[UW] Scent and Shadow [Xuan 2.1]


The location of your contact is certainly in one of the seedier parts of the lowport. You've been sitting at a small cafe on one side of the Market square, waiting for either Lilat or Robynne, or perhaps both.

Are you dressed as a great lady, merely a rich one, or are you again disguised as something more ordinary? How are your companions dressed?

Kohaku has been watching people as if she'll put the first person to pass within arms reach of you to the blade immediately.


  • edited April 2016
    I am dressed as a modestly wealthy lady might be when trying not to advertise that fact; it is still betrayed by the quality of my clothing and the extent of my grooming. The hilts of our Imperial katanas are wrapped with rough leather so that they will not give us away. My hood is up.

    I sip jlingjling, savoring the notes of honeysuckle and whatever local plants they substutute, while I cast my eyes about for this street performer. Perfumers' Alley is more of an assault on my senses than I expected. I have a handkerchief beneath my nose whenever I'm bringing my cup to my lips.

    We should appear like highport folks slumming in lowport, not an Imperial princess and her retinue. Miyako sits at the table like an equal, part of the ruse. Also because she is far better company than Kohaku is at the moment.

    "Tell your captain to calm herself," I say to Miyako eventually. She is Kohaku's second-in-command. "And if you're going to waste good jlingjling, switch cups with me. I'm nearly finished."

    I continue to scan the crowd for Lilat or Robynne.
  • Miyako trades your cups at your bidding while glancing at Kohaku. She doesn't say anything, but she really doesn't have to. On hearing your comment Kohaku does her best to still herself, though she still radiates an unusual edginess.

    One thing the highport can't boast despite its many luxuries and its magnificant view of the arc of the planet, is a good cup of jlingjling. When you have taken a second sip of the new cup you realize that your contact, a slip of a woman, has taken her place in the corner of the square.

    She is starting to perform a Mayaran poem which incorporates an element of movement that is not quite dance. What is it about the work that you find especially compelling?

    Two figures lurk on the other side of the square... something about them seems off.

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    I can't quite hear the poem from my vantage point, but the movement is indeed captivating. She seems to be repeating specific short and long motions for emphasis. It isn't until the third repetition that I realize it might be Rebel code. I start to jot down hashes and dots that correspond with her movement.

    I can't tear my eyes away, so I don't look at the odd pair on the other side of the square directly. "Circle around those two. Check them out," I say to Haru. "I should be the only one incognito around here."
  • Xuan

    Haru melts into the shadows to circle around near the mysterious figures and find out what he can.

    Let's have you do Assessment with +Influence

    You watch the poem carefully, translating the movements into the code and translating that in your head. She seems to be giving you a rather terse set of directions, someplace safe to meet and talk more directly.

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    Assessing with Influence.
    (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 3, 1. Total: 6)
  • By the time you think you have sorted out the message, Haru has returned. He's very disciplined but you can see that his eyes are a little wider and in better light, he perhaps would be a tiny bit paler.

    "Tanto, Mistress, from the throne." He says quietly near your ear.

    Tanto. Secret Police. Underlings and agents for something much more dangerous. An Odachi. An Imperial Inquisitor. Judge, Jury and often Executioner all in one, and only answerable to the Emperor himself. Even the Imperial house is not outside their jurisdiction.

    Even now you can see another dark figure carefully approaching your contact from behind in the alley.

    What do you do?
  • edited April 2016
    I frown.

    This complicates things.

    "Prepare to flee," I say quietly. "No heroics."

    I rise from the table with a wistful look at the remainder of the jlingjling in my cup. I move the votive candle on the cafe table towards the flimsy curtains. They should catch fire in a moment. Then I seize the first lull of relative quiet to clap out a quick return signal: Technically only the letters for "D" and "A," together they refer to the phrase "dragons afoot." Lilat will know what it means.

    Of course, Lilat may not be the only one who knows. But better for me to blow my cover than for them to catch her.

    When the curtain has properly caught aflame, I gesture my guard back towards the highport. "Fire!" I call out, intent on incensing the market and causing the biggest distraction possible.
  • Oooh. Hmmm. I think this is perhaps Influence again, presence and leadership and all that.
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    Facing Adversity With Influence!
    (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 5, 1. Total: 8)
  • Lilat clearly understands your message and stops, glancing around in fear before beginning to make a run for it.

