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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. Vehn

    Vehn Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Beautiful post and I love the music from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!! Great musical! For those in the know, and those not in the know, Eleanor will be making her return to the boards soon :) Nice job Trieste! This takes me back to why I love Roon so much. Barn raisings and dancing, farming, and night skies....
     
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  2. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    DarthUncle jcgoble3 Vehn Back at the ranch... (the metaphorical one, not the actual one)

    Senate Building, Salis D’aar, Bakura

    “…and while this will not be a popular with many Bakurans, including members of this committee,” Declan testified, “the studies show that an employee of the Exchequer returns three times their salary to the federal government in tax revenues generated. It is one of the best investments that we can make. Does anyone like paying their taxes? No. I am one of the millions of Bakurans who pays someone else to do it for me because I find it so unpleasant. I understand why there can be a lot of displeasure with the Exchequer. However, the facts are clear: a healthy Exchequer is key to a healthy federal government, and that is what all of us want.”

    “Thank you, Governor Trieste. You have been more than thorough in your answers to the committee today,” the Senate Finance Committee Chair said. “I’d like to thank you for the hours you’ve spent with us. This concludes the committee’s questions to you as part of the confirmation process. With that, we will adjourn for the day and reconvene later this week to consider the matter of whether to recommend your confirmation.”

    The gavel sounded and Declan stood, shaking hands with a few of the departing members of the Finance Committee. He had just finished his confirmation hearing to become Chancellor of the Exchequer. Given that the committee was firmly in the hands of Fianna Fail thanks to their Senatorial majority, their positive recommendation was a foregone conclusion, as was his confirmation by the full Senate.

    Declan gathered his belongings as the gallery began to file out. Holly Remizan stepped forward to lead him to a side exit. “Follow my lead,” she told him.

    Once out in the public hallways of the Senate building, he was immediately met with a barrage of shouted questions. “The Governor will not be taking any questions right now,” Holly informed them sternly as she steered Declan towards the nearest lift with one hand and fended off reporters with the other. “Have a nice day.” This last bit didn’t sound very sincere.

    Declan had been in politics this long enough to know it was best to follow Holly’s directions and keep his mouth shut. In fact, once in the lift he didn’t have to say anything. Holly just gave him a datapad already queued up to the relevant article.

    STATE NOMINEE’S SECRET ACCOUNTS ON MUUNILINST

    The byline to the exclusive article belonged to Sevan Hull.



    Two day later

    “What were you thinking being off world at a time like this?” Prime Minister Madsen’s Chief of Staff demanded. “The last thing we needed was to stumble out of the gate.”

    “Vetting these nominees was your issue. You assured me that they were clean,” Deputy Prime Minister Ayn Trieste replied with no great sympathy. The new government was barely two weeks old and already dominated by headlines chastising Madsen for a poor choice for Minister of State. The Unionists had jumped on the propriety of his offworld accounts, grilling Sinjin-Smythe at his confirmation hearings. “I can only guarantee the cohesion of the caucus when you don’t surprise me. If I’d known things were going to come up, I might have been able to lay some groundwork with the party. As it is, they are restless and I’m not willing to spend the capital it would require to keep them in, not over a bad nominee.”

    “This is important to the PM,” the Chief of Staff replied. He was standing in front of Ayn’s desk in her new office as Deputy PM. Its views were, unsurprisingly, the best in the building. “The biggest criticism of him in the election was his lack of expertise in interstellar affairs. We need a strong Minister of State to counterbalance those charges and we need one now.”

    “The Senate’s role is to confirm nominees, not suggest them,” Ayn lectured, “so go find one and stop complaining to me about your poor choice.”

    “The PM wants a fast track for the next nominee. I need you to make that happen.”

    “After this?” Ayn scoffed. “Impossible. The Unionists will claim we’re trying to shove an even worse nominee down their throat and the public might well believe it. We’ll need someone who’s gone through full confirmation hearings to prove their qualifications.”

    Ayn thought she saw something flicker in the Chief of Staff’s eyes. It was there for only a moment before he sighed. “You’re right. The legislative branch must have its due. I will talk with the PM and update you later today.”

    “I look forward to it,” Ayn said.

    After she was alone, Ayn sent a message to Holly Remizan on her handheld datapad. The hook has been baited.

    Already on it, was the reply she received seconds later.
     
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  3. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    I see. Ayn "leaked" the secret accounts to Sevan at Club 33 before the hen and stag parties so the news breaks when she's unable to control the damage. Then she baits the hook to try to get Declan upgraded from Exchequer to State. Clever!

    See? I'm learning how these two work. :D
     
  4. Vehn

    Vehn Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    If these two were real I might have to vote for them.....:cool:
     
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  5. DarthUncle

    DarthUncle Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Mar 20, 2005
    unfortunate timing there by Ayn, I wouldn't suggest there is any evidence it wasn't a coincidence she wasn't on the planet at the 'wrong' time, just unfortunate for her PM. tsk, tsk about those off world accounts, that's asking for trouble :p
     
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  6. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    The way you three talk DarthUncle jcgoble3 Vehn one might think that Ayn and Declan are trying to turn this situation to their advantage. What a ludicrous thought for such dedicated public servants. :D

    Marian Square, Salis D’aar, Bakura

    Declan Trieste had been in the West Office before. Back then, he’d lived in Marian Square, the seat of executive power on Bakura. It had been 22 years since those days, though, and he’d been 17 years old, on the cusp of beginning university studies at UB Salis D’aar. The funny thing was…it wasn’t smaller than he remembered. With the exception of different art on the walls, it was almost exactly as he’d last seen it.

    “Doesn’t get old, does it?” Silas Madsen said knowingly.

    “No, it doesn’t,” Declan said. “This room…you feel the power.”

    “I felt it the first time I ever met your mother here, after the war,” Madsen said, motioning for Declan to take a seat on one of the couches in the office. “I was a freshman Senator then and nothing I’d seen in Blackbranch could prepare me for a place like this.”

    “Did you know then you wanted to inhabit it one day?” Declan asked.

    Silas paused and appraised the human sitting across from him before responding. “I knew it two minutes after I walked in.” It was an honest reply.

    “Funny how that works, isn’t it?” Declan remarked.

    “When you know, you know,” Madsen agreed. “Which leads me to why I’ve asked you here. Sinjin-Smythe.”

