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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 Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @SWNerd11 @Vehn While the sun is shining here today, it hailed yesterday. Hail.


    Salis D’aar, Bakura

    “The vagabond returns,” Niall remarked dryly with a smile. Shenandoah threw her bag down and fell into one of the chairs of the library. The Plaza was her first stop after her circumnavigation of Bakura. “Looking forward to a real bed?”

    “I had a real bed throughout the trip. I didn’t sleep in the speeder,” Shenandoah said, giving her twin a come on, you knew that look. Even so, she looked glad to be home. Her journey had lasted months, spiraling across the planet’s surface.

    “I take it you got it out of your system?” Niall asked, setting his datapad aside.

    “I did what I wanted to do,” Shenandoah replied, declining to elaborate further.

    “You know Dad’s going to ask you about getting a job as soon as he realizes you’re back.”

    “I have plans,” Shenandoah said.

    “He’ll appreciate that,” Niall said.

    “I’m sure he will,” Shenandoah said, not taking the bait. She closed her eyes and slipped into a slouching position on the couch.

    “Have a nice nap,” Niall told her.

    “Will do. I’ll say hi to Niamh later.”

    “When you do, send her my regards. Law school apparently takes a lot of time.” Niall didn’t sound bitter about that. He commented on it like pointing out that it might rain today.

    “Mmmhmmmm,” Shenandoah mumbled.

    That completed the twins’ reunion. Niall picked up his datapad and resumed his reading. The Kurtzen had plenty of interesting history to learn about.



    Ando Prime

    Rickard rubbed his hands to warm them. Even though he was wearing mittens and a parka, he still wished he was warmer. There was plenty of heat in the suites, but he wasn’t going to be anywhere but near the pit for the maiden practice of BRC Lightspeed Racing. Unfortunately, once he was close to the action it seemed there was nothing for him to do.

    Nicholas, however, seemed like he was doing six things at once. He was ensconced on the pit wall, monitoring an array of displays showing the BRC Lightspeed pod as it maneuvered the track. Though he wasn’t in direct contact with their driver, Belt Lowda, Nicholas was monitoring the team’s communications with him as he got a feel for his new craft, taking it through the icy turns of the course.

    Eventually Rickard couldn’t take it. He flashed his badge at the security checkpoint, crossed the pit lane (after making sure no pods were coming his way that would suck him into their engines), and stood behind Nicholas.

    “Everything’s looking good,” Nicholas said without turning around. He sensed Rickard’s hovering presence. “He hasn’t taken it to its limit yet. He’s just feeling the edges. He’ll ramp it up in the second half of practice to get into racing form.”

    “I’m more concerned about mechanical failure,” Rickard admitted. That was the whole reason they were doing this. They wanted to show that the name BRC Lightspeed meant quality, to drive starship sales. It didn’t matter that most of the technology in the pod would never go into a consumer-grade starship. It was all marketing, but marketing mattered, especially for a new entry into a crowded field.

    Nicholas put a hand up to forestall further discussion. “He’s throttling up.” Rickard watched the displays, but couldn’t make heads nor tails of them. He watched the vidfeed of the podracer maneuvering the course. At least that way he’d know if it burst into flames.

    The podracer banked and zipped around the course. It did not explode, but beyond that Rickard couldn’t tell what was going on.

    Then, all of a sudden, Nicholas’s raised hand curled into a fist, which he pumped downwards. “We are good.” He spun around on his stool to high five Rickard. “We are gonna be lightspeed, baby.”

    Rickard smiled. “Let’s just see how the race goes.”

    “Race nothing. We’re going to take it to them in qualifying,” Nicholas said. “We’re doing this thing for real now. You hear that?” He was calling down the pit wall to the other teams. “Get ready for BRC, friends! Because we’re coming for you!”
     
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  2. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    “Race nothing. We’re going to take it to them in qualifying,” Nicholas said. “We’re doing this thing for real now. You hear that?” He was calling down the pit wall to the other teams. “Get ready for BRC, friends! Because we’re coming for you!”

    Now that is a declaration of war! [face_dancing]

    As for mentioning hail, that was the stuff that struck me very hard when I was leaving an overcrowded city bus. But rather that than staying inside the bus!
     
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  3. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @SWNerd11 @Vehn I know it's been a while, but that doesn't mean things haven't been on my mind... ;)

    Redwood City, Bakura

    “I’ve taken care of the family business,” Declan stated.

    His mother registered that remark with a mere raise of one eyebrow as she poured a couple of drinks. “I take it you’d like to elaborate on that,” Kerry said. The second half of the sentence, or you wouldn’t have told me at all, was implied but fully understood on both sides of the conversation.

    Kerry was riding high these days as the Bak10 had won its second consecutive GCAA limmie championship, a vindication of her steadfast position that the conference didn’t need to expand to be relevant. Kerry hadn’t achieved this level of professional accomplishment since she’d been reelected Supreme Chancellor of the Republic.

    “I realized that Ayn’s death couldn’t have been random. It had to have a genesis in something,” Declan said.

    “This is how the tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists start, dear,” Kerry said gently as she handed him a drink. She took a seat in her sleek living room.

    “I did my research. I found enough proof to make a decision. In the end, she confessed. And I punished her for driving Garner Lekworth to kill Ayn,” Declan said. He drank.

    Kerry said nothing. She drank too and the silence stretched. Then she asked a question she already knew the answer to. “And how do you feel now that you’ve done your duty as Taoiseach?”

    Declan was silent. He drank again. “I did what Ayn would have wanted.”

    “You didn’t answer the question,” Kerry said in only the way that a mother could to her child.

    The Taoiseach didn’t say anything in reply.

    That was how Kerry knew. Knew that the pain, the ache, the void was still there. Knew that justice had been served and that the galaxy was still wrong. Knew that the pain would stay for the rest of his life. Knew that he couldn’t have done differently.

    “I understand,” she said quietly before drinking again.

    “There are somethings even you don’t know, mother,” Declan stated. He drank.

    “I shot Srin Andloinne for murdering your Uncle Conn,” Kerry said calmly, without hesitation. “I had a syndicate boss from Corellia burn down the warehouse it happened in.”

    “I strangled Holly Remizan in the great room of Kilmainham Brook for causing the speeder crash that killed Sevan. Without that, Lekworth never would have killed Ayn,” Declan informed his mother, matching her tone of voice. “I’ve replaced the carpet as a matter of course and wiped the memory of all the droids.”

    Kerry took a drink. “Well, you finally found a way to one-up me,” she remarked.

    “Did it change anything for you?” Declan asked before he finished his glass.

    “No. You?” Kerry asked.

    “No.”

    Kerry downed the rest of her drink. She didn’t bother to ask if he wanted another. She just stood and collected his glass. She’d lived this night many times before.

    It was the first time she had company for it.



    Salis D’aar, Bakura

    Shenandoah’s plans after her planetary odyssey were to hole up in a room at The Plaza and talk on the HoloNet all day. It wasn’t exactly what her family expected, but none of them listened to her calls.

    Over a series of days, Shenandoah called every being she’d met on her journey. The conversations always started the same way.

    “I was thinking about what we talked about,” Shenandoah said as she lay on the bed, sat sideways in a chair, curled up on bench seat looking out a window, or ate a sandwich (or at least tried to eat one). “And it made me realize that maybe there’s something we can do about it, something different than just doing the same thing over and over. Have you thought much about this year’s Republican elections?”

    When she was finished working through her list, Shenandoah made one more call. “Hi Aunt May. I hope this is OK, but would you happen to keep in touch with anyone at the Times? I think there’s a story they might be interested in.”

    After she’d spoken with the Salis D’aar Times, she started looking at the bylines of the political stories coming out of newsrooms across Bakura. It was easy to talk to the journalists who’d written them when she called and said she had a story she thought they’d want to look into.

    When she was done, it just so happened (not that Shenandoah had timed it or anything like that) to be Regan’s regular dinner with Trixie and Horst. Shenandoah had been told as long as she was at the Plaza she was always welcome to join, so she did. Once everyone had eaten enough to not be ravenous, Shenandoah casually said, “Have either of you heard anything about the Galactic Senator race? I hear it’s shaping up to be interesting.”

    Two days later, Shenandoah got the call she’d been waiting for.

    “Hello, Doe. I think we should talk.”

    “Of course,” she replied.

    “I’ll send a shuttle for you tomorrow morning.”

