[TGG] 55 Days in Kalunda.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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[TGG] 55 Days in Kalunda.

Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2005-10-20 11:50pm

It was a strange little scene in a strange little place. The old castle had not been upgraded greatly since the early wars of the industrial period when the Principality of Lesser Intuit had been annexed by the heirs of In'ghara. The nobility had of course been incorporated into that of the Great Kingdom, for they had been its nobles a long time before that when the In'tuin had pledged allegiance to Valera all that time ago. Due to the date of the annexation of the Principality it retained a wide variety of feudal principles, and one of them left the reining Princess as the chief justice of the territory.

A beautiful dawn showed over the place, with the suns breaking the horizon and casting down a green palour over the place, the hue of their brilliance affecting the sight in every way, and making it all the more splendid and unreal, in this home of the beginnings of Taloran aspiration.

A tall Taloran lady, young by the standards of her species, with long blonde hair hanging in wisps down to her thighs, was led out in a daringly stylish cut of tight riding pants and a neckline of plunging blouse--wonderful cut but common fabric; she looked arrogant and defiant, almost uncaring at what was about to happen. Her hands were bound in front of her and she was guarded by two lictors.

A party of seven soldiers of the household guard of Lesser Intuit--just a glorified infantry company--stood at rigid attention, with old practice chemical rifles held at ready. They were all lacking magazines, and chambered for a single round each. A priest of Farzbardor stood silently, a bound book in hand. But the figure who stood most prominently was a lone woman, even taller than the condemned, with fine pink hair and narrow set, almost fishlike gray eyes on a sharply angled face of noble-cheek-bones, her neigh-elongated fingers gripping in her left hand a piece of paper and in her right the crock of a justice. Her uniform, of dark field green, was surmounted by a black cape of a justice, symbolizing her dual roles, but while she laid down the sentence, she held only the crock, with a young man at her side, an attendant, holding her sword in its scabbard.

The Princess' face was very severe; it was a mask for the gnawing dread she felt inside. But this is what your sovereign commands, she reminded herself--lest our family be tainted by own stupid lusts, having played myself for a fool right into the trap of this little demoness of the communitarians. Jhayka itl dhin Intuit was going to be putting her lover to death today, and it simply had to be done.

There was a young girl in the square, too, a drummer. She beat a solemn, slow roll, the roll of the condemned. It stopped the moment that Lashila reached the centre of the masonry wall where she was to be shot, and there, at last, her eyes met her lover's with a proud sort of defiance in them.

"I knew you were a class enemy all along--strictly orthodox to the hierarchy of the Temples no matter how much you indulged in your exploration of other faiths. But so sentimental! You can't even stand to see me twitch on the gallow's pole. That would have been easier for you, Jhayka; so much easier, since you could have had someone else do it."

I am not a coward, and you do not deserve that, not even for Grand Treason, not you, Lashila, love! her mind wanted to say. But this was no time to circumvent at the least vaguest formality of the justice process, and so she began to read the letter of condemnation:

"Lashila Yuvan Ghiatar, a subject of the Viceroyalty of Dalamar, you have been tried before a court of your peers on two counts of lese majesty, one count of conspiracy to assasinate a member of the Three Houses, and one count of Grand Treason, conspiracy to assasinate the Empress." She looked up and finished the condemnation by memory: "You have been found guilty of all counts and sentenced to death by suffocation hanging, but on the recommendation of this court the sentence has been commuted to death by seven-man firing squad."

She let out a long sigh, as the summation drew closer. "You may now provide the rebuttal of the condemned."

"What does it matter if it won't be put on the holovid? Jhayka, you know better than to think I'm going to make your conscience a bit better by providing you with a damned dramatic speech, when a class enemy is the only one who can hear it!"

Jhayka could stand no more. She handed over the crock to her attendant--but didn't take up the sword. Instead she just spoke her piece at last. "You betrayed me! And it's not for my own reputation or title that I do this but the honour of my family and my retainers and you should know that well!"

"Honour! A specious noble concept; we are all equals before the Lord Justice, and the affectations of nobility will not do you any good when he sends you to damnation for your usurption of his church and his people and the eternal equality he mandated for them all! You and your tame war-dogs will not keep down my soul!"

The last sentence was really the one that infused Jhayka with such rage that she was at last capable of doing her duty, because it insulted her retainers instead of herself. She snatched up the sword and clipped the scabbard to her belt, drawing the cold steel in one smooth motion and then reaching for her service pistol, should the horror of the execution force her to finish off Lashila herself.

"Any last requests?" Jhayka asked again, now in the cold formality of Duty.

"Don't blindfold me, I want to watch the sunrise."

"Of course." A pause. "Anything else?"

"I don't need a noble's dainties, even before death."

"You are all such admirable stoics," Jhayka replied across a space of twenty yards, her voice carried to a whisper by the wind to her former lover and nearly cracking as she said it.

"We uphold the true memory of the Prophet Eibermon and the equality of all!"

Jhayka turned to the priest, who held his silence throughout the whole exchange. "Offer her Last Rites, Father."

The man nodded and stepped forward, even though everyone in the square knew it was a formality. He paused before Lashila, but before he could begin to speak, she interrupted him.

"There is no need for this. There are no priests in the true religion and I go to the Lord Justice on the merit of the strength of my belief. Keep these words in mind, you so-called priest, for our own judgement!"

"I shall pray for your soul," the priest replied nonetheless, and at this at least Lashila had the stoic's sense to hold her tongue as he returned to his original place and reported: "The condemned refused last rites."

"Very well," Jhayka said again, and then knew there was no more waiting. "Squadron, present arms."

The roll of the drum began once more, this time fast and hard.

"Level arms!"

A little wall of rifles was presented toward Lashila, who stood there, silent, unmoving, her eyes focused up at the sunrise, watching the brilliance of the marvelous twin suns of Talora rise up into the sky with the full glory of their homeworld's dawn.

Jhayka raised her sword almost mechanically.

The drum roll continued, ominous, omnipresent, in the background.

The priest clenched his left hand over his right fist and held it to his heart.

Jhayka's attendant's ears drooped for his mistress in sympathetic pain at what was about to happen.

Everyone, except for Lashila herself, tensed imperceptibly.

And, of course, the roll continued.

Blade glinting green, Jhayka slashed down in a cutting motion toward the ground. Duty! echoed through her mind, but the word which came out to the world were the mortal reflection of that eternal ideal:

"Squadron, fire!"

Seven rifles barked their chemical roar into the cool, crisp air of the dawn.

Lashila toppled in a burst, a fountain of blood and torn flesh, her long-limbed body falling to the old parade-ground of the ancient fortress as the masonry wall behind her chipped with the impact of the bullets and was painted red with the spray of blood.

The drum roll had stopped.

It had not been enough. She was a fighter; she would be granted that remembrance. Thus it was that in wooden horror, toward her twitching body, Jhayka advanced automatically, in stiff, precise, parade-steps, for she could make her legs form no others in that moment.

She raised her service pistol, not even remembering to sheath her sword, and aimed it at the mortally wounded but not yet dead body of her lover, and fired two rounds in short succession into that charming mad brain of her's, hand left covered in blood and flecks of it in her fine pink hair.

Shuddering, quivering, Jhayka backed away. "Dismiss," she said in a breaking voice to the soldiers, before she collapsed.

On the rampart of the fort a shadowy figure looked up into the dawn. "I wonder what she was thinking of when she looked up at the suns?" The woman mused, and then shrugged. She was far to used to death for her own good. But this had been a noble one, even for the most depraved of the parties; and a noble deed for the Princess itl dhin Intuit. So she offered one salute to the fallen corpse and then one salute to the listless, blank-faced stare of the Princess on her knees, who never looked up to the Imperial agent on the rampart but only to the shattered body of Lashila. And then she left to report the outcome: Honour and Duty satisfied, loyalty proved, and the last of the traitors dealt with.

But honour and duty--these are the most cold sort of comfort imaginable. Nothing more, and nothing less.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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Post by Steve » 2005-10-20 11:52pm

Cranstonville Spaceport, Cranstonville
Gilead, Gilean Confederacy
Universe Designate CON-5
15 November 2162 AST
17 September 2841 CON-5ST

There was the usual commotion at Gate 43 as the passengers on British Spaceways Liner 4998 disembarked onto Gilead. Some had been business travelers returning from trips to Britain while others were Britons coming to Gilead to enjoy a raunchy vacation in it's many sex clubs, brothels, and more conventional entertainment venues.
One Briton in particular had come on account of the raunchier side of Gilean society, but she wasn't on vacation. Her name was Tessa Stuart, a hardy Scotswoman who was all too familiar with Gilead's seedy underbelly.
In truth, her name was Dame Tessa Marian Stuart, Member of the Order of the British Empire, Knight of the Order of Victoria, Captain (Retired) of the Royal Marines and former member of the elite Special Boat Service, and until recently, Member of Parliament for Prestwick. Well over ninety years old now, she had served His Majesty well in her youth before going into private practice, which led to her "extended stay" in Gilead's notorious Primitive Zone. She was one of the living heroes of the near-legendary Battle of East Henley Valley, the battle that broke the power of the feared Norman Empire in the Primitive Zone's Eastern Region. And now she had returned to finish the work she had helped start four decades ago.
Tessa was an imposing woman. She stood at six feet one inch, with short-cut red hair that was only starting to show slight gray as the age-retardation treatments gave way to the ravages of time. Her eyes were brown in color, the wrinkles of age hidden by light cosmetic makeup that Tessa had just enough vanity to apply to herself. Her body was still tough and muscularly-athletic, though her modest dress hid her body figure well enough.
The woman who met her was somewhat less modest. Amber Proctor Kellius was her name, though she had only added Proctor in honor of the woman and friend who saved her life and gave her purpose. Her complexion was light brown, with eyes of a similar color as Tessa's. She looked young as well, being a few decades younger than Tessa, and had a very beautiful figure that her sleeveless green blouse and barely-knee length patterned skirt flattered to a good degree. When they made eye contact the two women smiled and came up to one another to embrace. "Tessa, it is so good to see you again!"
"The same for you, my dear Amber." Tessa looked her in the face. "How is Sarina?"
"She is doing well," Amber replied. "As are the others back in Kalunda."
"Ah, still living in Kalunda, huh?"
"Why not? Now that Julio has made Kalunda a tech enclave in the Eastern Region, it is no different from living here, and the slave traders don't bother coming. Julio has made it quite clear they're unwelcome." Amber sighed, as bringing that up brought home the fact that this was not a pleasure visit. "Ambassador Pepper has agreed to give us rooms in his Tannerman district."
"Of course he has." Tessa sighed as they walked toward the main terminal. "My only regret about this is that I won't get to attend Sara's ennobling ceremony."
"Oh yes, everyone in Kalunda has heard of that. There is talk that Julio will finally abdicate and give the throne to Carlius so that he can go live with Sara. Though I figure they will now have to formally marry."
"Oh yes, Sara's going to be a proper Christian noblewoman now. Must do things the right way." Tessa chortled happily at that. The thought of a born Calvinist being a Devenshiran noble was... strange. But then again, stranger things had happened since she had first met Sara Proctor. Like, say, the arrival of people from other universes. "Though, I'm trying to remember. Is Carlius Julio's nephew or cousin?"
"Both. He's Luvis' son, after all, though thankfully he's nothing like his father." Amber frowned. Luvis had been the first son of Julio's mother Sabine; his father had been Julio's grandfather, but since Julio's father was the elder of the two, he inherited the Kalundan throne and thus the line went to Julio, not Luvis, which of course prompted Luvis to join forces with the Normans and have them install him as King of Kalunda after their brutal sack of the city. "So, how was the trip?"
"Oh, the same as usual. Though at least it was shorter. With the war over, the commercial liners aren't worried about taking the routes through Princess Regina System toward Ganzhou and on. Beats having to go around bloody Plymouth."

Palace of the Devenshires, Royal City, Devenshire
Capitol Province, Kingdom of the Devenshires
Universe Designate CON-5
22 November 2162 AST
24 September 2841 CON-5ST

The Grand Hall of the Devenshires was filled with dignitaries for the great occasion that was on hand. A line of Royal Guards flanked the lush carpet that went from the large, fifteen foot-high entrance door to the throne. In the throne was Minerva Devenshire. Twenty-eight years old, Minerva was considered one of the most beautiful women of the day, having a light bronze complexion and brown eyes from her mother with her father's blonde Devenshire hair. Her royal dress was lavish and exquisite, if modest; made of silk of light purple with a crown embedded with amythests and rubies and a necklace around her neck that had a latinum-and-diamond representation of the Royal Crest of the Devenshires, a large hawk native to the planet that the family had given their name to. The latinum, a material found only on certain types of asteroids, planetoids, and moons, had a sheen that made it resemble the light purple royal color of Devenshire if in the proper lighting, which had been arranged in a suitably subtle nature. Seated next to Minerva's throne was her husband, the Prince Consort; HRH Friedrich Leopold Devenshire von Wittelsbach-Habsburg, Archduke of Austria, Duke of Neu Innsbruck and of Sutherland.
At the proper sound of the royal band, the doors opened and another woman - a brunette with a pleasant figure - entered to begin a long walk down the length of the Hall. Clad in the regal dress uniform of Her (Devenshiran) Majesty's Navy, Grand Captain Sara Proctor, a Lady of the Realm, took a couple of minutes to traverse the distance in measured, proper steps. She was forty years older than Minerva and had her own claim to fame. Her memoirs' popularity throughout the known Megaverse had established Sara as the consummate adventuress; coming from humble origins in a non-tech Township of New Salem in New Plymouth Colony, Sara had been across the known Megaverse, living a full and rich life of adventure. A life that had included spiriting Minerva's parents out of Devenshire and to exile in Austro-Bavaria, not to mention a number of other acts in favor of the old Underground Railroad, and being a privateer of Devenshire's Navy for the first year of the war before accepting the rank of Grand Captain and using her knowledge and experience to help the Allies plan their anti-shipping campaign against her old homeland.
Upon coming to the proper distance before the throne, Sara bowed to one knee and lowered her head as was dictated by protocol. Minerva remained seated but picked up the formal scepter of the monarch, the Scepter of Saint Peter (formerly the Scepter of Saint Ian, the first King of Devenshire, but one of Minerva's first acts as Queen and Head of the Devenshiran Church was to revoke her accursed ancestor's sainthood and to rename the scepter after the first Pope). She extended the jeweled, golden scepter toward Sara and bid her to look up. "We have made note of your deeds on behalf of Our Kingdom and Our People," she pronounced in the formal court language. "You have served Devenshire well and true and proven yourself a good Christian. For this, We offer you this greater reward and responsibility, the title of which will be held by you and your heirs until our Lord Jesus Christ returns. Do you, Lady Sara Proctor, swear upon your honor, upon your family's honor, upon your eternal Christian soul, to uphold the duties of your rank and to swear yourself and your heirs as eternal servants to Us and the People which We rule in the name of God?"
With long-practiced accuracy, Sara leaned with her back and touched the scepter, kissing the diamond at it's tip. She replied, "I swear to You and to the Kingdom of the Devenshires my oath of fealty, to be held for as long as I live, and to be passed down to my heirs thereafter."
"Then, in the name of God and of the Kingdom, We do hereby grant you the title of Grand Duchess of Illustrious, with all of the lands, titles, and holdings it is due, as well as the privileges and responsibilities. You may rise, Your Highness."
Sara rose to her feet. From Minerva's side, Prime Minister Alexandria Driscova stepped forward and handed Sara a sheathed sword, it's silver hilt encrusted with an amythest and it's scabbard golden with the new Proctor family coat-of-arms upon it set in proper color. The coat-of-arms consisted of a single sword, similar to the one Sara kept in her room that had been forged for a battle from what sometimes seemed like a prior and very short lifetime, which had broken the chain between two leg shackles. The Latin quote that she had chosen for her new family motto was written below the sword on a banner: Audemus Jura Nostra Defendere. "We dare defend our rights."
Sara accepted the sword and tied it to the waist of her uniform. She bowed to Minerva one last time, turned, and left the Hall as the crowd applauded. The ceremony was effectively over.

1287 West Street, Cranstonville
Gilead, Gilean Confederacy
Universe Designate CON-5
23 November 2162 AST
25 September 2841 CON-5ST

The meeting place chosen was the well-sized three story-home, nearly a mansion, on West Street in Gilead's wealthy Tannerman district. The mansion was the secondary home of the British Ambassador, Ann Pepper, and in respect to that was constantly swept for bugs.
After an all-clear signal was given, the gathered figures sat at a table in the dining room and began speaking. At the head of the table was Ambassador Pepper's Charge d'Affairs, Jacquelyn Frost. Beside her sat an older woman with a head of short red hair. Tessa Stuart was a strong and tough woman, a former Royal Marine and SBS member who had spent years on Gilead in the past under impressive circumstances and had only recently been voted out of Parliament.
Across from Tessa sat Xue Guan Cai, clad in the ceremonial dress of Zhai nobility. Xue was the leader of the Legion of Sen Yu Ling, the deceased Queen of the Zhai who fell leading the Zhai calvary into a Norman pike line in the Battle of East Henley Valley. The Zhai had suffered greatly in the battle and with the plagues before, but had survived in the long run, and now the name of the beave Sen Yu Ling was given to those who wanted to end the accursed practice of slavery on Gilead, consensual or otherwise.
Beside Xue sat General Marcus de la Hoya. Of mixed Gilean and Cartagenean background, General de la Hoya commanded the divisions that officially protected Cranstonville.
Finally, beside Tessa sat Roger Marlborough, the local MI6 spychief.
"Gentlemen," Pepper began, "I think it is best if we got down to business. Mister Marlborough?"
"The Confederacy Government has begun to drop the ball. Ever since that bloody idiot Crayshaw won office, he's been drawing back the Confederation government's oversight of the consensual slave trade."
"Is he on the take?", asked Frost.
"No. No, he's just stupid. A moral relativist. Believes it's not the place of the government to infringe upon the rights of the hedonist enclaves, that it violates traditional Gilean freedoms or some such crap." Marlborough looked across the table at de la Hoya. "General, you've met the man. Am I right?"
"Crayshaw couldn't find his ass with a roadmap," was the general's reply.
"And how did this idiot get elected?"
"The hedonist vote," Xue answered. "And he appealed to the colonials by promising various initiatives. Even then, he only barely won. He might lose his next election. The problem is that he's letting the old criminal groups re-assert themselves. The Normans and Amazons might be gone, but there are other societies on Gilead, inside and outside the Primitive Zone, that are just as bad as they were. They provide a ready market of buyers for the black market." Xue slammed a fist on the table. "The time has come to end this madness!"
"Xue's right." Tessa looked to Frost. "What will His Majesty's Government do in the event that our plan succeeds?"
"Naturally, so long as the new government honors our agreements with Gilead, His Majesty's Government will not concern themselves." A delighted smile crossed Frost's face. "It may even please His Majesty to see Gilead cleaned up."
"The question is how?" Marlborough placed his hands together on the table. "Do you really think the entire military will back this? And there will be no mass revolts?"
"We've already decided that the other worlds can continue to rule themselves as according to their laws," de la Hoya said. "As for the military, only one out of ten are from Gilead itself, and they tend to come from the communities that want to end this madness. We'll begin a recruitment drive afterward, of course. Raise our numbers to properly garrison the entire planet and maintain our other defense requirements."
"Naturally the Legion will be supportive of this effort," Xue said. "We are planning our own wave of demonstrations and protests against the President's latest budget cuts to the Slave Trade Regulators. And we have a number of attacks planned against known slavers that should prove sufficient to undermining them."
"Then this course is set. All that remains is funding."
"There are a number of private individuals we have contacted for this purpose. The Alliance's Elijah Weisbaum, for instance, proved most willing to privately donating twenty million Alliance dollars to our cause," Xue said.
Tessa nodded. "And we should be seeing some income from Devenshire soon. Sara Proctor hasn't forgotten what they did to her here. And she's the Grand Duchess of Illustrious as of yesterday. I had to turn down an invitation to her ennobling to be here. Even with Devenshire's economic woes, she might find a few million here and there to pitch to our cause."
"As well, we have managed to convince some very wealthy individuals in the colonial worlds that it's in their best interests to remove Crayshaw and institute stronger leadership on Gilead." General de la Hoya's eyes narrowed. "This planet has tarnished the image of all the other worlds in the Confederacy. So greatly, I would say, that even the Wiccans are starting to turn against their usual hedonist political allies."
"It seems everything is in order. Let's get to work, everyone...."
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Post by Steve » 2005-10-20 11:53pm

