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Beyond - Legends Annals of the Noble House of Trieste: Volume 11 (AU, OC)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Trieste, Apr 19, 2017.

  1. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Good productive discussion. Though, I strongly believe that when Declan said he was "with this administration to the end", that he intends that end to be of his and Ayn's making. You can't make me not believe that Ayn and Declan are not plotting to push Madsen out and install Declan as his replacement, because I'm firmly convinced that they are. ;)
     
  2. DarthUncle

    DarthUncle Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Mar 20, 2005
    Odd that you felt the need to stress that, makes me rethink what he said above, just as it did for @jcgoble3!
    The happy marriage interlude was well done too, loved the ending.
     
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  3. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @Vehn

    Hapes, Hapes Consortium

    The signing ceremony for the Bakuran-Hapes trade pact, which reduced tariffs on a specified list of products, was as smooth as one would expect from a highly polished society like the Hapes Consortium. From the glistening, gilded venue that hosted the event to the well-orchestrated media presence, everything came off to a T. Declan signed on behalf of Bakura. Though her signature was not needed on this document, Sierra Chume attended to give the royal imprimatur to the deal as her Minister of Trade signed.

    With ease and efficiency, the signing transitioned into a press conference for the benefit of the media at which the Queen Mother and Bakuran Minister of State fielded questions, largely on the future of Hapan-Bakuran relations given the Queen Mother’s birthplace. “As a galactic leader, the Consortium seeks out close relations with the other leaders. Thanks to its leading role in the Republic and mature economy, Bakura is an ideal partner for the Consortium,” Sierra Chume explained in response to one question. “The place of our birth is irrelevant. We would find common ground with Bakura if we had been born here on Hapes, on Roon, on Coruscant, or even on Bastion.”

    Declan was peppered with questions about Bakura’s interests in the Consortium. “We reject a zero-sum approach to economics. The galaxy is too interconnected, even across the vastness of space, for such a philosophy to be practical. The truth is that when Hapes does better, Bakura does better. Hapes represents a major market for Bakuran repulsors and medical technology. In turn, finished Hapan goods at competitive rates will raise the standard of living for our citizens.”

    It was on the back of this question that one reporter launched off in a different direction. “In the wake of Director Vehn’s address to the Galactic Senate, there is a growing sentiment in that body to formally repudiate the Kattan Doctrine. As the largest galactic power, the Republic could use military force on small polities, such as the Consortium, if the Kattan Doctrine is repealed. Do you support the repeal of the Kattan Doctrine?”

    “As in economic matters, politically the galaxy is more connected than ever,” Declan began. “While the Kattan Doctrine always allowed the use of force when it was directly related to the Republic’s interests, the current debate is about whether that parameter should be removed. If it is, I would like to see a framework that prevents unilateral action by the Republic. If we are to respond matters related to the common galactic good, which I think underlies Director Vehn’s drive to rouse action on the Centrality, then a galactic discussion must occur. In the days of the first Republic, the Old Republic, these debates could occur in the Galactic Senate because it truly represented the galaxy. It does not today. We would need a new way to foster such conversations.”

    “And does Your Majesty have fears for Hapes’ sovereignty if the Kattan Doctrine is repealed?” the reporter pivoted.

    “We are of a similar mind regarding the importance of consensus should any galactic power take action outside its borders and interests,” Sierra Chume opined. “Should anyone ever attempt to do so against Hapes, we would remind them that the Transitory Mists shielded the Consortium for over three millennia. An invading force will find it is not so easy to simply jump into the Consortium.”

    When the press conference ended and Declan stepped out of the public view, he was met by Holly. One look at her face told him everything. “Let me guess—the Prime Minister wants to talk to me about the Kattan Doctrine comments.”

    “Close. His Chief of Staff has been warming up his vocal chords on me. I’d say he’s at full rage now,” she said, extending the datapad to Declan.

    “Before you start, I wasn’t going to duck the question. The moment we start doing that, people get more interested, not less, in the subject at hand,” Declan said preemptively.

    Then the shouting began. He listened and tried not to take it personally, mainly by making faces at Holly, who roundly ignored him as she worked on a separate datapad. As Declan took his verbal beating, he was glad when Holly held up the datapad for him to look at. It gave him something to occupy his mind besides the tirade.

    Elfie wants to see you, the datapad said.

    Declan raised an eyebrow. Today was full of surprises, it seemed.
     
  4. Vehn

    Vehn Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    The Kattan Doctrine certainly is drawing some of the greatest headlines around the galaxy. It's, perhaps, a welcome diversion while Declan plots elsewhere.......as Alan Grant said in Jurassic Park, it's not the velociraptor you see that kills you its the ones that come in from the sides.
     
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  5. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    Nooooooooooooooo don't bring up dinosaurs! They're Bakura's greatest enemies! :D
     
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  6. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    How, that was a tough ride through political landscapes, filled with law mines and conflicts. Even marriages are treated like war exclamations.

    Good writing!

    Sorry that I was gone so long! The death of my father gave me a lot of other duties & occupations. I also was ill a lot, but my body still needs to adjust to the creché viruses a lot. It is not that I do not love my younglings, but to be around them is even more dangerous than a room full of lawyers.

    And DarthUncle was busy backing me up, nursing me!
     
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  7. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    Good to see you again! Would you like to be added to the notification list again? :)
     
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  8. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @Vehn

    Atalanta, Bakura


    “I miss you already,” Enoch said as he stroked her face.

    “So do I,” she sighed, her voice mixed with conflicting contentment in the moment and the coming longing. “I suppose that’s the trade for getting to wear such a handsome uniform. You have to go earn it from time to time.”

    “You know, you can come tomorrow when I ship out,” Enoch said as the pair stretched out on his couch in his officer’s quarters.

    “Your family will be there.”

    “I’m ready for you to meet them. You know that.”