    “Yes. Unfortunate,” Declan commented. Yesterday, the Madsen’s nominee for Minister of State had withdrawn his name from consideration over the growing scandal regarding his offworld accounts and potential tax evasion.

    “It’s a bad business and it’s boxed me into a corner,” Silas said, “and I don’t like being in a corner.”

    “That was very evident during the campaign,” Declan remarked wryly. “I would know.”

    “The Unionists are trying to stop my agenda before it even starts. They want to make a circus out of the next round of confirmation hearings. Your wife isn’t willing to fight them on it, and as much as my staff disagrees with her, I see the wisdom in that. Unfortunately, if the Unionists get their power cells charged on this, it might just give them the momentum needed to wreak further havoc with the legislation I’m preparing to start the term.

    “Which is why I’m going to outflank them,” Madsen stated.

    “Now that is a strategy I can get behind. I trust you want my assistance? Just tell me what needs doing,” Declan promised.

    “Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” Silas asked.

    “I’m a bad-news-first being.”

    “I’m going to withdraw your nomination for Chancellor of the Exchequer.”

    Declan’s eyebrows shot up. “There had better be some very good news coming here, Silas,” he said, restraining himself from displaying any displeasure with the most powerful being on Bakura.

    “I’m going to substitute it with a nomination for Minister of State.”

    Trieste said nothing for a moment. “Mr. Prime Minister…are you sure?” His tone, as the mode of address indicated, was suddenly more respectful. “If there’s one being the Unionists hate more than you, it’s me.”

    “I’ve thought this through. You’ve already gone through confirmation hearings, which means we can fast track your nomination through the Senate. You’re qualified and the Exchequer is easier to find a nominee for than Defense or Attorney General. Besides, neither of them is equipped for State. With the diplomatic corps it’s a beast. And, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, there’s been some talk on the political morning shows about your suitability for the post. You’ve got a good consensus forming around you throughout the capital thanks to your familiarity with the way things work in Salis D’aar and the executive aptitude you showed in the Valley. The way they talk about it, you’re the only logical choice.”

    “I learned long ago never to take the morning shows seriously, and I don’t think you do either. However, might you be thinking about the fact that my wife might not move heaven and earth to fast track a Minister of State…but she would for me?” Declan asked.

    “The side benefit might have entered my mind,” Madsen admitted slyly. “Most importantly, it cuts the Unionists’ legs out from under them. Say yes now and we’ll announce it to the press in 15 minutes. That’s about as long as it will take for them to gather in the briefing room.”

    “What else is there for me to say?” Declan said. “Yes. Let’s get this rolling.”
     
  7. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    That hook I mentioned? Madsen bit it. Perfect. :D :D :D
     
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  8. DarthUncle

    DarthUncle Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Mar 20, 2005
    Well, I guess Declan got the bigger role he wanted, sometimes faith just intervenes, I guess. Madsen has to be glad he had a great replacement ready, right?!
     
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  9. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    DarthUncle jcgoble3 Vehn you're all microscopic cogs in his catastrophic plan...


    Salis D’aar, Bakura

    Three black speeders pulled up the curb. Federal Marshals got out of all three vehicles. The one who got out of the second opened the back door for the other occupants. Minister of State Declan Trieste stepped out, ready for his first day of work, followed by the State Ministry’s new Chief of Staff, Holly Remizan. The pair gazed up at the marble façade of the building.

    “This will do,” Declan said with an air of satisfaction.

    “The one thing the rest of you humans forget is that looks are important,” the Hapan observed. “No one would respect you if you worked in a cardboard box, no matter what your title was.”

    “Then we’d better get inside, shan’t we?” Declan suggested.

    “After you, Minister,” Holly deferred.

    Declan entered his newly-won fiefdom. After the publicity surrounding the failure of Sinjin-Smythe’s nomination and Madsen’s fast replacement, there were few politically-aware beings in the capital who didn’t know who Declan Trieste was (not that they hadn’t before, but in this town if you weren’t being talked about you didn’t matter). This was all as he and Ayn wanted it. They had suspected that Madsen would do the bare minimum to uphold their campaign bargain.

    “Good morning,” Declan greeted the security in the lobby. “I suppose there are no exceptions to screening?”

    “Actually, once you get your A level clearance badges, you’ll be exempt from the regular checks, Minister,” a guard explained. “If you’ll indulge us just for today, though, that would be appreciated.”

    “With pleasure,” Declan said as he subjected himself and his belongings to inspection. “Having the building blown up on my first day would certainly be a statement, but not the one I’m looking for.” There was some general amusement at the quip.

    Ayn and Declan knew that anyone Madsen nominated for State had to have something on them. It was just a matter of how much they’d need to spin it out of proportion to get the media to care about it. Holly Remizan had dug into Sinjin-Smythe once they had his name. The Muunilinst accounts were, in and of themselves, not damning. After all, the Noble House of Trieste held significant assets off planet. It had been easy enough to make them seem more sinister than they were. If the truth ever prevailed, it would be far too late to matter.

    “Right this way,” an aide directed Declan once he was through security. “We’ll be heading to the 16th floor.”

    “All the way to the top, I take it?” Declan asked.

    “Of course.”

    “It should be a heck of a view,” Declan supposed, “though I rue the day the lifts break down.”

    One they found the accounts, it was a matter of getting them out without being the ones to leak them. It had been easy enough to casually hint to Sevan Hull that there was something that had caught the attention of the Interstellar Affairs committee that was being hushed up. Had Ayn outright given the information to Hull, he would have questioned it. Instead, by finding it himself, he drew the conclusions they wanted without delay.

    On the 16th floor, devoted in its entirety to the executive operations of the Ministery of State, Declan was warmly welcomed by the staff on hand. He thanked them with a smile and a wave that said, “Please, you are too kind.”

    “Is it weird if I say I already feel at home here?” Declan kidded. “I’m pretty sure someone I’m related to carved their name on the underside of a desk at one point. If I had to lay down even money, I’d say it was Nevan. They say he was quite a prankster.” The room laughed. “Seriously though, thank you all. I hope to get to know as many of you as I can in the days to come, but be patient with me if it takes a while for your names to stick. For now, let’s keep doing the important work of advancing Bakura’s interests and values throughout the galaxy.”

