The Citadel, Selen
“…if someone has to step up, I’m willing,” was the resigned but resolute proclamation of the sharp-jawed Quaestor. He didn’t look pleased at the prospect, but his stance was firm, ready to do what was right as the ranking officer.
"Who cares? I’m tired of standing around and not doing anything. We should be going after those sleemos."
“We will hardly accomplish anything without a proper structure of organization, Qyreia,” spoke the redheaded Battleteam leader smoothly. Her smile was perfunctory and just plain enough to be appropriate for a setting of mourning. “And I am, of course, willing to do everything in my power to aid in that endeavor.”
“That’s appreciated, Lucine, but Terran is still our superior,” Zujenia chided, more harshly than the normally calm half-Ryn typically would. She was still covered in bandages and shallow scrapes from the battle. “And there is also Lord Arconae.”
“It is merely a suggestion, darling. I would not assume myself the best candidate, but I assure you, I would do quite well in such a role at this dire time.”
“You can still help,” Terran offered, fingering one of the many pockets inside his coat. “Don’t worry.”
“Hold on, now, who’s to say either of you is the best for this? No offense, but I’m still right here,” snapped the Zeltron. “I’ve been working with our troops for months, I know this stuff, and we need to be ready to fight right now a lot more than we need to be worrying about making creds.”
“Darling, are you saying all we are good for is credit? Because, I assure you—”
“I’ve heard one too many assurances that haven’t been for kark, recently, so sorry, but—”
“Hush!” cried Zujenia. “No one is saying anyone is unfit. We need to be considering what’s best, here. What would Atyiru have done? Perhaps we should reach out to one of the former Proconsuls, or one of the other Arconae, if not Terran…”
The doors sliding open with a bang cut her argument off. Heads turned, gazes swiveling. The familiar faces of Uji and Kordath flanked a Human woman with a cold, feral smirk.
“Hello, nerfherders,” she said, striding in and popping her hip, a hand settling there above numerous knife holsters.
“Who the frack let you in?” Qyreia scoffed.
“Me. Just now. Pay attention, Pinky. Your kind aren’t the blind ones.”
“More importantly,” Terran asked, looking unimpressed, sharp features pinched. "Who are you?’
“Your new boss,” declared the woman with a wine-red smirk.
The Quaestor continued to stare levelly, nonplussed, while the Zeltron mercenary gave a disbelieving cry and Lucine paled.
“Now’s not the time for your, your joking, Satsi,” growled Zujenia, her short tail lashing, the hair on her arms standing upright. “Atty…Atty is—”
“—the reason I’m here, Spots,” interrupted the newcomer, approaching the table. Uji’s cane rapped against the floor as he stopped just behind her, close enough that the backs of their hands brushed where they hung at their sides, while Kordath rounded the room and squeezed the Qel-Droman Aedile’s shoulder. Another man, Constantine, his blond hair pulled into a tail and blue eyes bright, took up position behind Uji.
“It’s true, luv,” the Ryn murmured, his mustaches twitching. “Blinky done left us a note, named 'er the new big guy and such, if…if anything did happen.”
“Back up, here,” snapped Terran, his cool gaze cutting. “Who are you, and what are you on about?”
“If you would allow us to explain, Koul, you would have your answer,” the former Scion replied with equal coolness. “We have come to rectify the Summit’s arrangement, as per Atyiru’s wishes.”
The Jensaarai’s fingers dug into the sleeve around a limb that, not long before, had been broken trying to save the Nighthawk crew during the Hutts’ attack. “You left. You’re not striding back in here and pulling a coup, Tameike.”
“No, he’s not.” The woman, ‘Satsi’ apparently, rolled her eyes. “I am. And it’s not a coup. I’ve been…” her voice curdled around the word, “appointed.”
“Oh, hell no,” exclaimed Qyriea, her jaw tight and hands curling and uncurling next to her belted pistols. “How would that even happen? No way did Atty leave you in charge, schutta. We don’t have time for this druk, get out of here.”
“Pardon, my lords and ladies,” came the voice of Captain Bly from the side, making a few more heads turn; the guard captain’s entrance had gone mostly unnoticed. “But the Consul is not lying. Lady Arconae bequeathed charge of her position unto Lady Tameike.”
“Don’t call me that,” grumbled Satsi, but she went ignored.
“That can’t be,” protested Zuji, growing more agitated. She shrugged away from her fiancee. “She doesn’t— she’s not suited for this, surely! Not leading…”
“Says who?” snapped the woman in question, switching her glare to the half-Ryn. “You? What do you really know about me, kid, huh?”