Berglund Estate, Berglund
Gilead, Gilean Confederacy
Universe Designate CON-5
28 November 2162 AST
30 September 2841 CON-5ST

Berglund was a small community on one of the coves that dotted the western shoreline of Atlantica Continent. It was only eighty kilometers from the capitol of Cranstonville, which had been specifically built years before to be a central transport point between the western shoreline and the great farm prairies of Atlantica's central region. Berglund, an autonomous enclave devoted primarily to tourism, was inhabited by descendants of Swedish settlers and named after the city's wealthy founder, now heavily integrated with the Americans to the north and east. Their Scandanavian roots were mostly honored in a time-honored tradition in this hedonist area, as the male citizens would dress up as Vikings and occasionally "raid" other nearby naturalist and Wiccan communities for women (theoretically willing) to carry back to Berglund in chains for obvious purposes, which usually ended a day or two later.
Usually. Though this tradition of light-hearted, well-intended sexual fantasy games had lasted for decades, it had recently taken a slightly more sinister tone. The raids were as frequent before, but now some girls never returned, and there were increased cases of girls being taken who had not approved it. The locals dared do nothing either, as some of the raiding parties had become substantially more violent to resistance, and the government unwilling to "interfere".
Consuela Galindo was one of the unwilling "prizes". Seized while staying at a small coastline resort in Barker's Cove ten kilometers away from Berglund, Consuela was now being led into the estate of Illian Berglund, the most recent heir to the Berglund fortune and their spacious mansion. Her clothes had been removed, nearly torn off her body in fact, and only a simple loin-cloth now covered her. The lack of clothes showed her to be a true Hispanic beauty, the daughter of an exile from the Empire who had apparently conceived her with a high-ranking Catholic cardinal who's name no one knew. Her eyes were a rich brown color, darker than the tanned bronze of her skin. Her lips were full and inviting, and she had a small cute nose. Down her back hung her wavy hair, as black as night itself. Her breasts, topped with wide pink aerolae and pert nipples just a shade darker, moved with her slow stride, large enough to be greatly attractive while small enough that they didn't look unsightly when compared to the rest of her figure. Her hands, bound together before her waist, possessed slender gentle-looking fingers; her hands were also covering her stomach, with it's small navel and flat surface that was neither muscular nor with a hint of flab. Her legs were much the same, possessing only the natural curves that enhanced attraction. It was clear to all why Consuela had been seized, and she was the only girl from the raid on Barker's Cove who would not be sent home after the traditional post-raid orgy in Berglund's central park.
Through the mansion she went, noticing from here to there barely-clothed servant girls with collars around their necks. All were generally beautiful and from many nationalities; an Arab mopping the tiled floor, likely from the Caliphal States; a Chinese girl dusting the railing on a staircase; an African vacuuming carpet.
The men escorting her brought Consuela to an underground level. As they walked through it, the environment changed. From the clearly modern look of a mansion, the subbasement went to drab brick and dim lights. Consuela's heart beat faster, and she jumped in fright when a cry came from a room ahead. As they walked on, Consuela saw what looked to be cells, as if she were in a stereotypical medieval dungeon. Some of the cells were occupied with girls - a few left free, others with their arms spread-eagled and chained to the far wall.
Another cry came from a door to the right just before the man in front of Consuela opened it. Inside was Illian himself, tall and handsome, barechested and wearinng silk trousers. In his right hand was a vicious-looking instrument, a five-bladed whip of some sort. In front of him was a blond-haired Caucasian girl with her wrists held above her head by handcuffs hanging by wire from the ceiling. Naked, she had red lines criss-crossing her bare back. A new set of lines came with the sickening crack of the whip striking her one final time. "I'm sorry I had to do this to you, my dear Gabby," Illian said softly to the weeping blond girl as he uncuffed her. "But you know what it means to be disobedient, and this is better than selling you to some people who won't care for you like I do."
The girl nodded, sobbing. "I know, Master Illian. I'm sorry. I'm very very sorry."
"I know you are, my dear. And I still love you. Now, why don't you go see Francine about your back?"
Abigal nodded and shuffled off. Illian turned to look at Consuela. She shivered at the cold look in his eyes. "Ah, my newest flower. Welcome to Berglund, Consuela."
"Why am I here? Why was I taken?"
"Look in a mirror, my sweet, and you'll see the answer to both." Illian grinned in what looked to be a charming fashion. "I'm sorry you were brought in to that display. Sometimes my girls need a little disciplining, just enough to remember what they are and what I am."
"I did not agree to this." Consuela looked confused, and she should, considering she had literally been dragged off the street and thrown into a truck with a dozen other young women. "I want you to give me my clothes back and let me go."
"You're a slave now, Consuela. And you'll grow to like it just as the other girls do. After all, you do very little house work and you get to have lots of good sex. And who would come to Gilead, or much less live here, if they didn't like having sex?"
"I don't care about sex, I care about going home! And you have to let me go home, because I haven't signed any kind of permission contract for this!"
"No, but your signature will be on one that's sent to the government in the morning." Illian smiled wolfishly at her. "A standard initial one week form, by which you state that you are my slave for that timeframe and that I can do to you... whatever I want. Five days from now you'll sign a month-long contract, and every month afterward it will be renewed with your signature, and this time you'll allow me to sell you if I desire. And you won't like the kind of people I sell to, Consuela. So, I suggest you enjoy your time here. Maybe, one day, I'll even release you from your contract renewal cycle and let you go."
"I don't believe you," she spat.
"Oh, I wouldn't either. You're so beautiful.... you know what? I don't want to wait until tomorrow. Let's get you started tonight."
A short walk across the hall brought them to a door ominously labeled "Ye Olde Torture Chamber". Illian cackled with amusement, saying "The atmosphere down here works so well" as he had Consuela brought in.
It certainly looked liked a torture chamber. Wooden racks and cabinents along the walls held whips, alligator clips, and phallic-looking devices. The chamber was filled with what looked to be torture racks, some medieval looking complete with wood frame and synthetic rope, while others were clearly modern with electric motors, shackles attached to chains, or even just slots for wrists and ankles to be locked in. Consuela was put on one of the modern ones and stretched until her body was taunt. Illian walked over her, twirling a cat'o'nine in his right hand. He lowered it over her chest, sliding it's knotted ends gently over her breasts and down her belly to the first strands of hair below that. Consuela's breathing picked up. "Do you know why I like to do this?"
"Because you're a sick bastard," Consuela hissed.
Illian laughed with amusement at that. "Perhaps. But the specific reason for all of this..." - he stretched a hand out over her - "...is because of the exotic appeal of a woman in bondage. A woman, beautiful, and helpless to prevent her beauty from being exploited. The futile struggles against her restraints, that instinctive sparkle of terror and fear in her eyes." Illian brought his free left hand over and fingered one of Consuela's nipples as she stared at him. "It's not that she's going to be hurt. But to watch her as a helpless captive to someone she does not personally know and has no reason to trust is... electrifying." He watched her squirm a little and walked out of her eyesight, getting something else from the wall. "Just in case you're wondering, I'm going to torture you for the next hour or so. Just a little sport, really. But if you're suddenly worried that I'm going to harm you terribly, don't be afraid. There are several forms of sexual torture, my dear, and many are as appealing to the victim as to the torturer. They test you. And they make you feel things you have never felt before. Eventually, you will love it."
As Illian went to work on her, Consuela - the sweet daughter of a Hispanic woman forced to leave her home for her illicit affair with a man of God - endured it with the expected moaning and howling and even screaming. She had no way of knowing that her "initiation" as another beautiful slave in the personal harem of playboy Illian Berglund was being broadcast to Berglund's private channels and across Gilead, allowing everyone with access to watch.
For Aurora Maria Lucia Solano y Vallalpando, it was totally expected. And that was the true name of Illian Berglund's newest slave, and she was not an innocent daughter of an exile from the Hispanic Empire. She was, in truth, a patriot of her homeland and a devout Catholic, the daughter of anImperial Senator and named after the beloved Empress Maria Lucia when she was born thirty years ago. And in the service of her people, she had descended into a den of sin and vice to hunt down and help eliminate the people who had already preyed on her fellow Hispanics, her fellow Christians, and all sorts of other victims.
To the rest of Gilead watching Illian's material, she was either an innocent victim of Gilean corruption or just another perverted slut of a woman. To Aurora and those who knew her, she was a heroine risking her life to fight one of the oldest and most inhumane sins of all time: slavery itself.
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"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2005-10-21 12:00am

East Port, Gilead
2 October 2841 CON-5ST

"Just why did you come here?"

"Port, please--eastern '44," the tall alien said, head twisted slightly askew to look at the scantily clad serving girl, and then she looked back, not bothering to acknowledge the 'mistress' comment that came with it. She was dressed in mufti, vibrant pink hair pulled back and severely braided. "To study, of course."

"Well, there are many trainees here," the man answered with a curt laugh, "but altogether few of them are alien noblewomen."

"I do not need any training--I am studying you, Mr Altonas. I am studying you and I am studying your culture and people... And then I shall write a book about them."

"That's the most bizarre thing I've ever heard of."

"I'm an alien, do you expect me to act like a human? Even a human female? My species is genetically entirely different from your own; even your own philosophy must thus allow for my equality to you."

Altonas grunted. "You're disgustingly tall, anorexic, and have the eyes of a dead fish, by my standards."

"So much the better, by mine," Jhayka replied calmly and then picked up the glass of port which had been delivered. "Are you sure you don't want anything to drink, Mr. Altonas?"

"I have business to do later."

"Would you tell me what?" Jhayka asked with a charming sort of smile.

"I don't trust you at all. You're odd; unnatural, from my perspective, and probably some sort of dangerous agent."

"I have no love for my own Imperial family; though I am loyal, of course, and will always be loyal. But I'm not here as a spy. I'm here as.. An anthropologist." An amused smile was offered, then. "At any rate, you seem to think that I care about humans being enslaved. I really don't hold a judgement call on the matter at all; it's not my place to judge, Mr. Altonas--it's my place to record.

"And allow me to be blunt about that," she continued before he could respond, as the nude dancers gyrated so close and she, of course, ignored them, something Altonas was having just a touch more difficulty with. The wood of the table was tapped lightly by her fingers in a droll roll, and the hazy smoke which filled the place seemed not to perturb her at all. "I think your culture is going to die, and I want to record everything I can about it for the ages. Peoples die, Mister Altonas, but in the written word they may live forever."

"When is your people going to die?" Altonas spat the words out, acknowledging more truth in the Princess' statement than he would really care to admit out loud. The situation for the Normans was, these days, very bad--but they still had an ace in the hole.

"Never. Because we are not a people, but a faith. Tribes die, Mister Altonas, but the true God is eternal; and there is no Taloran existance outside his worship. There will in the future be no more Normans, and perhaps no more Talorans; but I am a Farzian first and second and there will always be Farzians."

"You sound like a Muslim, or a Sedavanticist."

"Good. They are intolerant, but I nonetheless approve of monotheistic religions in general."

A throaty laugh: "I've found them all intolerant, and I'm sure your's is to."

"Maybe." Jhayka took another sip of port and then looked to the dancers, staring at a dark-skinned one--Talorans were universally almost translucently pale and with a rather unhealthy greenish pallor to the skin anyway--with appreciative gray eyes for a minute or so of Altonas' amused silence before she reached into a pocket and with a single fluid motion tossed a latinum coin bearing the gold-pressed image of Saverana II's coronation at the girl, who caught it with much grace and a flashed look of delight.

Jhayka turned back promptly to Altonas, then, and smirked. "But no priest has ever bothered me for appreciating women as much as you do."

Altonas roared in laughter, his respect for the alien female marginally improved. "Well, then, I shall invite you tonight--as a guest, under my safekeeping. Perhaps you shall see something you like, if you have any taste for humans."

"I'm mostly there to observe," Jhayka replied, dabbing her lips with a napkin. "But of course I am as much interested in the experiences of the slaves as the masters; both are integral to your culture after all. And I want to not do you disservice with any inaccuracies on my part."

"Well, then, you shall soon find that the human female is the most passive and contemptible thing which has ever existed, save for its natural biological role, providing reproductive services to the male."

"Spoken like a true geneticist. Surely I'd think you'd have put it in other terms?" She asked with a genuine sense of curiousity.

"I have learned more of the technological ways thanks to our current sad state, out of necessity."

"It will change you, you know, as surely as my sword would be unavailing in a modern war, where the ancestors who wielded it might have used it on the battlefield as late as days of tank and machine-cannon. All things ultimately pass away."

"It's that, or our culture disappears entirely," Altonas at last confessed tiredly.

Jhayka nodded sympathetically. "Sometimes--and I speak from personal experience--all the choices are bad." Altonas was a barbarian, of course, and despite her polite words she never doubted it; but those who are courageous in war at least deserve to be called noble savages. She sipped from her port again, nursing sad thoughts, and wondered just what the Norman lands would really be like.

"How much of your entourage will you bring tonight?" Altonas asked to break the silence.

"All of it."

"People won't like that. Particularly the humans--and armed human females. There have been clashes with the Amazons before and they'll remember that."

"You have your customs, Mister Altonas, and I have mine. And a Taloran noble will not go places without an entourage suitable for her rank. I like to think of myself as doing your people a favour, so..?"

"Very well." A slight, musing frown. "Do you take notes?"

"No. I have an eidetic memory."

"That will smooth things over a bit. We wouldn't like cameras around or somesuch."

"Don't worry. It would scandalize high society if I taped a slave auction."

Altonas grinned: "But not if you write about one?"

"Precisely, Mister Altonas." She finished off her glass of port. "Well, then, where shall I meet you? I've rented out the Spacer's Refuge Inn for my entourage, so you can certainly reach me there," and I have the place fortified and the staff bribed in coin, she added mentally, "but you are my host."

"No, that's fine, I shouldn't provide you the address until just before the auction is held," Altonas said, acknowledging at last what was already known, "Since we sometimes have to change location fairly quickly."

"Very good then." As a noble Jhayka did not complain anymore about Altonas coming to her. "Well, I suppose I should be going, then. There are a few more places I want to catch up on before this evening. East Port is interesting--but it just contains leads to the cultures of the interior, which, firstly being your's, are my goal."

"Save Kalundas, no doubt," Altonas frowned deeply. "They're already up to their necks in the modern world, and whatever morality they had is lost."

"Certainly, save Kalundas," Jhayka answered as an agreeable lie. "This evening, then, Mister Altonas."

"Your Highness," he acknowledged at last, as she left, a squad of sixteen guards and a young Taloran girl in colourful pantaloons, a brace of blaster pistols on a bandolier and flamboyant cobalt blue hair following her, offering over the Princess' sword which she had been holding.

There is a time I would have enslaved her to see if I could break her like a human girl, he mused, but the end of those times is why she's here in the first place, and in the end remaining friendly to the great powers, even those led by women, may be our only hope of maintaining our culture. Morose with the thoughts of a man who was part of a dying society, he left before he was further tempted by drink, to prepare for the night's marginally illicit slave auction.
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Post by Steve » 2005-10-21 12:01am

Freedom Party Main Offices, Washington D.C.
Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1

Isaiah Shameel was a rather interesting figure to observe as he walked past numerous minor employees and visitors to the Freedom Party's office in the Alliance capitol. Somewhat short and stocky, he was well-dressed and almost unassuming and indistinguishable from others. Never the less, he was interesting.... because of what he was.
The wolf-haired Israeli stepped through double doors and spoke with an attractive young woman of African complexion, who buzzed him into the office beyond. In that office was a man a bit older than him, with a balding head and small, sharp gray eyes. Elijah Weisbaum, former New Israeli Representative on the Alliance Council and recnetly-failed Presidential candidate, stood from his seat and shook Shameel's hand. "Ah, good to see you Mister Shameel. How's the farming business?"
"Got out of that, as you well know, Mister Weisbaum. Going into other lines of work quite like what I used to do, but this time I think I'll work for myself."
Weisbaum nodded. They were speaking in a form of code, though not too thick. He had been a trainer for Mossad and Alliance Intelligence, having been a successful Mossad agent himself years before. He was getting out of government work now and freelancing.... which is precisely why Weisbaum had called him here.
"Well, since you're out on your own, I figured you wouldn't mind a job. It's a very... touchy thing, I have to admit."
"As long as the money's good."
"Five percent commission. And when you see the sum of what you'll be carrying, you'll be pleased." Weisbaum handed him a paper. "Sign this if you want in."
"What will the job consist of?"
"You'll go to a location outside of the Alliance and be my liaison with certain.... individuals. You will be provided with the code to use a financial account in a Providence bank from Universe CON-5, and at proper re-arranged times you will remove funds from it to give to the persons you will be working with, along with your five percent commission." Weisbaum put his hands together on his desk. "I'll also pay your fare and your first month of room and board."
"How dangerous?"
"Nothing out of the ordinary. The place you're going to won't be anything like Alleria or the Caliphal States. But I can't tell you until you're in."
For a moment Shameel did nothing. He then reached over and signed his name to the form. Weisbaum grinned and put it in his desk. "In four days, a liner will leave for Lisea. You will have accomodations booked for the trip. There, you'll be directed to a French passenger ship bound for the New Levant, and from there, you'll have the final leg of your journey; a Scathfordian cargo and passenger ship bound for the Hispanic Empire via Gilead. And Gilead is your destination."
Shameel didn't react at first. "Gilead, eh? Land of dope, sex maniacs, and idiots."
"More than that, Mister Shameel. But maybe not for much longer." Weisbaum winked at him. "I'll have your tickets electronically forwarded to you by tomorrow. Good day, Mister Shameel."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2005-10-21 12:02am

East Port, Gilead
2 October

A flash of cobalt locks preceded Ilavna Lashila's arrival. "Your Highness?" She asked softly, looking to the sad visage of the Princess slumped in her high-backed padded chair in the hotel room. It was the largest in the whole building; it was still to small for her, though Jhayka had adapted well enough.

Her entourage was large enough that people were sleeping on the floors around the hotel, but it served as a fortified point if needbe. She'd already hired seven railroad cars for the journey to Ar and had them fortified as a precautionary measure, with an engine on either end. Thanks to the hyperlibertarianism of the Gilead government, obtaining armour plate, shields, and heavy repeating arms was a matter of casual ease. This was like a regular expedition to a savage planet, after all, even if some aspects of modern convenience were available.

In total Jhayka now had eighty-two people with her; twelve Talorans, four Jilkar, six home-universe humans, and sixty native humans of CON-5 who'd been hired inside the Confederacy itself, mostly mercenaries out of work after the end of the recent round of wars. She'd also brought twenty-four rostok for expeditions off the railhead. The railroad system she had access to would carry her through every part of the primitive zone of Gilead if she wished--which she did wish--and was effectively extraterritorial to the governments thereof, preventing them from restricting modern weaponry on its tracks and allowing her to undertake the expedition with some considerable casual confidence.

The primitive zone of Gilead was a vast expanse of territory, essentially a whole continent in terms of extent, and in it were contained myriad cultures and societies--many of them founded artificially, or otherwise highly unique, but essentially left alone--until now. They were under threat of being reintegrated into Gilead's society by force thanks to the Proctor scandal, and so Jhayka, taking a long leave from her principality and already retired from the Army, decided to write a book on the ethnography of the planet before these strange and savage little societies vanished for all time.

For the maximum safety on her expedition, she had made sure to organize it as a military party, and she had included a final ace in the hole of her own. Ilavna, of course--Jhayka commonly referred to her by her last name, Lashila, on account of the Lashila family having long served her own.

"You really should take a steam bath to help you relax before the auction, Your Highness," the young girl offered softly.

"Thank you. But I'm more worried about Mister Altonas' sincerity. What did you feel from him, Lashila?"

"Bitter, tempted, but honest in his words," Lashila answered after a moment, brushing back hair out of her enthusiastic face. "Now, come. Kaladh is seeing to your dinner, bath while it is being prepared?"

"You're not a house servant, Lashila, and I don't need any help."

"But I am an adept of the Yulain order, and we do not let people in need suffer."

"My dear girl.." Jhayka finished the report and set down her pen, turning to smile wanly to Ilavna Lashila. "You were there, when you were still serving my house as your family always has, and before you were sent to begin your studies at Yulain. You remember what happened."

"I know. And that's why I'm trying to help you, Your Highness."

"I did what needed to be done."

"You betrayed your own heart, Your Highness," Lashila replied, speaking as daringly as she ever had on the matter. "Love once redeemed the cause of Farzianism and of the Empress' ancestors and of your own. If The Sword had not acted with charity toward Taliya.."

"Do not recriminate me, go and give charity to those in need in the streets if you must," Jhayka snapped, a dark look cast over her pallid face as her eyes flexed in vexation.

