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Beyond - Legends Annals of the Noble House of Trieste: Volume 13 (AU, OC)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Trieste, Nov 4, 2020.

  1. Trieste

    Trieste Chosen One star 6

    Apr 10, 2010
    Title: The Annals of the Noble House of Trieste: Volume 13
    Author: Trieste
    Timeframe: 299 ABY and beyond
    Characters: The members of the Noble House of Trieste, a House of Bakura (all OCs)
    Genre: Alternate universe, political drama, family drama, and other things as they arise
    Notes: This fanfic is the continuation of Annals of the Noble House of Trieste: Volume 12, which chronicled the events of the Trieste family under the leadership of Ayn Trieste, the twelfth such leader. Volumes 10 and 11 are available here on the boards. Volumes 8 and 9 exist in Word document form. Volume 9 is not complete as its contents go up to the beginning of The Bluebells & The Edelweiss (I also possess an original copy with untruncated posts from the pre-board migration era). Those interested in these earlier works are welcome to PM me. TAGs will be provided upon request should you find these scribblings interesting. :) (Though I will provide initial TAGs to @AzureAngel2 @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @SWNerd11 and @Vehn as they were on the list in Volume 12.) Your comments are welcome, provided they are good-natured and constructive. Let's get to it...


    It has been called the Winter of the Noble House.

    Though he was Taoiseach once more, the first being to ever hold the mantle twice, and gained the resources of the Noble House, Declan Trieste had lost nearly everything: his wife, his career, his ambition. When Kerry and Falene left him at the family’s burial tree, he left his family as well.

    Declan Trieste withdrew from all society, crushed by the weight of his loss. Though his children remained, they were adults who had already begun to find their place in the galaxy. Whether they still needed him or not, their lives were now theirs to live.

    The Taoiseachs that had come before him—including Declan during his prior three-year tenure—had been largely beings of vision, whether for the Noble House or Bakura itself. Those who had not held such grand designs (specifically, Saraid, Niall II, and Falene) used the assets of the Noble House to finance their chosen lifestyles with varying degrees of engagement in the family’s future. Niall II and Falene both handed the mantle of leadership to family members who focused on expanding the Noble House’s prestige through politics. Declan had been that successor to Falene.

    Now, Declan had no vision for the Noble House. His vision had come and gone. He had run for prime minister. When he could not gain the office through the ballot box, he conspired to raise his wife to that station through a constitutional coup. In their ambition and cunning, they had been unmatched in the history of the Noble House. Not even Maeve and Lennon Trieste, who had set the high watermark for concerted political ambition within a Taoiseach’s marriage, reached they level they did. Now, without Ayn, Declan had no dreams.

    However, to say that the Noble House entered a winter invites images of slumber and inactivity. It was anything but. While Ayn, who had married into the family, almost certainly never would have chosen anyone but her own children to succeed her as Taoiseach, there was no such guarantee with Declan. He was related by blood to every aspirant in the Noble House. His accession signaled to the whole of the Noble House that anyone could be the next Taoiseach.

    Declan’s second service as Taoiseach hosted the greatest succession battle since Kerry Trieste beat out her six siblings for the mantle. It sparked creativity, innovation, and change that echo to this very day.

    W. Súilleabháin
    Professor of History, University of Bakura, Salis D’aar
  2. Trieste

    Trieste Chosen One star 6

    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @SWNerd11 @Vehn Time to begin in earnest, and let's begin at the beginning.

    Kilmainham Brook, Bakura

    Declan Trieste cried beyond the ability of his body to produce tears. Biology could not limit his grief. He shuddered on the ground, his body wracked with convulsions, as if trying to call forth more salty water. He never knew how long he remained beneath the tree. Time was nothing next to his grief.

    He was Taoiseach again. He commanded billions of credits and assets. He had the resources to do anything that he wanted, freedom that quintillions of beings dreamed of. It was a future he had once dreamed of, been destroyed by not receiving, elated to unexpectedly inherit, and given away gladly to his wife.

    It meant as little to him now as a speck of dust carried on the wind that swept across the vast lands he now owned.

    One might wonder why, consumed with such grief, Declan did not just end his life there beneath the tree and gamble on a reunion in a world beyond mortal comprehension rather than face the continued prospect of life without Ayn. Perhaps the thought came to him many times over.

    There was only one reason that Declan Trieste did not take that path then and there. It was not because he wanted to withhold the Noble House from Vesper. It was not because he nursed plans of revenge against the prime minister and Yeoh Gawa. It was not because he believed he was the best Taoiseach the Noble House could have right now.

    It was because he knew his wife despised quitters.

    For that reason alone, Declan stood and staggered back to the house, with no idea what he would do now.

    University of Bakura, Salis D’aar, Bakura

    Niall Fionn Trieste was alone for the first time that he could remember.

    Though his father would enjoy a few months of continued protection from the Marshals as the surviving spouse of a prime minister, that benefit was accorded by statute to the children of a deceased PM. In one sense, it was wonderful. His life was his to do with as he pleased. He didn’t have to feel guilty about dragging his protective detail to a party that went on throughout the night or keeping them on duty when he wanted to study in the library. His life no longer need be scheduled to be more convenient for others.

