Welcome! As the title indicates, here you will find Fiction Updates related to Clan Arcona. Enjoy!
(In which the Consul plans a party, which will surely be completely innocuous.)
Office of the Consul
Selen, Dajorra System
“Well, Junazee seems to be settling in,” Lucine said as she weighed the report in her hands. The newly minted Quaestor of Galeres had jumped in with both feet in undertaking the task of getting her new House under control, and thus far it seemed like things were going well.
She placed the report into the bin to be filed, before looking at the mountainous stacks of datapads and flimsiplasts that remained on her desk. She sighed and picked up another datapad. One task was done, but there were so many more to do.
Her sigh caught the attention of the Proconsul, who looked up from his own stack of reports. “You know, you could delegate some of that,” he said.
“Oh, you mean like when I delegated the task of hiring a Rollmaster?”
The Chiss suppressed a minuscule smile. “My dear, you are constantly going on about Strong’s many talents. I simply put them to good use for the clan.”
The Shadow Lady shifted in her seat so that she could see Rhylance around the stack of reports and shot him a glare. “There is the fact that being Rollmaster would force him to spend the bulk of his time away from the Citadel. I am certain that did not figure into the equation at all.”
“The thought never even crossed my mind,” Rhylace replied mildly, though they both knew that he was lying. In truth, it had been the primary reason why he had selected Strong.
Lucine bit back a retort. She could not deny that Strong was doing an excellent job so far, but she did not have to like it. But at least it was one less thing she had to worry about.
She rose from her seat and went to the window, which had been opened to allow in some fresh air and sunlight. Below, evidence of a variety of construction projects could be seen throughout Estle City. It seemed that something was being built on almost every street.
Kordath’s solution to the unrest had been to raid Collective ships in search of food and vital supplies. It had worked well in the short term, but would not be sustainable in the long run. And so Lucine had focused on creating jobs for the populace. After all, an employed civilian had less time to plan riots.
But all of the construction projects required money to pay for supplies and labor. Stimulating trade was a necessary next step, which was why it was so important for the trade deal with the Severian Principate to succeed. Delegates from the Severian Principate would arrive in a few days, and the trade talks would begin in earnest.
And what better way to start the talks than with a gala? It would be the perfect way to display the clan’s wealth and power. And what’s more, with all of the Arconans gathered together, she could accomplish some of her other long term goals, killing two birds with one stone.
The Sith allowed herself a small smile as she flipped through her mental to-do list. It seemed that things were well in hand. The invitations and proper apparel had been sent out. The CItadel had been scrubbed until it gleamed, and all of the rooms had been aired to get the Ryn-smell out. All of the necessary preparations had been made. So far, everything was going according to plan.
((In which the gala is an explosive success!)
Selen, Dajorra System
The magical night had begun. The guests gathered in the Citadel, dressed in their finest clothes. For the commoners, it was a rare opportunity to dine on the finest food and drink for free. For the Arconans and delegates present, it was an opportunity to make political inroads and gather potential ammunition in the trade talks that would start the next day.
Lucine Vasano was in her element. After a frantic few weeks of preparation, it was time to see if all of her carefully laid plans would bear fruit. She took a step back to survey her guests, savoring the swirl of laughter and conversation around her. Even if every single one of her plans failed, at least she could be credited with throwing a successful party.
Even the beasts seem to be having a good time, she noted as she observed two Cythrauls weaving amid the revelers. She had tasked a few of the beleaguered attendants with keeping Ivoshar and Fela away from the more allergic guests, but for the most part they were allowed free reign. Why not? Their presence seemed to put Attyiru at ease.
She scanned the crowd until she found her former Master, making her rounds with the delegates with a brooding Marick close-by. The Miraluka seemed her usual, chipper self, though she would occasionally lift her hand to touch her now short hair in the absent-minded manner. Lucine made a mental note of her former Master’s unconscious movements, before continuing her examination of the crowd.
Tali Sroka, the Qel-Droman Quaestor, appeared uncomfortable as she tried to converse with Miinu, a Severian Principate intelligence officer and mid-ranking delegate. Across the room, Yumni Ha appeared to be having similar difficulties with a Dug merchant. Near one of the snack tables that had been strategically placed around the room, Tyga made first contact with Kurfacril Fenn, a member of the Severian Principate’s security detail. Nearby, Aru Law chatted with his date, a lovely Twi’lek by the name of Amis Jumah. It seemed that the Arconans were hard at work, creating ties necessary to ensure that the upcoming trade talks would be successful.