    With Sinjin-Smythe disgraced, the Unionists did the heavy lifting for Declan and Ayn. Madsen was too canny a politician to let that threat hang over his prime ministry for long. He would itch to take decisive action to cut the opposition off at the knees. The quickest way to do that was by nominating Declan. Once he did, all Ayn had to do was be a faithful member of the party and get him confirmed.

    Declan walked through the center of the open floorplan, filled with desks staffed by administrators. This was the heart of the Bakuran diplomatic community. The walls featured portraits of past Ministers of State. Directly in front of him, closest to his new office, were two portraits he had requested be repositioned for his tenure: his aunt Siona Lynd and his ancestor Nevan Trieste.

    The new Minister of State paused a moment after stepping into his office to sigh with satisfaction. “Yes, this will do indeed.” He stepped around the large desk and took a seat. “We’ll start with holoconferences with the directorate of member affairs for the Republic on Coruscant, cousin Eleanor on Roon, cousin Sierra on Hapes, and find me whatever Hutt handles this interstellar affairs.”

    “I’ll have them arranged, Minister,” Holly replied, stepping out to see to it.

    Declan leaned back in his chair and enjoyed the moment, lacing his hands behind his head with a smug grin. Hanging on the wall directly across the room from his desk was the first Minister of State the Noble House of Trieste had ever produced: Fionn Cormac Trieste. He was also the only one to become Prime Minister.

    It was time to begin his work in earnest.
     
  10. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    I find it amusing that of the four government officials he wants to holoconference with, two of them are his cousins.

    I daresay that the Noble House of Trieste has become the most powerful family not just in Bakuran politics, but in galactic politics.

    I wonder how long it will be before Declan follows his mother's footsteps to the Chancellorship on Coruscant to cement that ranking?
     
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  11. Vehn

    Vehn Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    I'd love to sit in on that conversation between Eleanor and Declan.....good stuff, Trieste!
     
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  12. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    In my defense, only half of that is my fault. Right Vehn? :p
     
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  13. DarthUncle

    DarthUncle Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Mar 20, 2005
    [face_hypnotized] so, so, it was premeditated? never saw that coming [face_plain]

    Congrats to Declan and Ayn on the next stage of their trip up the political ladder.
     
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  14. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    DarthUncle jcgoble3 Vehn happy holidays! :D


    Salis D’aar, Bakura

    The Noble House of Trieste Yuletide Ball was an annual winter institution in the capital. Though it had waned under Falene Trieste’s leadership, Declan had immediately revived it in full force after becoming Taoiseach. For a politician, it was an indispensable opportunity to show and curry favor. This year brought an extra degree of anticipation for the fur-bundled attendees who cruised the snowy streets of the capital to the Plaza. Not even in the days of Kerry Trieste had the Yuletide Ball had the cachet of being jointly hosted by the Minister of State and Deputy Prime Minister. It had already been said of one Senator that her career was effectively over after not receiving an invitation to this year’s event (an exaggeration, perhaps, but in the eyes of some not that large of one).

    The inside of the Plaza was so festive that it appeared no expense had been too grand. Garlands of pine, strands of soft colored lights in tasteful displays, glowing candles casting their warm glow over tables and cabinets, steaming samovars of tea and coffee, crystal glasses of spirits that warmed chilled bodies, and long tables of warm and cold dishes all testified to a grand time planned by the Minister and Deputy Prime Minister for their guests.

    The snow outside was a beautiful thing to watch from the comfort of the toasty halls of the Plaza’s first floor where the apartments for entertaining were located. “What’s the point of having a ballroom if you don’t use it to host one’s friends at Yuletide?” Declan said grandly, not for the first time that evening.

    It was inevitable that the Prime Minister should be invited and attend. After eight years of Unionist Prime Ministers (who were most certainly not going to patronize a Noble House Yuletide) an invitation was expected, but it would have undermined the stability of the entire government had Silas Madsen not shown his face at a gathering put on by his cabinet’s most senior member and his party’s legislative leader.

    “I dare say your mother never put on such a delightful event in all the years she invited me,” Madsen said, greeting Declan and giving Ayn a kiss on the cheek.

    “Would you mind telling her that?” Declan asked. “She’s at the bar and I would give anything to see her face when you do.”

    “I like you, Declan, but not enough to risk your mother’s famous, if strategically deployed, wrath,” Madsen winked. “Though, now that you mention it, I could take something to warm the belly on a bitter night like this.”

    “And we have plenty of that. The bartenders know just the thing,” Ayn said, letting Madsen take his leave.

    Not coincidentally, the next guest they greeted was Holly Remizan. “It’s a pleasure not to see any holly around here,” Remizan said. “On Hapes its everywhere in the winter and the jokes were all right for a few years, but nowadays I just want to shoot the next being who makes one.”

    “This year’s decorating scheme was strictly coniferous,” Ayn told her. “However, I’m surprised you didn’t bring a date. Your invitation very clearly indicated, ‘Holly Remizan and guest.’”

    “Oh please.” Remizan waved her hand. “I never come to one of these things with a date. There’s such good hunting to be had once everyone’s a few drinks in.”

    “Any introductions we can make?” Declan asked with a mischievous grin. “Not that you don’t know most everyone here already.”

    “That would require me knowing which way I’d like to go tonight…and I prefer the surprise,” Holly said, walking off as in search of her target, or perhaps just the first of the night. There were so many bedrooms in the Plaza after all…



    “So this is a typical Yuletide?” Sevan Hull asked his new wife, looking about at the sumptuous decorations.

    “For them,” May said, unconsciously twisting the wedding band on her finger. “Things were more understated at Tesserone. This is nice, but it doesn’t quite feel like home.”

    “It is a bit much,” Sevan admitted. “We could have skipped it, you know.”

    “This is about family. You haven’t even met half of them anyways and most everyone will be here,” May pointed out. “Though, I’d be willing to bet that Declan’s going to corner you later. After all, he has you to thank for his new job.”

    “That’s going a little far,” Sevan said dismissively.

    “Without your piece, Sinjin-Smythe would be Minister of State and Bakura would be worse off for it,” May protested.

    “And Declan would be Chancellor of the Exchequer. That’s six of one, half dozen of another—and all Silas Madsen’s doing anyways.”

    “Speaking of, I think the PM’s coming this way. Maybe we should—” May began.