    Yet the void the Marshals left somehow seemed larger than the one created by the absence of his mother. It was likely only because they had been an everyday presence. Living on campus had created distance, albeit slight since Marian Square was just across town, between mother and son, a natural one for most parents and children when their university years came. Niall briefly wondered if normal beings would feel this way before remembering that normal beings didn’t have bodyguards.

    A knock came at the door and Niall opened it to find Shenandoah, who had clearly been crying down the hall. Even if she’d dried her tears, he could see it in the set of her face, the wobble of her eyes. She didn’t need to say anything for Niall to understand. They sat down together on his couch and she rested her head against his shoulder.

    “I’m going to move into the Plaza with Aunt Regan and Uncle Atticus,” Shenandoah said softly.

    “You were going to do that anyways, weren’t you?” Niall pointed out, but without malice.

    “I don’t mean at the end of the year. I mean now,” she clarified.

    Niall nodded. He understood the need to be around family right now. The Eldreds were the closest family to their university studies now. It would be too long a commute to be at Kilmainham Brook while they were still going to UBSD.

    “Want to come with?” Shenandoah asked. “We can take the monorail in and be real university students.”

    “Real university students living in palatial accommodations with the Chief Justice,” Niall said, cracking a smile. It was true—now that they no longer had the Marshals they were in charge of their own transportation. Such a mundane to an ordinary being was exciting to them. “I think I’ll stick out the rest of the year here at least. I’ll deal with next year after that.”

    “You know Niamh could come too,” Shenandoah said. “Aunt Regan loves her, especially after the wake and it’s not like we’re short on rooms there.”

    “It’s probably a bit too soon, but I appreciate it.”

    Shenandoah roused herself. “I think I’m going to pack.”

    “Want help?” Niall offered.

    She shook her head. “You fold your shirts funny. I don’t want to deal with that mess.”

    Niall laughed. It was brief, but it was the first time in a while there’d been mirth in his life. The first time since… “Let me know what I can do.”

    “You could move into the Plaza with me,” Shenandoah said. Niall could hear the smile in her voice.

    “Goober,” he kidded.

    “Dork,” she replied.
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  3. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Chosen One star 6

    Nov 7, 2010
    This will be very different. And very interesting.

    I look forward to seeing what develops.
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  4. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Sep 14, 2009
    @jcgoble3 took the words out of my mouth. Let's see what comes of all this.
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  5. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    The start of another great epic of yours. Thanks for tagging me and my husband @DarthUncle.

    After a period of almost two weeks, he got his middle office window back that a neighbour of ours had taken care of. Here in Berlin with a lousy landlady and overworked craftsmen its good to have connections to an architectural engineer who knows somebody to do need glas jobs.

    And since enough neighbours of ours protested against the bad situation of our internet & TV cable that runs through the entire building, we are also having internet and digital TV again. Yeah!

    Reason enough for me and my husband to be online again more regular in the evenings. If I am not wrecked from work that it.

    Anyway, you wrote a sad, but beautiful start. Rekindling the fire of interest for your family epos once more.

    Yeah to that!
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  6. Trieste

    Trieste Chosen One star 6

    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @SWNerd11 @Vehn Just like Ayn, we lost Patsy Cline when she still had so much music left in her.

    Kilmainham Brook, Bakura

    The inconvenient thing about having a retreat was that it was so darn far away from the office, whether it was with a corporation or in a government building. It was too inconvenient to actually live there and usually only fit for weekends and vacations.

    Accordingly, it had been a long time since anyone had lived fulltime at Kilmainham Brook when Declan moved in after resigning as Minister of State. Not since Fionn Dunros Trieste had anyone made it their primary residence. Falene had come the closest by living there in the offseason, but limmie games and practices kept her elsewhere most of the year.

    Now its remove from other beings was the thing that Declan liked the most about it.

    It was a big house, one that required several hands keep in working order. In the old times, before the Neo-Sith War, the house had bustled with maids, footmen, cooks, butlers, and valets. That had been in the days when Bakurans had a natural antipathy to droids. Those attitudes changed when the planet had been settled by expats who had gotten used to the metal presences that were common on nearly every other world. Now Kilmainham Brook was tended to by droids whose gears and gyros hummed softly as they made their way through the hallways.

    That was how Declan liked it. He could tell droids he didn’t want to talk and they’d oblige and remain silent, at least more than a sentient biological being would. Some of them could only beep and trill at him. That suited him. The last thing he wanted was asking him how he was.

    He was terrible.

    He didn’t want anyone to inquire about his feelings. The kind intentions, the hands resting gently on his arm or hand, expressions of sympathy over his loss. It was usually accompanied by some story of an awful experience the other person had gone through and survived.

    Thinking about his feelings opened wounds as sharp as the wreckage of the second Death Star inside Declan.

    And the looks. Those were the worst. The way that the eyes would soften, the sorrow that nearly dripped from them, down cheeks that slackened unconsciously. Those looks were full of pity.

    The eyes of droids remained impassively unchanging, which was what Declan wanted.

    No one could understand this loss. Other people lost spouses who had taken children to school and changed lightbulbs. He’d lost a spouse who had brought about generational change for an entire planet, who left an unfinished agenda. And Declan had been set to share in all of that.

    No one could understand, which made no one worthy of being near him.