    “I do,” she said, “but then I have to share you with them. For a little while longer, I want you all to myself.” She pulled herself closer to him and his manly sturdiness. “Today, now, there is no Noble House of Trieste that has claim to you.”

    “You know, nobody is really quite sure why we are the Noble House of Trieste,” Enoch said. “It was a fancy of Niall’s. He just started calling the family that when he got married and had children. At the time, there were the other Houses of Bakura: the House of Captison, the House of Antrose, the House of Sweetwater. He was trying to claim a place among them, the original settlers of Bakura. But to call us ‘Noble’ when nobody else claimed that for themselves…”

    “I’ve never thought about it. It’s just been a fact. ‘The Noble House of Trieste.’ Kerry certainly earned it in her day. Bakura’s first Chancellor…” She let that hang like a wispy cloud in the air. “Even if beings didn’t agree with her on policy, we were still proud of her, the way she represented us, showed the galaxy that Bakura could lead. That we weren’t a backwater anymore.”

    “Aunt Kerry did well for herself,” Enoch agreed. “But the Noble bit…it’s always stood out to me, even as a kid. I wondered, ‘What makes us so noble?’ When I got older, I realized maybe it meant something different to each of us. For me, it meant that I had to fight. Not for myself, but for others. One day I realized that I’m the only one of my cousins who can fight.”

    “I don’t know about that. Your cousins fight all the time. Ayn and Declan have been fighting in politics for years.”

    “Oh, I know. But they don’t really fight. They stay here. They don’t go to places in trouble, real trouble, where the blaster bolts fly and with their very presence say, ‘I’m going to make something right in the galaxy.’ Corrie did, but she didn’t take up a blaster. She ministered to those in need, away from the fighting. Cillian and Swann are smugglers—”

    “I thought they were freelance shippers,” she said.

    “Oh that’s what they tell people at fancy things like Yuletide parties, but the Council knows what they really do. They’re running goods under the sensors across the galaxy,” Enoch said dismissively. “They probably do it less for the money and more for the independence. Even though they stand at odds with the law and put themselves at risk every time they take on a cargo like that, they’re just doing it for the kick it gives them.

    “I know only beings like me, who were raised with money, can say that money isn’t everything, but it isn’t. My father has spent his life building a fortune. I think I’d throw myself off a building if I tried to do that. This galaxy has a lot that’s wrong in it. Bakura is one of the lucky planets. If I’d been born on any of a hundred different worlds, I would be little better than a slave,” Enoch continued. “How can I look at a galaxy like that and decide I’m just going to earn a paycheck? I knew that I had to pick up a blaster and fight not for myself, but for others.”

    “There are a lot of handsome men in a Marine uniform,” she said, “but none who really believe in what they’re doing like that.”

    “That’s not true and you know it,” Enoch chided. “We all serve because we believe in Bakura.”

    “You don’t just believe in Bakura, though. You believe in the galaxy. You believe we are worth saving.”

    “As long as you’re in it, I always will,” Enoch said before kissing her. She had a point earlier: today could be just them. He was determined to enjoy it.
     
  9. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @Vehn

    Kurtzen Reservation, Telaan Valley, Bakura

    “Declan, this frakking Sithspit needs to stop.”

    Declan wasn’t sure what was more shocking: that he’d just heard his cousin Elfie use the first two curse words ever or that he had a feeling he couldn’t ascribe it to the hormones coursing through her pregnant body. As he looked out at the land in the county he used to govern, he had to agree with Elfie.

    The Bakuran government had fulfilled its promises to fund the establishment of the Kurtzen on Bakura, gifting them the land, equipment, and resources to make it happen. Much of that was coordinated through the Prytis Accords Foundation, which Elfie ran. No one was more informed about the Kurtzen situation than she was—and that was what shocked Declan. It only took eyes to see that something was wrong.

    The Kurtzen, who had eked out a living on Kitokaime, were hunched over in the field doing their planting and sowing for the season. There was nary a grumble from them, but Declan was appalled.

    “Where are the machines?” Declan asked. “The Senate specifically funded the purchase of agricultural equipment to eliminate this kind of manual labor. Did they reject them?”

    “They never arrived,” Elfie explained. “The Kurstzen don’t mind. They just shrug and say they know how to plant crops. It would be one thing if they chose to use traditional agricultural methods—that’s their right—but they haven’t even experienced the alternative. I’ve been able to make sure that only adults do the planting to keep the kids in school, but I’m afraid that situation won’t hold. The Kurtzen reservations have autonomy to make their own decisions on such matters.”

    “The records from before the Neo-Sith War show that while the Kurtzen had traditions, they didn’t reject technology. If this becomes a cycle that takes root, they may be consigned to second-rate life for generations,” Declan said. “Elfie, you know that Ayn and I are committed to the cause. Ayn made sure the 289 budget had funding for the Kurtzen.”

    “And it does, but the government-mandated suppliers aren’t fulfilling the terms of the deal and I don’t have any leverage under the federal contracts to move them along,” Elfie said. She looked back at the laboring Kurtzen. “We need to give them their best chance, Declan.”

    The Taoiseach put a hand on her shoulder. “Elfie, I will take care of this. I promise.”

    As his shuttle left the Valley to streak back towards Salis D’aar, Holly, who had silently watched the entire scene, asked, “What’s our angle here?”

    “We’ll need Ayn for this,” Declan said. “The Senate will be our most powerful tool.”

    “No, I mean for the plan,” Holly said.

    “No angle,” Declan replied as he looked out his viewport at the rapidly passing scenery of verdant landscape.

    “There’s always an angle.”

    “Then here’s the angle: I promised the Kurtzen leaders I would always stand by them. I’m going to do that,” Declan said, turning back to look at Holly with an icy glare. “This is about a better Bakura, Holly. The plan can’t get in the way of that.”

    Holly knew better than to say anything in response. The Minister of State had ended the discussion.
     