Sensing a new presence at her elbow, Lucine turned to see her butler, Tabriss, standing beside her. “There have been reports that an uninvited guest has set up a nest on the roof of the Atyiru Caesura Memorial Hospital.”
“Excellent. I am gratified to hear that the DIA are being ever vigilant,” the Shadow Lady murmured as she scanned the crowded room. Her eyes fell upon a familiar Zabrak disappearing onto the balcony. “Be a dear and bring Sera Kaern to me. Also, remind me later to rename that hospital.”
The Chiss butler inclined his head slightly and disappeared into the crowd. As she waited for him, Lucine moved to a place in the room where she could easily see the hospital through the window while still being shielded by party-goers.
Sera appeared a few minutes later. She cut a striking figure in her pristine white dress that pulled double duty of making the Zabrak look virtuous and approachable at the same time. Sera was accompanied by a susurrus of whispers and admiring looks as those present noted her arrival. Clearly the Zabrak was making a name for herself with all of her recent heroics, a situation that pleased the Shadow Lady to no end. Sera, however, seemed less pleased. She looked decidedly uncomfortable with all of the attention being afforded to her.
“Having fun, darling?” Lucine asked.
“Uhm… yes,” Sera replied as she watched the sideways glances and adoring smiles. “It sure seems like I’m popular.”
“It certainly seems that way,” Lucine agreed pleasantly. “It appears that your recent heroics have earned you quite the reputation. But you do not seem to be enjoying the attention. Would you mind doing me a small favor? It will get you away from the party and out of the limelight for a bit.”
The Zabrak’s hesitation was just long enough to be telling, just long enough to cause Lucine to raise her eyebrows. “Sure. What do you need?” Sera asked at last, trying to hide her discomfiture by brushing away an invisible speck of dust from her dress.
“There are reports that there is a sniper on the roof of the Atyiru Caesura Memorial Hospital. Would you be a dear and remove them before they hurt someone?”
“Oh! Yes, I can do that,” Sera replied, her relief visible in how quickly and brightly she responded to the request. She lightly patted the knife that was strapped too her thigh. It occurred to Lucine that Sera never seemed to be without it, making her suspect that it was something more than a cutting edge fashion accessory.
“What? Did you think I was going to ask you to do something awful?” the Shadow Lady asked sweetly.
“No, of course not!”
“Of course not,” Lucine echoed. “Well, have fun, darling. I am certain that the adoring masses will have forgotten all about you by the time you return!”
The Zabrak smiled brightly at the prospect and hurried off to embark upon her mission. Lucine smiled at Sera’s earnestness. Yes, she will do nicely.
But the redhead’s internal gloating was abruptly cut short with the approach of a slender, bespectacled Chiss. “Rhylance! It appears the gala is going well so far, wouldn’t you agree?”
“It appears to be the case,” the Proconsul replied with the barest hint of a smile, before switching to Cheunh. “It appears we may have a problem.”
“Alaisy just informed me that she has discovered some sort of plot to poison certain members of our delegation,” Rhylance said.
“That is awful! I trust you allayed her concerns?”
“Quite the contrary. I encouraged her to investigate further,” the Proconsul said, pushing his glasses up in a manner that caused the light to glint off of the lenses.
Lucine raised her eyebrows at his response. “And what happens if she discovers our own plot to drug certain members of the Principate delegation?”
“She is looking in the wrong direction. I’ll make sure that she continues to do so,” Rhylance said. “In the meantime, our friend from the Severian Principate is enjoying the cocktails I sent him.”
“Fantastic, then I will make a point to talk to him in the very near future.” Lucine started to say more, but her eyes fell upon Tali. Apparently, the negotiations were complete for the moment, as she had found her way onto the dance floor and into a slow dance with Strong.
“They look cozy,” Rhylance pointed out, having figured out exactly what the redhead was looking at. “I am gratified to see that Strong is working hard to develop good working relationships with members of the House Summits.”
“Indeed,” Lucine replied through gritted teeth. She took a deep breath, and pasted a courtier’s smile on her face. “And speaking of which, it is time for me to develop some working relationships as well.”
Lucine glanced at her chrono. It was almost midnight. Soon the gala would end, and the various delegates would retire to prepare for the long days of negotiations ahead.