    Gesco City, Bakura

    “What do you mean Declan won’t see you?” Nicholas Arden repeated in surprise.

    “I mean that he didn’t even return the call,” Rickard explained. “A droid did.”

    “A droid?” Nicholas echoed once more. They were sitting in Rickard’s office at the BRC Lightspeed plant. It overlooked the design floor, which still housed the V1 prototype that had so recently passed its flight tests. The program’s progress had been halted by Ayn’s death, but it was time to begin again—and that was the problem. “Did you tell him that we need approval to start the production line buildout?”

    “Yes, that was clearly stated,” Rickard said evenly.

    “And that if we don’t start now, we’re going to waste potentially millions of credits with production downtime?” Nicholas pusued.


    “I thought that would have gotten his attention at least,” Nicholas mumbled. He ran a hand through his hair. “I mean, it’s his money now, I guess he can do what he wants, but after everything the team’s done here…I mean we owe it to them to follow through. They’ve given us blood, sweat, and tears, Rick.”

    “I know, and you’re right,” Rickard said, “which is why I need you to get Vesper for me.”

    Nicholas’s eyebrows shot up. “OK, I’m going to strongly recommend you rethink that because let me say from personal and recent experience she is not a happy camper right now with the Monarchs missing the playoffs.”

    “I’m sure, but we need her.”

    “You think she can get through to Dec?”

    “Declan’s made it clear he’s not interested in seeing anyone,” Rickard said, “but Vesper can release the credits.”

    “Sure, but that kind of capital investment requires sign off from him. That’s a big chunk of change,” Nicholas said. “The House accounts aren’t a charge card.”

    “That’s been tradition, but legally Vesper can do it,” Rickard said, tapping one finger on his desk absent-mindedly. “The credits are in Frontier Fund accounts. She can direct their disposal.”

    “OK, OK, but play this out,” Nicholas advised him. “Best case—and I mean best case—Declan finds out we got the credits behind his back when we’ve made a minor fortune that he will have the vornskr’s share of. He could still be upset enough that he kicks us to the curb. And if the V1 fails? He could sue us: you, me, Vesper, heck I wouldn’t put it past him to sue Ginny, the kids, and the being who delivers takeout to the office. We are talking flee-to-the-Unknown-Regions level trouble.”

    Rickard’s face ticked up into a smile. “All this from the being who loves pushing the limit in whatever he’s driving or flying. I thought you’d have more daring.”

    “I know when you can push a speeder into the red, but I also know that you do not make the kinds of lawyers Declan retains mad,” Nicholas said. “You can file the ID number off a speeder and walk away. These lawyers hunt you down like Mandalorians.”

    “The truth is we don’t have a choice.” Rickard stood and walked to the window that looked at the design floor. Beings milled about, continuing the next round of work on the V1. They were going as far as they could without putting it into production. “You said it before: we have a team who’s put in long hours because they believe in us and the ship we’re building. If we don’t get these credits, we’re going to fail all of them. The beings down there…those are my parents, Nick. They’re the middle and working class of Bakura who are working for their kids’ university tuition, to take their family on a vacation on-world, who have mortgages and speeder payments. They’re good beings and I’m not going to fail them.” He turned back to Nicholas. “I won’t. I refuse to. I’ll rob Scipio if I have to, and I’ll sure as Korriban take the money Ayn agreed to give us if I can get it.”

    Nicholas stood up and took Rickard’s hand. “All right. Let’s rob a bank.” His face broke into a smile. “I’ve always wanted to say that. Let’s rob the bank of the Noble House.”

    “Get Vesper as soon as you can. The sooner the transfer goes through, the sooner we can get started,” Rickard said.

    “Lightspeed, baby,” Nicholas promised. “Lightspeed.”
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  7. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Chosen One star 6

    Nov 7, 2010
    There's gotta be a way to shake Declan out of his funk. Who will finally get through to him?
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  8. Trieste

    Trieste Chosen One star 6

    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @SWNerd11 @Vehn

    Kilmainham Brook, Bakura

    For the first time in his adult life, Declan explored the great house. He didn’t set out to do it. He just happened to walk its halls and open its rooms as a natural consequence of living there. Shortly after taking up residence at Kilmainham Brook he’d ordered all the rooms opened. He might be broken by grief, but he didn’t want furniture covered with sheets to be part of his life. He wanted the use of any room at any time. The droids had complied and now kept every nook in good condition.

    As a child, Kerry had brought her family to Kilmainham Brook as a convenient escape from the capital, especially during the height of the Civil War. The longer Declan lived in the house, the more he remembered his childhood and teenage explorations of the house. He would suddenly recall a bookcase he’d once perused in search of entertainment or a conversation in one of the guest rooms he hadn’t been in for years. Idle curiosity led him to follow up such recollections promptly. After all, he wasn’t doing much else these days.

    It was in pursuit of what he and Falene had once called “the yellow bedroom” for the wallpaper that encased its four walls that he found himself at the end of a hallway situated outside the path of even his wanderings. On his way to the bedchamber he caught something out of the corner of his eye that caused him to back up a couple of steps.

    He couldn’t believe he’d forgotten about the painting. After all, his mother had finished the work of reuniting the set. It wasn’t surprising that this one would be tucked away, off the main thoroughfares of the house. One might even argue that it was easy to forget it.

