[UW] The Flame Tree Festival [Robynne, Allevard 2.1]

You were in luck Robynne. You had the opportunity to craft your kite from an amazing array of materials from natural flame tree leaves with the shimmer of their namesake, to more technological fabrics. In fact, it was required to participate in the flying dance at all. What memories did the act of building bring up?

Allevard yours was... workable at least, right? What did you think of it when you finished? I mean you had Robynne there to help.

The dance itself wasn't too complicated or fast... the basic one at least, a couple of native men in elaborate costumes, again decorated with those shimmering leaves walked you though the stages of the kite dance, the ground movements and kite movements both. It's a dance of give and take, call and response. By the end you've managed to find the place where you synchronize and move in a harmony that you can feel.

As you pant with exhaustion from the effort, Robynne. The two men and several of the other dances bow and congratulate you both on your upcoming nuptials before walking away with their arms draped about each other, and there you are, Kites in hand when you spot Terci hurrying toward you through the crowds that bustle through brightly colored tents that litter the large park, all of which is presided over by the enormous glittering palace.


  • image

    The opportunity to work with these traditional, natural materials is a rare pleasure for me. It's a fun challenge that I find engrossing.

    I've made a few glider foils before, and my first 'kite' was a ring-skimmer, meant to ply the resistance offered by the frozen mist around one of the moons near my home station. I needed a personal ion scooter to fly it. I remember now the plans I'd made, how I arranged my flight, and how the tether line fought me.

    How did I lose track of the energy I was spending on this? My legs will have their revenge on me tomorrow. I wipe hair out of my eyes and then freeze. Nuptials? Moving only my eyes, I glance at Allevard, then back to the dancers.
  • imageMy kite looked like a series of freshly-pasted kites crashed into each other, and promptly rolled around in some leaves. Robynne helped me get it working well enough to lift it off the ground, but it was not nearly as elegant as xis — not by a long shot. I liked it fine, though. There's something to be said about how terrible it was — it certainly turned heads. This was definitely a good way to spend the afternoon...

    My face fills with joy when the dancers start congratulating us, the kite dance's true purpose finally becoming clear. A warm chortle shakes my whole body, and I shake my head. "Don't worry," I tease, "it can be a long engagement — indefinite, you might say." I motion over to Terci, who seems to be coming our way, "more well wishers, I hope..."
  • image

    My face breaks into a wide grin as I see that Allevard remains comfortable, and I laugh. "Well, in any case it looks like I couldn't have had this fun without you!" It does bring a lot of sense and purpose to the dancing.

    I wave to Terci, call out her name. "I just experienced a cultural gaffe and lived!" I hold onto Allevard's shoulder for support as she makes her way over. I'm mostly used to her ignoring her days off but today it worries me a little.
  • Terci slows as she approaches a shadow flickering across her features.. just the tiniest dimming of her expression as she glances between you, taking in the kites and you leaning on Allevard. You catch it, don't you Allevard? When you call out, Robynne, it clears away, like clouds from a sun, and her big smile returns as she comes up to you. She's dressed more casually than you've ever seen her in a riotously colored dress that bares her arms and shoulders. It's a festival dress, you've seen a few. She carries her large shoulder bag and another bag in her hand, probably from one of the tents.

    "Sai, Captain. I didn't know you planned to visit the festival today, Sai... I wish you'd said so...." She frowns. "You aren't overdoing it? You're a little pale. I saw some benches over that way... and I have extra grav sickness boosters right here..." She starts digging into her handbag.
  • imageI did catch that. I decide I need to think nothing of it, and greet her courteously. "It was my fault — I'm afraid I coerced xir into playing hooky with me this afternoon." I'll follow Robynne's lead when it comes to seeking out a place to sit, and rest. "I'm hungry. Could either of you use something to eat?"
  • image

    "Terci, you are a confection today, in that dress." I peel out of my jacket and fold it over an arm to try and cool off, standing more on my own again. "Let's find a restaurant after we've caught our breath? I could definitely take in a meal. Do we know what's good in the area?"

    For a moment I'm a little reluctant to sit on the bench - what if I get attached? Still, I do it, with a relieved groan escaping me.
  • Terci's skin tone doesn't lend itself to hiding a blush, and it fails to do so once again at her reaction to your compliment.


    "Thank you, Sai.". She says avoiding your eyes as she crouches in the grass next to you, setting her other bag on the bench by your hip and her handbag on the ground so she can search it more easily. "There's a native Mayaran place not far away. It's supposed to be one of the best in the system. I think you would like it, Sai, especially during the festival. Captain, do you like spice?"

    What is The best thing you've ever eaten, Robynne?

    With a little cry of victory Terci stands again holding the little packet of medicine out to you, then suddenly she says "ow" and reaches for and looks over her shoulder her eyebrows drawing together as she doesn't see anything

    But you do, Allevard. You can see the glint of the sunlight off the almost clear sliver of a dart embedded in her bare back between her shoulder blades.

    She starts to sway.
  • imageI Instinctively reach out to hold Terci when I see her start to sway — people losing their balance and hitting themselves when the grav comes back on is a common occurrence on a ship, and I'm on a hair trigger thanks to all these diplomats. If Terci looks like she's going to fall, I'll help her onto the bench beside Robynne. Either way, I'm scanning for wherever that dart came from.
  • image

    The best thing I've ever eaten was a baked acteon swordfish whose belly was stuffed with a swarm of whole candied eels. For dessert we had an erupting mango cake with a passion fruit sauce. That was a party to stick in the memory.

    "Of course, let's try i-..Terci?!" I help Allevard with her and feel her pulse, confused. Is this some medical issue she's hidden from me? What is Allevard looking for? "Allevard?'
  • edited March 2016
    imageI'm scanning the horizon. "There's a dart in her shoulder. Mind yourself."

  • image

    "Should we not leave? Contact someone?" I duck down and have a very clear image in my mind of my bulletproof suit, left behind in my quarters. I'm wary of leaving Terci exposed to more darts.
  • Her heart is beating quickly, Robynne and she goes boneless. You both have to lower herdown and you have to keep ahold of her to keep her up at all. She looks at you with wide, confused eyes, her pupils dialating.