    “See you then, Dad,” Shenandoah finished.
     
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  4. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @DarthUncle @jcgoble3 @SWNerd11 @Vehn Give her the real thing. ;)



    Kilmainham Brook, Bakura

    Declan put a datapad in front of Shenandoah. It showed the front page of the Salis D’aar Times and its headline proclaiming, Groundswell for Trieste Write-In for Galactic Senate.

    “I can ex—”

    Her father held up a finger to stop her right there. “You will get to say your piece when I’m finished,” Declan instructed. He flipped through several more headlines from his side of the desk in the Taoiseach’s study.

    The Gesco City Chronicle: Declan Trieste: Our Next Galactic Senator?

    The Cape Suzette Gazette: Galactic Senate Race Upended by “Draft Trieste” Movement

    The Evenvale Morning Star: Grassroots Movement Pushes Trieste for Senate

    The Golden Prairie Express-Post: Don’t Call It A Comeback: Trieste Surges for Senate

    The Atalanta Journal: Ordinary Bakurans Buck Party Choices, Want Trieste

    “And then there was this one,” Declan narrated, “which would be gratifying if I weren’t so furious.”

    The Prytis Post: Declan Trieste: The Once and Future King

    “I—” Shenandoah started again.

    Declan silenced her again. “But the real kicker was this.” He played a BBC segment recorded from the HoloNet.

    “And we’re here with Horst Penn, an analyst over at BBC Sports, to talk about something other than limmie today,” the anchor said.

    “Unless you want to talk about limmie,” Horst said, rocking his now-trademark mustard sports jacket with the BBC Sports logo, “because I can absolutely do that.”

    The anchor was clearly not used to dealing with Horst, unlike his regular coworkers. “But…didn’t you bring us this story?”

    “Oh! Right! I forgot,” Horst said, slapping his forehead.

    “You wanted to provide some insight into recent news about this year’s Galactic Senate election?” the anchor prompted.

    “Exactly. I don’t know if you know this about me, Yeorg, but I don’t just know limmie players. I also know lots of really important politicians, like the Chief Justice and the Salis D’aar DA,” Horst said.

    “Because you’re related to them by marriage.”

    “And you wouldn’t believe the things I hear from them. For example, this Draft Trieste movement is the real deal. It’s grassroots. It’s spontaneous—about as spontaneous as I am, which is like twice as spontaneous as a regular being,” Horst said.

    “Are you hearing that this could really happen? Not hypothetically, but that this isn’t more than just a thought experiment? Trieste isn’t even on the ballot. Fianna Fail has already put forward their candidate, as has the Union Party,” the anchor pointed out.

    “That’s the thing. Beings think our sector can do better than those candidates,” Horst said. “What I’m hearing is that there’s a widespread feeling that we have a much better choice: someone with over a decade of interstellar affairs expertise, who won’t be pulled away from a post here on Bakura, with a proven track record. Honestly, I don’t even know why we’re having an election when it’s clear that Declan Trieste should be our next Galactic Senator. That’s why I’m endorsing him and urging all Bakurans to write in Declan on their ballots. In case you don’t know, his name is spelled D-E-C-K-L-A-N-N T-R-E-E-E-S-T. Got to get that spelling right.”

    “That’s not how his name is spelled, Horst.”

    “Are you his cousin-in-law?” Horst challenged.

    “No, but—”

    “I rest my case,” Horst said confidently.

    Declan turned the projector off and turned to Shenandoah. “Now you can talk.”

    “You are the best qualified candidate. The fact that you aren’t running is ridiculous. I get that you don’t want to be Prime Minister after Mom, but this would be a fresh start for you. You wouldn’t have to be in Salis D’aar and reminded of her. Coruscant would be completely new. No associations, just important work that I know you want to do,” Shenandoah said.

    “There are things in play you have no idea of,” Declan informed his daughter.

    “Have you seen who Fianna Fail is backing? She couldn’t be more generic if she tried. That’s who we’re going to send to Coruscant, to participate in decisions that will affect every Bakuran, every being in the Republic?” Shenandoah aid.

    “Salli Caruth is likely being shipped to Coruscant as a convenient way to get rid of her,” Declan said.

    “Assuming Fianna Fail can even win the election after they got trounced last year,” Shenandoah pointed out.

    “Either way, it gets her out of the party’s hair,” Declan maintained. “That’s not the point, and you know it. The point is that these articles claim there’s a popular movement supporting me for the seat. There are interviews with Bakurans across the planet. Was this the reason for your recent joyride?”

    “It was a part of it,” Shenandoah admitted, “but only one. The Galactic Senate election takes place outside of regular Bakuran politics. It’s not the same two-party pattern, which makes it vulnerable to disruption.

    “I had a hunch that you still have high name recognition with voters. I wanted to find out what was important to Bakurans, directly from them, not from a poll or survey. You align with enough of them to have a sizable bloc behind you if your name is out there in the media, making people think about you as a candidate.” Shenandoah decided not to detail all the calls she’d made to reporters on condition of anonymity saying that a lot of Bakurans had been telling her that her dad should run for the Galactic Senate. Never mind that she’d been the one to start the conversation. It was a lie of omission she was willing to make for the greater good.

    “There’s enough of a constituency that in a three-way race, not to mention the votes that splinter off to minor figures on other planets in the sectors, that you could make the runoff. Once you’re in, I think you win.”

    “Shenandoah. I am going to say this only once,” Declan said. “It’s an admirable analysis, but this is as far as it goes: a good exercise in grassroots connections, one that will likely be valuable to you later. But there are reasons I am not running—ones that are my business as Taoiseach.” This last part was to forestall Shenandoah, who looked like she wanted elaboration. “There will be no popup campaign on my behalf. There will be no fundraising. This is it.

    “Do you understand?”

    “I do,” Shenandoah said.

    “We will talk again when you’ve figured out something practical to do with yourself. Don’t forget that you still need to choose a profession, if only for the near future,” Declan reminded her.

    “I know. I’m working on it.” That ended the father-daughter meeting.



    As Shenandoah flew back to Salis D’aar, she thought about the fact that her father hadn’t said she couldn’t continue her individual efforts. She just wouldn’t have anyone to help her and she wouldn’t be able to raise money for it. That worked. She had time, and that was as good as money.

    As Declan sat in the study, he tried to figure out whether his daughter’s work meant he needed to see Yeoh Gawa. The last thing his family needed was for the truth about Ayn to come out now, when he’d already sacrificed everything. Then it wouldn’t matter if there was a campaign for the Galactic Senate. No one would want him, or anyone with the last name Trieste, to be elected so much as a garbage collector.
     
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  5. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Phew, caught up again and its always a pleasure getting an update.

    I start to wonder if the clan members of your saga would act more reasonable in the time of a planet-wide pandemic than my own government. [face_thinking]

    Thanks for putting my mind at ease with this that have little to do with my own life, but with political strategies and more fun things.
     
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  6. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    Honestly? It's a good question. We probably won't find out anytime soon since this is generally more an escape than a mirror...but you never know.
     
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  7. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

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

    Salis D’aar, Bakura

    It wasn’t long before a reporter approached Shenandoah. She’d figured it was a matter of time. She’d grown up adjacent to the political circles of the capital. Nothing stayed secret for too long, not when it involved enough beings to form a voting bloc. Besides, she’d been the one to tip off reporters about the write-in campaign. Eventually someone was going to think she might be involved.

    “My dad is not running for Senate,” she told the reporter categorically. “There is no campaign organization. Beings talk to me, tell me they think he’d be a great Galactic Senator, and want to know how what to do to make that happen. I can’t tell them that. If they think my dad is the best-qualified being to represent us on Coruscant, then they should tell to their friends and acquaintances and encourage them to vote for him. If they want to host an event to talk about his record, to go door-to-door, they should.”

    “Do they ever ask you for help and support?” the reporter asked.

    “Yes. There are lots of great resources for grassroots movements I direct beings to,” Shenandoah said. “We’re lucky to have such a rich civic culture with programs who can help citizen activists here. But there’s no planet-wide organization that they answer to or who can help.”

    “Isn’t there a risk in electing someone who doesn’t put a vision before the voters?”

    “My dad isn’t an unknown quantity. He has decades of public service that beings can look at if they want to know what he stands for. He has the greatest interstellar experience of anyone in the field.

    “And let’s consider the flipside: he’s accepted absolutely no campaign donations because there’s no campaign. Bakuran voters would get someone who will vote his conscience in the Galactic Senate and who won’t answer to any interest groups. Beings are going to get what they see.”