"I don't want to recriminate you," Ilavna Lashila cast down her eyes to the one who had demanded service of her family--and paid them back handsomely for it--for so long. "For you have offered me a great opportunity in coming on this mission as your confessor and to do missionary work among the barbarians, no matter what excuse you say that you took me only because of my psychic abilities."

A heavy, laden pause: "But Your Highness must remember that though your duty was moral and correct, it will still weigh bitterly upon your own heart. You must find a way to cast off this bitterness. You died a little death to serve honour. And what died must be revived."

Morose, tonelessly: "I am hoping this mission will revive some of my spirit, adventure and duty to the broader history of the sentient peoples at once. But do not pressure me on it."

"Then keep your eyes open, Your Highness. For this expedition may just be marking time until your redemption is found through something else."

Jhayka smiled wanly once more and pushed herself up. "Perhaps so. I will, regardless, take that steam bath now." A hand batted through the youth's hair and she offered a rough look, a hint of the old charm returning, and the dangerous whit. "But just help lay my clothes out. If you hang around to hand me a scrubbing stone and a vihta every time I turn around, people will talk--and you're much to young!"

Ilavna grinned and bowed her head. "I've prepared them in advance for you, Your Highness."

"Then I shall permit you," Jhayka replied, and followed Lashila into the bathroom--where, like any proper well-to-do Taloran suffering from human inanities over ideas of 'economy' in bathing, a complete portable one-person steam bath had been erected inside and over the tub.

Ilavna Lashila removed her garments for her, and Jhayka settled into the reclining seat of the steam bath, made of comfortable softwood in a collapsible frame surrounded by the plastic and rubber of the enclosure, with a heading and steam mechanism below the seat, which was contoured, custom produced, for her body to produce absolutely no discomfort, and indeed one of the most relaxing positions possible, despite the lack of padding.

The vihta of fragrences and cleaning minerals was then placed artfully under the seat, to well up, by the hands of the serving girl who had not lost her touch since becoming a priestess adept. A scrubbing stone was handed over and then she closed up the steam bath and retreated down to check on Kaladh's efforts to put the kitchen staff here in order and produce actual civilized Taloran cuisine.

For Jhayka, it was a moment to rest in the womblike embrace of the bath, to reflect, to let the heat and the steam build her hunger for a fine meal, and to muster herself that she might be a witness to the savage customs and cold brutality of the auction block later that night, such a thing so incomprehendable to modern sensibilities as to be scarcely removed from barbarian tribes in the deep jungle engaged in cannibalism, yet all very much real on Gilead.
Last edited by The Duchess of Zeon on 2005-10-21 12:10am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Steve » 2005-10-21 12:03am

Train Station, Kalunda
Gilead, Gilean Confederacy
Universe Designate CON-5

Tessa Stuart stepped off of the train that had brought her from East Port, resplendent in a rather flattering dress uniform. The spring of Kalunda - warm in the day and refreshingly cool at night - made the local uniform she had been entitled to wear comfortable. The top piece was a silk corset of red that bared her shoulders and her lower belly around the navel, revealing the muscular nature of her arms and her abs. The corset ended above her breasts, covering them completely while leaving her shoulders and neck bare, save for the red silk cloak that was clasped in front of her neck by a ruby brooch. Her waist had a belt for a pair of baggy red silk pantaloons, with a sword and scabbard tied to her left hip. A pair of black leather shoes were the only pieces of covering she was wearing that were not red, save for the outline of gold on the ruby brooch clasp of her cloak.
Opposite of Tessa at the landing platform was a welcoming party. At the head of it was an expected sight. Amber stood wearing a uniform much like Tessa's, though her sword was joined with a P-55 Vallejo semi-automatic pistol in a holster on her right hip. It was far more flattering, emphasizing the attractive curves of Amber's bosom and posterior. Behind her was a file of young women in red, but they had silken shorts and nylons instead of pantaloons, for they also had armor greaves on their lower legs and hips, as well as a breastplate and helmet of red-painted steel; with swords on their left hips and a sidearm on the right, they were also holding elegant-looking halberds that glistened in the blue sun of Gilead. Only one of them, who Tessa now recognized to be Amber's younger sister Sarina, had the cloak of an officer.
They had once been called the Royal Janissaries; the daughters of Kalunda unclaimed by a father, which relegated them to the custody of the monarch. Soon after these "fatherless girls" became abundant, the Kalundans had started training them differently from the other women of their society. Instead of being conditioned to be willing sex-slaves, the fatherless girls were raised to fight from the moment they came into royal custody. They were the elite guard, the personal bodyguards of the Royal Family of Kalunda.
That had changed after East Henley Valley. The breaking of the Norman Empire and the end of the pretender Luvis had returned King Julio to the throne, and after his romance with Sara Proctor, Julio had ceased believing in the precepts of Kalundan society. He had reformed the Janissaries and due to the connotations of the title "Janissary" - that is, slave soldiers - he renamed the force; they became the Royal Crimson Guard, and other women were allowed to try and join. Because of their parts in his restoration, Tessa and Sara were considered honorary Knight-Commanders of the Crimson Guard.
Amber's spine straightened and her open palm snapped up to her temple. Her sister bellowed "Present arms!" and her soldiers stiffened up and repositioned their halberds. Tessa repeated the salute. "Lady Tessa, welcome back to Kalunda. His Majesty was thrilled to hear you were coming."
"Oh, I wouldn't miss this for the world, Lady Amber. But I think I've put on a few pounds, these things are tighter than they were when they were first sent to me."
"Nonsense, Lady Tessa," Sarina spoke up. Tessa supposed she was flattered by the hint of lust in Sarina's eyes, remembering full well that Sarina's taste had never been in men. "You haven't changed from the day I met you."
"Flatterer," Tessa chortled. "Well, let's be going. I want to see Julio again."
"Yes, but if you don't mind, there's something I need to do first."
Tessa, curious, nodded, and watched Amber walk down the length of the platform to the cargo dock. She followed, closely enough to see that the cargo being unloaded was not just boxes of goods. A line of about fifteen women walked out of one of the rear cars, all half-naked with loinclothes and hands bound in front of them. They were of varying ethnicity, though most looked Caucasian, and while some were certainly nubile, a few looked like they were in various stages of the common cycle between obesity and the treatments that restored health and slimness - only the most lazy or uncaring women stayed overweight in these days. "I thought Julio ended slavery in Kalunda?" Tessa whispered as a question to Amber.
"We make an important exception. Now, allow me." Amber stepped ahead of Tessa and up to the women, who were flanked by men in Kalundan dress. "Welcome to Kalunda. You have come here because you want to be slaves and because our buyers in East Port believed you beautiful and healthy enough to be worthy of serving His Majesty. After authorities of the King determine the kind of slavery contracts you signed, you will be put to work according to what you have permitted. Here in Kalunda, you will learn what it is to be a slave. That is all."
Some of the girls looked bored or uncaring, and a few were even smiling seductively. Tessa imagined they were here for what used to be existance of female slaves in Kalunda - continous, exhausting sex. But somehow she imagined they would be disappointed. When the girls were out of earshot, Tessa asked, "What is all that about?"
"Those are women who, in most cases, voluntarily signed slave contracts with Kalundan traders in East Port or elsewhere on the planet. These people want to be slaves, and here in Kalunda, we show them what slavery is about. It's particularly grueling on the fools who skip the initial one-week term and go straight for a month." A smile crossed Amber's face. "As you can imagine, we don't get many to return, at least not as slaves."
"Ahhhh...." Tessa nodded, understanding having dawned. "Ingenious."
"Better us than being sold to the people who won't let them go home," Amber said. "Plus we prove to many how easy it is to alter their contracts in the planetary database. Some, for instance, sign up with contracts forbidding them from being physically hurt, but when we look at their contracts, poof, the term is gone! And I've seen some reactions to that, they're rather amusing. Ultimately, though, we're not doing this to keep up the old ways here, but to do our part in countering the slave trade by showing the fools what they risk ending up as. They have to learn that being a slave doesn't mean you just walk around naked with chains and collars to be tied up for hot sex."
"Very good of you all, then. And for the rest of you, there's good old fashioned National Service, as it's supposed to be."
"Oh yes, though we still do some things from the old days, particularly with our girls." Amber's smile grew. "We still have the coming of age ceremonies for Kalundan girls, as filled with bondage and sex as they are, and most Kalundan girls are at least shown the machines in the palace sublevel after they come of age. Some get put on them, but never for long enough to condition them like in the old days. All in all, it's a nice way to remind the new generations of girls of what Kalundan women used to be, and what they can be now. Though if you ask me, a lot of it is what Sara likes to call 'social inertia'."
"Well, tradition and history are always important. The British Army still has regiments that fought in the old Earth wars of the 16th and 17th Centuries."
"Britain's a real society founded by a cultural group, not by the employees and common clients of a sex resort for men." Amber smirked. "I'll have some of our girls bring your belongings to the Palace. King Julio has arranged your rooms and a couple of servants already."
"Very good."
"If you will excuse me, Tessa, I have to go get to the slave auctions before Sarina does. She steals all the sexy girls." A mischievous twinkle appeared in those brown eyes. "Some things change and some don't, and three quarters of Kalundan women are still openly bisexual, and that includes me."
"And you're all still depraved," Tessa teased.
"Probably," Amber admitted. "But life is good now, and I'm enjoying it while I can. I'll see you later."
Tessa nodded, but couldn't help but frown. Her mind wandered back to the meetings with her fellow plotters and it occurred to her that such a thing could effect even this place. Still, little need to get too worried about it, and she had come to enjoy herself a bit, so Tessa stopped thinking of business and started thinking of what order she was going to do things in while here in Kalunda.

Ar, Eastern Region
Gilead, Gilean Confederacy
Universe Designate CON-5
15 September 2162 AST
18 July 2841 CON-5ST

The city's name was meaningless after a fashion, named after a great city in the works of the writer who's philosophy had provided the basis for Norman society when it was founded over four centuries ago.
At one time, it had been the center of a thriving empire. The Normans had subjugated dozens of communities, extracting tribute from all, and had nearly come close to unchallengable hegemony in the Eastern Region. But then Sara Proctor had ruined that, inspiring their tributary towns in East Henley Valley to rebel. Even the Zhai, long an ally and not a tributary state, had done so, robbing the Normans of their excellent light cavalry. Their defeat in the valley that accursed year had snowballed and spelled the end to the Norman Empire. Now the Normans were a relatively small enclave, with no tributary allies remaining - only the towns fully Norman in culture.

The details of Norman collapse mattered little to Trajan. As far as the eight foot one inch warrior was concerned, they were providing him a chance to do what he'd been created to do; fight. Trajan was not an ordinary human, obviously. He had been born twenty-four years ago as a child in a sibko of the Smoke Jaguar Clan's warrior caste, a member of the prestigious House of Osis. But he had been robbed of his chance to prove himself in the customary Trials of Position; it had been over eleven years now since the day Lootera fell to the Alliance, and one of Trajan's sharpest memories of those dark days was the annihilation of the elegant smoke jaguar carving in the mountainside outside Lootera, the Clan genetic repository going with it.
Trajan had been one of the many unfortunate sibko children in that he was too old to be easily adoptable and too young to make his own way into the world at first. His sibko's home literally became an orphanage, and with a few exceptions none were ever adopted. Eventually it became clear that the civilian castes, those whom the warriors ruled and protected, had no gratitude for that and swiftly became enamored of the new order established in those worlds.
So as soon as he was of age, Trajan left, looking to fulfill the yearning in his heart to follow the path of the warrior. And after years of traveling to various places, he had come to Gilead, hearing of it's warrior societies in the Primitive Zone. And in East Port, he had been hired as a guard by a slave merchant who worked partly out of Ar. It was not quite what he was hoping for, but it might give him the chance to be a warrior once more.
So now Trajan was walking through the marketplaces of Ar, his ebony skin glistening with sweat in the warm spring sun. Lightly clad in a sleeveless cotton vest of white color and trousers specially woven for him, Trajan stood out mainly because of his skin color - there were few African-descended peoples in the Eastern Region - and because of his gargantuan size. As he walked alone one of the avenues, he garnered looks and stares, but ignored them.
Then one of the pairs of staring eyes caught his attention. They were almond-colored, sad and fearful. The feminine face they were attached to had the slightest hints of Oriental ancestry, though the skin tone and general facial structure was more Arabic. Trajan saw the mane of black hair that went down the girl's back and walked up; she was scrunched into a sitting position in the three foot by three foot by four foot cage of pig iron, with a coarse fur mat beneath her for comfort. She was attractive by most criteria Trajan knew, save of course to him, as Elementals were rarely attracted to anyone save other Elementals. Her left thigh was branded, as was tradition among these people, and the collar on her neck had a tag attached to it showing her cost, which seemed low from what Trajan knew of the prices for girls of that age and appearance.
A portly man in foul-smelling clothing came up. "Real beauty, eh? She's on special price, too!"
"What is her name?" Trajan kept looking at the girl, though he was aware enough to know that the portly man had two taller, younger, and stronger men with him. Sensing their presence, she whimpered a little and curled her legs up,
"Oh, uh, we don't know what she was born as, but we've taken to callin' her Cuntia."
Trajan turned to them and looked down. He had a two foot height advantage on the tallest of the men, and the portly trader was nearly three feet shorter. "What kind of name is that?"
An evil sneer was his immediate answer. The two men with the trader began chuckling. "Well, isn't it obvious? Get her worked up and her cunt gets nice and juicy." At that point they began laughing, which made the girl sniffle.
Trajan did not react at first. He was disgusted, yes, but hardly about to attack them over it. "If she is so enjoyable, why are you selling her at such a cheap price?"
"Because she's stupid. Never talks, doesn't seem to understand a damned word you say! I've got other kayira for pleasure and work, this one I can do without. I just want to be rid of her and get some money back out of the deal."
Trajan nodded. He reached into a small bag and pulled out an object. "This is a strip of gold-pressed latinum. It is a recognized currency in East Port and worth about fifty Alliance dollars. Will this suffice?"
"Ha, gold-pressed latinum. Never seen it before, but I've heard of it. Used by those weird aliens from one of the other universes, the ones who get hard when their ears are rubbed. Fahrangi or somethin' like that. Had a friend tell me that they thought we were too good to our females 'cause the free women wear clothes! Hmm...." The trader took the strip of GPL, looked to "Cuntia", then back to the strip. "Hell, she's your problem now!"
A few minues later, the girl was out of the cage and put into a simple poncho-like garment. She whimpered passively as her hands were bound behind her back and a rope was slipped into the slot on her collar for a leash. Trajan was handed the other end and a small receipt of sale. He nodded to the trader and walked away.

Trajan was bunked in the summer home of Wolfgang Xuison, his new employer. A small group of rooms - mainly a bedroom, pantry, and washroom, as well as a "fur room" - were his to use. Upon going through the door from the main hall of the home to his rooms, Trajan began to untie his new acquisition. "This is your home now," Trajan said. "And your name is... Juliana."
The girl - now Juliana - nodded passively. When she had been completely untied and the rope leash was removed from her collar, she reacted by pulling the garment over her head. She looked to the side, noticed the unfurnished fur room and the black fur rug in it's center, and walked into the room. Trajan, a little irritated that he'd gotten no response at all, followed her and watched as she laid back onto the fur rug and spread her legs apart in front of him, a forlorn expression of expectation on her face. A scowl came to Trajan's face as he walked up and looked down. "I did not bring you here for that. You are my charge now. All you are required to do is maintain my rooms by keeping them clean, and to prepare my meals. Do these things, and I will allow you whatever you wish."
Juliana whimpered and her face contorted as she began to weep. She went to the corner of the room and curled up into a fetal position. Trajan was ready to lose his temper. "Dammit, girl, I will go get my employer's lash and flog you like you've never been flogged before! Now pay attention to...." He stopped as he looked down for the first time at her bare back, her long hair now draped over her chest. Clearly the flogging threat wasn't going to work; her back was criss-crossed by a hideous network of scars from prior floggings. Trajan backed away now with his anger having been deflated. He got onto his knees, though it only reduced him to being a little taller than she'd be standing up, and reached down to touch her face and wipe a tear from her eye. "Juliana," he said firmly, gaining her attention. "Can you understand me?"
Sobbing, the girl nodded. Clearly she wasn't deaf, though Trajan couldn't rule out muteness.
"I will not hurt you unless I have to. The way this place works, I am the master and you are the slave, and the Normans will require me to act in that fashion. Now, I am not going to force myself into you like other men. I will never use this room. All I want from you is to keep my living quarters cleaned and tidy. Can you do this?"
Slowly, apprehensively, Juliana nodded once more.
"Then we understand each other. Do as I ask, and I will take care of you." Trajan stood to his full height. "There is food in the small pantry. You may have the container of stew and some water. I will arrange for some clothes for you to wear."
Slowly, still very apprehensively, Juliana got to her feet and scampered out of the room. Trajan looked to the fur rug on the floor and decided he didn't want it here anymore, not considering what . He would return it to Xueson as soon as he could and use this room for something else, like training.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2005-10-21 12:05am

East Port, Gilead
2 October

As she usually did, Jhayka ate in silence. As a priestess, Lashila ate with her; but they did not speak. The commander of her mercenary platoon also joined them, and likewise was silent. She was a practical, hard-bitten woman, an exile from Devenshire, and if the aliens were content in silence, she was to. Her job was to provide an escort—or whatever the hell else Jhayka asked of her—and she was not bothered by it. The elf was a lunatic, of course, but there were far more dangerous lunatics to be stuck around.

After the quiet bonhomie of her repast—Jhayka was perfectly capable of being the gracious and vivacious host, but in her private meals she was always quiet, seeing eating food as distinct from the conversation and engagement of a proper hosted occasion—Jhayka stretched her long, splindly limbs out and smiled. “Adept Lashila, you must come with me as usual to provide us with warning of anything untoward.” A glance to the mercenary captain. “Captain Arshon, rotate in another squad for the guard, please. I don't like having any less than sixteen armed men at my back when dealing with these people, as you well know.”

“It's a wise precaution, Your Highness, so I'm not going to deny it to you.”

“Then we should be preparing to good.”

“Certainly, Your Highness,” Lashila smiled. “As we are?”

“We are dressed formally. I see no problem with that.” She glanced over to see Captain Arshon ordering up one of the squads to report in. “Make sure the perimeter is kept well,” she added, perhaps a bit inanely, and pushed herself up, and then headed out with Lashila out of the hotel's dining room, ignoring the staff which moved to take away the plates, though tossing a jaunty salute to her majordomo before passing out of sight.

Their party made its way in five cars to the site of the auction. Jhayka and Lashila rode in the middle with two cars with four guards each in front and back. East Port was not large and it did not take them long to reach their destination. As they got out, Altonas was waiting for them with two guards. He twisted his face wryly at the blatant power of Jhayka's full convoy.

“Greetings, Your Highness. This way, please.” He led them inside, the two sets of guards uncomfortably eyeing each other.

Jhayka noted that the Norman guards were carrying kalashnikova. “A typical weapon, these days, now that you have abandoned your traditionalist ways in war as expediency?”

Altonas grimaced. “They've always been common here where security is needed.” A glance to Jhayka's mercs was then given, and as if to demonstrate his advanced knowledge: “They're carrying railguns, aren't they?”

“Yes, Taloran Imperial Army REQ-49B's,” Jhayka answered after a moment, more intent on her surroundings and only taking casual note of the question. They were led into a very large auditorium with stadium-style seating packed with men, for the most part; the few women were servants and slaves and attendants who were probably one of those two. The armoured guards of Jhayka's were of intederminate sex in their armour; Jhayka and Lashila stood out, but scarcely enough to attract catcalls, and Altonas settled down in a VIP booth near the front with them as the guards fanned out; he'd arranged for their presence already.

The slaves were brought forward. They were a myriad of every human body type, though to Jhayka they mostly looked the same, and all, of course, much to short and lumpen in their curvaceousness. Altonas explained in a bit of glee as they continued to be shown, and a trader from Ar nearby him bid on several of the slaves.

“We have our own market, along with a few of the other peoples who respect an appropriate patrilineal tradition to human society. It's officially illegal, of course, but thankfully the government restrictions have largely lapsed in the past decade. They were real bad at first after the Proctor incident—but contrary to our conversation last night I do have hope that our culture will survive,” if we fight for it, he thought, for he knew things about the political situation here that it would be dangerous to tell a foreigner about.