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  10. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @Vehn The hits just keep on coming!

    Coruscant

    “A lot of beings around here still remember you fondly, Fiona,” Admiral Nix Cracken said. One of the senior fleet captains of the Republican Fleet, Cracken was from one of the old Republican families whose history stretched back to the Galactic Civil War. “I hope you know we would have supported a transfer for you to the regulars when you got pulled from active duty and stashed behind a desk with the Bakuran Fleet.”

    “I know,” Fiona assured him, “but it was the Defense Fleet or nothing for me. I wanted to serve my homeworld however I could, even if it meant shackling myself to a desk. Although, sometimes I wonder where I had more of an impact: active duty or overseeing a generation of cadets.” She reached for some of the brown bread in the middle of their table at the trendy Coruscanti café that Cracken had suggested they meet in for lunch. Fiona was in town to lecture at Republican University. Her old friend had insisted on treating her if she was coming all this way. “Though, I will admit I thought I still had some good years left in me when they pulled me off the bridge,” she allowed as she slathered the bread with butter.

    “If they’re still trusting me with a cruiser, then there’s no question you would still be on the line,” Cracken said, pointing his knife at her. “If we’d had a war like the Neo-Sith War in our day, you would have gone down as one of the greats, up there with Ackbar at least. There’d probably be streets named after you up and down the galaxy.”

    “Now you’re just flattering me,” Fiona said. “Truth be told, a civil war and the Ysenn insurrection were enough for me. Nearly lost my life in both of those as it was. Probably would have if I’d faced down an enemy like the Sith fleet. Still don’t know how my mother got out of that alive.”

    “The great Captain Jane,” Cracken sighed. “You see the holodrama they did about her?”

    “Lies, all of it,” Fiona replied. “Except the part about her sleeping around before she met Dad. That was probably true.” They shared a laugh.

    “So, Republican’s paying you a nice honorarium to wax poetic about your life? Nice work if you can get it.”

    “Actually, I’m teaching at one of Bakura’s universities these days. Lecturer position on military history and theory. Not a bad way to spend my time, though I have to spend the entire first class letting the students get all their questions out of the way or we won’t get anything else done during the term,” Fiona said. “Republican didn’t ask me to lecture on anything I didn’t already have notes on. It’s easy money. Truth be told, I wanted a little hit of the old game back here.” Even though Fiona had spent the majority of her career in uniform with the Bakuran Defense Fleet, she had been called up for stints with the Republican Fleet periodically as part of the conditions of the militia regulations that had authorized Bakura to keep a local fighting force under the Republic. These had been fewer and further between the higher she got in the ranks of the Defense Fleet, but her last tour with the Republican Fleet had been as a full Admiral, albeit on a brevet, or temporary, basis in a time of conflict.

    “Trust me, you don’t want to be anywhere close to the mess that’s going down right now. The Chancellor’s committed to getting Senatorial approval to use the Fleet outside the borders of the Republic. He wants to go down as some kind of great leader, committed to a wider galactic vision or some such legacy building rot. I’ve been hauled before at least three subcommittees formed by the Senate to give my opinions on the matter, which are that I have no opinions.”

    “Spoken like a soldier,” Fiona observed. “This could be a seminal moment for the Republic, you have to admit.”

    “Absolutely,” Cracken concurred, “but there are enough Senators who think the Kattan Doctrine has prevented the Republic from squandering its military might on unimportant regional disputes that it’s still going to be a long debate. The Chancellor, however, is pushing hard to take action on the Centrality.”

    “The stories of the atrocities occurring make a convincing case for action now,” Fiona allowed.

    Cracken looked around and leaned in. “Between you and me, if we don’t get in soon, this is going to get a whole lot worse. Republican Intelligence has been drawing up scenarios and the longer we wait, the more beings are going to die. High Command has already reviewed plans for intervention, but the problem is that we’d have to disclose them to the Armed Services Committee of the Senate and that’s just going to get them caught up in a larger political debate.”

    “Nix, I think you and I both know there’s a way around that,” Fiona said nonchalantly.

    “What, not tell the Senate? Yeah, thanks very much, I like my pension,” Nix scoffed.

    Fiona gave him a glare. “Come on. You know.”

    “Fee, I honestly don’t,” Nix replied earnestly.
     
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  11. Vehn

    Vehn Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    What do they have planned....
     
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  12. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    That is a very good question...
     
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  13. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Wow, two updates when I was getting used to work again after being taken out by a mean virus for a while.

    Yes, please, put me on your list again!
     
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  14. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @Vehn

    Marian Square, Salis D’aar, Bakura

    Declan arrived at the executive offices in obedience to the Prime Minister’s summons. This was part of the life of a Cabinet minister: dropping everything when you heard, “You’re needed at Marian Square.” It was inconvenient, especially when it interfered with tickets to the theatre. Declan had been looking forward to tonight’s performance of Verily, A New Hope, an iambic pentameter play about the events of the Galactic Civil War, circa the Battle of Yavin. It had garnered rave reviews and promised to be an enjoyable date night. Ayn would have to tell him how it was.

    After clearing security at the entrance to Marian Square, Declan made the familiar right turn towards the West Office. However, he was stopped by Madsen’s Chief of Staff coming towards him. “Sit room tonight,” he said.

    Declan knew better than to ask if everything was all right in public. If this meeting was in the situation room, it was serious. “And here I was going to complain about missing the theatre,” Declan remarked dryly.

    “You got tickets to that Shakespeare bunk? Just say things in plain Basic,” the Chief of Staff grumbled. “My wife made me go. Consider this a favor. Speaking of favors, any way you can convince your wife to stop the committee hearings into fraud on the Kurtzen Reservation?”