    “Go somewhere else? Excellent idea,” Sevan said as the pair slipped off.



    “I’m going to spoil you terribly,” Regan Eldred said as she held her first grandchild. “Aren’t you just the best?”

    “I knew you were hiding all your love when I was growing up,” Trixie deadpanned. “I just didn’t know what you were saving it for.”

    “Nonsense,” Atticus said as he tickled Quill Penn’s chin. “Grandchildren draw from a different pool of love than children. Especially because we don’t have to get up in the middle of the night when they can’t sleep.”

    “I’m thinking you’ll get your mother’s brain and your father’s brawn,” Regan told her grandson.

    “In the worst case, I suppose you’d get your mother’s looks and your father’s brain, which wouldn’t be optimal but at least you’ll get by thanks to the Noble House,” Atticus observed.

    “Don’t you mean that’s the best case scenario?” Trixie asked sourly. “I love Horst for his brain.”

    “Well, he can read an offense faster than anyone I’ve seen,” Regan admitted as she rocked Quill. “Besides, you’re going to be on my team at the family game and you’re going to flatten Vienna every year, at least twice. We’re going to start working on game strategy together. Now, the first thing to learn, Quill, is how to tackle…”

    “Can we at least wait until he can crawl for that?” Trixie sighed.



    “Stop it,” Henrietta said.

    “Stop what?” Antrose asked.

    “Stop looking at everything and thinking about how much it costs,” Henrietta elaborated.

    “I’m just getting ideas for the company party,” Antrose explained. “Say what you will about Dec and Ayn, they do know how to roll out the best.”

    “If I could get one Yuletide gift, it would be to have you stay home for a week instead of going into work,” Henrietta said crossly.

    “You know how important I am there,” Antrose said, though with an undercurrent of frustration in his voice. “Not going in isn’t an option.”

    “Nobody else I know works all through the Yuletide holidays,” Henrietta said.

    “And nobody else you know lives as well as we do. That’s how it works.”

    “We don’t have to live as well as we do. We would be fine with less. Look at Nessa and Jax. They do just fine.”

    Antrose scoffed. “Please. She works for a non-profit and he’s a cop. Without the Noble House, they’d be living in a cardboard box on the street.”

    We could take the Noble House’s money. You could be home with the children more.”

    “No,” Antrose said firmly. “We can—and will—do this without them.”

    “We don’t have to.”

    “Henrietta, that’s enough for tonight. We’ve both made ourselves perfectly clear on the subject, so anything further is unnecessary. Let’s just enjoy ourselves.”

    “If you say so, dear,” Henrietta agreed unconvincingly.



    “Seems like old times,” Sabé Dormingale observed with a flute of bubbly in her hand. “My granddaughter in my old job, your son just a stone’s throw from yours.”

    “Quite,” Kerry agreed. “Of course, she had your old job as Minority Leader too and Declan had mine as a Senator too.”

    “Minority Leader wasn’t nearly as fun as Deputy PM,” Sabé smirked.

    “Say what they will, everyone has to admit that she inherited your ability to work the party.”

    “And he got your ability to make speeches.”

    “I suppose this is why we kept them apart as they grew up,” Kerry sighed.

    “Did you see it then? What they would do together?” Sabé asked.

    “No. I just wanted Declan and Falene to have normal friends, to not have the life thrust upon them,” Kerry said. “You?”

    “I was trying so desperately not to make the same mistakes I made with Gaeriel,” Sabé admitted. “I thought I brought her up too much in my world.”

    “And yet we still made clones of ourselves.”

    “Something close to it. They’re different from us. I don’t know exactly how, but they ride the edge,” Sabé said.

    “So can I,” Kerry concurred before she took a drink of whiskey. “But it’s their time, not ours.”

    “Quite,” Sabé agreed.



    “Come on,” Enoch begged playfully as he pulled her along a seventh floor hallway.

    “Are you sure we’re supposed to be up here?”

    “I’m in the Council of Captains,” Enoch told her. “That means I can pretty much go anywhere I want and you haven’t seen Salis D’aar until you’ve seen it from the top of the Plaza.”

    “You still haven’t told me how you got me in here.”

    “There have to be about 200 beings here,” Enoch explained. “It was easy to get an extra name on the list without anyone asking questions.”

    “Why, Captain Trieste…you could get a reprimand for breaking rules like that.”

    “Oh, trust me, if I told you what I had planned for you tonight, they’d throw the entire Code of Conduct at me,” he whispered as he opened a door onto the top floor balcony and led her out onto the snow-covered perch.

    Light flakes were still falling, enhancing the chill of the winter night. In the cold, the lights of Salis D’aar sparkled more brilliantly than usual. The sparks were almost crystalized in the night.

    “Don’t tell me about what you want to do,” she said, craning her neck backwards to nip Enoch’s neck where skin met the fur lining of his winter coat. “Show me.”



    “Aren’t you the one who’s supposed to get in a tizzy over seeing a baby, not me?” Cillian asked his wife. He waved his drink in the direction of young Quill Penn and the adoring knot of family around him

    “I’m not saying he’s not cute and adorable. What I am saying, Cillian, is we spend our lives on a ship, jumping from system to system—and that doesn’t even take into account our what we’re doing,” Swann said, referring to their work for The Way shuttling escaped Corporate Sector slaves to free systems. “That’s no way to raise a child.”

    “Plenty of kids grow up in space,” Cillian said.

    “Oh yeah, name one,” Swann scoffed.

    “That one right over there spent almost all of her early childhood not just in space, but on a BakurStar cruiser thanks to dear old mom,” Cillian pointed out.

    Swann turned. “Well frak. That’s a pretty convincing argument.”

    Her husband was pointing at Sierra Chume.



    “Gentlebeings,” Declan said, now that he had everyone’s attention in the ballroom, “Ayn and I are so pleased we get to commemorate this season of Yuletide with all of you. 288 has been quite a year for us and to have us all with you us as it draws to a close is the perfect capstone for us.”

    “We wish you all the greatest joy in 289,” Ayn said, “and hope that we will all gather here again this time next year with much to celebrate.”

    “Therefore, let us raise a glass,” Declan said, lifting his flute and putting his other arm around his wife, “to a bright future for us all.”

    As their guests assented and drank, Declan kissed his wife. “And for us above all,” he whispered.