    But Declan found himself enthralled by the work of art. It eschewed the realism of the others in the series, relying on brushstrokes that showed their weight. The edges of the figure were soft, almost blurry. It was as if it was in motion, passing, hard to capture. And yet that look…

    Eventually Declan roused himself and headed back, abandoning his search for the Yellow Bedroom. He now looked for his majordomo. He could have shouted until a droid heard him and relayed his desire, but Declan had nothing but time. Seeking out the object of his desires was part of his life now.

    “N7,” he said upon finally locating the droid. “Come with me. There’s a painting that needs moving.”

    “Of course, Master Declan,” the droid said.

    “And after we’ve finished with that, get a copy of the most recent catalogue for the largest auction house in Geso City, Cape Suzette, and Prytis,” Declan continued.

    “As you wish, Master Declan.”

    Gesco City, Bakura

    “My next guest just finished serving as Federal Attorney for the Southern District of Salis D’aar. Incidentally, that district includes Bakura Gardens, so let’s find out if she ever had to investigate her husband for absolutely killing it on the limmie field,” Stefan Colburt said. “Please welcome to the show Trixie Penn!”

    Trixie gave a rare smile for the applauding crowd as she stepped onto the stage. She shook hands with Colburt before taking a seat in the armchair next to his desk.

    “So good to have you here, Trixie. Can I call you Trixie?” Colburt asked.

    “You can call me whatever you like, Stefan, just as long as you call me,” Trixie replied sweetly, propping her chin on her hand as she looked at the talkshow host.

    Colubrt looked at the camera with a smile of nervousness. “I’d just like to say to my wife watching at home, ‘Love you, honey.’” The audience laughed and Colburt turned back to his guest. “Seriously though, according to what they’re saying in the Salis D’aar Times, leaving the Southern District wasn’t your choice. Is that true?”

    “Are you asking if the Attorney General fired me?” Trixie asked, cutting to the heart of the matter. “He 100% did.”

    “Can you say why that was? I mean, Bakurans everywhere know you from the Samson Drave investigation and your convictions of organized crime leaders in Nouvelle Orleans. I think you’ve got a great reputation.”

    “It was because my mother’s maiden name was Trieste,” Trixie said, not mincing words.

    “That’s a pretty serious charge,” Colburt said. “Do you have proof to back that up?”

    “Just common sense, Stefan. The Prime Minister wants his own beings running things and he didn’t trust that I’d be one of them. But don’t get me wrong,” Trixie continued, “I’d have done the same thing in his place.”

    “So you’d have fired you if you were him?” Colburt asked. “Now that I’ve said that, I’m glad you have a law degree because I’m pretty sure I can’t understand what I just said.” The audience chuckled.

    “More or less,” Trixie agreed wryly.

    “OK, so what’s next for you? Are you going to just stay at home? After all, you don’t need to be the breadwinner now that Horst is working for the BBC. He’s got to be making some sweet credits with that gig and I know I personally love seeing him every Primeday.”

    “Oh he is and I’m his agent so I get 10% of what he makes,” Trixie assured Stefan.

    “Don’t you get 50% as his wife?”

    “50 and 10. It’s our standard deal.”

    “So maybe a career as a limmie agent then? Sounds like you could make some good moola there,” Colburt suggested.

    “Tempting, but I’m pretty occupied with the one client I have on that front,” Trixie said. “No, I’ve got something else in mind and I figure that this would be a good place to let everyone know.”

    “Does that mean you’re going to make a major announcement?” Colburt asked with some excitement.

    “Yes, you are,” Trixie confirmed.

    “Then hold on for just a second. Can we get a graphic for this?” he asked his producers, looking away from Trixie.

    They were clearly prepared for this because immediately there was a large, red, flashing banner at the bottom of the feed with an accompanying loud voice stating, “MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT! MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT!”

    “OK, go ahead,” Colburt instructed Trixie when that was finished.

    “Since it seems the federal government no longer requires my services and I’ve been a lifelong resident of Salis D’aar, it seems I’m going to have to find something else for me to do there,” Trixie explained. “That’s why I’m formally announcing my candidacy for Salis D’aar District Attorney in next year’s election.”

    The audience cheered and applauded as Colburt looked impressed.

    “That’s a nonpartisan office, right?” Stefan asked.

    “It is.”

    “Are you going to seek the endorsement of Fianna Fail based on your family’s association with them?”

    “Stefan, I’ve never been a member of a political party in my life and I’m not going to start now,” Trixie said. “I’m running as an independent and welcome the vote of any Bakuran who thinks I’ll do a great job—which I will, so I think everyone should vote for me. In fact, I should probably run unopposed just to make it easier.”

    “There you have it folks! Trixie Penn for Salis D’aar DA!” Colburt proclaimed. “You’ve got my vote!”

    “But Stefan, you don’t live in Salis D’aar,” Trixie pointed out with a smile.

    Colburt snapped his fingers in dismay. “Darn! Guess you’ll have to find that first vote elsewhere.”

    “Don’t worry,” Trixie promised, “my mother used to be SDDA. If she could get elected, how hard could it be?”