“You…” growled the hybrid again, but quieted her protest, grief mixing back into her furious expression. Kordath frowned. Terran had grown quiet, his eyes watching intently, waiting.
“Shall we return to business?” Uji urged, ever calm despite his obviously dissatisfied exterior.
"Kark that, I’m not sticking around to put up with this choobfest. No way am I working with you," spat Qyreia, evidently still angry about their previous encounter.
“Suits me just fine, Pinky. Less trouble to deal with without your pheromones around. Go make yourself useful how you like, just don’t frak anything up while you’re at it.”
Satsi jerked her chin at the exit. The Zeltron’s locked jaw and bared teeth accompanied her lovely glare as she stalked off, shouldering past Kordath, who only half-heartedly reached after her. He dropped his hand with a shrug.
There was a pause, before the supposed new Consul spread her hands and scathed, “Anyone else want to make a show? Or do I have your attention now?”
“Start talking,” Terran said, shrugging one shoulder as he settled back in his seat.
“Finally,” Satsi growled. “Now, I—”
The scarred woman choked off as a wave of dread boiled up and rolled across the small space, making everyone present shudder or hitch their breath. Timeros took a single, pristine stride forward from where he had stood at the head of the table as if carved there by a sculptor’s hand. His icy stare swept over to the Tameikes, fine features completely devoid of anything but clockwork calculation.
“Explain,” he ordered shortly, with the curtness that dictated every action he took.
Satsi’s cybernetic spine straightened, her chin lifting, showing every proud scar. She tasted anger on her tongue.
“You know who I am?” she asked the mannequin of the man, thin almond eyes meeting his unflinchingly even as her fingertips trembled under the force of the fearful aura that leaked from him like a miasma. He nodded infinitesimally. “Good. Means all your shadow friends know me too. For the rest of you, here’s the rundown. I’m his sister,” she jerked her chin at Uji, who stared back at anyone who met the former Proconsul’s gaze. “If one of us knows or did something, the other was in on it. Anything and everything. Everything,” this she stressed looking again at the Arconae challengingly. “Name’s Satsi. I was second in command to a Black Sun Vigo most of my time, been here with you idiots what…three? Four years now? Was my brother’s Fade, helped run the ‘Hawk and Gal back under Kaeth and Cortel. Spent the last year on Kiast with our Jedi friends makin’ good with them and working some angles at the Dark Council. Let’s…just say I’ve been going hard at it for a long time. I didn’t steal this.” Her hand went to her belt, drawing a familiar blade out of a sheath and stabbing it into the table. A Grand Inquisitor’s dagger. “I was given it. How many of you can say you’ve been in the same room as Pravus in the last year? Hmm? I’m good for this, and I just put up some gorram curtains over my bedroom windows in the house we got down on the beach here, so I got a real vested interest in not seeing this place burn to the ground.”
The sarcasm in her voice was heavy. She glared around her. “Now if all that isn’t good enough for any of you because I’m not one of you sparkfingers like your other Consuls, then here’s your deal: for some frakking reason, your Shadow Lady decided I would be a good appointee if anything happened to her. So here I am. You either honor her, or you listen to me, or you listen to my karking pistol, but either way, you fall in so we can figure this out or you get out of my way.”
Timeros blinked once at the lengthy speech. Satsi’s gaze didn’t waver. Slowly, like a layer of dead skin peeling back inch by inch, the permeation of terror receded.
“…as you say,” intoned the man. “Lord Consul.”
“No, nope, none of that. No one calls me Shadow Lady, you got that? That’s Atty. Not Lord either. If you have to call me something, you can say Commander or Chief or Tameike, something like that. Nobody on my side calls me Lady. We’re not playing frakking kingdom here. This is a war. Treat it like one.”
The myrmidon Arconae merely folded his arms behind his back and tipped his chin, ever dutiful — at least where the good of the clan was concerned. His interrogation seemed to have given the others pause, whether because no one in the room was immune to his unpleasantness, or because his acquiescence was telling.
“Great. Now, few other points of order. I don’t give a kark about all your hierarchy and systems. That’s not useful to us now. Look at each other, yeah? We’re all we’ve got, us and our people, and there’s a whole lot more out there that we don’t know anything about coming to kill us or take our land or something. Forget your Houses, forget your teams, forget the Throne or whatever else you feel like being loyal to, and think about your own skins. This, right here, this is what we have to fight with. It’s just us. So suck it up and start thinking of each other real nice, because at this table, we’re all knee deep in the rancor piss together and we all have to get out. This isn’t about your Clan crap anymore. This is war. We’re a war council, and nothing else, got it? I don’t care if you go back and you organize yourselves however you like, but when you walk in here, you leave the rest at the door, you sit your ass down, and you get ready to fight. Can we agree on that?”