    “Above all,” she echoed with a smile.
     
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  15. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    So who is Enoch dragging along? I'm curious to find out.
     
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  16. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 if you aren't reading @Vehn's Fields of Tesserone, then you'll miss out on some of the nuance of some upcoming posts, but you'll get by. ;)

    Hall of Peace, Il Avali, Druckenwell

    Declan sat in the Roon Federation’s glorious monument to the resolution of their civil war. This was the venue for his cousin Eleanor’s convention of the Developed 12, a gathering of the galaxy’s leading systems and governments. As Director of Foreign Affairs for the Federation, Eleanor had the clout to bring together these leaders to discuss issues of shared importance. It was a gamble to make such a prestigious event Declan’s first interstellar trip as Minister of State, but he hadn’t gotten where he was by playing it safe.

    Declan listened attentively as cousin Eleanor made her opening remarks. He made notes on his datapad, paying particular attention to her rhetoric, recording specific quotes he might want to use later. In truth, Declan knew, substantively, what Eleanor was going to say before he’d even arrived on Druckenwell.

    ***
    Salis D’aar, Bakura
    Weeks ago


    “Well, well, well,” Eleanor said with a grin, “who would have thought we’d wind up as opposite numbers after all this time?”

    “You are too kind, Eleanor,” Declan replied from the couch in his office at the Ministry of State building. “I only represent one lowly planet while you represent the galaxy’s second leading power. I’m surprised you took my call.”

    Eleanor laughed. “Please. Bakura is a leader of the Republic, and of the entire Outer Rim. It is in the Federation’s best interests to maintain a strong relationship with the important players in the region. Besides, the Vehns always take the Noble House’s call, especially the Taoiseach’s. I may have the heart of a Vehn, but Trieste blood pumps through it. So, what can I do for you today, Minister?” Eleanor took pleasure in teasing Declan ever so slightly with his new title.

    “This is a social call, Director,” Declan said, returning serve. “As you rightly observed, it is in our best interests to promote a strong and active relationship between my homeworld and the Roon Federation. I wanted to affirm this prime ministry’s commitment to the Bakuran-Roonian partnership.”

    “As does Roon,” Eleanor confirmed. “We appreciate knowing that the relationship is not taken for granted.”

    “And it never will be while I am Minister of State,” Declan promised. “To that end, Bakura wishes not to dwell on what is important to us, but rather to find out what is important to Roon.”

    “I’m glad you asked,” Eleanor replied. “Events in the Centrality have reached a critical stage. While it is outside Federation territory, it has concerned me. The great powers should have intervened long ago, in the name of decency and sentient rights. Millions dead, Declan. I want to stop it.”

    Declan leaned forward. “That’s a bold move.”

    “I’ve been working on the Supreme Chancellor about this. He’s agreed in principle to abandon the Kattan Doctrine.”

    The Minister of State rose his eyebrows in surprise. “That is impressive. Even getting that far with the sacred tenet of the Republic’s interstellar policy is an accomplishment. The Senate is going to have something to say about that, you know.”

    “I used to be a Senator, remember?” Eleanor reminded her cousin. “I’m well aware of Senate’s belief in its authority on foreign affairs. I’ll settle for small steps today. However, we need to change galactic opinion on this matter. That’s why I’m moving to convene in the D12 to take up the issue of the Centrality. Now that the Federation has a friend in Bakura’s Ministry of State…” She let the sentence hang.

    “Bakura will be proud to take its place at the D12 if convened by the Federation,” Declan finished. “I will see to it personally.”

    ***
    With foreknowledge of Eleanor’s intentions for the meeting, Declan’s public remarks to his brethren on the D12 were similar to his cousin’s. “It is time to reevaluate our approach to galactic affairs,” he proclaimed. “This generation must embrace the realities and challenges of our time—but more importantly, develop the tools to meet these days.” It was just the stuff for an impactful maiden speech as Minister of State.

    Even though transparency was the order of the day for the Federation, most of Declan’s work was done at the parts of the conference that weren’t broadcast. The first one that came along was the opening night dinner, where Declan privately corralled the other D12 members.

    “The Madsen prime ministry is young,” Declan explained. “The truth is that Madsen’s greatest interest is domestic policy. While I personally see a pressing need for greater interstellar affairs—a concert of power, if you will—I still have to move the needle inside cabinet meetings before Bakura can make any firm commitment.”

    “I meant every word I said,” Declan continue to another, “and if I were Prime Minister I’d put the Defense Fleet behind the Federation’s idea immediately. I have to take this back to Salis D’aar and convince some hearts and minds.”

    “I do think Madsen will be receptive,” Declan said later. “He understands that we’re all linked. What happens on Roon affects Bakura, Coruscant, Bastion, Hapes, Dac…the galaxy is not as big as some might think. The spillover effects from the Centrality are too big to ignore.”

    “Morally, absolutely, what Eleanor said is persuasive. Frankly, her best move was broadcasting the proceedings,” Declan agreed. “Bakura is, despite the last few prime ministries, still a progressive world. We like to think we have moral authority in the galaxy. This is going to resonate there. Madsen appreciates the will of the electorate and they just put him in office.”

    And so on he went, reassuring the other leaders and dignitaries that while Bakura could not publicly commit to this vision for the galaxy, he was going to be at the forefront of getting them there.

    ***
    After that first night, Holly briefed Declan on the pressing matters from the Ministry of State that had occurred in his absence. It was the Minister who brought the most important item to the agenda.

    “This is it,” he told Holly. “Begin your investigations. Full rundown.”

    “Shall I inform Ayn?”

    “No. Once she sees the dispatches she’ll figure it out. Besides, better to not trust even a secure connection on the Holonet with this. I’ll brief her when we’re back on world.”

    “How deep do you want me to go?”

    “As deep as you have to,” Declan ordered. “We are not letting this one slip by.” He dismissed her and turned to his view of Nime. When Eleanor had first brought this idea to him, he had seen the potential in it. Yes, her united front for the D12 was good for the galaxy.

    It would be even better for the Noble House of Trieste.
     
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  17. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Now what is Declan's scheming about? Is he going to try to force Madsen out of office and become Prime Minister himself?
     
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  18. Vehn

    Vehn Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    I loved this post. First off, any time the Vehn and Triestes have a shared vision things usually go really, really well. I also liked how @Trieste wrote Eleanor in a way that really helped her carry some fresh gravitas. Well done! And who really knows what Declan is up to but Declan?
     