    “Has your dad told you if he’ll serve if elected?”

    “He hasn’t said anything either way.”

    “Is there a point to voting for someone who hasn’t said if they actually want the job? Wouldn’t that be throwing your vote away?”

    “I think writing my dad in for senator is less about him and more a statement of what kind of representation we want on Coruscant,” Shenandoah replied. “If he chooses not to serve and isn’t sworn in, the Galactic Senate and Supreme Chancellor will call a special election to fill the vacant seat. I believe that the candidates in that race would align themselves based on what voters expressed in the first election. The voters are going to have the final say, no matter what.”

    “But at the cost of going through two elections, really four due to the run-offs.”

    “I’d say it’s worth it to do it right,” Shenandoah remarked.

    “Even if the electorate for a special election is usually smaller and less representative than a general election? It could deliver a much different result.”

    “That’s a systemic issue that we’re not going to fix in this election.” Shenandoah smiled.

    “But a special election could return a senator with much different views than the voters who elected your father.”

    “Let’s just take it one election at a time?” Shenandoah suggested politely.

    “What would you say to someone who says this might turn out be the most unusual election in modern Bakuran history?”

    “I’d say welcome to my life. Nothing’s usual about my family.”



    Hapes Consortium

    “What news from our ambassador to the Centrality?” Sierra Chume asked.

    “Queen Carley has received our invitation for bilateral talks,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs reported, “but has yet to respond.”

    Babitte Sidse had been a mid-level career diplomat under Irsine Chume. It had only been a chance encounter in a D12 summit briefing that had brought Sidse to Sierra’s attention. Going off script from what her superiors expected, she advocated one-on-one talks with the Grand Moff of the Empire at the summit as part of broader engagement with the former bogeyman of the galaxy. What would have been a career-killing move under a different Queen Mother had earned the respect of this one. In the next ministerial reshuffle, Sidse was elevated to the top job in the foreign ministry.

    The proposed state visit was to be a goodwill tour, a symbol of amity and friendship between the two great queendoms of the galaxy. The head of state meeting would be preceded by talks between ministers of both governments to discuss areas of mutual interest, like trade, diplomatic priorities and alignment on other issues of the galaxy, and cultural exchanges. The Foreign Minister had been running point on this for weeks, managing several venues of engagement to make this happen.

    “And outside of official channels, what do they say is the cause for the delay?” Sierra asked.

    Sidse didn’t hesitate. “Exactly what we expected it would be.”

    The Queen Mother inclined her head every so slightly in thought. Her expectations for the visit were modest—assuming it happened. Several policy issues were tangled in noble ambitions on both sides. What helped one monarch might assist their counterpart’s enemies. There was little reason why Carley should trust Hapes, especially given the influx of Hapan suitors into the nobility beneath her. It was easy to see Sierra’s overtures as another front in a shadow invasion.

    “Very well. We await word from the Centrans and expect they will get back to us in the proper time,” Sierra said. The Centrality was an emerging power, but Hapes was the bigger player on the galactic stage. It would not do for the Queen Mother to beg another power. Appearances, especially in the Consortium, were everything.

    After all, Hapes had hidden itself from the galaxy for three millennia. A Queen Mother knew how to wrap herself in the Transitory Mists and wait.
     
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  8. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @jcgoble3 @SWNerd11 @Vehn It's been too long since I last wrote! Good thing I got some decent inspiration for this one. ;)

    Kilmainham Brook, Prytis, Bakura

    These days, Declan found himself spending less time looking at news articles (he barely glanced at the ones that reported on polls that claimed he was a close third in the rapidly-approaching election for Galactic Senator, trailing the Fianna Fail candidate) and more time looking at the portrait of Ayn.

    On the surface, it just pictured a woman looking into the distance, sitting on the beach. The more Declan looked at it, the more knew there was something else beneath it. It couldn’t just be his imagination. Something had guided the artist’s hand. This work of art couldn’t just be the work of an average being. This was not just a painting of Ayn, recreated from holos. Maybe it was the Force at work.

    Or maybe it was a message from her, one that took Declan deep into memories he hadn’t thought about for years.




    University of Bakura, Salis D’aar
    267 ABY
    34 years ago


    “Look who it is. The campus speeder bike.”

    Declan looked up at this remark, made by of one of his friends. It hadn’t been directed at him, but rather at a coed crossing the quad in the distance. It was a good thing she was too far away to hear.

    “Huh?” the third in the group said.

    “You know: everyone gets a ride,” the first said, cracking a grin.

    “You say it like she should be ashamed,” Declan commented.

    That caught the commentor off-balance, shaking him from his self-assured wry posture. “I mean, everyone knows she’s slept with most of the limmie team,” he said.

    “And if you’d slept with even two of them, you would have taken out an ad on the HoloNet to brag about it,” Declan continued.

    “Of course I would, but—”

    “It’s different? Because she’s female?” Declan interrupted. “I’m going to let you think about all the ways that attitude is sexist.” He gathered his things and got to his feet.

    “Come on. It was just a joke.”

    “I hope not, because that would make it even worse.” Declan set a course across the grass that allowed him to intercept the object of the terminated conversation.

    “What was it this time? Half the limmie team or did they come up with something original?” Ayn Dormingale asked when he arrived.

    “You could hear them from all the way over here?” Declan asked, simultaneously surprised and dismayed.

    “No, it’s all over your face,” Ayn said. “The pained look of a being who just can’t help but be a Jedi Knight riding to the rescue of the defenseless and downtrodden. I think there’s a bit of lightsaber burn on your chin.” She reached out with a finger and rubbed his face as if to erase a smudge. Declan batted her hand away.

    He and Ayn lived in the same dorm and had run into each other a few times since the start of the semester. Though their classmates assumed they were friends because Declan’s mother and Ayn’s grandmother had been political allies, they’d never met until they found themselves in one of the common laundry rooms.

    Even so, they still didn’t know each other well. It had only been a couple weeks ago that they’d had spent more than just passing time together. Ayn had taken Declan to attend a lecture being given by a union organizer. As Ayn had told him when he initially shied away from attending with her: “You’ve only lived adjacent to politics your entire life. I don’t think you actually know anything about them.” She’d been right. The evening had been eye-opening.

    “Doesn’t it bother you that they’re slut shaming you?” Declan asked.

    “When you grow up a Dormingale you learn to ignore the opinions of idiots,” Ayn replied as they walked side-by-side. Both her grandmother and mother had given birth out of wedlock and neither had ever disclosed the identity of their partners. Most beings thought the way Ayn was going she’d continue the trend.

    “They’re not the only ones,” Declan pointed out.

    “I decided a long time ago that I won’t live my life on anyone’s terms but mine,” Ayn said, her voice girded with determination.

    “It must be nice not to care about anyone’s opinions but your own.”

    “I didn’t say that.”

    “What?” Declan feigned surprise. “I have to hear what being is of such tremendous importance that you’d deign to consider it. Ordinarily I’d guess the Supreme Chancellor, but since she’s my mother I doubt it.”

    Ayn’s mouth tugged into a smirk that Declan was already becoming familiar with, one that reflected amusement and satisfaction in equal measure. “You’re a smart boy. You’ll figure it out eventually.”

    “Not even a hint?”

    “Where’s the fun in that? Forgive me, but my date’s here,” Ayn said.

    “Please don’t tell me it’s a limmie player or this is not going to go well when I get asked about this later,” Declan said.

    “Sorry to disappoint…” Ayn waved at an approaching being.

    Declan peered through the currents of student in search of one wearing Golden Bear-branded sweats that marked the student-athletes. They appeared…and he couldn’t keep his face from registering surprise at discovering the apparel was being worn by a woman sporting a natural bush of kinky hair and a broad smile.

    “Oh wait, I meant sorry, not sorry,” Ayn said mischievously, enjoying upending the assumption that even Declan had fallen into.

    “We’re definitely talking about this later,” Declan said right before Ayn’s date came into earshot.

    “Kareel!” Ayn called brightly. “I don’t suppose you’d mind a third tonight?”

    “Oh no. I am not getting in the middle of this,” Declan said, backing away. “You two have a nice night.”

    “Who said you’d get to be in the middle?” Ayn said as a parting shot.



