Shortly After The Events Of ‘Ashes Fall’
Dark drapes worked their way along the outer walls of the antechamber, hiding whatever lay beyond them from the sight of any onlooker. Some stood open with pale illumination focused upon the art pieces revealed in stark contrast to the darkness of the room itself. Several men stood in a half-circle near the entrance of the chamber, standing opposite the throne-like seating arrangement with a serving table adorned by food and glasses on the far side. The room was impossibly still given the number of people within it, as if they had all taken a collective gasp and were hiding in plain sight. A man adorned by impeccable, pale white robes with gold trim sat at the head of the table. Within his gloved hand, the man held the base of a glass of wine, the soft rotation of his wrist causing the sanguine fluid to swirl within its container.
“I beg your pardon,” he stated quietly but firmly. His blue eyes were locked on a man standing at the center of the grouping, his fellows taking several tiny steps away from him in the process.
“I said,” the man managed through a clenched jaw, “your idiocy almost got us killed.”
Silence fell upon the room once more, the white-robed man not so much as blinking as he held the other within his gaze. After several tense moments, he placed his wine glass upon the table with barely a sound and rose to his feet. Not a single aspect of the man’s movements came across as wasted, seeming to move just the right amount and in the proper way. His eyelids fluttered shut for the briefest of moments as he ran his left hand over his slicked back hair, the silver strands kept trimmed and contained. He began walking towards the group of men, tugging on the edges of his gloves as he did so. “Care to elaborate,” he asked flatly as he stood eye to eye with the other man.
“Sure thing,” the other exclaimed, throwing his hands up to punctuate the statement. “We almost died getting that ‘trophy’ of yours, Yuki! First the explosion and then the Sadowans nearly shot us to oblivion on the way out!”
Yuki’s face remained impassive as the man continued his rant, though there was something off about his eyes, as if something within was dimming.
“You’re psychotic! Nothing is worth the effort and risk we took. Only your greed and your pride-”
A gloved hand lashed out towards the man, suddenly holding a flash of silver. A red spray shot across Yuki’s cheek and stained his white robes as he viciously slit the man’s throat. His gaze never wavered from that of his victim, watching him sink to the ground. With a look of disgust, Yuki let the blood covered blade fall to the ground before adjusting his gloves once more with a heavy sigh. “I simply cannot abide poor manners,” he murmured before glancing at the others. “It really is quite rude.”
Without so much as a second look, he turned and strode back to his seat at the back of the room, reaching up with his left hand to smooth his black eyebrows in a calming motion. Another deep breath accompanied him taking the seat once more and reaching for his glass of wine, bringing it to his lips and letting the crimson liquid flow slowly into his mouth. He savoured the taste, letting it sit upon his tongue for several breaths before swallowing. “Art is always worth the effort, gentlemen,” Yuki continued after a moment. “I do look forward to your continued assistance in completing my collection.”
His gaze turned to the side, looking upon his most recent acquisition. “It’s amusing, is it not? How often the snow is mistaken for ash? I think I’ll call this piece: Ashes fall.” A wide smile spread over Yuki’s lips as he gazed upon the macabre form locked within a slab of carbonite.
Temple of Sorrow, Outer Grounds
Sepros, Orian System
“Are you sure the information is accurate?” Keira muttered as she wiped the sweat from her brow and threw a towel around her neck. The intel operative had caught her in the middle of her morning circuit through the temple grounds as her own little obstacle course, so her breathing was kept carefully even.
“Yes, ma’am. Matches the criteria you provided,” he replied, handing her the datapad.
“Thanks, you may go,” Keira responded, her lilting accent was somehow stronger with her concentration elsewhere. As the operative saluted, she merely nodded and glanced down at the information in her grasp, allowing him to go unimpeded. The woman’s eyes lit up as she self-confirmed the information and keyed in the familiar frequency on her comm-link.
“Hope you get this message soon,” she murmured as the device clicked on. “I think we found it.”