  19. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    Good to know I faked it until I made it. For reference for those who care, I did run that section by Vehn before posting to make sure I stayed true to his vision of Eleanor's character. ;)

    And as for what Declan's planning...you are all so mistrusting. He just has Bakura's best interests at heart, like usual. :D
     
  20. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @Vehn You could have been anywhere in the world tonight, but you're here with us in Salis D'aar--for a cabinet meeting!

    Marian Square, Salis D’aar, Bakura

    “Make it so,” Madsen ordered his Chancellor of the Exchequer. “Now, I believe Declan has a report on the D12 meeting?”

    “Thank you, Prime Minister,” Declan said. “As you’ve no doubt heard, the Roon Federation has proposed collective galactic action to deal with the crisis in the Centrality. Director Vehn’s presentation, which has received much attention in the media here, speaks for itself. I believe that the Federation is right to suggest this action, but has only taken the first step in this process. What we need is a framework among the major galactic powers to regulate such intervention. Now, obviously such a system does not yet exist, but I believe, based on my informal conversations with the other attendees, that such a framework is possible. I think that Bakura has the moral authority to lead the formulation of such a convention.”

    “The last time talk like this was thrown about Marian Square was when we rushed off into that Mandalorian misadventure that got us bogged down in ill-fated nation building amongst the Ssi-Ruuk,” Madsen’s Chief of Staff pointed out. “All the reports from Republican Intelligence say that any action in the Centrality will likely come with a significant investment of time and treasure into rebuilding that sector—and that’s a best case scenario if Eastern Centrality falls. Their civil infrastructure is parsecs behind the West.”

    “All the more reason for a well-considered interstellar coalition with firm backing from bodies like the Republic, Federation, even Imperial Space,” Declan pressed. “An alliance would spread any burdens among the powers equally.”

    “Imperial Space? Ha!” the Chief of Staff barked. “Like we’d ever get into bed with them. The rest of the galaxy already thinks we’re barely informed humanocentrists. The last thing we need is to have anyone associated with this prime ministry in a holo op with some moff!”

    “Declan, I understand you have close ties with the Federation, but I’m failing to see the benefit to Bakura for getting involved outside the system,” Silas Madsen said, finally inserting himself into the debate.

    “Is it not in Bakura’s best interest to promote a stable galaxy?” Declan asked the cabinet. “One where our citizens can travel freely without fear? One with strong markets for our exports? One where our values are embraced?”

    “Fine and good, but Bakura is not omnipotent,” the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, “and in this administration’s early months we must be careful where we spent our political capital. We have eight years of Unionist policies to disentangle ourselves from. Domestic matters must be our priority.”

    “The line between domestic and interstellar is thinner than you might think,” Declan warned.

    “I must agree,” Silas said. “We have a pressing domestic agenda. I don’t want to fight a battle over something that is still lighting the halls of the Galactic Senate on fire. We are a member world of the Republic and I am loathe to go against the Kattan Doctrine while it is still in place on Coruscant. For now, we’re going to look to our own house.”

    “Then that is the policy of the Ministry of State,” Declan acquiesced. As a subordinate, it was not his place to keep fighting battles that had already been lost. He had to toe the line now.

    “I believe that’s everything then. Thank you all,” Madsen said, standing and ending the cabinet meeting.

    Declan took his time while gathering his things as the other ministers dispersed. His defeat in front of the full cabinet had not been unexpected.

    “Declan, you have my sympathies for charging up that hill,” Kelli Corbrand, the Minister of Defense, said, hanging back with him to chat alone. “It was an admirable case.”

    “I take it you were of the majority opinion?” Declan asked her.

    “Quite the contrary, but it was clear the PM has his mind made up on the issue.”

    “And you weren’t going to join me on that charge, I take it. Discretion is the better part of valor, eh?”

    “Even I know when to pick my battles,” Corbrand said with a smile, “and I’m at Defense. But we also know that a fight is only one part of the war.”

    “Oh?” Declan said, encouraging her to go on.

    “I think you’re onto something with this Centrality business. My read on Madsen is that he’s actually spoiling for a fight like that. Any PM worth their salt wants that star on their resume, not just be seen as a ‘Bakura first’ PM. He just doesn’t want the political risk that comes with it,” Corbrand said.

    “I don’t blame him, but it’s a shame. This is a real opportunity to affect actual change in the galaxy. Do some real good for once.”

    “To that end…I’m thinking of convening a small workgroup on the issue of the Centrality after hearing your presentation. Work up some options and the like—on the down low, of course. No need to get anyone twisted in knots in case it all comes to nothing. Would you mind if I ran our top recommendations by you?”

    “Of course. Let me know when you’ve got something,” Declan agreed.

    “Will do. And if there’s anything Defense can do for State, just ask. All in the name of interagency cooperation, of course,” she said.

    As Corbrand left, Declan finished packing his things. He might have to toe the line with Madsen…but only in public. The Minister was right: one fight did not decide a war.

    Good old Ministry of Defense—Declan could always count on them to be spoiling for a fight.
     
  21. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @Vehn And now, to check in on some old friends.

    Il Avali, Druckenwell

    “If I may—” Corrie began.

    That didn’t work.

    “But—” Quentin tried.

    No dice.

    “Would you please—” Corrie attempted.

    Similar failure.

    “Can I—” Quentin called out.

    Nope.

    The pair, one of whom usually dominated a room with her torrent of words, were being roundly outshouted and ignored by a conference room full of lawyers. The topic in question was none other than themselves and the fact that they had eloped on Cloud City (though eloping might be debatable as they had been joined in the presence of their parents for Regan had threatened both her children with dire ramifications if she was not present for their marriages). When the news broke that the daughter of the President of the Roon Federation, executive of and heir to the Ypres Initiative, had married the son of a Bakuran Supreme Court Justice eligible to become Taoiseach of the Noble House of Trieste, all Korriban broke loose.