    "S-S-Sai...R-Robynne? I... I can't....... can't..." She's starting to have trouble breathing. Who knows what she was hit with but it seems like it's triggering an allergic reaction on top of the paralytic effect.

    Allevard, it takes a moment but you spot him. He's dressed like a local but he's just not quite fitting somehow. Your eyes lock a moment, before he turns and darts into the crowd.

    What do you do?
  • image

    I activate my comm and open a call to emergency services. I give Terci's hand a squeeze and listen, not certain she can feel it.

    "Shhh, relax, Terci, it'll be alright." An allergy? If Terci has a severe one and knows it, she may have what she needs in her bag. I rummage through it looking for relevant medicine. Come on, pack a little something for you for once.

    I also glance about for details I can give about our location, or any medical stations I hadn't previously noticed placed here for the festival.
  • imageNot that I fancy myself a vigilante, but I'm a little on edge from having been a part of this conspiracy theory. this won't stand. I look back to Robynne, my eyes filled with urgency, and I stand to leave. "Comm me with wherever you end up. I'll touch base with you shortly." I look to Terci, "Mixter Archebelloch is going to take care of you. You're in good hands..." Then I bolt off after him.
  • image

    "I'll do that." I'm not sure I want to be alone with Terci and the possibility of another assailant right now but Allevard only has so much time to go after whatever he's seen.

    I am, however, the least gifted fighter my self-defense instructor ever met at school.

    Right now I need to focus; emergency comms. Medicine. Support.
  • Allevard it will be a brutal run through a thick, milling crowd. Let's see you face adversity with Physique.

    It's probably not in your face quite this way how much of Terci's life is dedicated to yours, is it Robynne? I mean you know it, sure, but that's not the same as seeing material evidence of it like this, is it? What's the most startling thing you come across?

    In any case you find an adrenaline injector tucked away in the side pocket.

    "M'sorry.... Sai..." Terci wheezes.

    The emergency service computer answers your comm

  • OOC: Running brutally with Physique.
    (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 5, 4. Total: 10)
  • image

    Terci..usually does an excellent job of concealing most of the effort that she puts into assisting me. The inside of her bag is illuminating, the grav sickness medicine, my favorite kind of tea, just about anything I would like if a mood suddenly took me.

    Moods take me rather often so it's not surprising, just..maybe a little uncomfortable. What startles me is the matchmaking catalog, dated not long before our trip, and a packet of what would be my application towards a listing in it. Slightly worn. I see that I'm 'S' class.

    People assume I employ Terci directly, but she answers to my prime.

    "Emergency; one human woman, twenties, entering anaphylactic shock after exposure to an unknown toxin. We need staff here immediately." I describe the location while I prep the adrenaline. I'm not going to wait for an answering system's permission to use it.
  • Robynne,

    The pleasant sounding voice comes through your comm.

    "Keep this channel open as a beacon. Emergency Personnel are en route to your location. Please keep the patient awake until assistance arrives. If the patient has an emergency injector, please administer now. Do you require more information?"

    You see two people in light blue and carrying an emergency medical kit pushing their way through the crowd to you.


    He gives you a good chase through the crowd, trying desperately to get you off his tail as he weaves and dodges through the mass of milling people, under tents and through stalls. It seems your instinct for navigation does not leave you even under these somewhat more prosaic circumstances. You're about evenly matched physically. What unusual maneuver do you execute to finally bring him down?
  • image

    "I do not, thank you." Injection prepped, I leave the comm line running and warn Terci as I smooth her hair soothingly. "Alright, Terci, I've got this injection ready. On two. One..two!"

    I administer the adrenaline, braced for whatever reaction it creates in her. I'm in the space of mind that I usually enter in a crisis, one focused on options and outcomes. But she is so guilty and terrified, it does cut through to me.
  • imageI'm particularly thankful I kept up with my exercise regimen during our last voyage... I'm not exactly lazy when it comes to these things, but I could stand to do a little more resistance training on the bike every now and again.

    I was lucky, really, because he decided to run around the pool in the enormous fountain in the middle of the market to get to the nearest exit, and I'm a fantastic swimmer — zero-g has a way of working similar muscles. I'm dripping wet, and have fluid in my ears when I finally catch him — but I'm feeling slightly refreshed.

    I search him for any weapons, disarming him, before I tap open a comm to security, and request their assistance with an assailant.
  • edited March 2016

    Her eyes go wide and she surges with a huge gasp, her whole body going tight in your arms before collapsing again. Her breathing becomes rapid but less restricted, and she begins to tremble. Her eyes are shifting around rapidly in panic.

    The two medics with the kit break through the crowd and approach. They trade a look and one of them goes down in front of you and Terci and opens the kit, mumbling into his comm. The other one crouches beside you with a datapad.

    "Can you tell us what happened, Miss?"


    You're sitting on top of the man, security acknowledges you, saying they'll be there in minutes. You find a knife, a mono wire and a flechette gun as well as a datapad and his comm. You can also see the greybox... the neural interface on the back of his neck. A small, thin metallic square.

    The comm unit is blinking with an incoming signal.
  • image

    "Mixter Archebelloch, please. Robynne Archebelloch." I keep an eye on the medics; this past week threatens to turn me into a paranoiac. I stay close to Terci, an arm still around her as I explain.

    "She was moving to meet us here, facing in this direction. I was standing here, and my companion here. She gave out a small complaint of pain and then started to collapse immediately; we found this on her back." I hold out the glass dart, daintily removed and held between a snippet of layered gauze. "My companion has gone looking for the assailant, and I've just administered this."

    I hand over the spent adrenaline shot.
  • imageI'm holding the guy down, frantically looking for a way to disable his comm unit. I'm not above shorting it out... "Don't move! Security is on it's way, and I don't feel like being kind to someone who tries to kill my crew..."
  • Allevard,

    Well you could assess the comm unit, I suppose... + Expertise, or you can smash it with a rock or something while continuing to hold your struggling prisoner, which is facing adversity +Physique. What do you do?


    So you're keeping a close eye on them, you said. Looking over the medic working with Terci and his equipment too. I'd say you can either assess the medics themselves with +Influence or their equipment and actions with +Expertise. It's up to you.