    Declan poured another drink as the memory faded and the portrait came back into focus. That was the moment he knew that Ayn Dormingale was going to be trouble, the kind you couldn’t get rid of easily. It had taken years to realize just how much trouble she was and how hard it would be to untangle himself from it.

    “Frakking impossible,” Declan said, the whiskey burning his mouth. “Frakking. Impossible.”
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2021
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  9. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Interesting look back at their college days. Enjoyed the read. :)
     
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  10. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Very great read down memory lane!
     
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  11. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @jcgoble3 @SWNerd11 @Vehn


    Salis D’aar, Bakura

    Shenandoah had taken up position in the fifth floor living room to watch the Republican election returns. In addition to the Senate races, the field of Supreme Chancellor candidates would also be winnowed down to two. Today’s results would make the course of the galaxy’s largest power clearer, even if much remained to be decided by the voters.

    Going into the polls, the BBC projected that the Unionist candidate was leading, but would fall well short of gaining a majority of the vote (which wouldn’t stop the runoff anyways). What was too close to call was who would be the other candidate moving on with him. As the BBC’s political editor said, “Whether Salli Caruth of Fianna Fail or Declan Trieste gets the last slot is anyone’s guess. What’s for certain is that this is the most remarkable Senatorial election this sector has seen in nearly a century.”

    “Interested in some company?” a voice asked from the doorway of the living room.

    Shenandoah twisted on the couch to find Niall and Niamh. “Of course! You should have said you were coming! I would have gotten snacks.”

    “It’s my fault,” Niamh said. “Law school makes you think that studying and having a life are incompatible. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it until just a few hours ago. I told Niall he should tell you he was coming, with or without me.”

    “But that wasn’t going to happen,” Niall said as he flung himself on the couch next to Shenandoah. “I wasn’t about to abandon her in her time of troubles.”

    “You make it sound like it’s just tonight. Law school takes three years,” Niamh said with a roll of her eyes.

    “I didn’t say how long the time was,” Niall pointed out.

    “Regardless,” Niamh said, gently turning the conversation, “this is your night.” She put a hand on Shenandoah’s arm. “We weren’t going to miss it.”

    “Come on. They’re probably going to elect Caruth,” Shenandoah demurred. “She hasn’t dipped into third place at any time since Dad started making the polls. We’ve just closed the gap on her.”

    “Stop being modest, Doe,” Niall reprimanded. “You single-handedly ran a movement for a candidate who never even declared his interest in the office, let alone campaigned for it. To finish third in a sector-wide election with all that is a miracle. It’s all the political media has been talking about for weeks. You’re being hailed as ‘a genius,’ ‘the brightest young political mind on Bakura,’ and ‘the next Gaerial Captison.’”

    “And that’s just the journalists who hate the Trieste family,” Niamh joked.

    Shenandoah rolled her eyes. “Yeah. Sure.”

    “Don’t be modest. This is something,” Niall said. “You’re going to have a lot of opportunities after tonight. Beings are going to want to work with you.”

    “Are we too late?” Horst Penn asked, barging into the living room. The Penns had free access to the Plaza as a result of Regan being in residence. “I heard they’re going to declare Declan senator tonight.”

    “Yes, that’s exactly how elections work,” Trixie deadpanned from behind him.

    “Democracy is so easy,” Horst said with the confidence of oblivion.

    “We’re really just here for the snacks,” Trixie said.

    “I’m so sorry. I didn’t make anything,” Shenandoah said, her guilt compounding. Snacks were Horst’s life. It was unclear exactly how distant a second place his son and wife were.

    “This is what we have droids for,” Regan said as she appeared. “You didn’t really think you were going to watch alone with a box of cookies, did you?” She was followed by droids bearing trays of finger foods. “Not after everything you’ve done.”

    Shenandoah’s heart swelled. “You didn’t really, did you?”

    “You’ve clearly spent too long with your father. We are a family, not asteroids hurtling alone through the stars,” Regan said. “Whatever happens tonight, we are with you and proud of you. I know I did my part at the polls today.”

    “I didn’t think judges were allowed to vote,” Horst said in confusion. “Isn’t that in the Constitution or something?”

    “They made an exception for her because she asked nicely,” Atticus said, his dry delivery accompanied by the barest smile. He kissed his wife. “Shenandoah, congratulations.”

    The young woman’s face was blushing so at this point that it matched her hair. Someone had handed her a drink that she hadn’t touched yet. “You’re all too much. He’s probably not even going to make the runoff.”

    “We’ll see,” Regan said, exuding cryptic knowledge. Her inscrutable mien had been perfected through years on the Supreme Court bench. “I have seen surer things fail.”

    “I heard you got summoned to Kilmainham Brook,” Trixie said. She tossed the remark out like it was an olive on a stick she no longer wanted in her drink. “How’d that go?” It was precisely the kind of impertinent question that the District Attorney of Salis D’aar was known for. Even so, it earned a disapproving glance from her mother.

    “About as well as you’d think for someone who refused to campaign for himself,” Shenandoah admitted.

    “That’s the thing that I’ve wanted to ask, but I just haven’t seen you since this all started,” Niamh said. “Why did you even do it if that’s how your dad felt about it?”

    “Because I think being Galactic Senator is what he needs right now,” Shenandoah said.

    “He obviously doesn’t feel the same,” Trixie retorted.

    “Dad knows what he wants. It’s not what he needs,” Shenandoah replied with simplicity and certainty.

    The room felt the weight of that remark for a full second. The pall was broken in an instant by Horst shouting, “Ice cream! Yes!” at the appearance of the delight, bring borne by a droid. From that point forward, the night was light filled with laughter and stories old and new. Things became serious when the BBC announced it had election results, certified by Republican officials.

    “As expected, Helmar Kosander of the Union Party has finished first tonight with 30% of the vote, a strong showing for any sector-wide election. He will face Declan Trieste—”

    Shenandoah exploded and her family followed suit (none more exuberantly than Horst, who hoisted his first cousin in-law, once removed, over his shoulder and bounced her so energetically that her head nearly connected with the ceiling). They almost didn’t hear that “…Trieste edged Salli Caruth by a mere 3,000 votes out of tens of millions cast, a laser-thin margin and all the most surprising for…”

    Everything after that was lost. Shenandoah Trieste had dragged an unwilling candidate into a runoff election by force of personality and persistence. She might have started with name recognition, but she’d had more going against her than for her.

    The next day the Salis D’aar Times would call it “a comeback worthy only of the Trieste family.” It was that and more.



    Hapes

    “You will be tested,” Sierra Chume said.

    Chume’da Corrine had been expecting this talk. Unlike her mother, this life was all she had known. Her political senses had been honed from birth. She felt the danger in the air.

    “Trust your instincts. Deal with what you must, defer the rest. The fewer decisions you make, the less exposure you’ll have,” Sierra continued. “Take the opinion of the ministers, but understand their agendas.” She didn’t need to say not to trust Dariah Morningstar. “If she wasn’t coming with me, I would say to turn to Sidse when you needed advice. Use your father and brother. They will watch your flanks.” With her daughter, Sierra dropped the royal first-person plural she used as a matter of course.

    “I’ll look weak if you leave them both here,” Corrine countered. “Like I need males.”

    “The nobles of the Centrality need to see me alone. If your father comes, they will see me as an appendage of him. He will sabotage the very thing we hope to achieve. Ivgenni will only remind Carley of the Hapan men who have married into her nobility. She’ll think I’m trying to marry him off and create a viable alternative to her. They remain here for foreign policy reasons as well as to assist you,” Sierra said.

    “Tell them not to hover.”

    “Tell them yourself. You are chume’da.”

    Corrine bit the inside of her cheek in chagrin. “Point made.”

    “You will be better for the experience.” Sierra stood and kissed her daughter on the forehead. “The chume’doro is loyal. The day they’re bought is the day they lose all power and influence in the Consortium. Not even the most ambitious among them would endanger that.” Sierra paused. “The first time is the hardest. I believe in you.” She straightened.

    “Rule in our name, chume’da,” Sierra Chume of the House of Trieste instructed.

    With the blessing of those words, tomorrow, when the Queen Mother’s shuttle left Consortium space for a state visit to the Centrality, Corrine Iseult Trieste would assume the duties of acting monarch. While her mother remained firmly in control of the affairs of state, Hapan convention devolved the many duties, some official, some ceremonial, to the next being in the line of succession. Thanks to having formally assumed her position as chume’da, this would be the first time Corrine filled the role.