    Last week, Senator Carnavon had commenced Senate hearings into reports that government suppliers were failing to uphold their contracts for crucial supplies the Kurtzen reservations. Though the executives called to testify claimed they were doing all they could, Carnavon was having none of it. “Shame on you. Shame,” he told one executive. “It is incumbent on every Bakuran to help restore our heritage by fostering the reestablishment of the Kurtzen—especially those who have entered into professional covenants to do so. The taoiseachs who sit in this chamber today deserve your apology and your promise, before the beings of Bakura, to do better.”

    “It’s giving us a bit of a black eye. Makes it look like we’re not properly administering the government,” the Chief of Staff continued as they stepped into the lift that would take them below ground level to the situation room.

    “Never mind the fact that it’s true?” Declan challenged. “The Kurtzen deserve better. By not holding our suppliers accountable, we dishonor our commitment to them.”

    “I’m not saying I disagree. Just be a little more quiet about it,” the Chief of Staff suggested.

    “Nothing gets done when you’re quiet about things,” Declan parried, but politely. The debate ended there, for the lift doors opened and it was a short walk to the situation room. The Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, and several senior military commanders were already assembled around the long table. Vidscreens adorned the walls, especially a large one opposite the Prime Minister’s seat at the head of the table, and a holoprojector was embedded in the middle of the table.

    “Declan, good, let’s begin,” Madsen said. Trieste took his seat opposite Minister Corbrand. “Kelli—if you would.”

    “Thank you, Mr. Prime Minsiter,” the Defense Minister said as she stood. “Earlier today, we received a request from Republican High Command. They are currently planning special forces operations in the Centrality in conjunction with the Federation at the request of the Chancellor.”

    “Objective?” Madsen asked

    “The capture, or if necessary execution, of General Gretyl Arhellan, one of the senior commanders of the East Centrality,” Minister Corbrand said as an image of Arhellan appeared on the main vidscreen. “Federation sources have determined that Arhellan is responsible for large numbers of civilian casualities. She is a hardliner inside the Eastern regime and completely opposed to any reconciliation with the West. Though she does not make many public pronouncements, she has spoken of, and I quote, ‘a day of reckoning for the West’ and that ‘the ultimate victory will come through the valor of the might of the East.’”

    “Charming lady,” Madsen remarked.

    “Republican Intelligence has independently verified the Federation’s dossier and confirms that Arhellan is one of the architects of the East’s brutal campaign of atrocity and death against its own citizens to fuel their war machine,” Corbrand continued. “The Federation is planning a decapitation strike targeting Arhellan and her key martinets in the hopes of easing the suffering of the Eastern Centrality. Additionally, the death of General Arhellan may allow moderates inside the Eastern Centrality to gain the upper hand in the government and enter into negotiations with the West.”

    “Unless I’m not mistaken, the Kattan Doctrine remains in place,” Declan observed.

    “It does, which is why High Command has come to us. As you know, the Defense Fleet was authorized by the Galactic Senate as a system-level militia, a privilege they extend to select member worlds based on specific cause. In Bakura’s case, it was in recognition of our proximity to uncharted Wild Space and history of attack from worlds unknown. The federal government fully funds the Defense Fleet, but our officers participate in exchange programs with the Republican Fleet and are subject to assignment to them as requested.

    “As a planet-funded militia, the Defense Fleet is also not subject to Galactic Senatorial review, which is the genesis of High Command’s request. The Chancellor believes that continued inaction on the Centrality will result in catastrophic loss of life if unchecked for much longer. The current debate in the Galactic Senate regarding the abandonment of the Kattan Doctrine has yet to produce a majority willing to authorize use of the Republican Fleet outside the Doctrine. Any military action by the Republican Fleet, including special ops, would need to be reported to the Senate and possibly skew opinion against ending the Kattan Doctrine. The Chancellor has requested that the Marines take part in the joint operation with the Roon Federation in the Centrality,” Minister Corbrand stated.

    “But while we do not report to the Galactic Senate, military action must be disclosed to our Senate,” Madsen said.

    “Correct, though High Command has offered to give us political cover by providing operational classification that under laws passed by the Galactic Senate would prevent us from disclosing the operation to the Bakuran Senate,” Corbrand stated. “This operation would never be publicized—at least not during our lifetime. It is a one-time mission to take decisive action and save lives in the Centrality. More than that, the Chancellor believes the Federation is growing weary of Senate debate and needs reassurance that the Republic is truly committed to addressing the humanitarian crisis in the Centrality. ”

    “Mr. Prime Minister, I cannot support this, at least not without fully informing the Senate,” Declan stated firmly. “While the scenario outlined by Minister Corbrand is legal, it relies on loopholes that twist us into knots. If this becomes public, the damage to the prime ministry will be catastrophic.”

    “The only people aware of this operation are in this room, Minister Trieste,” Corbrand said. “If word gets out, it’s because someone in here leaks it.”

    “No operation leaves an invisible footprint,” Declan observed. “If I have learned one thing from galactic history, it is that the truth will out. Leia Organa Solo had her parentage outed on the floor of the New Republic, ending her political career. But let’s set those issues aside to raise another question: where is the upside for Bakura? A secret operation, never to be spoken of, that we can’t use to demonstrate to the galaxy that we’re committed to a better life for all beings?”

    “This is about doing the right thing,” Corbrand said pointedly, “not scoring political points.”

    “And at the cost of undermining our credibility with the Senate?” Delcan turned to Madsen. “I have made it clear at Cabinet meetings I support action on the Centrality—but as part of a broad galactic coalition. This is secret, bilateral action. Do the deaths in the Centrality need to stop? Yes. Should we do it behind closed doors? No. We need public action to show dictators and tyrants that the galaxy will no longer tolerate disregard for sentient life—and I stress it must be public action. If we have to hide what we’re doing, we shouldn’t do it.”

    “While no one here wants more death,” Madsen said, “this seems like a significant risk for us if it does come out.”

    “In exchange for our cooperation, High Command has offered a package consisting of technology transfers and officer development funds,” Corbrand said, “totaling 20 million credits.”