  • imageI'd rather not bring a heavy rock down on the comm unit while I need this gentleman for questioning... There's got to be a manual override port, or switch, or something... Right?
  • OOC: Assessing
    (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 4, 2. Total: 8)
  • Assessing with Expertise

    (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 2, 4. Total: 8)
  • Allevard

    Sure, it takes you a minute to place the oddness of the comm unit. It's not that it's a terribly uncommon model but the mod to it gives it away, right? This sort of thing is commonly used by Void Wasters... the mod means it's equipped to send specialized signals to their greybox allowing for transfer of higher level personalities and triggering a brainwipe.

    You've seen it happen first hand, right?

    Anyway the comm itself you can stop now that you know where the override is... but there is a regular ping to the guy's greybox, something of a deadman switch. If he doesn't get that signal every 5 to 10 minutes the greybox will start a wipe automatically.

    What do you do?


    It takes you a minute but your engineers brain is about putting things together and taking them apart. These people aren't equipped right. What is it exactly that gives them away? Why do you remember that particular thing so well?

    The medic in front of you has pulled an injector and just loaded it with something. He's reaching towards Terci.

    What do you do?

  • image

    They don't have any cold packs or water. At first it's easy to dismiss, but at an outdoor festival event like this one of the most common medical complaints is overheating. I was upbraided rather harshly last year for not planning well enough to keep people cool and hydrated at a planetside glider racing event (sponsored by the company, of course). We had to requisition things on short notice and at a higher expense.

    Planets, I've learned, do not come equipped with climate control.

    Terci is paralyzed and I'm gravity-sick. We are alone. This is rather desperate.

    I stand up, fighting the dizziness, all a bluff. "Step back!" I bull my way between them, reaching into my jacket. "I'd like to confirm your ID with central."
  • Robynne

    With the pain and the high gravity you need to face adversity with Physique first. After that, I'm taking it your intent is to intimidate them or is it just to get between them and Terci?

  • image

    If legitimate, they should be willing to let me verify their identity. What I'm really trying to do is cause a scene; I doubt I can frighten someone in any bodily sense but I can direct eyes to them. We'll see if I can even stand, let alone keep them from injecting Terci.

    Facing Adversity via Physique; (Rolled: 2d6-1. Rolls: 1, 6. Total: 6)
  • Robynne

    As you worried, after the dancing and this excitement... and three days of grav sickness, your body just isn't up to interposing and the dizziness gets the better of you. It doesn't take much for the medic to your side to push you back down, and you're really too disoriented to do anything about it.

    The other one injects Terci with the shot he prepped and the first leans into your ear, his breath pungent to the point of foulness. "Calm yourself, Sai. That shot we just gave your girl interacts badly with the paralytic. You're going to stay calm and quiet and do what we say, or she's going to die in 20 minutes. Now, what's it going to be?"

  • image

    I try to force my vision back into focus. All I can do is nod, and swallow hard. What do these people want with me?
  • imageI wish Mr. Bezier was here... I'm sure he'd have some highly technical proxy solution up his sleeve that would put an end to this here and now. I wish I knew how quickly security could get here, so I could gamble with it... But right now I just have to hope he doesn't start a wipe on his own...

    I ring up Mr. Bezier, hoping he's free at the moment, so he can possibly walk me through disabling this.
  • edited March 2016

    The man on Terci deploys a grav stretcher, suspending her body in it. A medical vehicle swoops in near you, an ovoid body with six repeller pods giving it a rather insectoid appearance, aside from the pale blue paint. A third member of this little crew is behind the controls. The man beside you helps you regain your feet and guides you by the elbow to the back of the vehicle. The first fake medic with the stretcher in front of him, loads Terci aboard and the second gets you onboard on a side bench next to her then climbs in himself.

    In this process you caught sight of the stretcher man's greybox, the telltale metallic square at the base of his skull.

    You feel the ambulance lift away from the ground. Terci shivers then convulses like she's having a seizure, then relaxes again, remaining unconscious through the whole thing. The captor sitting on her other side seems to be scrutinizing your face.

    You were kidnapped once before, weren't you? What are you thinking now?
  • image

    I suppose I'm thinking of the expense of the operation. The medical vehicle, the uniforms and gear, the greyboxed human bodies and their parapersonalities; all of it costs money. I'm thinking that because these are greyboxed people, identifying them for the authorities is less important than it otherwise would be - more like tracing a smuggled product than fingering a culprit. It nauseates me.

    I'm wondering if they even have what it will take to cure Terci. I went along with their plan on that hope, as well as my own inability to resist.

    I am also thinking of what I know to be within 20 minutes of this plaza.

    Oh, and of course, I was kidnapped once before, when I was 14. I remember my captor from that time very well, Alcin Reluda. Xie held me for about 18 hours, negotiating desperately for clemency. Xie had been evicted from xir home station for previous crimes. The small details still volunteer themselves to my memory. Little chipped cups of cafe. The way xir shoes squeaked as xie paced.

    My hope right now is leaving behind some sort of sign. Allevard won't suspect anything, perhaps for hours.
  • edited March 2016


    Well the park is very near the city center. Twenty minutes in an ariel vehicle like this going top speed is something like 150km, half that at more reasonable speeds.

    In any case that puts a lot of things in range... everything from hospitals to abandoned warehouses to luxury hotels. I'm sure there's something here that could give you more information, right?

    What do you do about leaving a sign?

  • image

    Well, I could try to activate my internal comms but chances are low that they aren't jammed already. Had I a little more physical prowess, I might have tried to drop something meaningful at the bench.

    I can't attempt anything drastic; they'll retaliate against Terci again.

    I might be able to get ahold of one of their comms in a lull, slave it to my own nonvocal short range..I might not get caught doing that.

    I try my internal comms by themselves first, activating the alert macro that was made not long after my last adventure in being stolen away.
  • Robynne

    A series of tones in your ear tells you what you already suspected. The signal to your implanted comm is currently jammed.

    Your idea of hacking their comms is a pretty good one. How exactly would you go about that?I suppose you could also always assess the ambulance and the equipment to see if there is something else that would prove useful here.

  • image

    I'd need to get and stay very close to one of them, or steal one of their UI panels or slates if they have one like I do. I might be able to do it from the cockpit of this vehicle as well. The gist is that when jammed, I can still have an effective range of less than a half meter. Not reliable, but it's something.