    The attorneys in the room were divided into two camps. One was comprised of lawyers from Crane, Poole & Schmidt, who handled the legal affairs of the Noble House of Trieste for generations, going back even beyond the Sith occupation in the early 200s. They were currently arguing that Mrs. Corrie Trieste needed to immediately sign an agreement disavowing any and all claim to the Noble House estate to ensure it did not become gobbled up by the Ypres Initiative. Furthermore, Mrs. Trieste, in the spirit of marital unity, should agree to transfer certain major holdings into the Noble House trust as a sign of her commitment to her new family.

    The other faction represented the vast, talented, and determined legal team of both the Ypres Initiative and the Roon Federation. They were forcefully making the point that Mr. Quentin Trieste who needed to disavow any future claim to his wife’s share of the Ypres Initiative, but that is was incumbent upon him to renounce his Bakuran citizenship and accept Druckenwellian citizenship befitting his role as spouse to the child of the President of the Federation, lest the galaxy think that the Office of the President was subject to foreign influences.

    Though each side was making their argument as loudly as they possibly could, neither was making any progress. Corrie and Quentin had been subjected to the debate for the last five hours, which was not how they had intended to spend their honeymoon. Granted, they hadn’t anticipated that their marriage would cause a near-constitutional crisis, but based on the language being thrown about, that’s what had happened.

    One lawyer from each side was attempting to talk over the other when the conference room door slid open to admit a new combatant to the legal gladiatorial match. “Would you all kindly shut up?” Sydney Talon shouted, immediately getting the room’s attention and inducing a second of silence—the longest silence that had reigned since the day began.

    “Who are you?” a Federation lawyer demanded haughtily.

    “Thank the Force. We have reinforcements,” a Crane, Poole & Schmidt attorney said. “This is Sydney Talon of Fleetfire Zarmer, one of Bakura’s other leading law firms.”

    “No, I’m Sydney Talon of Fleetfire Talon—you should really keep up with the local journals—which is Bakura’s leading law firm and I am nobody’s reinforcement,” Sydney said. “I am here to end this pointless conflict in favor of my clients.”

    “What do you mean? Surely you’ve been retained by the Noble House. You’re not here for them,” the CP&S attorney said, angrily gesturing at the Ypres & Federation attorneys.

    “I’m sure as Korriban not here for you,” Sydney scoffed. “My clients are them.” He pointed at Corrie and Quentin, who looked as befuddled as the rest of the table. “Now, if you’ll excuse us, you can all yell at each other some more while I have a productive talk with my clients.”

    Corrie and Quentin looked at each other for a moment. Then, without a word, they stood up and walked out of the conference room with Talon.

    ***
    Half an hour later, the trio entered. Corrie and Quentin took their seats without a word, folding their hands in front of them.

    “You all get your squawking out of your system?” Sydney asked. “Feel better? Good, because this negotiation is over, starting now.”

    “You have absolutely no standing here,” a Ypres lawyer said.

    “The kriff I don’t!” Talon shot back. “We are talking about their lives here. My clients have all the standing in this room—so much so that none of you should be in here.”

    “In an ordinary union, yes,” the Crane, Poole & Schmidt lawyer said, “but there are significant property concerns—”

    “—that my clients have no duty to oblige,” Talon sliced into the conversation. “If Quentin becomes Taoiseach and Corrie leaves all her Ypres holdings to him upon her death, he has every right to absorb them into the Noble House of Trieste estate. Similarly, if Corrie becomes Taoiseach, she can initiate any and all transactions between the Noble House holdings and the Ypres Initiative she sees fit. That is the truth of the matter and everything everyone in this room has said thus far is only for their clients’ sole benefit.”

    “The Noble House of Trieste has a very real and pressing claim on the loyalties of both parties,” the CP&S attorney said.

    “Cut the Crane, Poole, because you’re full of Schmidt,” Talon slammed down. “Were you partying with Declan Trieste two years ago after the Miners won the Galactic Cup? Because I sure as Korriban was. Don’t try to tell me you know what the Noble House wants and I don’t. And you—” this was directed at the Ypres/Federation legal team, “—don’t wrap yourself in the Federation flag and say this is anything but fear of a corporate takeover. So, will everyone just drop the pretense and allow my clients to make their offer?”

    No one said anything for a few seconds, which Talon took as a sign to proceed.

    “In the first part, Ms. Ypres-Trieste—”

    “Huh?” a Federation lawyer exclaimed.

    “I’m hyphenating,” Corrie explained calmly.

    “Ms. Ypres-Trieste,” Talon resumed, “will sign a postnuptial agreement in which she preemptively disqualifies herself from selection as Taoiseach of the Noble House of Trieste on the grounds that she cannot fulfill certain oaths required by that duty. She will continue her employment at the Ypres Initiative and remain eligible for any and all inheritance that may be settled upon her. She will also apply for joint citizenship on Bakura by virtue of her marriage.

    “Similarly, under that same postnuptial agreement, Mr. Trieste-Ypres—”

    “Excuse me?” the CP&S attorney choked.

    “I’m hyphenating,” Quentin explained just as calmly.

    “Mr. Trieste-Ypres,” Talon growled due to the interruption, “will not accept selection as Taoiseach, as has been pledged by his cousins Eleanor, Austin, and Sierra under similar legal instruments. However, in the event of the death of his wife, he will revoke such action, in similar fashion to his cousin Vesper at the end of her association with the Rydonni Prime Monarchs. In the event he inherits assets from Mrs. Ypres-Trieste at that time, he will be free to dispose of them as he sees fit. He will additionally apply for joint citizenship on Druckenwell by virtue of his marriage. Furthermore—”

    “Oh Force,” someone mumbled.

    Talon gave the entire conference room a burning glare. “Furthermore, any issue of their marriage, which we shall call the Ypres-Triestes—”

    “They’re hyphenating,” Corrie and Quentin said in unison.

    This time Sydney didn’t seem upset, but continued on without missing a beat. “—who will be joint citizens of Bakura and Druckenwell by virtue of birth, are not bound by any disavowals or forfeitures made by their parents and shall have full and equal rights to any and all assets of their parents’ estate or similar claims, including eligibility to serve as Taoiseach of the Noble House of Trieste. To that end, Mrs. Ypres-Trieste will pledge in this document to name such children her sole heirs, to the exclusion of Mr. Trieste-Ypres, to any and all Ypres Initiative holdings with the added provision that, in the event of her untimely death, such assets will be held in trust by Mr. Trieste-Ypres for the benefit of his children until they turn 25 years of age and have served at least one year of apprenticeship in employment with a Ypres Initiative-controlled business. When both conditions have been met, the Ypres-Triestes will inherit their Ypres Initiative holdings, apportioned equally among them.