    Declan sat back, unimpressed. “By all means, let’s sell our integrity for a measly 20 million.”

    “When does High Command want an answer?” Madsen asked.

    “They need a decision in a week. They have identified a window where General Arhellan will be vulnerable and a go/no-go decision must be made then,” Corbrand said. “If it will help, Defense was already drawing up some scenarios for action in the Centrality that we can make available for review.”

    “Have them sent over,” Madsen ordered. He stood. “Thank you all.”

    The rest of the situation room rose to their feet and Madsen left. As the generals and admirals left, Corbrand looked at Declan in bewilderment as he gathered his things. “I thought you were going to be on board with this, Dec.”

    “Not like this,” Declan said firmly. “Not when we go around the Senate.”

    “Legislative notification is a good idea, but when we’re talking about lives ideals have to face realities,” Corbrand said.

    “Maybe when they’re Bakuran lives,” Declan replied.

    “So a Bakuran life is worth more than a Centrality life?”

    “If the Centrality had decided to insert itself in our civil war, all those years ago, I hope they would have at least had the guts to do it in the daylight, Kelli,” Declan quipped before he left.
     
  15. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Already read this excellent update yesterday, but it took me a bit longer to reply then I thought.

    What I also cherish, apart from the things that I already praised like your arc of suspense, your incredible characters & the political crying game going on, is your knack for charming details like this one:

    Declan had been looking forward to tonight’s performance of Verily, A New Hope, an iambic pentameter play about the events of the Galactic Civil War, circa the Battle of Yavin. It had garnered rave reviews and promised to be an enjoyable date night. Ayn would have to tell him how it was.

    Perfect, just perfect!
     
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  16. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
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  17. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @Vehn

    Kothlis

    Two years.

    The rounds of negotiation had been seemingly endless. Even though both sides wanted a deal, it came down to what that deal looked like. The West Rim Holo Corporation had grown too big, too important for the Republic to not purchase it, but for those very reasons the owners weren’t just going to give it away. Even so, they knew it would be better in the hands of a united holonet authority like the Republic. Service would be better, communications smoother, and the consumer would benefit.

    That was what kept both sides going through the interminable offers and counteroffers. Though there were often no less than two dozen beings in the room at any time, those who spent a few sessions understood that only two beings present mattered.

    For the government, it was Deputy Commissioner Sac Tao of Cato Neimoidia. It was stereotypical to say that Neimoidian was good at business, but Tao was. As was often the case in a large bureaucracy, Tao was nowhere near the top of the pyramid, but that only meant he had long ago found the niche where he could do the most good. He was principled to in that he was determined to get fair value for the Republic. As long as he was on the case, this deal was not going to become a boondoggle that would embarrass the Republic.

    For West Rim, the key negotiator was Vesper Lynd. She’d brought the tenacity she had shown on the limmie field to the board room. She judiciously chose when to concede, when to hold firm, and when to take a pause to let everyone think things over. In the first six months of negotiations she united the other owners of the West Rim Holo Corporation behind her so they spoke with one voice. It was a luxury Tao did not have as he was only the primary negotiator for the Republic, having to manage several interested agencies jockeying for influence and say in the decision.

    Tao and Lynd had recognized each other’s power early on and though they spoke to the whole table, each knew who they really had to convince. Far from an adversarial relationship, Lynd invited Tao to dinner where all talk of negotiations had been prohibited. Instead, they’d shared stories of their children, homeworlds, and—in Vesper’s case—limmie exploits. At each subsequent negotiating session, the pair met socially at least once to continue the acquaintance. It had gone a long way to building a bond that kept them both at the table when things got tense.

    At their last session on Thyferra, Vesper had reported that, “This is a deal I can take back to our board.” It was approved. Today’s signing was a complicated affair with multiple electronic copies requiring myriad signatures and a deluge of initials from all parties involved from each of the primary owners and officers of the West Rim Holo Corporation and several Republican departments ranging from the Treasury to Commerce to Telecomm.

    Vesper had been endowed by Declan with the authority to sign for the Noble House of Trieste and was being walked through each and every place she had to make her mark. Even with a hand that long ago became used to a quick flourish of a signature on boloballs the volume was trying. Without the aid of paralegals overseeing everything, the process would have descended into chaos, never to be made sense of again.

    That made it all the more surprising when the attorneys suddenly announced that they were done and the Republic now owned the West Rim Holo Corporation and its next generation holographic network. It was like the parting of clouds. Everyone smiled, laughed, and shook each other’s hands. Someone broke out cigaras and alcohol.

    Vesper and Sac, after making the rounds, quietly stepped onto the balcony outside the conference room where their colleagues were reveling in the sale’s finalization.

    “That was something, Ms. Lynd,” Tao said, raising his glass to her. “I do not think I will ever be responsible for so many credits changing hands in one transaction again in my career.”

    “That makes two of us,” Vesper agreed, taking a drink. When presenting the West Rim board the Republic’s offer, she had already calculated how much the Noble House of Trieste was going to receive. There were more zeroes in that number than she’d ever come close to seeing on an ELL contract. “I think the Republican taxpayers will be pleased with the price and I know the West Rim stockholders will be.”

    “A good deal. So rare these days,” Sac sighed as he looked at the plains of the Bothan homeworld. “It is so strange.”

    “It’s the way of the galaxy,” Vesper said. “Most sentient species maximize their own profit, no matter the cost to the common good.”

    “No, not that,” Sac said quickly. “Forgive me. I was lost in my own head. I was just thinking about when I was in school. Everyone always thought the athletes at my schools were dumb. All they could do was throw a ball. I never thought that. Yes, they did not prioritize academic studies, as my family thought was most important, but I knew that it took a certain intelligence to run a route or adjust a play on the fly. Yet even so, I had to admit they often did not excel in other things due to their singular focus on athletics. You, Ms. Lynd, appear to be the exception to that rule: as adept here as you were in the 280 Final.”