Jhayka nodded. “You are taking measures in that direction, to be sure. How long does it take the girls to adapt?” She queried, gazing on impassively, almost slightly bored—though in truth it was indeed almost exactly like rostok auctions she had attended often enough before. The people—it was hard to avoid thinking of them as animals in this context—were led out, paraded around, forced to strip for inspection (already wearing only a loincloth, which was flashed in a sensual way), hands lightly bound, though the handlers made sure this was not an issue, either to their exhibition or to the security of the whole event. The bidding was raccuous and rapid, and the women were quickly hauled off.

Some screamed, some cried, some were silent; some seemed apathetic in the grip of drugs and liquor. Some were blinded to their fate and still seemed willing. “How long does it take you to break the most resistance?” Jhayka asked casually, then.

“Six months at most,” Altonas answered confidently. “There are a few who don't break, I grant, but they are statistically a very small percentage—three or four percent. There are genetic abberrations in any population, of course, so we must acknowledge that it makes since that a small number of females have such masculine mental traits as to make them resistance to our practices, which have been time-honed against the mind of the human female.”

“That sounds reasonable.” A moment later: “Are you going to bid, yourself, this night, Mr. Altonas?”

“Perhaps for a weak-willed wench who will be enjoyable on the journey back to Ar. But later.” Altonas clearly wasn't really comfortable enough yet for small talk. “You're taking your own train, yes?”

“The Railway company approved my operating rights for it, yes,” Jhayka answered, “And we've been assigned a signal control code.”

“Just remember that beyond railway property, our own law does apply in Ar. You should be modestly attired as a freewoman.”

“That's not a problem, of course,” Jhayka answered. In more ways than one. But she wasn't really worried; the Normans were not complete idiots, and she had experience with these sorts of matters.

“Anything to drink for either of you?”

“No,” Jhayka answered automatically; it only occurred to her then to glance to Lashila. The girl clearly wasn't taking it as well as she was in her long experience with the bizarre and savage of alien cultures. She was even more pale than normal for a Taloran, and had the faint blue flush of someone sick as she looked on hesitantly to the auction block, unable to take her eyes off of it.

Oh, of course, Jhayka realized after a moment--Psychic overload from the feelings of terror and fear in the girls--surely the girls, their emotions now would be far more intense and complex than the simple primitive lust of the bidders. That meant Lashila was quite sensitive indeed, which was useful to know, but not very helpful at this moment...

...Then, just as Jhayka leaned in to speak soothingly to her in the lower Intuit dialect to which Lashila had been raised, and Jhayka knew, the feelings vanished, replaced with a savage cold fury and delight in her gaze as she focused in on a single person.

Jhayka followed her gaze and caught the eye of one of the girls on presentation; a fine, dark-skinned thing of surprising height, close to two meters as a matter of fact, indeed, an appropriate height for a Taloran female; not yet stripped and simply having her garments manipulated in a tease, she seemed cool and confident and composed...

Jhayka leaned back and folded her hands confidantly, eyes on the woman, watching. Her garments were flung off as part of the show; but she did seem more than amused, yet clearly did not have the demeanor of a slut. That settled it, and Jhayka smirked and waited. She didn't have long to wait: It was already happening, to be sure, and Jhayka made no motion to interfere, instead watching with the dispassionate gaze of a cynic to the fight. Their gazes met for a moment, and then abruptly the woman's attention turned, her bonds slipped loose from some unseen mechanism, and she moved with an artful graze to seize one of the stun guns..
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Post by Steve » 2005-10-21 12:06am

The crowd of buyers watched as another slave was brought out to be auctioned. She was strong and beautiful, clad only in a loincloth as was custom, with prominent firm-looking breasts, a tanned dark complexion that looked Mediterrenean or mestizo, a pleasant face, and striking green eyes. Her hands were bound behind her back, and after she'd been brought to the front of the raised auction stage a rope was removed from around her neck.

The woman's name was Dani, as she was known to her friends. She was forty-three years old, though she looked not a day over twenty to someone from a pre-gene enhancement society. Long experience with the martial arts and with her personal occupation had kept her body fit, though it had not saved her from being abducted and brought to the slave market.

Upon coming up to the front, her loincloth was pulled away, revealing the delta-shaped area of black hair between her legs. Briefly she was forced by her captors to turn and show her back and posterior to the crowd, and despite her situation Dani actually smirked with amusement at that. After being rotated again to face the crowd, Dani went back to work. Her hand had been gripping the rope she'd been bound with after arriving in East Port not out of nervousness, but to cover where she'd cut the rope down to it's final strands while in her cell. Cupped securely in her hands was a small piece of loose masonry from her cell, sharp enough to cut through rope with some effort. Dani resumed work on sawing through the strands again, not betraying any kind of emotion as members of the crowd bid on her. She looked around the crowd, quite certain she didn't want to be a slave to any of the men present.

But as her eyes moved over the crowd, she noticed in one corner something strange for Gilead: non-humans. They were pale-skinned and sharp-eared - more than sharp-eared, their ears were very long and very obvious; with these features, Dani's mental reaction was "Elves", if nothing like the conceived Elves of usual fantasy. Dani's eyes focused on one of them, smartly dressed, and tall. For a few moments she couldn't tell if it was a man or woman, until she noticed the slightest indication of breasts. The alien woman had pink hair, very long, and an aristocrat's face. Her gray eyes bulged a bit out of their sockets. They looked cold and perhaps a bit sad.

Stopping to stare at the alien woman for that moment nearly cost Dani her chance. She was declared sold, to a trader from Ar. She would soon be in danger of having a collar and chain on her neck, removing what might be the final chance to escape. Her attention mentally diverted back to her task, she felt the final strands of rope split. She didn't move her arms immediately, instead checking the men on each side of her. On her right the man was looking between her and the crowd, almost seeming bored. The man on her left was much the same, but even better, she could see his stun gun in it's holster on his right hip, and it was unsecured.

Within a moment Dani's left hand had snatched the gun. As the crowd began to react Dani's finger tensed on the trigger and a bolt of electricity shot out, enveloping the guard and causing him to fall over. Her right foot shot up a moment later in anticipation of the other guard's move. The bottom of her heel smashed his nose in with a sickening crack, dropping him immediately with blood rushing from his broken nose. Dani grimaced for a moment from the pain in her heel, but she'd clearly gotten the better of the impact.

Only now did members of the crowd react, mostly in racing up to try and catch Dani first so that they could claim her or at least get some kind of reward. Dani took off for the door turning back long enough to fire several shots on a wide arc setting that shocked several pursuers at a time, causing the entire mob to slow down.

The building she was in seemed to be a warehouse of some kind, with the main section devoted to the auction block and buyers' pit. She was in back rooms now, the crowd behind her by some distance. She was free now, for the moment; but what next? A naked woman with severed ropes around her wrists would be pretty damned noticable in the open.

Running up to a corridor, Dani turned and fired at the head of the pack pursuing her - there must have been at least a dozen. Another wide arc shot removed about four, causing the ones behind them to slow just a bit With that done, she slipped into the next hall.
A wicked idea occurred to her now. She tried to remember what she'd seen of the layout of the place, and with some guess work.... Running along, Dani spotted what she'd originally hoped to see; an exit door in the rear at a loading dock. One that was likely locked. She stepped up to it, fired a shot at the door with her weapon to melt the lock, and kicked it open, but immediately afterward she ducked behind a pile of boxes. The men saw the opened door and kept on going, and after she felt they had all gone she stepped out past the boxes and backtracked, re-stunning a couple of the earlier pursuers who hadn't gotten back up yet.

When she arrived at the stage once more, the place had mostly emptied. Those who hadn't chased her had gone to secure the other slaves to make sure that this wasn't a mass escape attempt. All that was left, she was amused to see, were the aliens, a Human male sitting with them, and a pair of Human males near the front door. When she fired at them, the stun gun didn't work. Frowning, Dani decided it's power battery must've worn out from all of the wide-arc discharges. She tossed it to the side and caught the first man coming at her with a roundhouse kick that hurt the hell out of her ankle, which had impacted with the man's jaw. He wheeled about and collapsed. Dani caught the other man's fist as he went to punch her, holding his wrist with one hand while the other formed a fist and slammed into his stomach. He doubled over and Dani punched him again before smashing his forehead with one of her knees. The first man had gotten back to his feet now and again came for her, this time intending to subdue her with a tackle using his clearly-superior body mass. Dani's foot shot up again and nearly crushed his windpipe. She didn't leave him at that, grabbing him and immediately thrusting a knee between his legs. A sharp wheeze came from his throat as the Norman collapsed in front of her. She reached down and picked up the man's gun, this one being a sidearm that looked like a Beretta C60 2750 (Local Time) model, and as an afterthought, scooped up a couple of bags of what she assumed to be coins. Dani looked up to see the aliens standing and watching her, the Human with them having a savage scowl on his face. Dani gave them all a sexy wink and turned around, making sure to shake her hips as she went out the front door.

From there, it was a quick dash from alley to alley, avoiding the main streets, gun at the ready. The next road over she slipped into a waiting cab. She dangled the bag beside the driver and said, simply, "Take me to the city's railyard." Since the bag looked big enough and full enough, the driver figured he'd get his fare plus some extra, and took off quickly, his old gasoline-burning engine roaring much louder than any vehicle Dani had ridden in before.

Once at the railyard, she'd find a train to slip aboard, and from there, hopefully make it either to some civilization or at least to somewhere other than here. What she would do then, she wasn't sure, but she had to do something.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2005-10-21 12:08am

Jhayka approved of the fight thoroughly; it had been between a collection of lazy, inexperienced guards and a real professional, with excellent melee combat training, but the odds had been evened by the sheer numbers against the woman so that her escape was still a thing of absolute beauty. Her return, though, had been a further surprise—though Lashila was probably aware of it first, but she was rather more frightened than Jhayka. As an adept she had not seen military service beyond her brief stint in the junior cadets, after all, and so the execution where she had rolled the drum had been her closest experience with death, and that highly ritualized. Jhayka had lain a hand draped over her shoulders in a motherly sort of way, and listened as Altonas tried to get control of the situation via radio, contending with a half-dozen other men of Ar who all asserted they had the same authority. Norman command and control structure was still a complete hash of primitivism, it seemed, from Jhayka's standpoint as a retired Army officer.

Then the surprise had happened. The woman had reappeared in the room, armed, of course, and there were only two guards to confront her; she spared a moment to look at Jhayka's guards, but they made no threatening gestures, nor had even moved from their positions, and Jhayka slumped back a bit and made a hold signal to them casually. This was not their fight. For the two remaining Norman guards, well, it was surely their's; they moved to it with a surprising willingness, considering the havoc that the entirely nude escapee had already wrought.

The stun gun might have made it short, but there was a misfire, and so they set to close-quarters, where it might seem that the woman, even so tall and strong, would be at disadvantage; but she was clearly properly trained and the guards were not. Jhayka could not help but watch the close combat with unabashed admiration at the barbarian physique of the woman, mastering two men hand-to-hand in an artistic and almost arrogant way. It was a real show of combat prowess, and Jhayka wondered which of the local cultures from whence she came; perhaps an amazon, mused through her mind.

But then she saw that Altonas, seething in rage, was rising to make a move to fight. In an fit of her admiration for the barbarian warrioress, Jhayka reached out and put a hand upon his shoulder, murmuring almost gently: “Remember, three or four percent. She's not worth the bruises.”

Altonas brushed her hand aside irately, but sat back down. The fight was finished, anyway, and the woman had escaped, leaving them for the moment alone. Altonas had to, however, take several breaths to get back under control. After he had mastered himself, he at last commented: “I should choose my own battles, Taloran,” with an almost-growl.

“Was my point invalid?”

A long silence. “No. Very well. You have no offended me; you're right, she's one of the unnatural ones who is a lost cause.”

“I suspected as much,” Jhayka politely lied again. “Well, an entertaining night, and enough culture into it, at that,” certainly tales of the sentient auction block, laid out like one for rostok, would sell well at home, “I shall be preparing to leave for Ar with my train, then. You will leave tomorrow, and arrive ahead of me, I understand?”

“Yes. I've already made some extensive slave purchases which need to be delivered quickly.”

“Of course, then. We shall probably leave the day after.” Jhayka rose, and helped Lashila up, closing the conversation as if it were merely the end of a day's work—which for her it was. “Good eve, Mister Altonas.”
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Post by Steve » 2005-10-21 06:30am

Dani found a smaller group of railcars to hide under after arriving at the railyard. The gravel and wood of the track was hardly comfortable when pressed against her bare skin, but she had little choice in the matter. She had to be here, out of the way.

Soon her worst problem was that Dani was starting to fall asleep. It would be the first time she'd slept since waking up in a slave hold on a ship, wrists locked in restraints above her head and ankles locked into the restraints built into the floor. Falling asleep now would be dangerous, so Dani resisted the impulse with every bit of willpower. She focused her attention on her gun, making sure it was loaded and ready, and then tried to think of what to do now. She wasn't just out to escape, after all. She had a friend whom she needed to find. Fay had gone missing after they'd gone their seperate ways a few nights ago. Looking for her had led to Dani's abduction and enslavement.

Thinking of Fay made Dani think of her attraction to Fay. Dani was bisexual in orientation, but when it came down to it, she preferred her companions to be women. "Men for sex, women for romance" was her usual answer to questions about her lifestyle. Some of it was increased maturity with age - Dani used to be more interested in sex than companionship - while some of it was simply being more comfortable with other women than men, a fact that further explained her willingness to be creative with her female lovers but not her male partners. And there were quite a number of things Dani wouldn't mind doing to Fay's body, every bit the body of an Arab desert beauty (even if Fay had never even lived in a desert). For the briefest of moments, the erotic possibilities came to mind, but they quickly deflated from the simple fact that Fay wasn't interested in other women.

Thinking of sex worked for the moment. Dani's body started to become aroused and her brain shifted away from the desired sleep. Of course, she couldn't maintain this, so Dani started balancing her thoughts out with other considerations; namely, what she was going to do now. She would hide under this carriage and follow the train where it went, gambling that it would take her somewhere civilized. It was a hard gamble, honestly, and Dani pessimisticly decided that the greater odds were that she would be captured somewhere. And returned to slavery. And raped. Repeatedly. I'm so absolutely fucked, figurately and, sooner or later, literally.

Thoughts of being raped filled Dani with dread, even if it was likely fate. She reached a hand over and touched the jet black metal of the gun she'd taken. It was a good weapon, with excellent stopping power. The locals chose their guns well. She'd keep the last bullet for herself.
Yes, Dani. Be the coward and kill yourself. Fay probably won't get that chance. It wouldn't be fair, would it? She gets to die and be spared, Fay gets to get raped and beaten for the rest of her life. Yes Dani, you would be such a loyal friend to leave Fay alone to that fate. Of course, she didn't want it either, and Dani's heart fluttered with the thought of those ugly, smelly, hairy men tying her down and forcing themselves on her.

Then the steel discipline of her mind and training kicked in and Dani stopped thinking about that. She still had the hope of getting away, and so long as she was free, Fay might be freed one day too. She had to do everything in her power to stay free. Which meant staying awake. So she had to think.
But what to think on? She had come up with as good a plan as she could manage given what she had to work with. No use dwelling much on that, since it would simply frustrate her with how little she could do. And she couldn't dare think about Fay, because she'd think about what Fay could be going through, and her imagination could get pretty dark. Even worse on top of that, she would easily see those things being done to her upon capture, and so she'd think about getting captured, and... well, Dani didn't want to continue that line of though, since it might end up with her eating a bullet just to put an end to it all.

So something to think about was needed. Something not involved with why she was there and what she was going to do. And it couldn't be boring. Ah! Relationships. That would work! Dani's attitude used to be "Bah, who needs 'em?". Dani was the smart independent woman who had no intention of childbearing anytime soon; she didn't need a meaningful "personal" relationship. She just needed sex when she was horny.
Then some years ago, on a lark, she had taken in a "lover", who was confused as hell after a lifetime of heterosexuality had given way to her long-time friendship with another, third woman becoming sexual. There had been special circumstances to that, which Dani knew but never dwelled upon just as her lover hadn't, but even when the woman left...
Dani closed her eyes and simply thought on it a minute. Eyes as green and passionate as her's, a strong body with nice curves where it mattered, and that glorious, long, rich red hair. Red as fire, and so undeniably sexy that it was the second thing Dani remembered noticing about the woman.... after she'd checked out the redhead's tight ass, of course.
But that was all gone. Her lover's old flame returned to her and the two reunited. Dani had begun to love the redhead herself then and had lost that while, at the same time, seeing an example of just what she was losing. Dani's heart started aching and some tears came to her eyes. After being in a relationship for that long, the first of that kind for her, and losing it had left her lonely and all too aware of just how empty her life had really been before it. She stopped hanging out at the clubs after that; no more bar pickups and one night stands, at least not until just recently when she'd let Fay talk her into going to a club, and it was clear to see how that went.

While she was sobbing to herself, Dani fell asleep. It was an extremely dangerous thing to do, but she was so exhausted and emotionally wrecked that her will collapsed for the moment. She dozed off for an indeterminate amount of time, though she saw it was daylight when she awoke. After being surprised for a moment - she had half-expected to awake to find herself chained up again - Dani returned to a state of vigilance, ignoring hunger and thirst as she kept a careful eye out for searchers. At times people walked to either side of the cars, but nobody looked below them, and if they had Dani had her hands ready to grip the bottom of the carriage to pull herself up and hopefully avoid detection.

But as the day progressed, boredom claimed Dani's mind. It wondered from point to point as she thought of everything; her childhood, her young adult years, her personal work. She spent a few hours doing increasingly complex math problems in her mind just to keep it active. She tried to think if she'd heard of the aliens she'd seen at the auction, and for a brief time she thought about that aristocratic alien woman watching her so intently with those bulging, cold, sad gray eyes. Then she started daydreaming about the fame she might get over this whole mess, and then about life in general...

The day pressed on and Dani's mind became increasingly desperate for activity. The math made her head hurt now and her stomach was grumbling even louder. Her throat was scratchy from thirst. Dani sighed and put her hands over her belly, feeling the cold metal of the Beretta against her abs.

Her lover. Yes, that'd been a fun relationship, on more than one level. For as much it'd taught Dani about the joys of a lasting companion, it had still been a very sexual relationship, and Dani had provided most of the spice in it. Another sigh lifted Dani's chest and her mind fixed on those sensual memories. She could vividly remember every pleasing sensation, every labored breath and playful giggle.

Night came and everything was dark for a short time. Dani saw flashes of light and grabbed onto the carriage, closing her legs tight over the gun so that she would still have access to it. She wrapped her legs over thick lines in the carriage's underbelly while her hands gripped the same further up. The lights passed under the carriage several times, but there was nothing else.

Sighing, Dani lowered herself back to the hard earth. Her back and ass hurt from the gravel she was laying on. She was sweaty, she stank, her muscles were tense, and she was damned hungry and thirsty. Undoubtedly legions of men were looking for her right now with the sole intent of putting her in chains and raping her into submission, plus her friend, of course, was still missing. All Dani had going for her at the moment was the fact that she had a gun and a clip of ammo.

Of course, that assumes I don't simply go mad before these people actually leave with their fucking train! Well, off to math problems again!
I hope to fuckin' God (oops, sorry, forgot my Ten Commandments!) that these people get their train moving before I simply lose my God damned fucking mind!

Yes, math problems. Definitely math.

So she counted numbers and continued to wait.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2005-10-21 08:03pm

Ar, Eastern Region
Gilead, Gilean Confederacy
Universe Designate CON-5
15 November 2162 AST
18 September 2841 CON-5ST

Trajan returned to his room after a day of accompanying Xueson to meetings with various Norman leaders. The Normans reminded Trajan, in a way, of what he knew about the Clans as a whole, in that they were a disunited group that had spent nearly forty years indulging in internecine squabbles between families and communities; a consequence of the fall of their empire. But that fighting had subsided. Xueson himself wouldn't say why. Trajan didn't quite know either, but it was none of his concern.
For the first time since arriving, however, Trajan was met by an alien. An entourage of green-skinned men had been meeting with one of the Norman family leaders, Yorik Kalveos. The name Trajan heard given for them was "Orion". They were from the ST-3 universe, fugitives who's warrior culture, like his own, was extinguished by the accursed Alliance. Their leader had apparently found a new niche as a trader here on Gilead. He offered Yorik a gift of one of two women; a blonde-haired woman who looked human save for the spots on her body, and a dark-haired Orion woman. Yorik had chosen the Orion girl and the meeting had concluded with a business deal for merchandise - merchandise that Trajan wasn't sure to be mere slaves. But it was none of his business anyway.
He returned to find Juliana laying on the cot he had brought in for her, wearing a modest sleeveless blouse of white cotton and a knee-length skirt of the same. He was actually a little pleased to see that the leather-bound book in her hands was his copy of The Remembrance. Given to him and the others in their sibko when they were children, Trajan had dutifully hidden it after the Alliance conquered Huntress and destroyed the legacy of the Smoke Jaguars. Many had, fearing that the enemy would seize them as part of their declared intention to annihilate Clan culture. Thus memory of their Clan's history would continue beyond it's death.
Juliana looked up at him and then looked back at the book, then back to him to indicate something she wanted him to see. Trajan knelt down beside the bed and looked at the page she was holding open. It was at the beginning of the book, an edition that the Loremaster had chosen to open with a quote from Franklin Osis;

"The role of the warrior is to be more than the highest of castes. It is to protect the weak, defend the innocent, to be more than just a mere soldier as in ages past. No, a warrior is more than the genetics that have formed him or her. They are to be the embodiment of my vision, a new direction for our species."