    “This agreement, being fair and just in my clients’ joint opinion, will now be signed by both of them and anyone who has a problem with that can take it up with me,” Talon said, putting both hands on the conference table and leaning forward menacingly, “because this is the best you’re going to get.”

    ***
    “Surely you’d allow us to buy you dinner, Mr. Talon,” Quentin pressed as they rode down the skyscraper lift together, their postnuptial agreement signed and filed. “You came all this way from Bakura on our behalf. The least we can do is to show you the best Druckenwell has to offer.”

    “That’s kind, but I came here on behalf of your mother, who is an old personal friend and the reason Fleetfire Talon has the Bakura Miners account,” Sydney said, “but I don’t get off the clock even for her and I don’t think you’d like to explain me charging her my hourly rate to have dinner with you.” He flashed a mischievous smirk.

    “Thanks to you, we could actually pay that since I won’t have to give up the Initiative for Quentin,” Corrie said, taking her husband’s hand.

    “You never had to give up anything,” Sydney said, “but you told me what was important to you and I got you that in a way that smoothed things over with your family and business interests. Though, that reminds me, I wanted to ask: why does a scion of one of Bakura’s most prominent families and the heir to one of the Federation’s biggest industrial fortunes choose to not have the society wedding of the decade, but instead get hitched in a small private ceremony on Cloud City?”

    Corrie and Quentin looked at each other and then back to Talon. “Even though I’m the only member of my immediate family who’s not an attorney, I have to ask: you’re our lawyer, so whatever we tell you is privileged?” Quentin asked.

    “Until we get out of this lift, I’m your lawyer,” Talon confirmed.

    Quentin reached out and pulled the emergency stop on the lift, nearly throwing them off their feet with the sudden shift in momentum. “You go ahead, dear,” he told Corrie.

    “My husband and I are the principal co-conspirators in a coordinated criminal enterprise in which we are flagrantly breaking contract and sentient being trafficking laws of the Corporate Sector Authority; multiple immigration laws of independent, non-aligned star systems; financial transparency laws of the Roon Federation; without saying anything of our complicity and intimate knowledge of smuggling operations to support these activities—and others depending on prosecutorial prerogative in filing charges—and have reason to believe that we are under threat of indictment at any moment from any or all of these authorities, for which reason we decided to protect ourselves from testimony under oath against the other by way of spousal privilege,” Corrie rattled off, seemingly in one breath.

    Talon looked at the pair with something between surprise and respect. “And here I thought you were going to say you’d gotten knocked up.”

    “Well…about that…” Corrie said as her eyes and Quentin’s drifted to her abdomen.
     
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  22. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Go Sydney Talon! :D :D :D :D

    “Cut the Crane, Poole, because you’re full of Schmidt,” Talon slammed down.

    [face_rofl]

    And the final scene... wonderful way to reveal to your lawyer that you're felons. :p (And oh, by the way, we're pregnant.)
     
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  23. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    I have to admit, I was particularly proud of that line. ;)
     
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  24. Vehn

    Vehn Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    “Cut the Crane, Poole, because you’re full of Schmidt,” Talon slammed down.

    That had me in stitches. Great post, @Trieste :)
     
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  25. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

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

    Marian Square, Salis D’aar, Bakura

    “Declan, welcome back,” Silas said, greeting Declan as he entered the executive office. “Have a seat and give me the news.”

    “Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister,” Declan said as he lowered himself onto a sofa. He had returned last night from a trip to Coruscant to conference with Republican officials and their sector Senator. “I had productive meetings, particularly with Senator Shikoku. I think she’s going to be a reliable voice for us in the Senate.” This was a stroke of good fortune because Galactic Senators owed no allegiance to system-level governments. Without cooperation from their Senator, the federal government of Bakura would have no influence on policy decisions in Coruscant. It was part of the federated system of the Republic.

    “Excellent. What’s her read on the Chancellor and his priorities with the Centrality?” Madsen asked.

    “He’s committed, but the Senate isn’t moving as quickly,” Declan said. “She thinks the Chancellor is going to force a vote of some sort this session. However, I believe we’re a long way from that. There needs to be a proposal on the table. This is all theoretical right now.”

    “I know you’d like to have us be the ones to put forward that proposal, but until the Chancellor and Senate get on the same page, we’re not wading into this mess,” Madsen reiterated.

    “I don’t need telling twice,” Declan surrendered without malice.

    “Our priority is the economy, and that means trade agreements in the independent systems.”

    “I have a trip to Hapes to conclude one with the Consortium in two weeks. I’ve been assured the Senate will ratify it,” Declan reported.

    “Helps when you keep it in the family, eh?” Madsen observed with a smirk.

    “Low hanging fruit,” Declan replied with a smile. “But, regarding the Kattan Doctrine debate, I’d like to make sure we stay included in the conversation. Otherwise we risk losing our standing in the Republic.”

    “Stay in the conversation. Don’t lead it,” Madsen decided. “Anything else we need to discuss?”

    “Just one thing,” Declan said. “It’s not my bailiwick, so let me know if I’m overstepping my bounds, but since domestic issues are this prime ministry’s priority, there is something about the tax bill.”

    Silas raised an eyebrow. “Yes?”

    “It’s good policy to cut tax rates when we’re in surplus, but the economic analyses say this cut is too large, that it could put us into deficit. I’d drop the cut from the highest bracket from your proposal to the Senate to bring the impact down,” Declan advised.

    “That would open us to charges of the tax bill being covert income redistribution.”

    “Yes, but we can defend it as responsible fiscal practice. Trust me, you’ll shore up support for it in the Senate without having to give out too many favors and you’ll get a signature win for the first year of your Prime Minister.”

    “I’ll take that into consideration. Thank you, Declan,” Madsen said, standing. Declan followed suit. “Just one question.”

    “Of course.”

    “Like you said, finance is out of your field. You didn’t have to get involved. Why?” Madsen asked.

    “I am with this administration to the end,” Declan said.

    “Glad to hear it. With all of us putting our shoulder to the wheel, we’ll do a lot of good around here.”

    “Yes we will,” Declan agreed. “We just might change Bakura yet.” He truly meant it.