    Vesper smiled. Long ago Sac had admitted he had dug up a recording of the game and confessed to a certain enjoyment in watching her Galactic Cup championship performance. “You flatter me. Ever since leaving the field I’ve wanted to do something to make a difference, to really have a life after limmie.”

    “I would say that today you have done that, and more,” Sac said earnestly. “To making a difference, and a better future.” He raised his glass in a proposed toast.

    Vesper clinked glasses with her erstwhile opponent. “Speaking of the future, that reminds me. I have a question for you…”

    ***

    Salis D’aar, Bakura

    Declan looked at the realtime bank statement. He would shortly instruct Uncle Ronan to begin managing the credits, but for the moment he wanted to soak in that number and know that if he wanted he could withdraw it all and do something preposterous with them. Fill a swimming pool, cover the walls of the Plaza, lay them in a consecutive line across the diameter of Bakura. They were all tempting ideas.

    “Do you think anyone who came before us ever saw a balance like that?” Vesper asked. She had come to the Plaza at Declan’s request for a private celebration commemorating the sale.

    “They say that a lot of the Noble House’s wealth was lost in the Neo-Sith War when the Bakuran stocks collapsed,” Declan said. “What got us through were the offworld holdings that they’d diversified into. But to have this much liquid capital…no…I don’t think anyone has.” The number on the holoprojector was entrancing.

    “What are you going to do with it? Blow it on spice and women?” Vesper joked.

    “Just 10% of it,” Declan replied.

    Vesper laughed. “Still not sure there’s enough spice in the galaxy for you to spend that much on.” It was a very large number.

    “I’ll have Ronan manage it for the moment. Safeguard it for the moment until we have concrete plans for it. This money Vesper…this is the future of the family. We’re going to use it to seed the Bakuran economy, drive the sorts of innovation that create leaps forward in technology. The investments we make with these credits will be what our children and grandchildren live on.” He raised his glass of whiskey to his mouth.

    “You know, I bet we could buy a planet with that much,” Vesper proposed.

    “Maybe Dathomir’s for sale again,” Declan suggested.

    “Nah, you can only get that in a sabacc game,” Vesper disagreed. She suddenly clicked her tongue. “Almost forgot. I asked Tao that question you wanted.”

    “And?”

    “He said that thanks to him and me working together, he’d stay away from purchasing Sienar or Incom for the next few months. He’s also on the negotiating team for the Republican Fleet and they’re projecting a boom for those companies if the Kattan Doctrine gets repealed, given their massive existing contracts. He said that an investor could probably get away with the purchase since they’d be extrapolating from the public contracts, but given your public profile it’d draw a lot of attention if anyone found out,” Vesper informed him.

    “And there wasn’t a problem with him sharing this with you?” Declan asked. “No insider trading?”

    “Not officially, but he said that while everyone knows Sienar and Incom are major contractors, the full extent of the business relationship is pretty deep. Only beings on the inside know how far down it goes—or how much those companies would benefit from a Kattan Doctrine rollback.”

    “Thanks for leveraging the relationship,” Declan said. “They were both on a proposed list of investments and I had an inkling they’d be a bad idea.”

    “And here I thought you’d be putting a buy order in under a pseudonym immediately,” Vesper said archly.

    “I’m just waiting for you to leave,” Declan told her.

    “That’s what I thought,” Vesper said with a smirk.

    “But before you go, there is one thing we have to settle up,” Declan said. He put down his glass and picked up the datapad sitting next to him.

    Vesper watched out of the corner of her eye as Declan tapped away. She wasn’t going to play into his hands by asking what he was doing. She could tell he wanted her to. Her curiosity wasn’t that overpowering. Something flickered and Vesper just caught it. The account balance of on the holoprojector had gone down. It would have been a major change to any other sum, but in one this large it seemed paltry.

    “Just buy yourself a Star Destroyer?” Vesper asked archly.

    “No. That was repaying a debt,” Declan said, putting the datapad down. “To you for everything you did.”

    “You’re not serious,” Vesper said, putting her drink down.

    “I absolutely am. You made that sale happen. You put two years of your life into it. That is going above and beyond the call for the Noble House.”

    “Declan, if you just sent all that to me—”

    “You and Dorian’s future is secure. I’ll have Uncle Ronan take care of the details, but it’ll go into some kind of trust so you don’t lose most of it in taxes,” Declan said. “Vesper, I’m serious about what I said: we are going to invest these credits back into Bakura. That means someone’s going to have to watch these investments, serve on boards, know when to put more in, know when to pull out. Your mother and Uncle Ronan won’t be able to track it all. I need someone smart and trustworthy to make the right calls with these investments. I want you to take a six month vacation with Dorian. He’s 10 now, right?”

    “Yes.”

    “Good age to start seeing the galaxy,” Declan advised. “Relax. Spend time just you and him. Then come back and we’ll discuss your involvement in the Bakuran Future Fund.”

    “That’s a terrible name, Dec,” Vesper said flatly.

    “Bring me a better one in six months,” Declan instructed with a smile. “Today, let’s drink to the fact you are now a very rich being.” He raised his glass once more. Vesper hesitated, and then joined him. It wasn’t every day your net worth exploded, after all.
     
  18. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    I had them in my hands each time I am in the English book store section of Berlin´s famous "Kulturhaus Dussmann". But I never bought them...

    Anyway, a nice update full of humour! :D
     
    DarthUncle likes this.
  19. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    So the sale finally goes through. What I would give to have control of that many credits. It was said in TLJ that "only one business in this galaxy gets you this rich." Apparently the Noble House has found a second.
     
  20. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    You know, I keep thinking about that quote in reference to the Triestes! Interesting fact: that world was in the Corporate Sector...
     