    Both mother and daughter knew that several chume’das had been challenged by rivals for the throne while serving as acting monarch. Some had lost the throne for their families, forcing Queen Mothers to fight wars to regain their crown—not always successfully. Others had been killed.

    “I shall do you proud, Queen Mother,” Corrine promised, bowing her head.

    They both knew the consequences if she didn’t.
     
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  12. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Will Declan accept it now?

    And will the chume'da handle the throne well?

    Stay tuned! :D
     
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  13. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    [​IMG]

    Buckle up kids. Gonna get good.
     
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  14. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @jcgoble3 @SWNerd11 @Vehn

    Watercrest, Bakura

    “I apologize for bringing you all the way out here,” Declan said. It was a meeting he’d hoped he could avoid, but the runoff election had made that impossible. Though he kept a low profile out of choice most days, today it was out of necessity. The Noble House beach retreat, fronting a wide beach with crashing breakers beyond, was distant from prying eyes and therefore perfect for today’s business.

    “You could have chosen worse,” Yeoh Gawa remarked, looking upon the ocean.

    “You say that as if you didn’t have at least two properties like this yourself,” Declan said casually. She was not the only one who’d done research.

    “Neither of them are on this stretch of the coast, which has its charms.” She shrugged. “I imagine we don’t need to waste time dancing around why we’re here.”

    “The math is unavoidable,” Declan stated.

    With the Fianna Fail candidate eliminated from the race, Declan was the likely inheritor of all her votes. When added to his name recognition, which would help in the far-flung regions of the sector, and the momentum of his surprise candidacy Declan stood to win the majority needed to be elected to Coruscant.

    “You are concerned about our agreement,” Yeoh said, not bothering to phrase it as a question.

    “I wanted to avoid any misunderstandings.”

    “No need for anyone to do anything hasty?” Yeoh guessed, the barest smile playing around the edge of her mouth. “I will hand it to you. This was a scenario I didn’t consider. You played it well.”

    “I thought it was clear I didn’t play at all,” Declan said. His tone was neutral, but there was a hint of frost that was so light it almost wasn’t there.

    “Yes, your prodigy daughter did it all, according to all the reports. You must be proud,” Yeoh said.

    Declan paused and looked out to sea. “Yes. I am.” He hadn’t told Shenandoah that yet.

    “Prior to the results, I considered the matter and made a decision. With the hypothetical made real, I find my decision stands. I have no objection to your taking the post in the Senate, should you win the seat,” she added. “I have little interest in the affairs of the Republic.” They both knew that it would be a respectable exile. Declan would be buried as one of hundreds of senators. It was as good as if he continued his hermitage at Kilmainham Brook—with the added benefit of removing him from Bakura in the event any future “Draft Trieste” movements sprung up.

    “I haven’t decided if I’ll go,” Declan said.

    “Why not? The perks are generous and the work is light,” Yeoh said. Surprise slipped into her voice.

    “My cousin Eleanor went to Coruscant. It didn’t make her any happier.”

    “She was always meant for bigger things.” Yeoh looked out at the waves. “Do as you will. Our agreement will stand either way.”

    Declan nodded. “Thank you for coming.”

    “One more thing. Your daughter will find life difficult if she gets any ideas about pursuing a career with Fianna Fail in the wake of her great success.”

    Declan turned to look at Yeoh. His countenance reflected emotion for the first time. “Our agreement was regarding my role in the party, not my children’s.” The edge on his voice was the closest they both knew he could come to threatening her.

    “It remains so. But as a concerned parent, I’m sure you want to spare her any needless suffering,” Yeoh said evenly. “The Triestes will not find Fianna Fail as welcoming to them as it once was. The party is heading in a new direction and we don’t need your hands on the controls to guide us there.”

    Declan turned back to the waves after Gawa left. It confirmed what he’d been thinking privately for some time.

    The budding ambition of Shenandoah could cause significant problems for the Noble House.



    Erlinar

    On a galactic timescale, conflict was not far removed from the present of the Centrality. To dispel these memories and convince the galaxy—and perhaps more importantly themselves—that those days were gone, they had made the first major state visit of Carley’s reign into a resplendent production. If one was not at court today, it was a signal that you were not part of the Centrality’s future.

    That was what this visit was all about: the future, not just for Carley, but the Centrality and perhaps monarchical government broadly. The Centrality represented the first major expansion of that system of government since Naboo had abandoned it and returned to its democratic ways and the Republican fold. A different Queen Mother had been on the throne then, one who had not engaged beyond the Transitory Mists.

    Today, more than 3,300 years of royal elegance and authority came to the Centrality in the form of Sierra Chume, who descended from the gleaming shuttle to the earth of Erlinar. Like the Queen Mothers who had come before her, Sierra’s attire came from fashion plates, not stuffy portraits of dead nobles. She was the female-first philosophy of the Consortium on display, her shimmering white dress proclaiming power through femininity instead of denying her sex through a masculine imitation.

    With the Centran nobility in their finery on hand to witness her arrival, the Queen Mother mounted the carpet-covered steps from the landing pad to where Queen Carley waited. Sierra wore the one accessory that marked a Queen Mother from any other leader, the reminder that in the Consortium she was Ereneda, “she who has no equal.” The fine veil that told the galaxy that the unfiltered face of a Queen Mother was not a privilege they deserved.

    When Sierra finally drew level with Carley, the eyes of the court upon them, she leaned forward to place her cheek next to her fellow queen for the polite exchange of kisses that touched neither cheek, the veil brushing against their cheeks.

    “Let us speak of many things,” Sierra said when they had both pulled back. “We have much to learn.”
     
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  15. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @jcgoble3 @SWNerd11 @Vehn

    Prytis, Bakura

    “Hey, got something for you.”

    Conn Healey looked up from his desk. “What is it? Another dog show?” He was the youngest and most junior reporter at the Prytis Post, the local media outlet of the enclave for Bakura’s rich and influential. It was not what he’d envisioned when he’d graduated from journalism school, but this was an industry where you had to pay your dues—as he was constantly reminded by receiving the assignments no one wanted.

    “Even better,” his mid-level colleague said with barely disguises glee. “You got a walk-in.”

    Healey groaned. Walk-ins were the worst: beings pitching stories that usually weren’t newsworthy. All they did was eat up his time when he could be working on something bigger (assuming the editors would give him the time to work on a story worth reporting). He always got the walk-ins. “In the lobby like usual?”

    “This one called. Said they want a meeting at Raditch Grill.”

    Even better. Now Healey would have to invest travel time. And he certainly wasn’t going to get lunch out of the deal. Raditch was Prytis’s oldest continuously operating restaurant. While it wasn’t the most expensive place in town, it was well beyond his budget. He’d had to settle for a caf—which previous experience told him he was going to need to get through this.

    “What time?” Conn sighed.



    Raditch Grill was a long space, dominated by a counter on one side. Thin booths sat across a narrow aisle. When Conn arrived, every stool and bench was occupied. The caller hadn’t given any instructions beyond the time and place. Healey didn’t know who he was looking for, but he craned his neck all the same.

    “Are you with the Post?” the host asked, cutting into Healey’s investigation. He didn’t bother waiting for a reply. “This way.” Apparently he was either very clearly a journalist or obviously lost.

    Conn followed the host down the aisle to the booth all the way in the back. The occupant was sitting with his back to the door. The host motioned for Healey to take the unoccupied bench.

    “Hi. I’m—” Conn began and he stopped, halfway into the booth.

    There were many ways he could have finished that sentence. He’d been intending to go with, “Conn Healey with the Post.” He now found “surprised beyond belief,” “pretty sure I’m not who you’re waiting for,” and “the victim of a practical joke” were all likely true as well.

    Instead, he said nothing at all because he was still processing that he was sitting across from Declan Trieste. As in former Minister of State Declan Trieste who hadn’t been seen in public except at select Bakura Miners games and who definitely wasn’t giving interviews to reporters.

    As in Declan Trieste, who had just won the runoff election for the sector’s Galactic Senate seat, who had made no comment about whether he would accept the position.

    “I take it the Post sent you?” Declan asked with casual friendliness. “Please, sit. Figure out what you’d like before we begin so we don’t have to be interrupted once we’re underway.” He turned to the host. “We’ll both be on my bill.”

    Conn didn’t even know what he ordered. He chose something at random off the menu, still processing that he was sitting across from Declan Trieste of the Noble House of Trieste. Somehow he found his voice. “Yes, I’m from the Post.”