    I do look around the ambulance and its gear, wondering if it's stolen or just rented. Trying to remember through the grav sickness which items, if any, may have a comm component.

    Assessing the Equipment with Expertise; (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 2, 4. Total: 8)
  • Robynne

    The ambulance isn't huge and both of the "medics" are back here with you with Terci in between. With the equipment, you're already a tad cramped so range shouldn't really be a problem.

    Your evaluation of the tech and the slight shabbiness of it assures you that it is most probably a real ambulance that was boosted...which in itself could be an advantage. Most of the equipment in it is older but still networked together... and you spot one peice you know particularly well because it's TXR manufacture. Why do you know it so well and how can you take advantage?

  • image

    Stolen. So authorities may be looking for it, if the medical company is aware yet. I can work with that.

    The piece 'of resistance', as it were, is an automated airway opener. Angelique collaborated with Aeschalus Medical and I oversaw the support and marketing team; it was a relations project and the press response was..well, nobody wants details but they like saving lives.

    I like details, though. Here is an example - the entubator auto reports when it gets used to the service center it's affixed to. Here's another - when you try to run calibration and access the serial number at the same time, it auto reports as above. We shipped it. Who would do both of those at the same time?
  • Robynne

    Who indeed?

    After a tense several minutes, Terci goes through some kind of convulsion... a seizure maybe. It looks painful. The monitoring instrument beeps a high pitched tone and the man across from you bends to check it. The one beside you is tapping into a portable terminal.

    If you're going for your signal it seems like a good opportunity. To be honest this seems trivial for your expertise, your Mettle is another matter.

  • image

    This is my chance, so long as I keep my composure..

    Rolling Mettle; (Rolled: 2d6. Rolls: 3, 5. Total: 8)
  • Robynne


    A rough hand grabs your shoulder and slams it against the wall of the ambulance, which doesn’t do much for either your burn or your general soreness.

    Then that smelly breath is in your face again.

    “What do you think you’re doing, huh?” He’s glancing at the entubator, uncertain. He can’t see anything though, can he? Nothing obvious. “Already more trouble than you’re worth, Sai.” Only now do you see the little pistol in his other hand. Nasty little thing, also TXR subsidiary manufacture… and kind of high end too? He points the business end at Terci’s head and stares at you with narrowed eyes. “Maybe we need to illustrate why it’s not in your interest to give us trouble, huh?”

  • image

    I cry out at being so roughly handled..I can't take much of this on a good day. This isn't a good day.

    "Stop! I was just scanning the medevac's inventory for treatment options!" I raise up my hands. "Please, you don't have to shoot my assistant to get me to comply!"

    That pistol, it's one of our partners' 'secure lifestyles' products - I almost bought one but frankly it's harder to convince me to buy something I don't know how to use than most of their customers.
  • Robynne

    He continues to stare down at you. You get the sense that he really wants to shoot Terci, just to show you, but he’s being held back. Finally, he puts away the pistol.

    “That’s the last warning, Sai. You better not so much as sneeze without asking first or the antidote for your friend won’t make a damn bit of difference. Get me?” He grunts, then sits down next to you on the bench again.

    Another few minutes of silence and you feel the ambulance shift and slow down, approaching a landing.

    The craft settles. Stinky drops a pair of sunglasses on your lap…industrial looking. You realize they’re made for welders and at full screens you won’t be able to see anything.

    “Put those on.” He grunts. His partner is readying the grav stretcher to disembark. Terci is still but she’s flushed and perspiring.

    What do you do?

  • image

    I hold his gaze, flinchingly, until he's put the pistol away. What really stopped him? The greybox?

    "I understand." I find a spot on the floor to stare at.

    The welding screens..we're definitely being transferred, to a building or another ship. I slide them on. I can't argue with him again and have Terci's death directly on my conscience.

    At least I can still smell the difference between them. And I don't think I was caught. There's still hope.
  • edited April 2016

    The welding screens activate with the tiniest zing and you’re effectively blind. You hear the ambulance hatch open and you feel the rush of air, fresh and colder than the park.

    Stinky takes your elbow and maneuvers you out and you feel the wind across your face for a few moments of exhausting walking, before you hear a hiss and pass inside a doorway again. Another few moments and another few doors and you come to a stop and your captor lets go of you. There is a soft music playing… something startlingly familiar, what is it?

    The man’s rough hands remove the welding sheilds and he steps away and you find yourself in a luxouriously appointed lounge.

    “Hello Robynne,” The smooth voice cuts through the air. A slim, elegant figure emerges from the archway opposite you. “I apologize for the roughness. Improvosation is not their strong suit.” It’s like looking in a flawed mirror isn’t it? Your older sibling… almost your genetic twin really. Why did your prime take xir name and exile her from the family? Were you old enough to remember?

  • image

    I'm glad to still have my jacket. I suppose I've just walked through an area without as much sunlight, for all that means.

    Back indoors, my ears are brought to nostalgia with the chiming sounds of Alcyonine chamber waltz music. The sort of stuff we trot out for family reunions and cotillions and that sort of thing, where the important-but-not-ennobled mingle.

    I make a noise of surprise at the surroundings revealed to me, though I could have expected it, with the likely expense of the operation.

    "..Vyvyan?" Xie was exiled for a litany of ill behavior, really, but it came to a head when xie stole a ship from the company with some kind of plan to start xir own. Vyvyan hasn't, as far as I know, but what xie's been doing since, I have no idea..I was 12 at the time. Between Vyvyan and Nashe I've had some bad luck with having older siblings to look up to.

    At least Nashe is ultimately a decent person (with terrible, shark-like romantic tendencies) and I've a firm negative example to tack against when it comes to how I treat Makynne, just 14 now, and Corynne, who is 9.

    I can't help but stare at Vyvyan. Time has swept most of our physical differences away, now that I'm grown. It wasn't this uncanny when I was small. "What am I doing here?"
  • edited April 2016


    Xie saunters into the room, stops and tilts xir head, studying you.

    "Making things difficult for me, love, as usual. Would you like a drink?"

    Xie walks to a small, elegant bar. From the way xie moves, xie seems to have become somewhat accustomed to planetary gravity. Xie takes a clear bottle full of an aquamarine fluid, holds it up to you a moment.