  21. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @Vehn

    Marian Square, Salis D’aar, Bakura

    Declan joined Minister Corbrand, Madsen’s chief of staff, and the Prime Minister in the West Office. With this group, it could mean only one thing: a decision on the Federation black ops mission to the Centrality. The trio stood in front of the Prime Minister’s desk as he remained seated. This was how Madsen usually did business, a subtle way of reminding those in the room that no matter what power they had, he was still the ultimate authority.

    “Let me get right to the point. I’ve considered the Republic’s request for Marine participation in joint operations with the Federation. I’m approving it. Taking action on the Centrality is the right thing to do,” Madsen stated, “and it doesn’t matter whether we get the public credit or not. We need to save lives, not score points.”

    “I’ll begin coordination with the Republican Fleet and Federation armed forces immediately,” Defense Minister Corbrand said. Declan could tell she was elated that the plan had been green lit.

    “Tell Republican High Command we will accept their classification of these operationsMadsen continued. Declan was on the verge of saying something when Madsen turned to look at him. “However, we will disclose the operation to the Senate Armed Services Committee in closed testimony after completion. This is in keeping with standard reporting procedures to the Senate on military actions. The Republican seal on the operation will keep it from becoming an issue of wider debate.”

    “I applaud the decision to inform the Senate,” Declan said, “but recommend we inform Armed Services before the start of the operation.”

    “We do that and they’re going to muck up the works before we even get started,” Madsen’s chief of staff objected. “Besides, we should follow standard protocol and report after completion. That’s how all other military operations are reported. Doing so in advance would signal that this is different, which is precisely the sort of message we don’t want to send to the Senat.e”

    “With respect, this is] different,” Declan said. “We are talking about greatly exceeding the Defense Fleet’s mandate—”

    “At the request of the Republic, who granted that mandate,” Corbrand interjected.

    “The Senate set the terms of the Defense Fleet in their Militia Act, not the Chancellor, who is the source of this request,” Declan rebutted. “Politically, it’s better to have Armed Services on our side before we send troops into battle. Get their commitment and then we have political cover for intervention. That way they can’t leak to the press without being implicated as accomplices.”

    “They leak this and we’ll hand them over to the Republic for violating state secrets!” the chief of staff exclaimed.

    “When we bring a completed operation to the Senate and demonstrate that we’ve saved millions of lives in the Centrality through decisive action, any leak that gets made will only benefit us,” Corbrand pressed. “We are the decisive heroes. So we bent the rules over our disclosures to the Senate. We’re not operating outside our constitutional powers as the executive branch.”

    “We inform the Senate after,” Madsen decided. “That will be all. Declan, a moment?”

    The chief of staff and Minister of Defense withdrew, no doubt heading straight to get the ball rolling on the operations. When the door shut behind them, Madsen said, “First off, I valued your input during the process. You articulated your positions well and stuck to them. Your arguments about Senatorial notification swayed me to bring them into the loop as part of the plan. I trust that you’re onboard from here on out?”

    “Absolutely, Mr. Prime Minister.”

    “Good, because I need you in the room on this. Working with the Federation like this is going to do what you’ve been talking about in raising our profile, showing that Bakura continues to lead. Make sure Roon knows part of why we’re doing this is that we put our promises of support into action.”

    “I’ll make that clear to them,” Declan confirmed.

    “There is one minor modification that I wanted you to be aware of,” Madsen said. “I’ve decided to read the Senatorial leadership into the operation alongside Armed Services after mission completion. Given your position on Senatorial disclosure and your marriage, I didn’t want you to have to carry that secret when you go home to Ayn. Given the coordination we’ll need to do with the Federation, cutting you out was not an option.”

    “That’s considerate of you, sir,” Declan said. “I’ll keep things mum until the Senate is briefed. That doesn’t stretch my conscience too far.”

    “Good. Let me know if there’s anything noteworthy that comes through from the Federation,” Madsen said, dismissing Declan.

    The Minister of State withdrew and collected Holly from a vestibule where she’d been waiting for him during the meeting. “Were you held after by teacher to be reprimanded or praised?” she asked archly, having noted the departures in advance of Declan.

    “He wanted me to pledge allegiance to the flag,” Declan remarked.

    “And you did with fervor, I take it?”

    “He didn’t ask anything I couldn’t give,” Declan said. “Do we have a go bag ready for me?”

    “Yes,” Holly confirmed.

    “Good. Let Ayn know there might be some last minute trips and late nights ahead. In the meantime, do you have the accounts?”

    “Waiting for you on a secure server at the Plaza.”

    “I’ll review it tonight to make sure everything’s set. By the way, news from Elfie?”

    “Supplies and equipment are flowing. The Senate investigation has the contractors on best behavior,” Holly reported.

    “Tell her the moment they’re anything less than her best friends, let us know. I wouldn’t mind bringing the hammer down on somebody while we wait for things to begin here,” Declan muttered. He was so close now, and yet he felt as far away as ever.

    All that would change soon.
     
  22. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    So Declan has to keep a secret from his wife, at least for now. The problem with that is that women always have a way of finding secrets out.

    In any case, good to see action being taken on the Centrality.
     
    AzureAngel2, Trieste and Vehn like this.
  23. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    [​IMG]
    :D
     
  24. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    That's the quote I was looking for! :D
     
    DarthUncle and AzureAngel2 like this.
  25. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @Vehn


    Marian Square, Salis D’aar, Bakura

    The Madsen prime ministry carefully orchestrated everything about the evening. First were the staged arrivals of the various players: Chief of Staff, Minister of Defense, Minister of State, Marine Commandant, Republican Intelligence liaisons, and other key leaders. They used a every available entrance to the executive mansion to disguise the gathering and not tip off any observers that a major meeting was taking place.