Kordath was nodding along, mouthing something that might have been ‘do what she says, dinnae piss her off’.
The more mercenary leader of Port Ol’Val appeared rather at ease with such a proposal, though he did add, “Sure…but whoever these people are, they’re not our biggest problem. If it wasn’t for Pravus and his kark, we wouldn’t have been there and Princess Sunshine wouldn’t be…”
“Are you trying to suggest we shouldn’t worry about them? They used suicide bombers. They’re the reason Atyiru—” Zujenia’s voice cracked, and her fists knotted, tail lashing. “Pravus has to be stopped but we can’t just ignore this! What if they’re slavers? What if they’re actually from another clan? What if they’re just more of Pravus’ agents trying to fool us?”
“I’m not saying we don’t investigate,” replied Terran, kicking up his boots. “Just that we let them bloody each others’ noses a bit. Then, we take out Pravus and worry about these other guys if and when it becomes necessary later.”
“We do not have the time to conduct such investigations with the way events are currently moving,” Uji said grimly. “We must make our priority preparing for what is to come. Repairs, recruitment, and operations to defend and fortify our borders. If Pravus and his ilk do not deign to coordinate a return strike for the fall of the Suffering, then it is likely these new arrivals or one of the other clans will seize what they see as an opportunity. We will be ready for them to realize how grave that mistake is.”
“And what, we just sit here and wait for someone to come after us? What about everyone else?” Zuji demanded, ever the champion for others. “Everyone Pravus has hunted—”
“—frankly, no longer our concern.”
“You can’t just say that! We have to defend these people! We have to help! We should take the offensive now while we’ve got a chance.”
Uji went on, “You are allowing your upset over Atyiru to cloud your judgement. I desire retribution as well, but striking out is not the wisest course of action—”
“Shove it, Tameike,” Terran growled in his Aedile’s defense, glaring. “We get it, you don’t want to run out fighting. We should still try to exploit any window they make. More useful than burying our heads in the sand.”
“Look,” Satsi said, “I hate Pravus as much as the next guy but he didn’t attack this time, somebody else did, and I’m not so inclined to assume they won’t do it again. Whoever they are, they’re gunning for us, for the Tarenti and Odanites and Sadowans and whoever else and for the damned Council, if that holofeed from the battle is anything to go by. So, you take your grief if you got any and you deal with it. Swallow it ‘til you choke, and then keep choking. Choke on it and do your jobs. We’ve got too many bigger guns pointed at us right now. When you’re pinned on all sides in a street shoot-out, you don’t run out into the open, you hunker down, give a few of the other guys a chance to kill each other, and take an opening when you got one. We have to deal with what’s in front of us so we don’t get shot in the back before we can deal with putting Pravus’ head and dangling bits on a pike to burn. Okay?” She glanced at the half-Ryn. “And I promise, Zujenia, he’ll burn. Just not today. Too much going on today.”
Eyes widening slightly at the use of her name, the Aedile begrudgingly nodded.
“Okay?” she asked of the room again, and Lucine and Constantine both nodded as Terran tipped his chin. Uji was quiet, supporting his twin, and Kordath comforted his partner with a brush of his tail. Timeros was still, and Bly stood at parade rest.
“Alright then. You,” she pointed at Terran and Zujenia, her finger lingering on Lucine as the redhead flinched slightly, making Satsi’s lips twitch. “You know your people on your rock, handle them how you see fit while you’re investigating our ‘new friends.’ You lot,” her gaze swiveled to her twin and his newly appointed Captain. “You take the military arm, maybe see if you can’t get Red to cool her thrusters and fly with us. Constantine, right? Welcome to the madness.”
The Grey Jedi saluted proudly, and Uji gave his grave nod. Satsi turned to Timeros. “And you…Are the other Arconae gonna go along quiet with this?”
“We are convening a meeting on Gethsemane shortly.”
It wasn’t an answer, but the woman grimaced and took it. “…right. Kordy!”
The Ryn perked up, flicking his tail. “Yeah, luv?”
“Be ready to hold my jacket when I go beat the frak out of these people.”
Kordath grinned. “Does that mean I get ta stay home this bloody time?”
“Heh. Be me pleasure.”
“Alright.” Satsi took a deep breath, then exhaled. She ticked at her fingers. “Alright. That’s introductions and dramatics out of the way…couple more things I wanna talk about up front. Like Atty…”