    Miyako and Haru follow your orders, but Kohaku stays nearby. The curtains catch flame and the market square begins to turn to chaos around you. More tanto emerge from various places around the square, closing on Lilat even as she seeks an escape route. She comes your direction.

    She can get away... if you obstruct some of the agents near you. Of course they'll arrest you instead.

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    "No heroics," I say again to Kohaku. I don't bother to tell her to flee, she wouldn't listen anyway. Inwardly, I'm annoyed. This will likely inconvenience me. I set my comm unit to ping my location to Allevard via The Thousand Blessings' network every ten minutes. Time to play the Imperial brat.

    I flip back my hood and step forward so that I'm between Lilat and the tanto. I curl my lip dramatically and complain loudly to Kohaku, "Why is it so messy and loud?" I gesture at the fire. "This is not how an Imperial Princess should be treated."

    "You," I say, to the closest secret police officer, "Handle this will you? It's very smoky."
  • Of course they recognize you, Xuan. Of course they do. Before your departure from the palace your life was the daily subject of news in the Glorious Aso Empire.

    The one you speak to and two of xir compatriots stop just to process that you’re you. That they are encountering an Imperial Princess in one of the seedier parts of a world far away from the yellow parasol.

    Lilat takes the opportunity to slip into the shadows. It takes the tanto moments to realize she is lost to them.

    The tanto look at each other before the one you spoke to says something into xir comm as several of the remaining secret police surround you, though not very closely yet as Kohaku stands slightly in front of you, glowering at them.

    Soon a man strides up, wearing the same unrelieved black as the others but this one with an air of authority. He is handsome with dark, intelligent eyes that reflect the fire that some of the minions have moved to address. He is probably their Katana, one of the Inquisitor’s immediate lieutenants.

    More than that, though, you know this man, from home, don’t you? A friend, once upon a time.

    His face is serious as he makes his bow. “Your Imperial Highness. How… unexpected.”

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    Mykki is a low-ranking noble that was a frequent face at the innumerable dinner parties I was forced to attend as I grew up. We would have spirited discussions about just-barely-approved topics while the other young people looked in askance at us. He was also the target of the first Imperial Princess Romance!!!! stories in the tabloids. We fell out after Mykki accused me of frivolity and not being willing to do anything about all of the issues I saw happening in the Empire.

    In some ways, I joined the Rebellion because of him. And now look at him.

    "Why hello there, Mykendo. Are you all here to assist me with my shopping? I have a lot of sundries to purchase." He won't be fooled my my act, not really, but he may think I'm truly trying to portray myself as stupid.
  • Mykendo “Charming Mykki” Kinjo raises an eyebrow at your pretense, then smiles that sweet smile of his, the one that put him on the tabloid cover with you.

    “And here I was sure my insignificance would obscure my identity in your most exalted memory, your Imperial Highness. Alas, to my infinite regret, oh brightest and most beautiful of stars, we are not here to assist you with your shopping. Were we not engaged in the gravest of operations for the security of your Empire, your most frivolous wish would be our duty and destiny.”

    He glances around.

    “I cannot help but notice, most exalted blossom, that we have discovered you in an environment less than worthy of your condescension, and you seemed quite engaged by the performer who has aquired our interest.”

  • edited April 2016
    I sniff at him and decide to remind him of the last time we saw each other. "Well, you certainly don't improve your presence in my memory when you refuse my social calls. Remind me of your betrothed's name again?"

    Regardless of whether he rises to the bait, I make a point to take belated notice of his second barb. I sniff again. "Oh dear, your notice? Some sort of revolutionary? And here I thought she was merely a fine purveyor of narkesh." Referencing narkesh should explain what I'm doing in lowport. The street drug was too poor quality and too unfashionable for it to be found in most good circles. The endless runny nose it created as a side effect was truly undesirable. Based on our past, I'd say Mykki would buy the idea of me slumming for a fix. He certainly accused me of doing the same when I asked him if he wanted to make some truth out of the tabloid rumors.