    “First things: I only speak to you,” Declan stated. “Tell your editors if I’m contacted by anyone else, I won’t respond.”

    Conn drew on every bit of training he had to keep himself from asking, “Why?” Instead, he forced himself to seize the opportunity. “All right. What do you want to talk about?”

    “You’re the reporter,” Declan said, inviting Conn to begin.

    Healey went for it. “Are you going to accept the Senate seat?” It was the question on everyone’s mind.

    “Yes,” Declan said.

    “Are you concerned—”

    “Do you want a quote?” Declan interrupted.

    “Of course. It’s only off the record if you say so in advance.” That was basic journalism. Surely a Minister of State knew that.

    “Perhaps you should take out your datapad.”

    “Sithspit.” Healey fumbled in his bag to find his. There went any attempt at convincing Trieste he was a professional. Once he’d located it, he set it on the table between them, recording.

    “Now, your question?” Declan prompted.

    “Are you concerned Kosander will contest the election?” Conn asked. “He hasn’t conceded yet.”

    “I believe that he will concede when I call him tomorrow and inform him that I’ll take the oath of office. He’s made it clear that his lack of a concession is a result of my silence. I don’t fault him for his position. It’s reasonable,” Declan said.

    If Declan wasn’t going to contact Kosander until tomorrow, the Post would have this news as an exclusive. Healey had wanted a big story and now he had the biggest one on Bakura.

    “Why are you going to accept the seat after not campaigning?” Healey asked.

    “Because I feel bound by duty to fulfill the wishes of the voters of the sector,” Declan said. “If they feel I am the best-qualified being to represent them on Coruscant, I shall respect their wishes.”

    “So the voters are always right?”

    “The Republican system places its faith and trust in the voters,” Declan said. “Though I do not always agree with their decisions, I believe in the system.”

    “Do you agree with them in this decision?”

    “I am honored by their selection.”

    “That’s not an answer,” Healey pressed. Declan had sidestepped the question twice.

    “You’re learning fast for a cub reporter,” Declan said with a faint smile. “It’s the only answer you’ll get.”

    “What are your plans in the Senate?”

    “To vote my conscience.”

    “Couldn’t that come into conflict with respecting the will of the voters? You didn’t campaign or put forward a platform for them to endorse,” Healey observed. “How do they know what your conscience is?”

    “Because I didn’t campaign, the only thing they could possibly have voted for was me, as a being, not a set of policies and priorities. Voting my conscience is the most responsible thing to do,” Declan said.

    “Who will you caucus with on Coruscant?”

    “I will take meetings with various blocs upon my arrival on Coruscant in advance of my swearing in,” Declan said.

    “Will you hold out for whoever can deliver the best committee assignments?”

    “I will look for the most natural home given my political positions and opinions,” Declan said. It was at that moment that their lunches arrived. “Wonderful,” Declan said to the server. “Thank you.” He turned back to Conn. “Now, the entrees have arrived. That’s usually when the tough questions begin.”

    For the first time since sitting down, Conn smiled. “All right then. Let’s dig in.”
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2021
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  16. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    I love how smooth Declan is playing his return to prominence. Like a fine drink that gets better as it slides further down your throat.
     
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  17. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @jcgoble3 @SWNerd11 @Vehn

    Hapes

    The chume’da sat in council, attending the Hapan Royal Court, the legislative and judiciary branches of the Consortium. Their power paled compared to the Queen Mother, but that didn’t mean they were powerless. Corrine had been tutored at length on the history of the Consortium. Her studies emphasized that the Royal Court was one of the primary levers that ambitious nobles used against the Queen Mother.

    That knowledge prepared for what happened this day.

    “If reports are accurate, this constitutes the greatest threat to the Consortium in centuries,” the representative from Terephon said, pounding her fist for emphasis on her desk. Corrine felt it was a little too histrionic. “Unauthorized traffic through the Transitory Mists undermines our greatest strategic advantage. It must be investigated and dealt with before it can propagate.”

    “This is not the first time the routes through the Mists have been purportedly leaked. Investigations in the previous reports firmly established that our harbor pilot system has prevented all these supposed breaches,” the representative for Baldavia replied.

    Corrine considered that system. Only select Hapans, always females, were trained on the routes in and out of the Transitory Mists. All of them had daughters who were educated at prestigious Hapan schools and given elite postings. Because of the importance of their work, they were kept in secure locations.

    In other words, the daughters were held hostage to secure their mothers’ loyalty. Their family legacies would be annihilated if they betrayed the Consortium. A crowning achievement of Hapan culture.

    “And just as this is not the first time this allegation has been made,” the noble from Baldavia continued, “neither will it be the last. We can trust this matter to the Royal Navy for thorough investigation.”

    “Just because the system has worked does not mean it will continue to,” the Terephonian pursued. “Constant vigilance is required. Those of us at the fringe of the Cluster understand this, even if those coddled in the interior do not.”

    Corrine knew that she should step in and defuse the bickering. For her own amusement, she decided to let it play out a little longer. She caught a look from her father at the periphery of the chamber, one that questioned this decision.

    “We merely do not panic every time a minor matter arises and waste this Court’s time,” the Baldavian retorted.

    Corrine decided that was far enough. “There has been enough debate on this topic.” She had been advised by the Prince Consort to avoid the use of first-person pronouns in any official duties. Corrine could not use the royal we, even if she acted in her mother’s stead, but the protocol-appropriate I would only call attention to the fact she was a stand-in. She needed to radiate power to solidify her place in succession. “Let the Court vote on this matter.”

    “Terephon proposes a full investigation into whether the Transitory Mists have been breached by unauthorized navigation,” the Chamberlain announced. “The vote is called.”

    Corrine waited as the representatives cast their votes. She slid her eyes to where her brother watched. She knew him well enough to pick out the consternation on his brow. Good.

    Soon enough the Chamberlain stood with the results. “In favor: 70. Opposed: 52. Abstentions: 8. The motion carries.”

    The Queen Mother, and Corrine acting on her behalf, was not bound to take up the matter, but ignoring the Royal Court was done at the Queen Mother’s peril. It now came to Corrine to decide whether to defer this or take action.

    “In light of the Royal Council’s majority on this matter,” Corrine began, “a detachment from the Royal Navy shall be dispatched to Terephon and the surrounding systems for a police action to find and apprehend any craft that have transited the Mists without authorization. The Navy already possesses the authority to detain and charge those who have violated our customs laws and needs no further authorization from the crown.

    “To acknowledge the seriousness of the concerns raised by the representative of Terephon, this task force shall be led by one of the Navy’s most respected leaders: the Prince Consort.”

    The chamber turned to look at Trellam with no small degree of interest. For his part, the Prince Consort couldn’t contain his surprise at receiving this duty.

    “This concludes the crown’s attendance at this session of the Royal Court,” Corrine finished.

    As the chume’da stood, so did the seated representatives. Corrine, flanked by the chume’doro exited the chamber. It wasn’t until she was back in the royal quarters that her brother caught up with her.

    “Dad is furious,” Ivgenni said. “Mom expressly left him here to make sure nothing happened and you’re sending him away.”

    Corrine said nothing, but continued walking deeper into the chambers.

    “She won’t be happy when she gets back—assuming she waits that long to give you her opinion,” Trellam pursued, both verbally and spatially.

    The chume’da waved a hand and the door they had just passed through closed. “Of course she will be,” Corrine said. They were now in one of the few rooms she knew they wouldn’t be overheard in. The palace was rife with eyes and ears. “In fact, if it gets out that will only help matters.”

    Ivgenni understood. “What are you planning?” he asked, his voice cautious.

    “This is clearly an attempt to put me in a difficult position. If I refuse to take the borders of the Consortium seriously, I look weak,” Corrine said as she lowered herself into a reclining position on a sofa. “If I respond, I’ll have to send someone I trust to make sure it’s done right. If I send someone I don’t know, there’s a risk it’s someone who sympathizes with our enemies and they mess it up on purpose—which makes me look even weaker than if I’d done nothing.

    “By sending our father, one of the few beings I can trust, I remove him from court and weaken my position here—which allows them to make a move.” Corrine tossed her hair. “It’s a no-win situation.”

    “Then send me,” Ivgenni demanded. “It keeps Dad here and you safe.”