So far, the party could be considered a success. Diplomatic ties had been established, preliminary agreements had been made. Sera had returned from her task, and even Tali and Yumni appeared to have some success in their discussions. At least, that was the assumption, given how much time Tali and Strong spent together during the latter part of the evening.
Lucine herself had personally ensured that she had spoken with every member of the Severian Principate’s delegation, including one very special person.
In the days leading up to the gala, the most difficult task for the Shadow Lady and Shadow Scion was to find the person who would play the central role in their scheme. It had taken hours of scouring the roster of Severian Principate delegates and DIA intelligence before they found a suitable individual. But they finally did: Gavin Hamich, a low ranking official with a dead-end career and Collective sympathies.
It was this man whom Lucine sought out, making sure that she spoke with a number of other people before and after him to prevent suspicion. When she finally did speak with him, she used a combination of the Force and honeyed words to plant a series of suggestions in the man’s mind.
He left the party shortly after their little talk, wearing an odd, determined expression on his face. His departure was barely noticed, due to the appearance of a half-Iridonian clone. Though the clone sparked Rhylance’s interest, Atyiru quickly took charge of her, forcing the Shadow Scion to return to his duties as one of the party’s hosts.
The evening passed pleasantly, and as the final minute of the day wound down, the delegates of both groups gathered for the final toast of the party. The first indication that something was wrong came when Hamich rudely shoved his way through the crowd, breaking Principate etiquette to place himself closer to the Arconan delegation.
Before anyone could chastise him for his rudeness, he began to shout. “TRAITORS! YOU DINE WITH MURDERS! FOR LYRA! FOR FREEDOM! FOR THE COLLECTIVE! UNTIL ALL CHAINS ARE BROKEN!” He then tore open his suit coat to reveal the explosives that were strapped to his body.
The resulting explosion sent those nearest to him sprawling, some with worse injuries than others. Lucine herself found herself sprawled a few feet away from where she had previously stood, bruised and covered in a substance that she did not want to think too much about. She could vaguely hear moans and cries of pain over the ringing of her ears. A number of people were huddled on the ground, but most appeared to be still alive. Atyiru worked her way among the huddled forms, doing what she could to heal and comfort the wounded even despite her own injuries.
Nearby, the leader of the Severian Principate’s delegation surveyed the chaos with a stunned expression. Lucine fully intended to take her to task later, for bringing a terrorist to their peaceful negotiations. It would put Arcona at a significant advantage in the trade talks. All at the cost of a single Collective supporter’s life, and a few minor injuries.
Everything had gone according to plan.
In the earliest hours of the morning, Lucine Vasano reclined back in her office chair with what, by courtier standards, could nearly be called a sigh. From her, it was but a delicate exhale and a long blink of emerald eyes that, in the privacy of her own space, actually appeared tired. Her manicured fingers paused in their marathon of typing at her datapad as she sipped her drink, contemplating.
It had already been quite a long night, but there was still more to be done, and so she would see to it. The Consul of the First Clan could not simply dally.
She set aside her teacup, and Tabriss, because he was one hell of a Butler and ever dutiful, stepped forward to refill it immediately. The waft of steam filled her lungs with a brief sensation of bliss and slightly abated her headache with the promise of more caffeine. Lucine awarded him a soft word of thanks, and the Chiss bowed primly before stepping back without a sound. He would see to her every need in silence, and the aides would not disturb her unless it was emergent, at her order. She simply had too much to attend to.
This was the problem with managing fringe elements before they grew to be more than just that; finding a path forward that would benefit the whole and accomplish what needed be accomplished without extremists too badly persuading the outcomes.
The redhead’s hand fell subconsciously to the Sith dagger on her belt, stroking it briefly, gaze drifting marginally from her desk. Extremists indeed.
Really, there were very few who openly opposed her. In fact, in that regard, there was…Satsi, damn her, and what vitriol the woman tried to spread amongst her confidants. That was easy to understand. The two’s hatred of one another was a mutual thing born of their respective tendencies to eliminate threats to themselves thoroughly. Even Karran, on whom Tameike’s mutterings has no doubt left their impression, had only recently shown any hint of insubordination, and his feelings were actually somewhat admirable, if predictable. The Voidbreaker Captain simply cared more for the personal bonds between his crew than either the Clan or the chain of command that preserved it. It was a common enough trait among lower leadership, and worked perfectly well in smuggling crews and the like, but would not do for a structure as complicated and necessary as Arcona, where cohesiveness was how they would inevitably live or die through all the external trials they faced.