Juliana pointed to the word "warrior" and then put her index finger on Trajan's chest. "Yes," was his reply. Or so I wish to be, he added to himself. "The man who wrote those words was my ancestor. He was the founder of my Clan."
Juliana nodded and pointed a finger at herself. "If we were in a Clan society, you would be in the laborer caste," Trajan said. "Your labors would be for the good of the Clan, and it would be my place to protect and guide you."
It was at that moment that Trajan had an uncomfortable feeling. Were the laborers in the Clans that much different from slaves here? They could not be bought and sold, but the land they lived on could be bartered away, and almost all laborers in his Clan were tied to the places they lived in for their entire lives. They had no voice in the decisions of the Clans yet were required to do all the labor ordered by those who did have that voice, and despite the importance of their work to the very function of society, they were considered the lowest caste.
Juliana, for her part, nodded. Then, much to Trajan's surprise, a girlish sweet grin came to her lovely face. She reached out and embraced him around the neck, her arms hanging over his neck because she could never wrap them around his massive shoulders. After a moment of awkwardness, Trajan carefully returned the embrace.
You have never been protected by anyone before, have you? No, you have been treated worse than even an animal would receive. And to think I thought I could find the path of the warrior amongst these savages!
After a few moments of thinking like that though, Trajan looked at Juliana's eyes and realized he was wrong. He had found the path of the warrior here, in Juliana, an innocent girl who needed someone who would protect her from the evils of the world. By taking up that task of becoming her protector, Trajan would be a warrior as he had meant to be, in the grandest tradition of his forebearers.
It was too late for him to walk out on Xueson now, but Trajan swore to himself at that moment that he would not remain here. He would take Juliana somewhere else, where he could protect her... and she could finally be happy.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2005-10-22 02:19am

Royal Palace, Kalunda
Gilead, Gilean Confederacy
Universe Designate CON-5

Tessa awoke for the day after sleeping in far longer than she'd wanted. There'd been an official welcoming party for her that had, in usual Kalundan fashion, been enjoyable but positively scandalous. The "slaves" had looked sullen and depressed, having been put to work on menial tasks instead of getting the sex they thought would come with the position, while food and drink had been joined with dancing and, perhaps most socially unacceptable back home, an adulthood ceremony for a daughter of one of Julio's leading citizens being initiated into the ranks of the high citizenry. Kalundan initiations were the same ceremonies as once used on Kalundan women who came of age, though they'd gotten rid of the specific courtyard for that work and improvised using a volleyball pole, rope, and handcuffs. The burning of incense laced with aphrodisiac came near the end of the ceremony, and only Julio and Tessa had not partaken, retiring at that stage of the ceremony before the scents took effect on them.

The girl tending Tessa was not one of the "slaves" but a palace servant, a young teenager named Ana. Ana was finishing Tessa's breakfast when she strolled out of her room, wearing a silk nightgown she'd found in the closet that was uncharacteristically modest for the bon vivant Kalundans. The breakfast was a good modern meal, eggs with sausage and a side of English muffins, compared to the fare that Kalunda used to have.
After eating, Tessa put on a modest silk blouse and calf-length dress and left to walk the halls. She still had to discuss details with Julio on Kalundan support for the coup d'etat being planned. The Royal Crimson Guard, as well as the Kalundan militia, were now modern-trained forces in many aspects and could prove valuable if the military didn't give the desired support.

It was to the Guard barracks that Tessa went, just to see their morning drill. She walked out into the blue sunlight and walked along the outer courtyard until she arrived at the Guard barracks on the palace grand, in which the elite Kings' Battalion was stationed. According to Amber, there were four regiments of the Crimson Guard - Tessa had been introduced earlier to the lead company of the 2nd Crimson Regiment, which she was ceremonial Colonel-in-Chief of - plus the Kings' Battalion that protected the Palace under Sarina's command. This was on top of the city's militia, of course, and altogether about 15,000 people out of 250,000 living in Kalunda and it's environs were in uniform, not counting the Training Battalions that nineteen year old males spent a year in to prepare them for possible militia service.
The women of the Crimson Guard weren't in their ceremonial armor and silk with pistols, swords and halberds. Their BDUs were of the same type used by the Gilean Army and their rifles were British Colling-Kents. Sarina was with them, wearing the same, and leading them in marches about the barracks. Tessa nodded to her with approval when Sarina looked at her; this befit Tessa's sense of military discipline.

Tessa realized she wasn't alone in watching the women in their marches. She saw a hooded figure, large with dark-skinned hands, observing as well. She walked over to him. "I haven't seen you here before."
The figure's hands went up and removed the hood. Tessa's eyes widened a bit at seeing it was an alien, here in Kalunda of all places! He had sharpened white teeth, a broad nose, dark eyes, and his primary alien feature was the ridges on his forehead. "I just arrived this morning," he said in decent English, with a rumbling, jovial voice. "Who are you?"
"Tessa Stuart."
A smile came to the man's face. "Ah, the Tessa Stuart. It is an honor to meet a Hero of the Battle for East Henley. I am Ro'takh son of Kregoh, of the House of Lorakh. I have come from the monasteries Boreth to study and write on this planet's warrior cultures."
"A very ambitious project."
"It is. Some of this world's primitivist societies are of interest to my order on Boreth as well as myself."
"Well then, I won't keep you from your work. Have a good day, Ro'takh."

Tessa walked away from the big alien and back toward the palace. She met Amber at the door. Amber, unlike her sister, was dressed casually, wearing a sports bra and shorts. "Going jogging?"
"Oh yes. I need to work some energy off after last night."
"Ah." Tessa shook her head sympathetically. "Didn't get what you were looking for, I suppose?"
"What makes you say that?" A mischievous twinkle appeared in Amber's eye. "Want to join me?"
"Later, I didn't come here to jog." Tessa began to go past before stopping. "What do you know about that big alien watching the Guards?"
"Just arrived on the northern train this morning. He's been traveling around the Primitive Zone, and we're the last stop on his trip. His race is called 'Klingon', I've heard. They're one of the races from that other universe the Alliance was fighting a war in."
"Ah. Well, I'll talk to you later, Amber."
"Later, Tessa." Amber turned and walked on, eventually breaking out into a jog. Tessa, for her part, resolved to relax until her scheduled private afternoon meeting with Julio.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2005-10-23 02:52am

East Port
4 October

"Everything's packed up, Your Highness, and the last eight mercs have reported in, giving us a fighting strength of ninety altogether," Captain Arshon reported. "I believe you've got your own combat engineers for the trains, that's right?"

"Yes, they're most of my fighting personnel I brought along, hired on retainer--I was an officer in the 156th Intuit Pioneers Brigade, you see," the reclusive noblewoman elaborated on her position after a moment.

Captain Arshon was genuinely interested about her then. The Princess had never stated much about her military service before, which wasn't surprising, nor had she asked much about Arshon's, which was polite but rather unusual from a customer. So she braved a question, as the two of them stood in the lobby of the hotel, the manager somewhat relieved to have them go no matter how much they'd been paying, and standing off in the distance, slightly, waiting for the final bit of the transaction.

"What was your rank and position, if I may, Your Highness?"

"Why, I was the brigade commander," Jhayka replied, and the harsh noble set of her face softened slightly. "I stayed in longer than I thought I would be at first, but in the end... Other things distracted me, and it hasn't seemed right to go back."

"There's nothing for me to go back," Captain Arshon replied after a moment. "Maybe that's why I'm so willing to sign up for this mission. Even the armoured train sounds crazy.."

"The repair and anti-mine flats should be ready now, there was a delay in getting them, you know. That guarantees that we won't have all that much trouble, since we've got repair servo-bots to deal with any such situation and I've had my engineers armour plating them."

"Why does it seem I'm not the most suspicious one here?"

A wane look from Jhayka: "Well, I wouldn't have been so hasty in forming this study mission if I didn't think that the primitive cultures were on the verge of extinction. Political events in Gilead are not positive at all right now. You may, Captain Arshon, have signed up for service in the middle of what will be a civil war."

The Devenshirite just shrugged. "I'm used to earning my pay, it's fairly rare when I end up managing not to."

Jhayka chuckled low and gestured with a long and splindly arm. "That's the spirit, hey?"

Jhayka was dressed in an olive-green greatcoat hanging down to her ankles and had on a black jumpsuit under it--which was, coincidentally, impervious to chemical weaponry, and she thus always wore one in combat as a matter of habit. The combination served effectively as her uniform; her hair tied into a bun she wore heavy artillery boots as well and seemed to strike a discordant picture between military and simply some rebel human teenager. Certainly her looks were to youthful for her great age, which had to be around a hundred human years at least. A sword was in the scabbard on her belt under the greatcoat and a heavy chemical pistol as well.

Ilavna Lashila came down. As at the meeting--the first--with Altonas, she was dressed in gaudy pantaloons and vest, with a brace of pistols on bandoliers crossing her chest, a look which made her seem more like a land pirate than an adept of the Farzian religion, but there were no strictures in Farzianism committing the clergy to pacifism, and as a rule they fought when the moral situation demanded it with far more ease than most other people. She bowed in a flourish to Jhayka which made the older woman smile brightly as her cobalt hair was tossed everywhere.

"Your Highness, all of your things have been secured on the last convoy to the marshalling yard which has just left. We are ready to leave whenever you are ready." A grin. "I checked everything myself to be sure, just out of habit."

"Thank you, Lashila, thank you," Jhayka replied, and then nodded to one of the servants still hanging about. He advanced and handed over an immensely heavy back to Jhayka, who took it to the owner of the hotel and poured it on his desk.

"All your expenses good Sir, and a hefty surety at that." Jhayka smiled broadly. "You will not have to be troubled by us and our mannerism again, I assure you."

"Latinum..." The hotel's proprietor looked almost in awe. "Better than the government's worthless paper by a long-shot, that's for sure, and there's a heavy weight of coin here."

"Twenty ounces," Jhayka replied in some amusement, confirming what he had suspected.

"Thank you for choosing us, then," he offered in a way to try and warm things.

But Jhayka didn't like unfamiliar informal people, and as the eccentric she was, simply replied with a secret smile: "The security, I assure you--the position was excellent."

And then she waved, and started out, Ilavna Lashila following and then Captain Arshon, along with the last squad of guards.

The trip to the marshalling yard took only fifteen minutes at most. The train sitting on the closest siding to them was...

...Impressive, in a starkly modernist way. The line was broad gauge, for the maximum hauling of cargo in the fairly flat primitive zone; seven feet, one-quarter inch between the heavy rails laid on their concrete supports on the main line.

The engines were stirling cycle/electric, of a common design developing more than 20,000h.p. which could run on any combustible fuel and several heat-release fuels as well, and produce independent power for extensive equipment on the train. They were huge, bulky things with a "veranda" running down each side of the otherwise fully enclosed body, which was double-ended. In total each one had four six-wheeled bogies. With only seven long double-decker passenger cars (more than stable due to the broad gauge) in the center there was more than enough power. The passenger cars had two six-wheeled bogies each.

One was a baggage car modified for the Rostok. The other six were also baggage cars, save one, containing crudely added accomadations, but cleared out with gun positions on the ends of the cars. The flat roofs were sandbagged to reinforce large durasteel slabs which had been wielded to form veritable ramparts, and crew-serviced weapons had been mounted on the roofs. The one passenger car had an extensive luxury suite onboard for Jhayka, though it also had some firing slits installed as well.

Now additional cars had just been coupled to the trains. Five cars in front of and in back of each engine, still a load which even one of the engines by itself could easily handle. The first four were unarmoured and carried track repairing equipment and spares; the last, a flatcar, had a crew-serviced weapon on it in a frame built up to allow end-on fire out of steel beams which were covered in durasteel armour. Shield generators were mounted inside the cars in free space which was available, and durasteel armour had been wielded on everywhere possible. Most of the guns had independent targeting computers allowing them to be operated without a crew, reducing manning requirements.

It was an international line. In practical matter the forces of any nation could thus use it after negotiating a contract with the managing company. Jhayka was not accredited the right to raise the Taloran banner over the train but she did substitute the banner of her own Principality, the Lesser Intuit, a gaudy thing of many symbols rife in Taloran history upon a lush green backing with a red pinstripe down the centre which hung on either side of the lead engine.

Jhayka stood beside Ilavna Lashila for a moment looking over the long, imposing bulk of the train. It had been painted a few days earlier in a "dazzle" paint-scheme designed to screw up visual targeting sensors in estimating range, particularly human eyes, and it frankly just hurt Jhayka's to look at, even if her eyesight was better than a human's (though perhaps that was what made it worse), so after a moment she gave a crisp nod and started forward. The last of the loading was being done, and two squads of sixteen each were deployed around the train to cover it before they left.

"So. An area the size of Grenya Colenta... Four hundred thousand kilometers of railroad track.. Free for us to operate across, through the territory of one hundred and fifteen culturally distinct polities and a fair number of splinter groups and wild zones as well. All of it effectively independent from Gilead, formalities aside."

Jhayka smiled toothily. "And most of the cultures artificial--and all of them, unlike a freshly discovered primitive planet, might well be fully armed. Fanatics, the lot."

"Like the sound of what you paid for, Your Highness?" Captain Arshon dared.

"I can't wait," Jhayka answered and strode the last distance to the side of the maddeningly painted train, then glanced to her gaudy Ilavna. "Coming?"

"There are so many heathens in those cultures.. Most deviate.." Ilavna was muttering to herself when she looked up. "Oh! My apologies, Your Highness. But there was something I felt, something I.."

She fell very silent, though she had looked a moment before like she was going to cry out. Then she nodded to Jhayka and covered the last distance up to the train, where Captain Arshon and the Princess stood; there she whispered so softly that even right next to her, with Taloran ears, Jhayka could scarcely make it out, and Arshon not at all.

"The woman who escaped from the auction is here."

"The barbarian, from the night before last?"

"No barbarian, with respect, Your Highness, but yes, I am sure of it. I.. Took quite the impression of her with the intensity of her emotion when she left. She's here. Hiding under the train."

Jhayka's ears flattened and then flicked up, and she looked, to another Taloran, rather bemused. "Well then, let's invite her onboard."

Easier said than done.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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Post by Steve » 2005-10-25 01:51am

The Duchess and I co-wrote this scene together. Enjoy.

East Port, Gilead

Dani's boredom had ended the second morning. She saw more footsteps and heard far more commotion than before, and given the sounds she believed some final modifications were being made to the train. Then, of course, came the loud sounds of cars being pulled up and added to the train. Just what is going on?
Gripping her Beretta close to her chest, Dani looked to either side to make sure nobody was inspecting the bottom of the train yet. A part of her wanted to consider; for all she knew the modifications would include a scanning system that would detect her presence. Maybe it would be better to sneak back into town....
At that point Dani heard voices speaking. She almost tried to turn and stopped herself, not wanting to give herself away. One voice spoke English with only a slight accent. The other two were accented and to Dani's ears, the accents were completely new and very clearly that of people who did not speak English as a first language.

"That may be dangerous, Your Highness," Captain Arshon interjected. "Also, we could have problems entering Ar."

"Don't worry about it," Jhayka flicked her ears upward. "The railroads are international, the authority of Ar does not and will not apply to a train operating on them. I am my own law here, within the limits of the contract with the railroad company--and I say that after her performance the night before last, she is worthy of my protection. Ilavna Lashila?"

“Your Highness?” The young Taloran inclined her head to Jhayka and smiled slightly. “I can talk to her if you wish. The risk to me would be very small—I can defend myself against a single person, even with a weapon.”

“I know. So I am asking you to do so that her life might be improved and spared as a deed to the Lord Justice.”
“I will not deny the validity of your words, of course,” Ilavna replied with a smile and then moved down the railcar. She stopped so close that Captain Arshon was quite nervous.

“Perhaps, Your Highness, you could step aboard?” She asked softly.


Ilavna crouched down under the train, her blue hair falling to drape around her as she held her hands out empty, and was met by the stare of a nude woman, the woman from the night before last—and a gun in her hands. “In the name of Farzbardor,” Ilavna said simply, “I am here in peace to offer you succor.”

Dani stared at the Taloran girl. Certainly one of the Elves from the auction, though not the one Dani had been looking at. She held her gun toward the girl but kept her finger on the guard. She looked young and sounded sincere enough, though Dani couldn't figure out how the hell they knew she was down here.
All of those guards from the auction are here too. If I make the wrong move they'll kill me.
"I want to know who you are," Dani finally said, watching the girl intently.

“My name is Ilavna Lashila, ma'am,” the Taloran's ears flexed downward as her eager eyes stared intently to meet the human woman's. “And I am the confessor of Her Highness Jhayka itl dhin Intuit. I am an Adept of the order of Yulain and I am a Farzian priestess; we are Talorans, loyal to the Three Sisters, and my Lady is a grand feudal dame in her own right with the power to levy troops. We belong to no faction here and we have no interests here, save to record what we see; come out, and we shall provide you succor and shelter in international territory where the Normans cannot come.”

Ah, the Talorans. Dani had heard of them; long-lived species with a feudal, monarchial society that reportedly didn't take too kindly to non-monarchies like common Human republics. So some princess, probably bored, has come out to visit the savages and find out how they tick. Which means she'll be traveling around. Maybe I can find Fay.
Odds are, Dani, that you'll be caught by somebody anyway, and better aristocratic Taloran women than Normans. "I accept the offer, then." Dani twirled the gun downward on her finger, gripping it's barrel with her hand and offering it's butt to Lashila. "Here."

Ilavna looked quite surprised. “Why would I want to take your pistol, madame? Just please come with me. I would not be so presumptious as to treat you as a prisoner and demand your arms,” and she said it, it seemed, in a voice that betrayed genuine surprise, though of course she was an alien and the tone was odd; almost musical. “But please, really, just follow me into the train and we'll get you some clothes.”

Not about to quibble over the alien girl's refusal to accept her gun, since it was clearly one of those point-of-view things that Dani wasn't about to get into, Dani drew her gun back, still gripping it by the barrel. For the first time in a while, Dani allowed herself to smile. "Clothes would be good, though a bath will be much better. I'll follow you."

Ilavna rose, straightening, offering a gesture to the outside again before she fully straightened and nodded toward Jhayka. “Your Highness, she's coming out alright, everything's fine.”
“Of course,” Jhayka agreed.
“Did you get any weapons she had?” Captain Arshon queried.
“Of course not—why would I disarm a guest?” Ilavna asked in consternation even as the woman rose, and Jhayka stared at Captain Arshon, who sighed and tossed up her hands.
“Alright, I just won't say anything else about that.”
“Very good, Captain,” Jhayka agreed, and then directed a question to the woman: “Welcome aboard—but firstly, what's your name, Amazon?”

Dani looked at the Taloran woman and recognized her immediately as the sad gray-eyed Taloran from the auction. She tried not to chortle at being called an Amazon, but Dani was quite certain the curve of her mouth showed amusement. "Your Highness, I am Commander Danielle Bethany Verdes of the Alliance Stellar Navy. And I do apologize for my current appearance, it's not very becoming an officer."

All three of them just stared for a long moment.

“I don't believe that,” Captain Arshon finally muttered at last.

Jhayka shrugged. “I'm not sure if I believe that or not, Miss Verdes, but you're welcome aboard either way. We're heading into the primitive zone for the next few months, but after we get back I'll provide you a ride to Alliance space if you want one. Now let's get you inside; it's simply unseemly to have you around nude no matter your rank. Lashila?”

The young lady—who had been musing for a moment if the reason Jhayka called her by her last name these days had to do with it being phoenetically (in Taloran it was spelled differently) identical to the first name of her old lover. That suggested a sort of miasmic old attraction that was not healthy, but for the moment there were other things on her mind.

“Miss Verdes?” She prompted, and then started for the door to the car, leaping aboard and offering her hand gamely to the shorter human.