    Corrine snorted. It was not the most chume’da sound, but she didn’t care. “Put a 21-year-old in charge of an entire task force? Please. It’s like I’d be asking them to kill you out there in an ‘accident.’” Corrine even did the finger quotation marks. “You’re safer here, not to mention more useful.”

    “Useful?” Ivgenni asked, his eyes narrowing with interest.

    “It’s pathetic,” Corrine sighed. “Border issues have well-defined blocs, ones that usually don’t respond to fearmongering. To get a majority, certain planets will have had to break traditional patterns. Most will have voted in favor, but there’ll be at least a couple of them who abstained in a thinly-veiled attempt to disguise their actions. That’ll give me a start on figuring out who’s trying to move against us. Following the traditional alliances and connections of the handful I can identify through the votes will uncover the size and scope of the conspiracy.”

    “You’re planning a counterattack.”

    “And they say boys are dumb.”

    “What kind?” Ivgenni asked.

    “The kind I’ll need you for—and that we aren’t going to tell father about,” Corrine said. “By the time mother gets back, no one is going to think of challenging the House of Trieste for a generation.”
     
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  18. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Corrine has a good sense of what's going on in Hapan politics. That will serve her well.
     
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  19. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 @jcgoble3 @SWNerd11 @Vehn


    Galactic Senate Building, Coruscant

    Declan stood in the well of the Senate Building, his right hand raised, left hand on the Trieste family Fulcrum, retrieved from the vault on Empress Teta and held jointly by Shenandoah and Niall for this occasion.

    Before him stood the outgoing Supreme Chancellor who—in a quirk of constitutional procedure that seated the legislature in advance of the executive inauguration—had the duty of administering the oath of office to the newly-elected senators. Behind him stood a former Chancellor, his mother.

    Declan repeated the words after the Chancellor, formally becoming Galactic Senator for the Bakura Sector. Cameras captured holos of that moment and the handshake that passed between the two. With other senators waiting, Declan moved off the Senate floor with his family into the literal halls of power.

    “Congratulations, Dad,” Shenandoah said, hugging her father. “You’ll be great.”

    “Thank you, dear,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here without you.”

    “Yes, no thanks to me,” Niall added, embracing Declan once he and his sister parted.

    “We’ll give you credit for moral support to you sister,” Declan told his son before turning to Kerry. “And nice of you to come back.”

    “Please. They try to get me to come back all the time, parade the old timers around,” Kerry said, hugging her son. “Besides, it’s lightball season so no one cares if I show up to the office.”

    “So what are you going to do first?” Shenandoah asked Declan.

    “This is probably the quarter Hapan part of me, but I know exactly what you should do first,” Kerry said. Her grandchildren quizzed her silently with their eyes. “And I might have already set up the meeting.”



    Hapes

    Setting aside her datapad, Corrine summoned the nearest chume’doro. “The official commitments are completed for the week. I’ll be going to the summer house today.”

    “We’ll begin arrangements,” the guard said.

    “Have someone sent to pack my things,” Corrine added. “I’ll receive them in the wardrobe.”

    “Is the prince joining you?”

    “No. I’ll appreciate the opportunity to not be crowded by my family for a few days.”

    “Of course, your highness,” the chume’doro said, withdrawing to see it done.

    Corrine opened her wardrobe to consider what she wanted to bring with her. She needed something that would make a statement.

    “Decisions, decision…” she muttered, “but first things first.” She reached behind a pair of boots to withdraw a rectangular case. She’d nipped into her mother’s things to borrow it. What good was being unofficial Queen Mother if you couldn’t take advantage of her collection of shiny things?

    Besides, building an outfit around a centerpiece accessory was a tried-and-true strategy. Who was Corrine to argue against tradition?
     
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  20. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

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

    Coruscant

    “When your mom called, I told her of course we’d sit down together. After all, what are friends for?” Galactic Senator Gavin Serling of Eriadu said amiably, taking a leisurely seat on one of the sofas in his office. “Also, I think she’d never talk to me again if I didn’t, let alone do other things with me.” He paused, suddenly rethinking his last comment. “We’re both adults here, right?”

    Declan made a small motion with one hand to communicate all was well. “Of course. I appreciate your time. I’m sure it’s at a premium.”

    Serling was, as Humans went, one of the senior members of the Senate. He’d already held his seat for years when Kerry had become Chancellor nearly 40 years ago. With such longevity, he knew every key senator. He could dominate a committee hearing. Gavin Serling was the kind of being who could be a powerful friend.

    His last comment stemmed from the fact he had been Kerry’s casual partner since she had left office, a situation she wasn’t interested in making official, permanent, or otherwise changing. After all, he was on Coruscant, she was on Bakura, and that wasn’t going to change for either of them anytime soon. They were had experienced enough of life to know they should enjoy what they had when they could.

    Declan was fully aware that even someone with his extensive history of public service would never have gotten a meeting with a senator as powerful as Serling without his mother’s connection. He had no qualms about capitalizing on it.

    “I told your mom that of course we should meet to get you started on the right foot,” Serling said. “Everyone comes to Coruscant having been a hotshot back home, only to find it’s a much bigger pond here. I certainly did. It takes a little adjustment.

    “Now, first order of business, have you declared who you’ll caucus with?”

    “Not yet.”

    “Don’t drag your feet. Hold off too long and you’ll get assigned to a committee with absolutely no sway, something like Culture & Language.” Serling made a face of disgust. “Busy work. I’ve monitored your career thanks to your mom, so I have a few guesses where you’d be most at home. Based on what you and your wife did when she was Prime Minister, Solidarity seems like a good fit. They’re liberal and an old and powerful bloc, which can come in handy.

    “Democratic Alliance is center-left, which fits with the direction your old party seems to be headed now, which delivered a significant number of your voters in the general. It’d be good politics.” Serling said.

    “And you sit with the Moderates,” Declan said.

    “The center can be a tricky place to be, but if you pull it off you can do a lot there, bridging the divide. While you’d be welcome as a member, I don’t think you’d agree with our policies. Forgive me for being honest.”

    “Agreed. No apology needed.”

    “I did have a third idea, but your mom said I was just trying to annoy her by bringing it up,” Serling said.

    “And that was?” Declan prompted.

    “That you’d be non-aligned. Some senators do it. They get freedom to vote however they want, but they lose out on committee assignments because they’ve no group negotiating power. It seemed like the kind of thing that was in keeping with your non-campaign.” Serling shrugged.

    “You don’t seem opposed to the idea.”

    “It does free you from the internal battles of being in a bloc, lets you focus on the business of the Senate—or you can get out of here early and for a good dinner reservation. Whatever you want. I’m sure your mom told you that party discipline is pretty lax around here.” Declan nodded. The Galactic Senate was more a collection of individual senators than it was a body of several parties. It made her job as chancellor difficult most of the time.

    “Truth is,” Serling continued, “lots of senators break from their blocs on various votes, so being independent isn’t that much of an advantage. It’s why there’s no one, five-year governing coalition of the Senate. The majority can usually only set the broad arc of the agenda, not push specific legislation.”

    “And the way the blocs broke down in the most recent election, there’s a majority for this Senate?”

    “We’re waiting on the final numbers of seats as the new senators like you make their declarations, but it’s looking like the Free Peoples Party will lead a center-right coalition. We haven’t voted officially yet, but the Moderates will almost certainly join, if only to ensure that it’s more center than right. Our votes, even if we don’t deliver all of them every time, will make the coalition more stable,” Serling said.

    “So the independent senators won’t change that balance?” Declan clarified.

    “No, there aren’t enough of them to tip things to the left.”

    Declan nodded. “Well, that settles things, for today at least. I hope we’ll be able to see each other again when I know what questions I should be asking.”

    “You’ll find them out soon enough,” Serling said, standing. “I assume you know what you’re going to do now?”

    “I do,” Declan said, shaking Gavin’s hand.

    “And?”

    “According to my mother, the first thing about Coruscant is never tell anyone what you’re going to do until after you’ve done it.”

    Serling smiled. “You’re going to fit in here, kid.”

    The next day, Declan declared he would caucus with Solidarity.
     
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  21. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

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


    Royal summer house, Hapes, Hapes Consortium

    The assassin watched the chume’doro patterns for an hour before moving in. He knew what he’d been signing up for when he’d accepted a job to kill the chume’da: a tightly protected target, which was why he’d insisted on half upfront, the other half if he succeeded.