Lucine sighed again, tapping one manicured fingertip on the dagger hilt, sensing the hunger within.
It had been a simple move, if slightly cruel, to disrupt Karran’s little bubble — and not even particularly cruel at that, given he already expected it of her and would view her actions with enmity regardless of their intent or effectiveness. More importantly, moving Sera Kaern to Selen gave Spectre Cell a new fount of tireless energy to lead them, and would ensure the wayward Voidbreakers felt some ties back to their home planet and Clan when being isolated on their ship had otherwise eroded that kinship; such was the way of soldiers stationed abroad too long.
Indeed, the whole thing had inspired another similar move, because no matter how small that amount of dissent, Lucine knew it would only grow if left unchecked. Some in the Clan saw her as threatening despite all her efforts to keep Qel-Droma thriving every step of the way no matter what it took, from Battleteam Leader to Aedile to Quaestor. Now, the Consul sought to make sure her entire people saw its day in the sun — metaphorically, of course. They were the Shadow Clan, after all — and if in doing so she had to make some more personal and political sacrifices, then so be it.
Rhylance, for all his own efforts and interests in Arcona’s wellbeing, was little trusted. It was easy to blame the doctor for just about anything that went wrong with one wild theory about mad scientists or another. Moreover, there was some discomfort at their mutual rise to power; most Quaestor and Aedile pairs were not so effective nor so agreeable as to advance together, and rarely was there such a need in the power structure at once. Kordath’s ill-fated attempted assassination had shoved such circumstances upon them — though at least his paranoia was mollified by his new position as the Director of the Dajorra Intelligence Agency. Others, however, were not.
And so, while Lucine relied on the doctor as a right hand in many things and found his mind useful, the whispers remained. Whispers she needed to assuage. Merely reassigning the Chiss to his research wouldn’t be enough though. She still needed a second, preferably one whose ideologies and appearance was more directly opposed to her own, someone who could be seen as balancing her, so long as they shared her goal of Arconan success. That would go a long way in curbing any brewing dissent among the ranks, small though it was.
Hope that the people love you better, Deshra, she thought at the Human’s face as she closed her last report on supply designations for Eldar and manufacturing manifests from Ol’Val, instead pulling up his dossier. Aiden Lee was not well known amongst the Clan, despite his quiet presence for some time, but he did have a reputation as a moderate man and a devout of the Force. He proclaimed beliefs in justice, fairness, the like, and was a fresher face. A solid choice.
A painful choice, but a necessary one.
Lucine flicked her fingers irritably, flicking that thought away. She could not afford to dwell on her own feelings of isolation or her stress in her position. Too much to be done. So much, if the Clan were to succeed. And that, that she would do whatever she needed to do to ensure.
“Arcona Invicta,” the woman murmured in her High Coruscanti tones, without a hint of irony, waving at Tabriss so he would brew another pot. She was going to need it.
The Shadow Lady picked her datapad back up. Outside, birds finally began stirring with the dawn.
There was work to be done.
I have so much work to do.
Such was Sera’s thought as she strode to the sparring rings, the ocean breeze not doing much to halt the unrelenting sun. Though there was only one, it felt like there had to be three. Or like she was in a sauna. Her home was a desert world, and both the Voidbreaker and Port Ol’Val had been climate-controlled. Meanwhile, Selen’s tropical beauty had more water than she could really wrap her head or horns around, and she’d probably sweated out two of herself just this morning.
Oh, well. Just another challenge to beat! One more for the list!
A…long list. Oh, boy.
She’d only been in charge maybe a week now, but in that time she’d been welcomed to Selen by Satsi’s…uniquely threatening brand of offering help, attended small meet-and-greet party that devolved into a dramatic disaster, and organized a good old training session that had ended in a screaming match between two of the attendants. And they weren’t even technically part of her team. Or so Strong liked to keep reminding her. He thought she should focus more narrowly. Sera thought these zerkas needed a good kick in the head and a talking to about how to treat their friends; because that’s what teams — tribes, whatever you called them — were: friends.
Spectre Cell, and Galereians in general, she was finding, were not very good at that part. Really very scarily effective killers and fighters, obviously effective as the strike team needed to be, but not much for camaraderie. Not at all like her family on the Voidbreaker. Well, she would fix that! She was determined! They’d practice and try until they became more than just a miniature army all their own. They’d be a team.