    "Pris para? A taste of home?"

  • image

    I feel myself wobbling, unlike my sibling. How long must xie have been here before me?

    "Please." I find my way into a seat, not even for appearances at this rate..this is enough to make me wonder if Terrans have the right of it after all.

    "I was promised Terci's returned health for cooperating. Then you can explain how I'm making things so difficult for you." I comb some hair out of my face with a hand, feeling the sweat.

    "The years seem to have treated you well, at least."
  • edited April 2016


    Xie smirks at you cynically, bringing the flute of pris para over to you. "You as well. Good genes, perhaps?"

    Xie sets down the flute of pris para on a grav table next to you and sprawls elegantly across from you with xir own glass.

    "She's been treated and is recovering as we speak." Xie wrinkles her nose slighly. "Gauche, clumsy and unnecessary, that. As I said, they're poor at improvising." Xie relaxes back into xir chair thoughfully an elegant finger circling the rim of xir glass. "She's a pretty little thing, isn't she? But Prime, the old parasite, xie always did indulge you with toys. I'm surprised you haven't availed yourself. Too busy moving and shaking?"

  • image

    "Oh no, just humble, clean living." I manage drily as I reach for my flute of pris para.

    I nod, satisfied enough at the admission that Terci is healing, and sip.

    I give Vyvan a look over the rim of my glass as xie speculates so confidently. I mean, I haven't availed myself but is xie simply guessing? "What can I say? I don't break what I'm given, and that has a tendency to pay off. Terci is lovely but I have the discipline it takes to resist crushing a promising career."

    "It looks like I'm about to be matched up anyhow. Why on gravity's pivot would I inflict my family on some sweet young atavist?" I swirl the aquamarine liquid gently in my flute.
  • edited April 2016

    “Why not?” xie smirks. “One should not waste the opportunities one is given.” Xie frowns a moment then leans forward studying you. Then xie laughs, slouching back again.

    “You don’t know! Oh dear.” Xie shakes xir head still chuckling. “Dearest Prime probably should’t have put you in PR.”

    Xie swipes her fingers over the table then taps some of the controls that appear within the glass. The holo emitter lowers from the ceiling and light up.

    There’s a hologrpahic image of you and Terci in your suite on the ship. Do you remember this? You’re pacing a look of concentration on your face as you seem to stare into the space around you without seeing it.

    Terci is taking notes, seated and off to the side, though she’s watching you more than she’s looking down.

    Whatever it is you’re saying it’s taking a while. What were you talking about?

    Vyvyan makes some gestures to move and zoom the holo into to Terci.

    ”Oh my….Look at that face, sib, she’s completely besotted.”

  • edited April 2016

    I click my tongue in disgust. Really, Vyvyan. Then xie laughs at me. At first I think it's because of my sensitivity, but then..well.

    It's because of my insensitivity. There I am in the holo pacing and planning out the material and presentational details of one of the events in the Thousand Blessings' entertaining suite. There she is, indeed completely besotted.

    "Pardon me for not making a close study of my suite's security footage." I respond, sourly. Is this the source of my personal hack? Has Vyvyan been working with Kaluga long enough to acclimate to Aglisse 2b's gravity?

    My, I really can go on about exploded diagrams and visual engine typing, can't I?
  • image

    “You really should, it’s quite informative. Know thyself and all that.” Xie glances at the footage again, face making an indulgent pout before dismissing it. “Poor lamb.”

    She takes a sip from her drink. “You’ve cost my principle a lot of money.”

  • image

    I can just hear the reactions people would have now - 'Robynne Archebelloch is so vain xie watches xir own security footage as 'research.''

    "That must be terrible for them, if only they could have made better decisions..Tell you what, they can be a franchisee of mine." I perform an utmost sympathy for my elder sibling, then mirror xir action with my own sip.

    "Or do they want something else?"
  • image

    Xir mouth curls a bit, as if xie approves of your bravado.

    “Oh yes, many things. Civil War. Dearest Prime’s head on a plate. Profit is only one of the goals to be sure.” Xie leans in with a sort of false intimacy. “I did warn xir about relying too much on alien tech, you know. Oh yes. ‘Robynne is a bit thick,’ I said, ‘but xie’s a decent engineer at least.’”

    Xie clucks xir tongue and takes a sip of xir drink. “It’s only a minor setback, however. Now I think xie will consider my counsel a bit more carefully.”

  • image

    "What were you even trying to do with that? Remote-slave the ship? All you did was cost us a humble estimate in networking hardware." And set me up for a few doctor's appointments, but Vyvyan doesn't need to hear that from me. I could rise to xir bait about being called thick, but really..xie just needs to feel superior. Which is truly rich when I think about it - we've both been given everything, in the same fashion. I'm not the one resorting to sabotage and theft.

    I sigh. "Civil war. Do you think that will be some kind of picnic? Cexie should never have cut you off. I know for a fact Cici keeps trying to comm you." Varix cutting Vyvyan from the family rolls, in my opinion, has given xir a bitter, undeserved freedom.
  • image

    Xie waves a negligent hand, dismissing Cici and xir efforts and goes on to answer your question instead.

    “Of course it won’t be a picnic, silly. But it will be so very profitable. Weapons, starships, defensive technologies, rations… war is excellent for business.”

    Xie pours xirself a second glass of the liqour. When was the first time you had pris para? What makes it unique to spacers?

    “As for the intent, well yes, remote slaving the ship was the idea. Once the crew was disabled it was due to crash into this city. Such immense destruction along with the death of Her Imperial Highness and the Duchess at the hands of the Varix heir turned rebellion terrorist… well.”

    Xie holds up the bottle,and raises a brow, offering you a refill.

    “It’s melodramatic I admit, and a tad baroque. But it has flair, don’t you think?”

  • image

    The first time I had pris para was a sort of private moment between my second, Teovon and myself. I'd just had a rotten breakup with a joyfriend, and we just talked it all out, drinking age or not. It annoys me that Vyvyan is so ready to ignore Cici, just like so many people do.

    Pris para is..well, it's an acquired taste, something of a novelty to any Terran - it's fermented from algae and then chemically filtered. Not as large a drain on resources as wheat or apples. It's illegal to export from station zones, as well. Cultural protection laws.