    “Stay tuned folks,” Colburt said, “because after this commercial break we’re going to find out how awkward Yuletide dinner is going to be in the Eldred household after that comment!”

    Trixie laughed. Declan might be sitting around Kilmainham Brook, but she had no intention of wallowing. She was focused on only one thing: attacking.
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  9. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Chosen One star 6

    Nov 7, 2010
    I'm guessing Trixie has a specific prosecution in mind.

    And what painting is Declan moving, and why does he want an auction house?
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  10. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Sep 14, 2009
    She's sweet but oh so deadly. Watch out, Bakura!
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  11. Trieste

    Trieste Chosen One star 6

    Apr 10, 2010
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  12. Trieste

    Trieste Chosen One star 6

    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @SWNerd11 @Vehn

    Kilmainham Brook, Bakura

    “Thank you for coming out,” Declan said, welcoming his guest—his first—to the house.

    “It was hard to refuse when I was told you were going to pay me for my travel time. That’s not common in my line of work,” Alixa Chelli said, shaking Declan’s hand.

    “From what I was told, nothing about this is common for you,” Declan said, ushering her inside.

    “No, I usually don’t do commissions,” Chelli said.

    “And why is that?” Declan asked, inviting her with a motion to take a seat as he did the same in the large family room that formed the central space of the ground floor.

    “Because I don’t do my best work on commission.”

    “How curious.” The droids would be the only ones to know that this was the most interested the Taoiseach had seemed in anything in months. “I wouldn’t think that would be a concern of someone who just had one of her paintings sell for 400,000 credits at auction. Surely on a bad day you could still pull down 200,000.” He smirked, indicating his jest.

    “When you paint for someone, you have the weight of expectations. Will they like it? How will they react to it?” Alixa explained. “Where are they going to hang it? What will they say to their friends? ‘This is my Chelli. I paid half a million for it.’” The artist shook her head. “Frankly, I’m not creating in those circumstances. I’m going through an elaborate dance of what I think the buyer wants.”

    “And when you’re painting without a commission?”

    “My soul opens up,” Alixa said, “and the core of my being is transferred to the canvas.”

    Declan remained silent and considered that. After a few seconds, he gave a slow nod. “See that painting over there?” He shifted his eyes to it without moving his head.

    Chelli turned. It was a portrait of a dark-haired woman looking over her shoulder as she climbed into a starship, something larger than a fighter but smaller than a freighter. A hand gripped a rail built into the side of the ship to assist with access. One side of her face was almost hidden by the way she was turned. Her shoulder-length locks had been picked up by the breeze and the edges of the woman and ship blurred into each other. It was as if the portrait had been made from the memory of a hurried glimpse, a hazy recollection of a moment in passing. Over her opposite shoulder was the stock of a blaster rifle, indistinct enough that you could almost miss it.

    “Do you want my opinion of it?” Alixa asked.

    Delcan smiled. “Only if you care to give it.”

    “I never give an opinion on my peers’ work. Professional courtesy.”

    “You don’t have to worry. The being who painted that has probably been dead for a century and a half. Maybe longer. That is a portrait of Saraid Trieste,” Declan explained.

    “I thought it might be one of your ancestors,” Alixa said.

    “Actually, she’s the only Taoiseach who isn’t. She is my great-great-great-great-aunt. She was the only Taoiseach to ever die in the office.” Declan paused. “Until recently.”

    Alixa chose her next words carefully. “I am sorry.”

    Declan either didn’t hear or chose not to respond. “She did not have time for portraits. That duty was left to her nephew, my great-great-grandfather, to commission her family portrait when he assumed the mantle of the family’s leadership in accordance with her written instructions. So it falls to me to arrange for my wife’s.”


    “That is a title I no longer hold,” Declan gently corrected, leaving no doubt that it was indeed a correction.

    “Whatever you want to be called,” Alixa said, “I don’t do portraits. I can give you the names of five beings who would be much better than me.”

    “So I was informed. But you did Azure Dusk and it intrigued me. I saw plenty of portraits in the auction catalogues. None of those artists will be sufficient to capturing my wife,” Declan said.

    “Whatever you think you want—” Chelli began.

    “Forgive me, but that’s precisely the point. I don’t know what I want,” Declan cut her off. “That’s what you get an expert for. To do it right. Ms. Chelli, before we go any further, let me make my proposition clear. I was told that Azure Dusk took you a month to paint. Some of its sale price would have gone to the auction house. I don’t pretend to know how much that is, but I’m sure it was not insignificant.

    “I will pay you 400,000 credits a month to create three portraits. The first will reside in this house and hang alongside the other Taoiseachs of my family. The second will be provided to the Bakuran government to be part of the set of official portraits of the prime ministers. The third will be of me as to this point I have neglected that task and given…” Declan paused and gathered his thoughts. “It would be imprudent to defer that task any longer.

    “I will leave you alone to create. Updates will not be required. You will present your work as you finish it. If I don’t like it, I will say so and you will try again. We will go as long as we have to. You will have guaranteed income, one befitting your talents as set by the market, for the entire length of the process.”

    “With terms like that,” Alixa said, “I could become a very wealthy being by stringing you along.”