Smiling her bright, toothy grin, Sera waved as she spotted her normally-grumpy Aedile, Skar, already at the training grounds with the odd little half-Zabrak he called his niece, Aay’han. Aay’han waved back furiously, her own smile present, little red horns spots of color on her, and called a greeting in Zabraki that Sera had started teaching the young girl. Beaming, Sera shouted one back.
“Hey, everyone!” the new commander greeted, offering waves to Qyreia where she was talking to Xenna, to Vai, who seemed to be discussing something about civil services with Tyga — and Sera had a proposal from him to read about a fire brigade, oops — and to the quiet Barabel who’d been brought to Arcona just recently from that terrible prison on Tenixir. Only some of them waved back, but others nodded, and Sera just smiled wider. That was a start! And a start was all she needed. Drug operation to bust up? Civilization to rebuild? Pirate butt to kick? Didn’t matter! Together, they could all do anything.
She’d make sure of it.
“Now, like this, see?”
A clattering noise, shuffled steps, a squeal of approval.
“Yes, just like that! Perfect form, Ziggydiggy.”
“Wynning,” the man emphasized, repeating the action of double finger-guns and winking. The Zygerrian followed suit. “Yas, girl! See, with moves like this and your awesome zabbing, Tall, Shiny, and Scary won’t be able to take her eyes off yo— owwww, ow ow, ow, no. Why?”
Zig had punched him in the arm. Hard.
Nearby, Karran hissed at them.
“Zig, Wyn, please. Tali will be here at any moment to make her announcement and we do not need to be rude.”
“Sorry, Cap,” Zig replied, though Tyris just tipped his hat — where had he even gotten this one, and what had he traded for it? Looked like it had come from the trash. Karran mentally noted to check none of his valuables were missing later. “We’ll be good, don’t worry.” Then, she lowered her voice not much at all and stage-whispered to Wyn, “He’s just mad 'cause he misses Serry.”
“Oh, is that all? Hang on, I’ll get a dagger and fill in, I make a great lady—”
“Vhat vas that?” asked a pretty accented voice as their Quaestor stepped into the small meeting room, dressed in her robes, lekku tumbling gracefully over her shoulders. Aru Law followed after her, head held high.
“My Lady,” Karran greeted, bowing his head. Walking over with a deadly click of knife-sharp heels and so tall her ponytail brushed the ceiling came Alaisy, to whom Aru bowed himself.
“Mistress! It is good to see you!”
“Hello, Apprentice,” replied the Sith from behind her helmet.
“Shall ve commence?” asked Tali, ever amicable in her calm command, gliding over to the head of the table. Aru straightened and followed her. “Everyone has gatheredt?”
“Yes, Quaestor,” Karran said, only to be interrupted by a loud crunching noise. Everyone glanced over to where Sulith sat, newly scarred and still adjusting to a prosthetic arm, but not at all so deterred as to keep him from his popcorn addiction. He munched a tub by handfuls, with which he gave a friendly if messy wave.
“Hello again Miss Sroka!”
Tali smiled. “Hello, Sully. I am pleasedt to see you vell. Now, to business.”
With a gesture, she pulled up a holographic map of the asteroid they stood on.
“To begin, please velcome Aru to his first meeting as your new Aedile. Give him all your respect.” Salutes and nods went up, and the Quaestor stepped back.
Aedile Law stepped forward. “Good afternoon, everyone. I shall endeavor to serve you to my utmost ability, that we may all do our best for Arcona. To that very end, we would like to compliment you on your efforts so far as a crew. They have been remarkable. All of you have done well aboard the Voidbreaker, and Qel-Droma is stronger for your works and for those of our Housemates on Tenixir. Magik, Archian, thank you for your successes there.” He nodded to each man in turn. “That said, we have decided it would be best to focus on our home front for a time. All the Voidbreaker’s time so far has been largely drawn off world, be it for slave rebellions or tearing down Sith temples,” he explained, pride in his tone. “But now the port needs us.”
“Ve vill take this time to establish more footholdts andt rebuild our assets as the Blindt Man,” Tali took up. “Marick and Atyriu have already agreedt to lendt their home, apothecary, andt clinic as a safehouse to any Qel-Droman in needt. Our other past contacts have grown veaker, however. Let us remindt them of our bondts andt form some new ones, that our position andt our home here may prosper. Yes?”
A chorus of agreement answered her.