    I shake my head - with my gravity sickness this is enough. I hold the cool glass to my forehead, thinking. "So was I supposed to live through that?" So many trying to turn a rebel coat onto me. Does this confirm my suspicion that two rebellious branches were targeting the ship at the same time? Was Taru trying something relatively noble?

    "Either way it makes for a gripping tale, I'll give you that."
  • image

    “I’m afraid not. That was the biggest drawback, since you are my favorite of my sibs. Once it hit its signal, the device would have vented the ships atmosphere then flown to its firey demise. It’s not like anyone would be able to tell how the crew perished after all.”

    Xie returns to the bar with the bottle, then stands there, leaning xir hip against it.

    “Fortunately and unfortunately your interpid crew foiled that plan, and delayed our schedule. But then, when you close one side of the airlock you usually open the other. Now we can go forward with something less flashy but equally effective, I think.”

  • image

    "You have a funny way of showing your favor, Vyvyan. Did you toast to yourself for being such a ruthless, profit-oriented rebel when it was all set in motion?" I slide down on the chaise and toss my legs over the far arm, staring at the ceiling.

    "What now? Actually, let me guess, with my unique window into your imagination, what you and your backer might try to do next." I stretch out my arms and bring my hands together, thumbs and forefingers set at 90 degree angles to make a pantomimed video frame to hold in front of my gaze.

    "You probably still have my transceiver cloned, and because it's you, you have more leeway with it than your typical fraudster. Hmm, re-infiltrate the ship..you're using my protocols to access the network..orrrr you have one of your grey-boxed rental humans do it, or a company collaborator." I squint into my 'view', then flick a gaze at Vyvyan. "Orrrr..you use my guest permissions to infiltrate Lady Calibar's estate, as me, and kill the duchess there. Yesno?"
  • image

    “Oh, sib, such a clever one.” Vyvyan gives a purring chuckle, saluting you with xir glass. “You do, of course, have to do something horribly shameful or TXR’s board will have no reason to oust our dearest Prime in disgrace, now, will they? But the Duchess?”

    She seems to consider.

    “Hmmm, perhaps, but I think the Imperial Princess is a much better target. The assassination of the Duchess would be a slap in the face of the Emperor’s honor, practically guaranteeing an escalation, but I think the death of one of his children would sting a bit more, don’t you?.”

    Her tone remains casual, almost cheerful.

    “But first you and the lovely Miss Voxalter must dramatically escape your captors. The poor moppet will be so overcome with gratitude I do believe your resistance to her charms will utterly collapse.”

  • image

    I take the time Vyvyan spends nattering so to think.

    Xie isn't the slightest bit worried about TXR being forced to shift markets to aliens, fringers or other rebels if this disgrace happens? Xir own markets? Well..it is terribly unlikely, but..I can see avenues where we're forced..

    Xuan! They'll think I killed her, and at the very least Lady Calibar will have to kill herself. But..Bai, Allevard, even Jek, they would never think I could do such a thing, would they? Xuan..perhaps she knows me well enough to keep safe..

    Yes, a dramatic escape..I'm waiting, stalling for any kind of help or hope. Probably xie will keep me here and alive, release me in time to switch again for a kill or..

    "Bastard!" I snap upright. Indeed, I snap in other ways, too. "You perverse creature! Having to taste both your own rewards in life and mine! You've always been this way. If only they'd made me a quarter-three-quarter child like the youngest, but no, you turned out so well they knew they just had to do it again!"
  • Vyvyan raises an eyebrow as if surprised at your outburst, but xir eyes are full of malice.


    "What do you know of my rewards in life, you ignorant child?" Xie hisses. "They made you to replace me. Varix... xie made me what I am, and then cast me aside and made another when I didn't please xir. I was just a prototype. Discarded when no longer useful. A tweak here and there to the DNA for the finished product. Not so reckless, not so brilliant."

    Xie's been closing on you steadily.

    "Then xie handed you everything. You're xir favorite you know. It's going to crush xir when you turn out to be even worse than I was."

    That's xir big payoff. You can see it.

  • image

    "You're demented! If what you say is true xie made that decision before you were even ten." I brace more upright and press against the back of the chaise as Vyvyan closes in on me.

    "To think that you've replaced a sense of responsibility for your behavior with this twisted complex! Poor Vyvyan, too intelligent to follow rules and be kind to people. Whatever will xie do?" Xie is right that if I took such a plummet it would destroy Varix. I have my own problems with our prime but not like this.

    My feet are shifting beneath me and my head is full of pressure and strain. I can feel the urge Vyvyan must have to hit me in the air between us, like needles. If I still had my stun stick, and any of my strength, I would be happy to do the same.

    I wish I could say later 'Oh yes I was goading xir into making a mistake' but I'm barely conscious of the possibility. I just want to confront xir and stay in conflict, I am so upset.
  • Xir rage hangs in the air like heat. You can see xir jaw clenched, eyes widened. Push xir a little bit more and violence is probable.


    “I will have what is mine! Xie tried to throw me a away but I will prove that I am xir true legacy, and Varix will know xir mistake. Rules and kindness? Have you ever looked into the things xie has done in this galaxy?” Xie spits harshly. “Rules are a cage for the ignorant and kindness is a tool to be used or discarded as necessary.”

    Xie stands straight again, eyes narrowing, dangerous as a pit of void skoves, hands clenching and unclenching.

    “What part your naivete and ignorance play in xir schemes I don’t know. You are so thick that you have yet to realize that it’s all a lie. Every toy was a test, every interaction an evaluation.” Xie snarls it bitterly. “I said you’re xir favorite, and you are, but understand the truth, little sib, xie doesn’t love you. Xie doesn’t love anyone. Xie loves xir legacy and that is all. Xie’s accepted you as the best xie can do. Once we are what we always should have been, xie will know differently.”

  • image

    It's all..believable, I'll admit. But it's also all bottomlessly hopeless, faithless, and ultimately it's ignorant in its own way.

    I've looked. I've thought and made decisions, about myself and the Archebellochs as a whole and about my prime in particular. Vyvyan sees me as some passive receptacle of xir own due. I think Vyvyan accepted many things as truth uncritically, thinking it would harden xir heart and make xir impregnable to grief and feeling.