    The next step had been to prepare dinners inside the mansion for the team. One past prime ministry had made the mistake of always ordering Durosian takeout whenever they were pulling an all-nighter on something important and the fact eventually got out to the media, who began developing sources in every Durosian joint across the capital to get early warning on big developments. The kitchen droids were kept active late to facilitate the meal, served in the situation room.

    It was this command bunker for the Bakuran government that would bear witness to Operation Floral, the removal of General Gretyl Arhellan of the Eastern Centrality and her top lieutenants. Republican Intelligence confirmed that Arhellan had gathered her commanders at one of the Centrality’s exclusive resorts available only to the senior officials of the Eastern regime. The agenda was vague, but dealt with some kind of planning, possibly related to further acts against civilians and political opponents. It had been deemed by Republican Intelligence and the Roon Federation to be their best chance at halting the wanton loss of life in the Eastern Centrality.

    Prime Minister Madsen sat at the head of the table. Though being executed under the auspices of the Republican Fleet, this was still a Bakuran operation and his seating position reflected this reality. As before, he was flanked by Declan and Kelli Corbrand. The Republican Intelligence lead on this matter was to Declan’s right and the Commandant of the Marines to Corbrand’s left. A Marine general was running communications for the situation room with the tactical leader on the ground.

    “The plan is a pincer movement,” the Commandant briefed the room. “Our strike force will come from the north while the Federation’s detachment will approach from the south, covering the two most accessible escape routes. Federation Starfighters are at a hyperspace relay with 30 seconds response time in the event that any target attempts to make an extraterrestrial run for it. The objective is to take Arhellan and her commanders alive, if possible, to stand trial in the Federation for war crimes. In the event they meet fierce resistance, all teams have authorization to use deadly force on any and all targets.”

    “Gentlebeings, we are three minutes to touchdown for Fauna Two,” the comms general said. Fauna Two was the designation for the Marine contingent of the operation. “Mr. Prime Minister, we are thirty seconds from the point of no return.”

    Madsen nodded silently as he watched the vid feed from one of the Marines’ body cam, a shadowy green and black infrared image thanks to the nighttime operations. Declan drummed his fingers anxiously on the conference table. He knew that pulling out now wasn’t an option: not when Madsen had come this far with the Federation and the Republic. “Proceed, General,” the Prime Minister ordered.

    The next two minutes felt like hours. Then the compound came appeared, low on the horizon. The insertion shuttles were flying low to avoid Centrality sensors.

    “Landing zone in view.”

    Declan couldn’t help but lean forward with anticipation. The Federation team was going after Arhellan herself. The Marines’ job was to capture or eliminate her top commanders. Even if the General went down, Republican Intelligence’s analysis was that one of her commanders could easily be promoted into her position and carry on her reign of terror. They needed to bag the entire command structure.

    “Fauna Two is on the ground. Landing zone secure. Proceeding to point aurek,” came the team commander’s report, broadcast to the situation room.

    The fuzzy green and black image showed the outline of the villa growing larger. A long expanse of open ground stood between the Marines and the building.

    “Fauna Two moving to entry point besh.” In low crouch walks the Marines, blaster rifles at the ready, began to cross the distance.

    There was a sudden sound and then the infrared image went green white. “We’re blown! Weapons free! Weapons free!”

    The image resolution returned to something decipherable and now it was clear the northern approach to the compound was brightly lit by floodlights and Centrality soldiers were in positions and firing on the Marines. The body cam was now being jerked around by its wearer as he took cover and continually repositioned to meet the threat. Declan did better by tracking the audio feed than the video one. Even so, that was a cacophony of shouts.

    “Heavy fire from left flank!”

    “Grenade hot!”

    “Sweep to the right!”

    “Push push push!”

    “Cover me!”

    Explosions.

    “Yahhhhhhhhhhhh!”

    “We’ve got Marines at the foot of the stairs! Move up! Move up!”

    “In that window!”

    A larger than average volley of blaster bolts.

    “Charges planted!”

    “Clear!”

    Another explosion.

    “Breached! Breached!”

    Laser bolts making impact, screeching through the air.

    “Moving forward!”

    “Clear!”

    Yells of pain.

    “Right side! Support! Support!”

    “Sithspit! They’ve got angles!”

    “Fall back! It’s a kill corridor!”

    “Regroup! Regroup!”

    Declan interlaced his fingers in front of his mouth with his hands clasped and listened.

    “Marine down!”

    “Casualties in squad senth! We need medical support!”

    “Sensors picking up substantial movement in subbasement level. Could be targets trying to escape through secondary exit routes.”

    “We’ve got to get in there now!”

    “Push up!”

    More blaster bolts. On the screen, Centrality troops fell under a renewed assault, but audio reports of Marine casualties kept coming over the speakers.

    “Heading down the staircase. You’ve got point, you’ve got rear.”

    The Marines moved rapidly towards the subbasement, circling the stairwell, checking their corners. At the bottom, they fanned out to cover the large space.

    “Fauna Zero, we have what looks like a rapid transit station. It looks like this facility is connected to other Centrality bases. We do not see any transport in sight.”

    “Sweeping the area now.”

    The situation room held its breath. If Arhellan’s deputies had already gotten away…

    “This place is rigged! Fall back! Fall back!”

    It was as if the air was sucked out of the situation room. Declan caught his breath during a chorus of shouts, followed by a large rush of noise and the video feed blinking out for a few seconds before resuming. A pall of dust hung in the air.

    “Fauna Zero, the station has been sealed off. Looks like they set charges to cover an escape. We’ll sweep the rest of the compound, but we haven’t found most of the targets yet.”

    “Fauna Two, have you sustained casualties in the blast?” the general leading communications asked.

    “Fauna Zero, affirmative. We have teams evacing them now as we continue the search.”

    A ripple went through the room. Madsen bowed his head in recognition of the fact that Bakurans had died this night—and they had more than likely failed to meet their objectives. Declan’s face was grim as he watched the remainder of the operation play out. This was not good. Not good at all.