    I dab at at my nose with a sleeve. "Will you come to dinner later? I'd love to catch up," I say. It's a gamble, but I can't really imagine he'll say yes.
  • This sounds like some influencing again. Let's see some dice for persuading him, for now, about the drug thing.
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    (Sorry for being a one-trick pony.)

    Facing adversity with influence.

    (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 2, 3. Total: 7)
  • Mykki bows again. His demeanor sincere.

    “It is with deepest regret, your Imperial Highness, that I must inform you that my master’s orders in this matter are to detain any and all persons involved, however peripherally, for questioning. I have no desire, of course, daughter of the light, to incommode you beyond absolute necessity. Perhaps if you provide a token and your pledge to aid my master in what way he sees fit, I can fulfill my heart’s desire and happily escort you to your lodgings and indeed join you for dinner if you so wish.”

    He’ll let you go if you incur another debt to the Empire, Xuan.

  • edited April 2016
    Well, that backfired. I sniff again for verisimilitude. My eyes scan the area briefly for security cameras, locate a convenient one on the the implant shoppe. Perhaps I can still find a way to put Mykki in a bad position.

    I turn so that the camera will catch the whole tableau. I pluck a ring from my finger, one heavy with jade and lean in to take his hand, slide the ring onto his pinky. "You tease me still, after all these years. Was it not my heart's desire that got us into trouble all those years ago?" I ask, perhaps to catch him off guard. Then I fall, hopefully a decent rendition of a swoon.

    Ideally he'll catch me, but either way, it should create a delightful image for the tabloids.
  • His eyebrow raises in amusement before you feign the swoon and, exactly as you predicted, Xuan, Mykki catches you. He's solid. You can feel the hard chest against your arm and his well-muscled arms hold you with little effort.

    "Princess?" He says with concern.

    How far are you taking the act?

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    I let him bear my weight and release a disconsolate sigh before I open my eyes. Then look up at Mykki through fluttering lashes. "Do you ever wonder what we would have been like, Mykki?"

    It's not entirely an act for me. There was a time in my life, before Rieva and all that came after it, where I was entirely able to visualize a life with Mykki. After all, I was the youngest child and not the expected heir. Would Daddy or Akio even have plans for me? But I think I forgot the value that Akio places upon even the most seemingly insignificant pieces. Not to mention Mykki's sense of self-preservation.

    I press my hand against his chest, where I imagine his heart to be. "Did this never beat for me? Not once?" My lips are parted, my voice earnest. Inwardly, I am begging him to kiss me.

    It would make for the perfect cover shot.
  • It's not that he isn't tempted. You are something of a force to be reckoned with, personality-wise. You're like your father that way.

    However you are you, and he is himself. And you are in front of subordinates and in public.

    I think we need to test the force of your personality once again.
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    Kiss me, Mykki. (Facing adversity with influence.)
    (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 5, 1. Total: 8)
  • edited May 2016

    He does, Xuan. He can hardly resist.

    And here's the thing. It's a very good kiss. The technique is impeccable (one could hardly expect less from someone like Mikki, honestly.) But there's something more to it. Honest passion, perhaps, real feelings. Suppressed feelings.

    The kiss breaks an uncertain time later. Mykki's face an inch from yours, his breathing and yours synchronized and heavy.

    His shadowed eyes gaze into yours at close range.

    "For a time, it did little else. A time I thought long since past." He says quietly. "Damn you, Xuan."

    He stops suddenly, stiffining, his chin going up. Below it, against his neck, is the naked blade of Kohaku's sword.

    "You have taken improper liberties, you honorless dog." She hisses. "Your life is forfiet."

    The tanto, having busied themselves with other things, are suddenly frozen in place, watching.
  • I don't react to the blade. I did not think to plan on Kohaku's reaction, but it only makes the scene more perfect. She could take his life without reprisal in most instances, although she would still face trial. Were he not an imperial agent on official business, she would likely be found innocent.

    "I don't regret the feelings I have felt for you, Mykki. Not one." I sigh. "But my captain is correct. It would not be proper for you to escort me, considering our past. But I will expect you at dinner. You have my token." I adjust my weight, so that he may release my safely and back away from Kohaku's steel.
  • He lets go, stepping away from Kohaku's sword, she follows him with the point, stepping between you when the distace opens up.

    Mykki bows respectfully.