    I'm comfortable with people assuming I'm naive. I'm in sales after all. But I've made a choice to live in a universe worth living in. Not this lonesome, loathesome, dominating universe of constant guard and hollow exploitation. I'll bargain with that world but I won't rest my head there.

    A cool stone of pity settles in my chest.

    My tone softens to ask, "You loved xir very deeply, didn't you? Before I was delivered."
  • Vyvyan turns back to the bar, xir composure returning as if you hadn't just yelled at each other.

    "When I believed in the fairy tale. Before I knew the universe for what it was... perhaps."

    Xir tone is light and casual again.

  • image

    "Well. If you think I'm unaware of how scrutinized I am then you definitely think I'm thick. But you know, I've always seen it as making sure I was prepared instead of letting me founder by my own whim." I stand back up again, unsteady and missing my cane.
  • image

    "Believe what you wish, you will understand the truth soon enough, little sib." xie says somberly, still looking away..

    More thugs enter the room. The ones you dealt with before and a couple more. Vyvyan motions to them and looks at you again.

    "You should rest. My retainers will escort you to your room. You look done in, dear, and you will need your strength. The procedure is effective but unfortunately it isn't either quick... or painless."

  • image

    Procedure. Proc-

    I jump towards Vyvyan, animated by fear and a gut-turning question. I grab for a large handful of xir hair so I can pry xir around. I want to see the back of xir neck. Laying a harsh hand on xir is just a side benefit.

    Lecturing me about the 'truth' of the universe and then promising to greybox me! I can't take rescue on faith when that is what's at risk.

    But I have to know if this Void Waster's blight has claimed a member of my family already or not.
  • edited May 2016

    Your lunge was unexpected. Vyvyan shouts in surprise, struggles and shoves you off but you saw what you needed to see. Xie has one. Not one of the cheap ones, like xir minions, but something that looks much more advanced and subtle. It's almost invisible. Custom work and expensive.

    How much do you know about greyboxes?

    The minions I mentioned are nearly on you the moment you're thrown off.

  • image

    Greyboxes are a subject of morbid curiosity for me, the dark side of implanted comms and personal transponder technology. They're highly illegal, so I've only managed to get my hands on a single one before, and it was damaged, but still educational. With a few exceptions, on the scale of a medical device they're items of brute force; there are at least two kinds that can only last for a couple of years installed. There's rarely medical help available when they fail.

    Rehabilitating someone with a greybox ranges from difficult to monumental. I don't believe there's enough interest in it - not enough people see a profit motive or an honor motive in stealing back lives robbed by pirates. It's in the hands of charities and family groups.

    Let's not kid ourselves, three or four terrans can make easy work of me, no matter how much I curse or plead or lash out. I stop myself from such a spectacle and hold up my hands, mouth terse and eyes venomous. "Let's see this room."
  • Vyvyan doesn't watch you being escorted from the room, turning back to the bar instead, brushing xir hair back into place.

    Her minions offer you support but they won't persist if you insist on walking yourself.

    They escort you to a rather nice room. It might have been a bedroom in a luxury suite, if it weren't both a bit small and rather more secure, what with the forcefield over the doorway.

    Once you're inside, the guards leave you, one staying just outside the doorway. There's no terminal of course instead there are some books here, real paper books. What catches your attention about them?

    What do you do?

  • image

    You know, I might not need support if I hadn't lost my damned cane. I don't speak to them in the hallway, or when we get to the room. I'm chatted out.

    I make a slow circuit of the room, taking an inventory of it. Decor, amenities, everything that might have a sharp edge or a useful component.

    My fingers brush against the paper books..it's been forever since I've seen their like. They're all hand-illustrated flower catalogues. Ancient. I sit down with one and let my focus split between the carefully inked artworks and my situation.
  • Why don't you assess your cell here, Robynne, with that clever engineer's eye.

  • image

    Rolling Expertise; (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 4, 2. Total: 8)
  • Admittedly there’s not a lot. Vyvyan or whoever put this place together for xir was clever enough. But still, this place was built to be a room, rather than a true security cell and there’s infrastructure in modern construction (much of it pioneered aboard stations like the one you call home) that just can’t be removed very easily. The only way to have a truly secure room is to build it that way from scratch.

    So what things do you see that you think you can leverage here, Robynne?

  • image

    There's a built-in water vanity in the wall, discreetly tucked in the blind spot from the door that views the hall. A mirror hangs right above it. You can open it up and inside the casement is a small spray-sink where you can wash your hands or wet a towel, remove and apply makeup, that sort of thing.

    The room has its own climate control, that means sensors and switches, a heating and cooling element. The control unit I can get to with almost no effort or tools. The heating and cooling elements, not so much.

    One of the tables also has a touchless charging pad that whoever set up this room for me missed - the bedstand's pad is missing, but the dresser top still has it.
  • Right...

    So what's your plan then? I mean, I know gravity has beaten the hell out of you here, but I'm presuming you just aren't going to wait around. Or... I don't know, do you think you can talk Vyvyan out of it?

    The paintings are lovely. Why would xie leave these things in here for you? Or are they aimed at you specifically?
  • image

    If Vyvyan didn't have that chip in xir neck I might try to talk xir out of it, our recent emotional outbursts notwithstanding. As it is, I can't vouchsafe any of xir behavior. Too much of a risk.

    I am not going to wait for my own installation. I have a few options, and I have to decide which are good, or at least better. I could rig a spray trap and hit a guard or two in the eyes with some high-end liquid soap. I could try to melt the window lock. I might be able to short out the force field - if it's a hasty addition it might take power out of a larger section of this place.

    I can't defer my decision for much longer.

    The paintings do catch my eye. They're replicas of a few of the paintings that hang in Archebel Spindle, our station-side home. A classic tryptych of the stations, pre-empire. Perhaps it's an affectionate gesture, perhaps xie is simply underlining a claim on the Archebelloch fortune.

    I use the vanity to wash my face and get my hair straightened out. One and three, I think.
  • So I'm assuming you get to work, rolling up your sleeves and improvising your tools of course. Tell me how you're keeping the guards from noticing what you're doing

    Then let's see your expertise on getting all this set up.
  • image

    I've already got the feeling I'm going to be very proud of some of these tool improvisations.