    “And yet I would not be significantly poorer for it,” Declan said. “But please, Ms. Chelli, don’t pretend that you are so dishonest as to do something like that. After all, I’ve seen Azure Dusk. You didn’t make that on commission. Therefore, it contains the core of your being. The being who created that painting is incapable of taking my credits and not creating the art I don’t even know I want.”

    “Please, Mr. Trieste, don’t pretend that you don’t know what you want. You want three portraits, two of your wife and one of you.” She smiled.

    Declan returned it. “Then I believe we have a deal.”

    Belden General Hospital, Salis D’aar, Bakura

    “Well it’s nice to see that Nar Shaddaa returned you quicker than the last time,” one of May’s fellow doctors joked when she poked her head into his office. “At this rate we should just open a clinic there and be done with it.”

    “Don’t say that, because I might just think you’re serious and do it, Kal,” May Hull said with a smile, the expression disrupting the crosshatching of scars on her face. “But seriously, I intend to be home for a while. I’ve spent too much time away as it is.”

    “What was this last one for?” Kal asked.

    “A favor to my brother,” May said. It was clear that was going to be the end of that line of conversation.

    “Well we’re better for it when you’re here,” Kal said. “But I’m guessing this isn’t just a ‘hey I’m back.’ You have something you want a second opinion on?”

    May shook her head. “To the contrary, I have a procedure that needs doing.”

    “I can’t imagine why you’re coming to me. Whatever it is, I think we both know you can do it better than I can.”

    “I need another set of hands for this one,” May confessed, “and there’s no one I’d trust with it as much as you.”

    When she explained the procedure, Kal sat back in his chair. “May—that’s…wow. I mean, yes, I’ll do it. But wow.”

    “Don’t worry,” May assured him. “You’re gonna be great. Will Centaxday work?”

    “Centaxday? May, I’m clearing my entire week for this.”

    “You’re too good, Kal,” May said. “See you then.”

    Left alone, Kal let the air out of his lungs in one giant breath. He couldn’t believe what he’d just agreed to. Then again, if he was going to do it for anyone, it would be May Hull. Force knew she deserved it. He just hoped he didn’t screw it up. If he did, he’d never forgive himself.
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  13. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Chosen One star 6

    Nov 7, 2010
    So Ayn never had a portrait of herself made, and Declan hasn't had one of himself made either. A small, but nevertheless important oversight.

    And May has a procedure to have done, and I suspect it's a procedure on herself. I'm interested to see what that is.
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  14. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Sep 14, 2009
    I'd love to see those Trieste portraits in real life. On my virtual bucket list ;)
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  15. Trieste

    Trieste Chosen One star 6

    Apr 10, 2010
    They'd be quite the collection!
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  16. Trieste

    Trieste Chosen One star 6

    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @SWNerd11 @Vehn

    Kilmainham Brook, Prytis, Bakura

    When the Noble House talked of Kilmainham Brook, the usually referred the house that formed the ancestral home of the family. Prytis was home to many such great houses, the retreats of the Bakuran elite, refuges from nearby Salis D’aar from the earliest days of the colony. These properties had enough land to provide privacy from neighbors and protection from prying eyes—but often little more.

    Kilmainham Brook was more than a house. Vastly more.

    The structure that Declan inhabited sat on a speck of the vast lands that made up the estate. It had been the only land that Fionn Dunross Trieste had kept from his inheritance, gifting the rest to the federal government that was forming as part of the Rebuilding. There were many who would have traded the vast lands he had given up (much of which had become protected nature preserves) for what Fionn had kept.

    Not even the Sith had destroyed the old growth forests that covered much of Kilmainham Brook. Yes, they had burned the house, but the wild nature and the creatures within it escaped the orbital bombardment they’d rained down on Bakura before abandoning it. There were no trails through these woods. No one walked them frequently enough to leave such a trace.

    Declan had never traversed them. They had called to Falene more than him, so much so that she’d gone to the Prytis College of Natural Sciences to be nearer to them. She still lived in the town when she wasn’t off discovering new worlds. Declan had been far too busy to spend time wandering among the great trunks in the dappled sunlight that filtered through to the forest floor.

    But now it called to him. He didn’t even tell any of the droids he was leaving. He just started walking. He had a warm coat that would keep him dry. He didn’t know where he was going. He didn’t know how he would get back. Maybe he didn’t care. Maybe part of him thought if he went into the woods and never came back that would be the way it was meant to be.

    His family’s woods were both louder and quieter than he would have thought. They were still and silent first. As he walked, picking his way over branches and around plants, he realized there was more room to think here than inside the house. He wasn’t sure he’d ever had such room. He wondered what he and Ayn might have accomplished if they’d ever come here together, what great plans they would have formed.

    When he stopped, he could hear the life around him. It was as if the woods came alive, though he suspected it was there all the time and the act of pausing was what revealed it. He couldn’t identify the bird songs or know what animal was gingerly stepping through leaves and brushing branches. Declan felt them all the same and could almost trace the lines that connected them with him. He wondered if perhaps this was what the Force was. Despite having Jedi in the family, he’d never really thought about it.

    Eventually Declan came to what he imagined was Kilmainham Brook itself, a stream of water running downhill to a place he’d never been. Maybe it was the eponymous feature of this place, maybe it was just a rivulet. All the same, he rested on a rock by its shore and listened to the water running over rocks and trickling on its way.