    "I do. I will be pleased to attend." He straightens again, eyes glittering in the scattered lights. "And we shall settle our accounts, Captain Kohaku."

    It's within his rights. Honor is absolute in the Empire. His honor has been impugned.

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    I've only achieved a temporary peace, but I hold the tiny victory in my heart.

    I catalogue the taste of him on my lips, in case I never know it again. Mykki is someone I treasure, even if he also holds me back.

    "Attend me, Kohaku," I say summarily, and walk away from the clot of secret police. I scan the fringes of the crowd for Miyako and Haru, expecting them to materialize as we get further away from the lowport.

    As Kohaku and I walk, I say over my shoulder, "You are angry with me." She may not be. But I expect to test her by her response.
  • edited May 2016


    "I am Her Imperial Highness' loyal servant. It is not my place to question her wisdom." She says cooly from slightly in front of you.

    Yep, she's pissed. What's the real giveaway? I'm assuming Kohaku came along after Rieva or were they on the same team at one point?

    You see Miyako and Haru as they emerge from the shadows not far away.

  • edited May 2016
    If she weren't angry with me, she would have reassured me otherwise. Kohaku is an honest soul, at heart. She would rather dodge the question than answer it dishonestly.

    I let her stew. She'll come around.

    She replaced Rieva. To my knowledge, they never met. Whereas Miyako had been second-in-command under Rieva, and perhaps disappointed that she didn't rise when Rieva was dismissed.

    As we walk, I look about for an Imperial building of any sort that would have access to the lowport's surveillance network. I needed to access the security footage of that little scene with Mykki.
  • You're able to locate a small port patrol station within 10 minutes. From the outside you can see several harried looking starport patrol personnel as well as security mechs, parked to recharge. The key question here is how you're planning to get it. Is it just walk in and let your majesty do your work, or are you going with something else?
  • Before you're able to decide, Rajani, Allevard's first officer, pings your comm with the Captain's request to communicate.
  • edited June 2016

    I look thoughtfully towards the patrol station, taking care to avoid biting my lip in public. When the comm comes in, I accept it immediately.

  • imageI clear my throat when I hear Xuan's voice — as comfortable as we've apparently become, I always feel unprepared when I need to start responding.

    "My apologies for the interruption, your highness," I answer with as much dignity as I can muster, "there's been an incident with mixters Archebelloch and Voxalter — they've been captured, and are being held hostage by a violent third party. I don't suppose you know anyone who might be able to assist us in retrieving them safely?"
  • edited June 2016
    When I hear the news, I blanch, briefly. "No apology necessary," I say while I consider the request. To think I'd just been inviting Robynne to go shopping.

    "Archbelloch has been kidnapped, has xie? What sort of assistance are you looking for? I'm certainly willing to lend myself and my guard, but I expect xie is being ransomed, yes?" That's the most obvious reason to capture the heir to an intergalactic shipping conglomerate.
  • edited June 2016
    imageI pause a moment, embarrassed that I hadn't thought to look for a ransom. "I suppose that's possible, yes — I'll have the crew look into it. We found their location, and I've had a force disposition done by the Duchess' people. Frankly, I'd like to end this before word gets out that they're both missing — and my choices, in that case, are limited to requesting a parlay, or using the element of surprise to take them back by force... I'm not prepared to throw the crew — and certainly not yourself, Highness — into a gunfight in a potentially defended compound."

    I smile to myself, "I don't suppose you could ask the Duchess to lend us some of her finest? I'd ask myself, but I'm afraid of what owing that woman another favor would do to me..."
  • edited June 2016
    "Of course!" I say, surprised at the simplicity of the task. "Inform her of my request."

    My wheels are still spinning, though. "Is a direct assault your only option?" If Bezier were to disable their systems, and I were to slip inside in my dark suit...
  • imageI pause a moment, thinking about what other options we have on hand... "It's the only one I've thought of... Why, do you have any suggestions?"
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    I run through my plan. "I'm sending you my comm id for Bezier to lock onto. Send me the coordinates and the schematics." I always wear my darksuit under my gown.

    "And consider looping in Bai. She could provide a distraction."
  • edited June 2016
    imageI give Xuan access to our working folder on the ship server, and loop in the rest of the crew. "Change of plans, folks — we're trying something a little different..."
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