Dani was not surprised at all by the disbelief to her remark. A naval officer for a major interstellar power was not someone you expected to find at a slave auction in a primitivist enclave. Nevertheless, it was true, and she was certain she could get them to believe that in time.
She looked up at Lashila and extended her hand to be helped up. "Thank you," she said. She was uncertain whether to inquire again about a bath, not wanting to seem too demanding and commit some incidental faux pas. Dani felt grimy and really really wanted to wash up. A shower would do, though she longed for the soothing warmth of a tub of hot water, the kind it was so easy to fall asleep in.

Jhayka followed them inside. Outside, Captain Arshon gave the order: “Board up and secure!”

The men (and women) obeyed at once, as the train was sealed and secured against NBC attack at the same time they were brought inside, the remotes activated and one of the four squads assigned to the first watch. But they didn't leave immediately. Captain Arshon headed forward to the modified baggage car where her own quarters were located, and one of the command posts for the train.

Ilavna led Dani back into what seemed an ostentatiously luxurious suite, with a full parlour with high-backed couches and several reclining chairs, and even a bookshelf and a data terminal. There were curtains on the (transparisteel) windows and soft green lighting which seemed so very unusual; most of the furniture was in hues of red interlaced with black.

Jhayka followed them there, and, without further word, stripped off her greatcoat and settled down into one of the chairs, folding up and, leaning lazily to one side, gazing at the nude woman with intense and curious eyes. “You performed quite the impressive feat the night before last, Madame Verdes. You must tell me where you learned to fight like that—over some good alcohol, later on. But first let Ilavna find something your size—you're about the right height for a Taloran, but rather to large in body. We're a waifishly lean people, by your standards, I shall grant.”

“Your Highness, our guest indicated her desire to bathe,” Ilavna interrupted delicately, and raised a hand to gently advise Dani against speaking.
“Ah, well, that's the quite the civilized desire,” Jhayka said agreeably. “She can use my steam bath, of course. Prepare it for her, if you would, Lashila—you know I would have brought a servant,”
“But you wouldn't put one of your retainers in harm's way who had no fighting experience,” Ilavna smiled brightly. “It is the sentiment of a noble, so I scarcely mind aiding Your Highness, even if it seems unsuitable work for a priestess normally. One should not interefere in the sentiments of nobility who are faithful to their God and feudal duties, after all.”
“Thank you, Lashila.”
Ilavna looked to Dani and bowed her head slightly, in a flash of cobalt curls, and gestured toward the rear of the car, down a narrow corridor. “After you, Madame Verdes.”

Though the colors of the place were rather weird to Dani, she still appreciated the luxuries clearly present, and most of all, the prospect of a warm bath to wash off the sweat and dirt of her ordeal, so she went in the direction that Lashila indicated.
On the matter of how Lashila knew she wanted to bathe, Dani looked back and said, "I hope I'm not too rank that you could easily tell I needed and wanted a bath."

“Oh, it's quite alright, I assure you,” Ilavna replied from behind. She stopped at a door just behind Dani and opened it. “You inside first,” she added, and then continued, “We're used to roughing it when we have to, and you'll feel fully refreshed in no time at all..”
The bathroom was nicely furnished in what seemed like white marble, and there was an odd rubber contraption entirely fitting into the bath, however, which had an opened plastic door on it, revealing a wooden reclining chair tilted back nearly horizontal.

Although it was something she wasn't used to, the prospect of a hot bath made it look inviting. Dani walked in and up to the tub and the chair within. "It's been too long since I've had a nice bath," Dani lamented. If Fay hadn't been taken, we would've ended up trying one though. I was looking forward to it too. Dani looked back at Lashila and immediately confessed, "Although this looks so comfortable that I'm afraid I might fall asleep while in the bath."

"I shall wake you when you are done, Madame Verdes," Ilavna said, and then added, a moment later: "Well, when you should not be in any longer. It is very hot." She turned and fetched out of a cabinet what seemed to be a bundle of herbs and grasses--it smelled very nicely, even dryed--and with it, a scraping stone that looked to be made of soft standstone. She settled them down to the floor, waiting for Dani to get in, clearly, before activating the bath and handing them over. "If you need anything else, I'll be waiting."

After setting her gun on a nearby counter, Dani got into the tub and settled into the chair, accepting the scrubbing stone from Lashila. "How do you want me to address you? I'd hate to do it the wrong way and offend you in some way."

"My name is Ilavna. Her Highness has some.. Peculiarities, about her, but I have never minded them. You may call me by your name; I am not given to formality." She smiled warmly, and reached down into the steam bath to activate the heating and water elements. "You are a brave and just individual, Madame, and I should like to serve you in any way that I might if you would simply listen to me speak on occasions."

"You've done so much for me already. Just a few minutes ago I was hiding under this dirty train with nowhere else to go." Dani watched water begin to fill the tub. "Listening to whatever you wish to say to me is the least way I can repay you." Dani was quite certain she knew just what the girl wanted to talk about, having heard Princess Jhayka refer to Ilavna as a "priestess", but it didn't bother her much. "I don't blame you for not quite believing who I am. I'll explain everything, of course." As she said so, Dani watched Ilavna set the herb and grass bundle into a recepticle to disperse whatever scent was in them into the water.

Ilavna smiled. "Thank you, madame," she said, simply, and with that closed the door to the steam bath and allowed the steam to fill it, and surround Dani in the comfortable darkness and intense, damp heat of it. Dani ran the scrubbing stone over her arms and legs, but as she was working on scrubbing her belly she became simply too comfortable to move. Dani's head laid back and her eyes closed, allowing her to doze off and have the first restful sleep she'd had in days.
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Post by Steve » 2005-10-27 03:35am

Kalunda, Gilead

The word was not quite what Tessa had expected to come from Julio, here in one of the private rooms of his palace. The handsome, vibrant King of Kalunda looked at her intently as the answer came.
"Tessa, I am not going to jeopardize the security of my people by risking everything for a coup against Crayshaw. I'm sorry."
"The coup is your world's only hope to end this insanity," Tessa retorted. "We have plenty of support in the military, His Majesty's Government has agreed to the idea of a change in government here, and Crayshaw's support is divided and uncommitted."
"You underestimate the hedonists," Julio replied. "I have dealt with them more than you have. I have watched every initiative to undermine or eliminate the slave trade be stopped by them because they fear that it will be the first step to forcing them all to adhere to a central set of morals. They will oppose you with far greater strength than you think."
"Then we'll need Kalunda's support to make this work. Dammit, Julio, this is our chance to finish the job we began forty years ago!"
Julio walked away from the table they were standing beside and to a window. He lifted the blinds and showed Tessa a full view of Kalunda itself. The city had always looked beautiful, built to look prosperous and cultured with neo-classical architecture and marble structures, and Tessa could also see the signs of technology. Public dataports, aircars where horses once were, and closed windows where buildings now had central cooling and heating. People in Kalunda still dressed rich, in many cases wearing the same silk that helped make their city wealthy.
"Forty years ago, Tessa, my people were just another semi-primitivist society. Your average Kalundan girl was made a slave of the state at 18 and conditioned to be addicted to sex, so that few actually sought their freedom when their nine years of service was up. For her entire life she would live for the pleasure of male owners, providing him with every service he desired. By the time she was forty, odds were she would have had at least eight children, if not more. And as her belly stays grown from the children she's borne and age robs her of attractiveness, she would slowly be cast to the wayside in favor of younger, more attractive girls, until finally she dies a lonely death by sixty-five, having been worked to death in her final years of life." Julio looked back at her. "Men here were better off, but only just. They were still held prisoner to the same potential for disease and plague, they were still made to toil hard just to sustain themselves."
Tessa nodded in understanding, and Julio continued to speak, "Today there is still work here in Kalunda, but my people have finally seen the stupidity of primitivism and have embraced the wonders of technology. Women are now free to choose the lifestyles they want and the only slaves we have are those fools from the tech world who we buy the contracts for so that they don't end up in Ar or some other place they'll never come home from. The old ways are nothing more than a curiosity or an occasional indulgence." Returning to his seat, Julio looked up at her. "If I were to back a coup against Crayshaw, and the coup were to fail, Crayshaw and his people would undoubtedly revoke our Charter of Autonomy. We would be forced to adhere to regulations for local technology. My people would lose everything they've gained these past decades."
"Julio, the coup will not fail!" Tessa slammed an open palm on the table. "It has too much support from the other worlds, and the majority of the military is made up of their number."
"There are also hedonists on those worlds, Tessa! And minor cultural groups, all of whom have something to lose if any attacks are made on cultural autonomy, the same autonomy laws that protect the slave trade!" Julio met her angry look with his own. "You are placing entirely too much faith in the other worlds of the Confederacy. This coup of your's.... it's too risky. I can't go along with it, not in public." Upon seeing Tessa's reaction, Julio sighed. "You're free to stay here as long as you want, Tessa. And, I will make this promise, that if the coup occurs and Crayshaw's support is clearly insufficient, then I will back you completely. But not until then. For the sake of my people, I must think of Kalunda first."
Their eyes met once more. Finally Tessa sighed and nodded. "I can't argue against that, Julio. It's what a good King is supposed to do."
"It's what Sara taught me to be," Julio said. "Would you like some lunch?"
"No, that's quite okay." Tessa stood up from her chair. "I'll eat alone and report back to my associates on your decision. They won't be happy, but I'll make certain they know we have your moral support."
"I'll see you later then, Tessa. Have a good day."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2005-11-03 12:44am

“Some dhpou, Lashila?”

Ilavna Lashila looked up startled at the Princess as she came back from settling Dani in to the steam bath. “Your Highness!” Jhayka was holding the tray with a mirthful sort of grin, and laughed at Ilavna's startled exclaimation, which just made the young adept blush.

“I haven't changed a bit. It's just wrong for the First Estate to abuse the Second Estate, no matter the history of our families, so relax with me and have some tea; you are a priestess of the Lord Justice, after all, and though I appreciate your help very much the fact of the matter is that under the guise of our old role; mistress of the manor and servant; you have allowed yourself to fall back into comfortable formality. Come, let's talk as equals, since you're the only person around here who is really solid and trustworthy as things stand.”

“That's hardly true. Our mercenaries will remain true to your coin and the economy that backs it up, Your Highness, and to the flag under which they have been sworn..”

“First, take the dhpou, Lashila, I know you like it.”

The adept sighed and picked up the steaming hot cup. A human would have found it to taste something like spiced chicken broth, and it was commonly consumed between the morning meal (which was usually of grains and sweets) and the noon meal (cheeses, breads, and greens). The stimulant ulat was consumed in the afternoon and the evening meal was usually starches and meats, along with some sort of liquor, though for a formal occasion the evening meal grew to many more courses than that. After that ulat might be consumed more but only if it was to be a long evening; Jhayka expected many of those, but kept to the traditional order of meals as long as possible, and it was late morning.

The two sat, Jhayka settling the tray aside and falling back in her chair, seeming rather more comfortable. “Strange to say, I actually like the thought of having to find room for a guest here. The Normans are very unpleasant savages—they have their costumes of honour but their traditions are, by our civilized standards, most uncouth. Even most humans find them barbaric.” A soft grin. “No doubt you find that these attitudes are preferable.”

Ilavna Lashila drank of the dhpou, her body shuttering slightly, pleasantly, as her eyes met Jhayka's through a frame of blue hair. “Your Highness, you know what my mission is—to open Gilead to the worship of the Lord Farzbardor. I can scarcely find your words anything but pleasant in that light.”

“Extorting the right to preach in the primitive zones is going to be difficult. Unlike in the democratic cultures of many of the states we've previously encountered, there is no inherent hunger for a different moral philosophy in their souls;” Jhayka replied, playing the bit of the philosopher princess, ears flattened in musing. “They are not deficient in spirituality and they are not riven with the nihilism of materialism which opens the souls of the lost so easily to the message of the Lord Justice and to a renewal of hope.”

“You have taught me well, Your Highness,” Ilavna Lashila replied, to the flush of a smile from her old feudal lady. “And it is something I remember of your words—namely, that these primitive cultures are irrevocably doomed by the onrush of the interests of foreign powers. Their societies, their tribal identities, shall all be swept away, and with them, the current moral and spiritual foundations for their existance. They will be like the primitive tribes of many worlds in our early contacts, before we adopted caution, when we arrived and tried to immediately integrate them into Taloran society—mass nihilistic despair will overtake them and they will engage in acts of mass suicide and lose the will both to reproduce and to live as their cultures implode.”

Jhayka nodded once, ears perking up noticeably. “That is why I have come, yes, you know that well. But still, the fight is not gone out of them yet. I can tell. They are in a bad position, maybe hopeless, and they know it, but they'll fight with the despair and desperation of cornered animals alike, and be dangerous and uncaring of death while that period lasts. Then, missionary work will be bountiful, but not before then. And so we have come in a dangerous time for you and your mission. But I see another avenue for it.”

Ilavna Lashila finished off her dhpou and tipped her head slightly to the right, curiously, looking to Jhayka. “Your Highness?”

“The people who come here from the many democratic societies, in acts of despair and nihilism, to throw their fates into the hands of the primitives and foreign slavers and, unwittingly, the trade in flesh and sentient labour. That is a sign of the ultimate nihilistic feudality of materialistic democracy, of course, and presents similar difficulties—since the materialistic system of belief is what drives them—in conversion as missions to those societies, even when successful.”

A sly smile: “But consider, my young adept, that these are the meanest, the lowest, the most hopeless of them all from those societies, and they are away from those societies, and end up in circumstances they often could not have before imagined, and here they are desperate and the salvation of our religious teaching is their only hope.”

“An interesting perspective on where the real prospects are in Gilead for the Priestly Orders,” Ilavna answered carefully, needing to give the matter more thought. A few silent minutes past. “I suppose among humans, and humans ensnared in democratic materialism, that is particularly true, that certain segments of the various nationalities are more affected than others, and here, well, they might all find their way to the Confederacy.

Jhayka smiled rakishly. “Well, right now, anyway, I believe it is quite true. As they say, the Sword has opened paths for the Book before,” she slapped a hand against one of the armrests of her chair to emphasis the train below them, racing at 150km/h down the broad-gauge tracks of the primitive zone railnet and toward Kalunda. “And this is as good a sword as any, if the bullet is to meet the bone. Which, I have much reason from our visit to East Port to believe, it well might.”

“Then I will be ready to serve you as I may, Your Highness,” Ilavna answered, thinking of the only time she had seen blood spill—at the execution of Jhayka's lover—and wondering why Jhayka did not seem to mind seeing it again. The poor Princess still had a long way to go to recover fully, she mused, sadly, and then noted the time rather abruptly, setting down her cup and speaking hastily: “I should probably go check on our guest.”

“Of course, Lashila.”
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Post by Steve » 2005-11-03 02:22am

Co-written by myself and Marina

Ilavna reentered the bathing room, having only remembered just in time that she really needed to make sure that the alien woman was out of the steam bath in a safe amount of time; she had chosen one about appropriate for pregnant Taloran women on the guess that humans didn't have the same reaction to sustained periods of heat. Twenty-five minutes was probably long enough. She opened the doors of the steam bath, to be blanketed in a rush of hot steam covering her and leaving condensation upon her skin and clothes, albeit very light, as she reached in to turn off the steam element and look for a moment at the reclining form of the human woman--a chaste enough look, for Ilavna had no attraction to females and even if she had, well, humans, even fit ones, are much to plump by Taloran standards to really be attractive, like they're pregnant or something, Ilavna mused idly before reaching down to shake the sleeping human awake.

Waking from Illavna's shaking of her shoulder, Dani took a moment to realize the steam had escaped from the bath. Her skin was still hot and even a bit scalded. She barely managed to suppress a desire to yawn and looked up at the girl. These people really need to put on some weight, Dani decided as she said, "Oh, thank you. I couldn't stop myself from falling asleep.... how long was I in here?"

"Close to thirty minutes," Ilavna replied politely, reaching for a massive, comfortably engulfing towel and handing it to the human woman. "Are you feeling better?" She enquired solicitiously, stepping back from the verge of the steam-bath the moment Dani had taken the towel and waiting by the door, ears cocked, for something else which she might require or desire which Ilavna could help with, her thoughts otherwise occupied by her own musings on what she had previously discussed with Jhayka just a few minutes before in turn.

"I feel clean, which is a great deal better than what I was before," was Dani's response from inside. After drying herself, Dani walked out with the long towel draped around her from cleavage to thighs. "Although I am famished." Dani took the time to really look at the thin Taloran woman. She doesn't just need weight, she needs flesh. She looks so frail.... Of course, to them, I probably look horribly fat or buff. "Though I suppose clothes are more important than food right now. Any luck with that? I'd hate to walk around wearing this or nothing."

"Yes, I had the tailor begin drawing you up some clothing just after I left the bathing room earlier," Ilavna answered, which is where she'd been before heading back to the Princess. "I can go get them for you, though, if you like, once you're dry, I can give you one of Her Highness' evening robes and you can wear that whilst some food is brought out for you...? Her Highness won't mind at all since she often wears little more herself and you are a welcome guest; anyway they are quite modest attire, I assure you," she concluded and opened the door, making to step out if Dani approved.

"If Her Highness does not mind, that sounds great."

Ilavna smiled broadly at that, a very expressive look, and brushed back some of her hair. "Ma'am, she probably wouldn't even be able to find where her robes were in her wardrobe without help," and then turned to get one in a flash of light blue hair. It didn't take long, of course, since even Jhayka's private car was not all that large, and she returned to the bathroom on the lower level holding a great dark lush green evening robe with silken red fringes, glancing in to see if Dani had finished drying off.

Dani had, indeed, finished drying off. She kept the towel on for the sake of being as least offensive as possible - open showers had been the norm in the Naval Academy gym, after all - and accepted the beautiful robe. Given it seemed to just fit her, Dani could only imagine how it looked on the thinner Taloran noble who was now her hostess and protector. She tied it at the front and enjoyed the sensation of the soft material against skin that had, until recently, spent hours coated with sweat while on hard rock. "Thank you again."
It was about that moment that Dani started thinking of Fay again. She'd been so caught up in the end of her own ordeal that she had nearly forgotten. "Is Her Highness available for me to talk with? I don't want to intrude if she's busy, but I'd like to talk to her and thank her."

"Oh, your meal can be brought to you in Her Highness' parlour, we were preparing for, ah, lunch, anyway," Ilavna answered, and she then motioned for Dani to follow her. Ilavna Lashila proceeded to lead Dani into the parlour on the rapidly moving train, and there was Jhayka, reading from a readout padd which she turned off and set aside after a moment to look up at Ilavna.. "Welcome back, Lashila.. And, ah, our guest! Ma'am," she offered, and gestured for Dani to sit, smiling and noticing that the robe looked well on her--even if rather on the tight side. Talorans were used to flowing clothes and such. "I trust you are refreshed? The midday meal shall be along shortly."
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"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

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Post by Steve » 2005-11-05 02:26am

This post was co-written by myself and Marina.

"I'm feeling much better." Dani slid into the seat, enjoying how comfortable it was. "Thank you for your hospitality, Your Highness." She adjusted her robe a bit, not wanting it to get too tight. She set her arms down on the soft chair arms and smiled a little. "And thank you for letting me ride inside. It's so much better than the way I had been planning to travel."

"You're welcome," Jhayka answered after a moment, stretching and leaning forward to brace her chin on a hand propped on one of the armrests of the plush chairs in the parlour, of which Dani had another. Ilavna headed off to see that the majordomo was preparing an extra portion for the mid-day meal, as silently as ever, though she offered a smile back in the direct of the two before disappearing. Now, Jhayka turned to more serious matters. "It's not really a great trouble for me to house you as a guest, but I must ask--I am very interested in what you are doing here. Your presence and the spectacle of your escape were altogether quite unexpected."

"Of course." Dani put her hands together in her lap. "As I said before, my name is Danielle Verdes. I'm a Commander in the Alliance Stellar Navy, an engineer. For about the last year I've been a dock manager at the naval base we set up in Luther for the war, working almost around the clock to fix up ships with battle damage." Dani's expression went cold for a moment. One of the more macabre jobs was inspection, which occasionally brought someone to the flash-burned remains of vaporized crew or the radiation-scorched corpses of those not sucked out into space. Most of those scenes stayed with her, as well as the more routine memories of twenty hour days crawling and climbing around ships to fix them up and get them back to the front.
"When the war ended, I had a bit of leave time built up and a lot of reason to take it. One of the other dock managers Commander Fayza al-Bakar, talked me into going to Palm City here on Gilead. It's just north of Quanzhi, a nice tourist town for off-worlders. The brochures were like any other vacation beach spot. Talked about the sun and scenery, nothing about any of the perversion or insanity of the rest of the planet." Dani sighed, resting her head in her hand with her forehead placed along the length of her index finger. "I tried to talk her into going to New Daytona on Lisea, but she was adamant that Palm City would be fine. I guess she was also thinking about the kind of company we'd find, though. In a way, so was I." Dani's face blushed from some shame. She was concerned she might offend the woman, and she certainly wasn't going to articulate the kind of companionship she'd been thinking about when she came to Palm City. It wasn't something she liked to admit even now, but since.... her, Dani's life had been one of lonely work.