    To keep the guards satisfied, I'm putting on my best quietly fussy guest routine. I'm rearranging decor, washing my hands obsessively, nudging furniture. I only need to block a few small things from their line of sight or keep an item in a drawer when I feel like I'm about to be made out.

    Rolling Expertise; (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 1, 3. Total: 6)
  • Which of the two things did you finish, Robynne? You are interrupted for sure. The third time one of Vyvyan's thugs checks on you, the one from the ambulance, he actually steps into the room flipping off the forcefeild and speaks.

    "Hey, Quality, the boss says you need to stop your fussin' and lie the fuck down and get some sleep, right now, or we're going to pump you full of sleepy time." He holds up an injector. "Remember our little talk about you following directions?"

    What do you do?
  • image

    I hold up my hands, not wanting to be the recipient of any pharmacological expertise that he has on offer. I take a step backwards towards the bed.

    I finished my little trick for producing a short in the force field. Which is too bad because maybe a little soap would fix my assigned thug's breath problem.

    "Oh. I do indeed. Please tell your boss 'Thank you for the suggestion.'" I sit compliantly on the bed and carefully prise off my shoes. Click my tongue at the blisters I have from dancing. Damn, but this bed is soft and in other circumstances I'd love to catch a nap. A loss of momentum right now, like this, makes it almost inevitable.

    Is he just going to..watch me lie down? Ugh, of course he is.
  • He takes a few steps further in, stalking. There's a look on his face.

    "Don't think I don't see how you look at me, Quality," he growls. "Like I'm beneath you. Well... After the boss gets what xie wants out of your noggin, Xie will let me have the rest. We'll see who's better then, hm? What do you think of that?"

  • image

    "Perhaps I'm just giving you the arse-eyes because I don't enjoy being kidnapped?" Maybe it's never occurred to him. I tuck up a knee, resting one foot on the bed, arching an eyebrow at him. I suppose I'll be beneath him for the 30 seconds or so it will take for him to grunt himself to climax.

    "Beyond that, sai, it will happen or it won't."
  • edited June 2016

    He looks annoyed. He glances furtively up at the corner of the room,just a shift of eyes, probably where one of the cameras are located, as if he’s trying to work out his options, or timing or something. Another step.

    “There’s that,” he agrees. “But spacer superiority, that shit is bred into you folks. I seen it enough.” It doesn’t seem like he’s talking about you, not entirely anyway.

    He’s palmed something into his hand.

  • image

    "Vyvyan is an excellent example, isn't xie? Between you, me and the walls I'd trade some for a little terran endurance right about now. What other sorts of experiences have you had with 'spacers'?"

    If that something is a knife I suppose I can keep my legs between it and my vitals. Maybe for long enough for another guard to intervene. Perhaps it isn't a weapon, but he very nearly shot Terci. "You know, the truth is we're terrified of you."

    I glance at his hand, ever so briefly, then his eyes.
  • His mouth quirks in a sort of grim amusement at your words. He seems to be waiting for something as he looks at you. Something across his personal comm.

    Apparantly it comes. He opens his hand, showing you a small device, a transmitter used for electronics hacking. He keys something into it, then starts moving towards you.

    “We don’t have much time, Mixter Archbelloch.” He says gruffly. He pulls an injector out of his coat. “Give me your arm.”

  • image

    While my curiosity about this odd behavior increases, I keep my posture distant, not least for the camera. I don't move forward or back when his purpose shifts.

    "What is this, then?" I offer him my arm, still suspicious. Not that he couldn't get as many people as he needed in here to force me into stillness - if he was doing something sanctioned by my other captors.
  • He takes your arm and presses the injector to it.

    "Counter-grav booster and nanite muscle repair. Same stuff xie's on but a more concentrated dose." He says "Might do some damage, but it can't be helped. It should give you a short break from the gravity weakness in about 45 minutes depending, less if we're lucky." more if you're not, but he doesn't say it. "Enough to get you out of here."

    He pockets the injector again, looks you over.

    "Can you handle a gun?"
  • image

    One short grunt of discomfort as I take the injection. I'm not looking forward to the crash I'll experience from this, but hopefully it will be worth it.

    "Better than I can handle a melee weapon, which isn't saying much. What about Terci?" I rub some soreness out of my arm, then reach for my jacket and put it back on.
  • Whatever is in that injection, it's giving you that weird taste on the roof of your mouth almost immediately. What does it compare to?

    He shakes his head he pulls a needle pistol out of his pocket, something without much recoil. "Collateral damage, Mix. She's further in, less accessible. Makes my exposure risk too high. My orders are to get you clear and that will take some doing without compromising my whole operation." He holds up the pistol. "Used one of these before?"

  • edited June 2016


    It's sour, like limes. Usually that effect takes a few minutes.

    "I find that difficult to accept, sai." I frown, but hold out a hand for the pistol. "This looks like one of the previous-decade models from Sternschalt-Kai? EM propulsion, evades gas detection but not density scans."

    "Supposing my crew comes for me. Would parameters change?" I check the battery and ammunition. Then I think better of it and return the gun to his hand. "I haven't even done target shooting on holiday."

    I recall discussions with my Prime, about cultures of support versus cultures of independence. Stations with an expectation that individuals would be left behind in crises fell prey to self-fulfilling prophecies and attrition. 'A true spacer,' xie explained, 'fights for every second, each crew. When the void turns its eye to you, you mustn't become fascinated with it.'

  • He raises a brow, smooths a hand over his stubbly chin.

    Aye. But they aren't here now, Sai, and our window is small. No one likes to do the math, but in the larger scheme she's replaceable. You are not. Without you, xie might let her go anyway." His eyes don't really sell that last one.

    He looks down at the gun in your hand, brushes it back. "You know the basics. Keep it." He grunts, "At least close in, it will give you half a chance."

    The strength is already beginning to seep into your bones. It will take a while to reach full strength, but... well it's remarkable to suffer even a little less when down a gravity well like this one. But the way they mess with your metabolism has your stomach growling. He reaches into another pocket and drops some concentrated military style ration gel tubes on the bed.

    "Eat those. Need as much energy as you can get."

    Not your favorite flavor right, why not?

Sign In or Register to comment.