising small conference room, noting his name on a placard set on one of the spots of the room's round table. He merely sat down, finding himself directly opposite of Lord Kellington. His fellow Alderaanian expatriate offered him a curt nod of recognition, which Lucerne returned in kind. After all the lords and ladies had taken their seats, the council's first session began with a monotonous reading of the schedule by a silver protocol droid which Lucerne believed Thorn owned. The first issues were simple and relatively unpartisan issues, such as adopting the basic ground traffic control laws, nearly all of which were lifted from existing Alderaanian law. Several hours later, the committee had finally whittled away the little issues into completed votes, only leaving the divisive “Second Wave Act” sponsored by Lord Kellington and Lord Abel, which would call for unlimited immigration to Kashan. Passions rose as the various Lords and Ladies debated the merits and philosophy of the bill. Lucerne briefly thought that several thinly veiled words were about to make Lord Tier lose his infamously short temper, but the hunter merely glared the other man down. Finally, Thorn's droid reminded the council that time was running out, and the issue must be voted on. The various lords and ladies announced their votes, nearly all on their already known viewpoints, leaving only Lord Thorn and Lord Lucerne to announce their votes, with the current tally of six approving the bill, and seven voting against it.

“My Lord Thorn, your vote please?” requested the protocol droid.

Well, at least this one is settled then...Thorn gazed around the room, his eyes seeming to peer into everyone's mind. They settled on Lord Kellington, who stared back at him with seeming disinterest. Thorn kept his eyes on Kellington.

“Yes. I vote yes to the Second Wave Act.”

Lucerne winced. What could have possibly made Thorn change his mind on this? Looking around, Lucerne watched both Tier's and Beauregard's jaws drop simultenously. Lady Laurent eye's narrowed as she stared at Thorn. But less than a minute had passed before all of the room's eyes bore onto Lucerne. Great, I'm going to end up being the vote decider...The silver droid gestured at Lord Lucerne.

“Lord Lucerne, your vote please?”

“I vote not to vote on the bill as it currently is, simply because it is far too divisive in its current state for the people of Kashan,” suggested Lord Lucerne, “so I offer up this compromise for a vote: we do allow a brief period of future immigration, not to exceed four months, in which all the members of this council, or a committee formed by this council, will be able to screen potential new settlers for disapproval or approval. Based on this pilot, we can then bring up the issue of immigration on a latter date for a more permanent solution.”

“Approval?” questioned Lord Kellington, leaning back, “certainly we're all to busy to sort through all the possible settlers who will want to come here. Isn't the sponsorship of a noble house enough to settle our new settler's character?”

“No,” reprimanded Tier, “it isn't. We all, that is the original crew of the Endeavor’s light, wanted this place to be neutral ground from the various partisan's turning the galaxy into warzone. And moreover, I know that I don't want my kids potentially living next to a criminal. Background checks need to be run on them well...”

“This sounds acceptable as a temporary solution,” started Beauregard, staring at Lucerne, “except that it negates one major flaw: there aren't enough ships to bring that many people to Kashan in three months. What, we're maybe talking about four trips by Lord Lucerne's ships here maximum, and what's that, maybe four hundred people max?”

Well, they saw through that part of the ploy...

Lord Kellington stared back at Lucerne, “Well, since our Lord Lucerne is the only one who knows the routes into Kashan because of his nav buoys, I suggest we provide his shipping company with money out of the sponsor's or their colonists money to buy new ships enough to bring them over, with the stipulation that all of his vessels be used solely during this three month amnesty period to transport new colonists and their possessions. Now, shall we take a second vote on these measures?”

“All at once?” questioned Matt.

“Certainly,” declared Kellington, “there isn't any time left designated in the meeting. It's all or nothing.”

“I must abstain from this vote,” decided Lucerne, “because of a conflict of interests.”

“Understandable,” commented Tier, “I vote yes for the revised act.”

Lucerne frowned. What is he thinking? Does he somehow simply plan to veto all of the people Kellington wants to bring in, or does he have something else going on? With Lord Lucerne's abstainment and a partial shift of the Compact loyalists, the revised Second Wave Act passed nine to five. Lucerne stared at the other Alderaanian native across from him. What have you roped my business, my life, into?
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Nov 3 2013 12:23pm
Steadfast-class Gunship Félicité, near Ebrilia

“Who is he?”

“I don't know,” replied the Jensaarai.

Trutzig's eyes seemed to flare out at Swenson's words. There's nothing about it I can do right now. The two Confederates hovered over the man restrained in the gunship's mall sickbay. Swenson would have preferred to keep the man in the Black-Billed Crawler, but the starship was being extensively searched by the droids and crewman of the gunship for any evidence that Swenson might have missed. The 2-1B assigned to the ship brought his luminous eyes up from his patient to Trutzig.

“My suturing is complete,” announced the droid, stiffly pointing at a running line of stitches that creased the prisoner's forehead, “I should note that preliminary blood work on this patient suggests he has had surgery recently, There are trace amounts of drugs typically used to put a man under for operations. I do note a fresh scar on the his lower abdomen, just above the right upper quadrant. Based on the location, it was likely a gastrointestinal operation of some sort.”

“Thank you doc,” noted the ship's captain, “when will he be awake?”

“I can make that happen, if you would like ma'am.”

“Do it,” ordered the woman.

The droid promptly hobbled over to the ship's small medical closet, where it withdrew a syringe filled with a slightly blue tinted liquid from the refrigeration unit. The droid slipped off the protective sheath of the needle, inspected it, and promptly stabbed the man's freshly cleaned arm. The liquid slowly disappeared from the syringe as the medical droid pushed the plunger hard. Carefully, the droid withdrew the needle and disposed of it in the room's micro-incinerator. The restrained man began to slowly shake his head and moaned. His left hand began to move to rub his eyes, but the restraints put a stop to that.

“Where am I?” demanded the man, tugging irately at the restraints.

“You're onboard our ship. Do you know who you are?” questioned the Jensaarai.

“What ship?”

“Who are you?” repeated Swenson.

“What ship?” persisted the man, “the Black-Billed Crawler?”

“A different one,” admitted Captain Trutzig, “you're on a private security gunship. You took a bad blow to the head.”

“Mercenaries?” questioned the man.

“We are soldiers of a sort,” noted the Jensaarai, “but who are you?”

The man hesitated, “I can help you get him. That's why you got me, correct? You are searching for Mr. Longline, right? My name is Geoffrey van Dycea, by the way.”

“What's your relationship to Mr. Longline,” started Swenson, “an old friend.”

“I'm his accountant,” replied the man, “or rather, I am one of his. I think he has a few others that I don't know about. Mr. Longline brought me along to help set up some new accounts that he wanted hidden from the Confederation. Something like off-world tax shelters. Nothing real illegal, per se, but you know, something he didn't really want to advertise given his position.”

“Where is he now?”

“I don't know,” admitted the accountant, “I came down with a bad case of food poisoning. They had me rushed to the local hospital, but when I came back to the ship, know the story. But in exchange for full indemnity in the charges going to filed against him, I'll help you out finding him. But you have to promise to let me go once you've found him. The Confederation sent you guys, right, like a bounty hunter sort of thing?”

“Sort of,” stretched Swenson, “it's a little more complicated than that, but it shouldn't affect our investigation, or your participation in it if you so please...”