"A few nights ago, I can't tell you which night because I lost track of time, we finished up a day of lazy sunbathing and movie-watching by going down to the bar for some light drinks. A guy came up to me and offered me a drink, and I accepted. As we sat and talked I noticed Fay leave the bar with another guy, a bit older but no less handsome. The next morning, I went to her room and she was gone. Nobody had seen her. The best I could do was another guest who saw her return with the guy she met at the bar."
Dani felt a few tears well up. Fear for Fay, certainly, with quite a bit of guilt to add to it. After all, while whatever it was had been happening to Fay, she'd taken her own company to her room for the kind of thing she'd been looking for since arrival.
"The police wrote the whole thing off, saying Fay was probably with the guy and had gone out on a boat ride with him or whatever. Nobody could tell me who he was. So after two days of searching I contacted the Embassy in Cranstonville, informed them Fay was missing, and asked for help. I was still waiting to hear back from them when I spotted the guy in the bar again. I followed him, confronted him, and I knew the bastard was lying even as he claimed he'd left as soon as he and Fay had, well, um..."

"I'm surprised you didn't know about how common the trade in sentients is in the Confederacy," Jhayka mused aloud, not saying anything condemnatory. "Did he capture you also, or was that someone else in East Port? I admit I am quite worried about East Port as our base of our supply for this expedition. I don't trust any of these people, you know," Jhayka smiled grimly. "I trust very few people. Ilavna Lashila is one of them. I suppose I also trust the All-Highest," by which she referred to the Taloran Empress, "but that is a matter of feudal loyalty, one of the few virtues I am known for in unstinting measure." The tall, long-eared woman gave a dapper sort of expression there and crossed her right leg over her left. "Do you think she is still in the hands of the Normans?" Even as the question was asked, Ilavna silently entered the room, bracing herself against one side of the parlour as the armoured train raced onward through the primitive zone.

"He didn't nab me himself. But I went to sleep in my hotel room that night and when I woke up, I was naked and locked into electronic restraints in a cargo hold like a piece of meat being shipped to market." Dani frowned deeply and ran a hand through her hair. "I guess that analogy is more accurate than I'd wanted it to sound."
"As for your other questions? The only thing I knew about 'trade in sentients' here on Gilead was that there were enclaves for people who like the chains-and-leather variety of sex and that there were problems occasionally with corruption in the enclaves. I mean, I saw the first half of 'The Road to Hell' when it came out, so I know what Gilead was once like, but everything Fay showed me about Palm City - and Gilead itself - made it out like that kind of thing never happened anymore. If I'd know this was possible, I would have literally dragged Fay to New Daytona rather than set foot on this planet." Dani sighed and closed her eyes, trying to fight back a few tears. "Oh, poor Fay.... I have no idea where she is. I don't even know if the Normans have her or not. Hell, I didn't know they were Normans until just before the auction when we were informed of what would be expected of us by our new masters. I was taken back to my cell and immediately found the sharpest thing I could hide in my hands."

Jhayka clapped her hands together once, and then glanced up. "Oh, do sit down, Ilavna, we're all friends here," she said before turning back to Dani. "Well, Miss Verdes--forgive me, but I still want to verify your rank--I'll ask around in Ar when we get there and buy her out of slavery if I find her. It wouldn't cost very much coin at all to do that, and of course I have a lot--part of the reason we're traveling in military fashion is that I'm worried about a robbery of our stores, you see," though the provision of several companies' worth of heavy weapons on the trains seemed more than sufficient for that. In the meanwhile, Ilavna had settled down, and spoke now herself.
"Your Highness, I am here because you asked me to come. But I'm also here to see to it that the word of universal Justice is spread; now, you know how important the Priesthood of the Lord Farzbardor was to suppressing the slave-trade on Talora Prime. I consented to go along with your mission not interfering in your efforts to document these societies; but you yourself seem prepared to somewhat violate the principle of noninterference. Once the period of study is over.."

Jhayka waved a hand slightly. "Lashila, I can't play with fire in the primitive zones on Gilead without starting an international incident, and we'd get no support from the Sword in that case. But you know that I have committed rather significant sums to the Priestly Orders. It can perhaps be arranged for the establishment here of extraterritorial missions which can serve as safe-harbours for freed slaves." She got a musing look, then, and directed her gaze back to Danielle. "Miss Verdes, you understand that I cannot conduct a manhunt over the whole planet, I am afraid to say. But religion may help us--Lashila has an excellent point, namely, that securing extraterritoriality for religious organizations could serve to suppress the slave-trade by making it impossible to secure the slaves. So you may be advised to stay with us indefinitely, if you desire to see your friend liberated; even if we don't find her immediately, well, I planned to be here for several years, and that would be enough time for us to create a real missionary network in Gilead."

Dani listened to Illavna. At the moment she didn't quite mind the thought of the Talorans proselytizing here. They were certainly better people than the locals. Then she listened to Jhayka's offer.
It was more than tempting. Dani couldn't bear the thought of leaving Gilead without finding Fay. But she didn't know how her superiors would take it. She was, after all, only an engineer. This was the kind of work for AID spooks and Star Marines, not dockmasters. They certainly wouldn't let her take an indefinite leave.
I'd have to resign my commission. I'll never make it to Captain and some of those big engineering firms I was hoping to get a big chair in won't even bother to study my resumè.
There were many things that could be said about Dani, and even she knew they weren't all good. But she was loyal to her friends. Oh well, I don't like desk jobs much anyway. "Thank you for the offer, Your Highness. I'll do what I can to help my friend and everyone else caught by these scum." Dani nodded her head graciously. "If you don't mind, can I contact the Alliance Embassy? I need to let them know what's happened and see if they've found out anything about Fay."

"I was, quite honestly, going to do so myself. Do you think we should wait until we arrive in Kalunda, however? I believe there is a charge d'affair of the Alliance Embassy there, which would make everything much more simple--and secure. I have a secured comm here but I'd rather not use it any more than necessary. I don't want to make the locals suspicious of me, even as I am suspicious of them, you see." Jhayka concluded, settling back a bit--she seemed more relaxed with Ilavna Lashila around.

"If you feel it is best, I have no complaints." Kalunda! I wonder if it's as beautiful as it was in the movie? Dani had really enjoyed that movie and had yet to see the second half. All of the trailers made it seem as adventurous as the first and the big battle at the end was supposed to be the best swordplay fight since the "Peloponnesian Wars'" battles. I wonder what the Kalundans are like these days...
Since she had pretty much completed her story, Dani now inquired about Jhayka's. "So, you are here studying the cultures of these regions?"

"I want to write about them before they all die off," Jhayka answered. "Once I am finished, then I will let Lashila and those who follow her go to work on converting them and saving them from the crisis which is about to come. Gilead is doomed, at least in the state that it is now, and the curious experiments of the Primitive Zone will die with it. But we are in dangerous times; the primitives also know this, they are preparing to fight the day's coming, and they have allies in the government of Gilead and other powers." She fell silent then, as a Taloran man entered, older looking with a light purple hair, and carrying stacked up trays despite the swaying of the train. He set them down on a ledge running on the far side of the parlour, and from underneath it, unhooked and swung up a solid wood table which was locked into place, then arranged the trays on it, taking off their coverings. "The Noon Meal, Your Highness, Adept, Ma'am," he said, bowing, and then retiring from the room.

The food was alien, but Dani's grumbling stomach would have accepted clumped grass at that point. She restrained a desire to go right for the food and waited for Jhayka to stand, following her and Illavna to the table. "Is there any kind of grace your people say before eating?"

"No," Ilavna said, adding a moment later: "The Lord Justice does not desire that we offer thanks for our food, but rather that we are moderate in our habits of eating. Gluttons and consumers of luxurious and polluting foods are those who must face judgment." Jhayka had gotten up in the meanwhile and shifted her chair on her own over to the table, and than sat again. Ilavna waited until she had done so before getting up and moving her chair as well, and then helpfully added: "The midday meal today is sliced Kalatian Ghoi-bird with bfaesar sauce over bread and.. Ah, what you'd call cheese made from rostok milk. There's also a Kavaraean seaweed salad, with water and voli to drink."

Dani studied the eating utensils provided with the food while asking, "Voli?"

"It's a chilled nonalcoholic beverage made from the distilled leaves of the voli plant," Jhayka interrupted--the utensils looked like metal chopsticks supported by a knife and something ominously resembling a spork, god knows how they were supposed to be used as part of the meal--and looked up from her food to offer Dani an amused sort of half-smile. "It's very sweet, as the voli plant is a natural producing of sugar--think of it as being sort of like a," she paused for a moment and thought of a proper comparison, brightening as she did--proud of her memory of the foreign palate, mostly: "Molasses beer, except nonalcoholic."

Dani smirked with amusement and took a sip. "Ehh, almost too sweet. But that's better than too salty. Where I come from, we call Keloan s'nurgas 'salt water beer' and it's not good at all." She began to eat the food, forcing herself to do it slowly to prevent any kind of stomach ache. "I've never tried alien food, save for Bajoran hasperat. I was introduced to that by someone I knew."
You were introduced to it by her. And it's why you've barely eaten any of it since....

"What is hasperat, if I may? And I take it that means you have been to Bajor, Miss Verdes?" Jhayka asked conversationally, though a moment later the more youthful Ilavna peppered Dani with another question: "Keloa? That is your homeworld?"

"No, I'm from Earth in Universe SE-1. Minnesota. And hasperat is this kind of, I dunno, burrito I guess. Flour, bread-like covering packed with meats, salad, or whatever you want. And I've never been to Bajor, though I have visited Deep Space Nine once while I was serving as a repair group CO at the New Liberty Naval Station. It was strange to see a standard Class Three space station under a Federation administration. Though at least their Chief of Operations was competent, which is better than I can say for most Starfleet engineers."

Jhayka gave a lazy shrug to that. "I've never understood the protectionism of your societies. Why is it so odd to sell stations and such things to foreign powers? It just increases your own economic power, which is never bad." And then she gave sort of a purring laugh, flexing her ears merrily: "And, of course, it's actually a benefit to our military security if we arm potential rivals, since then we know all the details of their weapons systems."

Dani replied with a giggle, which was subdued until she swallowed. "That's a good advantage, and one we've got in a few situations. As for DS9, well, we always intended to give the Bajor Station to the new Bajoran government, and it was always legally considered Bajoran. The amusing element was to see Federation officers running the station and having to learn how systems in the Alliance work. You see, the Federation has always been really, really self-defensive about their technology even if it's designed badly. They're regular beacons of social and technological progress in their own eyes. And I could spend hours criticizing Federation design philosophy, but it's not very exciting unless you're a dedicated engineer."
"As for protectionism, I'm not too big on it myself. I've seen what protective tariffs can do to colonies while I was out serving on a ship along the frontier. Just last month I voted for Admiral Dale to become Alliance President because he's the only one who's come out and said he's going to reduce and eliminate tariffs and control government spending."

"Well, there was probably also the loyalty of veterans to their own in that decision," Jhayka mused. "But I won't presume to judge your politics. As for engineering, well, I suppose we could have our own conversations on that--I am a trained engineer myself, though different from your standards, as I was the colonel commanding a sapper regiment in the Imperial Army for decade."

"Really? Why did you go into engineering, if I may ask?"

Jhayka smiled dangerously in response, her ears leveling straight-up: "Because, Miss Verdes, being a tunnel rat is not perhaps the most clean of careers, but if you are a combat veteran of the Imperial Sappers and Engineers Corps, then nobody doubts that you are the real thing and not just a sinecured officer of the high nobility with a nominal commanding rank over a unit." She stretched out, straightening from her food for the first time in the meal. "My family is one of the minor nobility of the Empire without a great reputation, you might say, as the grand commanders and loyal generals of Her All-Highest. But where genius may not run in the blood, I am content with grit, and there is nothing so bloody as the clearing of deep-shelter tunnels when the enemy chooses to fight rather than to yield." Ilavna had never seen blood before the fateful execution, but Jhayka had, and in some way it seemed almost as if she was looking for a fight like in the old days by coming here.

"I see." Dani sipped on the voli again, trying to get used to the taste. "I can respect that. Me, I always wanted to find out how things worked and how to put them together. The military was my Dad's idea. He was a Chief in the US Star Navy until I was 12. My Mom was supportive too, though she was more concerned with my... preferences in companionship."
Yes, she came home early one day and found me in bed with one of the girls on the school cheerleading squad. I never quite knew just how devout a Catholic Mom was until she started screaming at me. I guess she didn't realize that the Navy doesn't really care who you sleep with so long as you're not out embarrassing the Service.

Ilavna turned her head to the side, then, ears flexing, and asked musingly: "Just what is it with human religions, anyway? Though I suppose at first the conservatism of the old tribes prevailed in Farzianism, but we have the example of the Sword of the Lord Justice to prove that love cannot be, intrinsically of itself, an evil thing." But here Jhayka was silent, for the matter was much to close to being personal for her, and she let Ilavna carry on the rest of the conversation over the noon meal, as she remained in a pensive silence.

"Depending on the church or group, Illavna, some of our religions are still stuck two thousand years in the past," Dani remarked. "I was raised Catholic, mostly by my mother, but I never Confirmed. I couldn't, not in good conscience. I couldn't believe in God if God was vengeful or unfair. And I thought it was unfair to be condemned because I was more interested in other girls than in boys." Putting her chopsticks-like utensil back into her food for a moment, Dani added, "I'm not saying I don't believe in God. But I don't believe in the petty rules and laws. Faith should transcend piddly little details of life. It should focus on how people treat each other, not on what kinds of foods they eat or what specific days they should go to church or who they choose to take as a soulmate."
Dani tried and, to a degree, failed to hide her sadness at mentioning a soulmate. She'd had one but lost her, and never even knew it was her soulmate until their relationship was through. She was happy now, content with another woman she loved, but Dani was alone and knew what loneliness was now.

"The truth of human monotheistic religions has been obscured by deviationist doctrines, the theory of the absolute creation under God--which is fallacious, for of course Farzbardor did not create evil, that is the work of Idenicamos--and the unusual practices of the Christians. Retention of social values from the ancient past scarcely helps, of course; but the commandments of God are absolute. You can't have a purposeful religion without a morality fixed by it, after all, Ma'am." A pause, and she smiled softly: "Farzianism is very practical in that sense. But I imagine Her Highness would prefer we hold off this conversation until a point when I don't need to annoy her ears with things she has already long before debated with me."

"Of course." Dani returned to finishing lunch and begin to inquire about other basic facts of Taloran society, exchanging information of her own with Jhayka and Illavna.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2005-11-05 02:27am

Berglund Estate, Berglund

To accommodate his ego, Illian Berglund had long had his estate's grand ballroom converted into what was essentially a throne room. A high-backed armless leather chair with soft cushioning was at one end, a carpet of red running from it to the door. Built into the chair was a latch for attaching chains, such as the chain that one could put on a collar. It was such a chain, of about six feet in length, that connected the chair to the golden collar around Aurora's neck. It was encrusted with small rubies and looked very fancy. A similar belt was around Aurora's tight waist, encrusted with jewelry - as were the manacles that kept her wrists changed together - but aside from the collar and belt she was completely naked. Berglund's hand was setting upon her head while he sat in an open-chested robe and pants.
In front of him was an alien, one of the first Aurora had ever seen. He was large, green-skinned, and very brutish in manner, and flanked by two Humans. He kept giving Aurora an occasional glance.
"You want £50,000 for a blonde?" Berglund smirked. "Mister Oloparatho, do you realize just how many attractive blonde Caucasian sex-slaves can be acquired on Gilead, legitimate and illegitimate?"
"I'll throw in a second girl."
"What kind?"
"I'm told she's what you call an 'Arab'. Looks young and is attractive. I had her myself last night, very juicy."
"Used goods, in other words. And there are plenty of Arab girls to be had. I bought my last for something around £7,000."
Oloparatho clenched his jaw. "How about I bring the girls in, and you will see why I think they're worth fifty thousand."
Berglund shrugged.
Olopartho snapped his fingers and one of the Humans left. When he returned, he came with another Human, and both were holding ropes tied around the belts of the two young women, the same belts to which their wrists were chained behind their back. They were brought in front of Olopartho and forced to their knees.
Aurora could immediately see the significance of the blonde girl. It wasn't her striking blue eyes or the beauty of her body, but the spots on her body. They started on the forehead, running down both sides of her hairline to her neck and down her torso, following the contours of the outer edge of her breasts until they moved inward at the hips, going down along the inside-facing parts of her legs. There was no hair between her legs and, to Aurora, it looked like it was natural that way and not simply shaved. A barked order from Oloparatho prompted the girl to grudingly spread her legs, and after Oloparatho's rough touching, it was clear to see she was different from Humans there as well.
Berglund looked completely enchanted with her. "Fifty thousand pounds it is, Oloparatho. For her and for the Arab girl. She looks good for some of my productions. What do you think, dear Consuela?" Berglund put his hand on Aurora's head and directed her gaze at the Arab girl. "Would you mind having sex with that lovely woman?"
"Of course, Master," was the sultry response. Aurora had to play her part, after all.
"You can have her tonight, then. As for you, Oloparatho..."
"I have business elsewhere," the Orion said. "But thank you for the offer. I'll have to come back again and see if you'll let me be entertained by that lovely slave you have at your side." He turned and left with his men, while two of Berglund's employees took Berglund's new acquisitions and placed them in irons. "Send the alien girl to my master bedroom and secure her on my bed. Use the silk cords... I wouldn't want to bruise her. As for the Arab girl, put her in a cell and prepare her for the torture room. Consuela will initiate her tonight, live on my channel." Illian stood up. "I'm going to have some dinner soon, and then, my alien sweet, I'll show you why so many women enjoy serving me."
Aurora was unlatched from the chair and taken to her room. After her 'successful' initiation, she had been given a room in the palace of her own, a small one with a bed and nothing else but at least something private. From there she was planning her next move from here, inside Berglund's estate.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2005-11-06 03:34am

Kalunda, Gilead

Tessa was thoroughly irritated with everyone right now. She had just finished a conversation on Frost via an encoded line that had been very irritating. Frost wanted her to demand Julio's help with the threat that if Kalunda - a shining example of the "good" enclaves of Gilead - did not back the coup openly, then they would have to find other allies.... such as the conservative religious movements and groups that wanted to eliminate all of the enclaves and compel them into mainstream Gilean society. Tessa disliked having to threaten her own friend, of course.
Tessa relieved her tension in a predictable way by going to the gymnasium, donning boxing gloves, a sports bra, and shorts, and proceeding to smash a punching bag until her knuckles were throbbing.
When she'd had enough, she finally took a break and sat. The clanking of wood against wood prompted her attention to another mat, where she saw a young man and young woman wearing white silken robes and trousers sparring with wooden sword-analogues. The man was light-skinned, the girl very obviously Oriental in complexion and face. They were having a rather spirited contest from the looks of things.
"Want some water?"
Tessa looked up to see Amber standing beside her. She was in a sleeveless silk blouse and skirt, purple in color, a bottle of water in each hand. "Thank you." Tessa accepted the water and drank some of it.
"Trouble with Julio?"
"Yes, and others."
"He won't go along with the coup. And your friends want you to apply the thumbscrews." Amber sat on the bench. "Good, aren't they?"
"Who are they?"
"Well, we have Sen Xiao Li. The family resemblence should make it obvious."
Upon another look at the young Chinese woman as she parried blows from the young man, Tessa nodded. "Yu Ling's granddaughter?"
"Yes. She's staying here to be with her future husband, that fine young man she's fighting with right now."
"Ouch. I never let my lovers spar with me for a good reason, you know."
"Well, it depends on the kind of relationship." A mischievous twinkle appeared in Amber's eye. "It's well worth it if you give the sparring attachments. The kind your delicate English sensibilities wouldn't appreciate hearing."
"I'm Scots, not English, dammit," Tessa muttered. "And who's her husband-to-be?"
"That's Prince Keven. Carlis' son and heir."
Tessa nodded with understanding. "And since Julio's probably going to abdicate, Keven will be the future King of Kalunda. Which means.... you're going to have a fun little dual-monarchy arrangement like Austro-Bavaria."
"Oh yes." Amber looked back and watched the fight continue.
Tessa smirked and said, "He's too young for you," before she started to drink.
"Well, he is my grandson."
A spray of water came from Tessa's mouth as she spit the entire gulp out so as to not choke. "What?"
"My daughter Saria was Keven's mother." Amber turned her head, a sad expression on her face. "Saria died when he was born. Complications."
"Amber... you... I never knew...."
"Sara did, but I've been cut off from the universe at large for a long time. I don't blame you for not knowing about Saria or Keven." Amber sighed and sniffled. "I sometimes think of Saria growing up and how much I used to dislike the idea of being a mother. I was so wrong..."
"Amber, I'm sorry."
"Thank you." Amber drew in a breath. "What burns me sometimes is that Carlis never loved her. Not as a wife. She died having a baby of convenience, not love."
"So it was a political marriage?"
"Entirely. Carlis needed an heir since, even then, we knew Julio would eventually abdicate to go be with Sara. He was only waiting for Carlis to grow up and show he was going to be a good monarch. Of course, we never expected that he...." Amber smirked. "Oh, I shouldn't mention that."
"Mention what?"
"That Saria was the only woman Carlis had ever been to bed with. Carlis... is not into female company, and Kalundan society's not so understanding of that kind of attitude in men as they are in the case of women."
Julio's designated heir is gay? It would explain why he waited longer to abdicate and reunite with Sara. He had to make sure Kevem was going to be a good heir in case Carlis was outed. "Good thing Kalunda doesn't have tabloid rags yet."
"Yes." Amber smiled softly as the sparring finished, Xiao Li sprawled out on the ground with Keven standing over her. "Bravo!" she called out, causing both young people to look to her. "Keven, Xiao Li, you've heard of Tessa of course."
Xiao Li scrambled to her feet. "Tessa Stuart? It is an honor!" She rushed up and dropped to one knee. "My father speaks so highly of you."
"Oh, Highness, you musn't bow for me." Tessa brought the girl to her feet. "You look so much like your grandmother."
"You honor me by saying that," Xiao Li said, red appearing on her cheeks. "I wish so much to live up to the memory of my honored ancestors."
"I'm sure you will."
At that moment one of the Crimson Guards entered. "Lady Amber, Lady Tessa, Your Highnesses." She bowed respectfully. "His Majesty requests that you be prepared in the morning to welcome a guest of great noble rank."
"Oh? Who, Private? Is King Xu Cai visiting us?"
"No. It is a.... non-human. We have learned that a traveler from one of the non-human races will be visiting Kalunda tomorrow, and that she is of noble rank. A Princess Jhayka itl dhin Intuit of Lesser Intuit of a.... Taloran Empire."
"The Talorans?" Tessa's interest was piqued. "They're another extrauniversal race, this one through some kind of space rift. Rather standoffish lot, have only now begun to expand their contacts with the rest of us."
"We'll be ready," Amber promised. "And I, for one, can't wait to meet her."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2005-11-08 03:22am

Again, co-written by myself and Marina.