    Declan Trieste sat there. He had never done more doing nothing.

    University of Bakura, Salis D’aar, Bakura

    “A lot harder when you don’t have anyone to pack for you, eh?” Niamh asked mischievously as she leaned in Niall’s doorway.

    The young man turned and smiled. Boxes were all around him as he packed up his dorm room. He’d finished his final exams and was vacating the space tomorrow. Though he still had a year left in his studies, he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was ending today. He didn’t know if he was glad it was ending. After all, he’d been in this room when his mother had been shot. With Niamh.

    “I don’t suppose you’ve come to help?” Niall asked with a smile.

    “You’ve twisted my arm,” Niamh said histrionically, placing a hand to her forehead as if she was much aggrieved. “Though really it’s pity. Rich boys like you don’t know how to do manual labor.” She began taking pictures off the wall and placing them in a box.

    “Didn’t we invent droids for that?” Niall joked.

    “And only rich boys have droids to do things for them,” Niamh quipped. “Not many beings I knew back home had those back.”

    “The home that throws such good wakes.”

    “Yes.” Niamh said. She chewed her lower lip thoughtfully as she took another picture down. “About that.”

    “What about it?” Niall asked, not looking over as he packed clothes into a suitcase.

    “We never talked about what you’re doing during break, or what Shenandoah is doing,” Niamh said.

    “Doe is staying in town. She’s got her research assistant job. She said she’s going to lose herself in the library,” Niall said. “We’re both moving to the Plaza. Aunt Regan said she’d love to have us. I…I don’t know if our father would have us at Kilmainham Brook. Neither of us feel like asking.”

    Niamh paused and put a hand on Niall’s shoulder from behind. “I’m sorry. That must feel terrible. I can’t imagine it.”

    “I think he just hurts so much,” Niall said softly. “He lost everything.”

    Niamh almost said, He didn’t lose you, but something held her back. It seemed too much, too forward, even knowing each other as they did. She might have been at the wake, but she still didn’t know his family

    Instead she said, “I was wondering if you would like to visit me. In Carlowe.”

    Niall turned to face her. “Really?” He sounded more curious than anything else.

    Niamh wasn’t sure what to make of his reaction. “I mean, if that would interest you.” She squinted at him. “You’re being inscrutable right now. I can’t tell if you’re offended or you think this is hilarious or…something else.”

    Niall laughed and took Niamh to the couch. “No, it’s a wonderful idea. It’s just that I’ve never really done this kind of thing before.”

    “What? You’ve never visited a friend on a break before? You swore you had friends before UBSD so it can’t be that you didn’t have any to invite you. Or did their homes all fail the Marshals’ inspections?”

    “No, it’s just that I’ve never been asked to stay over at a friend’s house like this. I mean, when you’re living in the State Apartments you do most of the hosting because everyone wants to see what it’s like there,” Niall confessed.

    Niamh put a hand on Niall’s chest, as if to keep him at arm’s length. “Oh? So you think this is going to be a sleepover? In the house I grew up in? With my parents down the hall? When there’s a perfectly good inn in town you can absolutely afford a room in?”

    His face went red. “I didn’t mean to presume—”

    Niamh couldn’t keep it up any longer and bust up laughing. “Are you kidding? My folks would flay me alive if you stayed in a hotel! I’d never stop hearing about the ‘perfectly good guest room.’”

    Niall relaxed. “Niamh Crannagh. You are terrible.”

    “So are you going to come?” she asked.

    “It’d be a delight,” Niall agreed. “So I can see the other half lives.”

    Niamh grabbed a pillow and whacked him with it. “Just for that I’m not showing you where to step to avoid the creaky floorboards between the guest room and mine.”

    “Oh you’re definitely going to have to show me them…” Niall said as he leaned towards Niamh.

    “That kind of knowledge is earned,” Niamh told him as she stayed put.

    “And what’s the price?”

    “Watching you pack the rest of these boxes.”

    “I’d like to negotiate,” Niall said before kissing Niamh.

    “That’s a decent opening position, but I’d like to make a counteroffer,” Niamh replied before wrapping her arms around Niall.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2020
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  17. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Sep 14, 2009
    Really like the relationship between Niamh and Niall. Something special there. Definitely hints of the past as the future builds.....
  18. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Chosen One star 6

    Nov 7, 2010
    I need to do what Declan is doing. Find a peaceful place in nature and explicitly do nothing. Maybe it will help me to center and refocus myself, like I hope it does for Declan.

    Niamh is such a drama queen. [face_laugh] Yet she and Niall are such a perfect fit for each other. I wonder what Niamh's parents will think about Niall and about their daughter dating the son of the late Prime Minister.
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  19. Trieste

    Trieste Chosen One star 6

    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @SWNerd11 @Vehn

    Kilmainham Brook, Prytis, Bakura

    “I told you I didn’t want to see you,” Declan said.

    “And yet here I am.”

    “I told the droids I didn’t want to see you,” Declan added.

    “And I told them that I’m descended from Bakurans who used to rip droids apart and they would do well to step aside.”

    “You have no proof of that.”