    Before leaving, he’d confirmed that the funds had reached his family’s account. Even if he only got half, that would be enough secure his children’s future. That made it worth it. Sure, they were already living on Nar Shaddaa to protect them in the very likely event he failed. It was one of the few places they’d be safe from the chume’doro. Maybe—maybe—if he succeeded and those who employed him seized the throne, then they could come back. Probably not even then. But you could still live a good life on Nar Shaddaa if you had enough credits. They did now.

    He estimated that there was a 25% chance he’d survive. 25%, if everything went perfectly. Absolutely perfectly. If the Force, the Whills, and every other divine energy in the galaxy shined down on him. Then again, they had thus far. That’s why he had a reputation that earned him a contract like this.

    The first chume’doro never heard him. He’d stabbed her in the back, between the ribs, three times with a vibroblade before she could make a noise. He didn’t have time to hide her, even if in 71 seconds someone was going to find the body.

    He used a door slicer that took 4 seconds to hack the controls. If it hadn’t been given a head start with a Hapan encryption package it would have taken 6, maybe 8, seconds. That would have brought his success probabilities down to 10%, his survival chances almost zero.

    He’d seen the floorplans, knew where the blind corners were. He’d practiced in a warehouse space for two days when he’d been told that this was one of the possible places where he’d have an opportunity to get at the target. He’d memorized ten different floorplans and every one occupied a separate space in his brain.

    The chume’doro was good. They didn’t rely on perimeter patrols. They had interior lines of defense. The heat scans he’d done had confirmed that. He’d timed those too. He wouldn’t be able to eliminate exposure, but he could shorten it. The chume’doro saw him coming. Their fight took 8 seconds before she was down with a neck wound. He kept moving.

    He opened the door to reach what the plans had labeled the “Blue Sitting Room.” It certainly was blue. There, in a chair, was the chume’da reading a book. He knew she had self-defense training, but he had the element of surprise and a good 50, 60 pounds on her. Those were odds he’d take.

    She turned—and he lost the element of surprise.

    The woman in the red dress was Prince Ivgenni, wearing a wig imitating his sister’s hair. He had his own vibroknife.

    It was the assassin’s turn to be surprised. Just for a second.

    The pair sprang towards each other. The assassin’s mission had failed. Whoever had hired him had been misinformed about where the chume’da would be. Purposely misinformed for he doubted that the prince sat around in a dress and wig on most evenings. He knew his family would never get that second payment, that there was almost no chance he’d escape alive. He still had his pride. If he could go down taking a prince, then he would.

    Ivgenni had been trained at military academies where his classmates all wanted to boast about having taken down a prince of the Consortium. He’d learned the hard way how to fight.

    The assassin kept to his schedule. The combat ended 47 seconds after he killed the first chume’doro, exactly when he predicted. He just hadn’t planned for the vibroknife to be in his chest. He knew he had time for just one question before he bled out. He knew that Ivgenni wanted him to ask where the chume’da was, how this had gone wrong.

    Instead he coughed out, “You look good in red.”

    “Hides the blood stains,” Ivgenni replied.

    The assassin smiled. Not a bad way to go, he decided. He could have done worse.



    Archais, Hapes Consortium
    Two hours later


    Corrine sat across from a woman her own age in a posh living room that looked out on a long, broad beach. “Your family has a wonderful summer house,” Corrine commented.

    Her host, Kailora Ervenia, said nothing in reply. Some might have found that rude, but the chume’da understood. After all, from Kailora’s perspective, the chume’doro had seemingly come from nowhere to neutralize the security team that protected the property. Though no one had died, a tactical assault usually chilled the air.

    “I imagine it’s been in your family for generations,” Corrine continued, gazing out the large windows at the ocean. “You’ve certainly have certainly been prominent members of the court for a long time.”

    “I’ve never been to court,” Kailora blurted out. She knew she shouldn’t have said anything, but it was hard to remember your manners when four meters away there were three chume’doro with blasters on their hips.

    “I wonder if that’s because your mother wanted to shelter you from that rough-and-tumble environemtn. Maybe she didn’t want you to upstage her. She does seem to have plans for herself,” Corrine said.

    Archais hadn’t voted for the Transitory Mist navigation investigation, but three of their usual allies had broken traditional patterns to do so. Corrine saw a shrewd mind at work. Kailora’s mother didn’t sit on the Royal Council, but she had enough influence to move councilors if she wanted to. The Erevenias had Queen Mothers in their past—a distant past, but it was the kind of thing you always remembered. It stood to reason they might want to claim the throne again. As evidence went, it probably wouldn’t have stood up in a Republican court. In the Consortium, it was enough to act.

    Once she’d heard from Ivgenni, Corrine knew she’d been right.

    “I don’t expect you to know anything about that,” Corrine said. She wasn’t so sure. Just because Kailora was young didn’t mean she hadn’t been told about the assassination plans. She was might even have been secreted away in the family summer house to protect her in case things went wrong—which they very much had. “What I’d like to do is show you something.”

    Corrine produced a rectangular case. “There are the most interesting things in the Queen Mother’s treasure hoards.” She flipped open the case to reveal a lightsaber. “I expect the creator of this device didn’t die in their sleep. The Queen Mothers of old were not always that friendly with the Jedi, after all.

    “Did you ever hear about Anja Gallandro?” Corrine changed tack as she removed the lightsaber from its container and held it in her palm. “Who she was, where she came from, that’s unimportant. What you should know is that she one day showed up using a lightsaber, even though she wasn’t a Jedi. She wasn’t even Force sensitive.”

    Corrine closed her hand around the lightsaber and turned it on. The blue light dominated the room, washing over the teenager’s faces.

    “Everyone was amazed. They didn’t think it was possible,” Corrine said. “Turns out it wasn’t. See, lightsabers are hard to use. Very light—” The chume’da turned her wrist slowly, letting the beam wave side to side. “—and yet so powerful. It’s easy to let them get away from you.

    “It turns out that it’s actually almost impossible for someone who isn’t Force sensitive and properly trained to use them. Those who have tried have been known to cut their own limbs off by accident. The only reason Gallandro didn’t was because she was hopped up on spice all the time. It sharpened her senses enough to give her the awareness and precision needed to wield a lightsaber. Obviously there were some significant side effects.

    “I think it comes down to the law of large numbers,” Corrine remarked thoughtfully. “The longer someone who isn’t Force sensitive—or a spicehead, I suppose—uses a lightsaber, the more likely it is they’re going to hurt someone. Themselves, someone nearby, you never know.”

    Corrine locked eyes with Kailora. “It’s a lot like what your mother’s doing right now. If she should try it again, she might accidentally find she’s cut off an arm or a leg—probably her own. Just like the longer this lightsaber is on, the more likely it is one of us gets hurt. Considering my grandmother grew up with a Jedi Master as a surrogate aunt, I’d be surprised if it’s me.”

    For a few seconds, the only sound was the hum of the lightsaber, the waves breaking on the beach a mere undercurrent.

    “Do you understand what you need to tell your mother?” Corrine asked.

    “Yes,” Kailora said, the word sticking in her throat. Between Hapans, everything was perfectly clear.

    That Corrine knew what the Erevenias and their allies had tried to do. That they had failed. That Corrine could get to Kailora, the future of the line, whenever she wanted. That it was only by the grace of the chume’da that that future had not been snuffed out. That this grace would not be extended a second time. That anyone else who challenged the House of Trieste may not be dealt with so leniently.

    Corrine nodded and turned the lightsaber off. “Excellent. I look forward to seeing you at court soon,” she said, putting the lightsaber back in its box. “Enjoy the view.”

    As the chume’da left, she had a feeling that the Erevenias might soon be selling this residence. She made a mental note to keep an eye on the listings. It really was a beautiful piece of land. She wouldn’t mind owning it herself.
     
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  22. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Back here, I sensed that something interesting was going to happen. Brilliant play by Corrine, and she's right that no one will challenge the House of Trieste for quite some time.

    Allow me to amend this: Corrine has an EXCELLENT sense of what's going on in Hapan politics, and that will make her a fine Queen Mother when that time comes.
     
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  23. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    ^^^ What @jcgoble3 said. My thoughts mirrored. That whole bit about the lightsaber and the message for the Erevenias to back off. So cool and oh so rewarding.
     
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  24. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    AzureAngel2 and Trieste like this.
  25. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    The fanfics (both here and Winds of Erlinar) are slightly behind time-wise compared to ELL as there's a little more work to do, but yes! Job well done and all. ;)
     
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