The Next Day

Two trumpets played out a sovereign fanfare, and a call echoed down the line of mercenaries, thirty-two strong, from their commander: "Present-Arms!" Guns were smacked down with a resounding crack against the stone floor of the platform and then raised up to be presented forward. Jhayka climbed down then with Ilavna Lashila at her side. She was wearing a huge greatcoat in military gray-green like before, with Ilavna much more colourful, as always, and Jhayka, hands in her pockets, presented a dogged sort of morose expression at the display as she strode past it onto the platform of the passenger section of the rail station at Kalunda. It was connected to the city these days by a modern electrical maglev line, two kilometers long, which went into the city walls to haul cargo to and from the railroad platform, and thence, of course, to the spaceport at East Port. There was thus a very great marshalling yard and loading facility for freight cars at Kalunda these days, as well, with hundreds of tracks and a hump-style gravity assist yard classifier.

The platform was built in neoclassical style with high Corinthian columns and a series of statues of Victory around the main gate through which Jhayka arrived, trailed by her Majordomo. She didn't plan to spend long in the rapidly modernizing Kalunda--though she'd return to it on the way back in several months--but it was a useful stop and would, at any rate, allow her to confirm the identity of her guest. Speaking of which, Miss Verdes was now dressed in a nicely tailored blouse, riding pants, and windbreaker, with boots, which had actually been custom-fit for her on the train by Jhayka's entourage, for which such extravagance seemed normal. Though there would be no nobility here, Jhayka was of course quite interested at the sort of formal reception that would be here, before they were brought into the city and she presented herself before the King there and examined her lodgings. In view of that she strode forward, out of the main concourse into the grand hall. "Acknowledged," she said, with a lazy wave of her hand, and the troops fell in around her, the rest, of course, still back on the train to guard it, as she led with Ilavna Lashila comfortably on her right side, as only a priest would have the right if of lower rank; everyone else would walk on the left.

Awaiting Princess Jhayka was a full lead Company of the King's Battalion of the Crimson Guards. They were dressed in formal uniform instead of practical modern wear, their red armor pieces glistening in the blue sunlight coming down from the transparent roof, with a light wind coming from the concourse. Sarina stood with the company, the only one wearing the officers' cloak In front of her, Amber stood and held her posture rigid. She, as when she'd greeted Tessa, was not wearing armor and had the silk pantaloons, corset, and cloak of red that high officers of the Crimson Guard wore. Her sword and pistol dangled at her hips. An order from Sarina brought the women of the Guard to attention and the Kalundan flag was held high, with the crest of the Royal Family (an old Terran falcon with a sword in it's claws) emblazoned on a field of red and blue. Amber bowed respectfully. "Your Highness Princess Jhayka itl dhin Intuit, I am Amber Proctor, Countess d'Kellius, Knight-Commander of His Majesty's Crimson Guard and Minister of the Royal Palace. I bid you welcome on behalf of His Majesty King Julio III Kevem Kalundius, the King of Kalunda and Sovereign of the Eastern Coast Cities, the Protector of the Civilized Peoples of the Eastern Region. He awaits you in the Palace."

"Lady d'Kellius, an honour to meet you," Jhayka replied, and then turned to her right and made a slight gesture. "This is the Adept Ilavna Lashila of our the Priesthood of the Lord Farzbardor." The entourage went unspoken, and for the moment, Danielle was simply another one of them until her status could be otherwise confirmed. "I am greatly pleased to hear that His Majesty has deigned to greet me in person.." Her ears flexed forward at that, almost bowing, and she smiled. "And I would certainly not desire to keep him waiting, so do lead on." The unusual crimson dress of the guards had been noted, but was not thought much askance. If anything it was modest compared to the silvered plate cuirassier and plumed helmets of the guard rostok lancers of the Imperial forces in Valera, if rather on the scandalous side to say the least. But Jhayka was not much concerned with scandal; rather, fighting quality, and that was something she unfortunately was not likely to find out. The practice of gender-segregated units was odd, but scarcely unusual for her, and it had historical precedent; Taloran pike in the Age of the Sword of God had also been organized by gender.

The orders wee given; the Crimson Guard made an about-face and led the way to the Royal Maglev Car. The entourage boarded and shot off through the city toward the palace. Dani looked around, astounded at the beauty of the city. It was almost like stepping back in time to ancient Greece or Rome, save that there were cars in the streets and public data terminals and a great deal of other modern things. The Kalundans were every bit as spectacular as she'd imagined.
The main station in the city was adjacent to the Royal Palace, and it was the East Gate that Jhayka was led through. The rest of the King's Battalion were present to greet them, adorned formally as before. Jhayka, Illavna, Dani, and the others were led by the grand fresco of a single long file of women in similar armor and dress to the Crimson Guard, a larger group of savage-looking men charging them as they stood with firm expressions and pikes lowered. A statue of the Praetoress Jovina, who led the Janissaries in their fight to the death in the Sack of Kalunda, dominated the Courtyard. On the other wall, aanother beautiful series of frescoes depicted the scenes of the Battle of East Henley Valley fought the following year; the initial charge, with Sara Proctor and Tessa Stuart prominent in the front ranks of the red-clad Janissaries that fought on the Allied Left Wing, the hill and mountain tribes waiting in the bushes above to ambush the Normas; the stout-hearted Shi'ites plunging through the ranks of the depleted Norman left after the gunpowder mines had decimated them; the Zhai cavalry, led by their Queen Sen Yu Ling, as they plunged into the Norman reserves, with a Norman pike clearly sticking through the belly of the beautiful young Queen of the Zhai; the arrival of the Kalundan Army under King Julio, the traitor Luvis being dragged behind, and the Normans fleeing upon their arrival.
One inside, a painting hanging above the entrance to the throne room depicted the surrender of the Norman Empire, with King Julio standing with Sara Proctor at his side and signing the treaty with his chief allies; the anti-Pope Pius XX and the Emir Rashad bin Abdullah al-Farani. The architecture was beautifully Roman, with fine tables and chairs in the receiving room. Another pair of male guards, from the King's Palace Guard, welcomed them into the throne room. Julio sat at his throne, a handsome man with anti-aging treatments to keep him looking as young as he was on the images outside, enrobed in ermine and silk and with an elaborate crown upon his head. Standing beside him as a guest was the red-haired Tessa Stuart, in a Crimson Guard uniform. "Welcome to Kalunda, Jhayka itl dhin Intuit, Princess of the Lesser Intuit. I bid you greetings. Allow me to introduce my Honored Guest the Lady Tessa Stuart, a Knight of the British Empire's Order of Victoria, Member of the Order of the British Empire, Knight-Commander of the Crimson Guard, Retired Captain of the Royal Marines."

"Your Majesty," Jhayka bowed low and polite from the waist and then straightened, her ears flexing toward Tessa. Her greatcoat was open at the moment to reveal the hilt of her gilded sword, and its inscribed wooden/silver scabbard which marked her as being of the high nobility of an old family. Ilavna Lashila had done the same. "I present myself with my confessor specialists, servants, attendants, and guards in my service, having come from the international railroad, Your Majesty, and offer you my most profuse thanks for your generous welcome and a demonstration of such renowned modesty which befits well one of your fine and noble stature. I fear that I come not accredited by Her Serene Majesty the Taloran Empress, but in my capacity as a private citizen and member of the Convocate in my own right," the use of citizen was intentional to reflect the fact that as a noble she was of the same caste as Her Serene Majesty, whereas a commoner would be only a subject. "It is most excellent that you have seen fit to allow me the chance to meet a famous hero, Dame Stuart, who has been involved in many fine exploits during the pacification of the rebellious upon this world and others besides. Truly you are generous, Your Majesty."

"I myself am honored to meet a Taloran of high rank," Julio replied. "Your people and their reputation for greatness and charity in regards to trade are becoming increasingly known of even here. I extend to you an invitation to stay as long as you desire, Your Highness. I am confident to say that the hospitality of the Kalundan people will meet all expectations. If you desire, I will assign the Prince Kevem to escort you through the Palace and the city while we make preparations for tonight's formal dinner."

"That the reputation of the Taloran Empire precedes itself to your nation and is reflected in a position light is a most excellent piece of news, Your Majesty, which I find heartening indeed. The hospitality of Kalunda is doubly welcome, and your invitation as well; I shall stay for, at the most, a week, I fear, but intend to return after I have completed by survey of the traditional zones of the planet via the international railway," Jhayka offered, with a rather charming smile, even, and ears now tall and attentive, as she concluded: "To have the escort of a Prince of high rank of your nation would be a further honour accorded to me which I could scarcely presume to deny as your Your Majesty's will, but find an astonishing act of generousity on your part. Certainly the reputation of the Kalundan people as the most hospital of all the nations of Gilead is well-deserved."

"Our people take the treatment of a guest very seriously, Your Highness. Our neighbors have a tendency to do the exact opposite." Julio relaxed in the throne a bit. "I will have Prince Kevem meet you in three hours, after our lunch time. In the meanwhile, I hope you will find the rooms laid aside for you and your entourage to be as comfortable as your own home. And I hope you will consider my offer for a guide in your travels and acceptance of my protection. I do not mean to insinuate you cannot defend yourselves, Your Highness, I am only concerned with the ways of the other societies of the Primitive Zone. For some of those here fear those nations they know more than the ones they do not."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2005-11-09 01:45pm

211 Rembrandt Lane, Cranstonville
Gilead, Gilean Confederacy

The Alliance Embassy was located not far from the major government buildings of the Gilean Confederacy and the planet itself; it was a converted in-city mansion that had once been owned by a media mogul. The torch-and-stars on the flagpole in front of the door fluttered gracefully in the breeze as Isaiah Shameel walked up. The Marines at the inside of the door put him through the usual security scans and let him go on his way. Shameel made his way to the office of the Embassy's AID Liaison, Ari David, who's secretary sent him in right away. David looked slightly younger, speaking English as a first language (unlike Shameel) as he greeted him. "Mister Shameel, I'm pleased you answered so quickly."
"I was surprised to get your call. I'm quite sure all of my papers are in order."
"Your visa is fine, don't worry. The Gilean authorities have no problems with your presence. They really have no problems with anyone. No, the reason I've called you is to make sure of what you're doing here."
"I explained everything in my visa application to the Gilean government," Shameel replied.
David frowned and leaned forward, switching to Hebrew when he spoke. "Quit the bullshit, Shameel. I'm not a CIA bureaucrat or some French floozy who can't find his own ass. I'm Mossad too. And AID knows all about why you're here."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Communications traffic in the military, secret meetings between various Gilean admirals and generals, some of which including persons with links to indigenious MI6? AID's well aware that a coup d'etat is about to go down. We've suspected it as possible ever since that ass Crayshaw got elected. And with Plymouth beaten, the British have no reason to oppose the boat getting rocked." David leaned back in his chair. "And now you come, having met with Elijah Weisbaum just days before you departed Earth HE-1 to come here. This wouldn't be the first time that Bloody Elijah has gotten his hands dirty."
After sitting silent for a moment, Shameel smirked a little. In Hebrew he said, "If you think I'm here to help overthrow the Gilean government, why don't you warn them?"
"Why would I want to? Why would AID want to? Remember our mandate from the Foquet-Erzburger Act? Orion may be under new government, but the War on Slavery continues, so to speak, and Gilead is now a major front in that war. Just don't get yourself burned."
"I'll be careful."
"One more thing." David stood up and prompted Shameel to do the same. "While you're about on your business, I need you to put out feelers for these two." David handed Shameel a pair of photos; one was of a green-eyed mestizo woman and the other of a bronze-skinned, brown-eyed Semitic woman. "Commanders Danielle Verdes and Fayza al-Bakar. They're dockmasters at Luther who came here for leave. Five days ago we received a notize from Commander Verdes that Commander al-Bakar had gone missing in the coastal resort town of Palm City. By the next day, Commander Verdes was also missing. The local authorities have been... less than cooperative."
"Probably under pay. I don't expect we'll see either again."
"The local slavers are careful and know of what we did to Orion. The instant they realize who Verdes and al-Bakar are, they'll kill them and dump the bodies to make it look like a serial killer or some such." Shameel noticed the look on his face. "Which, of course, is why I'll look into the matter so that their identities are kept safe."
"Lieutenant Sands is the junior attachè who handled the communication from Commander Verdes. If you find anything, please let him now."
"Of course." Shameel went to the door. "Thanks for the head's up."
"Just remember, we're staying out of this one. You're on your own."
"As you said earlier, we're Mossad. We're always on our own in the field. That's how we like to work." Shameel smirked and winked at David before leaving.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2005-11-10 01:35am

Berglund Estate, Berglund, Gilead

The "dungeon" basement of Illian Berglund's home was mostly quiet as Aurora walked along, wearing the gold-colored two-piece bikini that was pretty much her only suit in this place. She'd learned the layout of the underground pretty well, including the entrance to what she knew to be Berglund's private arsenal and an external passageway leading out of the grounds.
It was still unsafe to try and access Berglund's computer, but Aurora knew she had to find a way and soon. Fortunately, a way may have plopped itself into her lap. The Arab girl that Berglund had gotten from the Orion had at one point claimed to be a military engineer from the Alliance - one that may know computer systems. It was worth a try.
The Arab was being kept in a dungeon cell, as Aurora had been for a short while. Berglund used it as an incentive to get his acquisitions to break and accept their new lives. And it was in an isolated cell that Aurora found the girl. Her wrists were held spread-eagled above her head by ceiling-mounted shackles, appropriate to the setting Illian had worked to create. Aurora walked into the cell, disliking how cold the floor was on her bare feet, and noticed the girl look up. She was shivering a little in the cold - another one of Illian's little games, this one to make his prisoners' nipples stay perky. Knowing they were probably being watched or at least recorded by security systems, Aurora did what she knew would be expected of her in this situation and removed what amounted to her clothing. "You look cold," she said in a sultry tone.
"Come back to torture me some more?" the woman said defiantly.
"No. I came for pleasure." Aurora walked up and put her hands on the woman's hips, moving them up her sides as she pushed her lips to the Arab's neck. "I can warm you up, my dear."
"Go away."
Aurora smiled at her while her hands moved to the Arab's chest, and then up to her neck. She brought her head up and began to nuzzle the Arab woman's earlobe. As she did so, Aurora began to whisper. "Stay as you are and reply to me only in whispers. I need to talk with you privately and we are being watched."
"What is it?"
"I am not who I seem. You say you are an engineer in the military. What did you do?"
"Mostly ship functions. I've been Chief Engineering Officer on a number of Alliance warships."
"What do you know about computer security?"
"I know enough. That was my secondary course studies in officer school."
"Good. I need your help." Since she'd spent enough time nuzzling the woman's earlobe, Aurora moved back and put her lips to the Arab woman's. She was clearly unenthused, and the kiss was very quick. "Struggle a little. You're supposed to be unbroken."
"I've been struggling. I'm tired."
"I see." Aurora put her hands back on the woman's breasts and began to grope them. "You must break soon. Make it look good."
"Why should I?"
"Because once broken, you will be given a room above with a bed so that you can rest. You are also allowed the freedom to explore the mansion in your offtime, and we can work together. So long as you're not, Illian will leave you here and continue to put you through his perverted torture."
The woman's reaction came a few moments later, as Aurora moved her hands back to the Arab's hips. "Fine, how do you suggest I break?"
"Just convince yourself that you can't bear the pain anymore. Break down, plead to him to stop, that kind of thing. Illian's a control freak, not a sadist. Recognize his control over you and he'll consider you broken." The smile on Aurora's face was grim. "Of course, if he's not convinced, you'll make him angry and he'll get worse. And, I suspect, that will break you. Just don't let him break you too hard, I still need your help. And then, maybe, we can get out of here."
"I'm all for that."
"Then we're partners. My name is Consuela."
"I'm Fay."
"Good. Now, Fay... I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to have to follow through on my visit. I'm not into women and I don't like this any more than you do. Just follow along and I'll be on my way."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2005-11-10 09:44pm

Kalunda, Gilead

Tessa gently removed the silk clothes she was wearing and eased herself into the large hot tub in one of the palace rooms. It was the size of an Olympic swimming pool, though still soothingly warm. She sighed as she let the warmth of the water do wonders to her muscles, which she had made so tight during the formal greeting of the Taloran princess.
She sat there, trying to avoid thinking about all of the problems that had crept up since her arrival. She concentrated on the comfort of the moment only and, in fact, began to doze off.
Tessa would stir when she felt the water ripple near her. She opened her eyes and watched Amber settle into the tub. "If you don't mind me asking, why Kevem?"
Amber sighed and set her head against the cushioned rim of the pool, her arms and legs sprawled out. "Julio's way of getting Kevem experienced with handling outsiders. Him being the heir and all."
"Oh, I see."
They remained quiet for a bit longer. "I take it your supporters have threatened to back the Moralist factions?"
In response to Amber's question, Tessa replied, "Of course. They want as much support as they can get to make this as quick a fight as possible."
"But you're not convinced anymore, are you? That it can be done quickly?"
Tessa did not reply at first. Finally she answered, "After my first talk with Julio, I took the liberty of reading up on things. He's right. So many of the people my associates want to rely on are remarkably uncommitted when the time comes to actually vote."
"That's the way things are. Most of them are more worried about the Moralists and centralists than they are about the Normans and others. They're afraid that if they give the Moralists any kind of momentum, the Moralists will be able to undo everything and force the dissolution of all the enclaves, not just the bad ones. So when given a chance to back out, they do so."
"Unfortunately, that's going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy." Tessa shifted and caused the water to stir. "Now let's speak on none of this. I came here to relax."
"As did I." Amber grinned and laid her head back. She closed her eyes as well and sighed, "At least we still have these. Never in public anymore, though."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

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