    “They seemed more than inclined to believe me,” Regan Eldred said, smugly reclining across from Declan in a chair with all the poise of someone who’d successfully talked themselves into a place they weren’t supposed to be. As if to underscore the point, she was now accepting a cocktail from one of the very droids in question. “Thank you so much,” she said to her mixologist. Declan rolled his eyes in response. The truth was that the Chief Justice was one of the few members of his family who had both the standing, attitude, and will to impose herself on Declan against his wishes.

    “I’m not here to tell you your business—” Regan began.

    “And yet I think you’re going to do just that,” Declan remarked with a sideways look away from his aunt.

    “—and in almost anything you can do whatever you want, but you cannot ignore the Miners when they are in the Galactic Cup Final,” Regan lectured. “You have a responsibility to the team, to the players, to the organization, to the planet—to pretty much everyone.”

    “I’m sure the box will be full of the family. My absence will barely be noticed,” Declan stated.

    Regan made an indistinct sound of derision, one she usually reserved for the private discussions of the Supreme Court justices when someone said something too poorly thought out to merit actual words. “I would crawl over broken glass if I were Taoiseach to see our team in the Galactic Cup Final. Your absence will be an insult to our 90 years of ownership.”

    “It’s the ability to express such sentiments that were why I made you Chairwoman. The team is in good hands,” Declan said, standing to signal that the meeting was over. In fact, he turned his back on Regan to take up some other occupation to make sure she understood the point.

    “Sit. Down,” Regan growled.

    Declan did not do as she ordered, but he did turn back to her with eyes that burned. Regan remained seated, but radiated determination.

    “The only reason I am not Taoiseach of this family is that your mother was born four years before me,” Regan said tersely, “and a four-year head start is an eon when you’re only 29. If I’d had those extra years—if she and I had been the twins in the family—I would have left Kerry in the dust. And you can be damn sure that I would still be Taoiseach today.

    “Despite all that, I’ve always liked you, Declan. I felt terrible when Falene was picked because we were so alike. I knew what you went through when your mother made her decision. Unlike my sister, Falene had the sense to recognize the mistake Kerry made.

    “You didn’t want this a second time. We understand. But stop sulking. You have responsibilities. You took the oath. Honor it.” Regan downed her cocktail in one go and stood. “I look forward to seeing you on Mandalore.”

    “Your position has been noted,” Declan said. “Don’t ever offer one again.”

    “Please,” Regan said deprecatingly. “I thought you’d know by now I only ever offer advice once. I don’t suffer fools twice.”

    Belden General Hospital, Salis D’aar, Bakura

    Kal had asked to be summoned when the patient awoke. The truth was he’d been doing paperwork ever since the surgery solely so he could drop it when he got word. He didn’t want to be with a patient and be unable to leave immediately. The truth was he was too anxious to do anything but rush to his patient when the moment came.

    He entered the room to discover she was awake. “Good afternoon,” he said. He attempted to be bright, but his nerves came through all too easily.

    “You really need to work on your bedside manner, doc.”

    He smiled. “I’m glad to see the anesthetic has worn off fully.”

    “Well I’m not going to go run a 10K 10 minutes from now, but the cobwebs are clearing,” she admitted. “So, you going to do the honors?”

    “It’d be a pleasure,” Kal said. He took a pair of surgical scissors and began to cut away the bandages slowly.

    “Really drawing it out, aren’t you? Enjoying the suspense?”

    He chuckled. “I always handle with care late in the game.” When he pulled them away, he put the scissors down and picked up the mirror and held it in front of her. “What’s the verdict?”

    May Hull looked at her new face, free from the scars that had once been her defining feature. She’d had them since she was a child, which meant she had asked her colleague to create something that had never existed. He’d had literal bones to work with and the technology to heal the tissue was well-proven. May had used it herself once before. She’d restored an entire side of her cousin in-law Rickard’s face years ago.

    She turned her head to each side in turn, taking it in from various angles. She’d lost a father who’d killed the man who had put those scars on that face. She’d lost a husband who had fallen in love with that face. She’d cried tears down that face at Ayn’s funeral. Those scars had held too much sadness in them, far too much for a mother who had a daughter to raise.

    “Perfect,” May said without looking away from the mirror. “Absolutely perfect.”
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2020
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  20. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Chosen One star 6

    Nov 7, 2010
    Regan is right, whether Declan wants to admit it or not.

    And my guess regarding May's procedure was correct: she had the facial scars removed. After what she's been through, she deserves that.
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  21. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Sep 14, 2009
    @jcgoble3 its frightening to me how prescient you are about our stories.....:cool:

    Great writing here ;)
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2020
  22. Trieste

    Trieste Chosen One star 6

    Apr 10, 2010
    She'd chosen to keep them for a long time (and even talked about why she'd made that choice with Elyse and Henrietta in a Volume 12 post), but sometimes when life changes, so do your decisions.

    Going to be an interesting post for the Galactic Cup Final!
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  23. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Chosen One star 6

    Nov 7, 2010
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  24. Trieste

    Trieste Chosen One star 6

    Apr 10, 2010
    So what you're saying is I might need to explain May's motivations for this change a little bit more. [face_laugh]
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  25. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Chosen One star 6

    Nov 7, 2010
    Yes, I'd very much like to hear why she decided to get rid of the scars. Maybe it's time for another meeting of the Noble House Widows' Club? ;)
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